Taste test: Hardy Kiwi

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hardy kiwi

For many years I’ve been seeing the Hardy Kiwi in various gardening magazines, promising that it would happily grow for us here in the Northeast.  ‘Kiwis?’ I thought. “Here in Pennsylvania?  That’s just crazy talk!’

And so I didn’t give it a second thought.

Today, though, I was at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market where, lo and behold, there were a few quarts of these teeny tiny little green fruits being sold off.  The nice lady who works the stand gave me a taste.  Shockingly, they really do taste just like tropical kiwi.  The outside skin is smooth and shiny, rather than furry.  But inside is the same old kiwi look and taste.

As a rule, I’m not a huge eater of kiwi and mostly just bought them for the novelty.  I’m thinking, though, that I might try a little jam experiment this weekend…using these kiwi fruit and a different fruit I plan to forage from my backyard.  It might be interesting.

Posted by Nicole on 09/27 at 06:24 PM


CSA Weekly Report: Lancaster Farm Fresh

What does the last week of September hold for the Lancaster Farm Fresh share?

6 red slicing tomatoes grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm
½ lb. bunch edamame beans grown by Elm Tree Organics
4 red onions grown by Green Acres
1 bunch rutabaga tops grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm
1 head escarole or 1 head radicchio grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm
5 lbs. potatoes grown by Farmdale Organics
2 spaghetti squash grown by Elm Tree Organics

Apparently, we were also supposed to get either a bag of beets or a bag of green beans, but something went awry.  The LFF rep tells us that she’ll be giving us an extra vegetable in two weeks to make up for it.

I was surprised to see more tomatoes in the share.  Sure, we’re still pulling them off the vines in the garden, but I just got it in my head that there would be no more tomatoes.

It’s exciting to see edamame coming my way - I didn’t grow any in my garden this year.  And I’m thrilled to see a couple of spaghetti squash.  It’s a vegetable I haven’t really used very often in my cooking, and I’m delighted to sort of be forced into some experimenting!

It took fervent googling last night to figure out the uses of rutabaga tops.  Have you ever seen those for sale in the market?  I haven’t.  But I discovered that rutabaga tops can be eaten raw, an addition to salad greens.  Or they can be cooked like greens or treated like spinach - and I found a specific recommendation to cook them like collard greens.  I just happen to have some smoked pork neck bones in my freezer, so I could definitely cook up a mess of greens with those rutabaga tops…providing the ‘bunch’ is big enough.

Posted by Nicole on 09/27 at 08:31 AM


For Those Short on Space

20070922_0495



Let’s face it, a lot of us in the city are operating in small kitchens that have limited shelf space and even more limited freezer space.  Canning and freezing fresh produce to use over the winter isn’t nearly as feasible under these conditions.  Still, you don’t want to be left out of the “eat local” revolution for six whole months until Mother Nature decides to dust off her chilly shawl.  Cooks in by-gone days solved a similar problem (their’s being more along the lines of “I have a fireplace and an ice box”) by drying much of their summer harvests.  Once vegetables are dry, they’ll keep for several months and can be used much as you would the fresh version once they’re reconstituted after a soak in hot water.  I’ll be trying my hand a various drying techniques over the next few weeks on www.straightfromthefarm.net.  Let’s start here with some corn since its season is winding down fast. 


DRIED CORN

Use fresh sweet corn, husked and silk removed with a brush.  Six ears will fill up one standard baking sheet and yield about 2 cups of dried corn.

Cut corn off the cob using a sharp knife and a shallow bowl or cutting board.  Be sure to cut as close the cob as you can to remove all the kernels and juice possible.  Line a baking sheet with foil and give it just a very light coat of nonstick spray.  Spread corn kernels out on the baking sheet into an even layer.

