Archive for June, 2009

One Local Supper, BLT Fettuccine

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

one local summer 2009We were out of town again over the weekend, so our local foods eating was partly an effort to use up market and CSA produce before we left. This colorful pasta creation used a rainbow of locally-sourced ingredients, starting with a favorite staple at our house, fresh pasta by Nancy of Smith Meadows. Nancy uses their wildly popular free-range eggs and herbs and vegetables grown at neighboring farms to make these delicious pastas. The flavors range from oat and wheat to herbed fettuccine and mixed greens or blue cheese pecan ravioli. Nancy has also expanded her offerings to include sauces, for an even more effortless “fast food” meal you can feel good about, too.

This week, I used bacon, cherry tomatoes and chard for a “BLT” (subbing chard for the lettuce) pasta dish, a flavorful and quick weeknight dinner, with a side of green and yellow string beans for good measure.

BLT fettucine

Recipe: “BLT” Fettuccine

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh sun dried tomato fettuccine
  • 4 slices nitrate-free bacon
  • 1 bunch chard, rinsed and cut into thick slices
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound string beans, ends trimmed
  • several basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions: Bring large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat and cook bacon until crisp and brown, 6-7 minutes. Remove to drain on paper towel lined plated. Drain excess grease, leaving a light coating in the bottom of the pan. Add chard and season with a pinch of salt and pepper; reduce heat to medium low and cook until chard just begins to wilt. Remove from pan. Add cherry tomatoes to pan, increase heat back to medium high and cook until tomatoes begin to blister, 6-8 minutes.

While the tomatoes cook, blanch string beans in salted boiling water just 1-2 minutes, then use slotted spoon or pasta skimmer to remove beans and rinse with cold water in a colander. Set aside and boil pasta for 2 minutes (or according to package instructions if using boxed pasta). Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water.

In a large pasta serving bowl, gently stir together cooked pasta, tomatoes, chard, bacon, and basil. Press gently on tomatoes to release their juices. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil and reserved pasta water until moist. (Optional: grate parmesan cheese over top.) Arrange string beans around the side of the pasta, and enjoy! Makes 6 servings.

Farms of Origin: Cibola Farms (bacon), Potomac Vegetable Farms (chard, basil), Three Way Farm (beans, tomatoes), Smith Meadow Farm (pasta) — all in Virginia.

One Local Summer is an annual challenge in which people around the world join together for 13 weeks of seasonal eating, supporting local farmers and exploring their local foodsheds. Visit FarmtoPhilly on Tuesdays for the weekly round-up; here’s what my neighbors in the Southern region cooked up this week.

At Market: Cherries, Tomatoes & Cherry Tomatoes

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

one local summer 2009The aforementioned Saturday morning thunderstorms made for a damp morning at the Del Ray Farmers Market, but fair weather shoppers missed out on one of the best weeks of the year — the turning point between spring and summer where the final strawberries cross paths with the first field-ripened tomatoes and even a few small ears of sweet corn. We had a Father’s Day picnic planned for Sunday, so the boy picked out green and yellow beans (Mr. Biggs) and a pint of sweet cherries (Toigo) to share. We picked up Smith Meadows’ sun dried tomato pasta and sun-colored cherry tomatoes from Three Way Farm, whose stand was bursting with bright yellow and green summer squash, green and red tomatoes, and more. The farmers from Riva had deep red rhubarb and the first pints of the boy’s favorite, blueberries. In true FoodieTot fashion, he devoured his pint whilst roaming the market (pausing for his weekly slice of Tom’s aged cheddar), slurping the final few berries as we escaped to the car just as the next downpour began.

del ray farmers market alexandria va

By the way, Jane Black at the Washington Post confirmed today what we’ve been hearing from our market vendors — all that spring-into-summer rain has pretty much washed out this year’s cherry crops. If the trees at Moutoux Orchard are any indication, though, peach season is still on track.

I devoured a wealth of local foods over the weekend – from delicate fried softshell crabs with watermelon at West End Bistro, to dinner on our farm and the Father’s Day picnic at Naked Mountain Winery — but did very little cooking. Never mind, fresh beans served raw needed little more than some fresh locally-made hummus, and those sweet cherries gave a “cheat local” touch to store-brought mini-cupcakes. Hey, at least the wine was homemade….picnic

One Local Summer is an annual challenge in which people around the world join together for 13 weeks of seasonal eating, supporting local farmers and exploring their local foodsheds. Visit FarmtoPhilly on Tuesdays for the weekly round-up; here’s what my neighbors in the Southern region cooked up this week …. and, speaking of picnics, last week we shared a grilled nectarine and tomato salad for Cookie magazine‘s virtual picnic; check out the other contributions from some of my favorite foodie parents!

