Aug 28, 2015
#hknyCSA Diaries: Savoring Summer

This week's #hknyCSA Diaries is brought to you by Ali Ellis, our retail prep cook and resident guru of all things natural, homeopathic and hippy.

This week's CSA bag was heavy with a variety of gorgeous vegetables: peppers, cucumber, onions, collard greens, tomatoes and eggplant. Since I knew I wouldn’t have much time in the coming weeks to prepare meals for myself, I wanted to make something that would last, so I made a medley of fermented vegetables.

Before you begin any canning project, make sure your jars and workspace are clean and sanitized so you don’t introduce any unwanted bacteria into the ferment. Always use a glass jar, metal can react with the fermentation process. Thus, avoid putting any metal utensils in the jar. Here are a few tips on fermenting if you’re interested in learning more.

 

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Tangy Vegetable Medley

2 cups water
1½ teaspoons salt
1 eggplant
1 pepper
1 onion
1 cucumber
3 tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary
1 tablespoons peppercorns

Bring two cups of water to a boil and add the salt to make the brine. Once the water has come to a boil, remove from heat and cool from approximately 20 minutes while you prepare the vegetables.

Cut the vegetables into thin bite sized pieces and place them into your sanitized glass jars. Add the peeled, whole garlic cloves, rosemary spring and peppercorns.

Pour the brine over the vegetables. Put a piece of parchment paper on top of the vegetables to ensure they are all submerged in the liquid and weigh it down with a smaller jar if needed. Cover loosely with a lid or towel and place in a cool area. Depending on the temperature, the vegetables will be fermented and ready in about 2 weeks, but you can taste them every day and place them in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process once you’re happy with the flavor.

Enjoy on a sandwich with crusty sourdough bread prosciutto and mozzarella or as a quick snack when you’re on the go.

Aug 19, 2015
#hknyCSA Diaries: The case for NOT using your oven

This week's #hknyCSA Diaries comes from teacher Ashley Bare. Besides being an excellent cook, she is an expert in DanceBody and has impeccable style.

 

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Summer. Is. Actually. Everything.

Until pretty recently, I didn’t love summertime. Summer always equated to a sweaty slowdown that I just couldn’t get down with—a constant study in free time productivity and aimless direction. I honestly would have loved to stay in school most summers because why stop for three months? It didn’t make sense to me then, and maybe that precise hustle is what initially attracted me to New York City—ultimately, prompting me to make the move. I thought it was my “sleep-when-you’re-dead” mentality and FOMO inclination that kept me in this rat race of a town for so long. But as it turns out, it might actually be summer—its long, beautiful daylight hours and colorful produce are all to blame and praise!

The vibe in New York City is so different in summer than between the months of September and May, where the energy is decidedly more intense and thick with pale-skinned, black-wearing tension. But in summer, the entire city is on vacation. I assure you some of us are still working, but for three months most of us beach weekly, take time to relax, and enjoy a lull in the normal city scamper (dreading the moment it will all begin again). 

Against my dear colleague, Lauren Margolis's urge for us to turn on our ovens, I really wanted to honor this week’s CSA share with unexpected preparations and different applications for summer’s most popular, raw, fresh condiment: salsa!

Juicy little black cherry tomatoes, lovely scallions, and cilantro all came in my bag this week, and I challenged my own salsa instincts and pushed myself to exhibit more creativity. Instead, I used the tomatoes in and added scallions to this recipe for green papaya salad by Julia Moskin, which I vaguely followed. I subbed my CSA zucchini for the green papaya. I also added Thai basil and cilantro leaves from my bag.

For my salsa challenge, I rifled through my bag to spot the pièce de résistance! The cantaloupe! The greatest produce gift from summer is always, I repeat always, the fruit. Cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots — well, all the stone fruits, all the berries, and all the melons — should only be consumed during the summer. In order to make the cantaloupe salsa, I decided to pair the cantaloupe with some of the Thai basil, a Thai red chili pepper, and some lemon zest and juice.

