1.16.2020

KALE LATKES // the local food report


Five years ago, in the fall of 2014, I interviewed Cathy Walthers of Martha's Vineyard about her new cookbook Kale, Glorious Kale. This was around the same time you started seeing people in those gray t-shirts that say KALE instead of YALE. Apparently it's also the year that marked the start of a worldwide kale seed shortage, a problem that, if the dates of news articles offer any insight, appears to have been resolved. 

In the meantime, our intake of kale has remained steady and high. We grow a variety from Fedco called Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch, which seems to do better for some reason than the Lacinato kale in the never-ending battle against cabbage moths. We do not have any serious winter production going this year, but it's often at the farmers market and is nearly always the best looking winter green at our tiny local grocery shop. 

The other day, hunting around for a Local Food Report repeat, I dug up my conversation with Cathy (give a listen here), and reached out to her about trying a new recipe to post with a re-airing of the piece. She responded with kale latkes, I spent the afternoon finely chopping kale and onions and grating potatoes, and Alex and the girls and I spent the evening gobbling up crispy, salty cakes of delight. 


One exciting thing about making latkes that I don't think I'd ever seen before is the way the potato starch settles at the bottom of the bowl. Cathy has you grate the potatoes and soak them in water for 10 minutes before gently pulling them out and wringing the water from them. Then you let the water stand a bit while you mix the grated potatoes, chopped kale, and onion. When you go to pour off the water there's a pile of pure white potato starch settled at the bottom of the bowl, which you mix with eggs and flour and finally with the veggies, which I am assuming (minus the kale) is standard latke protocol. Still, I'd never seen potato starch in this form before, and it felt like sitting down with an old friend only to discover something totally new. 

The girls devoured these, including my 8-year-old green-hater. Alex suggested they'd be good with a piece of fish on top, which I think is genius. I'd add they'd be great with a fried egg, and we ate them with Cathy's yogurt-dill dip and a side of homemade applesauce. However you go about it, they're excellent. 


POTATO KALE LATKES

EH notes: I am printing this recipe exactly as Cathy sent it. I did make a few changes. I fried my latkes in a cast iron skillet in homemade lard, which likely added some crispiness and slight (delicious) pork flavor. Also, I can't remember what kind of potatoes we grew, but they were yellow and medium sized (maybe Kennebec?—they look right and are a favorite) and those are what I used, not Idaho. I used whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose. And last but not least, for the sauce I used full fat Greek yogurt, not sour cream, and was out of horseradish so didn't add any, though I think it would be delicious.

Makes about 18

Potatoes and kale have a natural affinity; the kale adds a character and flavor to regular potato latkes. Read the recipe through before starting so you understand about using the starch from the water the potatoes soak in; it keeps these potato pancakes from absorbing oil so they can stay crispy. These can also be served for dinner with beef, chicken or fish, and/or at breakfast or brunch with anything. Any leftovers reheat nicely the next day, reheated in a skillet with a smidgeon of melted butter.

2 pounds Idaho potatoes
3 cups kale, stalks removed, finely chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt
1/2 cup finely minced onion (about 1/2 onion)
1/4 cup flour
2 large eggs

Olive oil, peanut oil or butter for cooking


Dill Sour Cream

1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (optional)
Salt and fresh pepper

1. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl and add 2 teaspoons olive oil and 2 pinches of salt. Massage kale for 2 to 3 minutes. If it seems moist, use a few paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.

2. Peel the potatoes. Either grate the potatoes with a box grater, or quarter lengthwise and use the shredder attachment on the food processor. You should have about 6 cups. Place grated potatoes in a bowl of water for 10 minutes or so. Line a bowl with a clean kitchen towel or two layers of paper towels. Lift the potatoes out a handful at a time, squeezing out the water with your hands over the soaking bowl as you go, and place into the clean towel or paper towels. Save the bowl with the soaking water and potato starch, and let potato starch settle to the bottom (this might take a few minutes). Squeeze the towel to soak up excess moisture from potatoes getting them as dry as possible. Add potatoes to the kale, along with the minced onion.

