Apples & Superbowl Salad

Apples 1

Apples are literally everywhere at the market these days. They store really well and will keep for a long time if treated properly. There are so many different kinds of apples…how do we know which one is the right one for us!?  I’ve taken it upon myself to taste each apple and give you a better idea of the differences. I’ve also chosen my favorites, but you should definitely try each yourself so you can decide your own!

Apples 2

I wanted to make this as simple as possible, so I kept my descriptions short and to the point. I judged based on taste, texture, smell, and what I thought each particular apple would be best for.

Buckeye Gala: Sweet, mild taste. A bit grainy, with thicker skin. Very aromatic. Good for baking and for use in sauces.

Fuji: Good for storing. Sweet, bold taste. Thinner skin. Great for snacking. Not too tart.

Goldrush: Very tart and juicy. Thick skin. Becomes sweeter the longer after it’s been picked. Good for any use, but great for salads.

Cameo: Sweet, bold taste. Grainy with thicker skin. Very aromatic. Similar to Galas but with a stronger, more traditional “apple” taste.

Nittany: Very crisp. Very juicy. Subtle, nutty flavor. Perfect balance of sweet and tart. Great for baking and snacking.

Devon Gold (Golden Delicious): Mildly tart, thinner skin. Sweet and very aromatic. Good for any use, but great for baking as it keeps it’s crunch when cooked.

Pink Lady: Crisp, firm, and very juicy. On the tart side with very sweet undertones. Good for all purposes but great for salads.

Apples 3

After performing the strenuous task of tasting all of these delicious apples, I decided I wanted to create a salad with my two favorite apples. The Superbowl is this weekend and I was invited to a friend’s party. I knew everyone else would bring standard Superbowl items like wings, chili, and cornbread…which, of course, you can easily find the ingredients for at the market. I knew that no one was going to bring a salad, and I pride myself on being that one person that reminds people to eat healthy!

Apples 4

Most people don’t think of salads as a wintery thing. Many people consider Spring, Summer, and Fall to be the proper times to eat salads. I say “false!” There are so many great seasonal items that are available in the Winter to toss together into a salad. Obviously, with apples being so abundant, I wanted them to be the star of the salad. I tend to go more for the crisp, juicy, tart apples. So I looked at my notes and decided to cut up a Pink Lady and a Goldrush and go from there…

Apples 5The other stars of this salad are the lamb bacon, the cheese, and the dressing. There is only one way to obtain lamb bacon at the market – go visit the tent with the two attractive Jewish boys (they’re brothers) singing about “kosher bacon!” They’ll tell you all about how their lamb bacon is made from local, grassfed Shenandoah Valley lambs, cured without nitrates and smoked over applewood. It is a great substitute for regular bacon if you keep kosher, and a great change in pace if you don’t.

Apples 6The cheese, as always, came from Stonyman Gourmet Farmer. This time, I wanted something simple yet robust. I tasted the two cheddars that Alan had available, and decided on the Reserve Cheddar. Made from raw cow’s milk and aged 18 months, this semi-hard cheese is creamy and moderately sharp. It has a reasonably robust flavor that stands up really well when combined with other intense flavors, without overwhelming them.

The idea for the dressing came to me when I realized that I would be making this salad with very tarts apples. I wanted to use something sweet with deep flavor that would counteract the sharp taste of the apples. I decided to play around with something that I found at the Two Acre Farm tent – a Honey Mustard that Nicole makes. I emulsified it with olive oil and realized that it was too honey-rich for a dressing. I decided, instead, to soak the apple slices in it. That way, it would coat the salad perfectly, without being too clumpy or overwhelming.

As I always do, I’ve put in parentheses the vendors where I acquired all of my ingredients. Feel free to play around with your favorite apple type – see which one works for you and maybe try a different kind of sauce from Two Acre Farm to match your apple choice!

Apples 8

Spinach and Apple “Superbowl” Salad

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 12 oz (8 handfuls) Spinach (Two Acre Farm)
  • 2 Tbsp. Honey Mustard (Two Acre Farm)
  • 5 Tbsp. Olive Oil (All Things Olive)
  • 3 Apples, diced (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 4 oz. Cheddar Cheese, grated (Stonyman Gourmet Farmers)
  • 1 package Lamb Bacon

Directions

Combine the honey mustard and the olive oil – whisk vigorously to emulsify. Coat apples in mixture and let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Place the lamb bacon in a pan and cook to desired crispiness, making sure to drain fat from pan at least once or twice. Once done, chop into small pieces.

Combine spinach, apples, and cheese in a large bowl. If desired, sprinkle bacon pieces on salad as it is served (otherwise it gets lost in the salad, which I learned the hard way!)

I made this salad for my roommate and her boyfriend. When I asked if it passed the “Superbowl appropriate” test, her boyfriend looked at me and said, “it’s quite a manly salad.” That was enough for me. Make it in bulk and bring it to your Superbowl party. I promise you it will get eaten. Enjoy!

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Cheesy Lobster Pasta

Lobster Pasta 1

This time of year is great for hot, comforting dishes. There is nothing better on a cold winter day than taking something out of the oven, dropping a steaming spoonful onto your plate, and indulging in the coziness of a well-cooked meal. This dish is so easy yet so decadent, your friends and family will beg you to make it again.

I personally am not much of a lobster lover. I grew up keeping kosher and was only exposed to shellfish in my more recent years when I’ve been obsessed with culinary exploration. The lobster from Lobster Maine-ia, however, is a different story! It comes hand-picked in packages of half or whole pounds and it is so delicious and easy to work with. Lobster Maine-ia actually gets their lobsters from Maine and sells products at the market ranging from cooked meat and live lobsters to lobster rolls and accessories.

Lobster Pasta 3

The pasta I used was from Cavanna Pasta, a small, fresh pasta maker based in Richmond, VA. I chose to use Tagliatelle, which are long, flat ribbons similar in shape to fettuccine. It only took about two minutes in boiling water for this fresh, handmade pasta to cook to perfection.

Lobster Pasta 4The final main ingredient in my dish is the cheese. Alan James, co-proprietor of Stonyman Gourmet Farmer, helped me taste a mixture of cheeses before we found the right combination to mix with the bold flavor of lobster. We decided on two cheeses: Jersey Tomme, a raw, Jersey cow milk, aged 4 months, with an all-natural washed rind. This semi-hard cheese is creamy and mild in the beginning but finishes with a bold, mushroom-y flavor. The second cheese is the Aged Swiss Gruyere Style cheese; semi-hard, made with raw cow milk and aged 6 months. This one has a deep flavor much like you would expect from a Gruyere. Together, they were the perfect blend of subtle and bold.

Like I always do, I put in parentheses where I purchased my ingredients at the market.

Cheesy Lobster Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil (All Things Olive)
  • 1 lb. fresh pasta (Cavanna Pasta)
  • 2 cups milk (Woodbourne Creamery)
  • 5 Tbsp. butter, unsalted, divided (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
  • ¼ cup All Purpose Flour
  • 8 oz. cheese, grated (Stonyman Gourmet Farmer)
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ lb. cooked lobster meat (Lobster Maine-ia)
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cook fresh pasta noodles in a large pot of about 6 quarts of salted, boiling water. Fresh pasta takes considerably less time to cook than dried, usually 1 to 3 minutes, so watch it carefully. To test, remove a noodle with tongs or a long-handled fork and take a bite.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn’t boil.

In a large pot, melt 3 Tbsp of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, whisking gently. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for another minute or two, until the mixture is smooth and thick.

Take the pot off of the heat and add the cheese, salt, and pepper. Add the pasta and lobster and stir well.

Lobster Pasta 5

Place mixture in a 9 X 13 oven safe dish or individual gratin dishes. Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, combine it with the bread crumbs and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce bubbles and the top browns.

This pasta certainly works as a leftover dish, but it is so much better fresh! Make sure you invite enough people over to share it with you!

Lobster Pasta 6

Future Harvest CASA Conference 2015

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Last September, Central Farm Markets teamed up with Future Harvest CASA to put on an amazing Farm to Fork fundraiser at RJ Cooper’s fabulous restaurant Gypsy Soul at Mosaic District in Virginia. Among the attendees were many of CFM’s vendors – Shane Hughes from Liberty Delights, Aaron Kushner from Meatcrafters Markets, Alan and Susan James from Stonyman Gourmet Farmer and more. The dinner featured local food in dishes created by five award-winning chefs with food provided by CFM vendors and artisans! It was a great time and it raised a lot of money for a great organization.

FH 2

Last weekend I attended Future Harvest CASA’s Cultivate the Chesapeake Foodshed Conference. It was held at the College Park Marriott and an incredibly diverse group of farmers, artisan food producers, farm market owners, chefs, agriculture educators and technicians attended. The main thing that amazed all of us was how many young people were at the conference! I bet I wouldn’t be mistaken if I told you that over 50% of the conference attendees were between the ages of 22 and 35. This is huge, considering the reason we were there was to introduce the next generation of farmers to resources that will contribute to the growth of the business and more access to fresh local food.

