Crop Box Sunday! December 17th, 10:30AM to 2PM
The holidays are here, ready or not! Seasonal clues are not found in the weather this year. I am hoping for another wet winter, and the great local food it brings us. Whatever the weather, I hope you enjoy this season.
Gaytan Family Farm
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A fruit soup for winter evenings to open up the appetite!
Warm Strawberry Soup
From Mr. Strawberry at strawberryplants.org
1 pint of strawberries
1 pint of water (see notes below)
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of cornstarch blended with 2 tablespoons of cold water
2 tablespoons of sour cream (see notes below)
Hull the strawberries. Put the water and strawberries in a covered saucepan, then simmer for ten minutes until mushy. When the strawberries are mushy, put them through a food mill or puree in a blender at low speed. After the strawberries are pureed, press them through a fine sieve. Return the puree to the saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients to the saucepan and heat to a boil. Stir continuously while heating. Taste for sweetness and add more if desired. Serve topped with whipped cream, if desired. For a thicker soup, remove the excess water prior to blending the strawberries.
If the soup is too thick or thin for your liking, more cornstarch can be added to thicken it, and more water can be added to thin it. One common modification that I recommend is using a 1/2 pint of dry white wine and a 1/2 pint of water mixture instead of 1 pint of straight water. Sour cream can also be replaced by buttermilk or heavy cream. Additionally, organic evaporated cane juice crystals, turbinado, sucanat, honey crystals, or even brown sugar can be used instead of normal table sugar to give unique and varied accents to this warm strawberry soup recipe.
Once the soup is prepared, it should be consumed within two days.
Champagne Cocktail with Strawberries
From House and Garden UK. Serves 6.
Few drops of Angostura bitters
6 teaspoons brandy
l bottle of dry sparkling white wine or champagne, well chilled
Divide the strawberries, bitters and brandy between the bottom of 6 champagne flutes. Leave to stand and for the flavors to mingle for 30 minutes to an hour.
Top up with chilled sparkling wine just before serving.
It is nice to have a pretty, but healthful, dish on the table in the midst of the excess. While the salad calls for kale (not everyone’s favorite) I think a good mix of greens, including spinach, would work well too.
Holiday Kale Salad
From Eatingbirdfood.com. Serves 4.
1 large bunch of Lacinato kale, washed and de-stemmed
2 cups of mixed salad greens
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup of kalamata olives, pitted and cut into slivers
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small butternut squash
3 Tablespoons olive oil (divided)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°.
Prepare the squash by peeling and cutting in half. Scrape out the seeds.
Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes, toss them with 1Tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, and spread onto a baking sheet.
Roast the squash at 400° for 30-40 minutes, turning once or twice, until all the pieces are tender and some have brown spots.
While roasting the squash, toast the walnuts on a separate baking sheet for about 6-8 minutes in the 400° oven.
Remove both items from oven when finished and let the squash and walnuts cool.
Stack the kale leaves and roll them into tight bundles, then slice very thinly with a sharp knife to create shredded pieces.
Pour ½ cup of water over the cranberries and leave them to soften until you are ready to toss the salad. (Drain before adding to the salad).
In your salad bowl, whisk together dressing by combining olive oil, balsamic, sea salt and pepper. Add all the remaining salad ingredients and toss everything together. Let the salad marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving. The longer the kale marinates the softer the leaves will become.
Here is another bright, healthful dish in holiday colors! This one is a great Middle Eastern addition to hummus, olives, raw veggies for dipping, and bread. Start your dinner with a healthy appetizer spread. I will use this year round.
From Food 52. Serves 6 to 8.
For the beets:
4 medium-sized beets
2 to 3 cardamom pods
1 head garlic, separated but not peeled
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
¼ cup olive oil
For the tahini:
1 to 2 cloves garlic (if you really like garlic, add another clove)
¾ cup tahini
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 to ¾ cups water (the water is extremely variable, depending on the brand of tahini and is used to thin the sauce out to a thick cream consistency)
¼ cup chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the beets in a shallow roasting pan and salt generously. Add the cardamom and peppercorns and garlic. Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil over the beets and add water to come three quarters of the way up the beets. Cover with foil and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. When tender, drain, allow to cool a little bit, then rub the skins off the beets.
