July 25th, 2014
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Sorghum- Cover Crop or Our Next Meal?

Even though we’re in the midst of the harvest season—now bringing over two truckfuls of produce to the restaurants each week—farmers always have to think 1 or 2 seasons in advance. In the fallow plot at Prosser Farm, they’ve begun testing a new summer cover crop: sorghum. 

In continuing to grow a more sustainable food system, Dev and Jackie drew inspiration from a lecture given by Mary-Howell, Klaas Martens, and Dan Barber regarding growing a variety of cover crops to re-fertilize the soil and that can also eaten by humans. The 300 feet of sorghum just planted at Prosser Farm practices the same concept, adding efficiency, productivity, and a high yield of nutritious food in a small amount of space. 

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Our sorghum after just 3 weeks.

In India, where Dev originally grew up, he ate a lot of jowar, which is the Indian word for sorghum. He recalls eating the sorghum in a variety of ways. The young green berries can be harvested and eaten fresh. They have a sweet earthy flavor that can be turned into porridge or for snacking on. Once the berries are dried, the grain can be ground into flour or popped like popcorn. In the US, the most common application is a sorghum syrup, similar to molasses, and is most often found in Southern cooking.

It’s one of those “perfect storm” grains; it’s a natural weed suppressant, uses 3-times less water as corn, provides excellent organic matter as a cover crop, and the harvest (if it yields enough) has the potential to be cooked in really diverse ways.

When the green berries and the dried grains get harvested, the Prosser Farm team will collaborate with the Bread Lab, where Steve Jones and his team who will conduct recipe testing for sorghum and whole wheat bread. Dev would like to bring the cultural traditions of Indian grain rotation: harvesting millet in the spring, corn in the summer, and sorghum in the fall, and making bread from each during their respective seasons. (Keep an eye out on the menu for next year’s Prosser Farm dinners!).

For now, Prosser Farm will experiment with the best practices of planting and harvesting sorghum, and explore ways to use sorghum in our restaurants. Last year, Chef Nate Crave at TanakaSan used popped sorghum berries as a delicious topping on a salad.

We’re all excited to see what the other chefs come up with—stay tuned!

July 18th, 2014
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A Prosser Restaurant Crawl

Prosser Farm is cropping up everywhere in the Tom Douglas Restaurants—in cocktails, appetizers, entrees, and desserts! To show off some of the bounty and variety this season, below is a little “TD Prosser Crawl” to some of the restaurants!

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Start off with Dahlia Lounge’s lunch appetizer with a layer of country ham, chunks of watermelon, blistered Prosser Farm shishito peppers, and sweet sicily.

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Order an appetizer or a side of “our farm’s adolescent carrots,” at Palace Kitchen topped with “overgrown crimini,” fennel pollen, chili, and reggiano.

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Next make the most of salmon season with this Salmon entree at TanakaSan featuring Prosser sweet onion tofu and english peas, fava beans, and lap cheong vinaigrette.

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Stay for a refreshing break with the Yuzu Misu at TanakaSan, complete with yuzu juice, Prosser shiso syrup, and soda water—garnished with a fresh shiso leaf. (If you’re feeling really thirsty add a shot of shoju into the drink).

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Finish your meal with the brown betty at Lola, stuffed with ripe Prosser apricots and topped with toasted crumbs and Dahlia Workshop’s vanilla bean ice cream.

July 11th, 2014
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Walla Walla Sweets ~ Onions So Nice We Named ‘Em Twice!

By planting the Walla Walla’s early this year, our onions grew larger than in previous years, and we were finally able to achieve the size normally associated with this sweet onion variety!

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The Walla Walla sweets will run for about a month, with an expected 1500-1600 pound yield brought to the Tom Douglas Restaurants. We are delivering them fresh—not cured as you’ll see in the grocery store-so they’ll be put on the menu immediately!

Chef Nate at TanakaSan has put them with his new salmon special, and Dahlia has placed them with squash blossoms for the season! See what some of the other restaurants are doing with the Walla Walla onions:

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Prosser Vegetable Appetizer at Serious Pie Virginia ~ Prosser peas, carrots, and Walla Walla sweets dressed in bagna cauda and topped with a soft egg.

