Tag Archives: farmers market

Grass-Fed Glory and a Day in the Country — Clear Spring Creamery Visit

7 May

After getting sunburned at the farmers market on Saturday morning, my friend and I decided to head out to the country that afternoon. On Friday, I saw on my Facebook newsfeed that Clear Spring Creamery was having an open house on Saturday afternoon, and my friend and I were in. I picked up some provisions at the market — a delicious baguette from Atwaters and some awesome cheese from Keswick Creamery and we hit the road. The weather was gorgeous and just perfect for a drive out west. After only an hour and a half, we were out in the rolling hills and mountains of western Maryland near the Pennsylvania border. It was absolutely gorgeous.

After getting a bit lost (and finally finding our way courtesy of my newly gifted car’s navigation), we finally arrived at Clear Spring  Creamery.

There was a group of about 10 people and after sampling some of the delicious raw milk cheeses, Mark and Clare Seibert (farm owners) graciously led us on a tour of the farm.

free-range birds

picking all of the fresh eggs out of the coop

We got to see where the chickens roam freely, pecking at the grass and laying eggs. But most importantly, since Clear Spring is a dairy farm primarily, we saw all of the cows — eating grass of course!

baby calves

cow moos loudly to signal her young to return home

baby nurses from his mom

 

my favorite cow has a bow-shaped marking on her head!

It was so interesting to learn how the cows are fed particular kinds of grass and how that affects the flavor of the milk, how the cows are led via minimal fencing to graze specific parts of the pasture, and what eggs can look like at the end of a hen’s laying cycle.

Our afternoon at Clear Spring ended with a tour of the milking facility and a peek into where they pasteurize the milk at a minimal temperature (which I really think helps to lock in the great flavor — along with the non-homogenization) and a sample of their chocolate milk. Dairy heaven! If you are ever at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market, you have got to try some of Clear Spring’s awesome products (like my favorite sippable yogurt)!

one last shot of my favorite ribbon cow posing in the pasture

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

So Ya Wanna Make Perfect Asparagus? Recipe: Asparagus with Spring Garlic and Sherry Dijon Vinaigrette

3 May

Working at the H St. NE farmers market has taught me one thing (among others): Spring opening days bring an ABUNDANCE of delicious asparagus. When I was younger, asparagus was on my worst-hated foods list (along with canned frosting). I, like so many other people, tried it overcooked once and never wished to relive the horror. Luckily, I stalked down asparagus perfection and now I am here to allay your fears of the stringy, mushy, fibrous myths that surround these blades of glory. (Canned frosting is still hated.)

You’ll want to be sure to get asparagus in season that seems stiff and snappable. If you bent it in half it would snap rather than bend into submission. Toss your limp stalks in the soup or to the dogs…or maybe the compost pile. The supplies you will need are a large pot, a skillet (non-stick or seasoned cast iron), and a large bowl filled with ice water.

First, you’ll need to rinse your asparagus in cold water and cut of the woody ends. If you have ever bitten into a stalk of asparagus only to find that your chewing is getting you nowhere and it is stringy and inedible — chances are that it is either OLD or the woody end was not properly cut.

In this picture, you can see approximately what I cut off to ensure that the woody part is removed. The top is asparagus that are cut and the left bunch still has the woody ends.

Next, I like to cut my asparagus into bite-sized pieces. You can opt to keep your stalks long or cut them smaller but just be sure that they fit comfortably into your pot of water.

Fill a pot with cold water and put in 3 large pinches of salt. I would guess that I use about 2-3 tbsp of kosher salt. Salting the cooking water helps to flavor the asparagus so that it is perfectly seasoned when it’s time to eat. Bring water to a boil and add the cut asparagus and stir frequently for about 4 minutes. I would start testing it at 3 minutes if you have cut smaller pieces and leave it in no more that 5 minutes. The asparagus should be perfectly tender and to the tooth.

Once your asparagus has reached its al dente point, immediately use tongs to place the asparagus into a bowl of ice water. This will shock in the bright green color and also stop it from cooking to preserve the perfect texture. 

Next, cut up the bottoms of four sprigs of spring garlic and a quarter of a large shallot.

spring garlic has a milder garlic flavor combined with green onion flavor

In a large skillet, heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic.

Drain the asparagus from the cold water in a colander and pour it into the hot pan with shallot and garlic infused olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch more of salt and turn it in the pan for a minute or until glossy with the oil.

 

Pour the finished asparagus onto a plate and now it’s time to make the sauce. In a bowl, whisk together a tsp of dijon mustard and 1.5 tbsp. of sherry vinegar. Drizzle in about 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and whisk together until emulsified. Pour over the asparagus and enjoy!

As you can see, I served mine with a piece of baked salmon and a kale and red pepper stir fry and some left over Bhutanese red rice that I’d had in the freezer. An easily delicious Wednesday evening.

And for dessert, I made banana “ice cream” with a little bit of cherry jam, chocolate chips, and peanut butter mixed in.

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

To market..to market: Opening Day of H Street NE FRESHFARM Market

21 Apr

I am so lucky to now be an official team member of the FRESHFARM markets in D.C. I have volunteered and done chef demonstrations of my recipes in the past couple of years, but today I started as the EBT Coordinator at the H Street NE FRESHFARM Market. One of the most important things to me in the past few years has been not only promoting my own health by eating fresh foods, but also promoting healthy habits for everyone. To be involved with a program that helps to ensure fresh and local food access to underserved populations is incredible. Read more about the program here.

With forecasts of strong storms hitting the eastern seaboard looming, I was a bit dubious of good weather for this morning’s opening. Luckily, it could not have been more perfect. We had sunny and blue skies, mild winds, warm temperatures, and as Flo-Rida/Avicii might say, woah, we had a good feeling.

neighborhood guy rallies for support for his petition

I cannot put into mere words how awesome the H St. NE FRESHFARM market is. It is the epitome of a community market. I would describe the vibe of the neighborhood as “community-all-hands-on-deck.” As we stood outside, the local shopkeepers gathered ’round (please note my use of arcane language because it is rare that in an age of Targets and Starbucks, local shopkeepers can actually gather ’round) to discuss the extension of our market into the street. Even the zone’s Councilmember made an appearance and was on board. They were friendly and chatty and welcoming and made me feel like I had been transported to another time. Or perhaps Canada (where I’ve heard everyone is very nice).

In addition to all of the gorgeous treats sprinkled around the market, Washingtonian Magazine’s rising star Chef Wes Morton of Art and Soul did a chef demonstration. He made a beautiful asparagus, sweet onion, and green garlic salad with a creamy egg Gribiche sauce, which I cannot wait to veganize, and taught me how to season my brand new (thus temporarily worthless) cast iron skillet.

eggs, green garlic, radishes, and asparagus from the market

Not only did I love how thoroughly engaged he was with the audience, especially the kids,

who says kids don't love their veggies? they loved raw radishes!

but he also introduced me to what will surely be my latest EVOO crack habit — Frantoia. This Sicilian olive oil has such a fruitiness that I have never tasted before — and blows my organic Californian right out of the water.

market welcomes shoppers of all breeds

I’d like to give a special thanks to Atwater’s Bakery for giving me an incredible vegan spelt loaf in exchange for watching his booth for 5 minutes (which I have devoured the better quarter of already), Blueberry Hill Farm for awesome veggies for my week, Full Cellar Farm for pretty tulips to brighten my days, and Quaker Valley Orchards for feeding my apple drug-like habit for the week (read: day).

my market bounty!

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

Hoagies & Pickles & Amish…Oh My: Tummy Full-adelphia

2 Apr

This weekend my friend and I drove up to visit another dear friend in Philly. I hadn’t been to the City of Brotherly Love in ages, and had heard about all of the gastronomical delights that lurked just a couple of hours north. I did the math on Friday, and I hadn’t eaten anything processed, refined, (and aside from a sushi dinner), nothing that I hadn’t created with my own two hands in over 35 days! I knew that it was time to really give my taste buds a workout and Philly was the perfect place to re-acquaint those little suckers with meat and dairy and sugar.

After discovering the French bakery, Paul, on day 3 of my juice cleanse, I had been dreaming of their macarons. I picked up a couple of the almond-meringue-ganache treasures for the road trip. They were incredible. Not only were they the perfect texture: chewy and crispy, moist and creamy, but I was able to enjoy the flavors in a completely new way. Just as my body has been reset after my juice cleanse and vegan diet, my TASTE BUDS were working at maximum power. This was the theme of my entire weekend in Philly.

Of course we ate hoagies (incredible), and Amish hot, fresh-baked cinnamon rolls (my friend said they tasted like Barefoot Contessa had just pulled something out of the oven for us), and amazing pickles, but NOTHING compares to the meal we had at Barbuzzo. This Mediterranean, farm-to-table, small plates restaurant was the perfect place to eat my first meat and dairy.

We started off with a cured meat board, with a great spicy mustard, cornichons, and olive tapenade with sliced baguette. As my first meat, I chewed very slowly, and enjoyed every morsel of the salty, spiced, salami and seranno.

Next, we had the Sheeps Milk Ricotta. Oh my God. This cheese was like nothing I had ever experienced. It had a slightly sheepy flavor (which I love) and was as creamy as sour cream. It was drizzled with a sweet red-wine reduction and some very fragrant EVOO, and served with slices of incredible thick, grilled bread.

Next we had the roasted beet and goat cheese salad. Now, I know that every restaurant puts a beet and goat cheese salad on their menu — it’s definitely the rage — and usually it’s quite good but nothing very new and different. Not at Barbuzzo. The roasted beet and goat cheese salad was served over a bed of kale chiffonade tossed in a pistachio pesto with a sherry vinaigrette. What really set this dish over the edge for me was the inclusion of the sweet and citrusy ruby red grapefruit segments. (I obviously bought ingredients at Whole Foods yesterday for my attempt to replicate this wonder.) The cool creamy bites of cheese mixed with the robust greens drizzled with that sweet and nutty vinaigrette coupled with the tangy, juicy grapefruit — sheer bliss.

After this triple punch of KNOCKOUT flavors, we tried the Tufoli Calabrese (Tufoli is a type of pasta noodle — similar to Rigatoni), which had a slow-cooked smoky pork ragu, with buffala mozzarella, brocollini, and some breadcrumbs on top. I thought this dish was good, but not as mind-blowing as our first few dishes.

After the pasta (you can see that we really went to town on the menu ordering everything — but I promise the plates were small 🙂 ), we had the Uovo pizza. I swear birds started chirping when I bit into this pizza. Aside from the crust being perfectly amazing, it was topped with a garlicy light creamy white sauce, brussel sprout leaves, guanciale (pork cheek that tastes like non-smoked bacon), mozzarella, and drum roll…a truffled farm-fresh egg. If you haven’t had a fresh egg (that is still orange in color before it turns yellow with age), this was the PERFECT way to have it.

Perfectly satisfied with our incredible meal, we decided to try dessert. As a person who doesn’t love sweets and was grappling with what I thought would be an evening of gastric distress, I had read so much about the Budino dessert and I knew we had try it. We decided to order the apple and raisin bread pudding and the caramel Budino. The bread pudding was great, had nice big chunks of multicolored bread and was creamy and topped with apple cider gelato. I have to rush through that dessert because when I dipped my spoon into the Budino and tasted it, I swear bells starting chiming. I can’t really explain to you why PUDDING was in my friend’s top 3 desserts of all time, but it was in mine too.

The pudding came out in a mason jar and didn’t look like much. Tasting is believing. It was light and creamy, but still somewhat dense and had an almost satin-like texture, with the most insane caramel flavor. It wasn’t overly sweet but had a good bit of salt running through which really brought out the caramel notes. The pudding was layered on top of dark chocolate cookie crumbs that tasted like Oreos, and on top was a whipped creme fraiche that felt like whipped cream but tasted like sour cream so the combination was sweet heaven. Perfection in a jelly jar.

After our dinner the next evening, we contemplated returning to Barbuzzo just to get the Budino again for dessert. But we didn’t. With Michelin-starred restaurants in Napa and Italy, as well as amazing restaurants in France, N.Y.C., and New Orleans under my foodie belt, I still would consider this meal to be in my top-5 dining experiences ever. 

The next evening we tried one of Philly top chef, Iron Chef extraordinaire, Jose Garces’ restaurants. It was good…but after the bar that Barbuzzo set, I don’t even think Thomas Keller could have surpassed it. Well, yeah he probably could have. We ended our trip with an incredible brunch at a cute little place called Sabrina’s  (where I had scrambled eggs with a cornmeal-green onion-sour cream biscuit) and had the perfect ricotta cannoli from Isgro Pasticceria to carry home to D.C.

This weekend, I discovered another benefit of juice-cleansing to add to my growing list: the cleanse awakened my palate. I was able to discover food and flavors in a completely different way. The manner in which I could identify subtle nuanced flavors might rival a Top Chef discerning palate quick-fire challenge. All in all, I definitely cannot wait to return to this city of culinary wonder and keep my taste buds working at optimum power.

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

Recipe: Tasting the Fruits of My Labor (Roasted Veg Sandwich with Homemade Vegan “Mayo”)

26 Mar

This weekend, I decided to undertake the seemingly impossible task of baking bread. As I slowly started to reintroduce foods into my diet post-cleanse, I figured the best way to introduce a complex carb was to make my own bread. I woke up on Saturday morning, met my college advisor who happened to be in town with one of her classes, and toured the Royalists to Romantics exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Combining one of my favorite professors with one of my favorite artists (Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun) was a beautiful way to start a bread-making Saturday.

After a few errands to Whole Foods and Bed, Bath and Beyond, to pick up the last essentials for my baking adventure, I was ready to begin. With my Spotify playlist plugged into my speakers, a bread recipe open on my computer screen, and my kitchen counters cleaned, I was all set. I decided to try the Multigrain Wholegrain Bread recipe from the Holy Cow Vegan blog.

After attempting to bloom yeast that was a non-starter, I had to run back out to the market to buy another package of yeast. FINALLY, it worked on my second try. Here is the recipe:

Vegan Multigrain Wholegrain Bread

Mix in a bowl:
4 tsp active dry yeast and 1/2 cup warm (not hot!) water. Set aside about 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to bloom.

Mix in another bowl:

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm soymilk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil

Add the soymilk mixture to the yeast. Then add:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour

Mix by hand or in a stand mixer until combined. Add:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup rye flour

Knead for 10 minutes on low speed or by hand. Keep about 1/2 to 1 cup of whole-wheat flour on hand to add in case the dough is too sticky. You want a smooth, elastic dough that does not break easily.
Oil a bowl and place the dough in it, turning it around once to ensure it is coated all over with oil.
Set aside in a warm place to rise for an hour. Punch down the dough and set aside and let rise again for another hour.
Here are pictures of the bread before and after rising.

Remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down, shape. If you’d like to make it in loaf pans, divide the dough into two halves, tuck the edges under for a smooth top, and place in oiled loaf pans coated with some cornmeal.

Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 10 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35 more minutes.

Remove the loaf to a rack and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.

The bread came out looking gorgeous and I just couldn’t wait to dig in.

Now, I had the ends of my sandwich ready…but still needed to create the insides. Back when I was juice-fasting, I had the idea of creating a vegan mayonnaise, because what kind of sandwich would we have without that creamy glue holding it together? Here is my recipe:

Healthy Homemade Vegan “Mayonnaise”

  • 1 cup raw (unsalted, not roasted) cashews, soaked in 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1 package of silken tofu
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup of good extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

In a food processor, puree the cashews with 1/4 cup of the cashew water until smooth. Add the tofu and blend. Add the mustards and vinegar and blend together. While the processor is running, drizzle in the EVOO. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

The mayo is super creamy and really does taste like mayo. The good EVOO makes it taste rich and creamy. I promise you won’t miss the eggs!

I roasted off some veggies (sprayed them with EVOO and sprinkled salt and pepper and placed under the broiler).

 

Finally, it was time to assemble my sandwich. With the help of Gordy’s Pickle Jar’s Sweet Pepper Relish,  and Maille L’Ancienne grainy dijon mustard, I spread my mayo on my freshly cut bread and laid the veggies on top.

It is SUCH an amazing feeling to eat something that you made from scratch completely. It is so rewarding and completely worth the effort that I put in to dig into a sandwich and know exactly where every morsel came from.

That has got to be the epitome of clean eating. YUM.

Here are a couple pictures of my masterpiece!  

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande

Love the smell of a good market this time of year

23 Mar

Yesterday was the opening of the FRESHFARM Market near my office in Penn Quarter. I LOVE this market. It happens on Thursdays, has everything you could want (most specifically, my crack fix for anything from Toigo Orchards), and is conveniently located just a few blocks from my office so I don’t even have to think. After a rough morning/afternoon at work yesterday, I decided to go for a walk to visit the market, especially because it was so lovely out. In addition to my usual favorites, including Toigo (whose Honeycrisp apples, pears, and PEACHES will make you slap your mama) and Red Apron Butchery (who was taunting me with Facebook pictures of mortadella and fennel and citrus salami while I was juice-fasting), there were some new treats, including Gordy’s Pickle Jar, which I just HAD to try. They were amazing.

I am a REAL SUCKER for anything local. I can’t resist. Here are some pictures of the wonderful market.

Gorgeous poppies and tulips.

This bread smelled even more amazing than it looks.

Can’t resist Toigo’s apples. I picked up some of the Mutsu and they were awesome. Super crisp, sweet with a little bit of tartness, and just perfect for a warm spring day.

And here’s my bounty! A purple/green head of cabbage (for my experimentation with “Corned Tofu and Cabbage”), sweet pepper relish from Gordy’s, Mutsu apples, the facebook-stalking fennel and citrus salami from Red Apron (for my omnivorous weekends), and some great looking little red beets.

I love supporting our area’s farmers. I mean, what better way to eat fresh, eat clean, and eat local than at a farmers market, right? I love transparency in all of my food — knowing from where my pig came and where it was smoked, when and from where my eggs were picked, and that those apples were plucked just yesterday is a great feeling.

xoxo,
the happenstance gourmande