Wednesday, August 8, 2018

August 9, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Sweet Corn

Cooking With This Week's Box:

This Week’s Summary of Recipes and the Vegetables They Utilize:

Zucchini or Yellow Summer Squash: Vegetable KabobsZucchini Breakfast Cookies

Cucumbers: Easy Greek Salad

White Spanish Onions: Corn & Tomato Salad with Torn Croutons (see below); Vegetable Kabobs

Red Grape Tomatoes: Vegetable KabobsEasy Greek Salad

Italian Frying Peppers and/or Green Bell Peppers: Vegetable Kabobs

Sun Jewel Melons or Sweet Sarah Cantaloupe: Melon Prosciutto SkewersMelon Sorbet

French Orange Melon: Melon Prosciutto Skewers; Melon Sorbet
Sweet Corn: Corn & Tomato Salad with Torn Croutons (see below); Jalapeño Popper Cornbread Muffins

Variety of Tomatoes: Corn & Tomato Salad with Torn Croutons (see below); Easy Greek Salad

Green Beans: Cashew Curry

Can you believe this week marks the halfway point in our CSA season?  This week we’re packing box #15 of our 30 week season.  Yesterday Jose Antonio asked me if I’d taken a look at the winter squash field recently.  His observation was they look like they’re almost ready to harvest!  Yes, the reality that fall is just around the corner is very present in our minds, but we can’t dwell on that thought too long because we still have a lot of summer distractions.  So let's focus on some of those delicious summer distractions this week starting with Sweet Corn!  This is a bountiful week for sweet corn and it is delicious!  This week we’re picking a new variety called Kickoff that is proving to be quite tasty.  I hope you’ll agree.  Of course you may choose to just boil or grill your corn on the cob, slather it with butter and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  You can’t go wrong with this and often that’s the way we eat it.  But you don’t have to eat corn on the cob.  It’s a great addition to other dishes including salads such as the Corn & Tomato Salad with Torn Croutons that we’ve featured in this week’s newsletter (see below).  This is a recipe from Chef Joshua McFadden’s book, Six Seasons, A new way with vegetables.  It’s a simple salad combining fresh corn cut right off the cob combined with onions, tomatoes, a light vinaigrette and rustic croutons.  A great salad to serve alongside a grilled steak for dinner.

Vegetable Kabobs
Photo from damndelicious
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve made kabobs, so this week I found this recipe for Vegetable Kabobs that will make good use of the zucchini, white Spanish onions, green bell or Italian frying peppers and red grape tomatoes.  This recipe calls for roasting the kabobs in the oven, but you could also grill them if you prefer.  Serve this with a simple rice pilaf and you are set for dinner.  If you have some zucchini left over, use it to make these simple, yet tasty Zucchini Breakfast Cookies.  I made them last week for our market crew snack and they were a hit.  I  didn’t have any chocolate chips so I substituted raisins instead.  They are great for a quick breakfast to go or as a snack.  I had intended to make zucchini bread, but didn’t have a lot of time.  These came together really quickly and only took about 10 minutes to bake.  Super easy.

What are you going to do with those little jalapeño peppers this week?  If they don’t end up in a bowl of fresh salsa, use them to make these Jalapeño Popper Cornbread Muffins.  If you have a little extra fresh corn you could even add some fresh kernels to the batter to jazz it up a bit.  Serve them for breakfast with scrambled eggs or as a side for dinner.

Now that we have tomatoes in the box, it’s time to pair them together with the cucumbers to make this Easy Greek Salad.  You can use your grape tomatoes or just cut up some of the larger variety of tomatoes in this week’s box.  Serve it with Greek Chicken Marinated Chicken.  If you have any leftover chicken and salad, mix the two together and put it in a pita pocket for lunch the next day.

Melon Prosciutto Skewers
Picture from delish
The French Orange melons are decadent and delicious all on their own.  I seldom recommend doing anything other than just eating them as they are.  However, this recipe for Melon Prosciutto Skewers would be a great way to use either the French orange melon or the sweet Sarah melon.  I also found this recipe for Melon Sorbet.  It calls for using a charentais melon, which is similar to the French Orange melon, but you can make this delicious treat using any melon including the Sweet Sarah cantaloupe or sun jewel melon.

I want to do something different with carrots this week and thought this recipe for Roasted Carrot Hummus would be a great way to use this week’s sweet carrots.  Roasting the carrots will enhance the sweetness and flavors of the carrots.  You can use this hummus as a snack or eat it for lunch with pita bread and fresh vegetables or turn it into a pita sandwich or wrap.  Use the hummus as the spread and add chunks of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.  This might be a winner with kids too, making it a potential school lunch option and a great way to include vegetables in their day!

This week’s boxes will contain either broccoli or cauliflower, and thankfully both pair well with cheese!  I’ve been hungry for mac & cheese lately, but I like this simple recipe for One-Pan Cauliflower Mac & Cheese that doesn’t even contain pasta.  While the recipe calls for cauliflower, you could easily substitute broccoli.  You could also use the broccoli or cauliflower along with this week’s green beans to make Heidi Swanson’s Cashew Curry recipe.  This recipe includes tofu as the protein, which could be substituted with chicken if you don’t care for tofu.

