Monday, April 30, 2012

Farm Food: Goat Stew

On a farm in the middle of a very rural area, you eat what you grow.

Of course there are staples from town, cans of things and jars and such, but the majority of your food (hopefully) is seasonal and grown on farm.

Maybe you trade some lamb chops to a neighbor for a beef brisket or flank steak; maybe somebody down the road has veggies you don't grow, and you've got a deal worked out bartering eggs - the point is, you get what you can.
This is my reality for the next few weeks, and it feels fantastic.

(we still go to the store for groceries, about twice a month)

My hosts, Will and Kent, are great guys with a beautiful farm. Right now, I'm staying in their house; a real bucolic gem that embraces the rural feel but with refurbished modern conveniences (like a Sub-Zero fridge and Wolf range with a grill and flat top). The walls and ceilings are from the original farmhouse. Adorned with antlers, farm memorabilia, and lots of vintage chicken pictures, the house makes you feel immediately welcome, like you've lived there for years.

We take turns making meals, and my hosts are more than happy to let me take over as they kick back with a glass of wine after a busy day on the farm.

Today's menu: goat stew with sweet potatoes, chickpeas and currants.

This easy stew has layers of flavor. The simple recipe and adaptability should make it a staple for any kitchen cookbook. Whether a cool spring night, or an overcast rainy day, this stew makes a great meal with good crusty bread and fresh butter.

The sweet potatoes can be substituted with carrots, yellow potatoes, or any root vegetable you wish. The chickpeas are nice, but can be left out if other vegetables are wanted (artichokes, leftovers, seasonal veg etc...) The currants can be swapped with almost any dried fruit, but I think that dried cherries would be a nice compliment. Try to pair the fruit and veggies. Tart fruit, sweet vegetable; sweet fruit, savory vegetable; you get the idea.

The goat in this stew was none other than a Whitmore Farm Tennessee fainting goat. Raised on pasture and slaughtered at a small mom and pop butcher. It was delicious.

Also, I'll admit that the chickpeas came from a can, and the sweet potatoes, although organic, traveled a fair distance before they arrived in our shopping cart.

Goat Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas

6 cloves garlic
6 sprigs thyme (or rosemary)
2 1/2 lbs. goat stew meat (chunks!)
1 lb sweet potato or other root vegetable, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
one can chickpeas or 12 oz artichoke hearts
one lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup dry wine (I used what we had, but I feel that almost any would work)
1/4 currants or cherries or apricots or tart raisins
2 cups chicken stock (approx.)
2-3 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Add the oil, garlic, and thyme into a large pot and then set over medium heat, letting the oil infuse with the herbs for about 4 minutes.
2. Brown the goat pieces, adding them as necessary, and piling the browned pieces in the corner of the pot while the newer pieces cook. Make sure the garlic and thyme don't burn. If you must plate the meat to ensure no burning, do so, but add all the meat before the next step.
3. After all the goat is browned, salt and pepper it to taste, then add the wine. As the wine boils, use a wooden spoon and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, and let the wine reduce by about 1/3.
4. Add the chicken stock to the pot, along with the bay leaves, and the juice from your lemon. When everything starts to simmer again, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot,  and let the goat simmer slowly for one hour.
5. Add your currants, potatoes, and about 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Continue cooking for 45 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add the chickpeas. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. The goat and potatoes should be tender, and the chickpeas should be softened but still have some bite to them. Remove the bay leaves and taste for salt before serving!

Serve with crusty bread and good butter. Like all stews, it is fantastic the next day.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Farm Time

Dear Followers and Casual Viewers,
Sorry for not posting so much in the month of April.
I have recently started an internship on a farm in Emmitsburg, MD called Whitmore Farm.
I have been here since the 15th, and will be staying through the month of May.
It is an organic meat farm and it is awesome.

I have not had a lot of free time to spend blogging, and so, you all may or may not have suffered from this.
To make up for my lack of posts, here are some animal pictures! (Everybody loves baby animals right?)

 The farm specializes in heritage breed animals, and the ones pictured are Gloucester Old Spot pigs, Katahdin hair sheep (no wool to shear!), Wellsummer chickens (one of 5 heritage breeds on the farm), and Tennessee Fainting Goats. Yeah. Awesome. In addition to these animals, there are also Silver Fox Rabbits.

Since I am no longer in NYC, I won't be taking pictures of awesome Malaysian food, pig head tacos, crazy Chinatown finds and the like, but I will still be posting. We have been making some great meals here on the farm, mostly from local organic ingredients, with as much utilized from the farm as possible.

