Pascale’s Blog

august 23, 2012

Farmer’s markets and farmstands are brimming with summer’s bounty right now – and Chappaqua is no exception.

Crates are overflowing with tomatoes, cherry, Mexican, heirloom, orange, plum and otherwise…there are ridiculous amounts of basil, cucumbers, squash and eggplant.

Try to think beyond this weekend’s dinner menu – and buy extra so you can enjoy LOCAL summer fruits and vegetables this winter.

This is the time of year to buckle down and make sauces to freeze or can. Buy some ground lamb from Stone Barns to make a mean ragu that’ll warm your bones come January.

Make sure to pick up some spices from Spice Revolution for pickling! Turn workaday cucumbers into bread and butter pickles…or make your own dilly beans!

Make your own tomato or peach salsa guaranteed to put a warm summer smile on your face in dreary February.

You’ve got access to great ingredients…all you need is a little time – and isn’t that what the last days of summer are for?

Need some hand-holding to walk you through it? Check out these very useful cookbooks:
“Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons” (William Morrow) by Pat Crocker
“Stocking Up: America’s Classic Preserving Guide” (Rodale) , by Carole Hupping, now in its third edition!

And after being so industrious, treat yourself to a relaxing al fresco market dinner: just about everything at the market can be thrown on the grill, from plums and scallops to corn and pork chops! Bon appetit!

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director

august 16, 2012

Sending your offspring off to college in the next couple of weeks? Why not pack a little goodie bag from the market as a reminder of home…Clean Ridge Soap Co. will be here this weekend…they make unforgettable soaps and lotions made with local herbs and flowers (like lemon verbena and lilac and more “manly” scents like cedar, too). They also make room diffusers –  which every dorm room could use, right?

Also – what college kid wouldn’t be thrilled with an assortment of Betsy’s Brownies. Or an eclectic medley of protein-packed nuts. nut butters  and locally-roasted coffee from Tierra Farm? Or herbal teas from Stone Barns & jams and honey from Honey Locust Farmhouse to sweeten up those first mornings away from home.

And, we’ve got just the thing to carry all these homegrown goodies in – our new grasshopper-green Chappaqua Farmers Market tote bags which we are selling at the market tent for only $5. Be among the first to sport one of these bags around town….

Madura has some interesting “snake” squash this week. They are pretty enough to be ornamental – to wear as a headdress or grace your mantle. But they also are perfect for cold summer squash soup – though you do have to peel their thick skins!

Lots of heirloom TOMATOES at the market this week. Make SURE you buy some mozzarella and basil to go with them. Don’t forget – tomatoes are also great for gazpacho, canning and great little vessels for stuffing, too!

The Morgiewicz Produce tent is brimming with their late-summer harvest: eggplant, zucchini, fingerlings (great roasted with fish!) and more. Newgate Farms has gorgeous beets and heirlooms, too.

I know many of you have been missing Buddhapesto’s pesto sauce. But have you tried the PURPLE BASIL PESTO from Honey Locust Farmhouse? Swing by the tent for a taste…I’ll let you be the judge.

See you at the market!

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director

August 10, 2012

Consider the oyster…

Have you ever seen anything so inherently ugly that tastes so delicious? The same goes for sea urchin, artichokes and kohlrabi. Sometimes you just have to look – far – beyond the physical appearance of certain foods to experience something truly sublime.

And so it goes with heirloom tomatoes which are notoriously hideous: bulbous, cracked, misshapen and occasionally off-color. While they may not look as pretty as your standard supermarket tomato, their flavor is exceptional. Some of them are firm and sweet enough to bite into like an apple. They are a fruit, after all. All that is required is a smattering of salt. And because heirlooms (Newgate Farms and Honey Locust Farmhouse) are tomato royalty, only the finest salt will do. Fortunately, Linzi Fastiggi from Spice Revolution will be at the market this week with her Fleur de Sel, the gourmet French sea salt she reserves for heirlooms

Madura Farms will have some small artichokes – though only a few. Steam them stem end up until tender – about 35- 45 minutes. Why not throw some lemon grass or ginger or garlic cloves, rosemary or thyme into the boiling water to give the globs an aromatic twist? You can also top trimmed baby artichokes with herbs, bread crumbs and olive oil. wrap them (generously) in foil paper and bake them for 35 – 60 minutes. Serve with a classic vinaigrette…or a tangy garlic aioli.  Whatever dressing you choose, the fun is in the un-dressing.

