Tuesday, June 22, 2010

...And A Cherry On Top

We have heard rumors of massive storms tonight. We'd put off harvesting our sour cherries for days, but the rumors decided it for us. Harvest time!

This is the first year we had a good harvest of cherries. FINALLY!They look great!

The Cherries

Of course, we need to actually do something with these cherries. The obvious answer is of course - Cherry Pie!

First though, the cherries needed to pitted. We had bought a cherry pitter sometime years ago. Good for us! It did make the job easier and quicker, though still pretty messy.

In Process

I looked on the interwebs. I found one recipe for a Sour Cherry Pie that called for lemon and cornstarch. Ok....then I found another from the New York Times that called for cinnamon and brandy. BINGO! The only problem was it called for tapioca as the thickener. So I used the cornstarch instead. Also, the New York Times recipe called for baking the pie crust before pouring in the filling. Too much work for me! So I didn't.

For once, the pie crust was not too bad. If you have ready previous posts, you know that pie crusts are not my forte. However, it is really hot and humid today. We don't have air condition. Thus, the dough turned out a bit more moist than I usually get it. It gummed up a bit on rolling, and still split and didn't stay nice and round. But it was a lot easier to work with and fixing it was a lot easier. Note to self - more moist crust is good.

The pie turned out great! I literally took a spoon to the cookie sheet I had underneath it and started spooning up the sweet and sour cherry-flavored goop. Ooooooooooo! Nice!

The pie

The pie is still cooling as I type. But, I know it will be good. Hubby and I will enjoy it with some Cedar Summit vanilla ice cream. Mmmmmmm.....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Whole Hog

Yesterday, Hubby and I went to Corner Table for a butchery class. This fabulous restaurant in Minneapolis focuses on local, sustainable food and holds several classes throughout the year. Hubby follows the executive chef, Scott Pampuch, on Twitter and saw that some spots had opened up at the last minute. Woot!

We showed up to the restaurant at 12:30pm and were greeted by Scott. He got us some coffee and tea. Did you know that his tea distributor has directions on how to brew each type of tea? Yeah, I didn't either until yesterday. How much tea leaves, the water temperature, how long to steep - wow! But, I must say, it was a very nice tea.

Others started to show up - a couple we had met at one of Scott's Tour de Farm dinners last summer came in. The class is limited to 6 people, so everyone gets a chance to jump in and get involved.

The groups split into two and we were each given half a pig. Our half had the whole tongue. Most of the offal was taken out - with only the kidney left. We each took turns cutting and sawing various sections as directed by Scott. Remember folks: knife for flesh, saw for bone.

I will admit that I am, well, challenged, when it comes to handling knives. Hubby cringes whenever I wield a knife in the kitchen and either takes the knife away and does the cutting himself or retreats to the living room with a trailing comment of where the bandages are located. Well, Scott noted my incorrect hold on the knife and provided me with corrective feedback.

Needless to say, Hubby was exasperated since he had told me the exact same thing on several occasions. I am still working on remembering no index finger on the top of the blade. I will get it eventually.

I had to opportunity to cut out the tenderloin, we cut off the hind-leg for making prosciutto (Scott will make them with Mike Phillips, executive chef at The Craftsman). We sawed off the feet (or trotters - I love calling them trotters!). We mostly stuck to the primal cuts. We did prep the meat for making as large "sausage" - a Mortadella that was encased in a cow intestine. Plenty of chuckles as the sausage was stuffed, but a good time.

We did get a light snack - some head cheese, a nice soft aged cheese (creamy like brie but had a much more funky, strong crust - which I like), and DIY soft tacos with confited turkey, pickled carrots, tomatoes, basil. We brought some Nocino along as well. Scott also brought out a very tasty chocolate ganache - the small shavings had a deep, rich chocolate flavor enhanced by a nice saltiness. I felt it went great with the Nocino.

It was a very fun afternoon. If you get the opportunity to do something similar, I would encourage you to do so.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Catching Up

Yes, I have been extremely neglectful of my blogging duties. But, at least I can say that I am making an effort - if not consistent.

Things are picking up around here. We have been eating a lot of asparagus - and have gotten to the point where they grow faster than we have the ability/desire to harvest them. So, most have gone to seed. I do have to say, though, that asparagus "in-flower" is actually pretty looking. So, I don't mind.

Our radishes have gone completely bonkers, and we've eaten the first round. I believe we will be sowing a second round soon. We do have some in a pickle press with miso paste - so I am looking forward to sampling them when they are ready.

We have had several salads from our garden greens.

The peas, broad beans (fava beans), scarlet runner beans, and barlotti beans are all coming up quick, as are the zuccinis and squashes. The popcorn is coming up well, the potatoes all seem to be doing their thing. The carrots, shallots, leeks, beets, turnips, kale, and chard are growing. Our tomato seedlings seem to have made it (we did them from seed this year) - we even got a few "volunteer" tomatoes where last year's tomatoes were located. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they are Sungolds - the sweetest cherry-type tomato I've ever encountered.

We've sauteed up some broccoli rabe, which taste very much of broccoli raw but get a very mustardy flavor when cooked. Very tasty.

But, my favorite right now are our strawberries! I love garden fresh strawberries. We've nibbled a few that have come ripe up til now. But, today, I harvested a good bowlful. I macerated them with raw sugar, balsamic vinegar and black pepper - OH MY! That is SO good. I completely advocate macerating strawberries with balsamic vinegar - it is so tasty and you get a much more flavorful and complex syrup. This concoction was perfect over a bowl of Cedar Summit vanilla ice cream.

How are your summer harvests going?