Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Here is a recipe that is sure to impress at this year’s Fourth of July parties and other summer gatherings. With ingredients such as cream cheese, Nutella, and raspberries, what’s not to love? We found this tasty dessert in tasteofhome.com and it is as easy to make as it is to eat! If you are looking for some wonderful, fresh raspberries, look no further than the farm stand at Colchester Neighborhood Farm in Plympton, which is selling the berries from Keirstead Farm in Plympton.

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

 

  • FILLING:
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup Nutella

Directions

  • Process cream cheese and butter in a food processor until blended. Add flour; process just until a dough forms. Shape into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, toss raspberries, sugar and cornstarch with a fork, mashing some of the berries slightly.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 14×8-in. rectangle. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread with Nutella to within 1 in. of edges. Top with raspberry mixture. Fold pastry edge toward center of tart, pleating and pinching as needed.
  • Bake until crust is golden brown, 45-50 minutes. Transfer tart to a wire rack to cool.

 

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Baked Parmesan Zucchini

Baked Parmesan Zucchini

It doesn’t get any easier or tastier than this.  These Baked Parmesan Zucchini, from FiveHeartHome.com make a great summer time snack–and they are both healthy and delicious! Stop by Colchester Neighborhood Farm today to purchase some freshly-harvested organically-grown zucchini and cook up these wonderful treats tonight.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized zucchini
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic salt & freshly ground black pepper, optional

Instructions

Place oven rack in center position of oven. Preheat to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil (lightly misted with cooking spray) OR parchment paper.

  1. Wash and dry zucchini, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange zucchini rounds on prepared pan, with little to no space between them. If desired, lightly sprinkle zucchini with garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a small spoon to spread a thin layer of Parmesan cheese on each slice of zucchini. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until Parmesan turns a light golden brown. (Watch these closely the first time you make them and pull them out of the oven early if the Parmesan is golden before 15 minutes!) Serve immediately.
Rainbow Chard Frittata

Rainbow Chard Frittata

It doesn’t get easier or healthier than this!

If you are looking for a quick and easy summer dish that uses fresh ingredients like rainbow chard – now being harvested at Colchester Neighborhood Farm and fresh eggs – also available at the farm stand–look no further than this wonderful dinner. We found this recipe at lettyskitchen.com.  Oh so good and healthy!

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed, for the greens, eggs, and skillet
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sea salt, as needed
  • 6 eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano or other aged cheese
Instructions
  1. Remove the chard stalks from the leaves and cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Coarsely chop the leaves.

  2. Add the onion and chard stalks and sauté about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook another 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the leaves, season with salt, and cook until the leaves are wilted and tender about 5 more minutes. Set aside.

  3. Crack the eggs in to a bowl. Add 1/8 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons olive oil and a sprinkling of both black and cayenne pepper. Beat lightly. Stir the chard mixture into the eggs.

  4. Pre-heat a 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium low heat. (see note) Also pre-heat the oven broiler.

    Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the skillet. After a few seconds, pour in the egg and chard mixture. As the eggs set on the bottom, gently lift the edges to allow the uncooked egg to flow underneath. Continue to cook until mostly set, but a little runny on top.

    Sprinkle the cheese, if using, over the eggs. Place under the broiler 3 to 4 minutes, until the cheese browns and the eggs are set.

  5. Serve in wedges, with a crisp green salad.

The tradition of Groundhog Day

The tradition of Groundhog Day

Despite a cold and cloudy day in a small town just northeast of Pittsburgh, the  plump marmot affectionately known as Punxsutawney Phil peeked his head out from the warm quarters where he hibernates during the winter months, saw his shadow, turned around, and went back to sleep…presumably signaling another six weeks of winter. Exactly how does this particular groundhog’s aversion to heading out into the cold equate to a longer-than-usual winter?  Who among us doesn’t react to a bleak and cloudy day by pulling the covers up over our heads and returning to our restful slumber for “just five more minutes?”

