On Sunday I had a bunch of girlfriends over to my tiny apartment and cooked a dinner for them that happened to be about 98% locally sourced. We started off with kale chips, which are très chic right now, according to the foodie blogosphere. I also make tzatziki with dill and chives from my garden and cucumbers and zucchini from the farmers’ market (hothouse grown). The yogurt was from the market as well, I think from jersey cows, which give a high cream content.
Next up was a salad made with greens and herbs from my garden, as well as some extra lettuce my garden mentor Juan gave me (Juan was also my source for the kale). I didn’t have a big salad bowl, so my tall Le Creuset stock pot had to fill in:
The salad was made with about a pound of greens and herbs, about six ounces of crumbled local goat cheese, and a vinaigrette made from equal parts olive oil and orange muscat champage vinegar emulsified with a little extra goat cheese and salt and pepper. One fun salad addition: chive blossoms! They taste spicy, yet floral. And they’re pretty!
Then I finally was able to make that asparagus and mushroom bread pudding I’ve been talking about, albeit with cremini mushrooms instead of morels. I followed Barbara Kingsolver’s recipe only in the loosest sense, using ramps instead of spring onions, thyme instead of oregano, and a lot less cheese (but a lot more cream). Actually, I didn’t even buy cream – these days I buy creamline milk at the market and so I just poured off the top without shaking. Lots of creamy goodness! The eggs in the custard, pictured at right, were very good examples of just how truly orange the yolks of pastured eggs can be. The resulting bread pudding (which in my family we’d call strata) turned out fluffy and tasty and golden brown on top:
Then for dessert I chopped up three fat stalks of rhubarb and cooked them with maybe a quarter cup of sugar until it all turned into a sauce. The sauce went over this amazing ricotta sweetened with honey and vanilla that I got at the market.
We had a lovely ladies’ night, with delicious wine and scintillating (okay, often silly) conversation. It was great to cook for people, since usually I’m just cooking something simple for myself. And without even trying very hard or spending a lot of money, this meal was almost entirely local. There were exactly six ingredients that came from outside the greater DC area: olive oil, butter, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. The rest of the ingredients were sourced from as close as my fire escape herb garden to perhaps as far as the West Virginia panhandle.
I can’t wait to have more dinners when the summer harvest starts rolling in. Sharing food with your friends is one of life’s great pleasures. Plus it prompts me to clean up my apartment. Bonus!