Farmers’ Market


canning logoTim Carman at the Washington City Paper tipped us off to Kim O’Donnel’s “Canning Across America” effort with a write-up over at Young & Hungry yesterday evening, and it put us in a thoughtful mood.  Though we don’t have the equipment to do full-on long-term storage canning, we try our best to prolong the flavors of summer here at Capital Spice.

We can’t get enough of our homemade half sour pickles (and apparently neither can you!).   We’ve even tried our hands at quick-pickling a variety of other vegetables to make our our giardiniera-style snacks.  And we’re very popular around the holidays when handing out jars of bourbon-soaked cherries and peaches.  While we may not be raising our tongs in solidarity with canners across the country this weekend, we definitely support the cause.

As much as we might enjoy making smoky, tangy gazpacho (using both heirloom AND hybrid tomatoes from the farmers’ market…Jane Black would be proud), it can get a bit pricey to go around throwing 5 or 6 pounds of tomatoes into the food processor each week when you’re shelling out $3, $4, even $5 per pound.  Thankfully, there’s a way to make your share of season-stretching recipes without breaking the bank – even if you don’t have your own backyard garden or orchard to pick on.  They’re known as “seconds,” but they’re the first thing I go for at the market.

The joy of “secs” after the jump. (more…)

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RedApronWashington area farmers’ markets have always offered a wealth of options when you’re looking to pick up fresh produce, local cheeses and even humanely-raised meats.  We’ve even had some vendors take the fruits of others’ labor and turn them into delicious baked goods, soups and gelati.  Anyone who tells you they don’t visit farmers markets because they don’t have time to cook or they want more than just vegetables just isn’t looking hard enough.

Two new vendors who have arrived on the scene this year epitomize the value-added mentality that defines the producer side of “grower/producer only” markets.  Red Apron Butchery, an undertaking by Chef Nathan Anda of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, has emerged as a go-to source for all things cured when it comes to pork and beef.  And Chef Stefano Frigerio’s Copper Pot Food Company is blowing people away with handmade pastas and jams using fresh, local ingredients to create huge flavors.  Here at Capital Spice, we’ve been buying up a variety of products from both of these new ventures over the past few weeks, tasting as we go. 

BresaolaThe verdict in a nutshell?  Wow.  In each case, we’ve found ourselves smiling and shaking our heads as we devour entire packages of bresaola or duck-confit ravioli in one sitting.  If you’ve already tried some of Red Apron’s charcuterie or Copper Pot’s filled pastas, you know exactly what we’re talking about.

If you haven’t tried them yet, read on for descriptions, photos and where to track them down after the jump. (more…)

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NoraWhen I set out to duplicate twelve chefs’ recipes over the course of this year, I knew that there were some chefs whose recipes could be attempted year-round and others whose work would fare best in certain seasons (summer and fall, I’m looking at you).  My birthday dinner at Restaurant Nora last year convinced me that Nora Pouillon, the patron saint of the DC organic dining movement, falls squarely into the second category.

And when I flipped through a copy of Cooking with Nora, her groundbreaking cookbook from 1996, I knew I owed it to Chef Pouillon’s recipes to wait until summer to try my hand at her dishes.  Cooking with Nora is not your average recipe collection; rather than grouping dishes by unifying themes (‘desserts,’ for example, or ‘fish’), the chef has opted to provide her readers with recipes arranged into multi-course meals by the season.  She’s practically giving you the blueprint for your very own organic dinner party, with everything from appetizer to entree and accompaniment through to the dessert spelled out.

She also presents her recipes in a narrative fashion, a style I first encountered in Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food.  I find this to be a very natural and useful way of having the author walk me through a dish from beginning to end, and it certainly helps me prepare my mise en place before I get too far ahead of myself.  When you’re trying to execute two or three recipes simultaneously, that kind of preparation in advance can be a lifesaver.

Roasted Red Peppers and Japanese EggplantFor my fifth attempt at recreating a chef’s dishes, I decided to take three recipes from one of Pouillon’s summer menus.  I started with a Jewell Yam Vichysoisse and then followed it up with Grilled Lemon-Marinated Chicken Breasts served alongside Japanese Eggplant and Roasted Red Peppers. 

Walking the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market, I was pleased – if not especially surprised – to see that all of the main ingredients to Chef Pouillon’s recipes were readily available (seasonality aside, Nora Pouillon is a member of FreshFarm Markets’ board).  It looked like I was well on my way to a fresh, local and seasonal jackpot.