Please keep checking back as I certainly will keep posting.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Snack Attack! Bonne Bouche

Sometimes I just get a snack attack, and I have to eat something. It doesn't have to be awesome or clever, or even particularly good. It just has to satiate me for the time being. A whole bag of chips or a hard boiled egg, half a plate of leftovers, whatever.

Sometimes I think ahead and make snacks, or buy things that will make for an impressive snack; these will be the ones that I share with you. I can imagine you don't want to see a picture of cold pizza or an empty bag of Terra Blues.

Recently, I had a snack attack of one of the best snacks ever. Cheese and bread. Throw some slow roasted tomatoes in there and you've got yourself a quick, easy, and deceptively simple snack with maximum results.
These are slow roasted tomatoes on the left, and a cheese called Bonne Bouche on the right.

The cheese is the real star here; the way that it pairs with the sweet and savory tomatoes, adds depth and flavor and makes a regular snack something special.

Bonne Bouche is made by Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery. It is a goat cheese, that is both ash-ripened and a bloomy-rind. I will explain.

This cheese is covered in vegetable ash, which is why it has that blueish-grey hue, this has some subtle flavor characteristics, but does not make it taste smokey.

Bloomy-rind cheeses are covered in a mold that ripens the cheese from the outside in. Cheeses that have a bloomy rind will have a cake-y center and a gooey outer layer. Ones that may be familiar are Humboldt Fog, or St. Andre.

In this close-up you can see the fuzzy parts of the rind. That is mold growing on the outside of the cheese. It is not harmful mold, and may be eaten along with the inside of the cheese (recommended!) I also enjoy the way this cheese looks.

Bonne Bouche have a unique flavor that is fantastic. It is an incredibly complex tasting cheese. It is earthy and sweet, it has some funk, but is not overly pungent or aromatic. It is gooey and delicious, but also maintains some cake-y integrity in the middle. It has the characteristic tang of goat cheese, without all the acidity of fresh goat cheese. At room temperature this cheese is almost unbeatable.

Anyway, Snack Attack right!?
 The Perfect Bite

This combo is so good.
I find this particularly good on a baguette, or a nice soft sourdough loaf.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Nyonya Love

Malaysian food is delicious. The kind of meal you want to share with lots of people, so that you can order everything on the menu, I often skip the soup with friends, but solo, I planned to take full advantage.

The best fried squid, fantastic stir-fried noodles with shrimp and eggs, deep fried taro bowls stuffed with chicken and veggies, all are must order dishes when I go to Nyonya in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The menu at their Manhattan location is different (some things missing, prices increased) but the food is just as fantastic. This recommendation is for their Brooklyn location on 54th and 8th ave.

Curry soup with bean curds and fish, noodles and stuffed peppers and eggplant was the object of my affection this go around.

After a Roti Canai to start out, I made my way through a few cups of hot, grassy tea, before I was rewarded with the sight below.

Curry Mee with Young Tau Foo is what the menu called this curried soup with noodles and fish-stuffed bean curd. Available for $5.50 if you order from the "noodles in soup" section of the menu, or for $6.95 if you order from the appetizer section; the difference being the noodles and the amount of stuffed eggplant and peppers included.
This is a close up of the Young Tau Foo part of the dish, or the "stuffed bean curd." It is very tasty, especially if you enjoy the taste of fish. While not overpoweringly fishy, it offers a salty bite to compliment the fatty spicy broth that comes from the coconut curry.

It should be noted that I had this for breakfast. It was a wonderful way to start my day.

April Showers

Starting in mid-April, I will be joining Whitmore Farm as an intern for their spring season. I was just in Maryland visiting friends and the farm, getting ready for my new spring job.

I'm very excited for this opportunity, and eager to learn as much as I can during my stay there.

So you see, I haven't posted since I got down to MD, even though I was eating all manner of Vietnamese, Cuban, burgers, and other cuisines, because I was busy catching up with old friends and making new ones.

I spent some time in D.C. for an art exhibit, and found myself chomping down on a Shrimp Roll from Luke's Lobster, getting some pork buns at a local bun spot, and ultimately eating dinner at Pho14 in Columbia Heights.

Had to get some Five Guys burgers and fries, because let's face it, they are freaking awesome.

Plenty of new restaurants opened in Frederick since I was last there. My friends, acutely aware of my intense foodie habits, happily displayed their new haunts, eager to share with a discerning palate.

I will keep posting. And keep your eyes peeled especially for the Farm posts that will start showing up soon.