All Posts In In Season

Market Watch: Kabocha Squash

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, October 11, 2016

This lesser-known variety of winter squash is having its heyday at local farmers markets right now. Don’t be intimidated by its dark and rough exterior; inside is a gourd full of goodness.

Kabocha Facts
A Japanese variety of squash, kabocha resembles a squatty, dark green pumpkin. Its outer skin is rough and bumpy, but inside hides a vibrant pale-orange flesh that tastes like a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin. Kabocha also delivers in the nutrition department, offering plentiful amounts of vitamins A and C, folate, potassium and fiber.

What to Do with Kabocha Squash
Much like pumpkin and butternut squash, kabocha can go in a wide variety of culinary directions. As with many winter squashes, the biggest challenge is dealing with the tough outer skin. Peeling it won’t be easy, so it’s better to cut it open, remove the seeds, and peel away the skin after boiling or roasting — you can also make it in a slow cooker.

Once mashed or pureed, the squash yields an incredibly light, silky and flavorful flesh that permeates your senses with the smell and taste of fall. Use it as a main ingredient for soups and sauces. You can enhance its flavor with earthy accoutrements like sage, cardamom and cinnamon or take things in a completely different direction with citrus and coconut milk. Kabocha’s natural sweetness and creamy texture also work nicely in muffins, breads, pie, panna cotta and ice cream. Read more

This Week’s CSA: Tomatoes at Last!

by in In Season, August 30, 2016

Finally! Sweet summer tomatoes have arrived in this week’s CSA from Mountain View Farm. For a cook, being handed a bag full of unadulterated produce is like being a kid handed an ice cream cone; it’s a moment of pure wonder. Still, it’s easy to grow weary during a long season of squash, squash and more squash.

Don’t get me wrong — summer squash is outstanding roasted, tossed into stir-fries and grated for slaws. But sometimes you yearn for something more … something just like a sweet, juicy tomato.

Now that we’ve gotten our wish, here are a few ideas for what to do with those fresh-from-the-farm tomatoes.
Salads: What says summer more than a fresh tomato salad? Good produce means very little work is required; just a simple vinaigrette, some fresh herbs and light seasoning will make the natural sweetness in your tomatoes pop. Read more

Celery Was the Star in This Week’s CSA

by in In Season, Uncategorized, August 24, 2016

This week’s CSA from Mountain View Farm included bright-green celery tops, fragrant as ever. It was about time for celery to stand up and say, “Notice me!” Celery leaves don’t receive the attention they deserve. The hearts are diced for crunch in salads, added to mirepoix for soups or enjoyed raw as a crunchy snack, but the fragrant leaves are often forgotten — and they’re among my favorite culinary secrets.

Plopping a trimmed celery top into your weekend brunch-time Bloody Mary for a colorful garnish is fine. But wouldn’t you rather pluck off the leaves to use in a vibrant pesto with Parmigiano-Reggiano? Not to mention, celery leaves make a bright, herbaceous addition to nutty grain salads and hearty chickpea dishes.

These delicate green leaves can be used pretty much anywhere in place of parsley. For the best leaves, look for full celery bunches with the dark outer green stalks still attached. The trimmed celery hearts usually available at the grocery store have been stripped of most of their beautiful leaves.

Then store them properly for a longer shelf life by plucking off the leaves (you can reserve the dark-green fibrous stalks for making stock or soups) rinsing them under cool water and wrapping them in a damp towel. Store the leaves in your humidity-controlled refrigerator drawer in an opened plastic bag for use in your next meal. Read more

Market Watch: Tomatillos

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, August 14, 2016

One of the best things about going to the farmers market is you never know what you might find. I ran to my local market in the hopes of picking up some tomatoes, but instead I simply couldn’t resist these neon-green tomatillos. If you’re intimidated by this member of the nightshade family, don’t be; they are easy to cook with, and there are many ways to enjoy them.

Tomatillo Facts
Also known as a “jamberry,” the tomatillo is related to the gooseberry. Tucked behind a papery husk is a bright green fruit that resembles a petite tomato. Tomatillos are firm, shiny and slightly sticky to the touch. Remove the husk and wash before enjoying them cooked or raw. There’s plenty of nutrition packed into these beauties: One cup contains 42 calories, 1 gram of unsaturated fat and 2 grams of both protein and fiber. There’s also potassium, niacin, iron and more than 25 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.

What to Do with Tomatillos
Choose tomatillos with intact husks and firm skin. They will keep at room temperature for a day or so and should then be stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator drawer for up to one month. Use them to create salsa (aka salsa verde) and guacamole. Blend them with chiles, cucumber, fresh herbs and vodka for a marvelous spin on a classic brunch cocktail. Read more

Summer Squash and More in this Week’s CSA Box

by in In Season, July 31, 2016

This week’s CSA (community-supported agriculture) box arrived at Food Network Kitchen stuffed with fresh summer produce, and we couldn’t be more excited to start cooking! Fresh summer squash was the real star of our box, with multiple varieties making an appearance. The seasonal offering has been popping up on restaurant menus everywhere, and now, with plenty in our kitchen thanks to Mountain View Farms, we can enjoy the tender vegetable in crisp salads, cold soups and more.

While unpacking our box, like many of you at home, we started to wonder what separates the pattypans from the zucchini of the world. Do they all deserve the same culinary treatment? After doing some quick research, we identified the two varietals of squash in our box as zucchini and zephyr (the two-toned one) squash.

