Posts Tagged ‘one local summer’

At Market: Cantaloupe Soup with Ham and Basil

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

(Don’t forget, it’s National Farmers Market Week and the Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets photo contest is now open!)

For a good portion of my life, I hated cantaloupe. I would eat honeydew and watermelon without a second thought, but carefully, obsessively, pick out any orange-fleshed melon pieces from fruit salads. When the foodietot and melonFoodie Tot was born, the husband and I agreed to introduce him to foods we hated without prejudice and let him form his own opinions. (That meant bananas and canteloupe for me, and many green vegetables for the husband.) I’ve learned to cope with bananas ripening on the counter, despite my continued abhorrence of the sight and smell of brown spots, but was surprised to discover last summer that sweet, locally-grown cantaloupe is actually enjoyable. People often assume that melon is less nutritious because of its high water contents, but in fact cantaloupe is loaded with beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, potassium, folate and fiber, making it a nutrition power house. It’s peak melon season now locally, and most produce stands at local farmers markets offer an array of melons in shades of orange, yellow, green and red. Pick one that is still firm to the touch but smell the stem end to test for ripeness — the sweeter the better.

Of course my Italian heritage demands that I serve melon draped in prosciutto, and the Southern Maryland/Virginia melons found at our local farmers markets are perfectly suited for the task. Inspired by tomatoes melonsthat classic sweet-salty pairing, I decided to try my hand at a cantaloupe soup. We ventured out in the rain to the West End Alexandria market Sunday — because Foodie Tots are not fair weather market fans — and the dark, gloomy day put me in the mood for soup. This simple soup could be served warm or chilled. It’s topped with crispy prosciutto-style ham and fried basil leaves. I can’t call this toddler-approved as the foodie tot spit it out in a fussy refusing to eat rebellion, but if your kid is in a less finicky mood I suspect they might at least be slightly intrigued by this sweet, orange soup.

Recipe: Cantaloupe Soup with Ham and Basil

cantaloupe soup recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 good sized cantaloupe (4 cups, cubed)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 slices prosciutto-style ham
  • several small basil leaves

Instructions: Heat oil over medium heat in stock pot. Cook onions until soft and translucent (but not browned). Add melon and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, until melon falls apart when prodded with a spoon. Season with just a tiny pinch of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cool before blending in blender in small batches, or in pot with a stick blender. Serve warm or chill for several hours to serve cold.

Before serving, thinly slice and chop ham into small pieces. Fry over medium high heat until browned and crispy. Remove from heat and pat with paper towel to remove excess oil. Cook basil leaves in the ham’s drippings until translucent and crisp (do not stir), remove carefully. Sprinkle ham bits and basil leaves in center of soup before serving. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

one local summer 2009This, along with a Cibola Farms buffalo steak and sauteed Swiss chard from our CSA, is our featured One Local Summer meal of the week. Our squash blossom succotash crepes earlier in the week were also all-local. We’re now celebrating National Farmers Market Week with a market menu every night — stay tuned for the highlights. And be sure to grab your camera when you head to the market this week to enter the Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Market photo contest! Just upload a picture to the Flickr pool by Sunday, August 9.

One Local Summer, Pacific NW edition

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

We made our annual trek to the Pacific Northwest this past weekend, a little earlier than in recent years which put us smack in the middle of berry season.

sauvie island berries or

It was, as always, too short a visit and I didn’t manaburgerville milkshakege to cook anything myself this time. (Oh, how those lovely artichokes at the market taunted me as we were headed back out of town! Not to mention the local fishermen …. oh, that beautiful red wild salmon. Sigh.)

We did savor our quick stop at Burgerville, home grown fast food with a sustainable flair, where we enjoyed Walla Walla onion burgers and fresh raspberry shakes. How green is Burgerville? The kids meal toy is a tomato seed kit!

After an afternoon kayaking on Sauvie Island, we stopped at Kruger’s Farm Market for ice cream, cold drinks (homegrown Henry Weinhard’s Black Cherry cream soda for me) and fresh berries – Kotata blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries, blueberries — all perfectly ripe and oh so sweet.

