Wonderful Wheat Berries

Well, we have been collecting wheat berries and barley for a while now from our Farm Share.  They require a little work: soaking overnight in water and then boiling for about an hour when ready to prepare, so every time I thought to use them in a meal was too short notice.

I took the time this past weekend to do the soaking and boiling (which really is not labor intensive at all, you just have to be home to check on the berries as they boil) and we ate our first batch of wheat berries with breakfast this morning.  We both really enjoyed the addition it made to our oatmeal, and now I'm really excited to add our batch of cooked wheat berries to different dishes.  You can do so many different things with them; I included a couple recipes below to illustrate their versatility.  

Our batch of wheat berries before soaking overnight.  I prepared a pretty large amount so we would have enough to eat in different meals throughout the week (and to make a dent in our supply).

The boiling begins...

I love to throw apples into our oatmeal.  These are our Farm Share apples from this week.

And the finished product: oatmeal with wheat berries (1:1 ratio) and apples (and cinnamon and brown sugar, of course!)

Cooking Wheat Berries
(These directions are for 3/4 c. wheat berries.)

Place wheat berries in heavy medium saucepan.  Add enough cold water to saucepan to cover wheat berries by 3 inches.  Let stand overnight.  Drain.

Bring 4 c. water, wheat berries and 3/4 tsp. salt to boil in same saucepan.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until wheat berries are tender but still slightly firm to bite, about 1 hour.  Drain.

Wheat Berry Salad
(Recipe compliments of one of my best friends.  This would be a great addition to a green lettuce salad.)

1.5 c. wheat berries
4-5 scallions, chopped
1 c. chopped peaches (substitute apples in the Fall/Winter)
1/2 c. currants
1/4 c. toasted sunflower seeds
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbs. sesame oil

Cook wheat berries, then in large bowl, combine cooked berries with scallions, apples, currants, and toasted sunflower seeds.  Toss with lime juice, toasted sesame oil, and pinch of salt.  Serve room temperature or chilled.

Rice and Wheat Berry Pilaf with Baby Spinach
(Recipe from Bon Appétit, via Epicurious.com)

3/4 c. wheat berries
5 3/4 c. water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs olive oil
3/4 c. basmati rice
3 garlic cloves, minced
16-oz baby spinach leaves 

Cook wheat berries per directions above.

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.  Add rice and garlic; stir 1 minute.  Stir in remaining 1 3/4 c. water and 3/4 tsp salt; bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until liquid is almost absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes.  Add spinach and cooked wheat berries; stir until spinach wilts and wheat berries are heated through, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve hot.


"Irregular" Carrots

One interesting thing I learned about the food industry within the last year is how a good amount of produce doesn't make it to the supermarket because it is "irregular."  A friend told me about a market in Boston where you can go pick up  the rejected produce at a great price, something I look forward to doing when the school year winds down (and weather gets better).

Anyway, tonight was another reminder of why I love our Farm Share: we sometimes get crazy looking produce like this:

I love it!  Think about it: when was the last time you didn't see perfectly conical carrots in the supermarket?

(And the best part is, our Farm Share carrots are delicious!  I've never been so eager to eat raw carrots; I don't even peel them--maybe that's weird--but I just give them a good scrub and chomp away, they are so flavorful.)

2/25 Farm Share Arrival!

This week we got another combination of exciting items: gorgeous romaine lettuce, baby arugula, kale, parsley, apples, carrots, red onions, grapefruit, and sweet potatoes.

Our fruit basket is overflowing with all our Farm Share produce, literally.  Lots of good meals to look forward to!


Recipe Organization

Since most of the posts about our Farm Share eating experiences involve produce, I will try to develop a way to highlight the main ingredients of each dish and categorize the recipes accordingly.

For example, posts about kale, swiss chard, and other dishes involving winter greens will be under "dark leafy greens."  Or, posts about turnips, carrots, and potatoes will be under "root vegetables."  It might change a little bit as I add more posts, and if it's not user-friendly, please let me know.  For now, I hope it works!

(I just added "Local Fare" to highlight posts in which we use local meats and seafood, and a sort of catch-all category, "Use of Produce," for the random salads, sides, desserts, etc. we come up with to use our Farm Share produce.)

Getaway Weekend with Foodies

Last weekend, my husband and I took a trip with friends into the mountains of PA.  It was wonderful to get away, and we all soaked up the time relaxing...and eating!  We had fantastic fare...from Persian the first night to poached eggs for breakfast one morning and quiche the next.  I realized when I got home that I didn't take enough pictures of food!

We were in charge of dinner one night, and we had fun with it.  For the weekend we packed up an entire box of Farm Share produce to cook with: grapefruit and oranges for fruit salad one morning, greens, peppers, and potatoes for dinner.  We didn't end up actually using everything we brought, but we had plenty to feed a cabin of 6 people for at least a couple meals.

For the dinner we were in charge of, my husband smoked an 8-lb. brisket (our first purchase at Savenor's, one of the best places to find local, grass-fed beef in Boston).   He takes no credit for the skill involved in smoking meat, but every time he does it the results are amazing.