Ok friends, we’ve reached the bottom of another box.  We have more delicious summer vegetables to send your way over the next few weeks.  Edamame should be ready for next week’s boxes and we’re hoping to include tomatillos and poblano peppers very soon.  The mini-sweet peppers should be ready for picking very soon as well and we have a cool, new Chinese hot pepper we’re anxious to’s purple!  Have a great week, enjoy cooking and I’ll see you back next week.—Chef Andrea 

Featured Vegetable: Sweet Corn

There’s always some excitement around sweet corn, after all it is a classic summer vegetable loved by most!  Farmer Richard enjoys the challenge of growing “the best” sweet corn, a delicate balance between choosing a variety with good genetics, one that will perform under challenging field conditions, and one with good corn flavor and just the right balance of sweetness and tenderness.  No small task!

As for eating sweet corn, it’s important to keep sweet corn cold.  After the corn is picked, sugars will start to convert to starch.  Keeping corn cold will slow this process down, preserve the quality and sweetness and give you a few more days to enjoy it.  One of the qualities Richard looks for in a sweet corn variety is the rate of conversion of sugars to starch.   We choose ones that have been developed to have a slower conversion rate, which gives you more time to eat and enjoy the corn before it becomes starchy and compromised.  Despite the fact that you see people selling and transporting corn out of the back of a pickup truck, this is not the best tactic.  We take ice to the field when we harvest it, ice it again when it comes in and store it in the cooler until we pack it and load it on a refrigerated truck.  We do what we can to grow the tastiest corn for you, but you need to do your part too!  Take a cooler with you when you pick up your box, store it in the refrigerator and eat it within a few days.  If you have limited refrigerator space, husk the corn and put it in a plastic bag before refrigerating it.

While eating it off the cob is a special summer treat, fresh corn can be enjoyed in so many other ways.  Cut it off the cob and add it to summer vegetable salads, salsas, or relishes.  Stir fresh corn kernels into cornbread batter, make fritters or sweet corn pancakes.   It’s also good in summer vegetable chowders and light soups.  If you cut the corn off the cob, don’t discard the cob.  Add it to soups or stock where it will impart a delicious corn flavor.

Corn pairs well with a lot of other ingredients including summer vegetables such as green beans, tomatoes, edamame, onions, and peppers.  It also plays well with butter, cream and cheese such as Monterey Jack, Parmesan and feta.  As for herbs, corn dishes pair well with cilantro, basil, mint and thyme to name a few. 

If you’d like to preserve sweet corn, it’s a little messy but overall pretty easy to do.  First you remove the husk and silks.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt the water.  Cook the ears of corn just until you see the color of the kernels change to a bright yellow.  Remove the corn from the boiling water and put it in a pan or sink of clean water with ice in it.  Put the corn in the ice water to stop the cooking process.  Once cooled, stand the ear of corn upright on the wide base of the ear on a cutting board.  Cut the corn off the cob by running the paring knife down the ear.  Try to cut as close to the ear as possible to avoid wasting any of the good corn or the juice! You can also run the back of a knife on the cob to get all the good corn juice.  Once the corn is cut off the ear, just spoon it into a freezer bag, close the bag and freeze the corn.  You’ll be glad you did this when you are pulling frozen corn out in January to make a delicious corn chowder!

Corn and Tomato Salad with Torn Croutons

Yield: 4 servings

Kernels cut from 3 ears sweet corn, plus the milky pulp scraped from the cob (about 2 cups total)

1 lb tomatoes (all shapes and colors) cored and cut into wedges or chunks, or whatever looks pretty

1 medium white Spanish onion, sliced thinly

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups torn croutons (see recipe below)

½ cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1 handful basil leaves

1 handful mint leaves

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

  1. Put the corn, tomatoes, and onions in a large bowl.  Add the vinegar and toss gently to mix.  Season generously with salt and pepper and toss.  Taste and adjust the seasoning so the salad is nicely bright.
  2. Add the croutons, pistachios, pecorino, basil, and mint and toss again.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.  Moisten with ⅓ cup olive oil and toss again.  Taste and adjust.  Serve lightly chilled or at a little cooler than room temperature.

Torn Croutons

Yield: about 2 cups

2 large, thick slices country loaf (about 4oz)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Tear the bread, crust and all, into bite-size pieces.  Toss the torn bread with the olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the croutons on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake until golden brown, checking every 4 to 5 minutes and moving the outside croutons to the center of the pan so they cook evenly.  Don’t let them get rock hard; leave a little bit of chew in the center.  The total baking time will depend on the type and density of bread you’re using, but most likely will be 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Slide onto paper towels to absorb any extra oil and season again lightly with salt and pepper. Store the croutons in an airtight container.  (Be sure to make more than you need for your recipe because you’ll find yourself eating these as a snack.)

These recipes were adapted from Six Seasons, A new way with vegetables by Joshua McFadden with Martha Holmberg.

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