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This Week’s Harvest, 12/14: A Four-Course Meal

December 14, 2011

Today, on my last delivery for the year, a full menu just formed in my head upon seeing my vegetables.

Butternut squash, mâche, apples, shallots, eggs, Brussels sprouts, potatoes

Butternut Squash Soup with Poached Eggs

Duck Breast with Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Mashed Potatoes

Vacherin Mont d’Or, Mâche, Shallot Vinaigrette

Speculoos Apple Crumble

I’ve deliberately left this menu open to interpretation.  Say you have some extra carrots or apples you want to put in the soup – go ahead!  Want to top it with a drizzle of rosemary oil or chopped sage?  It will probably only be better.  I’ll probably use caramelized shallots for the Brussels sprouts, and if for some reason you don’t like mashed potatoes, by all means roast them.  And the cheese is, of course, substitutable.  I chose Vacherin Mont d’Or because it’s something special that I can’t get at other times of year, but if you prefer a pungent bleu or a creamy Camembert, serve that instead.  And if you want to use pears in your crumble instead of apples, I see no reason you couldn’t.  (Or both!  Anyone seen Carnage?)

So happy end-of-the-year holidays to all of you!  I’ll be back in the new year with plenty more wintry vegetables.  See you then!

Seasonal opposite: Spring Vegetable Crumble

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.

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This Week’s Harvest, 12/7: Out-of-the-Ordinary

December 8, 2011

yellow carrots, patidou squash, eggs, leeks, pears, watermelon radishes

What’s so different about this produce?  Well, the carrots are yellow, tinged with green at the top.  They’re much harder and stronger in flavor than their run-of-the-mill orange siblings.  These definitely benefit from roasting, which I did last night, along with some parsnips, underneath a chicken.

The turnips are not turnips, but watermelon radishes, their light green and white exteriors giving way to bright pink insides.  Frankly, I think they’d be great with some ranch dip for a little taste of pseudo-summer.

The pears are certainly unexpected at this time of year.  Normally by December we’re down to apples and apples alone.  But these pears are a newish variety called Angelys, which apparently thrive in the winter and have a good, long shelf life.  Hooray!  A warm, warming dessert like a crumble sounds like just what I want to do with them.

I guess the rest isn’t so surprising.  The leeks made a lovely side to the roast chicken, briefly broiled and drizzled with vinaigrette.  The eggs and patidou squash (maybe sweet dumpling squash in English) have me thinking of this quiche, but that squash could just as easily become a tartiflette of sorts, or a pizza, or a pasta dish, or I could stuff them, or…

Seasonal opposite: June 8, 2011

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.

This Week’s Harvest, 11/30: Roots and Greens

December 1, 2011

Frisée, Swiss chard, eggs, beets, kiwis, potatoes, parsnips

I seriously love root vegetables.  These beets, along with Melissa‘s, will be roasted with balsamic vinegar and chestnuts (no bacon this time, though) for a girls’ Christmas shindig on Saturday.  The parsnips make me want to roast a chicken, just so I can have them roast along underneath it, bathing in the savory juices.  I think the potatoes will be happy to join in the fun, and, if we’re being honest, some of the many leftover carrots from last week.

I also like greens quite a bit, and am especially happy to see heartier ones as the days get shorter and colder.  Frisée is a truly wonderful salad green for winter (or late fall, as the case may be), sturdy and flavorful enough to hold its own with poached eggs, toasted nuts, juicy pears, crispy bacon, pungent blue cheese and maybe some chewy dried cranberries on top.  It’s also a good cooking green, with a nice bitter flavor that complements rich bean dishes particularly well.

Swiss chard and squash are a fabulous combination (seen most recently here, and less recently here), and since I also have plenty of those baby pumpkins from last week still hanging out on the counter (did I mention I got a double panier last week?  Because I did.) I think a pizza is in order for tonight.

Seasonal opposite: June 2, 2010

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.

This Week’s Harvest, 11/23: Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2011

mixed greens, leeks, carrots, shallots, eggs, apples, decorative gourds

It’s decorative gourd season…well, you probably know the rest.  (Don’t click that link if you’re sensitive about off-color language.)

Seriously, though, those little mini-pumpkins are called Jack Be Little or pomarine squash, and apparently they’re edible.  I might try stuffing them, but if anyone has eaten these before or has any advice, I’d love to hear it.

The leeks are already gone, some in turkey stock along with several carrots, some in the wild mushroom bread pudding I now make for every Thanksgiving.  Which also used up some shallot and more than a few eggs.

Happily, I got Granny Smith apples this week, which is exactly what this recipe called for.  Of course, I would have made the apple-bourbon bundt cake anyway, but it’s nice to know I had the right kind of apples.  The cake, which we ate alongside Hopie’s famous pecan pie, also makes and excellent breakfast.  (You should know by now how I feel about cake for breakfast.)

I think the bag of mixed greens – purportedly mâche and purslane – is just what we need for lighter post-Thanksgiving meals.  And it will be good alongside leftover turkey and stuffing, too.

Seasonal opposite: May 26, 2010

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.

This Week’s Harvest, 11/9: Hello, Staples

November 11, 2011

leeks, butternut squash, kiwis, onions, carrots, eggs, mâche

The first thing I said upon receiving my panier this week was something along the lines of, “Onions!  Hooray, now I don’t have to go buy them!”  I’ve also been flying through the carrots lately, testing coleslaw recipes, so those were a welcome sight, as well.

