Bear with me as I try to catch up. Although the past few weeks have been too busy to prepare any meals, I did have a few days here and there over the past month to cook it up a bit. So this entry is all about the FOOD!
Asian Dinner: Scallion Pancake with Spicy Eggplant and Coconut Corn Soup
This was one of the first corn of the season. It's sweet but not cloyingly sugary like some new hybrids. More "corny" flavor if you catch my meaning. Don't know how else to describe it. I prepared one of my favorite corn dishes: Coconut corn soup with chilis, topped off with a squish of lime juice. Sautee some onion, throw in some corn scraped off the cob and let it cook. Add coconut milk and some water if it's too thick, and some thinly sliced fresh chilis. Fresh cilantro on top with the lime juice seals the deal, but I didn't have any that day. The gorgeous eggplant is of the Asian variety which I prefer since there's no bitterness, the skin is very thin so you don't have to peel it, and it's so yummy. I sauteed the eggplant with garlic, sliced chilis and soy sauce for seasoning. Eggplant does not have a lot of liquid in it so you may have to add some water to keep it moist while cooking. Now ever since I laid eyes on these wonderful spring onions, all I could think about was scallion pancakes. I finally had the time to make them and boy were they tasty! The dough is simply flour and warm water. Let it sit for a bit and chop up the scallions on a slant so they are long and fine. Roll out the dough into a flat round and oil the surface, sprinkle with salt and scallions. To get the layers, you have to roll the dough into a cigar and coil it into a tire shape. Then you roll it out and pan fry it. Let it get brown and crispy. I made a scallion and ginger dip with a bit of soy sauce, rice vinegar and water. This was a great meal!
August was squash overload so let's just say I ate a whole lot of it. We produce so many different and interesting shapes and varieties. This is one simple and very quick prep. Olive oil, butter, fresh sage, and summer veggies tossed together.
Late August, early fall is the best time for this dish. All the ingredients are ripe at the same time: eggplant, peppers, onions, tomato, basil. Just throw it all into a pot and let it cook slowly for about an hour until all the veggies are tender but not mushed.
I modified her recipe a bit to include some garlic cause I love garlic with eggs, and some sliced chilis for a little kick. Sautee chopped onions and Swiss chard stems until the chard is soft. Add scrambled eggs and make an omelet. The farm produces some of the most stunning Swiss chard in a rainbow of colors. I discovered this summer that the stems are more enjoyable than the leaves. They have a rich, deep flavor when you cook them up and I've been eating copious amounts of chard all season.
When people tell me they don't like beets I know immediately that they are speaking of the pathetic canned variety. It's amazing how many have never had a well cooked beet. The farm produces 5 varieties: red, white, orange, cioggia and forono. I decided to have a taste off to experience the difference between the varieties and pick my favorite. I compared the cioggia, white and orange in this test. The results: orange are the sweetest hands down, it was like candy; cioggia is also very sweet but with an almost minty flavor and very strong "beet" finish; the white is sweet and has a very chestnutty flavor. All the beets were delicious and I ate them undressed and enjoyed them immensely.
Zaid grows some of the most amazing tasting tomatoes, I daresay, in the state. So many different heirloom varieties in all shapes, sizes and colors, as well as standard hybrids. Caprese is one of my best loved dishes for its quick prep and deliciousness. Homemade mozzarella is best and high quality olive oil. I drizzled just a touch of aged balsamic which took it over the top!
These were extra plums from another farm left over from the CSA fruit share. I poached them in a sugar water bath with a cinnamon stick and some sliced ginger. Remove plums from hot liquid once they're soft (they can be easily skinned) and reduce the liquid to a nice sauce. These were gobbled up 2 days later on top of vanilla ice cream, scrumptious!
Colorful Trio: Corn and Tomato, Swiss chard with bacon, Spicy Red Cabbage Slaw
I just love colorful food. I believe a meal should be balanced not only in flavors and texture but also in color. The cabbage in particular is just the most gorgeous shade of purple. Sliced thinly, and tossed with sliced chilis, lemon juice, scallion, and olive oil. Corn and tomatoes go really well together. I start this dish with sauteed onions and add the corn, some sliced squash and chopped tomatoes at the very end. I like the tomatoes fresh. Bacon and Swiss chard is a winning combo. Cook bacon and throw in chopped stems and finally the greens. Yes, that simple.
Throughout the season there are always moments of overabundance. A simple way to preserve some of that overflow is by pickling. What I mean by pickling is fermenting. Here are a few pickles I've been making: Onion and chilis in soysauce; kimchee scallions; chili with carrot and onions in brine; napa cabbage with chili and napa cabbage with tumeric and brown mustard seed. These pickles should all be ready to eat within the next few weeks. The best part of making pickles is the anticipation of your creation after maturation (couldn't help the alliteration).