While the beets are roasting, make the tahini sauce. Chop the garlic in a food processor, then add the tahini. With the motor going, add the lemon juice. Add the water in a steady stream, until a thin creamy sauce is achieved. Taste and salt. Once cooled and peeled, grate the beets on the large hole side of a box grater. Fold in the tahini sauce and mix roughly. Add the parsley, taste, and adjust for salt and lemon.
Hasselback Butternut Squash
From Pure Wow. Serves 4 to 6.
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, halved and seeded
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place the squash, cut side down, on the sheet and roast until it just begins to become tender, 17 to 20 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes or until it is easy to handle.
Cut the squash crosswise into ⅛-inch slices, leaving about ⅛-inch intact at the bottom.
In a small saucepan, heat the butter and honey over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and stir in the mustard, thyme, rosemary and sage.
Brush the butter mixture generously over the squash; season with salt and pepper. Pour ⅓ cup water into the base of the baking sheet.
Transfer the baking sheet back into the oven and roast until the squash is tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
Garnish the surface of the squash with chopped pecans and return to the oven to toast the pecans, about 3 minutes.
And, just because it is Christmas, here is a variation on everyone’s favorite chocolate chip cookies. This one is fast and crunchy. You still have time to make this for gifts!
Shauna Sever’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle
From Food52. Makes about 3 dozen 3” pieces.
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (200g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 cup (200g) turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (90g) coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup (130g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (60% to 70% cacao)
Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C), with a rack in the center.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between bursts, just until the butter is almost completely melted and the sugar has started to dissolve, about 2 minutes. (Alternatively, melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, being careful not to let the mixture come to a boil.)
Whisk the mixture until the butter is completely melted. Let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk continuously until the mixture is thickened and smooth and no longer looks separated, about 1 minute. Whisk in the vanilla and salt until combined. Add the flour and stir until no streaks of flour remain, then stir in half of the nuts.
Scrape the dough onto a rimmed 12 by 17-inch (30 by 43cm) baking sheet and pat it into a very thin, even layer with your hands. It won’t look like you’ll be able to fill the entire baking sheet, but you will! Just keep patting the dough to the edges. Use an offset or rubber spatula to smooth the top. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and the remaining nuts over the dough and press them down lightly with your hands.
Bake until light golden brown and slightly firm to the touch all over, 22 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet every 7 to 8 minutes. Let the brittle cool completely in the pan on a rack.
Use a wide, thin spatula to loosen the edges of the brittle, then ease the whole slab of brittle onto the rack. Alternatively, if it looks like the slab might not come out cleanly, line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Flip the brittle slab onto the paper and then immediately invert it right side up onto the rack, peeling off the parchment. Once completely cool, break into pieces—try to avoid smudging the chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
After the holiday indulgence, here is an easy slow cooker recipe that is healthy.
Slow Cooker Kale and White Bean Soup
From Dishingdelish.com. Serves 6.
8 cups fresh kale or spinach leaves coarsely chopped
5 cups vegetable broth
1 can white beans 15oz, drained and rinsed
1 can tomato puree 15oz
1 Parmesan rind
1 bunch green onions chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
1/2 cup uncooked white or brown rice
4 garlic cloves chopped
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese to garnish
Add vegetable broth, white beans, tomato puree, Parmesan rind, green onion, yellow onion, rice, basil, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper to slow cooker.
Cook on LOW 7-8 hours or on HIGH 3-4 hours (until soup is hot and onions are cooked through).
After soup is fully cooked, remove Parmesan rind and stir in kale (or spinach) leaves. Top with extra Parmesan cheese and serve