Archive for the ‘spring’ Category

At Market: What to Make with Garlic Scapes

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

It warms my heart around this time each year when my old garlic scape recipes suddenly see a spike in traffic — because it means people are hitting the farmers markets and trying something new. Garlic scapes, or curls, as our CSA farm calls them, are one of those things you won’t find in the grocery store.

garlic scapes

The early shoots of the garlic plant, they pack a potent punch and crisp bite. I like to thinly slice them and toss ‘em in salads or scrambled eggs. Garlic scape pesto is a classic and easy way to jazz up pasta or chicken salad. My garlic scape chimichurri makes a great topping for grilled bison steaks. You can throw the whole scape on the grill, too. I’ve even quickly blanched them, cut into 1-inch pieces, and frozen them for stir-fry use later in the year. And I keep meaning to make garlic scape vinegar (perfect for salad dressings) — maybe this year I’ll finally get to it.

How do you like your scapes? Do you grow your own garlic?

kohlrabi broccoli and greens

I made a quick stop at the Falls Church Farmers Market this past weekend for Memorial Day grilling supplies, where I spotted the scapes pictured above. There were a couple other new arrivals at market this week, including kohlrabi nearly as large as bowling balls, broccoli and sugar snap peas a plenty. Coming soon: English peas and sour cherries.

At the H Street NE FreshFarm Market

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The younger foodie tot and I stopped by the H Street NE FreshFarm Market last weekend to finally scope out one of the few markets on the east side of town. At a new location this season (on 13th at H St., NE) , it’s a great little neighborhood market with some well-known vendors (Atwater’s Bakery, Quaker Valley Orchard and Keswick Creamery) as well as ones I’d yet to shop with. And, the fabulous new Gordy’s Pickle Jar was there as well. Made in the District, their Sweet Chips have already won an award at the International Pickle Festival (yes, there really is such a thing) — and, won over a new fan in the foodie tot as well. (I loved their Thai Basil Jalapeños and will be back for a jar of them next.)

h street ne freshfarm market

The balloon artist was there as part of the Food Revolution Day festivities (we unfortunately missed the cooking demo) — while our ladybug was adorable, the little girl ahead of us took home a ballerina in a pink tutu modeled after herself. So cute!

foodie tot shops H Street farmers market

I don’t think I have to tell you that asparagus and strawberries are the stars of the season at market right now. We also found beautiful red rhubarb as tall as the toddler and delicious Red Russian Kale. And for all your upcoming pie needs, Cedarbrook Farm sells lard. If you live on the Hill, or are just looking for a more mellow (and kid-friendly) market experience than Dupont Circle in the summer, give H Street a try.

at SOVA dc

(And after, stop by SOVA for an Intelligentsia coffee treat for mom and dad. The front window seat is perfect for toddler people watching.)

H Street NE FreshFarm Market
at 13th St. & H St., NE
Saturdays, April 21 – November 17
9am – 12noon

{At Market} Strawberry Horchata

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

I still can’t believe how early strawberry season began this year. We got our first Virginia berries of the year at the Falls Church Farmers Market last weekend, and a few more this weekend. The foodie tots have been ecstatic. The first week, they downed a pint at breakfast as soon as I returned from the market. This past weekend, the toddler went with me and somehow managed to leave strawberry stains on the front and back of her t-shirt, and stroller seat, just while snacking on a few as we shopped. (She was also a big fan of the fresh mini cider doughnuts from Mama’s Donut Bites, new at the market this year. Also spotted: asparagus, ramps & morels — the locavore’s holy trinity of spring.)

falls church farmers market, april

I’ve been wanting to make horchata, a frothy rice-based drink I first tasted in L.A., for an embarrassingly long time. Like, since my last trip to L.A. In 2009. Ahem. Anyway, the drink is simple enough to make but requires advanced planning and patience as the ground rice and water must soak overnight. So it’s a good opportunity to give the kids a lesson in delayed gratification. It’s a fun recipe for kids who enjoy pressing the buttons on the blender, too. It’s lighter than a smoothie and its sweet, refreshing taste goes well with spicy tacos.

While some recipes call for almonds, I chose one that used only rice to keep things simple. I added fresh strawberries which helped sweeten the drink, so it requires less added sugar. (If your berries are very sweet, you may get away with using even less sugar.) You may be tempted to taste the preliminary soaked rice concoction …. (I confess, I did it.) If you do, don’t despair. The drink vastly improves once sweetened. I don’t plan to let another three years pass before making this again — in fact, I’m already envisioning sipping a watermelon version on the deck later this summer.

strawberry horchata @foodietots

Recipe: Strawberry Horchata
adapted from A Wooden Nest

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup whole milk

Instructions:

1. Place rice in blender and grind to a fine meal. Add to water in a pitcher, drop in cinnamon stick and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

2. Pour mixture back into the blender and blend until cinnamon stick is finely chopped. Pour through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the rice solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids.

