News · Tips and Tricks

Where to Find Farm Dinners

You’ve heard of farm-to-table? How about bringing the table to the farm:

Courtesy: BostonGlobe.com/Natalie Stultz

Boston Globe Magazine published an awesome piece about New England farms that welcome everyone onto their land for a locally-harvested dinner. Ranging in price from $20 to $200 per person, there’s an option for every palate and budget, and many even allow you to BYOB. It doesn’t get much fresher than this, does it?

Read the full article here and see my cheat sheet below for dates, times and locations of farm dinners this summer. There’s sure to be one near you!

***

Allandale Farm, Brookline

allandalefarm.com and outstandinginthefield.com

Culinary event organizer Outstanding in the Field travels nearly year-round from Hawaii to Texas to Quebec, staging farm dinners along the way. This particular dinner is co-hosted by Allandale general manager John Lee and chef Tony Maws from Craigie on Main in Cambridge.

August 26

$210 per person, including wine & tip

Apple Street Farm, Essex

applestreetfarm.com

Frank McClelland, chef owner of L’Espalier in Boston, offers a series of five-course dinners throughout the summer on his farm.

June 21 & 22, July 19 & 20, August 23 & 24, September 20 & 21, October 18 & 19

$180 per person, including wine, tax, tip

Reservations 617-262-3023 starting on the 15th of the prior month (i.e., reservations open May 15 for both June dinners)

Chamberlain Farm, Berkley

chamberlainfarm.com/new-events.html

Buffet dinners made with fresh and local produce are held on Fridays on this quaint family-owned farm and cranberry bog. Friday nights (with a few exceptions listed online) from June 7 to September 27.

$20 per person plus tax & tip

508-880-2817 or chamberlainfarm@comcast.net

Coonamessett Farm, East Falmouth

coonamessettfarm.com

Friday night dinners feature barbecued meat and specialty veggie dishes made with crops from the farm.

Dinners start July 5

$22 per adult and $13 per child 4 to 9 (under 4 free) plus tax & tip

Green Meadows Farm, Hamilton

gmfarm.com/calendar

Four Farm-to-Table Harvest Dinners in 2013 have different themes: strawberries (June 22), blueberries (July 18), tomatoes (August 22), &  fall barbecue (September 21).

Cost TBD (the 2012 dinners cost $45, including tax, tip)

Reservations 978-468-2277 or HollyKing@gmail.com

Just Right Farm, Plympton

justrightfarm.com/whats-happening-now

“Evenings at Just Right Farm” feature five-course dinners made with the farm’s own produce.

Fridays and Saturdays, June 14 to September 28

$120 per person plus tax & tip

Reservations 781-936-5330

Red Fire Farm, Montague

redfirefarm.com/news

Following a daylong strawberry festival and fruit-tasting on June 22, chefs prepare a “Strawberry Soiree” featuring local produce and live music.

Cost TBD (the 2012 dinner cost $35 or $15 for children under 12, including tax & tip

Reservationsevents@redfirefarm.com

Smolak Farms, North Andover

smolakfarms.com/news-events

Weekly Wednesday “Whim Dinners,” each of three courses prepared by a different guest chef.

July 3 through August 21

$65 per person plus tax

Reservations 978-682-6332 or events@smolakfarms.com

Verrill Farm, Concord

verrillfarm.com/events.html

Mother’s Day brunch buffet (May 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; $30 per adult and $10 per child under 10 years, including tax).

Field to Fork dinners: July 30 &  August 21, $40, including tax

Reservations 978-369-4494

Uncategorized

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies

I got this great recipe from the Food Network online. I got invited to a “bacon theme” shindig last weekend, and knew immediately that I wanted to bring bacon cookies like Mark and I had in New York a couple years ago. I thought peanut butter was a genius addition, and I was definitely right.

20130414-163609.jpg

These are sweet & salty and just a little bit different.

I used peanuts with sea salt; you could also try honey roasted. When I make these again, I think I’ll make them smaller and that I’ll add more chocolate chips and cinnamon. Also, I’ll really ball them up tightly and then flatten them into thinner cookies than I did here.

bacon cookies copy

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of chipotle or ancho chile powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 strips bacon (1/3 pound)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (preferably creamy)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped peanuts
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, chile powder and salt in a large bowl.Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Keep the drippings as you’ll use them in a moment.
Once cool, crumble the bacon, discarding (by mouth?) any chewy bits or fat. Beat the butter and reserved bacon drippings in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the peanut butter until combined, about a minute.
Beat in the granulated and brown sugar until creamy, about 4 minutes, then add the egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 more minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture gradually, scraping down the bowl if needed, until just combined — don’t over mix.
Stir in the peanuts and all but 2 tablespoons each of the chocolate chips and bacon. Form the dough into 12 balls and arrange 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Flatten with your fingers, as the cookies will not spread in the oven. Press the reserved bacon and chocolate chips onto the top.
Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve fresh!
20130414-170740.jpg

20130414-170802.jpg

20130414-170753.jpg

20130414-170824.jpg

20130414-163931.jpg

20130414-163819.jpg

Optional adjustments:

  • You can leave out the peanuts and add in more chocolate chips.
  • You can bake the bacon in the oven instead of in a pan on the stovetop, to avoid splatter and the smell of bacon all over your house.
  • You can omit the chili powder (or, conversely, double it to pump up the kick)!
  • Whole wheat flour substitutes well.

20130414-163915.jpg

It’s important to note that these don’t keep as long as regular cookies because of the bacon (as if they’d hang around very long anyway!)

