Wild American Shrimp

shrimp

From tainted pet food to lead paint-coated toys, China is taking heat for a numer of its potentially dangerous products. Most recently, activists warn consumers to be wary of China’s farm-raised fish and specifically its farm-raised shrimp. While America currently imports 90 percent of its shrimp from farm-raised fisheries in Asia, this reality may change as more people learn about the the foreign industry.

The environmentally irresponsible practices employed in many of these Asian facilities have been widely documented. An estimated 3.7 million acres of tropical mangrove forests have been cleared to create multi-acre shrimp farms, destroying important habitats for fish, birds and humans. Untreated wastewaters pass freely from the shrimp cages to the surrounding ocean, polluting the water and aquatic life. And the liberal use of antibiotics, needed to prevent and treat rampant diseases, creates strains of drug-resistant bacteria, potentially compromising our health. These farms, many now abandoned after years of land exploitation, litter the coastlines of China, Vietnam and other big fish-exporting countries.

For these reasons, Seafood Watch, an organization devoted to ocean conservation, ranks wild-caught shrimp from the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico as the best choice among warm-water or tropical shrimp and a “good alternative” to its best overall shrimp choice: wild-caught shrimp from Oregon. Seafood Watch recommends these pink, cold-water crustaceans for shrimp cocktail or salad, and praises Oregon shrimpers for achieving low levels of bycatch. This watchdog organization places imported farm-raised shrimp on the “avoid” list.

Catching shrimp in their natural habitat, however, is not a perfect alternative to farming. Seafood Watch estimates that shrimp trawling — the dragging of a trawl net along the seafloor — accidentally catches and kills more than 1.8 million tons of marine life (bycatch) each year, including many turtles and sharks, accounting for more than 25 percent of the world’s wasted catch.

By creating turtle excluder devices (TEDs) and various bycatch reduction devices (BRDs), however, some fishermen have reduced the number of turtles trapped by 97 percent and reduced bycatch of some fish species by as much as 50 percent.

A recent advertsing campaign beginnig, “You’ve been bamboozled. Snooped. Hoodwinked,” stars Southern shrimpers promoting their domestic wild-caught prawns. The shrimpers hope to rebuild an industry severely damaged not only by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but also by the increasing infiltration of cheap imported shrimp in the market.

For more information about where to find wild American shrimp visit wildamericanshrimp.com. Whole Foods Market sells 16-20 count wild shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. While it may be a little harder to find, wild shrimp does exist at the market. This summer, search for this environmentally responsible and tasty product — go wild for American shrimp!

Grilled Basil-Garlic Shrimp
Serves 6

2 lbs. large, 16-20 count shrimp
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
½ cup finely chopped basil
4 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt
pepper

Peel shrimp, leaving the tails on. Run a pairing knife down the backside of each shrimp, removing the vein, while butterflying the shrimp. Place in a bowl with the oil, lime juice basil and garlic. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Preheat the grill to high. Remove shrimp from bowl, discarding excess marinade and place on a large plate. Season evenly with kosher salt and pepper. When grill is hot, place shrimp onto grates and let cook for 2 minutes, leaving the cover open. Flip shrimp and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from grill, pile on platter, and serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce
Yield = 2 cups

½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
½ cup thinly sliced shallots
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled
1 chili, such as Thai bird, Serrano or jalapeno

Combine lime juice, fish sauce, vinegar, shallots, sugar, pepper flakes and garlic in a small bowl. Using a mandoline, vegetable peeler or a knife, cut the carrot into 8 to 10 thin slices. Then with a knife, cut into very fine strips. Add to the bowl. Cut the chili into thin cross sections, leaving the seeds intact, and add to the bowl. Stir all and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Tinto-Style Cheese Plate

PetitBasque

A month ago, my friend and I enjoyed a delectable cheese plate at Tinto, Jose Garces’ Basque region tapas restaurant. Drizzled with Acacia honey and sprinkled with bee pollen and espelette, a wedge of Petit Basque paired with a sliver of quince membrillo began the evening most memorably. Tinto offers a variety of Basque region cheeses, each served with these same four accoutrements.

