Jennifer Burcke is a writer and fifth generation New England farmer who lives with three generations of her family at 1840 Farm in New Hampshire. She shares their journey on her blog at www.1840farm.com.
When heirloom tomatoes are ripening by the basket full in our garden, I experiment with all sorts of ways to feature them on our farmhouse table. I really love preparations that require little to no cooking, allowing the natural texture and delicious flavor of an heirloom tomato to be the star.
This pico de gallo definitely fits the bill. It’s packed with delicious flavor, texture, and bright color. It’s so beautiful on the plate and a wonderful way to enjoy the glorious flavor or tomatoes fresh from the garden without heating up the kitchen on a hot summer’s day.
I love to use cherry tomatoes of varying colors when they are available to celebrate the range of red, purple, yellow, and black colors we grow here in our garden. The burst of color and flavor on our plates is always a welcome sight.
Garden Fresh Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo
I love to use cherry tomatoes for this recipe. They can easily be quartered to create the perfect size bite. If you are using larger slicing tomatoes, simply seed the tomatoes before chopping to prevent the pico de gallo from being too runny. If you like a bit of heat with your Pico de Gallo, add a bit of minced jalapeno pepper to the tomatoes and onions.
In a medium bowl, combine the onion, tomato, and cilantro. Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice and a generous sprinkling of salt. Stir to combine and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine and the tomato to release its juice. Stir, taste for seasoning, and add more lime or salt as needed.
Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!
Pico de Gallo means "rooster's beak" in Spanish. It is thought that the name originated from the appearance of the red tomato pieces in the dish. It seems like the perfect name to me!
By Jennifer from 1840 Farm
Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/08/garden-fresh-heirloom-tomato-pico-de-gallo/
Yesterday, I shared with you that I don’t have the words to make sense of the images we’re seeing on the news. At times, I feel so powerless to do anything that can help to soften the blow that each day brings, to remind myself that there is more beauty and love in our world than there is anger and hate. I know in my heart that it’s true, but it helps to have a reminder.
I invited you to share photos of the good in your day. You did, adding pictures of pretty flowers blooming in your yard, fresh food harvested from your gardens, dogs and cats being adorable, and farm animals reaching their faces to the sun. With every photo, my heart and soul were renewed. I could feel the hope creeping back in with each image.
Then, on the very day I had asked you to share your reminder of the good, to push aside the distressing news and reach our collective hands into the void to pull beauty closer, I made the most amazing discovery. As we were out picking the day’s harvest of raspberries, I pushed aside a thorny raspberry cane and this nest was revealed.
For weeks now, we have been picking ripe berries in this patch each day, yet it had remained hidden from our sight. It was in the midst of our raspberry patch all this time, just inches away from our working hands. It seemed so fitting that it revealed itself on the day that I needed to see it most.
As I stood there, I was shocked that it had remained undisturbed for so long. The eggs had hatched here sheltered by the thorns on the raspberry canes as they created a living roof for their home. I presume that the baby birds grew big and strong before leaving the safety of the nest behind as fledglings to find their way in the world.
Perhaps they are still here on our farm, flitting about as so many creatures do among our flower and vegetable gardens. Perhaps they have observed us harvesting ripe raspberries and blackcaps from the spot they once called home.
I think that I’ll choose to believe that they have chosen to stay here on our farm, that they have found a home among the branches of one of our centuries old trees. When I heard songbirds singing this morning as I swung open the enormous door of the old barn, I smiled at the thought that those birds might be among those adding a beautiful cacophony of sound to my morning.
Thank you, little birds for a reminder that brushing aside life’s thorny branches often reveals something tender and beautiful. Reach deep for the beauty and love today friends and share what you find with all of us so that we can be reminded of the good.
Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/07/finding-beauty-hope-love/
Boston Cream Pie has always been one of my favorite desserts. It’s difficult to beat the combination of a light sponge cake layered with vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate ganache. It wins on flavor and appearance in my book.
Sure, it isn’t really a pie in spite of its name. As a pie lover, I could choose to hold that against this dessert. Or, I could choose to love it more because it was made in a pie plate instead of a cake pan. I’ll go with the second option because it doesn’t prevent me from loving Boston Cream Pie for any reason at all.
If you’re not familiar with the story behind Boston Cream Pie, here it is. Once upon a time (around 1856), a chef by the name of Sanzian at Boston’s Parker House Hotel made a sponge cake layered with rum infused pastry cream, garnished with toasted almonds, and topped with chocolate fondant. As was common practice at the time, he baked the cake in pie tins which were often used for cake baking. The cake was called “Chocolate Cream Pie” and the name stuck.
Years later, it came to be called Boston Cream Pie in a nod to its birthplace. The Parker House became the Omni Parker House and the rest is culinary history of the most delicious kind. In 1996, this dessert with a history became the official state dessert of Massachusetts.
No matter the reason this dessert was originally baked in pie tins, it is more common to find it baked in a cake pan these days. Doing so creates a more symmetrical cake that can be sliced horizontally into layers for the finished dessert. I like a challenge, so I prefer to use pie plates which create the rustic appearance of the homemade dessert that I love.
In addition to using pie plates, I like to create three layers of cake rather than the customary two layers. I find that the ratio of cake to pastry cream and ganache is just right when I create three thin layers of cake. There’s also something decadent about a triple layer cake.
Once we moved to New England, it seemed fitting to master my own homemade version of Boston Cream Pie. We even took a trip in to Boston to have a slice at the Omni Parker House just to experience it at the very place it was first created.
Once we became chicken keepers and had a steady supply of the fresh eggs that give this cake and pastry cream such a rich flavor, my recipe really took shape. I have been making it the same way ever since.
You can call this dessert a pie or a cake, either is fine by me. I’ll call it homemade and delicious and enjoy every last bite!
Boston Cream Pie
This recipe makes use of several foundation recipes and techniques. You’ll make a sponge cake with a meringue that is folded into the batter to deliver the most amazing texture. Then you’ll move on to make a beautiful pastry cream followed by the chocolate ganache. These three components can be used time and time again making a wide range of delicious dishes to share with your friends and family.
200 grams (1 ¾ minus 1 Tablespoon) All-purpose flour
4 heaping Tablespoons cornstarch (36 grams)
1 cup (192 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3 ounces oil (I prefer a sunflower oil blend, but any neutral tasting oil will do)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
butter or coconut oil and sugar to prepare pie pans
For the Pastry Cream
12 ounces whole milk
½ vanilla bean pod
pinch of salt
¼ cup (30 grams) All-purpose flour
6 Tablespoons (72 grams) granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Ganache
4 ounces heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate
For the Vanilla Sponge Cake
Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Position the oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven. Prepare three pie pans by coating with butter or coconut oil and granulated sugar. Set aside as you prepare the cake batter.
Place the cup of whole milk a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean pod lengthwise using a sharp knife. Using the dull edge of the knife, scrape along the length of the inside of the pod to remove the thousands of beans inside. Transfer the beans and pod to the pot with the milk and place over low heat. The heat will help to infuse the flavor and aroma of the vanilla bean into the milk.
Prepare a large mixing bowl and the beaters for your mixer by wiping with a paper towel lightly moistened with white vinegar. This will remove any trace of fat, allowing you to create a fluffy, beautiful meringue from the egg whites.
Separate the three eggs, placing the whites in the prepared mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites on high speed until they become frothy. Continue beating while adding the ½ cup of granulated sugar one Tablespoon at a time. Beat until all of the sugar has been incorporated and the meringue has come to stiff peaks. You can test the meringue by removing the beater and holding it upright. If the peak of the meringue holds, it has come to stiff peaks and is ready to use.
Remove the milk and vanilla bean from the heat to cool slightly. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk.Transfer the whipped egg white meringue to a small bowl and return the mixing bowl and beater to your mixer.
Add the flour, cornstarch, 1 cup sugar, salt, and baking powder to the mixing bowl. Add the oil and half of the warm milk to the bowl. Mix slowly to combine. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract, mixing again on slow speed just to combine. Add the remaining milk to the bowl and beat slowly for approximately one minute until the batter is smooth and well combined.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a spatula, gently fold the reserved egg white meringue into the cake batter. Continue folding until the mixture is smooth and even.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pie pans, dividing equally among them. Transfer the pie pans to the preheated oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. The cakes are done when the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean or with small crumbs attached.
Remove the cakes from the oven to a wire rack to cool. When the pans are cool enough to handle, use an offset spatula to loosen the cakes from the pans. Turn each cake out on to the wire racks to cool completely.
For the Pastry Cream
Place the whole milk in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean pod lengthwise using a sharp knife. Using the dull edge of the knife, scrape along the length of the inside of the pod to remove the thousands of beans inside. Transfer the beans and pod to the pot with the milk and place over low heat.
As the milk is warming, combine the eggs and dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. The resulting batter should be thick and smooth.
Move the pan of milk from the burner. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk. Slowly add the egg mixture, whisking to incorporate the thick batter into the warm milk.
Return the pan to medium low heat and bring to a simmer, whisking continuously until the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from the heat.
Transfer the pastry cream from the pan (straining if necessary to remove lumps) to a bowl. Add the vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing it firmly against the mixture to prevent a skin from forming as it cools. Refrigerate until the cake is ready to be assembled.
For the Chocolate Ganache
Prepare the ganache by warming the heavy cream in a small pan or in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat source and add the chocolate. Allow the mixture to rest for two minutes before whisking to incorporate. When the cream and chocolate have become a satiny glaze, set the ganache aside to cool.
To Assemble the Boston Cream Pie
Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator. Whisk the mixture to ensure that it is completely smooth. Whisk the chocolate ganache.
Place one of the cake layers on a large plate or platter. Transfer half of the pastry cream to the top of the cake. Using a spatula, spread the pastry cream to evenly cover the cake, leaving a narrow margin around the edge of the cake. Repeat this process with the second layer of cake and remaining pastry cream.
Place the third cake layer on top. Transfer all of the chocolate ganache to the top of the cake. If the ganache is warm enough, it can be poured, if not, simply use a spatula to spread the ganache to fully cover the top of the cake. I like to completely cover the cake and allow a small bit of the ganache to drip over the edge. There’s just something inviting about seeing this cake with chocolate reaching down to the cake plate below.
Transfer the fully assembled Boston Cream Pie to the refrigerator. The cake can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, although they never last that long here!
This cake benefits from the use of cake flour. Due to food allergies, I struggled to find a brand of cake flour that was safe to use in our kitchen. Fortunately, I discovered that I could combine All-purpose flour and cornstarch to deliver the benefits of cake flour without adding allergens to our kitchen and one more specialty ingredient to our pantry. For each cup of cake flour called for in a recipe, simply weigh out one cup of All-purpose flour, remove 2 Tablespoons of the flour and add 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Problem solved!
By Jennifer from 1840 Farm
Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/06/boston-cream-pie/
I have spent my day at the sewing machine stitching Americana baskets and trivet sets. I stitch a five pointed star on the base of each one, so I have been seeing a lot of stars today.
Since today is Flag Day and since I love a good story, I thought that I would share the story of Betsy Ross, the five pointed star, and sewing the first flag for our nation. After all, it was on this day in 1777 that the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the nation’s flag. After I posted this story on our Facebook page and Instagram account, so many of our followers asked me to add it here to our blog. I am happy to oblige, so here it is!
Legend has it that George Washington, George Ross, and Robert Morris visited Betsy to enlist her help to create a flag for the colonies as they fought for their independence. Betsy was a natural choice as she and her husband had met George and Martha Washington at Christ Church where they sat in adjacent pews during services. They became friends and Betsy often mended George’s military uniforms for Martha during the war.
George presented Betsy with a pencil sketch of a flag which included 6 pointed stars drawn in pencil by George himself. Betsy recommended to the three men that the design be altered to include five pointed stars which would be easier to replicate and stitch. The three men preferred the six pointed star, but Betsy was determined to show them the merits of the five pointed star.
As she made her case, she is said to have removed a piece of tattered paper from her pocket, folded it, and then made a single snip with her sewing scissors. When she unfolded the paper, it was a perfectly symmetrical five pointed star. Then men were so impressed with her handiwork that they agreed to her suggestion and our flag was designed with Betsy’s five pointed star.
Many believe this story to be historically accurate while others have pointed out that it is more fable than fact. Either way, I still love the story and think of Betsy Ross at the young age of 24 convincing the most powerful man of her day, George Washington, to change his mind!
Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/06/a-story-of-our-u-s-flag-and-its-five-pointed-stars/
Every year, our Americana Baskets vary a bit, incorporating the fabrics we have on hand in the studio that fit the Americana theme. This year, we have solids and patterns including stripes, bold circles, and a deep blue with flags, stars, and just a hint of sparkle. I really love how they all came together.
Each Americana Basket is made to order with a five pointed star stitched on its base. You select a size and shape and we’ll make it just for you. There are a few days left to place your order from our Etsy Shop and have one of these patriotic baskets in hand to celebrate the upcoming Independence Day holiday. All orders for Americana Baskets received by June 13th will be shipped in time for delivery before July 4th.
For each Americana Basket sold, we’ll make a donation to the Farmer Veteran Coalition and 100for22. Each of these groups helps to raise funds and awareness to help support our nation’s veterans. It’s our little way of showing our support and saying thanks to those who serve our nation and their families. It just seems like the right thing to do.
I hope that you like this year’s Americana Basket as much as I do!
Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/06/meet-our-2016-americana-basket/
This morning, I published a new issue of our 1840 Farm Community Newsletter filled with links to my favorite baking how to posts. I hope that each of them will help you to enjoy baking in your kitchen and turning out delicious breads and dessert for your friends and family. Here they are, all gathered together in one place so that you can access each and every one of them!
If you enjoy reading our posts, why not subscribe to our FREE newsletter? It’s the best way to ensure that you don’t miss a single recipe, new handmade product, or special offer for our Etsy Shop. We’ll never share your email and send our best posts directly to your inbox. Take a look through our past issues to see what you’ve been missing.
Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/06/my-favorite-baking-how-to-posts/
There I was, reading a recipe for what sounded like a delicious cake. I was inspired to head into the farmhouse kitchen to make one for my family. I scanned through the list of ingredients, mentally placing a check mark on each line, happy to see that I had each ingredient on hand. Then I came to cake flour and everything came to a screeching halt.
Cake flour is all but impossible for me to purchase at the grocery store. Each box seems to carry an allergy warning that prevents me from being able to invite the ingredient into our kitchen. We are completely peanut and tree nut free, so buying a box of cake flour that might contain both simply wasn’t an option.
I knew that cake flour was designed specifically for cake baking. In fact, each type of flour is designed to deliver differing levels of protein, gluten, and density to recipes. Bread flour often promises a protein content in excess of 12%. All-purpose flour typically has a protein content in the range of 11% while cake flour comes in at between 6-8%, A lower protein content helps to create a cake that is tender, airy, and light.
After a bit of reading, I found that I could indeed make my own cake flour substitute using two ingredients that I always have on hand in the pantry: All-purpose flour and cornstarch. By combining the two, I can create a flour that has a reduced protein content with less gluten, a silky texture, and the density that cake flour is known for. I could also sidestep peanuts and tree nuts, keeping our kitchen safe for the whole family.
This substitution is simple and I have used it with great success to bake light and delicious cakes. I hope that you’ll find that it works just as well for you in your favorite recipes calling for cake flour.
Homemade Cake Flour Substitute
Our food allergies prevent me from purchasing cake flour at the grocery store, but they don't keep me from making recipes that call for cake flour.
This homemade cake flour substitute works well, I can control the allergens, and I can use ingredients that I already have on hand. Now you can too!
For each cup of cake flour called for in a recipe, you can easily create your own substitute. This substitute can be used in any recipe that calls for cake flour. There's no need to adjust the amount of flour used.
Measure 1 cup of All-purpose flour into a small bowl. Remove 2 Tablespoons of the flour. Add 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch to the bowl and whisk lightly to combine.
By Jennifer form 1840 Farm
Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/06/cake-flour-substitute/
Memorial Day is the official kickoff to Summer and we feel like celebrating! We’ll be enjoying a few of our favorite warm weather recipes with family and friends this weekend. The temperatures are predicted to hit 90 degrees tomorrow, so we’ll be ready for a cold refreshing Franklin Cooler made with our homemade Raspberry and Rhubarb Syrup by midday!
Each year, we choose to commemorate Memorial Day by making a donation from our 1840 Farm Community to a veteran’s charity for every handmade basket sold in our Etsy Shop. It’s our small way of showing our deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who serve in our military and the families that support them.
This year, I want to give you the opportunity to help select the charity that will receive that donation. If you have a favorite charity that focuses on those who serve our nation, please visit our Facebook page and join in our discussion. Together, we’ll choose the charity that receives our donation. Then we’ll repeat the nomination process for Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veteran’s Day.
For all of you who have served in the military or are on active duty, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your service to our country. To the families and friends who support those who serve, thank you for the sacrifices you make to support the bravest Americans among us. As the flag flaps on our farmer’s porch, I am forever reminded that we owe a debt of gratitude to all who serve that can never be repaid.
I hope that you have a holiday weekend spent with friends and family filled to the brim with laughter, delicious food and drink, and memories in the making.
You can access any of the recipes by clicking on the photos below.
Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/05/memorialdayfavorites/
The temperatures are warming up and gardening season is giving us reason to spend hours outside in the hot sun. When the work is done for the day, I’m ready for a cold, tall, glass of refreshment. If that cold drink can include two components harvested from our garden, then the moment seems like a celebration of growing our own food and enjoying every season.
This beautifully colored and deliciously flavored drink came together by accident. We had raspberries and rhubarb in the freezer from last year’s garden. In no time, they had been transformed into a batch of our homemade Raspberry Rhubarb Syrup. There was lemonade in the refrigerator, and good bourbon was just begging to be added to the party. The accidental combination was full of color, flavor, bright acidity, and the earthy goodness of a splash (or two) of bourbon.
While drinking a round of these icy libations, it was time to give this concoction a name. It didn’t take long to decide that Benjamin Franklin should get a nod as a thanks for his role in bringing rhubarb to the colonies that would become our country.
It is thought that he sent rhubarb seeds from Scotland to famed Philadelphia botanist John Bartrum some time around 1770. While some believe that these were rhubarb seeds of the medicinal variety rather than the culinary, we all know that Franklin loved to eat interesting and delicious fresh foods as much as he loved to drink. So, the name seemed fitting to me and The Franklin Cooler was born.
This beverage can be adjusted to suit your preference, adding more syrup or lemonade if desired. While I like mine with a splash of bourbon, they are equally delicious made without as a non alcoholic lemonade.
I’ll be raising a glass or two of these this holiday weekend and hope that you’ll join me in celebrating the beginning of the gardening season and the simple joy of taking time to enjoy the flavor of the seasons. Cheers to the happy accident of a great beverage and to a happy and safe holiday weekend for all!
The Franklin Cooler
Here at the farmhouse, we make two versions of this drink. One includes bourbon, the other does not. They’re both delicious and always a hit with guests looking to celebrate with a cocktail or those who prefer a glass of refreshing lemonade without any alcohol.
Here in New England, we’re still counting the days until it is safe to plant our tender perennials in the gardens. Heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, and the like are all being held in the farmhouse under lights until our overnight temperatures are warm enough to not cause damage to those tender plants.
We’re almost there, but I am growing increasingly impatient. I find it so difficult this time of year to wait for planting time even though the calendar begs me to. I just want to have my hands in the dirt, planting the seeds that will become homegrown food for our family table this growing season.
While I count the days until I can plant my beloved heirloom tomatoes, I can thank the rhubarb patch for giving me something to celebrate. Each spring, the rhubarb patch comes to life long before the rest of the garden. Those beautiful stalks seem to reach higher and higher each day, supporting their enormous green leaves.
We allow our rhubarb to go to seed each year, encouraging the patch to add new plants naturally and increasing our harvest each year. As the rhubarb harvest increases, the volume of rhubarb that we put up in the freezer each year grows exponentially. As the pounds of rhubarb pile up in the deep freeze, I start to dream up new uses for our homegrown rhubarb in the farmhouse kitchen.
I make upside down cake, pies, and rhubarb and strawberry crumble each year. This year, I added a delicious new rhubarb recipe that has quickly become a family favorite. Raspberry Rhubarb Syrup has been finding its way into icy glasses of lemonade, homemade cocktails, and on top of ice cream sundaes and slices of my Great Grandma’s Daffodil Cake. It even inspired my husband and I to craft a cocktail that we lovingly named the Franklin Cooler in honor of Benjamin Franklin who is thought to have introduced rhubarb to the colonies around 1770.
This recipe is so simple and the results are delicious. The color is so beautiful and each drop is bursting with fresh flavor. It’s the perfect way to use up any bits of last year’s harvest from the freezer as we prepare to make room for this year’s. The proportions of fruit can be adjusted to match what you have on hand and other berries can be added or substituted with equally delicious results.
A drizzle of this syrup will bring the taste of summer to your next meal or family gathering. I hope that you’ll enjoy this taste of summer as much as we do!
Raspberry Rhubarb Syrup
This syrup is delicious added to tall glasses of lemonade, iced tea, or your favorite summery cocktail. You'll also love it drizzled over vanilla ice cream, pound cake, or your favorite sponge cake recipe.
Memorial Day is the official kickoff to Summer and we feel like celebrating!
As a special way of saying thank you to our customers, we’re adding a FREE handmade 4” fabric trivet to every order we receive in The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy from now until next Wednesday (6/1/16). We’ll choose a beautiful handmade trivet just for you when packing up your order to begin its journey to you. Our trivets have been so popular that they are usually sold out and out of stock, so this is the first opportunity we’ve had to share them with you in many months.
We’re also thanking our nation’s veterans by making a donation to a veteran’s charity for every basket sold. We hope that you will visit our Facebook page to share your favorite veteran’s charity with us. Simply click on the graphic and join in our discussion on our Facebook page.
We have our fingers crossed that we’ll sell a lot of our handmade baskets this holiday weekend so that we can make our largest donation yet!
Just in time for Mother’s Day, I have gathered together a collection of our favorite recipes to make for breakfast and brunch. These recipes have been made time and time again in our Farmhouse Kitchen here at 1840 Farm. Now you can make them for your friends and family. They’re sure to love them as much as mine do!
Click on any of the photos to view the recipe for each dish.
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