Archive for the ‘summer’ Category

Sweet Corn Chowder with Shrimp

Monday, September 10th, 2012

With fall on the way, I had the idea of a fresh corn chowder teeming with local sweet corn before it disappears from the markets. I kept it as simple as possible to really let the corn shine. To make a meal out of it, I sauteed some wild Key West shrimp in garlic, finished with a splash of white wine, and served those on top of the chowder for the husband and I. The kids don’t like their foods to mix….so they had their shrimp on the side. If you have less finicky eaters, you could even stir the shrimp into the chowder for the final minutes of cooking. But I’ll give you the chowder recipe straight up and leave those tough decisions up to you.

sweet corn chowder with shrimp

Recipe: Sweet Corn Chowder
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped small
  • 4 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock*
  • 2 cups half and half (or whole milk)
  • optional: 1/2 pound cooked shrimp, smoked paprika to garnish

Instructions:

1. Heat olive oil in soup pan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic just until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add salt, pepper, thyme and potato, and cook, stirring, another minute.

2. Add stock and raise heat to medium high until it begins to boil. Reduce heat, stir in half and half or milk, and let simmer for 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

3. Remove from heat and serve, topping with cooked shrimp if desired, and a dash of smoked paprika.

*If you want to really let the corn flavors shine, check out my friend One Hungry Mama’s corncob stock — brilliant!

At Market: Apple Fennel Salad

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

These early days of September are full of mixed messages at the farmers market. Summer peaches can still be found, but are quickly edged out by the teeming bins of apples. Cherry tomatoes and okra share table space with the first acorn and butternut squash. Rosh Hashanah is quickly approaching (September 16) — the Jewish holiday that is marked by apples dipped in honey to symbolize the wish for a sweet new year — but when the temperatures are still topping 90 it’s hard to even think about baking with apples just yet. And so this apple fennel salad is the perfect cooling dish when summer heat is overstaying its welcome. Serve alongside fish or even hot dogs on the grill. Simplicity is key when coping with the end-of-day exhaustion of freshly back-to-school kids (and their parents).

apple fennel salad

Recipe: Apple Fennel Salad
Makes 2-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 Honey crisp apples
  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

1. Thinly slice the apples and fennel, cutting down to bite-sized 1/2-inch pieces if serving little ones. Place in salad bowl.

2. Whisk together salt, honey, apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

3. Drizzle dressing over apple and fennel and gently toss. Garnish with a little of the leafy fennel fronds, if desired.

september at ballston freshfarm market

These particular apples were purchased at the FRESHFARM Ballston market, held Thursdays from 3 to 7pm just across from the Ballston Metro station. (Wondering why the honey crisps are more green than red this year? Blame the heat, says Mrs. Wheelbarrow in the NY Times Diner’s Journal.) We stopped by to sample the new goats-milk cheeses from Peachy Family Dairy in Pennsylvania (the foodie tot was smitten with their Lady’s Gouda Blessings, an almost candy-like treat), picked up some skirt steak from Gunpowder Bison, and sampled the new Savvy Popsicles). Local favorite Westmoreland Berry Farm is there, and Shells Yes!, a Maryland “true blue” certified crab company who makes a fresh and tasty crab and corn hummus. (And crab cakes, of course.)

What’s your favorite food at the market in September?

Quick Stewed Summer Squash and Sweet Corn

Friday, August 24th, 2012

It’s the home stretch of summer, when markets are teeming with fresh sweet corn, peppers, peaches, squash, tomatoes and melons. I’m pretty sure my kids would happily live on corn and watermelon, but the other veggies are too tasty to pass up. On a recent market trip, the foodie boy was particularly smitten with this curly-q eggplant.

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To make use of as many veggies in one dish as possible, I recreated the Oyamel dish the foodie tot loved at Union Market’s summer picnic. Squash and tomatoes are diced nearly as small as corn kernels and the dish is quickly sautéed so that the tomatoes release their juices, creating a warm stew that is a perfect summer side — and the ultimate summer dish for finger-eating toddlers, too. Get the recipe below.

