Peaches, peaches and more peaches

peaches 2

I love peaches.  They are another one of the many locally grown crops, such as tomatoes, apples, berries and corn that we look forward to cooking and eating every year.  This peach season is extra special because due to a winter thaw that tricked the peach trees into budding early, followed by a deep freeze that eliminated the buds and ultimately peaches in New England last season.  Fortunately, peaches are plentiful this year and we are celebrating by incorporating them all over our menu.

You can click on the following URL to read an article from the Boston Globe to get a more detailed account of last years peach pounding.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/05/14/after-sad-summer-peaches-new-england-could-see-bumper-crop-this-year/nKxSdZ7cap4kEgXNPGilJN/story.html

 

Some of this season peach menu items are; a smoky, slightly spicy and cool Chipotle laced Peach Gazpacho (recipe follows) is on both our lunch and dinner menus.  Peach, Bacon and Cheddar Panini is on our lunch menu.  We are making a Peach-Basil Relish that we serve with smoked bluefish.  Peach-Blueberry Crisp (recipe follows) with our homemade sour cream ice cream is on our dessert menu; as are White Wine Poached Peaches that we are serving with an almond financier.  We are also in the process of making Peach Butter and habanero laced Peach Hot Sauce, which we will preserve in Mason jars for use during the winter months.  I don’t want to leave out that we serving a Peach-Goat Cheese Pizza at our sister restaurant Za.  And, I can’t forget about our bar where our bartenders are are creating mixed drinks and Sangria with summer’s golden fruit.

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Chipotle laced peach gazpacho

EVOO’s Chipotle Laced Peach Gazpacho

Soup Base Ingredients:

1½  qts         large diced Peaches

¾ cup           Orange Juice

1 TB             Lime Juice

1 TB             Rice Vinegar

1/3 cup         Water

1½  TB         Honey

2 TB             EVOO

1 ts               minced Chipotle Chilies

1 ts               Kosher Salt

½ ts              fresh ground Black Pepper

Garnish Ingredients:

½ cup           medium diced Peaches

½ cup           medium diced seeded Cucumbers

¼ cup           toasted slivered Almonds

2 TB             small diced Red Onion

1 TB             fresh chopped Cilantro

3 TB             EVOO

Method:

In a tall thin non-reactive container combine the soup base ingredients. Using an immersion blender puree until smooth. strain through a fine mesh strainer. Chill.

Just before serving, in a separate bowl, combine all garnish ingredients. Ladle soup base into chilled bowls, spoon generous amounts of garnish into the center of each dish. Serve.

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Peach – Blueberry Crisp

Peach-Blueberry Crisp

Ingredients:

Topping:

¾ cup      Sugar

¾ cup      Light Brown Sugar

¾ lb         1/2″ cubed Butter

1½ ts       Vanilla Extract

1 ts          ground Cinnamon

½ ts         Kosher Salt

3 cups      All Purpose flour

1 cup       Rolled Oats

1½ cups   toasted slivered Almonds

Filling:

5 cups      large diced Peaches

3 cups      Blueberries

3 TB        Lemon Juice

2 TB        Brandy

1/2 ts       Kosher Salt

1 cups      Sugar

¼ cup      Corn Starch

¼ lb         1/4″ diced Butter

1 ea         Zest from Lemon

Method:

Topping:

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment combine the sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredient and mix until just combined.

Filling:

In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients.

Baking:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the filling into a 9 inch X 13 inch baking pan. Evenly spread two-thirds of the topping on top of the filling and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the crisp from the oven and evenly spread the remaining third of the topping over the top and then bake for an additional 20 – 30 minutes, until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the topping is nicely browned. Remove the crisp from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before enjoying.