Cold soup, grilled grass-kickin’ chicken and fresh veggies after the jump. (more…)

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Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer was the first cookbook I purchased when I decided I was ready to take on more challenging recipes. I was in love with her television show, Nigella, which first showed up on the Style Network. It was the first cooking show I saw that took television cooking away from the live action studio audience and into a beautifully shot, sensually described world. Although the book has fallen out of heavy rotation in favor of seasonal cookbooks (and Mike’s man-crush on Colicchio), it’s still a handy one to kick around. Plus the amazing mint julep peaches alone are worth the purchase price. Seriously. Those are a no-fail summer dessert.

For the June Cookbook Challenge, I grabbed Forever Summer and fell upon the chocolate raspberry pavolova recipe. Perfect! I’d saved the egg whites from the ginger chili creme brulee recipe (which called for 8 egg yolks) which formed the chocolate meringue base of the pavlova. Rather than buy raspberries, I took the opportunity to use up some of our gorgeous, ruby red strawberries from the market. Waste not, want not.

IMG_8189This is a triple threat of a dessert: The chocolate pavolva is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, a layered chocolatey bomb that only gets better if you use high quality chocolate. Fresh whipped cream is dolloped on top and sprinkled with fresh berries and grated chocolate. Taken together, a bit of the dessert delivers bittersweet, creamy, and tart flavors all at once. It is a lick-your-fingers and clean-your-plate kind of dessert. It also serves about 6, so I recommend making this for a party. Otherwise you’ll find yourself polishing off the entire pavlova on your own. Which might not be the worst thing in the world.

One tip though: the directions indicate that the meringue base should cool in the oven after its cooking time is complete. Be sure to follow this. If taken out of the oven immediately after baking, the meringue will fall into a chocolate pancake. Still delicious, sure, but not as big and fluffy as its meant to be.  

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova, from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer Cornbread 083

For the chocolate meringue base:

6 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 Tb unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 Ts balsalmic or red wine vinegar
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping
2 ¼ cups heavy cream
1 very full pint of raspberries (or strawberries)
2-3 Tb coarsely grated, bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat egg whites until peaks form. Beat in sugar a spoonful at a time until peaks are stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar and then the chopped chocolate. Gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound onto a baking sheet in a fat circle, approximately 9 inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and the top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 F. Cook for about 60 to 75 minutes. When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges and be dry on top but still have some give to it in the middle. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, let the meringue disk cool completely.

When you’re ready to serve, invert into a big, flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the cream until thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate so that you get curls and sprinkle over the top.

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FarfalleOne of the best things about our cookbook challenge has been the opportunity it provides for us to visit with some of the oldies-but-goodies in our collection.  You know how it goes – with each new option, the old standbys fade further and further into the background.  It’s not because of anything they did or didn’t do; sometimes that’s just the way it is.

For us, Giuliano Hazan’s “The Classic Pasta Cookbook” is one of those faithful friends.  Some of our first cooking experiences together while we were dating were taken from this book, which belonged to a friend: a basic pomodoro, a spicy all’arrabbiata, a rich carbonara.  It had served us so well that I gave a copy to Elizabeth for Christmas one year, and I even reached out to the author to ask him to sign it.  But changing cooking habits (we rarely make pasta anymore) and an influx of new cookbooks with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients have relegated Hazan to the bookshelf. 

Filet Post CuringWhen we started the challenge, this was one of the books that we were most looking forward to revisiting.  It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that we would hold onto it, but what dish would we make to test it (and ourselves)?  Elizabeth was flipping through the book when she lit upon farfalle al salmone affumicato.  The handy translation informed us it was “Bow Tie Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Roasted Bell Peppers,” and we knew we had a winner.

Besides…it gave us another opportunity to fire up the Big Green Egg!

Once we had the salmon smoked it was just a matter of making the recipe – details after the jump. (more…)

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East Hall ClosedTwo years and $22 million later, the historic South Hall at Eastern Market is just about ready to reopen.  In fact, the temporary East Hall, where long-time vendors like Bowers’ Fancy Dairy Products, Canales Meats and Market Lunch have been operating since August of 2007, closed its doors at 4 PM on Sunday and the tenants have begun the process of transferring their equipment, their supplies and their inventories out.

Laid Stone on 7thLast month, the Mayor’s office announced that the Market would officially reopen on Friday, June 26th with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 AM.  The next day, June 27th, will be an “all day celebration with music, face painting, food, entertainment and the newly remodeled historic market!”  With those dates quickly approaching, we decided to poke our heads into the South Hall to see how things are progressing.