And speaking of market trips … our busy summer weekends have made us especially grateful to have two Sunday markets to choose from, the West End Alexandria Farmers Market (9am to 1pm) and the new Westover Farmers Market (8am to noon) in Arlington.

We paid a long overdue to our favorite Amish cheese/yogurt seller, Mr. Tom, at West End recently. Papa’s Orchard peaches were spectacular, and the kids’ eggplant/pepper/tomato binge took place under the F.J. Medina & Sons tent. We followed up our cheese snack with a Westmoreland berry and Vera’s pastries picnic in the park. (Then, turtle watching!)

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At Westover, Black Rock Orchard and Bigg Riggs are is the must-visits for stone fruit — and early season apples (yes, already!). Smith Family Farm offers grass-fed meats, Blue Ridge Dairy provides mozzarella, ricotta and more, and always-popular Atwater’s Bakery and Baguette Republic have your bread needs covered.

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Recipe: Quick Stewed Summer Squash and Corn

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 zucchini, diced
2 ears corn, shucked and kernels cut from cob
2 large tomatoes, diced
handful fresh epazote or basil
Kosher salt
pepper
optional: crumbled goat cheese or feta or queso blanco

Instructions:
1. Prep and cut all vegetables before you begin cooking. Zucchini should be diced nearly as small as corn kernels.
2. Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.
3. Add zucchini to pan and cook until just beginning to soften, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes to pan and cook until juices are released.
5. Add corn and simmer just until warmed, about 2 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Optional: top with crumbled feta or goat cheese. Serve immediately.

At Market: How to Fry Squash Blossoms

Monday, June 11th, 2012

This past weekend, the husband and tot hit up the new Westover Farmers Market in Arlington. It was near the end of the market so I didn’t have high hopes for too many goodies, but was pleasantly surprised when they brought home a basket of squash blossoms and sour cherries. Edible flowers are always fun to share with kids, but flowers that you stuff with cheese and fry? Talk about hitting the jackpot. The foodie tot had a lot of fun “helping” me prep them for frying. Of course, she was booted from the kitchen for the actual cooking.

foodie tot loves squash blossoms

Squash blossoms are best eaten the day you buy them. After your toddler holds up each one for its photo opp (or maybe that’s just mine…), gently pry open the petals, check for intruders,* and reach inside and pinch the base of the stamen to remove it. (*I’m no fan of insects on my supper, but this is a good time to mention to the kids that we buy organic foods that aren’t sprayed with bug-killing chemicals. You can’t blame a bug for being drawn to the same pretty, fragrant flowers that we are!)

how to fry squash blossoms

I mixed fresh Blue Ridge Dairy ricotta with a little nutmeg, salt and black pepper. You can use some finely chopped fresh herbs, like parsley or oregano, if you have them but I like to keep it simple. The batter is simply flour, milk and another pinch of salt. After gently spooning the filling into each flower, give the end a gentle twist to hold in the good stuff.

Frying them takes just a few minutes — then let them cool a little on a paper-towel lined plate to absorb the excess oil. Be sure to eat while still warm!

fried ricotta squash blossoms

Recipe: Fried Squash Blossoms
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 12 squash blossoms
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • kosher salt
  • pepper

Instructions:

  1. Fill high-walled frying pan with 1/4-inch of oil. Heat over medium high heat (to 350 degrees if you have a thermometer).
  2. Pick over and remove stamens from blossoms. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, nutmeg, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  4. In a larger bowl, whisk together flour, milk and another pinch of salt until smooth.
  5. Holding blossom by the stem end, gently fill with a teaspoon full of ricotta mixture. Give the petal ends a gentle twist to hold in the filling. Repeat until all are filled.
  6. Quickly swirl the stuffed blossoms through the batter and gently transfer to pan. Fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown — about 3-5 minutes, total. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool slightly before serving.

~

What’d the kids think? The boy took a bite, then paused to ask, “Did this use to be a plant?” The tot ate the middle section of hers. Have you ever eaten squash blossoms with your kids?

Aside from frying, you can also use squash blossoms in soup or my squash blossom succotash, or bake them for a healthier take. And if you’re in the Northeast, check out Narrangasett Creamery ricottas, reviewed over on Cheese and Champagne today.

{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.