Archive for September, 2009

Breaking the Bread Baking Fast

Monday, September 28th, 2009

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that I decided to join the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge, and breathlessly announced my plans for “a year in bread.” The first recipe, mercifully, was simple and turned out perfectly, and I thought I was hooked on the yeasty aroma and feeling of accomplishment on pulling a perfectly risen, lightly browned loaf of home made bread out of the oven. And then summer came…. and suddenly it was over, gone in a haze of rain, farmers markets, travels and all that other summer chaos that seems to amplify once you have children. (And I only have one!)

So then here we were at the Jewish holidays, and time to dip apples and challah in honey and I hadn’t even made it through the B’s yetBBA’s recipes are in alphabetical order – so I skipped ahead, so to speak, and made my first loaf of Challah for our slightly belated, semi-homemade (hello Whole Foods prepared holiday food bar) Rosh Hashanah supper.  Ah well, it was a start back onto the bread baking trail, and now that the weather is turning cooler I hope to resume a pace a little more frequent than once every three months….

I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m the non-Jewish spouse in our family, so I’m still learning the holiday traditions.* Thankfully Peter notes in his book that it’s customary to double the sugar and shape the Challah into a round loaf for Rosh Hashanah, both of which I did. For some reason I decided to braid my dough first and then wrap it into an awkward round; apparently, there is an easier way to make a braided round loaf that doesn’t come out quite so lopsided. It tasted good, if a little less eggy than I anticipated. I blame the store-bought eggs, as we were unexpectedly out of our farmers market eggs. It was also rather bubbly, probably because I didn’t de-gas enough as I kneaded. But overall I’d deem it another success.

*It’s not just because I’m new to this that I made a reference to Yom Kippur, which is today, in my title and then went on to tell you about our Rosh Hashanah meal …. that’s my clever way of making up for not posting this before my jaunt to San Francisco, and stalling for time to tell you all about my 48 hours in the lovely foodie-haven by the Bay. Stay tuned… ;-)

At Market: Puffy Sweet Corn Pancake

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Fall may be my favorite season, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hoard the summer produce just as long as possible. Sweet summer corn in particular, and this year my favorite has been the white corn from Three Way Farm at the Del Ray Farmers Market.

Pancakes and kids are pretty much a sure thing, and the boy was eager to help me whisk together this quick and easy batter. It’s adapted from a classic puffy apple pancake recipe that I’ve always enjoyed, turned savory to serve as a side dish to our first maple-glazed pork chops and apples of the fall. (Oh yes, we went apple picking recently too, at the ecoganic-ish Crooked Run Orchard in Purcellville, Va. … they spray their apples (I’m unaware of any u-pick orchards in the region that don’t) but have a lengthy explanation of their practices on their website.) Anyway, corn and apples makes the perfect crossover pairing to mark the autumnal equinox, I’d say.

puffy sweet corn pancake

RECIPE: Puffy Sweet Corn Pancake
Adapted from Betty Crocker Puffy Oven Pancake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn)
  • 1 small yellow onion or spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/8 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup corn meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • fresh parsley to garnish

Instructions: Place butter in 9-inch pie pan and allow to melt while preheating oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, corn meal and salt in one bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs and whisk in the milk. Add the flour mixture, stirring until just combined, then fold in corn and onion. Remove the pie pan from the oven and brush the butter around the pan, including the sides. Pour batter into pan and return to oven. Bake 25-30 minutes, until puffy and lightly browned. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen the pancake. Place a large dinner plate over the pan and flip quickly. Garnish with parsley and enjoy! Makes 6 servings.

Note: If you’re in the area, Crooked Run will be making apple butter on the farm this weekend, Sept. 19 and 20. Elsewhere, visit pickyourown.org to locate an apple orchard near you. And if you have any favorite apple recipes, please share!

Farms of Origin:

  • corn, Three Way Farm (VA)
  • corn meal, Wye Mill (MD)
  • milk & butter, South Mountain Creamery (MD)
  • parsley & onions, Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA (VA)
  • pork chops, Smith Meadows (VA)
  • apples, Crooked Run Orchard (VA)

Shared with Real Food Wednesday — visit for round-up at Cheeseslave for more real food recipes and inspiration!

Announcing Kids Cook Book Soup!

Monday, September 21st, 2009

kids cook book soupKids are back in school, fall is in the air, and the autumn harvest is in full swing. Now it’s time for your kids to hit the books … in the kitchen! I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that reading with your young children helps build language skills. And you’ve probably gathered that I’m a proponent of letting kids have fun in the kitchen from a young age. Now here’s your chance to combine the two in a fun new monthly blog event, Kids Cook Book Soup!

How it Works: Each month, we’ll pick a theme. Your assignment is to choose a story that relates to the theme — any book, not necessarily a cook book, or even a magazine or newspaper article — and prepare a recipe inspired by that story. You’ll send me a link to your post &/or picture (no blog needed to participate), a note about the story chosen and recipe, and we’ll post the round-up right here, on the 3rd Tuesday of the month.

