Posts Tagged ‘tomatillo’

Weeks 50-51: May 6 – 19

May 19, 2009

The first local farmers market (Copley Square, Boston) opened today for the season.  I wasn’t there.  I’ll wait another two weeks until farmers markets open that are close enough to walk to, followed about a week later by our first CSA drop-off.

I remember last year at this time that I eagerly anticipated a bounty at the farmers market.  I know better.  Harvest season starts slowly.  So, while I feel entitled to stop hoarding and eat whatever vegetables are still in our freezer, I know that we’ll need some of them for a few weeks longer.

Frozen mustard greens and frozen diced-and-stewed tomatoes joined chickpeas, lots of curry powder, a bit each of cumin, coriander, cayenne, ginger, and of course salt, in a curried mustard greens recipe based on one in Joy of Cooking.  The tomatoes can be thawed, microwaved, or simply cooked with the spices and chickpeas before the greens are added.  The mustard greens are finnicky, in that they need to thaw before cooking.  I left mine (in thin layers in ziplock bags) thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours, then cooked with them as if they were fresh.  It worked, and they didn’t overcook.  I don’t think I could tell the difference between cooking with frozen verus fresh, although it’s been many months since I’ve had the opportunity to taste it with truly fresh mustard greens.

Some frozen green beans went with a pasta and sauce meal.  Some were a bit mushy, most were sort of generic frozen green beans, but a few still had crunch!

Frozen broccoli and frozen pepper strips joined tofu in a stir-fry.  The peppers held up well, the broccoli not so well.  That might mean that the broccoli was already a bit old when we got around to freezing it.

Apple sauce came out of the freezer to go into lunch bags.  Tomatillo sauce came out of the freezer to go on top of tortillas with black beans and cheese.

In a demi-miracle of proper handling, we still had two happy, healthy butternut squash.  One of them joined cannelini beans and sage to make a topping for pasta.  Sage, a perennial, is up in our yard, but we didn’t notice until after cooking with stuff out of a spice jar.  It was a missed opportunity, but we’ll have others.

The end, I mean the beginning, is in sight!

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Week 29: December 8 – 14

December 16, 2008

We haven’t been cooking very much.

We made enchilada verde casserole again.  It didn’t work as well as last time. I think we didn’t use enough cheese, salsa, or salt.  The casserole is easy to make.  It’s layered, like lasagne:  first corn tortillas, then a layer of mashed beans with some cheese and spices, then another layer of tortillas, then homemade tomatillo salsa and shredded cheddar cheese.  The tortillas are Cinco de Mayo, from Chelsea, MA.  The cheese is Cabot, from Cabot, VT.  The salsa verde came out of our freezer.  It was made with tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, and hot peppers.  We started with dried beans, which use much less energy to transport than canned beans, and soaked and simmered them in lots of water, which is from the Quabbin Reservoir, MA.  We baked sweet potatoes to eat with the casserole. 

I made a big pot of split pea soup, with big chunks of turnips, potatoes, and carrots.  I should have used some of the fresh thyme, but I forgot about it until too late. 

I used some frozen kale in a quick supper because I was too lazy to prep the fresh.  The meal itself was uninspiring, but the ease of getting just a bit of kale was notable.  We had frozen it as flat as possible in a gallon zip-lock bag.  That made it easy to break off a corner, since I was only heating up food for myself. 

The biggest meal of the week was with the friends we’re sharing our winter CSA share with.  They invited us to stay for dinner after we brought over the week’s vegetables.  The entree they made was a delicious casserole of six layered root vegetables under a bechamel sauce.  Our share for the new week included one bunch of arugula, one cucumber, one pepper, and a box of grape tomatoes.  Rather than try to divvy that up, we made a salad that we all ate together.   The arugula was from a Massachusetts greenhouse.  The cucumber, pepper, and tomatoes were from Florida.  I’m having some trouble with this whole-coast CSA idea.

We also got kale, cabbage, and apples from Massachusetts; garlic, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes from North Carolina; and oranges and corn from Florida.  (There was also a squash and some onions from Massachusetts, but we left all of those with our friends.)   Next week we anticipate some holiday extras:  cranberries and pecans. 

It’s time to make applesauce again, but I used the big pot for split-pea soup.  On days that we haven’t had oranges, we’ve had homemade McIntosh apple rings with lunch.  They are delicious!

