Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November 2, 2017 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Brussels Sprouts

Cooking With This Week's Box

Today marks the first day of November and we are into our final two months of CSA deliveries.  Where has the time gone!  This week’s brisk, cold temperatures are a reminder that winter will be coming soon.  We’re scrambling to harvest the remainder of our root crops before the ground freezes and is covered with snow.  Even though our growing season will soon be coming to a close, we have a lot of delicious cooking yet to accomplish!  This week we’re excited to be sending one of our farm favorite vegetables, Brussels sprouts!  They are best after a frost…which they got over the weekend and earlier this week.  There are many things you could do with Brussels sprouts.  Often I don’t get any further than a quick saute in butter or bacon.  However this week I’d encourage you to try the Spicy Asian Chicken with Brussels Sprouts featured in this week’s newsletter (see below).  I don’t often equate Brussels sprouts with Asian flavors, but it works!

Have you checked out our Facebook Group lately?  There have been some tasty recipes shared by members lately including this one for Thai Curried Butternut Squash Soup.  If you receive the Butterscotch butternut squash in your box this week, I’d recommend using them to make this recipe.  If you receive the sugar dumpling squash, consider trying this recipe for Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash that was recommended by another member who made this recipe using the sugar dumpling squash from a previous week.
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Another recipe that was recommended in the group was for a Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burger.  I can’t wait to try this--it looks delicious!  I’m telling you, there have been a lot of great recipe suggestions in the group lately.  If you haven’t joined our Facebook group yet, I’d encourage you to do so.  It’s a great place to share recipe ideas and ask questions.  This would be good with a few slices of avocado from this week’s fruit share!

Speaking of the avocados in the fruit share, our fruit newsletter features a recipe for Avocado & Beet Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette that was borrowed from one of Alice Water’s cookbooks.  This will be a great way to use the beets in this week’s box…regardless of whether you have the baby beets, medium sized beets or the muy grandes (BIG ONES!). Just vary your cooking time….everything else will be the same.

The bunches of Red Mizuna and Tat Soi in this week’s box are gorgeous!  I love these greens this time of year for both their flavor and color.  Both may be eaten raw or cooked, but since we don’t have any other “salad” greens anymore, I think a big salad is in order!  I’m going to make one of my “catch-all” salads using some of both the tat soi and red mizuna, partly because it will taste good and partly because it will be beautiful!  This Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette will be the dressing for the greens and I’ll top it off with toasted almonds, shredded carrots and some thinly sliced, seared flank steak.  With the remainder of the greens, I’m going to make this Turmeric Roasted Carrots with Seeds recipe.  This is kind of a “composed” salad that has a base of greens.  The red and orange carrots in this week’s box will be so sweet and delicious once roasted and will look stunning on top of a bed of tat soi.  Eat this salad with a bowl of lentils or roasted chicken for a warm, comforting meal. 

This week’s spaghetti squash and lacinato kale will come together in this Roasted Garlic, Kale and Spaghetti Squash dish. Hopefully there will be leftovers of this one for lunch the next day!

Well, that’s it for another week of cooking with the box.  We don’t have vegetable CSA deliveries next week, but we’ll be back for another vegetable share delivery the week of November 16/17/18.  This is the week before Thanksgiving, so if you haven’t planned your menu yet, it’s time to start!  We’re planning to send more sweet carrots, although the next bag you receive will have another pretty color to go with the orange carrots.  We’ll also have more sweet potatoes, winter squash and hopefully more Brussels sprouts.  That’s by no means everything that will be in the box, but just a few items to get you started!  While I haven’t seen the list for our next fruit share delivery yet, I am pretty certain we’ll have cranberries in that box.  Ok, the rest of the shares will have to be a surprise.  Have a great week!
—Chef Andrea

Featured Vegetable:  Brussels Sprouts

“Brussels sprouts are the only vegetable I cannot eat unless the weather is cold.  No frost, no sprouts.  I am not alone …Frost makes the sprout.…Eaten at the wrong time of year, cooked too long, or served with too much else on the plate, the sprout is hard going.” –Nigel Slater in Tender

Brussels sprout harvest.

Brussels sprouts are a highlight of fall and its transition to winter in the Midwest.  They grow on a tall, thick, sturdy stalk.  The sprouts spiral up the stalk and are shaded by a tuft of leaves at the top, but also down the stem.  Chef Deborah Madison describes them like this:  “There is something so silly and Dr. Seuss-like about a stalk of Brussels sprouts with its little hat of leaves that it makes you smile and want to eat the sprouts.”

