Saturday, July 31, 2010

Creme Brulee

In the spring of '09 we had hoped to do one of our podcasts, where we would featureasparagus and eggs. Asparagus, because it's the ultimate of spring's special foods. Eggs were also chosen because during the spring, with all the fresh green grass, and good weather roaming, eggs seem to be at their best. Well, we made all the food, took photos, recorded audio of Erin making her risotto, and me melting the sugars atop my creme brulee. Unfortunately, editing and putting a podcast all together is a lot of time consuming work for a couple of gardener types, and we have yet to get it done. Okay, we have yet to even start the process. However, I kept coming across the above photo I took of my creme' brulee ingredients, and wishing I could include it in a post. So here it is... Homestead Creamery cream, eggs, vanilla and sugar.

Now all I really have to say about creme brulee is first that it is delicious, second it is not at all hard to make. My one big lesson was that although the recipe calls for egg yolks most of us are not used to eating creme brulee made with fresh free roaming chicken eggs. If industrial type eggs are like a 1 on a 1-10 scale of eggy flavor, then pastured spring eggs must be a full on 10. Normally this equals deliciousness, but when going for a simply seasoned custardy dessert, the flavor was a bit overwhelming for me. I had this same problem with a cinnamon flavored souffle. In this case you could just omit the yolks, but I don't think this works the creme brulee. So in the end, perhaps summer, fall or winter eggs are really the best for this dish.

This blow torch bit is kinda fun, but I used to have to do this myself at one spot where I was a waitress. With tables full in the dining room and customers wanting their checks, drinks or dinner, I would have to run into the kitchen and fire up someone's dessert! Madness.

All done! The outfit, dessert color coordination was not planned, but made a nice photo op. Served chilled with that wonderful sugar crust creme brulee is good for summer. Outside of the US it is traditionally served warm. Here is one simple recipe, but there are dozens of great how- to videos on line.


Ah, pesto. It has to be one of my all time favorite things. As far as favorite foods goes, it may have even beat out my nearly life long favorite of sauerkraut with mashed potatoes and knackwursts. It's been well over ten years since I've had knackwursts, and something had to fill in the gap. I'm not sure when I first had pesto, but my first try at making my own was just a few short years ago. Since then I've tried multiple variations, but my favorite is basil with toasted walnuts. At first I used walnuts in place of pine nuts just to reduce the cost. I quickly decided that once toasted, I enjoyed their flavor even more.

When it comes to the basil I use the Genovese sweet basil, but find that when you have them around, purple basil, and that lovely white and green variegated one "Pesto Purpetuo" work well too. The tall variegated basil 'Pesto Purpetuo' is named for being so very slow to flower. (Flowering is what will dampen the flavor, as well as the vigor of your basil. ) Globe basil has a great aroma, but flowers nearly non-stop, and harvesting all those tiny leaves is much more time consuming than plucking a handful of Genovese.

The recipe I use is from Alice Waters. I follow everything, except that I cut the oil substantially. It's a basic recipe that's easy to remember:

1 lightly packed cup basil

1 clove garlic


1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts (or walnuts)

1/4 freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup extra -virgin olive oil.

(I cut the olive oil by half, and then poor extra oil over top till serving to keep the basil fresh and green.) The pesto pictured above was made with 4 cups packed basil, 4 cloves garlic, 1 cup walnuts, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, but only 1 cup oil. I then divided the pesto into smaller containers for freezing, and divided another 1/2 cup of oil over the top of each before sealing their lids. The recipe I have instructs you to use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, and salt into a paste. Mix in the Parmesan. Transfer this to a separate mixing bowl. Coarsely chop the basil, and then mash them to a paste in the mortar. Slowly pound the pine nut mixture and the basil all together as you gradually pour in the olive oil.

So, all of that sounds like way more work than using the food processor, and it is. We think it definitely results in a superior pesto, however it's rare that I have the time or energy to opt for our mid six mortar over the push button processor! Either way its wonderful... and as everyone knows by now its great not just on pasta but in eggs, in mayo for sandwiches, and on tofu, fish or chicken. I try to refrain from standing over a jar full with a loaf of fresh bread, and carrying on until said jar is empty, but this has happened too.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Red, White and Brew Update

This just in from Kyndra with Sam's Sausages and Haven Farm:

We have just ( in the past month) started attending the 17th Street Farmer's Market's Friday night Red, White and Brew. We sell fresh raw bulk sausage to take home and cook as well as grilled to order sausage on a bun and snack plates. All of our sausage is made fresh (never frozen) and Sam is always creating new tastes in sausage and new condiments.
There are always plenty of free samples and "end of the night" deals.... we love to have people who love food stop by and give us their opinions....

