Author Archives for familyfarmbox

About familyfarmbox

I'm a California chef who has never met a veggie she didn't like.

Asian Pesto for Stir Fries

I used a huge, fragrant bunch of cilantro this week for a pesto with an Asian flare, then tossed it into a stir fry. What I love about stir fries is that you can utilize whatever you have in your box, only a few extra items like onion or garlic need to be taken from the pantry. If you have this Asian pesto on hand, you can make a stir fry with just about any veggie. You could also mix it with ground meat and stuff it into a wonton skin to make a potsticker.

Asian Pesto

Makes 2 cups

6 garlic cloves

2-inch section of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

1 green onion, green and white section, chopped

1 cup roasted almonds

1 teaspoon chile flakes

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 cups of green tender herbs, such as cilantro, basil, mint, parsley or a combination of a few

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, green onion, almonds, chile flakes and lemon zest and juice. Pulse until it is chopped into fine pieces, then add the green herbs and oil. Process until a thick purée is formed. Season with salt and pepper. Store in a tightly covered jar and refrigerate.

To Make the Stir Fry

Toss one pound of cleaned shrimp, (or you could use cubed firm tofu or chicken) with a quarter cup of Asian pesto. Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces. Divide vegetables into bowls based on levels of firmness: onions, garlic, carrots or any other hard vegetable into one bowl; celery, broccoli, peppers or any other medium-firm vegetables into a second bowl. Tender vegetables like spinach, bok choy leaves, bean sprouts into a third bowl.

Heat a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Add shrimp and cook very quickly, for about one minute on each side. Remove shrimp from the pan. Add hard vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add medium-firm vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add soft vegetables, a tablespoon of Asian pesto, and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for about a minute, until the vegetables wilt, add shrimp back in, and serve.

Farm Box Day

Today we had some familiar characters in the box, I sorted through them mentally and put them into categories: Strawberries, pink lady apples and cuties (lunch box), broccoli, celery, carrots, spinach, and cilantro (basic stir fry stuff), romaine lettuce and red beets (divine salad), and Romenesco broccoli and kale (wild cards.) This week I’ll be making a Shrimp Stir Fry with Asian Pesto, a Beef and Veggie Pot Pie with some yummy cheddar chive biscuits on top. I’ll serve the pot pie with a Romaine, Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad tossed with my famous Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Roasting Romenesco broccoli and carrots for a dip.

I have a quart of Homemade Roasted Chicken Stock for soup this week, so I’ll make my Portuguese Green Soup using the gorgeous kale. For the Romensco broccoli, I’ll be repeating a dip I made with it last time it was in the box, in which I roasted it in the oven with carrots and garlic, then processed it with olive oil and feta cheese.  I can spread that on Akmak crackers or softly toasted baguette slices.

Super Simple Roasted Chicken Photos

Wash the chicken inside and out, and for crisp skin, blot the outside so it is completely dry with paper towels.

All of the ingredients you'll need, be sure to season the chicken generously inside and out. Stuff the cavity of the bird to add flavor and retain shape. I usually keep the legs untrussed, though you could tie them with some butcher's twine if you like.

Here she is, golden brown, crisp and delicious.

Super Simple Roasted Chicken

I make a roast chicken every week, and it’s one of those dishes that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving. Just an example, I am roasting it to serve with some roasted potatoes and carrots from our farm box, where the legs and thighs will be snatched up. Then I’ll do supper number two with the reheated, sliced chicken breasts, to serve with a yummy cauliflower side dish that has capers and red chile. I’ll throw a slab of the citrus herb butter I’ve made on the warm chicken breast slices for hubby and me to make them moist and extra fancy. Bella will have hers plain. Then I’ll reserve the carcass, pick off any additional meat for Bella’s favorite chicken noodle soup, and make the roasted bones into stock, tbpl (to be posted later.)

This chicken is so easy, Bella can make it!

Super Simple Roasted Chicken

Serves a family of three about 3 times, you do the math for your family.

