Monday, February 22, 2010

CSA Update

I wrote not too long ago about CSA programs for this upcoming summer, and I've finally chosen my CSA for 2010! I've signed up for Farmer Dave's Somerville CSA. Why did I choose this one? Mainly, I liked that Farmer Dave's has a small-sized share option. Given that the girl and I have our own vegetable garden and that we love going to the farmers' markets, I thought that a small share would be best.

I'm really looking forward to my first year of a CSA. Keep an eye out here for updates throughout the season, as I will be doing a spotlight on what I get each week with recipes and background information on the produce.

(Photo by Farmer Dave's)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cara Cara Orange Marmalade

I was at the grocery store a couple weeks ago, and noticed a kind of orange that I had never seen before called the Cara Cara. I found out that it's a type of navel orange that's a cross between an orange and a grapefruit. This gives the flesh a similar color to a pink grapefruit, but gives the skin the look of a normal navel orange.

I decided that the color of the flesh paired with the color of the skin would make a really nice-looking marmalade! Because Cara Caras are sweeter than normal oranges and have lower acidity, I added a couple of lemons to brighten it up a bit and add a tangy flavor.

After cooking down the Cara Caras and lemons and adding sugar (though the oranges are sweet, it IS marmalade after all!), the mixture was ready for canning. Luckily, there was some marmalade leftover so I could taste it right away! I thought it turned out great. You can really taste the flavor of the Cara Caras but the lemons add a nice zing of tartness.

Cara Cara Orange Marmalade
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

*6 Cara Cara oranges: 4 oranges peeled, peels cut into 1/3-inch pieces, flesh seeded and coarsely chopped; 2 oranges quartered, thinly sliced, and seeded
*2 lemons: quartered, thinly sliced, and seeded
*1 1/2 quarts cold water

1) Bring fruit, peels, and water to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, cover, and let cool. Refrigerate for 8 hours (or up to 1 day).

2) Freeze a plate. Uncover citrus mixture, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until thickest peel is tender, about 20 minutes. Measure mixture, and return to pan. For each cup of mixture, add 3/4 cup sugar.

3)Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Cook until mixture registers 220 degrees to 222 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. To test for doneness of marmalade: Drop a spoonful on frozen plate. If marmalade has a slight film when pushed with a finger, it's done. If it spreads out and thins immediately, continue cooking, and test again after a few minutes. Transfer marmalade to airtight containers, cover, and let cool at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight before serving. (Marmalade will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 month.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Visiting a Boston Seafood Institution (And My First Bivalve!)

I'll admit it: I am a bad New Englander - I'm not a big seafood eater! I've tried fish here and there, and enjoyed a lobster on occasion, but I don't choose seafood first. As a result, I have never been to many of the best seafood restaurants in Boston, including the Union Oyster House. That all changed on Saturday night when the girl and I went to the latter for dinner.

Overall, it was a great night. The restaurant feels very warm and cozy and is so full of history! Everyone from the future King of France who lived on the second floor to Daniel Webster to the Kennedy family have occupied the Oyster House over the years.

The menu features mostly seafood, but also has a small selection of land creatures. The girl ordered broiled sole (so good with a nice squeeze of lemon!) and I chose the Cajun chicken (back to the bad New England eater...). Though these were both perfectly cooked and delicious, they weren't the main reason we came to the Union Oyster House. We came for the oysters!

We ordered a half-dozen on the half shell, and they arrived with their famous cocktail sauce, horseradish, and lemon. I will be honest, I was a bit nervous to begin with. Once I tried one, however, I was hooked! My first oyster (and my second and third, for that matter) became the highlights of the meal.

Now that I know I like the oysters, the girl and I are are going to check out dollar oyster deals around the city. We already know about $1 Oyster Mondays at Rialto and $1 Oysters and PBRs at Myers + Chang but we are on the lookout for other specials as well. If you know of any oyster deals around Boston, please feel free to comment or email!

While I may not be the biggest seafood eater (yet...), I am at least trying to become a better New Englander!

(Photo from Union Oyster House Restaurant)
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