Friday, November 13, 2009

With Everything There is a Season

One of the last remaining signs of our vegetable CSA bounty is the wonderful variety of squash currently serving as a centerpiece on our dining room table.

In all of my 29 years, I never knew that some varieties of winter squash, such as butternut, really shouldn't be opened until after the Winter Holidays. Other varieties, such as spaghetti, delicata and other acorn types, while fine during the early fall months, will be better at Thanksgiving! (Thank you to Desiree for sharing that info in the Holiday Brook Farm CSA Newsletter.)

Even knowing this, I couldn't stop myself from cutting into one of the golden yellow spaghetti squash to mix with some local ricotta to make this recipe for - Spaghetti Squash with Ricotta, Sage and Pine Nuts adapted from the Kitchn.

I agree - using fresh ricotta is key to the success of this recipe (that and toasting the pine nuts vs. roasting them until they're on the verge of burning, as I have done below). I found some local ricotta from Calabro, a family owned and operated Italian cheese company. It was out of this world (and I had just enough leftover cheese to make a ricotta pie).

I followed the recipe for this one exactly, so follow the link and give it a try. It's a warm, cheesy, comforting dish for the season and so easy to make with all local ingredients!

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Braised Brussels Sprouts

It's pretty hard to beat plain old roasted brussels sprouts, with a sprinkle of salt (or Borsari!). They're easy...just pop 'em in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes, and they come out so creamy on the inside and completely delicious.

But, this year I'm hosting Thanksgiving for the very first time. I'm pretty excited and am starting to test out some recipes for side dishes. So when I came across this recipe for brussels sprouts braised in heavy cream, with a splash of lemon, I knew I had to try it out. And believe me, it's a winner.

I didn't make any changes, so just follow the link over to Orangette. She waxes poetic about brussels sprouts for far longer than even I could manage...the actual recipe is quite a ways down the post. Oh, and not a big surprise, but her picture is way better than mine.

This may very well be even more delicious than roasted brussels sprouts, but I'm going to force myself not to make it very often as I absolutely couldn't control myself. I'm embarrassed to admit that I ate about 3/4 of this by myself. I was actually glad my kids didn't like it so I could eat theirs. I made this less than a week ago and I can't even remember what else I served for dinner that night; I pretty much just ate tons of brussels sprouts! So good, and on special occasions like Thanksgiving, I'm totally willing to go there and eat sprouts swimming in a whole cup of heavy cream!


If anyone has any recipe suggestions for Thanksgiving side dishes, I'd love to hear it (bonus points if they use ingredients I can find locally!)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Back to the Basics

Belonging to a CSA doesn't always mean searching for new recipes in which to incorporate unfamiliar ingredients. Sometimes it's a simple as recreating old favorites with local, very fresh ingredients. Try it sometime; I guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised by the end result! We recently made shepherd's pie with local corn, potatoes and ground pork from Holiday Brook Farm. It was outstanding (and I assure you, it didn't look like this for long).

More recently, I purchased a pork butt roast from Holiday Brook Farm. We've been grilling pork butt steaks throughout the summer and are quite addicted to the wonderful flavor of pastured pork (as well as the health benefits of all that omega 3 and conjugated linoleic acid). This little beauty spent some quality time in my crock pot before landing on a roll in the form of pulled pork. It was outstanding (and that's an understatement). This is the recipe I used, Adapted from Williams-Sonoma's "Food Made Fast: Slow Cooker".


3-4 pound pork butt roast (they call for a boneless pork shoulder)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. each dry mustard, salt and pepper (I used white pepper)
1/2 tsp. paprika
Sandwich rolls, toasted

Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown pork roast evenly on all sides (about 10 minutes); then transfer to crock pot.

Pour off all but 1 T oil in the skillet (I skipped this part); add onion and cook until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Add vinegar; cook stirring to scrape up the browned bits, 2 minutes. Stir in ketchup, molasses, brown sugar and red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, salt, pepper and paprika. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to bubble, 1 minute. Pour over pork.

Cover crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hours (may be cooked on low for 8-10). Transfer pork to cutting board and using forks (or your fingers) shred, discarding fat. Return pork to crock pot and stir to mix in sauce (I let it cook another 30-45 minutes). Serve on toasted buns!

I'm a little bit lost without our vegetable CSA. I've got a serious stash of winter squash, some brussel sprouts in the freezer, potatoes and onions in the pantry and carrots in the crisper, but I miss my fresh weekly greens and the camaraderie! Our farm has decided to offer a meat CSA throughout the winter. We have already enrolled and will be picking up our 10-pound share of pork on the first Saturday of each month, so we won't be losing touch with our farm and farmers completely throughout the winter months. I'll also continue to get farm fresh eggs and local yogurt from them.

I have some thoughts on what we'll do for produce in the coming months - I'll share that information with you in a separate post in the coming week as I'd love to hear what you are doing now that CSA and farmers' market season is coming to an end. Until then.....Bon Appetit!