Weekly CSA Newsletter: October 1-7, 2006 (Week #17)

In This Issue:

  1. This week's share may include: ...
  2. Pick-Your-Own Crops and Information
  3. Notes from the Field - Cool Nights and Bitter Greens
  4. Recipes - Hot Pepper Edition (some are for bell peppers)
  5. Upcoming Events: Third Sunday Gathering October 15th at 4 PM
  6. CFO Contact Information

1. This week's share may include

  • Winter Squash
  • Potatoes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Collard Greens
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Leeks or Scallions
  • Chicory
  • Cabbage

2. Pick-Your-Own Crops

  • Cilantro / Dill / Basil / Parsley
  • Flowers
  • Tomatilloes

All shareholders are invited to pick your own from 9 AM to 7:30 PM on Sundays and from 3 PM to 7:30 PM on Thursdays. Please visit the PYO station near the red shed for locations of crops and all PYO tools and materials.

3. Notes from the Field

Cool Nights and Bitter Greens

We've been getting lots of questions about the bitter greens that are in the shares these days - what are they, why do they taste like that, and what to do with them? I happen to love chicory, especially at this time of year, so I'll do my best to explain that peculiarity of taste.

Plants in the chicory family include lettuce, sunflowers, dandelion, and the common blue flowering chicory that you see on roadsides in the summertime, among many others. So-called 'salad'chicories (where you eat the leaves instead of the root) include Belgian endive, "frizzy endive" or frisee, escarole, radicchio, and the sugarloaf chicory that has been in the share a couple of times. Despite its lettuce-like appearance, salad chicories are rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially in folate and vitamin A and K, and are high in fiber. Sugarloaf chicory can have as much potassium as bananas! This year, we're growing several varieties of chicory, including the frisee endive, the more lettuce-y looking escarole, the purple radicchio (both round and Belgian-endive-shaped), and the pointy sugarloaf. All are cool weather crops that do better in the spring and fall than in the heat of the summer.

But now on to the important things: how do you prepare and eat those babies, anyway? Some basics: because they have a bitter flavor, most people feel like chicories need another flavor in a dish to balance them. Balsamic vinegar is a good balance for them, as are smoky flavors like bacon or smoked cheeses. Bacon, apples and blue cheese are favorites with chicories in both salads and cooked dishes. Sweeter vegetables, like sweet potatoes and winter squash, are also delicious with chicory. You can use frisee and escarole as part of a mixed greens salad; chop them up into bite-sized pieces and mix with other greens, then dress with a bold vinaigrette. Mustard and citrus are good salad-dressing complements to chicories in a salad, and they are particularly good with arugula.

Chicories like sugarloaf and radicchio that are fairly firm are very tasty when grilled; just chop them in half, brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill on both sides until wilted and browned, about 5 minutes a side. You can also sear them in a pan if it's too cold to grill at your house.

Last night we made a white pizza topped with seared sugarloaf chicory, chopped into pieces, blue cheese, mozzarella and kalamata olives. This was definitely a grown-up pizza, and Jonah wasn't having any of it - he claims he 'doesn't like vegetables' (except carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, and green beans) - but it was delicious! I've also made 'penne al radicchio', which combines penne with prosciutto, parmesan cheese, and sautéed onions and radicchio - really delicious, and great with red wine. Chicories are also fabulous mixed into risottos - one of my favorites is a winter squash risotto with escarole sautéed, doused with balsamic vinegar, and stirred in to wilt at the last minute.

OK - as you can see, I'm a big fan of these veggies. I really didn't mean to grow quite so many this fall, but they're out there - so experiment! Enjoy! Try one new chicory recipe this week. and let us know what it is.

Enjoy the harvest,

Amanda Cather, for the farm staff

4. Recipes

Hot Pepper 101 by Laurie Rothstein

  • The bigger the pepper, the milder it is, as a rule. I.e. don't count on it!
  • If you don't know how to estimate the heat, cook peppers whole maybe crush them a little so the juice escapes) and then remove them from the dish when it gets hot enough— you can't remove finely chopped peppers!
  • If you do slice them up, you can wear a glove on the one hand that holds the pepper so you don't get the hot juice on your fingers and then in your eyes when they suddenly itch.
  • Many people say that the most intense heat is in the seeds, but research shows that it's in the membranes that hold the seeds. Whatever. If you want a milder flavor, remove the membranes and seeds. Slit the pepper in half from one side of the stem, around the point, to the other side of the stem. Pull apart the two halves away from the seedy core. Strip off any remaining membranes or seeds from inside the pepper. Then just chop or use the flesh.
  • The cutting board will retain the heat so don't cut an apple on it right after. I keep one board just for hot recipes. Bleach removes the capsicum but since it's bleach, it's not good for the planet otherwise. But, if your hands are really really burning, make a mild solution of bleach and water (1:9) and it will wash off the capsicum.

