Capturing the Fleeting Flavors of Summer
On Saturday, June 25, Analiese Paik of the Fairfield Green Food Guide made a guest appearance on WTNH’s Good Morning Connecticut Show at 7:49 am to discuss how to capture the fleeting flavors of summer and the newly released cookbook, Connecticut Farmer and Feast.
Watch the video:
Connecticut farm-fresh produce and fruit is filling farm stands, farmers’ markets, green markets, and farm-to-door retailers. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the fleeting flavors of late spring and early summer. Strawberries, rhubarb and garlic scapes are abundant now, but will soon be gone. Here are a few ways to prepare and preserve these local, seasonal favorites.
Strawberries and rhubarb are a magical fruit and vegetable combination. Pies, crumbles, compotes and spicy chutneys are favorite ways to enjoy rhubarb. This strawberry-rhubarb compote (fruit cooked in syrup) is prepared very simply and quickly by cooking the rhubarb, which is quite tough and tannic raw, with some sugar, water, and a vanilla bean until tender, about 5-10 minutes minutes, then adding sliced strawberries at the end and cooking them only slightly. The result is a delicious, flavorful, and fragrant strawberry-rhubarb sauce that can be served hot or cold as a pancake, waffle or ice cream topping, spread on toast, or stirred into plain yogurt. It would make a wonderful shortcake topping, no cream necessary. (recipe below)
If you’re looking for a more sophisticated strawberry compote appropriate for adult guests, think of adding some flavored liqueur instead of sugar. Millix Farm Strawberry Compote is a recipe from the just released cookbook Connecticut Farmer and Feast. Author Emily Brooks visited almost 50 CT farms and has profiled each farmer, sharing stories of multi-generational farm families alongside those of first-time farmers. More than 85 seasonal recipes showcase each farm’s products, and in the case of Millix Farm in Willington, it’s strawberries, which are at their peak right now.
In Millix Farm Strawberry Compote Emily Brooks uses Grand Marnier and orange juice, a classic mixed drink combination, to create a decadent dessert appropriate for guests. You can also use triple sec, Frangelico or Amaretto. For the best result, use fresh-squeezed oranges to make the orange sauce. Connecticut Farmer and Feast is available wherever books are sold. We’re giving away a copy of Connecticut Farmer & Feast in our Facebook sweepstakes! Anyone 21 and older who lives in CT can enter the sweepstakes. Click on the Sweepstakes banner at the top of this page to enter or visit the Sweepstakes tab on our Facebook page. Click here to view upcoming book signing events, including several in Fairfield County.
Garlic scapes are only available for a very short season and it’s a mistake to pass them over. The scape is the stalk of hard neck garlic and is harvested while young, curly, and flexible so it’s still edible. When the scape straightens, it becomes tough and inedible. Get them now before the season ends! Garlic scapes taste like garlic, but are much milder and add a unique flavor to stir fries, eggs, and soups. I love to buy a large quantity (or just take the plentiful ones in my CSA) and make garlic scape pesto in the food processor, substituting them for basil in a traditional pesto Genovese recipe (recipe below). I then freeze some of it for the winter as a pick me up. The pesto is great simply spread on some good bread, like the #1 artisan bread in Connecticut, The Flaxette from Fairfield Bread Company. It’s a great addition to sandwiches or tossed with pasta. Farmer Patti Popp at Sport Hill Farm in Easton, another farmer profiled in Connecticut Farmer & Feast, likes to add a spoonful or two to yogurt to makes a fresh dip.
This recipe requires a little time to clean, hull and slice the strawberries and chop the rhubarb. After that, it’s done in 10 minutes. The magical combination of strawberry and rhubarb is one not to miss!
- 4 cups diced rhubarb , 1/4-1/2 inch dice (4 large or 6 small stalks) (remove all leaves, damaged skin and any soft parts)
- 4 cups hulled and sliced strawberries (keep whole if they’re very small) (about 3 pints)
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 vanilla bean (substitute 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
Serves a crowd!
- Remove the tough stalks, leaves, and any soft parts of the rhubarb and place in compost pail. Cut the rhubarb into 1/4-1/2 inch uniform sized pieces (so they cook evenly), making sure to cut long stalks into several pieces and halving very wide pieces lengthwise before chopping.
- Wash, hull and slice strawberries making sure to remove any overripe strawberries. Very small strawberries should be kept whole.
- Place sugar and water in a saucepan, gently heat over a medium-low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the whole vanilla bean and rhubarb, cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
- Add sliced strawberries and cook for another 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is just tender. Cook longer if you like the rhubarb shredded.
- Remove from heat, use tongs to remove the vanilla bean and slice it in half on a cutting board. Slice one half open lengthwise and use the tip of a paring knife to scrape out the tiny black seeds. Add the seeds to the compote and gently stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. Simmer for another minute and then transfer compote to a serving dish or storage container.
- Dry the remaining half of the vanilla bean with paper towel or a kitchen towel and store it in glass or plastic (yes, it’s reusable).
- Serve hot or cold as a pancake, waffle or ice cream topping, spread on toast, or stirred into plain yogurt. It would make a wonderful shortcake topping, no cream necessary
Garlic Scape Pesto
This recipe requires no cooking, just a quick rough chop of the garlic scapes and a few minutes in the food processor. If you’ve never had it, you’re missing out on a seasonal delicacy!
- A dozen garlic scapes (usually sold in bunches)
- about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
- Sea salt
- Wash and rough chop the garlic scapes. I like to cut off the immature seed heads (bulbils) and reserve them for sauteeing or stir frying.
- Fit the food processor with a metal blade and secure the bowl.
- Add garlic scapes, pine nuts (or walnuts), and olive oil to the food processor along with a pinch or few grinds of salt.
- Close lid and puree until chunky or fine (your preference), stopping from time to time to scrape down the bowl and lid.
- Scrape pesto into a bowl and add cheese, stirring just enough to incorporate. Taste and add just enough salt to make the flavors vibrant.
- Serve on pasta, pizza, bread or stir a few spoonfuls into yogurt for a dip (a tip from Patti Popp of Sport Hill Farm).