Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cold-Oil Sunchoke French Fries

Our first foray into sunchokes, as sunchoke chips, was well received, so when we got a few more in our box a week or two ago, we leveled up to French fries.

I alluded to our new French fry technique last fall but didn't properly describe it. I won't now, either, but the gist is this: Put the fries in a single layer in a pan and add enough oil to just cover them. Then turn the heat on, bring the oil to a gentle boil, and hold them there -- don't stir! -- until the fries look crispy and delicious (maybe 15 minutes). In exchange for your time, you're saved the fuss, muss, and mess of a giant pot of extremely high-temperature oil, not to mention the two-step frying of traditional French fry recipes.

(Here's some fuller explanation of the method from Cook's Illustrated and The New York Times.)

What you see above are mostly potatoes, but that's because the sunchoke fries -- tasting something like a lighter, sweeter, better potato fry -- were first to go.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mozzarella Making

In exchange for services rendered, Ben got me a cheesemaking kit from the "cheese queen" at New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. It's the very beginner kit, making just two easy fresh cheeses, ricotta and mozzarella, and it claims to include supplies (citric acid, rennet, and salt) sufficient for thirty batches of cheese.

I've tried mozzarella twice now, and I've managed to press the curds into nice soft sliceable mozzarella-tasting balls (I know, they still need more salt). But I haven't figured out how to form curds that are willing to be stretched like taffy (the cheese queen has a microwave method) to achieve the right gooey, stretchable mozzarella texture.

(The problem may be the milk -- I couldn't stomach $8 per gallon for local farm-fresh choices, so I've been using Hood from the drugstore. If you're shopping at the grocery store, organic milks are actually more likely to be ultra-pasteurized -- which spoils them for cheesemaking -- than conventional milks.)

Some friends of ours learned mozzarella coddling properly at a Dave's Fresh Pasta class, and the difference (they brought us a sample) was substantial. I'm hoping to visit some friends -- who have also been having cheesemaking adventures -- at the Farm School for a tuneup before making the next twenty-eight batches.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Triticale (trit-uh-KAY-lee) is a wheat-rye hybrid, intended to have the nutritional value of wheat and the ease of growing of rye. It was perfected in the 1960s, so it may be the most modern food we've ever gotten in our farm share (though it perhaps fails Michael Pollan's "Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food" rule). Ours was grown by Four Star Farms.

Triticale seems to be used primarily as animal feed, though I've spotted it in co-op-friendly multigrain human foods before (Kashi products, Bob's Red Mill cereals). The Internet is not exactly awash with recipes; many that do exist call for triticale flour or flakes (which we won't be milling at home). Here are a few results for the triticale berries:

Triticale with peanuts and Asian seasonings
Triticale with white beans and kale
Kale and triticale risotto
Triticale risotto

The whole grains look a lot like wheatberries, but they are more rugged and larger (and may require even longer cooking). Bob's Red Mill suggests soaking, then boiling, then letting them rest for a day.

See our previous compilation of wheatberry recipes; I think this triticale will probably end up in a potluck-standard Bittman grain and bean salad.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

One Hundred and Five Ways to Cook Cabbage

I was browsing through free Google ebooks, and I happened upon this gem. How to Cook Vegetables by Olive Green was published in 1909. It is exactly (sort of) the CSA cookbook I wish I had -- one that lists inexhaustibly many ways to cook that vegetable that you are so unspeakably tired of receiving in your weekly box. (My particular chore is to cook whatever is left at the end of the week -- that vegetable so unlovely that none of the five of us was inspired to want to eat it in six days of trying.)

Green (a pseudonym) is also the author of such classics as One Thousand Salads, What to Have for Breakfast, and The Spinster Book ("Yet a sensitive spinster is repeatedly astonished at finding her lover transformed into a fiend ...").

Here's a flavor of the recipes.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Further on the "vegetables we've never cooked with before" theme, Enterprise Farm sent us mustard greens this week.

"Mustard greens" describes a wide variety of spicy cooking greens, and raw, they were like a promising cross between two of our favorites: arugula (peppery taste you could feel in your nose and throat) and kale (thick stems, sturdy leaves).

I set out to make something like Balsamic-Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens, though I was also assigned to use portabello mushrooms and zucchini in my dish. So: 1) Sear thinly sliced mushrooms and zucchini in a hot wok; set aside. 2) Saute an onion, then add greens and a few tablespoons of broth (I slightly overdid it here), and steam until crisp-tender (and less spicy); remove greens, leaving broth. 3) Add balsamic, soy sauce, and sugar to the broth; reduce; add a can of drained chickpeas. 4) Add back mushrooms, zucchini, and greens to warm through.

I overdid step 4, which meant everything was a little overcooked  and the mustard not really spicy at all. Live and learn.