It’s Fig Season!

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Fresh figs are a luxury fruit for North Carolinians from August-October and The Wedge Garden is proud to have its very own fig tree! There’s nothing like the smooth texture, sweet taste and mouth-watering juiciness that a fresh fig as to offer. Not only do they taste good, but they also contain nutrients such as potassium and fiber. The leaves have even been used to make a liquid extract to aid in Diabetes management and lower Triglyceride levels. Three medium figs equal one serving and makes a wonderful addition to a luscious arugula salad. Fig trees can be found all across North Carolina and in grocery stores, so make sure to bring them home while you can! Store figs in the refrigerator for two days to keep them fresh.

FigtreecollageFresh Fig Salad

Inspired by Fig and Arugula Salad

Makes 1-2 servings

Ingredients:

2-4 cups arugula

1/4 cup red onion, sliced

1 tablespoon roasted pine nuts

4-5 fresh figs, halved and quartered

Honey mustard dressing (1-2 servings):

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Gently mix arugula, onions and pine nuts in large bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients in small bowl. Plate salad and add figs. Drizzle dressing over salad, adding salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Additional salad ingredients: fresh blackberries, blue, ricotta or goat cheese, walnuts, balsamic vinaigrette, prosciutto.

Blog post and photography by Heather Frost, MS, RD, LDN

Resources

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Summertime Smoothie

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I would have to say summer is by far the best season to make smoothies. Not only are they refreshing and satisfying, but we have the opportunity to use as many fresh, local ingredients as possible. This recipe was inspired by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre’s Blueberry Cucumber Smoothie from their cookbook, Nourishing Meals. This antioxidant-rich smoothie provides a balanced breakfast, lunch, dinner or post-workout snack. Next time you’re at the market or the grocery store, pick up a few local, in-season ingredients to blend together to make this recipe or create a flavor combination of your own!

Summertime Smoothie

Makes 16-20 oz

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1/3 cup sliced cucumbers

2/3 cup fresh blueberries

1-2 tablespoons organic creamy peanut butter

1 small banana

Handful of fresh kale

4 ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients except for the ice in the blender in the order listed and cover with lid. After a few pulses, add one ice cube at a time, blending after each addition. Taste, in- between blends to find the right flavor and texture you’re looking for. Enjoy!IMG_2476

Peach Blueberry Crisp

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Summer = Fruit Crisp Season.

At least in my mind. I know there are crumbles, cobblers and buckles, but since I was born and raised in the Mid-West, I’m partial to crisps, where oats aren’t optional and neither is vanilla ice cream.

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These blueberries and peaches were purchased from a couple farmers at the North Carolina State Farmers Market. I am ever so grateful to have this market in my “backyard” and am able to support NC agriculture.

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 Peach Blueberry Crisp

Slightly adapted from Sandy

Ingredients:

3 large, slightly firm fresh peaches, skin and pits removed, sliced

1.5 cups fresh blueberries

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon melted ghee

1 tablespoon local honey

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease 8×8 or favorite crisp dish with ghee or butter. Mix fruit in large bowl, add almond extract and gently mix. Use another bowl to mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, melted ghee, and honey. Use your hands to mix and make sure the ingredients are combined. Pour fruit combination into dish and cover evenly with the crisp topping. Bake 25 minutes or until fruit is oozing and the crisp is golden.  Serve warm with your favorite vanilla ice cream!

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Salmon Burgers

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If you’re looking for an alternative burger for your 4th of July celebrations, this may be just the one. Using fresh cilantro, jalapeño and lime juice, these ingredients provide flavor to this Omega-3 rich burger and will be sure to please.

Salmon Burgers

Makes 4-5 burgers

Ingredients:

3/4 cup pinto beans, mashed

1 can wild-caught salmon

3 green onions, diced

1 small carrot, peeled and diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1/2 fresh jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed to your taste, diced

1-2 sprigs fresh cilantro, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg, beaten

Drizzle of fresh lime juice

1 avocado (optional)

Directions:

Combine and stir all ingredients together in large bowl. Refrigerate mixture for 10 minutes. Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to form patties. Use cast iron grill pan at medium heat for stove top cooking or place directly on outdoor grill. Grill 8-9 minutes, flip, grill another 5 minutes until golden brown. (Cook times will vary depending on grill used.) Serve on a toasted bun or on top of a leafy green salad. Top with sliced avocado.