Turn oven onto 150 F and place tray on the middle rack.  The drying process will take several hours (up to 12, depending on the freshness and juiciness of your corn) so be sure to check on it every 2 hours or so, turning it and shaking the tray gently to loosen any kernels that are sticking together or to the tray.  You’ll begin to notice the kernels shrinking and eventually becoming much darker and hard.  When all the moisture appears to be out of the corn, remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool off completely.

By the way, if you don’t really feel like monitoring the stove for 12 hours straight, you can turn off the oven, letting the tray sit inside, for several hours and come back to it later.  Or, if you have an older gas stove with a large oven pilot light, you might not even have to turn the oven on - just leave the corn sit in there for a day or so to dry on its own.

When the dried corn is cool, place in a paper bag and hang in your kitchen to dry out any remaining moisture.  After about a week or so, transfer dried corn to a ziplock bag and store in your cupboards for use later this winter.

Posted by Jennie on 09/27 at 06:55 AM


An Inadvertent Local Meal

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

unintentional local meal

I’ve been traveling the last couple of weeks, which means that I haven’t been able to get myself over to the Headhouse Square Farmers Market in at least three weeks.  The next few weeks don’t look much better either, as I’m going to be in Iowa this weekend (I’m hoping to get to eat some corn) and next weekend I’ve got a jumble of weddings, wedding celebrations and visits from my younger sister. 

But I thought I’d tell you about the inadvertent local meal I had a couple of weeks ago.  I do try to eat local, but I’m not perfect at it.  Most often at least one item in my meal is local, but rare is the day that every element comes from within spitting distance.  But one afternoon I was sitting down to a lunch of scrambled eggs, sliced tomato and steamed beans, when I realized that everything on my plate had been purchased directly from the farmer.  The eggs and tomato had been purchased at the Headhouse market and the beans were from the Tuesday morning Rittenhouse Square market.  The realization made the meal just that much more delicious. 

Posted by Marisa on 09/26 at 02:46 PM


Slow Food Dinner Tonight at Marigold Kitchen

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On Wednesday, September 26, 2007, Slow Food Philadelphia is sponsoring a five-course dinner at Marigold Kitchen inspired by chef Michael Solomonov’s recent trip through Turkey and Israel.

Amuse Bouche

First Course
Modern and Classic Mezze.  Eggplant salad, chopped Israeli salad with quail eggs and white anchovies, tuna carpaccio stuffed with tabouleh, and mussels cooked with spiced basmati rice.

Second Course
Braised swordfish with Shakshouka (classic tomato stew) and poached egg.

Third Course
Smoked loin of lamb with stewed prunes and flavored with Za’atar.

Dessert
Peach sorbet with peach salad, peach mousse, and peach cobbler with labneh ice cream.

$50 + tax and tip (the total price will be $65).  Reservations can be made through Open Table Philadelphia.

Slow Food USA is an educational organization dedicated to stewardship of the land and ecologically sound food production; to the revival of the kitchen and the table as centers of pleasure, culture, and community, to the invigoration and proliferation of regional, seasonal culinary traditions. The members of the Philadelphia chapter come from a wide variety of professions and backgrounds. It organizes dinners, tastings, tours, lectures, and picnics, where members gather in a convivial setting to explore the richness of our area’s culinary heritage or the food and drink of other cultures around the world.

Marigold Kitchen
501 S. 45th St.
(215) 222-3699

Posted by David on 09/25 at 11:18 PM


CSA Weekly Report: Red Earth Farm

CSA 2007 #10

This week’s share:

Plum tomatoes- some were damaged when I brought them home.
Nordello peppers- new to me. Described as mildly hot.
Turnips- these are mild, almost potato-like in their consistency and flavor.
Leeks- made roasted leeks last week, which were delicious.
Mustard greens- pungent. Not sure what I’ll do with these yet.
Flat-leaf parsley

Posted by Yoko on 09/25 at 11:27 PM


CSA Weekly Report: Blooming Glen Farm

Autumn is here. Happy fall equinox!

