It’s September but I refuse to believe that summer is over. The produce at the Reston Farmers Market is still in full force. There is a bounty of ripe tomatoes, peaches, peppers and eggplant at the height of their season. These gorgeous fruits and vegetables are begging to be eaten NOW before they disappear to make room for squash and apples.
One of Modern Reston’s raison d’être is to profile our neighbors’ special talents. As such, we reached out to experimental home chef Gary Sherwood to conceive of and prepare an end-of-summer feast. Gary has been known to create culinary masterpieces with far-out ingredients like meat glue. He also mixes an amazing brown-butter bourbon cocktail.
We joined Gary at the Reston Farmers Market as he shopped for ingredients for his Mediterranean menu and told us about his cooking inspiration.
I do not have a cooking philosophy per se. However, I do have learnings — taken from my personal experiences — which I now accept as fact:
• Use the freshest ingredients you have access to.
• Butter, fat, and and/or truffle salt make everything better.
• If you mess something up, see #2.
• Always cook while listening to music.
• Always grill with a beer in hand.
• Food shared with friends tastes better.
GARY’S MEDITERRANEAN-INSPIRED MENU
Warm Olives with Rosemary and Citrus
Fried Leeks with Pickled Red Pepper and Crème fraîche
End-of-Summer Market Salad
Mustard and Herb Grilled Chicken
Roasted (then Grilled!) Lamb Shoulder
Phyllo Pastry with Fresh Figs and Ricotta
WARM OLIVES WITH ROSEMARY AND CITRUS
GARY: This is a re-creation of a simple appetizer I had at a fantastic restaurant called Buvette in NYC. I am not sure if this is the EXACT recipe but seemed easy enough to try at home and, even if it’s not, I think I’m close…
3 cups mixed oil- and brine-cured olives, such as Castelvetrano, Kalamata, Niçoise, Moroccan, cracked green Sicilian and Cerignola (Gary recommends the selection at Wegman’s olive bar)
1/4 cup olive oil (Buy the best extra-virgin olive oil you can afford)
Strips of zest from 1 small lemon or orange, plus juice
1 sprig fresh Rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried Rosemary
Wash the olives thoroughly to remove brine. In a pan add olives, olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, and rosemary. Gradually turn up the heat on your stove until you can hear the oil start to sizzle. Then stop increasing the heat at medium. Careful not to overheat or the olives will brown. Let it sizzle for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally but gently; you don’t want the olives to break or mush.
Serve at room temp or refrigerated and cold the next day.
FRIED LEEKS WITH PICKLED RED PEPPER AND CREME FRAICHE
1 Red Pepper, thinly sliced
3 tbsp Sugar
1/2 cup Cider Vinegar
1 cup Water
½ tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Salt
5 or 6 Leeks, washed, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup Crème Fraîche (from Blue Ridge Dairy at the Reston Farmers Market)
1 ½ tbsp Capers, chopped
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
Grapeseed Oil for frying
1 cup Panko mixed with a pinch of salt
1 Egg, beaten
Combine the pepper, vinegar, sugar, water, coriander seeds and salt in a pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
Boil leeks in salted water for about 15 minutes until semi-soft. Drain, dry and cool on paper towel.
Mix the crème fraîche with the capers, lemon juice. Salt to taste then set aside.
Heat grapeseed oil in a pan. Dip the leeks into the egg and then roll in panko. Fry the leeks until golden.
Drain the peppers and serve alongside the leeks and top with a dollop of crème fraîche.
END-OF-SUMMER MARKET SALAD
1-2 bunches Baby Arugula or Watercress
1-2 large yellow Heirloom Tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 pint yellow Cherry Tomatoes
1-2 yellow Peaches, cut into wedges
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup White Balsamic Vinegar
1 Shallot, minced
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt to taste
Whisk dressing ingredients. Toss salad ingredients and dress immediately, making certain to cover the peaches (the lemon juice will keep them from turning brown).
Gary: I garnished this salad with black lava salt because I had some in the cupboard, it has very few other uses, and I thought it might look nice. You could add a pinch of salt to your dressing otherwise.
GARY: In this version I used pretty much every vegetable and starch we found available to us at farmers market: Eggplant, zucchini, green beans, butternut squash, onions, garlic, potatoes, red banana peppers, green banana peppers. I also used Matt’s Wild Cherry (that’s the variety name) tomatoes from my garden.
After multiple “ratatouille-at-home” attempts, I have three strong recommendations if you are compelled to make your own:
- All vegetables are best represented in the exact same ration (i.e if you use a cup of diced eggplant, use a cup of everything else.
- Dice your vegetables so they are at least one inch, anything less they will get mushy. If you are using cherry tomatoes, don’t dice them. Use them whole.
