The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

CSA 2010 Collage December 31, 2010

Filed under: CSA,kitties,San Diego — Amanda @ 20:53
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I didn’t do much blogging about our CSA and all of the other goodies I got at the Mercato this year, so I decided to make a photo collage to commemorate them instead:

collage of CSA goodies

Also: Zephyr loves vegetables.


Adventures In Sourdough IX: Onion Sprout Focaccia October 18, 2010

Filed under: baking,bread,CSA,San Diego,sourdough — Amanda @ 21:19
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Onion Sprout Focaccia Stack

After six months of bi-weekly CSA boxes from Suzie’s Farm, one of my favorite ingredients is onion sprouts. These delicate little sprouts pack big onion flavor, and while I love to eat them sprinkled over salads, I’ve also discovered that they add great onion flavor when baked into bread!

Onion Sprouts

This recipe is based on a no-knead focaccia recipe fromĀ The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger. I use the standard yeast version as a deep-dish pizza dough, but I’ve also converted the recipe to use my 100% hydration (equal flour and water by weight) sourdough starter.

Recipe Conversion from Yeast to Sourdough

I used my home-grown San Diego Bay sourdough starter; after about four months of inactivity the refrigerator, it peaked in activity about 16-20 hours after its second feeding. It was a little bit past peak by the time I used it, but was still had enough power to leaven the focaccia in about 2 hours.

Bubbly sourdough starter

After setting aside 12 ounces of starter for the focaccia, I had about four ounces left to keep in the fridge. I fed this with flour and water (3 ounces each), and used masking tape to label the jar with the date and activation notes, so I know what to expect next time I use it – this is a very handy method if you sometimes neglect the starter for a few months, like me :)

SD Starter Labeled for Storage.

To make the focaccia, I combined 12 ounces sourdough starter with 16.5 ounces (about 3 1/3 cups) flour, 1/4 cup water plus 1 cup milk, warmed to about 105 degrees F, and a generous 1/4 cup olive oil.

A good kitchen scale makes weighing flour fun!

After mixing those ingredients in a stand mixer until well combined, I added about 3/4 of an ounce of onion sprouts (I just eyeballed the volume and weighed them afterward for the measurement, so feel free to use more or less depending on preference for oniony flavor!), and mixed for about 3 more minutes on medium speed, ensuring that the onion sprouts were evenly distributed.

onion sprout focaccia, before rising

I drizzled the bowl with olive oil (don’t be shy – the olive oil is what makes this focaccia spectacular), and turned the dough over to coat it with the oil, then let it rise until doubled in size, about two hours.

Focaccia Dough After Rising

I then turned the dough out onto a parchment lined half-sheet pan, spread and stretched it to cover the bottom of the pan, dimpled it with my fingers, and let it rest for about 20 minutes while heating the oven (with baking stone on the bottom rack) to 450F.

Focaccia before baking

After fifteen minutes in the oven, I lowered the heat to 350F and baked for an additional 20 minutes, until the top was golden. Chuck has declared this to be the best focaccia I’ve ever made, and he should know – while it was cooling, I walked out of the kitchen and folded some laundry, and by the time I came back a corner was missing! I guess the scent of freshly baked bread and roasted onions was too hard to resist!

Onion Sprout Focaccia

To make the focaccia with yeast instead of sourdough starter, use the following ingredients: 1 package (or 1 Tbs) Active Dry Yeast; 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 1/4 tsp salt; 1 cup warm water; 1 cup warm milk (105F- 115F); 1/4 olive oil; 3/4 ounces onion sprouts.

Delicious oniony crumb

I’ll be submitting this to YeastSpotting, my favorite online source for bread baking inspiration!



Everything’s Coming Up Dill: Our First CSA Share May 13, 2010

Zephyr explores the veggies

Our neighborhood farmers market, the Little Italy Mercato, has been going strong for over a year now, tempting me every Saturday morning with just-harvested fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, cheeses, jams and even sea salts. Even though I don’t quite make it to the Mercato every weekend, I’ve tried quite a few new fruits and vegetables since the market began – pineapple guavas, rainbow chard, cherimoyas, several eggplant varieties, green garlic and Kalamansi limes to name a few. In the spirit of continuing to explore new flavors and add more veggies to our lives, Chuck and I recently joined the CSA program from Suzie’s Farm, one of the Mercato vendors.

Broccoli, dill, chard, lettuce, radishes

Every other week we’ll get a box of 8-15 items, depending on what’s ready for harvest at the farm. Our first box contained potatoes, strawberries, summer squash, broccoli, radishes, chard, micro-basil, red lettuce, wild arugula, chard, and a gigantic bunch of dill. That’s a lot of veggies!

Athena and Zephyr love our CSA!

Our first CSA box was definitely a success – for $25 we got enough vegetables for five nights of dinners for two people, three lunches plus some snacks for me, plus three nights of strawberry desserts, and we tried several new recipes and preparations. The Suzie’s Farm blog helpfully tells us what to expect in our CSA box, and local blogger Stacy at Little Blue Hen is also a CSA member and blogs about her box and great recipe ideas as well, so we had an idea of the items and amounts that we’d be receiving and planned a week’s worth of meals around them.

We also picked up a few supplementary items at the Mercato:

Tomatoes, butter, jam, Zephyr

Mini-tomatoes for my lunch salads, European-style butter to go with the radishes, and habanero jelly because Chuck wanted some. Did I mention that the cats really really liked our CSA box and everything else we brought home from the farmers market? They wanted to sniff everything! And Zeph liked chewing (and then spitting up, unfortunately) the ends of the Arugula. It was quite an enrichment activity for them.

Zephyr Loves Arugula

(Really, I didn’t mean for all of the CSA pictures to include Zephyr, he just wouldn’t leave them alone.)

As we put the veggies away, I did some sampling of the strawberries, basil, and dill. The bunch of dill that we got was big, and the freshness made me start dreaming of things to do with dill – I felt like everything we made should use some, since we had much! In the end that didn’t quite happen, but we found quite a few good ways to use it.

I mixed up some butter and chopped dill, to be enjoyed with some of the radishes.

Dill butter: serve with salt & radishes

And then I made what I’m calling a modified “Green Goddess” dressing, despite its tenuous resemblance to the original: mayonnaise, sour cream, dill, caraway seeds and vinegar, which I used in my lunch salads with the lettuce, arugula, basil, tomatoes, and some blue cheese. This dressing was SO good, I could eat it on just about everything! The caraway and dill flavors worked really well together.

Creamy dill-caraway "Green Goddess"-like dressing

I also made a batch of quick radish pickles by boiling some dill in a vinegar-water mixture and then simmering with sliced radishes. I used cider vinegar, but I think plain white or white-wine vinegar might have worked slightly better. I’d never actually cooked radishes before, and I wasn’t that fond of the smell as I was simmering them, but after a day in the refrigerator the pickles tasted OK. They’re my first-ever pickles and not a complete disaster, so I’ll try some again sometime!

Quick-pickled radish slices

When I think of dill, I also think of salmon, and so I tried a new-to-me salmon preparation on Saturday evening: salmon en papillote, or salmon cooked in parchment. I spread some butter on the parchment, then added salmon (seasoned with salt and pepper), dill, and lemon slices:

Preparing the salmon

I then sealed and tented the parchment, placed on a baking sheet and baked for about 12 minutes, while Chuck sauteed the squash with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Delicious salmon and squash dinner

We used our potatoes and chard in an Indian-style Aloo Sag spin-off – I sauteed onions, garlic and ginger, added turmeric, saffron and two sliced serrano chiles (although one would have been plenty!), then added the potatoes and covered until they were tender, and added coarsely chopped chard and sauteed until tender. We served this with chicken cooked in Penzeys Balti Seasoning and fried queso fresco (left over from chicken tacos and standing in for paneer).

Indian-style dinner using potatoes and chard

After two nights of our Indian-style dinner, Chuck made a beef and broccoli stir fry that lasted for two more nights – it was the first time in years that I’ve eaten broccoli voluntarily, and I was quite happy with the results – the broccoli was tender and mild, and soaked up the delicious stir-fry sauce. I still won’t be eating supermarket broccoli, but I’ll happily eat the stuff from Suzie’s Farm!

Chuck also made a strawberry dessert from our Nick Stellino cookbook: strawberries marinated in spiced rum (Nick Stellino’s version used marsala), served with a honey-sweetened vanilla-scented mascarpone/ricotta cheese mixture and topped with shaved chocolate. This preparation really let the flavor and natural sweetness of the strawberries shine!

Strawberry goodness!

We get the next box is on May 29th (a week late because we’ll be in LA watching the Tour of California next weekend), and I can’t wait to see what goodies we get next!



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