Posts Tagged ‘wv’

At Market: Chive Blossoms and Spring Greens

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

This week’s Market Watch features the hunt for local rhubarb, and read on for a recipe for jazzing up greens to appeal to picky kids (or grown ups).

At the Alexandria & District Markets: While strawberries are in abundance at the Del Ray Farmers Market, the first spring peas from Three Way Farm were snatched up within the first hour. I had hoped for rhubarb from the Riva farmers, but they were missing this week, sending the boy and I into the District Sunday for rhubarb and some of my favorite and more exotic fresh herbs available at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market. I was also thrilled to find pesticide-free (Spring Valley) and organic (Next Step) strawberries at Dupont. Spring Valley had the final ramps of the season, too, and their colorful salad green mix studded with edible flowers which inspired the recipe below.

erba stella chive blossoms spring herbs

Next Step Produce, a certified-organic farm in Charles County, MD, is always the source of some interesting new ingredient. This time, I picked up Erba Stella, an Italian herb with a fresh grassy flavor that is full of vitamins A & C. Armed with pretty lavender chive blossoms and crisp Swiss chard from the Farm at Sunnyside (also organic, and my reliable source for rhubarb), I set about to make greens that would appeal to my anti-leafy green toddler. Sometimes, it’s truly amazing the subtle changes that cause a kid to switch from disgust or indifference to devouring a dish — a lesson learned most recently when I sauteed asparagus in butter rather then my usual method of roasting them with olive oil. Suddenly, the boy was devouring the stalks off my plate and demanding seconds! (Nevermind that he called them “string beans,” sometimes taste is more important than terminology.)

For this attempt at jazzing up some colorful Swiss chard, I added a touch of butter to the cooked chard to help counter any bitterness, and let the boy help me sprinkle the “special edible flowers” into the pan. I can’t say this preparation has moved Swiss chard onto his list of favorites, but he did eat two bites before declaring that he needed to save the rest to “share with Daddy.” I’ll call that a success.

Recipe: Swiss Chard with Chive Blossoms

swiss chard chive blossoms

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 handful Erba Stella (optional, could add baby spinach or stick to just chard)
  • 5 chives with blossoms
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • sea salt

Instructions: Warm olive oil in saute pan over medium heat. Rinse chard and shake to remove excess water. (Even if you’ve pre-washed your chard, rinse it again as the water is needed to wilt the greens.) Tear into 1-inch strips. Tear Erba Stella and chive stems into smaller pieces, and pinch the base of the chive blossoms to release the buds. Add all ingredients to the pan, cover, and cook for 2 minutes or until chard has just wilted. Add the butter and salt to taste, tossing gently to combine. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Need more ideas for chive blossoms?
Try Asparagus Chive Quiche or Chive Blossom Baked Eggs

At Market: West Virginia Ramp Crepes

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

In typical DC fashion, we jumped from unseasonably cool to 90 degrees this past weekend. Toddler in tow, I made it out to the markets a little earlier this time and successfully obtained my two wishlist items: ramps and asparagus. At the Old Town Alexandria market, the khaki-colored umbrellas of Bigg Riggs farm were a welcome oasis in a sea of dubious-origin produce. Melon, tomatoes and corn in April? Right…. I hope more local vendors will join Bigg Riggs as the season goes on, but unfortunately Old Town continues to disappoint those of us looking for authentic local produce. (Blue Ridge Dairy was there, and local bakers, but this market’s strength is its fresh flower vendors.

ramps wild leeks bigg riggs

Back at the Del Ray Farmers Market, Three Way Farms was rapidly unloading their fresh asparagus, even at the price of $5.50/lb. Fresh spinach was the last of my produce purchases before moving on for yogurt, cheese, ground beef and pasta. The warm weather crowds bode well for the season, though the small market space will quickly become crowded when fresh berries and more produce start rolling in in the next few weeks.

asparagus three way farm va

The West End Farmers Market re-opens this Sunday, May 3rd, in Ben Brenman Park. Tom the Cheese Guy was eager to let us know he’ll be joined there by a Virginia winery, North Gate, though the city forbids sampling their products at the market. At any rate, West End’s more spacious set-up — and wider array of vendors this year — make it great for a more relaxing stroll with meandering kids (or dogs – Lisa will be back with her homemade dog treats, too). The market is on Sundays, 9am-1pm; read more about this year’s vendors here.

Back to my finds… Sunday the toddler was in the early stages of a stomach bug, and requested pancakes for dinner. While he got plain old pancakes with maple syrup (I have a feeling he would have declared the ramps “too spicy!” but will have to test that another time), I used some of my ramps in a scallion pancake-inspired crepe, filled with leftover roast chicken. The quick and simple preparation let the ramps’ pungent garlicky flavor shine through, yum! Served along with simple roasted asparagus, this quick spring meal was perfect for breaking in our picnic table for the season. (Just be sure to stock up on breath mints before enjoying.)

Recipe: Ramp (Wild Leek*) Crepes

Ingredients:

  • 1 handful ramps, rinsed and thinly sliced
    - reserve some of the green portion for garnish
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked chicken meat, pulled into chunks
  • butter

Instructions: Beat eggs and milk in mixing bowl. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper until batter is smooth. Stir in ramps and let batter stand while you prepare the filling. Heat crepe pan or skillet over medium high heat. Melt a pat of butter in the pan. Pour crepe batter in a quick swirl to make a circular shape. Cook until just set and flip; cook just a minute or two more and remove from pan. Watch closely to keep crepes from browning. Fold in half and place on warm plate while you cook the remaining batter. Spoon warm cooked chicken (tossed with vinaigrette if desired) into crepes and serve. Makes a dozen or so 3-inch crepes.

* What’s a Ramp? Also called a wild leek, these delicate-looking little plants pack the flavor of a more potent spring onion and stench of fresh garlic. Use the whole thing, bulbs and leaves. They grow in the wild at elevations above 2000 feet, only in the mid-Atlantic region for a few weeks in early spring. For more ramp inspiration, visit Tiffany over at The Garden Apartment.