- Each individual vegetable gets browned on its own. Do not do them all together. It takes a longer time, but it’s worth it.
1 cup of each, cubed in 1 inch pieces: Eggplant, Zucchini, Green Beans, Butternut Squash, Onion, Potato, Red Banana Pepper, Green Banana Pepper (or use your own mix of vegetables and starches)
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes
1 tbsp Tomato Paste (Gary likes the “double concentrated” variety in a red and white tube from Whole Foods Reston)
1 large clove Garlic, sliced
1 tbsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 425.
Heat ghee and olive oil in a skillet on med-high.
Throw in your first veggie or starch, sprinkle with kosher salt and gently toss until it begins to brown all over. NO LONGER! Longer = super-mushy and super-mushy = not good. Transfer with slotted spoon to large pot. Repeat the process for all of the cubed vegetables (not tomatoes).
Add garlic to skillet and saute on low-medium heat until translucent. Transfer garlic to the large pot with cooked vegetables.
Add water to the vegetables until it has filled about 1/3 of the pot. Add tomato paste. Stir and simmer on low for 20 min.
Transfer vegetables to a roasting pan spreading evenly. Arrange cherry tomatoes on top of vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake until the liquid has cooked off, but no more than 25 minutes. Watch closely during this process, if vegetables start to look limp and brown like it’s about to burn, take it out!
Serve hot or at room temperature. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. In fact Gary prefers it best cold, out of the fridge the next day.
MUSTARD AND HERB GRILLED CHICKEN
3/4 Olive oil
1/2 Lemon Juice
1 small Shallot
1 clove Garlic
1 tbsp fresh Dill
1 tbsp fresh Mint
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Salt
Basting Butter for Grilling:
1 stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh Dill, chopped
1 tbsp fresh Mint, chopped
6 Chicken Thighs, bone-in with skin
In a blender or food precessor, blend olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, dill, mint, salt, mustard until combined.
Add chicken to a 1-gallon ziploc bag, pour blended mixture over chicken, shake and let marinate in refrigerator overnight.
The next day, mix all ingredients for Basting Butter until incorporated.
Heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill chicken, flipping occasionally for 20-25 minutes.You may get flare-ups and the skin will start to char, this is good. Just don’t let it get out of hand. “Blackened” is preferred, “burned” is not. If the chicken starts to burn but is not yet cooked through, move to indirect heat until the flare ups stop. Baste chicken with butter mix to finish. Let chicken rest under tented foil for 5-10 minutes before serving.
ROASTED (THEN GRILLED!) LAMB SHOULDER
3-4 lb bone-in Lamb Shoulder (Gary recommends The Organic Butcher of Mclean)
1 large head of Garlic, peeled
1/4 cup Rosemary, minced
1/4 cup Mint, minced
1 tsp Kosher Salt
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 350.
In a blender, add garlic, rosemary, mint and salt. Blend on low adding olive oil until the mixture turns into a thick slurry. Careful not to liquify.
Rub mixture onto all sides of the lamb shoulder and place in a roasting pan. Cover and braise in the oven for about two hours until the meat shrinks away from the bone. Remove from oven, let cool and refrigerate covered overnight to congeal the fat on the lamb and in the pan (do not remove fat).
When cooled, cut meat along the length of the bone into half-inch strips keeping the fat in tact along the meat. (Your strips will be about as thick as a flank steak.)
Heat grill to high. Place fatty lamb strips directly over the fire. Let the flames rise so the fat will begin to burn. Brush the reserved fat from the roasting pan onto the lamb to further enhance the flavor and encourage those flames to rise. Remember, the lamb has already been braised in the oven, all we want to do here is char the fat and make them sizzle!
Serve alone or with grilled onion slices.
PHYLLO PASTRY WITH FRESH FIGS AND RICOTTA
Gary: I was having a devil of a time thinking of a light-ish dessert that would support a rich Mediterrean-inspired meal. And then, as if a gift to me, David Tanis unleashed this recipe in last week’s New York Times Food section: Boom.
Note: It was HARD to find mission figs in VA this time of year. I finally found them at Balducci’s in Mclean. Also, one very minor liberty was taken with this recipe. Instead of plain ricotta cheese, I used goat ricotta obtained from the masterful Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Company at Reston Farmers Market. I don’t know if it made that big of a difference, but it felt fancy!
A huge thank you to Gary and Jenny Sherwood for opening up their home and kitchen to us for this amazing meal! Everything was delicious. Trust me, I went back for seconds!
Do you have a special talent or hobby? Are you an art collector or jazz musician, gardener-extraordinaire or furniture builder? Whatever it is, if you think we’d be interested contact us. We’d love to feature you!
Photos by Michelle Schoening and Charlotte Geary.