Friday, July 15, 2011

Brunty Farms Plated Landscape Dinner

Fresh Landscaping

Last Friday, on a perfect summer evening,  I was one of the lucky forty one guests who scored a ticket to one of Spice of Life Catering's Plated Landscape dinners, this one held at my CSA Farm, Brunty Farms.  Jeff and Mel, and many of the CSA members worked very hard to get the farm in tip top shape, including finishing some landscaping in front of the farmhouse, where we were greeted with a refreshing welcome cocktail of Blueberry Lavender Lemonade with Watershed Vodka (from Columbus, OH).

Blueberry Lavender Lemonade w/Watershed Vodka

While we were sipping our cocktails and waiting for all of the guests to arrive, spicy cold Carrot Ginger Soup shots were passed, and a delicious pork terrine with crostini and coarse mustard were our pre-tour appetizers.

Ginger Carrot Soup Shots and Pork Terrine

Jeff Brunty and Melanie Schenk led the group on a tour of the farm and showed us where the meat chickens were being raised in tractors in the pasture, where they are moved frequently after grazing on the grass and fertilizing the pasture.

Chef Ben Bebenroth, Jeff & Mel

We then moved on to meet the laying hens, who were getting ready to roost for the evening, and this poor lost lamb, who got separated temporarily from the flock and cried plaintively, until she figured out how to get back to the group. 

Mel and the Laying Hens
Lost Lamb

We then trekked up the hill to the greenhouses housing the older chicks and baby turkeys, next to the the pig pasture.  The pigs figured we might be bearing food, so they moved their way from the back towards us. This tiny red one escaped the farm for a few days, and Jeff and Mel assumed she'd met her fate at the hands of one of the coyotes roaming the park.  Then there was a knock on the door, and a neighbor holding the wayward pig, who had wandered quite far from the farmhouse.

Lil Red

We then headed to sheep pasture, where a long table was set for dinner, flanked by tents housing Spice of Life's outdoor kitchen.  The temperature was perfect, humidity low, and bugs virtually non-existent.
We were greeted with an appetizer of Brunty Farms Chicken Wings, fried, with some fiery spices.

Table set-up in sheep pasture

The first course was an earthy, chilled beet soup that was perfectly accented by a touch of tangy goat cheese.  A salad course followed, which was perfectly balanced, which I forgot to photograph.

Cold Beet Soup with Goat Cheese

There was lively conversation at the communal table, as strangers became friends.  Farm dog, Riley, fresh from the groomer, was transfixed by the band, whose cello rested on an unattainable tennis ball, and violinist kept taunting him with a 'stick' he wouldn't throw.

Riley the Wonder Dog

The tables were decorated with cattails and other greenery foraged from the farm.

Farm Fresh Centerpiece

The sheep grazed around the table, led by the feisty ram, Caesear, who, did indeed ram a few guests, but could be deterred with a firm shove. 

Sheep, wondering why we were grazing in their pasture

The next course was amazing - Pappardelle made with Brunty Eggs and mushrooms from Killbuck Valley Farms.

Pasta with Mushroom

When I saw Ben Bebenroth manning the fryer,  I was a happy camper.  When the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Thigh with Garlic Gravy and farm fresh green beans was served, I was even happier.  The thick delicious crust had a beguiling combination of spices that the Colonel could only dream of.

Fried Chicken Thigh, Garlic Gravy, over Farm Fresh Beans

As the sun began to set over the table, the final savory course, a Brunty Pork Loin, over ratatouille appeared.

Dinner Underway
Pork Loin atop Ratatouille

By the time dessert appeared, a creamy vanilla custard with cherries, darkness had descended, and the table was aglow with candlelight.

Vanilla Custard with Cherries

Each course was paired with a wine, and the pairings for the most part were spot on. My only criticism however, involves the wine service.  There was only one stemless wine glass on the table per guest, and it seemed like every time I turned around a server appeared with the next wine before the last was finished. Putting out two glasses would have solved the 'dump or come back dilemma' and made the wine service seem less rushed.

Jeff and Mel

I've really enjoyed working with Jeff and Melanie the last few years.  At 25 and 24, respectively, they have wisdom beyond their years, and the youth and energy required to take care of an astounding number of animals in a caring, sustainable way.

Everyone had a great time.  I'd highly recommend getting a seat at one of Spice of Life's remaining dates if you can.  And getting your hands on some of the most delicious eggs available locally, from Brunty Farms.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blueberry Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Chutney

Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Chutney

Lean pork tenderloin and sweet/tart fruity sauces are a match made in heaven.  A trip to the farmers market yielded a quart of sweet, juicy, local blueberries, and a farm fresh pork tenderloin from Brunty Farms was defrosting in the fridge, and this was the flavorful result. 

