Poached Cod with Fennel and Cauliflower

1 1/2 lbs. cod, checked for bones and cut into 8 pieces
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp + 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, in 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 fennel bulb, in medium slices
5 cloves garlic, pressed
chopped fennel tops, for garnish, optional

Rub cod with lemon juice and a little salt and pepper. Set aside. Saute onion in 1 Tbsp. broth over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth and carrots. Cover and simmer over medium heat about 10 minutes. Add cauliflower, fennel, and garlic. Place cod on top and continue to cook, covered, until done, about 6 minutes more. Adjust seasonings and sprinkle with chopped fennel greens.

Adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Broccoli with fennel

1 large fennel bulb, about 8 oz.
8 oz. broccoli florets
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, marjoram, and/or savory to taste

Trim top from fennel and cut bulb into eighths. Parboil fennel and broccoli about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Heat oil, add broccoli and fennel, and toss to coat. Cover and let steam over low heat, shaking pan occasionally, until done, 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs.

Adapted from: The original Mediterranean cuisine : medieval recipes for today / Barbara Santich. Chicago Review Press, c1995.

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Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Newsletters: 5 Oct., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 5 Oct., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
I’ve written about CSA shares before, but this seems like a good time to remind you of all the great vendors we have who are joining the CSA parade. Mostly I’ve spoken of the advantages to the farmers and other producers, who love to have those advance sales and a little predictable income, and also just enjoy having a personal relationship with their best customers. This time I’m going to say a little about the advantages to the customer, beyond the discount. You, too, benefit from a personal relationship with your farmer (or baker, or soap-maker, or…), with special frills such as first-of-the-season produce, limited-run specialties, farm news, and deals on, or first shot at, additional products. A traditional produce CSA can also help you eat better, because you’ve got this huge box of beautiful vegetables and there’s another one coming! You get to try new things with the help and advice of your personal farmer, often including preparation instructions and recipes in your CSA newsletter. Not sure you want to try new things? Most farmers will let you trade what you won’t use for something you will.

In the kitchen
How about recipes from CSA newsletters to go with the CSA information? Here are some late-season selections from our two “anchor” farms. No, it’s not at all that I’m rushed and lazy, they just fit in so well… OK, it’s because I’m surrounded by half-packed moving boxes and don’t know where I put the inspiration.

Creamy Potato and Parsnip Gratin
8 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
8 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, halved
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 c whipping cream or yogurt
Generously butter a 13×9-inch baking dish and rub with garlic. Arrange a single layer of potatoes in dish. Sprinkle lightly with a little of the thyme, salt and pepper. Add a layer of parsnips. Sprinkle with seasonings. Repeat layers with remaining vegetables. Pour in enough cream to come three-quarters up side of dish. Place on baking sheet and bake, covered, in 375 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes longer or until top is brown and crusty and potatoes are cooked through.
Variations: Butternut squash, kohlrabi, or celeriac may be added to the vegetables. Maple syrup may be added to the cream.
From: Left Foot Organics CSA News, October 16, 2008

Sweet and Sour Peppers
1/4 cup catsup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups very thinly sliced onions
2 large red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 large green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1 can baby corn, drained
1 1/2 cups cashews
Combine catsup, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, water, and cornstarch to make a sauce. Heat oil in wok or large skillet and stir-fry garlic and onions for 3-4 minutes. Add peppers; add 2-3 tablespoons water if necessary to prevent scorching. When peppers and onions begin to soften, add corn and cashews. Stir fry 1 minute, then add sauce mixture and let simmer another minute.
From: Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, as quoted in The Kirsop Farm news, October 14, 2009

Red Cabbage with Apricots
2 1/2 lbs. red cabbage, sliced thin
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup dry red wine
Salt to taste
Combine cabbage and apricots in a slow cooker. Mix honey and juice; drizzle over cabbage mixture. Add wine; cover slow cooker and cook on LOW until cabbage is very tender (5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours). Season to taste with salt.
From: Left Foot Organics CSA News, October 22, 2009

Fennel with Parmesan Cheese
2 pounds fennel bulbs, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter, in small pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Blanch or steam fennel 8-15 minutes, until tender but firm. Cool and quarter, leaving a thin layer of the core to hold the bulb together. Arrange cut side up in a buttered 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Cover with cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper. Bake 20-25 minutes until cheese is lightly browned.
From: Victory Garden Cookbook, as quoted in The Kirsop Farm news, October 13, 2010

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Newsletters: 7 Sept, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 7 Sept, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the garden
The WSU Master Gardeners say that this is the time to plant winter cabbage, choi, and mustard, as well as all that harvesting. Water trees and shrubs less to harden them off, and keep your flowers picked (or at least dead-headed).

