MAY 17 // elspeth

Was digging through old photos in search of something for tomorrow's post when I found this, dated May 17th. Hard to believe in a spring like this! Soon enough, I suppose.



Apparently April is the time of year when I announce that we are expecting babies. So here goes again: I haven't been around here much for the past few months, and the reason for that is that I haven't been feeling great, and therefore haven't been cooking. The reason for that, in turn, is that there's another tiny person residing inside of my belly. This person is with any luck going to wait and come out healthy and plump sometime at the end of September.

It's exciting, and given our history a little scary, and has also been totally different this time around. I am hungry. Scary hungry. Alex asked me with a hint of awe this morning how many calories I think I actually consume in a day. Frankly, I don't want to know. 

I'd have popped by to tell you about some of this eating, except that none of it has been at all remarkable in the recipe department, and much of it has involved very non-local cravings for things like South American cantaloupes and California strawberries and those spinach hand pies that Dianne Collatos from the farmers' markets makes. (She will make a dozen on special order in the off season, in case you're wondering.)

That said, I think I am turning a corner. I'm still tired and sometimes slightly nauseated by the time the dinner hour rolls around, but I made an actual recipe the other day. With a seasonal vegetable! Worthy of sharing! Ring the bells, people. 

What you see up there is a kale caesar salad. Kind of a strange concept maybe, but totally understandable once you bite in. I found the recipe on Cup of Jo and knew right away it was a keeper. It takes the things I like about a good Caesar dressing—the tang of the lemon juice, the pungence of the garlic—and amplifies them. It is not a salad to eat on a first date. It is chock full of anchovies and mustard and roasted garlic and all kinds of things that make your breath go haywire and your taste buds come alive. Luckily, Alex and I are past the point where things like this might scare him away.

And so I have been eating this salad with reckless abandon. If you like both kale and Caesar salads, I highly recommend it. Turning on the oven and forge ahead; sometimes it pays to be brave.


This recipe comes from Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe via Cup of Jo, with a few small tweaks.

for the salad:
1 bunch dinosaur (lacinato) kale
1/4 cup whole wheat Panko or bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

for the dressing:
1 head garlic
olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon capers
2 anchovy filets, plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

First make the dressing. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Take the outer layers of skin off the garlic and chop off the top 1/4 inch of the head so you can see the individual cloves inside. Place the garlic in the center of a sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap tightly. Roast for 30 minutes, until the cloves are soft. Remove the foil and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toast the Panko crumbs. Spread them on a baking sheet, drizzle them with the olive oil, and toast until golden brown—about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

When you can tough the garlic, squeeze the cloves into a food processor. Puree along with 1/3 cup olive oil and the lemon juice, capers, two anchovies, and the mustard and salt. The dressing should be thick.

Now put together the salad. Cut the kale into thing ribbons, removing any thick parts of the stalks. Put the kale in a bowl and toss with 1/2 cup of the dressing, the Parmesan cheese, and the Panko crumbs. Serve at once. If you like anchovies, I recommend layering a few on top.


ARTEMISIA // the local food report

It's embarrassing, but I'd never cooked with tarragon until this week. Not even tarragon with chicken? No. I do vaguely remember serving a tarragon chicken salad at the bakery where I worked growing up, but I never tried it because the mango chicken chutney salad was so good. I didn't see the point in branching out. 

I'm learning, slowly. This week for the Local Food Report I talked with Donna Eaton at Cedar Spring Herb Farm about Artemisias. They're a genus of herbs—estimates range from about 180 to 400 varieties in all—and they're best known for their silvery leaves and their bitter taste. They've been used as both food and medicine for hundreds of years, but Americans don't cook with them all that often. (Guilty.) 

But there are lots of good reasons to try Artemisias in the kitchen. Not only are they complex and aromatic, but they're good for us. While the exact mechanisms aren't understood, bitter flavors seem to stimulate digestion, helping us through the aftermath of a heavy meal. And various Artmesias are also used to treat malaria, draw down a fever, help with difficult child labor, get rid of parasites, and treat the chronic infections that can follow Lyme disease.

