Notes From the Farm
I am writing this as the rain drizzles, stops and drizzles some more. Harvesting beets this morning was a bit chilly and it feels like Autumn is officially here in the Bitterroot. We have had a gorgeous, long late summer, much to everyone’s surprise considering the looming fire danger since early June. The long summer has also allowed us to harvest at a leisurely pace (relatively speaking) and given many crops a few extra weeks to ripen. We are very thankful. We thank you too for eating locally grown food, for committing to take the time to pick up your vegetables and for eating well!
(We will have storage vegetables for sale in the coming weeks. Feel free to contact us to place an order.)
This Week’s Veggie Feast
Storage Onions, Sunchokes, Pie Pumpkin, Buttercup Winter Squash, Beets, Cabbage, Parsley, Tomatoes
New This Week
Storage Onions! Due to the beautiful, warm September days our onions just kept growing. We waited and waited for the tops to die back but they never did. We harvested them last week, before the rain so they can start to dry or “cure.” These onions are ready to eat, but not ready to store. To store them the tops need to be completely dried out, which seals the body of the onion from the stem. You can hang them somewhere out of the way while they cure; a pantry, the garage, a closet. Somewhere dry where it will not get too cold. Once they are dry simply clip the stems off.
Sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) are a new vegetable for many people. They are gaining popularity in recent years due to their high nutritional value, high fiber (in the form of inulin) and low carb content. Since we dig them up, like a potato I assumed they were a tuber, but according to Serious Eats: “A sunchoke is a woody-looking tuberous formation found on the rhizome (horizontally growing underground stem) of a type of sunflower.” Sunchokes are very versatile, they can be fried, roasted, steamed and eaten raw. Add them to a roasted vegetable dish, use as a base for soups, or thinly slice as a topper for a fall salad. They store well in the fridge in a container or a plastic bag for a couple of weeks.
Pie Pumpkins are just the ticket for making your own pumpkin puree and a very delicious pumpkin pie. Making puree is not difficult; there is a recipe below if you want specific details. Here’s how I make mine: I put the whole pumpkin in the oven, turn the oven on somewhere between 350-400 (who needs preheat?) and then go outside, forget that I am baking a pumpkin until something jogs my memory and then come racing back into the house hoping there is not a charred pumpkin in the oven. I turn off the oven, open a window (if necessary), pull the pumpkin out with hot pads, set it on a plate to cool and go outside again until the smoke clears. Eventually I come back inside, cut the pumpkin open, scoop out the seeds, peel the skin off. Voila, pumpkin. Now I can use this to make a pumpkin pie filling.
The pumpkin should store well at least into December. If you notice soft spots appearing you can make the pumpkin puree (in recipe below) and use or freeze.
Buttercup has a dark green exterior and a bright orange interior. The flavor of the buttercup squash’s flesh is sweet and nutty, with a creamy consistency more in line with that of a baked sweet potato than a pumpkin, which tends to be more fibrous and watery by comparison. The flesh can tend toward dryness, a flaw that is easily compensated for by cooking method. Steaming and baking are preferred methods of preparation, as both will bring out the sweetness of and add moistness to the flesh.
- 3 cups peeled and diced Sunchokes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Place the Sunchokes in a 2-quart saucepan, and cover with water.
- Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil simmer for 15 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife.
- Remove from the heat, drain, and place the Sunchokes in a food processor with the heavy cream, butter, salt and white pepper.
- Process for 10 to 15 seconds, or until a smooth puree is formed.
- Remove from the bowl of the food processor, and place in a heat resistant bowl set over a water bath to keep warm for serving.
Source: Food Network
Apple Sunchoke Salad
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 2 pounds sunchokes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider
- 2 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 cup halved, cored, and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples
- 1 cup halved, cored, and thinly sliced Honeycrisp apples
- 6 ounces skinned smoked trout, broken into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Combine 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sunchokes in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spread sunchokes, cut sides down, on a baking sheet; bake at 400° for 25 minutes or just until tender and golden. Cool completely.
- Combine dill, shallots, apple cider, cider vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add apples and sunchokes; toss gently. Place on a serving plate. Top with trout and basil.
Source: My Recipes
Homemade Pumpkin Puree
- Select a couple of small-ish pumpkins. Cut the pumpkin in half. With a spoon or a scoop, scrape out the seeds and pulp from the center. You don’t have to be too thorough with this.
- Place all the seeds into a bowl (you can roast them later and make pepitas). Repeat until all the pumpkin pieces are largely free of seeds and pulp.
- Place pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet (face up or face down; I’ve done both) and roast in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until pumpkin is fork-tender. They should be nice and light golden brown when done.
- Peel off the skin from the pumpkin pieces until you have a big pile of the stuff. If you have a food processor, throw in a few chunks at a time. A blender will work, too, if you add a little water. Or you can simply mash it up with a potato masher, or move it through a potato ricer, or process it through a food mill.
- Pulse the pumpkin until smooth. If it looks too dry, add in a few tablespoons of water during the pulsing to give it the needed moisture. (Note, if the puree is overly watery, you should strain it on cheesecloth or over a fine mesh strainer to get rid of some of the liquid.)
- Dump the pureed goodness into a bowl, and continue pureeing until all the pumpkin is done.
- You can either use this immediately in whatever pumpkin recipe you’d like, store it in the freezer for later use.
- To store in the freezer, spoon about 1 cupful of pumpkin into each plastic storage bag. Seal the bag with just a tiny bit of an opening remaining, then use your hands to flatten out the pumpkin inside the bag and push out the air. Store them in the freezer until you need them.
Source: The Pioneer Woman
Classic Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Sauce
(The author of Smitten Kitchen has several notes about this recipe on her site, it is worth reading)
1 1/4 cups (155 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) fine sea or table salt
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup (60 ml) very cold water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed
1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree, from a 15-ounce (425 gram) can or homemade
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) fine sea or table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg (or a pinch of ground nutmeg)
1 1/3 cups (315 ml) cold heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (95 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons (45 ml) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, or a little less of a coarse salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (85 grams) pecans (I coarsely chopped 1/2 cup, left the last 1/4 cup in halves)
Make the pie dough:
- By hand, with my one-bowl method: In the bottom of a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. (Some people like to do this by freezing the stick of butter and coarsely grating it into the flour, but I haven’t found the results as flaky.) Add 1/4 cup cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add the last tablespoon of water.
- With a food processor: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse machine until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Turn mixture out into mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add the last tablespoon of water.
- Both methods: Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours, or you can quick-firm this in the freezer for 15 minutes. Longer than 2 days, it’s best to freeze it until needed.
Form the crust: On a floured counter, roll the dough out into a 12 to 13-inch circle-ish shape. Fold dough gently in quarters without creasing and transfer to a 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate. Unfold dough and trim overhang to about 1/2-inch. Fold overhang under edge of pie crust and crimp decoratively. Return to fridge until ready to fill. (See Notes below for par-baking directions, if desired. I rarely desire this.)
Heat oven: To 400°F (205°C).
Make the filling: Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a sputtering simmer and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Scoop cooked pumpkin filling into bowl, and whisk in cold cream until smooth. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Pour filling into prepared pie crust.
Bake pie: For 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F (175°C) and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, until only the center barely jiggles and a toothpick inserted into it comes out pumpkin-free. (Damp is fine, but the toothpick shouldn’t have loose pumpkin batter on it.)
Let pie cool on a rack completely, if you, like me, prefer your pumpkin pie cool. You can hasten this along in the fridge. This pie is now ready to serve, but if you want to gild the lily a little, make the topping as well.
Make pecan praline topping: In a small/medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, combine the brown sugar, butter, cream and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until thick and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla and pecans.
Serve pie: In wedges, ladles with pecan praline sauce. Extra pie (an unfamiliar phenomenon) keeps in the fridge for up to a week.
Source: Smitten Kitchen