Tag Archives: Vegetables

Yummy Vegetables (and Cream of Roasted Fennel Soup)

We got our first of three winter CSA distributions on Saturday.  Look at all the great things we got!

First Winter CSA Distribution

We got about 35 lbs of produce including apples, kale, various squashes, leeks, celery, parsnips, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, peppers, cabbage, fennel, and a kohlrabi.  The bounty covered most of our kitchen island.  The biggest challenge is trying to find the right storage for all these vegetables. 

So far, everything we have eaten has been delicious.  The apples are super fresh, the carrots are sweet, and the celery has more flavor than any celery I have had before.  Tonight for dinner we made a cream of roasted fennel soup.  We didn’t take any pictures because, honestly, we weren’t really expecting much.  Fennel is one of those vegetables that I think people either love or hate.  The flavor is pretty distinct and strong.  I expected the soup to be strongly flavored of licorice.  Turns out, it was really delicious.  Roasting the fennel and cooking it with onions, potato, some half-and-half, and cumin creates a rich and creamy soup with subtle undertones of fennel.  I am posting the recipe for all those other CSA members out there who don’t know what to do with their fennel.

Cream of Roasted Fennel Soup

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Simple Soups and Stews

Ingredients:

1-2 fennel bulbs (about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs)

1 large white onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 tsp kosher salt

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 cup half-and-half

2 tbls lemon juice

1/2 tsp ground cumin

To Make:

Trim tough stalks and bottom stem from fennel bulb.  Cut the bulb into 1/2 inch slices.  Arrange the fennel and onion on a baking sheet, toss with the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  Roast in a 375 degree oven until the vegetables are tender but not browned, about 25 minutes.

Transfer the roasted fennel and onion to a soup pot.  Add the stock and potato.  Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Puree in a blender in batches (or all at once with a stick blender).  Return the mixture to the soup pot and stir in the lemon juice, cumin, and half-and-half.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To Serve:

Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a first course.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Recipes, Soup, Vegetarian

Pot Roast

Pot Roast

Pot Roast

Continuing along the comfort food road, we decided on a recent, rainy Saturday that it was time to break out the crock pot for the first pot roast of the season.  I believe that in a good pot roast, the meat is falling-apart tender and the vegetables are kept pretty simple.  We like to make ours nice and rich with a flavorful wine and broth sauce. 

Chuck steaks / roasts generally make the best pot roast.  These cuts have a good amount of connective tissue and need long, slow cooking to render them tender.  They also have a nice meaty flavor that can stand up to rich sauces.  We used a 7 bone chuck steak but pretty much any cut of chuck will do. 

Searing the Chuck Steak

Searing the Chuck Steak

You could probably do this in the oven but I haven’t had much luck getting the level of tenderness that I like that way.  The crockpot is easy, generally foolproof, and allows you to put all the ingredients together in the morning and forget about them until dinner.  We always take the additional step of searing the meat over high heat before adding to the crockpot.  Yes, it takes extra time and means there is another pan to wash but it adds such great flavor to the meat that it shouldn’t be skipped.  Serve the whole thing with some crusty bread and a glass of the red wine.

Vegetables waiting for the meat

Vegetables waiting for the meat

Pot Roast

Ingredients:

1 1.5-2 lb chuck steak

1 red onion, sliced

2 ribs of celery, chopped

3 small potatoes, chopped

7 oz sliced baby bell mushrooms

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 bay leaf

2 tbls tomato paste

1/2 cup water with 1 tsp beef bouillon or 1/2 cup concentrated beef stock

1/2 cup good quality red wine (never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink)

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbls flour

To Make:

Trim any excess fat from your roast.  Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Rub the meat with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Sear two minutes on all sides until browned.

Place the onions, celery, potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms in a slow cooker and sprinkle with the thyme, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.  Place the roast on top and add the bay leaf.  Mix the wine, water and bouillon / broth, and tomato paste and pour over the meat.  Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours, until the meat is fork tender. 

In the last 30 minutes, remove about 1/2 cup of the liquid, place in a bowl, and add the flour.  Whisk together until well incorporated.  Pour back into the crockpot and stir to incorporate.  Set the heat to high, remove the lid, and cook for another 25 minutes, or until the gravy has thickened.

To Serve:

Pull any bones out of the meat and remove the bay leaf.  Place slices of meat on the plate, add the vegetables, and spoon the gravy over the top.  Serves 4.

