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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 4/15/18)

Rhubarb:

Sugar is not rhubarb’s only friend. Rhubarb also makes a beautiful pickle to top salads or sit charmingly on a cheese board. Or in chutneys and sauces to serve alongside roast pork or chicken. Check out food52.com for some great recipe inspiration.

A favorite way to use rhubarb is to cut the stalks in 3-inch portions then roast with a bit of sugar (or honey)—not too much as you’ll want to retain the eye-catching brightness. Try throwing in a vanilla bean or some fresh ginger. Roast at 400°F for about 20 minutes. Don’t disturb the stalks too much as they are incredibly tender when they cook. Serve on top of yogurt or oatmeal in the morning, put in between layers of cake or serve over ice cream for a lovely dessert.

 

Asparagus:

Asparagus is best cooked as fresh as possible but if you need to store it for 3 to 4 days treat it like a bouquet of flowers. Trim a small amount from the bottoms of the stalks with a sharp knife and place them in a tall glass with a little water in the bottom. Cover the top loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator. This will keep the stalks firm and crisp until you are ready to cook them.

To prepare: the smallest spears will only need to have their very base tough parts trimmed off before cooking. However, the bottom portions of larger asparagus spears can be chewy and woody; they will either need to be snapped off or peeled. To snap off the tough portion, simply grasp the stalk with both hands and bend the bottom portion until it breaks off. The asparagus will naturally break off at the point where the tender portion ends and the tough, stringy part begins.

The way you cook your asparagus can depend upon its size. The baby spears can be sautéed, or rubbed lightly with olive oil and grilled. With fatter spears you may want to trim them and either steam or boil them in order for them to increase their tenderness. However you choose to cook it, watch your asparagus closely so that it doesn’t get overdone. The perfectly cooked spear is easy to penetrate with a knife, but still slightly firm being bright green in color.

rhubarb pieces

Featured Recipe: Stewed Cinnamon Apple & Rhubarb

Ingredients:

1 bunch rhubarb, stalks only, trimmed and chopped into pieces

2 granny smith apples (or other tart apple), peeled cored and roughly chopped

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup whole cane sugar or honey

1 cinnamon stick

1 pinch ground cloves

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

Place everything in a pot over low heat and let simmer for 30-60 minutes until all is soft. Your house will smell amazing. Remove the cinnamon stick before eating.

 

Adapted from recipe by theveggiemama.com

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Thoughts with Ashley

I have decided that this is the year I really fall for gardening. If you have been a Klesick subscriber for a while you have probably heard me boast about my tangling sugar snap peas or my sweet strawberries which often got snatched by the squirrels before we have a chance to enjoy them. This year I’m feeling optimistic and I have a windowsill filled with little starts eager to live in the garden to prove it. At least I hope they are eager. Visions of tidy rows of carrots, radishes, beans, beets, lettuces and fresh herbs fill my mind as I sprinkle fertilizer onto the garden beds doing my best to ensure success.

Already my garden dreams have had to deal with some harsh realities. Our number one predator currently is our 9 month old terrier who has a knack for digging and a hunger for freshly planted broccoli starts. I know this isn’t the first problem I’ll run up against as I work hard to make my bustling garden dreams a reality. There will be bugs, too much rain, not enough rain (which is hard to imagine right now isn’t it?), and there will be many lessons to learn along the way as I am far from a seasoned gardener. But I’ll consider this garden a success if I’m able to pluck something, anything from its rich (newly fertilized soil) and eat it with the sun on my face, and at the end of the season if I’ve learned something new.

In the meantime I’m even more grateful for the work of farmers like the Klesick’s who have spent years honing this craft. The one thing I do know about gardening and farming is that it is incredibly hard work and as I set out to roast my rhubarb or eat freshly plucked sugar snap peas I feel immense gratitude for their work.

 

Ashley Rodriguez

notwithoutsalt.com

Award-winning food blogger

Author of Date Night In

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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 4/9/17)

How to Eat Your Box:

 

Rhubarb

I’m thinking of starting a countdown-to-rhubarb calendar. Every day I’d get the satisfaction of crossing off another day knowing that I was inching my way closer to enjoying one of my favorite vegetables. Yes, I said vegetable.
Rhubarb is a hearty plant that thrives in the Pacific Northwest. It has a short season that begins in early spring. It’s often one of the first signs that let’s us know spring is indeed coming. And you know what my rhubarb countdown calendar is telling me right now? IT’S TIME FOR RHUBARB!
The leaves are poisonous so we’ll stay away from those but the celery like stalks have a crisp, tart crunch. Fresh rhubarb stalks should look firm and glossy. When sugar is added the tartness is tamed to the point of palatability and you are left with a floral flavor that somehow matches its brilliant pink color (although some varieties are green) that maintains a puckering sharpness that I find irresistible.
But sugar is not rhubarb’s only friend. Rhubarb makes a beautiful pickle to top salads or sit charmingly on a cheese board. Or in chutneys and sauces to serve alongside roast pork or chicken.
My favorite and most used way with rhubarb is to cut the stalks in 3-inch sticks then roast with a bit of sugar (or honey) – not too much as I love to retain the mouth clutching brightness. Sometimes I’ll even throw in a vanilla bean or some fresh ginger. Roast (400°F) for about 20 minutes. Don’t disturb the stalks too much as they are incredibly tender when they cook. Serve on top of yogurt or oatmeal in the morning, put in between layers of cake or serve over ice cream for dessert.

