Thursday, June 17, 2010
This week at the market, you'll notice that we've reached a turning point.
As we approach the Summer Solstice, when the sun stops it's gradual northerly motion, seems to stand still on June 21, and then turns to begin its southerly motion, we begin to turn as well. After months of enjoying the lush leafy greens of Spring -- the salad greens, lettuces, cilantro, dill, -- as well as the early radishes, kohlrabi, snow peas, sugar snap peas, and broccoli . . . we turn to the true fruits of summer.
Those botanical fruits (from a blossom) include the summer squashes, cucumbers, peppers, beans . . . and very soon, what you've all been waiting for, tomatoes.
For now though, enjoy the garlic scapes, since this will be the last week for them . . . see earlier post on scapes, below.
This is the week when the summer berries suddenly ripen, and we are nearly over-run with an embarrassment of riches, including raspberries (red and black), gooseberries, cherries, blueberries, and currants -- red, black, and white.
Last week we featured the ruby red currants, which are so beautiful they sell themselves.
The white ones are a bit more subtle, with their golden and rosy undertones, but every bit as beautiful and delicious -- and simple to prepare as well -- simply throw a handful into your smoothie, pancake batter, or favorite muffin recipe. Or add them to other fruit in a pie, cobbler, or jam. They are particularly good in European flans or meringues, or in those lovely English "summer puddings" and "fools." Here's a Red Currant, White Currant, Cherry Fool from Gordon Ramsey.
Teresa has three kinds of gooseberries --large and delicious--add to pies, crumbles, tarts, sorbet, and yes, fools!
Friday, June 11, 2010
NEW at the market this week:
Baby Fennel, Cabbage (Yum!), Basil (Lots!), Knob Onions (red, white, and yellow), purple and multi-colored carrots, and other new items that Henry can’t remember right now.
Also . . . Henry's Special Japanese Hand Weeding Tools (think Father’s Day)
Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce a central stalk, or scape, that shoots straight up from the roots, through the middle of the bulb, and 3 or more feet into the air. As the garlic matures, the scapes dance and bend in graceful arcs and curly-cues. Soon they will straighten and harden into tough, unappetizing stalks. But right now, while still curly, they are tender and provide a delightfully subtle garlic flavor in salads, soups, stir-fries, and more.
A scape is something like a seed pod, but since garlic reproduces asexually, the scape does not contain true seeds, but rather little mini garlic cloves called bulbils. These can be planted and will produce more garlic plants, but they will be small. It takes several generations of replanting to get plants of the same size as the original, and so Henry grows next year’s garlic by saving back some of the mature cloves from this year’s crop, which he will harvest in the first week of July.
Superstar chefs are seriously into garlic scapes, but there are a lot of simple things to do with them.
Garlic Scape Ideas:
- sauté in butter and olive oil
- add sliced scapes to any stir fry recipe
- slice and sprinkle over any pasta; cook them in almost any sauce recipe
- great in guacamole and fresh salsa, too
- chop & add to softened cream cheese
- use them as you would green onions
- good in salads, on bruschetta, pizza
- an excellent addition to stocks
Roasted Garlic Scapes
Take the scapes and put them in a lightly oiled roasting pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Put the covered pan in a hot (425 °F) oven for 30 to 45 min., or until scapes begin to turn brown. Serve as a side or main dish.
In my opinion, red currants are the most beautiful of all the fruits that I grow. They glow ruby red as if lit from within. In the shade of the branches, the long strigs sway in and out of view, half hidden by the dark green, maple-shaped leaves.
Red currants are tart, so they are perfect for sweetened desserts or in combination with sweeter fruits such as raspberries and strawberries. They are very high in vitamin C--one source says 30 times higher than oranges by weight! If you don’t have time to bake a dessert, just add currants to a smoothie or to your favorite muffin or scone recipe. Some people, like my daughter, Marina, even like them plain. Try it, maybe you will too!
In most of Europe, variations on Red Currant Tarts are as ubiquitous as apple pie is here in the States.
Red Currant Tart
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup sieved powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
a pinch of salt
1 pound red currants
4-5 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
Crust: Sieve the powdered sugar, mix all ingredients, and knead together. The dough will not want to stick together, but keep working it until it does. Form a ball, cover it, and let it rest in the fridge for about half an hour. Then roll it out about half a centimeter thick (dust board with flour as needed) and press into ~5 inch buttered flan tins or Crème brûlée forms. Repeatedly poke a few holes across the bottom, line with parchment paper and add pie weights (I used rice, dry beans work, too) and prebake them in the oven at about 175°C (350°F) for about 10 minutes. Take the crusts out, remove the baking weights and let them cool down.
Filling: Remove red currants from the stems, wash them and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Arrange berries on the dough. Combine eggs with cream and sugar, beat until you have a homogeneous mixture and pour over the currants (about two thirds the height of the red currants, because the mixture will rise a bit).
