Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

Fire It Up season is here-big time! We had a grand time with the theme when we fired up the grill on the river. I had just gathered my CSA share and had a lot of just picked produce to play with...thus the appetizer, panzanella salad and dessert. Lighting the charcoal for the basic kettle grill was a challenge to those used to the ease of propane, however, I got to share some of my new cookbook's  techniques from the "Grilling For the Novice" chapter.


BTW, my friend just commented, “We had way more fun than the photos showed!”  Ok so it is, but you can’t show everything on a blog or Facebook!


Smoked Salmon Bruschetta with Garlic Scape Pesto

Flaming Bourbon Steaks

Local Strawberry Panzanella

Rhubard Galettes


Foodie Red Alert @ Homestead Gardens: I just talked to the Communications folks at Homestead Gardens when a smile came on over the phone-Ann Marie had just delivered a Blue Bunny treat to the staff. Now that stopped everything! (Homestead Gardens is now serving ice cream "pop" treats in the cafe. The Blue Bunny scoop is that since 1913, the colossally creative artisans at Wells— the largest family-owned and operated ice cream manufacturer in the United States have been sending smiles with their ice cream treats.

On to our riverside "local"grill out...





























Bruschetta with Garlic Scape Pesto and Smoked Salmon

The garlic scapes are in! I know they're around at farmers markets in our area, although mine from Clagett Farm are quite famous. When picking them up, I heard other share holders talking about combining them with their grilled salmon that evening. Hmmm, I thought-a perfect union. And that it is; whether it may be fresh grilled or smoked salmon on toasted French bread rounds.

  • 1 whole wheat french baguette
  • Garlic Scape Pesto (recipe below)
  • 4-ounce package thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drianed


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice baguette and place in single layer on a baking sheet. Put in oven for about 3 minutes. Flip bread slices  and bake another 3-5 minutes, until bread is golden brown.

Spread pesto sauce on each slice of bread. Top with a ruffle of smoked salmon. Dollop a bit more pesto and a few capers on top of salmon. Serve.


THE Garlic Scape Pesto

The most popular use of garlic scapes thus far has been pesto and for different varieties of garlic scape pesto interchange ingredients of your imagination- substitute spinach, walnut, or sunflower seeds.

This pesto spread is delicious on pizzas, potatoes, meat, eggs, seafood or sandwiches. Since the scapes are seasonal you can freeze the pesto for use year ‘round. The scapes make a pesto that is a pretty green color that has a rich garlic flavor, but without a hot garlic bite. Serve ‘til you can’t eat any more!

  • 1/4 pound. scapes, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (or more for desired consistency)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
  • Kosher salt to taste

Puree scapes and olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Stir in Parmesan and lime or lemon juice and season to taste.



Local Strawberry Panzanella

Serves 6



A large flat salad bowl works best for this so the goodies don't sink to the bottom and the tender lettuces won't get weighted down. Use fresh bread and toast yourself into crunchy cubes as there is no comparison with those boxed croutons.

  • 4 cups fresh baby lettuces and arugula (I also included sorrel, anise hyssop and tarragon leaves)
  • 1 quart fresh tiny strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • 2 cups cleaned sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cups fresh whole grain bread cubes, toasted
  • zest and juice of one fresh lemon
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup chopped almonds, toasted

Just before serving, place the lettuce, strawberries, mushrooms, toasted bread cubes in the salad bowl or on large platter. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and juice and then with olive oil. Toss well, but gently- do not wilt lettuces. Sprinkle the top with almonds

Bourbon Double Fired Steaks

Ok, so it’s called something different in the book, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!, but I couldn’t get too whacky at the time of writing. Now I can when I tell’s a blast! (and so simple)


Bourbon Rib Eye Steaks Flamande

Serves 4

James Beard was the pioneering father of outdoor grilling and his knowledge of meat was legendary. He gave us this simple but dramatic flambé technique. Make sure you have your camera ready because you just have to get a shot of this one!

P.S. We call for a bit more bourbon than may seem necessary because some will be lost one way or another.

  • 2 10-ounce beef rib eye steaks (or other cuts such as New York strips), trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • ½ cup bourbon

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Rub steaks on each side with salt and pepper. Grill steaks 3 to 4 minutes a side until just rare or medium-rare.

Remove the steaks to a plate lined with a bed of fresh rosemary sprigs; cover with the smaller rosemary sprigs.

In a very small pan, heat the bourbon to only mildly warm. Light the bourbon in the pan and pour the flames over the rosemary and steaks. Voila! A masterpiece!


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