Monday, September 5, 2011

Week 12 - A chill settles over the farm...

The week 12 share includes potatoes, tomatoes, summer squash and/or zucchini, cucumbers, fennel, onions, garlic, kale, parsley, Brussels sprouts tops.

The first week of September means many things.

Zucchini grow huge in the blink of an eye.
The first frost could come tonight, or a month from now. (Please wait for the melons
to ripen.)
The gourds are this close to awesome.
And it's time to top the Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts are basically side shoots growing along the long stalk of a tiny head of cabbage. It's one of those tiny heads that you see in the picture above. If we chop the "cabbage" off the stalk toward the end of the growing season it encourages larger sprouts to form. We only have so much use for tiny, lose leaf, cabbage heads, so we decided to add them to your shares this week. They have a nice spicy cabbage flavor, though they are a bit tougher than cabbage. Use them as you would kale.

Actually this week you are receiving kale as well, making this the perfect week to make Caldo Verde, a Portuguese soup with kale, potatoes, and sausage. Try either of the recipes described here, using a combination of the Brussels sprout tops and kale for the greens. Each share contains a pound and a half of potatoes, which should be just right for the soup recipe.

It has turned into winter food weather, at least tonight. It could warm up again before the week is through. I wanted to experiment with the fennel before we added it to the shares, and came up with a dish that turned out perfect for the chilly evening.

Pork with Cherry Tomato Glaze, Fennel, and Potatoes

First, a note on the fennel in your shares. They are small and tender - really just babies yet. We planted some old seed late on a whim so they had no hope of growing to full size. Prepare them by separating the stalks as you would celery and roughly chopping the entire thing, up to and including the fronds. The cherry tomato glaze is my homage to the time honored tradition of pork chops cooked in ketchup and Coke. Though I think my mom always cooked hers in plain ketchup.

  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (about a third of the share), halved
  • 1 onion, diced very small 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pork chop per person
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (or more as needed)
  • 1 pound potatoes (more if serving several people)
  • The fennel from your share (equal to one medium fennel bulb)
  • 1/2 cup water + more as needed
  • salt and pepper
  1. Combine the cherry tomatoes, diced onion, sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside to allow the tomatoes to release their juice.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium/high heat in a frying pan large enough to hold all of the pork chops.
  3. Place the pork chops in the pan, sprinkle each side with a pinch of salt and pepper. Brown on both sides.
  4. When the pork chops are browned, turn the heat to medium/low and spoon the cherry tomato mixture evenly over the pork. Be sure to get all of the liquid from the bowl into the pan.
  5. Cook, stirring and turning the contents of the pan frequently, until the tomatoes are very soft and the pork is cooked to your liking, about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your pork chops.
  6. As the pork is cooking, prepare the fennel as described above, reserving some of the fronds for garnish, and slice the potatoes about 1/8 of an inch thick.
  7. Position the pork on a serving dish, spoon the tomatoes over the top of the pork, be sure to get all of the sauce out of the pan. Place the pork someplace to keep warm.
  8. Turn the heat back up to medium/high and add 1/2 cup water to the frying pan. Stir with a spatula to loosen any browned bits of pork or sauce from the bottom of the pan.
  9. Add the potatoes and fennel to the pan.
  10. Cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are tender. Add water as needed to prevent the potatoes from becoming dry and sticking to the pan.
  11. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Surround the pork on the serving dish with the potatoes and fennel and serve together, garnished with some fresh minced fennel fronds.


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