Posts Tagged ‘black rock orchard’

It’s Pie o’Clock! Cherries Going Fast

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

It may sound strange, but the mild winter we had actually was not a good thing for our region’s fruit farmers. Cherries in particular have had a hard time, between blossoming too early and heavy rains during harvest.

sour cherries at market

From Kuhn Orchards:

Mother Nature was not kind this year, but we made the most of it.  During evenings that reached freezing temperatures, we sprayed water on our cherry trees to insulate the blossoms with the frozen water to try to save the crop. After the blossoms were pollinated and the fruit set, the cherries were very small and eventually aborted and fell off the tree. …

Cherries, in fact, can absorb water through their skin – again, causing them to crack.  So, Mother Nature’s Power of rain in regard to cherries is two-fold.

After light showers, Rusty, our farm manager, will use the air blast sprayer to blow air through the cherry trees and try to blow off any excess moisture so it won’t be absorbed through the cherry’s skin.

We take great measures even to just harvest a little crop.

– from Kuhn Orchards newsletter

So if you spot sour cherries at market this weekend, snap them up — and thank your farmer!

(You can find Kuhn at the Vienna, Fairfax, 14th & U, Lorton and Palisades Farmers Markets this weekend. Toigo may have sour cherries as well — and look for gooseberries from Black Rock. And if you need some pie inspiration, check out the world wide #PieParty2012 on Facebook — or my bourbon cherry cobbler recipe.)

Opening Weekend at DC/VA/MD Farmers Markets

Friday, April 29th, 2011

I’ve been spoiled to live by year-round markets, but my heart still skips a beat at the first spotting of bright green stalks of asparagus after a long, cold winter. This past weekend I lucked out and found the season’s first Northern Neck strawberries, too — much to the Foodie Tot’s joy. (Yes, he did a dance after peering into my market bag.)

black rock orchard asparagus

But May brings the opening of many of the area’s seasonal markets — including Fairfax County markets, the Alexandria West End market (Sundays, 9am-1pm — **note, opening has been delayed until next Sunday, May 8), the FreshFarm Crystal City market (Tuesdays, 3-7m), and others. happy strawberry danceThe FreshFarm Market by the White House opens next Thursday (3-7pm), and one of my favorites, West Virginia’s Bigg Riggs Farm, is joining the market this year. (You can also find them at Crystal City and Alexandria’s Old Town and Upper King Street Markets — and they’ve had ramps the past couple weeks.)

If you’re headed out in search of asparagus this weekend, Northern Virginia magazine offers some pointers on how to choose and prepare them. Me, I roast them in olive oil and sea salt for about 8-10 minutes (400 degrees), until just tender enough for the baby to gnaw on.

That’s right, the Foodie Bebe has already savored her first asparagus. The boy’s fancy for it comes and goes. (Though I did discover he likes it better if I pan roast it in the cast iron skillet with butter instead of olive oil, and a little parmesan cheese never hurts.) Do your kids like it?

Almond French Toast with Cherry Apricot Compote

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

As promised, July is cherry month here at FoodieTots. I know it’s the tail end of the season around DC, but elsewhere they’re just coming into season. While I bought all the Bing and sour pie cherries I could during our too-short season, I never spotted Queen Anne cherries this year — the yellow-red cherries that resemble my favorite West Coast Rainier cherries. But the Bing cherries were nice and sweet this year, and in an effort to use them in as many meals as possible I made this warm cherry apricot compote for Sunday brunch.

Recipe: Cherry Apricot Compote

Ingredients:
1 cup sweet cherries, pitted and halved
4 apricots, diced
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions: Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook apricots until lightly browned on one side. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat until fruit is warmed through and apricots are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Serve warm over Almond French Toast (below) or your favorite pancakes or waffles. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe: Almond French Toast

Ingredients:
8 thick slices of day-old bread
1 tablespoon butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of ground nutmeg

Instructions: Whisk eggs in a shallow baking dish (big enough for your bread slices) until light and fluffy. Add milk, extracts and nutmeg and whisk until combined. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Dunk slices of bread, one at a time, in the egg mixture, letting soak for a minute or so. Cook for several minutes on each side, until golden. Serve with maple syrup and or/Cherry Apricot Compote. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Farms of Origin: cherries and apricots from Black Rock Orchard (PA) @ Falls Church Farmers Market, milk from South Mountain Creamery (MD), bread from Atwater’s Bakery.