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No Bake Oatmeal Bars

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If your heading to the beach this weekend and want to make a quick, healthy snack that doesn’t require turning on the oven, take a few minutes to get some ingredients out of the pantry and turn them into some sweet or savory treats. Use these ingredients or feel free to add some new ones of your own and let me know how you like them!

No Bake Oatmeal Bars

This recipe was adapted from Food 52’s Five Minute, No-Bake Vegan Granola Bars.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup organic dry roasted peanuts

1/2 cup raisins

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash of salt

2/3 cup creamy organic peanut butter

1/2 cup local honey

Directions:

Mix oats, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, raisins, chia seeds, cinnamon, and salt together in large bowl with wooden spoon.

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Use a double boiler and gently heat the peanut butter to soften.

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Pour in honey and whisk together.

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Pour into oat mixture and stir until well combined.

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Press into an 8×8 glass baking dish lined with parchment paper.

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Cover with plastic wrap (preferably BPA free) and press into dish.

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Refrigerate at least 4 hours to let the bars set. Cut into bars and store wrapped in the refrigerator.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

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Rhubarb is one of my first food memories. I feel that I’m in an exclusive club when it comes to knowing what rhubarb is and how to use it. (I say this lightheartedly) I find it a privilege to have the opportunity to explain to anyone who may be interested, what the tart vegetable is which resembles celery, but gleams a vibrant pinkish-red color. These tall stalks with large green elephant ear looking leaves (don’t eat them, they’re toxic) grew next to the old, red painted shed in the backyard of the house I grew up in, in Northeast Wisconsin. I was blessed with their presence again in college, when I identified these perennial springtime plants growing in our backyard. I could always rely on finding local rhubarb to add to a berry pie, make into jam or combine with strawberries to transform into a tasty crisp. My mom was the one who introduced me to freshly made warm rhubarb jam spread across crispy saltine crackers, which is one of my fondest childhood food memories.

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When the rhubarb was ready to harvest, we knew warmer temperatures were on their way. Rhubarb season would run roughly from May-June, which meant this was the first “fruit” dessert of the season. When I moved to Virginia and now North Carolina, I rely on the local grocery store to supply all the rhubarb to satisfy my annual craving. I’m on a mission to figure out a way to grow this cool weather plant myself, as I know it can be done in NC. Last summer I found a farmer who grew rhubarb in Columbus County, which is even further south. You can hold me to it…I am growing my own rhubarb and will post an article next spring to prove it!

Out of all of the desserts that rhubarb can be transformed into it, my favorite, hands down, is Strawberry Rhurbarb Pie. I’ve used the same combination of recipes ever since I started making the pie in college, tweaking as I see fit. As it’s deemed my favorite springtime dessert, I needed to make it to celebrate graduation from grad school this past May.  Luckily, the stalks appeared on grocery store shelves just in time.

I may have been naive thinking that I was one of the only people who looked forward to this divine combination, filling the space between two flaky crusts. Come to find out, today, June 9th, is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. In celebration and in honor of this Northern classic that words cannot describe, I share my recipe with you.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Inspired by Betty Crocker’s Cookbook 2005 Edition & Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook 12th Edition- Rhubarb Pie recipes and Pastry for Double-Crust (Two-Crust) Pie recipe

Ingredients:

Pie crust (Makes two 9-inch crusts):

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup Organic All Vegetable Shortening (butter or lard should work just as well)

8 tablespoons cold water

Filling:

1 1/2 cups cane sugar

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups 1/2-inch pieces rhubarb

3 cups sliced strawberries

Directions:

Heat oven to 375°F. (If refrigerating the dough, wait to turn oven on until ready to bake the pie)

Pie crust:

Whisk flours and salt in medium bowl until well blended. Add fat.