FH 3

Future Harvest CASA (Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture) is an organization who’s mission is to provide education, networking and advocacy to help build a sustainable Chesapeake foodshed, where food flows from farm and fishery to table in ways that strengthen farming and the regional food economy. The organization is run by a board of directors that includes farmers, food business owners, health care professionals and educators who work to advocate for policy change, teach new farmers and support small businesses.

IMG_7387The conference was split into two days with sessions and keynote speakers on both days. I attended three sessions on the first day; the first was a talk given by our very own MeatCrafters owners, Debra Moser, Mitch Berliner and Stanley Feder!  They told the audience what it took to start their sausage and salami-making business. They talked about everything from the financial aspect of starting up a local food business, to working with the USDA, to their meat sourcing techniques. This discussion was held under the “Made Local: Artisanal Foods” track, which also included sessions on local liquor, cider, beer, and cheese. Another member of the CFM family, Susan and Alan James from Stonyman Gourmet Farmer, led the cheese making discussion!

Later, I attended a session on climate change and it’s effect on the farming industry, and a group discussion about farmers markets. It was so interesting to hear from people who run or work for other markets. There are so many different types of farm markets. From six vendor operated Amish markets to larger markets, everyone was very interested to learn tips, tactics, and information from one another to improve on.

FH 5

The highlight for me was the Local Fare Fair that took place right before dinner on Friday evening. It was open to conference attendees and showcased the many items they had been hearing about throughout the day. Central Farm Markets vendors were quite prominent in this fair, as well; Meatcrafters sampled their salamis, Stonyman Gourmet Farmer sampled their cheeses, and Sophia Maroon from Dress it Up Dressing sampled her new delicious Blackberry Vinaigrette. There were local spirits from Catoctin Distillery, hard cider from Distillery Lane Ciderworks, delicious craft beer from Lost Rhino Brewing Company, and many more artisanal masterpieces.

I learned a lot at this conference, like the nutritional quality of local food and how climate change and pest control can alter a farmer’s crops. I learned that there are so many young people working hard to start a farm; a challenge for some because they need to pay student loans or they can’t afford the purchase of land, unless it is inherited. The most important thing that I learned, however, is that there is an organization, a group of dedicated people, working hard to make sure that our next generation of farmers has the education, financial stability, and support that they need to continue supplying us with the local fresh food that has grown fast in this country. Future Harvest CASA is doing something extremely important and I do believe they are well on their way to achieving many of their goals.

Kiparoo Farm

Kiparoo 1

Annie Kelley has lived on her farm in Middletown, MD for 4 years. Kiparoo Farm is “the home of beautiful sheep, shiny fleece, and lustrous yarn.” Annie raises Border Leicester sheep, a breed that is known for their wool, which is prized by spinners for its high quality. Having grown up on a farm in the Mid-West, she has been raising sheep and working in the fiber business for 40 years. She got her first lamb as an Easter present when she was a child and grew up knitting, raising animals, and working outdoors. She says she is lucky to have been able to do what she loves her whole life.

Kiparoo 2 (3)

The farm is a beautiful, quirky little place that houses 27 dairy cows and more than 100 sheep. Annie has the sheep sheared twice a year and spends the rest of the year dying the yarn in her own little dye factory located behind her house. The yarn is painted and hand-dyed and each skein is then “lovingly packaged and labeled.”

Kiparoo 3

This was by far one of my favorite farms to visit. Driving up to it, it was so clear to me that it was a woman’s farm; beautiful flowers in planters, heart-detailed gates in front of the house…I took a tour of the farm – where Annie hosts knitting clubs, ice cream socials, and art studio tours – and was extremely impressed with the amount of work Annie does herself on the grounds. “I can do anything on this farm, believe me,” she says, when I ask her how she makes it all happen. She has help, of course, but the majority of the work is done with her own two hands. Two hands that I can imagine are also very busy knitting!

Kiparoo 4

I think my favorite part of the farm tour was meeting her cows. Each one has a name and a personality. They were clean, friendly creatures that were clearly happy with their living situations. Very affectionate, too! And the sheep were singing to us as we toured their living quarters! It really proves what a great farmer Annie must be, to be able to keep her animals so happy and healthy.

Kiparoo 5Her stand at the market is full of beautiful multi-colored yarn in different shapes, sizes, and patterns. She also sells hand-knitted hats, scarves, and blankets. Patrons can buy finished hand-knits and can also custom order items. A friend of hers takes the milk from her dairy cows to create some of the best soap I’ve ever used. Annie and her knitting partners love to help new knitters get into the hobby, teach classes, talk about patterns, and discuss life on the farm.

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Buying yarn from Annie at Kiparoo Farm is another, albeit unknown, way to support your local farmers. What a unique opportunity Central Farm Market has to be a part of this extremely creative farm. Everyone knows a knitter, and anyone can become a knitter. So stop by and take stock of the amazing amount of work Annie puts into her product. Talk to her about her sheep, ask questions about her knitting club, feel the quality of the product that she so lovingly brings to us at the market. And don’t forget to pick something up for the knitter in your life!

Two Acre Farm & Spaghetti Squash Marinara

Two Acres 1

If you haven’t stopped by the Two Acre Farm stand at the Bethesda Central Farm Market, you are really missing out. Absolutely everything that Nicole Olson is sampling – jams, mustards, dressings and sauces – is made with homegrown ingredients right in her very own little farm kitchen- and it’s all absolutely delicious!

FOO farmersTwoAcres.jpgNicole’s grandmother canned all her life and taught her how to start canning herself. Nicole doesn’t use recipes, but just flies by the seat of her pants, creating culinary masterpieces from scratch. Two Acre Farm is located in Keymar, MD and Nicole lives there with her husband and two sons (who come to the market with her frequently). She and her husband bought the overgrown farm 13 years ago. After a lot of time spent weeding and planting, the farm (situated on two acres of land) became a glorious, intermingling blend of herbs, veggies and fruits.

Nicole calls herself an “Artisan Agriculturalist.” She makes handcrafted products depending on her mood and what’s in season. She doesn’t waste a thing, either. Rather than let something rot, she will dehydrate, can, emulsify or blend it into something all natural, healthy and unique.

Two Acres 3

Nicole’s Roasted Garlic Marinara is made almost entirely from products grown in her garden. The Big Beef Tomatoes she uses in her sauce have the seeds left in them to add to the nutritional value. The fresh, whole slices of garlic, layered throughout, distinguish her sauce from others. She dries oregano, basil, and parsley in her little farmhouse kitchen during the season. Her sauces are fresh and one-of-a-kind, clearly made with love and artistic expression.

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Spaghetti squash is a variety of winter squash best known for the spaghetti-like strands it’s flesh produces after being cooked. With healthy eating on everyone’s mind, spaghetti squash has become a very popular alternative to traditional pasta dishes. The flesh itself has very little distinguishable taste, allowing it to be a healthy, low-glycemic substitute for pasta. Spaghetti squash is low calorie, low-carb, low-sodium, and full of all the essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. This makes it an excellent option for anyone on any kind of diet. The spaghetti squash Nicole sells at her stand comes directly from Glade Link Farms in Ladiesburg, MD.

I ran a few taste tests before deciding to use Stonyman’s Farmhouse Muenster as the cheese for the spaghetti squash recipe below. To me, it combines best with the garlic and basil, allowing the flavors to come through. The cheese is a semi-hard, rindless cheese, made from raw cow’s milk and aged 6 months. It is ideal for cooking as it’s flavor can stand up to other strong ingredients. It also just happens to be delicious on it’s own, like all of the other amazing cheeses found at the Stonyman Gourmet Farmers tent!

And now it’s time to put everything together. As always, I’ve put where I purchased all of my ingredients in parentheses, and these are subject to change depending on availability. I’ve also included a meat option for anyone that would like to add a little more protein and extra flavor to the meal.

Two Acres 6

Spaghetti Squash Marinara

Ingredients

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (Two Acre Farm)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (All Things Olive)
  • 2 cups Roasted Garlic Marinara (Two Acre Farm)
  • 4 large basil leaves, chopped (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 1 large handful of spinach, chopped (Two Acre Farm
  • ¼ lb Farmhouse Muenster Cheese, grated (Stonyman Gourmet Farmers)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

  • Chicken Basil Sausages* (Meatcrafters)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Using a large knife or a cleaver, slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise down the middle. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and center strings. Drizzle the two halves with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the squash, open side down, on a cookie sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and check to make sure the squash is soft and the “spaghetti” easily comes off with a fork. If it’s too hard to remove, return it to the oven for another 10 minutes.