Whole Wheat Cherry Crumb Cake

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Have you ever wondered why blueberries get all the coffee cake glory? Yeah, they’re good … but cherries are bigger, brighter and perfectly sweet. I’ve been eating too many soulless Starbucks coffee cakes lately and had a craving for a real, homemade crumb cake this past weekend. I remembered reading about Smitten Kitchen’s “Big Crumb Coffee Cake” and decided to start there. I added some whole wheat pastry flour to up the whole grains, and paired nutmeg with my cherries instead of her rhubarb and ginger (not that those wouldn’t be good, but alas rhubarb has already come and gone here). The cherries came from Black Rock Orchard (PA) at the Falls Church Farmers Market.

Recipe: Whole Wheat Cherry Crumb Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Big Crumb Coffee Cake

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted
1 tablespoon tapioca starch (or corn starch)

For the crumbs:
2/3 cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

For the cake:
1/3 cup whole milk yogurt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened

Instructions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

Toss cherries with tapioca starch and set aside.

To make crumb topping, melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir until combined. Fold in flour and set aside.

For the cake batter, whisk together yogurt, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. In the bowl of a mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Gradually add yogurt/egg mixture and mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into the baking dish. Spread cherries over the batter, then spread crumb mixture evenly over the top. Bake 45-55 minutes, until crumb topping is lightly browned and cake is cooked through. Cool before cutting, and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar. Makes 9 servings. Enjoy!

Gooseberries and other Lesser Known Berries (and 5 links for Friday)

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Gooseberries are one of those things I don’t think to seek out at the market, but am always pleasantly surprised to find on the table when they arrive in early summer. What’s a gooseberry? I didn’t know myself until I spotted them at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market a few years ago. They are small round berries, related to the currant, that resemble a grape with stripes. They start off tart and green and and turn reddish purple and slightly sweet. They add a great tart balance with combined with sweeter berries in any of your favorite summer desserts. (I made a delish gooseberry-cherry clafoutis the summer before last.) This batch came from Black Rock Orchard in Pennsylvania, and I’ve heard reports of gooseberries across the northeast US. A local Twitter friend reports having them in her backyard growing up, which has me pondering adding them to our planned berry patch for next year.

While we’re on the subject of lesser known berries — those you may have grown up with but never see in a supermarket — we recently discovered that the mysterious berry-laden tree between our neighbor’s house and ours was a mulberry tree. I never realized we had mulberries around here, or that they grew on such tall trees. But a well-timed Washington Post article clarified the matter. I was spoiled growing up on a mountain in Oregon, where we routinely snacked on tiny tart red huckleberries, sweet thimbleberries and wild blackberries every summer. One regional berry you may hear a lot about if you torture yourself by following California food blogs, as I do, is the olallieberry. It was actually cultivated in Oregon (a relative of our beloved Marionberries), but I’ve yet to come across it.

Berries like these are one of the reasons we frequent farmers markets in the summer — aside from exposing our kids to unique berries they might never see otherwise, they also learn to appreciate seasonality and to savor the berries and fruits in their seasons. That’s not to say we never buy grapes in the winter, but they just taste so much better when they’re fresh and local.

Do you have a favorite regional berry from your childhood?

And now, five berry-themed links for your weekend enjoyment:

1. Gooseberry Ginger Jam from Doris and Jilly Cook

2. Mulberry Pie from Herban Lifestyle

3. Olallieberry Tart from Chez Pim

4. Vanilla Bean Marionberry Caramel Swirl Ice Cream (wow!) from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

5. Maple Huckleberry Coffee Cake from 101 Cookbooks

Shared with Fight Back Friday at the Food Renegade.