After years of bemoaning the fact that I was not on the CSA bandwagon I finally got my act together and signed up in time before they sold out for the season. And it’s a pretty awesome one too as they actually deliver it to your door, what with Stamford not being anywhere close to a farm. They (Farm Share Ltd) come by once a week and you don’t need to be home to receive the box (but I usually wait around for it before going to work so my box won’t stay out in the sun for that long). The delivery guy also has ninja-like moves. I really had to get to work early one day so I kept peering out the door for my box. One second it wasn’t there, one second it was. I didn’t even hear a truck pull up. I’m going on and on about this delivery thing but it was really a big deal for me because I couldn’t find anything that would remotely work with my work schedule, which is amazingly flexible for half the year, and completely inflexible for the other half. Most of the CSA’s I found required pick-ups (that’s normal) but the pick ups were at farms were nowhere near my work or house. The one I found with a pick-up in Stamford required community service. I actually thought that was pretty awesome but the times were strict – Wednesdays between the hours of 12 and 6. That was not going to work for me. Or more so, that was not going to work for my bosses (both of whom are over-the-moon nice and understanding… but again there’s that inflexible times of the year).
I have to say, I haven’t cooked so much in my life, or eaten so much food that is centered around vegetables. But I’m loving it (although I originally was going to sign up for their winter shares and now I may need a break from all that cooking – I do miss take out). For someone that is such a food snob, there were several vegetables that I had never had before, and some I definitely am more closely acquainted with now, oh hello swiss chard and kale. But I was ready with a mountain of cookbooks (because I’m obsessed with collecting them) coupled with the fact that Farm Share Ltd send an email with several recipes every week. There was some misses but there were some amazing hits.
Today I’ll give you my absolute favorite – as in, I get really upset when they don’t put fennel in my box because then I have to go an entire week without it:
Joyce’s Fennel Custard
From New York City Farmer & Feast
2 shallots, sliced
1 lime, peeled, sectioned, deveined, and minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 head fennel, trimmed, cored, and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon sea salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
half cup whipping cream
another half teaspoon sea salt
half teaspoon ground white pepper
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2) In a small saucepan, saute shallots and lime pieces in butter until the shallots start to caramelize and turn brown and the lime has released all of its juices. Set aside.
3) Place fennel in a large pot of boiling water salted with the sea salt and boil until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and return the fennel to the hot pot and place over low heat for about 1 to 2 minutes to evaporate any remaining water. Cook to room temperature.
4) Place fennel in a blender with eggs, fennel seeds, lime zest, sauteed shallot mixture, and cream. Puree until smooth. Season with sea salt and pepper.
5) Divide mixture between 4 or 8 ramekins, depending on how many you’re serving. Place ramekins in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the ramekins’ sides. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the custards are set and slightly puffy. Cool at room temp for 5 mins before serving in the ramekins or turning out the custard onto serving dishes.
Busy season: summer edition starts on Wednesday, which means Monday and Tuesday need to be epic.
Epic win or epic fail… Not sure yet…