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Use a pastry blender to cut in the fat until the mixture consists of “pea-size” pieces.

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Sprinkle water over the mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Toss with fork and press down, pushing dough to one side of the bowl. Do this until dough is moistened.

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Using your hands, divide dough in half and form each half into a ball. Gently press dough down on floured surface, shaping into two rounds. Optional: Wrap each round in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes to firm up the dough.

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Using a floured rolling pin, roll out one dough round on a lightly floured surface, making the pastry about 2 inches larger than your 9-inch pie plate. Transfer the pastry by gently rolling it around the lightly floured rolling pin and unroll in pie plate. Be careful not to stretch it. Roll out second dough round or wait to roll out until the filling has been made.

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Filling:

Whisk sugar, flour and cinnamon together in large bowl. Add in rhubarb and strawberries and gently stir with wooden spoon until well combined.

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Pour filling into pie crust. Scrape bowl with spatula to make sure you don’t waste any of this nectarous fruit filling.

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Finish rolling out the second dough round, making it the same size as the first. Use your floured rolling pin to wrap dough around and gently fold dough in half. Fold in half again. Using a knife, make slits through all layers of dough to let steam pass through.

IMG_1803Transfer to fruit filled pie plate and open carefully. Make sure it is aligned properly. Fold top pastry over and around bottom pastry, lifting up slightly to create a crust along the rim of the pie plate. Trim excess dough if needed. Using your thumbs, press edges together to form creases and seal the pastry.

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Cover crust with foil to prevent over-browning. Optional: brush top crust with egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon and/or sugar.

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Bake for 25 minutes, remove foil and bake another 20-30 minutes or until top pastry is golden and filling is bubbling. Let pie cool on wire rack for at least 2 hours to set before serving. Serve by itself or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Wake County: Coffee Porter Pound Cake

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As I began my search to learn a little more about the food culture of the county I live in and now call home, I quickly realized that Wake County functions as a “melting pot”. While researching Forsyth and Lenoir counties, I zeroed in on a specific recipe that was near and dear to locals I spoke with. This wouldn’t be the case for Wake County, as it’s the capital and a collaboration of natives, re-locators and college students. I wasn’t sure how I was going to define a food or recipe to cover this expansive county.

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My adventure started by reading an article in Our State magazine detailing North Carolina State University’s Howling Cow Ice Cream. Reading about the creation of this delightful treat lured me over to Talley Market on N.C. State’s campus to taste it myself. Gary Cartwright who is in charge of the Dairy Enterprise System at N.C.State was quoted in the article stating, “It makes people smile.” True indeed! So true I felt compelled to write a post about it. This ice cream has become so popular that it attracts North Carolinians to trek across the state and indulge in this heavenly dessert at the annual State Fair. After learning this I knew I wanted to incorporate this fresh, local ice cream into the recipe for Wake County.

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While I continued my search in discovering the food culture of Wake County, I visited a couple of downtown venues, one being The Mecca Restaurant. This establishment was founded in 1930, relocated to it’s current location in 1935, and has been family owned while serving fresh veggies from the City Market ever since. While sampling a plate of fried chicken, Eastern NC BBQ, fresh veggies and blueberry cobbler, I spoke with John, a fourth generation Dombalis, regarding the family business and how he witnessed Wake County’s food culture evolve through the years.

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The weeks flew by as I visited Raleigh’s Visitor Information Center, Cameron Village Regional Library, Meredith College Library and savored a wonderful lunch with a Meredith College Alum at Side Street Restaurant in Raleigh’s Historic Oakwood neighborhood. I then had the wonderful opportunity to meet Elena in Raleigh to learn a little more about the Southern classic dessert, Pound Cake. Elena’s grandmother’s brother, Ted, and his wife Ann opened their kitchen to us and helped us prepare an 100 year old pound cake recipe from Nanny, (aka Flossie), Ted’s mother. Ann and Ted told stories from moving around this great state of North Carolina and residing in Wake County. They shared pictures of their family tree and how they have family ties to North Carolina State University and Meredith College. Most importantly we learned how the pound cake was made “just right” and how it became a treasured family recipe.

