And Some More Vegetable Storage Tips!
Over the past week, we have been enjoying every minute of the continuing, saturating showers. May they keep on coming!
This week, to conclude our wintery Tip Trilogy, I’ve assembled tips for those “everything” vegetables, which don’t really belong to specific groups, but appear in your boxes this season. And without further ado, here they are:
The leek: Sister of the onion, the leek is a sturdy but very vibrant vegetable. It has nice green leaves which require refrigeration, and therefore, unlike the dry onion, must be kept in the fridge. It is recommended wrap leeks in plastic, but this isn’t a must. Place leeks at the bottom of the fridge (don’t get them wet, of course) and they will easily keep for at least two weeks.
- The Roman emperor Nero Claudius Caesar used to eat leek soup every day. He believed the soup cleared his throat and made his voice clearer.
- From the sixth century, the leek has been the Welsh talisman. In Henry the Fifth, the king announces that he is wearing a leek because he is Welsh. The leek is attributed to the Dewi Sant, the patron of Wales, who lived during the sixth century. Dewi Sant was a diehard vegetarian subsisting on bread, water, weeds and leeks. In the battle between the Welsh and the Saxons, the saintly patron instructed his soldiers to decorate their headpieces with leeks as a sign to identify each other. The Welsh won the battle, which took place, of course, in a field of leeks. To this day, on March first– Dewi Sant Day– Welsh soldiers don leeks on their headgear, while mere civilians use them to decorate their lapels. The national colors of the Welsh nation are leek green and white, and on the one-pound coin, which represents the Welsh nation in Britain, there is an imprint of the leek, testifying to its special status among the Welsh.
- It is important to note that when you say “the white part” of the leek, you mean the light green part as well– i.e., all the way up to the point where the long green leaves begin.
- The leek has a soft, gentle white part which people eat, while they tend to toss the green part (the leaves). Remember that the green part is not waste! It can actually improve the flavor of vegetable soup and certainly enhance chicken or meat stock. This part is important, as it is the true sign of freshness. The leaves must be green, smooth and erect. Droopy, yellowing leaves mean leave the leek at the store (or email Bat Ami urgently to report it!)
- Though the leek is generally cooked, it can be a great addition to a fresh raw salad (finely chopped, of course).
The scallion loves near-freezing temperatures. In our refrigerators, the lowest temperature is usually around 4-5 degrees, and you need to spoil the scallion a bit: it will keep much better if wrapped in a paper towel before being slipped into a plastic bag (preferably perforated with holes). The paper will absorb the moisture which causes leaves to rot. Make sure the scallion leaves remain straight. Folding will injure them and cause the loss of water, expediting the rotting process.
Form a flower from a scallion: Remove the root and place the scallion on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, make some notches along the white part of the onion, taking care to keep 1-2 cm away from the green part of the scallion. Make the notches as close to each other as possible. Slice the green leaves, leaving some uncut, and tie so the scallion won’t fall apart. Place in ice water, curl the cut part, and—a flower is born!
Pickling scallions: Wash the onion bulb and remove the root. Slice the green leaves, leaving a few centimeters. Stuff into a jar along with your favorite pickling herbs. Fill the jar with two parts of apple vinegar for each part water. Seal the jar and place in a dark cabinet for about a month.
Roasted scallions: Scallions develop a juicy sweetness when roasted. Wash thoroughly and remove the roots from a bunch of scallions. Sprinkle the scallions with olive oil and place on a greased baking sheet. Roast at 150-175 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning vegetables with a spoon from time to time. May be wrapped in foil to prevent drying.
Fennel is best kept in the vegetable drawer. You can wrap it in plastic or store in a plastic container, but it is not necessary.
- In the fields, fennel has fancy leaves which can indeed be used in cooking. In the past we used to send the fennel with the leaves, but stopped when the boxes became filled to the brim. We also understood from customer comments that most of you didn’t use the leaves. But if you would like to receive the fennel in all its glory, let us know.
- Fennel oxidizes when it comes in contact with air, which is why it should be kept sliced in the refrigerator in a bowl with a little bit of water and some lemon juice.
- Place a fennel frond on fish while cooking. It will absorb the smell of the fish, filling the air with the sweet aroma of fennel.
- If you’re collecting fennel flowers or wild seeds, remember not to pick them from the sides of the road. These plants absorb the toxins from car exhaust and are sometimes sprayed with weed killers.
