By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
Fresh from the farm and onto the dinner plate was the theme of the evening when David Ryle cooked up a meal for 15 people.
His guests were seated outside near the very crops picked fresh and used in their food. Ryle, the owner of Jubilee Hill Farm in East Coventry, uses organic and sustainable methods when growing produce. For this reason, it was an easy decision to use local food providers in the recipes he used for his farm-to-table dinner.
“I just wanted to kind of build a meal that would reflect the area and the season,” Ryle said.
The star dish of the night was a delicious leg of lamb. Several of Ryle’s guests never had lamb before he served it to them and yet they fell in love with the slow-roasted, savory meat. When Ryle’s neighbor offered him one of his sheep fresh from Rupert Farm, he knew it was the perfect protein to serve as the centerpiece of his meal. Ryle liked that he was able to walk down the street and talk personally to the farmer who raised the lamb he would cook.
“It’s important to know where your food comes from and to know how it was treated,” he said. “All those things affect how things taste and affect how things are nutritious for our bodies or not.”
The rest of the dinner was made up of farm fresh vegetables from Ryle’s own crops and from the Kimberton CSA, a community supported agriculture farm in Phoenixville.
Ryle said the warm beet salad was an old standby recipe he’s been using for years. Local raw honey and goat cheese gave the beets a sweet flavor.
The kale slaw served was packed full of nutritious and delicious ingredients. Kale, cabbage, carrots, onions, apples and seeds made up this raw dish. The slaw is simple to prepare and made tasty with olive oil, apple-cider vinegar and seasoning.
Ryle said he demonstrated that it’s possible to cook with only local foods and the difference it makes on the meal. The dinner guests left Jubilee Hill Farm with full bellies and a better appreciation of the term “farm fresh.”
Egyptian Slow Roast Leg of Lamb
One bone-in 4 pound leg of lamb*
2 onions, finely grated
2 carrots, finely grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
2 teaspoons of mixed spice (can used garam masala)
1 teaspoon of crushed pepper flakes (optional)
1½ teaspoon of salt
In a large roasting tin or a cast iron pot, place the lamb. Add all the other ingredients and take a couple of minutes to rub them all over the lamb leg. Cover the pot (or use foil/plastic if you are using a roasting pan) and let it rest to marinate in the fridge overnight. This step is crucial.
The next day, preheat the oven to 320 degrees. Remove the lamb from the fridge and place it into the oven. Cook for 3 hours, covered.
After 3 hours, remove the lid or the foil, and roast for another 2-3 hours. During this part of cooking, you will need to check on the lamb every half hour or so. Using a large spoon, scoop up some of the sauce over the lamb to baste it a couple of times. If the pan is getting too dry, add hot water, about a half a cup at a time. You will notice the crust of the lamb will be getting darker and darker; this is good! Don’t freak out. Just make sure there is enough liquid in the pan so that nothing burns.
The lamb is ready when it becomes fork-tender and you can easily shred it off the bone. This happens in about 6 hours total of cooking time.
Take the lamb out of the oven and using a spoon, skim as much fat as possible off the gravy. Serve with vermicelli, rice or roast potatoes.
*Notes: If you are using a larger leg of lamb, just increase the amounts of all the rest of the ingredients accordingly. The cooking time will remain more or less the same.
If you cannot find ‘mixed spice” at your supermarket, just replace it with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon of ground allspice and ½ teaspoon of ground cloves.
Recipe Courtesy of Jubilee Hill Farm
Jubilee Warm Beet Salad
10 to 15 medium sized beets, washed and peeled where necessary
2 carrots, peeled
1 tablespoon of local raw honey
1 tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of plain goat cheese
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut beets and carrots into 1/2 inch cubes and place into a bowl. Add olive oil and toss to coat. Transfer into a roasting dish and place in preheated oven. Check every 15 minutes and stir. After 30 minutes check every 10 minutes until beets are fork tender. Remove from oven. Add honey, balsamic vinegar and salt then mix thoroughly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve with a modest amount of goat cheese crumbled over each serving.
Recipe courtesy of Jubilee Hill Farm
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of apple-cider vinegar
Coarse salt and pepper
3 cups mixed shredded kale and red cabbage
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 apple, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves (can use mzamda African basil)
2 tablespoons of diced red onion
¼ cup chopped roasted cashews (can use toasted sunflowers seeds)
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, mustard and apple-cider vinegar to create the dressing. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. In another bowl, combine kale, cabbage, carrot, apple, parsley, and red onion with cashews and hemp seeds. Season the slaw with salt and pepper then drizzle with dressing and lime juice. Toss to coat. Garnish with avocado.
Recipe courtesy of Jubilee Hill Farm
Ryle said Pennsylvania is “farms galore” which means there are plenty of opportunities to shop local. The Lansdale Farmers Market has vendors from throughout the region. Thornbury Farm is a community supported agriculture organization in West Chester. Longview Farm and Market in Collegeville not only sells fresh produce but also has several educational programs. A quick search online will reveal many options to buy local ingredients for farm fresh recipes.