Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What a Party! A Recap of Our 2017 Harvest Party

By Farmer Richard

Members enjoying a light snack before the wagon tour!
One of our younger members
stretching to step over the drain!
Last Sunday we hosted our annual Fall Harvest Party and had a great day!  Preparation for this party starts days before with planning, sending out invitations, ordering food, supplies, etc.  Then, the Saturday before the party comes and we kick it into high gear to get everything ready.  Our crew still had harvest to do as we finished putting together our orders for the week, but we all worked together to get the jobs done and then spent the last few hours of Saturday washing the work tractors, loading wood crates onto harvest wagons for the tour and making sure we were “parade ready.”  The packing shed crew spiffed up their area, moved equipment out and moved picnic tables in as we prepared for the potluck.  Andrea spent all day preparing snacks and food including some delicious caramelized onion & roasted poblano dip, black bean salad with tomato vinaigrette, fig & apple chutney and purple tomatillo salsa!  Angel, Oscar and Ascencion spent much of the day preparing the underground brick oven and the pork so it could slow-roast overnight.  By the end of the day we were all tired, but excited for the next day and its activities.

We had some members who came on Saturday afternoon so they could camp out on Saturday night.  They set up their tents in our camping area by the river, built a nice fire for cooking and beat the heat with frequent dips in the river to keep cool.  Chris & Lisa (members from Madison) brought a super powerful telescope.  After the sun went down, we had clear skies which made for spectacular star gazing.  We could see Saturn with its rings, Jupiter and its moons and the Andromeda galaxy.  What a cool treat!  All of the campers seemed to enjoy their night with a few hooting owls and other night sounds. 

We enjoyed music performed by Dave & Ryan!
Sunday dawned, clear and warm for last minute set-up and preparations.  Michelle arrived and took over kitchen duties so Andrea was free to mix & mingle.  Scott, Gregorio and Manuel pitched in too to help grill tortillas, finish preparing the pork and make sure everything was ready for the potluck.  Our guests started arriving at noon and enjoyed snacks and the gentle music of the Sonic Love Child.  Dave, one of the band members, is a CSA member from Minneapolis.  Unfortunately the other members of his group weren’t able to come this year, but Dave recruited another musician friend (Ryan) who actually lives in Viroqua and the two of them played for us.  The kids enjoyed giving Captain Jack (the dog) pets on the head and tossed sticks for him.  Kids of all ages tried to guess the number of baby potatoes in the gallon jar.  The winner was Clara, a young CSA member who walked away with the big jar of potatoes to enjoy!

Farmer Richard showing members how to dig sweet potatoes!
Look at this sweet potato!
One of the larger sweet potato finds this year!
Finally, it was time for the field tour!  We had 3 full wagons with a headcount of about 100 people!  We set out for our first stop at the tomato/eggplant/pepper field by the river.  We parked in the shade and spread out to find our favorites.  Some went to tomatoes, others meandered down the rows of eggplant and many enjoyed snacking on bright, sweet, warm peppers!  It’s great to see kids wrestling peppers off a plant and tentatively tasting.  Finding it sweet, they look for more.  You know the expression “kid in a candy store?!”  Yes, it’s a little like that.  After we’d had our fill, we hopped back on the wagons and headed to the sweet potato field!  We passed a very nice field of broccoli and celeriac and stopped to dig sweet potatoes.  This is a much different harvesting experience, having to remove the vines and dig to loosen the dirt with a shovel in order to pull the sweet potato bunch from the dry ground.  We have several different varieties we’re trialing this year, so we dug in several different places to check on the progress of the different kinds.  We found some very nice sweet potatoes, but it was agreed that many were on the small side and needed another week or two to grow to their full potential!

Our next stop was the pumpkin field!  We picked as many as we could including some 20# Jack-O-Lanterns and many smaller “winter luxury” pie pumpkins.  There were plenty of pumpkins for everyone and many still remained in the field as we drove away.  While we would’ve liked to stay and keep picking, we had to get back to the farm for the potluck! 
Some Members prefer the smaller pumpkins.
And some liked the bigger ones!
Chef Andrea with her wee little pie pumpkin.

