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Posts tagged ‘locavore’

Not So Plump Dumpling

Dumplings with Winter Farmer's Market Veggies (and Siracha of Course)

Everyone loves a good dumpling, but if you’re just ordering from the Chinese place around the corner, chances are their veggie dumplings will be made with thick dough, and filled with little more than cabbage. This appitizer is suprisingly easy to make at home with store-bought wonton wrappers, and it’s possible you can even have a healthy, flavor-filled batch ready before take out could arrive at your door.

You can get pretty creative with how you stuff your dumplings, just decide if the ingredients need to be cooked prior to filling (steaming only takes about 5 minutes, and you want the filling to be soft… so if it won’t be soft (or for a protein, cooked) in 5 minutes give it a quick saute), and then give them a quick chop in the food processor. Even in the winter you can find amazing greens and root vegetables that are in season, and incredibly nutritious (and of course, delicious).

For my dumplings I used some of the amazing produce I got yesterday at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. I got Shiitake and Pioppini Mushrooms from John D. Madura Farm. The Pioppini have a great peppery flavor, and are an excellent addition to stir-frys as well.

Shiitake and Pioppini Mushrooms from John D. Madura Farms at the Union Square Greenmarket

I also diced, and sautéed some Sweet Potato. I also quickly sautéed the Baby Bok Choy, even though it was super tender, I just wanted to make sure the bottoms of the leaves had no crunch in the dumpling.

Baby Bok Choy

While the ingredients cooked, I made a sauce based on a Mark Bittman recipe for Steamed Shrimp and Cilantro Shu Mai . A simple mixture of Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Rice Wine, Scallions, and Fresh Ginger this sauce will hold the ingredients together in the dumpling, as well as serve as a dipping sauce later.

I gave the cooked ingredients a quick pulse in the food processor along with a few tablespoons of the sauce.

Fill the won-ton wrappers with about a teaspoon of the mixture. Moisten the edges with water, fold in half to make a triangle, and crimp the edges just like a pie crust. To make a Shu-Mai shape, just gather the edges around the center instead of folding, pleating the edges, but leaving some filling exposed.

Steam for about 5 minutes (until wrapper is completely tender), or give a quick pan sear like I did.

For Sauce:

1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1 T Rice Wine
1 T Sesame oil
1 T Minced Ginger (or more… to taste)*
1/4 Cup Chopped Scallions (White only)

*To peel ginger try using a spoon, much easier!

Upcoming Events in NYC

There are a few really interesting foodie events coming up in New York City starting tomorrow, all featuring some really amazing local talents, and plenty of cocktails, beer, and meat.

Sunday, January 22nd:

Cochon 555
Only a select number of tickets ($125) remain for this event, but it sounds like a really great way to spend your Sunday. Five chefs (Bill Telepan, Peter Hoffman (Savoy), Brad Farmerie (Public), George Mendez (Aldea), and Sean Rembold (Marlow & Sons), will each prepare a different breed of heritage pig, and the winner will go on to the national tournament. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Brewery will be serving beer, Murray’s Cheese will also be there, and according to NYMag there will be wine, oysters, and caviar as well.

Tuesday, January 25th:

Good Spirits at Le Poisson Rouge
From 5-8pm Edible Magazine will host this seasonal cocktail pairing event where they have matched “mixology-minded chefs and food artisans” with “spectacular, storied spirits.” Tickets are $40 and available here.

Hidden Treasures from the Cellar, Vintage Beers from Brooklyn Brewery at Back Forty:
Back Forty(190 Ave B at 12th st) will be hosting Brooklyn Brewery for a special pairing event featuring some of their vintage unreleased brews. The menu is available on the restaurant’s website, and tickets are available here for $103 (including tax and tip).

Wednesday, January 26th

SLOW U: Good Meat with Author Deborah Krasner at Brooklyn Kitchen

Deborah Krasner author of “Good Meat” the “The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat” will talk about the good meat movement and how it impacts the environment, our diet, and the way we cook. Tom Mylan of the Meat Hook will do a beef sashimi tasting to demonstrate the qualities of different meat cuts. Proceeds of the event will benefit Slow Food NYC, and Krasner will be signing copies of her new book which features over 200 nose-to-tail recipes.

