The Box Meal Plan
Sweet Potato & Kale Soup with Coconut Milk & Curry
-In my opinion, soups are the best way to make use of the box ingredients. This recipe makes use of the kale (or chard) plus sweet potatoes. As with most soups, this dish makes for great leftover lunches.
Strawberries With Reduced Balsamic And Black Pepper
-The simple salad brings out the best of the strawberries. Serve as salad course or, alternatively, as a dessert over some good vanilla ice cream.
-Many people avoid pickling because of the complicated canning process. This recipes eliminates the need for canning and utilizes the great combo of beets and oranges. I guarantee it will be gone long before it goes bad.
Roasted Turnips with Maple & Cardamom
-This is a wildcard recipe, so cook at your own risk.
-Scones are surprisingly easy to make and, when made at home, don't have to be saccharine sweet like those found at coffee shops. Add a teaspoon of lemon zest to the dough for an even better scone.
-This Portuguese soup is a regular in my dinner rotation. Andouille sausage is a great substitute for chorizo. Feel free to use either kale or collards (or both!) for this recipe.
-When people think curd, they think lemons. In reality, curd can be made out of any citrus. Try this grapefruit curd for a unique flavored curd that is great on toast, bagels, or by itself.
-This dish isn't anything fancy, but it is a great side dish and works doubly as a great leftover lunch.
About a year and a half ago, Hollygrove Market & Farm made the push to start supplying local restaurants with fresh, local produce. Since then, the support of restaurants has become a critical part of the market and farm and ensuring our long term sustainability. In recognition of their support, we like to highlight some of our biggest supporters and learn more about how local produce plays a role in their restaurant. In our first of (hopefully) many chef & restaurant spotlights, we talk with co-owner & Executive Chef Phillip Lopez of ROOT.
|Chef Phillip Lopez
(Photo Courtesy of ROOT
Chef Phillip Lopez, originally from New Orleans, is the son of an Army family and spent his childhood living in Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Holland, and Puerto Rico. Following graduation from high school, Phillip began his culinary career in Virginia Beach, VA before landing a job in New Orleans with Chef John Besh. Being displaced to Washington, DC following Hurricane Katrina gave Phillip the opportunity to train under Chef Michel Richard, the highly celebrated culinarian behind Citronelle. Returning to New Orleans several months later, Phillip again joined Besh and eventually worked at five of his restaurants, including Restaurant August and American Sector at the World War II Museum.
I had heard from our restaurant sales manager, Mike Fabianski, that Chef Lopez was interested in working with Hollygrove even before ROOT opened in November of last year. As someone who has quickly become one of our biggest supporters since then, I had to ask why buying local was so important to him personally. "Growing up in a food environment and working in restaurants all my life, I thought it kind of strange that chefs would go out of their way to make sure the customer knew they went out to the farmers market to buy their produce, but I always thought "Isn't that what you're supposed to do?". It's a chef job every day to source out the best ingredients, the freshest ingredients and you only do that from a local standpoint. I think no matter what part of the country you're in, it's your responsibility to source out the freshest ingredients possible", says Lopez.
Local produce is sure to be incorporated into all dishes at Root regardless of the time of year, but I wanted to know what his favorite items are to cook with during the winter growing season. "All the citrus...Meyer lemons, blood oranges, grapefruits...and radishes. I will eat a bushel of radishes myself", says Lopez.
And if you think those blood oranges and Meyer lemons only make an appearance in the salad course, never to be heard from again, you got another thing coming. Chef Lopez isn't one to toss some local veggies into a salad and call it a day.
"The biggest thing about the produce we bring in is that we are not only utilizing it one aspect, we have to find four or five different ways to incorporate it into a menu....The beet greens go to stewed greens, the stalks go to make swizzle
This ever-changing list of produce sits front and center in ROOT's kitchen. Chef Lopez is dedicated to educating all of his staff about the farm from which the produce came.
sticks, and the beetroot gets used in salads and desserts", says Lopez.
In a restaurant where the dishes are meant to be playful and creative, it's nice to know Chef Lopez maintains a sense of frugality with the produce he purchases. "Especially in this economy, when prices are running high it only makes sense. For the farmers on their end, it costs money to make the product and for us it costs money to bring it in and make it. I think it helps us all in the long run. By using the produce to full potential, it ensures I can keep buying it and keep experimenting", says Lopez.
When Chef Lopez isn't at his restaurant (which isn't much considering his 16-20 hour work day), he prefers to keep it simple. One pot dishes with whatever is in the fridge and potlucks with his wife and friends are the norm instead of the carefully crafted cuisine at his restaurant. And while his food at home may vary drastically from his restaurant, one thing remains key whenever he is cooking, "Whether you are in the restaurant or at home it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you cook from the heart and feel good about, the food is going to come out good in the end."
All the local produce in the world doesn't mean anything if the food doesn't come out good, but judging by the reviews on Yelp, that's not something ROOT has to worry about. ROOT is open Monday through Friday for lunch & dinner and Saturday for dinner only. To learn more about ROOT and to check out their menu, click here.
Before I left, I had to make sure to get a recipe on radishes since it's the one thing that I am completely lost on and one which Chef Lopez can't get enough of.
Strawberry Meyer Lemon Cocktail
-Parade season is upon us, but unfortunately citrus season is just about done. Make sure to make the most of out of it with this cocktail recipe that utilizes the delicious combo of lemons and strawberries.
Braised Beets & Carrots in Orange Juice
-Beets & carrots are two of my favorite root vegetables and the go particularly well with fresh orange juice. Adjust this recipe by adding a bunch of carrots and use the carrot tops (similar to parsley) instead of the rosemary.
-This is wildcard recipe I found thanks to some flavor combos recommended by The Flavor Bible. My guess is this will be the most delicious pickle ever or an epic failure. You'll never know if don't try....
-I made this recipe a few weeks back with some braised pork and man was it good. The German flavor combinations were completely different than the French & Asian cuisines I typically make and were a welcome surprise to my taste buds.
Colcannon Soup with Kale
-This is one of my favorite recipes for the winter and the recent string of cold days gives me an excuse to make it. You can also use half head of cabbage instead of kale if you prefer.
-Unless you want to pick up an extra bunch of turnips, I would recommend halving all the ingredients other than the turnips. Otherwise, you won't even be able to taste the turnips in the dish.
-If you haven't made borscht yet, you're missing out. This rustic eastern European dish uses the simplest of ingredients, but has flavor that is matched by few homemade dishes I've eaten this year. This soup/stew is even better after sitting in the fridge for a day.
(This recipe takes a few steps, but it's worth it. I recommend buying good pound cake instead of making it. I've baked for years and have yet to make a decent pound cake. Plus, it takes forever.)
(The cabbage heads this week are HUGE, so unless you are a cabbage fanatic, you'll have a hard time using it all up. This is a nice and easy quick pickle recipe that is perfect as a snack or a side dish.)
Moroccan Beet Salad
(Beet salads can't be beat, 'nuff said. Let this dish sit in the fridge over night for the best flavor.)
(I would quadruple this recipe so that you have some leftover. For best flavor, let sit overnight (or during the day) to allow the flavors to blend.)
Glad to see parsley from the Vintage Garden Farm in the box this week. By far one of the most underrated ingredients, parsley is a great ingredient which can change the entire flavor of a dish. Plus, it's a superfood! Also, try the mixed citrus curd. There is no better time of the year for citrus than right now. Oh, and Borscht is in this week's box meal plan again. It's great for these chilly winter nights and tastes even better the second day.
(I fry in Coconut Oil (not virgin) because it holds up to light frying much better than canola.)
(Use equal parts blood orange and meyer lemons to make up the 1/3c of juice and tablespoon of zest.)
(I followed this recipe exactly and it came out perfectly. Feel free to use and fatty, bony, or grisly cuts of meet for the bone shank. All that will break down in the long, slow cooking process)
Big thanks to everyone who gave us recipes. We know there are some good home cooks out there, so we wanted to make sure we got your recipe ideas as well. Also, from here on out I'll be including a gluten-free recipe each week for those folks who are gluten sensitive/intolerant.
(Use a pre-baked pie shell to save on time or make your own crust if you'll be making this on a day off)
African Bean Sweet Potato Soup (Gluten-Free)
First box of the new year! It's a good one too, with all the winter staples plus the first blood oranges of the year. And what would be the fun of a new year without a resolution? This year I'm making mine fun and attainable: cooking more international dishes. A recent trip to Cafe Abyssinia (you should go, it's amazing) made me realize all the wonderful flavors I'm missing out on from the lesser known cuisines of the world, so it's my plan to do one meal a week from an unfamiliar cuisine
Ethiopian Cabbage Dish (Atakilt)
Cajun Rice Risotto
Marinated Tomatoes Teruel
(I have personally never tried this one, but it sounds like a interesting way to get some more flavor in those winter tomatoes)