Friday, March 15, 2013

Another bag of vegetables, plus the return of winter

I'm pretty sure spring will never come to Copenhagen. We had a few warm days last week (warm by Danish standards, which means we hit 10C/50F), but it turns out the weather gods were just teasing us. We dropped back to below freezing over the weekend, and Wednesday morning I woke up to a snow storm. Our central yard is back to its cold, white self. Really, where is spring?!?

Cold weather equals more root vegetables in my weekly bag of organic, local, seasonal vegetables. This bag included 3 leeks, celeriac (or celery root), two different kinds of beets, parsnips, potatoes, and mushrooms. I'm not the biggest fan of mushrooms (my Mom is deathly allergic to both mushrooms and eggplant, so I never ate them growing up. I'm trying to learn to like them both, but I'm still not a big fan), so I'm still trying to get through the ones I received. I did make a pizza last night that included sautéed mushroom... see, I'm trying. All of the other vegetables, though, have been eaten!
With the return of winter weather comes warm, hearty soups. I made a potato and leek soup using the leeks and some of the potatoes from my bag.

I also made a celeriac, broccoli stem, and apple soup. Have you been eating the broccoli florets and tossing the stems? Well, don't! The stems are delicious. I use them in stir-frys and soups all the time. Waste not, want not.

I also made a spicy parsnip and coconut milk soup. I won't show the picture, because honestly it looks like a bowl of brownish gloop, but I promise it was tasty! I found the recipe here.

Not everything has to be a soup, though. For our dinner party last weekend, I served this beet, kale, and goat cheese side dish to accompany the main course of duck. Bobby and I both love beets, especially when served with goat cheese, so this was a nice treat. You can find the idea behind the recipe here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

100 kroner of vegetables and a whole lot of meals

Spring might be coming soon to Denmark. This past week has been just lovely; a few small flowers are blossoming on the ground and greet roots are peaking over the dirt, the weather has been above freezing for several days (though that won't last... we're back below freezing on Sunday and might even get more snow next week), and the sun is shining. With the warmer temperatures, Bobby and I are more inclined to do some housework; it's tough to get motivated to paint or install things when it's so cold! Bobby did several things around the apartment last weekend: he installed a new hose in our shower, fixed some tube stuff for our washing machine (very technical terms, I know), and installed a new faucet in our kitchen sink. I love the new faucet! It sits much higher than the old one and it's easier to change the pressure and temperature.
While Bobby has been earning his handyman credentials, I've been doing what I normally do: cooking! I've join an organization (Københavns Fødevarefællesskab) that allows me to buy organic, seasonal vegetables from local Danish farmers. Each week I get a bag of these great Danish vegetables, and the entire bag only costs 100 kroner ($17.50). I have volunteered twice with the organization: the first time I worked in the kitchen, making some food using that week's selection of vegetables; the second time I helped to fill 120 bags with that week's selection. Aside from getting great organic vegetables for cheap, I also get to meet some neat people. There are the expected old hippies in the group, but there are also a lot of people around my age or younger.
Last week I got this big pile of vegetables in my bag: a stalk of brussels sprouts, 1 kg/2.2 lb of potatoes, 1/2 kg/1.1 lb red onions, 1/2 kg/1.1 lb salsify, 1 head of cabbage, 1 kg/2.2 lb sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes), and some horseradish roots.
I started easy: gratin. I layered potatoes and sunchokes, added grated garlic, poured in a bit of cream, added a few dots of creme fraiche, and sprinkled some grated Comté cheese on top, then popped it in the oven. It's hard to go wrong with a gratin, and this one didn't disappoint.
Salsify was a new root for me. It's supposed to taste a bit like oysters (weird, yes?), but we didn't taste oyster at all. In fact, it was a bit tasteless, with a texture like parsnips. I roasted the salsify, along with some broccoli, and we ate it with a bagna cauda sauce (garlic, anchovies, butter, white wine, and lemon = heaven).
I'll be the first to admit that I am not a big fan of brussels sprouts, but I'm trying to be an adult, so I carry on. I roasted the brussels sprouts, along with the rest of the sunchokes, and after 20 minutes in a hot oven, I sprinkled on some parmesan. They were served with steak (see how small that portion of steak is?), a horseradish cream sauce, and mashed potatoes with sautéed cabbage stirred in. I liked the roasted sunchokes, but brussels sprouts are still not my favorite. I'm glad I had the spicy horseradish cream sauce to go with them.
I used the last of the week's vegetables by making a red onion jam. This was really easy to make and tastes great! I plan on serving it at a dinner party we're having on Saturday; served as one of the appetizers, it will accompany some homemade baguettes and ricotta.