The roasted pork turned out great and we enjoyed it carnitas style on corn tortillas with cabbage slaw and salsa.  Rufino made a super spicy sauce that took some by surprise!  We filled our plates, making sure we saved room for ice cream brought by Madison member, Sarah!  We had had such a great day, but wait!  We still had more activities to do!  Captain Jack took a place on the sideline, exhausted from chasing sticks and Frisbees.  While he rested, Rafael took a group to test dig the fall carrot field.  His group came back with big bunches of nice orange, yellow, red and purple carrots.  Meanwhile I took a group to check out a magnificent bald-faced hornet nest in the tree behind the office.  We also took a walk through one of our prairie spaces to collect wildflower seeds.  We wandered up to the woods and foraged for hickory nuts and stumbled upon a small patch of ghost plants!  This is a rare and strange plant that is “ghostly white”, having no chlorophyll.  We ended the walk by swinging past the Concord grape vines where we paused to pick a few to pop in our mouths.  One final visit to the goats and ducks and then it was officially time to bring the party to a close and head home!  While we were off on our adventures, our dedicated crew had already started cleaning up the wagons and was getting the packing shed put back together so we’d be ready to hit the ground running first thing on Monday morning.
After the tours, members could go with Rafael to
see and dig some carrots to take home.

Some HVF Crew took breaks under
the wagon to cool off!

Farmer Richard talking with members about Jicama!

Thanks to those that made the time to come and visit us.  We enjoyed your company and enthusiasm and hope you too enjoyed your farm experience.  If you weren’t able to join us this year, mark your calendars for next year and join us for a super-fun day at the farm!  We also want to pass on a big “Thank You” to all of our crew members who pitched in and helped us put on another great party.  Now that the party is over, it’s back to work for another busy week of packing CSA boxes, harvesting root crops, tomatoes, peppers and more!  Hope to see you next year!

September 28, 2017 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Jicama

Cooking With This Week's Box 

Welcome back to another week of delicious cooking out of your CSA box.  This week’s box has a few special treats in it including this week’s featured vegetable which is jicama!  If you aren’t familiar with jicama, please take a few minutes to read this week’s vegetable feature.  While it can be eaten raw or cooked, I’m opting to eat it raw this week and have found two tasty and very simple salad recipes to share with you.  You may actually have enough jicama to give both a try!  The Jicama Apple Slaw (see below) recipe is made with tart Granny Smith apples and has a creamy dressing made with yogurt, lime juice and zest as well as a little heat from some jalapeno.  We included Granny Smith apples and limes in last week’s fruit box, so this might be a good recipe choice for members who also receive the fruit share.  The second recipe is for Thai Jicama & Red Onion Salad.  (See below) The author of this recipe recommends serving it with shrimp, but I think it would be delicious with any fish, seafood or even chicken. 

I came across two interesting recipes this week for broccoli and cauliflower.  The first recipe is Grilled Broccoli with Avocado and Sesame.  This is an interesting recipe that has several components to it that come together in the end.  Grilled broccoli is drizzled with a dressing made from avocado and tahini and then the salad is garnished with slices of red onion and a bit of pickled jalapeño.  This salad will make good use of not only the broccoli in this week’s box, but also will utilize the jalapeños and red onions.  Serve this salad as a main dish on its own or alongside grilled steak or chicken.  The other recipe I came across is for Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic & Thyme.  With this recipe you roast whole cloves of garlic with the cauliflower along with some onions.  When you serve this dish, diners can squeeze the sweet roasted garlic out of its skins and eat it with the cauliflower or you can spread the roasted garlic on bread and to eat alongside the cauliflower.  Any color of cauliflower will work for this recipe. 

What are you going to do with that crispy head of iceberg lettuce!?  Iceberg lettuce is light enough to be refreshing, but strong enough to hold up to creamy dressings such as blue cheese, ranch and thousand island.  I’m going to go with a traditional Cobb Salad this week and will use a recipe featured in Saveur as my guide.  This recipe calls for half of a head of iceberg mixed with some romaine and watercress.  I’m going to just go with all iceberg lettuce and in place of the spicy watercress I’m going to add the flavorful, tender greens from the baby white turnips.  I’ll use the grape tomatoes for this salad as well and may supplement with a few of the larger tomatoes. 

While the Cobb Salad makes a nice main entrée salad with head lettuce, I’m going to save the Salad Mix to use as a base for a simple side salad that could go with any meal throughout the week and is a good “go-to” option when you are tight on time.  I’ll use the orange Italian frying peppers to make my recipe for Creamy Roasted Sweet Pepper Dressing  featured in our newsletter back in 2014.  Once the dressing is made, all that’s left to do is just drizzle it on the salad mix and garnish with shredded carrot, tomatoes or any other vegetable of your choosing!  This dressing also makes a great dip for carrot or jicama sticks. 