3. Pour off the water in the soaking bowl, leaving white potato starch at the bottom of the bowl (there will be up to 3 or 4 tablespoons). Add the eggs and flour to the starch, and mix with a fork. Add this mix to the latkes. Season with salt.

4. Heat one or two large skillets (non-stick work nicely) over medium high and coat the bottom with about a tablespoon of olive oil or a mix of olive oil and a little butter. Pack a 1/4 measuring cup with the potato-kale mix. Unmold into the skillet, without crowding, and gently flatten each with a spatula. Pan fry until latke is golden, then gently flip and cook the other side, about 10-14 minutes in total. Repeat with the remaining latkes. (Sometimes I make a test latke to help find the right level of salt). Place latkes on a baking sheet lined with paper towels in a 200-degree oven to keep warm, until ready to serve. Serve with sour cream mixed with the chopped dill and horseradish.

12.17.2019

HAZELNUT SHORTBREAD // elspeth


A few years ago, we planted a couple of hazelnut trees. I didn't think much of it—they were given to me by a friend, as part of an effort to reintroduce native nut trees to Cape Cod. If we all plant a few in our yards, the idea goes, animals will help scatter the nuts, and over time, these perennial food sources will be reintroduced to our local woods. 

I hate nutella, the only food I've ever associated with hazelnuts. (Which is pathetic. I know!) I liked the idea of the nuts spreading, but it wasn't until I found a few growing on our one-year-old seedlings that I got excited about the idea of eating hazelnuts. And even then, we harvested the handful of nuts, cracked them, ate them, and quickly forgot. 


But in the summer of 2018, a friend was cleaning out her freezer and asked me if I could use a bag of hazelnut flour. Sure! I said, rule number one of that summer being: never turn down free food. It sat until the holidays untouched. Then last December, I volunteered to bake 75 cookies for the Tuesday night church supper in town. 

I thought about making my grandmother’s sugar cookies—rolling out dough and cutting it into shapes and baking them and icing them with cheerful white and green and red—but frankly, it was 8:30pm on a Sunday, and the thought of dusting the kitchen in flour just after I’d finished a deep clean made me want to sit down with a glass of eggnog and forget the whole thing. 

I poured the eggnog—just a small glass, to help with the thinking—and started wondering if I might be able to use that hazelnut meal. I thought about other favorite cookies from my grandmother’s kitchen: Raleigh Tavern gingerbread, orange drop cookies, Sue Wilson’s Scottish shortbread.  Shortbread! Shortbread is excellent with ground nuts. And you can roll it into a log and slice it—no flour and rolling pin. 

I abandoned my grandmother and Sue Wilson and went straight to the highly trusted resource that is Bob’s Red Mill. (Trusted? Well, sort of. But they do have an incentive to put out recipes we’d all make again.) I’m glad I did. It is difficult to go wrong shortbread, but this one was better than most. The cookies were sturdy and buttery, with just the right amount of give. 

Recently I've been doing a series of Local Food Reports and articles on the promise of tree crops (give a listen to this week's piece over here if you want to dive in). Max Paschall of Shelterwood Forest Farm, who I spoke with this week and last, is a big believer in the promise of hazelnuts. He thinks they could feed the world, as a staple crop for carbohydrates and oils. 

My trees are tiny; hazelnuts are not a big local staple right now in my yard or in the community at large. But I think it's just as important to start building demand and figuring out what to do with the local food of the future as it is to work within what's available right now. So—hazelnut shortbread! and happy, merry. See you in the promise of a new year. 


HAZELNUT SHORTBREAD COOKIES 

This recipe is adapted, slightly, from the folks over at Bob’s Red Mill. I compared the butter/sugar/flour ratio to my grandmother’s shortbread—hers had a bit more sugar, but otherwise they’re quite similar. The original of this recipe didn’t give quantities; this makes about 15-20 pieces of shortbread. 

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature 
1/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 
1/2 cup hazelnut meal 
1 cup all-purpose flour 

Cream the butter well in a stand mixer. Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt and continue to beat until well mixed. Add the hazelnut meal and then beat in the flour in several additions. Form the dough into a log. 