As a tip, I suggest having things like lemons and limes, chili peppers, and even canned beans on hand for those “make something out of nothing” moments. The pantry staples are what help every home cook.

To make a complete dish to accompany the cantaloupe salsa, I used the Japanese eggplant—a sweeter, thinner-skinned and more flavorful cousin of its Italian counterpart—from my bag, I cut it into “scallops." A curried yogurt sauce finishes the dish and ties everything together. While this dish is entirely vegetarian, you can add a pan-seared piece of fish or chicken. Or keep it simple with a side of tortilla chips.

While I wouldn’t fire up the oven, I will gladly fire up the grill. Cue the three bottles of rosé, please. Hot dogs, brats, and burgers are quite delicious on their own, but why not dress those simple dishes up with a touch of chunky freshness? A cucumber and corn salsa is more reminiscent of a traditional pico de gallo. So, while this duo of vegetables is definitely not the most revolutionary of all combinations, it is a great alternative use of these summer vegetables.

Make a tartine from your grilled goods. Grill slices of bread next to your meat, smear some mayo on, or try ricotta, and top with sliced sausage, steak, or chicken and your choice from your two new favorite salsa recipes.

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Cantaloupe Salsa
makes about 2 cups

2 cups small diced cantaloupe, from about one small cantaloupe
1 red Thai chili, sliced thinly, more if you like spicier
¼ packed cup Thai basil, thinly sliced or chiffonade
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 lemon, zested  
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced on bias, optional

Gently mix all of ingredients in a small bowl and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

 

Cucumber + Corn Salsa
makes about 2 cups

1 ear corn, shucked and kernels cut from cob
1 English cucumber, small dice
1 jalapeño, de-seeded and minced
½ small red onion, minced
¼ packed cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 lime, zested
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Gently mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Aug 11, 2015
#hknyCSA Diaries: Get in the Habit

Bahara Brown a member of our core culinary team. She makes the best casseroles with rice and chicken.  

As a busy cook, I’m always scared of being too tired to cook the food I have in my fridge and having it waste away. So when I received my CSA share this week, I made sure to have a processing plan. Fancy getting your meal plan on?

 

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Here are my top three tips:
1. Prep, Prep, Prep. I actually timed my prep for this whole CSA bag and it took only 12 minutes to organize, chop and prep the vegetables individually all while listening St. Paul and the Broken Bones really, really loudly.

2. Top up on Tupperware. I filled up two large containers with ingredients that are ready to roast like the carrots, onion and fennel that were in the bag. I washed and bagged the herbs and lettuce so when I put together a quick salad. I sliced the cucumbers in case I felt an overwhelming need to open my fridge door to reach for the choccie biscuits, instead, opting for a healthier snack.

3. Stick to it. Make sure you use at least one ingredient every day.

This is how my week went down using the ingredients.
The broccoli I received went into a warm broccoli salad that I shared with my wee little Australian shepherd.

The carrots, onion and fennel went into a soup from an old issue of Gourmet to eat over a good catch up with my bestie about all things Kate Middleton.

The cucumbers and zucchini went into a chilled soup that I took to a picnic in the park on hot day of sunbathing and reading about creative visualization.

I have to tell you that it was such a pleasure coming home to cook this week. Just to know that I could put a gorgeous meal together with little effort using such fresh produce. Bonus of eating healthfully: it was much easier to get to the gym.

Jul 24, 2015
#hknyCSA Diaries: Meals for Traveling

In this episode of #hknyCSA Diaries our kitchen manager, Zoe Maya Jones, packs a meal for the plane. 

Let’s all admit that there’s nothing worse than airplane food—or any food sold within the confines of most airports. As a general rule, I bring whole fruits in my carry-on-as well as a reusable water bottle, and I try to bring snacks that won't get me bloated and filled with self-loathing. If I’m feeling inspired or have some extra time before a long trip, I’ll make a meal that is easy to eat and will hold up well over the course of the day.

