Saturday evening, there was a flurry of activity. As tasks were finished in the kitchen, items were crossed out on the many lists with Sharpie markers. At some point, Aaron asked when we were planning to get to the dining room, and spoons smiled and replied, “Have you been out there lately?” The long tables were already set for 100 people with mismatched tablecloths, plates and silverware, pitchers of water… counts were being called into the kitchen: “We need 6 more knives!” and the Camp Turner staff were shaking their heads at us in amusement.
Course 0: Chickpea Amuse Bouche
Campers started to gather and our Master of Ceremonies, Tom Rammer, announced the first course, a chickpea amuse bouche, A.K.A. “appetizer.” The idea for the dish came from some excellent deep-fried chickpeas I had at Tia Pol with Dan & Manely. We didn’t want to mess with deep-frying, so we just tossed some chickpeas in the oven with olive oil, good kosher salt, and spanish paprika.
Course 1: Gazpacho
While people were snacking on hot chickpeas and bringing out the first bottles of wine, we also brought out a pitcher of gazpacho for each table. The gazpacho recipe was a mixture of inspiration from the ingredients at hand, a recipe of Fred’s, and the excellent French Laundry gazpacho recipe.
Nearly all the vegetables (including tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, potatoes, beets, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, cilantro, and parsley) came from from Mark Printz at Canticle Farm in Olean, NY and from Mark Shindlebeck in Franklinville, NY. We originally learned about consumer-supported agriculture while living in Pittsburgh — you must have heard us talking about our “veggie box” during the last few summers. When we were thinking about fresh produce for the camp weekend, we realized there must be some similar farms providing local vegetables near the park. We looked online and found lots of places! (Want to find one close to you?)
The first wine served with dinner was C. Mendes Vinho Verde from Portugal. It was slightly bubbly, recommended to go with the very acidic gazpacho — I thought it worked well!
Course 2: Potato Galette
The potato galette comes from one of our favorite cooking magazines, Fine Cooking. It was super easy (once spoons’s siblings and Janine cleaned all 25 pounds of potatoes): no need to peel Yukon golds, just slice them in the food processor and layer them with cheese. Good cheese!
Course 3: If you think you don’t like beets, you’re probably wrong.
We picked up salad greens in Allegany, NY on Thursday. We were a little worried about how to clean and dry greens for 100 people, but Stephen and Laura got it done using a remarkable technique suggested by Rose: soak, rinse, then put a couple of heads in a clean pillowcase and spin rapidly over your head. The spinning part is best performed outside, but it worked great!
That wonderful chevre came from Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. (via Aaron and Eileen). (Vermont Cheese and Butter also supplied a lot of the butter we used during the weekend, especially for the corn bread and at the table. Their cultured, lightly salted butter is the best! 86% butterfat!) The dressing was a simple vinaigrette based on Agrodolce vinegar (via Zingerman’s and Bill and Dorothea), olive oil, salt, pepper, and (at Fred’s insistence) a touch of fresh ginger.
The beets in the salad came from Canticle Farms. Cooking beets in the oven is easy and tasty — once they are roasted you can toss them in salads or heat them up as a veggie side dish, or combine them with some garlic and yogurt to make a delicious indian dish. To roast beets, prepare whole beets by scrubbing them and cutting off the beet greens, if attached. Wrap them individually in aluminum foil or put a bunch in a pan and cover tightly with foil. Before covering them, toss them with some olive oil and salt. Roast beets for 1-2 hours at 375 depending on their sizes. A knife should slide easily into the beet, through the foil, when it is done. We got a LOT of beets in our Pittsburgh veggie box from Kretschmann’s and we learned to love them. We were happy to see so many other people enjoy them on Saturday night.
In the sequel: recipes for beef and portobello Wellingtons!