Author Archives: Ibti

About Ibti

Just your friendly neighborhood food educator.... (http://abikeablefeast.blogspot.com)

RECIPE: Baltimore Fish Stew

This recipe is courtesy of SFDC board member and local food historian, Mark Haskell. It is more of a guideline than a precise recipe… which if you know Mark, is very typical of his free-form (and delicious) style. This is the version of the recipe he shared at the March 30, 2019 fish chili event at Common Good City Farm.

First, a bit of context: There are few examples of typical Baltimore Fish Stew recipes according to most culinary historians, but numerous anecdotal stories, and mentions can be found in
Chesapeake history. Fish Stew often used the chili that we now called the Fish Chili
because it was so ubiquitous an ingredient in the stew – thus the name. Baltimore specifically and the Chesapeake region in general used to be a major region for processing fish and shellfish, and before refrigeration was widespread, a lot of the catch was salted and pickled
to preserve the fish for storage  and shipping. Various forms of stew also used whatever
local, seasonal ingredients were available – i.e. in the summer more fresh tomatoes,
okra, fresh peppers, etc. — and in the winter more preserved ingredients like preserved
tomatoes, chiles, dried beans, rice, etc.

Baltimore Fish Stew with Chesapeake Fish Chiles, Our Recipe

Ingredients

  • Salted white fish (such as haddock or cod), soaked to at least 24 hours, changing water a few times to rid excess salt
  • Dry beans, soaked and cooked according to variety
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Dried fish chilies, or sauce
  • Crushed garlic
  • Dried herbs to taste
  • Diced onions, celery, carrots, turnips, potatoes, or other vegetables of your choice, and/or cooked rice/barley/legumes if you like
  • Vinegar, and/or beer, wine or brandy
  • Fish or shellfish stock
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, sorghum/honey/sugar – helps balance out chili and flavors
  • Oil, butter, or rendered fat to sauté veggies, and to enrich final stock

Directions

  1. Cook beans til tender with some oil/fat and seasonings (not salt). Cool and then salt to taste.
  2. Poach soaked fish with some garlic, onions and herbs, just til tender and able to flake, then remove any remaining bones and skin. Cool, then set aside.
  3. In a big pot sauté veg until tender (not garlic, will burn), start with onion and potatoes.
  4. Add Vinegar and/or other liquids to deglaze (clean and cover pan), cook for a minute or two to take edge off vinegar and cook off alcohol.
  5. Then add stock, tomato, garlic, chili, and herbs – let it all simmer, allowing time for flavors to “marry”. taste from time to time, see what it needs more of – to your taste.
  6. Add cooked fish and beans and let simmer together – then start seasoning (careful with the
    salt – balance with a sweet), then add more of what you want.

* Note: add more stock moisten or stretch, If too liquid crush some of the beans and
potatoes – or add some tomato paste.

Exploring the Fish Pepper’s Deep and Delicious Roots

On March 30, more than 50 food and garden lovers reveled in the first signs of spring and lounged on picnic benches decorated with cherry blossom bouquets at Common Good City Farm, while SFDC Board member and local food historian Mark Haskell and Soilful City‘s founder Xavier Brown expounded on the incredible local history of fish chilies.

Attendees learned about the Caribbean heritage of these Slow Food Ark of Taste peppers, their connection to enslaved people of the Chesapeake, and why they are called fish chilies in the first place. Xavier also introduced his business and let us try his DC-grown and produced Pippin hot sauce using fish chiles — a varietal that honors Philadelphia-area artist, historian and health advocate Horace Pippin. We learned how Xavier’s program works with community members all around the DC area to produce these delectable hot peppers, which are made into a variety of small-batch hot sauces.

After the official talk, we all dove into a feast, including big pots of traditional Baltimore fish stew, featuring, of course, a healthy dose of fish chilies. (I think we all went back for seconds…because slow foodies know that the best way to preserve culturally significant foods is to grow and eat them!) What a beautiful, educational, and delicious afternoon.

