Monthly Archives: September 2014

Make Your Salad Bitchin’

I eat a lot of salads. They’re a quick, easy meal and one of the best ways to appreciate the taste of fresh from the farm CSA produce. But as much as I love veggies, for me, it’s the dressing that can make or break the salad. Give me a good, hearty but healthy dressing and I could eat a whole head of lettuce, no problem.

Bitchin' Sauce Inspired Salad Dressing

This past May when I was visiting cousins in San Diego we went to the Little Italy Farmer’s Market. It was pretty incredible, offering a different range of products than what we get here in Philly. We bought fresh dates, green juice blended with coffee, and live sea urchin – so cool. As we were walking through, my cousin told me there was this stand with dips I just had to try. We made our way down to the Bitchin’ Sauce stand and helped ourselves to samples. Delicious. The vegan, gluten-free, almond based sauce tasted like nothing else I’d had before. Rich and savory, definitely umami.

Once back in Philly, I looked up Bitchin’ Sauce so that I could make my own interpretation. I thinned it out to create a creamy salad dressing that made me want to lick the bowl, and I’ve made it many times since. The best part is how healthy the dressing is. Mostly almonds, it’s thick and satisfying without adding any oil or mayonnaise. Now I end up making salads just to satisfy my Bitchin’ Sauce craving.

Bitchin’ Sauce Inspired Salad Dressing

Makes 3/4 cup

Ingredients
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/2 cup almond butter
• juice of one lemon
• 2-3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
• 1 tbsp of soy sauce or gluten free tamari
• 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast
• 1/2 tsp cumin
• 1/2 tsp coriander
• 1/2 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tsp chili powder
• 1/4 tsp cayenne
• salt to taste

Equipment
• Blender

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until dressing is a smooth, even consistency, about 1 minute.
2. Enjoy on a salad, as a vegetable dip, or any other way you chose. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

sauce

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Heritage Farm: Providing More than Produce

Heritage Farm is one of the largest urban farms in Philadelphia. You’ll find their produce at the farmer’s market, in your CSA, and at your favorite restaurants (hey, Russet). All pesticide-free, organically grown vegetables, fruit, and mushrooms. They even run their own compost on-site.

Heritage Farm

This week, I spoke to Adrian Galbraith-Paul, one of two farmers there. What I learned was how impressive Heritage Farm truly is, not just for it’s size and admirable practices, but for its role in the community and helping people rebuild their lives.

The farm is located on the campus of the Methodist Home for Children, a nonprofit that “provides life enriching services to children, adults and families as they face the challenges of limited resources, increased poverty and homelessness, disability, deficits in education and behavioral health services.” These services include housing, child care, education programs and more. The campus is home to many young women who age out of foster care, single mothers, and their children. Not to mention, a beautiful, bountiful three acre urban farm.

The huge variety of produce grown there includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, kale, collards, swiss chard, baby greens, and cucamelons. Thirty percent of this produce is donated directly to the Methodist Home for Children, where residents have the opportunity to learn about nutrition and how to cook the fresh food they receive. Heritage Farm also provides jobs to residents. “For many of them, it is their first job,” said Adrian. In addition to the skills it takes to run a farm, “they learn responsibility.”

Heritage Farm

I’m writing this post because I want to shine a spotlight on a spectacular urban farm and nonprofit working towards an inspiring mission. Next Thursday, October 2nd is the second annual Heritage Farm Fare, a celebration of the fall harvest and an opportunity to raise the funds needed to operate the farm. The event will feature local restaurants and vendors including Russet, Bar Ferdinand, Di Bruno Brothers, and Weckerly’s, serving tasty plates with the beautiful setting of Belmont Mansion and a view of the city skyline.

My CSA and partner Philly Foodworks is one of the sponsors, and will be running a charitable farm stand at the event where all proceeds are donated to Heritage Farm.

Join us for what is bound to be a memorable evening, and be a part of making good things happen in the Philadelphia community.

Photos courtesy of Adrian’s Instagram.

Spiced Swiss Chard Kimchi

Swiss Chard Kimchi

I had my first taste of kimchi in the summer of 2012 at food festival in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. It was Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi,  a brand made locally in New York City from a traditional Korean recipe. Ever since, I haven’t been able to live without it.

Kimchi is spicy sour fermented cabbage, and the national dish of Korea. Like other fermented foods, kimchi is full of probiotics that encourage digestive health among other benefits. Over the past few years, I have made a fair share of my beloved Korean kimchi at home. It wasn’t until recently that I thought, why not apply the same fermentation method to other leafy greens? Some experimentation led me to this swiss chard version, which is pleasantly simple and incredibly tasty.

For those who haven’t fermented vegetables before, this is a great recipe to start with. It is super easy to make and produces a mildly tangy yet flavorful result. But I must warn you, fermentation is highly delicious and highly addictive.

