The Culinary Nomad

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If you have visited the Bethesda or Pike Central Farm Markets you have seen it – the bright, big orange truck with the words “The Culinary Nomad” painted on the side. If you haven’t ventured over to the truck yet, make a point to do that, because you are in for a treat. There are people that come to our markets just to get their usual weekend morning breakfasts. Whether your favorite is the Southwest Chicken Sliders (watch out- they’re addictive!), or the legendary “Hot Mess,” there is something for everyone at this gourmet food truck.

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Valerie Logan loved food from a very young age. Her early years consisted of entire days revolving around dinner preparation; her punishment was shucking corn and every weekend her dad made breakfast for the family. She says her grandma specialized in “making the kind of Southern food you needed to prep your body for and nap for after eating.” Valerie’s love for food took her straight from high school to culinary school in Arizona. Valerie stayed with the family of one of her classmates in Arizona, which is where she discovered her love for Southwestern style cooking.

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Valerie, with the help of her now-husband, David, and her parents Debbie and Lewis Hoover formulated an idea that turned into The Culinary Nomad food truck. Valerie knew that she wanted to serve great Southwestern food and she had a brand ready to go. Getting the truck was the next step. Once she acquired her refurbished work van, she and The Culinary Nomad joined Central Farm Markets.

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Valerie specializes in cooking Southwestern breakfast dishes. Every week, market patrons come to delight in her regular menu items, as well as her weekly market specials. She uses as many fresh market ingredients as possible to feature and support other vendors. Debbie takes orders and schmoozes with the patrons, Lewis handles the orders, and Valerie’s father runs the frying station – it’s a family affair! Valerie says being in the truck is like being on a stage. It allows her to feed quality food to her customers while paying homage to the influential people in her life.

I asked Valerie to come up with a recipe for our blog. I wanted it to have that “Culinary Nomad” signature touch, but still work with the seasonal-based recipes that I like to share with my readers. What she came up with was a single-serving omelet with a grapefruit salad that I turned into a frittata recipe. The great thing about this recipe is that you can swap out the kale for any greens (such as spinach or chard), the honey mushrooms for mushrooms of your choice, and the green garlic for leeks or green onions. Be creative and make it yours!

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Culinary Nomad Frittata with Grapefruit Salad

INGREDIENTS

Frittata

  • 8 eggs (Liberty Delight Farms)
  • ½ tsp. truffle salt (All Things Olive)
  • 1/3-cup ricotta (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
  • 2 oz. farmhouse Muenster, grated (Stonyman Gourmet Farmer)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter (Springfield Farm)
  • 4 oz. honey mushrooms, coarsely chopped (The Mushroom Stand)
  • 3 stalks green garlic (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 3 cups chopped kale (Two Acre Farm)
  • Baguette (Upper Crust Breads – Farm Market Bakery)

Grapefruit Salad

  • 4 cups salad mix (Young Harvests)
  • 3 Tbsp. grapefruit oil (All Things Olive)
  • 2 large grapefruits, cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbsp. grapefruit juice (from cutting the grapefruit)
  • Truffle salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Whisk together eggs, truffle salt, ricotta, and grated cheese. Set aside.

Trim off the bottom root and rough tops of green garlic. Chop remaining garlic into thin slices and separate the top part of the garlic from the bottom.

Use butter to heat a large cast iron skillet or oven safe pan to medium heat. Add mushrooms and bottoms of green garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tops of green garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Stir kale into egg mixture and add mixture to pan. Place the pan in the middle rack of your oven. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the eggs have set.

Remove from oven and let rest while you prepare the salad.

Whisk together grapefruit oil, grapefruit Juice, truffle salt, and pepper. Toss over greens to coat. Plate salad with grapefruit wedges. Serve on the side of a slice of the frittata with a piece of toasted baguette.

