CSA BLOG 2014 – WEEK 11



Next CSA Pickups: August 12 & 14

In your share this week:

  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Summer Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Fennel
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Shallots




Here are some of the cherry, heirloom, and beefsteak varieties available at the farm this year:

  • Sungold These small, golden-orange cherry tomatoes are a staff favorite and for good reason: they’re just about the sweetest you can find! They’re best used in salads, but you can also roast or sauté them and toss with pasta.
  • Cherokee Purple These tomatoes have a deep reddish-purple hue. They’re big, dense, juicy, and have small seeds.
  • Red Brandywine  One of the most popular and best-tasting tomatoes, this Amish heirloom dates back to 1885. Thin-skinned, pinkish-red fruits have an old-fashioned, full-bodied tomato flavor and tend not to be very acidic.
  • Striped German A large heirloom–usually weighing over a pound (pictured in photo at the top of this post)–with marbled red  and yellow stripes throughout this dense, sweet, complex, and juicy fruit. Stunning in Caprese (tomato and mozzarella) salads!
  • Black Trifele A small to medium (about the same size and shape of a small pear) with a purplish color–black trifele tomatoes are known for their meaty texture and complex, rich tomato flavor. They’re known as one of the best-tasting “black” tomatoes and are delicious in salads and sandwiches.
  • Moskovich A small to medium round, deep red tomato with rich taste. It’s smaller size makes it a great slicer for sandwiches and burgers.

TOMATO TIPS: Store your tomatoes on the counter stem side down–this prevents the bottom of the fruit from bruising and getting mushy–and away from direct sunlight! Many people make the mistake of putting them on a sunny windowsill, but this will only toughen the skin. Once picked, tomatoes don’t need the sun anymore to ripen so they’ll do best on a non-sunny spot on your counter. If your tomatoes are not-quite-ripe, they’ll be ready for eating in just a few days. And never store tomatoes in the fridge–the cool temps destroy that wonderful tomato flavor.


Tomato Time! 3 Delicious Takes on the Tomato Sandwich

Open-faced tomato, feta, and fresh oregano sandwich

Open-faced tomato, feta, and fresh oregano sandwich

Open-faced Tomato, Feta, and Oregano: Drizzle a thick slice of toasted bread (ciabbata, Pullman, sourdough, whole grain, or baguette) with a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Layer on tomato slices and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Top with slices of  feta cheese (try flavorful Greek or Israeli feta here) and fresh oregano leaves. Drizzle with more olive oil and eat. Sandwich shown above. (Recipe from Bon Appétit)

Tomato, Avocado, and Mayo: Toast two slices of bread of your choice, then rub with a garlic clove that’s been cut in half. Spread with mayo (or you can sub olive oil or butter for the mayo). Layer slices of avocado and tomato, and drizzle with lemon juice, salt, and lots of black pepper. (Recipe from Melissa Clark)

Tomato with Basil Mayo: Whisk some mayo, chopped basil, lemon juice, salt. and pepper in a small bowl. Spread mayo on 2 slices of country bread (or your favorite bread). Place sliced tomatoes on one slice, and top with the other slice. (Recipe from Ina Garten)




Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes
Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen blog by Deb Perelman

rice-stuffed tomatoes

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse or Kosher salt
6 medium-to-large (about 3 inches across, or about 8 ounces each) tomatoes
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
9 tablespoons arborio or another short-grained risotto-type starchy rice
3 tablespoons chopped parsley, oregano or slivered basil (or a mix)
Handful breadcrumbs (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an ovenproof baking dish with olive oil. To prep the tomatoes: Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out tomato juices, seeds and flesh into a bowl. Salt the cavities of the tomatoes and turn them upside down on a plate to drain. Prepare reserve: Run scooped-out tomato flesh and juices through a food mill or pulse in a blender or food processor until coarsely pureed. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once hot, add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking them together until onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook them together for about 3 minutes, or until rice toasts a bit. Add the reserved tomato puree and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt, then cover skillet with a lid, and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is par-cooked. Adjust seasoning if needed. To stuff tomatoes: Stir fresh herbs into tomato-rice mixture. Arrange tomatoes right-side-up in baking pan then spoon mixture into tomatoes, filling them just 7/8 of the way. Coat with breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of cheese, if you want. Then drizzle tomatoes lightly with olive oil or you can replace the tomato lid on each. Bake uncovered until tomato walls are soft and the rice inside has finished cooking, about 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of your tomatoes. Serve hot. Serves 2 to 3 as a main course, 6 as a side.


