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I promise that I have been doing much more in the kitchen than baking up butter and sugar-laced treats. It just seems that the only time I think to snap a picture is when I have a baking project going on. Truthfully though, I haven’t been spending as much time in the kitchen as I would like to. We just moved and are still getting settled in. I was out of town for a week visiting family and friends across Connecticut and New York. And next week I am starting grad school so I am busy preparing for that, too.
Our CSA is going strong. This year we opted with Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op. Everything is from Lancaster County, just an hour away. They deliver to our favorite coffee shop in our neighborhood (which also sells take-out beer), so it makes our weekly trip totally worth it. It’s also walking distance, so we don’t have to drive to pick it up! We are pretty inundated with greens right now, but we scored a pound of sweet cherries a few weeks back. I had a potluck for work and Father’s Day was coming up, so I put them to use immediately. Of course, I left some for snacking, too.
Brown Butter Cherry Bars
from Smitten Kitchen
For the crust:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 pound sweet cherries (you will not use all of them, so there should be plenty left for a treat later on!)
To make the crust: Preheat over to 375°F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. (It should look like this.)
Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to your prepared pan, and press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, about 18 minutes (it will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.
To make the filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan (a lighter-colored one will make it easier to see the color changing, which happens quickly) over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often and watching carefully, about six minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup to cool slightly.
Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.
Arrange pitted cherries in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake bars until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (though, of course, this took less time in my hyperactive oven so please watch your baking times carefully). Cool bars completely in pan on rack.
Use the parchment paper overhang to carefully remove cooled bars from pan and place them on a cutting board and cut them into squares with a very sharp knife. The cherries, if they fall over your slicing lines, will want to give you trouble but if you saw a sharp knife into them slowly before pressing down, they’ll cut neatly and with minimum carnage.
I did not snap a photo of the finished product. They were so delicious I ate them almost immediately. I made a second batch and they came out even better than the first. Having fresh cherries definitely made the difference, but you can use frozen, or any berry of your choice. It would probably be a lot of fun to stud this cake with lots of blueberries or rasberries in the upcoming weeks while they are in season. I don’t know if I’ll make them again- they have a LOT of butter- but I would definitely recommend that you make them. And maybe share them with your friends.
On November 13th we had our last CSA pickup of the summer season. It was a glorious one. We got some really great stuff, and I used the opportunity to stock up on some things that will most likely last us for the next few weeks, if not longer. They were all pretty affordable, so I walked out of there with some gems.
In our share we received:
We also scored some apples and awesome sharp cheddar cheese. I picked up a butternut and acorn squash, a ton more apples, and a whole bunch of sweet potatoes. I’ve used a lot of the produce so far, but I’m storing all of the squash for later in the season. The fennel made an awesome Carrot Fennel soup, the brussel sprouts were featured in an incredible ravioli, the beets into a beet green gratin, the sweet potatoes in a souffle for Thanksgiving that did not turn out as well as I would have liked, and the apples went into a delicious apple pie. I’m still using some of the produce and I can’t wait to use it over the next few weeks, especially when I’m in a bind. I still have some beets and most of the squash, along with some sweet potatoes. Hooray for seasonal food all the way into the Winter time!
I’m pretty behind in my posting these days, but that’s mainly because I have been spending way too much time in the kitchen and cooking way more than I have time to keep up with. That being said, if I don’t share this CSA post now, I’ll be even farther behind. This CSA pickup is from two weeks ago, but I feel the need to share because it’s produce captured the autumn harvest season so well. It was also our second to last pick-up, and I’m sad to say that our last pickup was this past Saturday. Because our CSA days are numbered, I’ll post this now.
We also got some beets, brussel sprouts (although they were from the bottom of the barrel, so not that great), Gala apples, and eggs. I’ve been pretty busy with my apples and the tomatoes. Most of the other produce from our share that week kept for pretty long and I am just now getting around to using the beets, carrots, and cauliflower. We used the brussel sprouts to make a terrible frittata. The carrots just went into a delicious carrot and red lentil soup, the tomatoes went into a pasta with tomato almond pesto, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the daikon radishes. The apples went into an awesome apple butter that went on pretty much everything I’ve been eating for the last two weeks, along with the Maple Pumpkin butter. And the cheese is just plain awesome and I want it to last forever.
Since the fall came around, I was a little nervous that the quality of our produce would drop, but I have to say that I’ve been so pleased with what we’ve received over the last few weeks. Check back for more seasonal meals!
