Sunday, June 27, 2010

Long Island Lemonade Cocktail

The Lemonade Stand. Everyone has probably dabbled in this sidewalk small business venture at least once in their lifetime. The temperature is creeping upward. We set up a card table in front of the steps and throw a plastic flowered table cloth over it. We write out a sign with thick black magic marker that reads “Lemonade 5 Cents.” Mom mixes a big pitcher of frosty lemonade and arms us with a supply of wax paper cups. Then, we sit outside and wait for the cash to roll in. Or, we drink the lemonade because it’s pretty hot in the afternoon sun.

Nowadays, I work in an air-conditioned office building, so I don’t have to hawk lemonade on the sidewalk in the summertime, and when the temperature climbs, I still seek relief and refreshment, usually on the privacy of my deck. Still, I haven’t lost my appreciation for local entrepreneurs.

Rich Stabile, the founder of Long Island Spirits in Baiting Hollow on the North Fork of Long Island, knows a bit about building local business. He created LiV Voda, Long Island’s first craft vodka, and now he’s introducing a new line of liqueurs he calls Sorbetta. The Sorbetta family of liqueurs is crafted in micro-batches using LiV Vodka and are available in Lemon, Orange and Strawberry. LiV Vodka is distilled from Long Island potatoes, so it’s a product that’s closely tied to the agricultural heritage and community of the North Fork. The three Sorbettas are made using hand-peeled, macerated fresh fruits. The Lemon Sorbetta tastes sleek and smooth, with just a hint of tartness.

I thought I’d celebrate the arrival of Sorbetta and summer with a special concoction which I call the “Long Island Lemonade Cocktail” using Sorbetta Lemon Liqueur. It’s sassy, tart and delicious, but it is definitely a far cry from the beverage we sold from that sidewalk lemonade stand!
Louise over at Months of Edible Celebrations, is always in the mood for some merriment, and she’s hosting her annual “Picnic Game” again this year with 26 bloggers contributing to the picnic basket. I’m game. Nothing beats eating outdoors. What could be better to bring to a picnic than a refreshing (and adult) summer cocktail? I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing...
K - Kaltschale (Cold Fruit Soup)
L - Long Island Lemonade Cocktail!
2 ounces LiV Vodka or citron vodka of choice
1 ounce Sorbetta Lemon Liqueur crafted from LiV Vodka
1 ounce organic lemonade

Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into martini glass. Garnish with lemon slice and lemon sugar.

©2010 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler and Celebrating Summer Solstice at Restoration Farm

I am a rhubarb neophyte. Despite the dozens of blog posts that sing the praise of rhubarb each spring, and those sexy cover stories in Gourmet magazine, I’d never tried it. My first experience actually came just this past April, where it was served as the garnish atop an odd luncheon tart at an industry function. At least I think that was rhubarb.

However, being a member of a CSA is all about new culinary journeys, and when the magenta green stalks were included in the first distribution at Restoration Farm this season, I was genuinely excited by the possibilities.

Back in my kitchen, I find there are many things to appreciate about rhubarb. It slices beautifully, and the crisp stalks pack a powerfully tart punch. Chopped rhubarb can be frozen and used in baked desserts, and it pairs particularly well with strawberries. So I dice up about a pound and place it in the freezer along with a quart of strawberries picked at Restoration Farm. I have learned that with proper planning, nothing will go to waste – and it never hurts to have some fresh-picked fruit ready to go in the freezer.

On the afternoon of Restoration Farm’s Summer Solstice Pot Luck Dinner in the field, I prepare a Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler as my contribution to the meal. Preparing the cobbler with the frozen fruit is – dare I say it – easier than pie. The tart rhubarb and sweet strawberries combine into a glossy thick garnet-pink fruit filling that is blanketed with crumbly sweet biscuit dough.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
(Adapted from “From Asparagus to Zucchini – A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce," Madison Area CSA Coalition, 2004)
1 pound fresh or partially thawed chopped rhubarb
4 cups partially thawed strawberries (when freezing, I combined the berries with ½ cup of sugar, and reduced the amount of sugar below to ½ cup)
¾ to 1 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 ¼ cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut up
½ cup sour cream
3 tablespoons cream
Addition cream to brush biscuits
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine first five ingredients in bowl and toss fruit occasionally while you prepare the topping. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in another bowl. Cut butter into bits and work into flour mixture. Combine sour cream and cream in small bowl and stir into flour mixture until just combined. Turn dough onto floured surface and gently knead 4-6 times. Roll dough into ½ inch thickness and cut into rounds with 2 inch biscuit cutter. Pour fruit mixture into buttered 9 inch square pan and top with biscuits. Brush biscuits with cream and bake until golden and bubbly, about 50 minutes.
At Restoration Farm, members arrive to celebrate the dawn of summer and carry all manner of dishes into the field - exquisite salads made with Restoration Farm greens, family recipes like Pastitsio and Spinach Pie, roasted vegetables, pasta salad and our friend George’s Iowa City Coffee Cake. It is a luminous late spring afternoon buffeted by soft breezes and the sky dappled with white clouds.
Head Grower Dan Holmes is resolute that farm dinners must occur as close as possible to the change in season. Indeed, there is something rhythmic and magical dining in the field on a glorious evening, partaking in food that has been grown on the farm, and enjoying a community meal together.

