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I can remember back to a time that I just didn’t get the appeal of fennel. This course, stringy, strongly scented vegetable didn’t seem worth the trouble to cook. But now I can honestly say that it is among my very favorite vegetables. I fully realize that there are many of our CSA members who still don’t “get” fennel, and if you are among these, you simply must try Jeanne’s recipe for roast fennel and onions.

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kale-lacinato

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Kale is a type of cabbage that does not form a head from the central leaves.We grow three varieties of kale, green curly leaf or Scotch kale, Lacinato or Dinosaur kale, and Red Russian kale.  Kale is high in beta carotene, vitamin K and vitamin C and calcium.

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kohlrabiKohlrabi is an odd vegetable that I think is often bought more for appearance than for the desire to eat it. Looking like something from a science-fiction movie, they come in lovely deep purple or jade green, and the leaves come up from all over what seems to be the root.

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Lettuce Rows

Lettuce Rows

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Lettuces grow exceptionally well here at our home farm near the coast. They love the cool foggy summer weather. We grow Red Leaf, Green Leaf, Butter Lettuces, Little Gem, and Romaine varieties and offer a mix of baby salad greens in our early spring boxes.

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Think of how often a dish starts with a sauté of onions, carrots, and celery. In Italy this combination is called soffritto. In France it is cooked with butter and called mirepoix, but for general purposes I like it cooked with a light flavored olive oil or even grapeseed oil, which is neutrally flavored, so I call it by the Italian name. I like to make this in larger batches, removing some when it is still pale, or blond, then cooking the remaining amount until it is a darker shade of amber, giving it a caramelized flavor. I sometimes even let some go until it is quite dark, like tobacco, for a very deep flavor. I then freeze it in batches. I use large zip bags and flatten out the soffritto in the bags, making it easier to stack and easier to simply break off the amount I wish to use. Some people freeze it in ice trays as you might pesto. However you store it, having this in the freezer is like having a time machine. It can make having good tasting food on the table much quicker, or if you have several pans going at once it is quite helpful as well as it is easy to burn smaller amounts of onions.

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Vinaigrettes are usually thought of as oil and vinegar dressing. In actuality, vinaigrettes can be used as a sauce, especially for fish and poultry, on sandwiches, as a marinade, or even as a pasta sauce. Vinaigrettes are great poured over roasted vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, and beets, while still warm so the flavors are absorbed. This makes an excellent salad, and is, in fact, how German potato salad is made.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch of beets
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of water
1-2 tablespoons vinegar such as white balsamic or sherry

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Restoration volunteer day 2015Our restoration volunteer day last Saturday was very productive and fun. Thanks to those of you who came out to help! We got a lot of mulch spread in a short amount of time. Laura Kummerer turned her spotting scope on the osprey nest, so we got a great view of the 2 chicks and their parents, and took a walk through the grassland to identify the different native and invasive species. Thanks to intern Clare Peabody for organizing a successful volunteer day!

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This is a simple dish that can be eaten hot or room temperature, as an appetizer or as a light main dish with a salad.

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This is a dish you want a Ben-Riner or mandolin. If you have a sharp grater that produces almost matchstick thick results, that could work also. This dish uses mirin and shiro-shoyu, a.k.a. white soy sauce. This is a very light colored soy with a lighter body and flavor than regular soy sauce. It adds a light umami quality dishes as well as a little salinity, so you can ease up on salting a dish, and helps bring out the nuances of vegetable flavors. It is great when you want the effect of soy sauce without wanting to taste it or have it stand out in a dish. This dish is beautiful when made with multi-colored carrots, but mature chantenay carrots work really well also.

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Elephant Ears is a very popular dish here, which is breaded and fried pork chops with a tomato arugula salad on top. You could, if you wish, toss the tomatoes with pesto thinned with a little oil and some balsamic. A Ben-Riner or mandolin is best used for this recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

1-1½ pounds (3-4 medium-large) summer squash, cleaned, ends removed, cut into 3/16th inch lengthwise slabs*

½ cup All-Purpose flour, or as needed

1 jumbo egg, or as many as needed,** beaten

1-2 cups panko or home-made bread crumbs

2-3 tomatoes (different types are great) or 2-2½ cups, seeded and cut into ¼ inch dice

1 small clove garlic, peeled

10-15 tender basil leaves, sliced into fine shreds

1 tablespoon high quality balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons light flavored extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil as needed

Grapeseed oil as needed

Optional-

¼ cup lightly toasted pine nuts

Romano cheese, sliced into longish shards with a vegetable peeler

 

METHOD:

Heat the oven to 200°F.

Rub a non-reactive bowl with the clove of garlic until you can see streaks of garlic oil left in the bowl. Allow to rest 1 minute, then add a pinch of salt and pepper to the bowl. Add the vinegar and whisk a few seconds, then slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking. Set aside.

Heat your largest sauté pan over medium-low heat.

Place the flour, egg, and panko each into a pie pan or other shallow and wide vessel. Arrange them in this order with a sheet-pan after the panko.

Season the squash slabs with some salt and pepper, and then one at a time, dip the slabs into flour, shaking off excess, then egg, allowing excess to drip off, then dredge the slabs gently in the bread crumbs. Set on the sheet pan.

When half-way through the breading, turn the heat under the big sauté pan up to medium-high. When three-quarters of the way through with breading the squash, add 2:1 ratio of grapeseed oil to olive oil to the pan covering the bottom of the pan well. When the oil is quite hot-it should seem to be shivering, or just as the first tendril of seam/smoke rises, use a slotted spatula to add the breaded slabs of squash 1 at a time. Do not crowd them or they will not crisp up properly. After 30-45 seconds, check the underside of the slabs. As soon as they are crisp on the bottom, turn and fry to crisp the other side. When done, transfer to a sheet pan lined with paper towels or a fitted with a rack Transfer to the oven to keep warm. Finish cooking the rest of the slabs, adding oil to the pan as needed. Once the squash is done, add the tomatoes to the dressing, scatter with the basil and toss to mix evenly and coat everything with dressing.

Arrange the slabs on a platter and garnish with the tomato basil salad. If using, scatter pine nuts over all and then shave some Romano over the lot if you wish, or pass it separately.

Chef’s Notes: * Any summer squash will work, but the lower moisture types such as Cousa, Costata Romanesca, and Tromboncini are great for this. They maintain a crisp texture and have a nutty flavor. ** Panko are a Japanese bread crumb known for fine texture and are pretty much ubiquitous.

Serves: 4

Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen

 

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strawbalesWanted: several willing people to help spread mulch in our habitat restoration area by Harkins Slough. The ospreys and turkey vultures will be supervising this fun work day event from 10 am to 1 pm this Saturday. Laura Kummerer (habitat restorationist) and Clare Peabody (restoration intern) will teach you about the native plants that we are trying to reestablish in the grassland habitat as we spread straw over the weedy areas to prevent weed seeds from sprouting.

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This recipe is a sort of faux turnip kimchee, and uses gochujang to bring deep flavor and heat to a simple quickle, which is great all on its own. Using the gochujang really transforms the dish in an almost Cinderella fashion. What is gochujang? You could almost call it the ketchup of Korea- a funky, sweet, salty, nutty paste of fermented soybeans (kind of like miso, but not…) and peppers. The heat can vary, but it will be there. Anything from mild to fairly spicy, it is pasty and thick, and is usually cut with something to thin it a little, and ginger and garlic are often added to up the umami already there. Try adding spoonsful to soups, stews, marinades, and rubs and see how great it is. Here, it simulates the flavor fermentation would bring to these quick pickles, and brings the heat.

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Grappa is a poor man’s liquor made from leftover seeds and skins from winemaking that became chic a few years ago. No matter what you label it, it is still a powerful and raw spirit. Soaking currants or raisins in it is a traditional Italian use for it that can be found in many dishes. Here it is again. If you do not have grappa, use a good vodka.

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For lack of a better word, this is called a “condiment”. It can be used as is to base or top grilled fish or chicken, or used with lettuce to make a salad with a bit more dressing. Add bits of buffalo mozzarella for a salad, or add capers for even more interest. Use Tetilla cheese or buffalo mozzarella and Marcona almonds as a topping for chicken, or mix with shreds of cabbage for a salad, or skip the cheese and use just the nuts.

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Strawberry u-pick June 2015It’s hard to believe it’s the middle of July already! We have a couple opportunities for you to come out to the farm this summer. First, we’ll hold Strawberry U-Picks the next three Saturdays – July 18th, July 25th, and August 1st. Picking time is between 10 AM and 2 PM, so please try to arrive on time to finish up your picking by 2. Now’s the time to make that jam or stock up the freezer with berries for smoothies! Berries cost $2 per pound. Bring your own containers if you can.

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Use this as a bed for grilled fish or chicken. Be sure to just warm the cabbage and give it a little color, but not to cook it through. This dish is about contrasts of textures and flavors.

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This dish relies on a couple basics that share the same technique-grilling. The sauce could be made the day before and all you’d have to do is come home, make pasta and heat sauce, then toss together.

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I know it sounds strange, or over the top, but this actually works. Really well. It hits on many so levels, and the acid of the vegetables balance out the richness of the egg and meat. I first encountered this in Australia, then again recently in Seattle. This version is improved a little over the original-everything is cut so that less stuff falls into your lap. In Australia, anything with a fried egg thrown in is having with “the lot”.

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An easy mixture for smearing onto burgers and other big flavored sandwiches. This keeps for a few days once made, and is easy to tweak.

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From Chef Susan Pasko

This is one of those super quick blender dressings….
No whisking, no drizzling, no fuss.  Very versatile.

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From Chef Susan Pasko

I always like my salads to include salty, crunchy, sweet, juicy and nutty components.  This one has it all, and more.  I am using a lot of roasted pumpkinseeds these days as a more ecological alternative to thirsty almonds.

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From Chef Susan Pasko

This recipe is just one version of my master method for One-Pot Easy-Peasy Market Box Veggies.  The principles are always the same….  Start with onions and garlic cooked slowly in butter or oil.  Always give the onions a fifteen minute head start, (during which you can prep the other veg, or sit down with a cup of tea or glass of wine!)  Then add the hard vegetables, cook 15 minutes more, then the quick-cooking vegetables for 10 minutes, then the leaves which will wilt pretty quickly in most cases.  Adjust cooking times by tasting the veggies along the way….  These kind of recipes are guidelines, not rules.

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pumpkin plants June 2015 2 compressedThe initial spring frenzy has passed and things have calmed down a little around here. The winter squash and pumpkins are up and growing quickly and the heat loving crops like tomatoes, peppers, beans and basil have really taken off. After a very cool spring, it’s finally starting to feel like summer.

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This is one of those salads similar to the Moroccan type, where there is no lettuce, the dish can be served to start a meal or as a side, or can make part of a light supper with a little soup and a more traditional salad of lettuces. Next time you are out for Chinese or Japanese food and they have the better quality bamboo chopsticks that are almost pencil thick, ask for a set to use for dishes like this, where you need to slice down without cutting all the way through something.

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Fattoush, often considered Lebanese in origin, is one of those ubiquitous salads found pretty much anywhere flatbread is eaten and tomatoes grow. Like the Italian salad called Panzanella it was probably a way to not waste bread after it had gone stale. Of many iterations, the two constants it seem to be flat bread and tomatoes. The greens vary from romaine to butter lettuce to arugula to none at all. Cucumber? Peppers? Radishes? Some use pomegranate seeds, some have pomegranate syrup in the dressing, while some have none. Like so many dressings of the Middle-East, this one is “slack”, meaning it is not a fully emulsified vinaigrette, so be sure to mix it up one more time just before pouring it on.

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Fattoush dressings, like many other Mid-East dressings are loose with a higher acid to oil ratio than French influenced vinaigrettes. There are many, many variations, just as the salad itself varies from place to place. The main difference between v.1 and v.2 is the addition of pomegranate molasses. This brings a deep flavor that has a haunting/addictive tart and almost smoky note to it. Some brands have a little caramel added, and this will lend a little sweetness and a little more of the smoky note. Look for Mid-East and Cortas brands. The latter is tarter.

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Fattoush dressings, like many other Mid-East dressings are loose with a higher acid to oil ratio than French influenced vinaigrettes. There are many, many variations, just as the salad itself varies from place to place. Use this dressing on tabbouleh, Israeli Salad, fish, chicken kebabs, or shrimp.

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Clare WeedwackingBy Restoration Intern Clare Peabody

High Ground Organics’ home farm is protected by two easements, an agricultural easement and a conservation easement. This summer we are lucky to have Brown University student Clare Peabody working as an intern to help our restoration efforts on the half of the property under the conservation easement. This part of the property is a thriving (if weedy) coastal prairie grassland adjacent to one of the few remaining fresh water wetlands in central California. Clare contributes this week’s article, giving you a glimpse of the grassland habitat through her eyes.

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A slightly chunky vinaigrette with a bright, funky aroma, this dressing works on salads and is excellent as a topping for grilled fish such as snapper, tilapia, or halibut. Use with pork medallions, chicken with cumin and oregano, or even on noodles like ramen tossed with vegetables and leftover shredded meat.

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The flavors here are inspired by the Middle East, although I suppose this would work just as well with Mexican or South West fare as well. You could add a squeeze of lime to the mix and sub out the cilantro for mint and the dish would still work quite well.

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Another item inspired by a trip to a taqueria. This time it was a plate of tacos, with the charred meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and green onions that led to this. I really like the surprise of grilled lettuce with the hot/cold contrast and the play of flavors the lettuce gains from the light charring from the grill. There are plenty of fun options that can be added to the salad listed to add interest as well. Having a spritzer for your oil makes this dish simpler, and keeps it lighter.

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A colorful dish with a range of flavors. Serve as a side or a main for a light supper with poached eggs, or add some white beans and a grain such as farro, spelt, or barley and grate some cheese over the top for a complete protein.

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green tomatoes on vineI’ve been getting some questions about tomatoes already so I guess people are getting in the mood for summer vegetables and fruits. It certainly feels like summer with these long days, kids out of school, and the solstice just around the corner. The thing about summer vegetables is that they need those long warm days to grow! Our tomatoes are shaping up to come in earlier than we’ve ever had them before, but they still need a few more weeks.

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I like to make berry infused vinegars which I use as parts of marinades or sauces, and of course I also use them for salad dressings. When using them for dressing, I tend to either use them to contrast with sharper, bitter leaves such as escarole, dandelion, rocket, and the like, or I pair them with more delicate lettuces and then add some fruit and or nuts to the mix. I could see a salad of butterleaf lettuces with strawberries, slivered roasted almonds, and maybe a little bit of crumbled blue cheese with a strawberry vinaigrette made with the vinegar, a little agave syrup, some shallot, a little ginger juice, black pepper, and a light oil such as grapeseed with a touch of almond oil. Garnish the salad with candied ginger bits and a little black pepper that has been dry roasted in a pan-this neutralizes much of the heat and leaves the pepper fruity-and freshly cracked.

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I hesitate to call this a jam as it is useful for more than toast. Try this with pork, chicken, or turkey. Good on sandwiches or as a smear, and would be nice on a cheese plate. This would be good made with berries that are a little over-ripe or starting to look less than perfect.

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This soup is a riff on borscht, with kale filling in for the cabbage, and the vinegar on the roast beets filling in for the things that are often pickled in borscht. Some borscht uses sauerkraut, some have chopped pickles, some use a soured broth or kvass as the base. Although written as a hot soup, it could easily be chilled and served cold with yogurt or labne.

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SIGN UP FOR CSA PROGRAM

When you join our CSA, you sign up with the farm to receive a share of the harvest during our 36 week season from mid-March to mid-November. In return, you get a weekly box of organic vegetables and fruit (and optional flowers) delivered straight from our farm to a pick-up site in your neighborhood.

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View our CSA Members Page

This is where you can go to find out what's coming in your box each week, find recipes, identify your vegetables with pictures, and view or print the current and past newsletters. Check here for the information you need to use your box to the fullest.

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