Bake at 180°C (355°F) in the oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned, remove and let chill. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Best eaten still a little warm or on the next day…
In this week's Food & Farm Notes, Halley writes:
On our small island amid the rolling waves of corn and soybeans, everything is gearing up for summer. As the days grow longer, so does the list of chores.
This week, preparing for the big apple harvest later this summer involved countless hours mowing the waist-high grass and using it to mulch around the base of each tree.
We have also been applying Kaolin powder, a floury mixture made of clay that repels pests.
As for the goats, the kids born in early spring are increasingly playful, hopping on and off the old wire spools stacked in the pasture in a dance of perpetual joy. A little over two weeks ago, Clara Belle had her kids--one boy and two girls, Elsa and Espresso. Espresso had some trouble learning to nurse so we put her and her mother on the milking stand so we could help her. She successfully learned how to nurse, but now she refuses to drink anywhere but on the milking stand! (To meet some of our other goats and learn about their personalities, visit our website. You can also order soap there and we'll send it to you or as a gift to a friend.)
We milk three goats every day and get about one gallon of milk. We could get more, but the kids still like to drink a little and a gallon is enough for us to drink and to make cheese and soap.
Look for these soaps on Saturday, as well as several seasonal gift bags, perfect for late spring and summer birthday gifts . . . and Father’s Day, too – Silk and Milk might be the perfect one (in addition to, or instead of, a tie)!
- Eggs-tra Cleansing (with eggshells!)
- Sour Cream
- Silk and Milk Soap (for Dad’s Day!)
- Rosemary Mist
- Luxurious Lavender (aromatherapy!)
- Milk-and-Honey Facial
- Café Au Lait
- Strawberry Scrub
- Honey Oatmeal
- Yogurt Parfait
- Snow's Simple Soap
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Amaranth and Lambs Quarters
In the past year or two Henry has branched out from harvesting just the wild lamb's quarters, purslane, and amaranth to actually planting some semi-domesticated varieties of these "weeds" grown in parts of the world where they are considered good food, not weeds.
At the market this week, you'll see the wild green amaranth as well as bunches of Golden Giant Amaranth and Hopi Red Dye amaranth. (We use the loose leaves of young Hopi Red - photo above - as part of our mesclun salad mix.)
Hopi Red Dye has magnificently burgundy-colored leaves, and was used by the Hopis to make ceremonial red cornbread. The young plants also make delicious steamed greens, and their leaves can be added to a salad mix, as Henry has done with the mesclun the past few weeks. In addition, many native peoples grind the seeds into a high protein, gluten-free flour. The Golden Giant amaranth is a variant of the Red Dye amaranth.
Magenta Spreen is a variety of chenopodia native to India that has also been cultivated in China and other Asian countries. Like Lamb’s Quarters, Magenta spreen is rich in vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. In the center of the top whorl are beautiful magenta leaves.
Wild Lamb’s Quarters are tasty and nutritious -- read all about them in my column in the June Issue of Mindful Metropolis.
Amaranthus is a “cosmopolitan” genus – found all over the world and valued as a nutritious and delicious food. From Asia to the Himalayas to North and South America, amaranth’s young leaves as well as the mature grain have been a mainstay of widely varying cuisines. It was one of the staple foodstuffs of the Incas, and was also used by the Aztecs and other native peoples of Mexico to prepare ritual drinks and foods. In some Aztec ceremonies, images of gods were made with amaranth mixed with honey, and then cut into pieces to be eaten by the people. This looked a bit too much like the Christian communion to the Spanish priests, who then forbade the cultivation of the grain for centuries.
About 60 species are recognized within the genus Amaranthus, from the Greek amarantos, the “one that does not wither.” As Shakespeare wrote of Cleopatra, “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety,” so with the gorgeous and nutritious amaranth. Like most native plants, amaranth is a great source of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, B6, C, riboflavin and folate, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.
Basic Amaranth Greens
3 pounds greens (about 3 bunches)
extra-virgin olive oil
lemon wedges or vinegar
1. Rinse greens and coarsely chop greens and stems.
2. Put leaves and stems into boiling salted water for 2 to 5 minutes, or until stems are tender. Drain and squeeze gently.
3. Serve with oil, salt, and lemon wedges.
Amaranth greens can be cooked just as you would spinach, and are excellent in simply boiled or sautéed on their own, or used in quiches, lasagna, or any other way you like spinach. Don’t worry about the big stems, they cook down just as nicely as the leaves, without any stringiness or woodiness.
3 tbsp. butter
2 or 3 green onions
3 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Few grains pepper
3 c. milk (or substitute vegetable or chicken broth)
About 2 c. cooked amaranth, lambs quarters, chard, etc -- chopped lightly and cooking liquid
Cook up onions in butter until soft.Add flour and cook until mixture browns. Add salt and pepper. Cook a few minutes over medium heat. Add milk and lambs quarters. Then heat gently. You can either eat as-is, or make it velvety with an immersion blender or food processor.