Cranberry Bean Smush

Time for another recipe with ingredients from my CSA offerings: CSA Cranberry Bean Smush

Last week some cranberry beans, also known as shelling beans or, gorlotti beans, or some other names depending on who you ask, showed up in our Bishop’s Orchard CSA share.

Whatever name you give them both the beans and the pods are light beige color that is mottled with a cranberry red streak. I thought they were very pretty to look at, but had no idea what to do with them.

I looked up some recipes that suggested sautéing them with some other ve

getables and serving them as a light summer side dish. Sounded good, but I wanted to make something I could store for later use and I wasn’t so sure how receptive Mike would be to eating what looks like speckled red lima beans. Actually, since I share the CSA with my parents there resemblance to lima beans, which my mom hates, led to her giving me too big bunches of them for just me and Mike.

Being a lover of hummus and other squished bean dips I quickly found a few recipes for cranberry bean “hummus” (side note my sister likes to point out to me all the time that it is not technically hummus if chick peas are not involved, hence the quotations) and took elements from a couple of them to create my own cranberry bean dip. I was intrigued by one recipe that listed a spice called sumuc as one of the ingredients, but sadly several calls and visits to specialty markets left me empty handed and I was in too much of a rush to wait for it to come in by mail order. Though I did order some and plan on experimenting with it at some point. If anyone out there has ever used sumuc, I’d love to know what you did with it. My research made it seem like a very versatile spice that paired well with a number of things.

But back to the cranberry beans. I used the idea from one recipe of incorporating zucchini, which I also happened to have on hand from a neighbors garden and substituted cumin in place of the sumac.

cranberry bean smush

Here is the recipe I came up with:

8 oz. shelled cranberry beans

1/2 of a white onion (I had left over from a previous CSA share)

2 medium sized zucchinis

1/4 cup tahini

2 Tbs. olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 lemon zested and juiced

salt and pepper to taste

 

First, I put the shelled beans and roughly chopped onion in a pan and covered it with water. I brought that to a boil and then let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

While that was going on, I sliced the zucchini in rounds, brushed them with olive oil on both sides, and sautéed them for a few minutes on each side until they were slightly browned.

I strained the beans and onions and removed the zucchini from the pan and put it in the fridge to cool down while I zested my lemon and peeled my garlic.

Then I put the cooked but now cooled beans, onions, and zucchini in my food processer; added the lemon zest and juice, tahini, olive oil and cumin, and processed it until it was smooth and creamy. I added salt and pepper to taste and pulsed it all a few more times.

The Cranberry beans had a nutty richness which was nicely offset by the lighter zucchini flavor. I would say it was a huge success as it introduced me to a new legume and is a recipe I will definitely make again. I probably never would have sought out cranberry beans had they not happened to show up in my CSA. Which is one of the things I like best about the whole CSA experience in general; being introduced to new locally available produce and being pleasantly surprised with what you find. Next time I see  cranberry beans at my local farmers’ market, I will likely pick some up and try new ways to enjoy them

I served the CSA Smush with pita chips as an appetizer before a shrimp dish, which was a suggested wine paring during a recent visit to McLaughlin Vineyards. Check back tomorrow for the recipe and my review of the vineyard.

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A Rhapsody and Serenade at Jones Winery

Jones Winery is unique in that it calls itself a family friendly winery.  Considering it is connected to the Jones Family Farm, famous for their pick-your-own berries in the summer, Christmas trees in the winter, and Harvest kitchen, a farm to table cooking studio that offers classes throughout all the seasons, this makes sense. During my visit I talked to one of the tasting room hosts, David, who told me Jones family first and foremost is about educating people, about eating healthy from the land, and giving people the chance to have this unique experience that is dying in this country.   He proudly pointed out the motto on the back of the Jones Farm employee shirt, “be good to the land and the land will be good to you”.

To keep the farm family friendly, the tasting room and patio which are centrally located on the farm do not allow open bottles on the premises; they do sell their wines by the glass but limit each guest to two glasses per visit. They also do not allow outside food but sell local cheeses and other light fair.

This is the kind of place you want visit for a family outing where the kids can go berry picking or enjoy many other fun things the farm has to offer.  This is not the winery you want to visit if you plan on spending an afternoon picnicking and letting the wine flow freely.  That being said, it is still quite a wonderful experience for anyone who enjoys fresh and delicious products. . The farm itself is beautiful.   It is also kid friendly.  While I was there a lot of parents with young kids came in to do tasting after having entertained the young ones with berry picking. Kids can often feel out of place at some of the wineries.

Now that I’ve given you some idea what to expect on your visit it’s time to talk about the wines.  Jones carries a mixture of fruit wines as well as the more traditional grape wine.   David personally poured my tasting and was nice enough to answer all my questions. He explained that Jamie Jones, the 6th and most recent generation of Jones farmers to add something new and unique to the farm started planting grapes for the vineyard in 1999, though the first wines were not sold until 2004.

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Jones offers 11 or so wines, though I think that varies on availability. Most of the wines available are either 100% estate or Connecticut grown. I highlight a few that I liked, but check out their wine list for more details.

I enjoyed their Pinto Gris which is entirely locally grown. Pinot Gris is usually my white wine of choice and this one is very pleasant, it was light and not too sweet.  David mentioned the pinot was the farms signature grape, and that they had the most success with growing the pinot and the cabernet franc grapes. This brings us to another one of my favorites:  the Rose of Cabernet Franc. I thought it would be a great summertime choice for red wine drinkers as it was more dry than sweet.

A good dessert wine was the Raspberry Rhapsody, which they paired with a dark chocolate during the tasting. What intrigued me most about the wine was that David mentioned he uses it in his brownie recipe. While, I sadly forgot to pick up a bottle during my trip, I plan to purchase one on my next visit and incorporate it in a new baking experiment, possibly a flowerless chocolate cake, or rich chocolate mousse.

Last but not least of my favs I experienced in the tasting is the Strawberry Serenade. It’s a sparkling wine, and what can I say, I love my bubbly! I’m trying to convince Mike that we need to buy a case of this for the champagne toast at our wedding.

While it wasn’t available yet when I visited the tasting room, I did get to try one of Jones’ newest wines at the Shoreline Wine Festival (which I hope to recap later this month). The recently created a summer red called Beacon Light No. 8,is named for an historic light tower that was in a series which guided planes from New York to Boston in the 1930’s and was at one time located nearby the vineyard.

Overall Mike and I had a lot of fun visiting Jones winery. Though I think next time I will plan ahead and see what else is going on. Their harvest kitchen hosts cooking classes and wine pairing dinners throughout the year, they hold a seasonal farmers Market on Friday’s and in the summer and fall some type of pick your own is usually going on. Check the website for more details on events.

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A Few Sips at White Silo

I’ve discovered through my visits to wineries on the wine trail that each one is unique and it’s usually hard to tell through their websites what the experience will be like. One of the things I really set out to accomplish with these reviews is to give my readers an idea of the personal feel of the wineries and what to expect if you want to plan a day trip and get a chance to soak in everything each place has to offer.  I know some people just want to do a tasting, get their passport stamped and move on to the next one. But for me it’s really more of planning an enjoyable day trip and getting to take in some tastes and scenery.

I visited three wineries in one day, which was a bit ambitious, but I had mike along to keep me in line. That weekend happened to be the same day as the Goshen wine fest, and I lucked out because all of the tasting rooms were less busy, and each still had someone very informative and knowledgeable about their products available to talk with me without the usual crazy distractions of a normal weekend on the wine trail as most of the regular wine trail tourists were over at the festival. This meant I got in a lot of good face to face interview time and probably more of a tour than I would have on a normal weekend.

First on the list:   White Silo — it was definitely a long trek from Branford, but I am so glad that I made it. This one definitely fills the unique bill.  One of the things I am really enjoying about this whole process is the people that I get to meet and talk with.  In my experience it’s always interesting when the topic is one that the person is passionate about.  At White Silo I met with Ralph, the current owner of the winery/farm.

Ralph was a unique character himself, and loaded with information about the winery and its history.  He used to work as an engineer, and bought the farm in 1985 after retiring from a community college teaching position.  The farm started out as a pick-your-own type, but that proved to be less economical ,and he was about to pack it all in 12 years ago when he got a call from Cornell University about a program working with small scale fruit farmers to set up wineries.

The winery has evolved a lot since its inception but it is still a fairly simple “three man operation” as he describes it. They make mostly fruit wines, and have the only rhubarb wine I’ve encountered so far on the trail. I got a close up view of it as he invited Mike and me in to see view the product in its various stages of fermentation. The final product was crystal clear and made for a very enjoyable and drinkable table wine.

We got quite a tour and a definite education on the wine making process before we stared the tasting. He showed Mike and me around the fermentation room, encouraging other visitors to take a look as well, mentioning that they had no secrets — everything is done by hand.  It is definitely a family operation. Ralph talked excitably about his son’s plans to start growing more grapes and including some more traditional wines in the future.

The winery allows outside food for picnics and has tables fitted with umbrellas set up in their outdoor garden overlooking the winery.  If you don’t want to bring your own food, boxed lunches are available but must be purchased in advance. However cheese plates are available for those who didn’t plan ahead.

As we walked outside to view some of the crops, Ralph gestured to picnickers on the hillside above.  He noticed they were swatting flies away and let them know he had a supply of straw hats available and promised they would keep away the bugs as they did not like flying underneath the brim.

The farm is small and has had various incarnations dating back to 1935, when it was a dairy farm. Ralph remains committed to keeping the farm growing no matter what Mother Nature has to through at him. He talked about pest control and remains committed to using as little chemical as possible, as he put it, “It can’t be good for the person spraying, and it can’t be good for the people eating”.  He proudly showed me the thorn-less blackberries bushes, and encouraged us to come back on August 17TH  for their annual blackberry festival.

On to the wine tasting; the tasting room features beautiful handcrafted wood tables form a local carpenter and displays pieces by a number of local artists. Ralph personally poured our tasting but took care not give Mike too much as he was driving.  I was pretty charmed by the personal consideration.  They make a dry and semi-sweet version of each of their fruit wines, rhubarb, blackberry, raspberry and black current.  They also make two dry grape wines, the Upland Red, and Ralph’s personal favorite the Upland White. They also feature a sparkling raspberry wine and a White Silo Sangria, a mixture of either the dry Rhubarb or Upland White, and the Sweet Blackberry. You can purchase a glass to enjoy at the winery, or the two wines are sold as a set to mixed together at your convenience as Ralph feels that the Sangria is best when made fresh.

My favorites were the dry rhubarb; which was a very refreshing summertime wine. I also liked the semi-sweet variety of the black currant.  The Cassis, which Ralph mentioned was popular with his European customers as a digestive or Aperitif.  Being a fan of all things that sparkle, I also enjoyed the Sparkling Raspberry which was like drinking a fizzy fresh raspberry and not all overly sweet.

On our way out Mike and I purchased a bottle of the sparkling wine, which Ralph encouraged us to save for a romantic evening as once it was open, it would be best to finish off the bottle to keep it from going flat. Not that finishing off a bottle of sparkling wine is something with which I have a problem.

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