6:30 pm at Brooklyn Kitchen, 100 Frost St, Brooklyn, NY. Tickets $25, available online.

Sunday Morning Breakfast Sandwich (After The Saturday Afternoon Farmer’s Market)

Just because I haven’t been blogging for the past few weeks, certainly doesn’t mean that I have not been cooking, or eating (believe me!) I’ve moved on to level III of the Classic Culinary Arts program at the French Culinary Institute, and moved on from Chef Scott, to the infamous “Chef X.” Chef X has a more Gordon Ramsey-esque teaching still, and while we must remain almost completely silent throughout class, his thick accented voice has not problem carrying over our pots and pans, and knives chopping.

There is no debate it has been a tough couple of weeks so far, but Chef X keeps reinforcing something that at this point in the program people really need to figure out. As he sees it “if you cannot cook from your heart, than you shouldn’t be here.” While his criticism, rules, and yelling isn’t easy to deal with after working for 8 hours, I can say that I very quickly have had to lose my bad habits, and get organized, focused, and just COOK!

This means, that when I do have free times on the weekends, I have been doing a lot of cooking also. It’s been a great few weeks while friends had time off for the holidays to get together for some informal dinner parties. A few of my friends became vegetarians, and vegans, for their new year’s resolution, so this has been a fun opportunity to try some new dishes. There have been lots of seasonal salads, fresh pasta dishes, and winter produce such as butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squashes, kale, beets, and when available wild mushrooms.

This is my first full weekend back in the city for a few weeks, and after a couple of fun-filled nights with my friends, I dedicate this post to the very important weekend breakfast sandwich. The sandwich I made today made use of ingredients I purchased at the Union Square Farmer’s Market yesterday afternoon, and while it involves cheese, and just enough grease, it felt a little less guilty than your average Bacon, Egg, and Cheese, because of it’s fresh ingredients.

I got these wonderful Araucana blue chicken eggs from Lynnhaven farm at the market that I couldn’t wait to use. Here is the photo of the finished sandwich on Bread Alone sourdough bread, with a sweet potato shallot hashbrown, scrambled eggs with wild mushrooms, and arugula, with the recipe to follow!

Ingredients
(Makes 2 Sandwiches)

For Hash Brown:
1 Large Sweet Potato
2 shallots
Fresh (or good quality dried) thyme

For Eggs:
Assorted Wild Mushrooms (Oyster, Maitake…)
3 Whole Eggs
Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I used Cabot Clothbound)

arugula
2 thick slices bread (toasted)
Vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper
Unsalted Butter

Sweet Potato Hash Brown
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Shred potato over a towel
-Season with salt and pepper and thyme
-Sweat shallots in a small saute pan with butter until some color develops
-In the towel, squeeze excess water out of potato.
-Remove shallots from pan, add to potatoes. Wipe pan clean and add a good amount of vegetable oil. Wait until ripples form in the oil, it is important that it’s very hot, or the potato will stick!
-Add potatoes and press down with spatula. Add more oil if necessary, pull hash brown up at edges to check color. When golden brown, flip. Brown other side, then top with few small pieces of butter, finish in oven.

For Rest of Sandwich:

-First cook mushrooms in a pan with a little bit of oil until golden brown. Season once color is achieved.
-I put my eggs with a little salt and pepper right in the same pan and scrambled. I scrambled them loosely and let them form and cook to the shape of the pan so it wouldn’t be as messy on the sandwich.
-Shred cheddar on top, place in oven until it melts.

To Assemble:
-Butter toast.
-Remove hashbrown from oven, cut in half, place on toast for,one each sandwich.
-Remove eggs from oven, cut in half, place one top of each hashbrown.
-Top with arugula, and a few dashes of hot sauce to taste.
-Enjoy!

