Seasonal Recipe: Chard Pesto

From our Sept 2017 SFDC newsletter… Recipe adapted from Swiss Chard Pesto Pasta.  Serves 4 as a sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 cups packed chopped Swiss chard leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds or walnuts
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan and pecorino cheese
  • additional parmesan shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Pulse garlic in a food processor to chop.
Add chard, nuts, cheese, and parsley and pulse until finely chopped.
Scrape down inside of bowl. Add oil, salt, and pepper and process just until smooth.

Serve with pasta/polenta/toast and shaved parmesan.

Have a great seasonal recipe you’d like to share? Send it our way — it may end up featured in an upcoming newsletter!

Cultivating Coffee Appreciation with Vigilante Coffee

In addition to being pioneers of specialty coffee in the Washington, DC area, Snail of Approval winner Vigilante Coffee is also dedicated to increasing the coffee knowledge of both retailers and consumers.  Working from the perspective that coffee should never be intimidating, Vigilante has developed a special “Lab Series” designed to present the world’s most interesting coffees in an intimate, engaging, and comfortable environment.

During a special Slow Food DC Lab Series on July 23, local Slow Foodies learned all about Panamanian Gesha coffee from Ninety Plus Coffee, a single-origin, single-variety grower and producer in both Panama and Ethiopia. In addition to the rarity of this particular varietal, the Gesha coffee’s uniqueness also comes from the special natural processing methods Ninety Plus uses to emphasize and preserve the bean’s flavor and aroma characteristics.

Along with producing award-winning coffees, Ninety Plus is known for their ecological and sustainable cultivation methods, principles Vigilante Coffee also embodies.

Owner and founder Chris Vigilante explained during the event that he personally visits each and every producer the company buys from and when possible, imports beans directly from the source, allowing growers to recoup a higher percentage of profits.  This hands-on approach is also an avenue for encouraging and sharing sustainable business practices, enabling Vigilante to offer harvest incentives for producing higher quality beans.

Director of Retail and Marketing Austin Redington demonstrated four different ways to brew these special Gesha coffee beans, including cold brew, espresso, aeropress, and siphon.  Each method highlighted different aspects of the coffee’s unique flavor profile that participants could compare and contrast.

Lab Series participants were fortunate enough to take home their very own sample of Gesha, roasted during the class by Vigilante’s expert roaster Franklin Ventura.  Each coffee that Vigilante offers is specially roasted on site at their Hyattsville location, according to what level of roast will showcase the best of that bean’s flavor and aroma profile.

This special Lab Series was a great way to learn why Vigilante is known for their award-winning, single origin coffee and there’s much more to learn!

Vigilante Coffee offers classes at their Hyattsville location several times a week that are open to both wholesale partners and the general public.  Classes cover everything from different brew methods to coffee cupping to latte art basic.  Find out more on their website at:  http://vigilantecoffee.com/classes/.

Growing hyperlocal ice cream flavors with Cultivate the City

On August 16, Slow Food DC and Snail of Approval winning Cultivate the City held an ice cream making demonstration in a slightly unusual location: the rooftop of a hardware store on Bladensburg Avenue! This particular rooftop has been transformed into the home base for an urban garden center and CSA that is changing how we think about growing food in dense urban areas.

Cultivate the City is the work of many people in the community, with Niraj Ray running the show and Dan Weisshaar managing the farm. Their focus is on maximizing growing potential by implementing vertical gardens and building a steadfast volunteer force rooted in existing communities. Cultivate now has 25 gardens throughout the city, a full-fledged CSA program for both produce and seedlings, and they’re always trying out new things including growing plants from the Slow Food Ark of Taste catalog.

For our H Street Farm rooftop garden tour and frozen treat session, Chef/Farmer Dan introduced us to lemon basil and melon sorbet and chocolate mint ice cream featuring herbs from their garden, of course. The delicious cantaloupe melon had been a volunteer that sprouted in the compost pile from last season! We also taste-tested papaloquelite (a common Mexican culinary herb that tastes a little like cilantro) and bitter melon (a fascinating and unusual plant that’s also full of nutritional value) along the way.