Baby white turnips are one of those vegetables that we see in the spring and then it resurfaces for a few weeks in the fall.  Since I chose to use the greens for the Cobb Salad, I’m going to prepare the actual turnips using this very simply recipe for Glazed Baby Turnips with Carrots. Serve this as a side dish with a seared pork chop or a slice of ham. 

Finally, lets talk about this bag of sweet & delicious mini sweet peppers.  These little gems are delicious just eaten as is for a snack, but you can kick that snack up a notch by cutting off the tops and stuffing them with cheese!  I like to fill them with cream cheese or goat cheese, but you could also stick a piece of mozzarella inside and then pop them on the grill or put them under the broiler to melt the cheese and blister the pepper skin.  If you just have too much in your kitchen to eat this week, mini sweet peppers do freeze well and are just as tasty in the winter as they are right now.  I keep a bag in the freezer to use during the winter for pizzas, scrambled eggs, pasta dishes, etc.

Once again we find ourselves at the bottom of the box.  I’m not sure what next week’s box may hold, but if there is room we may start sending some winter squash your way.  So gather your squash recipes and get ready!  If you have any favorite squash recipes you’re willing to share, I’d love to try them!  Have a great week and enjoy!—Chef Andrea 

Featured Vegetable:  Jicama

Jicama is the odd-shaped vegetable with brown skin occupying one corner of this week’s CSA box.  It is also known as yam bean, Mexican yam or Mexican turnip and is native to Mexico.  The name of this vegetable is pronounced HICK-uh-mah or HEE-kuh-mah.  It is a tropical plant that resembles a bean plant with bean-like vines and seed pods.  The jicama grows underground and is a tuber that can produce multiple tubers off the one main stem. 

Once you peel away the outer skin, jicama has solid white flesh.
On the outside jicama is not the most attractive or flashy vegetable.  Peel away the brown, leathery skin and you’ll find a solid white flesh inside that is mild in flavor, crunchy with a slight sweetness and slightly starchy.  You can eat jicama both raw and cooked.  One of the most basic ways to eat jicama is to slice it into sticks and give it a squeeze of lime juice and a light sprinkling of chili powder and salt.  Jicama also pairs well with citrus fruit and is often used in raw salads and salsas prepared with limes and/or oranges.  It also pairs well with avocado, peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, seafood, onions, and garlic to name just a few complementary ingredients.  In Asian cuisine you may find jicama used in stir-fry type preparations.  When stir-fried, jicama should be added towards the end of cooking to retain the crisp texture.  If you let it get just slightly soft, it has almost a potato-like flavor and texture.

Jicama is very sensitive to chill injury, so it is best to store it on your kitchen counter until you are ready to use it.  Once you cut into it, store any cut jicama in the refrigerator and eat it within a few days. 

Jose Antonio holding a piece of Jicama!
We credit one of our crew members, Jose Antonio Cervantes Gutierrez (aka JAC), with introducing jicama to Wisconsin.  One day we were working in the greenhouse and he presented me with a handful of seeds in a small packet.  He asked if I thought we could grow it here?  Well, I had no idea how to grow jicama and had only eaten it several times.  We decided to give it a try and after several years of learning we are finally getting good results!  I asked him why he brought those seeds with him when he came to work here that year.  There is a large farm not far from where he lives that grows large amounts of jicama.  He would pass by their fields, see the jicama and was intrigued by it.  He said he brought them because he had tried planting them at home, but couldn’t ever watch them grow because he had to leave to come here to work!  So, he brought the seeds with him so we could plant them here and he could watch them develop!  JAC’s favorite way to eat jicama is to eat it raw with a squeeze of lime juice and salt or lime juice and a sprinkling of Tajin, a seasoning mix made from salt and a specific type of chile. 

We don’t grow jicama every year, but in our survey at the end of last year we asked you to vote for the top three vegetables you wanted to see us grow this year and jicama made the list!  You asked for it and here it is!  We’re grateful to JAC for introducing us to something new and we’re glad you, our members, have grown to appreciate it too!  

Jicama Apple Slaw

Yield:  4-5 servings
Picture from

1 small jicama, peeled and fine julienned (3-4 cups)
1 Granny Smith apple, fine julienned
2 Tbsps cilantro, chopped
¼  green cabbage head, shredded (could substitute broccoli stems)

For the Dressing:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 limes, zest and juice
¼ cup sherry wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper, to taste

  1. Mix julienned jicama, apples, cilantro, and cabbage together.
  2. Whisk all dressing ingredients together. Toss with jicama apple mixture.  Season as needed with salt and black pepper.  Serve immediately. This recipe is best eaten the day of. 

