Ground Cherry Muffins

This week we got something I’d never heard of before joining the CSA: husk tomatoes, or as I learned they are also called, ground cherries.  From my internet research, they are either related to, or the same thing as, gooseberries.  They look sort of like tiny tomatillos, little yellow tomatoes inside lantern-like husks, but they taste sweet, a lot like pineapple.  They are apparently often used for pies and jams, but I like to use them in muffins.

Ground Cherry Muffins, based on recipes by Mark Bittman

1 c. ground cherries, husked and rinsed
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
½ t. salt
3 t. baking powder
¼ c. real maple syrup (more for sweeter muffins)
3 T. canola oil
2 eggs
1 c. milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a muffin tin with 12 baking cups. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat together the maple syrup, canola oil, eggs, and milk in a smaller bowl.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it.  Combine swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Stir in the ground cherries.  Divide the batter between the 12 baking cups and bake 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Let rest for 5 minutes, then remove from muffin tin.

Veselka’s Ukrainian Christmas Borscht

from the New York Times, adapted from the Veselka Cookbook

  • 2 pounds beets, trimmed and scrubbed (do not peel)
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, more to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Mushroom and onion dumplings (optional, see recipe)
  • Chopped dill, for garnish.
  1. Coarsely chop beets, preferably in a food processor. In a medium pot, combine beets, 4 cups water and vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until beets are soft, about 45 minutes. Strain and set juice aside. (Beets can be used for another purpose, likesalad.)
  2. Meanwhile, in a deep pot, combine carrot, celery, onion, stock, bay leaves and allspice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes. Strain and discard aromatics and vegetables.
  3. Combine strained stock and beet juice and simmer 5 minutes. Add sugar, garlic and black pepper. Season to taste with sugar and salt. Serve with dumplings, if desired, and sprinkle with dill.

Sesame Soy Braised Mei Qing Choi

Adapted from Blue House Organic Farm

  • 1 head (or 6-8 baby heads) Mei Qing choy
  • 2 Tbs peanut oil
  • 1 Tbs grated ginger
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs sesame seeds

Trim the root end off the Mei Qing choy. Slice the leafy portions of the plant from the stalks. Chop both the leaves and the stalks, keeping the two piles separate. Heat very large, heavy skillet or wok until it looks hazy over the surface, 2-4 minutes. Add peanut oil and swirl it to coat the pan. Add bok choy stems; stir-fry about 5 minutes.

Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry briefly. Add Mei Qing choy greens, chicken stock, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until bok choy is tender and glazed with sauce, 5-8 minutes.

Remove cover, sprinkle with sesame seeds, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until excess liquid evaporates, 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Pasta with Kale Pesto and Roasted Butternut Squash

A great, easy recipe from the Times that’s nice enough to serve for company.  If you can figure out a way to peel them, I don’t see why you couldn’t make this with the acorn squash we’ve been getting the last couple of weeks.

 

Pasta with Kale Pesto and Roasted Butternut Squash
by Melissa Clark for the New York Times

1 1/2 lbs butternut squash
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling over squash
3/4 t. kosher salt for pesto, plus more for squash
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch lacinato kale, stems removed
8 oz. pasta (penne rigate works well) (note: I made twice this much and the pesto was still plenty strong)
1/3 c. toasted pine nuts
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Finely grated zest of one lemon
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
Grated Parmesan, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a vegetable peeler to peel squash, then halve it lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Dice squash flesh into 1-inch pieces, place on a baking sheet, and toss with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread pieces into an even layer, making sure there is space between them. Roast, stirring squash pieces once or twice, until golden brown and tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; have ready a bowl of ice water. Drop kale into boiling water and cook for 45 seconds. Use tongs or slotted spoon to transfer kale to ice water. Bring water in pot back to a boil, adding more if necessary so there is enough to cook pasta.

3. Drain kale well, then wrap tightly in a dry kitchen towel and squeeze thoroughly to remove any excess moisture. Roughly chop leaves. When water in pot comes back to a boil, cook pasta according to package directions.

4. In a food processor, pulse together kale, nuts, garlic, salt and lemon zest until mixture is smooth and salt has dissolved. With motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until fully incorporated. Taste and add more salt dissolved in a little lemon juice, if necessary.

5. Drain pasta, reserving a little cooking water. Toss pasta with kale pesto and some pasta cooking water if necessary to help it coat pasta. Add cheese, lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve topped with squash and more cheese.

Pickled Radishes and Pickled Scapes

Thanks to the great canning workshop that Victoria from Windflower Farm led last fall, I’ve been trying to do more canning this season.  Two things I’ve learned:

1. With a little inexpensive equipment, a good recipe book, and some time, water bath canning is not that hard to do safely.

2. Even if you don’t want to go through the whole canning process, you can still make pickles!

Here are two things I pickled today.

 

The first is a half pint of Pickled Radishes, using a recipe from Well-Preserved.  This is a refrigerator pickle, meaning it isn’t shelf-stable, but it will keep in your fridge for a few weeks.  Basically, you slice up radishes, boil some vinegar with sugar and salt, put it in a jar, and stick it in your fridge.  Easy!  A note: to sterilize your jar, put it in a pot of water, bring to a boil, and boil it for 10 minutes.

 

The second is Pickled Garlic Scapes, which I was inspired to make because Ortine on Washington between Pacific and Dean was using them to garnish their Bloody Marys.  Here’s the recipe I used, combining a couple recipes from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff.  Messing with canning recipes is touchy, since you need to make sure the mixture is acidic enough to avoid botulism, but the things I changed in the recipe don’t affect acidity, so it should only make a difference in taste.  Don’t want to do the whole canning thing?  You can do basically the same as with the radishes: sterilize your jar, make the pickling liquid, stick it in the fridge, and eat it within a couple weeks.  I’m not going to include step-by-step water bath canning instructions; get yourself a book and make sure you know what you’re doing before you try it.

Pickled Garlic Scapes, adapted from Liana Krissoff and Ortine
Makes 2 pint jars

1 1/4 lbs. garlic scapes
1 c. cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1 c. white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 1/2 t. pure kosher salt
1 1/2 t. sugar
2 t. pickling spice

1. Wash your scapes, then cut them into 4 inch sections so they’ll fit in your jars.  I could usually get three sections from each scape.  Don’t include the bulb part.

2. In a nonreactive pot, combine your vinegars, 1 c. water, salt, and sugar and bring just to a boil.

3. Pack your hot jars (boil them while you prep) with the scapes, working quickly.  Split your pickling spice between the two jars, then ladle in the pickling liquid, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Use a chopstick or other tool to remove air bubbles, wipe the rim with a wet paper towel, then place a lid and a ring on the jar until finger tight.  If you’re water bath canning, process for 15 minutes.  If you’re making refrigerator pickles, let the jar cool down, then stick it in the fridge and let it cure for about a week.