Archive: Fall Produce

Delicata Inamorata

In the winter squash universe, everyone, it seems, has an exotic- sounding name or one of those sweet-nothing terms of endearment. Kabocha. Hubbard and Kuri. Buttercup and Sweet Dumpling. (Don’t you feel amorous just by the mere mention of their names?) Delicata rings with lacinato kale and Israeli couscous. (Kim O'Donnel) I must confess, however, the one variety that stands above the rest and has me howling at the moon like a star-crossed lover is Delicata. With her thin, edible skin, she makes slicing a breeze and dinner prep like a walk in the park. I slice her into squash doughnut holes, and in less than an hour, she’s tender, naturally sweet and ready for feasting. She requires little seasoning (some salt and a little oil to keep from sticking will do), as her true essence --a cross of sweet potato and corn – emerges after some time in...

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 3, 2008; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (12)

Meatless Monday: Warming Up to Winter Squash

Ever try a kabocha (say Kah-boh-cha) squash? It’s the Jade green pumpkin-looking variety, sometimes with little streaks of yellow-green. As with most winter squash, the kabocha is tough-skinned, requiring a sharp blade (get out those sharpening steels) to get through its armor. (It’s not as tough as that dastardly acorn squash, though.) Plan on 20 minutes of peeling and chopping time, and yes, it’s okay to do this the night before and store the squash in an airtight container. Once inside, however, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning yellow-orange flesh that transforms into sweet tender morsels, a cross between squash and sweet potato. Here’s a fun recipe that I made on the fly one Saturday morning about five years ago at the Arlington Courthouse farmers’ market. It was pouring rain like buckets, but the market, as always, stayed open, and the diehard shoppers showed up with their umbrellas. This...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 29, 2008; 06:23 AM ET | Comments (4)

Nine Reasons to Say Yes to Fall

It was late in the day on the left coast when I realized Miz Summer had officially handed the baton to Autumn, who made her appearance at 10:44 a.m. ET yesterday. (Kim O'Donnel) As many of you already know, I’m a woman of the sun who’d rather cool off under a tree than thaw my toes by the fire. I must admit, however, that as I get older, I warm up to autumn a little bit more with each passing equinox. After all, it is an exciting time of year to cook; like falling leaves, fall produce is a showcase of reds, yellows, oranges and funky shades of green, like you might find in an oil painting. For many of us, fall is a return to the indoor kitchen with the windows creaked shut and the oven going full blast, filling the house with olfactory fairy dust. It is a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 23, 2008; 07:50 AM ET | Comments (11)

An Ode to the Apple

Autumn is tricky business. Lovely eye candy though it may be, with its splashes of crimson and gold, an awe-inspiring collage of color that inspires long drives and baking adventures, it's also a precursor to early sunsets and a reminder of the inevitable descent into the abyss that is winter. Apples doing the still-life thing. (Kim O'Donnel) I know, you'll argue that autumn is something of a culinary paradise, a smorgasbord of seasonal ingredients to play with and embrace. As much as I enjoy roasting pumpkin, braising sweet potatoes and exploring the nuances of parsnips, I am reminded of snow and ice and my annual countdown to spring. But as I mentioned, this autumn thing is a tricky tightrope, and the only thing that keeps me from tipping over is the apple. Ah, the pomme. She is my diamond in the seasonal rough, my spark of light, a reminder of...

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 13, 2007; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Great Pumpkin Menu

Do you say "pumpkin" or "squash"? Pumpkin has a much better ring to it, I think; as Elizabeth Schneider writes in "Vegetables: From Amaranth to Zucchini," it's "a more pleasing word to me than the long-winded term 'large hard-skinned squash.'" So when did we North Americans botch up the works and start calling the Halloween jack o'lantern a pumpkin and recognize the rest of the cucurbita maxima, moschata and pepo families as "squash?" Why can't we keep things simple like lovers of orange-fleshed vined plants in other parts of the world -- Australia, the Caribbean and southern Africa -- and call a pumpkin a pumpkin? (Because it would be too easy, like metrics.) Pumpkin still life: Golden Kabocha (left); Butternut (rear) and Buttercup (right) (Kim O'Donnel). Whatever you call the tough-skinned beauties, they are autumnal eye candy, showing off their glistening oranges, golds, gray-blues and Mallard greens, and their many...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 23, 2007; 07:27 AM ET | Comments (7)