Last week, to celebrate two friends’ recent move to the East Coast from San Diego, I picked up a selection of Spanish and French cheeses, mostly from the Basque Country, as well as a jar of Acacia honey and a small canister of espelette from Di Bruno Bros. While membrillo can be made at home, most specialty shops carry it, and bee pollen can be found at health food stores such as Essene or Whole Foods Market. With a light salad, a fresh baguette and a few slices of prosciutto, these cheeses made a perfect dinner.

A selection of Spanish and French cheeses, from left to right:

Blue de Basque: A sheep’s milk blue cheese made in the French Basque region. Milder and less salty than other blue cheeses, this cheese is semi-firm and slightly crumbly.

Monte Enebro: Pasteurized goat’s milk produced in Avila, west of Madrid. Semi-soft, and chalky-white, this cheese tastes tangy, with a distinct goat flavors.

Garrotxa: A pasteurized goat’s milk cheese indigenous to Catalonia, but produced throughout northeastern Spain. With a firm but moist and smooth paste, Garrotxa tastes herby, tangy and nutty.

Petit Basque: A raw sheep’s milk cheese with a creamy body and nutty taste, made in the French Pyrenees.

La Serena: A raw sheep’s milk cheese produced in Western Spain, in the community of La Serena and surrounding areas. Touted “one of the world’s greatest soft sheep’s milk cheeses,” by Max McCalman, author of The Cheese Plate (Random House, 2002). La Serena, at its peak, it is soft and spreadable, tasting rich, buttery and creamy. If purchased as a whole cylinder, the top can be cut off and the inside enjoyed by scooping out the pungent and grassy-tasting paste.

Idiazabal: A raw sheep’s milk cheese produced in the Spanish Basque Country. Usually smoked, Idiazabal has a hard, orange-brown exterior color, with a buttery and nutty flavor. Similar to Roncal, Manchego & Zamorano, this cheese pairs particularly well with quince paste.

Pictured below: The bar at Tinto

Tomato, Watercress and Mozzarella Salad

salad

Tomato, cucumber, watercress salad

Last Sunday on our way to Fante’s Kitchen Wares Shop in the Italian Market, my aunt and I stopped by Claudio’s. While we had intended only to briefly visit the store, we ended up in line, waiting patiently with many others, to be fed cheese. Three in particular always deserve a taste — Claudio’s mozzarella, Claudio’s ricotta and an imported baked lemon-ricotta. My aunt walked out of the store with a wedge of all three.

The mozzarella, truly Claudio’s specialty, tastes like imported buffalo mozzarella, with a slightly firmer texture — it holds up nicely in this watercress salad. Spread onto toast, the homemade ricotta with a thin slice of tomato makes a delectable snack. And a sliver of the sweet lemon-ricotta, when paired with fresh berries, makes a light summer dessert .

Tomato, Watercress and Mozzarella Salad
Serves 4

1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 English cucumber
1 ball mozzarella, Claudio’s if possible
1 head watercress
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
vinaigrette (see below)

Halve the cherry tomatoes and place in large bowl. Remove stem and seeds from peppers and chop into small dice. Dice the cucumbers finely as well and add to bowl with the tomatoes. Cut the ball of mozzarella into large pieces and add to the bowl. Add the watercress and pine nuts to the bowl and toss lightly with the Basil-shallot vinaigrette.

Basil-Shallot Vinaigrette
Yield = ½ cup

4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small bunch basil, finely chopped (1/4 cup)

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots, mustard, sugar and salt. Let mixture macerate for 20 minutes. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Add the basil, whisk, taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary. Set aside.

