Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Blooming good time

Happiness for me can easily be defined by a trip to a wonderful farmer's market. Amanda had one in mind when we met this weekend to catch up on business. The Blooming Hill Farm is easy to miss, especially on a rainy day when you are having an argument with your husband in the car about whether the GPS is all right or all wrong. He was right, I was wrong. The GPS was right too. The farm had a small chalk board sign marking the entrance and no name, just a WE ARE OPEN. A person could miss it.
It was worth the 1.5 hour drive from Queens in torrential rain to spend a few hours enjoying this lovely setting. The sun peaked out a bit now and then and the rain settled in to an occasional mist.

The farm has it's own cafe that takes rustic charm to new heights. We ordered a few things for lunch, all prepared from scratch with the farms own ingredients. Delicious! The pizza crust was thin and crispy with a hint of smoky flavor from the wood burning grill. The spinach and ricotta panini was filling and tasty. A spinach lovers treat.

I shopped until I dropped, filling my bag with lettuces, green beans, blue potatoes, a bouquet of pink zinnias, and yes, even some heirloom tomatoes. Once home and beginning to unpack I admired the patty pan squashes I purchased. Stuffed with quinoa and fresh herbs they make a really pretty summer meal.

Quinoa Stuffed Patty Pan Squashes

-this versatile dish can be prepared with any number of different herbs and cheeses. I use what I have on hand and make it with a slightly different twist each time.

4 patty pan squashes
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cup chopped herbs (such as parsley, basil, dill, mint, tarragon, sage, singlely or any combination)
1 cup cooked Quinoa
1/2 cup shredded cheese (such as cheddar, ricotta, fontina, feta)
s & p to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Trim off top third of squashes and set aside.
With a spoon, scoop out the flesh of each squash so you have created a cup. Chop up the scooped out squash flesh and set aside. Heat oil in pan and cook onions till they soften and begin to turn translucent. Add garlic and chopped squash and continue to cook for 10 more minutes until most of the moisture is evaporated and the squash begins to turn a light golden color. Add the chopped herbs and remove pan from heat. Mix in the quinoa and the cheese. S & P the mixture to taste. Fill each squash cup with the quinoa mixture, piling it up so the filling mounds up out of the top. Place filled squash and the reserved tops into a lightly oiled baking dish and cook 35 minutes till golden brown. Serve squashs with there tops arranged at a jaunty angle.
serves four.

Some classic cheese and herb combinations I like:
Feta and Dill
Cheddar and Sage
Goat and Tarragon
Ricotta and Basil
Fontina and Thyme
Have fun experimenting with different combos!

Blooming Hill Farm is truly a special place. I used to visit it every Saturday and Sunday when I lived up in Monroe, NY. In the summer after my son was born, it was the only place I could go with him and actually relax and find peace and quiet. When he was a toddler, he along with several other toddlers donned in water shoes or rain boots, would wade through the stream finding tadpoles, turtles and bugs and tossing stones. I was indeed grateful for this wonderful spot so full of serenity. Now, I am more than happy driving an hour to enjoy the farm and the abundant organic produce they offer - not to mention their menu that is prepared to perfection. I, like Deborah, indulged in their offerings. But, the big difference between Deborah and I is that she gets inspired and lets her heart guide her, instinctively knowing the creations she will concoct. I, on the other hand, get inspired, buy a bunch of stuff, and don't know what to do with it. I have decent cooking skills, probably better than average, but I need to be given suggestions. I lack the inherent creativity of a true chef. So, after reading Deb's recipe on the quinoa stuffed patty pans, I now have a new recipe to try! It sounds delicious. My favorite thing about Deb's recipes is they combine simplicity with elegance. I would pair different wines with this dish, depending on the cheese used. One tip about pairing wine and cheese: wines from specific regions have a particular affinity for cheeses from the same regions. So, as an example: Let's say you were using goat cheese and chose Crottin de Chavignol, which is made in the Loire Valley of France. Sancerre, from the same region would be a great match. Sancerre is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, and has wonderful acidity, crispness and minerality. Lots of green apple and citrus fruit flavors as well. A Vouvray would work well to, which is made from Chenin Blanc. Substitute ricotta, and a new world of opportunities unfolds! For this, I would choose an Italian Rose, and I would even go for red. Sangiovese would be the first to come to mind, such as a Chianti. But remember, this "wine from a region paired with a cheese from that region" tip is only a guide, and need not be steadfast. Nothing ever matters as much as your personal tastes and preferences! Can't wait to make this dish! But before I do, Deb, I have a question: Can you eat the entire squash when it's done, or just the filling?
-eat it all!

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