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Branzino lunch plate at Trattoria Cuoco with fregola, peas, Walla Wallas, and fresh herbs.

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The special pizza at Serious Pie Westlake with lamb sausage, zucchini, Walla Wallas, and asiago cheese.

Once the Walla Wallas are done, we’ll start to pick the cipollinis and shallots. In the fall, we’ll plant the Walla Walla’s again to over-winter so that we have some for the spring. Our goal is to have a long season of onions for our restaurants!

July 3rd, 2014
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Spring Cleaning for Summer!

June in Prosser was spectacular—not too hot, no big storms, no pests, no late freezes (that hurt the tomato plants). 

In the month of June alone, Prosser Farm sent over 3,350 pounds of produce to all of the Tom Douglas Restaurants. The last of our spring harvest—beets, carrots, peas, and spring onions—are making their final appearance on our menus this week.

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The seared halibut at Etta’s is a perfect spring medley on a bed of Prosser peas and fava beans, with a chorizo-clam butter broth and topped with fresh herbs. 

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Brave Horse Tavern’s chop salad with Prosser Farm carrots and peas, and leafy greens from Newaukum Valley Farm. The salad is dressed with Jackie’s favorite green goddess dressing with Prosser Farm herbs.

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Last but not least, Dahlia Lounge is putting out a beautiful roasted beet appetizer utilizing Prosser Farm beets, sweet peas in the ricotta, and spring onions which they pickled. (The little crumbs of thyme shortbread and fresh pea shoots make this dish so unusual and delicious!).

The rows in which the spring vegetables were grown have been turned and re-seeded for the summer harvest. The peas became two varieties of beans, the carrots turned into cucumbers and melons, the onions into carrots for the fall, and the beets turn into summer greens of chard and rainbow lacinato kale. We’ve staggered our seeding every few weeks so that we get constant and consistent harvest throughout the summer—these recent seedings will become our late summer harvest.

Saying adios to spring (we all know summer doesn’t really start in Seattle until after July 4th!) and hello to our summer harvest! 

June 26th, 2014
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Check out the First Prosser Farm Dinner celebrating the best of the first spring harvest!

June 21st marked the first day of summer, the longest (and maybe prettiest) day of the year, and the first of our Prosser Farm Dinner series!

The dinner was multiple courses, starting with a poached rhubarb salad and finishing with sheep milk panna cotta and perfect cherries. The chef and farm manager, Dev Patel along with his pal Brett Jennings prepared dinner for all 16 guests while Jackie and Katherine Ferl poured wine and served dinner. It was a still, warm evening that started with a special lovage cocktail and snacks at the red table overlooking the Yakima River. After introductions everyone sat down around the family table inside and enjoyed the first four courses and the lovely wines paired with each of the dishes. We took a seventh inning stretch with a stroll around the upper farm beds and a visit to the chickens before returning to finish the last four courses. Our guests were up and down throughout the evening watching the cooking action and even helping to plate a course.

Although everyone came from different parts of the state they all left as great friends with each other and especially to us! See some of the beautiful dishes from the dinner below!

THE DINNER MENU:

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The next two dinners are in August and October and we are excited that they are both full! We look forward to seeing what Dev cooks up next based on our farm fresh produce.

May 28th, 2014
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Our Chefs Visit the Farm (and tell stories of their favorite meals)

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Every year, the Tom Douglas chefs visit the farm, help plant and transplant for the summer and fall season, and then relax, eat, and drink together around the communal wood table in the main house. The evening of Chef Plant was a memorable one this year, and the stories told have been transcribed and shared below by our Farm Manager, Dev Patel…

They have always been exceptional but this one felt special. Tom Douglas took a trip out to Fiesta Foods in Sunnyside, WA earlier that afternoon and brought back to the farm lamb, squid and other fixings along with a Spanish cazuela to cook a one-pot meal in the farm’s wood fire oven. We sat around the table drinking delicious beverages and had an intense game of bocce. During our dinner we talked about Jackie’s favorite question “how did we get to Tom Douglas Restaurants?” Each of our chefs wowed us with their tales ranging from “ET (aka Eric Tanaka) found me on the couch” to “I knew about the restaurants and Tom before I moved to Seattle” It was great to hear how our chefs became who they are now. But then Eric Tanaka asked the question: “[What’s your] most memorable meal?” The following is what each of us had to say:

Brock Johnson (chef at Dahlia Lounge)- it was the first time at Gramercy Tavern.  “Incredible experience.” Brock and his guest opted for a seven course dinner with wine flight paring.  At the pork belly course something amazing happened, the server brought Brock a small pour of Brooklyn Pale beer instead of a wine.  He said that “the beer would work better with the smokiness of the belly than a wine.”  He went on to say that “he saw me drinking beer at the bar while we were waiting for our table and thought I might like it.”  Brock was blown away since he did not bring his beer to the table once they were seated— so it was clear that the server had been scoping them out/sizing them up before they even sat down.  Brock tells us he will never forget that small but significant act of graciousness.  It opened his eyes to how thoughtful service can be and how greatly it can impact a dining experience.

Matt Fortner (chef at Cuoco)- the public market in Valparaiso, Chile. Muchos mariscos (a lot of seafood)

Stacy Fortner (pastry head honcho)- she starts to tell us about her worst memorable meal— a toss-up between a tejon (a fierce badger) or an armadillo both eaten on trips to Mexico. These taste memories are far more memorable and interesting than the 20 course dinner at Per Se that she shared with her husband.

Dezi Bonow (chef at Palace Kitchen)- landing in Hanoi, Vietnam for the first time and after waiting for a few hours at the airport he realizes his friend is not coming to pick him up. Dezi eventually gets sick of waiting and heads into the city with an empty belly and no idea where to eat. He finds a stall in the city center serving vermicelli with cured pork liver or something….he admits he doesn’t know what it was and goes onto say “so memorable that I don’t even remember.” But being in a new city and wandering by himself and open to explore the flavors of the cuisine is something that he remembers the most.

Joe Labatt (chef at Brave Horse Tavern)- Barria de chivo en consommé, tortillas de mano, oregano de Mexico, cebolla, cilantro, mucho chile y 3 Modelo Especiales bien frios. All eaten and drunken at a hole in the wall in Southern California, whose name is a mystery!

Jackie Cross (Owner, Prosser Farm Farmer-in-Chief)- eating at Castello di Ama, Italy after being lost for hours on the road which ends up taking them to a goat trail. Finally after some navigational changes they made it to the winery and ate a perfect chicken spit-roasted in the fireplace with pasta and butter made by the resident grandmother, who did not speak a lick of English. The meal was silent yet memorable.

Dev Patel (Farm Manager and transcriber of these stories)- eating at Coi in San Francisco. The flavors put together dish after dish were harmonious and playful. The restaurant is an exploration, and they are awesome guides. After the “amuse” courses, the server appreciated and acknowledged Dev’s love and interest in the food, so she had the kitchen send out additional courses throughout the meal. Who could refuse an offer to eat more? Coi is an exception in fine dining places—there is that attention to every detail but what sets them apart is they strive to make their service and food feel relaxed and easy to approach— all of these things make a great restaurant, and that is memorable.

Eric Tanaka (Owner, Executive Chef)- Lafayette, Jean George’s first restaurant in the US. He was doing juice reductions and less fat focused items for flavor.

Kerri Eckels (chef badass of Catering)- Steak frites at Le Relais de L’Entrecôte, France. “I wanted to drink the sauce.”  Kerri along with her father, mother, brother and sister drank a ton of red wine and their server was hilarious and chewed gum the entire time. Kerri also points out that “how can we have one memorable meal when we like a lot of different types of food and have been to so many good places? It really all depends on who you’re with or where you are.”

A big thank you to the chefs for your hard work on the farm and for making this Chef Plant so fun and to Jackie and Tom for hosting! 

