Archive for June, 2008

One Local Summer, wk4: Spring Herb Chicken

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

This week’s OLS dinner was spring herb and yogurt marinated chicken, served with a swiss chard and maitake mushroom saute and a little non-local brown rice (leftover from another meal). Mushrooms, chicken and yogurt came from Pa. (slightly past the 100 mi. border), while the herbs (savory and chives) and chard came from our CSA, Potomac Vegetable Farms in Va. (23 mi.).

For dessert, Virginia ricotta and honey and sweet Pennsylvania cherries. Yum.

Ricotta from Blue Ridge Dairy, Va. (45 mi.)

Zucchini Tagliatelle Alfredo

Friday, June 27th, 2008

This was another improvisational pasta night dish, as my original plans to use the last of my fresh ricotta were thwarted by the cheese having spoiled (so tragic). Fortunately, I still had some cream from last week’s shortcake, so this evolved into a springy green alfredo sauce. I thought it was yummy, but the husband felt it would be better if I had used bacon instead of zucchini …. you could certainly add meat to this recipe if you’re so inclined. I bet some Italian sausage would be good.

Recipe: Zucchini Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. shredded zucchini, strained/squeezed of excess liquid
  • 1 white onion (fresh CSA spring onion)
  • 1/3 c fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 c cream
  • 1/4 c grated parmiaggiano

Instructions:

Melt butter and olive oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until onion begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in zucchini and cook 2 minutes more. Add pinch of salt and pepper and cream and cook about 5 minutes, until cream begins to bubble. Stir in parsley and cheese and remove from heat. Toss with cooked pasta (used tagliatelle here) and enjoy!

Submitted for next week’s Presto Pasta Night, hosted by Once Upon a Feast. Check out this week’s round-up at Chew on That.

Simple Summer Treats: Fro-Yo on a Stick

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Much has been written lately about gourmet, fanciful and decidedly adult popsicles, but this simple version is suitable for toddlers on up.

I bought these little swizzle stick molds at Target, as they are just the right serving size for a toddler. You can of course use regular popsicle molds for bigger kids.

Recipe: Berry Yogurt Pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. yogurt (Pequea Valley Farm, PA, 132 mi.)
  • 1/2 c. fresh berries (cherries here, Toigo Orchards, PA, 114 mi.)
  • 1 t honey
  • 1/2 t vanilla

Instructions: Blend ingredients and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze for several hours, take outside and enjoy!

One Local Summer, wk3: Squash + Berries

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

This week, with Father’s Day on Sunday, our one local summer “day” was spread out throughout the week. For Father’s Day, the husband and I went out to an Italian cheese and meat course at Cheesetique, followed by dinner at Rustico. Rustico is a great neighborhood restaurant that sources a lot of their products from local farms and producers, and has a massive beer selection. I managed to have a fairly-local meal there, with Chesapeake (Dragon Creek) oysters, asparagus salad with FireFly goat cheese (MD, 173mi.), and the most local beer they had on tap, Southampton Ale (NY, 330mi.). (On tap = less packaging, which offsets some of the miles, right? That’s my story, anyway.)

I visited two farmers markets this week, Alexandria’s West End and Penn Quarter in DC (photos), plus had the CSA bag. We still have a fridge full of veggies to use up before the next CSA delivery on Wednesday as I just can’t pass up all the great summer produce that’s coming into season! Here’s what we cooked this week:

Dad’s Day Brunch: Pattypan squash and Virginia spicy beef sausage hash, chocolate-strawberry stuffed french toast, topped with strawberry red wine sauce. (Non-local but organic chocolate, bread from local bakery.) This squash hash is a great way to lighten the traditional potato-based dish for summer.

Recipe: Squash and Sausage Hash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pattypan squash, diced (any summer squash would work really)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 sausages, sliced
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 2 T parsley, chopped

Heat oil over medium high heat. Add sausage and brown. Reduce heat to medium and add onion and squash. Cook about 5-7 minutes until squash is tender and golden. Remove from heat, add fresh parsley and serve.

(Toddler tried to like this, but the spicy beef sausage was just too spicy! Will make sure to get a sweet sausage for him next time.)

Dinner 1: garlic scape pesto-marinated flank steak and golden zucchini on the grill (non-local brown rice).

Dinner 2: leftover steak and zucchini salad, with a side of roasted asparagus, egg, and shaved Everona Stony Man cheese.