CSA crop share 2007 #18 - 0925 - 01

CSA crop share 2007 #18 - 0925 - 02

(Click photo to read notes at flick’r regarding names and quantities of this week’s share.)

Is that an amazingly colorful and diverse share, or what?

Posted by Mikaela on 09/25 at 09:16 PM


Herbalicious

My coworker-slash-friend, LM, surprised me with a bouquet of herbs from her garden this morning. Of course, they’ve totally livened up my office, both visually and nasally:

Herb bouquet from Laura 01

Herb bouquet from Laura 02

Spearmint, sage, tarragon, rosemary, thyme.  Can you help a sister out?  Any suggestions as to what to do with it all?  If I have to preserve some, which ones preserve the best?  Should I freeze or dry?  I don’t want to waste a single leaf smile

Posted by Mikaela on 09/25 at 09:39 AM


Challenge update - week 3

Monday, September 24, 2007

I can barely believe this is the last week of the September Eat Local Challenge - this month has flown by!  So how did we all do last week?

Naomi made local corn bread and a tofu stir fry, and shared the cornbread recipe with us.

Anj canned peppers in oil and vinegar, and made a great vegan vegetable soup using leftovers for the stock.  Better yet, she has promised to share her canning technique!

Jeanne collected a gorgeous CSA share from Greensgrow Farm this week, and went on a little shopping trip to the Schuylkill River Park Farmer’s market for peaches, figs, apples, and carrots.  Her local meal was a mostly local vegetable soup she had frozen earlier this Summer.

I tried a couple of locally produced cheeses, and made three local meals - Daikon ribbon pasta with tomato basil sauce,  and two meals using Butternut squash.  And I made pickled carrots.

Did you miss the deadline?  Just add your progress to the comments section!

Posted by Nicole on 09/24 at 01:22 PM


The beautiful Butternut

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Winter squash, like Butternut, Delicata, Sunshine, Spaghetti, and Kabocha, have been finding their way into our CSA shares and farmers market trips lately.  I’ve had lots of Butternut, in particular.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve roasted at least three of them.

I do prefer Butternut roasted, no matter what I’m doing with it - it’s just easier to peel that way.  Peeling and chopping uncooked Butternut is hard work, and I like to take the easy way out whenever possible!  To roast a Winter squash, just preheat your oven to 400 degrees, cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast (cut side down) for about 20 minutes or so.

Some of my Butternut was cubed and frozen.  Some of it was used immediately.  Like in this soup I made last week…

butternutsoup

There’s nothing quite like soup to use up all your extra produce!  And temperatures were cool enough around here last week to actually make some soup.  The soup contains Butternut squash, onions, and swiss chard from my CSA share, tomatoes from my garden, and some homemade chicken stock I made last month from a local chicken.  I also used some non-local parmesan rinds to flavor the soup up a bit.  It was delicious!

butterpud

Tonight for dinner, I made Butternut and mushroom bread pudding.  A lot of people are familiar with sweet bread puddings, but hardly anyone traffics in savory bread pudding.  It’s a lot like bread stuffing, and is a great way to use up whatever veggies you’ve got lying around the house.  In this case, there was a Butternut from last week’s CSA share, and some mushrooms from Mother Earth Mushrooms in West Grove.  In fact, everything I used for the bread pudding was local, except the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

3 cups Butternut squash, roasted and cubed
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1 tsp olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 c. milk
1 c. aged parmesan, shredded
salt and pepper
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites
9 c. day old bread, torn up into bite-sized pieces (I used Le Bus brioche)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute onion, garlic, and mushrooms for about five minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Combine 1/4 tsp salt, a pinch of pepper, milk, 1/2 c. cheese, eggs and whites; whisk lightly.  Stir in squash and onion mixture.  Add bread and stir gently to combine.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Spoon into a large baking dish coated with cooking spray or butter.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 45 minutes.

This is some great comfort food and makes excellent leftovers!

