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Potato Leek Quiche

Warning: Do not make this on an empty stomach! The smell will drive you crazy while it bakes.

This recipe is from the Squiche2pring Quiche Trio pages of Simply in Season. I’ve noticed that many of the vegetables available in the spring are also prevalent in the fall. In fact, the leeks were from today’s CSA pickup! The last pickup of the season, sniff.

I used the potato crust recipe, which is super easy – coarsely grate 3 C of potatoes, mix with 3 T of olive oil, and spread it on the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes.

While it’s baking, you can make the filling, which is 1 1/2 C of leeks (or ramps, as wild leeks are called) and 1 C of cheese mixed together. The egg mixture is made in a separate bowl – beat together 3 eggs, 1 C of evaporated milk (or 1 C milk + 1/3 C dry milk powder), and a dash or two of salt and pepper.

When the crust is ready, put the leek/cheese mixture on first, then dump the egg mixture on top of that. I noticed the egg mixture was a bit on the stingy side so I didn’t feel the need to put MORE cheese on top (I know, what was I thinking). Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325F and cook for another 25-30 minutes. If you can stand the wait, you really should let it cool for 10-15 minutes.

The verdict: A huge thumbs up from DH. “This is good! It would be great for breakfast, with bacon crumbled on top.” Yes, it was savory indeed. Lots of leeks but leeks are very mild, making this a very tasty dish.

5 Reasons Why I Subscribe to my CSA in October

squash

Photo by Shane Folkertsma

CSA  (Community Supported Agriculture) is a system where you pay up front for a “share” of the next season’s crops, and then during the growing season you receive a box or bags of vegetables each week.

Even though frost is here, the last CSA pickup is this week, and we won’t be getting more vegetables until 7 months from now, I’m putting in my deposit today. Why?

1. Pay Over Time

Even though it’s a good deal once you calculate what you’re getting for your money, most CSAs cost $400+ per share. That can seem like a large chunk of change to pay all at once–even if you are splitting the share with another family.  My CSA (Trillium Haven) is offering an installment plan this year; others will let you put down your deposit and then pay as you wish as long as it’s paid by a specified time (usually in late winter/early spring).  Splitting up the total into smaller payments makes it easier to swallow the total cost.

2. To Make Sure I Get A Spot

CSAs are growing in popularity. I’ve been a member of various CSAs since 2005, and each one “sold out” of available shares by March. The particular CSA I’m a member of now is offering shares to existing members before they open to the general public. I’m taking advantage of this, because the owner mentioned that she is getting at least three inquiries per week from new potential members. The year before last I waited too long and missed out. I thought I would perhaps just visit the farmer’s market, but I found that I didn’t eat nearly as many vegetables that summer.

3. Commitment to Eating Healthfully

There’s something about getting a bag of vegetables that you already paid for that motivates you to eat them. After a summer of eating fresh produce, your tastes change. I find myself noticing in restaurants when vegetables are not fresh or in season, or when they’re not even on the menu. By putting a deposit down now, I feel more motivated to keep up my healthy eating habits over the winter. It’s kind of like making a myself a promise to do the best I can while it’s not as plentiful, because in a few months we will once again be overflowing with greens.

4. Sense of Community

On one hand, it’s kind of a relief knowing that this is the last week I’ll have to remember to clean out the refrigerator the night before, pack my reusable bags in the morning, rush home after work to stand in the line to pick up the vegetables, come home and fit them in the refrigerator, and plan the week’s menus to use them all up. On the other hand, I’ll definitely miss it. I’ll miss the email of the week letting me know what we’ll be getting, explaining any uncommon vegetables like romanesca or black winter radishes. I’ll miss seeing the other members at pickup and at the cooking classes, the co-owner Anja standing there directing us to the U pick items. By handing my check to Anja, I feel like I’m saying “hey, thanks for being my farmer.”

5. Hope for Spring

When the frost arrives, you know that winter is coming. It won’t be long until you’re shoveling snow (at least here in Michigan) and braving subzero wind chills. The only local vegetables available will be root crops and apples. There’s always the grocery store, but somehow stuff that’s picked unripe and shipped for miles just isn’t as appealing as fresh produce picked at its peak. And you know that when you’ve eaten up all the vegetables that you remembered to freeze or can, and have had your fill of chili, soups, and stews, that the spring thaw will come. By subscribing to next year’s CSA, I’m making a leap of faith.

