Kohlrabi and Zucchini in Cabbage Leaves

Sauteed Kohlrabi and ZucchiniOne of my favorite parts of belonging to a CSA is the unknown – what will be in the box? How will I use it? My goal, of course is to ensure everything gets eaten during the course of the week – which forces a certain creativity on the last meal or two.

I served this vegetable dish as a main course for two, though you can easily scale, or even modify the ingredients. Remember to peel the kohlrabi well – you want to eliminate both the skin and the stringy layer underneath.

Ingredients

2 medium zucchinis, diced into 1″ cubes
a handful of snap peas, remove strings and blossoms
4 medium kohlrabi, peeled and diced  into 1″ cubes
stem of a summer onion, diced
large cabbage leaves
a handful of croutons per person *
2tbsp. butter
2tbsp. heavy cream
several drops of lemon juice
kosher salt to taste (I find the shape and size of the flakes important)
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
leaves from two sprigs thyme (fresh herbs are critical to the overall flavor, I suspect marjoram or savory would be excellent substitutions)
bowl of ice water

Directions

Prepare your ingredients.

Ingedients

(This can be done anytime during the cooking.) Bring a pot of water boil that will fit the cabbage leaves.  Cook each leaf for several minutes in the boiling water until soft, but still capable of holding its shape. Remove from water and stop the cooking by submerging in cold water. Place a cabbage leaf in the bottom of each bowl or on each plate.

Cabbage Leaf Cooking

Meanwhile heat a large saute pan (or cast-iron skillet) over medium** heat for several minutes.  Melt the butter in the pan, waiting until the foaming starts to subside. Add red pepper flakes and onions. Cook until the onions start to soften – a couple of minutes.

Add the kohlrabi pieces. Stir to coat with butter. Salt the kohlrabi. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the zucchini.  Salt again. Cook for another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened.

Cooking

Add the pea pods and thyme, cooking for a couple more minutes until the snap peas are bright green and the aroma thyme fills the air.

Add the croutons to the pan, stir to mix and then spoon the mixture into the cabbage leaves on the plate.

Put cream in a small bowl, add several drops of lemon juice and whisk immediately. Dollop generously onto food and enjoy!

* Croutons can be made easily by tossing cubes of breads with butter and then cooking in the oven on low (200°F or lower) until done.  I normally use left over heels or slightly stale ends.

** Medium heat is not always the middle of your dial.  I roughly define this temperature as the correct temperature for frying an egg, such that it does not run excessively and only crisps the edges. If the vegetables are browning early in the cooking you are using too high of heat. If you can’t hear a constant sizzle, your heat is probably too low.

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Vegetable Souffle (in a jar)

My experiment with soufflé began accidentally. I had hungry people to feed and nothing much to make for dinner.

It turned out surprisingly well, and so I thought I would share it with you if you ever find yourself having to make dinner out of nothing. This is one of those very flexible recipes. Use it as a basic formula and make it your own. If you’re looking for a richer cousin of this recipe, try this.

I didn’t have 1-cup souffle ramekins, so I tried mason jars and was pleased with the results.

Makes 8 1-cup soufflés.

1 head of broccoli (or any veg)
2 oz. cheese (Any cheese will do. Reach into the back of the drawer, use this as an opportunity to get rid of some forgotten bits and pieces. If you’re lucky, you’ll find some of this.)
5 oz. milk
5 oz. cream
6 eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt
ground pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and butter your jars. (I used a variety of jars as an experiment. Eight ounce jelly jars looked the prettiest, but they all worked well.)
  2. Prepare the vegetable. For broccoli, separate the stem from the florets. Chop the stem and steam for about 2 minutes. Add the florets and steam for one more minute. In your food processor or with a knife,  finely chop both the stem and florets. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Grate cheese. Add to the bowl of broccoli. Add milk, cream, and pepper.
  4. Separate eggs. Add your whites to the bowl of your mixer and the yolks to the bowl with the broccoli mixture. Mix the broccoli mixture well.
  5. Add the salt and beat the egg whites until they stand tall.
  6. In thirds, fold the egg whites into the broccoli mixture.
  7. Divide evenly between your jars, adding about 1 cup in each jar.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes.

Notes: I made two 2-cup soufflés in larger bowls and they cooked for the same amount of time as the 1-cup soufflés.

Cherry-Rhubarb Sauce for Pork

I had some cherries in the freezer that were looking for a special purpose and picked up some rhubarb at last week’s market. If you’re on the hunt for new flavors, this quick dinner meets the need. I adapted it from this recipe, which uses dried cherries.)

one very small onion
3 oz. cherries (fresh or thawed from freezer)
2 large stalks of rhubarb (about 8 oz.)
2 tbls. sugar
1 tbls. vinegar (I used some locally made plum cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar would work nicely, as well.)
1/4 c. water

pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
2-4 pork chops

  1. Mince the onion finely. Drizzle 2 tbls. of olive oil in a saucepan. Put onion on to cook over medium-low until soft (about 10 minutes.)
  2. Trim rhubarb. Remove tough strings, if there are any. Quarter stalks lengthwise and dice coarsely.
  3. Add rhubarb, cherries, sugar, vinegar, and 1/4 c. water to saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high.
  4. Remove lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
  5. Keep sauce warm while you cook the pork. (To cook the chops, heat oil, season, and cook over medium for about 4 minutes per side.)