Week 21: October 14 – 20

October 23, 2008

It was a busy week, food and otherwise.  Our CSA is winding down for the year, and our haul for the week was decidedly autumnal.  We got one bunch of leeks, four sugar pumpkins, six pounds of potatoes,  and 36 McIntosh apples (about 12 pounds).  Given that the leeks were the only green item, I was very glad that we had bought greens at the weekend farmers market.

The four pumpkins would have brought our tally to 7, but the one from week 20 rotted and had to get composted.  What does one do with so much pumpkin?  These average 3 cups of mashed flesh, which is 3 times as much, in any one pumpkin, as a typical pumpkin-anything recipe calls for.  Even a pumpkin pie uses only 2 cups, and blends it with all sorts of bad-for-you stuff like condensed (or is it evaporated?) milk and eggs and sugar.

We increased our daily apple intake from one to two.  We’re drying apples (6 in a typical dehydrator batch).  We made an apple crisp with 6 Cortland apples.   Apples are pushing other foods aside in our refrigerator.  We’ve made the occasional snack or dessert of apple slices fried in local butter.  Yum!  We really need to make applesauce with them–10 pounds of apples fit in our stock pot–but we haven’t yet figured out where we’d put a chest freezer, so we haven’t bought one yet.  Our freezer is pleasantly full of vegetables from the summer, but, well, it’s full

We started to take things out of the freezer.  We used a 2-cup block of frozen tomatoes (stewed in their own juice) to make curried chickpeas and collard greens, more or less following the Joy of Cooking recipe.  We had bought the collard greens at the weekend farmers market.

My husband went, as usual, to the mid-week farmers market, to get what our CSA didn’t provide.   He brought home 10 pears because they are fruit that is not apples.   He brought home a bunch of bok choy, a bunch of spinach, and a bunch of broccoli, because they were green. 

The bok choy and half of the broccoli went into a stir-fry with some of the mushrooms from last week, and the Jamaica Plain tofu.  (For any non-locals reading this, Jamaica Plain is a neighborhood of Boston.)  Chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms tend to be tough, so my husband cut them up and then simmered them while the rice boiled.  By the time he added them to the stir-fry they were quite tender and delicious.  We had expected to be able to save the mushroom broth for other cooking, but there was some sort of insect on the mushroom that we didn’t find before cooking, and insect broth just isn’t appealing to us.

We shared the joy of eating local at a couple of potlucks.  One of them we were guests at, and brought potato salad with dill and scallions.  It was a good way to use up scallions.  The potatoes and dill were from the weekend farmers market, bought in anticipation of the potluck.  The scallions were from our CSA in week 18.  A lot of ends and outer layers had to be discarded, but there was plenty left for the salad. 

The other potluck was one we hosted.  We invited guests to participate in the Eat Local Challenge by including at least one local ingredient in whatever they brought.  Some of them had fun with it:  one couple brought a squash soup made with butternut squash, apples, and onions from the Davis Square farmers market.  Another couple brought a salad of lettuce, spinach, and cherry tomatoes from the Copley Square farmers market, with basil from their own garden. 

As hosts, we wanted to make sure there was enough food.  We made an enchilada casserole and an apple crisp (using 6 Cortland apples, as mentioned above), and provided local apple cider and local wine.  The wine we found was a chardonnay from Westport Rivers winery in Westport, MA, about 60 miles away.  The enchilada casserole had a base layer of gorditas (thick tortillas) from the Cinco de Mayo tortilla factory in Chelsea, MA.  That was covered with a thick layer of mashed black beans mixed with spices and shredded Vermont cheddar cheese.  (The black beans were from dried, and we reserved some of the simmering liquid to mash them.)  That was covered with another layer of gordita tortillas.  Then a generous sprinkling of more cheddar cheese, and the whole thing was covered with a batch of tomatillo salsa.  The salsa was made with CSA tomatillos and cilantro, and scotch bonnet peppers we’d frozen from the farmers market last summer.  It’s very tasty and very easy to serve to a crowd, or to dish out servings at home over a few days.  We’ll definitely make it again!

I’ll leave you with this:  Hot milk sweetened and flavored with maple syrup is a real local treat.  Who needs hot chocolate, anyway?  (Well, me, but not this month.)

Week 20: October 7 – 13 (Part II)

October 9, 2008

Our CSA share this week was heavy on the apples:  16 McIntosh and 16 Cortland, making a total of 10 pounds, give or take.   Last week’s were McIntosh, also, and were very nice for eating raw.  The Cortland apples are much softer and will make a nice sauce.  What’s left of last weeks McIntoshes had to come out of the fridge to make space for new vegetables, and they’ll probably go into the dehydrator.  Some of them will go into a curried butternut squash and pumpkin soup, which will mostly go into the freezer.  The only problem is that we’re quickly running out of freezer space.