While many may argue the scientific accuracy of Phil’s prediction, others consider his forecast to be as accurate and reliable as the Farmer’s Almanac. Ignore the fact that, according to the calendar, Spring does not officially arrive until the vernal equinox on March 21st which is approximately six weeks from February 2. If Phil hadn’t seen his shadow (which may or may not have been caused by the lights from the many television cameras that were pointed in his direction), he would have ventured out of his warm sleeping quarters,  indicating that spring would arrive sooner than its mid-March due date.

Whether you trust Phil’s calculation or the weatherman’s prediction, it begs the question,  “how did we come to rely on a groundhog to determine whether the next season would arrive earlier than expected?” Just what are the origins of Groundhog Day?

After some not-so-extensive research that brought me no further than Wikipedia, here are some interesting “facts” that I have gathered about Groundhog Day and its tradition. Turning to a groundhog to predict the length of our winters is a German custom and the celebration in Pennsylvania dates back to the 18th century. It’s origins are rooted in ancient European lore in which a badger was used to predict the length of the winter. The practice is also very similar to the pagan festival of Imbolc, which is celebrated on February 2 and involves weather forecasting. The first documented American reference to Groundhog Day was found in a diary entry dated February 4, 1841, written by storekeeper James Moorris of Morgantown, Pennsylvania.

Whether we have an early Spring or cold winter days remain with us until the end of March, there are a few things we can be sure of. Spring will officially arrive on March 21; warmer days are headed our way; and the crew at Colchester Neighborhood Farm will soon be filling the greenhouses with small seedlings of organically grown fruits and vegetables in preparation for a stellar crop this summer.

Mouthwatering Watermelon

Mouthwatering Watermelon

Watermelon is as integral a part of the summer experience as building sandcastles at the beach or catching fireflies on a warm evening. Easily filling the role of dessert, it is as tasty as it is fun to eat. Even as adults, we love the flavor of this melon, whether it is paired with a cheese in a salad or used as the foundation for an adult beverage. Though August is now in the rear view mirror and the apple picking season is just around the corner, Colchester Neighborhood Farm continues to harvest this sweet summer vegetable…yes, I said vegetable, because technically, it is considered both a fruit and veggie. And here are few more fun facts to consider about this sweet summer staple.

According to the website, betweenusparents.com, Americans consume more watermelon than any other melon. Cantaloupe comes in second place and honeydew in third place.

A cousin to the cucumber, pumpkin, and squash family, watermelon is considered both fruit and vegetable. However, according to the website, livability.com, in 2007, the state of Oklahoma removed any ambivalence about how to categorize the gourd when it passed a bill declaring it a vegetable, and the official state vegetable, at that.

According to the website, thetowndish, early explorers used watermelons as canteens.

In China and Japan, watermelon is given as a hostess gift similar to our tradition of bringing flowers.

In Israel and Egypt, the sweet taste of watermelon is often paired with the salty taste of feta cheese.

Egyptian hieroglyphics indicate that the first-ever watermelon harvest took place roughly 5,000 years ago. The sweet fruit (vegetable) often was sealed into the tombs of kings because, really, who couldn’t use a snack in the afterlife.

An estimated 40,000 visitors check out the soaring 154-foot watermelon-shaped water tower each year in Lulling, Texas, home of the annual Watermelon Thump event, named for the sworn-by method of “rind-thumping” for checking a melon’s ripeness.

The seedless variety of watermelons was invented 50 years ago.

According to Guinness World Records, the world’s heaviest watermelon, weighing 268.8 lbs. (121.93 kg) was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas in 2005.

It takes approximately 90 days to grow a watermelon….from planting to harvesting.

The United States ranks 5th in worldwide production of watermelon. Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona consistently are the leading producers.

Every part of the watermelon is edible, including the seeds and the rind. In fact, the first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.