 

Garnet Yams

Garnet Yams are the brilliantly orange colored tubers that often get mistaken for a sweet potato. Yams and sweet potatoes are in fact distinctively different. However, because of mislabeling in American grocery stores, these two are commonly confused.
Yams are more nutrient dense than potatoes as they have good amounts of potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C but I often use them in the same way as potatoes. They are delicious baked and loaded with beans, scallions and a bit of cheese. Or, make a lovely mash or soup. They have a natural sweetness that pairs nicely with something acidic like lemons or vinegars.
As with most vegetables, yams are delicious roasted. Cut into wedges then toss with a little bit of cornstarch and finely grated Parmesan. The cornstarch helps to lock in the moisture so they turn crispy and more fry-like in the oven. Drizzle on a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper then roast in a hot oven 425-450°F for 20 – 30 minutes or until caramelized in parts and tender.
NOTE: Read Ashley’s guest post for this week’s newsletter, here.

 

 

Featured Recipe: RHUBARB FLOATS

By Ashley Rodriguez, Not Without Salt

Of all the many wonderful uses of rhubarb this syrup remains my favorite. It’s a fridge staple all through spring as it easily becomes the base for numerous cocktails, sodas and now ice cream floats. I love the warmth the spice brings but just rhubarb alone is great too. Feel free to play around with the add-ins. I’ve also added citrus peel into the mix with great results.

 

4 cups/1 pound/ 450 g chopped rhubarb

1 cup + 1 tablespoon/ 8 ounces/ 230 g sugar

2 cups/ 1 pound/ 450 grams water

1 vanilla bean (optional)

1 cinnamon stick

3-5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

 

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly so the mixture continues to boil gently. Boil for 15 minutes or until the mixture is reduced by nearly half. The rhubarb will break down and the liquid will get syrupy. Remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool.

When cool, strain out the rhubarb. Save the rhubarb mash to add to yogurt, on top of ice cream or oatmeal.

Rhubarb syrup will keep covered in the fridge for two weeks.

 

For the float

These measurements are rough as it’s all a matter of taste. Adjust how you’d like. I kept on meaning to muddle strawberries with the syrup before adding the club soda and ice cream but got too excited that I forgot. Perhaps you’ll remember. Or imagine using strawberry ice cream or even coconut sorbet. So many floats to be had.

1/8 – 1/4 cup rhubarb syrup (recipe above)

1/2 cup club soda

1 scoop vanilla ice cream

 

Add the syrup to a glass. To that add a scoop of ice cream and finish with club soda. Serve with a spoon and a straw.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade

Rhubarb & Strawberry Lemonade

Makes around 8 cups of Lemonade

We’ve used raw honey here, but you can also replace it with raw cane sugar or grated palm sugar or maple syrup.

4 cups (1 lb.) rhubarb, chopped into 3/4-inch pieces

2 cups (12 oz.) strawberries, divided in half

3 inch ginger, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces

3/4 cup raw honey (add more if you prefer it sweeter)

1 vanilla pod, sliced open

4 cups water

1 lemon, peeled into strips

Juice from 1 lemon

20 fresh mint or 15 basil leaves

In a medium size saucepan, combine rhubarb, lemon strips, strawberries, ginger, honey, vanilla pod and water. Bring it to a boil and then lower the temperature. Add the lemon juice and the mint leaves. Simmer for 20-25 minutes while stirring occasionally. Strain the lemonade through a sieve, removing the pulp. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

If left in an air-tight container the lemonade can stay fresh for about a week. Serve in a pitcher with lots of ice, a handful of fresh rhubarb, strawberries and more slices of lemon.

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Savory Rhubarb Lentil with Spinach and Red Peppers (vegan)

Another one of our favorite blogs shares a must-try rhubarb recipe! This dish combines lentils, rhubarb and spinach with sweet potatoes, red pepper and a touch brown sugar.
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
1 large sweet potato
1 cup of lentils
3 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1 stalk (or 2) of rhubarb (diced into small pieces)
1/2 of 1 red bell pepper (diced into small pieces)
2 cups frozen spinach or 2 cups cooked spinach, chopped finely
1 TB olive oil
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1 TB minced ginger
1 TB cumin powder
1 TB brown sugar
salt to taste
add a pinch of red pepper flakes for some heat
 
DIRECTIONS:
Pour 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Add lentils and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils are soft, but not falling apart. Drain excess water.
 
