Sunday, September 23, 2007

Charlottesville Carnivore

Recent dishes:

Delicious (but not very photogenic) meatloaf made with

  • "forest fed" ground pork from Babes in the Wood

  • grass-finished ground beef from another local farm

  • a local egg

  • cracker crumbs

  • worcestershire sauce

  • various dried herbs that I don't remember off the top of my head

  • and topped with curry ketchup from Montebello Kitchens

Delicious (but not photogenic, either) "Indian burgers" made with

  • grass-finished ground beef from a local farm

  • my homemade yogurt

  • mint from the farmers' market

  • onion from the farmers' market

  • ginger root

  • various dried spices that I don't remember off the top of my head

  • topped with slices of tomatoes from Waterpenny Farm and cucumbers from the farmer's market

  • and served between slices of sunflower wheat bread from BreadWorks

In the stock pot right now:

  • a local chicken

  • with basil from Waterpenny Farm

  • and garlic from the farmers' market

. . . soon to be joined by

  • carrots from Roundabout Farm

  • onions from the farmers' market

  • celery from Double H Farm

  • potatoes from the farmers' market

  • parsley from the farmers' market

I'm looking forward to some nice soup!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Peach Tart

Things have been busy since I got back to Charlottesville, with not enough time for cooking and even less for blogging. But recently I saw this recipe for peach and thyme polenta tart and decided that I wanted to try it out. I bought last-of-the-season peaches and a little bundle of thyme from the farmer's market, and used local eggs in the dish, too.

End result: as delicious as it looks in the other blog's picture.

Process: had some complications.

The recipe specifies a nine-inch tart pan, which I do not have. So, at first I tried to use a nine-inch pie plate. I figured that the sloped sides would reduce the volume somewhat, but I did not think it would be too far off from a tart pan. Well, when I pressed the cornmeal dough into the pie plate, it made a very thick crust. After I baked the crust and it puffed up a little in the oven, it had consumed (I would estimate) more than half the interior volume of the pie plate. There was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to fit five sliced-up peaches in there, let alone the custard.

After pondering my options for a while, I transferred the crust to a deep cast iron skillet that was about nine inches in diameter. The crust broke up in the process, of course, but it was still warm and soft, so I just pressed the crumbs into place and figured it would be OK if some of the custard ran down through the cracks in the crust. I wasn't sure I could fit the fillings into the crust, but I decided I would rely on the straighter, higher sides of the skillet to keep everything contained.

Even with the larger pan, there was still no way that I could fit all five medium-sized peaches into the tart. I cut three peaches into very thin slices and crammed the slices into the crust standing up on their long inside edges, with their skin side edges up. Then I poured the lemon-thyme custard over, added the crumble topping, baked the thing, and ate the extra peaches raw. (They were perfectly ripe and delicious.)

Although my tart came out nowhere near as pretty as the one pictured at the Apartment Therapy site, it does taste quite good. It is rich, with all that butter in the crust and the eggs and cream in the filling, so I have been eating one small slice per day, usually for breakfast. The crust is very thick; if I were making this recipe again, I think I would either reduce the crust recipe or try to put it into a bigger pan. I really like the sweetened cornmeal crust, though; I might try making it again for different fillings sometime.