september 13, 2018

Header91418The early bird gets the…

Ground cherries!

Ground Cherries are in the same genus as tomatillos. The Smithsonian describes the ground cherry as a “cherry tomato injected with mango and pineapple juice and looks like an orange pearl encased in a miniature paper lantern.” I won’t even try to beat that description which is absolutely perfect.

Ground Cherries are hyper-seasonal and so they won’t be around long. Growing Hearts has a few but you best get to the market early. Their common name stems from the fact that the fruit falls to the ground when it is ripe. Some farmers call them simply, “ground tomatoes” but they are also known as husk cherries or strawberry tomatoes. They are super versatile and suitable in both savory and sweet preparations.cherries1

Here are some ideas from said Smithsonian article:

1. Puree them into a salsa verde, or chop them in into this ground cherry salsa.

2. Bake a ground cherry pie, upside-down cake, or a husk cherry and plum tart.

3. Layer halved ground cherries with fresh tomatoes and basil for an easy appetizer.

4. Make a simple salad from greens, ground cherries and goat cheese, or get a little more complex with husk cherry Waldorf salad.

5. Ground cherry jam is “easy peasy,” we hear. Continue reading september 13, 2018

september 7, 2018

Header9818Last minute dinner guests? No problem…

We had some last minute guests pop by and stay for dinner last week two nights in a row. Day one, I opened the fridge, and looked around my kitchen countertops to see what I could throw together. I had some fresh tuna I’d bought at the farmer’s market but certainly not enough to feed eight as an entree.

And, because it was late August/early September, I had plenty of peppers and tomatoes. Tuna, peppers and tomatoes and a handful of green beans…hmm. A Salade Nicoise was a no-brainer. Alas, we were out of potatoes. If you’ve been reading these blogs for a while now,  you know that in my French family Salade Nicoise was our traditional lunchtime salad whenever we had a tag sale – about two or three times a year. Tag sales were always a family affair and, bang on noon, my French father would bring out a giant Nicoise salad that we’d eat on a folding card table in the middle of our lawn – and sale.

I can’t tell you how many times shoppers asked us if they could “buy” a plate of salad it looked so good. Of course, we offered it up for free, always warning folks that the olives had not been pitted. My father, who grew up in Nice but was born in Brittany, insisted you needed boiled potatoes for a true Nicoise.

nicoiseI did a quick internet search to see if I was committing blasphemy making a potato-less Nicoise. Lo and behold – David Lebovitz came to my rescue with a recipe that deviated quite a bit from my father’s. No boiled vegetables. Period. I chose to ignore the passage forbidding the use of seared fresh tuna instead of poached or canned. Clearly, Lebovitz never tasted the tuna at Pura Vida. A boule from Wave Hill Breads and dinner was saved. Continue reading september 7, 2018

August 30, 2018

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Squeeze in those last, late summer picnics

The other day I took my family to Boscobel to see Taming of the Shrew, and I dare say our family picnic stole the show.

Yes, the Hudson River views were dramatic, but all eyes were on our market spread: some bread rolls from Wave Hill Breads, Rascal and Victoria Cheese from McGrath Cheese Co., some pate de campagne from Larchmont Charcuterie, kalamata olives from Kontoulis. garlicky hummus from Taiim Shack Mobile, cubed melon from Caradonna Farms, couscous salad with tomatoes from Sun Sprout, hard-boiled eggs from Letterbox Farm, and of course, some red wine and chocolate buckwheat treats from Bien Cuit and caramels from La Petite Occasion. Such a treat.

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Your Labor Day BBQs can (and should) be just as local. Letterbox Farms is bringing plenty of thick pork chops and country and spare rib. Also, they are well stocked on chicken cuts including their “airline breast” which is basically a skin-on breast with the first wing joint and tenderloin attached, otherwise boneless. The elegant cut is also known as a Frenched breast and lends itself to grilling and pan-frying. Continue reading August 30, 2018

august 23, 2018

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Canning Ahead

There are few things that make me happier come a frigid grey day in February than to go to my downstairs freezer and pull out a Zip-Lock freezer bag filled with a vermilion sauce made of sweet late summer tomatoes. Plop in pan on a slow simmer while the pasta water is boiling and you can practically feel the sun on your skin and hear the sounds of kids jumping from a dock.

Yes, the end of summer is a busy time of year what with trying to squeeze out the last few days of unscheduled fun while also gearing up for the onslaught of September responsibilities. But do find time to make a vat of tomato sauce with the crazy amount of tomatoes at the market right now.

Talk to the farmers at the market about buying bruised tomatoes from them or ordering large quantities in advance. Then, put on some Aretha Franklin and commit an entire afternoon to making sauce. You’ll be so glad you did come winter and the kids come home from college looking for homespun cooking. Never done this before? Check out this tutorial from thekitchn.com

tomatosauce Continue reading august 23, 2018

august 9, 2018

HeaderWinter81118bEating close to the earth

I’ll never forget the first time Dominique Debroux, of Anna Maria’s Foods, came to see me at the Hastings Farmer’s Market to introduce me to her line of savory jams. She came prepared with some hard cheese and a spoon and plenty of family pride, and rightfully so. One taste of her heady radicchio marmalade and I was hooked.

