Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Citrus - in New England!

That’s a photo of a Florida Orange growing in Central Massachusetts in December. Citrus fresh from the tree in New England in December? "Not possible!" you would be inclined to say.

(Okay, so it is being grown indoors, and you can’t pick it, but it is still an orange tree bearing fruit in a New England winter!)

This photo was taken at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, which has an 18th century style orangery. We made a recent trip out to see the Orangerie there (and the rest of the Tower Hill land), and it was an absolute treat.

If you are unfamiliar with an orangery, it is similar to a greenhouse but is used mainly for growing citrus. Early orangeries were a symbol of prestige and wealth. More information about them can be found here.

The Tower Hill structure is home to many types of citrus (as well as other plants/flowers). The trees at Tower Hill include Florida Oranges, Calamondin Oranges, Meyer Lemons, Dancy Tangerines, Persian Limes, and Ponderosa Lemons. Only the kumquat and grapefruit trees were not currently bearing fruit.

The smell in the greenhouse was spectacular. You could smell the orange blossoms the second you stepped into the room! I strongly suggest everyone take a trip to Boylston (only about 45 minutes from Boston) to see the Orangerie. The girl and I will be going back throughout the next year to see the rest of the Tower Hill grounds as different things come into bloom (they have 100+ apple varieties!!).

You can visit the Tower Hill Botanic Garden website here. Also, feel free to take a look at the photos the girl took at the Orangerie here.

Inspired by all the fresh winter citrus at Tower Hill, I bought kumquats just after Christmas. The girl and I decided to candy them, modifying the recipe below by adding whole green cardamom (her current favorite spice).

Cardamom-Infused Candied Kumquats (adapted from Ruth Reichl’s recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook)

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
⅛ tsp. salt
4-6 slightly crushed green cardamom pods
2 cups halved kumquats (leaves and seeds discarded)

1. Bring the water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a saucepan; stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Add halved kumquats and green cardamom and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender.

3. With a slotted spoon, transfer kumquats to a heatproof bowl.

4. Boil syrup for 3 to 7 minutes, until reduced to about ¾ cup. Pour syrup over kumquats and cool before serving

Monday, December 14, 2009

Giving Thanks for Farmers Markets

Every November we gather around tables with family and friends to give thanks for the past year. This Thanksgiving, the girl and I decided to give thanks to local farms who have given their time week after week to participate in the various farmers markets in the Boston area. With that goal in mind, we looked through recipes and put together a local produce inspired Thanksgiving meal.

Our menu started out with a pumpkin soup seasoned with curry powder and topped with crumbled bacon and toasted pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin we used we actually grew in our community garden plot in the city (more on the community will come in future posts). This was a very tasty and easy blended soup that came out very creamy even without using any cream in the soup.

Our main course was a rolled stuffed turkey breast. We butterflied the turkey then stuffed it with tangy and slightly sweet cranberry/orange chutney. It was rolled then wrapped in cheesecloth. The cranberries were locally grown at Freitas Farm in Middleborough. They have their own bogs and I was able to stock up on these cranberries. They are so good!

To go with the turkey we made a couple of quick sides. The first was a broiled vinegar fingerling potato. We used a Martha Stewart recipe (found here on the UmamiGirl blog) as a base. However, we made a slight change to the recipe. Our variation was to boil the potatoes in white vinegar for 10 minutes, let cool in the vinegar for 10 minutes, then broil for 10 minutes. After they came out of the oven, they got some kosher salt. This really gave the potatoes a good vinegar bite but without it being too overpowering.

The second side was a simple shredded Brussels sprouts salad. The Brussels sprouts were shredded then quickly sautéed to ensure they kept their bright green color and some crispness. They were quickly tossed with a lemon vinaigrette and more crumbled bacon (isn’t everything better with crumbled crispy bacon?!). The Brussels sprouts and the fingerling potatoes were bought from Kimball Fruit Farm in Pepperell.

Finally, we get to dessert (although there wasn’t much room on our stomachs given what we had already made!). The first dessert was a baked Opalescent apple. It was cored (but kept whole) and the cavity was stuffed with oats, brown sugar and spices. If you aren’t familiar with the Opalescent apple, it is a wonderful baking apple and I really encourage you to try to find them at a local orchard near you!

The second dessert was an apple, quince, and sweet potato tart. This is a variation of an old Amish recipe of baked apples and sweet potatoes. We were able to get some quince from Noquochoke Orchards in Westport, so we decided to add this into the tart for our own variation. The sweet potatoes, apples, and quince were all roasted and then layered inside a graham cracker crust and topped with a basic crumble topping.

We are very spoiled in Boston that we are able to go to farmers markets every day. This Thanksgiving meal was our way of saying thank you to the farmers for bringing their wonderful fruits and vegetables to the markets all summer and fall for us to enjoy.


Below are some photos that the girl took and a link to the Boston Found Flickr set for our Thanksgiving meal.

Boston Found Flickr Thanksgiving Set

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Welcome to Boston Found

Welcome to the Boston Found blog. I live in Boston MA and have taken a huge interest in the local food/gardening scene in and around the city. I decided to start this blog as an informal place to post about things I find (and cook) in the area (mainly Boston but not strictly Boston). I will be making posts about food, gardening, local farmer's markets, local food shops, cooking, etc, on a fairly regular basis.

The site is still a work in progress (custom layout coming soon) but I hope you will continue to check back for updates.

Coming soon: Recap of my local produce inspired Thanksgiving meal!

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