Monthly Archives: August 2015

Tropea Onions: A Taste of the Old World

Tropea - Church on island
Located at the southern tip of Italy, about 30 miles from Sicily, and perched on beautiful cliffs overlooking the sea is the ancient town of Tropea. Tropea is one of those sleepy Italian towns where time moves a little slower, and so much of life revolves around the enjoyment of legitimately good food. It is here that the Tropea onion gets its name, and is cultivated and enjoyed throughout the surrounding region on Calabria.

The Tropea is a red onion that features a unique sweetness that we are not generally accustomed to with traditional red onions. Their sweetness makes them a great raw addition to salads, or simply roasted or grilled with a bit olive oil and sea salt.

A classic Italian preparation of Tropea onions is Marmellata di Cipolle Rosse (Red Onion Marmalade). This sweet onion marmalade is a delicious as an appetizer served with smoked meats and cheeses, it is delicious as a topping or side to roasted meats, or it is often just served over bread like bruschetta.

We currently have Tropea onions in great abundance, grown locally by Cecilia Redding of Down 2 Earth Farms. Pop a bottle of wine, turn on some beautiful music, and let them take you back to Italy!

Marmellata di Cipolle Rosse (Red Onion Marmalade):

1 lb. Tropea Onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Dash of salt

1. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook onions and garlic for about 30-40 minutes, until they are very soft. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
2. Stir in sugar, small dash of salt, and balsamic vinegar. Let most of the liquid evaporate. Taste and add additional sugar and balsamic vinegar to taste.
3. Can be served immediately, or refrigerated until later. Serve over crostini, with smoked meats, or on top of beef or pork.

Click here to order Tropea Onions for delivery this week!

Craft-Made Linguica: A meat uprising!

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When we first started working with the Weeping Radish Butchery back in 2009, I remember owner Uli Bennewitz predicting an impending revolution in the meat processing industry. Uli compared the coming transformation to what we have seen in the beer industry; a movement away from mass distributed beers and the introduction of small craft breweries. Uli predicted that small meat processors and butchery shops would similarly return flavor, quality, and even creativity to American meat products.

The Weeping Radish started out with a focus on German style sausages, which makes sense given their German heritage and employment of a German Master Butcher! However, they do tend to put their own spin on things, creating hybrid products such as an award winning Sweet Potato Liverwurst. They have since moved into other non-German butchery items, such as corned beef, pastrami, and very recently their own take on the classic Portuguese sausage Linguiça!

Linguiça is traditionally a robust, highly seasoned sausage with a powerful flavor. It is often used in heavy stews with many flavors, where the boldness of the Linguiça can shine through. The Weeping Radish version is a little more subtle and smooth, a nice reflection of their overall style. It can certainly be used like the traditional in stews, but also goes well in simpler dishes with few ingredients, as it mixes well without being overpowering.

If you enjoy new flavors, and trying new things, the Weeping Radish Butchery is a nice place to start. Their high quality meat products are a nice introductory step into the world of small, value added butcheries. The meat revolution may still be taking hold, but there is certainly much to enjoy beyond the mass-market grocery aisle. Welcome to the uprising!

Tapas Style Linguiça and Onions:

This is a simple linguiça preparation that you can whip up in a few minutes, in just one pan. It is a commonly served as a Tapas dish in Portugal, enjoy it as is or over rice!

Serves 2
Cook time: 12-15 minutes

1/2 lb. linguiça, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. butter
Salt & ground pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add sliced onion, and cook until nicely browned and caramelized, about 5-7 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Remove onions from pan, and reserve for later
2. Add linguiça to the pan, cook until browned, and casings show nice color. About 6-8 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, and top linguiça with caramelized onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve as is, or over rice. Enjoy!

Click here to order linguiça for delivery this week!

Roasted Eggplant, Mint, and Almond Salad

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Delicious, smoky, roasted eggplant, combined with fresh mint, crunchy almonds, and a refreshing lemon dressing. This dish will change your opinion on eggplant, an awesome summer salad that you can whip up in minimal time, and is sure to impress!

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
1 lb. medium eggplant
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 oz. mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup almond slivers
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Peel eggplant if desired. Cut eggplant into 1-inch cubes and place in large bowl. Sprinkle eggplant cubes lightly with salt. Set aside while you prepare marinade.
3. For marinade, combine olive oil, vinegar, honey, paprika, cumin, and garlic. Whisk together and pour over eggplant cubes.
4. Spread eggplant on cookie sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Stir after 20 minutes.
5. Whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice and zest in small bowl.
6. Remove roasted eggplant from oven when done and place in serving dish. Pour soy and lemon mixture over eggplant. Lightly toss in mint, almond slivers, and feta. Serve!

