Farm Dinner 9/26-27

Stirring the Beet Risotto 

Stirring the Beet Risotto 

Dinner Table

Dinner Table

View from the Barn

View from the Barn

The final Farm Dinners of the season took place last weekend, and I couldn’t have asked for a better send off into winter.

These were quasi-last minute dinners, not on the original calendar, and I was afraid that they wouldn’t be well attended. But each night, or so I thought, had groups of 20 or so. But I made a mistake and a group of 10, who I thought had booked for Friday night, instead booked for Saturday.  So instead of two even nights, we had an intimate dinner for 9 on Friday and a barnburner for 31 on Saturday. But in in the end, it was the best way to finish the season. Michelle and her farm crew from Birch Point Farm came and sat for dinner with Jess and my husband, Erik. It is always such a pleasure to serve farmers and to be the place where they want to come to celebrate their season! We also had some first time dinner guests and some friends who I’ve only gotten to know better.

Plus, this was my favorite menu of the whole season. It is probably trite to love the transition from summer to fall, but this menu encapsulated the enchantment of the changing seasons. It was also pretty amazing to be cold at night and yet still in a swarm of fruit flies— #puremichigan

Thank you to everyone who made this season’s dinners a success—especially to Cassie Stanzler, Annie Comperchio and Andrea Diebler for wanting to help so often. And a special thank you to Mr. Autumn Man himself, Erik Hall, for doing dishes two nights in a row. 

One Big Grill

One Big Grill

From the Garden

Beets, Carrots, Potatoes, Kale, Chard, Kohlrabi, Sweet Onions, Leeks Tomatoes, Winter Squash, Bell Peppers Hot Peppers, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Garlic, Cucumbers, Broccoli, Oyster Mushrooms and Herbs.

 From the Pantry

Strawberry Jam, Plumberry Jam, Pickled Carrots, Pickled Green Beans, Tomato Sauce and Rhubarb Honey Jam.

From the Freezer

Spicy Sausage, Ground Pork, Ham, Venison Loins, Rabbit Loins, Tongue of Fire Beans, Roasted Peppers and Roasted Tomatoes.

From our Neighbors

Idyll Farm: Goat’s Milk Caramel

Kilcherman’s: Antique Apples

Shetler’s Dairy: Yogurt and Cream

Stone House Bread: Seedy Wheat

Fustini’s: Walnut Oil

And that became this menu

To Start…

Melted Leeks with Swedish Crackers

For Dinner…

Pork Rillette with Kale and Preserved Plum Vinaigrette

Carrot Fritters with Tomato Eggplant Relish, Almonds, Yogurt and Mint Oil

Beet Risotto with Walnut Oil and Parmesan

Grilled Pork Sausage with Delicata Squash, Chard

and Preserved Blueberries

For Dessert…

Antique Apple Tasting:

Almatta, Sheep Nose, Blue Permain, Strawberry and Lady

with Goat’s Milk Caramel and Oatmeal Biscuits

Leeks were a hit

Leeks were a hit

Melted Leeks with Swedish Crackers

Leeks define early fall for me. This is one of those simple dishes that are more than the sum of its parts. They taste of onions and green grass and they are often dirty as all get out. Remember when cutting them to soak in plenty of cold water to allow the dirt to fall away and change the water as many times as needed until they are clean.

I have been crazy for Siljan’s Finn Crisps. They are super old world crackers that come in a big round, red and blue package and taste like a gift from the old world. I’ve seen them at Hansen’s and Oryana. But in their stead, any super grainy rye-based crisp will do just fine. The key is to contrast the silky, creaminess of the leeks with the health-food style crunch of the cracker.

4 leeks

½ C olive oil

½ tsp herbs de provence

¼ C cream

  • Cut the dark green tops and the roots away from the leeks and strip off any wilty outside leaves
  • Cut the whole leek in half lengthwise and then into half moons about ¼ inch thick
  • Transfer those moons to a large bowl filled with cold water
  • Agitate the water to knock off the dirt that lives between the leek layers
  • Lift the leeks (don’t pour the water over the leeks or risk the sand reattaching to the leeks) and transfer to another bowl of water, as many times as needed until they are clean
  • In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the herbs de provence and allow to fry for a minute or so
  • Add the leeks with a big pinch of salt and turn the heat down to low
  • Slowly cook until the leeks are melted and a pale, cooked green
  • Add the cream and bring to a simmer and reduce by half
  • Allow to cool and serve room temperature

Carrot Fritter with Tomato Eggplant Relish, Mint Chili Oil and Yogurt

1 lb carrots

3 eggs

1 T cornstarch

neutral oil for frying

For the relish

1 qt cherry tomatoes

1 medium eggplant

3 cloves garlic

1 bu parsley

For the mint oil

¾ C olive oil

1 bu mint

½ tsp chili flakes

For the relish

  • Heat the oven to 400F
  • Cut the eggplant into medium dice
  • Toss with olive oil salt and pepper and roast until golden brown on the outside and cooked through
  • Wash and cut the tomatoes in half
  • Combine the tomatoes, roasted eggplant, minced garlic and chopped parsley and a good glug of olive oil, pinch of salt and equal amount of fresh black pepper

For the mint oil

  • Heat the olive oil, remove from the heat and add the chili flakes to bloom the spice
  • In a blender or food processor, whiz the oil until cool and add the mint
  • Blend until smooth

For the fritters

  • Grate the carrots and combine with the eggs and cornstarch (I don’t salt the mixture because it leaches the water from the carrots. Instead salt after they are fried)
  • Heat frying pan with neutral oil and then fry the carrot mixture making the fritters any size you like
  • Once the fritter is brown on one side, flip and brown
  • Transfer to a baking sheet and finish in the oven (at any temperature) until the egg binder is cooked through

To serve

  • Place a fritter on the plate, top with the relish and drizzle with the mint oil and yogurt
  • We topped the whole lot with toasted almonds for crunch but it is optional