With the brisket we sautéed some green and red swiss chard (from our Farm Share).  I also cooked a casserole of spicy mac & cheese and baked slivers of beets and sweet potatoes for a side of "chips" (beets and potatoes also from our Farm Share).

Our sweet potato and beet chips.

Sautéed Swiss Chard
There's really no recipe we follow, but in general, when cooking these bitter, leafy greens, you want to cut out the stems from the leaf.  In a pan, sauté a yellow onion in olive oil (the proportion of onion to chard depends on personal taste and the volume of greens with which you are cooking), add some garlic (2-3 minced cloves), then add the stems.  Once the stems have begun to cook through add the leafy greens.  I typically throw in some water, or broth if I have it, to let the greens soften and steam, and then cook for 8-10 minutes.

A more formal recipe for this same approach to cooking chard can be found here, on Epicurious.com.

Sweet Potato and Beet Chips
I was going to attempt to fry these, but my friend had the brilliant idea of baking them.  

Slice the sweet potatoes and beets on a mandoline at 1/16" thickness.  Next, toss the slices in olive oil and arrange on baking sheets (so as they are not touching) and bake in the oven at 450 degrees (they turn crispy in about 5 minutes, but keep your eye on them so as not to burn them).

I made the mistake tossing the potato and beet slices in a mixture of salt and finely chopped rosemary before baking them.  They ended up being too salty.  Instead, toss the chips in a salt mixture after they have been baked and cooled.  

The idea to do sweet potato and been chips was from our Farm Share newsletter.  Thank you!

New England Mussels

One thing that's great about living in New England is the access to delicious fresh shellfish and seafood.  You don't really get that in Nashville (where we lived before moving here).  I've only cooked with mussels once before--I made a Bouillabaisse from Magnolia's cookbook--that turned out amazingly.  This time we happened to have all the ingredients to make this recipe.  I am now convinced that you really can't go wrong cooking mussels.

Steamed Mussels with Coconut Milk and Thai Chiles

Recipe from Food & Wine.

4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 Thai chiles, thickly sliced
1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 c. cilantro leaves
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 13 1/2-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
Juice of 2 limes
1 11-12 oz. bottle lager
5 lbs. mussels, scrubbed

1. In a food processor, combine the garlic, chiles, ginger, cilantro, lime zest and olive oil and process to a paste; transfer to a large bowl.  Whisk in the coconut milk and lime juice and season with salt.

2. In a large soup pot, bring the lager to a boil over high heat.  Boil until reduced to 1/2 c., about 7 minutes.  Add the mussels, cover and cook, shaking the pot a few times, until the mussels just begin to open, about 4 minutes.

3. Uncover the mussels and stir in the coconut milk mixture.  Cover and cook, shaking the pot a few times, until all of the mussels open, about 8 minutes.  Spoon the mussels and broth into bowls and serve.

The recipe can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated overnight.

We served this with a salad made from our Farm Share produce.  Delicious!


"Party in My Mouth"

There is nothing better than finding a good recipe that is completely new, going with it, and ending up with one of the best meals you remember eating.  For Valentines Day, we decided to stay in and cook, and wow, are we glad we did.

My husband picked up a delicious tuna steak from Whole Foods and I found this amazing recipe (which had the best of reviews) on Epicurious.com.  Without further ado, here is the recipe and pictures of our meal:

African Adobo-Rubbed Tuna Steak

For the avocado salsa:
2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the bias
2 jarred piquillo peppers, diced (or substitute 2 jarred roasted red peppers)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. fresh orange juice
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the adobo: 
1 1/2 tsp. toasted and ground coriander seeds
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 1/2 tbs. dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tbs. kosher salt
1 tbs. paprika
1 1/2 tbs. dried orange peel
1 tbs. sugar
4 6-oz tuna steaks

For the cucumbers: 
2 1/2 tbs. sugar, or to taste
1/2 c. Champagne vinegar
1 European cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and very thinly sliced

For the salsa: In a medium bowl, combine the diced avocados, scallions, peppers, and garlic.  In another bowl, whisk together the orange and lime juices, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Pour over the avocado mixture and gently toss.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the cucumbers: Mix the sugar and vinegar in a bowl, stirring well.  Add the cucumbers  and allow to marinate for about 15 minutes.

To serve, arrange the cucumber in neat slices across each plate.  Slice the tuna and lay it over the cucumbers.  Spoon the avocado salsa on top of or around the tuna.  Spoon a little of the pickling juices around the cucumbers, and serve.  (Sometimes the recipe cook adds a little grated orange zest for garnish as well.)

For the adobo:
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Rub each of the tuna steaks with 1 1/2 tsp of oil and sprinkle generously with the adobo.  (Reserve any extra adobo spice rub for another use.)  In a nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbs. of oil until it begins to smoke.  Sear the tuna on each side for only 1 minute - the tuna is served rare.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

The finished product: tuna with a dollop of avocado yogurt dip and cucumber salad.