A Day In The Life…

Produce Delivery—not a phrase that is often heard or even understood. We, Papa Spud’s Workers, Produce Deliverers, have one of the more confusing jobs to the outside world, especially when forms ask for your occupation. We are also privy to the corners and seams of every day life that we wouldn’t otherwise experience. From working with farmers to delivering produce to sorting through produce at 6 in the morning, we have collected a lot of stories. Here are a few funny anecdotes from our little corner of the produce universe:

The Attack of the Wild Turkey
A few weeks ago Alex was delivering on a sunny, hot, summer day. He pulled up to a house, got out of his car, and immediately saw something pop up behind a bush and disappear. Slightly unnerved but not too worried he continued to get the box of produce out of the car. As he started walking toward the house the creature reveals itself iTurkeyn the most majestic and terrifying turkey fashion. If you’ve ever seen an angry turkey, you can understand the bizarre fear that overtakes your body as it comes toward you. Turkeys puff up their chests, bristle their feathers, and drag their wings along the ground making a grating, unearthly noise. When angry, the head and wattle (which is the loose skin underneath their beak) changes colors from white to blue to red in a startling fashion. So this monstrosity began coming toward Alex from beneath the bushes, getting angrier with every step he took. So Alex did what any other person would do and grabbed an empty box out of his car to fend off the bird. After a few minutes of playing defense with a cardboard box from the turkey’s hellish talons, the customer heard the commotion and came outside. “I see you’ve met our friend,” he laughed as he used a long pole to shoo it away and ensure Alex’s safety. It turns out that the turkey belonged to a neighbor and would come over and terrorize their front yard. They had crafted this pole to scare the bird away when it wouldn’t let them out of their front door. And thus, Alex survived, the produce survived, and the turkey lives on to terrorize future produce deliverers, friends, and, probably, little dogs too.

In Which Cabin Fever Took Over A Young Boy
Back in the depths of winter, on one of our crazy snow delivery days, I was driving my little Honda Fit through the snowy streets, which did surprisingly well due to amazing front-wheel drive and quite a bit of vegetable weight. I arrive at a house and navigate down some stairs to drop off a box. Just a quick side note—delivering during the snow became quite enjoyable because I got to meet customers that normally wouldn’t be home and take a little break from focusing on not slipping on ice. As I walked down the stairs I noticed that there was a little boy, probably about 5 years old, wearing Superman pajamas sitting behind the glass front door staring longingly outside, face smushed up against the glass and everything. So I wave at him and knock on the door, and when his mom comes to open the door and take her produce, he bursts through the door with the force of a cyclone. He looked around, panicked, ran up to the top of the stairs, turned around to face us and threw his head back, balled up his fists and let out a ferocious roar of freedom. He caught his breath and stood still overlooking the great outdoors and taking in the freezing air as we fought back laughter.

But Snakes Like Produce Too
We have had several snake encounters over the course of Papa Spud’s adventures. I went to pick up a box one day and moved the empty on the porch before putting down the new box. Underneath the empty box, laying in wait, was a sleeping black snake. So I did what any sane person would do: screamed and ran away. The poor black snake woke up and slowly crawled farther into the corner, probably to shield itself from my loud exclamations.
Brett picked up a box unknowingly that had a black snake in it. He put the box in his car to take back to the warehouse and continued on his route. When he got to the next stop he looked back to a black snake stretched out across the back of his seat. After utter shock wore off, Brett began to attempt to craft a plan for how to get a snake out of his car without getting bit. Fortunately a neighbor came to the rescue and was able to get the snake out.
A few years back, one of our drivers was cleaning the returned boxes in the warehouse. He grabbed a box, opened it up, and didn’t look closely before reaching his hand into the box. Instead of pulling out a water bottle or berry basket, he pulled out his hand with a garter snake hanging from his finger.

The stories continue every week—from turtles in returned boxes to conversations with children about the stray cat they found in the gutter to the general tripping, slipping, and sliding up and down stairs and sidewalks in front of customers (or jumping at a black hose thinking it was a black snake in front of a customer). With your vegetables come a lot of humor and a lot of rolling with the punches. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Summer Gazpacho!

gazpacho
Gazpacho is a delicious summer soup that originates in southern Spain.  This is a classic version of that soup, with a fresh summer tomato base.  It is served cold, and features a variety of fresh, local veggies, all prepared raw in just a blender or food processor.  This refreshing soup is super easy to make, and makes for an awesome summer lunch, or afternoon snack on a hot day!