The vegetables we got this week were two bunches of parsnips, two bunches of turnips with their greens, two bulbs of fennel, two pints of tomatillos, two butternut squash, and one sugar pumpkin.

The turnip greens were too big to fit easily into our fridge, mostly becasue the stalks had gotten so long, so we cooked them up with the shell beans from the farmers market.  As usual, we chopped up the stems and used them, too.  They have a nice texture with some crunch, as long as they’re not overcooked.  The turnip greens were bitter like broccoli rabi, so they needed really strong spicing.  I didn’t want to overpower the flavor of the beans, so I didn’t spice the dish enough.  In retrospect, the beans didn’t have enough flavor to worry about overpowering.  I should probably have done a Southern cider vinegar, honey, hot sauce, and spices combination for the seasoning.

Aside from the greens and tomatillos, everything we got this week will store well.  It’s nice not to be under pressure to use things up.  I’m also wondering if we could make an effective root cellar.  I think it would have to be a sand-filled box in a cool corner of our basement, but that’s probably still too moist.  We now have carrots, beets, turnips, and parsnips in one of our crisper drawers.  We used up the potatoes we had, but I’m sure we’ll get more.  Last year we had celeriac, but this year the crop failed. 

In case you were wondering, the potato salad got its usual rave reviews at the potluck.  We ended up using all 4 pounds of potatoes because there was a lot of dill, and because when I tried to scale the dressing up for 3 pounds of potatoes, it was far too much.  I think different varieties of potatoes absorb dressing differently.

Week 18: September 23 – 29 (with a catalogue of apples)

September 25, 2008

In retrospect, it should have been a no-brainer that leaving black-eyed peas (still in their pods) in a plastic bag in the fridge would cause them to get slimy and moldy on the outside.  It took a week and a half before we had the right greens to use them with.  I had been hoping for collard greens but had to settle for turnip greens.  In the end, it worked out fine.  I washed the pods to get the mold off, and the black-eyed peas inside were almost all perfectly fine.  We boiled them for about 10 minutes in enough water to cover but not much more.  Then we seasoned them with cider vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, and rosemary.  The greens, all chopped up,  went in last, a bit at a time, because each pot-full had to wilt down and make space for the next pot-full.   Stems went in, too, and because they didn’t get over-cooked they had a delightful crunch.  We ate the beans and greens over brown rice for not just one delicious meal but two, because it ended up making four servings.  I think we started with about a pound of beans (before shelling), and one very large bunch of turnip greens. 

The turnip greens, with three small turnips attached, were in out CSA share this week, along with one bunch of carrots, one bunch of beets (with unimpressive and scant greens), two bunches of scallions, one bunch of tatsoi, two pints of tomatillos, two pounds of tomatoes, ten aneheim peppers, four bell peppers and one head of cauliflower

Most of this weeks tomatoes were so ripe already that I diced and stewed them along with last weeks four pounds of tomatoes.  They had all of a sudden gone from underripe to nearly-overripe that I had put them in the fridge.  Normally I’m a strict no-tomatoes-in-the-fridge type, but I figured these would end up in the freezer, so why not?  I ended up with nearly 8 cups of stewed diced tomatoes.  The whole pot spent a day in the fridge, and then I decanted it into two pint yogurt containers.  Because I’m likely to want the tomatoes only 2 cups at a time, I ladled each yogurt tub about half full, then put a big square of plastic wrap so that it rested on the tomatoes already in, but reached up and over the rim of the container on all sides.  Then I ladled more tomatoes on top of the plastic wrap to nearly fill the container, put the lid on (holding the plastic wrap still folded over the rim) and put the tub in the freezer.  With a contents-and-date label, of course. 

The tomatillos and anaheim peppers were, as always, inspiration to my husband to make salsa verde.  I’m guessing that 2 or 3 of the peppers will go into the salsa and the other 7 or 8 will get diced and frozen for things like chili this winter.  My husband made sure to get cilantro for the salsa when he went to the mid-week farmers market.  

His main concern at the farmers market was getting apples:  some to eat fresh, some to store.  We’re still having fun with our neighbor’s dehydrator, so there are rings from 7 apples drying in there even as I write.  We think the apples are McIntoshes, but the 10-pound bag wasn’t labeled.  At $7.50 for 10 pounds of local, IPM apples, who cares what kind they are?  If the apple rings don’t work, then the rest of the apples will become sauce. 

