Peter's Weekly Walkthrough
April 25, 2023
I grew up outside of Chicago in what was once a little town called Naperville. Legend has it that the name Chicago was derived from the Algonquin name for stinking onion- “shikaakwa”. A long time ago, before The Loop, The Cubs and Sears Tower, the area was a prime growing area for Ramps (25585-3 lb): rich moist well drained soil with good shade. When starting out in kitchen we would pair this seasonal gem with another item Chicago became known for- Steak- often hitting them in a hot saute pan for a quick minute, chop them up, mix with egg and cream. Baking them off for a Ramp custard to go with the steak. If you would like to bring some of these “Stinking Onions” in, please give us a day or two have them in from the foragers.
Finally, something local and green! Washington Consumer Asparagus (25624-20 lb) started us off soon followed by the Large (23854-11 lb) and Standard (26935-28 lb) sized Asparagus. It brings back good memories of the couple years I was in Walla Walla Washington. Going out of town towards Tri-Cities a couple Asparagus fields just off the highway before you came to L’Ecole No 41 Winery in the postage stamp town of Lowden. They were not big fields by any stretch of the imagination, maybe 5 acres at best. For 9 months of the year they were bare dirt, making you wonder why they were not planted with wheat or other crop. Once the snow melted and the soil began to warm, the tender shots would poke out of the ground. Soon the fields were covered with these little green stalks and the farmers had a tough time keeping up with them. By June, the fields turned to a woolly airy mass as the asparagus soaked up the Sun storing up energy for the next year. By August, it was too hot and dry for the Asparagus. We would be back to barren soil. Moral of this story is to enjoy our local bounty of Asparagus while we can before this brief season is over.
t was very surprising to see September Yummy Red Plums (31583-40/44ct) in the warehouse. The September Yummy variety of plum is a late season, very firm, crunchy plum with a high Brix near 20 so it is sweet as well. It was developed in Le Grand, California at Bradford Farms. The father, Norman, started breeding new stone fruit varieties since the 1940’s. His son, Glen Bradford, has taken over the family business. They have bred several other “Yummy” plums with names like Yummy Gem, Yummy Beaut, Yummy Giant and of course the September Yummy. This Yummy Plum is grown in Chile and is good eating fresh out of hand but will hold up to cooking quite nicely.
Back in the 1830’s, a Belgian chicory farmer named Jan Lammers noticed that his chicory roots he was drying in his cellar could be used for a coffee substitute. After a couple months, he saw they were sprouting small white leaves. Not sure what possessed him to eat the leaves, but he liked the tender, slightly bitter sprouts. That is the story of how we have Belgian Endive (20901-10 lb, 25482-3 lb). Looking beyond stuffing the leaves with smoked salmon mousse (did I hear the 80’s calling?) it is time we started cooking the Belgian Endive. Cut the Belgian Endive in half lengthwise and put in a gratin dish, top with a couple pats of butter, sea salt and pepper. Right in a hot oven it goes. While this is cooking, cut a pear in 8 wedges- Comice (32314-25 ct) is a favorite. This gets brushed with EVOO and seasoned with sea salt, black pepper and chopped fresh rosemary. They make their way to the grill to get a couple nice grill marks on them. something to heat through but not cook to a soft mush. By now the Belgian Endive is cooked through and the pears are ready to join the Belgian Endive in the dish. Add some walnuts, chopped green onions and a good amount of Rogue Creamery Smoky Blue Cheese and under the salamander this goes until bubbly.