Almond Scones with Strawberry Jam

almond scone

So many goodies arrived today in my CSA basket, but most notably, a jar of homemade strawberry jam from Countryside Produce in Paradise, PA. Last week we received a quart of strawberries, this week jam — heaven! Sadly, we may already have reached the peak of strawberry season: This past Tuesday, at the South and Passyunk Farmers’ Market, Gloria from the Rineer Family Farmstand doubted she would bring any more strawberries this summer. Although I will miss the fresh strawberries, I will happily savor this jam. For a wonderfully sweet breakfast, serve the jam with these buttermilk-almond scones.


CSA Week 5:
1¼ lbs sugar peas
1 head cabbage
1 crown broccoli
3 zucchini
1 bunch scallions
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 head red leaf lettuce
1 kohlrabi root
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch garlic scapes
1½ lbs kale

Almond-Buttermilk Scones
Yield=6

a scant 2¼ cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon (2.33 oz) sugar
1½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sliced almonds
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick cold unsalted butter

2 tablespoons milk
turbinado or demera sugar for sprinkling

Set oven to 375°F.
In a medium to large-sized mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the almonds and stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and the vanilla. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Gently knead the dough together in the bowl until it is just combined. Be careful, however, not to mix and knead the dough too much—you just want to combine the ingredients. If you have to add a tablespoon more of buttermilk, do so, but otherwise just gently pack the mixture into a ball and then turn dough out onto a work surface.

Gently pat and shape the dough into a rectangle approximately ¾ to 1 – inch thick. With a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into six triangles. At this point, either freeze the cut scones in a zip lock bag or place them on Silpat or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Brush the scones with the milk and sprinkle with the sugar. (Note: you can brush the scones with anything you like: eggs, egg whites, cream, even water. If you don’t have turbinado or demera sugar, regular granulated sugar is a fine substitute.) Bake the scones for approximately 15-18 minutes. (When you bake frozen scones, remove them from freezer while oven preheats. Brush with wash just before baking and bake 18-23 minutes.) Serve immediately with strawberry jam.

Unfortunately, as of now, I have no recipe for strawberry jam, but will post one as soon as I find one. These and the strawberries above are from the Rineer Family Farmstand.

Grass-Fed Beef

burger

When I stopped by the Fair Food Farmstand last Thursday to pick up my CSA, I picked up a package of grass-fed ground beef as well. Before reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan, 2006), I didn’t know that cows are natural herbivores and until recently ate grass primarily.

The switch from feeding cows grass began in the 1950s, after farmers discovered how to grow corn cheaply and efficiently with the help of artificial fertilizers. When this discovery led to the creation of large surpluses, however, the excess corn traveled to ranches. And when ranchers discovered how quickly cows could grow on a corn-based diet, they moved cows from the pastures into feedlots and fed them this energy-packed grain. Both parties profited: farmers from solely growing corn; and ranchers, by raising cattle indoors with that corn.

Although grain-fed cows produced well-marbled meat — a highly desired product by all meat-lovers — the meat also became less healthy, and the practices employed to create the meat, less humane. The ethical and environmental concerns surrounding feedlots have been widely voiced, particularly because cows, living in cramped quarters on unfamiliar grain diets (which their ruminant stomachs have difficulty digesting), receive hormones, supplements and antibiotics to promote growth and protect against diseases — drugs never needed when cows fed on grass. Furthermore, when manure is not spread across the land by grazing cattle, but instead dumped in large quantities, the soil becomes overloaded with nitrates, which in turn run off and pollute nearby waters.

Grass-fed meat is far superior nutritionally than grain-fed meat. Grass-fed meat not only is lower in total and saturated fat, but also contains 75 percent more omega-3 fatty acids, 78 percent more beta-carotene, 300 percent more vitamin E, 400 percent more vitamin A and 500 percent more conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) than grain-fed cows.

To read more about the health benefits of grass-fed beef and the practices of raising cattle on corn visit Eatwild.com.

