Farm Share Organic Vegetables

Mid-May my husband and I joined our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with Wimer's Organics, a farm in Lancaster County just a couple of hours from our Philadelphia residence. We were so pleased with our first box of vegetables but it just keeps getting better and better.

Our second pick up included a bag of mixed greens, a huge bunch of kale, red leaf lettuce, radishes, broccoli, spring onions and a cucumber. During that week, it was so warm out that I would simply make a plate of crudite (raw vegetables) with a home made light ranch dip using sour cream. The radishes were so crisp, peppery and bright. I found a way to actually grill kale. I placed a large handful of already washed and roughly chopped kale in a tent of aluminum foil. After drizzling a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, I closed up the foil tent and put on the grill. The kale cooked down in the foil leaving a nice smoky flavor from the grill.

Our third pick-up of farm fresh veggies included collard greens, red butter lettuce, tons of long green onions, garlic scapes, a bunch of oregano and basil, sugar snap peas and green cabbage. Salads with the red butter lettuce were incredible. Not knowing what a garlic scape is or ever eating one, we were pleasantly surprised when we put these long thin green asparagus-like veggies on the grill with some extra virgin olive oil. The garlic scapes, which are what garlic bulbs grow from, have a mild garlic flavor enhanced by sauteing or grilling. Garlic scapes found their way in a few of our pesto pasta dishes in the last few weeks. Pestos have been blending up a storm in my kitchen with not only the huge bundle of basil from Wimer's Organics but also from my basil plant that is successfully growing outside my front door. The collard greens turned out perfectly after I referred to my own recipe, http://off-my-plate.blogspot.com/2009/09/collard-greens-from-garden-to-plate.html. This recipe brings together garlic, onion, mustard, extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar to make a quick and tasty version of collard greens. This time I simplified even more and skipped the pancetta.

Along with all of those vegetables, we received a dozen jumbo eggs-all of which were twins (two yolks in one egg). Our green cabbage is still going strong. I have mastered an easy slaw salad recipe. I shred the green cabbage with thinly sliced red and green onion tossed in a home made mustard vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is made with a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a teaspoon of light sour cream mixed with a splash of red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. With a pinch of salt and pepper, I toss the slaw with the vinaigrette and refrigerate for an hour or two. This crisp and satisfying salad is a refreshing compliment to any meal.

Our latest delivery came from Wimer's last Wednesday. The vegetables continue to get more abundant and vibrant. Napa cabbage, green leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, two crowns of broccoli, a bundle of sage, a hefty green and yellow squash, and three large red tomatoes came with this week's delivery. We have already enjoyed the Swiss chard sauteed simply and topped with freshly grated Romano cheese. I am so excited to cook a variety of Asian-inspired meals with the Napa cabbage. Eating salads everyday for lunch truly has been a pleasure. I thought I may get tired of eating so many greens, but it is the opposite. When I ran out of greens for salad and ate a sandwich for lunch instead, I felt so full and tired. Eating a salad for lunch fills you with out weighing you down. I am ready for a beautiful salad today and all next week.

Stay tuned for more details on the CSA!


Oyster House

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine suggested that we go out to check out Oyster House, formerly known as the Sansom Street Oyster House. Ever since moving to Philadelphia, I always wanted to try this place. Being from New Orleans, an oyster house seemed like it would be the perfect fit. Recently, the Sansom Street Oyster House was bought back by its original owners, the Mink Family, who began their concept of the oyster house in 1976 after operating the original Philly oyster house, Kelly's on Mole Street since 1947. With much experience and a clear concept, the Sansom Street Oyster House successfully was operated by the Mink family up until 2000 but they are back! 10 years later, the Mink family, has created a fresh take on the classic oyster house offering classic seafood with a modern spin.

