June means Fathers Day, graduations and preparations for summer activities. By the this time of the year everyone is tired of cooking indoors and making the transition to outside. Whether you are using a fancy grill, an outdoor oven or even just over an open fire, cooking outdoors can be a great opportunity to enjoy fresh local ingredients while spending quality time with family and friends.
According to local farmers, this has been an ideal Northwest spring. The Executive Director of the Washington State Farmers Market Association, Karen Kinney, says farmers markets in the area are beginning to show the true glory of the season. “In the Puget Sound area,” Kinney says, the greens are really lovely this time of year. There are so many options to choose from. The mizuna, lettuce and baby bok choy are tender and flavorful now.”
According to John Eizuka, 21 Acres farm manager, even the wettest farms are producing. He says, “I’ve already noticed a sign of abundance looking at seedlings. They are growing much better than this time last year.”
This bounty gives the chef in your house a wealth of ingredients to explore new ideas that can be particularly delicious outside. For example, most people know that asparagus is good broiled in the oven with a little bit of sea salt and olive oil but place it in a grill pan and it gets that fantastic, smokey flavor. Many people however, have yet to experiment with smoking their own meats or making dessert outside. Trends show that grilled pizzas are becoming more popular as an outside alternative to hotdogs, hamburgers and steaks. It is not difficult to learn how to be creative cooking outside. 21 Acres upcoming class “Smoking Farm Raised Meats in the Wood-Fired Oven” on Saturday June 29 at 10:30 a.m. with Chef Emily Moore, brings together the adventurous combination of smoking meats with ingredients from the farm, fresh picked produce and a Northwest inspired pizza. More info at 21acres.org/school.
Students will be able to take advantage of the outdoor oven at 21 Acres, but the techniques and skills shared will apply to all types of outdoor cooking and grilling.
21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living is a comprehensive campus with a farm, school, commercial kitchen, market and green-built facility located at 13701 NE 171st Street, Woodinville, WA 98072. All the programming and services offered through 21 Acres focus on the areas of Growing,
Eating and Living. Click or call for more information; 21acres.org, 425-481-1500.
This class will focus on main courses, but if you’re inspired to try dessert outside, consider this easy recipe:
Outdoor Grilled Strawberries and Hazelnuts
Organic Powdered Sugar
Organic Whip Cream/Honey optional
Place chopped local raw hazelnuts in a grill pan (or use aluminum foil) to toast until lightly browned
Skewer local, organic strawberries
Dip skewered strawberries into powdered sugar and turn to coat
Grill over fire next to hazelnuts turning often to heat evenly
Place skewers strawberries on plate.
Serve, topped with local fresh whip cream or drizzle with honey, finished with a sprinkle of the hazelnuts.
Tip: Get the kids to make the whip cream while the strawberries and hazelnuts are on the grill. Place cream in a mason jar and shake until thickened; add vanilla and sugar (or honey) to taste.
The summer solstice brings additional hours to the 21 Acres Farm Market. Beginning June 19th, new market hours are Wed., Thurs. Fri., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This is a very easy recipe and the careful measurement of ingredients is not terribly important. The soup should be made to personal taste. When adding dried herbs, begin with a teaspoon of each and add more if needed. One or two ice cubes of frozen basil should be enough to add enough herbal sweetness to complement the tomatoes.
3 Celery stalks
30 ounces Chicken or Vegetarian broth
8 ounces Tomato puree
16 ounces Tomato juice
Herbs: oregano, tarragon, dill and basil
Tbs. of butter or oil
1.5 Cups Half and Half or Milk depending upon preference (amount can vary)
Salt and Pepper
Sour cream, unsweetened yogurt or quark
Sauté carrots, celery stalks and leeks in a small amount of butter or oil over medium heat. Cook until tender.
Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree with 15 ounces of broth. In a large soup pot combine: tomato puree, tomato juice, and 15 ounces of broth. Stir well over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery and leek mixture and continue to heat through and mix well. Add favorite herbs such as oregano, tarragon, dill and basil. (Hopefully you have some frozen basil left in the freezer from the summer). Keep cooking over medium heat so that the flavors meld. Blend with a hand blender until mostly smooth, but leaving some small bits is fine. Stir in half and half or nonfat milk, depending upon your preference, and heat through. Feel free to add more or less to your liking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve the soup warm with a dollop of sour cream, unsweetened yogurt or quark on top and sprinkled lightly with herbs.
This recipe is a favorite of the 21 Acres communications team, Brenda Vanderloop and Robin Crowder, who in no way consider themselves experts, but rather adventurers in the kitchen.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Five-Spice and Kaffir Lime Whipped Cream
Recipes courtesy of Laura Pyles
4 cups rinsed, hulled and quartered strawberries
4 cups rinsed and diced rhubarb
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs yuzu juice*
For streusel topping:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp. Chinese Five-Spice*
Kafir Lime Whipped Cream, recipe follows
For the filling: add all ingredients to a large bowl and using your hands, toss lightly until the sugar and starch are evenly distributed. Lightly oil a baking dish that will comfortably fit all your fruit and pour your strawberry rhubarb mixture into the dish. Set aside.