Here the recipe instructs us to wrap it in plastic wrap; I’d encourage you to invest in some Beeswrap (or make your own!), a reusable alternative. It’s made from beeswax, linen, coconut oil, and a few other natural ingredients. It costs more up front but less over the long run, it smells nice, it doesn’t infuse your food with a bunch of plastic toxins, and when you decide it’s tired and it’s time to throw it out in a few years you can use it as a fire starter or put it in the compost. Win-win-win-win! 

At any rate, protect your dough with whatever wrap you choose and chill it for at least 30 minutes or up to a few days. Cut it into 1/8-inch thick slices and bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. My oven’s wonky and the cookies are thin, so at the 8-10 minute mark start watching for golden edges like a hawk. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and then just try to show restraint. 

11.27.2019

EATING ACORNS // the local food report

Friends! Happy almost Thanksgiving. I'm thinking this year about perspective: historical, personal.  What shifts in our awareness can mean for our relationships with each other, with the past, with the living world around us. 


Recently I learned that acorns are edible. Edible! My whole life I've understood them to be poisonous, fit only for pigs or squirrels. I grew up surrounded by oak trees and live now in a forest almost exclusively of oaks. We have cleared oaks on our property to make way for "food," never realizing that they were already providing. I'd always seen the oak forest around us as prohibitive to farming, in the way of our ability to feed ourselves. It turns out this is simply one more part of the narrative our culture has constructed: that resources are scarce, that it's us against nature. The falsity of this story hits me often—but never in such a clear, practical way as it has through the acorn lens. It sounds strange to say it out loud, but there it is. It's been a huge shift.

I'm writing about this in other places—I'm working on a piece right now for Heated on our approach to agriculture, and my recent Local Food Reports have been focused on agro-forestry, and the ways we think about farming staple foods. I've been reading a lot, too—about our stories, and about new ways of looking at ourselves and our world. I wonder: what else are we not seeing in our search for confirmation bias? 




I just finished teaching an after school class on foraging at Sally's school, and for our final day we had a feast. I made two acorn-flour-laced dishes from nuts I'd gathered with the kids, and while I wasn't sure what they'd think of them, they came back for another helping again and again. 

If you want to try processing and eating acorns, I recommend first giving a listen to last week's Local Food Report. Like olives, acorns need a little processing before they're good to eat. (There's also an excellent how-to on The People's Path website.) Acorns are generally processed into either grits (more coarse) or flour (more fine). The recipes below call for one or the other. Also, acorns take longer than corn or other grains to release their starch, so be patient if you're making something like stew or pudding.

I hope tomorrow is filled with good food, gratitude, and love. And in the off chance you've either made or can get your hands on some acorn flour, here are a few dishes to ponder. What a crazy world of discovery and abundance. 

NEW ENGLAND ACORN COOPERATIVE PUDDING


EH note: This is so good! I had no idea what to expect but both in consistency and flavor it impressed me. Also, I eat everything, but if you've got gluten and dairy restrictions, it's a pudding-lover's dream! 

1 can whole coconut milk
2 free range eggs
1/3 cup sugar OR 1/4 cup honey (EH note: I used honey)
1/4 cup fresh local acorn flour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean past (EH note: I used vanilla extract, same amount)

Warm the coconut milk in a medium sized pot on the stovetop and stir in the sugar. When the sugar is thoroughly dissolved using medium heat, sprinkle in the acorn flour. Stir frequently until the mixture begins to slightly bubble. Set the timer for 5 minutes and continue stirring (eyeball it—acorn flour takes longer to thicken than other starches).

Beat the 2 eggs in a bowl. At the end of 5 minutes, remove the pot from the stove and slowly and thoroughly mix in 2 or 3 ladles of the mixture into the bowl with the beaten eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the pot and mix well. Put the pot back on the heat and stir until the mixture slightly bubbles again. Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour into dish (or bowls) to cool on the counter, then in fridge.


ACORN-FLOUR THICKENED BEEF STEW

I'm not going to type this one out here, as I found it on The People's Path website, and I want to make sure you go straight to the source. Scroll down past the processing instructions, past the venison stew, and to "Acorn Stew." Yum! Yum! Looking at the ingredients I thought, how could this possibly be good? Just beef and water and acorn flour? But it is so flavorful and has excellent texture. Highly recommended. Also, I think you could totally add some other veggies or greens once you've experimented a bit. After my success with this I tried thickening a regular-old beef pot roast with acorn flour at the end, and my family gave it rave reviews. It makes the broth into a kind of chicken-pot-pie like gravy, which around here is a major win. 