Whose CoolersAs we headed down 7th Street from North Carolina Avenue, we were more than a little impressed with the renovated streetscape outside the Market.  Cobblestones in alternating colors give the block a feel that’s much more like a plaza or a pedestrian zone than a car-friendly thoroughfare.  It should come as no surprise that the city is pushing to keep 7th Street closed to vehicles on weekends (a program that has been in place since the Market reopened post-fire, and one that has plenty of adherents and critics).

From the outside, little has changed about Eastern Market.  The brick structure was largely unscathed by the fire, so the crews were able to address some minor cosmetic repairs without having to recreate the historic facade from scratch.  Inside, though, quite a few things have been updated and replaced.  The result is a modernized structure that retains its authentic character.

More photos of the work in its final stages after the jump. (more…)

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Don’t forget to tune in to the Food Network this Sunday night to root for Teddy Folkman on The Next Food Network Star!
 
Terrance Henry of The Atlantic makes the case for why DC should be considered a food destination city. 
 
Cheese + Champagne reviews La Fromagerie in Old Town.

Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whisky is sponsoring a Father’s Day Getaway sweepstakes.  

Strawberry dumplings from The Bitten Word. 
 
Cadbury is bringing penny candy to India in the hopes of capturing more market share with an inexpensive treat.

Does the Takoma Park farmer’s market have the most popular farm eggs in DC? 
 
A guide to eating well in Greece.
  
Pepsi and Carl’s Jr get shout outs in this list of sexiest tv commercials. What, no Jared?  
 
Mountain Dew launches new flavors themed around online role playing game (RPG) World of Warcraft-themed. Mom’s Basement flavor predicted to be a top seller. 
 
An interesting history of international diplomats and the American hot dog. 
 
Everybody loves fried pie.  (PS. Did anyone else see the advertisement for a doctor when they clicked on this? Good times.)
 
Ever wonder what people drank in the 1600s? Find out here.

What are the best summer cheeses?  

Culinary travel in Charleston, SC. 
 
Picnic alert! Screen on the Green is back on track.  
 
City Renewed has the scoop on Green Happy Hours in DC.  (Thanks to DC Blogs for the heads up). 
 
So what is the difference between a mixologist and a bartender?

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BBQ season is definitely here. 18th and Swine prepares for the summer’s competitions.  
 
With hand-crafted boutiquey cocktails being all the rage in DC, we’re seeing a growth in the thought put into ice cubes. I even had an embarrassingly nerdy discussion with Derek Brown at Sova about the kind of ice they use and how difficult it is to make the perfect cube at home. The Violet Hour in Chicago takes it a step further – offering 8 types of ice so there is always one that best suits your drink.  

A new book reviews the life of pauper turned “vodka king” Pyotr Smirnov.  
 
Which food and beverage brands are perceived as having the best value? According to a recent Brand Index story, Subway sandwich chains offer consumers the best value for their money. The lowest performers? Red Bull, Starbucks and Perrier. 
 
Tim Carman, writer of Young and Hungry and DC’s resident Gossip Girl, like totally got tipped off to a spotting of Gordon Ramsey hanging out in Georgetown. Rumors are already swirling that he is looking to take over the Citronelle space, though it seems like odd timing as his company is going through some financial challenges. 
 
Everything’s political. The National Restaurant Association wrote President Obama an open letter thanking him for dining out.

Modern Domestic issues a public service announcement on carrots.  
 
Frito-Lay is launching an interesting new campaign in an effort to hitch themselves to the locavore bandwagon.  The company is promoting the 80 farms in 27 state where they source their potatoes. You can find out which farm your chips came from by going to the Lays website and entering your product code and zip code.  
 
The Office’s Rainn Wilson is unimpressed with a restaurant’s decorative choices.  

Planning a big Sunday dinner? Consider a finale with this chevre cheesecake with a  ginger snap crust from Arugula Files. 
 
Cocaine cheese bust at Dulles Airport.  
 
Screen on the Green, one of DC’s best picnic-worthy events, may be cancelled this year due to lost sponsorship

Foodie Tots checks out the new farmers market in Crystal City.  
 
Is the fridge in your office gross? Probably not as bad as this one: 28 people had to go to the hospital when the fumes of rotten food and cleaning chemicals made them vomit. The kicker? The person cleaning the fridge was just fine – she had allergies and couldn’t smell anything.   
 
Chefs share their scar stories
 
Business Week has a slide show of the oldest restaurants in America including DC’s Old Ebbitt Grill and The Occidental.  
 
