Monday, March 21, 2011
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is someone I hope our American readers have heard of and if you haven't, get to your library or bookstore and please open up some of his books and get reading. I've learned so much from Hugh and I am consistently impressed with the passion and intelligence he brings to food, farming, cooking and educating the public about these three things. He's labeled a celebrity chef in Great Britain and I personally think that label almost does him a disservice, somehow discrediting the good work that he does in the arena of food activism, policy and awareness. I'll touch on this more in a future post to come that is all about mackerel but today's post is about the delicious, amazing food at River Cottage.
Just over a week ago I had the good fortune of sitting down to a Friday Night Dinner at River Cottage HQ on Park Farm in Axminster, Devon, England. This was truly a destination meal as my boyfriend and I made a considerable effort and went a good deal out of our way to get there. Happily for us, it was worth it. Not only was the food inventive, impeccably sourced and delicious, but the experience was unique and memorable from our arrival by tractor to canapés in a yurt to meeting strangers that we were sat next to at one of two long communal tables. The flavors and conversations and sights and smells were worth the price of admission and I of course took detailed notes about what we ate and drank to be able to share the experience with you.
Kingston Black Apple Brandy
Chorizo and egg salad (egg mayonnaise) on toast
Carrot and cumin hummus on flatbread
Mushroom stuffed with spinach, feta and topped with chestnuts
Potted pollack on toast
Stinger Organic Ale brewed with hand-picked Dorset nettles
Cottechino sausage with cubes of pig skin inside the casing, which when cooked (simmered in stock) made the sausage gelatinous and sticky. Served with al dente puy lentils, celeriac puree and salsa verde. DELICIOUS!
Stinging nettle soup with a smoky fish stock made from cold-smoked pollock. Served with a poached egg and jersey yogurt and a slice of sourdough bread.
Slow and fast cooked beef from a Ruby cow. The slow element consisted of braised flank steak, shredded then combined with beef fat and sauteed onions and formed into a cake. The fast cooked beef was a couple of slices of roast beef, served pink. Roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary were served as well as roasted carrots, creamed leeks and cauliflower.
Vanilla yogurt pannecotta with poached rhubarb and fragile, crumbly shortbread.
Cider brandy truffles made with Julian Temperley's Somerset Cider
Are you drooling yet? The meal was inspiring. I've already replicated the carrot and cumin hummus and flatbreads at home from memory and I'm keeping a close eye on my rhubarb plants, desperate to poach their stalks once they get a little bit bigger. Also the pairing of homemade chorizo and egg salad (egg mayonnaise) must be remembered and attempted in the future! Before the meal was over I wanted to apply for a job - any job - at River Cottage. It was the kind of place that oozed the energy and purpose that you just want to be a part of. I desperately wish I could have seen the place during the day and therefore a return trip is in order!
Carrot & Cumin Hummus inspired by River Cottage
1 can of drained and rinsed chickpeas
An equal amount of raw carrots, cleaned and peeled.
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and trimmed
1 tablespoon cumin
chopped parsley, chives and scallions to garnish
Steam the carrots and the 3 garlic cloves together then add them to your food processor or blender with a can of chickpeas, a tablespoon of cumin, LOTS of olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon. Blitz this all together, adjust seasoning to taste and garnish with chopped herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
To make 6 flatbreads:
Mix 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour with salt and enough warm water to make a dry dough and knead for a minute. Separate into six balls of dough and let sit for 20 minutes. Roll these out to 1/4 of an inch thin, using just enough extra flour to keep them from sticking to the rolling pin or the counter. Then get a dry cast iron pan or griddle very hot and cook the flatbreads for 3 minutes or so on each side so they puff up and get brown spots.
Carrot and cumin hummus on flatbreads make an excellent lunch for 3 people, served with a side salad.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Hudson Valley Seed Library - Where Seeds Come From And Why It Matters To Buy Them From Ken and Doug.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Thursday, December 30, 2010
We had an amazing meal there launched by two pints of smocked bock from Meantime Brewing and then we feasted on briny Colchester oysters, a salsify, leek and watercress salad, a pork terrine with rabbit, duck tongue and pheasant offal served with a pile of small cornichons, snails with chickpeas and chorizo in broth, and then, we had the show stopper. We had the roasted bone marrow and parsley salad - The bones were served sitting upright like cylinders and we were given these awesome long scoops to reach in and get the bone marrow out. Sea salt was piled up next to the bones, and beside that were two slices of toast and a parsley salad with shaved shallots and capers. I spread the bone marrow on the toast, sprinkled it with sea salt and piled on the parsley salad. The salt and capers brought the flavor of the marrow to levels of the sublime and the parsley salad refreshed the palate and cut through the richness just as it should. I loved having to assemble each bite and I fondly recall noticing a family with young children sitting nearby, with a young boy enjoying the same dish, not squeamish at all, simply enjoying his meal, sure to scoop out every last bit of the bone marrow.
