Monday, July 25, 2011

The Week Six Share, A New Kind of Kohlrabi and a Pac Choi recipe

I love this little apple tree by our big garden. It's a volunteer, but it looks
like it was pruned by an expert.
We're another week into the CSA season, and more things are ripening in the gardens and hoophouse. Actually, week six marks the 1/3 point. Not that I am counting down, I'm just amazed by how quickly the season is passing.

Already we know we want to make some changes for next year. We'll probably be reworking the harvest schedule to try to cut from three harvest days down to two. Three harvest days is a rough schedule for us. We are also hoping to offer at least one work share membership next year. Last, we definitely want to plan member workdays in advance next year, so we have a schedule that everyone (including us) can plan around ahead of time. It's hard for us to put work days together spur of the moment, and I know it is harder for interested members to attend the workdays when they have short notice.

But enough about farm scheduling, I'm sure you're all wondering what's in the share this week. For the week six share members will receive: Kohlrabi, Head Lettuce, Scallions, Braising Mix, Pac Choi, Herbs, Chard, Fava Beans, and Something Solanaceous. 

An eggplant flower. We are lucky enough to have
several of these beauties in the hoophouse right now. 
Something Solanaceous? That just means something from the tomato family. In this case tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, or eggplant. Potatoes are also solanaceous, but they come later.

Tomatillos, on the plant.
If you are lucky enough to get a share with tomatillos, make a simple salsa verde. Chop the fruits roughly (papery husks removed), combine with freshly chopped cilantro, one clove garlic, crushed, the juice of half a lime (more or less to taste), a pinch of salt, and as much finely chopped jalapeno as you like. Serve this with chips, over black bean burritos, or with mashed avocados and rice.

Okay, now what about those fava beans? If you are not familiar with favas, they take a whole post of their own to explain. Check it out here if you haven't seen it already. You'll find pictures of how to prepare the beans for cooking and a few recipe ideas. 

Kossack Kohlrabi
The kohlrabi of this week is a different variety than the kohlrabi members received in their week one and two shares. You might notice that it is green, rather than purple, and relatively ENORMOUS. Most of the time giant kohlrabi is woody and tastes bad, but kossack kohlrabi is bred to be big. We have actually noticed that the largest of the kossacks have the best flavor and texture.

If you're wondering what to do with all of this kohlrabi, try adding it to a slaw, making au gratin kohlrabi, or eating it in the following way: Peel the kohlrabi and slice it into half inch strips, combine the kohlrabi with the juice of one lime or orange, a pinch of salt, sliced fresh herbs (basil, thai basil, parsley, and cilantro are all good), and sugar or honey to taste.

Members are receiving pac choi in their shares again this week, and more than one has told me that the pac choi is the one item they have had trouble using up. Therefore, I have decided to share my favorite pac choi recipe. It looks a little intimidating because of the long list of ingredients, but it's very simple and the results are worth the small amount of fuss required to make the sauce. If you aren't a red meat eater the recipe also works fine with chicken or tofu in place of the beef.

Beef and Pac Choi

If you do not have miso, it can be left out. Serve this with rice or Asian noodles.

·         1/4 cup soy sauce
·         1 tsp honey
·         1/2 tsp miso
·         2 cloves (or more if you like) garlic, minced
·         Dried hot pepper flakes, to taste
·         1/2 cup water
·         1 Tbs plus 2 tsp corn starch
·         One pound beef in small cubes or thin slices
·         2 tsp peanut or vegetable oil
·         One bunch of baby pac choi

1.      Combine the first six ingredients (everything through the water), stirring well to make sure that the miso is dissolved.
2.      Measure out 1/4 cup of the sauce you just created, save the rest. Add 1 Tbs cornstarch to the 1/4 cup of sauce. Stir until there are no cornstarch lumps and then pour it over the beef. Allow this to marinate, in the refrigerator, for at least 1/2 an hour.
3.      Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium/high heat. Add the beef and stir as it browns on all sides. The sauce will thicken and look sort of chunky, don't worry it becomes smooth.
4.      Once the meat has browned, turn the heat to low/medium and let it simmer until the meat is cooked. Cubes of meat will take a lot longer than thin slices. Stir this occasionally so that the sauce doesn't stick to the pan.
5.      Chop the pac choi into bite sized pieces, keeping the stems and leaves separate.
6.      Stir the remaining two teaspoons of cornstarch into the remaining sauce. Again making sure there are no lumps.
7.      When the beef is cooked to your liking, add the pac choi stems and remaining sauce. Allow this to simmer until the sauce thickens. It should only take a minute or two.
8.      Stir in the pac choi leaves. Continue stirring until they have just wilted.
9.      Serve with rice or Asian noodles.

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