July 30, 2015

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Nuts for Nectarines

Many of you are familiar with the great romantic poet Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. But have you read his homage to a nectarine?

“Talking of Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other holding to my Mouth a Nectarine — how good how fine. It went down all pulpy, slushy, oozy, all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a large, beatified Strawberry.”
John Keats (1795-1821)

Keats understood that a nectarine, just arriving at market, is more than a hairless peach with smoother skin. So much more. There is something so bright, clean and refreshing about a just-ripe nectarine. This is one stone fruit that knows exactly what it wants to be whether pickled or eaten out of hand.

It stands up far better than frail-of-flesh peaches do to savory preparations as in this beauty of a salad from Epicurious. Though the recipe calls for burrata, Joe Tomato’s creamy mozzarella would work just fine.

Or, for another way to combine mozzarella and nectarines, consider making this “summer in a stack” recipe at your next dinner party – as easy to make as it is on the eye. If you want to try this recipe with classic tomatoes, know that Honey Locust Farmhouse is back this week with some stunning tomato specimens (along with her elderberry concoctions).
Or,  you can toss sliced nectarines on a homespun pizza as in this easy height-of –summer recipe from Alexandracooks.com.

Saratoga Crackers is here this week. Don’t forget you can drop shards of their parmesan crisps on any summer salad for some extra crunch, flavor and panache. Continue reading July 30, 2015

July 24, 2015

How to empty your fridge in one easy step…the summer chopped salad
I am moving house this week, something I haven’t done in about a dozen years and have never done with 3 kids and five pets.
I somehow thought that since I was only moving a quarter mile from my house, it wouldn’t be that big a deal. Ha!

A week before moving day, the girls inventoried the fridge and freezer so we could eat our way through it before moving day. Waste not, want not. They even came up with a tentative seven-day meal plan. Yes, there were some interesting combinations (and a lot of duck fat), to be sure, but it got the job done. But in the end, it came down to the inevitable – my father’s very chopped salad.

In honor of my dad, who passed away earlier this year, I am reposting this blog I wrote several years ago about his knack for cleaning out the fridge with an “everything but the kitchen sink salad”. Useful information whether you are moving cross-country, going on vacation, or just need to declutter your KitchenAid.

“My very French father is the master of the very chopped salad. It is the one American dish this passionate French gastronome has embraced after 50 years of living stateside. He loves the pele mele nature of it: open the fridge, pull out anything that’s fresh and can be minced (including last night’s leftover ahi tuna or roast chicken or lamb roast) and start chopping. Don’t stop until you’ve got a cramp in your arm or Maman’s storied green salad bowl (a wedding gift) can’t possibly take one more sprout or cucumber square.

These salads have always screamed “California” to me. When I pine for home they are a huge part of what I miss. But this week it struck me that there is no reason not to make these California-style salads back home during market season. At the Chappaqua Farmer’s Market you will find everything you’d find in one of my dad’s chopped salads- save for the avocado: fresh tuna, shrimp, chicken breasts, sprouts, peppers, fennel, golden and red beets, olives, hard-boiled eggs, scallions, peaches etc. etc. There is no recipe for my father’s “stream of consciousness” salads. They just happen while my mother is showing us their herb garden or we’re out talking to a neighbor.

He always presents them with a bit of flourish. My girls love ferreting out the ingredients one by one. The average ingredient count is about 14. I hope you will get inspired at the market tomorrow to make a Papie salad. You can clear out your fridge and let a little California into your kitchen.”

Continue reading July 24, 2015

July 16, 2015

COMB HONEY, FALAFEL AND GOURMET KETCHUP AT THE MARKET THIS WEEK!

Got allergies?
You’re in luck…Nancy McNamara from Honey Locust Farmhouse is bringing jars of her sought-after “comb honey”  this week. Comb honey is the honey in its purest, most unadulterated form. Comb honey is, essentially, a chunk of the hexagonally-shaped beeswax cells of the honeycomb, where each individual cell is filled with unctuous raw honey – just as the bees filled it.

Since this is honey that has not gone through an extractor – therefore unfiltered and untouched by human hands – it still contains every bit of pollen, enzymes, propolis, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, and aromatics that the bees produced in the hive.

Only the best honey extractor will produce honey that is therapeutic, but the comb itself, also edible, is also full of health benefits. It contains a natural antibiotic, bee pollen, residual royal jelly and large amounts of propolis. This resinous substance that bees gather from the leaf buds of trees and certain vegetables helps disinfect the beehive as well as seal crack and build wall panels. Good stuff! In fact, the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Association calls honeycomb (no matter the geographical origin) one of the best natural cures for allergies and asthma.
It’s also delicious to eat out of hand. Break a chunk off and pop it in your mouth like candy.

Chef Patty Sobol from Northern Westchester Hospital is back with another tantalizing cooking demo. This week she is whipping up a Berry Beat Smoothie. Here’s the recipe so you can shop accordingly and make one for yourself this weekend. Continue reading July 16, 2015

July 9, 2015

BASIL SCHMAZIL – YOU CAN MAKE PESTO OUT OF JUST ABOUT ANYTHING

It happens to me every year about this time. The local greens are finally coming in and I get so excited at market at the site of the produce bins brimming green that, well, I get a tad over-ambitious about how many greens my family can consume in a week. By Thursday I have two options: make juices or make pesto.