Local Strawberries

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Strawberries from Kimball Farm in Pepperell, MA

I think of Strawberries in the same I think of tomatoes.  The best of the best are grown locally, here in New England.  At some point in June every year we start with berries from Connecticut, then Massachusetts working there way through New England, ending once we see berries coming from Quebec.  Though the Quebecois berries are still quite good they no longer fit our standard of serving locally grown ingredients.  Just like tomatoes, at EVOO we only serve strawberries when they are in season locally.  Like tomatoes most of the strawberries you find in the grocery store are crap.  Like tomatoes they are grown in chemical laden soil, picked unripe, so they will travel better, they ripen, well turn red anyway, during transport.  Not ripening on the vine they do not have a chance to develop any flavor.  Buy local berries in season directly from your local farms.  Enjoy the treat, overindulge on them for a short period of time each year, it will make Strawberry season as special as it should be.

Strawberries

A couple of weeks ago we received our first case of Connecticut berries.  I was excited to see them available, I put them on our menu in a strawberry – rhubarb crisp.  The next day I ordered more and California berries were delivered instead.  More crisps were made using the California berries before any of the chefs noticed (including me).  The difference was astounding, the California berries were awful. They lacked any real flavor, they had a tart-mineraly flavor not at all reminiscent of a real strawberry.  They were red on the outside and Styrofoam white on the inside, unlike the local berries which are red all the way through.  When the crisps were cooked, the liquid that oozes over the top of and down the sides of the baking dishes, which is usually bright red was more of a caramelized dirt pink color, not at all appetizing.  Needless to say, we did not serve these substandard crisps to our guests.

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Strawberry – Rhubarb Crisp

Now the local strawberry season is going strong we are using them in the previously mentioned crisp as well as a strawberry gazpacho (recipe below) a nicely seasoned chilled soup which receives rave reviews every year.  At both Za locations we are offering a Strawberry – Arugula Salad.  Support your community by eating locally.

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EVOO’s Strawberry Gazpacho

EVOO’s Strawberry Gazpacho

At EVOO we garnish the gazpacho with diced strawberries, seedless cucumbers, cilantro, red onion, EVOO  and toasted almonds.

Ingredients:

3 qts         halved Strawberries

1½ cups    Orange Juice

2 TB        Lime Juice

2 TB        Rice Vinegar

1 cup       Water

3 TB        Agave Nectar / Honey

¼ cup       EVOO

1 ts           Tabasco

2 ts           Kosher Salt

1 ts           Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Method:

Puree all ingredients together. Strain if desired.

It’s Not Spring Yet!

not spring

From 4 days ago.

I know the calendar tells us spring has sprung, however, local ingredients are still telling us it’s late winter.  Right now, April 5, locally it’s still all about cellared root vegetables, cabbage and greenhouse greens.

Don’t let those restaurant menus filled with fiddlehead ferns, asparagus, ramps and peas fool you, none of it is local.  With the big snowfall last week and still chilly temperatures, it seems as though spring will be running a bit late this year.  Fiddleheads and ramps are still weeks away, asparagus a month maybe more, and peas closer to two months.   Every year is different and as soon as the real local spring ingredients are available our what-are-we-going-to-make-with-this-root-this-time anxiety is lifted, and the real local spring ingredients are plastered on our menu.

The first signs of spring are happening in our rooftop garden, the chives are about an inch out of the ground.  That’s it, the weeds haven’t even started yet.

making agnolotti

Making Agnolotti

The first food harbinger of spring is usually spring-dug parsnips, this root, wintered in  frozen soil, turning the starches into sugars.  What you end up with is an amazingly sweet full-flavored parsnip.  We received our first batch this week from Hutchin’s Farm, an organic farm located in Concord, MA.  We currently have them on our menu stuffed inside agnolotti pasta, fried chips at we are serving on a beef heart dish, and in a cake as a dessert served with smoked maple ice cream.  They are also roasted or pureed and make a great sweet or savory custard.

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Spring-dug Parsnip Cake with Smoked Maple Ice Cream

The recipe I am including for parsnip cake is really just an adaption of a traditional carrot cake, substituting parsnips for carrots.  I came up with this recipe when a writer from the Boston Globe asked me for an original recipe using parsnips.  At the time I had know idea how this would come out, knowing I just wanted to have a recipe included in her article.  I can’t say I was surprised with the results, they’re great, especially when using super sweet spring-dug parsnips.  As with carrot cake the better the carrot / parsnip tastes the better the cake will be.

Click Parsnip Cake for a link to the recipe.