Monthly Archives: June 2013
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Overheard last week at our favorite farmstand (Chipman Farm) in Maine. Uncharacteristically, there was a box of California corn for sale. Usually, they only have vegetables they grow themselves. Teenaged girls enter the farmstand, and ask the woman working “What’s the difference between California corn and Maine corn?” We were on our way back to the car, but this stopped us in our tracks. She politely answered, “California corn is grown in California, and Maine corn is grown in Maine”. The girls said, “We’d like to buy Maine corn”. Howard and I turned to each other and smirked. Howard said, “They’ll have to wait a few more months then”.
I continue to be amazed how out of touch people can be about food and seasons. We try to eat with the seasons, and this is the time of year I wait for, especially in the wasteland between the last days of winter and the long days of early spring. Summertime fresh fruits and vegetables, locally grown, are finally available.
This summer, we are members of the CSA at Waltham Fields Community Farm. We’re in the third week. So far, lots of greens (kale, collards, chard, spinach, arugula. cabbage) and spring roots (radishes, turnips, beets, scallions). I love the challenge of making meals from what we pick up each week. With this CSA, we have some choice in what we get, but it’s still limited to what’s ripe and ready and coming in from the field.
It’s also strawberry season. Last weekend, we had our annual picking and jam making weekend. We picked over 20 pounds of gorgeous strawberries at Spiller Farm in Wells Maine. Then we spent the evening making strawberry freezer jam: four batches. I prefer freezer jam to the truly canned version because the berries aren’t cooked and retain the fresh flavor when we eat it in the midst of winter. We eat a spoonful into yogurt for breakfast every morning.
Here’s a few of the things I’ve made so far:
Vietnamese Chicken Salad
I also took some inspiration from what was in the refrigerator to make this early summer salad with radishes and peas. The vibrant colors were gorgeous.
Minty Radish and Pea Salad
½ cup shelled peas
12 sugar snap peapods
1 scallion, sliced
1½ Tbsp olive oil
½ Tbsp cider vinegar
½ tsp honey
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2-3 Tbsp slivered mint leaves (from 1 large sprig)
Scrub and trim the radishes. Cut half of them into quarters lengthwise. Slice the other half thinly, crosswise.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice and water. Blanch the shelled peas by cooking in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Scoop them out and cool in the ice bath. Boil the peapods for 3 minutes and transfer them to the ice bath as well. Drain the peas and pat dry. Cut the cooked peapods in half crosswise.
In a small jar, add olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Shake well to combine.
In a medium bowl, combine the radishes, peas, and scallion with the dressing. Add the mint leaves and toss well.
I’ve never been to Nice, or the South of France, for that matter, so I had no point of comparison for this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe: Socca, which is a chickpea pancake. In France, this street food made by vendors stationed on the sidewalk. At my house, we had it as a starter to dinner.
This recipe introduced me to a new ingredient, chickpea (also called garbanzo) flour which is ground up chickpeas. It has a vegetal aroma quite different from wheat flour. The batter is simple to mix up: garbanzo flour, water, olive oil, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. This is done in advance so the batter can rest. Dorie says that improves the end result.
The preparation was interesting. The pancake bakes in a very hot oven. The pan preheats at the same time. Once everything is hot, you pour oil into the pan and return it to the oven to heat up before pouring in the batter. It’s essentially oven-fried, though finished under the broiler to blacken the surface slightly.
To eat, we tore the piping hot pancake into pieces and smeared them with tapenade and goat cheese. It was tasty, though unusual. I cooked half the batter to make one medium pancake to try tonight and plan to cook the other half with tomorrow’s lunch.
I still have the rest of the bag of chickpea flour leftover, so I will probably try this again. I’m less sure about it plain, but I have lots of Mediterranean condiments to experiment with for toppings.
I was also intrigued by the falafel recipe that came on the bag. I love falafel but I’ve always been put off making them at home because I am uncomfortable deep-frying. The recipe on the bag of flour only calls for a few tablespoons of oil to cook them, so I might be trying that out. Any other suggestions?