Cooking from the Farms: Kitchen Update

I love putting together this weekly update.  For me, it’s a good reminder of the week’s cooking fun and adventure.  The week began with lobster, always a promising start.

And included peach salsa topped with seared scallops.

Join us on the Lido Deck for…

August starts out busy with activities and shows no sign of slowing down.  Some of the highlights on my calendar include:

  • New York!  Dinner at Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune in the East Village one night; a class on the cheeses and wines of the Iberian Peninsula followed by tapas the next night.
  • Glenn and Karen Cook are in the process of planning a walking tour of Cider Hill Farm for their CSA members.  I have seen so little of the farm – the store, the apple orchards, the strawberry fields – and can’t wait for this broader, behind the scenes peek.
  • I’ve been invited to check out the Rowley Farmers’ Market.  A group of farmers and backyard gardeners gather at the Rowley Commons on Sundays from 8 am-1 pm to sell their local produce.  I hope to go next Sunday, the 15th.  Maybe some of my local readers would like to check it out too.
  • In other farmers’ market news, Local In Season will have a table at the Roslindale Farmers’ Market on Saturday, August 21.  The Roslindale market is in its 21st year and going strong, evidence of community commitment to farms and local food.   The founders of and writers for Local In Season are thrilled to be able to talk local, seasonal food at the market on the 21st.  The market is held every Saturday from 9 am – 1:30 pm in Adams Park.
  • I got off the highway during last Thursday’s storm to take shelter at my once-local farm, Wilson Farm of Lexington.  I am so fond of this farm even though I no longer live 10 minutes away.  It’s a gem.  They are planning a farm-to-table dinner this Thursday evening, August 11, with Chef Todd Heberlein showcasing some of the farm’s own seasonal produce.  This event sold out quickly and I hope this means they’ll have to plan another dinner in the field soon.

Market Street Kitchen Adventures

While waiting out the rain at Wilson Farm, I picked up two of their own Sicilian eggplant.  I was lucky to be so close that I could use the farm store as shelter, but truth be told I would have detoured for the eggplant even if it hadn’t been raining.  I would even drive the hour it takes from my home for some.  It’s that good.  And it is much, much different from the traditional variety of eggplant.

How?

Wilson Farm’s Sicilian eggplant are rounder and plumper in shape, and a lighter, truer shade of purple with patches or streaks of white.  The skin is also more tender than the skins of either the traditional or Japanese (which I find very tough) varieties.

But the real difference is inside.

The slice on the right is the Sicilian variety.  Its flesh is snowy white instead of the more familiar pale yellow-green.  A Sicilian eggplant is not bitter and therefore requires none of the time consuming salting and draining that a traditional eggplant does before cooking.  And when you do cook up the Sicilian eggplant slices, the flesh turns creamy soft, almost mousse-like in texture.  I could eat maybe a million of these slices, fried simply in a light coating of flour and crunchy cornmeal.

Sicilian eggplant is well worth the drive to Lexington, wherever you’re coming from, rain or shine.

It may also be worth your while to drive to my house for the caramel-corn ice cream I made this morning.  If I were more enterprising, I could be selling this out the front door today and making a mint.

Corn ice cream?

Yes.  Yum.

I cooked the kernels from two ears of corn in some milk with a little sugar added.

When the corn was tender, I strained the corn-infused milk into another saucepan and added to it some heavy cream and the two corn cobs.  I brought this mixture up to a simmer, took it off the heat, and let it steep for 30 minutes. After removing the cobs, this became my ice cream base.  I let it chill over night.

This morning at 7:00 I began churning ice cream.  About 5 minutes before the ice cream was finished I began adding small pieces of dulce de leche to the freezing cream mixture.

Some dulce de leche remained in pieces, while some blended into the ice cream, giving the finished dessert a pale caramel color.  From all reports, it is delicious.  Want some?

Things like dulce de leche are good to have on hand

If you have a can or jar of dulce de leche you can make, or sauce, ice cream.  If you have almond paste…

you can make cakes, cookies, or marzipan fruits on a whim.

If you have a good honey…

you can use it in place of sugar in your bread.

If you have sparkle sugar…

you can give your muffins a glittery and crunchy top.

If you have a good dried pasta…

you can turn any of your CSA vegetables and herbs into a quick but tasty midweek supper.

Pick of the Produce

Cider Hill Farm celery (destined for cream of celery soup today)

a tangle of Cider Hill Farm wax beans

one lone onion from a pound of Heron Pond Farm red onions

and more in the red color scheme, a pound of Heron Pond Farm new potatoes

©2010  Jane Ward