Last weekend was our CSA pickup and it was probably one of my favorites so far this year. The weather was lovely and autumny. The place was packed and the produce was poppin’. We had a great selection of produce, and picked up some extra treats, too. I’ll be making fall-themed meals for the next few weeks!
We picked up these apples and pears as an extra treat from Three Springs Fruit Farm in Wenksville, PA. In our share, in addition to the kale, chard, and carrots, we received some butternut squash, red and yellow onions, peach bread that was made from the Greensgrow Co-Op, and apple cider, also from Three Springs, and grabbed some tofu and eggs. We also purchased some beautiful gourds and a giant eggplant. Looks like I’ll be cookin’ up a storm the next few weeks.
I already used the kale to make a potato, chorizo, and kale soup- which was just ok and not very photogenic so I won’t be posting it. The carrots went into an awesome Shepherd’s Pie dish with some leeks leftover from our last share. We only have two CSA pick-ups left, and I’m not yet sure what I’ll do when this is all done and over with! I don’t want to think about it quite yet.
YES! Autumn is finally here! Apples, pears, butternut squash, cauliflower. All things that are hot and happenin’ in the farmers markets right now. Our CSA, Greensgrow Farms had a Fall Kickoff party last week on our pick-up day. There were tons of free samples, home made chili, fresh pressed apple cider, perogies, and live animals. Not to mention that Everyday with Rachel Ray Magazine was there doing cooking demonstrations and handing out samples of Pumpkin Milkshakes! It was the perfect day, great weather, big clouds in the sky, and lots of fresh food everywhere you looked. We also brought home quite a harvest.
We also got some collard greens, which I’m a little nervous about since I’ve never cooked with them before. Also some apples, eggs, and jalapeno cheddar cheese. I’ve been able to incorporate most of the produce into a week’s worth of meals including stir-fried cauliflower, eggplant pasta, and root vegetable tangine. Look out for the collars and leeks next week. Can’t wait for more Fall veggies. I’m hoping we can take home some pumpkins soon, I’d love to make my own pumpkin puree.
Last week I was away in Connecticut for the weekend, so Stu was again in charge of our CSA pickup. Upon my return I was greeted with an abundance of early Fall vegetables. Instead of bright berries and leafy greens, our share consisted of bright oranges, reds, and browns.
The newer sweet potatoes were made into oven-baked fries, tossed with some olive oil, brown sugar, and chopped rosemary. Delish! The bok choy was use for a sesame chicken dish from Real Simple, which was just OK. The Asian pears have been used as snack food, but will be combined with the butternut squash for a great soup that I’ll be making this week. The cheese spread has been smeared all over crackers and eaten as a snack along with some yummy MacIntosh apples from Connecticut.
We also received a salad mix, which went bad faster than I was able to use it. Heirloom tomatoes, that I’m still waiting to use, green beans that I’m trying to figure out what to do with, and yellow peaches, which I’ve been eating all week. We received a ton of produce this week. Autumn really is the harvest season. Can’t wait to put even more of this good stuff to use!
Last week our CSA had a very special event on a Thursday pick-up evening as opposed to Saturday. The Food Network came on Thursday to shoot a segment for a show on America’s Farm Stands. It’s pretty exciting that they chose Greensgrow, because there are so many wonderful farm stands and farmer’s market in the city.
We went on Thursday to pick up our share and to scope out the film crews, but they had already left. Unfortunately we work until about 5:30 and didn’t get there until filming was done and over with. However, it was a busy night and the farm was very alive and vibrant.
In our share this week we got:
We also received a watermelon, which I waited too long to cut open and just juiced it to make it into watermelon juice, mmm. As well as some baby spinach, more beets, and Amish Swiss cheese from Lancaster. I’ve been busy putting all of my produce to use, so check back for more seasonal recipes soon!
My apologies, I forgot to post our CSA share for Week 6. This was probably because I didn’t pick it up, Stu did. I was at the lovely Jersey Shore for the day so Stu was on duty.
He brought home:
A giant head of cabbage that lasted way longer than it should have. From that we made multiple coleslaw salads and some spring rolls. More on that another time.
Kale and Red, White, and Blue potatoes that were featured in the previous recipe of Kale, Sausage, and Potato Sautee
Spinach, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Zucchini which got cooked up and featured in a vegetable-based summer pasta
Nectarines which were delicious. They were eaten as snacks and then used for a Nectarine, Prosciutto, and Blue Cheese grilled pizza that turned out disastrous. Whoops.
