Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Year in Eating. Almost.

Let's start with August 2014, the month I began ignoring my poor wee blog.
'Top of the Hill' eggplant layered with rounds of fresh 'Wolf Meadow Farm' mozzarella and simple homemade marinara sauce made from super ripe heirloom tomatoes from 'From My Head TomaTOES Farm'; grated scamorza cheese from 'Wolf Meadow Farm' laced their tops. Adapted from bon appetit. Their tip: slice your eggplant in half lengthwise, all the way through the intact stem for an appealing, rustic presentation.  Prebake before layering.  Drizzle with olive oil before baking.  Sprigs of garden marjoram or oregano laid across the top before baking perfume the kitchen wonderfully. 
Can't have August pictures without tomatoes, basil and fresh mozz in the mix (lol, I know, it's supposed to be about the tomatoes).  Who here eats half the mozz before serving?  There is simply no point in ever attempting this supreme combination at any other time of year than deep summer.  Don't even consider it.

September 2014
Pick-your-own blueberries from an Epping farm made for a good attempt at hiding all of my frosting flaws! I believe this was a blueberry-flavored cream cheese-frosted yellow cake.  For no one's birthday.  :)
'Top of the Hill' flank steak all ready for fajitas. Remember to slice thinly on an angle, across the muscle fibers, for ultimate tenderness.  Sprinkle with a bit of Morton salt...then frig the fajitas. ;-p

 October 2014
I can't find any foodie pictures from October.  We apparently didn't eat anything. We carved our own pumpkin, though.

November 2014 - Happy Thanksgiving!
Last Thanksgiving's turkey had been raised on New Roots Farm's pastures. We procured sweet potatoes and yellow-flesh potatoes from the local indoor farmers' market, along with Brussels Sprouts, jowl bacon, onions & shallots, carrots, cranberries, herb bundles, and greens. My mother made from-scratch dinnerhorn rolls, and friends of hers, Dick and Harvey, brought all kinds of wine. After consuming what was likely much too much vino, 96-year old Harvey fell off the step-down into our livingroom, but popped back up like a jack-in-the-Box. True story. 

December 2014 - Happy Holidays!
OR-G is a brandy-vodka liqueur. I don't think one guest caught the risque pun on my invitation. We held our annual Solstice/holiday party for a couple dozen friends. We had too much food, as always. Fresh oysters, some from the estuary we live on but most from neighboring Maine, were either grilled (and topped with a siracha compound butter) or half-shelled (with a lemon wedges and fresh minced salsa). Mock scallops were made for our shellfish-free friends using thick crosscut sections of King Oyster mushrooms from NH Mushroom Company.  Crosshatched before searing, they were juicy and succulent and looked so much like scallops that one friend avoided the platter until I informed him they were mushroom stems. I topped them with a touch of garlic scape pesto from the freezer (last year's harvest).
We also scored the most phenomenal and tasty meat platter concoctions from MEat out of Kittery, Maine.  Above are descriptions of just a few items they provided. (It pays to make Kickstarter pledges!)  'Delicious', btw, it the name customers gave the "large gauge" cured lamb sausage. Melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Make that, fall-over-backward-die-and-go-to-heaven delicious. And that feta? No words can describe how utterly creamy and smooth and unctuous it was. 
Okay, a bit of a stretch to include the festive cookie platters (gifts for our doctors, veterinarian, mail carrier...), but they do include local (i.e. NH) eggs, and butter and milk from within 75 miles of our home.  And the rest of the ingredients, including the flour and sugar, are organically produced. I give full credit for my inspiration mostly to Saveur, but I also sourced recipes from other sites, including Food & Wine's "Chocolate Mint" cookie which was basically a homemade oreo (I dipped some in white chocolate, or drizzled them with it). 'Silk Road' black cocoa can be found on Amazon. Make your own marshmallow for the cream filling--it is worth it and not as hard as you might think.
Cashew clusters ("sea turtles"), candied citrus peel, truffles....  My go-to confection cookbook is authored by Charity Ferreira: 

January 2015 - Happy New Year!
Beef Wellington bomb.
One day I will make my own puff pastry dough, but a really good quality dough from, say, Dufour, works quite well.  Prosciutto ('Maine MEat') AND mushroom duxelle AND liver pate AND crepes are my preference (afterall, this is a once-a-year special dinner).  As is medium rare on the tenderloin ('Top of the Hill Farm').

