Heavens Harvest Farm @ Waltham Farmers’ Market

12 10 2013

I always love going to the Waltham Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.  Depending on schedules (swim, dance) I usually have one of my children with me.  Today I was solo !  I got to spend time talking to people, looking at beautiful fruits of labors, and relax.  No chasing after kids, bribing with delicious donuts etc.

The first place I went to was Heavens Harvest Farm.  They have the pinnacle of what a farmers market should have – truly beautiful products.  They are worthy of just being a picture in a frame on your wall; they are blessed with being so delicious and good for you at the same time as well as being visually inviting.  I need to come up with a new category.  Visual Umami ?  Umami cubed?   Regardless, I love their displays.  The last time I brought my daughter, the swiss chard was gorgeous – groupings of leafy goodness – the colors were extraordinary.  The oranges, yellows, reds…my daughter picked one out that was almost as big as she was.  And sautéed with some of the great Spartan Pure olive oil and some sea salt….my wife and I ate it right out of the pan, standing around the stove.   We just couldn’t wait!

This week the selection was equally beautiful.  Squashes, apples, fennel, peppers, potatoes etc….all beautiful.  If you get the time to go to the farmers’ market, I highly recommend anything from Heavens Harvest.  They are personable, funny and they think like you do – grow it safely so you can eat it safely.  Seems like a perfect combo to me.  If you forget to bring your own bags, they do supply them for you.

Enjoy the pictures – I can’t wait to enjoy the fruit.

You can visit them at the Waltham Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.  I don’t know the rest of their schedule, but you can go to their website here:  http://www.heavensharvestfarm.com/   OR follow them on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heavens-Harvest-Farm/104735889564221

Follow Waltham Farmers’ Market: http://walthamfarmersmarket.org/   or on Facebook at :  https://www.facebook.com/walthamfarmersmarket or on Twitter @WalFarmMkt

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Incredible Olive Oil

10 10 2013

As an Italian foodie, olive oil has always been a part of my life.  When I was a child, my favorite thing on Sundays would be when my father took a few slices of Italian bread, would heat them up in the oven, rub a little garlic on them, and drizzle them with olive oil.  We would eat the warm bread and taste the oil, garlic combination, maybe with a sprinkle of salt.  Looking back on it – a truly simple thing.  But as a child, I thought it was a true treat.  And it tasted so good.  It’s actually funny, it was easily 25 years ago, 30 years ago, and I remember the texture of the bread, the oil and salt…

A friend of mine at work is Greek.  Our running joke has always been “so what are you cooking this weekend ?”  George has family in Greece, and has visited them often.  George appreciates true food, the connection between family and love and food.  One day George asked me if I like olive oil.    Long story short – George’s family lives in Sparta (which in and of itself is pretty cool), and they have olive groves.  It is from his grandfathers small mountainside village that his cousins pick and press the olives into this surreal oil.

I’ve been lucky to work in a gourmet food store that sold many different types of oils from around the world.  I’ve eaten in restaurants around the world that have offered oils from different regions.  I can say, hands down, that this is the best olive oil that I have had the fortune to consume.    It is beautiful to look at, and even just tasted as an oil by itself, it leaves me wanting more.

As I was taking pictures of this earlier, I took the spoon and tasted the oil – and it was an explosion of pepper and bite and brightness.  Many oils are more oil than flavor, or they are such a sublime subtle flavor that whatever you put the oil on overpowers it.  Spartan Pure is so different in that it truly compliments the food you pair it with.  And that is the difference – this oil is paired with your food, instead of hiding with it.

Before I met my wife, I ate avocados like a barbarian (tabasco and a little dollop of mayo).  My wife showed me the path to enlightenment.  Avocado with sea salt sprinkled over it, fill the gap left by the pit with a good olive oil, drizzle with fresh lemon juice, crack some pepper on top of it.   I can tell you this – even with your normal extra virgin olive oil, this can be quite a tasty experience.  The first time that we had avocados with Spartan Pure – it was beyond delicious.  We were sitting around the dinner table with the kids.  I had cooked a whole chicken, the kids were enjoying their chicken and pasta.  Karin and I split an avocado, made her way (the only way!).  The first bite of avocado with Spartan Pure was really incredible.  You tasted the oil, the flavors worked in concert with the lemon and pepper; the smooth creaminess of the avocado complimented the roughness of the cracked pepper – the mouthfeel was awesome and the flavors danced together so well.  Needless to say – we had another avocado, and then poured more olive oil on our plates and ate it with our chicken.

The one thing that George told me, that I completely agree with, is this:  this olive oil is made to be enjoyed.  So we don’t just use it with avocados and bread but I use it in all of my cooking as well.  I know that olive oil is good for you – the right fats, and antioxidants.  Those are the health benefits, but we enjoy this olive oil because it just tastes so real.  It tastes like olive oil should taste.

Because I love it so much, I have given bottles of it to my friends who appreciate great foods.  This is not only a great food, but has such an awesome story behind it.    And I think it is so great that George shares it with me, as he only imports a small amount of each year.