I am always excited about winter squashes, which is why, even though I know that this butternut squash will keep longer than, say, the mâche, I’ve already cooked and eaten it.  For lunch today, I diced it up and roasted it, adding some chopped leek after about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, I was making a creamy, bechamel-based piquillo pepper sauce and boiling whole wheat pasta.  When everything was ready I mixed it all together and served it in deep bowls with a sprinkling of pine nuts.  Really, really good eating.

These kiwis are perfectly sized for snacking.  I have a short train trip coming up, and I think I’ll bring along a knife and a plastic coffee spoon and scoop the sweet green flesh from their fuzzy skins as I watch the countryside whiz by.

Because the new kitchen for work is still under construction, for a short time I get to have a Kitchen Aid at home, so whatever happens to those eggs is going to involve whipping.

Seasonal opposite: May 11, 2011

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.

This Week’s Harvest, 10/30: At The Market, and Fennel-Potato Gratin

November 1, 2011

Celery and celeriac, potimarron, endives, wild mushrooms, Valençay, radicchio, parsley

Today is a holiday in France, so we’re not getting a vegetable delivery this week.  Instead, Nick and I headed to the market on Sunday to pick up supplies for the week.  First stop was Production d’Ile de France, who only sell fruits and vegetables grown in the region immediately surrounding Paris.

Lettuces from Ile de France

Nick was after a celery root, to replenish our supply of homemade celery salt.  This stand had some great-looking ones, with whole stalks of celery still growing out of the top.  If that doesn’t indicate freshness, I don’t know what does.  Of course, having seen that, we still had to wait in line, the various lettuces in perfect placement for some impulse shopping.  I love endives, and these looked fantastic, so I picked up four of them.  And this baby radicchio was so cute, how could I not buy a couple of them, too?

tiny radicchio

I envision both of these vegetables in mini-wedge salads, drizzled with hazelnut oil and sherry vinegar, and maybe sprinkled with something crunchy like sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

As we approached the front of the line, I had Nick skip ahead to select a bunch of parsley from the array of fresh herbs on display.  Meanwhile, while the vendor was getting my celeriac, I noticed the gorgeous orange potimarrons (kuri or Hokkaido squash) next to it, and asked for one of those as well.  I’m going to roast it with Thai curry paste, in another recipe inspired by Super Natural Every Day.  Arranging my purchases into my shopping bags, I overheard a woman ask the vendor if he had any green beans.  His reply?  “C’est fini.  L’année prochaine.” (“They’re finished.  Next year.”)  Which I just love.  I also love that these vegetables are even more local than the ones I usually get in the panier.  My total, for one celery root with celery, one potimarron, one bunch of parsley, four large endives, and two small radicchio was 9 euros.  For comparison, my weekly delivery of organic vegetables (these are not) from the Loire valley, plus half a dozen eggs is about 15 euros.

The only other thing on my list was wild mushrooms.  But before we found the mushroom stand, I had to stop at La Ferme de la Prairie (referred to as the Ultimate Cheese Guy in this discussion) for goat cheese.  The Valençay was looking particularly good this week, so into my bag went a truncated pyramid.

Finally, I found the mushroom foragers I’d been seeking.  A small handful each of lactaires, shiitakes, chanterelles, and girolles, all foraged in France (as evidenced by the pine needles still clinging to many of them), and my shopping was done.

* * * * *

But wait, what about the gratin?  Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten.  It’s a very simple non-recipe, and it goes like this: thinly slice fennel, reserving the fronds.  Peel and slice potatoes about the same thickness.  Slice up an onion, too.  Toss it all together in a large bowl with chopped fennel fronds, parsley, rosemary (you can use whatever herbs you like, those are just what I had on hand), salt, pepper, and a small tub of crème fraîche (or sour cream) thinned with a little milk.  Mix until everything is evenly coated, then turn out into a buttered baking dish and bake until tender and browned on top, about an hour.

Fennel-potato Gratin

Seasonal opposite: May 4, 2011

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.

This Week’s Harvest, 10/26: A Lettuce By Any Other Name…

October 27, 2011

fennel, Napa cabbage, escarole, apples, potatoes, watermelon radishes, eggs

…Is good for things other than salad?  Fortunately I know that this escarole is good cooked, because I got it once last year, and made a tasty bean-and-green stew with it.  Right now, Nick is wilting it to go in a warm salad of yellow lentils with cilantro pesto.  The recipe comes from Heidi Swanson‘s Super Natural Every Day, which I just won over on The Kitchen Illiterate.  It’s a great book, and merits a post of its own, so look for that over on Croque-Camille.

I’m always excited about fennel, and this one reminded me of a dish I made frequently at home: a creamy gratin of fennel and potatoes from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques.  Perfect for the chilly nights ahead.

At least half of that huge Napa cabbage is getting turned into kimchi, and the rest will end up in a stir-fry.  If it was warmer I might make a tangy slaw with sesame seeds, but it’s not.

This apple-goat cheese cake was pretty darn good, so I might just make it again.

Fried egg sandwiches on English muffins are our new favorite weekend breakfast.  They’re fast, tasty, and keep us going through busy weekend days.

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.

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