Also on the rooftop were three greenhouses and an aquaponics operation: a closed loop growing system featuring basil, tomatoes, and tilapia sharing the circulated water. (Fish fry later this fall, btw.) Niraj emphasized that some people have misconceptions about hydroponics being less flavorful than soil-grown, but this is because the hydroponic tomatoes we usually have access to have been shipped great distances. Produce that is picked at peak when fully ripe and fresh — including hydroponically grown veggies and herbs — and served immediately, locally, has absolutely the best flavor!

One of the major goals Cultivate aims for is to help people understand farming, gardening, and cooking as viable occupations.  The H Street Farm aggregates produce from their 25 gardens across the city and distributes it to CSA clients, local restaurants, and locals who volunteer with them. The business also focus on working with the communities around their gardens to help locals learn to grow their own food, offering services such as a home consultation for just $100 or the option to work at the farm for discounted CSA shares and event passes.

The ice cream was tasty, the garden beautiful, and Cultivate the City is truly Good, Clean and Fair! Check out Cultivate’s upcoming volunteer opportunities and events here.

Preserved strawberries and ground cherries!

Slow Food Nations: Going Beyond the Fork

The concept of identity is a complex one that brings up some deep questions when we consider its meaning. What is the identity of the Slow Food movement, for example? What is my identity as a food and farm advocate, and how do other “slow foodies” identify themselves? These questions have been on my mind over the last month, since I attended Slow Food Nations in Denver, CO July 14-16.

Carlo Petrini, the founder of the slow food movement, opened Slow Food Nations with this proclamation: “We don’t want food that doesn’t have an identity.” When we think about food and identity we often think about having an understanding of where our food comes from, who produces it, and under what circumstances it came to be on our plates. One way we could also consider this concept, however, is through our own identities as eaters, growers, and advocates of good, clean, fair food.

I was fortunate to be invited to speak to Slow Food Nations Delegates as part of a panel discussion on Federal Food and Farm Policy, which covered an array of issues including the Farm Bill, SNAP, Child Nutrition, and fisheries. The goal of the workshop was not only to discuss public policy’s role in food and agriculture, but also to give attendees strategies on how they could have a positive impact. My fellow panelists inspired me – and no doubt many others in the room – with their stories, their advice, and their passion for a good, clean, and fair food and farm system.

One thing I found surprising, however, was that our panel was one of the few Delegate workshops that dealt directly with public policy. Slow Food today is perhaps most closely associated with the act of eating, but it started as an act of advocacy. Carlo Petrini didn’t just fight against the expansion of the fast food empire in Italy by patronizing and celebrating chefs and restaurants who were doing things right; he launched a grassroots campaign to protect good food and farms that eventually went global. Petrini has been politically active his entire life, and I have no doubt he understands the role that governments and policy have to play in shaping our food and farm system – but do we as Slow Food members?

In some sense, I worry that we have lost track of the original identity of Slow Food as an advocacy movement. Our own identities as Slow Food members are often firmly rooted on the farm or in the kitchen, but rarely in the halls of Congress or even our local city councils. Whether or not we want to admit or acknowledge it, the fact remains that policy dictates much of the shape of our food and farm system – everything from the price of the foods we eat, to the rights of food and farm workers, to agricultural conservation requirements that protect the water we drink and air we breathe.

Voting with our forks is not enough. If we truly wish to keep the Slow Food movement alive, we cannot shrink from engagement with policy. We all have a role to play; together we can reclaim our identity as advocates for good, clean, fair food and become a force that drives local, regional, and federal policies.

Slow Food Nations was in many ways a love letter to good food. It was also a time to commune with one another, and to get inspired. In all, 25,000 people attended Slow Food Nations’ 155 events featuring 305 speakers and 70 exhibitors. For many, the amazing food is what they’ll remember most. Personally, however, I came away with much more than just a full belly – I came away energized to amplify the policy conversations within this community of foodies, and to help build back up the historic identity of Slow Food as a food and farm advocacy powerhouse.