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Spicy Beef Stew

Beef Stew 1

As we continue through these cold weeks, it’s always great to make something that can really warm you up after a windy day. I adapted a recipe that Debbie Moser, co-owner of Central Farm Markets, gave to me.   I wanted to share something that would be a great use of farm market ingredients, plus use up some of the other things that might be lying around your kitchen. This Spicy Beef Stew is perfect for warming up your family- plus the leftovers are just impeccable for packing up and taking to work with you the next day.

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I used a cut of beef from Liberty Delight Farms that I thought would work well for slow-cooking: a Tri-Tip Roast. It’s not the most tender cut, but after stewing in all of the delicious ingredients, it came out perfectly moist and easy to eat. A Tri-Tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin sub-primal cut. Also known as a “triangle steak,” this cut was actually first made popular in California in the 1950’s. Since then, it has been given many names and been used in preparations that range from simple smoking to Dutch oven braising. Shane and Larry over at the Liberty Delight tent helped me pick this cut because it would work perfectly for my plan, and not cost an arm and a leg!

Though the cheese is a garnish, it really enhances the flavors in the stew. I wanted to choose something that would stand up to all of the bold, spicy flavors and not get lost in the mix. The recipe that Debbie gave me called for something as closely related to Monterey Jack as possible. Alan at Stonyman Gourmet Farmer suggested the Asiago Peppercorn as an option. And boy, what a great choice! This raw cow’s milk cheese, aged 14 months, contains whole peppercorns, sundried tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. The base cheese has the perfect hardness for crumbling and sprinkling atop a stew. The best part was, it wasn’t even lost in the flavor profile! I could tell every single time that I got a bite containing the cheese. As I’ve said, this is an optional ingredient- but definitely something that completes the entire experience!

The garnishes are part of what makes this stew special. Debbie suggested the tortilla strips, and they added a perfect crunch to the meal. I personally cannot call something a meal if it lacks a green vegetable, so I opted to sauté some Brussels sprouts to mix into my stew.  If you aren’t a fan of Brussels sprouts, you can always try kale, spinach, or broccoli instead. But I promise, there’s a reason the Brussels sprouts worked so well with this recipe- I encourage you to try it for yourself. Play around with the accompaniments. I’d love to find out what you’ve chosen to put in your stew!

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Spicy Beef Stew

Ingredients

  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2.5-3 lbs. Tri-Tip Sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes (Liberty Delight Farms)
  • 1 large Yellow Onion, diced (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 4 cups chicken or beef broth
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • ½ cup canned green chillies
  • 2 jalapeños, finely diced
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 3 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (Two Acre Farm)
  • 2 Tbsp. green tabasco sauce
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Accompaniments:

  • 4 oz Asiago Peppercorn Cheese (Stonyman Gourmet Farmer)
  • 5 tortillas, cut into strips
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ cups Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (All Things Olive)
  • 1 small red onion, diced (Bending Bridge Farm)

Directions

Heat oil in a casserole over high heat until it simmers. Season the meat with salt and pepper to taste. Add the beef cubes in small batches and cook, using tongs to turn the pieces, until well browned on all sides. Do not crowd the pan. You will know when a piece of the meat is ready to turn because it will be easy to move from the bottom of the pan. If it is stuck, it’s not ready to turn. Remove the browned pieces to a large bowl.

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Add the onions and garlic with the bay leaf in the same casserole dish. Scrap the bottom of the dish to prevent sticking. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chilies, jalapeños, and browned meat with any juices left in the bowl.

Add the chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Stir to make sure all spices are adequately distributed.

Add the potatoes, Tabasco sauce, and vinegar. Simmer the stew, adjusting seasonings, salt, and pepper to taste.

Simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until potatoes are fully cooked.

Meanwhile, make the accompaniments…

For the tortilla strips:

Heat 1 cup canola oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, place tortilla strips in pan, flipping them around often, until brown and crispy. Take strips out of pan with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

For the Brussels sprouts:

Heat olive oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add the sprouts to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook sprouts to desired doneness.

Place tortilla strips, Brussels sprouts, crumbled Asiago cheese, and diced red onions in bowls. Serve stew in bowls and let people choose what they want to add.

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As always, I’ll be at the market to answer any questions you may have about my recipes!

Stay warm!