Monday, May 21, 2012

Harvest Monday May 21, 2012

This week marks the first harvest of the season! Though we've harvested a few chives, a bit of sage, and one horseradish root already it was all harvested while we were in the process of cleaning and planting for this season so this weekend was our first harvest from what we've planted this season, as well as chives - the gift that keeps on giving! 
Saturday we arrived at the garden ready to plant our warm weather crops and some more herbs, but first we had a little bit of harvesting and thinning to take care of.
Our first harvest of the season
Thought it wasn't a huge harvest it was a tangible one. We took home:
Radish 5.25 oz
Chives 6 oz
Arugula 12 oz
Total harvest this week: 23.25 oz / 1.453 lbs
Total harvest this season: 34.65 oz / 2.166 lbs
It's been a hectic few weeks which has kept us away from the garden for the most part, so it was nice to  have something delicious to bring home when we finally did make it there!
Hopefully this harvest will be the first of many!!
If you want to see what others are harvesting or share in your own bounty, stop by Daphne's Dandelions the home of Harvest Monday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Formaggio Kitchen Food Community programs

So excited when both of these confirmations landed in my inbox
Greater Boston area fans of cheese, charcuterie, and delicious prepared foods are surely no strangers to Formaggio Kitchen. For 30 years Formaggio's flagship Cambridge location (and more recently their South End and New York City branches) have sold an impressive array of cheese, meats, prepared foods, and gourmet goods to a dedicated food appreciating customer-base.
A few weeks ago I saw that Formaggio had started the Formaggio Food Community program, dubbed at the time the Local Cheese and In-House Charcuterie CSAs. Formaggio prides itself on working with and supporting farms and cheese makers who uphold traditional production methods and put real food first. In this vein they have started the Formaggio Food Community program which has both Local Cheese and In-House Charcuterie options.
After reading the Food Community page and seeing what each option entailed I was sold!! After talking it over with Gail we decided to sign up for 6 month small shares of both the Local Cheese and In-House Charcuterie options. Gail and I both love cheese and think this is a great way to support New England cheese producers as well as expand our knowledge of some of the great cheese's this area has to offer. As for the In-House Charcuterie option- this one is pretty much all me as Gail is only starting to eat meat and I don't expect her to be on board with all the salty, smoked, and preserved stuff! Fine by me, Charcuterie is one of my favorite food items - so much so that if a restaurant has a charcuterie board on their menu there is a 90% chance I will order it.
We signed up for a small share of each as the Formaggio site said it would be appropriate for 1-2 people. 
For the Local Cheese program with each monthly pickup we can expect four varieties of cheese (1/4 to 1/3 pound of each) from different New England producers. Each month the pickup will have one example of the following: Strong cheese, soft cheese, and firm cheese.
For the In-House Charcuterie share it will be more of a surprise as the site only provided an example of what we can expect, but reading the example had me drooling:
You'll find four examples of Julie's handiwork in each installment. The list below is an example of what you'll receive. The contents may vary slightly depending on the offerings of our network of local farms, as well as Julie's creativity and inspiration.
Small Share: 2 fresh sausage links (lamb, pork, or chicken), 1/4 pound of pâté or rillettes, 1/4 pound of cured meat (bacon, pancetta, guanciale, etc.), 1/4 - 1/3 pound of a seasonally appropriate "surprise"
I'm extremely excited to see and taste all the delicious cheeses and charcuterie Gail and I have coming to us between June and November and cannot wait to share all of our goodies! Pickups will be the first weekend of each month. I will try and post a recap with pictures of each pickup, so stay tuned!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Gallows!