Grass-fed beef has been dismissed as bland and oddly textured by many meat lovers. Although I haven’t tasted many cuts of grass-fed meat, I love the grass-fed ground beef I buy from the Fair Food Farmstand. My friend and I enjoyed delicious grilled burgers last Thursday evening. We seasoned the meat with kosher salt before forming the patties and mixed in a finely chopped onion as well. On a crusty roll with lettuce and tomatoes, these pasture-perfect patties are pleasantly pleasing.

CSA Week Three:
1 lb. baby lettuces
1 bunch French breakfast radishes
2 heads baby bok choy
1½ lbs red Russian Kale
1 bunch dandelion greens
1 head Jericho Romaine
1 bunch scallions
1 head green leaf lettuce

Grass-fed Burgers
Yield = 3 burgers

1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
½ medium onion finely chopped
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

buns, lettuce, tomato, cheese as needed

Spread the ground beef out in a large bowl. Season evenly with kosher salt. Spread the onion across the meat evenly as well. Gently mix the mixture, then form into 3 patties, being careful not to pack the meat or mix the meat too much. Chill the patties until you are ready to grill.

Preheat a grill to high. Season patties on both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Grill to desired doneness.

Classic Cherry Clafouti

clafouti

Sweet Bing and Rainier cherries currently abound in the markets. While cherry pie is traditionally made with tart cherries — the smaller, bright red variety grown primarily in northern Michigan — sweet cherries can still be used for desserts until the sour Montmorency cherries arrive, usually in mid-July.

Although clafouti, a batter cake originating in the Limousin region of France, is traditionally made with unpitted black cherries, pitting makes the dessert far more pleasant. A cherry pitter expedites the preparations for this classic dessert. Many grocery stores carry plastic stoners for $3.99 that work perfectly well — there is no need to spend $25 for a fancy OXO brand pitter: It likely will get used only once a year. With the help of a food processor or a stand mixer, preparations take fewer than 15 minutes. Sprinkled with powdered sugar, this sweet cherry clafouti looks particularly elegant in individual crème brulée dishes.

Cherries are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium and Vitamins A, C and E. They also have high levels of melatonin, which not only controls sleepiness at night and wakefulness during the day but also functions as an antioxidant to help the body destroy free radicals. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends sweet cherries for their powerful phytochemicals, believed to help prevent cancer of the breast, lung, liver and skin. To read more about a recent study linking an increased intake of tart cherries to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, click here.

Cherry Clafouti
Serves 8 (Yield = 4 crème brulee dishes)

unsalted butter for greasing
4 crème brulée dishes, or 1 (10-inch diameter) glass pie dish
4 teaspoons sugar, plus ½ cup
2 cups cherries, pitted (about 32)
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ cups whole milk
¼ cup all-purpose flour
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease the crème brulée dishes with butter and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Gently tap each dish so the sugar disperses evenly. Place the dishes on a rimmed cookie sheet. Drop approximately 8 cherries into each dish and set pan aside.

In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer, beat the eggs with the remaining ½ cup of sugar, vanilla extract and salt until well-blended. Add milk and beat to blend. Sift flour into mixture and beat until smooth. For easier pouring, transfer batter to a bowl or liquid measuring cup with a spout. Pour batter evenly over cherries.

Place pan in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. An inserted knife should emerge with just a few moist particles. Let cool 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Grilled Flatbread

grilledflatbread

The second Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA box again abounded with beautiful produce: baby lettuces, French breakfast radishes, bok choy, pea tendrils, cremini mushrooms, mustard greens, scallions and, most intriguing, fleur de choy. Fleur de choy, the edible flower of the bok choy plant, can be eaten raw or cooked, or used as a garnish. Chopped and sautéed with garlic and olive oil, the green stalks and yellow flowers brighten any simple pasta dish.

This grilled flatbread, strewn with sautéed cremini mushrooms, scallions and taleggio, and drizzled with truffle oil makes a light summer meal when paired with a simple mixed greens salad.