This week, the latter won out. As if the inability to close my crisper drawers weren’t incentive enough, there’s the spinach and garlic pasta at Arlotta Food Studio that is crying for a pesto upgrade at my house.

Here’s the good news: you can make pesto with just about any market green out there. News flash: what makes pesto so delicious is not the basil but the powerful combination of nuts, salty cheese, and uber-fresh greens. And, of course, quality oil – though it doesn’t necessarily have to be olive oil.

This article on how to riff on pesto in Bon Appetit confirms that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on pine nuts that inevitably go stale – walnuts, sunflower seeds, pistachios even pumpkin seeds taste great in pesto. They mention one restaurant down South (Southbound) that’s known for its collard green pesto made with peanuts. This recipe from SimplyRecipes.com doesn’t even call for cheese or garlic – but uses lots of cilantro, red onion and serrano chile instead. Just imagine how it would tastes with that bright and fragrant Morgiewicz cilantro…

Continue reading July 9, 2015

Pascale’s Blog July 2

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FROM FARM TO GRILL

If ever there was an official grilling week-end this would be it. If Memorial Day is the kick-off of the grilling season, the Fourth is the pinnacle.

If you are hosting, you may have to borrow an extra grill because the market will have so much to offer your Weber this weekend. Southtown Farms alone has 8 different varieties of sausage – from classic brats to maple – in addition to hot dogs made with local pork and grass-fed beef patties. They and Stone Barns will also be offering spatch-cock chicken. And Letterbox Collective has organic chicken as well as pork and rabbit.

And, then, of course, there’s fish: hake, tuna, swordfish – all great on the grill, especially when it’s from Pura Vida. Make it easy on yourself and prepare some kebabs in advance. Use the summer squash that is just turning up and the mushrooms at Madura (larger portobellos are the vegetarian answer to a burger btw.). Make potato salad sides, snap peas, cole slaw and grilled onions for all your meats.

Continue reading Pascale’s Blog July 2

Pascale’s Blog – June 25, 2015

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SUGAR SNAPS & SOCIALIZING AT THE MARKET

I was looking for an old email from farmer Matt Soldano of Southtown Farms late last night, and I stumbled across Matt’s blog from early June about why he (and other farmers) love farmer’s markets. It really touched a chord, particularly on the heels of last Saturday when I had the pleasure of spending the day at the Chappaqua Farmer’s Market and watching all the socializing going on there…not just among New Castle residents chatting each other up in the fish or pretzel line, but between vendors and shoppers. It seems everyone knows the epically-bearded-Brian, who sells for Taiim, by name. Just as they know the names and temperaments of Betsy Rich‘s two mammoth-sized Pyrenees (Mojo and Sam )at the brownie tent.

For me, the markets have always been an oasis of community in the sometimes alienating suburbs. Good bread, fresh produce – yes – but also healthy conversation, community spirit and a sense of daily life unraveling before your eyes.

I was so glad that Matt feels the same way:
“Farmers are not a very social group,” writes Soldano. “Not by choice, but because of our profession. When you’re up at 0500 and working in the sun all day, the last thing you want to do is head out to meet friends that evening. Come weekends the days get even longer as we get up even earlier to pack for market, and still get all our farm chores done. There’s no time for a social life in the summer. That’s where markets come in. They are our social place, our gathering point. Farmers markets are where like-minded individuals can all come together for a few hours learn and laugh about life. ”

Adds Soldano: “Anthropologists will tell you that human beings always belonged in tribes. I think this is very true. My tribe is made up of farmers and customers that I get to chat with each week. Every market day, I go home with a smile on my face. Not for the sales we make, but for the community we have built and the relationships we have forged.”

This week, the official kick-off of grilling season, Matt will be bringing plenty of grass-fed beef, his first batch of the season. Make sure to to pick some up at the Southtown Farms tent – and, maybe even linger a while.

In case you missed them last week – the cherries are in – a bit early this year. Snap some up early in the day. Oh – sugar snaps are here, too. Continue reading Pascale’s Blog – June 25, 2015

Pascale’s Blog – June 18, 2015

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GARLIC SNAKES!

Make that garlic scapes. Garlic snakes is what my kids used to call them whenever I brought them home from the market this time of year and dumped them on the butcher block. No surprise. These twisty, curly bright green spears that shoot straight up from the garlic bulb are sometimes referred to as “serpent garlic.”

When you think of garlic, your mind goes to the squat bulb with papery skin. But this garlic starts out as green or spring garlic. Then it matures: the bulb and roots grow under the soil while a stem with leaves and a twisty “scape” shoot up above. This scape (a botanical term that refers to a flower-bearing stem) is just as edible as the bulb.

For years, scapes were considered little more than a “byproduct.” They were trimmed off in early summer so that all of the plant’s energy went straight to the bulbs underground. But these days, scapes are harvested for their own culinary merits and have become quite trendy among gourmets and locavores trying to reduce any and all food waste.

Tender garlic scapes have a delicate garlic flavor,  and their fragrance hints at green grass and garlic. Scapes are vegetable, an herb, and an aromatic which makes them very versatile. Although the entire scape is edible, the pod and tip above it can be chewy and fibrous and are best discarded. Use garlic scapes as you would scallions or shallots, or in any dish that could use a garlicky note.

Continue reading Pascale’s Blog – June 18, 2015