1 5 to 7 pound natural or organic whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry

2 teaspoons garlic powder, about a tablespoon of kosher salt and a teaspoon of pepper, and an ample amount of olive oil to coat the skin of the chicken, you could also rub the skin of the chicken with minced fresh herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme

1 lemon, one-half of an onion, both cut into wedges, and a few sprigs of rosemary or thyme

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Rub chicken all over with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, including the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, onion and herb sprigs. Place chicken in a roasting pan and leave out of refrigeration for 30 minutes, allowing the chicken to become closer to room temperature. Place chicken in the oven, and roast for one hour, until skin is browned and crisp, and the juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife at the thigh. Alternately, you could use a probe thermometer and bring to 165 degrees. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Citrus Herb Butter

My fruit bowls are crawling with clementines and navels, and to make the most of them, I’m going to make a nifty thing called compound butter. So simple to put together, it is just a combination of softened butter and flavorings, which is rolled in parchment or plastic wrap, chilled, then sliced into portions to serve on top of meat, chicken or fish, or even sautéed with vegetables. Last summer I made a roasted garlic compound butter from fresh garlic shoots, and tossed it in with spinach, it was a perfect way to get a little bit of that divinely sweet garlic in every bite. Compound butter also freezes excellently, so you can preserve your favorite flavors of the season for a later time. 

The butter only uses the zest of the citrus, which is perfect since I still have Tangerine Granita on the weekend menu. It couldn’t be easier to put this together, and there is endless variety to what combinations you can throw into the butter or put it on. I can’t wait until green beans are in season, this will be excellent on them.

Citrus Herb Butter

Use a microplane to zest the skin from the citrus.

1 stick butter, extremely soft

zest from 6 clementines, oranges or Meyer lemon, or a combination of all

1/2 cup chopped herbs, such as parsley, mint, cilantro, thyme, basil, dill, or a combination of any

1 garlic clove, grated

salt and pepper

In a small bowl, mix butter with zest, herbs, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, then roll into a log. Chill and slice into medallions to put on top of warm meat, chicken or fish, or heat in a pan to toss with cooked vegetables. Keep refrigerated for a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Roll the butter into a log and store in plastic wrap or parchment. Chill and slice.

Bella’s Favorite Applesauce

Those fuji apples from two weeks ago haven’t made it to the lunch box, so I’m making a special treat for my daughter, steaming them with organic simple syrup and a cinnamon stick, then pulsing them in the food processor for a super-yummy applesauce. This applesauce can be modified in so many ways! Throw in very soft strawberries, persimmons or pears. Use nutmeg, cloves or allspice for a unique flavor profile. You could also sweeten this with fruit juice instead of the sugar/water combination.

Bella’s Favorite Applesauce

Makes 2 cups of applesauce

2 cups of apples, skin on, cut from core into chunks (or berries, persimmons, pears, stonefruit)

2 tablespoons organic sugar, minimally processed

4 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon organic butter

1 cinnamon stick

Put the apples, sugar, water, butter and cinnamon stick in a covered sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes, until the fruit is soft to the touch of a fork. Remove fruit and juices from the pan into the bowl of a food processor. Puree applesauce until it is very smooth and no skins are visible. Eat right away or store in the fridge for 3 days.

Cut apples away from the core, then into chunks.Process apples until they are smooth and no skins are visible.

The warm applesauce is wonderful, but it can be stored in your fridge for 3 days.


Kale, Potato and Linguica Soup

My husband makes this soup for me when I’m getting sick, just like his vovo, grandmother, used to make for him as a boy in Brazil, where it is called calde verde. It is so warm and filled with love, I can’t wait to make it for my family for our Saturday lunch. I published this version of the soup in Bon Appetit magazine in 2004. Here it is from

Portuguese Green Soup (Kale, Potato and Linguica Soup)
Bon Appétit | November 2004

by Diane Brown Savahge

“One piece of advice I always share with my students is to keep the ingredients list short — you don’t need to empty out your refrigerator to make a great meal. You just need a few quality ingredients with bold flavors.”

Yield: Makes 4 main-course servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, center stems cut away, leaves thinly sliced
1 pound fully cooked linguica sausage, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
5 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 3/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is soft and golden , about 5 minutes. Add kale and sauté until wilted, about 4 minutes. Add sausage and sauté 5 minutes. Add broth and potatoes. Simmer soup uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer 2 cups soup (without sausage) to processor. Blend until smooth; return to pot of soup and bring to simmer. Mix in crushed red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper.