Monday, December 20, 2010
On that note, here's a handy guide for what's in season right now as we head into winter - it's a mix of great storage crops and fresh greens and herbs: celeriac (celery root), rutabagas (swedes), turnips, beets, radishes, parsnips, carrots, dried beans, grains, potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, arugula, kale, escarole, lettuces, mustard greens, mâche, brussels sprouts, fennel, kohlrabi, cabbage, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, thyme and sage.
You might be surprised to read that greens and herbs are in season but protected in the garden by row covers or cold frames, they will continue to yield. The winter greens are delicate and tender and smaller in size than their summer counterparts, but they are extremely delicious and the novelty of going outside to a frozen and seemingly dead garden and returning with fresh, alive greens and herbs for a meal is considerable! Don't underestimate too the value of having a few pots indoors on the window ledge - we have rosemary, mint, cilantro and watercress all growing right here in the kitchen!
Our plan this winter is to make lots of stews, soups and braised joints of meat that are slow cooked so that the meat falls right off the bone. Add lots of these great winter vegetables and we have some stellar meals that await. So, bring on winter! We've got plenty of delicious things to eat.
Friday, December 3, 2010
The basis for this soup is a few onions, cooked down until golden and richly flavored plus some garlic and a cup or so of lentils and rice. From there, you can play with whatever is left in your fridge, enriching it with a bit of wine, stock, vegetables, scraps of meat and/or bones and herbs. You could go out and buy the necessary ingredients – this soup is tasty enough to be worth it – but if you just treat the recipe as a guideline and put the contents of your kitchen to work, you can create a big, hearty pot of soup for practically pennies.
Thanksgiving Leftovers Lentil Soup
Olive oil/butter/pork fat – a few tablespoons of any one or a combination
2 large yellow onions, diced
1 carrot, diced, if available
1-2 stalks of celery, diced, if available
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ tsp cumin seed (or ¼ tsp ground cumin)
White wine (or red wine or beer or water)
16 oz canned tomatoes, chopped (or 2-3 Tbsp tomato paste)
2 quarts stock (I used 1 each of chicken and veggie, as it’s what I had leftover but any type of stock would be fine. This is a great place to put your turkey carcass to use – make stock from it and use that here. And if all you have is water, that’s okay too, because the turkey and/or ham bones will add plenty of flavor to the broth)
1 cup dried lentils (green or brown, or whatever you have)
Fresh thyme – a few sprigs
1 bay leaf
Parmesan rind, if available
Turkey wings and/or drumstick(s)
Ham bone and/or ends (My family always has a smoked ham on Thanksgiving in addition to the turkey, so I used the end scraps that didn’t have enough meat on them to slice and put out with the rest of the meal. If you don’t have any smoked ham on hand, lightly sauté a half pound of cut-up bacon with the onions in the beginning – the smokiness is a nice addition to the soup’s flavors)
½ - ¾ cup of rice (I used brown but whatever you have is fine. Just keep in mind that white will take less time to cook)
1 bunch greens, if available
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon or a few tablespoons of vinegar
In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot, heat fat over medium heat and sauté onions (and carrots and celery, if you have them) until well colored – 10+ minutes. Season with salt.
Add garlic and sauté a few minutes more.
Stir in cumin and cook for another minute.
Deglaze with a bit of wine, water, etc. and cook down until almost dry.
Add tomatoes with their liquid, stock, lentils, thyme, bay leaf and parmesan rind. If using tomato paste, you’ll want to add it just after the cumin and cook it for a few minutes before deglazing in order to remove the raw tomato flavor.
Once the liquid and lentils are in the pot, bring it up to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes.
Add the turkey and ham pieces plus the rice (if using white rice, you may want to wait 20-30 minutes as it cooks more quickly than brown rice).
Simmer, partially covered, until the lentils and rice are cooked through and tender, about an hour. If using greens, add them during the last 15 minutes or so and make sure that they, too, are tender. You could also use leftover cooked greens – simply add them at the very end so they have a chance to reheat.
Remove the turkey and ham from the soup. Tear up the meat, disposing of any skin and bones, and return the meat to the soup.
Adjust seasoning with salt to taste and finish with lemon juice or vinegar. Be careful with the acid -- you don’t want to taste it, but the addition should help brighten and pop all of the other flavors in the soup.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
For the last few years Jamie and I have been regular drinkers of raw milk from grass-fed cows and there are few foods as nutritious and satisfying is a nice big glass of the stuff. It's so good we drive hours and hours to go get it at farms in Pennsylvania and New York and are sure to bring mugs in the car so we can guzzle some on the way home. The term "raw" means the milk is unpasteurized and unhomogenized - two adjectives we like attached to the dairy we consume, along with organic, whole and delicious.