Category Archives: Summer CSA
Argh! My blog is so neglected. It’s the time of year where I’m cooking all the time. I’ve even kept up with the Cook the Book Fridays assignments. Alas, I’ve become an expert procrastinator when it’s time to write a blog post. So, without further ado, here goes.
I was SO EXCITED to make Panisse Puffs. I can remember leafing through My Paris Kitchen when it first came out. That must have been around the time I made popovers for a rare participation in Tuesdays with Dorie because I had popovers on the brain. It’s this recipe that tempted me to buy My Paris Kitchen. Of course, I never made them. When this recipe was selected for the Cook the Book Friday schedule, I finally had the motivation I needed, no excuses allowed.
Again, I marveled at how simple popover batter is. A few staples whirred in the blender and it’s time to rock-and-roll. The pan preheats along with the oven, so the pan is buttered and then filled with batter when it’s blazing hot.
The puffs puffed. What they didn’t do is get all that brown. I’ll admit that the glass window in my oven is not very easy to see through. After 35 minutes, the puffs looked brown, but I think the baked-on splatters disguised the true color. They also were stubborn about coming out of the pan. I used a muffin tin because I don’t have a special popover pan, though I’m not sure it would have made a difference.
These looked much better in the pan. After prying them out, my puffs were rather disfigured and deflated, no longer “souffléed”. They tasted OK, but after years of anticipation, I was a little disappointed.
Soupe au Pistou
Typically, I don’t make hot soup in the summer. Gazpacho, sure, and the occasional “other” cold soup, but little compels me to heat up the kitchen with or hang around to watch a simmering pot of soup. For these reasons, I was ambivalent about making vegetable soup with pesto. Trying to stay on schedule with the Cook the Book Fridays gang, I forced myself to soak white beans overnight and move ahead.
As crazy as it seemed to me, this really is a summer vegetable soup. All the vegetables called for were part of my CSA share that week: carrots, zucchini, fresh sugar snap peas, and loads of basil. The beans simmered while I chopped everything else up. Vegetables were added in stages, depending on how long they needed to cook to tender.
While the vegetables cooked, I made pistou (nut-less pesto) in my mortar and pestle. I’d never done that before, always using the power of the food processor instead of my own muscle. The result was much rougher but pleasing when dolloped on top of the soup.
So, I was wrong to doubt the delight of a hot summer soup. This one was delicious. I’d even make it again with the vegetables of the week if the weather isn’t too hot outside.
Herbed Fresh Pasta
Another first. Those of you familiar with tales of my bottomless (Mary Poppins-like) basement won’t be surprised to know that there’s a pasta machine down there. I bought it decades ago at a now-defunct discount store for the bargain price of $15. I must have made pasta a few times back when I first bought the machine, but I don’t think it’s left the basement since we moved to this house almost 25 years ago. (Packrat? Are you accusing me of being a packrat?)
Pasta is not something I ever think to make myself. It seems intimidating, especially when making the dough by hand rather than in the food processor. I was home alone the night I made this, so I made a smaller batch. Always divide by the eggs, so I made 1/3 of the recipe. I used a variety of herbs from my garden and just followed the recipe.
No tools required! I used my fingers to incorporate the eggs into the flour. Once the eggs were absorbed, not all the flour was incorporated, so I kept sprinkling the dough with water until it all came together.
It rested for about an hour before rolling it into sheets and then cutting the sheets into strands.
I was surprised that the process was so easier than I expected. I don’t intend to wait another quarter century before the next time I attempt my own fresh pasta.
I made a mélange of pea tendrils, sugar snap peas, and shell peas to top the pasta for a seasonal spring meal (at least, seasonal in June, when I made this). Delicious!
You can find all the recipes in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. Panisse Puffs is on page 245, Soupe au Pistou on page 92, and Herbed Fresh Pasta on page 230. My friends at Cook the Book Fridays were more timely in their execution, but go back and check out their posts for Panisse Puffs, Soupe au Pistou, and Herbed Fresh Pasta.
Crisps, also known as Crumbles in places where crisps are potato chips, are among my household’s favorite desserts. I give them a mix-and-match approach, choosing the fruit based on season and the topping based on mood. There’s an infinite number of combinations.
I never considered the possibility of a SAVORY crumble. However, this week’s recipe choice for Cook the Book Fridays is exactly that. David Lebovitz presents a recipe for Butternut Squash Crumble in his book My Paris Kitchen. I was very intrigued.
This is the perfect recipe for the season. Local butternut squash has just started to be harvested around here. All the fresh ingredients were part of this week’s CSA share, farmers’ market purchases, or growing in my backdoor herb garden. Delightful!
[Side note: One of the most popular varieties of butternut squash is the “Waltham” which was developed in Waltham (the town next to mine) in the 1960s, by the Massachusetts Agricultural Extension Service.]
To create this savory side, first you cook the squash. Diced squash is sautéed with shallots and seasoned with a generous amount of fresh thyme leaves until the squash starts to soften. Then the squash is further roasted in the oven.
While the squash bakes, the flavorful topping is prepared. Bread crumbs, stone-ground cornmeal, and grated Parmesan cheese stand in for the flour you’d find in a sweet version. The butter is cut in until it’s crumbly. At this point, the topping had a familiar texture, but the addition of an egg ensures that it stays bound together. The crumble is sprinkled on top of the tender squash and baked some more to crisp up and brown the topping.
Well, the verdict is that butternut squash crumble is delicious! The tender squash and the crunchy topping works well together. My only quibble is that the two-step cooking of the squash seems fussy. When I make this again, I’ll either saute the squash until it’s completely tender OR roast the vegetable mixture until tender. I’ll skip the other step.
As is, the crumble screams “Serve me for Thanksgiving, please!” Variations on the crumble will also be in the cards. I’m imagining that roasted root vegetables, singularly or as a medley, are worth a try. Different herbs in the topping could be extended for a mix-and-match for savory crumbles to complement my dessert combos.
And a very Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends!