Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Cusp of Summer

The sun has been out, the days have become hot and incredibly long, the storms have receded and we are starting to pick a LOT of scapes.  The garlic greens are crisping at the edges, a sign that they are dying back and it is almost time for the great Garlic Pull (it's still a few weeks away though; but soon!).  It must mean summer is here, or at least that it will be soon enough.  This week is indeed the week of the Summer Solstice, as it approaches us this Friday.  It is a day many know and dub the longest day of the year, or some people may just know it as a day that the Celts might really like for some reason.  For us farmers out here, we sometimes don't really know how to feel about it.  On one hand, we dread such a long day, feeling impelled to work all hours of daylight and get as much as we can done.  Sometimes the sun feels like a really over-bearing, high-heat-exuding work supervisor who looks down from us at the sky and shakes his finger, saying "get to work!"  There is always some pressure to get things done while it is light, and the longest day of the year is no exception.  But on the other hand...it means that the days that come after will be getting shorter!

So we have a little announcement in regards to CSA's we will be offering, quite possibly at the end of this summer: we are introducing the University Student CSA Share!  The plan is still in formulation, but it will go something as follows: You don't have to be a student, not necessarily.  CSA duration will be from August until Nov./Dec. (TBA).  We have seen the need for many folks to want to sign on to our CSA Summer season in August, whether they are a U of Iowa student who wants some organic veggies or if you are away for summer....it don't matter!  More details to come, so stay tuned.

As for the here and now, CSA this week includes:

  • Salad Mix
  • Head Lettuce
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Green Onions
  • Collard Greens (or Kale)
  • Fennel

We are excited to bring you Fennel this week, and no, not the seeds....the whole bulb and fronds!  We have truly produced a gorgeous crop this year, and we will be providing you with some amazing recipes on how to prepare this delicious plant, considered both a vegetable and culinary herb.

Stay cool, and we'll see you at market!


Recipes 

Carmelized, Braised Fennel Bulb (www.huffingtonpost.com)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 whole fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and gently bashed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted (optional)
  • 2 1/2 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions

  • Place a large saute pan over high heat and add olive oil. Add fennel and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly charred on all sides. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze with white wine then add toasted fennel seeds and chicken stock. Depending on the size of your pan you may need to add more liquid so the fennel is about 3/4 covered. Bring to a simmer, cover and braise on stove top for 30 minutes until very tender.
  • Remove fennel from braising liquid. Reduce liquid on stove top for a further 3-4 minutes then add butter and swirl to dissolve. Serve as sauce on fennel bulb.


Sausage, Fennel and Asparagus Pizza (bevcooks.com)

What it took for 2 12-inch pizzas:
* 1 cup all purpose flour
* 1 cup whole wheat flour
* 1/2 Cup Bisquick
* 1 packet dry active yeast
* 1 cup warm water, divided
* 1 tsp honey
* 1 tsp salt
* 3 Tbs. extra-virgin oil, divided
* 2 cups cherry tomatoes
* 1/2 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and diced
* 1 fennel bulb, end trimmed, core removed and sliced thinly
* 3 sausages or brats of your choice
* 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
* fresh basil for garnish, if desired

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and honey. Let sit 5 minutes, until nice and bubbly.
In a larger bowl combine the flours, the Bisquick and salt. Add 1 Tbs oil, the yeast mixture and the remaining 3/4 cup water. Mix the dough with a spoon or your hands for about 4 minutes, until you form a ball. If you need to toss in a bit more flour, go ahead. You want a nice smooth dough ball. Flip the dough onto a clean surface and knead for about 2 minutes, getting it extra smooth and awesome.
Put the dough ball in a large bowl with a little oil coating it, cover with a warm damp towel and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes.
Once the dough has risen, using a pastry cutter, divide the ball into equal smaller balls, 2 to 4.
On a floured surface, Roll out the dough to your desired thinness.
Preheat the grill to medium-high.
In the meantime, throw about 1 1/2 cup of the tomatoes into a mini food processor and blend until smooth. Then pour the puree into a small sauce pan and simmer with a pinch of salt, pepper, and a basil leaf or two for 5 minutes.
Heat the remaining oil in a medium skillet and toss in the sliced fennel. Saute until it starts to soften, 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and tomatoes and saute another 3 minutes, until everything pops and is crisp-tender. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper.
Back on the grill, add the sausages and grill until plump and lightly charred, roughly 20 minutes, depending on your sausages. Remove from heat and cut into small half circles. (You can always brown Italian sausage (casings removed) in a pan if you want. Which I normally want.)
Brush the grates with a little oil, and place each pizza crust right on it. Grill until the bottom is set, 3 minutes. Remove crust from grill and flip it over. Spoon out a layer of tomato sauce, followed by the fennel, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and diced sausages. Sprinkle with mozzarella and back on the grill it goes for another 15 minutes or so, until the cheese is nice and bubbly and the dough is cooked through. But keep an eye on it. Not all grills are created equal and I don’t want you to hate me if yours burns. Coo?
Top with more fresh basil if desired, slice and inhale.


 Quick Braised Collards with Pot Liquor (www.huffingtonpost.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches collard greens (about ¾ pound each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup Chicken Stock or reduced-sodium canned broth
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

Directions

  • With a paring knife, cut the ribs out of each collard green. Stack and roll the greens up like a cigar. Then cut them crosswise into ribbons. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the greens for 5 minutes. Drain.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until starting to turn golden, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the blanched collards to the pan, sprinkle with the salt, and add the stock. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the collards are very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, sprinkle with the hot pepper flakes, and serve the collards with their pan juices.
  • VARIATIONS: • Add 1/2 pound diced smoked sausage when you sauté the collards. • If you want the smoked flavor without the heat, add some sweet smoked paprika to the collards as they’re sautéed. • Omit the hot pepper flakes and pass hot sauce at the table so diners can season the collards themselves.

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 Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you!


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