In preparation for a short trip to the West Coast, I prepared a few things from this week’s CSA share that would last me through the six-hour flight to San Francisco and keep me from giving into any chips or candy that might be calling out to me at Hudson News. Even if you’re going out of town and are overwhelmed by the quantity of your CSA share, you can always prepare some travel snacks that will help you get through the box in order to avoid coming home to a fridge full of wilted vegetables.

Be sure to eat the most delicate produce first (i.e. greens) and save the heartier vegetables for later in the week. This week’s CSA contained red leaf lettuce, cilantro, basil, summer and pattypan squash, zucchini, kohlrabi, broccoli, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and baby golden beets.

I made chilled sesame noodles with the broccoli and herbs, which is a favorite weeknight dinner as well as an easy packed lunch, and a grated beet salad for the plane ride. As for the rest of the items, the lettuce, cucumber and kohlrabi went into a simple salad, and the mixed squash went into a simple pureed soup that I make often with any colorful vegetables I have on hand. The cherry tomatoes were so good that I just packed them by themselves to snack on in-transit.

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Some tips for packing food for travel:
•  Don’t use too much sauce, as sometimes liquids can be an issue at security.
•  Choose salad items that will hold well, and even improve, as they sit such as beets or kale, as opposed to soft lettuces.
•  Use containers that don’t leak! Fill your container with water before you pack it to make sure there are no cracks in it at all. Trust me — I learned that lesson the hard way.
•  Pack a few snacks you can eat with your hands, like cherry tomatoes, almonds or dried fruit.
•  If you have some time before your trip, here are a few other ideas for plane snacks:

Heidi Swanson's Golden Potstickers

Our Special Projects Director Sonjia Hyon opts for Molly Wizenburg's farro salad  with fish sauce and feta. Yes, she says the smell can be offensive to the sensitive nosed, but so is that brown-sauced Salisbury steak wafting from first class.

If our instructor Ashley Bare has time, she'll make a power ball made with dates, cashews and cacao powder like this recipe from Sprouted Kitchen. You can easily substitute peanut butter for another nut butter.

 

Sesame Soba Noodles with Seared Broccoli and Herbs
serves four

These noodles may seem complicated, but once you have the recipe down, you can easily make them in 20 minutes. They key is to put your noodles on first, then whisk together the sauce and sear the broccoli while they cook. Chill them in an ice bath, or serve warm, if desired.

1 package soba noodles
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, stems cut into strips

Peanut Sauce:
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
½ cup tahini or peanut butter, or a combination
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, optional
1 tablespoon rice or white wine or other vinegar
juice from 1 lime
2 teaspoons Sriracha or preferred hot sauce, optional

2 scallions, sliced thinly
1 bunch cilantro, leaves picked
2 to 3 sprigs mint, torn
toasted sesame seeds

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add noodles. Boil until tender, about three to four minutes. Strain and immediately rinse under cold water and drop into an ice bath to chill rapidly.

Heat a large wok or skillet on high, add a bit of grapeseed or canola oil and sear the broccoli until lightly charred. If you want to soften in a bit, add a splash of water and cover the pot to allow the broccoli to steam. Remove from pan and set aside.

Make the sauce by blending together the sesame oil, tahini, peanut butter, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, vinegar, lime juice and hot sauce. Taste and adjust the flavors to your liking. Toss the cooked soba noodles with a splash of sesame oil then add the peanut sauce.

Garnish with scallions, herbs and sesame seeds.

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Raw Golden Beet Salad
serves four

This salad is so easy, and really holds up well throughout the day. The beets almost take on a pickled flavor, but keep their natural crunch and sweetness. If you have other crunchy vegetables, like carrots or fennel, feel free to add them as well.

1 bunch golden beets, scrubbed
2 scallions, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the beets into matchsticks. You can do this by cutting them into thin rounds, then stacking and slicing them into thin strips. No need to peel them as long as they are thoroughly washed.

Whisk together the dressing by mixing the scallions, vinegar, honey and oil in a bowl. Season with salt and toss with beets. Pack into an airtight container, and don’t forget a fork if you’re taking it to go.

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