Hope to see you at the market in between rain drops and thunder claps. If the heirlooms can make it to the market…so can you!


august 2, 2012

…salad (with shrimp!)

Raw or cooked, corn is a great source of vitamins A & C and it’s packed with anti-oxidants and amino acids. It’s also just plain fun to eat. Did you know that each ear of corn averages about 800 kernels in 16 rows?

There will be piles of corn at the market this Saturday.
Although there’s nothing wrong with corn on the cob (cooked still in the husk, of course) try and think outside the box!

Here is  our resident chef Maria Reina’s recipe for chilled corn soup with basil oil (yum):
Chef Maria’s Cold Corn Soup w/Basil Oil
Makes about 1½ quarts
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, plus more
¼ teaspoon finely ground White Pepper
1 cup White Onion, ¼”dice
5 ears of Corn, shucked and cut in half

1 bunch Basil, leaves removed
Zest ½ Lemon
¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Soup: Over medium heat sauté the onion with butter, olive oil, salt and pepper for 5 minutes, until translucent and soft. Meanwhile grate 4 ears of corn with a box grater in a large bowl (to catch all the juice), reserving the cobs. Cut the corn of the last cob and set that corn aside in a bowl. Once the onions are soft add the grated corn, (scraping all the lovely juice with a spatula) into the pot, along with 4 cups of water and the cobs. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. After the soup has simmered for 10 minutes take it off the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cobs with tongs gently tapping them against the pot remove any corn still clinging on, before discarding them. Using an emulsion (stick) or regular blender process the soup until it’s smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Add the reserved corn to the pot and let it cool completely. Place in refrigerator until completely cold.

Basil Oil: Blanche the herb leaves for 10 seconds in boiling salted water, cool immediately, and drain well. This step will keep your oil a nice bright green. Add all the ingredients to a mini food processor and puree until its blended well and the leaves are finely chopped.

Serve the soup ice cold. Just before serving drizzle the oil over the soup and top with a few finely sliced (chiffonade) basil leaves for garnish.

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director

July 26, 2012

I’ve had the same thing for lunch every day this week: a slice of Bread Alone’s peasant bread toasted, and topped with two or three thick slices of tomatoes. I drizzle the tomatoes with a small amount of Kontoulis ollve oil and then add a sprinking of crunchy Celtic sea salt (from Spice Revolution). Some days, I tear a few fragrant basil leaves right on top of the tomatoes, but the sandwich is delicious enough to stand on its own. I serve it open faced because it would be a shame  to cover up this beautiful portrait of summer on a plate. I know that Harriet the Spy discovered the tomato sandwich long before I. But I think it’s safe to say that mine is vastly improved. Consider the ingredients I’m working with here – not the least of which are freshly picked tomatoes. They taste nothing like the ones that have traveled from California or even further away that you find in most stores.

This is the time of year when it’s nice to keep things simple in the kitchen. The farmers market – with its bounty of fresh, quality ingredients, from just-caught lemon sole fillets to fresh mozzarella made just hours before we open, makes it so easy to do that. Pick up some basil pesto from Honey Locust Farmhouse’s, prepared exclusively for our market with basil cut from her gardens. Toss it with some pasta for a quick meal, or add it to that tomato sandwich. Or just buy her basil and she will tell you how to make your own pesto.

And, make sure you grace your summer table with a bouquet from Grammy’s Gardens – just to complete the picture.

See you at the market!
Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director

July 19, 2012

The drought has had a devastating effect on farms throughout the Midwest. PLEASE COME SHOW YOUR SUPPORT for ALL farmers at the market this weekend. In addition to vegetables and fruits, we are fortunate to have such high quality pastured meats at our market from Stone Barns and Roaming Angus. Even if you need nothing this weekend, buy something to put in the freezer for later this summer. You’ll be glad you did for so many reasons…

Locally, the dry weather shortened our gooseberry season. Instead of gooseberries, Newgate Farms will have lots of raspberries (including those pretty pale yellow/pink ones that look too pretty to eat!).

