This is part 6 of a summer long series about our CSA boxes and what we do with them. Recipes for Bulgogi pa jun, Roasted vegetable pasta, and a Chocolate zuchinni bundt cake follow.
I’m happy to announce that I secured the last seat in this year’s local culinary program, offered at the community and technical college in Moorhead, MN. So soon, instead of beginning my day by chugging coffee and checking voice messages, I’ll chug my coffee and race to butcher lab. My other courses involve soups and stocks, sanitation certification, and wine. Leaving the corporate world and its opportunities for community culinary school may seem impractical, but for the first time in my life, I am proceeding purely by intuition as I follow my heart that has always been preoccupied with food.
Meanwhile, I transition from full-time to on-call at my job in a bustling Human Resources department in Fargo, ND. It’s hard to believe that my fiancée, Jake, and I have lived in Fargo for almost a year, since relocating from the Twin Cities for Jake’s job. These past couple weeks have been no less busy and our CSA boxes haven’t shown much variation. Weekends are now dedicated to ensuring we don’t waste our build-up of produce. Our CSA produce is high quality but the selection has generally contains the standard variety of corn, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, and cucumber. When we traveled back to the Twin Cities last weekend, I stopped at the St. Paul Farmers market and was stunned at the myriad of produce. I bought hot peppers, Japanese eggplants, and Chinese long beans to supplement our CSA box.
First and foremost, we’re inundated with corn. To start, I found the web site Pick Your Own helpful in demystifying the process of freezing produce; with its tips, I tackled the corn. Any kernels that I hadn’t blanched, cooled, cut, and freezer-bagged, I used to make a giant bowl of salsa. My favorite homemade salsa combines fresh garden vegetables with hot peppers, minced or grated garlic, salt, pepper, limejuice, cilantro, and a drizzle of olive oil. Finally, I added yet more corn to savory Korean pancakes (pa jun), stuffed with beef bulgogi. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that they weren’t as good as the ones we used to order from Hoban in Eagan, MN. They are also a lazier attempt at David Liebowitz’s method, of which I failed to replicate. However, they were good enough to cure our appetite for pa jun and, more importantly, they used up corn. The batter has a pleasant eggy flavor, acting as a sandwich for sweet and savory bulgugi meat. A simple dipping sauce made from soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar adds a touch of sour to balance the pancake’s richness.
We’ve not only been barraged by corn, but also frequently visited by kohlrabi. In early June, I wrinkled my nose at my first taste of raw kohlrabi. Now, I welcome it when it graces our boxes, as I’ve discovered I love it’s flavor when roasted. During the past couple weeks, Jake keeps requesting roasted vegetable pasta. Now, there is nothing that I won’t roast, especially after work; roasting vegetables is so simple. Our favorite combination of vegetables includes Japanese eggplant, green beans, and kohlrabi. Allowing green beans to roast until their ends begin to turn golden brown lends them a rich nutty flavor. If you think you are tired of kohlrabi, try roasting it as well. Similar to roasting green beans, roasting kohlrabi accentuates sweetness and nuttiness, and gives the vegetable a slight bite similar to turnip. Hopefully its flavor will be as revolutionary for you as it was for me.
Despite the vegetable repetition, we were thrilled to find fruit. I loathed cantaloupe as I child, yet could not spurn the lovely little melons in our boxes. Half expecting to suddenly enjoy the flavor of our CSA cantaloupes, I found that, despite my hopes, they still tasted like cantaloupes, no matter how local or organic. Jake has also usually not enjoyed the flavor of plain cantaloupe, but we discovered that we did enjoy them when we doused them with limejuice, chili, and salt, as they prepare fruit in Mexico. These savory seasonings provide a slight distract from the “cantaloupey” flavor without completely masking it, as they accentuate its sweetness by adding more dimensions of flavor.
I was not thrilled to see zucchini in our boxes until I remembered chocolate zucchini cake, which I first made several years ago when a friend requested it for her birthday. I had initially thought the combination of chocolate and zucchini sounded strange until my first bite – a taste much like chocolate carrot cake flecked with cinnamon. I brought this cake to work for my coworkers to divide and conquer, same as they will with the job responsibilities I will leave behind. I baked it not only out of gratitude for their generosity and kinship, but also to say I was sorry to leave my first Fargo family. Hopefully it will help to ease the transition.
