When we come to the Hillsdale Farmers' Market tomorrow, Sunday the 8th, we will have a good supply of berries. The anticipated hot spell will likely shrink the raspberry and loganberry season, so this is the week to enjoy them. We will also have gooseberries, red, pink & black currants. Montmorency cherries are also ripening and we will bring some as well.
The frikeh is ready. This year's harvest is the greenest and most tender we have ever produced. You will need to start checking it at about 20 minutes.
We will also bring some mixed greens and fenugreek. The newsletter muse has been diverted by other tasks. Even though we haven't started enjoying the full bounty of summer yet, we are busy preparing the ground for the chicories, escaroles and other crops of winter.
Carol and Anthony Boutard of Gaston
Ayers Creek Farm
This is from last year's newsletter about frikeh:
Frikeh (freekeh, farik, &c.) is parched green wheat, and a middle eastern specialty. We prepare it using the traditional method of collecting heads of wheat while the grain is still green, burning them and then threshing the grain from the head. The is just 72 hour window when the wheat is at its best. The process produces a jade green grain that is slightly charred and has a smoky quality. Although durum wheat is usually used, we have started using the much thinner skinned soft red wheat, producing a more tender grain. Using fire to process green grains is also practiced in southern Germany where spelt is roasted to produce grünkern, and in the southwestern United States where unripe corn in the soft dough stage is roasted and dried to produce chicos with their own characteristic light smokiness.
To prepare frikeh, rinse well in couple of changes of water. Drain and put in a saucepan. Add water to about double the depth of the grain, or more. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently, checking it for tenderness around 20 minutes. Drain, salt as desired and store in the refrigerator without liquid.
At this point, the grain can be used in many different dishes. At its simplest, we use frikeh to build a seasonal grain salad along the lines of tabbouleh, using olive oil, lemon juice, mint, parsley, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and perhaps a bit sauteed summer squash. Chef Naoko Tamura adds frikeh as a topping for her seasonal salads using a traditional Japanese soy and rice vinegar dressing: http://www.npr.org/2011/05/17/136394182/seasonal-salad-with-bamboo
Frikeh is delicious with yoghurt and butter milk. Nostrana serves a butter milk and frikeh soup based on a similar soup from Deborah Madison's The Savory Table. Linda Colwell guided us in putting together an Ayers Creek version of this soup. http://anurbanagrarian.blogspot.com/ It uses two cups of frikeh in a quart of butter milk. Add a couple tablespoons each of fresh cilantro and dill, a tablespoon of ground coriander toasted gently in a dry pan, and two cups of purslane whole if very young, or chopped coarsely. Linda also brought a jar of her tuna, and we made the tuna and frikeh salad shown on her blog.
Yesterday, we prepared our variation of the middle eastern dish called kibbeh using frikeh. In its traditional form, raw lamb is mashed with bulgar wheat in a mortar with parsley, onion and mint. The mixture is dressed and served raw as a tartar. Unfortunately, the raw version is seldom served in restaurants, instead the kibbeh is fried or broiled. In our version, we ran a half pound of lamb through a meat grinder and then mixed it in with the herbs and frikeh. We dressed it with olive oil and lemon juice, and served it with salad and Siljans, the round rye crisp bread.
Frikeh is also very good in heated dishes. Egyptians stuff fowl, usually pigeon and chicken, with frikeh. Add it to a mix of sauteed vegetables. Its gentle smokiness and grassiness is welcome summer fare. If you plan on storing the frikeh, we suggest pouring it into a glass jar and keep it in the freezer. This preserves its quality. It is shelf stable, but the flavor drifts away over time. For us, though, it is linked with the flavors and texture of summer, and we have no inclination to prepare it in the winter.