A cantelope that we waited too long to chop open and leaked all over our table. Sad.
Basil, and fresh mozzarella from Mancuso’s Cheese Shop on Passyunk Ave. So good. Multiple uses until it was gone. Lots of snacking.
This past week however, was a pretty good one. We received:
Niagra White Grapes
We also received some yellow onions, a giant watermelon (yes!), and Herdsman Cheddar Style Cheese from Cherry Grove Farms in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. We were offered Collard Greens in the share this week, but I think they are limiting in how you can eat them- sauteed as a side dish. There were an extra bunch of Golden Beets in the Swap Box so I went for it. Beets are versatile, fun to cook with and learn about, and last much longer than greens. I’ll be putting them to use over the next week or so.
We also received some awesome news from our CSA this week. The Food Network is filming a series on farm stands across America. They have selected Greensgrow Farms as one of the Philly-based farm stands, and will be shooting a segment on Thursday, September 2nd. It was very kind of our CSA to allow Saturday pick-ups to receive their shares on this particular Thursday evening. We’ll be able to pick up that night and watch or maybe even be a part of the segment. How very exciting. Stay tuned for all of the details!
Last week we had the privilege of buying some organic chicken sausages from our CSA. We don’t receive meat in our CSA share, but there is a monthly “Meat-Buying Club,” where members are able to purchase organic, grass fed, and sustainable meats for a low price. It was only $5.00 for one pound, or four sausages. We purchased a Broccoli Rabe blend as well as a wonderful White Wine, Garlic, Parsley and Lemon variety. It was good timing, too because in our share that week, we received potatoes and kale. Sausage goes very well with potatoes and any type of leafy green, such as chard, kale, or spinach. You may remember a while back our delicious Swiss Chard, Sausage, and Potato fritatta.
I didn’t need to use a recipe this time. I sliced the potatoes thin and seasoned them with garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and then saute èd them until almost cooked. Then I added the kale. I cooked the sausage in a seperate pot and tossed it all together.
Sausage, Kale, and Potato Sauteè
1 lb. of various potatoes, we had New Potatoes, Russet Potatoes, and Purple Potatoes, sliced into thin circles
1 bunch of kale, washed and trimmed of stems
2 sausages of your preferred variety
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano or rosemary, or both
salt and pepper, for seasoning
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add garlic and sauteè until fragrant. Add potato slices and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages and cook until no longer pink. Once potatoes are tender, add kale. Sauteè kale, potatoes, and garlic until kale is soft. Add in cooked sausage and stir to combine. Remove from heat and eat immediately.
Yum! These are three foods that always go well together, whether it is served simply in this context, or tossed with pasta, rice or another starch. It is great for brunch meals with eggs and toast, or in soups. Different types of sausages or greens can be substituted and the addition of chickpeas gives it a more complex flavor and texture. Try it out for yourself. I served mine with some home-made coleslaw, which I will post about soon.
This past CSA share brought us a bounty of summer vegetables including lots of the greatest basics: onion, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. I had a great recipe from the CSA website for eggplant pasta salad, but I made some additions. The recipe was originally from Real Simple, which was sort of a puttanesca. I took a bit of the ingredients there and mashed everything together.
Eggplant Pasta Salad
adapted from Real Simple Magazine
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 green bell peppers, sliced
1 eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup fresh tomatoes
1/4 cup red sauce of your choice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
kosher salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 bunch basil, diced
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
2 tablespoons capers
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 pound fresh pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add olive oil, and fresh pasta. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, less for al dante. *You may also use dried pasta.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and cook, 3 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and tomatoes.
Stir in the tomato sauce, then add the vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the capers, pine nuts, basil and parsley.
Strain the cooked pasta, toss with olive oil and add the eggplant mixture. Stir well and serve hot or at room temperature.
This dish was packed with flavor. I don’t think I added enough pasta, but I wanted to save our fresh pasta for a second meal. However, all of the wonderful and fresh vegetables shone through. Each bite was rich with flavor from the parsley and basil. This is a great summer staple and a wonderful way to use CSA vegetables quickly and easily. It would be easy to add zucchini, mushrooms, greens, or any type of summer vegetable you have on hand. Also somewhat similar to ratatouille or caponata. Yum!