January 13, 2012

Dear Shoppers,

On an impulse, and because my contractor friend had some free time on his hands, I decided to remodel my kitchen during the holidays.
Actually, it’s not as bad as it sounds. There’s something kind of humbling, and liberating, about being reduced to sub-flooring and pipes during what’s supposed to be the busiest time of year in the kitchen. The contractor has been kind enough to leave my stove and bare bones sink hooked up during the makeover, even though the rest of my kitchen is now in my dining room. (My girls think it’s really cool that our fridge is in the living room).
All this to say that these days I’m keeping the cooking real simple. Never have I been more appreciative of having access to farmers market products on a weekly basis – and in the winter no less! I’ve said it a million times, I know, but, truly, fresh, local ingredients are so inherently flavorful they don’t require much fussing in the kitchen.

A friend who is giving me some advice on layout dropped by this week and was surprised to smell a Stone Barns chicken roasting in the oven along with some Newgate Farms fingerlings and some cumin-dusted cauliflower. “I can’t believe you’re cooking when you’re kitchen is gutted,” she said. I literally put everything in a pan, added salt and pepper, olive oil and cumin and was done in five minutes. But the payoff was grand.
Local personal chef Maria Reina (www.bellacucinamaria.com) is also a big advocate of keeping things simple in the kitchen. She will be doing a cooking demo at the market this week using fresh fish fillets from Pura Vida, encrusted with basil and sea-salt onion cashews from Tierra Farms and topped with a savory jam from Renee’s Jams (also here this week). Stop by her table for a taste and a copy of the recipe (we’ll also post it on the website). Maria can also answer any ingredient or cooking questions you may have while shopping.

For a quick and easy lunch these days, I’ve been subsisting on sandwiches made with Bread Alone ciabatta or levain bread with cheese from Amazing Real Live Food Co. This week they are having a 30-percent-off special on their nutty Stella Valis Tomme cheese. Make sure to pick some up! Lucky for me, I stocked up on some of Renee’s savory jams, like pineapple habanero, and some of Bombay Emerald’s plum chutney last month. Good condiments makes such a difference. Just like that, they can turn a sandwich into a simple pleasure. Speaking of good condiments, make sure to pick up some Guyank Brand mango hot sauce this Saturday.

Roaming Angus is also back this week. If you’re a fan of their grass-fed beef, this is your chance to stock up. They won’t be back until January 28th.

Also back after a long absence, Big Girl Bakery with her fanciful line of cookies and Little Croc Bakehouse! I hate to even mention that many of her baked goods are gluten-free and/or vegan because I don’t want to turn people off. Trust me, you would never know her teacakes and lemon bars are “missing” anything. They are divine…which is why baker Suzanne Whitney has such a loyal following all over Westchester.

See you at the market – and come early if you want some of those Stone Barns eggs!

Keep your knives at home – Knife Sharpener back next week!

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director