Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Next Big Thing

The envelope pictured below landed on my desk a couple of weeks ago. If you look closely in the upper left corner, you'll recognize a familiar name if you frequent the restaurant and/or blog. Ramsburg. As in Rettland Farms. As in rock star pork, chicken and egg producer. The guy I'm proud to call my friend, Beau Ramsburg.....but wait, that envelope says M. Ramsburg, Andy. You're right, it does. M. Ramsburg.....Intrigued? I was.

When I opened the letter, Morgan Ramsburg, Beau and Cat's daughter, had written me explaining that she was raising lamb as part of a 4H project and she would be showing them in mid-August. In the letter, Morgan asked if I would consider bidding on her lamb with the hopes that one of her animals would make it back to The Mansion. Did I think twice? No. During the showing, one of Morgan's animals was selected as the reserve grand champion. First showing. Reserve grand champion. Yes, this kid is a Ramsburg.

Last weekend, Heather Sheppard Lunn trekked over to the South Mountain Fairgrounds and placed the Sheppard Mansion's bid on Morgan's lamb and yes, we landed one!

The lamb is back from the butcher and I've gotta say, 'HOLY AMAZING.' That's a professional opinion.

When I was a kid, I used to closely read Sports Illustrated. One of my favorite sections was the 'Faces in the Crowd' where up and coming stars would be chronicled in the opening pages of the magazine. I think in some cases, this section served as notice to the older generation in each sport that a new, great group of stars was working their way to the top. Well, if there was a 'Faces in the Crowd' for agriculture, Morgan Ramsburg should be brightly featured. Keith Martin at Elysian Fields Farms, watch your back....from the looks of this lamb, you've got a 'situation'.

Morgan's lamb is going to hit the menu this friday in the form of five individual preparations from five different parts of the animal all presented on one plate. If you've had lamb before, congrats. If you want to TASTE WHAT'S NEXT....I would suggest getting yourself a reservation for this weekend at the Mansion because I know this animal won't be around for long. There even might be an outside shot that you'll look across the dining room and there will be Morgan, getting the rock star treatment by the Sheppard Mansion staff. If you are lucky enough to spot Morgan, don't be bashful. Ask your waiter for a sharpie and ask Morgan to sign your menu. Honestly, how often do you get to taste the next big 'food thing'?

I'm working through tons of possible ideas for presenting this lamb and I hope you'll be able to make a reservation for this weekend to try one amazing lamb.

Check back to the blog to see how the ideas work themselves out this week....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Garden Update - August 25th.

I'll let the video do the talking.

Oh, and here's a definition for 'GTL' from Urban Dictionary. If you don't know what GTL means then somehow you're missing the most important show to hit TV screens in the past 20 years.....

The process of staying fresh and mint. Stands for "Gym, tan, laundry." Must be done everyday to achieve maximum potential. Side effects include fist pumping. Coined by the eloquent Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from MTV's ground breaking Jersey Shore.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Did I mention that we have some corn??????

First, a word about our corn. I like to call it 'no no' corn. Basically what that means is that nothing other than dirt, rain and our hands have touched our corn. No herbicides, no pesticides, no nothin'. 'No No Corn'. So, what that also means is that occasionally you might encounter a worm here and there. A small price to pay for amazing flavor in my book. Simply brush the worm off or cut out the bruised area and go on eating the most amazing corn you've had in the past 30 years.

So, did I mention that we brought in a huge haul of corn? I think I did. Basically, what that means is that it's time to be creative with our abundance. We've already dried enough corn to get us through the winter and now it's time to think about how to celebrate this bumper crop in the present. So.....corn, butter and salt are GREAT friends. Butter, salt and biscuits are GREAT corn biscuits are born. See, this chef thing isn't that tough. It's just a matter of connect the dots!

I utilized our usual biscuit recipe, bumped up the amount of salt to balance the corn and boom: done. I think these little devils are a superb seasonal addition to our bread offerings and I hope you will, too.!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tomato Tarte Tatin

Yep. Tomato tarte tatin. Most likely, if someone said 'dessert' to you, a tomato tarte tatin would not be the first thing to come to mind. That's OK, because I'm gonna work to make it something you not only think about, but enjoy!

