The farm-to-table trend has accelerated in 2014, according to Restaurant.com, because diners desire the wholesome simplicity of homestyle cooking and minimally-processed foods. Sixty-two percent of restaurants reported featuring locally-sourced produce in 2013, and this percentage is growing as renowned chefs create dishes that more closely resemble those that graced grandma’s kitchen table.
Using the freshest ingredients in creative ways brings communities together through agri-tourism. Last Thursday night my husband and I enjoyed an evening out with friends for a delicious fall menu created around local foods. From appetizer to dessert, the main ingredients were sourced from producers (like me!) in Franklin County Iowa.
The evening started with the most unique appetizer, featuring bison raised by Emily Pfaltzgraff and her family. Chef Todd Merfeld nestled a bison meatball inside a won ton wrapper and infused a little spice into locally grown strawberries, creating a masterful sweet & sour sauce. I’m not sure how to recreate this at home, but I would love to learn!
The next course featured greens and candied hazelnuts from Koenigs Acres topped with apples from Enchanted Acres. The featured soup was Potato and Leek Soup with ingredients grown by Koenigs Acres.
Fitting for fall, the entrée was Neiman Ranch pork loin with a side of squash risotto.
The fifth and final course of the evening was homemade pumpkin pie... What an encore it was! Cathy Carlson of Country Cook'n & Carlson Tree Farm grew the wheat, which she harvested and then milled. She used homegrown wheat flour to make a flakey crust. I made pumpkin puree from the fruit we grew at Enchanted Acres, and then Cathy put it all together into one absolutely delicious pie.
Last Thursday’s Farm to Fork Dinner was so delicious that I’m inspired to try recreating it at home – with a few modifications to accommodate the way I cook. (Everything I make must be relatively simple and be made with ingredients I’m likely to have on hand.) Below is the menu with links to the recipes I’m planning to try:
Since I don’t have a gift for making a light and flakey crust, I’m intrigued by the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Pumpkin Cream Pie. The graham cracker crust won’t take much time at all to make, and it will be a great use of the many graham crackers leftover from campfires held at our pumpkin patch. I plan to puree one of my remaining pie pumpkins for the cream pie, and then roast the seeds. My kids absolutely love roasted pumpkin seeds!
I’m also looking forward to trying the following recipe for Caramelized Pork Tenderloin, but I don’t want to stop there! The beautiful centerpieces gracing the tables last Thursday night – made from specialty pumpkins grown at Enchanted Acres – have inspired me to create a beautiful centerpiece of my own. After all, a beautiful meal deserves a beautiful table!
Caramelized Pork Slices
by Missy Bice, Iowa Pork Producer from Woodward
1 pound pork tenderloin
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup or pancake syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cut pork in half-inch slices. Spray non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high flame.
Cook pork and garlic in skillet for 6 to 8 minutes, turning meat occasionally until pork is slightly pink in center. Drain, if necessary.
Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook about 2 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens and coats pork.