Fortunately our jam-maker Renee of Renee’s Jams snapped up enough gooseberries up to make jam. Be sure to pick some of her gooseberry jam this week. There’s nothing quite like gooseberry jam on an English muffin.

I’m happy to announce that Betsy Rich of Rich Brownies has come up with several new flavors of gluten-free brownies. My motto is “more is more,” says Rich, the former tv news producer turned brownie queen.”Because one of my closest friends has Celiac disease, I wanted to make a gluten free brownie for her. It was important that my gluten free brownie didn’t taste or feel like it was missing anything. So, I finally figured out the answer…replace the flour in each batch with another half pound of the imported dark Belgian chocolate I use in all of my brownies. The result is a deep, dense fudgy chocolate brownie. My original “Gluten Free” brownie was a smashing success with people who don’t eat gluten–but what surprised me most is that it has become one of my best sellers with gluten eaters too–because true chocoholics love its deep dense dark chocolate taste and texture. So I changed the name to “Flourless Brownie” and began to create new gluten free varieties.” As of this weekend, she will be selling the following gluten-free variations Flourless Chocolate Caramel Marshmallow, Flourless Chocolate Peanut, Flourless Chocolate Peppermint Pattie and Flourless Chocolate S’mores.

It makes me want to be gluten-free.

Except of course when I think of all the great pastas that Flour City Pasta has to offer.

Fork and Glass is visiting this weekend…make sure you order some tacos to eat at the market!

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director

july 12, 2012

When Sandy and Mark Kurtz retired from teaching they thought they’d live out their golden years indulging in their favorite hobby: growing flowers. Little did they know that their hobby would quickly sprout into a second career. The Kurtzes are the founders of Grammy’s Garden in Warwick, a sprawling flower farm whose picturesque wildflower bouquets are legendary in the lower Hudson Valley. A handful of farmers markets are lucky enough to count them in their lineup and you can add Chappaqua Farmers Market to that short list. As of this Saturday, Adam Kurtz (their son who has taken over much of  the farming in recent years) will be coming to the market. If Adam has a certain glow about him, it’s because he just got back from his honeymoon. What type of flowers were featured at the wedding? All plucked from their fields of course.

Coach Farm Goat Cheese has also just signed on for the rest of the season. So you can count on having their fantastic aged goat “logs” or their crumbly goat spread or that soft and creamy goat tower laced with figs every week. This time of year, I love to make a meal of a salad and Coach Farm Cheese makes it so easy to do that. A cold salad of beets roasted in balsamic vinegar with crumbled cheese and mint? Mizuna salad with crumbled goat cheese, raspberries and caramelized pistachios? Or, why not put a thin slice of the log atop an heirloom tomato slice instead of mozzarella for a change? Goat cheese goes great with plums and makes a nice addition to any of the pastas from Flour City Pasta which are so flavorful on their own, they need only delicate, well-edited enhancements. And of course, a salad capped with melted goat cheese on baguette toasts is a lovely way to celebrate Bastille Day. (Baguettes will be discounted at Bread Alone in honor of my favorite holiday.)

Honey Locust is at the market this week with some great teas for icing like Organic Cherry Rose White tea (I’ve been nursing a glass all day).

Hope to see you at the market!

july 5, 2012

When it gets this hot, all I can think about is ingesting foods that make my body temperature plummet. Chopped salads, smoothies (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches and plums made with yogurt or ice cream or just ice cubes and juice) served in frosty parfait glasses and gazpachos. Our produce stalls are bursting with gazpacho goodness right now. There’s classic tomato, of course, though a yellow tomato gazpacho always makes an impression.

I found this recipe for a cucumber and spinach gazpacho that is as righteous as it is delicious and oh, soooo cooling! (cucumbers are packed with water to keep you hydrated!) I found it in Fit Pregnancy magazine – so you know it’s good for you. You should be able to find all of the ingredients at the market on Saturday – save for the pita bread and chicken stock.

Recipe ingredients
2 8-inch whole-wheat pita breads
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices French white bread, crusts removed
1 garlic clove
3 ⁄4 cup low-sodium chicken stock, plus additional stock to taste
1 cup low-fat buttermilk, plus more to taste
2 pounds Persian cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1⁄2 cup diced mild onion, such as Vidalia
kosher salt, to taste

Recipe directions
1. To make pita toasts, set a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Lightly brush both sides of one pita bread with 1⁄2 tablespoon of olive oil. Toast bread in skillet 3 to 4 minutes each side, until crisp. Break into pieces with your hands. Set aside.