In that spirit, I'd like to share my first tarragon recipe ever: a tarragon vinaigrette adapted from 101cookbooks.com. I'd also like to share a link to a flyer for a celebration of Artemisia, which has been named the Herb of the Year for 2014 by the International Herb Association. Donna is hosting a day of herbal workshops and demonstrations at the farm Saturday May 3rd from 9am to 4pm. You can read all about it over here. And finally, if you're interested in growing a few Artemisias, take note: you probably already have some mugwort volunteers in your yard, and Better Homes and Gardens has a great set of online plans for putting together a bed of Artemisias and what make good companion herbs and flowers. 

And without further ado, everyone, meet tarragon vinaigrette. It's my new go-to. 


I like this dressing best on a simple salad: good fresh butter lettuce with not much else. That said, it also makes a great complement to herb heavy salads—we had it last night on a salad of spring greens, cilantro, mint, and pine nuts.

1 small shallot, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup tarragon leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thick and smooth. Pour it into a dressing jar and if possible, let it sit for a few hours before you use it so that the flavors come together. 


SPRING PRODUCE // the local food report

It's coming! Spring! (Ignore the snow yesterday.) Farmers' markets around the Cape will be opening up soon, and spring produce is on the way. If you're looking to get inspired, give a listen to this week's Local Food Report—I talked with farmer Jeff Deck of Not Enough Acres in Dennis. He's got all kinds of crops ready for harvest in his greenhouse, and pretty soon it will be time to bring them to market. Here's when everyone's opening up:

Bass River Farmers' Market
Thursdays 9am to 1:30pm, June 5 through October 9, 2014
Saturdays 9am to 1:30pm, June 7 through October 11, 2014

Chatham Farmers' Market
May 20th opening day
Tuesdays 3pm to 6:30pm

Falmouth Farmers' Market
May 22 through October 9, 2014
Thursdays noon to 6pm

Green Harvest Organic Farmers' Market (Barnstable)
June 4th opening day
Tuesdays noon to 4pm

Orleans Farmers' Market
May 17 through November 22, 2014
Saturdays 8am to noon

Harwich Farmers' Market
June 12 through October 9, 2014
Thursdays 3pm to 6pm

Hyannis/Mid Cape Farmers' Market
June 4th opening day
Wednesdays 2pm to 6pm

Mashpee Commons Farmers' Market
June 2014, date TBA
Sundays 10am to 2pm

Osterville Farmers' Market
June 13 through September 19, 2014
Fridays from 9am to 1pm

Provincetown Farmers' Market
May 17th opening day
Saturdays 11am to 4pm

Sandwich Farmers' Market
May 1st opening day
Tuesdays 9am to 1pm

Sandwich Farmers' Market at Oakcrest*
Wednesdays, April 30th through October 8th, 6am to noon
and Sundays June 1 through September 28, 7am to 1pm
*this market is also a flea market; check ahead for produce availability

Truro Farmers' Market
June 16 through September 29, 2014
Mondays 8am to noon

Wellfleet Farmers' Market
May 14 through October 15, 2014
8am to noon

If a market you know of isn't on the list, let me know and I'll add it. Also, as soon as you can get your hands on some butter crunch lettuce and fresh spring carrots, I highly recommend making this:

It's the salad I made immediately after arriving home from Jeff's greenhouse, and it's about as simple, delicious, and fresh as it gets. Happy spring.


I'm not sure this really qualifies as a recipe. It's the kind of thing I make up every day around noon, once the produce starts coming in. But it is delicious, and worth sharing if only for inspiration.

1 head freshly picked butter crunch lettuce
2 freshly pulled spring carrots
1/2 avocado
1/2 lemon
olive oil
sea salt
ricotta cheese (optional)

Wash the lettuce and tear it into bite size pieces. Slice the carrots thinly and toss them in a salad bowl with the lettuce. Cut the avocado into bite size pieces, scoop them out, and add those. Squeeze the lemon juice over top to taste, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Taste and adjust as needed. If you're using the ricotta, spread a few dollops around and dig in. As you eat the cheese will mix with the oil and become part of the dressing, which is okay. It's good that way.


CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE // the local food report

Sometimes I forget which recipes I've shared here. The other day I was wondering about a beer-laced chocolate bundt cake recipe from 101cookbooks.com, so I typed the word chocolate into the search function on the side of the page. Apparently this is just about the only chocolate cake recipe I have not documented. The sheer volume of chocolate-related posts is a little alarming. It's also puzzling that this cake doesn't appear, as it's one of my favorites. It's a little less guilty, a little more nuanced, and a little more grown-up feeling than most.

At any rate, here it is. Sally is grunting her approval through massive fistfuls, and I am busy licking icing from the bowl. 

And while we're on the topic of chocolate, I'd like to give a shout out to Katie Reed and Josiah Mayo of the new Chequessett Chocolate in Truro. They've just opened up a bean to bar operation complete with a chocolate café, and pretty much everything about it is spectacular. The chocolate is excellent, responsibly sourced and produced, and the treats they sell in the café are both incredibly good and very creative. You can hear more about it on this week's Local Food Report, and there are pictures of the process below.

The beans as they come to Katie and Josiah, un-roasted, with both shell and nib:

The stone grinder, with two hundred pounds of granite turning cacao nibs into liquid chocolate:

Chocolate that's been ground and cooled but not tempered—see how the cocoa butter rises to the top?

The tempering machine, which Katie calls a "miraculous piece of equipment." Anyone who's ever tried to temper at home knows what she's talking about!

The finished product out for sampling in their café:

Update 12.18.14: Katie and Josiah's bars are available at their shop in Truro, and also at the new winter farmers' market in Orleans. Below are links to a few of my other favorite small-scale producers:

Happy eating!


HI // elspeth

From us this morning. That's all. Just 'cause. We'll see you tomorrow...with chocolate cake!


HERRING RIVER // the local food report

Almost every town in Massachusetts has a Herring River or a Herring Pond or some sort of a herring run. River herring used to be ubiquitous: they returned from the sea to coastal rivers and ponds year after year in the spring to spawn.

They still do, but in many places their numbers are down to single digits where they once arrived in the hundreds of thousands. There are all kinds of reasons for this: habitat degradation, barriers to fish passage, overfishing, poor water quality, by-catch during their time at sea.

The pictures you see here are from the Wellfleet Historical Society. They show the Herring River in Wellfleet and herring fishery that existed before the river was diked. John Portnoy, an ecologist who worked with the Cape Cod National Seashore for almost thirty years, put together a report on estuarine management during the 1800s, and there are all kinds of interesting facts in there about the effects of the dike on the river herring. Starting in the late 1700s, the Selectmen auctioned off the right to commercially fish the river for herring. In addition, every Wellfleet citizen could take 200 fish each spring, paying 1/2 cent per fish. The town used the revenue—which was usually between $400 and $700, a fair amount of money back then—to pay the elected town officials.

But in 1909, the river was diked. The idea was to control mosquitoes—following several years of heavy rainfall, the towns people were fed up with these pests. Unfortunately diking the river ended up creating more stagnant water, making the problem worse. Rather than take down the dike, the town decided to dig a series of drainage ditches in an attempt to dry out the marsh, and poured kerosene on the surface of the water to help kill mosquito larvae. Between the dike itself, which posed a significant barrier to migrating fish, and the subsequent deterioration of water quality upstream, the herring fishery collapsed. 

There are similar stories all over the Cape—the Association to Preserve Cape Cod has a long list of herring runs that towns are attempting to restore. The efforts start with herring counts, to get an idea of what kind of shape the river herring populations at each site are in, and then work from there to take down barriers and restore ecosystems as necessary.

In Wellfleet, the Park has plans to take down the dike and restore the entire 1100-acre estuary to full tidal flow. It's going to be a long process—right now the project is in the design phase, but even once work starts on the ground, maybe as soon as 2016, those involved say it could take decades. There's a neat video about the project and the ecosystem on the Friends of Herring River homepage.

If you want to learn more about efforts to restore river herring runs in your area, check out the River Herring Network. Their website keeps up with news on river herring restoration projects and counts all over Massachusetts, and is a good way to find out how to get involved.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.