It is simplicity to be savored. We explore the berry patches and check on the heirloom tomatoes readying in the field up the hill. Rhubarb and strawberries are some of the early jewels of the spring growing season. As the sun sets on our farm dinner, we are more than ready for the rewards of summer.

©2010 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My First Cookie Recipe - Petticoat Tails

There are various landmarks in my culinary journey. My first cookbook was the Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook. The first cake I decorated had white frosting and blue piping. I was in elementary school and the cake was for my parent’s anniversary. Much later, I baked my first baguette at the French Culinary Institute. And, my very first cookie recipe was for “Petticoat Tails.”

As I recall, baking Petticoat Tails was an elementary school class project. Here’s the actual recipe card which I wrote out by hand, and my mom still had in her collection of recipes. Based on the style of penmanship, it appears to be circa 3rd or 4th grade, but I’m not entirely sure. It was some time ago…

As far as junior bakers go, I appear to have been a bit of a rebel, and refused to organize the list of ingredients in the same order as their use. And, there are a few critical directions that seem to be left to the imagination. Maybe I was just a little confused. Fortunately, in attempting to revisit the recipe for Petticoat Tails, there is plenty of more specific direction online.

It’s a simple recipe - easy enough for a child to handle - although as an adult, I found that shaping the dough into a log proved just a bit challenging. Maybe I haven’t kept up on my modeling clay skills.

Considering this artifact a little further, I got curious as to the source of the name and recipe. Petticoat Tails is a shortbread cookie. The name always conjured up images of Colonial America for me. Not true. The origins appear to be French. “An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language,” by John Jamieson, D.D., (MDCCCXXV) offer some clues to the the name:

"PETTICOAT TAILS, the name given to a species of cake baked with butter, used as tea bread ...

"For Petticoat tails, take the same proportion of butter as for Short Bread," &c. Collection of Receipts, p. 3 ...

"The general idea is, that this kind of cake is denominated from its resemblance to a section of a petticoat. For a circular cake, when a smaller circle has been taken out of the middle, is divided into eight quarters. But a literary friend has suggested that the term has probably a Fr. origin, q. petit gasleau, a little cake ...

"The old form of this word is petit gastel. There is another similar term, Petit-cote, which is the name of a kind of biscuit or cake, baked for the purpose of being eaten with wine. It is shaped somewhat in a triangular form; and it has been supposed that it receives the name, from the thin or small side being dipped in the wine."

Petticoat Tails dipped in wine? My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Hall never mentioned that. But, they are sweet and buttery, and if you indulge in a few, you might just find yourself fondly reminiscing about spelling bees, recess, school assemblies and Snoopy lunchboxes.

©2010 T.W. Barritt all Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Strawberry Fields and Salad Days at Restoration Farm

Despite the song lyric, strawberry fields are not forever. In several weeks, the plush red conical berries will be a memory, but at the moment, they are ripe for the picking at Restoration Farm.

I’ve been traveling, so I haven’t yet had a chance to taste the first fruits from the farm. The morning air is warm and sweet. I meet head grower Dan Holmes bumping along in the truck as I am walking down the path to the farm.

“Are you here for berries?” he asks. “There are bunches!”

I get to the “Sweet Field” and spend time filling a couple of containers. The strawberry plants lie low to the ground adorned with sparkling, juicy fruit. You have to forage around a bit, but underneath, there are plenty of firm, fat, lip-stick red berries. Soon, my fingers are stained a flattering shade of deep pink.

The beauty of fresh-picked berries is that they are already close to perfection and require so little manipulation. Nature and the farmer have done the work already to assure sweetness and flavor.

And, the blackberry bushes are covered in delicate lavender blossoms, a sign of the berries still ahead this summer.

It is also the first distribution of the season, and the start of my third season as a member of a CSA. People wonder if supporting local food is practical, economical or if the produce tastes any different. Yes, to all of the above. The produce from Restoration Farm will provide most of my food well into the autumn.

It has been a very long winter and it is a delicious homecoming. The “salad days” have returned at Restoration Farm, and I am just a bit cockeyed with glee. Head Grower Caroline Fanning is smiling. While I’ve noted that the farmers are reluctant to predict too far ahead, she thinks it is the start of a “good season.” The tender leaves are everywhere. Dan and Caroline and the volunteers have harvested red lettuce, green lettuce, spinach, arugula and mizuna.

I celebrate the start of Restoration Farm’s new season with the freshest of meals from the field – light, sweet, crisp and brilliant in color – a salad of many greens, Capatano Dairy Farmstead Gouda goat cheese, strawberries drizzled with balsamic syrup, and a bright glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The strawberries are tart and juicy, and the greens peppery and herbaceous. It’s pretty heavenly. (As I planned this first meal from the farm, look what my friend Julia at the blog “Grow, Cook, Eat” was putting together!)

As Barbara at the blog “Chez Aurora” has put it so well, “Green thumbs up!”
©2010 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved