TND – Farm to Fork 2012

September 14, 2012

This is the annual Farm-to-Table Dinner.  Someone at Dinner foolishly asked if I could name all the farms that the produce came from, and not only can I tell you that, I can tell you when the corn was picked (5:30am the day I bought it – which, granted, I only know because that’s what the sign on the enormous pile of corn said, not because I actually asked).

If you’re curious, yes there was entirely too much food.

Jasmine Tea Sangria

Chilled Beet Buttermilk Soup with an Herb Swirl
Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake
Tomato-Corn Salad
Baby Spinach Salad with Fennel & Nectarines
Radishes & Baby Turnips
Butterscotch Melons

Produce provided by:

Wilson Farm
Baby Spinach

Stillman’s Farm
Butterscotch Melons

Kimball Farm

Red Fire Farm
Baby Turnips

Freitas Farm (no website – apparently they’re spending all their time growing the best corn of the season)

Keown Orchards
Cherry Tomatoes

Crystal Brook Farm
Goat Cheese

Swiss Bakers
Pajazzo Multigrain Bread

When Pigs Fly
Savory Cranberry Rosemary Bread

Christo’s Fruit Market
Basil (because nobody, but nobody had basil at the farmer’s market this week)

Jasmine Tea Sangria
(serves 8)

Sliced Fruit of Choice (at least 2 cups, I always do more – I used peaches & pears, and froze raspberries & blackberries to use as ice cubes)
1 cup brandy
6 cups steaming water
¼ cup jasmine tea
1-2 bottles Riesling
¼ cup simple syrup (equal parts water & sugar – heated until sugar dissolves – cool & refrigerate until needed)

Cover the fruit with the brandy and allow to macerate overnight.

Add the tea to the steaming water and steep for 2 minutes.  Strain and discard the tea leaves.  Cool the liquid to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.

Mix together the jasmine tea, the bottle of wine and the macerated fruit.  Add brandy and simple syrup to taste (I used all the simple syrup and probably ¾ of the brandy, but do it to taste).

Chilled Beet & Buttermilk Soup with an Herb Swirl
(serves about 6)

This soup is not complicated, but it does require forethought because it has to chill overnight.  I usually make it over the course of three days, which sounds egregiously time consuming but most of it is hands-off/you-just-need-to-be-in-the-house-because-the-oven’s-on kind of time, and the active time is pretty short.

Day 1 – roast the beets (requires 5 minutes of prep time to wrap the beets + 1 hour or so of just hanging around the house while they roast).

Day 2 – make the soup base (about 30 minutes of chopping + 20 minutes of simmering on the stove while you do other things (like say, make the herb swirl) + 5 minutes of blending).

Day 3 – finish the soup (10-15 minutes of whisking + tasting & seasoning, and 10 minutes of garnishing).

2 lb beets, roasted, peeled and chopped into 1” chunks
2 apples – 1 peeled & chopped, 1 reserved for garnish
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
1 large onion, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
3 cups liquid (I use a mixture of stock & water – keep 1 extra cup in reserve to thin soup as needed)
1 orange, zested & juiced (½ in soup / ½ in herb swirl)
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup plain yogurt (+ extra for garnish)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp honey (or to taste)
Salt/pepper/cinnamon/allspice (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350.  Trim the beets and wrap them in foil.  Roast for 45-60 minutes, or until very tender.  If you have the time I suggest letting them cool before you peel them to save your fingers – this is one of the other reasons I roast the beets a day in advance – but you can also peel them right after they roast and continue to the next step)*.

Saute the onion, carrots, 1 apple and garlic in a little olive oil until softened and starting to brown slightly.  Season with salt/pepper/cinnamon/allspice.  Add the peeled & chopped beets, half the orange zest, and the stock/water.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes.

Add the orange juice and puree until very smooth.  Chill at least 8 hours, overnight is easier.

Whisk in the buttermilk and yogurt.  Season to taste with apple cider vinegar, honey, salt/pepper/cinnamon/allspice.

* You could also peel raw beets, chop & simmer with the soup for 30-40 minutes until tender and skip the whole roasting process.  I find peeling raw beets aggravating and would rather take the time to roast them, plus I feel like roasting caramelizes some of the natural sugars in beets.

Herb Swirl
2 cloves garlic
(scant) ¼ cup basil
(scant) ¼ cup parsley
1/8 cup chives (or scallion greens)
3 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp olive oil
Orange zest (reserved from making soup)

Puree all together.  Season to taste.

To Serve
Serve the soup and garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt, artistically drizzled/dribbled herb swirl, and some finely chopped apple.

Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake
(serves 8-10)

The original recipe calls for baking the cheesecake in a 7” springform pan.  I have no idea who owns one of these, but I don’t and neither does anyone else I know and I count a number of serious bakers among the people who come to Dinner regularly.  Anyway, a 7” round pan holds about 4 cups by volume.  An 8×8 square pan holds about 6 cups by volume, so I made 1 ½ times the recipe, lined my pan with a double parchment sling (one in each direction) and lifted it out that way.  This seems to have worked fine.  The amounts I’ve given below are for an 8×8 square pan.

I inaugurated my shiny new mixer with this dish, but you could probably just use a whisk.

3 cups grated zucchini
1 ½ tsp salt
3 ¼ cups ricotta (get the good stuff)
¾ cup parmesan
3 shallots (or about ½ a medium sweet onion), finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
(generous) ¼ cup dill, chopped
Zest of 1 ½ lemons
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup goat cheese, crumbled (about 2 oz)

Preheat oven to 325.  Butter an 8×8 pan and line it with a parchment sling in both directions.  Butter the parchment.

Grate the zucchini and toss it with the salt.  Allow to drain for 10 minutes.  At the same time set the ricotta to drain.

Squeeze the zucchini aggressively to remove as much liquid as possible.

Mix together the ricotta, parmesan, shallots, garlic, dill, and lemon zest.  Add the eggs and beat until well combined.  Stir in the zucchini.  Fill the lined pan and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 60 minutes.  Remove from the oven and blot off any excess liquid on the top of the cheesecake.  Sprinkle with the goat cheese and return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes, or until the goat cheese is melted and the cheesecake barely jiggles in the middle (it will finish setting up as a cools).

Allow cheesecake to rest for 5 minutes and then remove from the pan (a large spatula under the parchment sling is helpful in achieving this).  Allow to cool to room temperature (can be refrigerated overnight – my mother says it’s better the next day – and brought back up to room temperature before serving).

Serve drizzled with a little olive oil and a scattering of chopped dill or chives.

Corn Tomato Salad
(serves 6-8)

This is my recreation of the fantastic salad that my roommate and I had in Montreal.

4-6 ears corn depending on the size of the corn
2 pints cherry tomatoes
¼ red onion
Lemon juice
Drizzle olive oil
1/8 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Slice the kernels off the corn, trying to get biggish chunks of corn.  Slice the cherry tomatoes in half (or quarters if they’re large).  Dice the red onion.

Very gently toss everything together.  You want to try and preserve the integrity of some of the hunks of corn kernels, but you also want everything slightly coated with the goat cheese.

Season to taste and serve

Baby Spinach Salad with Fennel & Nectarines
What it says on the tin.

Mixed Radishes & Baby Turnips
Last week Kimball Farms had watermelon radishes and I was excited because I’d only ever seen watermelon radishes on food tv before, and they are in fact as cool looking in person as they are on TV.  I was going to get them for Dinner, but then was stymied by the fact that seasonal produce being what it is they didn’t have them this week (although he says they’ll be picking them again next week).

However, as I was poking around the farmer’s market in an attempt to find basil (which, much like the cucumber for Lady Bracknell was not to be had even for ready money), I ran across baby turnips which apparently can just be eaten as is – although someone also suggested roasting them which sounds delicious and will be done in the near future.  Baby turnips, it turns out, are kind of mild and sweet – texture of a radish, but less spicy.

Butterscotch Melons
I wasn’t going to get them, but they were tiny and cute and really really good and that’s pretty much a fatal combination for me.  Downside was that they were small, but still very heavy to carry home.


One comment

  1. […] Night Dinner « TND – Latest Salvo TND – Farm to Fork 2012 » TND Extra – Shiny, y’all September 14, […]

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