Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fresh this Week from Summer Creek Farm

Fresh this week
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Basil
  • Squash
  • Cucumber
  • Melons
  • Basil (Presto Pesto!)
Presto Pesto!

Originally from central Africa and Southeast Asia, basil has long been cultivated as a culinary and medicinal herb.

Traditionally, basil has been used in treatment of headaches, coughs, diarrhea, constipation, warts, worms and kidney malfunctions.

If you have an abundance of basil, try making pesto, which can be used as a spread (it’s great in grilled cheese sandwiches) or a sauce for pasta.

To make a basic basil pesto, blend the following in a food processor:

2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
1/2 cup grated hard cheese (like Parmesan or pecorino)

Serve pesto at room temperature. It freezes well for later use.
Sources: Purdue University and Food Network

Recipe Feature

Braided Basil Bread
Recipe and photo: Jessica Hibbard

1 1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 cups unbleached white flour + 1 extra cup for kneading
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 package (1/4 ounce) rapid rise dry yeast
1 tsp salt

Mix milk, olive oil, and honey in a small saucepan over low-medium heat on the stovetop. This takes a little while, so let it heat up while you prepare the basil: Remove the stems, wash the leaves, and pat dry with a towel. Chop coarsely.

In a mixing bowl, combine salt, yeast, basil, whole wheat flour, and 2 cups of the unbleached white flour.

Let the liquid mixture get fairly hot, but try to avoid curdling the milk. Remove from heat and wait until it's no longer hot, just warm. (To test the temperature, I try to see if I can put my finger in it without burning myself. I'm sure you'll come up with a more scientific method, but I'm pretty lazy about all this baking stuff.)

Add the liquids to the mixing bowl and beat until everything is combined. (The original recipe says to beat 100 times with a spoon, but I use a KitchenAid mixer. Please refer to above comment re: laziness.) Knead in the final cup of unbleached white flour. I use the kneading hook on the KitchenAid, and make sure I let it run for at least a few minutes.

Spray a baking sheet with olive oil. Oil the top of the dough, place on the baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let it rise until doubled in size. (With rapid rise yeast, this usually takes only about 20 minutes.)

Punch down the dough, and divide in half. Make 3 ropes from each half and braid together into 2 loaves. Spray a second baking sheet with olive oil. Cover both loaves with plastic wrap and a towel and let them rise until doubled in size. (This takes about an hour.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap & towel and bake each loaf for 15-20 minutes. The bread is done when it turns golden brown on top and sounds hollow when knocked.

If you keep this bread in a sealed container or ziploc bag, it will stay fresh-tasting for a few days. The honey acts as a natural preservative, so it doesn't become stale as quickly as homebaked bread made with sugar.

From Farmer Rick

Wheat harvest is done, and we are busy planting fall crops, beans, peas, broccoli, beets, etc.

Always something to plant, something to harvest and something to weed this time of year!

Editor’s note (April Finnen)

Yes, my backyard is a testament to that… seems I can only successfully grow those hardiest of plants: weeds!

Link of the week

Waste Not Cooking (from Edible Vancouver)
Includes tips on using food scraps and leftovers.

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