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After weeks of contemplating about a recipe choice for Wake County, I finally made up my mind. The pound cake was going to serve as a representation of Wake County’s “Melting Pot”. This meant I needed (and wanted) to obtain as many local ingredients as I could, while adding a little twist to Nanny’s recipe. Presently, Wake County has exploded with craft breweries while local coffee roasters are making their stance as well. Incorporating Wake County’s past food culture along with it’s present food culture was an important aspect I wanted to instill for this recipe. Using local ingredients is ever so important to me, personally and professionally. So, as you can imagine, going around and collecting eggs from Wake County residents’ backyard chicken coops (with permission!) was certainly not out of the question. Making phone calls to find Wake County butter, flour, spices, beer and coffee was quite successful, as I put together a “farm-to-table” version of this classic Southern recipe. Not only were the cake ingredients from Wake County, but to my delight, I came across a beautiful cake stand at the North Hills Farmers Market in Raleigh which was crafted by a Wake County potter.

As I wrapped up research for my “home” county, I couldn’t help but smile as I indulged in a scoop of Howling Cow’s Vanilla Ice Cream and a slice of Wake County Coffee Porter Pound Cake. My hope is that this recipe makes natives proud and eager to incorporate new ideas from the current and ever-changing food culture into classic family favorites.

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Wake County Coffee Porter Pound Cake

Cake recipe inspired by Flossie (Caudell) Ballenger, Elena’s great grandmother

Glaze recipe inspired by Aubrey Cook from Martha Stewart’s “Best Bakers in America” series

Ingredients:

Cake:

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature, plus 1-2 tablespoons for greasing pan (Jackson Dairy, Dunn, NC bought from State Farmers Market)

2.5 cups granulated sugar

6 eggs (Neighborhood chicken coops, Raleigh, NC)

3.5 cups sifted cake flour, divided (Powder Mill Grain and Baking Co. Whole Grain Cake Flour, Cary, NC)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon mace (Penzeys Spices Raleigh, NC)

3/4 cup Porter beer with carbonation removed (Raleigh Brewing Hidden Pipe Porter, Raleigh, NC)

1/4 cup coffee (Oak City Coffee Roasters Kubum, Raleigh, NC)

1 teaspoon vanilla (Penzeys Spices, Raleigh, NC)

Glaze:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (Jackson Dairy)

1/2 cup coffee (Kabum from Oak City)

2 cups confectioners sugar

Ice Cream: Howling Cow Vanilla Ice Cream (North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC)

Directions:

Measure ingredients before mixing. (can be prepped ahead of time)

Move oven rack to center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt pan thoroughly. Cream butter in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until very light and fluffy, scraping bowl often with spatula. Add sugar and continue creaming. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine baking powder, salt and mace in bowl with 3 cups of sifted flour, stirring to combine. Combine beer, coffee and vanilla in bowl and mix together. Alternate beer mixture and flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Add the 1/2 cup sifted flour last of all and mix until blended. Pour batter into pan, pound gently on counter top to release air bubbles. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done. Let the cake rest in the pan on wire rack for 20-30 minutes. Carefully flip cake over and let cool for at least 1 hour.

Glaze:

Melt butter in sauce pan over medium low heat. Once melted, add the coffee and turn heat to medium, stirring occasionally with wire whisk. Once liquid boils, gradually add confectioners sugar, stirring until dissolved. Stirring occasionally, let liquid return to a boil. Once boiling, continue to stir for a few minutes, until the glaze reduces and thickens. When glaze reaches preferred consistency, quickly pour the glaze over the cooled cake. (the glaze will harden upon cooling, work quickly!) Serve with Howling Cow’s Vanilla Ice cream from N.C. State. Enjoy with family and friends!

Optional: Pair with Oak City’s Kubum coffee or Raleigh Brewing’s Hidden Pipe Porter.

Reference: http://www.ourstate.com/howling-cow/

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