Cook sweet potato. My favorite method is baking: Wrap sweet potato in foil and bake at 425 for about 20 minutes or until the skin pulls away from the flesh and the potato is soft. Baking caramelizes the sugar and brings a nice deep flavor to the potato. You can also just peel and cube the sweet potato and steam it. 
While lentils are simmering, cut your vegetables.
 
In a large sauté pan, heat oil, add red pepper flakes and fennel. Add ginger (careful here, this may lead to a minor explosion. Have a lid handy just in case) Add cumin.
Add red peppers and rhubarb to the pan. Sauté for a few minutes. Add spinach and sautée until fully cooked. Add cooked lentils, cooked sweet potato and brown sugar and stir. Add salt to taste.
 
Serve alone or with a grain like rice or quinoa.
 
Original recipe from: http://www.scissorsandspice.com/2011/05/spice-in-kitchen-savory-rhubarb-lentil.html
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Fresh This Week Tips – May 17th, 2011

STRAWBERRIES

STORE: Leave strawberries unwashed and loosely wrap the container in a plastic bag or paper towel and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

PREP: Wash the berries and trim the caps just before using.

USE: Strawberries are perfect in pies, just right in jams, and a sweet-tart touch in salads. But they’re at their best raw, served at room temperature, topped with freshly whipped cream.

GREEN LEAF LETTUCE

STORE: Refrigerate in a loosely closed plastic bag; do not seal tightly. If roots are attached, wrap them in a damp paper towel before placing the lettuce in the bag. Lettuce is delicate and should be eaten within 5 days (iceberg lasts up to 2 weeks); discard any leaves that are wilted or slimy. Do not separate the leaves from the head or wash until just before using.

PREP: To toss a picture-perfect salad, first tear (don’t cut) leaves from the core, then clean and dry them well. The best way to do this is with a salad spinner. Fill it with cold water, add greens to the basket, and swish. Lift out greens, dump the water, and repeat until the water is grit-free. Spin the greens until thoroughly dry (in batches, if necessary). Excess moisture dilutes the dressing. Oil can cause greens to wilt, so dress them just before serving with only enough dressing to nicely coat the leaves without pooling in the bottom of the bowl.

USE: Perhaps the most versatile vegetable in existence, lettuce is a great accompaniment to almost anything your heart desires. Most notably found in salads, check out this recipe for a strawberry green leaf salad that is sure to satisfy your taste buds.

FRESH STRAWBERRY SALAD

4 c. leaf lettuce

1 pt. strawberries

2 kiwifruit

DRESSING

1/4 c. honey

1/4 c. wine or tarragon vinegar

1/4 c. salad oil

1/2 tsp. dill weed

  • Wash, dry and tear lettuce. Wash, hull and quarter strawberries. Peel and slice kiwifruit. Toss gently in bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and shake until well mixed. Drizzle over salad.

RHUBARB

STORE: Keep unwashed stalks in a loose plastic bag, leaves attached, in the vegetable drawer. Rhubarb will last up to a week; use it before the stalks become soft.

PREP: Just before using, wash the stalks and remove the leaves (they contain oxalic acid, which is toxic if eaten in large quantities). If you’ve got a tough bunch, you can peel them with a paring knife or a vegetable peeler.

USE: Rhubarb is quite tart and is best cooked with sugar in sauces or compotes or used as a filling in pies, crisps, or cobblers. It is lovely paired with the sweetness of strawberries or raspberries.

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Welcome to Spring!

 

Last week I taught a spring baking class. While the weather outside was gray, rainy and cold enough for me to see my breath, inside the kitchen the oven was singing the flavors of spring. The weather may not be ready to admit that it’s April but my kitchen is.

The evening started with a rhubarb bellini made from a simple rhubarb puree (vanilla bean, rhubarb and a splash of water cooked until tender then blended until completely smooth). There was also freshly baked fennel pollen shortbread served with herb goat cheese and a tangy red onion jam.

Next came a salad that spring invented. A soft butter lettuce paired with thinly shaved radish, creamy avocado chunks and a healthy handful of chives, parsley and tarragon. This salad shed its heavy winter dressing in exchange for a light champagne vinaigrette made ever so creamy with a touch of creme fraiche.