Dessert: previously mentioned Summer Solstice Shortcake with Basil-Infused Berries. (non-local flour, baking soda and salt)

So far my only local grain find is Maryland corn meal. I need to find some other grains, but I have a feeling whole grains like brown rice are not going to be possible.

Farmers/Producers:

  • Parsley, scapes, lettuce – Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA, VA, 23mi.
  • Asparagus, berries – Westmoreland Berry Farm, VA, 71mi.
  • Stony Man (aged sheeps milk) cheese – Everona Dairy, VA, 83mi.
  • Squash, onion – J&W Valley View Farm, VA, 84mi.
  • Organic eggs – Hilldale Farm, VA, 111mi.
  • Sausage, flank steak – Fauquier County, VA, 67mi. (via Let’s Meat on the Avenue, 1.1mi.)

Summer Solstice Shortcake

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Growing up, we had an annual Strawberry Shortcake Festival every Father’s Day weekend in June, at the country grange* just down the road from us. This was *the* event of the year on our dusty little mountain, with people coming from miles away (from The City, even, so you know it was a big deal) and lines stretching for hours around the grange. They had the good sense to also host a craft fair, so folks could browse as they waited in line. There was also a walk-up window when you could get your shortcake to go. From an early age, I couldn’t wait for the year I’d be old enough to be a shortcake waitress. I think the minimum age was about 8 to bus tables (you got to share the tips!) and maybe 11 or 12 to be a “real” waitress. (Apparently child labor laws didn’t apply that weekend.) Since the only menu options were cake or biscuit and small, large or family, it didn’t require too much experience. Waitresses got to wear the official strawberry aprons, sewed by the old ladies of the neighborhood, with a pocket to store our precious tips. I remember the legend of a girl a few years old than us who once made $80 in a single day. A lot when you consider tips came in dimes and quarters. (Okay, I swear I didn’t grow up in the Depression, just a rural mountain in Oregon…)

Oregon (Hood) strawberries, for those who’ve never been fortunate enough to taste them, are juicy, sweet and flavorful — a far cry from the bland California creatures found in supermarkets across the country. There’s an easy way to identify the imposters, too; an Oregon berry hull pops right out with a pinch of the stem, no silly huller required. The key to a good strawberry crop is a rainy spring (which Oregon most definitely has) followed by a dry spell to let the berries ripen. Miraculously, it almost never rained Festival weekend and the berries were at the peak of ripeness. The biscuit was actually shortcake, while the cake option was more of a spongecake. Both baked from scratch by neighborhood women in the kitchen. Others would hull, slice and sugar the berries (this was one of the few areas men were allowed to participate in), whip fresh cream, and then assemble the plate. A “small” was the size of a regular salad plate, large a dinner plate, and family size came on a platter. Think turkey platter. Something like eight biscuits piled sky high with berries and cream, it was literally a meal for a family of eight.

Needless to say, Father’s Day and strawberry shortcake is inextricably linked in my taste memories. My husband, however, is more of a chocolate dessert guy and doesn’t really get my obsession with not-too-sweet shortcake doused in sweet red berry juice, cream flowing down the sides …. sorry, tastebuds were getting carried away there. So on Father’s Day I took him out for more manly indulgences, and saved the shortcake for later in the week. Rather than forcing my culinary traditions on his day, I’m declaring a new tradition: Summer Solstice Shortcake.

Because our Virginia berries just aren’t quite as flavorful as the ones from my childhood, I like to give them a boost with balsamic vinegar. One of my favorite summer salads is strawberries with balsamic, cracked pepper, basil and honey – this take on shortcake infuses some of the fresh basil taste into a classic summer dessert.

Recipe: Summer Solstice Shortcake

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe shortcake, using your favorite recipe.
    I used Betty Crocker’s, but I’m not in love with it.
  • 1 pt strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
    (Westmoreland Berry Farm, VA, 71 mi.)
  • 1/2 pt other berry of your choice, optional.
    Used black raspberries here. (also Westmoreland)
  • 2 T basil syrup
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 c heavy cream (Trickling Springs Creamery, PA, 104 mi.)
  • 1 t sugar

Instructions:

Toss berries with basil syrup, sugar and vinegar and let stand at room temperature for an hour. Make shortcake (or biscuits) and cool. Whip cream and sugar into soft peaks. Assemble: slice shortcake in half, place bottom half on plate and cover in berries with lots of juice. Top with cream and top half of shortcake. Garnish with basil leaf (optional), and enjoy!

* I used to babysit the boy who won the scholarship this year!! Wow. I really am old.