When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool until you are able to remove the “spaghetti.” Use a fork to loosen it and a pair of tongs to remove it. Make sure to leave the outer shell of the squash intact, as you will need it later in the recipe.**

Turn the oven to broil and place the “spaghetti” in a large pan over the stove. Add 2 cups of the marinara sauce, the spinach, and the basil to the stove. Cook on high heat only until the spinach has started to wilt. Place the marinara mixture back into the squash shell, top with the grated Muenster cheese, and place in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

*For a great meat addition, use Meatcrafters’ Chicken Basil Sausages. Simply cook sausages, cut into pieces, and add to the marinara mixture before replacing it in the squash shells.

** Depending on the size of the squash, you might not need to use all of the “spaghetti.” Use your judgment, keeping in mind that more space will be taken up with the addition of the sauce, spinach, and basil once you return the ingredients to the outer shell. Put any leftover “spaghetti” into an airtight container to experiment with some other spaghetti squash recipes!

New Winter Vendors

The winter hours have started at Bethesda Central! This means the market begins at 10:00am and ends at 1:30pm. It also means that we have some new vendors joining us for the next few months! I was so excited to meet them this past Sunday, but I’m even more excited to introduce them to you!

Sexy Vegie Menu

Jumping off their Baltimore-based food truck and into our market, Sexy Vegie is joining us to serve delicious vegetarian and vegan ready-to-eat cuisine. The owner and founder, Ashwini, delights in bringing healthy food options without meat to her customers. I was overjoyed to sample a few of her culinary treats this past week, including:

Sexy Vegie Holiday

The Holiday; multigrain bread topped with a delicious homemade black bean patty, cranberry relish, grilled Portobello mushrooms, greens, and something called the “Sexy Vegie” sauce. This was a wonderful mixture of sweet and savory that completely satisfied my taste buds.

Sexy Vegie Protein Express

The Protein Express; two corn tortillas stuffed with a black bean patty, avocado salsa, Sexy Vegie sauce, lettuce and tomato. Again, I couldn’t believe how satisfied I was after just a few bites of this delicious, nutritious meal.

Next week, Ashwini will begin selling take-home containers of her delectable lentil soup as well as pre-packaged homemade black bean patties. Stop by next week to try her healthy and tasty dishes!

Woodbourne Creamery

Coming to the market from Mt. Airy, MD, Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard is selling some of the best milk I have ever tasted in my life. It was as if the cows produced a cream-flavored milkshake without all of the sugar. The first thing I noticed was the color of the milk; a rich, creamy off-white. Not only was the quality clear, but the nutritional value provided by such a natural product could not be denied!

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I learned a little about the cows; a breed called Golden Guernsey that produces more milk with more nutrients than any other cow. The milk has high levels of Beta Carotene, vitamins B1 and B12, lower cholesterol and higher naturally occurring Vitamin D. The genuine happiness of the cows on the dairy farm is also evident. Woodbourne uses what is called a Voluntary Milking System, or “VMS,” to milk the cows. Essentially, whenever the cows decide they want to be milked, they simply step into the milking system! I cannot wait to learn more about this operation and visit the dairy farm in the future. Stop by their stand at the market for a taste of their regular or chocolate milk!

Red Bandana menu

Also new at our market is a local business that goes by the name of The Red Bandana. Jamie, the owner, graduated from culinary school and decided to open up a small, fun bakery business that caters to people who desire gluten-free, vegan and other healthy options. This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to try her Chocolate Orange Biscotti. As a pastry chef myself, I can tell you first hand how hard it is to make something tasty from gluten-free ingredients. This biscotti was a perfect balance of sweet and crunchy without being obviously gluten-free. I loved the chocolate orange flavor and I can’t wait to try the other treats this little bakery offers!

Red Bandana Products

Also coming to us from Pike Central Farm Market is DC Dills, a company that sells delicious varieties of pickles such as wasabi, bread and butter, and garlic spears. They are more than happy to give you a taste before you commit to a purchase, and they love to discuss their pickling process with you!

So stop by the market next week and come meet the new members of our family. Lets make them feel welcome and assure they have a great winter season with us!

Also, don’t forget about the winter customer loyalty card. Stop by the info tent to receive your card. Any four times you come to the market throughout the winter season, you’ll get a $5 gift certificate to use at any of our markets. Attend all the winter markets and receive an additional $10 gift certificate – so you’ll get a total of $25 to spend at the markets!

bethesda winter loyalty

We look forward to seeing you soon! Happy New Year and stay warm!