Sad to say we are parting ways for another season. As has happened decade upon decade, Autumn, for us, is over. This Sunday, October 31, is our last day of the 2010 produce season. We hope you thoroughly enjoyed the season of plenty that we have had, and thank you so much for your patronage.
This felt like a particularly good year in the field and the stand and we are so pleased you were a part of it. We are not going meekly into the dark night though. You may have already seen that we are hard at work on our next phase. We have begun moving loam and gravel around behind the stand to prepare for two new growing greenhouses. These will replace the remaining aging structures near the main stand and refocus all of our garden department in the large glass house. This will open up space for future renovations to the farm stand, clues to which you may have noticed hanging around this fall.
In the meantime there is still time to pick up your pumpkins and apples and any other favorites you will be sorry to see go. Of course many of the sauces, jam and jellies are on sale as we want to clear the shelves. So be sure to take advantage of the many deals available.
Once we close Sunday evening, we will remain so til the Friday after Thanksgiving, at which point we will welcome you for the holiday season with Christmas trees and Pointsettias, greens, garlands, wreaths, ornaments and much more.
It began like any other Fall day. Sun rising through the clouds, crows crashing through the skies, the wind pushing a steady chill through town. Some intrepid souls were all ready long awake, working in their kitchens, dicing, coring, spicing, and kneading away. Sweating the hours til their masterpiece would stand among the other pie titans of Needham, 17 chefs descended on Volante’s in the late morning.
The Judges arrived, and much like the teams from your favorite television programs, there were some shake ups on the panel this year. Dave from Sweet Basil is the reigning chef justice [sic] as it were, well versed in the art of competitive cooking at the farm, and known for his love of foods that taste like what they are. One winning pie was lauded for its appley aspect.
Joining Dave was a new friend of the farm, Robert from Spiga Restaurant also of Needham. A relative rookie to the judging scene, but anxious to get in there. Tracy was our pastry expert, hailing from the farm’s own pie purveyor, Ever-So-Humble Pie of Walpole. She brought an informed intensity to the panel and was impressed by the variety among the selection. Rounding out the judges was Greg Reibman, publisher of the Needham Times, whose journalistic objectivity certainly ensured a fair shot to all the entrants. So thank you to all the judges for making this a success, but now on to the pies.
As described, 17 flaky, bubbly, gosh-they-smelled-good, apple pies lined the tables under the tent. Most aspiring chefs were present and waiting patiently for the rounds of the judges to progress. After 45 minutes of tasting and 10 minutes of tabulation, mouths were watering and bystanders were grabbing plates and forks waiting for the all clear to dig into the remains of the battle. Results were announced, an unheard of tie! First and second place pies had to be tasted again, in isolation from the rest. In the end, the judges were firm and clear on their favorite.
From a field in which no pie received poor scores (phew!) the apple pie baked by Kim Carey rose above. A simple presentation and made solely with Macintosh apples, the judges found it full of surprises. Nutty fruity and spicy, it had a nice holiday flavor, a nice crust, and a crème brulee type top. Kim took home a wealth of prizes, including a $50 Volante gift card, a $25 gift card to Spiga, a gift certificate from Ever-So-Humble Pie, and dinner for two to Sweet Basil. As if all that wasn’t enough reward for a hard morning baking, Ms. Carey will not be able to defend her title next year as she will hold a coveted position on the judges’ panel.
The close second place pastry was decidedly tops in presentation, with a crunchy crust with beautiful lattice top. Both the upper and lower crust were described as awesome, and was Dave’s appley favorite. This beauty was baked and presented by Kaitlyn Hill with Cortland Apples. Kaitlyn also took home a $20 gift card to Volante’s and $25 to try out Spiga.
Third place was won by one of our Facebook friends, Jen Palacio of Somerville, which is a great reminder to Like us there and follow us on Twitter, to be sure you don’t miss out on any of our contests or special events. Jen’s pie was pure Granny Smith, and its special dose of Granny’s bourbon may have been the touch to nudge it ahead of the rest of the pack. The judges loved the crunchy crust and buttery topping, and presentation points were included for looks and warmth. Jen walked away with bragging rights over her roommate and $10 to spend on her next trip out to Volante’s for more apples.
Everyone left with a commemorative reusable Volante tote bag, and well fed with the remnants of the pies. If you have never been to one of our cooking contests, there is an incentive to being in the audience whether cooking or not! So thanks to all the participants, it was a huge success and we were thrilled to have such a large pool of contestants. If this popularity continues we may have to introduce heats to help whittle between all the excellent entries. The winning recipes and close up photos of the winning pies are below:
2010 Apple Pie Contest Winner!
• 6 cups MacIntosh apples – peeled and sliced (I usually heap more)
• ½ cup Gingersnap Cookies, crushed
• ½ cup Chopped Walnuts (optional)
• ¼ cup Melted Butter
• ½ cup Sugar
• ¼ cup Brown Sugar, packed
• ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
• ¼ cup Maple Syrup
• 2 pie crusts (I used prepackaged Pillsbury crust – refrigerated NOT frozen)
• Combine all dry ingredients except for the apples and maple syrup in a medium bowl.
• Roll out 1 pie crust and place in the bottom of a pie plate.
• Add ½ the sliced apples.
• Cover with ½ the mixture.
• Add remaining apples and cover with the rest of the mixture.
• Place other pie crust on top and crimp all the edges.
• Cook pie in oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
• Before pie is finished, boil the maple syrup.
• Remove pie from oven and brush maple syrup on the top of the crust.
• Bake another 15 minutes at 375 degrees.
