Winter Harvest Comes Through (Again)
Saturday, December 14, 2013
In the early years of our eating local, when we wanted an antidote to rich, heavy holiday meals and even the local greens were dwindling, we’d have little choice but to buy a giant pack of French green beans from Whole Foods and call it dinner. No more.
Winter Harvest is full of opportunities to make a light, refreshing meal that even tastes a bit like summer. Shore Catch is one of those “never thought I’d see it” items to appear on the Winter Harvest product list - locally and sustainably caught seafood. It was hard to mess up the beautiful piece of sushi grade Ahi tuna that came in our order this week, but we took no chances and made a simple tartare - hardly a recipe with one pound tuna, three tablespoons each of olive oil and lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. We added scallions and parsley, also from our order, and ate it with a potato pancake made with Savoie Organic Farm’s wonderful Kennebecs.
August Frozen Treats Challenge: Blackberry-Honey Ice Cream
Monday, August 05, 2013
Apart from potted herbs, there are exactly two crops growing in my garden this year: green zebra tomatoes, because I can’t get enough of them, and a blackberry bush I planted last summer because it was the lowest-effort fruit I could think of. I just let the bush establish itself last year, not expecting any berries, and as a result it’s now sturdy and has set enough blossoms that I think we’ll get at few small harvests of berries by the time fall rolls around.
While I knew I wouldn’t be able to rely on homegrown berries for this year’s frozen treat challenge, I still wanted to do something with blackberries, and to get my ice cream maker out of its cupboard. After some further brainstorming, I came up with this bright magenta, intensely berry-flavored ice cream, which also incorporates locally-produced honey, eggs, and dairy products. There were even just enough ripe berries on my bush to serve as a garnish!
One bit of advice: because the honey is definitely present after the initial burst of blackberry, the best choice for this recipe is a mild to barely medium honey—ideally a berry honey, but a light wildflower or blossom would be good too. Don’t use a dark one like buckwheat or one with a lot of herby notes, or the finish of the ice cream will be distractingly medicinal.
Blackberry-Honey Ice Cream
Makes 1 1/2 quarts
3 pints blackberries
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split
1/3 cup honey
6 large egg yolks
Place the blackberries, 1/2 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt in a non-reactive pan and mash gently with a potato masher to start releasing the juices. Let sit undisturbed for 45 minutes.
Fill a large bowl with ice water and suspend a slightly smaller bowl lined with a fine mesh strainer within it. Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean, honey, and another good pinch of salt in a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the milk steams, but don’t bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until the yolks lighten just slightly and the sugar dissolves, then whisk in half the hot milk. Stir the egg mixture to the milk in the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat-safe spatula, until the mixture thickens slightly. (Again, be careful not to bring to a boil or the eggs will curdle.) As soon as the custard thickens, pour it through the strainer into the bowl over the ice bath, discarding any egg solids that stick to the strainer but hanging on to the vanilla bean. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod with a sharp knife and mix into the custard. Let the custard come to room temperature, stirring occasionally, while preparing the berries.
Bring the berries to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 3 minutes, mashing further as needed to completely break them up. Run the berries through a strainer, scraping the pulp with a spoon until all the fruit and juice has passed through. Discard the seeds and hulls.
Once both the custard and the berry mixture have cooled down, cover them both and chill them in the coolest part of the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, and up to 24.
When ready to freeze the ice cream, stir the custard and berry mixture together, and pour into your ice cream maker. Churn until a soft-serve consistency is reached, then transfer to tightly covered containers, pressing plastic wrap against the surface of the ice cream if there’s more than nominal headspace between the ice cream and the container lid. Let the ice cream firm up and ripen in the freezer for at least two hours before serving.
Friday, August 24, 2012
The early season apples are finally here, and last week I picked up a basket of gorgeous green Summer Rambos at the Lansdowne Farmer’s Market. For the August challenge, I decided to turn them into apple sorbet, inspired by the recipe from Kitsch in the Kitchen. I reduced the sugar by half a cup since my apples were a little sweeter than the Granny Smiths she uses, and since I don’t have an ice cream maker, I used the freeze-blend-refreeze method, and it worked just fine. I served the sorbet with fresh mint leaves from my garden. It tasted like smooth frozen applesauce, a summer treat with the taste of autumn too.
Curry Carrot Ice Cream
Monday, August 13, 2012
When I saw the recipe for curry carrot ice cream over at Not Eating Out in New York, I got pretty excited. But in reading the recipe (and trying it out), I think the ice cream is misnamed. It’s really curry coconut brown sugar ice cream with carrot bits. And that’s fine. I mean, curry brown sugar ice cream is pretty good. And the carrot bits, made from some carrots I bought at the local farmers market, added a tasty boost. I should specify here that my husband tried this ice cream and didn’t like the lingering curry aftertaste (I used mild curry powder).