And, convinced that her products are perfect for a farmer’s market as they are meant to pair so many of the foods we sell at the market from artisanal charcuterie and cheeses, to all the pastured meats. Her red bell pepper jam, for example, is just the thing to eat with McGrath Cheese Co.’s Rascal cheese. The jam holds a hint of cherry pepper heat and “leaves your mouth warm without assaulting it,” says Dominique. She likes it with hard cheeses but also as an inspired marinade for steak, lamb or chicken. She even mixes it with yogurt for breakfast.

Her bagna cauda dipping sauces are the perfect thing for all the peppers, sweet carrots and zucchini at the market right now.

cheese bagDominique named the company after her Piemontese mother, a devoted cook who taught her daughter to eat “as close to the earth as possible”. “Smell what the sun did,” my mom would say testing each piece of produce and herb the farmers offered, to see if the sun had done its job,” says Dominique. “Only rich scents assured the robust tastes that were worth eating and would inspire us to create. That is how I learned to cook in Torino, in the northwest Piemonte region of Italy.”

Dominique says she created the company to share the recipes of her childhood but also to honor the traditions of her mother and her great-grandfather, who was a chef for the Savoy family, the last royals of Italy.

I imagine that both her savory and sweet jams (strawberry rose, for example)  would be delectable on any biscuit from Brooklyn Biscuit Co. back this week and now here most Saturdays (except the first Saturday of the month). You know the drill if you want to score one of their breakfast sandwiches: Get. There. Early. And, if you can’t, there’s always a breakfast pie at the Dough Nation pizza truck. Did you know you can ask for a farm-fresh egg to be cracked atop any of their market pies? Ask Rob the pizza chef and he will accommodate.

pizzabiscuit2La Petite Occasion is back this week. Our knife sharpener is away with his son who just made the All American College Rugby team.He’ll be back next month, when it’ll be time to start pruning your garden again.

See you at the market!

august 2, 2018

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Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes

What is it about the tomatoes this year? They are so flavorful. It’s like they sucked up all the sunshine that’s been doled out so sparingly this summer. Do thunderstorms make them thrive? No matter the reason, buy lots and eat as many as you can while you can.

I’ve been slicing Sun Sprout Farm’s cherry tomatoes and layering them on a slice of Wave Hill’s sliced French country bread that’s been slathered with McGrath’s Cheese Co.’s queso fresco. Top with mint or arugula instead of basil for something different.

quesoLove a good BLT but don’t do bacon anymore? Try an “ELT” – replace the bacon with a sliced hard-boiled egg from Letterbox Farm. Make sure to use head lettuce from Black Creek Farm and make this sandwich on sliced pain de mie from Bien Cuit for extra deliciousness. Continue reading august 2, 2018

july 26, 2018

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Show up for Shishitos

It’s mid-summer and that means shishito peppers, fairy tale eggplant are finally at the market. Blistered Shishito peppers, (look for them at both the Sun Sprout and Letterbox farmstands) sprinkled with coarse salt, are the perfect accompaniment to grilled steak (from Stone and Thistle Farm), or, as a snack to nibble on before dinner on the deck. Like radishes, you hold by the stem and eat.

But don’t just drop them in your mouth: one out of ten of these thumb-size grass-green peppers is alarmingly hot. No way to tell which pepper is hotter than the rest, so best to nibble first. It’s all part of the fun of eating shishitos.

shishitoeggplantsSun Sprout Farm will have fairy-tale eggplant this week. These are the Thumbelina-sized eggplant with the gorgeous purple and white striping. As with zucchini, the more “petite” the eggplant the more they deliver on flavor. This recipe from thekitchn.com is perfect for these summer market darlings. Continue reading july 26, 2018

july 19, 2018

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Pretty Pretty Plums

Tart and sweet, juicy colorful plums are truly a summer treasure. Few fruits taste as delicious out of hand as they do out of the oven as the plum. Plums are just as perfect in a cocktail, as they are roasted on flatbread with burrata cheese. Or simply roasted whole to eat with yogurt or ice cream.

Here’s an “oldie but goodie” collection of plum recipes from the now-defunct Saveur Magazine. I can tell you that the Plum-Basil Gin Fizz is a favorite at our house on July nights on the patio as is this ridiculously easy plum tart plucked from the Joy of Cooking circa 1963.

PLUMSBrooklyn Biscuit is back this week with their crazy assortment of sweet and savory biscuits and that decadent egg and bacon sandwich called the Riley, named for the gregarious farmer from Stone & Thistle who provides the eggs and bacon. Continue reading july 19, 2018

july 13, 2018

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Sugar snaps & apricots – it’s mid-summer at the market!

Sugar snaps are the stars of the edible pod peas. They are sweeter, crunchier and have more actual “pea flavor” than their peers, namely snow peas.
The “invention” of the snap pea was, in fact, the result of a happy accident. In 1969, a young breeder named Calvin Lamborn was asked to develop a snow pea with a straighter and smoother pod. After doing some cross-breeding, he spotted a rogue offshoot with a thicker pod than regular peas and immediately singled it out as a possible candidate. Years later, instead of an improved snow pea he had something much better: the sugar snap. Here’s a recipe that really showcases this summer treat – and this refreshing snap pea salad is inspired by one served at Restaurant Maialino in the Gramercy Hotel.

snap peasIt’s such a beautiful convergence when the apricots and peaches turn up at the market together. I can’t think of a better way to honor the pitch-perfect pairing than with this Food52 recipe. Have you ever seen anything so pretty? Continue reading july 13, 2018