Tomato Scallion Shortcakes with Whipped Goat Cheese
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman


For the scallion biscuits:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup whole milk
For the tomato salad:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1/2 pound cherry or grape tomatoes such as Sun Gold tomatoes (as shown above)
For the topping:
3 tablespoons heavy or whipping cream
4 ounces goat cheese, softened
2 scallions, thinly sliced (you can just use the green parts or the whole scallion)

To make the biscuits, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until the mix resembles a coarse meal. (you can also do this with your hands or a pastry blender). Add the scallion and whole milk and pulse a few times until dough is evenly moistened. Pat out the dough to 3/4 to 1 inch thickness with your hands and cut six 3-inch rounds (I used a glass rim for this, which was approximately 3 inches), reform scraps as needed. Arrange the biscuits on prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. To make the tomato salad, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Halve or quarter the tomatoes and add them to the dressing, tossing gently to coat all the tomatoes.For the whipped goat cheese, use an electric mixer or beat heavy cream with a whisk until peaks form. Add the softened goat cheese and beat until the cheese topping is light and fluffy. To assemble, Split each warm biscuit in half and generously spoon each half with tomato salad and dressing. Dollop on whipped goat cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Makes 6 to 8 shortcakes.


Roasted Garbanzo Beans and Garlic with Swiss Chard (or Kale)
Adapted from Bon Appétit magazine and chef Michael Psilatkis


For the beans:
2 (15.5-oz.) cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
10 small or 4-5 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 shallots
3 small bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/4 cups olive oil
For the chard:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 small bay leaves
2 shallots or 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small bunches Swiss chard or kale, center stem cut out, leaves coarsely chopped
For the beans: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the first 5 ingredients in an 8×8 baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour oil over; cover dish with foil and roast until the garlic is tender, about 45 minutes. Drain the garbanzo beans, reserving the oil.  Meanwhile, for the chard: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, bay leaves, and shallots. Cover and cook until the shallots are tender, about 2 minutes. Add the chards in two batches, waiting for the first batch to wilt before adding the second. Toss until the chard volume is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the drained garbanzo beans, garlic, and shallots and  2 tablespoons of the reserved oil. Toss over medium heat until warmed through. Add more oil if necessary, and use the remaining oil for bread or other uses. Season the dish with salt and pepper and serve. Makes 6 servings.


Kale with Smoked Salt and Goat Cheese
Adapted from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison


1  bunch kale
Sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Smoked salt (you can find smoked salt at Trader Joe’s, Williams Sonoma, and some supermarkets)
Crumbled goat cheese
Fresh or store-bought bread crumbs, crisped with olive oil in a pan
Apple cider vinegar, to finish

Pull or slice the leaves of the kale from their stems and discard the stems. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add sea salt and kale. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain thoroughly and coarsely chop the leaves. Heat the oil in a skilled over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic during the last minute, then add the kale. Toss well and continue cooking until heated through. Season to taste with smoked salt and lots of pepper. Put the kale in a serving bowl and top with crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle smokde salt over top. Cover with bread crumbs and a drizzle of apple cider vinegar. Serve. Makes 2 modest servings


Quinoa Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Apples, and Cumin Vinaigrette
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis


For the vinaigrette:
2 teaspoons cumin seeds or 1 to 2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large shallot, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
For the Salad:
1 (14.5-ounce) can vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups quinoa
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
One 1 1/4-pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large apple, unpeeled, cored, and quartered
3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted, or 1/3 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 large bunch watercress, arugula, or baby spinach, for serving (optional)