Though the summer season and its harvest is winding down, the workers at Colchester Neighborhood Farm are still picking plenty of organically grown vegetables and fruits, including watermelon, which lets the taste of summer linger just a little longer.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo

This recipe for Pico de Gallo uses fresh ingredients that are being harvested at Colchester Neighborhood Farm. While Pico de Gallo is very similar to salsa, the biggest difference between these two dishes is that salsa recipes can vary, using a variety of fruits and vegetables, some that are fresh and some that are cooked. Pico de Gallo uses only fresh, uncooked ingredients and the ingredients are always the same. Serve this up along with tortilla chips and some Margaritas this weekend.

 

Pico de Gallo

1 Onion, finely chopped

1 lb Tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

1 Green Pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 or 3 Jalapeño Peppers, seeded and finely chopped

½ cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped

Juice of one Lime

Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Combine all ingredients and serve with tortilla chips or alternative. Use in wraps or in a salad with greens and avocado.

The sweet and spicey facts about peppers

The sweet and spicey facts about peppers

Given the vast array of varieties as well as their versatility, peppers just might be considered the little black dress of cooking….they go with almost anything.   From the mild green bell pepper to the sweet red bell  to the oh-so-very-hot haberneros, this multipurpose non-veggie is this week’s celebrated food item.  Yes, I said non-veggie.  According to the website, servingjoy.com, because peppers have seeds and come from flowering plants, they are actually a fruit. Though bell peppers come in an assortment of colors, including black, brown, and dark purple, they all come from the same plant. While green bell peppers are the most familiar, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are merely the riper versions of the green pepper. Colchester Neighborhood Farm is currently harvesting a number of different peppers that will perk up the flavor in any recipe while providing a pop of color that will make the dish as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat. Here are some other fun facts about this member of the Capsicum family.

  • Despite the similarity in name, the bell pepper is not related to the plant that produces the popular kitchen condiment, black pepper.
  • Unlike other members of the Capsicum family, bell peppers do not contain capsaicin, the compound responsible for the spicier version of peppers.
  • As bell peppers mature, their sugar and nutritional content also increase. Although green peppers might be crunchier, you can make your dishes sweeter and healthier if you use the brighter-colored red bell pepper. In addition to providing more Vitamins A and C,  this version contain the antioxidant lycopene, a nutrient not found in the green bell pepper.
  • Move over orange juice…the bell pepper tops the list of foods with the highest levels of Vitamin C. A large red pepper provides more than 300% of your daily requirement of this essential vitamin and three times more vitamin C than an orange.
  • To get the most nutritional value from peppers, it is best to eat them raw, since heat decreases their nutritional levels. If you do cook them, do so for a short period of time.
  • Does the second bite of a chili pepper seem hotter than the first? That may be because you are getting closer to the stem. Some people believe the seeds are the spiciest part, but it’s actually the flesh near them that sets your tongue on fire. According to the website, mentalfloss.com, the part of the pepper closest to the stem is usually the hotter part because it has the highest concentration of capsaicin, which is responsible for causing irritation to the skin and that distinct burning pain on your tongue.
  • Although mammals react to that capsaicin in hot peppers, birds are completely immune to its effects. And because of this, birds are largely responsible for helping to spread while wild peppers, by eating them and excreting the seeds.
  • The measurement for determining and ranking the hotness level of a pepper is called the Scoville scale, named after pharmacist Wilbur Soville. Mild bell peppers fall within 1 to 100 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) while their hotter counterparts, such as cayenne fall at 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. The spiciest pepper known to man is called the Carolina Reaper…it measures 2.2 million SHU on the scale. That is one hot pepper!

Beyond providing color, flavor, and nutritional value to a recipe, some suggest that the heat in hot peppers increase metabolism thereby promoting weight loss. In recognition of this multi-talented fruit, we celebrate all peppers….both hot and sweet…. and encourage you to do the same by stopping in at Colchester Neighborhood Farm to purchase some freshly harvested, organically grown members of the Capsicum family.