Easiest Roasted Vegetable Pasta
Your choice of pasta (We’ve used everything from macaroni to spaghetti to a mixture of pasta odds and ends left in our cupboards)
Your choice of vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces
Garlic (to roast or to grate raw)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Cut larger vegetables into bite sized pieces. I left green beans and hot banana peppers whole, and cut them after roasting. For simple roasted garlic, also roast whole garlic cloves with the skin on.
3. Toss with salt, pepper and plenty of olive oil.
4. Roast until tender and caramelized.
5. As the vegetables roast, cook pasta in salted, boiling water.
6. Toss roasted veggies with pasta. If you roasted garlic cloves, remove from skin, mash, and toss with pasta.
7. For a punchier garlic flavor, grate a raw garlic clove into the warm pasta and vegetables and toss.
8. Season with more salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs. Add a touch more olive oil or melt in a small nub of butter. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with grated cheese.
Good Enough Bulgogi Pa Jun
Adapted from David Leibowitz’s recipe
For Batter for each pancake:
½ cup flour
½ cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Handful of green onions
Tender cut of beef, sliced thinly
Soy sauce or tamari
Drizzle of sesame oil
Green onion, sliced thinly
Corn kernels (mine were blanched)
1 clove garlic, grated
Green onion, cut into longer pieces. Cut the thicker stem part of the onions in half (hot dog style).
1. To make the bulgogi, slice beef thinly and marinate in soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, black pepper, sliced green onion, and grated garlic, to taste. I use just enough soy sauce to coat the meat. I like my bulgogi taste a little sweet so I use at least a TB of sugar.
2. In a hot pan, cook the bulgogi (I keep it slightly pink). At the every end, stir in the sliced onions until tender.
3. As the bulgogi is cooking, heat a small skillet with enough oil so that the pancake will not stick.
4. Mix the water, flour, salt, and egg until incorporated.
5. Add enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan (stand back to avoid splashing). Try to evenly distribute the batter to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle in the cooked bulgogi meat, corn, and green onions. Smear a thin layer of batter on top of the exposed meat. When the bottom is golden brown and crispy, carefully lift the edge, add a few drops more oil, and flip.
6. Cook until the bottom of the pancake is set and browned. If you cook too long on the second side, the meat will get tough and dry.
7. Slice and serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar.
Sugar (will take quite a bit to balance out saltiness of soy sauce)
Rice wine vinegar
Combine to taste.
Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake
(a.k.a. I’m Sorry Cake)
Adapted from Sharon Landmark’s recipe in the Peaceful Pantry Recipes cookbook, published by Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN, 1975.
2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of cloves
¾ cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
½ cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. almond extract
Zest from one lime (or orange)
2 cups of grated zucchini, juice included
½ cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds (original recipe called for 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts)
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons of milk
1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Dab of butter
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease Bundt pan with butter and dust with cocoa powder.
3. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.
4. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar. Incorporate the eggs, one at a time. Add the milk, extracts, and citrus zest. Add the dry ingredients, half at a time. Fold in the shredded zucchini along with its juices, and nuts.
5. Pour into the pan as evenly as possible. Bake for about an hour or until you can remove a toothpick cleanly from the cake.
6. Cool for 15 minutes and remove to cool.
7. To make the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, salt, and butter. Either melt the butter first, or heat the glaze slightly until the butter completely melts.
8. Once the cake has cooled, glaze.
Jeni Hill grew up in the Twin Cities and recently moved to Fargo. Her two sustaining passions are food and writing and she combines the two whenever she gets the chance. Jeni believes food is never just about the food and considers it the finest medium to connect with others. When she is not crafting contributions to Simple Good & Tasty, she may be posting to her blog An Herbalist Eats, 20food, or Fargo's High Plains Reader. Her last non-CSA article for us was: An adopted Korean makes her first batch of lefse.