If you are friends with a farmer, you know the only way to spend time with them is to visit them on their farm, and follow them around the fields as they tend to their crops and livestock. I learned this long ago when I became friends with Brett. While cultivating a friendship, I also learned how to save seed; “process” chicken, turkeys and pigs; sort tomatoes; and plant and harvest all sorts of vegetables.
Perhaps similar to working in a kitchen, there’s always something to be done – vegetables need harvesting, fields need weeding or irrigating, plants need staking, and of course produce needs to be sold. In the winter, the chores perhaps are not as time-sensitive, but the list is still long.
It was no surprise when I visited the O’Dwyers in November at their farm (Langwater Farm) that I would have minimal time to talk with them before the chores began to call. They just finished their first season of cropping on 5 acres in North Easton, and by all counts they had a highly successful season. As they plan for the next season, they are busy building two new greenhouses, clearing fields and developing strategies to finance new, labor-saving equipment.
The farm-stand is still open and well stocked with lots of leafy greens, cruciferous veggies and roots. I picked up some romenesco cauliflower, just because it looked so cool, and a bag of parsnips.
Perhaps not the best way to showcase the parsnips, but an exceptional dish… is a variation on Thomas Keller’s Recipe… The combination of parsnip, vanilla and saffron will knock your socks off. Really.
Seared Swordfish with Parsnip Puree, Vanilla Saffron Sauce and Wilted Spinach
4 swordfish filets – approximately 6 oz. each
1 lb. parsnips
1 cup cream
1 lb. spinach
1 orange zested
½ vanilla bean
¼ tsp. saffron
¼ cup wine
½ cup chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 shallot, diced
1 tbs. butter
salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
1. Make parsnip puree: Peel parsnips, and cut into chunks. Put in a pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil, cook until tender. Drain parsnips (reserving about 1 cup of liquid), and puree with ½ cup heavy cream, and cooking liquid as necessary. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
2. Prepare the spinach: Heat a large skillet. Add 1 tsp. of oil. Sauté garlic with orange zest for one minute. Add spinach, and cook until wilted, about w minutes. Remove from heat and set aside
3. Make the sauce: Heat butter in a sauce pan. Add shallots, and cook for 2 minutes, or until soft. Add saffron and vanilla. Deglaze with white wine. Reduce until 1 tbs. of liquid remains. Add cream and chicken stock. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
4. Cook the swordfish: Heat a large skillet. Season char with salt, pepper and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Add oil to the pan, and cook the fish until golden brown. Turn over and cook through, 2 – 3 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet.
5. Serve swordfish with parsnip puree, spinach and sauce.