The last few weeks have seen me eating out much more than usual, and nearly everything I've been eating has been fantastic. Great burgers at Grassfed, suckling pig at Citizen Public House, great bites at Redd's in Rozzie, and a really awesome and incredibly satisfying trip to The Gallows. The Gallows, in Boston's South End touts itself as a loud and fun place to have a cocktail and some food. The menu changes frequently and sharing items is encouraged. Our party of 6 split a selection of appetizers and small plates including a creamy buffalo chicken dip, scotch egg, 'early spring' poutine (vegetarian), house made pickle plate, and brown sugar cauliflower.  For our main's we had a 'brontosaurus' spare rib, a few burgers, a ploughman's board, and a plate of duel sides (the incredible carrot & Brussels sprout gratin with horseradish & roasted asparagus with kimchi & topped with fried egg).  We also sampled a few of their cocktails. The Empress Josephine (cucumber, rose gin, lemon) being voted crowd favorite. 
Since it opened almost a year ago The Gallows has been met with nothing but praise, and after our meal there I would say rightfully so as everything we had tasted great and we left full and happy. 
The food was so delicious that snapping some pictures was no easy task but I did manage to get a few:
The scotch egg (above features a soft boiled egg, a crispy sausage outside and fresh chives. Though I prefer the egg to be hard boiled, this was tasty and the crispy sausage wasn't too greasy. 
The early spring poutine was AMAZEBALLS! Perfectly crispy (and not at all greasy) fries, asparagus, ramps, chives and a creamy cheese sauce. This was promptly devoured by most of the table.
I picked the Ploughman as my entree because I am a sucker for a charcuterie board. This one did not disappoint. Top row: veal tartare, house pickled carrot & radish, Cabot Clothbound cheddar, bread
Bottom row: crisp lamb belly rillettes, green tomato chutney, mustard, chicken liver pate.
This was great. First, the amount of bread they provided was enough for most of my board, which was nice. Second, they provided a nice wedge of cheese to go along with my cured meats which was great. Third, their house made pickles and chutney were very good, and finally, the meat itself was awesome! I'm not a huge tartar fan but the veal tartare was flavorful and not overpowering. The crisp lamb rillettes were out of this world good - something I'd love to attempt on my own.

Overall the meal was really great. Boston has an exciting restaurant scene full of many options, making it hard to go back to a restaurant multiple times, even a good one, but I look forward to coming back to The Gallows as often as I can get down there!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fresh Asparagus!

Nothing of great substance for this post. A few weeks ago Gail and I were at the final SoWa Winter Farmer's Market of the season standing at the Silverbrook Farm table, we were in love... with Asparagus.

This was absolutely fresh, first of the season, ready to take home asparagus. We were helpless to it's call. We ended up taking 3 pounds home with us and enjoying it throughout the week. Just a small taste of what's to come this season.

What fresh produce are you looking forward to this spring??

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Roast Suckling Pig from Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar

WARNING: This post has a few photos of a whole roasted suckling pig and a roasted pig's head. If you aren't into that sort of thing you have been warned.

Last week a group of former co-workers and I visited The Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar for a family style slow roasted suckling pig.The pig itself was stuffed with bread pudding and collard greens, was presented to us whole before they served it up on platters. We were served a dizzying amount of sides alongside the pig - blue cheese bread pudding, roasted leeks & cauliflower, spicy peas in the pod, salad, and warm bread. Along with all the food there were the 100+ whiskey's to choose from as well!
All in all it was a memorable dining experience. I've included a few pictures below (whole pig, pig head and meat, and deconstructed pig head) have a look:
Before they served us the pig they brought it out for us to look at (and take pictures of!). As you can see from the above, the suckling pig spent the day slowly roasting.
The first platter they placed in front of me was the above, pig head, shoulder, and assorted meat. As the pig was so young there was not a lot of meat however the meat that clung to the incredibly crispy skin was absolutely delicious, sweet, and tender.
Towards the end of dinner they removed the head from the first platter, and came back out with the above, deconstructed head platter. In the foreground is the jaw with brain on top, next to it our the 'oysters' from the jowls and behind the ocular cavity, jowls, crispy pigs ears, eyes, neck meat, salt & pepper, and lemon wedges. The platter was served with crostini for the brain.
Not everyone was willing to try the various parts of the head, but I am willing to try most things at least once. The brain spread on crostini reminded me of a creamy liver pate and was slightly pepper, it was cut well with lemon. I found the 'oysters' and jowl to be incredibly tasty and some of the best bites I enjoyed all evening.
It's not often one has the opportunity to eat such a meal and I was glad that I signed up for it. It was good to sit with old co-workers and catch up while we all enjoyed a truly unique and memorable dining experience.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Garden Update & New Plants

After a few busy weeks of life with little to write about I'm back with a quick garden update and a few new seedlings.
In the garden the garlic is looking really amazing! The shortest plants come to about my knee and a few of the taller ones reach up to mid-thigh level. The radish, arugula, and kale we planted are looking really healthy while  the leeks, red bunching onion, and butter head lettuce aren't growing at all. Oh well, that is why I over plan!! If something doesn't work I will try and squeeze something else in when the time is right!
Speaking of planning... Saturday Gail and I visited Russell's Garden Center to pick up some marigolds, our pepper and tomato seedlings and a few impulse buys: shiso, parsley, and eggplant. When we got back to our apartment and set them all down our table looked like a small jungle of marigolds and veggie plants:

The shiso and parsley were planted in the garden yesterday along with most of the marigolds. I will give the peppers and tomatoes some time indoors while it warms up. For tomatoes this year we went with:
1 Matt's Wild Cherry
1 Black Krim
2 Caspian Pink
2 San Marzano Redorta
For peppers aside from 1 Jalapeno plant I went with some new varieties:
1 Jalapeno
1 Corno Di Toro
1 Cherry Bomb
1 Thai Dragon
1 Valencia
2 Carmen
The eggplant was Gail's request and is a Fairy Tale, which look like purple monster fingers! We've never grown eggplant, and I'm excited to see how it goes.

How's your garden growing?? Are you growing anything new this year??

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Grow Grow Grow!

The garlic seems to have done very well with our mild Boston winter. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a great garlic harvest later this summer!!
The garden is off and running, nearly 3 weeks ahead of  when I have been able to get things going the last few years. Gail and I have made a few trips down there and have been hard at work weeding, digging and tidying up. We've also managed to plant a few seeds here and there - Leeks, Kale, Peas, Arugula, Radish, Spinach, and a Thyme plant with much more to come in the coming weeks and months.
Hopefully the on again-off again threat of rain will actually come to fruition- while Gail and I were weeding and digging we noticed the soil was incredibly dry. The water should be turned on at the Garden by now, I just haven't had the chance to make it down there to check.
Stay tuned for more growing updates!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Красный Хрен - Red Horseradish

Though the first few nights of passover have passed, I wanted to share my recipe for Красный Хрен (red horseradish), a traditional condiment for gefilte fish and a staple for many passover meals.
I opened up the garden last weekend and my one harvest so far has been an over wintered horseradish root that was dug up for the express purpose of making a few jars of this tasty condiment.
Красный Хрен - Red Horseradish
1 horseradish root, washed, peeled and diced (or grated)
2 medium beets, peeled and boiled or roasted and diced (or grated)
4-6 oz white vinegar (enough to be absorbed in the mixture but not so much that it is swimming in it)
2-3 tsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste (if desired)
Using a food processor or hand grater finely grate or dice the horseradish. Add the grated beets to the horseradish (to ensure there is a good amount of heat let the horseradish sit in a covered container for a few minutes before the beets are added). Mix thoroughly and add a few teaspoons of sugar. Taste and adjust to desired heat or sweetness.  Add enough vinegar to absorb into the mixture, and mix very well. Transfer to jars, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator until needed.
That is it. I wouldn't make this too far in advance as the horseradish will lose it's heat and intensity over time. For a more intense flavor use more horseradish and less of everything else! The lack of exact measurements in this recipe should serve as a general guide. The key to a good horseradish (red or white)  is to bring out the intensity of the horseradish without drowning it in vinegar. The recipe here yielded about 2 1/2 cups of red horseradish goodness.

Be sure to also check out my directions for making a traditional (white) horseradish.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Somerville Winter Market 4/7

Though winter is over, some of the winter farmers markets are still in full swing which helps bridge the gap until the spring/summer markets start back up. Gail and I took a trip to the Somerville Winter Market on Saturday to see what was available and pick up some goodies!
There was a really great variety of produce, meats, prepared goods, and specialty items available at the Market. We took home onions, dry beans, and dry cranberries from NorthStar Farm. A bag of cut swiss chard from Heron Pond Farm. Absolutely delicious falafel and tahini sauce from Seta's Mediterranean Foods. A pork butt from Austin Brothers Valley Farm. A thyme, and a pair of oregano plants (one italian and one 'hot and spicy') from Stillman's Farm. A bag of spice mix and some sort of sticky rice cake (the green and white thing behind the thyme plant in the above photo) from Kueh and a cup of Concord Grape Kombucha from the Culinary Cruiser a pedal powered kombucha on-tap cart offering a few different flavors.
A nice variety and a great trip to Somerville!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

2012 In Progress (April)



listening to:

coffee: As our coffee consumption has gone down a little we are still working on the Bard Coffee - El Salvador Cup of Excellence Lot # 13. We should be finished with it by the end of next week and on to something new!