3. Return strained mixture to the blender and add sugar, strawberries and milk. Blend on high speed until well combined and frothy. Chill before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Can’t wait overnight? Try our Strawberry Agua Fresca recipe.

Mostly Not Potato Salad

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

As a long-time fan of Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks blog, I was eager to get my hands on her newest cookbook, Simply Natural Every Day. This lovely book features the recipes Heidi makes often at home, and they are all straight-forward and approachable. While going through and trying to narrow down the recipes to make first, the “Mostly Not Potato Salad” jumped out at me. Unlike the usual bland, mayo-laden potato salads that are ubiquitous at summer picnics, this verdant salad uses potatoes as a background ingredient to crisp green vegetables. In Heidi’s version, celery and green beans star. As it is just asparagus season here (I told you I was hung up on asparagus), and green beans won’t be at market till later in the summer, I used it instead. I swapped the dill with parsley, as that’s what I had on hand. The original also calls for tofu, in which case you could even serve this as the entree on a summer Meatless Monday — I was serving it as a side to chicken, so I skipped the tofu.

The salad is dressed with caramelized leeks and a light vinaigrette. Let it stand for a while before serving, at room temperature. A warning to anyone who comes over, or invites us, for a cookout this summer: expect to see this on the menu. I can’t wait to try it with the yellow and purple beans from the market later in the season.

potato asparagus celery salad

Recipe: Mostly Not Potato Salad (with Asparagus & Celery)
slightly adapted from Simply Natural Every Day/via Whole Living, May 2011

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon natural cane sugar
  • sea salt
  • 1 leek, white and tender green parts, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 small stalks celery, trimmed and diced

Instructions:
1. Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but not falling apart, about 9 minutes. Just before potatoes are done, add asparagus to the pot for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
2. Whisk mustard, vinegar, 2 teaspoons oil, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl.
3. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden and slightly crispy, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Gently toss potatoes and asparagus, celery, parsley, and leeks with the mustard dressing in a bowl. Adjust salt if necessary. Serve at room temperature.

I’ve also made Heidi’s Oat Cakes from the book — my first time baking with coconut oil. Loved them. If you have the book, let me know what recipes you’ve enjoyed.

At Market: Two Minute Asparagus (and West End Market Opening Day)

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Yes, I’m still harping on asparagus. For a moment at the market this morning I hesitated, knowing we won’t be in town for the whole week and thinking I might not get to cooking it. And then I caved and bought just one little bunch of perfectly tender little stalks from Black Rock Orchard. What can I say, I’m addicted. And I made a critical discovery to convert the boy from his “I hate asparagus!” conviction one day to, “Actually, I *love* asparagus!” two days later. I recently came across an article suggesting that kids prefer their veggies closer to their natural state — i.e., still crisp. This is certainly true for my son with peas, who still prefers frozen peas over cooked. And we all know that over-cooked mush they call vegetables in school cafeterias are hardly appetizing.

As for my discovery, I was making a potato salad and decided to add asparagus. I didn’t want to use it raw, so I blanched it quickly. The bright green stalks had barely hit my cutting board when the boy snatched one. “Yum!” he exclaimed. I wound up blanching a second batch and serving it straight up for him — and he ate half the plate.

The recipe is below, but first a few highlights from opening weekend at the Alexandria West End Farmers Market:

foodie tots family at the market

Click here to view photos — West End Farmers Market, May ’11

Recipe: Kid-Approved Two-Minute Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • water
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions: Fill a medium-sized pot about 2/3 full of cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, add a pinch of salt and then drop in the asparagus. Cook thicker stalks for just 2 minutes, skinny stalks need just 1 minute. Drain and quickly plunge into a bowl of ice water to ensure stalks stay crisp-tender. Drain again, and serve as is, with an extra pinch of salt and pepper — or refrigerate to add to salads.

Preserving Asparagus

Blanching is also the method I use to hoard, er, save asparagus for later in the year. I blanch it for just one minute, then chop into 1-inch pieces. Let them dry, then freeze in a ziploc freezer bag or other freezer container. They won’t be quite the same as fresh asparagus, but work just fine for soup or stir-fry.

Cathy, aka Mrs. Wheelbarrow, recently shared a recipe for pickled asparagus. I may have to make a batch of these for the fridge, too.

Just call me Mrs. Asparagus.

This week I shared some of my favorite family-friendly Washington, DC-area farmers markets on the Washington Post‘s new On Parenting blog. What do your kids like about your local market?