You can find The Olive Tap at many farmers markets, including the new Peninsula Farmers Markets on Wednesdays.  (I am back on the Weight Watchers wagon so I was stingy with the oil; you can be more generous). You can also adjust the sugar depending on how sweet your berries are.

Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Chutney
 4 Servings

1/4 t. Meyer Lemon Olive Oil (The Olive Tap)

1/3 c. chopped red onion
1 T. Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar (The Olive Tap)
1 t. Coconut Vinegar (The Olive Tap)
1/4 t. cardamom
1 T. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. red onion
1 pint blueberries, rinsed, picked over
salt and pepper

For Pork:
1 pork tenderloin - trimmed
1 t. Penzeys Mural of Flavor Seasoning
salt and pepper
1 t. Meyer Lemon Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat 1/4 t. lemon olive oil in medium saucepan and saute onion a few minutes until softened.  Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer over low heat while preparing the pork.

For pork - heat 1 teaspoon of meyer lemon olive oil in medium oven proof skillet.  Rub seasoning and salt and pepper on pork, then brown on each side in hot oil.  Finish cooking in preheated oven, about 15 minutes, until internal temp reaches 145 degrees.  Rest, then slice, and serve with sauce. 

WW Bonus Tip:  I steamed my crinkle cut squash, (easy, with a crinkle cutter) then tossed in the pan juices left from the pork since I already counted the oil in my points tally. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Grilled Scallops with Corn, Bacon, Tomatoes & Dill

Smoked Salt with Lemon & Dill
I love discovering new salts and seasonings, especially if I can purchase them from small, preferably local vendors.  I met Nathan, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, with a line of artisan salts, dry rubs, and marinades at the farmers market at Gervasi Vineyard.  (If you haven't checked out Gervasi yet, with it's delicious rustic Italian dining and wine, with beautiful grounds and an outdoor patio - get there as soon as possible!)

I purchased a tantalizing smoked salt that is combined with preserved lemon and dill.  Doesn't that sound delicious?  I'm sure it will be tasty on salmon.  Yes, salmon, after many false starts on the road to loving salmon, the Copper River has converted me.

Tonight, however, three large, beautiful sea scallops from Kate's Fish at West Side Market, were in the fridge, along with an an ear of fresh corn, fresh dill, garlic scapes from my Brunty Farms CSA.  With a slice of apple smoked bacon from the freezer, and fresh pasta from Ohio City Pasta, and a handful of grape tomatoes, inspiration for dinner struck.

I fired up the grill, then rubbed the shucked ear of corn with some Meyer Lemon Olive Oil from The Olive Tap.  I put the ear of corn on the grill while I prepped the other ingredients.  I pressed the shallots between paper towels to get all of the moisture out, then sprinkled them with the smoked salt and some coarse black pepper. 

You know what a pain it is to slice those tiny grape tomatoes in half one at a time?  Here is a great trick:  Put the washed tomatoes on a small plastic lid like this:

Then cover them with another lid, put your hand flat over the top, then run a serrated knife through the tomatoes to slice.

And, viola, quick and easy, sliced tomatoes.

Grilled Scallops with Corn, Bacon, Tomatoes & Dill
1 Serving

1 slice of Applewood Smoked Bacon
3 Large Sea Scallops, cleaned, dried between paper towels
1 ear of fresh sweet corn, shucked and silk removed
1 t. Meyer Lemon Olive Tap Olive Oil
smoked sea salt with preserved lemon and dill
freshly ground black pepper
1 large garlic scape, minced
10 grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 # fresh pasta
fresh lemon juice

Heat grill to medium high.  Put large pot of water on to boil from the pasta. 

Rub corn with a paper towel dipped into the Meyer Lemon olive oil, then place on the grill to char, turning occasionally.  Cut the kernels from the cob.

Cook the bacon until crispy, then remove the bacon to drain, reserving the grease in the pan.  Add the corn kernels, chopped garlic scapes, and grape tomatoes to the bacon grease and cook over medium for a few minutes, then set aside off heat while you grill the scallops a few minutes on each side.

Cook the pasta for a minute or so, then drain and put in serving dish.  Add fresh chopped dill and season with salt and pepper to the corn mixture, then toss with the pasta and top with the scallops.  Squeeze fresh lemon juice over and crumble the bacon on top.