October 4 weekly menu | fall table

Farm Fresh

escarole, gourmet greens, jalapenos, kohlrabi, onions, parsley, potatoes, sweet peppers

What’s for Dinner?

Well, for starters giant kohlrabi and escarole. Hard to miss those. This is what’s delightful about joining a CSA. Would I ever actually buy a kohlrabi or head of escarole in the grocery store? No way. (Well, maybe escarole, if a specific recipe called it out.) What comes in my box is what our farmers and our climate created, and is right for the season and the land where we live. I’ll give anything a whirl, and hope for the best. All successes? No way. But what I learn along the way, what my family learns while sitting around that humble table, are things all the more valuable and memorable when we fail. And a fail, in my book, is just an opportunity to try it next time another way. I’m poised and hoping for the best with these two mammoth kohlrabis, a veggie I truly couldn’t envision before two weeks ago. Now, I’m excited to make it in a traditional Hungarian way, learned from my Hungarian friend. And I’m excited about my monster heads of escarole…I’ve learned that it’s wonderful both raw, in a very hearty, flavorful salad, and cooked, like in the soup highlighted this week from the archives of Marcella Hazan, who passed away this week. And I can do this experimenting and learning amidst the amazing northwest fruit bounty that surrounds us…apples and pears, betwixt and between, all of this veggie mayem!

Friday – TV trays, movie, & pizza

pizza with red and yellow peppers (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Saturday – apple fest

breakfast:
homemade applesauce (Serious Eats)

dinner:
escarole salad with apples (Martha Stewart)
apple, potato, & onion gratin (Bon Appetit)
grilled chicken-apple sausages

apple bread pudding (Food and Wine)

Sunday  – remembering marcella

escarole and rice soup (Marcella Hazan, The Classic Italian Cookbook)

lemon roasted chicken with carrots & potatoes (Marcella Hazen, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
green salad with oil & vinegar (Marcella Hazan, The Classic Italian Cookbook)

marcella’s pear cake (Marcella Hazan, The Classic Italian Cookbook)

Monday – hungarian comfort

creamy kohlrabi soup (about.com)
gourmet greens with red wine vinaigrette (Martha Stewart)
crusty bread

Tuesday – beans & greens

barley risotto with beans & greens (Deb Perlman, Smitten Kitchen)

Wednesday –  kicked up eggs

shakshuka (eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce) (Saveur)
warm pitas

Thursday –  toasted cheese

toasted turkey, brie & apple sandwiches (Sunset)
apple-kohlrabi-jalapeno slaw (Grant Butler, The Oregonian FoodDay)


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Friday –  TV trays, movie, & pizza

pizza with red and yellow peppers (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)

Leave it to Alice Waters to have this as part of her Chez Panisse Vegetable collection. Simple and gorgeous and healthy (as pizzas go…). Deb has done amazing justice in splendid photos – with peppers like this (and like I’ve got!) not much enhancing is needed. Since I’m a use-what-you-have kind of gal, I’m going with my sweet peppers, a little thinly sliced cortland onion, and some IMG_1084parsley. She makes a little salad out of this, with some red wine vinegar and EVOO, tossing it together before spreading it over the lightly-mozzarella-ed pizza crust. My peppers are small, so we’ll see how it goes, but I see her point about it ensuring it doesn’t become topping-heavy. No one likes to pick up a slice of pizza, only to have the whole top go tumbling onto your lap.This is a pizza ripe for some crumbled Italian sausage. Follow this previous Pizza Night post for a no-fail dough recipe I rely on each week. It makes enough for two pizzas, even three if rolled out in the super thin, best-for-crispy-pizza style. 

Other pizza combinations:

winter squash and wild mushroom 
potato and rosemary 
leek, crimini mushroom, and prosciutto
portabella mushroom & roasted red pepper
shitake mushroom
leek, sundried tomato, and goat cheese
caramelized leek, mushroom and Italian sausage pizza
pizza with kale raab, leeks, and olives 
pizza with fennel sausage, braising greens and rosemary
dandelion greens, Italian sausage, and fontina cheese pizza
spinach and chive pizza
grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage
shaved asparagus & parmesan pizza
leek, chard, & corn flatbread
kale, sundried tomato, & feta pizza
pizza with green garlic & arugula
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard
fresh ricotta and red onion pizza
sweet onion pizza
pizza with grilled fennel and parmesan
eggplant & tomato pizza
caramelized onion, kale, & corn flatbread
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard 
classic margherita pizza
caramelized fennel, onion, and sweet pepper pizza 

Saturday – apple fest

breakfast:
homemade applesauce (Serious Eats)

dinner:
escarole salad with apples (Martha Stewart)
apple, potato, & onion gratin (Bon Appetit)
grilled chicken-apple sausages

apple bread pudding (Food and Wine)

It’s hard not to notice the apples. I get into a bit of trouble this time of year, buying apples of every-which-kind, both from the store and from the farmer’s market. Today, I’ll cook some up, in all sorts of ways. Starting with the simplest of homemade applesauces. If you’ve never tried this on your own, it’s a real cooking confidence-booster. Put the chunked apples in a pan with some water, cook until soft and breaking down, puree if desired. It’s a taste you’ll not soon forget. You can spiffy up the applesauce to your liking…add up to 1/2 a cup of sugar (brown or white or a combo), add a cinnamon stick while it cooks, add some lemon juice or zest…experiment! I like my applesauce chunky, so instead of pureeing it with an immersion blender, I often just mash it up with a potato masher or even a fork. And no matter how much sugar I might add while it’s cooking (sometimes none), I always do like my did mom when I was growing up…add a sprinkling of cinnamon/sugar to the top of each individual serving. Extra yummy!

For dinner, more apples, intermixed with my amazing SIO veggies. Escarole is one of those unique greens that is hearty and ultra-flavorful, and can be eaten raw in salads, or in a variety of cooked dishes. Tonight I’ll use it in a classic autumn greens & apple salad with a classic mustardy vinaigrette and a sprinkling of nuts. Blue cheese, or any cheese, would of course be amazing mixed in too. This gratin of apple, potato, & onion looks to be a great use for my abundance of farm-fresh potatoes and onions.  I’ll halve the recipe for our family of four, and based on many reviews, also lighten up on the butter. Some is necessary for sure, but just not quite so much. All of this apple and veggie deliciousness will shine with just a side of your favorite purchased chicken-apple sausages, grilled up either indoors or out. I would be remiss if I didn’t end this day celebrating apples with a sweet apple ending. I saw and caramel apple bread pudding advertised in the New Seasons flyer this week that made my mouth water. I’ve only made two bread puddings in my life – one during a cooking class in New Orleans (of course you make bread pudding here!) and one when I celebrated Oprah’s finale with some friends. Both of these experiences super memorable…I need to do it again. You could easily halve this recipe, and I’ll probably skip the brandy, drizzling some caramel from the jar at serving time! Or just buy the New Seasons version – it’s sure to be delicious.

Sunday – remembering marcella

escarole and rice soup (Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

lemon roasted chicken with carrots & potatoes (Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
green salad with oil & vinegar (Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

marcella’s pear cake (Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

The cooking world has lost a monumental force; Marcella Hazan died this past week. In my simplified (and maybe not entirely correct) thinking, I’ve considered her the “Julia Child” of Italian cooking. She revolutionized the way we, as American home cooks, prepare and eat Italian food. Her husband Victor brought her to the US, not knowing a stitch of English, or another soul. What she did have, however, was food-obsessed Victor and her deeply engrained memories of the tastes, smells, and textures of the food she grew up within Italy. She practiced on Victor, and was soon discovered as a teacher and writer; she became, in that amazing self-taught way, a culinary icon. She taught us to look for our ingredients not in cans and packaging and supermarkets (which appalled her!), but at their source, from the ranchers and farmers around us. She did not tolerate low quality “dead” ingredients. I love that the evening before she died, she and Victor shared a meal he made of trofie, a twisted Ligurian pasta, sauced with some pesto made with basil from their terrace garden.

Here is a Sunday supper, in the spirit of all that she gave us. Starting with a truly humble and no-frills soup, starring our head of escarole, which’ll cook in onion and butter, then add the broth, arborio rice, and parmesan. That’s it! Next, my own homemade roasted chicken, which I hardly ever do just because New Seasons (and a whole host of other markets) do it so conveniently! But, really, this is a no-fuss main course at its finest. I’ve never tried Marcella’s version, but the two whole lemons play a key role, I can see. She allows a high quality chicken speak to for itself, roasting in its own pan juices. And, unlike other roasted chicken approaches I’ve tried, this one starts the chicken upside down, and flips it half way through the baking time…intriguing! My potatoes and carrots are in for quite a treat with this chicken. The salad seems like a nothing. I know, however, according to Marcella, it’s everything…if dressed properly. It’s a magical transformation of farm fresh greens to a salad worthy of standing proudly next to her main courses, after being tossed gently and lovingly with quality olive oil, red wine or sherry vinegar, and salt. To end, I need to try her pear cake. It reminds me of the rustic plum cake I posted a couple weeks ago. Nothing fancy or complicated; nothing too sweet. The Oregon pears will shine, amidst their humble, cakey goodness. Thank you, Marcella, for insisting on such honest ingredients, such straightforward preparation, and such respect for a meal.