ACORN APPLE OAT BARS

EH note: This recipe is courtesy Jasmine Tanguay, who is a member of the New England Acorn Cooperative. I met her at a processing workshop and tasted these bars, which are excellent. The recipe makes 12 bars.

4 apples, thinly sliced (pears work great too)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup leached ground acorns (grits, meal, or flour)
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, melted

Remove the core and thinly slice apples. Place apple slices in a large bowl and mix in sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In another bowl, combine flour, acorns, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and butter. Mix until crumbly. Line a large 9x12 or 9x13-inch baking dish with parchment paper and pour ⅔ of the oats mixture in the bottom of the pan, pressing firmly to pack it down. Pour fruit mixture over the crust and spread in an even layer. Pour the remaining oat mixture over the top and spread evenly.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

11.12.2019

CRISPY KALE WITH SOBA NOODLES // elspeth


Do you also harbor obsessions with crispy kale and nutritional yeast? For a long time these were two distinct and separate hankerings for me. I've made crispy kale with soy sauce and olive oil and sriracha and sesame oil on repeat for years. And ever since my friend Kristen introduced me to the idea of nutritional yeast on popcorn, I have upped my popcorn intake 87 percent. Popcorn, my mother has long held, can be a meal. I am now a believer.

But the other day when I finally got around to drinking a paper plane on the couch and reading the September issue of Bon App├ętit (yesss thank you daylight savings), I discovered a recipe that combined crispy kale with nutritional yeast. And a tahini sesame sauce! And soba noodles! I haven't been so excited to cook something in ages. The next morning I reported to the grocery store directly after school drop off, bought all the ingredients, picked a last haul of kale from the garden, and made myself lunch at 10am. Alex happened to be working from home for the morning, and we ate soba noodles with crispy kale and nutritional yeast standing up at the kitchen counter in between phone calls and emails and loads of laundry. 



It was so good that I wanted to tell you about it right away, in case you also need a little hit of all things salty, crispy, and delicious. It doesn't feel right to type up the recipe here, since I haven't changed a thing. But if this sounds good to you, it's because it is, and I recommend you head on over to the BA original and make it without delay. 

11.05.2019

ALL IN ALL // Elspeth


Hi, friends. It's been a while. I'm not sure if I'm stopping by or if I'm back, but either way it's nice to say hello. Let's revel in that and see where it goes.

A lot's been happening around here. Our friends started a newspaper—yes, started!—and I've been writing for them about toxic algae blooms and blue marble librarians and a slew of other sobering-but-interesting things. They're on a mission to keep democracy alive with local journalism, and so far it's been an inspiring ride. You can check it out online: The Provincetown Independent.



I've also started freelancing for some other places—I wrote about food waste and making maple syrup for the Boston Globe and most recently tried to make people laugh over at Heated with the tale of the time Alex and I accidentally bought two pigs. (Spoiler alert: SAUSAGE!)

On the radio front my co-host Ali Berlow and I have spent some time with our fantastic editors over at Atlantic Public Media reimagining the scope of the Local Food Report. We'll still be reporting on that perfect tomato variety and foraging for cranberries, but we're also opening things up to talk more with people who are reimagining our food systems. We did our first piece in that vein a couple weeks ago with a farmer who wants to move away from annual crops and solve the climate crisis with trees. Some people reached out to say how much they loved it, and at least one person hated it. We'll see!

To try to hold all this in one space, I built a website over at elspethhay.com. It's where I'll be posting new pieces. Stop on by if you'd like to read.

Last but not least, I am (finally?) getting to work on a cookbook proposal. It's been something I've been tossing around for a long time, in different formats, but I am resolved, once and for all, to get down to it. So far it's been buoying, exciting, and reaffirming. I'm guessing at some point this will give way to frustration, but we're not there yet! Day by day. (Also, now you know. Accountability!)