Leek and Sorrel Custards

We were lucky to find ourselves with some of spring’s first vegetables from Persephone Farm, and I wanted to make something interesting to honor the eggs and ingredients. This recipe is loosely adapted from the delicious Local Flavors. It looks and tastes awfully fancy, but it was astoundingly easy to make! I think that it could be very flexible, as well. Stick with 1 cup sauteed vegetables and 4 oz of leafy greens and the dairy proportions. Let me know what you come up with!

serves 4, individual portions

1 cup chopped leeks
3 tbls. butter
4 ounces sorrel, chopped coarsely
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3 eggs
ground white pepper

crumbled bacon for the top (optional)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Set a teapot of water on to heat.
  2. Melt butter in skillet over medium-low. Use this melted butter to brush the insides of 4 half-cup ramekins.
  3. Add the leeks to the remaining butter in the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the sorrel and 2 tbls. of water to the skillet. Stir around and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. (The sorrel will begin to loose some of its lovely green color, but it will look fine in the end.)
  5. Add milk and cream and stir. (You just want to heat this a little.)
  6. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until it is your desired level of ‘smooth.’ Add in the eggs and blend for just a tiny bit more. (I found it easiest to use the cylindrical container that came with my immersion blender.)
  7. Set the ramekins in a glass baking pan. Fill with mixture. Pour hot water into the baking pan so that it comes almost to the top of the ramekin.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the ramekins carefully with tongs.
  9. Garnish with bacon.

Serve with fresh bread and garden salad with potato croutons.

Triticale for Dinner

Triticale (be sharp, say it trit-a-kay-lee)  is a really delicious grain that we can get locally from Nash’s. It’s a cross breed of wheat and rye and is terribly nutritious for you. Small Scale Grain Raising has some more interesting history about this fairly new grain as well as some interesting bread and cookie recipe that I’ll have to try soon. We like it because it’s easy to cook, puffs up nicely, and really gives a good ‘pop’ in your mouth when you chew it. I have made it just as a simple side with butter and salt and pepper, but tonight I decided to jazz it up a little and make it the main dish. (Inspiration being that there just wasn’t much in the fridge, and I couldn’t bear to eat another meal that involved carrots.)

1 cup triticale
1 cup white beans
2 bay leaves

3-4 slices of thick bacon, diced
1 large shallot (or a few small ones), diced small
1 bunch of kale, cut into ribbons
1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper

Makes 4 servings.

  1. In the morning, prepare the beans and the triticale to soak. Rinse and pick through. (Be especially careful with the triticale. We always seem to find small stones in ours.) In two separate bowls, cover both with water and leave at room temperature.
  2. When ready to cook, rinse each thoroughly.  Cook the beans with two bay leaves in a covered pot on low for one hour. Cook the triticale on low for one hour also. (Next time, I don’t see why I couldn’t cook them both together, as they took the same amount of cooking time. This time, I left them separate so that I could adjust cooking times, if need be.)
  3. Drain and set aside.
  4. In a pot large enough to hold your finished product, brown bacon over medium. Stir often to get an even browning. When it is almost satisfyingly brown, throw in the shallot and cook for another 3 minutes.
  5. Add kale and stir until wilted, about 1 minute.
  6. Add stock, season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to low. Add back in the cooked beans and cooked grain. Put a lid on it and cook for about 15 minutes until the kale is stewed and everything else is reaheated.

Notes:

  • Serve with large croutons, crusty bread, or perhaps even a scrumptious cornbread.
  • Some friends of ours are diligently blogging about the dark days challenge. While we haven’t officially entered the challenge, a lot of what we cook counts. This meal certainly does! The bacon was home-smoked (from a pig who lived it’s life just a few blocks away), the veggies were all local, and even the bay leaves were from a plant that we grew (and alas, eventually killed). Check out the challenge and see if you can meet it!

Simply Scalloped Potatoes

Tis the season for potatoes. Here’s a simple side dish that reheats well for lunches or successive dinners. It does take awhile to bake, so put it in early, go do something else, and come back to it.
Total prep: about 10 minutesScalloped Potatoes
Total baking time: 1 hr. 45 min.

2 tbls. flour
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 pounds potatoes (gold, red, russet – any fine selection will do)
2 tbls. butter
2 cups milk

  1. Preheat your oven to 35oF. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.
  2. Slice potatoes into thin circles on a mandolin (or the side of a box grater, like I did.)
  3. Whisk the flour, salt, and pepper into a small bowl.
  4. Layer the potatoes and sprinkle with the flour mixture every so often. Finish with a top layer of potatoes.
  5. Melt the butter and stir into the milk. Pour over the potatoes.
  6. Cover with a lid and bake for 45 minutes. Remove lid and bake for 1 hour more.

Feeds about 8 hungry people or 2 people for lots of meals. To be extra decadent, you might try sprinkling the layers with cheese.