Good Eats Newsletter - December 17, 2008

This is an updated version of the newsletter sent on 12/16/2008, including a corrected date for no delivery on December 24th, and an additional recipe for celeriac.
Thank you for bringing back your empty plastic bags and egg cartons!

This Week's Share Contains
Orange Storage Carrots; Cippolini Onions; Celeriac; Mars Onions; Bunch Curly Parsley; Mixed Gold and Chioggia Beets; Bag Claytonia (Miner's Lettuce); Sorrel*; Leeks; Red Norland Potatoes; Red Shallots; Carnival Squash; Tullochgorum Popcorn; Pete's Greens Kitchen Applesauce; Champlain Orchards Macintosh Apples; Champlain Valley Creamery Triple Creme Cheese; and Elmore Mountain Flax Seed Bread.

* Sorrel will be delivered this week to: Montpelier, Hardwick and NOFA. Craftsbury, Middlesex, Waterbury, Burlington, Stowe and Morrisville received chard last week instead of this week's sorrel.

Hen of the Wood shareholders should also be receiving the red kuri squash that was supposed to be delivered last week.
Storage and Use Tips
Carnival Squash - Resembling a festive acorn squash, dressed up with stripes and polka dots, carnival squash has a hard, thick shell and golden flesh. Reminiscent of sweet potatoes and butternut squash, it is delicious steamed and baked, and pairs well with apples. Store squash in a cool, dark, but not humid spot. As it is getting close to the practical end of squash storage season, eat sooner rather than later.
Red Shallots - Shallots are a member of the allium family and have a milder taste than onions. Often times they are included in recipes when the addition of a mild onion flavor is desired without the distinguishable texture of onion. This is why you will usually see the instructions to mince the shallots. In a pan sauce, gravy or salad dressing, the tiny shallot pieces all but melt into the flavored liquid. Store shallots as you would onions, in a cool, dark, dry place away from potatoes.
Macintosh Apples - Wikipedia had some interesting information on the Macintosh variety: "Every McIntosh apple has a direct lineage to a single tree discovered in 1811 by John McIntosh on his farm in Dundela, a hamlet near Morrisburg, in Dundas County in the Canadian province of Ontario. Offspring of the Mac include the firmer Macoun (a Jersey Black cross), Spartan (recorded as a Newtown Pippin cross), Cortland, Empire, Jonamac, maybe Paula Red, Jersey Mac, and others." Macs keep well through the winter and are equally suited to making applesauce, cider, pies and eating out of hand. Apples will last longer if stored in your refrigerator, but try to keep them in a drawer separate from other fruits and vegetables. The ethylene gas that they give off will hasten the (over) ripening of other produce.

The Christmas Share
This week we have an extra-generous share in store for you, both with vegetables and localvore items. Since there is no delivery next Wednesday, December 24th, we are stocking you up with roots, squashes, alliums and cheese that will last you until New Year's. The greens and bread, of course, are better enjoyed right away. There are so many possibilities for wonderful soups, tarts, pies, sandwiches and snacks to be created out of this share. We hope you are inspired to create the festive dishes and meals befitting the spirit of the season!

Bulk Order Pick-Up This Wednesday
If you placed a bulk order, please pick it up with your share this week. Look for a bag or box with your name on it!

Who Will Be the New U.S. Secretary of Agriculture?
As Robin McDermott wrote in the Mad River Valley Localvore news, we should all take the opportunity to share our views with the President Elect. If you have not yet seen it, please read the letter below and then add your voice to the process by signing the petition. You will be in good company...with Michael Pollan, Bill McKibben, Marion Nestle, Wendell Barry, Alice Waters and many, many more.
Dear Friends,
Please consider signing this petition NOW (time is of the essence) and forwarding it to others in your networks who are concerned about sustainable agriculture - http://www.fooddemocracynow.org.
This is a letter to President-elect Obama asking him to appoint someone to the position of Secretary of Agriculture who is committed to protecting and promoting sustainable agriculture. We need someone who will advocate for practices that can restore economic viability to rural America while protecting public health, worker safety, the environment, and animals both inside and outside of agriculture; restoring justified confidence in the food and fiber system; and delivering a full spectrum of healthful, nutritious food.
We are asking only individuals, not organizations, to sign on, in keeping with the grassroots nature of this effort. The original letter and signatories, plus a sign-in page, can be found at http://www.fooddemocracynow.org.
Thank you for your help!
Online Community
Every so often a shareholder will ask us about ways to connect with other Pete's shareholders. We've been considering the idea of creating some kind of online community for Good Eats members for the last year or so, but have come to no conclusions. I am wondering what people think of having a Pete's Greens Facebook group where shareholders can exchange recipes and tips, etc? It's also a place that we can easily post status changes to shares that sometimes happen. If you have an opinion, or any other ideas about an online community, please email me. Thanks!