Now that spring has sprung, be on the lookout for other outdoor events coming soon. Sign yourself up for our free monthly newsletter and/or follow SFDC on social media to learn the latest!

Feb 25: Celebrate with the newest Snail of Approval winners

Join Slow Food DC on Monday, February 25 to honor and celebrate our 2018 Snail of Approval winners! Thanks to your nominations, we’re recognizing 14 additional restaurants, producers, farmers, and distillers for their commitment to support good, clean, and fair food in our region.

Come out to enjoy delicious and seasonally-inspired food and drink provided by 2016 Snail winner Urbana Dining & Drinks, while you mix and mingle with others dedicated to shaping our food community. There will also be a silent auction featuring food-related items, and other surprises from our local food purveyors.

Tickets are available here, with early bird pricing through February 10.

Congratulations to this year’s Snail of Approval winners:

Aperto
Caboose Brewing Company
Centrolina
Chaia Tacos
Clagett Farm
Cold Country Salmon
Don Ciccio & Figli
Eat & Smile Catering
Kyirisan
One Eight Distilling
Owl’s Nest Farm
Republic Restoratives
Sally’s Middle Name
The Salt Line

For more information on the Snail of Approval program, and to see a complete list of winners, check out: http://www.slowfooddc.org/snail-of-approval/.

Update on the 2018 Farm Bill

The 2018 Farm Bill passed was signed into law on December 20, 2018 – nearly three months after the last farm bill had expired. The farm bill, despite the name, actually covers nearly all things farm and food related, and affects each of us in some pretty big ways. One thing residents of the DMV might be excited to know is that the new bill creates an “Urban, Indoor, and Other Emerging Agricultural Production Research, Education and Extension Initiative” competitive grants program with $10 million in funding. The bill also instructs USDA to create a new “Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Forms of Production” — a 10-pilot Urban and Suburban County Committee — as well as a community compost and reducing food waste pilot.

The farm bill affects how Americans farm and who has access to resources, nutrition and anti-hunger programs, farmers markets and local food systems, and so much more! Right now, however, we’re in limbo until the partial government shutdown ends. Once the government is back in business, USDA will start the rule-making and implementation phases – we know that sounds boring, but it’s actually very important! This part of the process is where stakeholders like you get additional chances to weigh in and shape things by submitting formal comments and recommendations. For new programs (like the aforementioned urban agriculture initiatives), this kind of engagement can be particularly important!

For the latest Farm Bill analysis, news, and engagement opportunities, we recommend these great resources: 

 

Seasonal Recipe: Winter Fruit Torte

This recipe, from the Bread and Beauty cookbook, celebrates the simple and subtle flavors of winter fruit. All 120 recipes in the book are arranged by season, reflecting the way local food is available and when it is most delicious. Each chapter includes profiles of the farmers, producers, and people who make the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve an active and meaningful place, along with essays on the Reserve’s issues and history.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 3 TBSP white sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sweet white wine

Cake

 

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 11 TBSP unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 10 TBSP sweet wine

Preheat oven to 325˚F.

Butter and flour a 9-inch springform cake pan. Wrap it in foil or set it on a jelly roll pan to catch any leaks. Set aside.

To make the filling, toss the fruit slices with the sugar, cream, and wine. Set aside.

To make the cake, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fully blended. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl to make sure they are completely incorporated. Fold in half of the flour mixture, then blend in the wine, and then the remaining flour to make a smooth batter.

Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan and spread the fruit mixture and some of its liquid on top. Spoon the remaining batter as evenly as possible on top (it will smooth and expand as the cake bakes) and trickle on the remaining cream.

Bake for one and a half hours, until the cake is risen, browned, and a cake tester comes out clean. Run a knife between the cake and the pan to loosen the cake. Let it cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes and then unmold.

