Thursday, April 5, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for April 5, 2012

Are you cooking Easter dinner or a family dinner of some sort this weekend? I am not cooking our Easter meal, but I do have family in from out of town and will probably make use of all the veggies before the weekend is even over.  The strawberries in this week's box will be great for making desserts.  I do think that so many of the veggies that are coming in this box are great for side dishes for a large family meal so that's where I am going to focus this week's recipes.

Sugar Snap Peas are a great source of vitamins and fibre.  Because they are eaten whole, the snap peas actually have more vitamins and fibre then shelled peas and less calories. Fresh pods can be eaten whole or used in cooking. It is best to use them while the pods are fresh, and crispy. The pods have a string that needs to be removed before eating them raw or when cooking. To prepare, wash the pods in cold water, and pat dry. Trim the stem end and remove the stringy fiber on either side of the pod. My whole family loves to eat snap peas fresh as a snack so they rarely make it into any cooking. They would of course be great added to any stir-fry but to stick with the side dish idea, I would recommend sauteing them with a bit of oil, ginger and garlic. It's best to heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic and ginger until a bit fragrant and then saute the peas for a few minutes until just starting to get tender. Another lovely side dish would be Sauteed Carrots and Sugar Snap Peas or use them in this Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas for a nice fresh spring salad.

I have only used up one of my Roma's from last week's box for a lunchtime toasted tomato sandwich so with the addition of the Roma's that are coming this week I think that there will be enough for a nice fresh Tomato Bruschetta to serve as an appetizer or snack.  You could also chop the tomatoes up with the green onion and zucchini for a Parmesan Zucchini Omelet or a frittata for breakfast.  I don't often use a recipe for my omelets or frittata but I follow these general steps: dice the vegetables that you want to use, saute them in an oven proof frying pan with a bit of butter or oil on medium high heat.  While the veggies are cooking, mix 4-8 eggs (approx. 1 egg per person) with a bit of milk or cream or water, and some seasonings or fresh herbs if you have them.  Pour the egg mixture over the veggies and continue to cook on medium high lifting the edges to let some of the egg mixture flow underneath.  While the frittata continues to cook, slice or grate your favorite cheese and sprinkle it over top.  Place the pan under the broiler in the oven for a few minutes, or bake until set in a 325F oven for about 10 min.  This would make a nice brunch dish served with a light Romaine salad sprinkled with sliced strawberries or apple.  Don't forget to leave your tomatoes out on the counter in a bowl to help them ripen and keep them as good as possible.

Back on track to side dishes - there are so many things you can do with broccoli.  You can steam it, stir fry it or,  I would not hear the end of it from my husband if I didn't recommend roasting your broccoli.  It is his favorite.   Cut the broccoli into small to medium florets, toss with a bit of olive oil, diced onions and/or mushrooms, sprinkle with some sea salt and pepper and roast in a 400F oven for 25-35 minutes.  The broccoli comes out with tasty crispy tips and makes a great accompaniment to any meal.  I also found some enticing recipes for Roasted Broccoli with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette and Marcona Almonds or a Broccoli Gratin with Mustard Cheese Streusel.

I couldn't do side dishes justice without including some recipes for the potatoes.  This article from the University of Idaho (of course) recommends storing potatoes in a well ventilated, humid, dark and cool place to keep them at their best.  They are more likely to grow sprouts if the temperature is too warm.  My kitchen cabinet is probably just a little too warm, so I am going to try them in the storage room in the basement.   When I get small red potatoes, I love them cut in halves or quarters, boiled until just tender, and tossed with a little bit of butter, salt or seasoning or fresh herbs, especially dill or fresh chives.  Potatoes are also great roasted in a similar manner to the broccoli but depending on the size, may take a bit longer.   This Jamie Oliver recipe for Evolution Potato Salad is great as an easy recipe that even a beginner cook can tackle and you can "evolve" the salad through each step to make it as complex as you want it to be.  But I think the hit of the family meal would be this Pommes Dauphinoise, a simpler version of scalloped potatoes but equally as flavorful and rich.  Just a look at the photo makes me hungry!

What better way to end a lovely spring meal then with a Strawberry Shortcake.  That was the first thing that came to mind when I saw strawberries on the list and I've been perusing recipes ever since. Both of the following recipes caught my eye and at least one will grace our table this weekend.  It's probably even worth making both at some point as a good excuse to be prepared for when the Ontario strawberries are in season in a couple of months.  The first recipe comes from the website Joy of Baking.  A co-worker of mine highly recommends this website for consistently good baking recipes.  I was drawn to their Strawberry Shortcake recipe as it uses a scone as opposed to a cake for the base of the shortcake.  But I also couldn't pass up highlighting this recipe for Ricardo's Strawberry Shortcake for the homemade white cake and strawberries macerated with Grand Marnier.    

I hope that the blog is inspiring some new cooking opportunities and ways to use the produce.  There are so many side dish options for the items this week, but if you aren't having a large Sunday dinner, you couldn't go wrong using the lettuce, tomatoes, and green onions on some BBQed burgers with some fresh cut up zucchini, carrots, and snap peas on the side.  Enjoy the long weekend, and Happy Easter.

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