From there we inundated the class with pizza. The first was sauced with homemade creme fraiche and topped with bacon and caramelized onion with a whisper of fresh nutmeg grated right on top. Secondly, we served a roasted asparagus pizza with a perfectly cooked (lovely runny yolked) egg, mozzarella and, while still hot from the oven, we finished it with prosciutto and grated parmesan.

As a ploy to coax the sun to push its way through the dense wall of clouds, we fired up the grill and made a grilled crust pizza with fontina, mozzarella and fresh asparagus all over the top.

And for dessert, more rhubarb. This time it was roasted with orange zest, vanilla bean and served with homemade ice cream and vanilla bean shortbread.

The participants were full, happy and ready to embrace this new season with invigorated taste buds.

I’d like to welcome you to spring! Home of asparagus, citron green herbs bursting with flavor that has been suppressed for months, rhubarb dressed in more pink than my daughter, mildly spiced spring onions and a gentle warmth – just enough to make the cherry blossoms pop and the seedlings emerge.

by Ashley Rodriguez
Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom. Read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com

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Fresh This Week Tips 03.30.2011

RHUBARB
STORE: Before storing, remove any leaves from the rhubarb stalks and discard. Rhubarb stalks can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, unwashed and sealed in an air tight plastic bag or tightly wrapped in plastic. It is best to store fresh rhubarb in whole stalks because cut or diced pieces will dry out more quickly. Trim just before using. Rhubarb can be frozen for future use by cutting the stalks into 1-inch lengths and packaging in airtight bags or by stewing first and then freezing. Rhubarb does not need to be sweetened before it is frozen.

PREP: Trim off leaf ends and roots using a sharp knife and discard. Be sure to discard the leaves, which contain toxic levels of oxalic acid. If the more mature stalks are wider than 1 inch, slice lengthwise in half or thirds. Check stalks for blemished areas and trim off before using. When preparing field-grown rhubarb the stems may be too fibrous and will need to have the strings pulled off. At one end of the stalk, cut just under the skin.

Pull the piece down the stalk to remove the strings. Continue until all of the strings are removed. When preparing hothouse-grown rhubarb the stems are tender and should not be stringy.
Wash stalks and slice them into 3/4 inch to 1 inch pieces when preparing for stewing or making sauce. Pies and other recipes may call for the pieces to be cut to a smaller size, such as 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

USE: Rhubarb can be eaten raw with a little sugar sprinkled over it but it is generally cooked with other ingredients to produce a fruit dish of some type. Rhubarb can be used nicely to enhance the flavor of other fruits, such as pairing it with strawberries in baked sauces or beverages. It makes a delicious pie filling and is also used to make sauce in the same manner as applesauce. Rhubarb can also be used to make jellies, jams, cakes, muffins, and other desserts. It can also be used in savory dishes and is good as a sauce to serve with meats and fish.

BEEFSTEAK TOMATOES

STORE: Tomatoes are best stored and eaten at room temperature because their flavor is more pronounced. A very firm tomato can be kept at room temperature for about a week. Transfering them to the refrigerator to will slow their ripening, but can also result in loss of flavor. Softer tomatoes should be used as soon as possible, so they don’t become mushy or rot. Freezing: Tomatoes cooked into sauces, juiced or simply pureed can be frozen for up to six months.

PREP: Here are some tips on preparing your tomatoes:
– Wash tomatoes in cold water before use.
– Slice tomatoes vertically for salads and sandwiches to prevent the juice and seeds spilling out.
– For stuffed tomatoes, cut them horizontally to remove the seeds and juice.
– To peel your tomatoes, mark an X on the bottom of each one and place them in boiling water for about 20 seconds. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon, then plunge them into cold water. The skins should come off easily.

USE: Tomatoes are essential in a variety of cuisines, including those of Italy and Central American. Use them to make pasta sauces, salsas, soups or eaten raw to garnish salads. Cherry tomatoes can also be roasted whole and served alongside with meats. Broil tomato halves topped with bread crumbs and herbs for a healthy vegetable side dish. Roughly chop tomatoes, onion, cilantro and jalapeños for a spicy salsa to accompany chips.

BLOOD ORANGES
STORE: Store blood oranges at room temperature for up to 1 week, or refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
USE: Add the raspberry-colored flesh to green salads, fruit salads or get adventurous and make Blood Orange Sorbet, taste the freshness of spring!
Blood Orange Sorbet recipe:

Blood Orange Sorbet

1. Juice your blood oranges. The measure the juice.

2. For each 1 cup (250ml) of juice, figure 1/4 cup (50g) of granulated sugar to be added.

For example: Use 1/2 cup (100g) sugar for 2 cups juice (500ml).

3. Put the sugar in a small, non-reactive saucepan. Add just enough juice to saturate it very well. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved.

4. Stir the sugar back into the reserved blood orange juice.

5. Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker.

Recipe from:  http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/02/blood-orange-so/