Virginia Farmland Solstice Supper

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Saturday morning I awoke thinking it must still be night given how little light was coming in through the blinds. No, just yet another rainy morning. My heart sank fearing that our “fork to farm” summer solstice dinner, to be cooked by Vermilion‘s Chef Tony Chittum in the fields of our CSA farm, Potomac Vegetable Farm in Purcellville, would be canceled. Fast forward eight hours — after a damp trip to the farmers market where the farmers were practically giving food away in “rainy day sales” for the dedicated few who braved the storms — and here is the vista that awaited as we strolled from the reception at neighboring Moutoux Orchard to the dinner site.

walking to potomac vegetable farm

We began the evening sipping peach-infused sparkling voignier in the peach orchards, before moving on to a surprisingly intimate feast for 100+ fellow diners, ingredients provided by six Virginia farms and Horton Vineyards, and prepared by Chef Chittum and his crew over a grill and makeshift kitchen in the middle of the field.

virginia farmland solstice supper

The additional farms — Greenstone Fields, Tree and Leaf Farm, Wheatland Vegetable Farms, and New Frontier Bison. An appetizer paired sweet beets with Alberene Ash goat cheese; the salad featured “this morning’s deviled eggs”; heirloom beets accompanied sweet Virginia ham-wrapped scallops and magnificent crab cakes; a mixed grill of beef, rabbit terrine and bison was served family-style with a sheep’s milk yogurt dressed potato salad; and luscious Caromont Farm chevre cheesecake, spiced with strawberry black pepper preserves, and Virginia peanut cookies swept us away at the conclusion of the meal, while fireflies punctuated the fields and the sun settled behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. A truly magical evening!

(full photoset here)

Obama Kids in the Neighborhood

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

“Who Wore It Better?”, Dairy Godmother frozen custard edition …

(left, the boy, 10.29.07. right, Sasha Obama, 6.20.09)

Kids’ Restaurant Week Kick-Off (and a dinner at Art & Soul)

Friday, June 19th, 2009

The Foodie Tot and I attended the Cookie + Gourmet Kids’ Restaurant Week kick-off at Eastern Market on Saturday, catching the fun cooking demos with Zola‘s Chef Greg Lloyd and Firefly‘s Chef Danny Bortnick and son. I know the vendors and businesses aren’t exactly thrilled with the 7th Street closure at the market, but the open promenade was a great platform for the event and made it easier to roam the market with kids. Anyone who’s attempted to navigate Dupont Circle’s summer market with a stroller can appreciate the advantages of a market with a little breathing room.

kids restaurant week greg lloyd zola dc

There was a full audience of kids watching the cooking demonstration when we arrived, while parents snatched up the reusable shopping totes and sipped lemonade. Zola’s four-cheese fusili, with a choice of mix-ins ranging from chicken, shrimp and bacon to mushrooms and broccoli – was quite a hit.

danny bortnick kids restaurant week dc

Chef Danny Bortnick’s three-year-old son Jonah was an adorable sous chef and clearly a crowd favorite. Their tough naptime time slot (1pm) saw a smaller audience, but those who remained seemed to enjoy the sweet banana bread. My son was impressed that another “kid like me” made the bread.

(Note: While Eastern Market’s temporary hall is closed this weekend for the move back into the newly-renovated building, the outdoor food/craft vendors will be open as usual this weekend, June 20-21.)

We chose Art and Soul on Capitol Hill for our dinner out, making a reservation for the first seating on Monday night in hopes of there being a smaller audience in case of any mishaps. Armed with a new sticker book, we settled into a cozy white booth. The boy had announced on the way that he wanted milk and salad for dinner (making that the first time in his life he’s actually asked for salad) so we were nervous when we ordered the crunchy macaroni bites as his first course. He heard us ask about the ravioli on the parents’ art and soul washington dc kids restaurant weekmenu and decided he wanted that; strike two as the kids’ menu offered only unfried chicken or a turkey burger. He was initially unimpressed by the fried macaroni and instead slurped up the husband’s asparagus soup with morels when dad stepped out to take a call. Any smugness I might have been feeling quickly evaporated when the turkey burger arrived with a side of peas and baby carrots, and the boy cried, “Where are my fries?!” A side order of fries later, and the boy happily ate a fair amount of his burger, veggies, and the insides of the fried macaroni balls.

The parents’ menu options were not the most exciting choices from the full menu, but the asparagus soup was excellent and my crispy fried trout was moist and flavorful, topped with rhubarb vinaigrette, a hearty dose of dill and a mountain of fresh spring vegetables. “Baby cakes” for dessert won the boy’s approval, the husband went for the chocolate meringue, and I enjoyed hot doughnuts with blueberry sauce. The dining room was full of families taking advantage of the designated kids hours, and while there were a few signs the restaurant is not accustomed to serving little ones (full-size glasses filled to the brim with milk, leisurely service) overall it was not too traumatic an experience. Maybe not as relaxing as a grown-up-only date night, but at $2 for a 3-course kids meal and no babysitting expense, it was a nice family treat. I hope Kids’ Restaurant Week becomes an annual tradition, as we’re sure to take more advantage of it as the boy gets older. And it’s not too late to make a reservation — the event continues through Sunday and a quick check on Open Table shows tables still available for this weekend. (Elsewhere, Kids’ Restaurant Week kicks off June 20 in NYC and Chicago.)
Art and Soul on Urbanspoon

Speaking of family fun, DC’s hometown ice cream shop Gifford’s is offering free ice cream sundaes this Sunday, June 21st, in honor of the first day of summer (and the premiere of the film (500) Days of Summer) – to the first 500 people beginning at 12:00 noon at the downtown (E & 10th NW), Bethesda, Chevy Chase or Hyattsville locations.