Peach and Pecan Salad

July 27, 2010 § 2 Comments

As a rule, I am starving by the time I get home from the Dupont Farmer’s Market on Sundays. This past one was certainly no different, except that I was feeling slightly virtuous, and maybe a little nostalgic for my Sweetgreen free salad days.

My seemingly superfluous purchase of the Toigo peaches came into action when I remembered Sweetgreen’s recent blog post about their seasonal salad featuring peaches.  I had the romaine from New Morning Farm, found a bit of cheese and some leftover london broil from a weeknight dinner, and suddenly lunch was formed.

This uses 3 of my market purchases (romaine, basil, a peach), some pantry staples, and leftovers. Throwing out leftovers gets crazy expensive.  Find ways to reintegrate them into your meals so its not boring. Steak or chicken on salads or in pasta is an easy way to use it up.

I realize many of you will think a recipe for a salad is a total cop out, but before I worked at Sweetgreen I was a hopeless salad disaster.  I could cook and bake, sure, but when it came to constructing a simple salad, everything ended in tears and me cursing the poor decimated greens. So for all you salad disasters like me out there, this recipe is for you.

Peach and Pecan Summer Salad

1 small head romaine lettuce

1 firm yellow peach (Toigo Orchards)

3-4 oz London broil (or any kind of protein really, if using at all)

1 small handful pecans (not local, but have a huge bag in my freezer from last year. can’t let them go to waste.)

1 small knob goat cheese

4 big leaves of basil (I used the free purple basil I got from Tree and Leaf)

4-6 leaves mint (I picked this from the growing-like-a-weed mint patch at my church. super frugal.)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp white balsamic vinegar

Salt and Pepper

In a big salad bowl, whisk together the olive oil and white balsamic.  Chop the romaine, wash well and dry in a salad spinner. Add the romaine on top of the dressing in the bowl (layering it this way will keep the salad from getting soggy).  Put the pecans into a dry skillet and toast for 3 minutes, being careful not to let them burn. Roughly chop the pecans, let cool a bit, and add to salad.  Slice the peach into wedges and add to salad. Chop basil and mint together into small pieces and add to salad. If using, cut steak into bite size pieces and add to salad. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper.  Toss all together gently when ready to eat. (If you are making this in advance, keep untossed until ready to eat.)

Enjoy with a glass of cold rosé wine- like perhaps Saint Roch Les Vignes from Côtes de Provence.  Its available at my favorite wine store in DC, A.M. Wine Shoppe on 18th St and Wyoming in Adams Morgan.


Market Budget Breakdown

July 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

As a newly unemployed person who has been living in denial of a lack of income, I thought it might be about time for me to start seriously considering this thing known as a “budget”.  I never thought about it too much before because I was always pretty good about living within my means.  But now that I am living strictly off of savings until I figure out my next career move, I have to be much more careful or I’ll be out on my ass with nothing more than a fabulous collection of restaurant menus.

But while I need to watch my money (like everyone), I am not willing to compromise and start eating cheap food.  It would certainly be easier to throw in the towel and start eating off the dollar menu, but not only would I start to hate myself immediately but I also know that it is totally possible to eat local, sustainable food and still stay on budget.  You just have to put a little more thought into food shopping and meal planning.

I’ve been told by several people lately that this seems to be their stumbling block, so I’m going to take a stab at putting my weekly budget and meal plan on paper (er, screen).  I can’t say this is the most cost effective week I’ve ever had, but hopefully it will help both me and you to write it down and see what works and what doesn’t.

I forgot to order from my CSA this week, so I bought everything at the Dupont Farmer’s Market yesterday. Here’s my haul:

$10- Pork belly, EcoFriendly Foods. This is arguably the best pork belly in America. David Chang uses this belly in his famous pork buns at Momofuku in NYC.  $10 is a STEAL. It was in a broken bag, so they gave us a deal at $20 for the whole belly, which was like 10 lbs. It was so big I split it in half with my friends Hae Min and James, who apparently are cooking some Korean bbq with it (I’m trying to talk them into a guest post with recipes).  I plan on making pancetta with some, and cutting the rest into pieces to freeze and use in the coming months. This is a great way to save money.  Buy in bulk when the price is right; your freezer is your best friend.

$15- Tree and Leaf Farm. 4 heirloom tomatoes, 3 small zucchinis, 2 red onions, basket of heirloom lettuces, 1 bunch each green and purple basil.  Zac Lester is one of my favorite farmers in this area. He is the real deal.  He is passionate about growing the best possible vegetables and doing it in a way that is healthy for the earth and his customers.  They were giving away free basil with the purchase of tomatoes, and with other stands selling basil for $2.50 a bunch, this was a great deal.

$3.35- 3 Yellow Peaches, Toigo Orchards. This was a completely unnecessary purchase since I am still full of ripe plums, but they looked so good I just couldn’t help myself.

