CSA, Food, Summer, Uncategorized

The Catfish and Waffles CSA Challenge of 2014

September 8, 2014

Produce from the CSA. Twenty years or so from now, when Sunday morning news programs look back nostalgically on the summer of 2014, they will likely recall that in August of that year it seemed that everyone in the country was hoisting a bucket over his head and dousing himself with ice water — aka, the Ice Bucket Challenge. We here at Catfish and Waffles demurred, being of too advanced an age to partake in such system-shocking exercises. However, we are not challenge-adverse, so we came up with one of our own, which we call the CSA Challenge. On August 15, our CSA haul included the following:

  • tomatoes
  • carrots
  • eggplant
  • green beans
  • leeks
  • jalapeños

The challenge we gave ourselves was to account for the entire contents of the basket — how we prepared them, or how we preserved them. So in the next few days, we will post recipes for tomato soup, dilly beans, eggplant parmesan,  and canned tomatoes with peppers. The carrots are an easy one — Donna just added them to her breakfast smoothies. We’ll talk about that too.

Beer, Food, Summer

Hangin’ with Burrata

August 3, 2014

Burrata with cherry tomatoes and bread. The two fat white dudes with the teal-colored neckties are burrata, and you definitely want to party with them this summer. Burrata is a soft sack of mozzarella cheese filled with cream, commonly served with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of herbs or kosher salt and cracked pepper. Not the most assertive cheese flavor-wise, but this fella plays so well with others that you want to have him around for your summer entertaining. And if you live in northwestern Philadelphia, you can do so and still buy local. These two guys began life at Claudio’s Specialty Foods, and we purchased them at Weaversway Co-op, where they were July’s “cheese of the month.”

Think contrast with burrata — not just in flavor, but in color and texture as well. Serve burrata with a plate of cherry tomatoes and watch the reds and oranges of the tomatoes pop against the white backdrop of the cheese. Spread it on a piece of crusty french bread and you’ll appreciate its smooth creaminess. Now pop a tomato into your mouth and bite down on the cheese coated bread. The juicy sweetness of the tomatoes, the chewiness of the bread, and the creamy richness of the burrata bringing it all together – this is what summers are made for!

But wait! There must be a beverage. Being a good student of the Garrett Oliver school of beer and food pairing, I believe that beer is the best libation to match with cheese. The natural carbonation of the beer provides a great contrast to the heavy creaminess of the cheese, and also serves to cleanse the palate. Since burrata is a mild flavored cheese, the lighter beers that we typically drink during the hotter months make a terrific accompaniment. I had my burrata with a glass of homebrewed Hefeweizen, a traditional German wheat beer. The slight tanginess of the wheat harmonized perfectly with the slight tang in the mozzarella, while the fruitiness of the yeast played against the pleasant blandess of the cheese.

What other local brews would go well with burrata? The next time I have it, I am going to try something a bit hoppy, but not extravagantly so. Victory Brewing’s Prima Pils, or Philadelphia Pale Ale from Yards are good candidates. I’ll let you know.

Food, Recipes, Summer

Zucchini and Potato Fritters

August 1, 2014

Zucchini fritters topped with a poached egg.

Garrison Keillor says July is the only time of year when country people lock our cars in the church parking lot, so people won’t put squash on the front seat. I used to think it was a joke.
– Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Ah, yes, one of the great challenges of summer — what to do with all that zucchini. In this neck of the woods we’re quite fond of our squash, and we’re more than up to that challenge. Zucchini fritters are a new favorite of ours.

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 5-6 fritters

What you’re gonna need

  • 1 pound of zucchini (3 small or 2 medium) shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt+1 teaspoon or to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato (8-9 ounces)
  • 3 scallions sliced thinly (green and light green parts only)
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Note:  I sliced my zucchini on the julienne blade of my mandolin, but you can just as easily shred them on a box grater or the shredding blade of your food processor. Grate your potato right before mixing to avoid it turning brown.

What you’re gonna do

  • Mix the shredded zucchini with 1 teaspoon of salt and let sit for 15 minutes.
  • After that time put the zucchini in some cheese cloth or a clean dish cloth.
  • Squeeze all the moisture out of the zucchini.
  • Season to taste with more salt and black pepper
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well
  • Form into patties
  • Heat up a medium sauté pan (if you have cast iron use that) with ¼ cup of olive oil
  • When the oil is hot add your fritters and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown

Serve your fritters as is, or top them with an egg, poached or sunny side up, or a big dollop of sour cream. We usually have them for dinner, but breakfast works well too.

An aside…

How to poach an egg…

  • Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a simmer
  • Crack your egg into a small ramekin
  • Carefully lower the egg into the simmering water
  • Cook until the white is opaque
Food, Recipes, Summer

Carrot Top Pesto with Roasted Carrots

July 26, 2014

Carrots with the tops still on.

If you can get carrots with the tops still on, you should. They are much sweeter that way. These beauties were part of our CSA pick-up on Friday.

However, don’t store carrots with the tops on; they won’t last as long.  But don’t throw the tops out either.  Instead, try this — mix them up with some basil, walnuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil for a delicious pesto.  In fact, the pesto goes great on roasted carrots!

here’s what I did…

Roasted Carrots

I started with about a pound of carrots. I gave them a scrub under running water rather than peel them (I didn’t want to lose that gorgeous color.)

Then I coated them with olive oil and roasted them in a 350 degree oven for about 35 – 40 minutes.  (Test for doneness with a sharp knife.) This simple method really brings out their sweetness.

Carrot Top Pesto

 You’ll need…

  • 2 cups of carrot tops
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts (put in a dry skillet over low heat for about 5 minutes until you can smell them)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • about ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Here’s what you do…

  1. Put all of the ingredients, except the olive oil, into a food processor or blender
  2. Pulse until well incorporated
  3. Turn the blender on and slowly pour in the olive oil until you get to the consistency you want.

Pour over your roasted carrots and enjoy!

Roasted carrots topped with pesto.

Food, Recipes, Summer

Ratatouille

July 21, 2014

Ratatouille
If you can get over the heat and humidity that usually accompanies this time of year, you have to admit that summer is a great season  for food. When you get eggplants, peppers, summer squashes, onions and tomatoes all in season at the same time, life is good. What do you do with all these gorgeous veggies? Make ratatouille of course. (Swap out the eggplant and squash for a cucumber or two and you have gazpacho, but that’s another post).

This is really easy to make, all of the veggies stand out and the splash of vinegar at the end adds a wonderful brightness. You can serve this a main course or next to a piece of grilled fish or chicken.

This recipe will serve about six people. And keep in mind that what follows is a guideline. Adjust accordingly for your own preferences.

Bowl of ingredients.What you will need

  • 1 medium eggplant sliced lengthwise
  • 2 zucchini, yellow squash or combination sliced lenthwise
  • 2 large bell peppers any color cut in half and remove the seeds
  • 1 large red onion or sweet onion cut in thick slices
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or to taste
  • salt to taste

How to make it

Coat the vegetables, except the tomatoes,  with olive oil and grill until tender. We did this on a charcoal grill, but a stovetop grill would work as well.

When the veggies are tender roughly chop them and mix them together in a bowl with the tomatoes.

Add the vinegar and salt to taste and you are done.