Second Place Apple Pie
• 1 recipe for Pastry Pie Crust
• ¾ cup unsalted butter
• 4.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• ¼ cup water
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• ¾ cup brown sugar
• 6 to 8 Cortland Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place apple slices in a bowl.
• Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add sugars, cinnamon, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
• Pour a little more than half of the liquid mixture into the bowl of apple slices and mix together well.
• Place the bottom crust in pan. Fill with apple mixture. Cover with a latticework of crust. Gently pour the remaining liquid mixture on top of the crust (you can use a pastry brush to help distribute evenly)
• Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the apples are soft.
PASTRY PIE CRUST:
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1.5 teaspoon salt
• 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1 cup shortening
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon white vinegar
• 4 to 5 tablespoons water
• In a large mixing bowl combine flour, salt and sugar. Mix well, then cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal.
• In a small bowl combine egg, vinegar, and 4 tablespoons water. Whisk together and then gradually add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Mix until dough forms a ball. Add one more tablespoon of water if necessary. Allow dough to rest in refrigerator for 10 minutes before rolling out.
Third Place Apple Pie
• 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
• ½ cup unsalted butter
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• ¼ cup water
• ½ cup white sugar
• ½ cup packed brown sugar
• 1 shot good bourbon
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• Pinch of nutmeg
• 7 or 8 Granny Smith Apples – peeled, cored, and sliced
• Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, bourbon, cinnamon, nutmeg, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
• Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a latticework of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
• Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.
PIE CRUST RECIPE:
• 2 and ¾ cup flour
• 1 cup shortening
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 6 tablespoons cold water
• Cut chilled shortening into small chunks and place in freezer for 10 minutes.
• Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
• With pastry blender or two knives cut shortening into dry ingredients until large and small chunks form.
• Add cold water a tablespoon at a time while mixing lightly with a fork.
• Turn mixture out onto floured surface. Form two uneven halves (larger half will go in bottom of pan). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour before rolling out.
We have a few light frosts under our belts now, bringing the season to somewhat of a halt. I can no longer pretend that Summer is still at hand. We still have a little late season harvesting going on.
We have green tomatoes, and a few un frosted red and heirlooms, though most of the crop was toasted. The peppers and eggplant will start to dwindle as well, but we will probably make it to the end of the month with some selection. Beans are safe so far, thanks to floating row cover, and should be available for a while still. You may have already heard that corn is finished, now to wait til July again.
Many veggies continue to thrive in the cold temps, well survive at least. Lettuce and greens like bok choi, spinach, kale, and chard continue to perform. Cole crops like broccoli and cauliflower are booming.
Broccoli is a tried and true dinner table staple, but cauliflower is a little rarer. But this should end, especially when there so many varieties now available, in many colors and shapes, there is a lot more opportunity to move beyond plain old white. Got picky kids? We’ve got purple. Orange. Green. Spiked. Boring they aren’t. Roasted, souped, riced, pickled, see what you can come up with.
Don’t forget, Apple Pie Contest Saturday @ noon. Still time to register your pie and win lots of prizes! Plus with a Nor’easter blowing in, Friday is shaping up to be a great day to stay in baking.
It certainly is getting colder, which means it’s about time to start bringing your tender annuals into the house for the winter. And it just so happens that we’re conveniently having a 20% off sale on all of our gorgeous pottery! We have all the pots you need in a variety of sizes and colors so that you can rescue your favorite plants from the elements.
Also, we are running a massive Buy One Get One Free sale in the perennial bed! This sale includes Roses, Shrubs, Perennials, Herbs, and Canna Lilies. You’ll find these items out in front of the new greenhouse next to all the pumpkins.
In the farm stand we’re having specials on Cauliflower and Broccoli right now, so plan dinner accordingly!
Come in soon to take full advantage of the great things we have on sale! And don’t forget about the Apple Pie Contest next weekend – it’s sure to be a hit!
That’s right, it is time for the 2010 Volante Farms Apple Pie Baking Contest. Judging will take place Saturday October 16th @ Noon. Bring in your home-baked apple pie and have it go up against your friends and neighbors offerings to finally decide who on your street reigns supreme. Our panel of judges will do the tasting and evaluations, and will reward the top 3 pies with gift cards to Volante Farms and other local shops. Prizes start at $10, $20, and $50 gift cards to Volante’s and often include more special awards from local restaurants and shops.
Pie must be at least 8 inches in diameter and arrive with a recipe, including apple varieties used, by 11:45 am on Saturday the 16th. Pre-registration is required so that we can be prepared for the right number of contestants. Please fill out a form with one of our cashiers when you are picking up your apples, or email your registration to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name and phone number in the body.
To get an idea of what to expect take a look at last year’s event here: 2009 Apple Pie Contest
And for ideas about which apples you could employ check here: Apple Variety Guide
Did you notice our Mount St. Broccoli today? Let’s just say Fall Broccoli is in. Prices are dropping and piles are building. Cauliflower in all its many colors is coming in as well, but this broccoli is worth the trip alone.
Also in this weekend, we have 22 varieties of apples now, newly including favorites Red and Golden Delicious, Spencer, Red Jonagold, Blue Pearmain, and Monroe. Of course there are still Macs, Cortlands, Macouns, and Honeycrisp too, but in case you are getting bored, it’s time to branch out.
Come on down and visit this weekend, we look forward to seeing you.
Volante’s can definitely change one of those situations, and apparently the other if you are interested. Website meetcha.com teamed up with gourmetrecipesforone.com to shoot a video about how shopping at markets like Volante’s is great for the single chef due to the ability to buy fresh produce in small amounts. Additionally if you have the desire it is apparently a good way to meet other single shoppers as well, who you know share your love of fresh local food.