Recipe borrowed from

Thai Jicama & Red Onion Salad

Yield:  4-6 servings
Recipe picture from

1 small or ½ of a medium jicama, peeled 
½ small red onion, peeled
1 ½ Tbsp fish sauce
1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp agave nectar (can substitute sugar)
1 red chili, minced or ½ tsp red chile flakes
¼ cup chopped cilantro

  1. Cut jicama into quarters, then thinly slice.  Thinly slice the red onion into half-moon pieces.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, rice vinegar and agave nectar or sugar until it dissolves.  Add chile or chile flakes and whisk again.
  3. Place the jicama and onion slices into a medium-sized bowl.  Toss with the rice vinegar dressing.
  4. Add the cilantro and toss again.  Serve.

Recipe borrowed from

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fall is Here!

We started harvesting sunchokes earlier this week
This Friday marks the official transition from summer to fall and on Sunday, September 24th, we’ll celebrate this year’s harvests with our annual Harvest Party shin-dig.  We’ve been talking about this seasonal transition now for several weeks as things have started to change in our fields.  This week however we are feeling it more than ever.  We’re harvesting purple top and sweet scarlet turnips, sunchokes, daikon radish, fall carrots and we will be packing Soup Mix before the week is finished!  The leaves are starting to change colors, hickory nuts are dropping to the ground, and we know it’s just a matter of time before we get our first chilly, frosty night.  We hope you are planning to attend the party this weekend so you can see our valley and fall crops for yourself!

Honeynut butternut squash curing in the greenhouse
A lot has been happening in our fields over the past few weeks, so we wanted to catch you up on our activities with a field report.  We said goodbye to watermelons, melons, zucchini and cucumbers over the past few weeks, but there were more crops entering the stage as these summer favorites dwindled.  We are nearly done with winter squash harvest.  We have harvested and cured most of our winter squash and will go back to harvest the last few loads remaining in the field before the end of the week.  We’re planning to start packing winter squash in your boxes possibly as early as next week.

Our first planting of tomatoes is nearly finished, but the second planting still looks pretty good and continues to produce.  We have been having pretty cool days and nights, so the tomatoes have been ripening slowly.  We’ll keep picking right up until the first frost.  We’ve also been hitting our pepper field pretty hard with harvests.  There isn’t a whole lot remaining at this point.  Our orange Ukraine plants are pretty much done.  They produced a lot for us, but there isn’t much remaining on them.  The Orange Italian Frying peppers are still producing and we’ll be able to pick for this week and next, but I’m not sure how much will remain beyond that.  We’re planning to deliver mini-sweet peppers in next week’s box, but these plants don’t have a lot of fruit remaining on them. 
Celeriac with green tops freshly washed!

This week’s featured vegetable, celeriac, comes to you with its green top still on.  This is another sign of the transition point in the season.  While we’re still harvesting them as green top, we’ve already started to mechanically harvest these roots for storage.  They’ll all need to be harvested within the next few weeks as they will not tolerate more than a touch of a frost.  This marks our transition in cooking as well.  Soon we’ll all be enjoying more root-focused soups, stews and braised dishes to warm us up on the cold days. 

 Scarlet & Purple Top Turnips harvested last Saturday
There are some vegetables that make their appearance in the spring and then return in the fall.  Fall is a special time in many ways for some of these crops as the cool fall days and nights help to intensify the colors of vegetables and the flavors of some things mellow out and are sweeter.  We’re harvesting a beautiful crop of fall fennel right now and just started harvesting our fall crop of baby white turnips.  Next week we’ll be resuming baby spinach and salad mix harvest.  The color on these crops is always very impressive this time of year.  The green colors of spinach are more intense and the red lettuces are stunningly gorgeous! 

At the farmers’ market we’ve already been getting inquiries of “When will Brussels sprouts be ready?” Well, they are making sprouts and looking pretty good, but this is one of the brassica crops that benefits from a few frosty nights before harvesting.  All brassicas undergo changes in flavor in cold weather.  Their flavor becomes more sweet and well-balanced.  So the best estimate I can give you for when we’ll harvest them is after it frosts.  We also have our eye on the sweet potatoes and will be harvesting those before too long.  We’ll have to do a sample dig at the party this weekend to check the progress in growth and gauge just how much longer it will be before we’re ready to pull the trigger and do the big harvest! 

Jicama, sweet potatoes, squash and more coming soon!

Newly planted escarole and radicchio plants
Next week we’ll be delivering jicama in the boxes.  It’s in the process of being cured right now to set the tender skins.  This year’s crop looks pretty good!  We’re still learning how to grow jicama but I think we’re making progress!  We did harvest some that don’t look so pretty.  If you come to the party on Saturday, we’ll share those with you.  They don’t look good but they are still good to eat!  We also have a crop of tat soi slated for a late season harvest and we’re trying a new growing method for some late season chicories.  This week Scott, Simon and Jose Antonio finished planting escarole and radicchio transplants in our cold frame greenhouse.  We did a pretty good job of growing head lettuce in the cold frame greenhouse this spring and delivered it in the May boxes.  We’ve never grown escarole and radicchio in a greenhouse, but thought we’d give it a try and hopefully they’ll be ready for some of the last boxes of the season in November and December.  They are more cold hardy greens that can take cold weather and frosty nights and their flavor actually improves in cold weather.  In the field they can sometimes get damaged when the nights get really cold, so we’re hoping the more protected environment of the greenhouse will allow us to get the benefit of the cold weather but gain the protection from deep frosts.  Wish us luck!

In addition to harvesting crops,  we’ve also managed to stay on top of planting cover crops.  As we finish harvesting a field, we move right into preparing it for  winter and includes establishing a cover crop.  Did you read last week’s newsletter regarding the importance of regenerative farming methods related to mitigating climate change?  Well, we’re trying to do our part by getting cover crops on bare ground so they can capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil.  How cool is that?!  We’ve also finished putting up stored hay for our animals to eat this winter and we’ve returned to some of our woods management projects.  The high winds we had in July along with the rains took the tops off of a lot of our trees in the woods. We’ve been scouting the woods identifying where the damaged and downed trees are.  We’ll focus on salvaging what we can this fall.

Despite the challenges of the July weather event, we’re gearing up for a bountiful fall harvest and we’re hoping Mother Nature will be cooperative!  There are still a lot of delicious vegetables remaining to experience this season as we continue our journey in our seasonal eating adventure.  I’m already starting to look forward to some favorite winter dishes such as Turnip-apple quiche, sweet potato casserole and rutabaga mash!  We hope to see you at the party this weekend and hope you enjoy the last few months of vegetables!

September 21, 2017 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Celeriac

Cooking With This Week's Box

As we dive into this week’s box, we’ll start with our featured vegetable of the week which is green top celeriac!  This week’s newsletter features two different types of ways you can use your celeriac, one is raw and the other is cooked.  The Sesame Chicken Celeriac Salad (see below) is a main entrée salad that is very easy to make and will travel well for lunch the next day if you have leftovers.  If you’d prefer to make something warm, you might want to consider making the Celeriac, Potato and Apple Puree (see below).  This wasn’t my original plan for a recipe, however we had the opportunity to dine at Harvest Restaurant in Madison, WI last Sunday at their special 17th Anniversary Dinner. Chef Jon served a delicious celeriac and potato mash.  I had stumbled over this recipe over the weekend and once I sampled some of the apple from this week’s fruit box I decided the combination of celeriac, russet potatoes and apples was on the list for this week.  This puree will make a delicious accompaniment to any pork dish, grilled beef, duck or roasted chicken.

If you choose to make the Sesame Chicken Celeriac Salad, the recipe calls for chicken breasts.  If you are making the salad this week, you might as well use a whole chicken.  You can take the breasts off and cook them for the salad and then use the thighs and legs to make Jamie Oliver’s Tender and Crisp Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes & Basil. The recipe calls for 4 chicken quarters to serve 4 people.  If you’re using just one chicken you’ll have to cut the recipe in half and your yield will be for just 2-3 servings.  This recipe can be made with some of the tomatoes in this week’s box as well as garlic and basil from your herb garden.  Serve this with cannellini beans, mashed potatoes or pasta.

At the dinner last Sunday, we had another delicious course that included halved grape tomatoes served with an herbed buerre blanc sauce.  While I’m not going to get that fancy this week, I was inspired to take make this recipe for Marinated Cherry Tomato Salad.  Of course we’ll use the grape tomatoes, cut them in half and marinate them in vinegar, herbs and oil.  This can be served as a salad on its own or use it as a condiment to top off seared salmon, grilled steak or serve it on top of a bowl of lentils or cannellini beans. 

Well, sweet corn season is coming to a close but we still have a few ears to enjoy!  This week I’m going to cut the kernels off the cob and use them, along with one of the tomatoes, to make this Tomato, Basil & Corn Pizza.   The recipe calls for baking it in the oven, but you could put this on the grill too for a little extra smoky flavor.  I always like peppers on my pizza, so I’ll thinly slice the green bell pepper and add it along with the corn.  The orange Italian Frying Peppers are going to go on a tossed salad made with either the red Boston or red Batavia lettuce.  I’m going to toss the salad with this Creamy Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette and garnish it with some thinly sliced onions, croutons and some canned water-packed tuna for an entrée salad to eat at lunch. Any extra orange Italian frying peppers left over this week are going straight into the freezer so I have some to use on pizzas during the winter.  If I have time I’ll slice the peppers before freezing, but if time is short they can go into the freezer whole and I’ll deal with cutting them in February!

The remainder of the potatoes as well as this week’s leeks are going to be used to make Potato Leek Soup with Poblanos and Crispy Bacon.  I tried this recipe last fall and it is delicious!  I never would’ve thought to pair the gentle leek with a hot pepper, but the combination works and this combination is actually very good.  The recipe calls for Yukon Gold potatoes, but this week’s russet potatoes will work just fine. 

For some reason I have Mac & Cheese on my mind this week, so some of the broccoli is going towards making Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli.  The remainder of the broccoli will end up in a frittata for Sunday brunch.

The gorgeous red chard in this week’s box is going to be used to make vegetarian Tacos with Black Beans and ChardI’ll serve this with Green Rice with Jalapeño, Garlic and Lime.  We have limes in this week’s CSA fruit share, so that’s one less thing I’ll have to pick up at the grocery store!

Well, that brings us to the bottom of another CSA Box.  Next week we’re hoping the Jicama is ready to go in boxes.  So, pull out those jicama slaw recipes and get ready!  If you’ve never had jicama, you have something new to look forward to!  
—Chef Andrea

Featured Vegetable:  Celeriac

Celeriac, or celery root as it is also known, can be a bit intimidating if you’re encountering it for the first time.  However, as with all vegetables, there’s really no need to be intimidated…it’s just a vegetable!  Celeriac is in the same family as celery.  The difference is that celeriac is grown for its root and celery is grown for its stalks.  The stalks on celeriac resemble celery and have a lot of delicious flavor in them, however they are more tough and fibrous than celery and are not usually eaten as you would eat a celery stalk.  Don’t throw them away though!  Their flavor can add depth to a pot of stock or soup.  If you aren’t going to use them all now, put them in the freezer and use them later this fall or winter.

Now for the root bulb.  First, scrub the exterior of the root the best you can.  Next, thinly slice away the top and bottom of the root so there is a flat side on the top and the bottom.  You’ll probably need to take a little more off the bottom to get past the majority of the roots and get into the more usable bulb portion of the root.  At this point, I usually cut the root in half or into quarters so it is easier to handle.  Using a paring knife, carefully trim away the outer skin.  Once you’ve removed the outer skin, rinse the remaining piece of celeriac and clean your cutting board if there’s any residual dirt.  The inner portion of the root is white, solid and entirely edible. 

Celeriac has a subtle celery flavor that provides a background to soups, stews, and root mashes.  It also makes a delicious soup or gratin on its own or combined with potatoes or other root vegetables.  It can also be eaten raw in salads and slaws paired with other fall fruits and vegetables and s simple creamy dressing.  I’ve noticed more “paleo” recipes are encouraging the use of celeriac as a substitute for starchy potatoes, noodles, etc.  If you have a spiralizer, you can even make celeriac noodles (do we call them celoodles?)

Celeriac stores quite well, thus it is an important part of our seasonal winter diets.  It can actually be stored for up to 6 months!  Keep it in your refrigerator loosely wrapped in plastic or in the crisper drawer until you are ready to use it.  

Sesame Chicken Celeriac Root Salad

Photo credit from
Serves 4

2 large carrots, peeled
1 large celeriac, peeled
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (see Recipe Note)
½  cup chopped fresh basil, or cilantro
1 small clove garlic, peeled and grated with a microplane, or finely minced
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp dark pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 ½ tsp grated fresh ginger root
½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper
  1. Shred carrots and celeriac on a box grater or with the grating attachment of a food processor.
  2. Combine the carrots, celeroac, chicken, and basil (or cilantro) in a large salad bowl.
  3. Combine garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, maple syrup, tamari, sesame seeds, ginger, salt, and pepper in a jar and shake to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
  4. Divide among 4 large plates to serve.