Farm Box Day

Today’s box had some new treats, like ruby red strawberries and my favorite, Tanaka Farms strawberry jam. We got lovely heads of cauliflower, butter lettuce and broccoli, brilliant bunches of carrots, cilantro and kale, a few russet potatoes, oranges and clementines.

My plan is to make a Kale, Linguica Sausage and Potato Soup, a classic called calde verde, or “hot green” in my husband’s country of Brazil. It will be perfect for the cooler weather forcasted for the weekend.  I’m looking forward to roasting the carrots and potatoes along with a Simple Roasted Chicken, which will carry us through a few meals, then chicken bones will become stock for an upcoming soup. I’ll roast the Cauliflower with Capers and Red Chile, to serve with day two of roasted chicken. I’ll serve the broccoli simply steamed, along with my daughter’s favorite panko-crusted tilapia, some brown rice, and as strange as it may sound, Japanese mayo to dip them all in. She loves the stuff like some other kids like ketchup.  

At this point, I have a ton of oranges and tangerines from the last two deliveries that I want to purpose beyond the lunchbox. First, I’m going to use the zest from the skins to make a Citrus Herb Butter that I can freeze and use later, then I’m going to juice them to make a Tangerine Granita, an easy fruit and simple syrup ice. Along with all of the cooking I plan to do this weekend, I can’t wait to get a few of these recipes up on the blog. Hope you are all enjoying your farm-fresh produce and a super Superbowl weekend.

Bok Choy

How do you bok choy? As another member of the brassica family, bok choy is has the same versatility as any cabbage variety, where it would star sautéed, blanched, or served raw. Bok choy finds its reoccurring role in stir fries, but it is excellent sliced thin for a slaw, where I enjoy it mixed with delicately cut Fuji apples and celery. I’ve seen recipes for bok choy leaves that were boiled, stuffed and baked, which I’ll try next time it comes in the box.  Tossed in sesame oil, seasoned with a simple nip of salt and pepper, then quickly charred on a grill turns bok choy into a sublime side dish. The Choy boldly goes forward in directions veering from Asia, where it’s been found in Provence-style preparation, sautéed with olives, fennel and tomatoes.

This week, I bok choyed in a stir fry with a Thai flare, tossed in with flank steak, onions and a rich red curry broth.

Red Curry Beef with Bok Choy

3 garlic cloves, minced fine

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain

salt and pepper

Vegetable oil

1 medium onion, sliced thin

2 heads bok choy, cut into slices, stems separated from the leaves

1 1/2 tablespoon red curry paste

1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 cup coconut milk

Season the sliced flank steak with garlic, ginger and salt and pepper. Heat a wok or large skillet, then add oil and heat, then sear steak until it is browned. Remove from pan.

Add the onion and the bok choy stems to the same pan, and cook until softened. Stir in the curry paste, fish sauce and brown sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Stir the bok choy leaves in, wilt slightly, and then add the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, until the milk thickens slightly. Stir the steak back into the pan, taste for seasoning and serve with brown rice or softened rice noodles.

Kale and Kohlrabi

A Tanaka Farms fan had posted an idea to use kale and the ever-puzzling kohlrabi together in a combo of raw and cooked, crisp and savory. The recipe was pumped up with lots of zingy lime and luscious pistachios, and I tweeked it a bit with a bit of orange and shredded golden beets from the weekly farm box, and ended up with a crunchy and satisfying lunch. This dish could accompany a grilled protein, or become a meatless main course by folding in a bit of steamed quinoa.

Sauteed Kale with Kohlrabi, Golden Beets, Citrus and Pistachios

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Serves 4 to 6

1  pound kohlrabi, bulbs peeled

3 golden beets, peeled

1 lime, zested and juiced

1 orange, zested and juiced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 pounds kale (2 bunches), stems and center ribs discarded

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup salted roasted pistachios, chopped

Use a mandoline to julienne slice the kohlrabi and golden beets.

Whisk together lime and orange zest and juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss kohlrabi and beets with dressing.

Finely chop kale. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add kale by the handful, turning and stirring with tongs and adding more kale as volume in skillet reduces. Add sliced garlic and turn with the kale. Season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until kale turns vivid green, about 5 minutes. Toss warm kale with kohlrabi and pistachios and serve, or hold for no longer than a few hours.