Restaurant trends are having an impact on the snack market, influencing what consumers want available to them as an at-home snack option.  
 
Are urban chicken coops the next gardening trend in DC?  
 
Here is some food news I’m loathe to report: Inside Edition’s “rat patrol” temporarily shut down two Five Guys locations in the District. An update from the owner calms the situation somewhat.

Ben & Jerry’s launches a new ice cream flavor (chocolate macadamia nut!) and a contest to create the next Ben & Jerry’s flavor.  
 
Elevation Burger expands to Manhattan.   
 
It’s hard to believe but pasta primavera was once so new and so different that it was the talk of the Manhattan dining crowd.

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Pork producers lobby to relabel Swine Flu. The H1N1 virus does sound scarier. I also like it’s-just-the-flu-people-why-is-everyone-freaking-out-lets-get-a-grip-already virus (IJTFPWIEFOLGAGA virus, for short).  Rest assured, the swine flu does not impact the safety of consuming pork

Not convinced? Check out this recipe for seafood sausage with red pepper mayonnaise.

DealingInSubterfuge gives us an ode to bacon jelly beans.

Alex of Brightest Young Things was on hand at Rock N Roll Hotel’s chicken wing eating and judging contest
 
Prepare for summer with a kaffir lime cordial by the Traveler’s Lunchbox. 
 
Ladies and gentlemen: DC’s most exclusive dinner. Take that, Minibar.
 
IHOP may be coming to Columbia Heights.  
 
Eater.com suggests Zaytinya chef Mike Isabella will be on the next season of Top Chef.  
 
Get a taste of authentic foods at the Embassy open houses this weekend. 

Getting on Subway’s $5 bandwagon, TGI Fridays will offer full sized meals for $5 in May.  The chain hasn’t had prices this low on the menu since it opened in 1965. 
 
Modern Domestic wonders what Julia Child would tweet?  WWJCT?
 
Looking for a twist on the original mint julep? Take your drink further South with the Creole Julep, made with Cruzan Single Barrel Estate Rum, Captain Morgan 100, Clement Creole Shrubb, peach bitters and fresh mint.   
 
Prosecco is rising in popularity, despite Paris Hilton’s best efforts
 
Thinking ahead to brunch with mom for Mother’s Day? Washingtonian has a cheat sheet
 
Ed Hardy, the tattoo-themed clothing brand, has launched a line of wine.

Want to take advantage of the farmers market bounty? Foodie Tots shares a great looking recipe for ramp crepes while Pithy and Cleaver share a recipe for asparagus soup
 
If you’re feeling especially ambitious this weekend, Desert Candy has the scoop on homemade hamburger buns  
 
Chef Jose Andres cooks up a  simple, cheap meal of chickpea and spinach stew in DC Central Kitchen.   
 
Travel and Leisure’s 50 Best New Restaurants including DC’s Founding Famers.  Jose Andres’ Bazaar in LA gets a shout out, too.    
 
What would Ruth Reichl eat?

High end concept restaurants in Manhattan are forging ahead, economy be damned
 
Heading to LA soon? Here are some notable restaurants
 
Ogle a scanned sandwich and get make-at-home sandwich tips from Tom Colicchio here.  
 
A new study hypothesizes that a menu featuring healthy options like salads often encourages diners to ultimately order the least healthy item on the menu. 

 

*Hat tip to Gawker for the Aporkalypse nickname.

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One of Inked's Many Great Market Shots at frozentropics.blogspot.com

One of Inked's many great market shots from http://frozentropics.blogspot.com

The weather is getting warmer, local ramps and asparagus have started to show up at markets (if you get there early enough to snag them), and we’ve already had a few days hot enough to make think about turning on the air conditioning.  For those of us who live in the H Street neighborhood, that means it’s farmers’ market time again!

Sure, you can find farm-fresh produce all year ’round at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market…but if you’ve been there on a snowy January (or even March) morning you know that H Street isn’t missing much by waiting until the first weekend in May to open up.  Don’t get me wrong – apples, kale and root vegetables are especially delicious when they’re local – but the ‘wow’ factor that comes from colorful fruits and vegetables just isn’t there.

Tomorrow morning at 9 AM, the opening bell will signal the start of the H Street FreshFarm Market’s fifth season.  That’s right – the market has been doing H Street since 2004 – way before H Street was cool.  Located in a parking lot on H between 6th and 7th Streets, NE, this producers-only market is open until noon every Saturday morning from now until November 21st.

Some coming attractions for this season – including the two new vendors who will be participating this year – after the jump. (more…)

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