Other things we have been doing a lot of include: getting in the car to go to a piece of land we bought in Maine (!), foraging in the woods and dunes for all manner of delightful things (blueberries, blackberries, apples, wintergreen, matsutakes, cranberries—frankly, I've been in awe, recently, of the abundance of this place), deep cleaning before the lull of wood-stove season sets in, gathering the last few things from the garden, and killing another few batches of meat chickens. I'm teaching a foraging class at the girls' school, which is the highlight of my week every week.

All in all, things are good and full.

And if you need something for right now—I've got a pot of this bubbling. It started as a way to use up a cut of meat I wasn't familiar with—a top round steak, which looked tough and lean. I've tasted the broth three times since I started writing, it is slowly turning into gravy, and the whole mess smells heavenly.

I hope you are well, and well-fed.

2.28.2019

THE LOCAL FOOD REPORT // seed ordering 2019

Every year around this time on the Local Food Report I talk with a local gardener or farmer about what seed varieties they're ordering for the upcoming season. This year I caught up with Josh Leveque, gardener and horticulturalist. He and his family have a huge terraced garden overlooking Little Harbor in Woods Hole and grow a lot of the food they eat. Here are some of his top picks year after year:

Sun Gold (cherry tomato): These are a perennial favorite at our house. We had an overabundance this past summer and tried dehydrating them for the first time, and that's how Josh says he uses them too. Dried and preserved they are excellent chopped and served over salad, tossed with pasta, or ground to make a filling for ravioli. Plus, they make excellent snacking tomatoes all summer long and the yield is terrific. 


Nancy (lettuce): Josh says he's a sucker for butter lettuces, and we are too. Nancy is planted early and late in the season—it doesn't tolerate heat. It has a well packed heart with unusually thick and crisp leaves. 

Magenta (lettuce): This is a Batavian lettuce, known to be good in the heat and slow to bolt. Magenta has red-tinged leaves with a crisp, green heart. 

Nevada (lettuce): Territorial Seed Co. calls this Batavian "possibly the best in its category." It's got a tall head resistant to tip burn and bolting and stores for longer than other types in the fridge. 

Toma verde (tomatillo): This green fruit matures early. You'll need at least two plants for successful pollination. Excellent for salsa. 

Rio grande (tomatillo): Rio grandes are big and apple-green when they're ripe. This variety is also known for excellent yield. Josh and his family try to freeze two gallons of roasted tomatillos every year for salsas and other recipes. 

De Milpa (tomatillo): These green fruits blush purple when they're ripe, and the husks have dark veins and a light purple blush, too. Excellent for salsa. 

Dagan (Brussels sprout): Holds well in the field—Josh says some varieties the outer leaves have completely fallen apart by harvest time—this one stays upright and good looking. Good yield, and nice medium-larges sprouts. Good flavor too!


Ahi benito (pepper): Flavor like a cross between a tomato and a guava. On a scale from one to ten, heat registers at about a seven. Josh likes these for a fermented hot sauce. 

Red Russian (kale): Many Cape Codders' go-to for kale. I've seen it growing through February and even make it through to put out leaves again come spring after milder winters. Excellent yield and tender leaves. 

Anne (raspberry): This yellow raspberry stands out for its delicate flavor. Sally and I think it's something of a cross between a lemon and an apricot; Josh says at their house it's a family favorite. One note: planting guides say not to plant red, gold (yellow), or purple raspberries within 75 feet of black raspberries, which may be more susceptible to disease and spread these to and from nearby pants. 

12.06.2018

HOMEMADE BACON // the local food report


We are big into math around here these days. (Quick! Nine plus one plus three?) At any rate, five hundred and ninety one long days ago, on Earth Day of 2017, I promised I'd tell you more about making salt pork and bacon. It seems the time has come. 

This week I wrote an essay for the Local Food Report on savory holiday comestibles, specifically preserved meat. As I said to Viki, my editor, when she wondered about the topic—well, apparently this is just the strange kind of bird I am! So there you have it. Sweet is overdone. Comestibles are great. That leaves room for a lot of savory. We accidentally bought two pigs this year (long story) and a cow. We have a freezer full of meat. We need look no further for gifting. 

