Friday, June 18, 2010

Strawberries: Salsa Style!


Seedling's weekly email tells proclaims that this is the strawberry's peak week. To celebrate this, we're eating strawberries every day: in our cereals, in our yogurt, in our smoothies, and in our salsa. Salsa? Yes, salsa. With a bit of red tomato, it's a terrific partner to grilled chicken, fish tacos, and even chips. Get it while you can.

Paired with Fish Tacos

Strawberry Salsa
Makes approximately 1 ½ cups

¾ cup strawberries, cut into small dice
½ tomato, cut into small dice
2 tablespoons diced red onion
¼ Serrano chile, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro or mint, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lime juice

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and serve with chips or as a sauce for fish or chicken.

See Ya Spring: Chartreuse Pickled Asparagus


It's time to bid farewell to spring. Rhubarb, stawberries, and asparagus are on their way out, blueberries, summer squash, and raspberry moving in their place. But before spring has vacated entirely, I'm going get some into my larder. I picked up two delicious looking pounds of asparagus in my first installment of Harvest Moon Farms CSA and I'll think that I'll make some more pickles.

I can't claim the idea for adding chartreuse to my brine - that came from Sepia, used as a garnish in a delicious Bloody Mary enjoyed on Mother's Day. However, since I don't have access to Andrew Zimmerman's recipe file, I had to come up with my own version, which will be a nice addition to our Father's Day Bloody Marys. Not a drink for Little Locathor, but it will make papa locavore rather happy.

Chartreuse Pickled Asparagus
1 quart

1/3 cup Chartreuse
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 1/3 cups white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 sprigs tarragon
1 pound asparagus, trimmed to fit into the jar

Measure the first 5 ingredients into a saucepan. Heat until boiling and then simmer until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Sterilize the quart jar in boiling water for 10 minutes. While the jar is still hot, fit the asparagus stalks into it and add the tarragon. Pour over the pickling liquid and seal. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Let cool in a relatively dark place. Use after 2 weeks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Scapeful of Dinner: Buttermilk-Garlic Scape Marinated Pork Chops


A singular pleasure of June's farmers' markets is the garlic scape - the feathery end of the garlic plant, which shoots out of the earth, as its base (garlic as we know it) becomes solid.

On too many occasions, I bought the pointy scape bunches out of curiosity. I'd use a few, as a chive-like garnish, but the remainder would languish until the compost heap. I'm embarrassed to admit that only this year I discovered the delightful delicacy of its flavor going a little scape crazy.

Tonight's dinner incorporated scapes into all three dishes on our plates - as a marinade, a dressing, and a flourish (a scape chopped and tossed onto a grill package of asparagus).

A scapeful of dinner might be too much for you, but one of these dishes would be a pretty good addition to your June meals.

Buttermilk-Scape Marinated Pork Chops
Serves 4

3 garlic scapes
¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon coarse salt
4 bone-in pork chops

Rip the scapes into large pieces and put into the bowl of a food processor with the mint leaves. Pour the buttermilk through the feed tube and process until finely chopped. Mix in salt. Place the pork chops into a large shallow dish. Pour over the marinade and turn to coat. Marinate for several hours or overnight. Grill on a charcoal or gas grill until the interior temperature reaches 150° F. Serve warm.

Creamy Scape Dressing
Serves 6

2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 garlic scape, thinly sliced garlic scape
sea salt

Whisk together all ingredients.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Very Happy Meal


As a mother, chef, and child nutrition advocate, I am happy to say that my son's "no green stuff" phase is a thing of the past. In only a few months, he's decided that asparagus is his favorite vegetable and that lettuce, especially when fresh from the garden, is pretty tasty. He eats veggie sushi for a snack and turns down french fries (the latter being a rather extreme example of his health conciousness). But the proudest moment I've had recently arrived in response to an unusually disappointing choice by his school.

For the most part, the food situation at Thor's school is pretty good. The administration has been supportive of health and wellness efforts. Last fall, we got a wellness committee and in January, the school hired a school lunch provider called Organic Life. While not 100% organic, it's a healthy and delicious hot meal. Thor loves it. There are always, unfortunately, of course, some hiccups.

For the school's final kindergarten field trip the class got Happy Meals for their lunch. This news made neither me nor the little locavore very happy. But because I loath the idea of him being ostracized for his healthy eating habits, we gave him the choice as to whether to get the meal or to pack a lunch. His response? "No way" was he eating McDonald's.

To reward this rather courageous decision, we instead packed a Very Happy Meal, personally selected by Little Locathor.

A cheddar and apple wrap rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla, Pop chips (a delicious baked alternative to potato chips), local strawberries, raspberry soda, and a hunk of Scharffen-Berger chocolate. With the Indy car, we bought as the replacement for the Happy Meal toy, the meal cost a pretty penny, but rewarding such a principled choice was worth every cent.

Apple-Cheddar Wrap
Makes 1

1 whole wheat tortilla
1/2 tart green apple, thinly sliced, rubbed with lemon juice
1 slice cheddar, halved

Lay the cheddar slices onto the tortilla. Layer the apples slices on top. Fold up the edges of the tortilla and halve.
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