But back to the curry carrot ice cream . . . of all the ice creams I’ve made for Farm to Philly’s Frozen Treats Challenge, this is the one with the fewest local ingredients. It’s also the first that includes coconut milk. The texture turns out quite different because of it, too. It’s just as creamy, but so far the ice cream hasn’t the same texture you get with only cream and milk. Not better or worse . . . just different.
Roasted Garlic Ice Cream with Raspberry Preserve Ribbon
Friday, August 10, 2012
Many years ago I took a trip out to California to visit a friend in the San Jose area. During my trip, we drove past Gilroy. If you’re a big fan of garlic, you probably already know all about Gilroy—it’s home to a huge annual garlic festival. My friend mentioned the garlic ice cream she’d had there the year prior, and I thought that was kind of odd. Fast forward, and here I am, making my own garlic ice cream for Farm to Philly’s Frozen Treats Challenge Month.
There are quite a few recipes for garlic ice cream floating around, but the one I chose features roasted garlic rather than raw. I like garlic—a lot—but roasted garlic has a sweeter, smoother flavor that lends itself to ice cream a bit better. I also like the combination of garlic and raspberries. The inclusion of homemade raspberry preserves added a nice ribbon through the ice cream. I admit that this ice cream reeks. I mean it. Everytime I open the tub to eat a bowl, I get a giant whiff of garlic. And combined with the cream scent, well, it smells really wrong. But the flavor is more mellow than the odor, and it tastes pretty darn good.
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp honey
1/8th cup of sugar
2 heads of roasted garlic, bulbs squeezed out and mashed into a paste
6 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup (or more) of raspberry preserves
Combine garlic and cream in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Using a stick blender, blend the garlic/cream mixture for a minute (this also works in a blender or food processor). Mix egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Mix a ladleful of the cream mixture into the yolks and stir briskly; mix the yolk mixture into the saucepan. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the mixture is thickened to your liking.
Pour in your ice cream maker and freeze according to directions. When the ice cream has thickened, dribble in spoonfuls of preserves to make the ribbon. Alternatively, or in addition to, layer ice cream into a container, spread a layer of preserves over top, add more ice cream, then preserves, and continue until you have all ice cream in the container.
Makes a little over a pint of ice cream.
Aside from the sugar and vanilla, all ingredients for this ice cream can be had from local growers and suppliers.
Popsicles for the Brave
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
This one, I know, is a tougher sell than the blueberry-nectarine pops. It takes basically no work to convince kids and adults alike to grab a fruity, juicy treat, but it takes a significantly bolder palate to take on a brazen blend of chiles, spices, fresh mint, and seriously dark chocolate. I’m a confirmed chocoholic and a big fan of mixing in some heat, but even I second-guessed my decision when I ordered ice cream with all these elements on a vacation jaunt this time last year. The first bite, though, completely obliterated all doubts, and by the time I was scraping the bottom of the cup, I knew I was going to have to recreate that perfectly intense experience in my own kitchen somehow.
This month’s challenge provided me the opportunity to do it, since my two pots of varied mints are the only part of my herb garden that managed to just laugh in the face of the neverending heat wave of the past two months. Absolutely nothing can kill those puppies, so I constantly need to find ways to use bunches at a time. This recipe used up a giant handful of my spearmint, which I could also have achieved by steeping it in some water for iced tea, but trust me, this is a much nobler end for my weedy little leaves.
If looking at this recipe has you picturing chaos, let me describe the amazing harmony you get instead: Your first impression is the coolness of the mint, then you get the deeply fudgy denseness of the cocoa and chocolate, and then you’re hit with a warm tingle of chiles and spices. The next bite combines all of these at once, in a seamless symphony of flavors and textures very much for adults, wrapped up in the sneaky fun of eating something that deceptively looks like an innocent fudgesicle. The fact that it’s a pudding rather than an custard base means you get the dense, almost chewy texture of super-premium ice cream, and that same viscosity means there’s no drip factor even when it starts defrosting.
If you like the idea of dark chocolate infused with warm spices and cool mint but don’t want to bother with frozen treat making, hang on to this recipe for the holiday season instead. Double the quantities, spoon into pretty stemware, chill, and serve topped with barely-sweetened whipped cream and some shaved chocolate, and you’ll have a New Year’s firecracker of a dessert for eight, with almost no energy required.