Grilled Flat Bread with Crimini Mushrooms, Taleggio and Truffle Oil

½ teaspoon instant yeast
1½ cups warm water
4½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, roughly sliced
kosher salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
8 sprigs thyme, leaves removed, roughly chopped

olive oil for brushing
4 scallions, trimmed and sliced thinly
4 oz. Taleggio
truffle oil to taste

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water. Swirl the bowl to dissolve the yeast, then at 2 cups of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 1 hour.

Add the salt and olive oil to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the remaining flour to the bowl, stir to form a mass, then turn mixture onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth and satiny, adding flour only as necessary. Place the dough in a large, lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 2½ hours. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 balls. Place balls on an oiled sheet tray, grease the tops of the balls lightly, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 35-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil until almost smoking. Add the mushrooms and leave undisturbed for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes pass, shake pan gently, season with kosher salt and pepper to taste and add the shallots. Let cook for 2 minutes longer, until shallots are lightly golden, then remove from the heat. Sprinkle with the thyme, then transfer to a plate to cool.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high. Clean grill grates and lightly grease with oil. Roll each ball into a 10- to 12-inch circle or rectangle. Brush one side of rolled dough with olive oil and place on grill, oil-side down. Close grill cover and let cook 2 minutes, checking after the first minute. Lightly brush the top side of dough with oil, then, using tongs and a spatula flip the dough.

Top dough with cheese and scallions and close grill cover. Let cook for 2 to 5 minutes longer until dough is cooked through and cheese has melted. Remove flatbread from grill, place on cutting board, drizzle with truffle oil, cut and serve. Repeat with remaining dough.

Memorial Day Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

icecreamsand2

During a recent visit to upstate Vermont, I enjoyed several Chester Bars with two of my little cousins. Chester Bars, a Vermont specialty, are ice cream cookie sandwiches, similar to Chipwiches, but so much better. This red, white and blue star-dipped version, while not quite the same as the original, makes a festive dessert for Memorial Day weekend. The cookies, delicious on their own, are soft and chewy and make a perfect base for a rich vanilla-bean ice cream filling.

Memorial Day Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches
Yield = 17 sandwiches

10¾ oz unsalted butter (1 1/3 cups)
10¼ oz light brown sugar (1½ cups packed)
7¾ oz granulated sugar (1 cup)
2 large eggs
1 T. pure vanilla extract
17 oz unbleached all-purpose flour (3¾ cups)
1¼ tsp table salt
1 tsp. baking soda
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

½ gallon vanilla ice cream
red, white and blue sprinkles

Preheat oven to 375°. Cream butter and sugars together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl, beat again on high for one minute. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended, about another minute on medium-high speed. Whisk flour, salt and baking soda together in separate bowl. Add to butter mixture and combine with a spatula or wooden spoon until just blended. Add the chocolate chips and stir till combined. The dough will be stiff.

Place heaping tablespoons of the dough onto an ungreased jelly-roll pan. (If you have a digital scale, each ball should weigh 1¾ oz. If not, each ball should be approximately equal to two level tablespoons.) Bake only six cookies at a time.

Bake 10-11 minutes. Keep a close watch. The cookies will still look uncooked when you remove them from the oven. (You will think you are removing them too early, but the cookies will continue cooking as they sit on the tray out of the oven — this will guarantee a moist and chewy cookie.) Let sit for 10 minutes on tray before removing to a cooling rack. Let cool completely.

Line half of the cookies on a work surface face down. Scoop ice cream from tub and place on top of each cookie, about ¼ – ½ cup of ice cream. Top each with a cookie and gently press. Wrap each cookie in plastic wrap and place in the freezer. (If you have space for a cookie sheet in the freezer, line the sandwiches on a sheet pan, cover whole pan with plastic wrap and freeze until ready to serve.)
Place various sprinkles in separate bowls. Let kids, adults, guests dip their own sandwich in desired topping.

