Cooking in a different kitchen 1/28/2021

Quick things:

 

A quart container of Radish & Rye's housemade Cheesy Broccoli soup

Once upon a time, before the pandemic, before 80 hour work weeks, before before before, this newsletter was often — perhaps primarily — about what Dusty and I were cooking at home. Almost everything we eat (even now) comes from R&R, and we were always excited to come up with new concoctions, and I think it made for pretty good marketing — it was a wonderful synergy, at least from my perspective.

And then. And then and then and then. You know what.

We’re still cooking, though maybe not quite as often. Take out’s become a regular part of our weekly rotation, both for convenience and because we know those restaurants need our dollars right now. And did I mention convenience?

But really, we are still cooking. It just doesn’t feel quite as creative — more hurried — and rarely do we take the few minutes to snap pics of our meals, and rarely do I even remember, when I sit down to write this little missive, what we’ve eaten over the past week. I miss home cooking as a creative outlet, and I miss having something easy to write to you all about.

This week, though, it’s very easy for me to know what to write about — it’s not our home cooking, but it’s the goodies starting to come out of the R&R kitchen — another kind of outlet for our culinary creativity, with the benefit that someone else is bringing our — sometimes vague, sometimes contradictory, sometimes crazy — ideas to fruition. This week’s new additions are that cheesy broccoli soup and the cannellini hummus mentioned above. Working closely with Mike, our main man in the kitchen, we’ve been working for the past couple of months on developing new recipes. This, of course, is punctuated by finishing the kitchen setup, turning out the existing stocks and soups and b’nut cubed, and preserving seasonal and urgent use produce as it comes available.

The cheesy broccoli soup is a wonderful culmination of this — this past fall much of the broccoli we received had some afflictions (common in organic broccoli, and more common this year than most) that made it lower quality than we prefer to sell, and often pretty urgent use. In any other year, we would have just had to pull the plug on broccoli, and neither you nor we would have wound up with any, and if the farmer wasn’t able to find another outlet for it, it would have gone to waste. But not this year! This year we were able to cull the good stuff for retail sales — that’s you — and funnel the rest of it into Mike’s capable hands for chopping/blanching/freezing for later.

And later has come! This thick and hearty soup is pretty much my definition of comfort food, and I think our rendition — with rich and flavorful Lykens Valley Creamery Monterey Jack, loads of veg, and just the right amount of balancing acid tang, is one of the best I’ve ever had. A bowl of that and a crusty baguette on the side? Pretty much a perfect easy winter dinner if you ask me.

An 8 oz container of Radish & Rye's housemade garlic hummusThe new hummus has, in my humble opinion, an even cooler backstory — many months ago, maybe, now that I think about it, well over a year ago, Dusty was talking to Daniel Shirk at Pecan Meadow Farm (from whom most of our beef comes), and somehow convinced him to give growing beans a try. Daniel grows a lot of grasses and grains — some for feed for his animals, some to be milled into flour — and so he already had a lot of the know-how and equipment needed to efficiently grow and harvest dry beans, which is somewhat unusual for a small-scale organic (not certified) farmer. We’ve been waiting with bated breath for that harvest, and then for sorting and cleaning and further drying, but we were thrilled a few weeks ago to get our hands on some locally grown organic (not certified) cannellini beans. Let the experiments commence!

With hummus, the biggest challenge was how to make a quintessentially Mediterranean product — normally made with olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini — with the ingredients available to us here, in Pennsylvania. There were a lot of experiments.

I am really happy with where we landed. The beans themselves are creamy and almost nutty in flavor, and make a wonderful base. (I can’t wait to make other stuff with them, too.) The oil is Susquehanna Mills’ certified organic sunflower oil, which helps fill in some of the flavor the tahini would normally provide; we get another kick of that with the sesame flavor from a small amount of Keepwell’s benne miso. Keepwell’s Bitter Lemon vinegar then steps in for some acidity and brightness, along with — and this is the real surprise — a little bit of sauerkraut brine, courtesy of Homestead Cultures. The end result, according to Mike — “Velvety soft texture, nutty flavor, mild acidity.” Yum.

On a less cheerful note, you may notice that our housemade hummus is now the only one on our website, and that the rest of the items from Sunneen Health Foods (quinoa salad, etc) have disappeared as well. With the loss of the office lunch crowd, our sales of these items plummeted dramatically last March and have never recovered. We’ve now reached a point where we can’t order enough to warrant a delivery from Allentown, and so, at least for now, will not be carrying those items. Their hummus was the one thing that continued to sell pretty well — so we hope you’ll give ours a try. (We also hope to develop some additional easy lunch items that might fill that void, with the benefit that we’ll be able to control the quantity we’re producing without anyone having to drive from Allentown!)

In closing — I do actually want to share with you a brief description of my dinner last night, because it was so so simple and so so good — a Rettland pork chop, rubbed with kosher salt and Rockerbox Spice’s garlic pepper, thrown into a cast iron pan just as it went on the flame, flipped when the rendered fat began to collect, pulled when both sides were deep brown; next to it, a bag of mixed baby kale, roughly chopped, quickly (so quickly!) sauteed in sunflower oil and Rockerbox’s roasted garlic flakes and a decent amount of salt. I didn’t actually make the whole bag of kale to start, but it was so good that halfway through my pork chop I got up and fried up the rest. Seriously took like two minutes. One of the best simplest dinners I’ve made myself in a while. 10/10 will do again.

-Julia