Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Farmer in the Dell (Dessert)

Aside from being the well known nursery rhyme (Hey ho, the derry-o, etc) farmer in the dell is also a dessert. Unfortunately, I can find no references to it on the Internet. Google knows not of this dish. Ergo, I am at a loss to explain its origins, name or various incarnations to you, gentle reader. If you once tasted farmer in the dell and want to share your memories of it with the rest of the readers, please, do write in.
I made this for Sunday night dinner after our friend Tim said he would join us. In fact, Tim, who is a combination linguist/theology professor/antiques dealer actually gave Farmer in the Dell a nickname that explains it. "Goyeshe blintzes" Tim announced.
Yeah, that's about it. Farmer in the dell are blintzes for non Jews. Take a loaf of what I loosely term Wonder Bread, that soft white bread that you never buy and wouldn't eat at gunpoint, roll the slices out flat, and spread them with a mixture of farmer cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla and fry it in butter until brown. The result has about 9,000 calories and is amazingly good. Hey, butter, sugar, vanilla, how can you go wrong at least taste wise?
If  you make the bread rolls before dinner, you can fry them up in a few minutes while the diners are clearing the plates from the main course. I was in the kitchen frying my farmer in the dells (or is it farmers in the dell?) when Bob, my daughter and Tim all came racing inside from the terrace saying "Terrible accident, terrible accident." My fevered brain concocted all sorts of possibilities having to do with back yard disasters, but as they dashed out the front door, it transpired that some idiot motorist had run the traffic light at Nebraska Avenue and Reno Road and hit some other poor driver. "Call the cops," I yelled at their retreating backs.When they came back, the farmers were brown and buttery. We spread them with jam. Yum, yum. 
The farmer in the name probably refers to farmer cheese. Farmer cheese is pressed cottage cheese, according to Wikipedia. It is soft and crumbly and has a very mild taste. It is available in some supermarkets. I had to make a last minute dash to Whole Foods on Wisconsin Avenue to buy it. Of course, the rest of the ingredients are not a problem. My problem now is what to do with the half loaf of soft white bread taking up space in my refrigerator. I wish we lived somewhere near a flock of wildfowl. That bread would go down their gullets quicker than you can say devoid of nutrition and taste.
When I was little, my mother would take my sister and me first to Kersey's Market, an old fashioned small town grocery store in Sheffield, where we would buy a loaf of day old bread and a Popsicle for each of us. Then, we would drive to the house of a woman who had a flock of Canada geese on her lawn, where we would tear up the bread to feed the geese. The geese were somewhat intimidating. They kept up a steady flow of hissing noises, and when really startled or irritated they would spread their wings alarmingly. Unfortunately, we have no geese living nearby in Washington DC.

Farmer in the Dell

1 one-pound-six-ounce loaf extra-fresh soft white bread
1 seven-and-one-half-ounce package farmer cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 pound butter melted and clear yellow liquids poured off for cooking (discard milky solids)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1. Remove crusts from the bread slices. With a rolling pin, roll each slice until very thin.
2. Beat together the cheese, granulated sugar, vanilla and egg and spread one tablespoon mixture on each slice of rolled bread.
3. Roll up each slice and pinch sides to hold together.
4. Heat the butter in a very heavy skillet and saute the rolls, a few at a time over medium heat until golden. Roll in confectioners' sugar while hot. Makes 26 pieces, about eight servings.

No comments:

Post a Comment