Days are getting shorter and fall is in the air! Now is a fantastic time to explore a variety of local, seasonal foods as we say goodbye to those hot, rainy summer days.
Did you know that out-of-season produce is often picked early kept in cold storage for weeks or even months, losing valuable nutrients? Buying and preparing locally grown food is one of the simplest, most direct ways to positively impact your body, our community, and our land. In addition, your taste buds will benefit from all that fresh flavor!
Here's a little inspiration based on items you'll find at the farmer's markets and in our boxes over the upcoming weeks - keep scrolling to check it all out!
These dainty Fairytale Eggplants from The Family Garden in Gainesville are known for their delicate skin and fresh flavor. Unlike their cousin the Globe Eggplant, this variety does not require salting before cooking to remove bitterness.
Fairytale eggplant are ideal for cooking hard and fast, we recommend roasting until tender and creamy. Due to their small size, it's possible to achieve a nice char without overcooking and becoming soggy. Plus, it all comes together in just a few minutes!
Halve lengthwise, score diagonally, and place cut-side down in a hot cast iron skillet to sear, then transfer to 400F oven to cook through. Or, skip the cast iron and roast on a sheet pan in the oven. Season with salt and pepper, or give your eggplant a boost by rubbing it with a spice blend before cooking.
While your eggplant is in the oven, toss together a quick cucumber and tomato salad. Swoosh hummus in a bowl, top with roasted eggplant, cucumber-tomato salad, a sprinkling of fresh herbs and call it a night.
Of all the food trends, I think the charcuterie board is my favorite. It's got everything: meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts, jams, crackers, and briny bites all together on one beautifully-presented platter. And, when done well, there's salty, sweet, sour, creamy, crunchy, and all the things in between. For people who like to craft each perfect bite, the charcuterie board is the perfect epicurean experience.
So what should you put on the perfect platter?
Essentially there are no wrong answers. Arrange it beautifully and use quality ingredients starting with the largest ingredients and moving to the smallest. Make it small for an appetizer or make it huge for a meal. And, you could even go vegetarian or gluten-free if you want! Below are some helpful steps to arrange your perfect holiday platter!
Step 1: The Board
Pick out your favorite cutting board or platter. I personally love a round boards, natural shaped boards, or wood trays to give a little extra dimension.
Step 2: The Cheese
Start by adding the cheeses as far apart as possible leaving room for the other items. Think about texture and using slices, cubes, and crumbles. When adding a triangle of cheese, be sure to leave the tip out to make it easier for guests to serve themselves. And when adding a round cheese, slice a few pieces, and let guests do the rest!
Step 3: The Meat
Add the cured meats. Again, place with texture in mind. Prosciutto can be set like ribbons, and salami can be folded in halves or quarters and then arranged like a deck of cards. Spread out over the board.
Step 4: Filling it in
Add items that require small ramekins like the preserves, olive tapenade and honey. Use the same kind of ramekins, or ones in similar colors so that they don't distract from the overall presentation. Arrange in different areas of the board.
Next, add the fresh fruit. Try strawberries, grapes, apple or pear slices and blueberries. But really it's whatever you like! If adding grapes, cut into clusters so guests can take a whole cluster and not have to fumble with the vine.
Then, tuck in your breads and crackers, pairing them well with the cheese selections. For example, set a salty rosemary cracker next to a mild cheese like goat cheese.
And lastly, bring in some extra textural elements with dried fruits, nuts, pickles and figs, when in season and fill in the empty areas of the board
VOILA! You are done and your guests are ready to enjoy!
Raise your hand if you're constantly running to the store to pick up ingredients you need for a recipe. Keep your hand up if you have a pantry full of (expired) ingredients you've used once. I'm looking at you, cardamom and mustard seeds.
Now imagine a perfectly stocked pantry. A 25-ingredient pantry where all of the essentials are ready and waiting. A pantry where you have plenty of what you need and it's all organized and pretty in shiny canisters and jars. You're smiling, aren't you? Me too.