There are several important points that are very important when it comes to Brussels sprouts.  First, as stated in the opening quote from Nigel Slater, frost and cold temperatures contribute significantly to the eating quality of Brussels sprouts.  After a frost, the flavor of the sprouts is sweet, slightly nutty and pleasant.  California is a major Brussels sprouts producer for the United States.  While Brussels sprouts do grow well there, there are many who are of the opinion that the mild California coastal climate just isn’t quite cold enough for Brussels sprouts.  Thus, consider yourself lucky that you live in Wisconsin & Minnesota where we can grow some delicious, sweet sprouts!

The second point of importance is DO NOT OVERCOOK THEM!  When the color fades from bright green to a dark olive color, the flavor fades too.  Overcooked Brussels sprouts go from crisp & tender to soft and mushy in texture and their sweetness is traded for a strong, unpleasant flavor with a pungent smell to accompany it.  Larger sprouts should be cut in half or parcooked if left whole.  Smaller sprouts may be left whole or cut in half.  When you are ready to use them, simply trim the end and remove any spotty leaves.  Rinse and then you are ready to use them.  They can also be shredded by cutting them in half and putting the cut side down and slicing them thinly with a knife.  Brussels sprouts may be sautéed, roasted, or lightly steamed just until the color is bright and they are tender to slightly al dente.  While most frequently eaten cooked, Brussels sprouts may also be eaten raw.  This week’s boxes include 1 pound of Brussels sprouts.  One pound of Brussels sprouts is equal to about 4 cups halved.

Brussels sprouts pair well with smoky and salty foods including bacon, ham, aged or sharp cheese, and blue cheese.  Additionally, preparations often include mustard, walnuts, pecans, lemon juice, onions and garlic.

They are definitely worth eating from a nutrition standpoint.  They are high in fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K and are packed full of powerful, cancer-preventing properties as well.  Store your Brussels sprouts in the fridge in the bag we packed them in.  You should open the bag a bit though and let them breathe.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Walnuts

Yield:  3 to 4 servings

Maple Walnuts
¾ cup walnuts, raw & unsalted
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 pinches of flaky sea salt

Maple-Mustard Dressing
3 Tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
1 ½ tsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch of fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 ½ tsp coconut oil, ghee or butter, melted
2 pinches of fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
  1. Prepare the walnuts:  Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Place the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet with the maple syrup and salt.  Toss to coat and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, tossing once after 5 minutes when the walnuts begin to bubble.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  2.  Prepare the Dressing:  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, mustard, and vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.  The dressing will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 1 week.
  3. Roast the Brussels sprouts:  Slice the sprouts in half lengthwise.  Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the coconut oil to coat.  Roast until the sprouts are tender but not overcooked, about 15 minutes.
  4. While the sprouts are roasting, roughly chop the cooled walnuts.
  5. When the Brussels sprouts are cooked through, remove them from the oven and immediately drizzle them with the Maple-Mustard Dressing, toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper.  Place them in a large bowl or serving platter, then scatter the pomegranate seeds and Maple Walnuts on top.  Serve warm.
This recipe was borrowed from Sarah Britton’s book, Naturally Nourished.  She recommends serving this recipe over cooked lentils for a vegetarian dinner.

Spicy Asian Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

Yield:  4 servings

1 cup long-grain rice
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½ cup cornstarch
1 large egg
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 large), thinly sliced
3 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more if needed
½ pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced OR red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp chopped roasted peanuts, almonds, or toasted sesame seeds
½-¾ cup chopped cilantro
  1.  Cook the rice according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, place the cornstarch in a shallow bowl.  In a large bowl, beat the egg;  add the chicken and toss to coat.  A few pieces at a time, lift the chicken out of the egg and coat in the cornstarch, tapping off the excess;  transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or a wok over medium-high heat.  In 2 batches, cook the chicken, turning occasionally, until golden 3 to 5 minutes (add more oil for the second batch if necessary);  transfer to a plate.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet.  Add the Brussels sprouts, ginger, and garlic and cook, tossing occasionally, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and ¾ cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are crisp-tender and the liquid begins to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  5. Return the chicken to the skillet, add the chili, and cook, tossing, until heated through, about 1 minute.  Toss with the sesame oil and cilantro, serve over the rice and sprinkle with the peanuts or almonds.
Recipe adapted from Real Simple: Easy, Delicious Home Cooking, edited by Allie Lewis Clapp, et al.

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