Thursday, August 25, 2011

Notes from Nikki-Melon Soup, Gazpacho and Farm Fresh Bloody Marys

I am somewhat reluctant to post these great recipes from Nikki because I am afraid Hurricane Irene (and the past rain) will put an abrupt end to both the tomatoes and melons. However, the recipes are too good not to share and maybe you still have tomatoes and melons laying around your kitchen. Enjoy these three great recipes.

Fresh Bloody Mary Cocktails
The slicing tomatoes are stockpiling in our house between our Inverbrook share and what we have growing in the backyard. We're having a hard time keeping up. One of the many reasons I love August. Anyway, I decided to throw together a couple of cocktails to be enjoyed by my hard-working husband and myself on a Tuesday night, just because. Feel free to leave out the vodka. These are still divine as virgin drinks. Enjoy!


6-8 small-medium slicing tomatoes, 2-4 wedges reserved for garnish (I used a combination of yellow and red tomatoes which made the drinks a lovely sunset color.)
3-4 T worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/2--2/3 C vodka (optional)
Dash or two (or three) of hot sauce (I use Louisiana's Pure Crystal Hot Sauce)
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh parsley leaves

1. Puree the tomatoes in a blender until liquified.
2. Run the tomato puree through a fine mesh sieve to catch the skins and seeds (or leave them in for a more rustic treat).
3. Mix in the worcestershire, lemon juice, vodka (if using), sea salt, and hot sauce.
4. Pour the mixture over ice, garnish with plenty of pepper, parsley, and a tomato slice (or a lemon wedge or celery stick).
5. Serve and enjoy.

Makes 2 large or 4 small cocktails.

Cantaloupe Soup
I am full of melon ideas lately; can you tell? Melons are one of my favorite summertime treats and I love the melons that we're getting from our Inverbrook share this season. Delicious! The following recipe was literally devoured by my kids. It was so good! A fun soup for the last of our summer days. I hope you enjoy it too!


1 medium-large or 2 small cantaloupes, rind removed and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 C sour cream
Pinch of sea salt
Leaves from 5-6 sprigs of tarragon
2 T honey (give or take, depending on the sweetness of your cantaloupe)

1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (work in batches if need be). Taste and adjust to your liking.
2. Chill for a bit, and serve.

Serves 8

Watermelon Gazpacho
It's melon season, and I'm savoring the last days of summer ingesting mounds of these sweet-flavored, fleshy fruits. The watermelons from our Inverbrook share have seeds (imagine that!), and I decided to leave them in this soupy salsa, partly out of laziness, and partly because I like the looks of them. If you feel like fishing them out, by all means, do so. I added one of the small pasilla peppers from this week's share to the mix. This gave the dish a decent kick, just the way I like it. If you'd rather not include so much heat, use just part of a hot pepper (no seeds), or leave out the pepper completely. Enjoy!


1-2 small cucumbers, diced (I used lemon cucumbers and left the peel and seeds intact; if you feel like peeling and/or seeding, go for it)
1-2 small watermelons (or 1 medium), rind removed, flesh diced (large dice is fine)
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium (or 2 small bell peppers), seeded and diced (I used one red and one green)
1 small hot pepper, seeded and diced (see headnotes)
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of chopped parsley
Handful of chopped mint leaves
Dash or two of rice vinegar
Sea salt

1. Combine all the ingredients, allow to sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes so the flavors can meld, and serve (leftovers will keep well covered in the fridge for at least a couple of days).

Serves 8-10 as a side dish

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This Week's Share-Beans, Greens and Spaghetti Squash

All the rain and the cooler weather has ushered it some flavors of fall to this week's share. Most notably is the inclusion of fresh shelling beans and spaghetti squash and the return of cooking greens and greens beans. Monday and Wednesday's share will differ a bit, Monday will get melons and Wednesday more tomatoes. Depending on the weather we will switch it up next week. Below is a listing of share items that Monday and Wednesday have in common:

This Week's Share:
Spaghetti Squash
Summer Squash (Zephyr and Patti Pan)
Potatoes (Red and Fingerling)
Fresh Shelling Beans
Green Beans
Cooking Greens (Chard and Perpetual Spinach)
Basil,Parsley and Mint

Spaghetti Squash and Fresh Shelling Beans might be a new experience for you, so I have included some links below that should guide you through the cooking preparation for these delicious types of produce.

Fresh Shelling Bean Sage Spread from Apartment Therapy--great links in this blog posting.

David Lebovitz's Fresh Bean and Tomato Salad

Flageolet Beans with Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Martha Stewart's Spaghetti Squash Links

An easier way to cook spaghetti squash--cook then cut

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Notes from Nikki-Honeydew Basil Icepops

This is the first of several great recipes from Nikki's kitchen experience this week. I must say I was thrilled to hear some positive feedback about the melons. They are such a challenge to pick at peak ripeness, especially the watermelon. Cantaloupes are relatively easy, they slip off the vine when they are ready; watermelons however, are a whole other story. The infamous thud test (the sound the watermelon makes when you tap it), is still beyond me. I thought you might appreciate this link on how to tell when melons are ripe, or at least be somewhat sympathetic if the melons you get are less than perfect :) If you check out the link you can see its definitely a skill to pick pefectly ripe honeydews and watermelons and gets much harder with all the rain we have been having. Enjoy Nikki's delicious recipe.

Honeydew Basil Popsicles
I don't know about you, but we are absolutely smitten with Claire's honeydew this year. The flavor is superb! The following recipe is so simple, and really showcases the superior taste of Inverbrook honeydew 2011. :-)


One medium honeydew, seeded, peeled, and chopped
A squirt of agave (optional)
A handful of basil leaves
A tiny pinch of sea salt

1. Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth (you can add a bit of water if needed to process, not too much though; you don't want to water down the flavor).
2. Pour into popsicle molds (or paper cups with wooden popsicle sticks).
3. Freeze for about 6 hours.
4. Pop them out of the molds and enjoy!

Makes about 10 average sized pops

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In Praise of Tiny Tomatoes

Since your share has included a fair quantity of cherry and salad tomatoes, I thought I would pass along two great links related to these small but flavorful gems.

The first is from Food52. This NY times food blog is actually running a contest for your best "Cherry Tomato Recipe"--here is a link to the submissions so far.

The second link is from philly local Marisa McClellan's Food in Jars. Here is a link to preserving small tomatoes.

Enjoy these tiny tasty treats!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Susan Enan House Concert

I just wanted to alert you all to the fact that we will be hosting the return of the lovely and talented English singer songwriter Susan Enan for a house concert on Friday, August 26th at 7:30PM. The concert is being organized by CSA member, music lover, and Kennett Square's own Presbyterian Minister Andrew Smith (and his lovely wife Tara). Susan first graced our home with her beautiful voice and moving songwriting about this time last year and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to host her again. For a glimpse into a typical Susan Enan house concert watch the video below. If you are interested in attending the concert please contact Andrew at Space is limited. The price of the concert is $12.

Monday, August 15, 2011

This Week's Share-Garlic and the Effects of a Whole Lot of Rain

All of a sudden its feeling like monsoon season. We have had a lot of rain at the farm, and unfortunately the strength and volume at which it has been coming down is not good for tomatoes. When tomatoes (and sometimes melons) get a sudden deluge of water then tend to split. See picture below.
I manged to pick a bunch of the larger red and yellow tomatoes for Monday's share before the rain really started coming down. However, I am afraid Wednesday's share will be lacking in slicing tomatoes--whereas Mondays share will be minus the cherry tomatoes. Luckily the rain (keep my fingers crossed) has not effected much else, and in fact is great for the fall greens that were recently planted.

This weeks share includes:
Potatoes (red and fingerling)
Summer Squash
Tomatoes (just a less than last week, especially on wednesday)
and the first of the cured Garlic
Parsley, Mint and Tomatillos

One note about the melons, all this rain increases the potential contamination of the melons from the soil (actually you will notice all the vegetables are muddier)-cut melon left at room temperature has the potential to harbor food born illness--click here for the Livestrong guide to safely preparing melon.

If you starting to get a little sick of this CSA share line up, next week will be a little different with some winter squash, cooking greens, and a few more new items. In the meantime here are two great recipe ideas for this weeks share.

Parsley and Garlic Roasted Fingerlings

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Tangy Cucumber Yogurt

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Dog Days Are Over & Notes from Nikki

The Dog Days of Summer are officially over today and mother nature seems to have gotten the notice; what a beautiful day. It has been a hot, dusty intense summer and Tuesday's rain has the garden looking bright and well watered; a rare occurrence as of late. It feels like a blessing. Hopefully this dip in temperature and humidity will inspire you to truly take advantage of the summer's bounty. I am sure you are fast approaching the "too many tomatoes" threshold in your summer diet, and now its time to think about preserving tomatoes for the future--click here for a great link to slow roasted tomatoes that can be frozen for use months later. I thought you would also appreciate Food52's little video about peeling tomatoes:

Peeling tomatos from Food52 on Vimeo.

Enjoy the great weather. Enjoy any adventures in food preservation. Finally I want to leave you with another great recipe from Nikki-a use for those tomatillos that have been a part of your share.

Baked Eggs in Tomatillo Sauce
I hope you have indulged in the tomatillos available to us in the Inverbrook Distribution Shed over the last couple of weeks. They are positively sweet, tangy, and complex all at the same time. I love fresh tomatillo salsa, but decided to roast the tomatillos I have collected over the last couple of weeks instead, along with a hot pepper or two, some garlic, and a big spanish onion in order to make the following sauce for baked eggs. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
3-4 dozen tomatillos
1-2 fresh hot peppers, whole
3-4 cloves of garlic, un-peeled
1 spanish onion, thick sliced
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Handful of fresh chopped cilantro

8 eggs
Generous handful of shredded Manchego cheese
Mexican crema, sour cream, or creme fraiche
Blue corn tortilla chips

1. Preheat the oven to 425.
2. Drizzle the olive oil in the bottom of a large baking dish and spread the tomatillos, hot peppers, garlic, and onion slices on top; roast until the tomatillos fall apart and everything else is roast-y (about 25-30 minutes).
3. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins, de-seed the peppers (unless you want tons of heat), transfer the lot to a large bowl, add the cilantro, sea salt, and pepper, and, using an immersion blender, puree everything until smooth.
4. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
5. Return the sauce to the same baking dish and crack 8 eggs, evenly spacing them, right on top of the sauce.
6. Bake in the oven until the eggs are just about set to your liking (my family likes them firm and cooked through, so ours took about 25-30 minutes).
7. Sprinkle the cheese on top of each egg, and return to the oven.
8. Bake until the cheese melts and begins to brown just a bit.
9. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool a bit.
10. Serve each egg with plenty of sauce, a dollop of Mexican crema, and blue corn chips.

Serves 6-8

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Notes From Nikki-Eggplant Caponata, Mexican Summer Squash Casserole, and more

Eggplant Caponata With a Twist
I must give credit to my friend, Donna Larsen, for inspiring me to mix cocoa powder with eggplant. She emailed me a Caponata recipe recently that included grilled eggplant, sugar, and cocoa powder, among other things. I was intrigued. I ended up googling "Caponata" only to find that there are literally thousands of variations on this classic Sicilian dish... of course. I basically used the lists of ingredients I perused as inspiration, and worked from there. Below you'll find the recipe that I came up with. It turned out rich and earthy, brightened just a touch by the basil and the summer squash (I am desperately trying to use up our bounty). I cannot overemphasize how important it is to taste and adjust as you go with this. Just a little more salt, sugar, cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, or cocoa can make a world of difference. If you're like me, you'll be full before the dish hits the table. :-) Enjoy!


3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-large sweet onion, chopped
6-8 small eggplant (I used 4 small and 4 baby-sized), diced
4 small-medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 medium-large summer squash (I used 1 pattypan and 1 yellow straight-neck), diced
Dash of red pepper flakes (more if you want more heat)
1-2 T sugar
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 T cocoa powder (I suggest using a high quality variety like Green & Black's for deeper flavor)
1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Handful chopped basil, plus more for garnish (I used purple basil)
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

Warm artisan bread

1. Saute the onion, garlic, sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder, sea salt, chile flakes, and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions have softened.
2. Add in the eggplant, stirring to coat, and continue sauteing for a bit.
3. Add the tomatoes, and do the same.
4. Add in the summer squash, stir to incorporate, cover, and simmer until all the veggies are quite soft (the tomatoes will have fallen apart as well as some of the eggplant).
5. Add in the balsamic vinegar, and taste and adjust.
6. Stir in the basil, and taste and adjust again.
7. Garnish with basil and serve with plenty of crusty, artisan bread.

Makes about 6 cups (enough for at least 8-10 people to enjoy as an appetizer)

Mexican Summer Squash Casserole with Red Haven Farm Grass-fed Ground Beef and Shredded Highland Farm Manchego
This somewhat odd menagerie of ingredients turned out to be a heavenly "one-pot" dish. If you're like me, you have plenty of summer squash on hand. As it turned out, this proved to be an excellent way to use up at least six of the prolific little summer gems. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

1.5 lbs. ground beef (I used Red Haven Farm's local, grass-fed beef)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp coriander
1-2 tsp chipotle chile pepper powder (more if you want extra heat)
2-3 tsp paprika
2-3 tsp dried Mexican oregano
4-6 small-medium summer squash, diced (I used 2 small pattypan, 1 medium pattypan, and 3 small yellow straight-neck)
4 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
Generous handful of chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
Sea salt
1 C shredded Manchego cheese (I used Highland Farm's local sheep Manchego)

1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Saute the beef, onions, garlic, coriander, chipotle powder, paprika, oregano, and sea salt over medium heat until the meat is cooked through and the onions are softened.
3. Add in the tomatoes and squash and cook until the squash is firm tender.
4. Turn off the heat and fold in the cilantro.
5. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
6. Turn the mixture out into a casserole dish and top with the cheese.
7. Bake uncovered until the mixture is bubbling and the cheese is melted and browned in a few places.
8. Remove from the oven, allow to cool a bit, garnish with more cilantro, and serve family style.

Serves 6
Rosemary Mashed Potato Medley; Roasted Orange Mint Carrots; and Grilled Mother Earth Organic Portabellas, Sweet Onions, and Steaks
Three recipes for the price of one! :-) The following three recipes comprised our dinner last night. Make one, or make them all. Red Haven Farm steaks would work beautifully here (I wish we had had some on hand), or leave out the steak and just grill up the portabellas and onions. Portabellas are meaty enough in and of themselves. I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Rosemary Mashed Potato Medley
Approximately 2-3 lbs. new potatoes, scrubbed (if necessary) and halved or quartered (halve the small ones, quarter the big ones) [I used a combination of purple, yellow, and red ones, but any combo will do.]
1 stick of butter
2+ C milk
2 T fresh minced rosemary
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

1. Boil the potatoes in a large pot until they are tender enough to mash.
2. Drain the potatoes in a colander, returning them to the pot.
3. Add in the butter, rosemary, and 1 C of the milk.
4. Mash the potatoes, butter, rosemary, and milk together using a masher.
5. Switching to a spoon, stir in enough milk to make a smooth-ish consistency (to your liking).
6. Season generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
7. Taste and adjust to your liking.
8. Serve and enjoy!
Serves approximately 8-10 as a side dish (feel free to cut the recipe in half)

Roasted Orange Mint Carrots
3 bunches carrots, bottoms trimmed, tops removed (I used a mixture of the purple and orange carrots from our Inverbrook share)
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 orange, plus some zest (to taste)
1 T honey
Handful of finely chopped mint leaves
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Drizzle the bottom of a roasting pan with the olive oil.
3. Lay the carrots on top of the oil, creating one single layer, and give the pan a good shake.
4. Season the carrots with sea salt and pepper, and roast in the oven until firm tender, shaking occasionally.
5. While the carrots are roasting, combine the orange juice, mint, and honey.
6. Once the carrots are just shy of finishing, drizzle the juice over the lot, shake the pan, and finish roasting (the juice and honey will caramelize a bit).
7. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.
Serves 6 as a side dish

Grilled Mother Earth Organic Portabellas, Sweet Onions, and Steaks
6 whole portabella mushroom caps, stems removed (I highly recommend local Mother Earth Organic mushrooms)
2-3 sweet onions, quartered
6 steaks (we used mock tender steaks as we're on a budget ;-))
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
1-2 T balsamic vinegar
Fresh torn rosemary leaves
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
2. Season the steaks with plenty of sea salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil if they aren't fatty (ours were mock tenders and needed a little oiling :-)). Rub some torn rosemary leaves and minced garlic into them for good measure.
3. While they're upside down, drizzle the portabellas with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Divide the remaining minced garlic amongst the caps, and season with sea salt and pepper.
4. Rub the onion quarters with whatever amount of oil garlic and rosemary you have left (the stuff that's laying on the pan) and season with just a bit of sea salt and pepper.
5. Grill the steaks to your liking.
6. Grill the portabellas upside down until they are well marked and meaty. A little soup of garlic, oil, and vinegar will form in the caps. Don't turn the caps over while they're still on the grill or you'll lose all that goodness.
7. Grill the onions until well marked and softened.
8. Slice the portabellas (if desired), and toss with the onions and all that yummy juice that formed in the caps while they were on the grill.
9. Lay each steak on a bed of the portabella and onion mixture and serve.

Serves 6

Monday, August 8, 2011

This Week's Share-Lots of Tomatoes, More Melons and Purslane

This week's share--like many of the farmers markets and backyard gardens--is full of tomatoes. Its been a fairly good tomato year and I am very thankful for that fact. I have included a link to Food52's best tomato recipe contest from back in 2009. 2009 was the dismal year of the tomato blight, the memory of which makes good tomato seasons all the more special. If you are swimming in tomatoes right now, I thought you would appreciate their (food52) listing of recipes.

This Week's Share Includes:
Potatoes (red and fingerling)
Carrots (purple and orange)
Melons (cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon)
Summer Squash (patti pan and zephyr)
Tomatoes (slicing,salad and cherry)

In honor of this past weekend's medicinal weed walk, I thought I would add the delicious and nutritious weed Purslane to the share(if you are going to harvest at home notice the warning about spurge, another common weed that looks a little like purslane but is poisonous). Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, purslance is a great addition to salads. Here is Praireland CSAs purslane page. Below is a picture of the salad I made for the medicinal weed walk potluck lunch this weekend. I used a recipe from Gourmet Magazine -parsley and purslane cherry tomato salad but added the DELICIOUS highland farm feta, which I think pairs perfectly with cherry tomatoes. Enjoy your tomatoes, enjoy your weeds.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Bounty of August--Fruit and Cheese

The first of August is known as Lammas or Lughnasadh. The half way point between the summer solstice and the fall equinox, it was traditionally a festival celebrating the first harvest of grain. Loaf-day or Feast of the First Fruits are other names for this early August celebration. I like the concept of the first fruit, because for me, August represents a month plentiful with fruits of all kinds. August is a month full of delicious ripe tomatoes, melons, peaches, plums, and the beginnings of apples, pears and more. August 3 is actually National Watermelon Day, a fitting start to a month in which these delicious hallmarks of summer picnics appear at markets and in your CSA share.

Here at Inverbrook the start of fruit season is celebrated with melons in your CSA share for the next couple of weeks and the start of the North Star Fruit Share. The fruit share has long been sold out, and if you are at all interested in getting a fruit share next year I suggest you get on the waiting list right now. Luckily, there are other great sources of fruit nearby—Glenn Willow, Vollmecke, and Barnard Orchards, not to mention all the great local farmers markets have fruit vendors (including Frecon at the Kennett Market on Friday and North Star at the West Chester Market on Saturday). I might also add fruit to the Friday Farmstand, I will keep you posted.

Along with the fruit share, I also encourage you to check out the various options for cheese (and yogurt) at Inverbrook. When the weather is hot, and cooking seems less appealing, nothing could be better than simple pairings of cheese and fruit—cheddar and tomatoes, feta and watermelon, yogurt and peaches, brebis and melon—all possibilities with the Hillacres Pride Cheese Share and the Highland Farm sheep products available at the farm.
I was reminded of this delicious pairing of fruit and cheese after a recent visit to Aimee Olexy’s beautiful new restaurant Talula’s Garden. The weekend before last I decided to escape the heat with a trip to Philly to visit with my sister. We took refuge in the air conditioning of the Ritz theatre, saw a great movie, and on the way home popped into Talula’s Garden for a drink (I got a delicious margarita , appropriately called the “Farmer”) and a cheese plate masterfully prepared by Josh Kaplan (see picture above). On the platter were some tiny white peach slices that tasted just amazing after nibbling on the various cheeses included on the platter. I came home from my weekend away excited about the pairings I could create at home with the soon to be bountiful fruits, melons, and cheeses that are now flowing into the distribution shed. At the Talula’s Garden bar we also met a fun couple now living in Florida that alerted us to their friend’s daughter’s blog Starving Off the Land,definitely worth checking out.

Below are some more links about pairing cheese and fruit (or inspired by cheese and fruit):

Madame Fromage cheese pairing

Apples and Cheese –great local food blog

Philly Local’s Messy and Picky cheese pairing party

Hopefully these postings will inspire a fruit and cheese plate for your next August gathering. If you missed getting Highland Farm cheese or yogurt during your CSA pick up, you can always grab some during the Friday Farmstand from 2-7PM every Friday. And now for the sound track (this concept of a meal/ingredient sound track was “borrowed” from the Modern Farm Table blog I featured in the last posting)—Hey August from one of my most favorite local artists Chris Kasper

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This Week's Share-Melons and More Cherry Tomatoes

This week's share will feature melons for the first time this season. We will start off with watermelons and honeydews and hopefully add cantaloupe next week. A few year's ago the hot new summer salad was watermelon, feta and mint. Last year grilled watermelon was all the rage. This year the trend seems to be turning your watermelon into a delicious and refreshing cocktail. See this great new blog The Modern Farm Table for a rum, basil and watermelon drink.

Speaking of fruit, the Northstar Fruit Share will begin this week. The bags of fruit should ONLY be taken by those who have paid and signed up for this delicious addition to the CSA experience. The fruit shares sell out very early in the season, if you want to get on the waiting list for next year check out their website for more information.

Finally, this weekend we are hosting another Medicinal Herb Workshop at the farm. I will be positng more information shortly. In the meantime check out the Facebook Event if you would like to register.

This Week's Share:
Purple Carrots
Melons (watermelon and honeydew)
Summer Squash
Cherry Tomatoes
and depending on your pick up day (beans, cucumbers, and/or peppers)

Here are a few more recipe links to help utilize the share:

101 Cookbooks Cherry Tomato Couscous Dish

Angel Hair Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Tuna, and Lemon recipe of Pasta with Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes.

Enjoy the recipes!