We are all about making your life more awesome. And we think that it's awesome to save time and money by having most of the ingredients you need on hand. These are ingredients you're comfortable with, ingredients you love to use, and ingredients you can easily buy in bulk (yay for saving money and reducing packaging).
With these ingredients you can make super tasty recipes like the Yummiest Hummus, Very Versatile Baked Rice, The Best Red Sauce, Chewy Bagels, Quick Fluffy Flatbreads, Veggie Chili, and more...just using your pantry plus two or three extra ingredients from your FPP delivery. Now that's awesome.
If you're ready to clean out those cabinets and stock your perfect pantry, hurray! Your shopping list is below. Please make any substitutions as your dietary needs/preference dictate and definitely consult with your health care professional if necessary.
Mandolin (not necessary)
1. Wash and dry lemon and slice thin using a mandolin or a knife. Add to the bottom of the pot and cover with half the sugar. Add medium heat until sugar crystals dissolves, bring to simmer until the lemons are almost translucent.
2 Let's talk sugar. I start with a 4 to 1, fruit to white sugar ratio. This is a good jumping off point. I, personally, like the that sweet yet tart flavor of the fruit to shine. I've seen jams with as mush as a 1 to 1 ratio but find them way too sweet.
So, once your lemons are ready, add berries and the rest of the sugar to mixture. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then crush berries with potato masher, stir completely. Slowly bring to boil over a medium high heat, stirring frequently. Cook for about 15 minutes or so. Be sure not to get it too hot and scorch your jam.
3. Once its done, add to ball jar and let it cool before putting into the refrigerator. You can keep your jam for up to a month. And of course you can can it at this time, but that's a whole 'nother blog!
1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 2 inch pieces
4 each medium potatoes, cut into 1/8ths
1 each red onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 leaves sage, chiffonade
4 sprigs thyme leaves
2 each clove
1 each meyer lemon, zest
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
3 oz chicken stock or water
To Taste Salt and Black Pepper
Dutch oven, frying pan or braising pan with lid
Mandoline (not necessary)
Microplane or fine grater
Prep all ingredients. Add a little vegetable or olive oil to a braising pan, frying pan or a dutch oven on low heat. Add the cabbage and gently heat to wilt with no color. Season with a little salt. Once the cabbage has begun to wilt, about 5 minutes, add in the stock or water and the garlic. Continue to wilt another 3 minutes over medium low heat. Add the butter, herbs, red onions and clove, season with salt and braise another 5 minutes. Add the cut potatoes and check seasonings, add a little more salt if need be. Cover the braise with a lid and gently continue the cooking over a medium low-medium heat about 10 minutes. Check the braised cabbage and give it a stir every now and then. Test the potatoes. If you are where you need to be add the meyer lemon zest and adjust the seasonings, adding salt and black pepper to taste. Serve warm with a dollop of sour sour cream on top and some cracked black pepper.
The liquid should not reduce much and there should be no color on the cabbage or potatoes. If this is happening or does, add more liquid and reduce the heat. Try not to overcook the potatoes or break them up when stirring the pot.
Keep an eye out for the cloves, or you’ll get a surprise bite like I did!
Today I want to share with you a recipe for incredible homemade Caesar salad dressing. I know you can easily buy the bottled stuff, but if you’re never had Caesar dressing from scratch you are REALLY missing out!
This robust dressing can be used in so many different applications, but our favorite is in a “brassica” salad—a twist on the usual romaine. Brassica is the genus of plants in the mustard family that include locally grown produce like kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. All of these wonderful and great substitutes or additions the standard Romaine lettuce!
We know that Brussels sprouts can get a bad rap, but we’re asking you to give them another chance in this recipe! When fresh and properly prepared they are just as yummy as any other green that you'll find in your winter Farm Boxes. The most import part here is that you roast the sprouts until they are charred, giving a sweet carmelized flavor to your dish.