Another tip: Make sure you use creamy peanut butter and not chunky, which can make the cookies too bulky. My favorite brand is Teddie’s, which is made just a couple miles from my house, in Everett, Mass. Once you have this natural brand, carried at major supermarkets, I swear you’ll never go back to Skippy! 

Original Recipe at FoodNetwork.com.

Recipes

Mango Chicken Risotto

This risotto combines mango chicken sausage with roasted red peppers for a sweet, filling, simple meal. It comes together fairly quickly and will give you plenty of comfort-food leftovers! I make it often for Mark when his work schedule is nightly, because it’s easy for him to reheat when he has to eat dinner earlier than I get home from work.

20130410-195221.jpg

As I mentioned in my last risotto post, Springtime Risotto with leeks and peas, risotto makes great leftovers. It reheats very well and a little goes a long way ~ if you ask me, it actually tastes better a day old. In Italy, this is a popular lunch choice, especially for kids who come home between morning and afternoon classes to eat. (My springtime risotto post has great step-by-step risotto instructions for first timers, so definitely check it out if you’re new to making risotto and want a simple breakdown. There’s no reason to be intimidated by this dish ~ it’s simpler than people make it sound!)

20130410-195612.jpg

They key ingredient is real Arborio rice, not regular white or brown rice. Arborio is an Italian short-grain rice that is high in starch and absorbs lots of liquid to give you a creamy finished product. When I lived in Italy, I learned that risotto is truly a staple — you can throw just about any leftover veggies into it with whatever meat or seafood sounds good to you (if any).

20130410-195505.jpg

The second key ingredient is stock, which you’ll add warm to the rice in stages. I have used both vegetable and chicken stock when making risotto, depending on the crowd I’m serving (veg or otherwise). Both taste just fine; I’d only recommend that you stay away from low-sodium broth unless you absolutely have to for health reasons, because risotto needs all the flavor boost it can get, and seasonings are important.

Once the stock boils, you’ll want to keep it at a medium simmer — not so high that it starts to burn off, but not so low that it cools down, either. You need it hot to mix into the risotto properly.

20130410-195442.jpg

I cook the sausage and red peppers together when I have non-vegetarians eating the dish, and separately when it’s for folks who don’t want the meat touching the veggies. Since you’re adding it all into the pot at the end anyway, it doesn’t affect how the dish turns out. And you can use any kind of sausage you like! Real, fake, chicken or pork, spicy or sweet. I often make this meal with roasted red pepper sausage, which I find at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, when I want a savory version. I’m pretty sure you could find similar in the natural grocery section of any store.

20130410-195355.jpg

First you’ll saute the chopped onions until translucent (you can also use leeks) in a liberal amount of olive oil and butter; each helps the other not to burn. Then, by adding the rice to the buttery onions before adding any liquid, you help coat the risotto with fat which will prevent that mushy starchy thing from happening. Then, you’ll add a splash of white wine. You can also omit the wine if you need to, although most of the alcohol will burn off and very little is retained in the final dish. After the wine, you’ll do a cup of water before you start adding the simmering broth. When you add liquid, stir immediately until the rice absorbs it and before it can stick to the bottom of the pan.

By repeating over and over in small increments until the rice has absorbed all the broth in the pan, you’ll achieve that creamy yet slightly al dente perfection of authentic risotto! Add in your meat and veggies, then top with freshly grated parmesan and pecorino cheese (which is nice and salty), and serve warm.

20130410-195328.jpg

Mango Chicken Risotto

hands-on time: 30 minutes    Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups arborio rice (1 package from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 large carton (or 2 cans) vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced and seeded
  • 1 package mango chicken sausage (or any kind you like), sliced thin
  • parmesan and pecorino cheese, roughly grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water, as needed
  • olive oil and butter
  • splash of white wine (optional)

Directions

Set a sauce pan on medium-high and pour in the stock. Once it reaches boiling, reduce heat and keep the stock at a low simmer, so it doesn’t burn off  but stays warm. I usually add two cups of water to the broth a well, to help it go farther.

Meanwhile, chop the onion and add it to a large stock pot with equal parts olive oil and butter; stir until melted, well coated and translucent.

Chop the red peppers and slice the sausage and start cooking over medium-low in a saute pan on another burner. You can cook these separately if you have vegetarians eating this; that way, you customize each plate.

Add all the rice at once and stir to coat.

Pour a healthy splash of white wine into the pan and stir briskly to reduce. Next, add about a cup of water and stir until absorbed.

Then, start adding the simmering stock, one cupful at a time, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.

Once the stock is gone, taste test; if the rice is too al dente, add water gradually until it achieves the right texture — firm but not stiff, and before it gets soggy.

Grate parmesan and pecorino directly into the pan. Pick a not-too-small grater and be heavy handed with the cheese.

Taste; add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with white wine or a nice cold beer!

risotto copy

Recipes

Two-Ingredient Cookies

I was highly skeptical of this, but I’m willing to try anything. Two ingredient cookies? We’ll see….

Courtesy: The Burlap Bag blog

…but they are surprisingly tasty! And dare I say….not all that bad for you?

The only ingredients are overripe bananas, and 1 cup of quick oats. That’s it.

Of course, if you want to, you can add in raisins, walnuts, cranberries, etc. Even chocolate chips. But you don’t have to. The only critical thing to remember is to grease the cookie sheet when you make these, or you’ll have a real mess on your hands. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and you’re done.

Check out the full recipe @ The Burlap Bag.