You can hear the full story on the show (give a listen over here), but what I want to share in this space is a few photos and a recipe. I use the word recipe loosely, because a dry cure is really more of a recommendation than a prescription, and believe it or not it is actually pretty hard to go wrong when you rub a bunch of salt all over a piece of pork belly. In fact there really is no going wrong, so long as you keep it in the fridge. We've let it sit anywhere from a week to a month, and the only thing that "goes wrong" is that it gets more salty. This is nothing that can't be fixed with a soak in some cold water or the good sense to use these saltier bits more sparingly. 

The photo at the very top is some bacon-in-progress that sat in the fridge for a few weeks last year and at the time was about to have its salt brushed off. You can see how much moisture the salt has absorbed—it becomes very wet and heavy. Once we brush off the salt we simply put the bacon in a cloth bag in the cheese drawer of the fridge and let it sit until we're ready to eat. At that point, we give it a little rinse  (or a soak, if it's particularly salty) and pat it dry. It lasts for months and months and months. In fact, we just found some from last year and it's still perfectly good! The miracle of Christmas lives. 


HOMEMADE FRESH BACON (SALT PORK)

This is loosely adapted from Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking. I've only ever made this with pork belly, but I can see how loin or shoulder could also work well—the chops we get usually have a nice thick layer of fat around them. 

for each 2.50 lb pork belly (or loin, or shoulder)

10 ounces kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated or brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Mix all the dry ingredients together. If the pork has a rind still on it, you can leave it on or cut it off—it will simply make the cure take a bit longer. If the piece of pork belly is very large, cut it into manageable pieces, roughly 6 inches by 8 inches. Rub the cure mixture all over the meat, making sure to get it in every crack and crevice. 

Arrange the meat on a rimmed cookie sheet or casserole dish so that the cure mixture is touching it on all sides—I like to put a bit beneath it as well. Leave in the fridge to cure, checking occasionally to make sure it's still fully covered in salt. The salt will absorb a great deal of moisture; this is normal, in fact it is the whole point. According to Darina pork loin and shoulder only need to cure a few days, whereas pork belly can cure anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The longer you let it sit in the cure, the longer it will stay preserved. 

Once you deem the meat "ready" (you cut off a piece and fry it, and it tastes good, and/or it feels sufficiently dried out to last a good, long time) brush off the salt and store it in a cloth bag in the fridge. Reusable produce bags make just the right vessel. Depending how long you cure the bacon, it can last anywhere from a few weeks up to a year, or even longer. To eat, give it a rinse, slice it up and fry it. If it's too salty let the meat soak for 6 hours and try again. 



8.16.2018

SOUR CREAM ICE CREAM // elspeth


Food tastes better outside. I first learned this eating grilled bagels with cheese on a six-day canoe trip in Ontario, and I've been reminded of it in recent weeks again and again. For the first time since I was fourteen I am not spending July and August working in a restaurant. I am home with the girls at night and we are free, and it feels both wonderful and alien.  

Most nights, we eat simply. We make a pasta salad and sit on the deck out back. We pack a picnic of veggie sticks and crackers and sausage and bike to the beach. We sit next to a fire with hot dogs, then marshmallows, on a stick. 

A few weeks ago, though, we joined in a feast. We met up with friends on the other side of the Cape, who had been planning for weeks, and we drew out a menu on a whiteboard and collected last minute ingredients. The next morning we started a fire early on the beach. Freddi appeared with rebar and a plan for a metal cooking gazebo, and a gaggle of kids watched rapt as he bent it into place. We hung six chickens from it and cooked them for hours, until their skin was golden and fat dripped, hissing, onto a bed of coals. We massaged an octopus and cooked it on top of a wok. We wrapped pears in prosciutto and seared them until the meat was crispy and the fruit was soft. We went swimming, we peeled peaches, we made sour cream ice cream. We swam again.





Most of it was inspired, in one way or another, by a book from Francis Mallmann. If you've heard of him, it's likely from a 2015 Chef's Table episode, where the show heads to his private island in Patagonia to cook with fire. He's a much discussed, much dissected figure, and I won't spend time on that here. (If you're interested, this is as good a place to start as any.) But I will say the man inspires some serious outdoor cooking. 