Posted by Nicole on 09/23 at 06:52 PM


Apple-tomatillo chutney

After my week of canning with my dad, Nicole asked for my recipe for apple-tomatillo chutney.  Since I’m sure a few other people would be interested, here it is.  (Please note that it’s an approximation of what we did this year.  It varies from year to year, but I have yet to encounter a version I didn’t like.)

2 qt processed* tomatillos
5 med apples, chopped & cored
1/2 c cider vinegar
1 c sugar
1 t each of mustard seeds
          cumin seeds
          coriander seeds
          fenugreek seeds
2 onions, diced
2 t cinnamon
2 t granulated garlic
1 c currants

Start by toasting the seeds and then cooking the onions to translucence.  Add the tomatillos and then the apples and the rest of the ingredients.  Cook until the apples have fallen apart, then jar and seal in a standard water bath.  I think this batch made two pints and six or eight half-pints. 

*processed=chopped and cooked enough so they won’t go bad if you leave them in the fridge a few extra days

Posted by Naomi on 09/23 at 04:34 PM


Hendricks Farm Cow Pie

Hendricks Cowpie cheese

I can’t think of a more unappetizing name for cheese than Cow Pie.  It gives me visions of cow manure and stanky odors.  However ill-advised the name is, the cheese is outstanding.  Cow Pie from Hendricks Farm and Dairy is a mild, creamy cheese made from raw cow milk (grassfed cows!).  It has a bloomy rind that is incredibly delicious.  At room temperature, the cheese becomes gooey and wonderful, like the Camembert Hendricks Farm modeled the cheese on.

Hendricks Farm makes their Cow Pie cheese using the cow’s evening milk, which is fattier.  And the fat makes the difference here.  It’s a great, rich cheese that I highly recommend.  In fact, I think Cow Pie just became my all time favorite locally made cheese.

Cow Pie is available at the Fair Food Farmstand and Salumeria at Reading Terminal Market, their farm store in Telford, Cheese! in Phoenixville, Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop in Philly, Bakers on Broad in Souderton, and, I’m told, Whole Foods.  You can also find it at Majolica in Phoenixville.

Hendricks Farm is located in Telford, PA.  They’ll be hosting their second annual Oktoberfest at the farm on October 26.

Posted by Nicole on 09/23 at 09:04 AM


Keeping it simple

Saturday, September 22, 2007

After my last attempt at an all-local meal proved frustrating, I decided not to overthink things the next time around. And I didn’t. I’ve made a number of all-local meals the past few weeks, from an almost entirely local brisket dinner for Rosh Hashanah to a quick spaghetti squash garlic and cheese bake. Last night I was in the mood for potatoes and and I knew my husband was dying to eat the sausage that came in our meat delivery the day before.  I have a habit of pairing sausage with tomato sauce and pasta which I never serve with potatoes but I decided to throw caution to the wind and do something different. I’m a mad woman, I know.

csa.8.9

The result was Italian fennel and garlic sausage (Meadow Run Farm) with sauteed onions and multi-colored bell peppers(Red Earth Farm), roasted red potatoes with garlic (Red Earth) and rosemary(my garden), and steamed broccoli (Lancaster County). I picked up the broccoli at the farmer’s market because it was the first local broccoli I’ve seen since spring. My poor son has been deprived of broccoli, which he loves, all summer long. The only non-local ingredients were the olive oil, salt and pepper. 

We all got what we wanted. My husband must have eaten more than half a pound of sausage, my son ate almost all of the broccoli, and I couldn’t get enough of the potatoes and continued snacking on the leftovers as I cleaned the kitchen after dinner.

The recipe for the potatoes came from a cookbook by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Though their recipes aren’t the most imaginative or exotic they are always reliable. I’ve found their potato recipes have been superb. In the past when I’ve roasted potatoes tossed with garlic the garlic burns and doesn’t always stick to the potato. This recipe calls for tossing the hot potatoes with a garlic paste rather than cooking the potatoes and garlic together.  The potatoes come out crisp and garlicky (though I have to admit I was feeling lazy and cut the potatoes badly so they didn’t cook as evenly as I would have liked.)

Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary
from The Best Vegetable Recipes

2 lbs red bliss or other low starch potatoes, scrubbed halved and cut into 3/4 inch wedges
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil in a medium bowl to coat; season generously with salt and pepper and toss again to blend.

Place the potatoes flesh-side down in a single layer on a shallow roasting pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook for 20 minutes.  While the potatoes are roasting mince the 2 medium garlic cloves. Sprinkle them with 1/8 teaspoon of salt and mash with the flat side of a chef’s knife blade until a paste forms. Transfer the garlic paste to a large bowl and set aside. Remove the foil from the potatoes and roast until the side of the potato touching the pan is crusty brown, about 15 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven and with a metal spatula carefully turn the potatoes. (Press the spatula against the pan as it slides under the potatoes to protect the crusts.)  Return the pan to the oven and roast until the side now touching the pan is crusty golden brown, 7 minutes more. Sprinkle the potatoes with rosemary and cook another 3 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the pan with the metal spatula (again taking care not to rip the crusts) and transfer to the bowl with the garlic paste. Toss to distribute and serve warm.

Posted by Jackie on 09/22 at 08:29 PM


CSA Weekly Report: Red Earth Farm

csa.8.9

Lots of greens in the box this week though some were the tops of other veggies. This week’s share contained

1 bok choy
1 bunch radishes
1 bunch red kale
3 largish turnips
quart of green beans
1 bunch leeks
1 head radicchio

I don’t have any interesting plans for most of the greens, but they’ll all get eaten. Half of the radishes made it into a tabouli salad I brought to a party. The radicchio is going onto a Gouda and Red Salad Pizza recipe I found at Epicurious. I don’t know what to do with turnips, though my America’s Test Kitchen cook book tells me they’re best roasted. I may just freeze them and save them for later.

Does anyone have any interesting bok choy recipes?

Can you do anything with radish greens or should I just let my son feed them to the pig around the corner?

Posted by Jackie on 09/22 at 08:13 PM


LeRaysville Cheese Factory Sommelier

Friday, September 21, 2007

LeRaysville Cheese Factory Sommelier

It’s rare that my husband will eat cheese that I bring into the house.  I’m an artisanal cheese kind of a girl - the stinkier the better.  My husband is a Cracker Barrel block o’ cheese kind of a guy.  And not that there’s anything wrong with Cracker Barrel - I just wouldn’t sit down and snack on it.  But I digress!  What I’m trying to say is that the stars must be aligned because he ate the Sommelier cheese from LeRaysville Cheese Factory.

LeRaysville is a very small Amish cheese factory located in LeRaysville.  When I say ‘very small’, I mean it - there are just three employees.  They source their milk from local farmers (who pledge not to use rBGH) and specialize in raw milk cheddar.  Coincidentally, they also specialize in supporting family farms.  When milk prices are low, they they set their minimum price 15% above what the factory cheese joints are paying.  I’m told they also run cheesemaking workshops, so if you’re ever out in Bradford County you might want to check that out.

The Sommelier is a Havarti cheese and won the 2002 American Cheese Society Blue Ribbon.  It’s a semi-soft cow milk cheese with added cream.  It’s an absolutely mild, lovely cheese that comes in a one pound round.  It’s quite economical, as well - an entire round is just $7.50.  I’ve been eating it with water crackers, figs, and a glass of Reisling, but I suspect it would make a superb baked macaroni and cheese.

My husband thinks the Sommelier has a provolone-ish flavor, and I can sort of see why.  I find it much more buttery in flavor than a provolone, more swiss cheese than provolone.  In any case, it’s delicious and available at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market.

Posted by Nicole on 09/21 at 04:19 PM


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