In high Maryland summer, buying local is no challenge. Rain and sun, heat and humidity make the vegetable kingdom grow like it will devour tomorrow. Fields and farm markets are fecund with foods you’ve not tasted fresh since last fall. Corn, cucumbers, cantaloupe, peaches, peppers, squash, tomatoes and watermelon are ready or ripening.
If I were doing the naming, I’d call Maryland’s sixth annual Buy Local Challenge the Buy Local Opportunity.
Pledging to eat at least one food from a local farm every day during Buy Local Week, running this year from July 20 to 28, is promising delight to yourself, your family and all who come to your table. Where’s the challenge in that?
But if you register for the challenge (www.buy-local-challenge.com), you’ll become part of the critical mass of Marylanders eating local. You could also win a very nice prize (see sidebar).
To make your fresh summer eating all the more delicious, Maryland growers of fruits, vegetables, fish, fowl and flesh team up with local chefs to combine the freshest ingredients into the most tempting recipes. Two dozen teams from across the state submitted the recipes to the 2013 Maryland Buy Local Cookbook. Find the final cookbook and other cookout info online at: http://mda.maryland.gov/Pages/Buy-Local-Cookout.aspx.
From this year’s recipes, we’ve selected three irresistible combos that match favorite summer stars with supporting vegetable acts good enough to steal the show. Fourth is a burger so well dressed that it’s a meal in itself.
Chesapeake Crab Cake
with Corn Cake and Eastern Shore Melon Salad
½ cup mayo
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
¼ cup chili sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, cleaned of shell
8 saltines, crushed
In a bowl, mix the first seven ingredients to make a sauce. In a separate bowl, mix the crabmeat and the crushed saltines. Next add the sauce to the crabmeat mixture and form into 2-ounce crab cakes. Sauté crab cakes until golden brown. Reserve.
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg, beaten
½ cup water
2 cups fresh corn kernels
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
¼ cup chopped parsley
Sift flour into a bowl. Add baking powder, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, lemon juice and water until smooth. Add the onions, corn kernels and chopped parsley and combine into a batter, mixing well.
In a greased pan, cook the corn cakes like pancakes. When the corn cakes are golden brown, place on paper towels. Reserve.
–by Chef Martin Saylor of Coastal Sunbelt Produce Company in Howard County
Eastern Shore Melon Relish
3 cups watermelon, diced ¼ inch
¼ cup red onion, diced ¼ inch
1/3 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 cup cantaloupe, diced ¼ inch
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
½ cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced ¼ inch
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint
Juice of 2 limes
½ cup fresh orange juice
½ teaspoon each, salt and pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
In a bowl, mix together the first six ingredients and stir together. In a separate bowl, mix the juices and the seasonings and combine. Pour the juices and the seasoning over the melon mixture and toss until well combined.
Assembly: On a plate, place the corn cake in the center. Top the corn cake with the crab cake and spoon the Eastern Shore melon relish over the crab cake.
–by Margret Frothingham and Bob Arnold of Arnold Farms in Kent County.
Chesapeake Soft Crab with Road Stand Relish
4 soft-shell crabs, live jumbo
4 oz flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
4 oz sweet butter mixed with lemon and chives
8 slices Maranto Italian bread, buttered and griddle toasted
4 leafs green lettuce
Back Yard Garden Salad (see accompanying recipe)
2 oz tartar sauce
4 wedges lemon
Remove live crabs from their bed of damp straw or newspaper. Set crab on its back, hold the claws back with one hand, and slice off the face, just behind the eyes. Open the apron at the back of the shell and slice off. Turn the crab over, lift each shell point in turn and remove the gills from the body. Carefully fold the claws in front. Set the crab in bowl of flour.
Set a pat of sweet butter on a pre-heated (325 degree) cast iron pan or griddle. When butter sizzles, add the crab, upside down. Cook 4 minutes, flip and cook 4 more minutes.
Butter and toast 2 pieces of bread on the griddle until golden.
Shingle 2 slices of toast in the center of each plate, lay a crab on top, and place a pat of lemon butter on each crab to melt.
Set a lettuce leaf on each plate and spoon a portion of Garden Salad on top of the lettuce.
Road Stand Relish
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
3 large mid-summer tomatoes
½ red onion
Bring first two ingredients to boil over moderate heat to form a simple syrup.
Rinse the tomatoes under water, cut out the stem, then dice into three-quarter-inch pieces and place into a non-reactive bowl.
Rinse the cucumbers, peel off stripes of skin, cut cucumber in half. Spoon out seeds if you wish or leave them. Lay the flat side down on the cutting board and slice three-eighths-inch thick. Add to tomatoes.
Peel the onion, cut in half (reserve half for other use). Cut the remaining half in half again and sliver into one-eighth-inch slices.
Toss tomatoes cucumbers, onion and syrup together. Refrigerate until needed.
–by Chef Paul Bartlett of Phillips Crab Deck in Annapolis
Honey Brined Smokey Rub Chicken
with Quick Pickle Salad and Chesapeake Lettuce Bouquet
Honey Brined Chicken
1 free-range chicken (2½ to 3 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
8 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
In a large plastic bag, combine all ingredients and marinate for 12 hours. Remove from bag. No need to rinse. Place on a rack to semi-dry.
Bryan’s Magic Rub
1/2 cup paprika (smoked)
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup cumin
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1/4 cup granulated garlic
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/8 cup onion powder
Lightly coat chicken with Bryan’s Magic Rub. The chicken can be grilled or roasted. When grilling, be careful not to burn it. It will cook fast.
Or roast at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.
Combine rub ingredients.
Quick Pickle Salad
2 local cucumbers
1 red julienned onion
1 piece shredded jicama
3-4 pieces diced scallion onions
1/2 cup shredded red radish
1/2 seeded and thinly julienned jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut cucumber very thin length wise, almost like a ribbon. Combine onion, jicama, scallions, radish, jalapeno and dill in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, mix olive oil, vinegar and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour over vegetables and let sit for 30 minutes.
Chesapeake Lettuce Bouquet
1 head of 4-way lettuce blend (Red Butter, Green Butter, Red Oak, Romaine)
Place lettuce on a plate and serve the Quick Pickle Salad over greens. Serve chicken on the side.
–by Chef Bryan Davis of The Classic Catering People in Baltimore County
Bison Burger with Smoked Bacon,
Goat Cheddar, Marinated Tomato and Hot Mix
2 pounds Gunpowder Ground Bison, formed into patties
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 slices Truck Patch Farms applewood smoked bacon
8 ounces Caprikorn Farms Goat Cheddar, sliced
1 pound Five Seed Farms Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced
8 ounces Full Circle Urban Farms Micro Hot Mix
1 tablespoon thyme, minced
1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 herbed brioche buns (or any bun you choose)
Preheat grill or skillet on medium heat. While heating, season bison patties with kosher salt and black pepper. When the grill is hot, place burgers and mark. Recommended preparation is medium rare, approximately 4 minutes per side. Bacon can be cooked ahead of time at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or blanched in salted boiling water for 1 minute and grilled.
In a separate bowl, combine sliced tomatoes, garlic, thyme, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix by hand, folding to ensure the tomatoes are not damaged. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Slice and toast bun on grill. One minute before removing burgers from grill, top each with two slices of smoked bacon and two slices of goat cheddar. Close the lid and let melt, about 30 seconds. Place the burger on bottom bun, top with Micro Hot Mix, dressed in extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Finish with two slices of marinated tomato.
Garnish with condiment of your choosing (recommended: roasted garlic aioli) and top.
–by Bradley Willits, Executive Chef of B&O American Brasserie, Baltimore