Dinner at John’s (the Winter Edition)

The days were just starting to get shorter,and the weather colder. I broke out my scarf, my gloves, and that is when it hit me. Maybe it was school, or work, whatever it was, I needed a break from the City. Going out to Shelter Island for the weekend is always proves to be a great escape, especially when you have a dinner party with a great group of friends planned.

I visit the Union Square farmer’s market weekly, and other outdoor markets like the New Amsterdam Market have a great selection of produce and other food items even during the colder months, which is also true for the farm stands on the East End. I didn’t get a chance to go while I was visiting, but the Sag Harbor Farmer’s Market has moved indoors for the winter and runs on Saturdays at 34 Bay St. from 9am – 1pm as well. I took a Jitney in the afternoon and missed the market, but had access to another great local food that is in season… bay scallops! While my family usually purchases scallops from our neighbor who is a commercial fisherman, we went to Commander Cody’s on Shelter Island to pick up a couple of pounds for dinner.

Bay Scallops, Parsley Coulis, Fennel and Orange Slaw

Since I had already promised John I’d make Sweet Potato Gnocci for the meal, I thought the scallops would stand out better on their own as a first course. Scallops, especially fresh bay scallops, have a sweet and delicate flavor that can easily get lost among a starch, or a strong sauce. I like to serve them seared, without any batter or coating. I bring oil up to a med-high temperature in saute pan, and allow the scallops to develop a golden “crust” on both sides, and finish them with some butter, salt and pepper, off the heat. They cook extremely quickly, and it is important not to leave them over the flame for more than a few minutes at most, as they can become very chewy. I served them over a parsley coulis which added just a little zest without concealing the flavor of the scallops. See a quick recipe for the coulis at bottom of post.

Vanessa brought a really beautiful salad featuring some really spicy young arugala her mother grew. Borrowing a recipe from my favorite, Ina Garten, she added roasted butternut squash, roasted pecans, and a warm shallot-apple cider vinagrette. Instead of dried cranberries she tossed in some pomegrante seeds, which were tart, sweet, and a nice seasonal touch.

Sweet Potato Gnocci

The Sweet Potato Gnocci were a little intimidating, but I chose to use a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis that featured ricotta cheese as an ingredient, as I recalled a Mark Bittman article earlier in the month stating the light fluffy texture of gnocci made just with the cheese. The dough was a bit difficult to work with, which made for some interesting looking gnocci– but they tasted really great, and that’s all that really matters, right?

Instead of Giada’s sweet sauce, I did a brown butter sauce with a little fried sage, pancetta, and because it was a dinner party at John’s, we had to incorporate some gently sautéed oyster mushrooms. Connor did a wonderful job of finishing the plate with just a little freshly grated parmesan cheese, a component which really tied all the flavors together. While extremely rich, this dish was excellent. The gnocci had a nice soft texture, and the sauce had really wonderful warming flavors that were so enjoyed on a cold winter night (the red wines John picked for the evening didn’t hurt either).

While we couldn’t sit out back on the porch and drink lovely pink gin cocktails, and look out at the water front– we stayed cozy inside and were full, happy, and warm. Winter is a great time for food, and so many ingredients are still in season to create hearty, and memorable meals.

Parsley Coulis:

Ingredients:
2 T oil
2 shallots (minced)
1 oz mushrooms (chopped finely)
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 bunch parsley, stemmed
S & P
Lemon Juice

-Bring water to a boil in small sauce pot, add parsley for a few seconds, drain, and quickly place in ice bath. Drain on paper towels, squeeze out all excess moisture. (This step helps parsley retain vibrant color for finished sauce).

-Sweat the shallots and mushrooms in a pan with 2 T oil, without achieving color. Add 1/2 cup stock, cook until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat.

-Pour contents in food processor or blender, puree about a minute. Add parsley. Pour contents back into pan, season to taste. Keep warm for service.

Food For Thought…

Vegetables are the New Meat?

Photo: NYMag

Sunchokes are everywhere, black kale is all the rage, and even plain old broccoli—never mind boutique brassicas like spigarello and Romanesco—is hot. Vegetables, you see, are newly and increasingly fashionable, at least among a certain segment of fine-dining, CSA-belonging, Michael Pollan–reading, rooftop-garden-crazed New Yorkers.