Steve's Farm Equipment Odyssey
As Pete wrote about a couple of weeks back, we have been on a farm equipment shopping spree of sorts. Pete has particularly had his eye on an older model Kubota cultivating tractor, popular with tobacco farmers. As this specific model, the L245H, is both hard to come by and expensive in the northeast, Pete has been looking to the tobacco growing regions in search of good condition used specimens. Pete found two that he liked, along with some other equipment, and sent Steve on a 72-hour quest to collect his purchases.
Steve began his journey at 5am on a Thursday morning, flying to Atlanta, GA, to pick up a 28' Penske rental truck with a car-hauling trailer. The 16 lanes of traffic he found on the Atlanta highway was a far cry from the 6-lane I89 he just left! Fortunately, Steve only needed to drive about 45 minutes out of Atlanta to pick-up the first Kubota that was sitting at a mechanics shop filled with antique tractors and old VW bugs. He got the Kubota loaded on the truck and headed for Tallassee, Alabama, about another five-hour drive.

Though both the tractors were in fairly good condition, Steve favored the Kubota he picked up at Holt Auto & Equipment in Tallassee. He loaded this second tractor onto the trailer and drove another 4 hours north towards Tennessee before stopping for the night, about 60 miles south of the border. In the morning, he got up and continued on to a working farm in Liberty, KY. There, Pete had lined up a brush washing line, waterwheel transplanter and a plastic mulch layer. The brush washer, a gentler option to our barrel washer, will take up the job of cleaning our potatoes, squashes and beets. The transplanter is able to water each individual plant as it is placed in its transplant hole. Pete is very excited about all of these new additions to our farm's toolbelt.

After this last pick-up, Steve drove a bit farther before checking himself into a motel for a good day's rest. And, it's a good thing he got that rest, because Saturday he headed for home with a loaded truck and trailer. Just about the time he was wondering if he would hit any lake effect snow, he slammed right into a wall of it in Cincinnati. He spent the next 500 miles in a line of trucks, plodding through the snow at 35 miles an hour, but managing to stay on the road.

After all of this, you might think that Steve would be hunkering down and shying away from any more equipment runs, but you'd be wrong. He said he loved the journey and is ready for the next trip anytime!
Localvore Lore
It's another apples, cheese and bread kind of a share. We're very excited about including the triple creme from Champlain Valley Creamery this week. Carleton had included a sample the last time we ordered cream cheese. We all loved the cheese and managed to devour the crottin (disk) within a few minutes. Their website describes this cheese as, "a beautiful soft ripened triple crème cheese with a bloomy white rind. Produced from cultured whole milk and cream, Champlain Triple is hand ladled into traditional crottin molds and aged approximately 10 days. It has a rich, creamy interior flavor that is offset by a delicious earthy rind with hints of mushroom."

Of course this cheese is perfect for eating on bread with apples on the side. You can also dress it up by baking it in puff pastry and topping it with some sauteed apples.

Pete made the applesauce in the shares this week from fruit we purchased from Champlain Orchards. We brought some of it to the last Montpelier Winter market and sold out easily. It makes a great simple side dish, or a fruity flavor addition to soups, sauces and baked goods.

We love the Tullochgorum popcorn from Ormstown, Quebec. You'll notice that the kernels look blue in your bags. If only they could retain that blue color when popped, my boys would be particularly excited. Alas, they pop white and delicious and make a terrific snack for hungry school children and movie watching adults alike. If you aren't a popcorn eating fan, it's a good time of year to string it and hang it on a tree. Or, try making popcorn balls, sweetened with honey from last week's share. Sticky, but delicious!

Finally, Andrew and Blair are baking up flax seed bread for us, made with flax seed from Michel Gaudreau. It is a sourdough-leavened bread with whole wheat. The addition of Quebec flax seeds gives it a delicious nutty flavor, as well as increased nutrition. Kudus to Elmore Mountain for continuing to bake us innovative loaves using a myriad of local ingredients!

Bread Ingredients: Milanaise Bread Flour, Milanaise Whole Wheat, Quebec Flax Seeds, Spring Water, Sourdough, Sea Salt.