Potatoes should be stored in a dark, cool and ventilated place. If they’re placed in an air-tight container, they can rot, and do not keep them in a plastic bag, even if punctured– not even for a few days. Potatoes turn green when they are continuously exposed to light. The green is caused by the presence of chlorophyll, a vegetal natural pigment, which is tasteless and harmless. The problem with your potatoes turning green is that where chlorophyll develops, an alkaloid called solanine may develop as well. It is bitter and poisonous when consumed in large quantities. Solanine is more concentrated in the peeling or right beneath it, which is why it is advisable to peel old potatoes. Cooking or steaming decreases the solanine content by 60-70%, as compared to a raw potato. The green color is caused by light, but is also related to temperature, age, species and ripeness. Light-colored potatoes turn green faster than red potatoes. Potatoes keep well at temperature of 10-28.° At higher temperatures, the tubers sprout and then rot. At a lower temperature (in the refrigerator), the starch turns to sugar and the potato will taste sweet.
- Like all vegetables, it is crucial to insure that potatoes don’t lose their nutritional value in cooking. Therefore, it is preferable to cook them in their jackets, after washing them well.
- If you don’t cook potatoes in their jackets, wash and cook them in a small amount of water in a pot with a tight lid. The cooking water can be used for soups or sauces.
- If you’re not cooking the potatoes immediately after peeling, cover with water to prevent them from turning black.
- Potatoes baked in their jackets keep well for 5-6 days in a closed storage container in the fridge.
- If you’re cooking potatoes for a salad, cook them only halfway. The hot potatoes continue cooking even after they are removed from the pot.
Our field is full of good, thick, post-rain mud, and what a great sight! If you are coming to the field to collect your box, talk to us for directions. Anxiously awaiting the next storm, hopefully coming soon!
Alon, Bat Ami and the wet and happy Chubeza team
WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S MUDDY BOXES?
Monday: Red potatoes, beets or turnips, arugula, broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower, tomatoes, Dutch cucumbers, cilantro, lettuce, celery, carrots,
In the large box, in addition: kohlrabi, leeks, Swiss chard or spinach
Wednesday: lettuce, arugula or mustard greens, parsley root, cilantro or dill, cabbage or cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, red or yellow potatoes
In the large box, in addition: leek, radishes or turnips, Swiss chard or spinach
And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers and organic olive oil too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. The attached order form includes a detailed listing of the products and their cost. Fill it out, and send it back to us soon.
RECIPES FOR RAINY DAYS—FROM THE KITCHENS OF CHUBEZA MEMBERS!
Rebecca sent me this Curried yogurt cauliflower recipe saying: “I thought I would share this special recipe, which we had at an Indian friend’s home and have begun making ourselves. It’s delicious and its presentation is striking, great for surprising guests or intriguing kids!
First, remove the leaves and wash the whole head of cauliflower, leaving it intact.
Steam the whole thing to desired doneness, but best if it’s still somewhat crisp, not falling apart.
To 1 cup of plain yogurt, add your favorite curry-style spices: ground ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, grated garlic, red pepper, cinnamon, etc, and salt too.
Slather all over the head of cauliflower, getting some in between the cracks, then bake in a hot oven about 30 minutes or until the yogurt mix bakes into a crispy colored crust.
Serve whole, hot or cold.
This week Gal sent me a delectable recipe that combines our winter greens with Asaf’s (of Minchat H’Aretz) amazing stone-ground flour:
QUICHE WITH FRESH MIXED GREENS -Based on a recipe by Erez Komrovsky, HaOtzar Shel Al Hashulchan
Ingredients for dough for quiche baked in 26 cm pan:
280 grams (2 cups) flour 50 grams butter 3 T. white cheese 9% (gvina levana) ¼ t. salt 1 egg ½ t. baking powder
Mix all ingredients in a bowl till you obtain a soft dough. Cover with towel, and let sit for 15 minutes.
Up to this point is Erez Komrovsky’s recipe. And now, my own comments:
The best quiche dough is made with the 70% whole wheat flour from Minchat H’Aretz.
You can substitute 5% cheese for the 9%
It’s important to cut the butter into small cubes and see that they are uniformly distributed throughout the dough.
The filling for the quiche varies according to the contents of the week’s box. During this season, the filling will probably contain greens of changing combinations each week:
Carefully wash the relevant leaves that arrive in the box—Swiss chard (separate the stems), beet leaves (separate the stems), spinach, mustard, kale. No need to dry the leaves, since any water left on the leaves will aid in their steaming.