The $2.50 per pound fresh-eating apples that he brought home this week are Elstar apples.  They’re very flavorful, sweet, and crunchy.  I wonder how well they’ll last.  The Mutsu (also called Akane, I think) apples from last week were very crunchy, and likely to stay crunchy for a very long time in the refrigerator (one of the things I like about them) but they had very little flavor.  I remembered them being nicely tart, but not this year apparently.  One of the Ginger Gold apples from two weeks ago was still in our refrigerator, and when I cut it up today to throw in the dehydrator, I discovered it was still nice and crunchy, although not as crisp as when they were truly fresh.  Ginger gold apples are sweet and unusually crisp.  I already reported that the Zestar apples we got in week 13 were tart but unlikely to stay crunchy, and that the Gravenstein apples we got in week 14 were apple-pie flavorful and excellent for apple rings but not a good texture for eating fresh.  Our apple season started early, in week 8, with July Red apples whose main feature is that they’re early.  They’re also tart, but don’t have a good texture.  I’m looking forward to Macoun and Baldwin apples later in the season.  Every year we try different apples, and sometimes we’re really impressed and sometimes we’re really not, but we can’t usually remember from year to year which was which.  So this year I’m trying to write it down and keep track!

Week 16: September 8 – 14

September 11, 2008

This week’s CSA share was one bag of baby lettuce, one bunch of arugula, one bunch of large carrots, one bunch of mizuna, one bunch of parsley, one pint of tomatillos,  two pints of cherry tomatoes, four pounds of tomatoes, four eggplants, and eight green peppers of various sorts:  four bell peppers, two Cubanelle, two Aneheim (hot peppers) and two St. Nick heirloom peppers.

Lettuce and arugula are for salads and sandwiches.  Cherry tomatoes are for eating raw, either atop lettuce or as a pop-it-in-your-mouth finger food.  The regular tomatoes will become yet more cooked diced tomatoes (to go in the freezer) when they get truly ripe.  They were a bit green when we got them, so they’re ripening in a bowl on our kitchen table. 

I’ve been so busy being back to school (as a teacher) that my husband has done most of the cooking this week.  He made and froze five cups a delicious salsa verde from this week’s and last week’s total of three pints of tomatillos, this week’s two Anaheim peppers, garlic, lemon juice, and seasonings.  I’m looking forward to bean enchiladas smothered in cheddar cheese and this delicious green sauce. 

We made a ratatouille with two if this week’s eggplants, the two bell peppers left from last week, the one ripest tomato, canellini beans, garlic, olive oil, and spices (basil, thyme, salt, and pepper). 

My husband got lucky at the mid-week farmers market.  In addition to buying a dozen Ginger Gold apples for eating fresh at $2.50/lb, he came home with a 10 lb bag of Macintosh apples for making applesauce at $7.50 for the entire bag (translates to $0.75/lb).  He also bought two ears of corn to eat with supper that night, which otherwise was one of the quarts of lentil-kale-potato soup that I’d frozen less than a week earlier (in week 15).  Convenience foods are convenience foods regardless of season.  The kale retained its texture, but unfortunately the potatoes lost theirs.

Does anyone know recipes that will show off what’s special about Cubanelle or St. Nick peppers?

Week 15: September 1 – 7

September 9, 2008

In week 15, our CSA share consisted of two bunches of kale, one bunch of arugula and one bunch of broccoli rabe, six green bell peppers, two pints of tomatillos, one pound of green beans, four pounds of tomatoes, and one bag of mixed baby lettuce.

The broccoli rabe we had with pasta.  We didn’t have parmesan but we did have a hard, sharp provalone so we grated that to use instead.  We didn’t have veggie Italian sausage, so we put in cubes of tempeh.  We had tomatoes, so one of those went in, too.  As always, lots of garlic and olive oil was involved, and maybe some lemon juice, and hot pepper.  It was okay, not as good as the parmesan-and-sausage recipes I described in week 5

With so many bell peppers, I looked through my cookbooks for inspiration.  I found it in the form of “Tunisian Vegetable Stew” in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.  Of course, I modified it greatly to fit our tastes and ingredients.  This came out so well that we made it twice:

  1. In a large skillet, soften 2 or 3 green bell peppers (in bite-size pieces) in olive oil (generous quantity, we didn’t measure) and either garlic (one heaping teaspoon) or onion (could probably use more, the flavor would work better, I just can’t eat onion). 
  2. Add seasonings:  1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons coriander, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, and some salt. 
  3. Add 1/4 cup currants (raisins can also work), 2 cups (one can) of chickpeas, 1 chopped tomato, and 1/2 pound of green beans (cut to bite-sized).
  4. Cook until the tomatoes break down and the green beans brighten and soften to taste. 
  5. Serve over couscous.

