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This Week’s Harvest: Lamb & Beef, Brussel Sprouts, Plums, and Monkfish

banner.brussel.sproutsThe heavens have aligned for grass-fed meat this week! We will have both Lamb from Tamarack Vermont Sheep Farm, and Beef from Woodbourne Farm. The subtle craft of both these partner farmers is often easy to take for granted; please know that a great deal of work goes into producing superior flavor and tenderness on all grass-fed animals. Enjoy.

Vegetables
Jaiel Pulskamp is a new partner farmer and practically a neighbor. She, her husband, and young family, bought a farm three years ago after being the Vegetable farmer at Vermont Compost Company. She is harvesting Brussel Sprouts for all of us – definitely a taste of fall. While these are difficult (and costly) to grow in Vermont – we think the taste is worth it.

Pete’s Greens has Scallions and Gold Beets.

Tony and Joie at Foote Brook Farm will not be harvesting their amazing green beans this week, but delicious Boston Lettuce is back, along with Collard Greens, Lacinata Kale, Slicing Cukes, and new this week, Shallots.

Herbs
Julie at Red Wagon Herbs continues to have a wonderful selection of herbs for us. Since the Basil succcumbed to mildew, we have added another hybrid, Lemon Basil, that can be used in its place – a standard in Lao cuisine.
Rosemary
Sage
Thyme
Lemon Basil
Mint
Chives
Thai Basil
Bouquet Garni
Oregano
Flat Parsley
Curly Parsley
Edible Flowers

Fruit
Raspberries – Delicious and fragrant, we just had to offer them again. These organic berries are from Adam’s Berry Farm.

Zeke from Scott Farm is starting to harvest heirloom apples now in addition to Plums. This week his selections are as follows:

Baking Heirloom Dolgo Crabapples
These little beauties make a super tart snack, but I think they are best cooked. Last weekend, I turned a few handfuls of crabapples into a simple apple sauce to put on French Toast. Too small to core, I just sliced off each of four sides, put them in a pot with ¼ inch of water, a dash of allspice, and a pad of butter, and simmered till soft – then added maple syrup till they were just sweet enough. Last night, we added them to a traditional apple tart; the color and tang we’re dazzling.

Crabapples are really native apple, and the “large” eating apples of today would have been considered strange just a century ago. When you taste the intensity of the flavor of these crabs, you realize that we gained volume by breeding for bigger size, but definitely diluted the flavor.

Plums
Sweet Italian These are, in Zeke’s words, “sweet, luscious plum for eating fresh or baked in tarts. Has a brown sugar flavor.”

Fish
The holiday labor day timing is very tight, but the fish are plentiful – Red’s Best has the following selection for us this week:
Traditional – Fluke
Adventuresome – Monkfish
Scallops

Pasta from David and Michele at Valicenti Organico
Multigrain Swiss Chard & Ricotta Ravioli
Grilled Peaches & Basil Ravioli (peaches from Kimball Fruit Farm in Pepperell/Hollis, their basil, Grana Padano [parmesan], soft wheat flour, local eggs)

Blonde Pappardelle
Lemon Pepper Lumache

Gluten Free Cracked Pepper & Garlic Casarecci

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Savory Braised Lamb and Vegetables

Savory Braised Lamb and Vegetables

Savory Braised Lamb and Vegetables
 
Complex and flavorful, a hearty and versatile meal for any season. Add or substitute other vegetables depending on preference or availability.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound lamb stew meat
  • ¼ cup flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ pounds carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cored and sliced
  • 2 pounds gold flesh potatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 3 cups of chopped tomatoes and juice (fresh or canned)
  • 3½ cups chicken stock (OK to substitute vegetable stock)
  • cumin, to taste
  • handful parsley/cilantro/tarragon (depending on personal preference), chopped
Farmers To You Ingredients:
Other Fresh and Pantry Ingredients:
  • salt, pepper, cumin

Instructions
  1. Cut lamb into small, bite sized chunks. Place in plastic bag and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and ¼ cup flour. Shake until completely coated.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add meat in 2 batches, cooking until browned. Remove meat from pan and set aside.
  3. Chop onions and cook slowly in Dutch oven on stove top (add a bit of oil if necessary). Meanwhile, wash and cut carrots, on a diagonal, into medium sized chunks. Add to onions and continue cooking with ¼ to ½ cup of water.
  4. Cut tops off fennel and remove lower core using the tip of your knife. Cut the fennel into quarters, cutting each again into smaller pieces. Add to onions and carrots.
  5. Now wash and chop potatoes into bite sized chunks. Add to vegetables along with chopped tomatoes. Cook, covered, over medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until just tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Return lamb to Dutch oven. Add stock, a couple of teaspoons of cumin and a bit of tomato juice and heat until boiling. Cover and place in oven. Cook for 1½ hours, stirring occasionally. The lamb will become tender and the broth will cook down.
  8. Remove lamb from oven and add vegetable mixture. Return to oven and cook for another 30 – 45 minutes.
  9. Season with salt and pepper and herbs of choice. Delicious alone or served on a bed or rice.
  10. Note: The trick with stew is to time the cooking of the vegetables so that they don’t get mushy but instead are perfectly done. Remember, like soups, a good stew improves with age and will taste even better the second night!