A Sweet Potato Two-Fer

I had a moment yesterday that only can happen at the neighborhood farmers' market, an affirming moment when I exclaim, "This is why I shop locally!" As I glanced over the selection of seasonal fruits and veg at the stand of Flowers of the Forest Farm in Great Mills, Md., I spotted a crate of greens that I had never seen before. The I saw the sign which read: "Sweet Potato Greens, $2/pound." Sweet potatoes and their sweet, tender greens. (Kim O'Donnel) I asked the farmer how I might prepare them - they are so tender, and she agreed, mentioning they might go well in a raw salad with other greens. Then James, the vendor who sells baked goods for Grace's Pastries, walked over and chimed in. He says back home in his native Liberia sweet potato greens are a beloved dish. "We fry them," he says, looking excited to...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 15, 2007; 12:04 PM ET | Comments (5)

Signs of Thanksgiving; Nap Time

Just a quick note to check in and to let you know that I've emerged from my cookbook-writing cave and have survived the ordeal. Mister MA stepped right up to the plate and kept this desk jockey well nourished and nurtured. He gets a gold star. This is all to say that I'm taking the day off from writing in this space in order to recharge and dish up something delicious in tomorrow's space. Even in seclusion, I noticed that the word "Thanksgiving" has begun to surface in the usual places. Local farms are now accepting orders for Thanksgiving turkeys. Yesterday, I noticed a sign-up sheet at the Smithfresh Meats stand at Columbia Pike farmers' market. Local apple cider is here too, a welcome addition to my fridge. Keep your eyes peeled for the much-anticipated arrival of pear cider, a nectar of the goddesses that is usually available for a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 8, 2007; 11:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

Jamaican Patty Party

A few days ago, my friend B. who lives out in the country asked if I had a recipe for "interior meat pie." At first, I thought she meant something along the lines of steak and kidney pie, and I racked my brain over which cuts of meat would be most appropriate. Did she mean organ meats or something along the lines of haggis, perhaps? When she realized that I was knitting my brow over the word interior for far too long, B. clarified. "No, something hand held, like a snack, using ground beef." Jamaican patties just out of the oven. (Kim O'Donnel) Ah! A patty is what she's talking about. Or maybe not. There's a different word for nearly every continent to describe the notion of stuffing meat inside pastry (now I get the "interior" reference) -- empanada, empandinha, saltena, fetayer, samosa, simbusak, calzone, pasty, and of course, the...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 16, 2007; 07:54 AM ET | Comments (10)

Giving Thanks to Tatsoi

My pal Ms. B. and her two kinder just stopped by for an early morning coffee and oatmeal cookie snack. In between feeding the baby and wrestling with Zoe, the little minx, over the magic markers, B. asked me what I had in mind for Thanksgiving. Tatsoi, a produce beauty queen and my muse for Thanksgiving. (Kim O'Donnel) Aside from my locally-raised turkey (due for pickup from Smith Meadows this Sunday at Columbia Pike Market) and a batch of apple sauce (or will it be cranberries?), I told her I was unsure about the rest of the feast. "I need to get inspired," I said. "Perhaps when I go to market this weekend." And then I remembered the stunning rosettes of tatsoi I bought yesterday at Clarendon farm market, from Sunnyside Farms, in Washington, Va....

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 16, 2006; 12:07 PM ET | Comments (5)

A Bowlful of Broccoli

And now, for Part Two of the Brassica vegetable love fest! (Yesterday, I shared my newfound love for cauliflower.) Today, broccoli is on the menu, served in a soup bowl. Broccoli soup, without the cheese. (Kim O'Donnel) In addition to broccoli and cauliflower, the Brassica family includes cruciferous siblings such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale. If you want to keep the doc away, get cozy with these antioxidant champions. I'm predicting that just a few years down the road scientists will discover that the Brassica family is the golden key to age prevention. Just a hunch......

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 2, 2006; 10:19 AM ET | Comments (20)

Tales of a Cauliflower Convert

I blame it all on the crudites platter. For years, I eschewed cauliflower. I found it odd smelling, awkward in my mouth and too big to store in my fridge. I tried to like it, really I did, particularly after learning of its all-powerful, cancer-resistant antioxidants. Cauliflower: A produce beauty queen. (Kim O'Donnel) But its regular appearance on party platters, served as a companion for a bowlful of dip, threw me over the edge. Who decided that raw bulbous hunks of funky-smelling cauliflower tasted good? Yuck. Still, even when I ate it cooked, it never wowed me. Boiled white florets topped with a nondescript cheese sauce just didn't move this palate. Once I realized that the cooking method, not the vegetable itself, was responsible for my cauli-aversion, I changed my tune. Through roasting, I have learned to love cauliflower, particularly now, when it's in season and locally available. (I got...

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 1, 2006; 12:21 PM ET | Comments (22)

Spirit of Fall Is in Gingerbread

Yesterday morning, my pal Nancy called me from Chicago with some startling news: It was snowing and 21 degrees, making it the earliest measurable snowfall on record for Chicago. Gingerbread topped with homemade, moron-proof applesauce. (Kim O'Donnel) The sultry Indian summer weather smiling down on Washington was paradise in comparison, and then, as if I spoke too soon while basking in the sun like a kitty, the skies went gray, the wind got fierce and the temperature dropped about 25 degrees in a matter of hours. Although sunny, this Friday the 13th is downright crisp, a day of classic autumnal proportions. In fact, I have a bit of déjà vu; it was day like today that I invited my friends for a hayride to celebrate my 13th birthday and it was a day like today that my father died 24 years ago. Beautiful, melancholic, set to the sound of crunching...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 13, 2006; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (9)

Weeknight Soup Improv

The workday had been long, and still at 6:30 last night, dinner remained a remote concept. As I worked my way through the produce bin of the fridge, I was greeted by a few sweet potatoes purchased over the weekend at the farmer's market. Sweet potatoes put to good use at the last minute. (Kim O'Donnel) What could I pull together with these, I wondered, in about an hour? I needed something that would feel like a meal, rather than just a part of a whole, so roasted sweets were out of the question. A soup, however, might do the trick....

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 12, 2006; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (5)

Weekend Spinach and Wine

Local spinach is here! I was thrilled to feast my eyes on the leafy greens Saturday morning at Arlington Courthouse farm market. I picked up a bag at the stand operated by Gardener's Gourmet of Westminster, Md., and quickly drove home to whip up a spinach-cheddar omelette, served on a slice of thick country white bread from Baltimore, Md.-based Atwater's Bakery. After the recent E.coli spinach scare that swept the nation's supermarkets, it was reassuring to buy spinach as Mother Nature ordered: locally AND seasonally. Join me in a bowl of Maryland spinach salad! Help. I've fallen in love with a wine and I'm hopelessly smitten. The trouble started when I was in Portland, Ore., this summer while checking out Vino Paradiso wine bar one night before dinner. On the wine list by the glass was Aglianico (pronounced "AHL-YAHN-EE-KOH"), a red wine from southern Italy that I had yet to...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 9, 2006; 12:47 PM ET | Comments (2)

Eat Your Chard!

The spinach mystery is still with us, and this just in: Giant Food stores are putting the leafy green back on the shelves, as is Wegman's, starting today. The stores are promising signs stating where the spinach comes from - NOT from California farms, where the focus of the E. coli investigation continues. Sounds almost as confusing as what kinds of liquids you can take on an airplane -- Colorado spinach, anyone? New Jersey? Pre-washed bags or loose bunches? It's enough to make me fall in love with other green leafy vegetables. Chard, the beautiful alternative to spinach. (Kim O'Donnel) Steam it. Blanch it. Saute-garlic-onion it. Give some love to the chard, ladies and gents. Not only is it a respectable stand-in for spinach, chard can stand on its own culinary laurels, thank you very much. In a beauty pageant, chard, with its gorgeous red veins and multi-colored stems, would...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 27, 2006; 12:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

Apple Pageant

It is the apple to which I owe my sanity. This season's newly arrived emotional lifesavers. (Kim O'Donnel) As many of you already know, I am notoriously slow to accept the arrival of autumn. One of the few things that gets me through the transition from lush greenery to crinkled leaf piles is the crunch of an apple. I crunch, crunch, crunch, allowing myself to get lost in the apple's diverse array of flavors, textures, shades, shapes and sizes. She is an emotional salve, shielding me from the reality of shorter days, frostier eves and the inevitable donning of woolies. Below, an assorted grab bag of apples I picked up over the weekend at my neighborhood farmers' market, where there were at least 12 varieties to choose from. Better still, there are more varieties on tap, as the season continues into November. Cortland Got its start in 1898 at the...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 26, 2006; 09:26 AM ET | Comments (12)

 

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