Author Archives: Ibti

About Ibti

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

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.  

June 27: Celebrating Current and Future Snail of Approval Winners!

To mark the opening of our next round of Snail of Approval nominations, Slow Food DC hosted a happy hour at Snail of Approval winning Urbana Dining & Drinks at the Hotel Palomar on June 27.  Urbana’s Executive Chef Ethan McKee is an active supporter of the Slow Food philosophy, keeping a 1,000-square-foot garden on the hotel’s roof as well as a beehive! All produce from the rooftop garden is used for Urbana’s dishes or by the Hotel Palomar for events.

Slow Food board members and supporters were able to sample the fruits of that  garden labor when Chef Ethan generously brought out several pizzas laden with veggies and herbs, as well as beautiful arancini stuffed with rapini sourced from Chef’s rooftop garden.

Chef Ethan also partners with Snail of Approval winner FRESHFARM’s Foodprints program, teaching cooking classes to elementary school students at nearby Francis Stevens Elementary. As recently as April, Chef Ethan and the Francis Stevens third grade class harvested spinach grown by the students and made beautiful spring ravioli. Urbana’s dedication to sustainable practices and food education are a few of the reasons why Urbana has been a Snail of Approval winner since 2016.

And now we need your help to identify other businesses that also practice and/or support the Slow Food philosophy of good, clean, and fair food! Snail of Approval nominations are now open through September 30. Anyone can nominate a food or beverage provider serving the National Capital Region that supports good, clean, and fair food in our area. You can find more information about our award criteria on our website, along with a full list of previous Snail of Approval winners.

Our sincere thanks to Chef Ethan and the entire Urbana team for their hospitality and continued commitment to the Slow Food philosophy. Now we’re looking forward to hearing from all of you, about who you think should become Snail-approved in 2018!

 

Seasonal Recipe: 4-Ingredient Stovetop Rhubarb Compote

Love the bright, alluring color of rhubarb at the farmers markets, but not sure what to do with it? Molly Wizenberg of Orangette gives us this ultra simple way to maximize the best of this spring vegetable (yes, vegetable!). In 15 minutes, you can spoon this delightful compote over ice cream or cake, or even swirl it into your morning oatmeal. This recipe appears in the June 2018 SFDC newsletter. It makes @ 2 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed, and cut into roughly 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter (or use unsalted and add a pinch of salt)
  • 2 Tablespoons orange liqueur, like Cointreau or Grand Marnier

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix the rhubarb with the sugar. 

In a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter has melted, add the rhubarb and sugar mixture and the orange liqueur. 

Allow to cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Then gently stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is tender and beginning to fall apart and its juices are thick, 10 to 15 minutes. 

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Seasonal Recipe: Grilled KimCheese

This recipe appeared in our April 2018 SFDC newsletter. It comes from Caitlin of Snail of Approval winning No. 1 Sons — host of our spring potluck and board meet & greet!

Ingredients:

  • bread
  • American cheese or mayo
  • two other types of cheese
  • butter
  • No. 1 Sons kimchi or sauerkraut

Directions:

  1. Get a half fistful of kimchi. Squeeze the liquid. No soggy sandwiches here! Do a coarse chop on the kimchi.
  2. Butter the outside pieces of your bread! Bread — for a decadent grilled cheese use thick slices of bread like Texas Toast. For a more “everyday” grilled cheese, I like sourdough. But any bread will do!
  3. Time to cheese your bread! We like to use three types of cheese: one slice of American for ultimate melt-iness and two other types of cheese that you like or have on hand. We often do cheddar and provolone. My mom always reprimands me for using processed cheese but it does create the most melty grilled cheese! If you are like #1 mom, you could use a bit of mayo instead.
  4. Time to layer the grilled cheese! The order is: bread, cheese, half of kimchi, American cheese, half of kimchi, cheese, bread.
  5. Put a bit of butter in a medium warm griddle. Cook till one side is brown and a bit crispy. Flip. Make sure that all cheese is melted before removing the grilled cheese!

Other options from Caitlin: “I love doing a sauerkraut grilled cheese and using a dark break and all white cheeses for a more subtle flavor compared to the Grilled Kimcheese.”