You Need a Farmer Three Times a Day

“A guy was just trying to buy some organ meats. I figured he must be part of your Slow Food group,” smiled farmer Greg as he welcomed us to Rocklands Farm this past Saturday.

Around 10:30am — yes, on a Saturday morning! — 20 or so fans of local food gathered to begin a walking tour and introduction to the regenerative farming practices of the Poolesville area family farm. In a fun and engaging way, Greg gave us the rundown on his farm’s philosophy and practices. He explained that cultivating an appreciation for nature and a sense of wonder, and later a reverence for good food (even if it’s only one out of every 5 or 10 meals in our busy lives), will lead the next generation to become the environmental stewards we need to keep our planet healthy.

As Greg spoke of his early experiences in Kenya connecting farming and community, he explained the philosophy of what they are attempting to do at Rocklands. Immersive regenerative agriculture is a step beyond sustainable farming: it creates more for the next generation, not just maintaining the assets of the land but leaving the land better. The Rocklands team utilizes the concept of bio mimicry — the way that plants and animals naturally interact and thrive — to graze cattle, sheep, and chickens using minimal infrastructure and capitalizing on animals’ instincts to roam, scratch, eat a variety of grasses or bugs, and stay in groups. The resulting land is lush and fertile, and just a single acre of the 70-acre farm can absorb a LOT of rainwater — 20,000 gallons, in fact, after a solid 1-inch of rainfall. We need more of these kinds of farms (and farmers) in this age of climate change, declining green spaces, and increasingly heavy storms!

After the walking tour, we were invited indoors to a feast of a lunch, sourced from Rocklands and nearby farms and inventively prepared by Chef Michael of Pizza Brama, accompanied by Rocklands’ own wines. While he apparently makes a killer pizza, our tastebuds were first wowed by Chef Michael’s seasonal appetizers including shaved radish, fennel, and kohlrabi salad with a honey tarragon vinaigrette; roasted brussels sprouts and carrots with sage and garlic; and a mushroom medley featuring lion’s mane, oyster, and maitakes tossed with parsley, arugula, and a sherry-lemon vinaigrette. The gustatory delights continued with a kale-arugula lasagne and a Rocklands lamb lasagne. As we nibbled, Michael waxed poetic about his love for quality ingredients and the relationships he’s built with local producers. “You need a doctor once a year, but you need a farmer three times a day. Think about that.” We did. And then had a second helping.

Some of us managed to save room for the apple spice layer cake, loaded with sauteed apples, mascarpone whipped cream, and cranberry preserves. As we poured a bit more wine and lamented that we hadn’t saved quite enough room in our bellies to eat an entire slice of the decadent dessert, we were treated to a discussion with Claudia and Ellen, who had put together a beautiful book based around their experiences at the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve. More than just a cookbook, Bread & Beauty traces some of the Reserve’s history, but also the contemporary challenges faced by family farms trying to establish a new generation, new farmers seeking land and markets, and the shared community efforts required to preserve this special place. Many of us left with signed copies of the book… and a plate of layer cake for the road. A delightful end to a wonderful event.

Many thanks to the team that put together this beautiful, informative, and delicious event! For more upcoming Rocklands events, check out their calendar here.

Seasonal Recipe: Pumpkin Curry

FoodPrints, the educational program of Snail of Approval recipient FRESHFARM, gets DC public elementary school students excited about growing, preparing, and enjoying fresh, local, healthy foods. What better recipe to celebrate all three – fresh, local, and healthy – than a pumpkin curry? We’re smack dab in the middle of winter squash season, which generally runs from October to December. Pumpkins are nutrient-packed, providing a healthy dose of Vitamins A and C and potassium, not to mention dietary fiber. And they are unquestionably delicious and versatile, as the star ingredient in recipes ranging from pie to this hearty, savory curry. This recipe appears in our November 2018 newsletter.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 2 curry leaves if available (or use 1 tsp curry powder)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 oz. creamed coconut (this is not the same thing as coconut milk!)
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Directions

Peel and remove the seeds from the pumpkin or butternut squash. Cut into 2 inch cubes.

In a heavy bottomed frying pan, over a low heat toast the coconut until lightly browned. Put the garlic, onion, and toasted coconut into a blender and grind into a smooth paste.

In a pan heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and cook covered on a low heat until the seeds sputter. Add the curry leaves, spices, and salt.

Add the coconut paste and the pumpkin to the pan. Lastly add the creamed coconut and the water, bring to a rapid boil.

Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice.

Seasonal Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Dijon Mustard Ice Cream

Those who were able to join our summer happy hour in August at Snail winner Garrison Restaurant will remember this delightful and refreshing gazpacho. While the gazpacho showcases the ripe sweetness of the tomatoes, the savory mustard ice cream provides a pleasant and creamy balance. Chef Rob Weland has graciously agreed to share his recipe and he notes that in our region, heirloom tomatoes can be enjoyed throughout September and beyond. This recipe appears in SFDC’s October 2018 newsletter.

To Make the Gazpacho
Serves 12 (can be halved)

  • 6 cups fresh plum tomato
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped red onion
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped red peppers
  • 4 cups English cucumbers (cut into one inch chunks)
  • 3 cups mixed heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Tobasco
  • 3 T Banyuls vinegar
  • 2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil (organic if you have it)
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3 sprigs Thyme (leaves only)
  • Salt to taste

Combine tomatoes, onion, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, herbs, tobacco, and salt in a large pot or other container that can comfortably hold all the ingredients.

Blend ingredients with large immersion blender until well liquefied. While blending, slowly add in olive oil until mixture is smooth and creamy.

Transfer mixture to a blender in small batches and puree on high for 1 full minute.

Add vinegar and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If you want your soup to be extra smooth, pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any sediment, before adding the vinegar and lemon juice.

Refrigerate in airtight plastic container until ready to use.

To Make the Dijon Mustard Ice Cream

  • 6 cups half & half
  • 1 jar (7oz.) strong mustard (such as Dijon or mutarde forte)
  • 18 egg yolks
  • Salt & pepper

Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl to cool your custard quickly when it comes off the stove. Set an empty bowl inside or on top of the ice water bath. This will be used to cool the custard when it comes off the stove.

Mix cream and mustard in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and let infuse 10 minutes.

Place yolks in a third bowl and whisk until slightly thickened. Drizzle in half of warm cream from the saucepan and whisk. Return mixture to saucepan.

Place saucepan over medium heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens and covers the back of the spoon. Remove from heat immediately and strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into your empty bowl placed over the prepared ice bath; stir custard until cold.

Cover custard and refrigerate overnight. Freeze in an ice cream maker for 10-15 minutes, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To Serve

Place one scoop of ice cream into a bowl, and cover with gazpacho. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

Seasonal Recipe: Squash Blossom Tempura

You’re undoubtedly familiar with zucchini, a popular summer squash. But did you know that on the end of every zucchini is another delicious treat? Squash blossoms are much more delicate than the squash itself, and therefore are seldom found in grocery stores. But they’re easy to grow at home* or, if you’re lucky, you’ll find them at your local farmers market. Squash blossom are often used as a pizza topping or they’re stuffed with cheese and fried. This recipe is a take on the latter. It appears in the SFDC August 2018 newsletter.

*Gardener’s note: while delicious, don’t go crazy harvesting all of the flowers on your home grown squash plants. Keep in mind that the flowers are necessary for zucchini plants (and other plants in the cucurbit family) to grow fruit. So your best bet is to pinch off the male flowers, and use the stamen to fertilize the female blossoms. Then feel free to cook the male blossoms. (Did you know that some plants have separate male and female flowers??) You can tell which one is the female blossom because it will look like there is a tiny squash attached to the bottom of it. If this female flower is not pollinated, the tiny squash will wilt; if pollinated, it will start to grow into a full-size zucchini.

