Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dovetails... or not.

I always feel a little silly posting my CSA roundup on Thursdays (that is, those weeks when I get around to it...*sheepish look*) given that I receive my weekly farm newsletter, and in it a list of what I can expect in my box, on Tuesdays. This week in particular I've been eager to write my CSA post because of the spectacular way in which my meal planning came together. There are exciting new recipes to try, and almost every meal dovetails with the next to create a kind of fluidity in the ingredients.

The kale was going to star in yet another rendition (the third or fourth in as many weeks) of braised kale with chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes (and one of the onions), a dish for which my fondness seems to grow each time I eat it. The red sweet peppers were going to go into a pureed red pepper and potato soup (along with a carrot or two and one of the onions), to be served with garlic croutons. The tomatoes were going to be sliced and layered with bread and herbs and cheese in a savory bread pudding. The Napa cabbage was intended for Chinese chicken salad, along with some of the red pepper and a few of the carrots. Chard was destined for a chard, potato, and white bean ragout, while mustard greens would be wilted with cannellini beans, garlic, and broth.

Then this afternoon I picked up my box, and I was glad that I'd waited to post. About half of those recipes are still on the menu, but the realities of nature brought me back to Earth (no pun intended), and I find myself having to revise my original, quasi-divinely-inspired plan.

Instead of kale, I got collard greens, which, despite my best efforts, I have not been able to bring myself to enjoy. I could try to substitute them for the kale in the chickpea dish, but I fear it would be a waste of good chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes.

Instead of red sweet peppers, which I've been getting reliably for weeks, I got green ones--just as I was starting to feel like I had good ideas for the use of red peppers (and how amazing does that soup look?!?). I know what to do with red peppers. I don't know what to do with green peppers.

And the Chinese chicken salad, while delightfully light and fresh on a summer day, just doesn't feel right when the weekend weather forecast calls for cool, wet, and windy. Lovely weather, as far as I'm concerned, but weather that calls for warming soups and stews rather than crisp, cool salads. Fortunately I do like Napa cabbage in soup. Maybe with dumplings!

Of course, what with nearly five pounds of apples (mostly Gala, plus a few others of indeterminate cooking type), I have plenty of appropriately autumnal recipes at my disposal. I've been meaning for weeks to make a pie, and of course there's also apple upside-down cake or, if I really want to have some fun, a tarte Tatin. Baked apples with brown sugar and raisins are on the menu for Saturday breakfast; apple crepes might make a cameo on Sunday. For the pears, am I utterly insane in thinking I'd like to try this recipe for smashed rutabagas with ginger-roasted pears? Alternatively, for years I've been wanting to go back to a fabulous recipe for pears stuffed with a mixture of bittersweet chocolate, ground almonds, butter, and orange zest; wrapped in phyllo dough; and baked.

For now, though, it's past my bedtime. I'll try to write up tonight's dinner (which, forgive me for boasting, was fabulous) either tomorrow or Saturday. Probably the latter, as tomorrow afternoon or evening I have a pumpkin to carve, a meal to substitute for my scheduled-but-foiled red pepper soup, and trick-or-treaters to attend to. 

Have a happy Halloween, everyone!


Brave Sir Robin said...

Stuff the green peppers. I like a rice based mixture, but there are many, many other options.

You really don't like the collards? They are a favorite of mine. I usually just simmer them with onion and salt pork. I saw a recipe the other day for simmering greens in coconut milk. She used kale, but I'm sure collards would work, they would probably need more time, of course. I haven't tried it yet, but I plan to. Coconut milk is so good in so many things, but I would never have considered it in the greens.

Anne said...

I would stuff the peppers, but they're too small and narrow (and pointy-ended, so they don't stand up well, though that's not too big a problem). I could get maybe a couple of tablespoons of stuffing in, and that's it. Maybe I'll bake them anyway and serve the stuffing on the side.

I really don't like collards. Maybe they're just an acquired taste for me and I need to try harder. But after several months of trying to get myself to like chard and kale (with success--I now have recipes that I enjoy), I confess I'm ready for a bit of a break from trying to make myself like greens I don't care for! Not very adventurous of me, I know.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Life's too short to eat food you don't like.

Do you know anyone (besides Bee) who has chickens? They will eat them.

As for the peppers, cut them in large-ish bite size chunks and bake them right in the stuffing.

Anne said...

Hmm, good question. I have a feeling that I do know someone around here who has chickens, but no one comes to mind.

I'll have to think about the peppers. I think rice will be involved, but I'm not sure yet.

I also have six jalapenos to use up. I'm thinking about making a batch of really spicy guacamole, or something like that.

Friðvin said...

We've been growing collard greens now every winter. I must say, the canned collard greens suck, and the frozen ones aren't much better. Fresh is best, and even then, I'd like to know how they are grown.

I learned that collard greens taste best after they have experienced a freeze (apparently while still in the ground as opposed to a store freezer!) and I must agree. They are delicious when the big leaves are picked after the first freeze, and any new growth also tastes fantastic.

But... once they start to go to seed, kiss all that flavor goodbye. It just evaporates leaving behind a cardboard taste.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Kona - I've head that about Collards (they are better after a touch of frost).

And yes, fresh is really the only way to go.

Bee said...

That red pepper soup really does sound wonderful. I've been getting them in my box, but usually only one at a time. (I think that you must get a much bigger box.) Last week I had one that was half green and half red; have you ever seen such a thing? I'm totally with you on the collard greens; I do wish that I liked them, but I just don't. I need to make a batch of cauliflower cheese, as the cauliflower is starting to build up in my frig.

I just find apples so much more inspiring!

Anne said...

Interesting note about the frost--thanks, konagod! Artichokes are that way, too: better with a touch of frost. The farm that grows my veggies won't be getting frost for another few weeks at least, so if I give the collards another try, I'll probably wait a bit.

Bee, I got a couple of half-green, half-red peppers late in the summer. If I'm not mistaken, it's not a special variety, but for some reason the pepper didn't turn red all the way around. I just chopped those peppers up and tossed them in the pisto, same as the red ones.

With my all-green ones I ended up making arroz con pollo, a bit heavier on the pepper than the recipe called for, but delicious nonetheless. I'll post the recipe later today.

Cauliflower cheese? What on earth is that?? Do you like aloo gobi? That's my favorite thing to do with cauliflower.

Bee said...

Anne, I am very surprised that you don't know cauliflower cheese! It is a very basic dish in England -- and absolutely de riguer for a beef roast dinner. It's basically boiled cauliflower, smothered with a white sauce laced with cheese, finished under the broiler.
I would be very interested in your aloo gobi recipe as I tend to be stumped and stymied by cauliflowers.

Anne said...

How interesting! Beef roast dinner in our house was always, always accompanied by Yorkshire Pudding.

I am far from being any kind of expert on aloo gobi--I don't even use the same recipe consistently. I started out with one that I really liked, but I lost it and haven't been able to find it again.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Aloo gobi

There is a demonstration of Gurinder Chadha making it on the DVD of Bend It Like Beckham.

Now I want some.

Anne said...

BSR, that might have been the recipe I really liked! I'd forgotten about it. Bee, if you have that movie, I'd start there. :)