Coarsely slice the leaves, and thinly slice the stems of the Swiss chard and beets. If desired, slice one or two leeks as well.
In a large pan, lightly sauté the leeks and the chopped stems in olive oil. Add the greens and cover for a short time, till greens begin to wilt. I usually start with half the greens, and after they shrink down, I add the remaining half.
Cool a bit. Squeeze out excess liquid and slice with a knife or food processor (which usually changes the texture a bit).
Mix the chopped greens with around 200 grams feta or Bulgarian cheese, around 100 grams white cheese or cottage cheese, grated Parmesan cheese (optional) and two eggs.
Season with coarse ground pepper. I don’t add salt, since the cheeses are usually plenty salty.
You may add a handful of finely chopped almonds.
Flatten the dough and place in quiche pan.
Pour in the filling and bake approx. 40 minutes at 170°.
And an old recipe, but such a successful one that I must refresh your memories with it this winter:
Avital from Jerusalem sent me this recipe, full of helpful hints and useful knowledge. Just reading the recipe made me hungry!
OVEN-BAKED ROOT VEGETABLES:
”I always roast or bake root vegetables. I bake many vegetables, including cauliflower and broccoli, because it enables a delicate treatment, almost like steaming, with a small amount of water, or more serious grilling for such root vegetables as kohlrabi, beets, celery, carrots, parsnips, purple onions, and Jerusalem artichokes.
It’s best to keep the vegetables whole, and wherever possible to wash well, dry, and leave unpeeled. You can slice them if you’re in a big rush…
Two important rules:
The vegetables need to be dried after they’re washed (it’s easiest to keep some old kitchen towels designated solely for drying vegetables. Wash, place in colander for as long as possible, and then place on the opened towel. If you won’t be using the vegetables immediately, fold them all up in the towel, place in a plastic bag, seal well and refrigerate).
It’s preferable to keep the vegetable sizes as uniform as possible: if the kohlrabi is very large and the beet is small, slice the kohlrabi in halves or quarters.
Carrots: Small carrots are preferable over the large, tasteless varieties sold to the dwellers of Zion. Beets don’t always bake at the same rate as all the rest of the vegetables, so check them towards the end of the baking time. If they’re still hard, slice them in half. Seasoning:
Olive oil, coarse salt and pepper freshly ground, ¼ to 1/8 t. brown sugar, and if desired, thyme leaves or fresh za’atar, or home-dried varieties (for several minutes of work, you have a year’s enjoyment). Don’t add too much seasoning, because the more you add, the more it detracts from the vegetables’ flavors.
Optimally, the vegetables should be baked in a wide earthenware dish, preferably the brown Spanish variety whose depth is particularly appropriate. They’re usually sold at a reasonable price, and they can be placed on a moderate flame.
First, generously grease the container with olive oil.
Mixing: Prepare a bowl with olive oil, the salt and pepper.
It’s possible to place all the vegetables in a large bowl, pour the olive oil mixture over them, and enjoy mixing well with two hands. You may place the vegetables in a greased baking pan and spread on the olive oil mixture using a silicon brush, but make certain it’s meant for high temperatures (during baking/roasting use the brush to braise the vegetables with liquid that has accumulated in the pan.)
How long and at what temperature? That depends a lot on the oven. I prefer to begin baking at a high heat of almost 250° and then lower it after a half hour or so when the vegetables have begun to brown a bit, to 180° for an additional half hour.
Try hard to end up with vegetables that are browned, full and juicy, and not dark, shrunken dwarfs. If your oven has a turbo option, you can add a pan of cauliflower and broccoli separated and seasoned. They bake much faster, so remember that the turbo increases the heat in the oven and sometimes dries up the vegetables.
And the cabbage? Right into the oven! Green cabbage can be placed in the baking dish when sliced into strips and seasoned, and should be baked with care. In baking, cabbage loses liquid and bakes quickly, even faster than steaming, and that’s wonderful. After 15 minutes or more, mix, return pan to bake for another 15 minutes, and that’s it!
And what did the pinch of sugar do here? It’s powerful mission is to bring out the flavors of the natural sugars trapped in the vegetables. After seasoning and before placing the pan in the oven, sprinkle sugar over all the vegetables, using the edge of a spoon. Just a spoonful of sugar can work wonders with flavors!”