Read the article here at New York Magazine.

Burlington, VT pt III: Breakfast in Burlington

Chorizo & Egg Tacos

Any Saturday or Sunday in Burlington, no matter how cold, you will see a crowd of people gathered outside of Penny Cluse Cafe on Cherry Street. The wait is always at least a half-hour (unless you go very early, on weekends the cafe opens at 8am)– but, is always so worth it. This cozy breakfast spot has a diverse menu of delicious, incredibly fresh (and never greasy) dishes.

Penny Cluse always offers breakfast and lunch specials utilizing seasonal ingredients, but I always find myself craving some of the staple menu items. The omelettes are amazing, and have so many different filling choices, it’s actually a bit overwhelming. Way beyond the standard options, Penny Cluse offers many local cheeses, and meats (including andouille, chorizo, chicken apple sausage, and smoked bacon), and other interesting items like cranberry-almond relish, dulse seaweed, capers, and many, many more.

My personal favorite dish is the Chorizo and Egg Tacos a lunch plate featuring two soft corn tortillas filled with house-made chorizo sausage scrambled with eggs and jack cheese, served with black beans, and avocado salsa. The chorizo is packed with spicy and savory flavor, the eggs are always soft and fluffy, and with just a little hot sauce, it makes one of my all time favorite brunch meals.

The Mama Cruz’s Huevos Rancheros, and the Tofu Scram (I like it with the salsa ranchero and corn muffins), are some of my other favorite savory items. These are served with the cafes awesome homefries, which are so good they could be a meal in themselves (the Bucket-o-Spuds appetizer features a mound of homefries with melted cheese, salsa, sour cream, and green onions, an egg on top is also an option).

Tofu Scram with Salsa Ranchero, Spinach, and Andouille Sausage (not so vegetarian).

For those of you who prefer sweet breakfast foods, Penny Cluse offers many delicious options. The Gingerbread Pancakes (served with Vermont maple syrup, obviously) are one of their most popular dishes. I also really love their Banana Bread with Maple Walnut Cream Cheese to share with the table.

With a bloody mary, mimosa, or several cups of steaming hot coffee, you’re in for one of the best brunch meals in the area (Sneakers in Winooski takes a close second). The food is consistently great, and arrives to your table very quickly after ordering. So wait the half hour, go shop across the street at the Outdoor Gear Exchange (where you can easy spend 30 minutes), believe me, it will be worth it (no matter how bad your weekend hangover may be).

Burlington, VT: Slow-Food Burgers at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill

Misty Knoll Free Range Turkey Burger at the Farmhouse

If you turn onto Bank Street, off of the pedestrian-only cobblestone Church Street– where you once could find a McDonald’s tucked behind the shops and restaurants– you will stand before The Farmhouse Tap & Grill: a gastropub “dedicated to showcasing and supporting local farms and food producers.” A clear victory for the local food movement, and a perfect example of just how progressive Vermont is, I was excited to see what the menu had to offer.

We travelled down from Mike’s house to meet his parents, and Dan, who were in the outdoor beer garden. While it was quite a bit colder than NYC, there were still quite a few people outside enjoying beers from the extensive selection. We sat inside quickly, and our drink order was taken immediately. I took Dan’s advice and tried the Victory/Stone/Dogfish Head DeBuff, a collaboration between Victory Brewing Co, Stone Brewing Co, and Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales. With a hoppy front, and an herbal finish, the crisp beer is infused with (cue the Simon & Garfunkel) parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

Photo: Dan Kirk

We started with a selection of Vermont Cheeses, served with local Red Hen bakery bread, Vermont apple butter, and maple candied walnuts. Favorites included the Jasper Hill/Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Peaked Mountain Farm VT Dandy, and the Consider Bardwell Farm Equinox, a hard, sharp, raw goat’s milk cheese. Mrs. Kirk shared the interesting story of Consider Bardwell’s farmer Angela Miller, and how she ended up in West Pawlet Vermont (after spending many years on Shelter Island).