Serves: 8

 

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Caramelized Bacon with Pecans and Delicata Moons

caramelized bacon and squash moons

Caramelized Bacon with Pecans and Delicata Moons
 
A scrumptious appetizer: the salty crunch of the bacon is balanced when paired with the sweetness of the pecans and caramelized squash. Adapted from Ina Garten.
Ingredients
  • ½ pound bacon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 delicata squash
  • 3 tablespoons butter
Farmers To You Ingredients:
Other Fresh and Pantry Ingredients:
  • brown sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne, butter

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet pan with tin foil and top with a wire baking rack. (The foil helps with clean up!)
  2. Combine nuts and sugar in a food processor and process until nuts are fairly finely ground. Add the salt, pepper and cayenne. Pulse to combine. Add maple syrup and pulse once more to moisten the mixture.
  3. Cut bacon strips in half. Lay out on a flat surface and, using a butter knife, spread nut mixture on each piece of bacon. Line up on baking rack so that they do not touch.
  4. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes. The topping will be browned but not burnt. (Note that the drippings will collect on the foil beneath the bacon and may burn and smoke in your oven so be prepared when you open the oven door!)
  5. Transfer from oven and let cool on a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
  6. Cut a delicata squash lengthwise and remove all seeds. Do not peel! (Delicata squash have a lovely, tender peel that is edible.) Cut into thin moon shaped slices a little less than ¼ inch thick.
  7. Melt butter in a heavy iron skillet over medium heat. Place moons flat side down in butter. Squash should be in one layer only and not overlap. Cook until lightly browned and caramelized. Flip and repeat on other side. Lightly salt.
  8. Pair with bacon. Serve at room temperature.

Serves: 4

 

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Classic Carrot Cake & Easy Cream Cheese Frosting

classic carrot cake

Classic Carrot Cake
 
Moist, rich and not too sweet this version of an all American classic makes a wonderful dessert.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour plus a bit more to flour pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound of carrots, grated
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped plus an additional third cup for decoration
  • 1 cup raisins or currants
  • cream cheese frosting (see recipe)
  • ⅓ cup crystallized ginger for decoration
Farmers To You Ingredients:
Other Fresh and Pantry Ingredients:
  • granulated sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, crystallized ginger

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trace the bottom of two 9 inch round cake pans on a piece of parchment paper and then cut out the circles. Now grease the pans and place the paper discs on the bottoms. Re-grease. Shake a small amount of flour in one pan and shake it from side to side in order to dust every surface with the flour. Shake any extra flour into the second cake pan and repeat, adding more flour if necessary. Return any excess flour to the bag. Set pans aside.
  2. Beat sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla in an electric mixer at medium speed until thick and well blended (about 2 minutes).
  3. Sift 2 cups of flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a large measuring cup or onto a piece of parchment paper. Slowly add sifted dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture.
  4. Wash and dry carrots. Using a box grater, grate the carrots and place them in a bowl.
  5. Chop nuts into small bits and add to carrots. Add raisins. Stir these three together until evenly distributed. Add handfuls of this mixture to the batter, one at a time, mixing thoroughly with a rubber spatula.
  6. Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans, leveling the tops with your spatula.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for an additional 25 minutes or until a clean broom straw or toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in the pans for approximately 15 minutes. Use a thin knife to run along the sides of each pan if the cake appears to be sticking in any spot. Place a flat serving plate on top of one of your cake pans. Flip over and tap pan, if necessary, until it drops out onto the plate. Remove the parchment paper. Decant the other cake layer onto a baking rack to cool. . Allow cakes to cool thoroughly before frosting.
  9. Spread the top of the bottom layer with cream cheese frosting (see recipe). Place second layer on top and frost its top as well.
  10. Sprinkle chopped nuts and sliced bits of crystallized ginger in a 2 inch strip along edge of top layer (optional). Serve cake at room temperature!

Serves: 12

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting
 
A quick, versatile frosting. Depending on what type of cake you are frosting, try adding different flavors, like rum or even a bit of coffee with cocoa mixed in. You will definitely want to lick the beater on this one.
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Farmers To You Ingredients:
Other Fresh and Pantry Ingredients:
  • butter, confectionary sugar, vanilla extract

Instructions
  1. Beat cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add small pieces of softened butter and beat vigorously until thoroughly blended and there are no lumps.
  2. Sift confectionary sugar and add slowly to mixture.
  3. Add vanilla and maple syrup and continue beating until uniform in color and texture. Cool a bit before using.

 

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A Slice of Summer

tomato.sliced

I grew up in New Jersey, nicknamed the Garden State, a moniker that most everyone seems to find endlessly amusing given its vast development and industry today. New Jersey is home to Rutgers University where the agricultural school botanists developed the tomato that bears its name. The research goal then was not so much how to improve flavor but to make tomatoes more shippable. I still recall weekly shopping trips to the A & P as a child where we purchased narrow plastic trays that held 3 nearly identical tomatoes, both in looks and tasteless-ness.

One of the things I passionately love about summer are garden tomatoes. The flavor, color, even their heft is so fabulous. It’s as though you can feel all the warm days of the season packed up inside their red or orange jacket.  I can hardly stand it when I go out to eat and am served what I fondly refer to as “cardboard” tomatoes. They are anemic and don’t even seem like distant cousins to the real thing. Someone please tell me how those can be served during the season when the real thing is so darn good?

I get my love for tomatoes honestly. My mom turns 96 in a week and truly, the only thing she wants is a couple of large, sun-ripened tomatoes to share with her friends at lunch. Let’s face it, that is about as good as it gets.  Jane is also a great fan of gazpacho, a cold summer soup which should be in everyone’s repertoire and is one of our featured recipes this week. It is super quick to make and a marvelous way to enjoy the summer’s bounty.

Enjoy!

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