$9- New Morning Farm (Certified Organic). 1 bulb garlic, 1 cucumber, 1 Purple Cherokee tomato, 2 ears sweet corn, 1 bunch parsley, 2 heads romaine lettuce. I was there at the end of market and they were having a special on romaine- $1 for 2 heads! Shopping at the end of market is a great tip, often farmers will lower prices on delicate things they know won’t hold for resale (like lettuce).  I’ve seen New Morning do this many weeks.

$3.50- 1 quart Creamline Milk, Clear Spring Creamery. The best milk I’ve ever had. Hands down.

TOTAL: $40.85. Not bad, since my weekly market budget is $40.  I still have some food in my fridge that I didn’t finish from last week too, like eggs, yogurt, bread, beets, short ribs, and some meat in my freezer. I probably didn’t need to even buy that much, but I’ve never been good at restraint. It’s a learning process.

I’ll start posting daily meals made, but this seems like a good start.  I probably could have spent less if I had bought through my CSA, but I completely forgot to put in my order. We’ll see how the week goes. I’ll try to not do random daily shopping, that adds up so quickly!

Summer Stone Fruit Glory

July 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

So you may (or may not??) have noticed I’ve been absent for a bit.  I have been eating my way across America for the past month or so and sadly my only excuse for not updating is that, well, I just…. didn’t.  Clever girl. I’ll be adding some travel updates a bit later on with my favorite sustainable food spots in my favorite cities.

Being back in DC is great though, since I felt like I was chasing Spring across the country.  By the end of the trip I was thoroughly, though happily, worn out on cherries and asparagus and ready for some summer food, already! DC Farmers Markets, never ones to disappoint me, gave generously.  Piles of peaches, plums, corn, and the early heirloom tomatoes were waiting for me, and I’m not the sort of girl to let them slip by.  This past Sunday at the Dupont market, I saw my friend Mark Toigo of Toigo Orchards and perhaps because it was the first time I’d seen him since the weather turned warm, or perhaps because it was the end of market, or because he knows I’m unemployed, Mark filled me a shopping bag of his succulent shiro plums, yellow peaches and nectarines.  He sent me home covered in juice and pulp and a rather curious about what a person might do with this much fruit.

After a couple of Facebook and Twitter posts, the top running solutions for plums were thus: Plums in Armagnac or Plum Clafoutis (from my French friend Elodie), Pickled Plums from Carrie Anne Seaver, or “eat them all immediately” from my New Zealand companion Amy.  The idea that I might not just inhale them all raw and fresh was somewhat perplexing to her since we must have littered the highways of NZ with at least 10 lbs of plum pits each.

But I felt like I should do something a bit more creative with them, having been given this great gift. So after deciding on Plum Clafoutis as my first endeavor, I moved on to peaches.  Where I come from in Texas, there are really only 2 things you do with ripe peaches: eat them with gluttonous zeal over the kitchen sink, or put them on Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.  Having no Blue Bell here in DC (and really there is no substitute), and being fairly sure there are ingredients in Blue Bell I don’t want to know about, I decided that homemade peach ice cream was my best course of action.  And with all this heat, what could possibly be better?

Lola and I ate the plum clafoutis with peach ice cream for dessert last night, and I was quite satisfied with my attempts! I pulled both of these recipes from other bloggers I love, so be sure to check them out as well.

Plum Clafoutis (recipe slightly adapted from Orangette)

4-6 small to medium plums (I used a mix of Toigo Shiro plums and tiny sugar plums)
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whole, organic milk
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
½ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour ( I use Wade’s Mill)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and lightly butter a 9-inch pie dish (use a pretty one, as you’ll serve it straight from the dish). Arrange the plum wedges on their sides in a decorative pattern on the bottom of the dish.

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a medium bowl until pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add the milk, vanilla, and salt, and whisk to combine.

Sprinkle the flour over the batter, and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter gently over the plums, trying to disturb them as little as possible (though it will likely move around a bit no matter what). Bake the clafoutis until puffed and nicely golden around the edges, about 45-50 minutes. Remove the clafoutis from the oven, and allow it to cool for a half hour or so, during which time you’ll see it deflate and settle a bit. Serve it warm or at room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar or with a scoop of peach ice cream.
Yield: 6-8 servings

Toigo’s Peach and Nectarine Ice Cream (recipe adapted from Tartelette)

Makes 5 cups

2 cups ripe peaches and nectarines, skinned and pitted (about 4 pieces of fruit)
1/4 sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split in half (or 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract)

Macerate the fruit in lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar.  Let it hang out in the fridge for now. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale. In the meantime, heat the milk, cream and vanilla bean until steam rises (DO NOT let it boil!). Very gradually add about half of the hot cream to the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent them from scrambling. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the cream coats the back of a spoon, 5 to 8 minutes. If using, remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add both seeds and pod back to mixture.

Strain the cream and let cool completely (this takes awhile). Put the fruit into a blender and give it a few pulses, until its just pureed (you can do it less and leave some chunks if you want).  Stir fruit puree into the ice cream base. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions (30 mins on my Cuisinart). Transfer to a container and freeze until firm.

Eat at will to decimate all thoughts of brutal DC heat.

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