Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chopped Chard Salad with Purple Barley and Harissa

The Register Guard had a nice article about Jeff Broadie and Kasey White of Lonesome Whistle Farm, who hosted a farm tour and potluck dinner today. It was inspiring to see how two people's hard work and chutzpap can create such bounty from the earth. My son was particularly impressed with their collection of antique tractors and combines and my daughter loved sampling their various grains from the stalks, including these hulless oats, due to be harvested tomorrow. 

The potluck spread was bountiful and delicious, especially when eaten seated on hay bales and serenaded by a blue grass band. I had made a chard salad with Lonesome Whistle Farm's purple hulless barley (new crop due to be harvested in a month).

I assembled it before leaving for the farm tour, but didn't think to take a picture, and it was almost all gone when we returned. It was very tasty, so I'll jot down the recipe below while it's still fresh in my head, along with the fiddle refrains.

Chopped Chard Salad with Purple Barley and Harissa

harissa barley
1 cup purple barley 
1 large bunch of Swiss chard
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp harissa
4 ounces feta cheese

salad dressing
juice of one small lemon
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Sort through the barley, rinse, and soak overnight. Rinse, add about 4 cups of fresh water with a generous pinch of salt, and cook over low heat until tender, about 90 minutes. Drain the barley, reserving the cooking liquid. 

2. Slice each chard leaf along its length to remove the leaves from the stem. Reserve the leaves and cut the stems into a 1/4 inch dice. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. 

3. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until glassy. Add the chopped chard stems and continue to cook until they start to soften. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional couple of minutes. The onions should have started to caramelize at this point. Now add the cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika and cook for a minute and the add the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the drained barley, the harissa, and a splash of the reserved barley water and simmer for about 15 minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and add more salt or harissa to your liking. Reserve.

4. Chop the chard leaves lengthwise into about 1 inch strips and crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces. Whisk together the ingredients for the salad dressing and adjust to taste. Toss the chopped chard with the salad dressing.

5. When you are ready to serve, crumble the feta cheese into the barley, and then toss the barley with the dressed chopped chard. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mixed Vegetable Refrigerator Pickles with Fennel

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can expect to find the following offerings from Sweetwater Farm and Fair Valley Farm:
  • blueberries and marionberries (bake a cobbler)
  • many varieties of greens and cabbage (saute with beans)
  • fennel (make pickles, see below)
  • carrots, turnips, and potatoes
  • broccoli and cauliflower
  • zucchini
  • peppers and tomatoes (make some fresh salsa for fish tacos)
  • fresh herbs, including basil and parsley
  • onions and garlic
  • tomato sauce and pesto (make fresh pasta)
  • pickles and sauerkraut
  • homemade jams
  • fresh eggs
  • pastured chicken (try spatchcocking)
  • pork chops, pork roast, ham, ground pork, ground sausage meat, and bacon (treat yourself to a summer BLT)
  • lamb (try these gozleme)

Sweetwater Farm's tender, young fennel bulbs are a summer treat. I love fennel raw sliced or grated in salads, roasted, or sautéed in a seafood pasta sauce. This past week I experimented with a new approach of pickling fennel with other summer vegetables, following this recipe from food52, and it was delicious. Along with the fennel, I used a combination of Sweetwater Farm’s zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and cauliflower.

The zucchini and summer squash spears got a salty ice water bath to crisp them up, and then everyone got nestled into their pint jars and doused with a salty sweet vinegar brine flavored with mustard and fennel seeds, turmeric, and red pepper flakes. It was hard to resist eating them right away, but these refrigerator pickles definitely improved with a few days' soak. All of the vegetables were delicious, but my favorite was the fennel with its firm crunch and strong anise flavor asserting itself over the sharp vinegar brine. These are great paired with a sharp cheese as a pre-dinner snack so that you can savor the sunshine a little longer before getting dinner on the table.

Mixed Vegetable Refrigerator Pickles with Fennel
Makes 4 pint jars

4 small zucchini
 or summer squash
1 large or several small carrots

1 fennel bulb (with fronds attached)

4 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered

2 tsp fennel seed

2 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp turmeric powder

½ teaspoon chili flakes

3 tablespoons kosher salt, divided

1 ¼ cup water

2 ½ cups apple cider vinegar

¼ cup sugar

1. Wash and cut the summer squash into spears that fit the height of the jars you are using. Place the spears in a bowl with ice water and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. This will keep the spears crisp when pickled.

2. If using small carrots, simply scrub and trim their fronts and tips, or for larger ones, peel them and cut them into spears. Wash and slice the fennel in ¼-inch pieces, reserving the fennel fronds. Wash and separate the cauliflower into small florets.

3. In a saucepan combine the spices, 2 Tbsp of salt, sugar, vinegar, and water. Bring to a simmer, and then turn off heat.

4. Place the cut vegetables in 4 clean pint jars. Add a chopped garlic clove and a couple pieces of fennel frond to the jars.

5. Carefully pour the hot brine over the vegetables until submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least one day. Well sealed refrigerator pickles will keep for 1 month.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baked Zucchini and a Favor

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can expect to find the following offerings from Sweetwater Farm and Fair Valley Farm:

  • raspberries and marionberries
  • many varieties of greens and cabbage (try this stuffed cabbage)
  • carrots, turnips, and potatoes (make some salad Nicoise for a picnic)
  • broccoli and cauliflower (try roasted)
  • fennel and peppers
  • zucchini (make ladybugs on a log, recipe below)
  • tomatoes (whip up some gazpacho)
  • fresh herbs, including basil and parsley
  • onions and garlic
  • tomato sauce and pesto (make fresh pasta)
  • pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi (make a stir fry)
  • homemade jams
  • fresh eggs
  • pastured chicken (try spatchcocking)
  • pork chops, pork roast, ham, and bacon (treat yourself to a summer BLT)

Our market is a grassroots neighborhood effort and we need your help to publicize it. Please download our Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market Poster here, print out a few copies to hang around town, and forward it to your friends. Thanks!

For summer's bounty of squash, here is a recipe for baked zucchini with herby, cheesy breadcrumbs and a spattering of cherry tomatoes. These tender zucchini come out looking like logs overrun with a cluster of ladybugs, lucky rewards your publicity efforts.

Ladybugs on a Log

6 small zucchini
~16 red cherry tomatoes
olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
1/4 cup pine nuts
~20 leaves basil
2 anchovy fillets
freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

2. Remove the ends of the zucchini and slice them into 1/4 inch strips lengthwise (about 3 or 4 strips per small zucchini). Halve the cherry tomatoes.

3. Spread some olive oil on the bottom of a baking dish and arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer. Brush the zucchini with a little more olive oil and arrange the tomato halves on top, cut side down. Sprinkle over the pine nuts.

4. Finely chop the basil and anchovy fillets and combine in a bowl with the bread crumbs, grated cheese, and a generous amount of black pepper, using your hands to mix the anchovy bits into the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the zucchini and tomatoes.

5. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes have collapsed and the breadcrumb mixture is nicely browned. Serve warm.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spatchcocked Roast Chicken

The Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market had a new vender today, Fair Valley Farm, offering pastured poultry, pork, and in future weeks, lamb and beef. Farmers Scott and Jenni Timms are a welcome addition to our neighborhood market, offering one stop shopping for a scrumptious weekend meal. 

The chicken we purchased from them was a diminutive 1.6 pounds. We prepared it by spatchcocking (removing the backbone) and roasting for just 25 minutes in a cast iron skillet, seasoned simply with salt and pepper so that we could taste the fresh flavor of the meat. I must admit that I'm not always a big poultry fan, but this chicken was stupendous. It came out crispy and succulent with a minimal amount of labor. We enjoyed it with farm fresh baby potatoes, green beans, and a sauteed cherry tomato and scallion relish. And while savoring this lovely and relaxed Sunday evening meal, I was secretly marveling at the fact that this could easily be pulled off on a busy weekend night. We're looking forward to more Fair Valley Farm chickens this summer.

Spatchcocked Roast Chicken

1 small chicken (about 2 pounds, although this technique works for larger birds as well)
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

2. Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut along each side of the backbone from the neck to the tail, and remove the backbone (simmer for 30 minutes with a chopped onion and carrot in a quart of salted water for a quick stock). Spread the chicken out and push down on the breast bone until you feel it break, or use a knife to cut it apart as in the video link above, so that the bird lies flat. Generously salt and pepper the chicken on both sides.

3. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When the skillet is hot, place the bird breast side down and cook for about 5 minutes until the skin has browned a bit. Flip the bird oven and place the pan in the hot oven. Roast for about 25 minutes, until the skin is nicely browned all over and the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Swiss Chard and Bacon Tart

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market (from 10 to 2:30 on the corner of Agate and 19th) you can expect to find the following produce and prepared foods from SLO Farm and Sweetwater Farm:

The fresh greens on sale at the market make wonderful tart fillings. A big bunch of Swiss chard can seem like a big commitment, but it will cook down to just the right amount of filling for one tart. I used a recipe from Heidi Swanson for rye flour pie crust, using my rye flour from Lonesome Whistle Farm. I included bacon and gruyere cheese for a take on the classic quiche lorraine, with the dark green chard leaves to offset the richness of the other ingredients. Lovely for a summer brunch. Happy Bastille Day!

Swiss Chard and Bacon Tart

tart crust (makes enough for two 9 inch tarts)
2/3 cup rye flour
1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose white flour
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter (2 sticks), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
~1/3 cup ice water

I followed Melissa Clark's instructions for making the dough. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and mix. Now pulse in the butter cubes until they are lima bean sized. Then add enough water for the dough to just come together when you press it between your fingers. Mold into two discs, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Roll out into 12 inch discs, drape into buttered tart pans, flute the edges and patch where you need to, and now chill again for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the crusts with aluminum foil and use coins as pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes, then allow to cook completely before you fill the crusts. One disk of dough can be frozen for later. 

filling for one tart
1 bunch Swiss chard
2 slices bacon
1 shallot or small onion
3 ounces gruyere cheese
3 eggs
~3/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper

1. Cut the stems from the chard leaves and dice. Chop the leaves. Dice the shallot or onion.

2. Heat a large skillet. Cut the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and saute until the pieces have browned on both sides and rendered their fat. Reserve the bacon pieces. Use the rendered bacon fat to saute the diced chard stems and shallot or onion. Then add the chard leaves and saute until wilted.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grate the gruyere cheese and spread in the prebaked pice crust. Layer on the sauteed chard mixture. Top with the reserved bacon pieces. In a measuring cup, whisk together the eggs and then add enough half and half to bring the volume to 1 1/2 cups. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the tart filling.

4. Bake the tart for about 45 minutes until the filling is entirely set and the top has started to brown. Let rest for at least ten minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto Pizza

This past week at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, Sweetwater Farm offered garlic scapes. These fleeting spring treats are delicious ground up into a pungent pesto. The punch of the garlic flavor will vary with the scapes, from subtle to powerful, depending on their age and thickness. For hefty scapes, you can temper the garlic flavor by sauteing them first in a little olive oil before pureeing them, or you can bake the pesto afterwards on a pizza. 

We dolloped our garlic scape pesto on whole wheat pizza dough and topped them with spring vegetables: sauteed asparagus spears on one and sauteed zucchini slices with diced ham on another. This pungent green paste would serve as a delicious backdrop as well to any number of summer or fall vegetables (cherry tomatoes, peppers, cubed squash), so if you get a chance, freeze some garlic scape pesto for later in the season. 

Garlic Scape Pesto Pizza
makes two medium pizzas

garlic scape pesto
1 bunch garlic scapes
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste

pizza dough
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt 
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup medium or course ground corn meal
2 cups all purpose white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used red fife from Lonesome Whistle Farm)

topping suggestions
~4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
~4 ounces crumbled feta cheese 
sauteed asparagus spears
sauteed zucchini and diced ham

1.  At least two and a half hours ahead, prepare the pizza dough. In a large mixing bowl, mix the yeast and 1/4 cup warm water and allow to sit for a few minutes until it foams up. Mix in the olive oil, salt, and corn meal. Mix in the remaining ingredients, alternating between the flour and water. You may need a little more or less of the water or flour, depending on ambient moisture. When combined, turn the dough onto a work surface (I like to use a large silicone mat for easy clean up) and knead for several minutes until the dough is satisfyingly elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, or if using, loosely wrap the dough in the silicone mat and transfer it right back into the dough mixing bowl. Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in bulk for a coupe of hours. You can also make this dough in the morning and let it rise in the refrigerator during the day and it will be ready at dinnertime.

2. Prepare the garlic scape pesto. In a toaster oven or on the stovetop in a dry skillet, toast the almonds until fragrant. Place in a food processor. Coarsely chop the garlic scapes and add these to the food processor, as well as the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Process until you have a fairly smooth, bright green paste. Taste and add more salt or olive oil as desired. Reserve.

3. Prepare toppings. Snap the hard ends off the asparagus spears and cut into 1 inch long pieces. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add a splash of olive oil and saute the asparagus with a pinch of salt for a few minutes until they are bright green and have started to soften. Reserve. Slice the zucchini in half moons and dice ham. Saute together with a little olive oil until the zucchini have just started to brown. Reserve. Dice the feta cheese and slice the mozzarella.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and insert a pizza stone if you wish. Divide the dough in half and roll out two pizzas, each about 10 by 14 inches. If using a pizza stone, assemble the pizza on a peel, or assemble it on a baking sheet sprinkled with some coarse corn meal. Spread half the pesto over one of the pizzas, then top with the asparagus and half of the cheese. Repeat with the second pizza, using the zucchini and ham. If using a pizza stone, carefully slide the pizza from the peel onto the stone. Bake the pizza for about 12 minutes until the crust sounds hard when tapped and the cheese has started to brown. Serve at once. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Market Start 2012

Today was the first day of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, which will be held every Sunday through October on the corner of 19th and Agate from 10 to 2:30.

Here is a selection of our haul, fresh from SLO Farm and Sweetwater Farm

We enjoyed a delicious summer dinner of tomatillo pork tacos (with calypso beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm) and deconstructed salsa. And to top off a lovely day: ice cream sundaes with a cherry on the top.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Market Start and Fresh Spring Rolls

The much anticipated start of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market's third season is almost here. Plan to visit the corner of 19th and Agate on Sunday July 8th between 10 AM and 2:30 PM. 

You can look forward to delicious food from SLO Farm and Sweetwater Farm. Both farms' produce is grown in our immediate community and their offerings include diverse and thoughtfully curated varietals of fruits and vegetables as well as homemade fermented foods. SLO Farm grows a wide array of specialty organic fruits and this year will offer pastured meats. They accept WIC and Farm Direct Nutrition Program Checks.

This Sunday you can expect to find:

For an abundance of fresh spring vegetables, here's a recipe for fresh spring rolls. All you need are spring roll rice paper wrappers available at any Asian market (I used square ones like these), narrow rice stick noodles, and a selection of fresh vegetables. 

We made lemongrass-marinated fried tofu for a filling. The kids loved assembling the rolls, while sneaking nibbles of chopped vegetables and fresh herbs. We can't wait to make them again with our fresh, local ingredients from our favorite farmers.

Fresh Spring Rolls
makes about 12 spring rolls

lemongrass tofu
1 package (12 ounce) extra firm tofu
1 stalk lemongrass
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
~1/4 cup canola oil

1. Remove the rough outer leaves of the lemon grass, trim off the base, and chop finely. Combine with the soy sauce and sugar. Slice the tofu into 8 half inch thick slices, arrange in a shallow pan, and pour over marinate. Cover and let refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. 

2. Heat a large skillet over medium high and when hot, coat the bottom generously with canola oil. When the oil glistens with heat, carefully place the tofu slices, from which you've wiped the lemongrass pieces, into the oil (they will spatter). Let them cook undisturbed at least five minutes until they are very crispy. Then flip them with conviction and cook the second side until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel. When cooled, cut each slab into 8 pieces. As an alternative to frying, one could bake the tofu.

black bean dipping sauce
2 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup boiled water
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
crushed peanuts

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and saute the minced ginger for a couple of minutes. Add the hoisin and water and let simmer and thicken for about 5 minutes. If the consistency is not thick enough for your liking, add a 1/4 tsp corn starch. Stir in the vinegar and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl and top with crushed peanuts.

spring rolls
1 package spring roll rice paper wrappers
~3 ounces thin rice stick noodles
a selection of the following fillings or whatever looks good at the farmers market:
lettuce leaves
shredded carrots
julienned cucumbers
sliced radishes
bean sprouts
mint leaves
cilantro leaves

1. Soak the rice stick noodles in boiled water for about five minutes, until they are soft, and then drain and reserve. Prepare all of the other fillings and arrange in easy access. 

2. Fill a shallow pan with boiled water and submerge a rice paper wrapper in it. Let soak for about 5 seconds (or longer as the water cools down) until the wrapper is transparent and pliable. Drape the softened wrapper over a clean cutting board. Fill a strip in the center with desired fillings, starting with lettuce and rice stick noodles, and then roll it up like a small burrito. Repeat until the fillings are used or nibbled up. Enjoy the spring rolls with the dipping sauce and sriracha.