Weeks #30 & 31 (12/20 through 1/3)

This week your basket contains: carrots, winter squash, red onions, shallots, parsnips, beets, beet greens, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and leeks

Happy Holidays!  This will be the last delivery of 2016.  We will resume normal deliveries on January 10th.  We hope you all have a happy, safe, and festive holiday season.

With all the ice and snow and low temperatures in the past week, the farm has been in a bit of suspended animation.  Before the weather hit, we spent time covering sensitive crops with frost protection fabric and storing others in the cooler (ironic that we use a “cooler” to keep things warmer than they would be in the gardens!).  Unlike many other times, this year the snow wasn’t blown away before very low temperatures arrived.  Thus, for the most part our crops were snugged under a relatively warm 32 degree blanket instead of being exposed to temperatures as low as 17 degrees.  Now that things have defrosted, we should be able to asses any damage.  Other than leafy greens, which tend to break under the weight of snow, we expect things to be fine going forward.

We have been playing with new, easy ways to prepare winter squash.  One of the easiest ways we’ve tried recently is to cut the squash into wedges and lay them on a baking sheet.  We added wedges of red onion, drizzled it all with olive oil, added salt and pepper and baked at 400 degrees until the onions start to caramelize and the squash is tender. Delicious!

When we stored beets in anticipation of cold weather, we also stored some of the greens separately.  They would be perfect in this dish.

BEET RISOTTO WITH GREENS AND FETA

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 ¼ c. chopped onion

1 ½ c. arborio rice

1 ½ Tbs. minced fresh ginger

1 tsp. crumbled dried rosemary

½ c. red wine

3 ½ cups finely chopped peeled beets

2 vegetable bouillon cubes

3 c. water

3 ½ c. chopped greens

4 oz. feta cheese

½ c. chopped toasted walnuts

To toast nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they barely start to brown.  Stir often to avoid scorching.  Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add onion and cook until translucent.  Add ginger, rosemary and rice, stir to coat and cook a minute or two.  Add wine and cook until wine is absorbed, stirring constantly.  Add beets, bouillon cubes and water.  Cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until beets are tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in greens and cook an additional 5-10 minutes.  Add cheese and stir until blended.  Sprinkle each serving with toasted walnuts.  Makes 8 servings.

POACHED BRUSSELS SPROUTS ON A PARSNIP BED

1lb parsnips
3-4 cardamom pods
1 tsp coriander seeds
4 oz butter
1lb Brussels sprouts
1 large cloves of garlic
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
freshly grated nutmeg

Peel the parsnips, cut them up roughly and steam or boil until soft. Extract the seeds from the cardamom pods, then grind finely in a coffee grinder with the coriander seeds. Put a dry frying-pan over a fairly low heat, add the ground spices and stir for a minute, then add half the butter. Stir until melted and remove from the heat. Purée the parsnips in a food processor with the spiced, melted butter and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Spread the parsnip purée in a large, round and shallow serving dish, bringing it up slightly around the edge. Loosely cover with foil and keep warm in a low oven.   Trim the sprouts if necessary and slice thinly lengthways. Peel the garlic and slice thinly crossways. Heat the remaining butter and stock in a pan over a medium heat. When the mixture is bubbling, add the sprouts and garlic. Cover and simmer for three to four minutes, until the sprouts are bright green and tender. Remove the lid and stir the sprouts around over a higher heat until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat, taste and season if needed. Spoon the sprouts on the parsnip purée, leaving it showing round the side. Grate a generous amount of nutmeg over the sprouts and serve at once.  The parsnips can be cooked in advance and reheated and the sprouts take only a few minutes to cook, at the last moment.

This makes a delightful side dish.

MIDDLE EASTERN LEEKS

Try splitting them in half to clean and then chopping into one or two inch lengths and simmering  until tender in olive oil with some lemon, salt and pepper, dried mint, crushed garlic, a little bit of water and a tiny bit of sugar.  They are supposed to cool and then be topped with chopped parsley but they usually don’t last that long here.  They can also be boiled and the other ingredients (minus the water) poured over as a dressing.   See Claudia Roden and The New Book of Middle Eastern Food for more.