If you’ve never made dressing beyond the usual oil-and-vinegar combo, don’t worry. This recipe is super easy to follow and quick to make, though it does require just a little skill. Here are two tips from Chef Joshua to get you going:
Classic Caesar Dressing
yields 1 quart
2 egg yolks
4 anchovy fillets
½ - 1 shallot, diced
½ -1 garlic clove, depends on your preference
2 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 ounces red wine vinegar
1 ½ cups canola or grapeseed oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 fresh lemon, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
This dish is great warm or cold and comes to us from Chef Joshua Day, who says, “This is one of my favorite original recipes I used in a restaurant up north. It just made sense during fall, and if you can find some arugula or broccoli flowers, they make a stellar garnish.
You’ve got this. Give it a whirl and share the results of your kitchen witchery on our Facebook page!
For most, brightly colored gourds and earthy winter squashes are relegated to nothing more than a piece of home décor or a sugary pie filling—but it’s high time the humble vegetables get their due in a savory setting!
Hard squashes are a nutritional superstar, being high in fiber and low in calories. It’s also an ample supply of beta-carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A in the body—a vitamin essential for healthy eyes.
If you’re set to receive a gorgeous fresh squash or pumpkin in your Front Porch Pickings Farm Box but haven’t worked with them before, we have the perfect starter recipe for you: Seasonal Roasted Winter Squash Soup. You can use any hard squash such as butternut, acorn, pumpkin, or a combination of squashes.
This recipe, generously provided by Chef Joshua Day of Harvest Hospitality, is simple to make but yields a comforting, healthful, brightly colored bowl of goodness. Enjoy it on its own, or with a side of garlic bread to go alongside. You may even consider using this as a first course for your Thanksgiving feast!
However you decide to enjoy it, we’d love to see photos of your final product shared to our Facebook page! You can also join us there for sneak peeks of upcoming produce, new recipes, and ideas for how to enjoy the bounty of your weekly Farm Box.
Haven’t signed up yet? CLICK HERE to learn more about our fully customizable farm boxes, filled to the brim with delicious, fresh, local produce delivered right to your door.
SEASONAL ROASTED SQUASH SOUP
1 five-pound whole pumpkin
2 cups unsalted butter (1lb) plus 2 ½ tablespoons additional
1/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
⅔ cup yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced or smashed
2 quarts vegetable stock
5 sprigs fresh thyme
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 cup maple syrup
As I sit here with my cup of tea reflecting on 2018, I realize just how far we have come since brewing up the hairbrained idea to help bridge the gap between farmers and our local community. Oh my, am I ever so grateful. I am grateful for my friends that brainstormed over cocktails, my husband who encouraged me to take the leap of faith, the farmers that work tirelessly, and the community that has wrapped it's arms around the local food movement.
In this day and age, the struggle to survive is too real for our farms and the struggle to maintain good health is too real for so many in our home state. But last year, thanks to our community, we delivered over 16,000 local, sustainable orders --- providing more than 70 different farmers and artisans with just compensation for their hard work and over 700 families with REAL food.
Be proud! Together, we are making a difference. And it is in this spirit, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your honest support and to wish each day of the new year be filled with health, prosperity, and a ton of LOCAL veggies!
Happy New Year,
Amie & the FPP Team
Have a holiday tradition that you can't do without? My husband grew up eating manicotti and pignoli cookies at Christmas and well, let's just say, he didn't have to twist my arm to keep this family tradition going. Fresh homemade pasta? Oh yes please. But these puffy little almond flavored cookies are delightful. I have to hide a few just to be sure that I get some! I've included the recipe below.
It’s that time of year, the mad dash to the holidays. But don’t fret, Front Porch Pickings has just what your foodie friends will love! Here are a few gift ideas to choose from:
Camp Craft Cocktail Kits Get fancy and give the gift of great cocktails. I’ve been to enough White Elephant gift exchanges to know that the alcohol-themed gifts are the ones people truly want. Don’t be that person who tries to re-gift a 2018 desk calendar. Be the hero!