Prep time: 15 mins
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
1.5 lbs. slicing tomatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, and chopped
1 pickling cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup sherry or red wine vinegar
Salt and ground pepper to taste
2-3 basil leaves – included

Method:
1. Prepare and chop your vegetables.  Cucumber should be peeled first, then cut in half lengthwise.  Seeds can then be scooped out with a spoon, and the remaining cucumber chopped.

2. Combine tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, jalapeno, olive oil, and vinegar in a blender or food processor.  Puree until vegetables are smooth.

3. If you are happy with the thicker consistency from the blender, you can leave it as is, this is a more rustic gazpacho consistency.  For a thinner/smoother consistency, pour blended vegetables through a strainer into a large bowl.  You should mash the blend through the strainer with your hand or a spoon until all liquid has passed through, the strainer will catch the thicker particles.

4. Mix in 1/4 teaspoon of salt, then more to taste.  Add freshly ground pepper to taste.

5. Cover, and chill gazpacho in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, then serve in chilled bowls.  Chop the fresh basil leaves, and sprinkle on top before serving.

Meet Your Bakery: Ninth Street Bakery

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Right in Downtown Durham, in the middle of the loop on Main Street, sits Ninth Street Bakery. It has settled in its third location with a beautiful patio surrounded by vegetables and flowers, a huge commercial kitchen, and a small café that is partitioned off from the rest of the kitchen. They serve classic sandwiches along with some weekday specials such as a Thai Curry Bowl, Falafel Sandwich, Savory Handpies, pastries, and soup! You can sit inside or out and enjoy a nice cup of local coffee from Bean Traders (also FullSizeRender_1located in Durham), some fresh Kombucha on tap that is brewed in house, or a cold glass or bottle of beer. Of course you can find their selection of breads and sweet treats such as biscotti, cookies, or granola and even some Ninth Street Bakery t-shirts made by local t-shirt company, Runaway. On Saturdays and Sundays they serve a light (and amazing delicious) brunch with Vegan brunch on every third Sunday. Needless to say, you can find just about anything you may be looking for right inside Ninth Street Bakery.

Ninth Street was started in 1981 by two brothers, George and Frank Ferrell, Maureen Ferrell (Frank’s wife), and Michael Mooney (Maureen’s brother). FullSizeRender_4They were first located as a small café on Ninth St—where Dain’s Bar is now—and focused on selling their retail items at the bakery/café. Ninth Street Bakery was a big contender in the organic and healthy bakery circles in the ‘80’s, and its reputation and business continued to grow. As the company shifted from a retail emphasis over to wholesale, their location changed to fit their needs. After outgrowing their original space in 1989, they moved to a different location on Ninth Street (where Elmo’s is now) and opened a restaurant. They served everything from salad and soups, to coffee and pastries, to dinner entrees and desserts. They then opened a bakery plant in 1992 to help keep up with the demand as both retail and wholesale business grew. They operated as a restaurant for seven years and then decided that it was too stressful and time-consuming, and closed the restaurant portion. They shifted all of their operations and sales over to the bakery plant on Chapel Hill Street where they still operate today.

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Ninth Street is now owned by Ari Berenbaum, who bought the bakery from the original owners when they retired. They were looking for someone who would carry on the business and the name with their original spirit in mind. Ari was a baker and production manager at Ninth Street, and has since been perfecting and modernizing recipes and adding bread selections. He got into baking at home and became intent on creating the perfect blueberry pie recipe—he attempted the pie fifteen times and the final product used wild Maine blueberries. He worked at a bookstore and wrote fiction while FullSizeRenderpursuing a graduate degree at UNC. While training as a baker at Ninth Street he left his degree program because he “caught baking like a virus”. Ari is originally from Boston and grew up with his family’s Jewish baked goods, which have inspired some of the items that are now offered at the bakery. The Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot is based off of Ari’s grandmother’s recipe. His favorite parts of baking are the creation process, keeping up with the artisan and baking world, and being challenged by others in his field. He is passionate about supporting and participating in the communities of Durham and the Triangle, and hosts charitable events as well as sliding-scale classes at the Bakery.

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Now 2/3 of everything produced at Ninth Street Bakery is sold wholesale. You can find their products at Whole Foods, Kroger, Earth Fare, local Farmers Markets, and 20 different cafes around the Triangle area. They make 10-12 different varieties of breads and have 40-60 different products overall. Everything is made with local flower from Lindley Mills in Graham, NC.

FullSizeRender_2From all of its transitions to the bakery it has become today, Ninth Street has created its own niche in the bread-making community of the Triangle. Its somewhat complicated history has made it the eclectic and welcoming bakery it is today. Stop by and enjoy the atmosphere, you won’t be disappointed.