George is in the process of getting Spartan Pure into specialty shops in the Boston area.  In the meantime, you can follow him on Twitter @SpartanPure or on Facebook @SpartanPureOliveOil

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Phil’s Apples: U-Pick

8 10 2013

I just found out this morning from my cousin Ellie that her brother-in-law recently purchased Phil’s Apples in Harvard Mass.  If you haven’t been apple picking yet, take a ride out this weekend and do some picking at Phil’s.  Let me know if you’ve been there already.

phils orchard

 

http://www.philsapples.com/





The “new” kitchen

6 10 2013

For those of you who saw pictures of our old kitchen, here are pix of the “new” kitchen

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Making Mozzarella

5 10 2013

Well, my neighbors got me thinking about making my own food, so today I attempted to make mozzarella.  For a first try, I won’t like, it was better than it could have been, but I have higher standards for myself, so I didn’t think it was so great.  Others, however, did enjoy it.  I have to say that the quality of milk that you use is the biggest thing.  I used a gallon of Hood whole milk.  I think even at this level, it is too pastuerized to come together the way you would prefer.  Whole raw milk would like result in the smoothest mozz but the curds that I was able to create were very small.

Here are the ingredients and the basic steps

1 gallon of whole milk

1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid

1/4 teaspoons rennet, combined with 1 cup water

1 to 2 teaspoons salt, to taste (pref Kosher)

  1. sprinkle citric acid into a cool empty non-reactive stockpot.  Pour 1/4 cup water over it to dissolve it.
  2. pour milk in and combine
  3. put pot over medium low heat and heat to 90 degrees.  If you see curdling, this is ok.
  4. Remove the pot from the burner and pour in the rennet/water mix.
  5. stir for 30 seconds, slow wide turns.  bring contents to a stop, cover and leave it alone for 20 minutes
  6. using a knife or flat spatula, cut the curd into a large checkerboard
  7. put back on heat, stir gently until curds and whey come to 105 degrees.
  8. using a slotted spoon or long handled strainer, transfer the curds to a collander.  Set it over a bowl if you want to keep the whey.
  9. once the curds have drained off as much as you think they can, transfer the curds to a microwave safe bowl, and heat for 1 minute on high.
  10. drain the whey that has come out, and put back into the microwave for 30-40 seconds.
  11. repeat #10 once or twice more.
  12. take cheese out of bowl, knead it and work in your salt.  you will likely undersalt it the first few times you make it.  Stretch the cheese, and fold into a ball like you would with dough.
  13. place cheese ball into an ice bath until it is completely cool.
  14. ENJOY !

My first attempt came out more like a really rustic mozz or a firmer ricotta.  I think that the quality of the milk that I used had a lot to do with that.  The curds that were created were quite small, instead of the thicker curds that a better milk would have produced.

 

These are some of the pictures of the process and end result.   And like any thing – practice makes perfect.

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Moody’s Delicatessen & Provisions

4 10 2013

Looks like the name of the business that Chef Smith is opening is called:  Moody’s Delicatessen & Provisions.  He already runs New England Charcuterie  http://www.newenglandcharcuterie.com     A date that I saw for the opening is October 15th, a Tuesday.

Address is 488 Moody Street, Waltham, MA





Boston Organics

3 10 2013

Was waiting for me when I got home today. What a fantastic treat ! I wish you could have been here when I opened the bin – the luscious aroma of earth and freshness and the combo of fruit and veg. The kids will be stoked for dessert tonight – oranges pears grapes bananas. Delish!

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Wine and beer making

29 09 2013

I just found out that there are quite a number of beer and wine makers in my neighborhood. I did know of one, as we bartered earlier this year – I sold him a rocking chair for cash and a mixed sic pack of his home brew. I get to collect this week and am truly excited to try it out.
We’ll apparently there are quite a few winemakers in this great neighborhood. While I am Italian (half) I didn’t have the big local family bit did we have a winemaker, a cheese maker, and a sausage maker. My father experienced this in Italy with his relatives, I did not. I have always strived to make that a part of my adult life (and by extension-my kids). I have made my own beer, my own pasta, but not wine and not sausage (soupy!). This I look forward to greatly.





Boston Organics

26 09 2013

bostonorganicslogo

Boston Organics

Looks like we are going to go back to getting deliveries from Boston Organics.  It is such a great service, like being part of a CSA, but with the goods delivered right to you !  You control exactly how much you want to get, what you prefer to receive, if there are items you absolutely do NOT want.   We had Boston Organics a couple of years ago but now that the kids are all big enough and enjoy eating fruits and veg, it looks like this is a great and surprisingly inexpensive way to get fresh local fruits and vegetable to our table.  Our EdibleTable.





Moody Street Provisions

24 09 2013

new-england-charcuterie-logo

 

http://tinyurl.com/mlzzgbe

 

Moody Street Provisions

Can’t wait for Chef Joshua Smith to open his shop on Moody Street.  Always looking for gastronomic artists to share their love of food with the rest of us.  When I was just out of college I was lucky enough to work for the Wickford Gourmet in Wickford RI.   This was before Whole Foods were everywhere and even the little shop down the street has a selection of cheeses.  WG had 80 cheeses from around the world, meats from several continents, 25 kinds of olives, pates, terrines, etc.   It was a great place to work and a better place to eat.

I always look at food shops and think of WG.  Maybe now I can think of MSP in the same vein.

Good luck Chef !








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