 

How about you, are you thinking about joining a CSA next year, or renewing a current share? Why? Post your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

Simply Me in the News

The publisher of Simply in Season recently wrote a story about my blog — click here to check out the article!

Liberian Pumpkin with Cock Sauce

liberianEven though I’ve been cooking for two months now, my idea of what is “a cinch to throw together” is still miles away from what the editors at Simply in Season consider “a cinch to throw together.”

First, for this recipe, one must peel and cube 2-3 C of butternut squash (or you can use pumpkin). I usually peel my butternuts with a vegetable peeler, as a knife is tricky to maneuver.

Then, you have to chop an onion and saute’ along with the butternut squash “until translucent.” This is the second recipe today where it’s supposed to get translucent. Problem is, it’s kind of hard to tell when it’s translucent when the other stuff is in there (it also calls for either hot chili peppers or hot sauce; I took this occasion to try out my new bottle of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce).  Plus it started to burn so I went ahead and added a little of the chicken broth so it didn’t burn while it was cooking, covered. When the butternut squash was tender, I added the rest of the cup of broth and covered again and cooked for the 10 minutes it called for. Meanwhile I browned the 1 lb of sausage (the recipe calls for 1 C but hey, might as well use the whole package) and started on the egg noodles.

While I’m waiting, let me tell you about Sriracha Hot Sauce. I first learned about it at an Indian cooking class at my CSA, and quickly discovered that it’s quite well known among foodies, and is nicknamed cock sauce because of the rooster on the front. I’ve since noticed it at lots of restaurants.

OK, so the 10 minutes is up, and it says to now add the sausage and cook uncovered until all the liquid is absorbed. It’s absorbed. So I put the pot on simmer until the egg noodles are done. You can serve this over any kind of noodle or rice, but DH and I were in the mood for egg noodles tonight.

The verdict: Definitely not “a cinch to throw together,” but not much chopping. The taste is definitely different, the sweet butternut plays off the spicy sausage and cock sauce. As DH said, the sauce makes your tongue tingly. Not sure if I’ll make this again soon, but it’s not a bad way to use up butternut squash.

Broccoli Gratin

broccgratinToday I brought the ingredients to make Simply in Season’s Broccoli Gratin to my mom’s house for Sunday dinner. Imagine my surprise to arrive and discover that her main dish was very similar to this – she was making a broccoli/chicken bake. I decided to go ahead and make my side dish so that we could compare the two.

For my version:

5-6 C broccoli or cauliflower (I used broccoli). Steam until just crisp-tender and set aside. I did this in the microwave.

Thinly slice an onion and mince a clove of garlic, and saute’ in a small saucepan until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes. Then, sprinkle 1/4 C f lour on the onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes (you’ll want to stir constantly to keep from browning). Whisk in 2 C of milk and bring to a boil. Add in 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and a pinch each of nutmeg and ground red pepper, and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in 1 C shredded cheddar cheese and remove from heat. Combine with broccoli and put everything in a 2 qt casserole dish.

Combine 1 C bread crumbs, 1 T butter, 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, and 1 T dried parsley and sprinkle on top of the broccoli mixture. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, or until heated through.

The verdict: While everyone liked this version, some felt that my mom’s was creamier. She had used canned cream of chicken soup. Some did like my fresh topping better than her Stove Top topping, though. This led to an interesting discussion. Is it any cheaper to make things like cream of soup? Is it really any healthier? My sister thought that making the cream sauce from scratch was too much work, but I didn’t really mind it. One of the benefits I saw to making things from scratch is that I don’t have to keep things like Stove Top or canned cream of soups on hand. I’m sure that as I continue this project I’ll form more of an opinion. What’s yours?

Herbed Broccoli Sandwich

I know, a BROCCOLI sandwich? This is another one of those Simply in Season recipes that made me think “you’ve got to be kidding me, Gladys in Pennsylvania. ” But since I had a lot of broccoli from the farmer’s market I thought why not give it a try. Besides, I needed something to go with the gingery butternut soup.

I halved the recipe just in case. I chopped 1 C of broccoli in the food chopper, 1/4 C of onion, and sauted in some olive oil in a skillet until it turned bright green. Then I added a dash of basil, thyme, salt and pepper. The directions say to add cheese andbroccolisandwich broil on french bread, but I picked up some cheddar-filled bilays at the farmer’s market this morning and I knew they would go perfectly.

The verdict: They were very, very good. Substantial, not like you’d expect from a broccoli sandwich. DH thought that a slice of heirloom tomato would have made this perfection.