Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hanson's Farm: Beauty, Tradition and Diversity

Tom and Martha Hanson of  Hanson's Farm in Framingham, Massachusetts, love farming. They are the fifth generation of Hansons to farm, and really want to keep farming. They are smart, fun and flexible. A few years ago they realized that in order for the farm to stay afloat, they needed to utilize all of the farm and all of their talents and skills. The result is that they’ve diversified in some very unique and cool ways. They have a beautiful, inviting farmstand filled with fresh vegetables in vibrant greens and reds and purples. A comfortable armchair in a corner, a table with chairs on a side-porch, and a sign reading “Be Nice or Go Away’ all reflect their open nature and sense of humor. They raise pastel-colored eggs from heirloom chickens, stable horses, have a corn maze, and annually have a Haunted Hay Ride that brings in nearly a hundred volunteers. They give birthday parties and field trips. And they have a very successful CSA program. Hanson's Farm is a delightful place to shop and a fun place to visit. In honor of Martha's eggs, here are some egg recipes!
Alsatian Onion Tart
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces cold unsalted butter or lard, or a combination
2 ounces cold vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 Tablespoons ice water
4 ounces thick sliced bacon (about 4 slices)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds onions 
1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1. Blend together the flour, butter or lard, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender until the pieces are the size of baby peas. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture and stir with a fork or your fingers until incorporated. If the dough doesn't hold together, add more ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until it does. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. With the heel of your hand, knead once or twice. Gather dough together and press into a ball and then flatten into a disk. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
2. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 14-inch round. Lift the dough into a 12-inch tart pan. Trim off the excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the overhanging dough into the pan and press against the side to reinforce the edge. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.Line the chilled shell with foil and fill with pie weights (you can use raw rice or dried beans for pie weights). Bake until the pastry is set and pale golden along the rim, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and return to the oven to bake until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes more. Transfer shell to a rack, leaving the oven on.
Cut the bacon into small pieces, about 1/8th inch thick. Cut the onions in half, peel and slice thinly. Place the bacon in a cold skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the cooked bacon to paper towels. Add the butter to the skillet and, when melted, add the onions with half the salt and pepper. Cook over medium –low heat, stirring, until quite wilted, about 2 minutes. Cover and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and pale golden, about 20 minutes. Stir in the bacon and remove from the heat. Let cool about 10 minutes. Whisk together the cream, eggs, nutmeg, and the rest of the salt and pepper in a large bowl. Drain any liquid that has settled out of the onions and add the onions to the cream mixture.Pour the filling into the tart shell, spreading onions evenly, and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until the filling is set and golden. Serve warm or at room temperature, as a main dish or in small portions as an appetizer.
Summer Spaghetti Carbonara
1 pound spaghetti
4 eggs
1/2 pound bacon
1 onion
freshly grated parmesan cheese, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Beat the eggs. Cut the bacon into half-inch pieces. Peel and slice the onion. Cook the bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp. Set aside. Cook the onion in the bacon fat.  Combine the bacon and onion in a bowl with the beaten eggs. Remove a half a cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl. Toss and mix well, adding some pasta water a tablespoon at a time if it is too dry. Toss in the cheese and season with pepper. Serve with crusty bread and a large green salad.

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