Poached Egg Pea Shoot Salad

Left to right: Christine Illich from Heirloom kitchen, me, PR, Shane Hughes from Liberty Delight Farms, Aaron Kushner from MeatCrafters and Lizz.

Left to right: Christine Illich from Heirloom kitchen, me, PR, Shane Hughes from Liberty Delight Farms, Aaron Kushner from MeatCrafters and Lizz.

I encourage guest bloggers and recipe creators to join our blog from time to time. In fact, one of my favorite things to do with this blog is collaborate on recipes. Most of the time, it’s a simple conversation with a couple of vendors – I ask them what’s new and in season and we discuss great ways to use their products. This particular recipe I got from someone different at our market – our Market Concierge, Piyush Rangra (known to his friends as “PR”).

PR and I attended the same Hospitality Management program at the Universities at Shady Grove. He is one of my biggest helpers when it comes to figuring out what do to for a recipe each week (and one of the biggest reasons that everything runs so smoothly at the markets). Not only does he know the market and vendors extremely well (he works at the Info Tent at both Pike and Bethesda Central Markets), but he also happens to be a fabulous chef.

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Last year, he began the arduous process of starting his own personal chef company, Chef 4 Tonite. Over the past months, I’ve watched him prepare every aspect of his business, experiment with seasonal recipes, and eventually launch his great new company. I share with you one of his recipes in an effort to introduce his company and perhaps shed some light on the quality of food that he offers.

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The recipe is a Poached Egg Pea Shoot Salad. The recipe is so simple, with just 5 ingredients, yet so complex in it’s flavors. I chose this one because I love to use greens from Young Harvests, especially in such a pure form as this. Rob’s pea shoots are always at the top of my grocery list when they are available. Earlier this year, I shared a recipe for Pea Shoot Soup that got a lot of great feedback. It really is true that using simple, farm fresh ingredients create the most delicious dishes.

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One more thing I’d like to point out – PR’s original recipe calls for bacon. Since I don’t eat pork, I was more than happy to substitute lamb bacon in the recipe. If you have yet to try this amazing product, I highly recommend stopping by the Bethesda Central Farm Market and grabbing a package. Chaim Silverberg and his brother Hillel are almost always at the market, ready with samples and songs that will leave you wondering how you ever went without it. Trust me, even the biggest supporters of “regular” bacon have enthusiastically endorsed this delicious, smoky product. You can obviously substitute the lamb bacon in this recipe for whatever your palette prefers.

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Poached Egg Pea Shoot Salad

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Eggs (Liberty Delight Farms)
  • 4 Cups Pea Shoots (Young Harvests)
  • 10oz Bacon (Lamb Baaacon or Springfield Farm)
  • 1⁄2 Container of Mozzarella (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
  • 5 Tbsp. Spring Onion Vinaigrette, divided (Two Acre Farm)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Set a pot of water to boil. Wash and dry the pea shoots. Roughly chop the bacon. Small dice the mozzarella.

In a medium cold pan, cook the bacon. Soon, it will begin to release some of it’s fat. Cook the bacon in the fat, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and in a small bowl. Toss the bacon with 2 Tbsp. of the vinaigrette.

While the water is boiling, prepare the eggs. Put a piece of plastic wrap over a bowl and spray it with cooking spray. Crack the egg over the surface of the plastic wrap. Salt and pepper the egg. Gather the plastic wrap and tie the excess in a knot. Place egg, in plastic wrap, in the boiling water for about 5 minutes, or until firm. Remove the egg from the boiling water, still in the plastic wrap) and put it immediately into a cold water bath to set. Repeat with remaining egg(s).

In a large bowl, combine the pea shoots, bacon, mozzarella, and remaining 3 Tbsp of vinaigrette. Toss to coat all ingredients. Plate the salad with the poached egg on top. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

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Chive Crusted Chicken Thighs & Sunflower Sprout Salad

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Spring is by far my favorite season of the year. Everyone starts to get excited about the warmer weather, flowers begin to bloom like crazy, and the farm stands at Central Farm Markets become packed with fun, new produce for me to play with!

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The Montgomery County Food Council has a contest running called the Eat Local Challenge. Contestants are given a virtual basket of seasonal ingredients that can be found locally and are challenged to create an original recipe using these ingredients. I’ve decided to put my recipe-creating skills to the test and create my own. The ingredients I’ve used from their virtual basket are: chicken thighs, Dress It Up Dressing, eggs, chives and radishes. Other ingredients in the basket are lamb and beets. One prize for this contest is having the winning recipe shown as a demo at Bethesda Central Farm Market!

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I decided to test my breading and frying skills and added some fresh chives to the breadcrumbs. A salad on the side gave me the perfect opportunity to showcase two other fabulous items that have popped up this Spring – sunflower sprouts and tomatoes!

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Unlike the common red globe radish, the watermelon radish has a muted green to white exterior and a fleshy, bright-pink interior. It is also much larger than a typical radish, weighing up to one pound. The flavor is less peppery and much sweeter than other radishes. Radishes are a wonderful source of vitamins A and C, and due to their water content, are great for maintaining hydration.

I used chicken thighs from Springfield Farm, one of our farms that practices sustainable agricultural methods and where the animals are given no hormones, chemicals or antibiotics. There are currently three generations of the same family working on the farm! They raise chicken, turkeys, pigs, and cows on almost 70 acres in Baltimore County. The family still lives on the property in a house that was built by their ancestors almost 300 years ago. Springfield Farm will be at all three of our markets this season!

And now it’s time to get to the recipe! As always, I’ve specified where I purchased each ingredient from the market in parentheses.

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Chive-Crusted Chicken Thighs with Sunflower Sprout Salad

This recipe makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Chicken Thighs (Springfield Farm)
  • 4 Tbsp. Dress it Up Dressing Champagne Vinaigrette
  • 2 Eggs (Liberty Delight Farms)
  • 1 Bunch Chives, finely chopped to equal ½ cup (Two Acre Farm)
  • 1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Medium Watermelon Radish (Bending Bridge Farm)
  • 8 Green Tiger Tomatoes (Toigo Orchards)
  • 4 Cups Sunflower Sprouts (Young Harvests)
  • 2 Tbsp Dress it Up Dressing’s Champagne Vinaigrette

DIRECTIONS

Marinate the chicken thighs overnight or at least 3 hours in the dressing.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Whisk the eggs and place in a shallow dish. Combine the chives and the bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste, and place in a shallow dish.

Pat chicken thighs dry, wiping off excess dressing. Dip one chicken thigh into the eggs, coating it completely on all sides. Dip the thigh in the chive mixture, making sure to coat all sides. Repeat with remaining chicken thigh.

Heat about ¼ inch of canola oil in a medium sized pan. When the chicken thighs are breaded and the oil is hot, place the chicken in the pan for about 1 minute per side. Place seared thighs on an oven sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Slice the watermelon radish into rounds. Cut the rounds into 8 slices. Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Place sunflower sprouts, radish slices, and tomatoes in a bowl. Add the dressing. Toss to combine.

Let chicken thighs cool to room temperature. Slice and place on salad. Enjoy!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.