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • Boiling water
  • ¼ cup ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons soft goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1 lemon, finely grated to get 1 tablespoon zest, then cut into wedges
  • Flaky sea salt and black pepper
  • 8 zucchini blossoms
  • About 1 1/2 cups sunflower oil, for frying
  • Scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (plain flour)
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon milliliters ice-cold sparkling or soda water

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, cover 3/4 tablespoon of the sumac with 1 tablespoon of boiling water and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Add both types of cheese, oregano, walnuts, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a generous grind of pepper. Mix well.

2.  Fill the flowers by carefully opening them and either spooning or piping about a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture into each, gently pushing the filling all the way to the bottom of each blossom but being careful not to fill them too much; if you can get someone to hold the flower open for you, it would make it much easier. Gently twist the tips of the petals to secure the filling inside and set aside until you’re ready to fry.

3. Pour enough oil into a medium (about 8-inch/20-centimeter) nonstick frying pan so that the oil rises about 1 inch/2 centimeters up the sides of the pan. Place on a high heat for 5 minutes and then turn the heat down a fraction.

4. Meanwhile, mix the flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Slowly pour in the sparkling water, whisking continuously to form a smooth batter.

5. When bubbles start to surface in the oil, test it by dropping some batter into the oil: if it sizzles, you are ready. (The oil should hover between 320 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit/160 and 180 degrees Celsius.)

6. Lower a zucchini blossom into the batter, turning to coat completely, before carefully placing in the hot oil. Repeat, cooking a few blossoms at a time, adjusting the temperature between batches so they take about 30 seconds on each side to turn a golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and then sprinkle with salt and the remaining 1/4 tablespoon sumac. Serve at once with the lemon wedges alongside.

Seasonal Recipe: Seasonal Recipe: Sweetened Blue Corn Tamales

Gailey Morgan, manager at Tesuque Farm NM

The Farm Department of the Pueblo of Tesuque works on sustainable living for Native American people with a focus on traditional farming. They have been able to provide pueblo members with crops cultivated naturally, free from pesticides and GMOs as well as teaching youth about natural and sustainable food practices. SFDC Vice Chair Reana toured the farm with Slow Food Turtle Island as part of Slow Food Nations. This recipe is featured in SFDC’s August 2018 newsletter.

Ingredients

(makes 30 mini tamales) 
  • 30 dry corn husks
  • approx 1 cup hot water (200 F)
  • 1/2 tsp culinary ash
  • 1/2 cup fine sugar
  • 2 cups blue cornmeal, fine ground

Directions

  1. Soak corn husks in hot tap water, husks must be completely submerged in water. In large mixing bowl, add cornmeal and sugar, whisk together. Set aside. Stir together 2 tablespoons of hot water with ask. Set aside. Stir in 1/4 cup hot water to cornmeal mixture. Using a fine mesh sieve, pour ask water into cornmeal mixture. Stir in ask water vigorously. The color of the mixture will change from a dark grey to a lighter color of blue or purple. The mixture should be consistent to a moist paste, like sticky cookie dough. Add small amounts of more hot water if necessary. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside. 

  2. Remove husks from water. Gently pat excess water with a paper towl. Tear a few corn husks into “strings” for the tamale ties. Take 2 strings and tie together for a slipknot hold. Make approx 30 ties.

  3. To assemble a tamale, take 1 husk and place a generous tablespoon of the cornmeal mixture into the middle of the husk. Locate the long side of the husk and fold that over, then the other side so they overlap. Fold the wider end of the husk over then the narrow end over the wide end. Tie carefully but snuggly with the “strings”.

  4. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Once the water boils, add the tamales into the water for 15 minutes. Tamales are done when they become buoyant and float to the top of the water. Drain tamales and let cool before eating.