Monday, July 19, 2010

Well excuse me, eScape Pesto

This morning, one of my few to sleep in, I lay in bed paging through Julie & Julia, and was shocked by what I read:
"Wealthy Victorians served Strawberries Romanoff in December; now we demonstrate our superiority by serving our dewy organic berries only during the two-week period when they can be picked ripe of the vine from the botique farm down the road from our Hamptons bungalow.  People speak of gleaming the green markets for the freshest this, the thinnest that, the greenest or firmest or softest whatever, as if what they're doing is a selfless act of consummate care and good taste, rather than the privileged activity of someone who doesn't have to work for a living."
Well excuse me, Ms.Powell, but I do work for a living.  I work 60-plus hours a week growing those fresh, green, local, dewy treasures for you to enjoy during those supposed two weeks periods of the year. 

And these two weeks we have scapes.  Garlic scapes, the top of the garlic plant (the part we eat being a bulb and all) which curl beautifully and would eventually flower.  Harvesting the scapes not only provides us with another delicious garlic flavor, but also encourages the plant to focus on a larger bulb, providing us with yet more in the long run.  It also, as a woman told me at the farmers' market, gives her husband "another stinky reason to avoid [her]."
The scapes can be sauteed, grilled, pickled, and my favorite, blended into pesto:

Escape Pesto
recipe compliments of Dorie Greenspan, yields 1 Cup
10 Garlic Scapes, chopped
1/2 Cup finely grates Parmesan (not "shakey cheese" for the can, please)
1/3 Cup chopped Almonds, toasted
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
Sea Salt (if the parmesan wasn't salty enough for you)

Blend the scapes, cheese, almonds, and half of the olive oil in a food processor until combined.
Add more oil if you don't quite like the texture.  Keep in mind that it separates a bit if you let it sit; but the extra oil I poured off was deliciously garlicy.  Also cover the pesto to prevent oxidization.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

Heartbreak Potato Salad

This post is sure to be a heartbreaker; prepare yourselves.

Here at Buckhorn gardens we recently transplanted 225 starts of 35 Heirloom varieties of tomatoes, were admiring 50 or so beautiful, flowering eggplants, watering bright green peppers, and weeding 8 long beds of potatoes (including my favorites, Purple Peruvians).  Unfortunately we spent several painful hours of the  past week regretfully pulling the majority of these hopefuls from the ground.

Curly Top.  We have it.
The Beet Curly Top Virus is transmitted by leafhoppers, those bright or dusty green winged bugs I used to let crawl all over my legs while laying in the grass, and now have a deep and legitimate looting for.  These seeming harmless nestle migrate from the Southern US, infecting plants along the way.  Within a week or two farmers and gardeners begin to notice new leaves cupping and rolling inward, grey and purple discoloration, and swelling outgrowths.  Affected plants will not recover or set fruit.  They will die, and in the mean time pose a threat of letting more leafhoppers infect themselves and spread the virus even farther.  Hence our forced removal of these beautiful plants.

Many of the potatoes had already begun to produce small, round, dusty pink tubers, which made their removal all the more difficult.  These potato babies would never have the chance to grow to full size, become bakes potatoes, spanish tortillas, hash browns, french fries, or mashed patties.  But there were just enough of them to make the freshest German Potato Salad I have ever tasted; and no stored potato compares to the soft, smooth texture of one fresh out of the earth.  So, as some strange therapy and show of gratefulness for the few potatoes, I made this potato salad for out 4th of July dinner.

Heartbreak Potato Salad

-5 slices thick bacon
-3 T flour
- medium onion, chopped
-1/2 C vinegar
-1/2 C Water
-1/4 C sugar
-4 t salt
-ground black pepper, to taste
-1 t dry powdered mustard (or 1 T dijon)
-1/2 t crumbled whole rosemary leaves
-2 Quarts cooked, dices potatoes
-1/2 C chopped fresh chives

-Fry bacon until crisp.
-Remove from pan, drain on paper bag, and crumble.
-Add flour and bacon to fat in pan.
-When onions turn translucent stir in vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and spices.
-Cook until thick enough to coat potatoes.
-Add to potatoes, chives, and crumbled bacon.
-Cool and refrigerate, enjoy!

Before digging into out 4th of July feast, everyone took a moment to that the earth for everything she has provided: fresh goat cheese, made by out friends at Tomten, a Burbon Red Heritage turkey John and I slaughtered a few days before, lavender ice cream churning outside, an assortment of lovingly made bread, and out one, precious potato dish of the season.