If you want to try just one recipe that is emblematic of the genius and simplicity Marcella’s revolution brought us, try the tomato sauce with butter and onions, posted at the bottom of this page.  It’s a true classic.

Monday –  hungarian comfort

creamy kohlrabi soup (about.com)
gourmet greens with red wine vinaigrette (Martha Stewart)
crusty bread

More kohlrabi came my way, and in a big way, as you can see. And just when I think I’m the only one in the world thinking about how to use kohlrabi for dinner, a friend of mine from Hungary shares her penchant for whipping up batches of kohlrabi soup. Apparently, it’s a very popular Eastern European vegetable. I tried to get details and specifics, but she kept very vague and elusive. Lo and behold, the next day she greeted me with a bowl of her humble, family-secret-recipe, Hungarian kohlrabi soup. It was the “chunky vegetable” kind – carrots, parsnips, pasta pieces, etc. She suggested I try the more traditional Hungarian kohlrabi soup – a silky, creamy version. This recipe uses vegetable stock (could use chicken) and milk; you could also mix some sour cream with a bit of hot liquid (to prevent clumps) and add that for a little thicker version. Based on my friend’s suggestion, I’ll add a generous smattering of chopped fresh parsley at the end. With some crusty bread for dunking and a simple salad (maybe with thinly sliced apples?) it’s a wonderful fall meal, that could easily please the “where’s the meat?” crowd by adding a platter of roasted, sliced chicken that’s sure to be leftover from last night.

Tuesday – beans & greens

barley risotto with beans & greens (Deb Perlman, Smitten Kitchen)

Don’t let Deb’s gift of gab (LOTS of writing, but entertaining…) make you think this is a long and complicated recipe. It’s not – definitely weeknight friendly. Risotto gets a bad rap as being super labor-intensive. With your minimal ingredients chopped and ready to roll, it’s really no longer than any other dinner. You just need to be around for the add broth, stir, add broth, stir repetitions – generally for about a half an hour – well worth it! Forget the home-cooked beans – I’ll use canned white. I’ll use a whole head of my escarole, which will make a perfect complement to the earthy barley, thyme, and onions. A one-pot weeknight delight.

Wednesday – kicked up eggs

shakshuka (eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce) (Saveur)
warm pitas

Although we love a frittata, I am quite excited to have an “eggs for dinner” dish that is a bit more exciting. And every bit as simple. This classic Israeli breakfast dish will make a comforting, wonderfully seasoned, a little bit spicy, one-pot meal. The eggs get poached in a concoction of mashed up whole tomatoes that have been cooked briefly with my jalapenos, onions and a yummy combination of garlic, paprika, & cumin. I’ll serve it in big wide bowls, giving each serving a hefty sprinkling of feta and fresh parsley. Make sure there’s lots of warm pitas, and be ready for a dunk-fest.

Thursday –  toasted cheese

toasted turkey, brie & apple sandwiches (Sunset)
apple-kohlrabi-jalapeno slaw (Grant Butler, The Oregonian FoodDay)

Yes, this is a bit different from the toasted cheese of my youth. Wonder Bread, margarine, and Kraft Singles. Boy, were they delicious though! I don’t know if they’d heard of such concoctions back then…a sandwich with apples on it? Such a simple concept to put the luscious combination of apples and cheese into a sandwich! If you have apple butter, great. If not, just the thinly sliced apples will do just fine, and add such a nice crispness. Having said that, apple butter is one of those fall things you should have around. On toast, on cheese sandwiches, on hunks of cheese, stirred into yogurt, in pancakes…the list goes on and on. And contrary to the name, it does not have butter in it. It is just called that because of its extraordinary smooth and creamy texture. As you can imagine, I’m having some on my sandwiches! Not a big fan of the recipe-suggested rye bread, so I’ll be using some other thick country bread and cooking the paninis in my cast iron grill pan, with another cast iron on top of the sammies as they cook to press them down. Then for the slaw…I got this recipe once when I bought a bottle of the uniquely northwest Blossom Vinegar. There are so many delicious flavors – I love to pick up one of each at the farmer’s market and give them as small holiday gifts. This slaw features their apple-jalapeno variety; apple cider and some finely minced jalapeños would do nicely also. I’m substituting the napa cabbage with my giant kohlrabi. With crispy apples, sweet peppers, and fennel (which I’ve still got some of…), this is one good salad.

“What the Kale?!?”

Don’t panic and get out the compost bin if all of the sudden you have a giant veggie delivery coming your way, and you still have a fridge full.  Here are a few suggestions for preserving the bounty!  (Soups and stews freeze wonderfully in those gallon zip lock freezer bags.)

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