About a year ago, I stumbled upon Fig & Fauna, a blog that chronicles the life of a family farm. As I learned more and more about them, I couldn’t believe they actually lived so close to us and that we had never crossed paths. I am sure we did, at Whole Foods or at the farmers’ market where we always shop, but we had never met. It was then when I reached out to Megan with enthusiasm and thrilled to witness what Fig & Fauna was all about. I visited the farm with Jon and Miren in the Spring. Remember the stormy afternoon we spent there with the chickens and the bees?
Megan and I stayed in touch after that day – we knew we had to collaborate in some way.
There was lots of curiosity from the community regarding their organic growing practices, their urban chicken coop and how they raise cows and hogs, so Megan and her husband Michael decided to open their farm to the public and show everyone their philosophy and technique. Megan asked if I could join in the fun with a food styling demo and a book signing, which I happily accepted.
So this past December, right before Christmas, we all got together for a morning in the sun surrounded by growing tomatoes, chickens, goats, cows, hogs and children running around in joy.
Megan and Michael’s daughter Dane was the perfect hostess for Jon and Miren. It’s amazing to witness her confidence and ease around the animals. She showed them how baby rabbits nurse on their mother, how to collect eggs, and harvest only the ripe vegetables.
They played hide and seek in the chicken coop and brought the freshly laid eggs into the kitchen.
Michael arranged a craft table for all the children to decorate salt dough ornaments that Megan had baked for Christmas. So much creativity in this family.
After the farm tour, I set up a table outside where I demonstrated a simple salad from my book with yellow lentils, Serrano ham, berries, and arugula from Megan’s garden. I talked about my philosophy and a few tips on how to style dishes for camera. However, I have to admit, it was so hot that even freshly cut greens wilted in a matter of seconds. We managed though and received many inquires from people, which is always a sign of interest. I was happy to share my sources for specialty foods, gluten-free baking techniques, and the like. I also signed some books and enjoyed meeting those who have followed the blog since almost the beginning, which is always so amazing to me. My friend Trina even flew down from NYC for the day, which was such an honor.
I ended my presentation with a sweet note – mini chocolate and buckwheat cupcakes with vanilla bean and fleur de sel cream, pistachio and vanilla bean shortbreads (both from Small Plates and Sweet Treats), and brown butter, chocolate and hazelnut cookies.
I feel everyone left with a bundle of knowledge and many new ideas in their heads.
So a big thank you to Michael, Megan, and Dane for opening their home to us and sharing so much.
Back at home, with my leftover lentils and all the eggs the children had collected, my mom and I made these little yellow lentil and herb cakes that we served with poached eggs. A small appetizer or a main course depending on how much you would like to serve.
Also lots of roasted root vegetables – striped beets, pink turnips, watermelon radishes and also fennel. Some olive oil, crunchy salt, black pepper and 400F until tender.
I loved mine with a touch of aioli and extra sea salt on top.
Yes, I am a salt fiend indeed.
Yellow lentil cakes with poached eggs
makes 12 cakes
3/4 cup (165 g) yellow lentils, rinsed three times in cold water and drained
1 tsp fine sea salt, plus more for the eggs
6 eggs (4 are to poach)
1/3 cup (25 g) gluten-free panko-style breadcrumbs (you can make them yourself by grinding dry bread in food processor)
1 medium green onion, sliced into thin pieces
3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (I used chives and chervil)
1 ounce (30 g) finely grated Idiazabal cheese (you can use Manchego or Parmesan)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Red peppercorns, to top the eggs
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and add the yellow lentils. Reduce heat to medium low, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes until tender, but not too mushy. Drain the lentils and transfer to a large bowl.
Lightly whisk 2 of the eggs and add to the lentils along with the breadcrumbs, green onion, chopped herbs, Idiazabal, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. Take about 1/4 cup of mixture, roll into balls and then gently flatten the ball slightly to form the cakes.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and add the lentil cakes to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until the cakes take on a golden brown color. Turn the cakes over and finish cooking on the other side. Finish cooking all the cakes and keep them in a heated oven or warming drawer.
In the meantime, fill a medium saucepan with about 5 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat and add the white wine vinegar. Crack the eggs into a clean shallow bowl. With the help of a wooden spoon, stir the water in a circular motion and as the water is swirling, gently add the eggs in the water. Make sure the water is boiling lightly but we don’t want it to boil too briskly. Reduce heat if needed. With a slotted spoon, turn the eggs slightly so the egg white encases the yolk. Cook for approximately 2 to 3 minutes until the white is cooked but the yolk is still liquid. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel to drain the excess water. Serve them immediately over the lentil cakes and sprinkle a bit more sea salt on top and some red peppercorn flakes..
The lentil cakes can also be frozen and heated in the oven.