Zucchini has a habit of growing … and growing … and growing, but don’t be tempted to set any world records with your squash. The best zucchini are small, firm and have a mild taste and moderately tender flesh — just like the one in our box. To use your squash, pull out your spiralizer to make a noodle substitute, or toss it in a pan with olive for a quick saute at dinner. Read more

Market Watch: Basil

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, July 27, 2016

Fresh herbs are flourishing at the local markets. Head out and grab some basil to make these exciting and unexpected recipes.

Basil Facts
Basil is rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C, plus it contains phytochemicals — good-for-you plant-based compounds. Since you probably don’t eat cups of herbs at a time, using small amounts daily in a wide range of recipes allows for the nutrients to stack up.

Basil options are more diverse than you might think. Look for beautiful bouquets of common varieties like “sweet” or “Christmas” for tomato sauce and salads. Try cinnamon basil on fruit salad or spicy Thai basil with noodle and rice dishes. The deep-purple leaves of opal basil make a showstopping pesto or pizza topper.

What to Do with Basil
Basil can be stored like flowers in a small glass of water on the counter for a couple of days. You can also store leaves loosely wrapped in a plastic bag with some paper towels in the veggie drawer of the fridge.

Stack those aromatic leaves on sandwiches, toss them into salad greens, or mash them into hummus, pesto and guacamole. Basil can also be used for dessert, incorporated into frozen treats like sorbet and ice pops. Read more

Market Watch: Sweet Cherries

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, July 11, 2016

Few fruits taste as amazingly sweet and scrumptious as a freshly picked cherry. Head out to your local farmers market soon, as they are only available for a short time.

Cherry Facts

One cup of cherries contains 90 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. You will also find about 10 percent of the daily requirement for potassium, 16 percent for vitamin C and 3 percent for iron. Cherries are rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, powerful plant compounds that may help reduce the risk of heart cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

What to Do with Cherries

Enjoy cherries as part of snacks, baked goods, beverages and frozen treats. Accompany them with flavors like almond or vanilla to enhance the natural essence of this magnificent fruit. Sweet preparations are most intuitive, but the tangy flavor also works well in savory applications like salsas and pan sauces.

When at the market, look for cherries that are deep red in color, firm and unblemished. Once you bring them home, store them in the fridge wrapped in a plastic bag. You can also freeze pitted cherries for up to six months. Use this step-by-step guide to learn how to easily pit fresh cherries. Read more

What’s in This Week’s CSA Box?

by in Healthy Tips, In Season, July 6, 2016

We in the Food Network Kitchen got our first box of CSA (community supported agriculture) produce from Mountain View Farm in Easthampton, MA. And probably like many of you at home, unpacking the box had us wondering, “What are we going to do with all this stuff?”

CSAs aren’t exactly a new idea. After all, farmers selling directly to the consumer is the original business model. But the locavore trend is one way to buck the industrial agricultural system (or skip the hassle of the produce aisle), with members buying “shares” in a farm’s annual harvest.

This is the most-exciting box of produce you will ever receive — your own mystery basket to keep you on your culinary toes week after week. So sign up, get to know your local farmer and keep reading to find out how to use even the most alien-looking produce in the box. We’ll give a glimpse at our CSA box and share tips on how to use the produce every other week throughout the summer and fall.

Bok Choy
Bok choy is a mild-flavored member of the cabbage family you’ve probably enjoyed at your local Chinese restaurant. Whether steamed, stir-fried or tossed in a saute pan with minced garlic and oil, it is a delicious dinner table addition.

Fennel
You might not know it from looking at this vegetable, but it comes from the same family as carrots. Slice your fennel bulb for adding crunch to salads, roasting for a side dish, or steaming and serving with fresh dill. Read more

Market Watch: Fennel

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, June 14, 2016

If you don’t think you’re a fan of fennel, it’s the perfect time of year to give this remarkable veggie another chance. Head to the farmers market and pick up these sweet and delicate young bulbs while the getting’s good.

 

Fennel Facts

These edible bulbs of fennel are referred to as the “Florence” or “finocchio” variety. Don’t be turned off by the anise descriptor often attached to this member of the carrot family. Fennel’s licorice essence is extremely subtle and becomes even more subdued when cooked.

Fennel also contains plentiful amounts of vitamins and minerals, including A, C, folate, calcium and potassium. One cup has fewer than 30 calories but 3 grams of hunger-fighting fiber. Read more

Farmers’ Market Finds: Scapes and Rabes, Beyond Broccoli and Garlic

by in Farmers' Market Finds, May 28, 2016

If you haunt your farmers market looking for signs of spring, you’re probably familiar with garlic scapes and broccoli rabe…they’re some of the first greens you’ll find. But scapes and rabe come in more varieties than garlic and broccoli. Here’s the skinny on what they are and what other varieties to look for.

 

What Are Scapes?

These shoots are one of the first edible greens to crop up in spring. Scapes are simply flower stalks that grow out of the bulbs of garlic, onions and leeks. At the top of each is a bulb that will flower if left unplucked. For eating, though, scapes are picked when the green stalk is sturdy and the bulb is still a bulb. Scapes taste like the alliums they grow from, and you can use them in places you would use chopped onion.

 

How to Use Scapes

To cook scapes, remove the bulbs and use the stalks. Chop them finely and saute to soften. Add them to omelets or quiche, blitz them into a pesto or preserve them by pickling. Read more

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