For the vinaigrette: If using cumin seeds, toast them over medium heat in a heavy medium skillet, stirring occasionally, until the seeds darken in color and become fragrant, 3 1/2 to 4 minutes. Place the seeds on a plate; cool for 1 minute. Grind the seeds finely in a small food mill or grinder.Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and the toasted seeds (or ground cumin) until thick and blended in a small bowl. Stir in the shallots. Set the vinaigrette aside. For the salad: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Mix in the quinoa. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa stand, covered, 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool. Meanwhile, spray a large rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper on the sheet. Roast until tender and browned, stirring once, about 30 minutes. To assemble the salad: Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl; fluff with a fork. Add the vinaigrette, eggplant, apples, walnuts and cranberries. Toss to blend. To serve, cover the bottom of a shallow platter with the watercress, arugula, or baby spinach (if using). Spoon the salad on top and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Classic Stuffed Peppers 
Adapted from Bon Appétit
6 large bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cup cooked white rice, cooled
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 1/2 cups canned tomato sauce
1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef
1 large egg

Cut off top 1/2 inch of peppers and reserve. Scoop seeds from cavities. Discard stems and chop pepper tops. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, parsley, garlic, and chopped pepper pieces. Sauté until onions soften, about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in rice, paprika, salt, pepper, and allspice. Cool 10 minutes. Mix in 1/2 cup tomato sauce, then beef and egg.

Fill pepper cavities with beef mixture. Stand filled peppers in single layer in heavy large pot. Pour remaining 2 cups tomato sauce around peppers. Bring sauce to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and simmer 20 minutes. Spoon some sauce over each pepper. Cover; cook until peppers are tender and filling is cooked through and firm, about 30 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and chill. Rewarm covered over low heat.) Serves 4 to 6


Weekly CSA Blog produced by Nicole DeCoursy Mead

Help Us Win An Orchard – Week 2

We are now in the thick of it!  100 worthy community groups are competing for the 17 winning spots—the prize is an entire orchard.  While the schools have pulled into the lead, we can still be one of the winners if everyone remembers to vote EVERY day until August 29.  Even a small group can win if all their members continue to vote.  HHF is just under 450 votes—let’s shoot for 1,000 before the official last frost date—May 15!

Here’s how:
Click here and you’ll go to the Communities Take Root website
Register once or log in, if already registered
Scroll down the page and find “NY”—you’ll see Friends of Hilltop Hanover Farm—
Click Vote!  Then collect your coupon for $1.00 off Edy’s fruit bars
Put “Vote!” in your Outlook, daily minder, or calendar so you don’t forget!

Apple Picking Is So Much Fun!

Now, let’s talk apples, possibly the quintessential Northeastern fruit.  Do you know how many apple varieties exist?  There are somewhere around 15,000 named varieties in North America; today, about 11 are available in your supermarket.  Red Delicious makes up the majority—around 40%.  And taste often takes a back seat to looks.  Why?  Back before widespread refrigeration, trucking and alternative foods, different kinds of apples were needed to ensure a continuous supply of fruit.
In the 1700’s, potable water was an issue.  It was much safer to drink hard cider—even for children.  For cider, you need at least 3 kinds of apples:  bitter, sweet and bitter-sharp.  Some of the bitter-sharp apples (Kingston Black, Stoke Red) taste puckery  and astringent , but they add that jene sais quoi to apple cider.  Orchards are now growing these apples and re-introducing Americans to hard cider, especially in New England.

Even as late as the 1940’s, massive amounts of apples weren’t trucked in from Washington State (or Chile!) in January.  Apples had to be preserved year round to be available in the Northeast during the winter and spring months.  You needed apples that stored well—hard, starchy apples that slowly became sweeter in storage.  And high-tech methods like Controlled Atmosphere Storage didn’t exist back then–only cool, humid root cellars.  Apples like Winter Banana, Ben Davis and Newtown Pippin were planted for this purpose.   Certain kinds of apples were best for dried for snacks and reconstituted for pies, like Yellow Transparent; they could be peeled and hung over the stove to be dried.  Apples that made great applesauce in June and July, well before fall, were valued highly:  Red Astrachan was a good one.  And of course, for eating out of hand, it would be hard to do better than Ashmead’s Kernel, Esopus Spitzenberg and White Winter Pearmain.  Need cold hardiness? Try Northern Spy.  Southern climate?  Black Twig could work. Want large size?  Wolf River’s your ticket.  Sweet, snappy flavor?  Try Yates.

There is an apple out there for most any growing condition.  We’ll talk about the breeding programs that bringing us disease-resistant apples and the various organic growing techniques available in our next blog.   Stay tuned, and vote!