Hello darlings! How was your New Year's Eve? La Diva's was FABULOUS! I bet you think I was out in South Beach, partying up a storm at some delightful club don't you? Nuh-uh. I was working at a private dinner party for ten in the penthouse of the Murano Grande on South Beach. Yeah-uh. The penthouse had exquisite, sweeping views west towards the beautiful skyline of downtown Miami and the Port of Miami. Just below, gorgeous LED-lit yachts docked at the Miami Beach Marina illuminated the bay's water with vibrant blue, green and fuchsia. To the north there were views of the city of Miami Beach; the apartment provided excellent vistas for all firework and blue moon viewing!
We are pretty lucky down here on the beach as we get fireworks from all directions and have multiple shows going at once. La Diva was delighted to take a break at midnight and watch the throngs and fireworks from the comfort of the 31st floor! Poor DJ Nevah L8 wasn't quite so lucky as he was spinning at a restaurant in the ultra-crazy-busy Lincoln Road street mall. He loved it though and had masses of revelers dancing in front of the restaurant!
Well, it's been TWO WHOLE WEEKS since we got our last share as there was no share for Christmas weekend and I just picked up another share yesterday. But first, let's recap the failures and successes of the last mystery box.
Yellow squash and zucchini turned into Italian Squash Stew: Thumbs UP!
Well, remember how I told you about veggie soup I made at the end of the week to use up all the green beans and the rest of the produce? I realized that those same vegetables make up half of the ingredients for my Italian squash stew. So, I browned ground turkey, garlic, added a shake of Italian spices and a bit of chicken broth, kidney beans and the squash. After the squash was almost cooked I added the left over soup (green beans, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes) and voilà, vegetable bean soup was transformed into zee squash stew! I tossed in the rest of some spinach at the last minute, served it over an al dente rigatoni, grated some parmesan cheese and it became a completely different meal. Since it was a bit chilly out that night, the squash stew was welcoming and warming for the body and soul. (Ok, so it was in the 60's. THAT IS chilly for Miami!)
Corn meal two ways: white grits with collard and turnip greens and turnips with polenta-crusted tilapia fish.
Collard greens, turnips and turnip greens turned into: Collard greens and grits. Thumbs UP!
I have to say, La Diva was very concerned about this dish, especially when considering the MUSH factor as we certainly had our fair share of mushy dishes the week before last! While I love it, big bear man DJ Nevah L8 is not a huge fan of polenta, so La Diva was not too sure how he'd take to eating grits. When I make something with that consistency, I try to pair it with food that is satiating and crunchy to off-set the soft texture in order to keep the big fella happy!
This combo worked like a charm and the compliments flew. At Troll's suggestion, I made the collard greens with the addition of the turnip greens and the turnip root and coincidentally, just read in my new Gourmet cookbook only the night before about the turnip/collard green combo! Paired it with some spicy polenta-crusted fish (Simply marinate fish in Louisiana hot sauce and then bread in seasoned corn meal or polenta) and DJ Nevah L8 was "on it like white on rice!"
I love recipes that morph into more than one dish like taking the vegetable soup and turning it into a hearty stew! As I thought about what to do with my HUGE green pepper, I thought about how good they are in chili. I make a simple white chicken chili that has a few jalapenos in it and thought about using the green pepper as well. I would usually chop up onions, celery and jalapenos and saute them after browning the chicken. But this time, I browned chopped chicken thighs and then into my new food processor added all the veggies, including an entire green pepper, and pureed it and then added it to the browned chicken thighs. I cooked this for a bit, added my beans, oregano and broth and this turned my WHITE CHICKEN CHILI into a GREEN CHICKEN CHILI and darlings, let me tell you, it was DIVINE. (yes, chili can be divine!)
Second recipe remix: after eating leftovers, I turn this chili into a tasty dip. Just heat up in a pot and puree, chicken and all, with an immersion blender, put into a bowl and top with green salsa and cheese and serve with tortilla chips! YUM.
Avocado and grapefruit: Avocado and grapefruit salad with feta and grilled shrimp dressed with pomegranate seeds and dressing: Thumbs UP!
