Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spring Glory - Turnips and Peas

Wow!! We came home after a week's vacation to find that our turnips have grown huge and beautiful, and the peas are going crazy! Those are the turnips, at the bottom - it's a variety called Blanc de Crossy, grown for its mild sweet flavor and unique shape. Perfect for maximizing yield in small raised beds like ours. They're huge, 4-6" long and 1.5" wide. We did two varieties of peas this year - shelling peas as well as sugar snaps. The pods are still pretty flat, so I guess we'll have to wait a few more days to really start eating them. We planted this whole bed in March.

Here's a simple recipe from Julia Child - Turnips Braised in Butter.

1-2 lbs turnips, peeled and quartered
2 Tbs butter
1 - 1 1/2 cups veggie, chicken or beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste

If the turnips are young and fresh, simply place them in a skillet with the butter and just enough liquid to cover them. If they are mature winter turnips (like the ones you buy in the store, sold without their tops), blanch them for 3-5 minutes in boiling salted water first. Cover the skillet and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the turnips are just tender but not mushy. If the liquid has not evaporated, remove the lid and boil it off.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rhubarb-Vanilla Sorbet

Heavenly! The texture of the cooked rhubarb lends itself to perfect sorbet. And the vanilla is a really nice addition.

2 lb rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces (about 7 cups)
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the sugar and rhubarb together and let it sit for a few minutes until the juices start to come out. Cook and stir on medium heat until the rhubarb breaks down. Add corn syrup and vanilla and refrigerate until cold. Process in an ice cream maker according to directions, OR just put it in the freezer for several hours, stirring every hour or so.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Spinach Crepes

This is one of Dave's specialties. You just put fresh spinach in a crepe, wilt it with hot veloute sauce (like a white sauce but made with chicken broth instead of milk), then roll it all up!

For the crepes:
1 cup cold water
1 cup cold milk
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (whole wheat or buckwheat works great!)
4 Tbs melted butter

Whisk the liquids and eggs together, then whisk in the flour, salt and butter, making sure there are no lumps. This has always worked fine for me, but Julia Child recommends using the blender to whip everything together. A real French cook would also say to refrigerate the batter for at least an hour or two, to let the flour soak up the liquids. If you use whole wheat or buckwheat flour (which I highly recommend!) this might be a good idea, but your crepes won't turn out horrible even if you don't. The batter should be a creamy liquid.

Technique is fairly important in making crepes. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, and brush with oil. When the pan is very hot, just barely smoking, hold it in one hand away from the heat and with your other hand pour in about a 1/4 cup scoop of batter. Quickly tilt the pan around so that the batter flows out to the edges in a thin (about 1/16 inch) film. Put the pan back on the burner and cook 1-2 minutes, until the crepe is lightly browned on the bottom. Then flip it over to lightly brown the other side. Slide the crepe onto a plate, brush the skillet with oil again, and repeat! Don't be afraid to make the full recipe, because it's always easy to use up extra crepes - just wrap up any kind of leftovers in them for lunch, or some fresh fruit or other sweet stuff for a dessert/snack.

For the veloute:
2 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
2 cups chicken broth
salt, pepper, and thyme to taste

Melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the flour, keep stirring as it froths up, and cook for another minute or two, but make sure it doesn't brown! Remove from the heat, and vigorously whisk in the liquid. Return to the heat and keep stirring until it comes to a boil. Keep the sauce hot until you are ready to pour it over the spinach.

Put a handful of spinach leaves on a crepe, pour the hot veloute over them, and roll it up quickly. Make three or four of these per person, then drizzle a bit more sauce over the outside. Delicious!