For the topping: Place all the topping ingredients into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer.
Start the mixer on stir to avoid kicking half of the ingredients out and move it up to low when it starts to mix together. For a really great streusel, leave it alone at this stage and let the mixer do its job.
Wait until the butter starts to crumb in nicely but before it becomes one big dough clump, about 5 minutes of mixing. Spoon topping mixture generously over top of prepared fruit filling and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve topped with Kaffir Lime Whipped Cream or vanilla ice cream.
Kaffir Lime Whipped Cream
2 cups cream
2 large kaffir lime leaves*
1 cup powdered sugar
Add cream and lime leaves to a pot and scald; let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, strain out the leaves and chill steeped cream until very cold. (Note: This can be done one day before using.) Whip cold cream with the powdered sugar to stiff peaks, spoon a big dollop on top of the crisp and top with a sprinkling of fresh lime zest.
* Yuzu juice, Chinese Five-Spice, and kaffir lime leaves can be found at Asian markets and some supermarkets. Yuzu juice has a tangerine taste, but lemon juice or lime juice can be substituted if necessary.
It’s been a long, wet spring here in the Puget Sound but with some additional sunny days this year, the Northwest strawberry season is on track. Virtually everyone equates fresh picked berries with the arrival of summer. This sweet, delectable fruit will soon be in abundance.
Why is anticipation so high for this in-demand berry? Shoppers, not just “foodies,” are becoming more attuned to the benefits of organically grown farm products and are demanding more flavorful, pesticide and chemical free produce. Strawberries are number three on the list of the “dirty dozen;” a list of foods with the highest pesticide residue compiled by the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org). They rank high on the list, in part, because berries are prone to fungus which prompts conventional farmers to spray, leaving pesticide residue. So, ignore those perfectly shaped, flavorless berries commercially grown and shipped in from the south. They’ve been grown for mass production and bred for size, high yield and color. The locally grown, pesticide free, organic strawberry has higher concentrations of antioxidants and vitamin C than those California wannabes. They may not be as pretty, perhaps a bit odd in shape, but once you bite into one fresh from your market, you’ll never want another.
Need to know where to buy organic strawberries this season? Visit 21acres.org for a link to the Puget Sound Farm Guide with information on U-pick farms. Want to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor? Purchase fresh picked berries at your local farms including Woodinville’s Root Connection; Carnation’s Oxbow Farm; your local farmer’s market; and of course, at the 21 Acres Market, open each week Wednesday through Friday, noon to 7 p.m.
Are you looking for new ways to prepare and devour this versatile berry? Celebrate this seasonal favorite with Chef Emily Moore, in a hands-on cooking class, “Strawberries in Season” on Saturday, July 7 from noon to 3:30 p.m. at 21 Acres in Woodinville. Bring your empty pint jars to be filled with fresh strawberry jams created from syrups infused with herb and flower essences. While the jams simmer students will make flaky buttermilk scone biscuits for strawberry shortcakes to be savored with fresh whipped cream from Duvall’s Cherry Valley Dairy and sweet quark from Toucan Tango cheeses. You’ll also learn to dry local strawberries for delicious winter treats.
Instructor Emily Moore is nationally recognized for her flavorful creations and artful presentations as former Executive Chef of Theoz and The Painted Table. She has received top reviews from local and regional food critics for her innovative cuisine. Currently Moore is Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle.
All ages are welcome. Fee is $40 per adult; $20 youth (16 and under). $35 discounted fee for 21 Acres members. For more information or to register and pay online, visit 21acres.org/school. Early registration is encouraged, class size is limited.
When you’ve taken full advantage and are plum full up on berries, be prepared for the next local, seasonal superstar. Learn how to cook those fruits and vegetables; check out the full line-up of summer cooking classes at 21 Acres.
Upcoming classes include: Preserving Techniques: Jams and Pickling; Designing your own Salad Dressing; Meatless Mondays; Tapas and Local Wines; Summer Berry Desserts; A Day in the Life of a Raw Food Vegan and Mastering Whole Grain Breads. Stay tuned for more information on our new “Cookbook Lovers Series” beginning in mid-July. Be sure to visit www.21acres.
Located in the new green-built Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living at 13701 NE 171st Street, Woodinville, the 21 Acres School offers both multi-day and one-day courses and classes aligned under the focus areas: Growing, Eating, Living. Faculty possess diverse backgrounds related to sustainability and have excellent reputations of helping people learn how to cultivate, demonstrate and advance systems that support sustainable agriculture.
Two Simple Strawberry Amuse-bouche From 21 Acres Chefs
Add three simple ingredients to your local strawberry for a flavorful taste experience. Celebrate the small bite.
Strawberries with Balsamic
Wash strawberries gently. Just before eating, slice and serve simply topped with a spoonful of Greek-style yogurt or vanilla scented whipped cream. Dress simply with a grinding of fresh black pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Serve.
Strawberries with Hazelnuts
Halve a strawberry. Mix cream cheese or quark with honey. Spoon on top or squeeze through a pastry bag. Top with a finely chopped toasted hazelnuts. Serve.