Sunday, May 13, 2012

What's on the Menu: Permaculture Weekend II

This time of year can be a challenge in the kitchen, but at D Acres we work with the ingredients of the season. While the garden may be catching up, the weeds are already far ahead, and some of those weeds are exceptionally nutritious. Such early greens like, dandelion, sheep's sorrel, and lamb's quarter are filled with Vitamin C, and qualities that can feel cleansing to the pallate and the digestive system.
This weekend, the Permaculture Design Course filled their bellies with foraged food and the very last vestiges of the root cellar.
Simple Saturday Lunch:
Turnip & White Bean Soup with Basil
Muti-Grain Sourdough Bread
Chive Pesto
Fresh Salad
Early Radish

In the morning, I started the the Glenwood in the Outdoor Kitchen. The day before, I had defrosted a pork shoulder and set of pork ribs to serve for dinner. After a night marinated with a delicious tomato-herb-maple syrup sauce, I set it in a pan to slowly roast in the wood cookstove. Taking advantage of the already hot stove, I decided to cook lunch outdoors.
The Turnip & White Bean soup is simple and delicious. The trick with soup is to let your vegetable cook in the pot prior to adding any water or stalk. Let them sautee with your oil (or butter) of choice, herbs, and a little salt and pepper. The flavors will begin to meld together. After they cook for about 10-15 minutes, then add just enough stock or water to cover the vegetables; let this simmer for a while, again allowing the flavors to begin melding together--imagine simmering a special sauce or gravy. I wanted to use white beans for this soup because the turnips we grew last season are white or a light gold color. I used two types of white beans for this soup, both of which we grew and dried at D Acres: A small white bean called Saturday Night Special, and a large lima bean variety called Limelight. The lima bean was not a successful crop for us for several reason, only yeilding maybe a pound for the 1/4 pound we put in the gound--but tasty nonetheless. The combination of the two different beans turned out to be delicious. The limas cooked to a nice soft and smooth texture, while the tiney white beans we plentiful and added body to the soup. The basil was picked from out greenhouse and added at the end to give the soup a bright green touch and taste.

Decadant Saturday Dinner:
Roasted Pork Shoulder with Special Sauce
Crispy Baked Potato Shreds with Chive
Sauteed Shiitake Mushroom with Collards
Roasted Early Garlic
Fresh Salad

Cooking large pieces of meat can be duanting, but if you get started early enough and have a good working meat thermometer, then the end result will be juicy and tender. Slow cooking meat at low temperatures is ideal, especially if the meat has been marinating in a sauce or brine for over 6-8 hours. The flavors of your special suace will integrate completely. My special sauces are often a concoction of what's in the fridge and maple syrup. This particular suace had homemade tomato puree, homemade salsa, cider vinegar, salt pepper, our D Acres Culinary Herb Blend (oregano, chive, parsley, thyme, sage), and maple syrup.
The potato shred idea stems from potato pancakes. I wanted to make something like a potato pancake without frying them or adding any egg. I simply used a food processor with the grating attachment to shred the potatoes. I then added sunflower oil, salt, pepper and finely chopped chives, layed it out on a sheet pan and baked the potatoes at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. The end result was not exactly what I had hoped for; nevertheless, the diners were delighted by the crispy, slightly salty shreds. And interesting side dish to compliment the meat.
We have logs lining pathways along a couple of forest trails that have been innoculated with Shiitake mushroom spawn. When the weather is just right, they pop out gorgeous mushrooms ready for the picking. After a week of rain, the funghi were ready. The collard greens were grown last year and frozen, ready to cook for any meal. I added only a little salt and pepper to compliment the sweet flavor of the greens.
At garlic harvest last summer, some of the bulbs were missed, so they have resrouted this spring. Pulled out of the ground, the early garlic looks like a very small leek, or a spring onion. This is a simple dish as well (after a little prep cleaning up the garlic bulbs and stems). Toss the garlic with your favorite oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees F. for about 20-30 minutes, until the whole stemm is tender and slightly golden in color.

Sunday Salad Lunch:
Bulgur Salad with Tomato, Spinach & Sheep's Sorrel
Agate Pinto Bean Salad with Mung Bean Sprouts
Potato Salad with Spinach & Tahini Dressing
Egg Salad with Homemade Mustard & Mayonnaise
Leftover Roasted Pork
Chive Pesto
Fresh Salad

Bulgur is wheat that has been steamed, then dried before being crushed into various sized grinds (fine, course). It is full of protein and high in vitamins since it has been minimally processed. I like using bulgur because you do not have to cook over the stove. Simply let it soak in water for at least 2-3 hours before draining and serving. Bulgur is the grain used in making the traditional tabouleh salad of the Mid-Eastern and Mediteranean regions of the world. The salad I created is based on tabouleh which used the combination of olive oil and the juice of lemon. This salad used sunflower oil and the tart lemon flavor came from the Sheep's Sorrel. Sheep's Sorrel is a menace in the garden, spreading by thin rubberband-like runner roots. But it nicely grows in easily harvested patches. The spinach is growing in our greenhouses and added more green color and flavor. I went to the cellar for diced tomatoes, canned in the fall of last year.
I happily incorporated bean protein with pinto beans we grew last year. I cooked the beans with whole cloves of garlic and a Spicy Hungarian Paprika pepper that was dried from last season. This salad was further flavored with a little toasted cumin seed, oil, and salt.
Making homemade mustard and mayonnaise is fun and easy. Using a mortar & pestle, crush mustard seeds (either yellow or brown) and add salt, and vinegar. Mix to a preferred consistency, and there you have mustard. Mayonnaise is best made with fresh eggs and a mild oil. We use sunflower oil at D Acres. A food processor is helpful as well. The trick to mayonnaise is a slight and steady stream of oil into your egg yolk, vinegar, salt mixture while the food processor is running. The oil is whipped fast and combines with the egg yolk to produce a smooth and creamy texture. I like to add a touch of paprika for color and spice. 

All in all is was a delicious weekend. If you would like to know more about these menu items and ingredients, please be in contact. Or join me in the kitchen every Third Thursday of the month for the Cooking with Season Workshop. We gather ingredients and cook dinner, then enjoy the meal together.

Enjoy! Regina

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