Come by and see us this weekend!

That's tonight, folks!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wherein the Median Garden Threatens the Streets

The Good Mother Stallard beans I was telling you about just a few short, hot weeks ago have climbed way over the iron structure I naively gave them to run. Likewise, I expect to come out any day now and find that the tomatoes have completely scrambled out of their cages. It amazes me every year that from such a tiny, seemingly inconsequential and often ignored seed comes such giant, fruitful, lively plants. And so the fact that my garden resembles some kind of gnarly, out of control swamp monster is a happy problem, I assure you.

In this rambly garden in the middle of Fauquier Ave, along with the runner beans, there are Yellow Indian Woman and Rio Zape shelling beans, which are (thankfully) more compact varieties, two kinds of rascally cukes which are climbing the garden fence as well as the tomato cages, some (rather well behaved) horseradish, sunflowers for the birds and marigolds to discourage aphids (though the traffic on either side of the garden may very well be serving the same purpose.)
There are 14 tomato plants in all. Most are mystery cultivars, since they were either left orphaned on my porch or purchased from the farmers market late in the season, having been shuffled back and forth so many times from farm to market and back again as to have lost their sineage. I don't care. I love all tomatoes and usually am up for an adventure or two.

At this point, the mysteries of their identities are somewhat revealed, though not necessarily named. I do know that there are Brandywines, (as their leaves are distinctly different than the rest of the lycopersicum species) red and yellow cherries, red pears and even some Romas for drying and canning. There are still one or two plants that remain a mystery, but I am sure we will appreciate them none the less. Happy high summer, y'all!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fun market video by the RTD

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tricycle Gardens' Urban Farm on Channel 12 News

If you missed it last week, you can see Channel 12's visit to Tricycle's Urban Farm at 9th and Bainbridge on their website. Just click here.

Produce from the farm is sold on site at their farm stand Tuesday and Thursday Afternoons, and now Saturdays as well.

Saint Stephen's Farmers Market- Meet the Vendors!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Edible R-evolution Tour this Saturday

Tricycle Gardens is hosting a tour of kitchen gardens around town this Saturday, July 17. The event promises to be super fun and inspiring!
The folks at Tricycle Gardens sent out this info about the tour:

Tickets are $20 per carload or group of four bicycles. The price includes a map, access to some of the most creative food-producing backyards from 1pm-5pm AND a cookout at our Jefferson Avenue garden from 5pm-8pm. What a deal! And what a way to celebrate the summer (and fresh tomatoes). Highlights include the joint Strawberry Street Vineyard/Belmont Butcher garden, executive director Lisa Taranto’s backyard and the community garden at Holton Elementary School. Tickets can be purchased online, or at the 9th and Bainbridge Urban Farm, or by emailing Proceeds go toward helping expand Tricycle Gardens programs throughout the city.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Joy of June Apples

Cindy Clark, one of the vendors at the Farmers Market at St. Stephen's, (she and her family run Greenway Beef- a grass fed beef farm) and one of the most generous folks I know, (she is also a nurse for transplant patients) surprised me a couple of weekends ago with a whole bag of June apples. June apples are tart- the sugars have not fully developed in the fruit. So, with that in mind, what to make with such a wonderful mid summer gift?

As luck would have it, I had just finished the chapter on Tarte Tatin in Molly Weisenburg's (aka Orangette) book, A Homemade Life. This confluence coincided nicely with supper plans I had made with my dear friend Susan, (a gift of any kind should be shared) and so voila- here is my recommended recipe for Tarte Tatin (aux Pommes Juin).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer Time

I got a new camera for my birthday. It's just a point and shoot, but it's light years ahead of the 7 year old 3 mega pixel antique we did have. So you may be seeing a good deal more photographs on this blog. I'll try to keep with the food theme, but I couldn't help myself on posting some of these summer photos. Hopefully they set just the mood for backyard barbecues, picnics on the lawn, or pool side potlucks.

This is one of my main swimming spots. It's just an above ground pool, but I find that comes in handy when it's so hot you want to take your entire meal in there! Too bad the hose snuck in this one. Also, being a new camera I had turned on the date feature and never figured out a way to get the stupid thing off the picture.

This is one view from inside said pool. If it looks nice and cool that's 'cause this was taken at 7:30 in the morning at the end of those amazingly cool three days we had before the fourth.

When it's not 105 degrees, summer time means outdoor eating, and eating foods that require grilling or even no cooking at all. Here's a meal I had this week of our grilled potatoes, drunken applesauce, beet salad, potato salad, and greek style salad.My glass of wine just hadn't made it to the table yet. All but the potatoes were leftovers, including the ribs my husband had prepared for himself. That was very nice.

I love all the colors and amazing abundance at the markets this time of year. Those favorite summer time treats that you've been waiting for all year are suddenly piled high. One of the exceptions is eggs. The chickens get broody and produce a lot less. I missed on eggs one week. Showed up just as the market opened the next, and got the last carton from my favorite egg vendor.

Lately, when I'm not buying, cooking, or eating food I'm watering. It can be an all day affair, at work and at home. In this picture of my yard even the summer sun looks inviting. I love the way these old pines can make me feel as though I am somewhere where the air is cooler.

Wax beans and mustard greens... you have to look hard to fine the mustard greens. We had some 2 or 3 year old wax bean seeds and figured only a small percentage would germinate. Instead they all did, and we've had a morning harvesting ritual for the last month.

Just for fun, here's a glimpse of what my dog Elwood does when he wants me to put down the camera, recipe book or the garden hose and pick up the Frisbee.

Cool Blue

Okay, it's really more like dark purple.... but so interesting. Purple basil, eggplant, blackberries, and blue potatoes all together here. If I had realized I was gonna try and get artistic I would have bought the purple long beans, and bright purple hot peppers while I was at the market this morning! I also forgot to throw in the dark reddish purple cabbage I bought this morning. If I had done this a couple of weeks ago I could have had blueberries, mulberries and black raspberries, as well as all the rest of these dark beauties. Is there any other time of year when so many dark purple foods are around? I wonder if there is some benefit to eating these foods at this time of year. Very cool.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Drunken Blackberry Apple Sauce

This past Sunday was Independence day, and I was lucky enough to be doing the pool side, pot luck thing. I had my potato salad set to go, but still wanted a little something else to bring. I had some of those gigantic blackberries from Agriberry, as well as some of their sweet, dark red cherries. With those in mind I picked up a 32oz jar of Graves' Mountain apple sauce at the store thinking something would come to me. The end result was pretty darn good. Someone called it apple sauce for grownups. It was good with the BBQ sandwiches, and ribs.

8 or so giant blackberries, or their equivalent in smaller ones, very ripe.
6 ripe, sweet cherries. pitted and quartered
1/30z Triple sec or Cointreau
1/3 oz Creme de Cassis
2/3 jar Graves' Mountain apple sauce
1/2 tsp raw sugar

Place the blackberries in a sturdy bowl and carefully mash with a fork so that there is a lot of liquid and small bits as well as a number of pieces that are still a about the size of a dime.
Add in the cherry quarters, the Liquors, and the sugar. Let this set in the refrigerator for a good 11/2 hours for the fruit to soak up the flavor of the liquors. Add in the apple sauce and stir.
Keep chilled until serving.
This recipe using up 2/3 jar of apple sauce was just the result of how much fruit I had on hand. You could of course up the numbers and utilize the full jar. However, that leftover portion of plain applesauce came in handy with the kids. There was applesauce for grownups and little ones alike.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Magic Beans and Palm Oil

More than a few weekends ago, I got to travel to the beautiful countryside of Maryland to visit very dear friends of mine, Katie and Ted. These lucky folks live on a horse farm, and I always learn so much from them when I go. Mostly we talk rebellion, and we cook a bunch. So, it was at their house that I was introduced to the beans of Rancho Gordo and the oil of Palm.
First, the palm oil. You can see from this photo that the oil is a dark amber color, and so will stain anything it touches yellow- including whatever you are frying. On the other hand, frying in this oil is unlike any other. It does not smoke, it does not pop, and it has a wonderful flavor. I hear it is like frying in bacon grease. Plus, the deep color means that the oil is high in several vitamins like beta carotene, and contains more nutrients than any other oil we eat. Try it out!