We modified this recipe a little bit - my husband wanted to eat the tuna as a steak, so we didn't slice and arrange per the recipe.  Nor did we make the avocado salsa (though next time we use this recipe, even though we loved it this time around, we want to follow the instructions exactly to see how the flavors of the salsa blend with the tuna).  Instead of the avocado salsa we used the avocado yogurt dip we had made (avocado from our Farm Share) - which was actually an awesome compliment to the spicy tuna.  We also wanted to eat a salad, so we used some of our Farm Share lettuce and added the cucumber salad and tomatoes to the greens (modified slightly, too...we kept in the seeds and didn't have Champagne vinegar so we used a combination of red wine vinegar and white balsamic vinegar).

This dish combined amazing spices and flavors - so much so that my husband said several times throughout the meal that it felt like a "party in [his] mouth."  It was a an incredible meal!

Meat and Potatoes (or, Just Potatoes)

My husband made himself breakfast for dinner one night.  I had gone out with some friends and wasn't hungry, but I wished I was because his cheesy eggs and hash browns looked amazing.  Thank you, Farm Share, for these potatoes!

Tip: to get hash browns that are crispy on the outside but thick and cooked on the inside, bake potatoes first.  When they are cooled, cut them into cubes and fry them in a little bit of butter or olive oil.  (Maybe this is obvious to others, but it took us a while to get the cooking combination right!)

Tatsoi Stir Fry

Tatsoi is a leafy green that we received in the Farm Share the week of 2/10.  Our Farm Share newsletter included a recipe for a cold salad tatsoi that had a ginger/sesame base, and from that we drew inspiration to make a sesame/ginger stir fry with more of our vegetables from the share.

Using a wok, we heated up a little oil, threw in the carrots, then we added some water chestnuts, mushrooms and bamboo shoots.  To season, we added minced fresh ginger and some red pepper flakes, along with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce.  Lastly we threw in the tatsoi, barely wilted the veggies, and then served on a bed of brown rice.

Gorgeous Grapefruit!

Avocado Yogurt Dip with Jalapeño and Cilantro

We used the avocado from last week's Farm Share to make this wonderful dip, which is not only good straight up on a tortilla or pita chip but also amazingly complimented a spicy tuna dish we made for our celebration of Valentine's Day (feel the love).  I'm looking forward to drizzling it on some veggie wraps this coming week.

Avocado Yogurt Dip with Jalapeño and Cilantro
(From Epicurious.com)

1 16-ox container plain nonfat yogurt (scant 2 cups)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 large avocado, peeled, halved, pitted, coarsely chopped
4 tsp. minced jalapeño
1 small garlic clove, minced

Set strainer over medium bowl; line with double layer of cheesecloth.  Place yogurt in cloth-lined strainer.  Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight.

Discard liquid drained from yogurt.  Transfer yogurt to processor.  Stir cumin in small dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add cumin to processor, then avocado, 3 tbs. cilantro, jalapeño, and garlic.  Process until smooth.  Season wiht salt and pepper.  Transfer dip to small bowl.  (Can be prepared 6 hrs. ahead.  Press plastic wrap onto surface of dip and chill.)  Sprinkle with 1 tbs. cilantro.

(To the right, the yogurt, cilantro, cumin and garlic in the food processor before adding the avocado.)

2/10 Farm Share

This week we received grapefruit, red onions, apples, more root veggies (yellow turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes) a couple radishes, parsley, tatsoi, swiss chard, and salad greens.  See the following posts for what we did with produce from this week and the week before...it was a good week!


Grapefruit Salad in February

Today we received our Farm Share box with things back to "normal" (e.g. no "emergency" box and some produce from Florida).  Here are a couple pictures of the goods:

Yellow turnips, beets, arugula, baby spinach, apples,  grapefruit, avocado, sweet potatoes, red onion, russet potatoes...great box!!

Tonight we made a salad using a recipe suggested by our weekly Farm Share Newsletter (see recipe below).  Grapefruit and other non-winter produce are a part of our winter share through co-ops Enterprise Farm has with growers in the Southern United States.  Through Enterprise Farm's communication (like the newsletter) we are more aware of what produce is in season when.  This has helped us to be a bit more mindful when shopping for off-season produce in general, and I actually now realize how much produce at the grocery store is imported from outside the U.S.  There's nothing wrong with that except a lot of energy (and pollution) is used to get that produce here!  The co-ops enable us to receive produce we wouldn't from MA in the winter, yet go so far as South America to find it.

Anyway, the grapefruit was both gorgeous and delicious.  The spinach was from this week's share, too.  It was a perfect combination of sweet yet tart fruit with mild avocado.

Salad with Baby Spinach, Grapefruit and Avocado

1 1/2 c. pomegranate juice, cooked over medium heat until it reduces by 1/3, then cooled
Whisk together with 3 tbs. red wine vinegar, 3 tbs. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper.
Continue to whisk the vinaigrette ingredients, while slowly adding 1/4 c. olive oil.

Toss together the following with half of the vinaigrette:
~ 8 c. baby spinach
1 avocado, cut into large cubes
1 grapefruit, peeled and pith removed, cut into sections

Pass the remainder of the dressing at the table.