So, I've got a ton of tomatoes coming in right now and am looking for interesting ways to use them. Why not dessert? I'm not a huge fan of heavy, sweet desserts and since the tomato is considered a fruit, I figured, why not?

I start with a good group of Akers West Virginia tomatoes that I have peeled the skin off of and cut in half. I love the Akers tomato and this growing season has been especially good for Akers(read: I've got a boat load of them.). The next step is to add sugar, vanilla bean and butter to the bottom of a copper pan. Neatly arrange the tomatoes cut side up in the pan and cook over moderate heat until a syrupy caramel forms.(Note: the more moisture in your tomatoes, the longer this step will take. If you use those nasty tomatoes from the grocery story, the cook time will be almost immediate. Actually, if you plan on using tomatoes from the grocery store, please stop reading now. I don't want you to make this dish.) Once you've reached caramel stage, sprinkle about 6 leaves of lemon verbena over the tomatoes and place a circle of puff pastry over the tomatoes. Prick with a paring knife and cook at 425 for about 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes has gone by, remove the tarte from the oven and shake it to make sure it is loose from the sides. Then......flip it over on to a plate.

The other components of this dish are sour cream ice cream, basil granola(it's awesome, trust me), some flowering basil from the garden and caramel. Done.

Monday, August 16, 2010


My dad and I harvested a ridiculous load of sweet corn from the garden today....

Just a little back story on our corn crop for 2010. The corn was a little bit of an afterthought. You see, we had originally planted carrots and leeks which did not take in the early stages of the garden, so we decided to cut our losses and quickly put in four rows of yellow corn. If you're a tried and true central Pennsytucky resident, you've already recoiled at the thought of 'yellow' corn. Trust me, folks. I know what the hell I'm talking about.

It seems that white sweet corn is everywhere in today's farmers markets. You can count your lucky stars if you can find bi-color. Well, that's where I have a huge problem. I really don't like the current versions of white sweet corn because the seeds have been manipulated to the point that they taste 'too sweet' and don't have a solid 'corn flavor'. Honestly, this pisses me off. I want my corn to taste like corn, not corn flakes. So, the answer is yellow corn.

If you're lucky enough to have any old cookbooks laying around(and by old, I mean old like 1930's old) or you have family recipes that utilize corn, take note of the fact that almost all of the recipes call for some degree of sugar. You see, corn wasn't always as sweet as BIG AG currently makes it. Not even close. I can already hear the yelling from the hills...'well, if the recipe calls for sugar that means that the olde timey corn wasn't sweet enough and this new corn is a modern marvel of technology.' Well, hold on to your smarty pants, buster. The addition of sugar to old recipes put the control of the sweetness in the hands of the cook. Which, quite honestly, is where it needs to be. Want a corn pudding that isn't so sweet? Don't add the sugar called for in the recipe. Want a corn ice cream? Add a little more sugar. You see, I don't have ANY desire to have a chemist in Iowa deciding for me how sweet or savory my corn pudding should be. SO.....say it with me......'yellow corn'.

Yeah, I made you read all of that stuff, simply to find out about the FREE STUFF ALERT!

Thank you to everyone who took me up on my offer of a little free garden tomato salad last week..... This week(August 18-21), we're going to be offering a little gift of corn from the kitchen. My great grandmother had a recipe for corn fritters that I grew up on and honestly, really enjoy so I thought they would be the perfect vehicle for getting our corn IN-TO-YOUR-BELLY! Mention this blog post WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR RESERVATION for this week(August 18-21) and we'll send you a plate of my great grandmother's corn fritters on us. I couldn't be happier with this year's crop of has only proven to spur ideas for next year's garden!

FYI, if for some reason(I honestly can't think of a good one) you can't make it to the restaurant this week to nosh on your complimentary plate of corn fritters, the yellow corn that we grew will be for sale at this friday's Farm Fresh Market at the Gettysburg Outlet Center. Look for the Sheppard Mansion Farms booth. Will the most amazingly flavorful heirloom tomatoes be at the booth you ask? See below. I think we'll have a few for sale!