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Braised Spare Ribs with Brussel Sprouts

Braised Spare Ribs with Brussel Sprouts

Braised Spare Ribs with Brussel Sprouts

On Monday we picked up the last of our summer CSA distributions.  This is always a bittersweet time for me.  Sweet because I am looking forward to winter veggies like carrots, turnips, and leeks.  Bitter because this means that I won’t get to eat tasty, fresh tomatoes until next August!

As usual, we got a HUGE array of veggies (more than any family our size can rightfully eat in three weeks) including these guys:

Who knew brussel sprouts grew on big stalks

Who knew brussel sprouts grew on big stalks!

I am little embarrassed to admit it, but I had no idea what brussel sprouts looked like when they were growing.  I have only ever seen them in little plastic packages at the supermarket.  I can’t believe how large the stalks are.  Once the sprouts were removed, Marc had to use a cleaver to trim the stalks so they have any hope of composting in the next two years.

With my freshly trimmed sprouts in hand, I went looking for a way to cook them.  Brussel sprouts are vegetables that do not usually make it into our typical cooking repertoire so some research was in order.  I found a simple and interesting recipe in the Joy of Cooking and we decided to pair the sprouts with some country-style spare ribs we had in the freezer.  The sprouts were cooked in garlic butter while the ribs were brined, browned, and then slowly braised in the oven with stock and vegetables.  We then reduced the braising liquid to make a luscious sauce to top the ribs.

Browning the Pork

Browning the Pork

Veggies for the Braise

Veggies for the Braise

 

 

 

 

 

The result was (wicked) awesome.  The sprouts were sweet and delicious – even our picky toddler ate hers.  The spare ribs were the most tender and juicy I have ever had (I usually find them dry and somewhat tough).  This is a must make.

Brussel Sprouts Cockaigne

Recipe minimally modified from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

12 Brussel Sprouts, rinsed, patted dry, and cut in half lengthwise

1 1/2 tbls butter

1 1/2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Salt, pepper, and freshly grated parmesan cheese

To Make:

In a medium skillet (make sure you have a lid), warm the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the crushed garlic cloves and cook, stirring, until just beginning to brown.  Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and discard.  Place the sprouts cut side down in the garlic butter mixture.  Cover and cook over low heat until tender, 15-20 minutes.

To Serve:

Arrange the sprouts on a plate, drizzle with any remaining butter, and top with salt, pepper, and grated parmesan cheese.  Serves 2 as a side dish. 

Braised Country-Style Spare Ribs

Ingredients:

For the brine

3 quarts of water

1 cup kosher salt

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tbls pickling spice

For the braise

1.25 lbs country-style pork spare ribs

2 tbls canola oil

1 small sweet red pepper, finely chopped

1 large red onion, finely chopped

2 small red skinned potatoes, finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons dry Sherry (the real stuff, not the cooking stuff)

2 cups chicken stock (preferably home made… we used the stock we made from smoked chickens so the finished dish had a slightly smoky flavor)

To make the brine:

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil to ensure sugar and salt are thoroughly dissolved.  Let cool completely and chill in the fridge.  You can speed this part up by boiling only two quarts of water and add the final quart in the form of ice.  Once cool, add the pork and let sit in the brine for about 6 hours.  Do not let it go overnight or you will end up with very salty meat.

To make the braise:

Rinse and drain the pork and pat it dry, discarding the brine.  Preheat your oven to 300F degrees.  Heat the oil in an oven-proof skillet (make sure it has a lid) over medium-high heat.  Once hot, add the pork and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.  Remove the pork and set aside.  In the same pan, add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and tender, about 8-10 minutes. 

Once the vegetables are cooked add the Sherry and cook for another minute or two, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Place the ribs (and all of their juices on the plate) back in the pan on top of the vegetables and add the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and then cover the pan with foil, place the lid on, and put the whole thing into a 300F degree oven.  Cook for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the ribs are very tender.

Remove the pan from the oven.  Place the ribs on a plate and top with the vegetables (use a slotted spoon to get them out).  Tightly cover with foil and let it rest.  Meanwhile, boil the braising liquid over high heat until reduced to about 1/4 quarter of the original volume.  The consistency should be similar to a thin gravy.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.  Because we brined the pork, we found that we didn’t need any additional salt.

To serve:

Serve the pork topped with the vegetables and drizzled (or covered, depending on your preference) with the sauce.  Given the amount of meat, this could probably serve four.  However, Marc and I managed to eat all of it without too much trouble.

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Filed under Meat, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables