Saturday, December 5, 2009

CSA Week 1 - the rest

Before picking up my Week 2 CSA share (no delivery last week over Thanksgiving break), I thought I should wrap up what happened to the rest of the Week 1 share. Sorry to say, not much of interest.

For the corn, my kids decided what to do with it. This is something called "Daddy's Special Pasta" and I have been cooking it for them for years now. It is not exactly Heston Blumenthal material. Rather, it follows what I call the "What Could Be Bad?" principle: if you only use ingredients that taste good on their own, it's pretty likely what you end up with is going to taste good. (This is also why I struggle so much with baking. Baking is the exact opposite of the "What Could Be Bad?" principle. You start with any number of things that don't taste particularly good on their own, yet they come out - if you do it right, of course - delicious).

Depending on how fresh and sweet the corn is, I will either boil it in a big pot of salted water first or just scrape it raw off the cob. This CSA corn, unfortunately, was pretty tough and starchy, and even about 5-10 minutes of boiling didn't soften it up much (I was having recriminations that I'd blown the opportunity for wonderful fresh sweet corn by holding it a few days, letting the sugars convert to starch, but was relieved to see I wasn't the only one to find the corn tough.) Then scrape the kernels off the cobs (I used one per person), and keep that water for the pasta.

I cut bacon (1-2 strips per person) into about 2-inch long pieces (I find it easier to use scissors than a knife for this) and get it about halfway crisp in a sauté pan with a bit of butter on medium heat. Then the bacon comes out of the pan and onto a paper towel to dry. Pour off most of the fat, and put the corn in with the bacon fat to sauté. Now is the time to put your pasta into the boiling water to cook (just about any relatively sturdy shape works here). Meanwhile, if the corn starts to dry out too much, spoon a little pasta water over it. When the pasta is about a minute or two from done, add some cream to the sauté pan and cook to reduce and thicken it some (if we don't have cream in the house, which is often, I have been known to fake it without dismal results by using 2% milk, which we always have, with some TempTee cream cheese to thicken it - seems sort of déclassé, I know).

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and dump it into the sauté pan, throw the bacon in, toss, and give everyone a minute or two to get to know each other. Done. Serve with grated cheese of your choice - parmigiano, pecorino, dry jack are all good. (This all took longer to describe than it takes to make, and probably wasn't worth the effort - the describing, not the making, that is.)

As for the rest of it? The Momofuku book was again the source of inspiration for the bok choy, which I sautéed quickly in an imitation of stir-frying, and paired with a miso butter from the book (basically just white miso and softened butter mixed together in equal ratio; in the book, it's paired with grilled asparagus with an egg on top). This was my first "fail" out of the Momofuku book, as I found the miso flavor overpowering (and I like miso). Not awful, just not very balanced. I'm thinking it perhaps could have been cut with some dashi to mellow it out some, or paired with something with more assertive flavors of its own. Indeed, I saved the rest of it, thinking it will be good as a compound butter to put over a nice grilled steak.

The green beans met an uninteresting fate, and the avocado was even worse. It turned brown and soft before I'd even thought to touch it, which leads to an uncomfortable confession: I just don't really like Florida avocados. They're watery, their flavor is insipid, they lack the buttery richness of a Hass avocado. I know, I should have at least tried it. It looks like the Week 2 CSA Share will have a different cultivar, a Monroe avocado - and this time, I promise to try it. But perhaps someone can tell me why we can't grow Hass avocados here?

On to Week 2.


  1. You missed out on a relatively intensely flavored and well-textured Florida avocado last week. I was pretty happy with the guac I made out of it.

    This week's Monroe is, to my mind, the real dud of the Florida avocado cultivars. It was Monroe's watery insipidness that led me to try roasting to improve it.

  2. Frod-this brouhaha was brought to my attention-your boy goes ballistic (and it wasn't me or you that set him off). Some schoolchildren doing art...and Jen Karetnick. Whoa, some crazy shit!