The friends we cooked with were American, Swiss, Italian, and French. At the end of the evening, Anne, from France, leaned over. "We are so excited to have this American experience," she said. I started to laugh, but then I caught myself. How lovely, I thought. Better to leave it. 

We came home with smoky hair, full bellies, dirty feet. A renewed commitment to outdoor feasts. And that recipe for sour cream ice cream, playing on repeat. 


SOUR CREAM ICE CREAM

I'd never have come across this recipe if it hadn't been for an outrageous amount of leftover sour cream from the Wellfleet Farmers Market corn roast. I looked for all kinds of ways to use it up, and I'm so glad I did, because this is a keeper. The ice cream is excellent on its own but even better alongside summer fruit—think stewed peaches, blueberry pie, or blackberry cobbler. It'll keep a few days in the freezer, but the texture's best a few hours after you've made it. 

2 cups sour cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir all the ingredients together, mixing until the sugar dissolves. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions and then spoon into a container. Put in the freezer to firm up for about six hours before serving. 

7.26.2018

BLUEBERRY PIE // elspeth


Every day I want to get here, and every day something (or someone small) pulls me in another direction. But I can't sleep until I say this: it's one of the best wild blueberry (and huckleberry) seasons I've seen in years. Wherever you see bushes head into the woods, pick all you can, and treat yourself. Pie! Let's savor it while we can.

BLUEBERRY PIE

My mom has made this recipe for years, from her tattered Joy of Cooking. I know I could make it myself, but this year, as usual, I waited for her to show up. It tastes better when we're together. Big, high bush berries are excellent for many things—eating fresh, freezing for muffins and pancakes and smoothies—but for pie I think wild berries are best.

crust for bottom and top of 9-inch pie
5 cups fresh blueberries, preferably small and wild
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 to 4 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp salt
1-2 tablespoons butter

First make the crust. (I like this one.) Set aside to chill, then preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Next make the filling: combine the blueberries, sugar, tapioca, lemon juice and zest, and salt. Stir gently and let stand for 15 minutes.

Roll out your bottom pie crust, drape it over the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate, and spoon in the filling. Dot with the butter, roll out the top pie crust, and drape it over top. Use a knife or scissors to trim the crust so that it has an even 1-inch overhang all around. Roll and crimp the extra hanging dough to form a lip of crust around the edge. Cut vents in the top in a design that pleases you.

Bake the pie at 400 for 30 minutes. Slip a baking sheet beneath it, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake until thick juices bubble through the vents, another 25 to 35 minutes. The original recipe says the pie is best eaten the day it's baked, but I respectfully disagree. It's best eaten the next morning, fully cooled, in pajamas before breakfast.

6.05.2018

BEYOND THE PLATE // elspeth


Hi there. Quickly: there's a symposium this Saturday, June 9th, at Castle Hill in Truro that I'm a part of called Beyond the Plate. It's a gathering on food, writing, and community. Some big names will be there—Ruth Reichl and Bill Sertl and John "Doc" Willoughby—and also a whole host of amazing, kick ass people I know and love who are leading the local food movement around here. There are still a few tickets, and if you're around, I hope you'll consider joining. I'm moderating a panel in the morning with Michael Ceraldi, Sarah Waldman, Ali Berlow, and Drew Locke on "Local Food Choices" and teaching a workshop on putting up the harvest with Sarah Waldman in the afternoon. 

This morning, I spent a long time brainstorming questions for the panel and putting together tips on preserving and producing and getting ready to walk people through a quick batch of strawberry rhubarb jam. In the process I was reminded over and over again of why I believe in local food, why I see it as both a balm and a catalyst for modern society, and why it informs so many aspects of my life. It's good to do that—to zoom out and see the big picture, to remind ourselves why we do what we do each day when we're focused on the smaller tasks at hand. 


At any rate, I'm looking forward to it. If you can't make it there swing by the Wellfleet Farmers Market tomorrow—8 to noon, at the Grove behind the Congo, rain or shine. I'll be there helping a friend man his booth and selling a few odds and ends of my own—the first lettuce ! and radishes and herbs and more rhubarb. Fingers crossed for sun. 

See you back here soon, friends. 

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.