Mexican Chocolate Pudding Pops
A large handful of fresh spearmint (10-12 sprigs)
1 ½ cups whole milk
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch cocoa
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder
⅛ teaspoon allspice
A good pinch of cayenne pepper
2 ounces excellent-quality dark chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon almond extract
Place the mint and all but ¼ cup of the milk in a small saucepan and bring to a strong simmer. Turn off the heat and let steep for five minutes, then lift out and discard the mint.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and spices. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup milk until a basically smooth paste forms, then whisk in the warm mint-infused milk. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over medium heat, whisking regularly, until thick, around 5 minutes.
Off the heat, whisk in the chocolate until melted through, followed by the vanilla and almond extracts. Let cool to just about room temperature, pour into popsicle molds, and insert the sticks. Freeze until solid, then unmold and offer up to your adventurous eaters.
A Popsicle for Everyone
I make ice cream at least once per summer, because I have an ice cream maker and it has to earn its place in my cabinets. I always enjoy it in the end, but the process of pre-freezing the sleeve, making the ice cream base, chilling the custard properly, churning the ice cream, and then maturing it in the freezer before getting to enjoy it is so long and involved that I pretty much only do it once per summer.
Popsicles, on the other hand, I could make just about every week from June through September. They’re so much less work and planning, and with a summer like we’re having, who wouldn’t want to have a refreshing, icy popsicle every single day? They’re also a perfect and perfectly easy way to use whatever perfectly ripe fruit catches your eye at the farmer’s market, like the blueberries and nectarines did for me last week. Just blend them with a little bit of orange juice, some simple sugar syrup to balance out the tartness, and a small shot of orange liqueur to punch things up for the grownups, pour them into molds, wait a couple of hours, and you have all the flavor of summer with a tiny fraction of the work a sorbet or granita would require.
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup boiling water
3 ripe nectarines
½ pint blueberries
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Cointreau (optional)
Mix the sugar and water together in a one-cup heat-safe measuring cup until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
Peel and roughly chop the nectarine, placing it in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Add the blueberries and juice, and blend with an immersion blender until mostly smooth but still speckled with blueberry bits. (You can do this in the carafe of a regular blender instead.) Add about a third of the syrup to the fruit mixture and taste, adding more as necessary until it’s as sweet as you want it, erring on the side of a little too sweet since freezing will dull the flavors a bit. Add the Cointreau if using.
Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and insert the sticks. Freeze until solid, then unmold and enjoy.
Note: You can swap out the fruit for anything other kind you prefer in this basic recipe, and you can also scale it up easily to however many popsicle molds you have.
Frozen Treats Challenge: Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream
Sunday, August 05, 2012
Coldstone Creamery used to have a flavor combination I loved that was made up of chocolate ice cream, brownies, fudge swirl, and cherry pie filling. It’s no longer on the menu, but you can still get them to make it for you. But when you can make your own using fresh, local cherries, why would you bother?
I didn’t know what to expect when I made this Black Forest ice cream recipe from Kitchen Simplicity. Most of the time when I include fruit chunks in my ice cream, it freezes solid and turns into fruit ice cubes. Apparently, the key is to candy the cherries. It makes sense. I mean, the key to keeping popsicles the right bite-able consistency is sugar, so why not the same for fruit? And let me tell you: this ice cream is fantastic. It’s rich and fruity and has great mouth feel.
Candying cherries (recipe for this is also over at Kitchen Simplicity) is simple, and you get the added bonus of having about a cup of cherry syrup leftover. What can you do with cherry syrup? Well, it turns out quite a few things. It makes a nice addition to a variety of cocktails, for starters. And then there are these ideas:
- Add it to milkshakes and smoothies
- Use it to make cherry sauce for pork chops or chicken
- Crush ice and use it as a sno-cone flavoring
- Mix with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to make a cherry salad dressing
The chocolate-cherry ice cream is a bit of a process, I admit. Candying the cherries and letting the dry, making the ice cream base and chilling it, melting the chocolate to pour into the batter when it freezes in the ice cream maker . . . but it’s well worth the effort. And if you don’t have an ice cream maker, the batter would make excellent popsicles, with or without the addition of cherries and chocolate ribbon.
Frozen Treats Challenge: Beet Ice Cream
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Since it’s Frozen Treat Challenge Month on Farm to Philly, I thought it would be fun to kick things off with something . . . different. Behold the beauty of beet ice cream with orange zest and poppy seed, recipe courtesy of Cosmo Cookie.
Seriously, is that not gorgeous?
Not all the ingredients are local—the poppy seeds, the corn syrup, orange zest, and cornstarch, for instance. But everything else is, including the beets, which I picked up last weekend at the Lansdowne Farmers Market.