Swiss Chard Kimchi

Spiced Swiss Chard Kimchi

Makes 2 quart size jars

Ingredients
For Brine:
• 2 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt
• 4 cups filtered water
For Kimchi:
• 1 bunch of swiss chard, roughly chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 carrot, shredded
• 1 hot pepper, diced (I used a cubanelle)
• 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp cumin
• 1 tbsp paprika
• 1/2 tbsp cayenne
• 2 tbsp fresh parsley (or carrot tops if you have them)

Equipment
• 2 very clean quart sized mason jars
• 2 sandwich sized plastic bags

1. Make the brine by combining salt and water, stirring until salt is completely dissolved.
2. Combine all kimchi ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
3. Divide the kimchi mixture in the two jars. Pack down tightly using the back of a spoon.
4. Pour brine over vegetables until they are completely submerged. If there is leftover brine, it can be kept in a jar in the fridge and reserved for another use.
5. To ensure the vegetables remain submerged, create a weight using a plastic bag. Open the plastic bag and push the bottom into the jar, then fold the top of the bag down over the outside of the jar. Fill the bag with some water or additional brine, then screw on the cap of the jar.

Swiss Chard Kimchi
Plastic bag jar weight for submerging vegetables.

6. Leave the jar of kimchi to ferment at room temperature for 3 days, in an area that does not get sunlight. Once done fermenting, remove the plastic bag weight, put the cap back on, and store in the fridge. Enjoy your kimchi at any time starting now and for up to 3 weeks!

Eggplant & Pattypan Baba Ghanoush

Eggplant and Pattypan Squash

A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon something truly amazing.

I had just made hummus using Michael Solomonov’s technique for the first time. His most important tip? It’s about the tahini, not the chickpeas. So the following day, I picked up Soom tahini, Solomonov’s brand of choice that is made right here in Philly. Naturally, I had to try some with a spoon when I got home. Holy crap. Soom is so good, my definition of tahini has forever changed. Luckily, Philly Foodworks carries Soom, so I can get it delivered in my CSA every week (but I’m trying not to go through it that fast).

Soom Tahini

Next, I had to figure out what to make with it, immediately. I had also brought home some eggplant and pattypan squash, so I opted to try a non-traditional baba ghanoush. It was a very good decision. Using half eggplant and half summer squash makes for a light, airy, super smooth baba ghanoush. If you don’t have pattypan on hand, try the recipe with zucchini or yellow squash.

Eggplant & Pattypan Baba Ghanoush

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients
• 2 small eggplants (about 2 pounds)
• 1 patty pan squash (about 1 pound)
• olive oil for roasting
• 2 cloves of garlic
• juice of 1 lemon
• 1/3 cup of tahini (Soom preferably)
• salt and pepper to taste
• cayenne to taste

Equipment
• blender

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the pattypan squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub with oil, and place face down on an oiled pan. Roast for 45 minutes.
2. While the squash is roasting, prepare the eggplant. Keeping eggplants whole, rub the the skin with oil and place on another oiled pan. Once there are 25 minutes remaining for the squash, put the eggplant in the oven as well.
3. Remove both the squash and eggplant from oven once the flesh is very soft and the skin has begun to char. Let cool.
4. Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and put into the blender. Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Blend until smooth, adding water if necessary to thin out to desired consistency.
5. Transfer the baba ghanoush into a serving bowl and drizzle with additional tahini and olive oil.
6. Serve with pita, and ideally, some Israeli salad.

An Exciting Announcement

I’m a big fan of Philly Foodworks. You may have noticed, as I mention my CSA or its delicious contents in almost every post on here. So you can imagine my delight when a conversation with them went from “we’re out of doughnut peaches” to “would you like to work with us?”

I most definitely would. So it’s happening!

Philly Foodworks

As a part of a partnership with Philly Foodworks, I will be writing recipes each week featuring ingredients from my CSA share. This falls right in line with the content I am already posting, and will guarantee you all get a new recipe each week featuring the best local and seasonal products. There are several reasons I’m so excited about this partnership. For one, Philly Foodworks provides many of my favorite local products, including everything from peaches and sweet corn to Food & Ferments sauerkraut and gluten-free bagels. But even more impressive is the organization’s mission to “unite producers and consumers in order to increase access to good food for all Philadelphia residents while supporting the business of producers that care about their craft and the communities they work.” And they’re killing it, by doing things differently than any other CSA before them.

Their cover story in this month’s Grid Magazine explains, “The consumer still pays in advance, so it remains economically beneficial to the farmer, but they can choose what they want, when they want it, making it less rigid. Philly Foodworks currently offers food from more than 30 producers within a 150-miles radius of the Philadelphia area. But it isn’t all about consumer choice. Ultimately their goal is to strengthen the bond between the rural grower and the urban buyer. Philly Foodworks is also trying to create a marketplace for the fledgling specialty food producer. “

Philly Foodworks is going beyond the scope of a conventional CSA to make a serious impact on the community of Philadelphia. I’m proud to be working with their team. Not to mention, happy to reap the benefits of being a member and cooking up tasty recipes to share with you!