May 15th, 2014
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Our New Green Thumbs

Among gardeners and farmers, lettuce is regarded as fairly adaptable and easy to grow, with a high yield and a quick turnaround. 

For the past 3 years, Prosser Farm tried to raise lettuce all in the loose leaf family including Black Seeded Simpson and Deer’s Tongue. Over and over again these varieties bolted early and tasted bitter (and so obviously the chefs in Seattle didn’t want to use them). Dev and Jackie tried 10 different varieties and finally gave up in frustration. 

They went back to the chopping block, talked to Johnny’s Seeds and last fall planted 2 rows of mini head lettuces including Dragoon romaine and Rhazes bibb, just to test. 

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So far, it’s been working amazingly well. This spring they seeded them in the greenhouse in March and then transplanted them in April. After just 40 days, they are the perfect size and ready to eat. They have been making an appearance at some of our restaurants and will be around for the next few weeks.

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Dahlia’s house green salad, using Dragoon and Rhazes lettuce with crostini and herbed goat cheese on top.

These varieties can only withstand the Prosser heat in the spring and fall which is when you’ll see them in the Tom Douglas Restaurants. For the summer time, the chefs rely on Josh Hyatt from Newaukum Valley Farms, who grows beautiful lettuce in a much milder climate in South Western WA.

May 9th, 2014
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Prosser Dinner Ingredient Unveiled: Rhubarb!

In anticipation of the three Prosser Dinners hosted at the farm this summer and fall, chef and farm manager Dev Patel has been busy testing recipes with this season’s best produce. 

We’ve been waiting years for our rhubarb plants to be ready to harvest and we are excited to finally use them in our first dinner coming up in June!

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Left: rhubarb at 1 years old | Right: rhubarb at 2 years old

RHUBARB FACTS:

  • Rhubarb takes 1-2 years to settle and stabilize in the ground. It isn’t until after 3-4 years that the plant is ready to be harvested or split for new transplanting.
  • Rhubarb generally likes milder climates (best within a climate of 40-75 degrees) on the West side of the Cascades. (But we saw our friends and neighbors growing it in Prosser, so we thought we’d give it try!)

In the first year, we planted 3 rhubarb plants and 2 died.

In the second year, we planted two more, added extra mulch, and the three have survived. Now our oldest rhubarb—2 years old—is ready to be harvested and poached; We’ll be featuring it in our White Wine Poached Rhubarb Salad at the June 21st dinner!

White Wine Poached Rhubarb—or Hazy Poached Rhubarb—a play on Dev’s camera skills :))

Chef Dev initially got this idea while working at Blue Hill. The Blue Hill pastry chef, Joel de la Cruz, wanted to find ways to use rhubarb in a savory dish, as rhubarb is commonly seen on the sweeter side of the menu. This poaching method still honors the sweetness of rhubarb, which contrasts nicely to spicy radishes, mushrooms, and other spring-time salad favorites.

Ingredients:

Rhubarb stalks (leaves removed, which are poisonous but make a great homemade insecticide!)

A few sprigs of fresh herbs (any combination of nepatilla, thyme, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano)

A sweet, dry white wine like riesling

Sugar 

Preparation:

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Peel the rhubarb (but save the peels and set aside) and cut in 3” segments. Place them in a deep baking dish (bread pan works best) along with your fresh herbs. Add in the peels, as they have all the pink color and will dye the poached rhubarb a pretty pink color. If you have extra peels from other rhubarb projects, add them as well—the more peels the deeper the color! 

Poaching liquid: bring equal parts white wine and water to a boil. Add sugar (just to the point of it tasting sweet. Add more, if you desire). Once sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat and let the liquid cool down.

Once the liquid is cooled, pour it over the rhubarb chunks and cover the pan with foil. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for one hour. Check if the rhubarb is tender—if not, cook for another 15-20 minutes.

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Cool and strain the liquid. Set aside the 3” rhubarb pieces and add to your spring salad. Save the poaching liquid and add to a summertime cocktail or drizzle over poundcake!

May 2nd, 2014
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Prosser Farm would like to host you for dinner!

