Chow Time: Do you know how your food is grown?

Do you know where your food comes from or how it’s produced? One Boston chef educated me on the importance of the integrity of my food.

Chef Peter Davis has made it his mission to use native and sustainable ingredients from local producers “to create an original and simple approach to classic regional cuisine.” Henrietta’s Table in Cambridge, Massachusetts has been called one of America’s “Best Farm-to-Table” restaurants by Gourmet magazine.  Chef Davis believes that the closer the food is from the ground to the table ensures that it’s more flavorful and nutritious.

Chef Peter Davis - Photo Courtesy of Heath Robbins Photography

Davis says we are undergoing the biggest food movement in the United States with more small farms cropping up (no pun intended) than there were 15 years ago.  By supporting local farmers and building relationships with them, we can have a better understanding of their growing practices and how our food is treated. Davis points out that all the food outbreaks in the last several years have occurred on mega-farms where owners don’t have the same control or quality standards.

He also adds that while not all small farmers produce “certified” organic foods, many abide by organic growing practices.  Davis says that for many small farmers the cost of being “certified” is not feasible, even though they use organic farming techniques.  Henrietta’s Table is also not certified a “green” restaurant, but Chef Davis says he practices composting, energy saving, and buys local in keeping with green restaurant initiatives.

If you don’t live in the Massachusetts area, you can sample two of  Chef Davis’ recipes from his popular cookbook :


Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Spicy Pecans
Serves 6

Photo Courtesy of Heath Robbins Photography

Ingredients:
For the spicy pecans:
2 1/8 oz pecan halves, toasted
2 teaspoons cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
½ oz butter
2 teaspoons maple syrup

For the salad:
12 oz fresh spinach
2 cups Maple-Pecan Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
2 oz goat cheese
½ pint fresh berries

Directions:
To make the spicy pecans:
Toast pecans until golden brown.
Mix dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.
Melt the butter in a pan and add maple syrup, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Pour butter mixture over pecans and toss. Sprinkle entire spice mixture over pecans and toss until well coated. Set aside to dry for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

To make the salad:
Wash the spinach and dry in a salad spinner.
Toss with the dressing and the spicy pecans, goat cheese, and berries.
Serve immediately.

Maple-Pecan Vinaigrette
Serves 6

Ingredients:
¾ cup pecans
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1½ cups safflower oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350°. Spread pecans on an oiled cookie sheet, and toast evenly for approximately 10 minutes. Combine all ingredients. Keep chilled until ready.

Scrod
Serves 6

“This is my mother’s and grandmother’s recipe, and I haven’t found one better.

Photos Courtesy of Heath Robbins Photography

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Ritz Crackers, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
6  8-ounce pieces of scrod
1/2 cup butter, clarified
1 1/2 lemons, cut into quarters
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a bowl, combined the crushed crackers with parsley.<
Season the fish with salt and pepper and dredge in the butter.
Place the fish on a baking tray, and sprinkle heavily with cracker mix. Bake in the oven for 10 t0 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
Serve with fresh lemon.

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