Our thanks to Reana Kovalcik, Slow Food DC Board Member, for this outtake from Slow Food Nations and her inspiration for us all to be advocates for good, clean, and fair food for everyone.

Seasonal Recipe: Jalepeño Slaw

This recipe, adapted/photo from Sprouted Kitchen, appeared in our July 2017 newsletter.
Serves 2-4 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head small green cabbage
  • 1/2 a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, some seeds removed unless you like it really spicy
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise (or similar alternative, such as vegenaise or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Directions:

Slice the cabbage extra thin, discarding the core, using careful knife skills, a mandoline, or the slicer blade in your food processor. Place the sliced cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon kosher salt. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Fill the bowl with cold water and jostle the cabbage with your hands. Drain into a large colander. Don’t worry about drying the cabbage.

Meanwhile, make the dressing by whisking together the mayo (or substitute), grapeseed oil, rice vinegar, and a few pinches each of salt and pepper.  
Combine the rinsed cabbage, onion, and jalapeno in a serving bowl; add the cilantro. Add dressing and toss well.  
Serve and enjoy!  This recipe is easily doubled.

Seasonal Recipe: Dijon Lentil Salad

Clean out the fridge with this flexible, plant-based recipe, adapted from Slow Food DC Board Member Katherine Peinhardt’s blog. It also appears in our June 2017 SFDC monthly newsletter.
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dry lentils, cooked in 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf, removed after boiling lentils
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cup raw kale
  • 1 clove raw garlic
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:

Cook the lentils according to instructions on packaging, 3 cups of water for each cup of lentils used. Add in a bay leaf, and be sure to remove it at the end.

Cut up 2 large carrots into small pieces, and set aside in a large bowl.

Chop the kale into short ribbons.

Add the kale and garlic to the lentils in the pot, to wilt the kale.

Stir well, and transfer to bowl.

Add the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, spices, and lemon juice to the bowl, combining all ingredients, and stir well. The lentils will mush a bit.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Seasonal Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake

Get some fresh, healthy berries into your desserts with this beautiful Seasonal Strawberry Shortcake, contributed by Slow Food DC Board Member Shelu Patel.
Ingredients:

Strawberries and Cream Ingredients:
  • 2 cups ripe strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 handful of chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped nuts (hazelnuts, almond, pecans or black walnuts, but choose a single nut type)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted or sweet butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (you can be creative with the type of flour)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

Directions:

Prepare your strawberries by removing the green hats and slice the strawberries into a large glass mixing bowl. 

Mash the strawberries lightly using the back of a large spoon. 

In the bowl with strawberries sprinkle sugar and add the Grand Mariner, chopped mint and cream. Lightly mix by gently folding. 

Cover bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a baking pan with a piece of parchment paper.

Whisk the eggs until pale yellow in large mixing bowl. Add nuts, butter, sugar, flour, baking powder to the whisked egg bowls. Mix lightly until the ingredients form a ball.

Add the ball to the baking pan on top of the parchment paper. Gently pat the ball semi-flat on the parchment paper. 

Bake for 20-24 minutes. 

Remove from oven and let cool before halving the cake horizontally.

Add strawberries and cream to the cake bottom-half and place the remaining cake top-half back on the dessert. 

Enjoy your spring strawberry shortcake!

Snail Winner Catoctin Creek is Raising the Standard of Rye, Locally and Sustainably

About 20 Slow Food DC members and friends took advantage of a warm spring evening on April 29 to visit Snail of Approval winner Catoctin Creek for an exclusive, hands-on cocktail making class and distillery tour.  The first distillery to operate in Loudoun County since Prohibition, Catoctin is making a big name for itself with its award winning craft spirits and community-driven approach.  Located in a former car dealership in the heart of Purvellville, VA, our group was warmly welcomed with a cocktail made from Mosby’s Spirit, Catoctin’s version of white whisky.  

This refresher prepared us for the distillery tour portion of the evening, during which our kilt-wearing guide Jonathan introduced us to the two stills responsible for producing all of the company’s spirits:  Barney and Ron Swanson.  Barney apparently gained his purple hue fromdistilling pear brandy and Ron, well, he’s just a whisky-loving type of guy.  Committed to producing spirits from locally sourced and organic ingredients, all of Catoctin’s whisky – as well as their gin – is produced using 100% organic rye. 

If you’re wondering how gin snuck into a rye whisky producer’s rotation, know that it’s all part of Catoctin’s plan to be a zero waste facility.  By redistilling the byproduct of the whisky making process (the “tails,” for you hard-core distillers) with traditional gin botanicals, such as juniper, citrus, and coriander, Catoctin produces a smooth and lovely gin that started from rye mash. 

After distillation, Catoctin’s Roundstone whisky is aged for just under two years in new white new oak barrels from Minnesota, lending the spirit a dark caramel color and deep flavor and aroma.  Whisky that is not barrel-aged is bottled as Mosby’s Spirit. Sustainability is in practice at this stage as well.  Each run through the still produces enough spirit to exactly fill one barrel.  Catoctin also readily supplies spent whisky mash to local farms, and sells used whisky barrels to beer distillers. 

After the tour, our group sidled up to the horseshoe-shaped bar where our bartender Chad gave a brief and illuminating history of how rye became the grain of choice in early American cocktails.  Although early settlers to the area attempted to grow crops they were familiar with at home, rye was one of the few that flourished in the warm, muggy region of Virginia.

Armed with jiggers and cocktail shakers, Chad then guided us through the process of recreating a few of these early American, rye-based cocktails with Catoctin’s signature Roundstone Rye and Watershed Gin.  Despite some shaky pouring skills, Catoctin’s expertly crafted spirits helpful guides ensured we couldn’t fail to make some superb cocktails. 

The next time you’re in Loudoun County, stop by Catoctin’s welcoming facility for a visit or even better, sign up for one of the distillery’s many events. We’re already looking forward to our next visit!

 

Snail of Approval Auction Challenge – Win a Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Gift Set!

Did you have fun at our February 28 Snail of Approval party? We sure did, especially jockeying for those awesome silent auction goodies! If you were a silent auction winner, we want to see how you’re using the items you won! Post a photo of you using the Snail of Approval silent auction item(s) you won in February – hashtagged with #SnailAuctioninAction – to our Facebook or Twitter page for a chance to win a Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom gift set!

Entries will be accepted until May 30 and a winner will be selected at random. Keep the Snail of Approval momentum going and show us your #SnailAuctioninAction!

 

Seasonal Recipe: Quinoa & Asparagus Salad

Adapted from the New York Times and featured in our April 2017 newsletter.

It’s asparagus season!! This kid-approved recipe is from the FoodPrints website. FoodPrints is an education project of  FRESHFARM — a Snail of Approval award winning nonprofit — that integrates gardening, cooking, and nutrition education into the curriculum at partner elementary schools.
INGREDIENTS

for the salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • salt
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 6 radishes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives or scallions
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

for the dressing:

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated or minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons buttermilk
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce (about ¼ cup) feta cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse several times with cold water. Place rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan with 1 ½ cups water and salt to taste.

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 15 minutes, until the grains display a threadlike spiral and the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, let sit for at least 10 minutes undisturbed. Transfer quinoa to a bowl and fluff with a fork.

Steam the asparagus until tender (3-4 mins).
Drain, cool, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Add to the quinoa, along with the radishes, pumpkin seeds, chives and tarragon.

Whisk together the lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, olive oil, buttermilk and pepper.

Shortly before serving, toss with the quinoa and asparagus mixture.

Sprinkle the feta over the top and serve.

Have a good seasonal recipe you’d like to share? Send it along to info@slowfooddc.org!