We invite you to head over to gorgeous Eastern Washington to our Prosser Farm Dinners

Come and experience the best of this season’s harvest (and all the beautiful produce we feature here on this blog) in an intimate 6-course dinner at our Prosser Farm with an exquisite menu designed by our Chef and Farm Manager, Devarshi Patel.  The dinner will begin with welcome appetizers and champagne outside, followed by a tour of the farm, delicious wines and a few surprises all hosted by the Farmer-in-Chief, Jackie Cross.  The communal dinner table is set inside Tom and Jackie’s farm house ~ just a few yards away from the farm!

We will have three dinners this year, each showcasing the best of the season. 

PROSSER FARM DINNERS: (Guest arrival: 5:00PM) 

  • Saturday June 21st, 2014
  • Saturday August 30th, 2014
  • Saturday October 25th, 2014

We will send the full menu to you two weeks before the dinner - let’s see what’s popping out of the ground! 

Our Spring dinner (June 21st) ingredients to include: 

  • Wintered over Harris Model Parsnips 
  • Spanish Roja Green Garlic 
  • Windsor Fava
  • Crawford Farms Asparagus 
  • Green Arrow, Mammoth Melting, Sugar Anne Peas 
  • Rhubarb
  • Napoli, Yaya Carrots 
  • Sage Brush 
  • Bing, Bend, Rainier Cherries 
  • Apricots from our Orchard 
  • Apples from last Season 
  • Buttermilk 
  • Sheep Milk Yogurt 
  • Quail Eggs 
  • Quail 
  • Spring Lamb 
  • Shellfish from Puget Sound 
  • Things from the Forest 

August and October’s dinner ingredients to be posted shortly. 

Road Tripping!! Make a weekend out of it! Prosser is a lovely 3 hour-drive away from Seattle, with tasty stops along the way. We would be happy to offer suggested stops to make the road trip memorable and hotel accommodations in Prosser following the dinner.

Make your Reservation: 

Price: $165 per person. For more information, and to reserve your spot, contact Amy at amyr@tomdouglas.com and at 206.448.2001.

We are happy to do our best to accommodate any dietary restrictions if arranged ahead of time. 

We hope to see you there! And stay tuned about what’s happening at Prosser Farm right here at prosserfarm.tumblr.com!

April 17th, 2014
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"Farm-selfies," and a first-time visit to the Farm by our newest employee!

Brittany Pollard, or affectionately nicknamed “Bash,” is Tom Douglas’ assistant and our newest employee in the Douglas family. 

Prosser Farm always loves to welcome employees to the farm to help out, escape the drizzling Seattle spring rain, and enjoy the relaxations and serenity that looking out onto the multi-colored Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima River offers.

Take a look at Brittany’s beautiful pictures and her story as she visits the farm for the first time! See Brittany’s story here.

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About Prosser Farm

In 2006, Tom Douglas and his wife and business partner, Jackie Cross, bought a house with a little acreage in Prosser, Washington, in the lower Yakima Valley. They converted 3 of the 20 acres into a vegetable garden, and the dream of a truly farm to table experience began to take shape.

Each week, we drive the fresh produce 2 ½ hours into Seattle and the chefs eagerly grab beet greens, mint, baby rainbow chard, lolla rossa, radishes, spicy peppers, eggplants, and thousands of pounds of tomatoes right out of the truck! On average, 2,400 pounds of produce a week is trucked in from the farm for distribution to all the Tom Douglas Restaurants. To see what’s coming to our restaurants each week, follow this blog!

Jackie runs the roost as Farmer-in-Chief, with indispensable help from her Dad, Jim, who built all the raised beds, and her Dad’s wife, Sharon who work along a stellar team of women from the Prosser area. The farm is managed by the ever-creative and zealous chef and farmer, Dev Patel. Dev and Jackie work closely with the chefs when choosing which crops to plant each year, adapting the field to produce what works best for each menu.

Prosser Farm represents a commitment to narrowing the gap between the land, its producers, and the restaurants, all the while continuing to educate our chefs about the effort dedicated to creating the best—from seed to table. Let’s eat!

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