When Saturday was cold and rainy, it was a good day to make soup.  I used one of the fresh bunches of kale to make the lentil-kale soup whose recipe I gave in week 5, and added in four large red potatoes (week 12).  I cubed the potatoes and added them about ten minutes before the kale. Here’s a photo of it:

We got a lot of freezing done this week.  After we had eaten kale soup, there were still 2 quarts of it left, so I froze them to be easy meals later.  The tomatoes kept being underripe until they were overripe, so of the 12 or 13 in the four pounds, 3 were cooked with (broccoli rabe with pasta, Tunisian vegetables) and 2 were eaten raw.  The rest I diced, simmered about 10 minutes, and froze in 2-cup tubs, so they’re perfect subsitutes for 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes.  My husband blanched and froze the bunch of kale that did not go into soup (yet – it probably will in January).  He also sliced, blanched, and froze about 4 cups of carrots, which he estimated to be half the volume of carrots in our crisper drawer.  They’ll be very good in split pea soup this winter, and I’m sure we’ll find other uses for them, too.  Our freezer is starting to fill up, which feels very good!

Week 13: August 18 – 24

August 20, 2008

Our CSA share this week consisted of a bunch of mustard greens, a bunch of parsley, four Asian eggplants, two regular eggplants, four peppers, a pint of yellow cherry tomatoes, two pounds regular red tomatoes (six tomatoes), twelve ears of corn (but gave away three), one pound of shell beans (might be cranberry limas) and four Zestar apples.

Zestar apples are tart and weirdly crunchy without being crisp.  I like them very fresh, but I think they would quickly develop an unpleasant texture if stored.  It’s a treat to get fruit from our CSA at all, though.  When we have it, it’s because our vegetables-only farmer has traded produce with a fruit farmer neighbor.

The tomatoes were in mediocre condition.  I had to toss one entirely.  Another I had to cut off a quarter of it, but then the rest of it was very good.  Rotten tomato smells awful, but it’s easy to know quickly if tomato needs to be tossed right into compost (or garbage disposal, or trash, depending on where you are).  To keep the yuck from spreading, I dealt with the tomatoes right away.  After cutting out the bad parts, I cut up the good parts into chunks and put them into a saucepan.  I stewed them for 10 or 15 minutes (I wasn’t keeping track), then froze the chunks-in-juice.  What was effectively 4 to 4 1/2 tomatoes yielded about 3 cups. 

Today was cool enough, and the volume of veggies in our refrigerator was overwhelming enough, that I did a whole lot of freezing today. 

  • Peppers are the one vegetable that gets frozen without blanching!  All four went into the freezer, some diced, some in strips. 
  • Mustard greens got the usual blanch-shock-freeze treatment. 
  • Eggplant gets steamed rather than boiled to blanch, and then their shocking water gets lemon juice added, according to Putting Food By.  I cubed the two conventional eggplants, and made stir-fry slices of the four Asian eggplants. 
  • We boiled all nine ears of corn (4 minutes to prep for freezing).  Four of them we ate.  I cut the kernels off of the remaining five and froze them. 

For our lunches today, I used up some leftover vegetables.  I cut the kernels off the three (boiled) ears of corn left over from last week (when we were away), diced up the one remaining pepper from last week (which was looking decidedly sad), tossed in a can of black-eyed peas, seasoned with honey, cider vinegar, and Tabasco sauce, and microwaved it for a couple minutes. 

There were still leftover vegetables to be used up at supper.  I steamed the remaining Kentucky Wonder green beans.  I sauteed up the shell beans in olive oil with garlic, basil, cumin, cayenne, and salt, adding the radish greens at the very end.  We also ate some of the corn from this week, while it was still deliciously sweet, crisp, and tasting just like summer. 

I went to the farmers market today intending to buy fruit for the week, since four apples last us two days if we ration ourselves.  I found plums – not the red plums with red flesh we’d liked so much in Lake Placid, but purple plums with green flesh, labeled as “prune plums.”  I bought a pound of them, which was thirteen.  I also bought a pound and a quarter of tomatillos, a hot pepper, and a bunch of cilantro to make salsa.  Most of the yellow cherry tomatoes will go into the salsa, too, because they’re not very flavorful (probably because of the rain – dryness pushed tomatoes to make sugars), and they’ll keep it a nice green-yellow salsa.