Recipe Notes: 
To cook chicken: Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add ½ tsp salt and stir to dissolve. Add 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and return to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, turning occasionally to make sure it cooks evenly, until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool, at least 20 minutes before shredding.

This recipe was adapted from

Celeriac, Potato and Apple Puree

Yield:  3-4 servings

1/2  pound potatoes, peeled and cut in half*
1 large celeriac, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 small to medium tart apple, such as a Granny Smith, peeled, cored and quartered
¼ cup, approximately, warm milk or broth from the celeriac.
1 Tbsp butter or walnut oil, plus more to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Place the potatoes in one saucepan and the celeriac and apples in another.  Barely cover each pan with water and add salt to each pan as well, about ¼- ½ tsp per pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Turn off the burner that the potatoes are on and remove the pan.  Drain the potatoes, and return the pot to the burner (do not turn the burner back on).  Leave the lid off and allow the potatoes to set for 5-10 minutes to steam and dry out. 
  3. Drain the celeriac and apples through a strainer set over a bowl to catch the cooking liquid. 
  4. Puree all of the celeriac and apple mixture as well as the potatoes in a food mill or a potato ricer.  (If you don’t have either of these tools, you can also use a food processor and process the potatoes separate from the celeriac/apple mixture.  The other option is to just mash the vegetables by hand with a potato masher.  The end result will be more chunky, but will taste just fine). 
  5. Combine the potato puree along with the celeriac and apple puree in a bowl.  Whisk in the milk or broth until the mixture is fluffy.  Add the butter or walnut oil to the hot puree, stir until the butter melts, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Chef Andrea Note:  The original recipe calls for Yukon gold potatoes.  I would recommend using our russet potatoes for this recipe as it will yield a lighter, fluffier mash.
Recipe adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe featured on

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September 14, 2017 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Leeks

Cooking With This Week's Box

It is definitely starting to look and feel a bit more like fall.  The leaves are just starting to change and this week we’re harvesting leeks, which for us is part of that transition from summer to fall.  We included russet potatoes in this week’s box, so if you have a tradition of making Leek & Potato Soup with the first leeks of the season, go for it.  If you’re looking to try something new, check out the recipe for Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon featured in this week’s newsletter (See below).  I adapted this recipe from the original one posted at  I added sweet corn and the orange Ukraine sweet peppers to Alexandra’s recipe because, well I like vegetables and color!  If you’re looking for a more simplified and/or vegetarian version of this recipe, she has another similar recipe on her blog for One-Pan Bucatini with Leeks and Lemon.

Back to those potatoes, russet potatoes are a starchier potato which means you could turn them into mashed potatoes if you’d like.  There’s a recipe in our archives for Leek & Cheese Mash which uses leftover mashed potatoes.  However, my favorite thing to do with these potatoes is to roast them whole.  In fact I have some in the oven right now!  Just rub the outside with oil and sprinkle them generously with salt and some ground black pepper.  Bake them on a cookie sheet until they are tender, then slice them in half and top with butter and sour cream or whatever baked potato toppings you like!  This can become a meal on its own or eat it alongside meatloaf for a nice homey meal. 

This week’s red Boston lettuce is so tender and delicious, I can’t wait to turn it into a beautiful salad.  I think I’ll cook the beets and dice them into bite-sized pieces for the salad.  Make this simple Balsamic Vinaigrette featured at The Kitchn to dress the lettuce and then finish off the salad with a little bit of fresh grated Parmesan and these Quick Stovetop Candied Pecans! Now that is a salad!  Hold on to the beet greens, they are far too tasty to toss in the compost.  It’s been awhile since I’ve made one of Richard’s favorites, Creamed Beets with Greens.  Whatever beets are remaining after the salad will go in here along with all of the beet greens.  This would be an excellent dish to serve with those baked russet potatoes and a nice grilled T-bone steak!

I came across this recipe for Southwestern Quinoa Salad at  This will make use of the grape tomatoes and an ear or two of this week’s sweet corn.  The recipe calls for scallions and poblanos, but I’m going to substitute thinly sliced red onions and orange Italian frying peppers instead.  For a little heat, I’ll include maybe half of a jalapeno.  This salad also contains black beans and feta, so it has enough body to it to stand on its own as a main dish salad to take for lunch or to have on hand for a quick dinner.  It could also be a nice accompaniment to grilled salmon or fish.