Now, happy recipe hunting!

Elsa Petersen's Pickled Peppers

"When grilled or broiled, peppers take on a marvelous sweet flavor - add a quick pickle of salt and vinegar and you have deliciously bright taste. Leave out the chilies if you like your pickles cool. I prefer the smooth, mild flavor of rice vinegar, but sherry and cider vinegars are great too. The longer you leave the mixture, the more pickled it will become."

  • 6 long peppers, or 8 bell, red, yellow and orange
  • 2-3 medium-hot chilies
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons rice vinegar, sherry vinegar, or cider vinegar

Cut the peppers and chilies in half lengthwise, leaving them attached at the stem end. Scrape out the membranes and seeds. Put the peppers and chilies under a preheated broiler and cook until the skins are charred. Remove to a stainless steel saucepan and cover with a lid. Let steam loosen the skins. Remove the skins, retaining any juices in the saucepan.

Arrange the peppers and chilies in a plastic container with a lid. Add any juices from the saucepan and sprinkle with the salt, oil, and vinegar. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes or up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

To serve, top with a handful of oregano leaves and cracked black pepper. Serve with antipasti, pizza or bruschetta or other dishes. Serves 4-8.

Cranberry-Red Pepper Relish by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated

By the Editors of Cook's Illustrated

  • 2 Red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into small dice
  • 2 cups cranberries, picked through and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded if desired, and minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to the consistency of jam, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature. (Can be jarred and refrigerated for at least 2 weeks.)

Ina Garten's Roasted Vegetable Torte

Serves 6

"Paula Hodges invented this recipe at Barefoot Contessa, and it was an immediate hit. Make it ahead of time and then cut it into wedges, like a cake. The layers of roasted vegetables look so beautiful."

  • 2 zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 1 red onion, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 red bell peppers, halved, cored, and seeded
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, halved, cored, and seeded
  • 1 eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 -inch slices (1 ½ pounds)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the zucchini, onions, garlic, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat for 10 minutes until the zucchini is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Brush the red and yellow peppers and eggplant with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet for 30 to 40 minutes, until soft but not browned.

In a 6-inch round cake pan, place each vegetable in a single, overlapping layer, sprinkling Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste between each of the layers of vegetables. Begin with half of the eggplant, then layer half of the zucchini and onions, then all of the red peppers, then all of the yellow peppers, then the rest of the zucchini and onions, and finally the rest of the eggplant. Cover the top of the vegetables with a 6-inch round of parchment paper or waxed paper. Place a 6-inch flat disk (another cake pan or the bottom of a false-bottom tart pan) on top and weight it with a heavy jar. Place on a plate or baking sheet (it will leak) and chill completely. Drain the liquids, place on a platter, and serve at room temperature.

Hot peppers in Salsa, Corn Pancakes

Trina Smith:

Fresh salsa (if you have a food processor it's so quick and easy; chopping is hard, because the heat somehow doesn't get as whirled and your salsa is mild-mild-mild-mild-SUPERSPICY!-mild-mild....)

Corn Pancakes: Also if you make corn pancakes (with corn kernels and cornmeal) and throw in chopped hot peppers, you can serve them with plain yogurt (the full fat kind tastes best) with lemon juice and cilantro. Very quick and easy, and you can throw whatever other vegetables you want into the pancakes in moderation. I'd recommend going heavy on the kosher salt, but I'm a pretty big salt fan. As you wish.

Hot Pepper Paste

Jake Beal:

First off, they aren't terribly hot as hot peppers go, so you don't have to be ultra-cautious with them. Pretty much anything you want a little heat in, you can chuck a couple in and they'll be tasty— -chili, root vegetable stew, stir fry, sauted greens, etc.

Another thing you can do is make a hot pepper paste: one of my roommates made this by grinding peppers up with oil, then adding a little milk to thicken it up. You can use it like any spread and it tastes good on all sorts of things (toast, eggs, sandwiches, etc.) It's got a lot of flavor on its own besides just "hot".

5. Upcoming events

Sunday, October15th, 4:00 pm Third Sunday Gathering (the last of the season!)

Third Sunday Gatherings: The third Sunday of every month we host an informal gathering of members, shareholders and supporters. This is a chance to connect with other farm-friendly folks. The gatherings are scheduled to begin at 4:00 PM. Meet near the distribution shelter. Third Sunday Gatherings begin in May and are held through the third Sunday in October. The Third Sunday of November will be a harvest potluck and CFO's Annual Meeting will now be held in January 2007 (date TBD).

6. Contact Information

To reach us:

Community Farms Outreach is a nonprofit organization dedicated to farmland preservation, hunger relief, and education.

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