That evening the boy took a ride on Grandma’s horse, snacked on fresh-picked blackberries and passed out sticky and content on the drive home.

kayaking sauvie island or

One Local Dog and Slaw

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

one local summer 2009Maybe it’s a subconscious recognition that it’s baseball season, or just appreciation for something that requires no preparation before tossing on the grill, but we’ve had hot dogs and cole slaw not once but twice this past week. The first was MeatCrafter’s Capital Half Smokes, from the Crystal Farms market, and a plain green slaw from a baby cabbage in our CSA bag. Then, I decided on all-American buffalo dogs for an anti-Bastille Day themed gathering at our house on Sunday. I always feel bad going a weekend without visiting one of the markets in our neighborhood, but when I have my mind set on something specific — buffalo and sour cherries, in this instance — I head straight to Dupont Circle’s FreshFarm Market. I actually could have obtained both at the Wednesday Upper King Street Market, but that would have required planning further in advance.

one local summer

I made a discovery with the first batch of slaw that a creamy dressing is possible without the use of mayonnaise (which I hate). After tossing the cabbage with cider vinegar, I added a splash of buttermilk, a little salt and pepper, and voila! Creamy yet tangy and without the dreaded mayo-droop. Sunday I repeated the formula using a beautiful blue-purple cabbage and green peppers the boy selected at the market, served along side our Cibola Farms buffalo dogs and with a fresh cherry pie for dessert. I also pickled some of the cherries, using a French recipe from Chez Loulou, to accompany our cheeses. The cheese course was not exactly local, but we did enjoy a Virginia sparkling wine that could rival many of the true champagnes, from Thibaut-Janisson. Vive 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.

One Local Cherry Spare Ribs and Squash

Monday, July 6th, 2009

one local summer 2009We had a July 4th engagement party/barbecue to attend this year {congrats R & A!}, so the menu was out of our hands. The boy and I did make a cherry cobbler to take, though (recipe coming soon). And then we grilled Sunday night instead, a batch of Cheerwine-marinated spare ribs with eggplant and summer squash.

Cheerwine, for those who’ve never had it, is a cherry soda produced in North Carolina. We enjoyed routine deliveries while my little brother was stationed at Ft. Bragg, but have had it less frequently since he relocated.  While made outside the One Local Summer (OLS) 100ish-mile challenge border, we found it while stopping in a Food Lion on Virginia’s Northern Neck to stock up on another regional favorite, Northern Neck ginger ale. I don’t usually drink soda, let alone douse my dinner in high-fructose corn syrup*, but once a year or so we embrace our adopted Southern home and make Cheerwine ribs. This version used small pork spare ribs that were quickly grilled; lower and slower grilling will produce more tender ribs, but this was just fine for an easy meal to wrap up the long weekend. To up the health/OLS factor, we brushed the ribs with a fresh cherry glaze. I prefer a semi-tart cherry like Rainier or Queen Anne, but be warned that those produce a yellow sauce — so go with classic red cherries if you want that red color.

Recipe: Cheerwine Spare Ribs with Cherry Glaze

cheerwine marinated spare ribsIngredients:

Marinade:

  • 1.5 lb. pork spare ribs
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 2 garlic scapes, thinly sliced
  • 1 can Cheerwine (or other cherry cola)

Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 spring onion, white portion, minced
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

cherry glazeIngredients: Season spare ribs with salt and pepper and place in shallow glass pan in a single layer. Sprinkle with scapes and pour Cheerwine over. Cover and let sit in refrigerator (turning if Cheerwine does not completely cover ribs) at least one hour, preferably half a day or longer. To make the glaze, put all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer on low until cherries are falling apart, about 20 minutes. Smash cherries with a fork or blend glaze in a food processor or blender until combined.

To cook the ribs, heat the grill to medium high. Reduce to medium and cook ribs for 3 minutes per side. Brush with cherry glaze and cook an additional minute per side. Serve with additional glaze (“cherry ketchup” for dipping if that appeals to your kids.) Serves 4. Enjoy!

cherry glazed ribs and grilled squash

Farms of Origin: Smith Meadows Farm (VA, spare ribs), Kuhn Orchard (PA, Queen Anne cherries), Potomac Vegetable Farms (VA, scapes, spring onion, zucchini), Three Way Farm (VA, eggplant, pattypan squash), VA honey. (*You can find glass-bottled Cheerwine made with the original cane sugar formula, but they’re even harder to come by this far north.)

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.