Salad From My CSA Basket

CSASalad2

This past March I signed up for the Lancaster Farm Fresh Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). I had just read Michael Pollan’s, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and felt inspired to start buying locally produced foods as often as possible. I visited Maysie’s Farm Conservation Center in Glenmoore, PA and spent a few hours touring the green house, hoop house and barn with Sam Cantrell, the owner of the farm. Sam explained to me the concept and history of CSAs and when I left the farm I resolved to join one. While many CSAs exist outside of Philadelphia, two of the larger ones — Lancaster Farm Fresh and Red Earth Farm — deliver to locations all across the city.

Greens in Maysie’s Farm Conservation Center’s hoop house:


To learn more about CSAs and Maysie’s Conservation Center read this article.

Last Thursday, members of the Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA received their first, long-awaited share of vegetables for the 2007 growing season. This box, packed on Wednesday night with vegetables harvested earlier that day, included 2 heads of bok choy (one green, one red), 2 big heads of Romaine, 1 bunch of asparagus, 1 bunch of French breakfast radishes, 1 bag of mesclun and 1 bag of mustard greens. On Thursday morning, a Lancaster Farm Fresh truck dropped off the boxes at 10 locations outside of Philadelphia and 10 locations in the city. I picked up my box at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market. This salad of grilled tender asparagus, peppery sliced radishes, and herby mixed greens is just one of the delectable dishes I enjoyed this week from my basket of bounty.
Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA

Grilled Asparagus, Sliced Radish and Mesclun Salad
Serves 4

1 bunch asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste
8 breakfast radishes
8 oz. mesclun
1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup red cherry tomatoes, halved
Parmigiano Reggiano

Tarragon – Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Turn grill to high. Toss asparagus with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place on grill, cover and cook 5 minutes, checking after 3. Test one asparagus with a knife, and remove from the grill if tender. Let cool, then chop into 2-inch lengths on the bias.

Cut the ends of the radishes and slice thinly using a mandoline or knife. Halve the tomatoes and set aside. With a vegetable peeler or knife, shave off large strips of cheese from the block of Parmigiano Reggiano. Set aside.
To assemble, place asparagus, radishes, tomatoes and mesclun in a large bowl. Toss lightly with dressing. Divide evenly among plates and top with the shavings of Parmigiano.


Tarragon-Shallot Vinaigrette
Yield = ½ cup

4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons tarragon, finely chopped

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots, mustard, sugar and salt. Let mixture macerate for 20 minutes. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Stir in tarragon. Taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary. Set aside.

One of the border collies at the farm:

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

RhubarbCobbler2

Every Tuesday at the South and Passyunk Farmers’ Market, the Rineer Family Farm from Lancaster brings the sweetest, most fragrant strawberries. Inspired by their prized berries and the rhubarb from the Livengood’s Produce stall, I made this strawberry-rhubarb cobbler. Unlike most rhubarb desserts — requiring masses of sugar to counter the rhubarb’s tartness — this cobbler, made with naturally sweet strawberries, needs much less. With a buttermilk biscuit topping, this strawberry-rhubarb cobbler, when paired with vanilla ice cream, makes a light and fruity spring dessert.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Cobbler
Serves 8-10

1 lb. rhubarb
1 lb. strawberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¾ cup sugar
zest of one lime
pinch of kosher salt

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, cold
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons demera sugar

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Wash rhubarb and cut into 1-inch lengths. (This should yield about 3½ cups.) Wash strawberries, cut off stem and slice in half. (This should yield about 3 cups.) Place rhubarb, strawberries, cornstarch, sugar, lime zest and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.

In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mixture in small pieces and stir with a fork to combine. Whisk buttermilk and vanilla together, then pour mixture into dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until mixture comes together — the dough will be very wet and sticky.

Transfer fruit to a 12 x 8½-inch (2 quart) baking dish. Break off portions of the dough (about 8-10) and arrange over the fruit. Brush the dough with the milk and sprinkle the sugar over both the fruit and dough portions of the dish.

Place in the oven for 50-55 minutes, until topping is golden brown and juices are bubbling.

Let cool on rack 30 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.