Now, I can hear you thinking to yourself, That’s all well and good, but why would anyone in their right mind eat beet-flavored ice cream? It’s true. The idea is a little oddball, even if you really love beets, like I do. But the beets are roasted, which makes them sweet, and then there’s the addition of cream and sugar, and that makes them sweeter still. It’s just the tiniest bit savory, but this ice cream is delicious. I inhaled the batch I made.
Full disclosure: My husband was less enamored of it, but he’s a very picky eater who refuses to eat beets. Boo hiss.
The Frozen Treats Challenge Month
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Every now and then, we at Farm to Philly like to participate in special challenges. When I put the question to our writers last month, Gabriela immediately answered back: frozen treats. And really, as I write this, it’s 10:45 am and 86 degrees with 65 percent humidity. It’s sticky outside, and all I’m craving is a popsicle. With the heat waves and the disgusting Philly humidity we deal with every year, I’d say it’s the perfect idea. So I hereby declare August Frozen Treats Challenge Month!
Bust out your popsicle molds and ice cream makers, and use the best locally grown produce and locally produced milk and eggs to make granita, sorbet, water ice, ice cream, or whatever other frozen treat your little heart desires. We’ll be doing the same, and you’ll be able to read about our exploits throughout the month. Not on the Farm to Philly staff but want to share your successes (or valiant efforts)? Email me with your guest post or photos—we’ll post them!
Nigel Slater’s Rutabaga and Potato Cake
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Before this month’s challenge, I didn’t give much thought to the rutabaga. If it happened to show up in one of my late-season CSA shares - another burden of “farmer’s choice” - then I would add it to stews, soups, or roasts as just another root vegetable. In other words, I was using it for as a substitute for potatoes, not as something with distinct flavors of its own. Spurred by this month’s challenge, I found this from Nigel Slater. It isn’t difficult to make (assuming you have a mandoline), and I made only minor adjustments with excellent results.
Serve with a green salad (It went particularly well with some watercress from the Fair Food Farmstand).
Potato Rutabaga Cake
1 lb. potatoes, sliced thinly (with a mandoline)
1 lb. rutabaga, sliced thinly (with a mandoline)
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
7 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons mustard
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves, chopped finely
6 tablespoons chicken stock
Follow instructions as directed. However, I would make two suggestions. First, be sure to thoroughly dry the rutabaga and potato slices. Second, while Slater suggests that the potatoes and rutabaga can just be thrown in the pan, I would strongly recomend that you carefully layer them in the pan as though you were making a gallette. I find that the slices coalesce better as a true layered cake rather than a jumble.
Eating in the Raw
Thursday, February 23, 2012
When faced with rutabagas, a lot of people will fall back on what they know: mashing them. Now, mashed rutabagas are great and carry a lot of flavor, but you can also eat them raw.
Sliced rutabagas make a nice, crunchy snack all by themselves, but you can also use them raw in other ways.
The Putting Up With The Turnbulls website features a great recipe from Liana Krissoff’s book Canning For A New Generation, which gives you a way to preserve the rutabaga. This vegetable may be in season now, but what if you get a craving for rutabaga in July? Grab a can of pickled rutabaga (photo from Putting Up With The Turnbulls).
The pickling process is much like any other pickling recipe you might run into, but with the addition of cayenne, cumin seeds, and paprika. The result are puckery but delicious rutabaga pickles with a crunch.
Another great raw rutabaga recipe, Savoy Cabbage and Rutabaga Slaw, makes a fantastic accompaniment to a meal. Cabbage is another cool weather crop, which makes this slaw something that can be put together from almost all locally grown ingredients. In addition to raw cabbage and rutabaga, it also calls for walnuts, molasses, and vinegar—you can often find these at local markets, like the Fair Food Farmstand.
So are there benefits to eating raw rutabaga over cooked rutabaga? Yes. Cooking vegetables lowers the nutritional value in many cases. So during Rutabaga Challenge Month, embrace raw rutabaga.
Rutabaga Challenge: Rutabaga Beef Stew Over Couscous
Monday, February 13, 2012
Since February is Rutabaga Challenge Month, I’ve been looking for a special recipe. With the weather turning cold and sorta-kinda snowy recently (if you can call a dusting of flurries snow), I’ve been wanting stew. So hey, rutabaga can be made into stew, right?
I based this on a potato-beef stew, replacing the potatoes with rutabaga. The rutabaga, beef, beef stock, tomato paste, onion, and cayenne pepper can be sourced locally (or, in the case of the stock, paste, and pepper, made from locally grown ingredients). The result was a hearty, warming dish that fills you up.
