Tag: local produce

polenta con funghi

polentafunghi

Yesterday’s post about wild herbs and foraging got me thinking about mushrooms. Sure you can find mushrooms year-round in the supermarket, but I was craving something tastier than your¬†usual Portobello, Shitake and White Button mushrooms. It’s hard to find the good ones in the shops like Chanterelles, Hen of the Woods, Hedgehog, and Porcini (my favorite). Autumn is mushroom season! Some foraging knowledge would definitely come in handy right about now. ūüôā I bet there are blankets of wild mushrooms out in the nearby forests waiting to be picked. However,¬†It’s not very likely that I will be foraging this season (I’d probably pick all the poisonous ones HAHA). So I did the next best thing. I went out to the Baltimore’s Farmers Market this morning under the JFX bridge and picked up some delicious funghi from the¬†mushroom stall.¬† (more…)

zucchini blossoms

blossoms from the market

Do you know what these beautiful flowers are? They’re squash/zucchini blossoms and boy are they delicious! I remember buying them a few summers ago at the Roots Market in Clarksville, MD. They showcase seasonal produce from local farms at various times throughout the year. They might get in a few dozen zucchini blossoms, a handful of garlic scapes, a few dozen patty pan squash and so on. And when they’re gone, they’re gone for the season. We don’t live so close to Clarksville anymore so we aren’t able to frequent Roots as often. We probably missed out on the blossoms delivery this summer. If you’ve been following the blog, you will know that I’ve been shopping at the local farmers markets a lot this year. I should really join a CSA. I had been searching for them all summer without much success. Every week I’d pick up a few zucchini or yellow squash and then it came to me.¬†Surely these farms must have loads of blossoms growing out on the fields. I decided to write to a few local farmers to see if they could help me out. (more…)

Maryland crabs – part 2

dozen large crabs

Summer’s coming to an end folks! (Sorry! I know I know, saying it out loud makes it more real. I can’t believe this summer’s almost over. Seeing signs for ‘Back-to-School’ is nuts!) For¬†those of you who haven’t enjoyed Maryland blue crabs yet this season, there’s no better time than right now to head out and grab a dozen or two. A good friend of ours recently came to visit us from NYC. Her one request – Maryland crabs! This time we went to Cantler’s Riverside Inn in Annapolis, MD. Fantastic crab house for the entire family. It’s right on the water and it has a dock with its own¬†filling station for passing boats. You can even see the crabs being sorted below, it’s a bit (ok, more than a bit)¬†smelly but the kids find it fascinating. We arrived at Cantler’s around 11:30 on a Saturday, and although the place was filling up quickly we managed to get seated outside without a wait. They offer an all-you-can-eat option, but we ordered a dozen large and lots of sides – fries, onion rings, hush puppies, clam strips¬†and sweet local corn¬†– and of course a round of ice cold Natty Bo’s.

We’ve had crabs a few times this summer at Harris Crab House on Kent Island, Hooper’s in Ocean City, MD, my brother’s house with a bushel from Sea King in Ellicott City, MD, and a dozen or two from Sea Hut Inn in Catonsville, MD. But each time, I dived right into the meal and forgot all about my promise to post a ‘how-to’ on opening and eating crabs. So, this post is dedicated to just that – How I open crabs. (more…)

pasta alla norma

rigatoni alla norma

One thing I look forward to every week is making lunch for my mom at our house. I think she loves it too! ūüėČ She’s a pretty busy lady, so in the short time¬†we have together I make sure to prepare a lovely 3 course meal – starter, main and dessert. This way, I know she’ll leave with a full and happy belly. Oh and I always send her off with a hot cappuccino to-go. I literally buy those disposable coffee cups with lids from Costco, just for her cappuccinos.

Two weeks ago, I made my mom a fresh zucchini salad, pasta all norma (eggplant spaghetti)¬†and fruit salad of peaches, nectarines and plums. (All made from seasonal produce from the farmers market.) She liked the zucchini salad so much I made it again when the whole family was over for lunch. Although the eggplant spaghetti was tasty and looked pretty, I wasn’t completely satisfied with it. I was short on time and skipped 2 important¬†steps in the recipe and well, while the eggplant should’ve broken apart and become creamy in texture, it remained intact and was quite watery. She didn’t seem to mind, but I told myself I’d have to make it properly for her the next time. (more…)

bruschetta

lovedove tomatoes

Now that you’ve made the ciabatta from yesterday, all you need are juicy sweet tomatoes. These are the tomatoes I picked up after lunch at the Love Dove Farm stall at the Howard County Farmers Market. Aren’t they just gorgeous? I grabbed a pint of Sun Gold tomatoes and a pint of Black Cherry tomatoes. I could snack on them all day.

Farm stalls are overflowing with all¬†different tomato heirlooms and varieties during the summer. Once you’ve tried fresh picked tomatoes off the vine, the ones you find year round in the supermarkets won’t do. It’s hard for me not to pick up a pint or two when I’m out at the farmers market. When using¬†such delicious produce like farm fresh tomatoes, it’s best to keep whatever dish you’re making¬†as simple as possible. You want the natural sweetness and bright flavors to shine.¬†A great dish to show off summer tomatoes is Bruschetta. Here are a few different ways I dress my tomatoes. (more…)

Italian afternoons with family

affettati misti

Over the weekend my brother invited us over to Ocean City to spend the day with his family – swimming, eating and taking in the … rain! The weather wasn’t the best, but when you’re with good company, it doesn’t really matter. We got in some waves, lounged by the pool,¬†walked the boardwalk, ate loads of crabs and made new memories, especially with my nephews. Those cute little guys are growing up so fast!¬†The other day I thought¬†to myself ‘how weird would it be¬†when they’re old enough to drink.’ Can you imagine? ‘Wanna¬†grab a beer uncle Kevin?’ WHAT?!?! ūüėČ I’m getting carried away, they’re only in elementary school!!! HAHA.

To thank them for their hospitality, we invited them over for lunch.¬†I had originally planned to make 3 pasta dishes, but Kevin suggested we do some meats, salad and pasta instead. Good call Kevin, but I couldn’t let him have the last word. So to compromise, I made a meat plate, a salad, and TWO pastas! We opened a really nice bottle of Amarone wine and enjoyed a lovely¬†Italian themed lunch. Good food, great company and fabulous wine. That’s how we do it! ūüėÄ (more…)

spring onion pasta with breadcrumbs

plating sp pasta 1

What a beautiful day!¬†Today as soon as my alarm went off I jumped out of bed, went downstairs, opened all the windows then put on the kettle. Kevin asked ‘Who are you and what did you do with my wife?’ HAHA. Maybe I’ll even go for a light jog around the neighborhood…that’ll give Kevin an even bigger shock! Most of you will be reading this thinking…isn’t it normal to wake up when the alarm goes off? Of course it is! I just like to set my alarm a half hour early and hit snooze a few times, that’s all ūüėČ

We’ve been eating pretty heavy lately, thought I’d make something light for lunch today (and the fabulous weather makes me crave a summery pasta). I should really learn to balance my meals. I doubt a light herby pasta will negate the 8 plates of Chinese food, jerk chicken and Korean braised short ribs we had over the¬†past few days! But maybe if I keep telling myself it does…it actually will! ūüėČ

I usually make light¬†herby pastas to accompany fish, but it’s just as delicious served on its own.¬†Like spaghetti aglio olio peperoncino, when I can’t decide what to eat, I make spring onion spaghetti. It’s easy¬†peasy and really hits the spot. We also had some leftover baguette so I whizzed it up in the food processor and made ‘pan grattato’ or breadcrumbs. (more…)

farmers market in old town ellicott city

On market days, we try to leave the house early so we can be back in time to prepare lunch with our purchases. Today, however, we planned to have lunch at the market and left closer to noon. The extra sleep was nice, but we missed out on the one item I was looking forward to buying all week Рa cranberry walnut sourdough!

This was¬†our second visit to¬†the Farmers Market in Old Town Ellicott City. By the way, was Historic Ellicott City always¬†called ‘Old Town’? I always thought¬†it was just OLD Ellicott City. When I hear ‘Old Town’ I think of Alexandria.¬†It¬†doesn’t really matter either way, but I grew up about 2 miles from there, you’d think I’d know this stuff. The market is set up in two separate car parks – Lot D and the Wine Bin. Don’t forget to check out both. On our first visit a few weeks back, we only stopped by the one in Lot D.¬†We had planned to make a roast the following day, so I only needed some carrots and spring onions which I found at Down to Earth Farm’s stall and we spent the rest of the time sampling breads at River House Pizza Co. Their breads are amazing and the chef/baker/proprietor only makes them for the Saturday markets! We did bring home a baguette and an Italian herb focaccia and¬†I really wanted to get the cranberry walnut sourdough and a pizza too, but I was being greedy. So we said we’d come back another day for those. And we did – TODAY!

Here is what we got today:

today's produce

Spring onions with flowers, carrots, radishes (Down to Earth Farms), broccoli, potatoes, farm fresh eggs (Breezy Willow Farm) and cherries (Baugher’s Orchard).

(more…)