2. To make the soup, soak French bread in water for 3 to 4 minutes. Squeeze water from bread and place the slices in a blender with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the garlic. Add some of the chicken broth and buttermilk and blend to make a paste. add half of the cucumber, half the spinach, half the basil and half of the onion and blend again. Stop blender and using a wooden spoon, push ingredients down. Blend again. Continue adding the ingredients until all have been incorporated. add salt, additional broth or buttermilk to taste.

Chill for 1 hour and up to 24 hours before serving.

3. To serve, divide soup into 4 chilled bowls, garnish with a drizzle of the remaining olive oil and serve with rustic pita toasts alongside.

Coach Farms will be back NEXT WEEK. Sorry for the inconvenience but they’ve been having some staffing issues.

In the meanwhile, try Joe’s amazing mozarella – always made fresh day of market.

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director

june 28, 2012

By the time I got home from the Irvington Farmers Market Wednesday night it was well past 9 p.m. My kids were away so I could have easily gotten away with a bowl of yogurt and Concklin blueberries for dinner. Or even skipped dinner at that point. A long afternoon in the blaring sun tends to dull my appetite. But the folks at Pura Vida had given me a tiny piece of blue fish because it was so fresh, they said, it might as well have swum up the Saw Mill Parkway. I couldn’t be bothered at that time of day to make a sauce. Besides, blue fish has so much character on its own, it needs no enhancement. In fact, if anything, it needs a little softening – a nice buffering mound of couscous or better yet, some orzo or lemon pasta from Flour City Pasta. I took my glistening piece of fish, put it in my tiny oval copper pan (a hand-me-down from my dad’s restaurant days) drizzled it with olive oil (from Kontoulis, naturally) and some brightening lemon, added some salt and pepper and fresh thyme. I was about to pop it in the oven when I saw those plump, inviting tomatoes from Newgate Farm and that zucchini and onion from Madura and Morgiewicz on my kitchen counter…and I was reminded of what my mother used to do with fish on a hot summer night. She’d slice some tomato, zucchini and onion (all in rounds of similar size and as thin as the knife would allow). Then she’d simply layer them onto the fish (works with a whole fish or any fillet). One row or column of tomatoes, alternating with one row of zucchini and one row of thin onion circles. I always helped her with this task because it felt a bit like an art project. It took five minutes longer to prepare but when the fish was cooked (about 25-30 minutes) it felt as though Provence had just blown through my front door. The flavorful buttery orzo from Flour City Pasta? Icing. Long days working in the blaring sun? Well worth it…

Don’t forget: the knife sharpener will be at the market tomorrow.

Hope you are all enjoying the goat cheese from Coach Farm!

And, in case you haven’t heard, Roaming Angus will now be coming every week.

Enjoy your weekend!

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director

june 21, 2012

Celebrate summer with: fresh fish on the grill with your favorite homemade salsa (why not strawberry?) sweet and chubby blueberries atop your favorite ice cream, a goat cheese, cherry tomato and arugula salad sprinkled with caramelized pistachios, a panoply of vegetables oiled and scored for the grill (the zucchini is in!).

Spice master Linzi Fastiggi is on the Great Lawn this weekend always generous with her cooking tips and samples of housemade exotic chocolate barks.

Fork & Glass is also back this week with her outrageous tacos. In Hastings last week, I swooned at her sweet potato, pickled onion and black bean taco in a blue corn tortilla and it had nothing to do with the heat!

Honey Locust Farm will be bringing their just-picked blackberries to the market this week. Can’t wait to taste these first-of-the-season jewels.

Also: please welcome nutritionists Amy Santo and Samantha Jacobs of Your Secret Ingredient who will be preparing a fantastic “spring-up” salad using only market ingredients that will all be readily available on Saturday (walnuts, Coach Farm goat cheese, radishes and spinach). Make sure you pick up their clever handout that features 5 seasonal recipes each requiring 5 ingredients from the farmers market! Got to love that!

Stay cool – and worry not – it will not be this hot on Saturday….

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director