I’ve said it before, but I really enjoy the flavor of Yukina Savoy.  It has remained pretty mild in flavor with the cool days and nights we’ve had.  I’m going to adapt this recipe for Skillet Chicken with Bok Choi to include the yukina savoy.  Served with rice, this will become a quick and easy dinner.  If you have any sweet peppers remaining, add those in with the yukina savoy for a little extra color.

I’ve never made tomato pie, but have wanted to for several years and have heard several people talking about it at market over the past few weeks.  This week I’m going to use the larger tomatoes to try this Tomato Cheddar Pie.  This looks like a good dish to serve for Sunday brunch with a slice of bacon on the side. 

We’ve almost used every item in the box, except for the broccoli or cauliflower.  These two items are interchangeable in this recipe for Broccoli Salad with Sunflower Seeds & Cranberries.  This recipe calls for bacon, but I think I’ll opt to leave that out of this recipe and just enjoy the sweetness of the cranberries and the crunch of the sunflower seeds alongside the raw broccoli or cauliflower lightly dressed with a simple mayonnaise dressing.   This is another easy salad to take along for lunch and eat with a simple sandwich. 

Well, that brings us to the end of another delicious week of cooking.  Looking ahead to next week, it looks like we’ll have another fun fall vegetable coming our way to go along with the leeks and potatoes.  Can you guess what it might be?  See you next week!
—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature:  Leeks

We’ve been enjoying a variety of vegetables in the onion/allium family since our first box all the way back in May.  From ramps and chives to overwintered spring onions, scallions and most recently sweet onions.  This week we’ll add leeks to the list.  Leeks are a favorite fall allium that, as Chef Deborah Madison says, “add more of a whisper and less of a shout.”  Leeks have a more delicate, mild onion flavor and are cooked using more delicate cooking methods to yield a soft, silky finished product.  They have fewer sugars than onions, so they will not caramelize in the same way as an onion.

Leeks have a long white shank that turns to more of a bluish green color as you reach the top of the leek.  The shank is made of many thin layers and is the portion of the leek most often used.  However, the green portion on top is equally edible and at the very least should be added to stock for flavor.  Throughout the growing process, dirt is hilled up on the leeks to cover and blanch the shank.  As a result, dirt may get between the layers.  While you need to take care to carefully clean the entire leek, the upper portion may have a bit more dirt between the layers and may need a little more attention.  I find it easiest to wash the exterior of the leek and then slice them.  Place the chopped leeks in a sink of clean, cold water and swish them around to remove any dirt.  Remove the leeks from the water and place in a colander to drain.  If there isn’t much dirt between the layers, you may also just place the sliced leeks in a colander and rinse them.

Leeks pair well with many fall vegetables including potatoes, celeriac, and fennel.  They are often incorporated into cream soups, gratins and egg dishes such as quiche.  A traditional use for leeks is to make Leek & Potato Soup, of which there are many variations.  It is best to take your time and cook leeks more gently and slowly over medium heat. Saute them over low heat to just sweat them until softened. When cooked in this manner, leeks become creamy and have a silk-like texture.  They pair well with white wine, lemon, cream, cheese, apples, walnuts, chicken, bacon, fish and fresh herbs to name just a few ingredients.

Store leeks loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.  

Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon

Yield:  4 servings

Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
3 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light-green parts only, rinsed well
1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (from 1-2 ears of corn)
1 cup thinly sliced sweet peppers
½  to ¾ pound bucatini or spaghetti
2 large eggs
¼ cup (heaping) grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving (optional)
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice, plus more as needed
½ cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)

1.       Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, leaving excess fat in pan—you should have about 2 tablespoons.  If you do not have that much, add a little olive oil to the pan.   Add leeks, sweet corn and sweet peppers to the hot pan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring often, over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2.       Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid before draining the cooked pasta.
3.       In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice. Whisk ¼ cup pasta water into egg mixture.
4.       Once the egg mixture has been combined, immediately add the hot, drained pasta to the egg mixture, along with bacon, vegetables, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. If necessary, add more of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to get the desired sauce consistency and adjust the seasoning to your liking with additional salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed.  If you’d like to put the pasta back in the pan and warm it up before serving, do so over low heat so the eggs don’t curdle.  The sauce on this pasta will be light, but creamy.  Serve immediately with more cheese on top.
This recipe was adapted from an original one posted at Alexandra’s Kitchen.  There is another similar recipe on her website, One Pan Bucatini with Leeks and Lemon that is a simplified, vegetarian version of this recipe.