Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Monday, July 12, 2010

CSA Pickups -- Week 12

Roots Farm CSA
Week 12: July 13 & 16
This Week:
-Blackberries or Blueberries
-Summer Squash: Zephyr, Magda, Jackpot Zucchini, Soleil Zucchini, Trombicino
-Cucumbers: Suhyo Long, Mid-East Prolific, & Lemon
-Tomatoes: Big Beef Slicers, Juliet Romas, Golden Rave Roma, Black Cherries
-Peppers!: Carmen
-Herbs: Basil (Sweet, Lemon, Thai, Purple)
-Garlic: California Early
-Beans: Blue Coco & Marvel of Venice

On the Farm . . .
We had an amazing workday this past Saturday! The weather blessed us with some nice cloud cover that kept the temperatures nice and temperate while we revolutionized the fields. We finished harvesting the last of the carrots, took out the strawberry rows (we grow them as an annual), removed driptape from the corn to prepare it for mowing, and weeded sunflowers, zinnias, parsley, and winter squash, to name a few things. It was awesome. The we retreated to the garage to process those huge walls of garlic that we’ve had drying in there. Now we have trays and trays of garlic, ready to go, some of which you’ll see in your baskets this week. A baker’s dozen folks came out and I’d say now that a baker’s dozen volunteers is a farmer’s delight! Thanks to all you who helped! And for those of you who didn’t make it this month, there’s always August . .

In the Basket and Almost There
I know some of you have been salivating, just waiting for the garlic to appear again, and this week is your week. Welcome back garlic! It’s dry and ready to go home with ya. Also, we’re still working to get beans, some of which may appear this week. And okra is on its way, but perhaps not yet this week. The last of the first succession of melons is trickling in; next week we’ll most likely have some of the next succession ready--Hannah’s Choice cantaloupes! Carmen peppers are in your shares this week -- they’re a sweet bull’s horn variety, so don’t be fooled by the long, tapered appearance into thinking they’re hot stuff. Delightfully early to go to red, I think you’ll enjoy their rich, full flavor. And cucumbers. If any of you would like extra cucumbers to pickle, just let us know. We pickled last week and hardly made a dent in our supple, so there are plenty more for you. Help us move our stock while you stock your larders. Just ask . . .

Is in the spotlight this week. I know you’ve been getting it consistently for quite some time now, and you may be wondering to yourself, what ELSE can I do with it. I’ve got some ideas for you. STORAGE: I recommend storing your basil in a sealed plastic bag at room temperature for 3-4 days. If you keep it in the fridge, beware that basil is a heat-loving crop and blackens at the first hint of frost, so if your fridge is cold, your basil may deteriorate even more quickly than on the counter. You can also freeze your basil, either as whole leaves on a cookie sheet that you transfer to a bag when frozen or as pesto. It freezes great! You can also dry it if you like. PREPARATION: Basil goes great into pasta sauces, salad dressings, salads, in sandwiches, soups, and stews, and even in desserts. Check out some of the recipes below . . .


Pesto Sauce
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts, other nuts)
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Process to a rough paste in a food processor: basil, nuts, garlic, and cheese (if freezing, add nuts and cheese after thawing). With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil. If the sauce seems dry (it should be a thick paste), add a little more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Use immediately or store in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (or freeze it for later--I like to freeze it in ice cube trays for the ease of single-serving sizes).

Loosely translated, pesto means “pounded” in Italian, and refers to the age-old method of preparing a paste by pounding and grinding the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle. Today, pesto refers to a class of rich sauces usually served with pasta, but it can admirably complement a variety of vegetables including carrots, green beans, zucchini, and potatoes. It gives a luscious twist when added to mayonnaise, particularly in potato or seafood salads. Experiment with different ingredients or mixtures of ingredients: use fresh tarragon, or mix fresh mint or arugula with basil. Try almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds. Make a dairy-free or vegan pesto by substituting tofu, lemon juice, and salt for Parmesan cheese. One cautionary word: pesto is practically a concentrate, so start with a spoonful, not a ladleful. Toss with your choice of pasta and veggies for a quick and delicious dish. (Thanks to Joy of Cooking & Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant)

4 tomatoes
4 small balls of fresh mozzarella
1 bunch of basil
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Slice the tomatoes and the cheese and tear the basil leaves from their stalks. Arrange the mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes into overlapping, alternating layers on your serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add salt & pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.

2 cups diced tomatoes 1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (slices 1/2-inch thick)

Mix the tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and garlic together well. Spoon onto toasted baguette slices. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.

Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp chopped fresh lemon basil
1 Tbsp finely grated or minced lemon or lime peel (use only the yellow or green portion of the peel)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix butter sugar vanilla, basil, and lemon or lime peel in a separate bowl and beat until well combined. Slowly add dry ingredients to the butter mixture—it will be crumbly. Stir in walnuts. Dump mixture into an ungreased 9x13 inch pan. Press to an even thickness. Bake until edges begin to turn light brown, about 20 minutes—do not overbake! Using a sharp knife, slice into two-inch squares while hot. Let cool 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a plate or cooling rack. Makes 24-30 cookies. (These are delicious! Very filling, though.) From the From Asparagus to Zucchini Cookbook.

Basil Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers (~45 wafers or 24 crackers)
6 Tbsp butter, melted, divided
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar, divided
2 lbs cream cheese, softened, divided
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh basil, finely sliced
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
fresh basil leaves for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the crumbs with 5 Tbsp of the melted butter and 1 Tbsp of the sugar in a small bowl. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and press with the bottom of a glass to form a solid, tight crust. Bake until light brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool. turn the oven up to 450 degrees. Put the cream cheese iin a food processor in half-pound batches; process at low speed to break it up. (You can also do this with a large bowl and electric mixer.) When all the cream cheese has been processed, add a pinch of salt and process for a few seconds more. Add the eggs and egg yolks, basil, sour cream, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and vanilla; process on low speed just until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Bake the cheesecake until it is set and slightly puffed around the edges but still slightly moist and “jiggly” in about a 3-inch circle at the center, 30-40 minutes. (The cake will continue to cook and set after you remove it from the oven, so don’t worry about that center part. If you bake it until it is solid, your cake will be overcooked.) Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a rack to cool for 30 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the outside of the partially cooled cake to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Leave the cake in the pan, on the rack, to cool completely, about 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to set for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. At least 1 hour before serving, remove the cake from the refrigerator. While the cake is still cold, carefully and gently remove the sides of the springform pan. With a sharp knife dipped in hot water and dried or with a long strand of waxed dental floss, divide the cake into 10 or 12 wedges. (You will need to dip and dry the knife, or wipe the floss clean, several times.) Garnish each serving with a fresh basil leaf. Makes 10-12 servings. From Farmer John’s Cookbook.

For more basil recipes, click here. Enjoy!

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