Recipes
Carrot with Toasted Almond Soup
Beth Lewis, one of our shareholders, highly recommends this recipe from Epicurious.com. As she said, "even the kids like it!" I've modified it slightly to reflect the contents of this week's share. Garnish with plain yogurt or creme fraiche, if it's in your fridge. Serves 4 as a first course.

1 cup sliced shallots (about 4 large)
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Rounded 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/3 tsp dried, crumbled
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 small boiling potato (3 oz), peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 1/2 lb carrots, peeled and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz), or vegetable stock
1 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Cook shallots, bay leaf, ginger, curry powder, and thyme in butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened and pale golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add potato to shallot mixture along with carrots, broth, applesauce, water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Purée soup in 2 batches in a blender until smooth, transferring as blended to a large bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return to saucepan to reheat if necessary. Serve soup sprinkled with almonds.
Cooks' notes:
•Soup can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Reheat over low heat. Thin with additional water if necessary.
•Almonds can be toasted 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
Blue Cheese, Apple & Leek Tart with a Spiced Whole-Wheat Crust
I recently came across this recipe in the 2007 Appetizer issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. I plan to serve it, as adapted, as an appetizer for Christmas dinner. Serves 8-10.

For the tart shell:
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 oz) sifted whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground mace
pinch cayenne
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into bits
4 - 6 TB ice water

For the filling:
1 medium leek, light and green parts only, split lengthwise, sliced crosswise, washed and drained
1 TB unsalted butter
1 medium apple, unpeeled, cored and cut into 1/4" dice
3 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 lb blue cheese, trimmed of rind and crumbled
To make the shell, stir the two flours, coriander, mace, cayenne and salt together in a medium bowl or food processor. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter bits resemble oatmeal. Mix in just enough ice water to form a ball of dough. Gently flatten into a smooth disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Once chilled, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and place over a 10-11" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Fit into pan, trimming any excess, making sure there are no holes in the pastry dough where the filling may leak out. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge while you prepare the filling.

Preheat the oven to 375F. To make the filling, heat butter in a medium skillet; add the leeks and apples. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the leeks are brightly colored and the apples are softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Lightly beat the eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Place the tart pan with dough on a cookie sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper. Distribute the cooled leek mixture evenly over the tart dough. Sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese over the mixture. Pour the custard over the top. Bake until the custard has set in the middle and the top begins to turn golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Triple Creme and Apple Salad with Honey Vinaigrette
Carleton from Champlain Valley Creamery suggests using a sweet vinaigrette on salad made with the triple creme. Serves 6.

For the vinaigrette (inspired by Champlain Valley Apiaries recipe):
1 TB honey
6 TB balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sunflower or extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 shallot, minced
1 TB chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

6 - 8 cups claytonia or other salad greens
1 Macintosh apple, cored and cut in a 1/4" dice
1/2 cup roasted beets, cut in a 1/4" dice
1/2 crottin triple creme cheese, cut into small pieces
handful pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until ingredients are completely combined. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Place greens in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle with remaining ingredients. Dress with vinaigrette to taste. Toss and serve.

Breaded and Fried Celeriac
From Mark Bittman's cookbook, "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian," this process results in crunchy, yet tender celery root strips. Serve with the parsley pesto below. You can also try this procedure with winter squash served with a curried mayonnaise.

1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper
1 cup plain bread crumbs
large celeriac, peeled and cut into 1/4" inch thick slices
3 TB butter, plus 3 TB olive oil for frying

Set out three shallow bowls, next to each other in order, one with flour, another with eggs and third with bread crumbs. To bread celeriac, toss with flour, shaking off extra. Immerse in eggs, then toss to cover with bread crumbs. Set on a parchment-lined cookie sheet until all pieces have been breaded. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium to medium-high heat, so that oil reaches about 350F. Fry celeriac, allowing space between each piece, until golden. Flip and fry the other side, about 5-10 minutes total. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining celeriac. If you have a lot of vegetables to cook, keep fried vegetables warm in a 200F oven set on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. Serve with parsley pesto.
Parsley Pesto
1 cup parsley leaves (thin stems are okay), rinsed and dried
salt
1/2 clove garlic
1/4 cup sunflower or extra-virgin olive oil, or more
1 tsp apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine the parsley with a pinch of salt, the garlic, and about 1/2 the oil in a mini-food processor, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add the vinegar, then a little more oil or some water if you prefer a thinner mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.