Now, about the beans. Katie had several bags of Rancho Gordo beans in her cupboard. We made fritters with the Yellow Indian Woman beans which were wonderful, and I got to take some seeds home to plant. Along with the Yellow Indian Woman, I planted some Good Mother Stallard, Rio Zape and Pintos. Growing information is not easy to come by for all of these heritage varieties, but I figured I could adapt as they grew. I planted them upon my return and am looking so forward to rich stews and hearty winter suppers and definitely more fritters.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Shannon's Potato Salad

I have never before in my thirty six years made a potato salad. Yesterday I had a bag of mixed potatoes, red, white, and blue and a July fourth potluck to cook for and I thought... potato salad. I only knew I didn't want the strait up mayo and sweet relish stuff that I find rather dull. I looked at several recipes, including Orangette's, and wasn't happy with any of them. Then Matt found one on All called The Best Potato Salad. I figured that must be good, and it has tons of great reviews. Of course I had to change it up. People really seemed to love the result. Thanks guys! For all those who tried mine yesterday, and would want to duplicate the salad the way I made it here's what I did....

Note...You need to start making this salad a good 41/2 to 5 hours before serving.
Enough potatoes to approximate 10 large red potatoes ( a large red potato being about the size of a small russet potato)
1/2 cup Dukes Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Fage' Greek yogurt 0%
1/2 Marzetti ranch dressing (It is in the refrigerated section of the grocery, due to lack of preservatives)
1/3 cup dill pickle relish
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp mild paprika
1/8-1/4 tsp celery salt ( a mix of celery seed and salt)
1/2 of one large Vidalla onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup pepperoncini, finely chopped
1/4 tsp dried dill
8 (approximate) Krinos Green Olives... these are in a pepperoncini brine and have to be pitted, but seemed the best choice to me... although the Jalapeno stuffed olives would be good as well I bet.
Sea Salt to taste (After, making the salad and letting it sit for two hours, I tasted it and added the salt. I would not start of by salting it until the flavors have had a chance to meld together. The ranch dressing, olives, pepperoncini, and dill relish all introduce a fair amount of salt on their own.

So I added some things, omitted somethings and doubled somethings from the recipe I found on AllRecipes. I omitted the 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard, but might try that in the future. I switched the olives from the canned, presliced black olives called for to the, spicy green olives I had to cut up 'fresh,' but good black olives might also be tasty.

1. Put eggs in saucepan in a single and cover with water so that the water level is about an inch over the top of the eggs. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Immediately remove pan from the heat and let eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. Drain, and rinse with cold water. Peel and chop the eggs once the potatoes have also cooled and are ready to chop.
2. Fill large pot with water, add whole potatoes, a good dash of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until easily pierced with a fork to the center (tender, but not mushy) about 15-20 minutes. For my dish I added the large reds and then added the smaller blues and whites five minutes later. Drain and refrigerate until cold. It takes longer than you might think for them to cool, approximately one hour. Also, using organic potatoes, I did not peal the potatoes, but left all the skins on for color, flavor, and nutrients.
3. While the potatoes and eggs are cooking stir together the mayo, Greek yogurt, ranch dressing, relish, and all herbs and spices. Keep covered in fridge until potatoes and eggs are cooled and chopped. When every thing's ready mixed it all together in a large bowl. Chop and add in the onion, pepperocini, and olives. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Potatoes: Red, White, and Blue

Try This...

How about red white and blue potatoes for Your July 4th meal. Today at the market I got all three kinds... the blue's were from Bill's Produce. This might be fun with your favorite potato salad recipe. Lately we've been enjoying grilled potatoes, cut in half or quarters, brushed with olive oil, add salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder and grilled till tender. Turn once or twice to brown evenly. Half potatoes can go right on the grill for a nice grilled flavor. Smaller pieces can be done on top of a sheet of aluminum foil. We serve these with a fresh chive greek yogurt. Finely chop plenty of fresh chives, mix in with greek yogurt, and add some kosher or course salt .