In the kitchen
Since we’re in full harvest season (i.e. somewhere between the end of apricots and the beginning of winter squash), how about another round of preserving recipes? There’s already some information in the Market recipe pages, including such classic recipes as dilly beans, kale chips, and two kinds of green tomato relish, but if a little’s good, more must be better, right?

Sweet onion and fennel relish (What can I say? I like fennel–ed.)
8 oz. sweet onion, sliced into thin half-circles
10 oz. fennel, sliced into thin half-circles
1 swet red pepper in thin strips
2.5 tsp. pickling salt, divided
1.5 c white wine vinegar
0.5 c water
0.25 c sugar
2 bay leaves
8 black peppercorns
Place onion, fennel, and red pepper in a non-reactive bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp. salt. Toss and let stand 4 hours. Rinse well and drain thoroughly. Bring vinegar, water, sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil in a large non-reactive saucepan; add vegetables and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Pack vegetables into hot jars and cover with cooking liquid, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Distribute bay leaves and peppercorns among jars. Process 10 min. for half pints, 15 min. for pints.

Peach mint salsa
2 c peaches, peeled and chopped (about 4)
0.25 c finely chopped red onion
0.25 c finely chopped sweet green pepper
1 Tbsp. finely chopped jalapeño pepper
2 Tbsp. honey
0.25 tsp. pickling salt
grated rind and juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
Combine all ingredients except mint in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Gently boil, uncovered, 5 min., stirring occasionally. Add mint and cook 1 min. more. Ladle into half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process 20 min.

Asian plum sauce
9 purple plums, washed, pitted, and finely chopped (about 1.5 lb./1.75 c)
1.5 c brown sugar
1 c cider vinegar
1.5 tsp. salt
1.5 c onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
0.25 c raisins
2 tsp. soy sauce
0.25 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
Bring plums, sugar, vinegar, and salt to a boil in a non-reactive saucepan; boil gently, uncovered, 3 min., stirring occasionally. Add onion, garlic, raisins, soy sauce, and spices; return to a boil. Boil gently 45 min, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened. Ladle into hot half-pint jars leaving 1/2 inch of headspace; process 15 min.

All from: The complete book of small-batch preserving : over 300 delicious recipes to use year-round / Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. Firefly Books, c2007.

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Newsletters: 31 Aug 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 31 Aug 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Carrots come in many colors: orange, yellow, red, purple, white, and black. Known scientifically as Daucus carota, they belong to the belong to the apiaceae or umbelliferous family, along with parsnips, parsley, dill, and cumin. The carrot is a biennial, and will flower in the second year if it doesn’t get eaten first.

Carrots are rich in copper, calcium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus, vitamins B,C,D,E, and of course beta-carotene, which gives them that familiar orange color. The skin has the most nutrients, and a quick boil can make the nutrients, wherever they are, more available to the body. These are details, however — the best way to prepare any vegetable is, when it comes right down to it, the way you’re most likely to eat it. Carrots are good against cancer, eye trouble, heart disease, stroke, fat and age in general, and good for skin and teeth. Did you know the greens are edible? I think I’ve mentioned that before, but didn’t know that carrot greens are a good source of vitamin K, which the carrot root doesn’t provide.

It is actually posible to eat too many carrots, although most people can only accomplish it by drinking carrot juice. Carotenemia is the medical term for increased blood levels of the pigment carotene, and it can be recognized when the skin turns yellow or orange — it usually clears up in a few days if you lay off the carrots (do not confuse carotenemia with lycopenemia, which is caused by too many tomatoes and turns the skin red). Too much carotene can cause jaundice, a more serious problem, and too much vitamin A can damage the liver (note: polar bear liver is extremely high in vitamin A and can cause vitamin A poisoning, so arctic explorers are advised to avoid it).