February & March 2015
Hmm, not a single food pic, and we didn't even get skinny during this time.
Busy cooking at a local homeless shelter. Here, turkey pot pie from scratch, for 90pp, in 3 hrs.
With homemade biscuits!

April 2015
Spanokopita (pronounced "spä-nə-ˈkō-pē-tə")!  The Seacoast Eat Local series of indoor farmers' markets can't be beat.  Fresh, local, sweet and flavorful spinach, and the varieties...oy!  We were eating leaves straight from the bag before getting back home.
Lots of butter, lots of phyllo, lots of thankfulness that I still have my trusty 'Moosewood's Enchanted Broccoli Forest' cookbook from way back in the early 90s/late 80s.
We devoured this pan in no time.  It was small, y'all!

May 2015
The undeniable taste of fresh-picked, summer-ripe strawberries in May? Freeze berries from your local farm the summer before! You might find it hard to spend so much on strawberries at one time, but if you simply freeze a handful with every quart you buy, next thing you'll know there'll be a bag of delicious berries waiting for you come winter, or as in our case, for Cinco de Mayo! My recipe for quick and easy strawberry margaritas: into a blender, add two generous cups of frozen strawberries, a cup of ice cubes, and a healthy TBSP of agave nectar for sweetening (use more of less to your preference, but remember, it's 1.4x sweeter than sugar), and a good squeeze of juicy lime for brightening. Add 1/2 half cup of the best quality silver tequila you can afford, then let her rip in the blender. If you have strawberry liqueur on hand, add a swig of that, too. Orange liqueur is nice, too. Heck, use any fruit-base liqueur you have on hand. Banana? Peach? Watermelon? Strawberry-rhubarb simple syrup is nice, too (when in season!)

Quick soak your berries in a water bath with either fresh lemon juice or white distilled vinegar.  A TBSP to one gallon of water is plenty. Dry, freestanding (don't manhandle) on paper toweling. Freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan for at least 30 minutes. Bag up in freezer ziplocks. An alternative to vacuum bagging: insert a straw into one corner of the bag. Close zipper as much as possible. Use your mouth to withdraw the air inside the bag. You'll see a similar vacuum effect as you go. Simultaneously finish closing the bag as you remove the straw. These will keep for months...even a year!

June 2015

The start of our own Farmers' Market in June brought with it access to plump, versatile King Oyster mushrooms (among other kinds), but other markets are still important to us. Organically raised chickens on 'Vernon Family Farm' are sold in all kinds of ways, and sausage is one. This curried chicken sausage and mushroom pizza was made with Gruyere and just a hint of smoked cheddar. The mushrooms were sherried first as they sauteed.
With zucchini abundant from some farms, it, too, needed to be featured.  Can't wait for the sweet red peppers to show up!  'Wolf Meadow Farm' fresh mozzarella and Swiss chard (sauteed with garlic and sweet onion) rounded out the earthy goodness.  Bit of red chili flake, too.

July 2015
Duck eggs, They're what's for dinner. Almost.
These jumbo eggs came from Patridge Farm (awesome farm--great husbandry, great ethic all around) and weigh in at a whopping 3-1/2oz! Standard USDA chicken eggs weigh a mere 2oz). Duck eggs have lower water content than chicken eggs and are thus wonderful for baking, producing loft in cakes, omelettes, and bread pudding.  They're rich, and barely discernible from chicken eggs in terms of flavor.
Beach Pea Bakery's baguettes are a perfect fit for bread pudding.  Stale baguettes, of course. Try those duck eggs--they make a killer custard! This southern bread pudding, adapted from a 'Simply Recipes' recipe, is made with ample bourbon.  Raisins are soaked in it, then added, spirits and all, to the custard.  Then there's the bourbon butter sauce....

While that burger was all about local, save for the bun, it's really this interesting cucumber, asparagus and avocado salad that needs the attention.  A light, creamy dressing made with vegenaise, sour cream, lime juice, cilantro and salt was all the palate needed.  Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe.

This was actually our dinner the night we had that bread pudding for "dessert."  Just a simple, but super fresh, garden salad with farmers' market treats: cukes, heirloom tomatoes, and sweet peas tossed with a couple different kinds of heirloom head lettuce.  Arrowhead Family Farm & CSA.  You can find them at the Greenland Farmers' Market on Tuesdays in Greenland, NH, 3-6pm.

AUGUST 2015! Yay, back on track!

New post coming soon! Our NH Community Seafood fish shares have had us busy, and we're at the height of pesto season!

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