The theme for the first round-up is: Apples! Send your stories to me by Sunday, October 18, and the round-up will be posted that Tuesday, the 20th. Stay tuned for more details, but plans are in the works to offer a prize of some sort, to a randomly-selected participant.

how to make an apple pie

How to Participate: While you don’t have to have a blog to participate, if you do, please include a link in your blog post to this post. You can use the logo if you’d like, it’s not required. Send your link &/or photo, along with your name (or name you want printed), kid’s age(s), blog name and location to me at foodietots at gmail.com. Most importantly, have fun!

Please help spread the word! Click the “SHARE THIS” button below to share on Twitter, Facebook &/or Stumble It!

From the White House to DC School Cafeterias: Local Flavor Week

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama opened the new FreshFarms Market by the White House. Next week, the fresh, local food movement will march not on the marble steps of the Capitol, but down hallways of the District’s public, charter and private schools. As part of this week’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” roll-out by the US Department of Agriculture, additional tools and $50 million in funds were announced to help bring healthy, local foods into schools, now, without waiting for Congress to take up school lunch re-authorization. (Which isn’t going to happen until next year.)

dc farm to school

Also not waiting for Congress to act is the new DC Farm to School Network, which is launching “Local Flavor Week” September 21-25 as the opening foray into bringing the regions farmers into local schools. Together with the Capital Area Food Bank, Whole Foods and other community partners, DC Farm to School is coordinating a full week of taste tests, cooking demonstrations, farmer visits and nutritional education activities. The festivities kick-off Tuesday at the Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School cafeteria in Southeast DC, where local chefs Peter Smith of PS7 and Oliver Friendly of Eat and Smile Foods will compete Top Chef-style using ingredients grown in the school’s garden.

Andrea Northup, coordinator of the DC Farm to School Network, notes that the District has one of highest child obesity rates in the nation. “School-aged children consume most of their daily calories in school meals, so it makes sense that we should connect school with nearby sources of fruits and vegetables to serve in their cafeterias. The only way the District’s schoolchildren will thrive is if they are well nourished and armed with the skills they need to make healthy lifestyle choices.”

If you’re in the area, find out more about participating schools and activities — and volunteer opportunities — at dcfarmtoschool.org/localflavorweek. And to find a Farm-to-School organization in your state, take a look at the National Farm-to-School map.

PS If you didn’t catch my live tweets from the White House market opening, here’s a slideshow recap (click picture to view):

white house farmers market whrrl

You can read more about the market opening, and see pics of the First Lady and Chef Kass (whom I missed waiting in the security line), on Cookography, Obama Foodorama and the twitter stream from @FreshFarmMktsDC.

Don’t forget it’s Fight Back Friday — visit the Food Renegade to join in!

At Market: Simple Tomato Gazpacho

Monday, September 14th, 2009

grapes at marketAt the Alexandria Markets: We’ve returned to our Alexandria farmers markets after our recent travels, and witnessed that unequivocal sign of seasons changing from summer to fall in the peaches and tomatoes being nudged out by apples, pears, and early winter squash. Now I don’t know if there’s some sort of zucchini shortage in Northern Virginia, but we’ve received none from our CSA this year and I only spotted a few giant ones at the West End market. Has there been some sort of run on zucchini by crazed zucchini bread addicts? (By the way, if you haven’t been to West End lately, you’re missing out on some wonderful authentic Mexican tamales from Alma at Westmoreland Berry Farm.)

At any rate, we received word from our CSA that their tomatoes have begun to show signs of early blight (not the late blight you’ve heard so much about), so I set about to make sure we enjoyed the ones we got to the fullest. After our tomato jam experience (kudos to Jennifer for winning the food52 best preserves contest with her recipe!), the boy comes running to get his knife whenever he sees me dicing tomatoes. He even overcame his fear of the blender to help me make this super simple gazpacho. With all due to respect to José Andrés, who makes the best restaurant gazpacho in town, this recipe is even simpler with just six ingredients, tasting pretty much like, well, a pulverized tomato. Ironically the boy liked it even though he refuses to eat fresh tomatoes. Be sure to use good quality extra virgin olive oil — preferably from Spain, of course.

tomato gazpacho

Recipe: Simple Tomato Gazpacho (kid-friendly instructions)

Ingredients:

  • About 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 slices white/Italian bread, crusts removed and cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • generous pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

1. Using a kid-safe knife, assist child in cutting tomato and bread into pieces.

2. Place tomatoes, bread, garlic, vinegar, salt and 1/4 cup oil in blender. Cover and blend for 1 minute.

3. Add additional olive oil as needed, blending after each addition, to reach a smooth consistency. Chill for at least 30 minutes, then serve with an extra drizzle of oil to garnish. (Use basil oil for extra oomph.)

Bonus Foodie Tot Video! This was a totally unscripted, impromptu video shot by the husband so please disregard the messy counter and, uh, my lack of make-up. (And no, Seventh Generation did not provide compensation for the product placement, but clearly we should buy stock or something. ;-) ) Anyway, enjoy!

Foodie Tot cooks gazpacho from Colleen Levine on Vimeo.