In the kitchen
I love the smell of fennel, the beautiful delicate fronds… but once you get it home, then what? Here are some ideas from one of my old standby reference cookbooks, James Peterson’s Vegetables.

Grilled fennel
fennel bulbs, stalks removed
olive oil
Peel off any thick fibers from the outside of the bulb. If bulbs are thicker than 1.5 inches, split them down the middle; cut largest bulbs into 3-6 wedges. Toss with oil and grill 10-15 min. per side, until light brown.

Fennel mashed potatoes
1 bulb fennel
1.5 lb. potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/4 to 1/2 c milk (may use cooking liquid for some of this)
4-6 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Remove stalks from the fennel and cut the bulb in half; thinly slice. Bring potatoes and fennel to a boil in enough water to cover halfway; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 25 min. (well, check at 15 for local ones — ed.). Drain and mash the potatoes and fennel. Heat milk and melt the butter into it; add to potatoes and stir in. Season to taste and, if necessary, rewarm in the cooking pot.
Variation: if you have trouble with fennel lumps, cook it separately until very soft, puree in a blender and strain into the potatoes.

Italian-style cardoon and bean soup with garlic and fennel
1 small bulb fennel, stalks removed, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 med. onion, chopped
1/2 c dried great northern, cannellini, or cranberry beans, soaked 3-5 hr. in warm water and drained
6 c broth or water, plus more as needed
1 bunch cardoons
4 med. tomatoes (or 24 oz. drained canned tomatoes) peeled, seeded, and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley or basil
grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Heat fennel, garlic, and onion in the oil. stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 10 min. Add beans and broth; simmer, partially covered, until beans are soft and not mealy when bitten, 1.5 hr. Remove and discard outer stalks of the cardoon; cut smaller stalks in half lengthwise and peel, then cut into 4-inch pieces. Gently simmer in 3 qt. water and a little lemon juice 15-20 min.; drain and slice into 1/4-inch pieces and freeze all but 2 c for later use. When the beans are cooked, add cardoons and tomatoes and simmer 5 min.; add water or broth to thin the soup if desired. Season; stir in parsley or basil and serve with Parmesan.

Cardoons, by the way, are related to the artichoke and thistle and can be a little hard to find. They grow well here but don’t usually show up in markets much (possibly because they can be a little aggressive. OK, invasive). I planted one in my front yard once, but my neighbor thought it was a giant thistle and very kindly cut it down for me. Sigh. I get the impression that celery might be a good substitute, perhaps with some adjustment of cooking times.

Thanks for your interest in our community and its market.

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native to: Mediterranean region
in season here: late summer-fall
Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, is a member of the Umbelliferae family, related to parsley, carrots, dill, and cilantro/coriander. It’s most often associated with Italian cuisine, although it’s also pretty good just sliced and cooked with fried potatoes. The fine frondy leaves are a classic seasoning for baked fish. It’s been around so long, it appears in Greek myths, being associated with Dionysus and giving its name to the Battle of Marathon. Its flavor is similar to anise, the flavoring in black licorice, and sometimes grocery stores will call it by that name. The bulb, stalks, and seeds all have culinary uses.

Fennel contains a unique combination of phytonutrients that act as anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories. One of these, anethole, seems to prevent cancer, and the volatile oil where it’s concentrated has been shown to protect the liver from toxic chemicals. Fennel is also a good source of vitamin C, fiber, folate, potassium, molybdenum, manganese, copper, phosphorus, calcium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, iron, and niacin. Traditional medicine uses fennel for indigestion, snake bites, food poisoning, and sore throat. It has antimicrobial properties, supports the immune system, and fennel extract can be used topically as a moisturizer.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw fennel bulbs
World’s Healthiest Foods

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

15-Minute Sauteed Fennel Salmon

1 1/2 lbs. salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, cut into 8 pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. + 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. chopped green fennel tops

Season salmon. Sautee fennel bulb in 1 Tbsp. broth over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth and lemon juice, adjust seasonings, and place salmon on top. Reduce heat to low; cook, covered, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with fennel tops.

Adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.