Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Farm Dinner in the Spring


As I leaned against the counter slipping dark skins off of silky blood red beets, it suddenly hit me that not everyone loves to cook four course dinners for three strangers. Sure, it benefited the farm, but there are certainly less time consuming ways to support a neighborhood farm.

About a month ago, I had the privilege of planning a four course dinner, sourcing all of the vegetables from Whitelock Community Farm, and cooking the meal, which Justin served to three diners at the farm. They earned this dinner by donating the highest amount for a fundraising campaign we ran last year, and their prize was this dinner.

A four course dinner would have been daunting during another weekend, but this came after a restful night away while my in-laws stayed with Evelyn. They also played with her all day and kept her company so that I could spend the day cooking and preparing the meal. It was actually relaxing, and I was so well prepared that, before our diners arrived, I laid on the couch waiting to get started. I don't think I have ever been so well prepared to serve a fancy dinner.

It was fun but a little challenging to plan the menu. I wanted each course to feature farm produce, but in mid-May, there is not a lot of produce to choose from. I did not want to use produce from the grocery store or from other farms, because I love the idea of dining at a farm where the meal is sourced. Here is the menu I came up with, if you'd like to see:

I
Radish Salad with Olive Oil, White Balsamic, and Celtic Sea Salt


This was a lovely salad to make by slicing the radishes very thinly on a mandolin and using young radish greens. People have mixed feelings about radishes, but these were colorful without too much bite. The olive oil and white balsamic paired well with the fresh greens, and Celtic sea salt added a salty crunch here and there.

II
Parmesan Polenta
Arugula, Prosciutto, & Figs


One of our diners was gluten free, so I made the entire meal gluten free. Polenta is a hearty alternative to wheat. I used this recipe for the polenta, but I didn't use the full amount of chicken stock because I didn't have it. I also used slightly less liquid so that the polenta would firm up easily. The arugula was delicious, and prosciutto is always amazing. I would have preferred fresh figs instead of dried if they were in season. The dried figs were a little too sweet.

III
Gluten Free Pasta
Beet Walnut Pesto, Creme Fraiche, Young Greens


This was my favorite part of the dinner, especially the greens. I love the shocking pink color of the beet pesto, and the greens were incredibly silky since it was so early in the season. I had featured the beet pesto in an earlier post. The greens recipe comes from the New York Times. They are first blanched, which helps them to soften up, and then sauteed with garlic, olive oil, and crushed red pepper. Amazing. This recipe will be good all year long, but take advantage of extra tender greens early in the season. Not just with beets, but also turnips, kale, and collards.

IV
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Whipped Cream
Gluten Free Cookie


This mint ice cream was extremely minty. I liked it, but it's not for those who are on the fence about mint chocolate chip ice cream. I paired it with fair trade dark chocolate for a nice contrast, and it was a refreshing way to end a successful meal.

Thanks for reading, and check out this latest video about Whitelock Community Farm.


1 comment:

Jeni said...

So creative...and looks yummy!