1 lb. of beef cubes for stew (you can use strip steak or any cut of steak that doesn’t get too tough when cooked)
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1/2 of a large rutabaga, cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. of tomato paste
1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, ground coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. of all purpose flour
3.5 cups beef stock
1 cup water, boiling
2/3 cup of couscous
Heat the olive oil in a very large skillet over medium heat; brown beef on all sides. Remove the beef to a plate (note: the beef should not be cooked through—just browned). Add rutabaga, onion, paste, and spices to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Give it a stir every thirty seconds or so and cook for five minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir well for another minute. Add the stock and increase the heat to medium-high; bring to a boil and cook until the rutabaga is tender and the stock has thickened. This should take about fifteen minutes.
Add boiling water to couscous and let it steam.
Return the steak to the skillet with the rutabaga and onion. Decrease the heat to medium and cook for 2-3 minutes (until the beef is cooked through). Serve stew over couscous.
When you’ve got extra cayenne peppers coming out of your garden next year, consider making your own. There’s a great tutorial here.
Viva La Rutabaga!
Thursday, February 02, 2012
February is Rutabaga Challenge Month at Farm to Philly!
Let’s face it: rutabagas are fugly—they sort of look like waxy, oversized turnips…on a good day. Most people don’t know what a rutabaga is or what it’s used for, a theory I put to the test recently when I point-blank asked a handful of people to tell me about the root vegetable.
So what is a rutabaga? It is, indeed, related to turnips—it’s a cross between turnips and cabbage, and it’s an excellent vegetable that’s in season NOW. Sometimes you might seen it sold as a “yellow turnip.” They’re good for you, nutritionally speaking—lots of beta carotene, a good source of fiber, and you even get a nice boost in vitamin C, calcium, and iron. And they’re versatile: you can eat them cooked or raw. You can also eat rutabaga leaves.
No doubt you might be wondering why rutabagas are covered in a wax covering, right? It’s an issue of extending the vegetable’s storage life. Because rutabagas are not the most sought-after vegetable ever, grocery stores need to keep them from going bad. A wax covered rutabaga kept in the refrigerator will keep for up to two months. If you take special care of your rutabagas—stored at 32 to 35 degrees with 90 percent humidity—you can store unwaxed rutabagas for up to six months.
If you’ve always wondered how to cook a rutabaga or just want to prepare them in some different ways, be sure to check back at Farm to Philly throughout the month.
Good Ol’ Apple Pressing
Monday, October 31, 2011
I know I’m cutting it close to this month’s Apple Challenge, but what better day to post than on Halloween? And what better way to celebrate the fall than by a good ol’ apple pressing. This past weekend, some good friends who caretake at the historic Wyck House in Germantown invited a few friends over to press apples in the mansion’s apple press. Although this isn’t a press that dates as far back as some of the historic pieces in the mansion, it’s modeled after the traditional design used in the 1800’s and even before.
If you look at the picture, the apples are sitting in the grinder. The grinder is a cylinder with jagged edges that is attached to a crank wheel on the side. By spinning the wheel, the apples are processed through into small chunks that fall into the basket below lined with cheese cloth. Once the basket is filled, a lid is placed over the apples that fits inside the basket. The lid has a piece of metal on the top with a groove indented into it that will receive the business end of that long threaded rod coming from the top. The handle on top of the rod allows you to screw down the rod, pushing down the lid, and thus pressing the apples. The juice seeps out of the basket and the cloth, onto a tray with a hole at one end, from which that sweet nectar of the autumnal gods pours out.
The fruits of our labor were enjoyed by all as we drank the fresh cider right out of the press. It was amazing how different blends of different apples made juices with different shades, different thicknesses and different levels of sweet or tartness. This also reaffirmed my desire to buy my own press. Aside from the plenty of apples we get during the Fall in this region, I also have Italian black grapes in my yard and two plum trees across the street from my house. So I will have more than enough reasons to press. But after watching the press in action, my good friend Carl and I mused on the possibilities of building our own. I’ll keep you all up to date on our progress. As for now, I’m thankful for this great resource at the Wyck House. The caretakers also do pressing with school groups. For more info, please consult their website.
As a side note, should some of us have wanted to harden up that cider, the method is to take a small amount of sodium bicarbonate and add it to a five gallon glass carboy (available at most homebrew stores) to start the process. After three days of letting it rest, add champagne yeast and then let the fermentation process to begin. For best results, let the cider ferment for two to three months, reracking the cider into different containers two or three times through out the process.
So once again, here’s to fall and apples. Have a safe and fun halloween.