Urbana cooks up seasonal pasta with some young sous chefs

“It’s important to any good chef to use what’s grown nearby. It’s fresher and it tastes better,” Chef Ethan McKee explained to Ms. Burkett’s 3rd grade class as the group stood at the entrance to the school garden at Francis Stevens Elementary, with me, their FoodPrints* teacher, nodding enthusiastically and passing out harvest scissors. “That’s why today we’re going to use what’s growing in your garden to fill the raviolis and make the sauce for the fettuccine noodles. It’s early spring, so we have spinach and collards and fresh herbs to work with. If we were making pasta at my restaurant, Urbana, in the summertime, we’d be using lots of tomatoes. But it’s too cold for tomatoes to be growing now. Speaking of cold weather, what do you think we could use in the fall? Can anyone think of a fall vegetable?”

“Pumpkin?” a shy 3rd grader offered.

“Yes!” Urbana’s executive chef beamed, “It’s one of our most popular ravioli fillings in the fall. Nice work. Okay, now let’s get harvesting some spinach for our spring pasta!”

 

Twenty minutes later,  we were back in the FoodPrints teaching kitchen giving our hands a good scrub with soap and water before student groups dove hands first into the flour set up at the cooking stations around the room. Over the next two hours, the Snail of Approval-winning chef talked us through separating eggs, making the dough and then rolling it through a series of settings on the pasta machines he’d brought along, then cutting and filling our fresh pasta.

We were a good team: I washed and minced our garden harvest and cooked things up with lots of garlic for the ravioli filling (it was a FoodPrints class after all, and we always use lots of garlic) and the sauce while Chef Ethan moved about the room offering guidance and suggestions, pointing out how nice and smooth one group’s dough had become, complimenting another group on their patience as different students rolled it through the machine, smiling reassuringly at our parent volunteers who had never made noodles from scratch before. As Ethan dished up our freshly cooked up pasta, ours mouths all began to water, and I marveled at this wonderful 3rd year of partnership between a public elementary school, a nearby restaurant, and a local nonprofit.

Seriously, though, third graders making pasta from a pile of flour and eggs? How did it all come out?? 

Delicious!

 

*FoodPrints is the education program of FreshFarm, another DC-area Snail of Approval winner! If you’re interested in volunteering with FoodPrints classes at one of the program’s 13 DCPS partner schools, contact FreshFarm.

Seasonal Recipe: Pot roast with Kim Chi

Adapted from the Washington Post Food Section, Feb 2018. Recently taste tested and approved by SFDC board co-chair, Ibti Vincent (and her carnivorous boyfriend). It took about 3 1/2 hours to cook, but SO worth it. Best valentine’s day meal EVER.

Ingredients

  • One 2-pound boneless chuck roast (we got ours from Snail of Approval award winning farm, Smith Meadows, at the Dupont farmers market)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp or so of freshly ground black pepper
  • A generous glug (2 TBSP?) of olive oil
  • One 12-ounce tub of cabbage kim chi (we used some from Number One Sons, another Snail-winning purveyor at the Dupont market)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider (the non-boozy kind, available at any farmers market)
  • 2 pounds of sweet potatoes (you guessed it, from the farmers market), scrubbed and cut into large-bite chunks
Directions

Preheat the oven to 300F. Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a deep cast iron skillet until it shimmers, and sear the roast on all sides until browned. This takes about 10 minutes total.

Move the meat to a plate, then add kim chi and cider to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping any delicious meat bits from the bottom of the pan. Nestle the roast back on top, cover tightly with an ovenproof lid (or tinfoil) and bake for 90 minutes.

Uncover the pan, flip the meat over, and tuck the sweet potatoes around the edges of the pan. Re-cover and cook an additional 90 minutes, until beef and sweet potatoes are quite tender.

Scoop out servings — you may need, oh, a butter knife to cut the meat — onto plates or shallow bowls, being sure to top meat and potatoes with the delectable kim chi sauce on the bottom of the pan.

This recipe serves 4… or two people with the most anticipated leftovers ever.