I was so excited on a mundane Tuesday to be heading out to dinner that evening with a great friend of mine, Holly, who also appreciates good food like I do. She kept reminding me that we needed to go on a Tuesday as there would be some kind of special. Not really knowing what the special would be, I agreed - after all, a night with a dinner special is better than no special at all. We exited from the cab in front of the chic, modern Oyster House. Upon walking through the entrance, I was hit with one of the most familiar smells, a smell that reminds me of childhood and my hometown. The smell of freshly boiled seafood brought me right back home to New Orleans. Literally this smell captured the feeling of a warm summer day in New Orleans sitting on the lawn at a picnic table covered in newspaper dismantling crawfish for hours with family. For me personally, I could not have had a better first impression of Oyster House. As we were seated, I noticed tables covered in newspaper with giant bowls of seafood and knew immediately that we had to order whatever that was.

Cool grey tones fill this chic restaurant with walls covered in collections of oyster dishes combined with a warmth from rustic dark wood tables. A large square bar sits practically in the center of this large open space. While examining the menu, I started with a dirty martini, which was so outstanding that I had another one before the night was finished. There was much discussion over whether or not to try the raw oysters. I, a New Orleans girl born and raised, had never tried a raw oyster. In fact it took me quite a while in life to try all kinds of seafood. It wasn't until I went to a tasting at Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans shortly after college that I had a fried oyster. Ever since then, fried oysters and oyster po'boys are first on my list when I return to my hometown. Before this evening at Oyster House, I had never tasted a raw oyster or a mussel. Needless to say, we ordered the raw oysters. With a tinge of cocktail sauce and squeeze of lemon juice, these salty and fresh oysters were incredibly refreshing and tasty. I couldn't believe what all the fuss was about. What was behind the big fear of eating raw oysters? With the good advice from my friend to actually bite into the oyster and not try to shoot it, I found this little pearl from the ocean to be quite outstanding and I am ready for more.

After the adventurous raw oyster app, we moved on to a sampler of roasted oysters which included "Oysters Rockefeller-spinach, pernod, herb butter", "Oysters Marrakesh-preserved lemon and ginger breadcrumbs", and "Oysters Toscana-garlic parsley butter, lardo". The tastiest by far were the "Oysters Marrakesh"- something about the crispy ginger bite on top of the roasted oyster made for an unforgettable dish. The Toscana was also incredibly delicious with its garlicky, savory parsley butter. The "Oysters Rockefeller" were slightly disappointing as this was a dish that I have enjoyed many a time at Antoine's in New Orleans - nothing compares.

Next came the main course, the "Dump", the Tuesday night dinner special for two. Our table got covered up with newspaper (unfortunately not the Times Picayune). I guess the New York Times did the trick. In a giant heavy duty bowl the waitress dumped a large boiled portion of oysters, mussels, clams, shrimp, crab, kielbasa and potatoes. We ripped through this bowl in no time. Every bite was phenomenal with the perfect balance of spice. The mussels turned out to be my favorite while the oysters and shrimp came in at a close second. I would recommend the "Dump" dinner to anyone. The other menu items look out of this world as well. Next time, I must try one of the "Small Plates" like the "Southern Fried Oysters with chicken salad" or perhaps the "Sauteed Mussels-roasted fennel, leeks and garlic, tarragon". For the "Large Plates", on the top of my list are "Sauteed Soft Shell Crabs-warm fregola salad, arugula, spring onions, romesco", "Lobster Roll-New England style with hand cut fries" and "Seared Scallops-smashed sunchokes, English peas and shoots, roasted lemon". For the meat eaters out there, you can sample the "OH Burger-grass fed beef, blue cheese, fried oyster, grilled onions with hand cut fries".

Oyster House does not only offer dinner but also lunch, midday and brunch menus. For brunch, I am highly intrigued by "Oyster Scrapple - 2 sunny side eggs, horseradish creme fraiche, cocktail sauce" and of course "Shrimp and Grits - poached eggs, spicy shrimp sauce". Oyster House does serve dessert as well but if you are still hungry, then I suggest eating more oysters! When my New Orleans family and friends are in town, we are definitely making a stop at Oyster House but I look forward to another "Dump" night even sooner.

Oyster House
1516 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Monday - Saturday
11:30am - 11pm

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