We ate this for dinner the day after Christmas and boy, did those crunchy, wet greens and juicy grapefruit taste good after all the heavy, rich and salty food I'd had for the week of Christmas! I simply marinated the shrimp in Old Bay, fresh orange juice, garlic and olive oil and grilled 'em up. A very tasty and refreshing combo that works well with the creamy avocado and feta, tart pomegranate seeds and grapefruit and the succulent garlic shrimp.
Two days after Christmas, I was still craving fresh, crunchy vegetables and lighter fare, so I used the rest of the squash in a chicken and peanut stir fry.
As we had been eating out soooo much the last two weeks, I never did get to use the huge tomato and parsley! Perhaps a bruschetta or some tomato sauce? I'll let you know, both are still good (for now.) Overall, I was very happy with how all the dishes came out this week, but especially the greens and grits as I've NEVER made them before. And now that La Diva can call herself a "Suthunah," I should think about adding this dish to my regular recipe repertoire.
CSA Mystery half-share box for 1-2-10:
- Green cabbage
- Roma tomatoes
- Black sapote
- Oyster mushrooms
- Beets (assorted varieties)
- Leaf lettuce (not pictured, but I think you know what it looks like!)
Well, seeing as La Diva REALLY EMBRACED the holiday season this year, I found myself saying "yes, please!" more often than "no, thank you!" I enjoyed lashings of Christmas Kringle pecan danish from Wisconsin, Italian panettone French toast, Christmas cookies by the dozen, chocolates truffles, smoked bbq pulled pork, three cheese scalloped potatoes, cocktail party food and wine, cocktails, cocktails, cocktails and a divine bottle of smoky Johnny Walker Blue Scotch. (Thanks Jamie!) Ah, yes, La Diva did not know the word "moderation" this holiday season and I totally enjoyed it without ONE OUNCE OF GUILT!
But now, I find I have to lighten up and dry out, La Diva has got to look super-sharp for a wedding in February! So, to further add to the challenge of "what to do" with my mystery box every week, I also want to "keep it light!" Any ideas would be MOST WELCOME! (especially for those darn beets and the fresh dill!)
Off the top of my head:
- Lightly sauteed oyster mushrooms on some toasted sour dough or ciabatta bread for breakfast. These mushies look too good to mix with anything else and I only have a handful.
- Beets: Since I discovered last season how darn sweet and tasty these earthy root veggies (that I used to just LOATHE!) can be just by roasting them, I'm going to do exactly that and toss them into a salad with feta and the leaf lettuce for dinner one night. And then what about the rest? I'll have to take a wander around the Web to get some inspiration.
- Dill: So many things to do with this wonderfully aromatic herb but it wilts and fades so quickly! Perhaps I can use it freshly chopped and turned into sour cream or yogurt dressing and drizzled over the roasted beets? Or with glazed carrots? Or maybe in a lovely home made mayonnaise spooned over cool, poached salmon?
- Green cabbage: I'm thinking a really tasty, healthy Asian-inspired omelet stuffed with stir-fried cabbage, bean sprouts and snow peas? And, I might even do an Asian slaw with it too.
- Roma tomatoes are a bit under-ripe as Farmer Margie was worried about a frost coming. (It's supposed to get down to the 40's, pretty cold for the tropics!) I'll let them ripen and I think I'm going to make a savory sauce out of them to be used for.....fish? Pizza? Spaghetti? Or how about with some yummy polpettine? I'm glad to get some produce that doesn't have to be eaten right away!
- The black sapote will need to sit and ripen a while before I decide what to make with it but last year I made some really tasty oat bars courtesy of Tinkering with Dinner. I added a bit of powdered chocolate to enhance its chocolate pudding qualities. Seeing as this is one of those tropical fruits that I'd never even tried until last season, I look forward to experimenting more with this exotic delight. When ripe, it has a texture like chocolate pudding, but like carob, don't be fooled! It certainly isn't chocolate or taste like chocolate but is mellow, creamy and mild, hence the choc pudding comparison.
Of course, I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions, don't hold back, especially you fellow Miamians doing the CSA. (my but you're a shy bunch!) Ciao, darlings!
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