The restaurant is known for its burgers, which are all composed of local meats. Their beef burgers are made with Maple Wind Farm Grass Fed Beed, from Huntington, VT– and are topped with Landaff Creamery cheese, VS&C bacon, and house pickled red onion (other toppings are available for all burgers such as Laughing Lotus Farm Kimchi, House Pickled Jalapenos, and Wilted Lacinato Kale. They serve a Pork burger with a sunny side up local egg, Vermont Cheddar, and tomato (the pork is farm pasture raised at Winding Brook Farm in Morrisville), and I had the Misty Knoll Free Range Turkey Burger with Taylor Farm smoked gouda, grilled local apple, charred onions, and arugula. They also had several specials (Dan had the special Venison burger), as well as vegetarian options (Farmhouse Veggie Burger, and Portobello White Bean Burger).

Photo: Dan Kirk

My burger was moist and flavorful, which is not always a given with turkey burgers. The toppings offered the perfect blend of sweet and savory, without over-powering the mild taste of the turkey. The fries were hot, crispy, and served with a variety of condiments brought out to the table (the garlic aioli was a favorite).

Photo: Dan Kirk

The Farmhouse was very crowded, almost all of the tables seemed to be full, and the bar was pretty packed by the time we left. Like it’s sister restaurant American Flatbread (which we ordered take out from the night before, see menu here,) it seems to be quickly becoming a Burlington favorite. The atmosphere wasn’t amazing, the room was large and fairly impersonal (it was after-all, a McDonald’s) but we had a great table of people, interesting conversations, and plenty of beer, all of which allowed one to easily ignore their surroundings. With it’s impressive locavore (or as Dan might prefer it, localvore) menu, and not to mention it’s beer list– it’s not difficult to see why this is such a popular spot.

The Dragon Bowl at Angelika Kitchen: So Perfect it Gets it’s Very Own Post.

Photo: NYMag

“Oh, you’re one of those people.” My Chef Instructor replied, and rolled his eyes at me, after I told him how excited I was for salad day at the French Culinary Institute. After bechamel, hollandaise, and duck confit, I was craving some serious green-age. Maybe it is weird, but by the end of the week especially, I am always craving something heavy on the vegetables. Angelika Kitchen is one of the oldest, and probably my favorite vegan restaurant in the city. With a diverse and creative menu, always focusing on seasonal produce, I (almost) always find myself ordering the same thing. Sure, it is a little boring in comparison to the some of the dinner specials– like the “Nut A-Stew About Nothing” an African inspired ground nut stew featuring roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, green peppers, turnips & tomatoes, simmered with ground peanuts, coriander, cinnamon, cumin & cayenne; topped with spiced tempeh croutons, & served with a brown rice-teff blend. But, still, I remain faithful to their famed Dragon Bowl.

Dragon Bowl

The Dragon Bowl is composed of rice, beans, tofu, sea vegetables & steamed vegetables; and served with your choice of dressing. The dressings include the House dressing, a puree of tahini, scallions & parsley, Tangy Basil, Black Sesame– with wasabi, garlic &toasted sesame oil, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Creamy Carrot– with ginger & dill, and Brown Rice Gravy– Brown rice flour roux with a savory blend of herbs, spices & tamari. My favorite is the Black Sesame, a really garlicky delicious mix that goes really well with the asian-inspired dish.

The veggies change seasonally, the greens are usually kale, chard, or bok choy, and last night the vegetables were a blend of winter squashes. The regular portion is just $13, and is the perfect amount of food if you’re hungry (if you’re really hungry try some of their breads and spreads). The bowl also is available in a half portion, which especially if your party gets some appetizers, is the perfect amount of food, and only $9. The Dragon Bargain ($18) and Wee Dragon Bargain ($14) include the bowl (of half bowl) plus a cup of soup and a bread and spread.

Angelika Cornbread and Tahini Spread

It makes a great lunch, or the perfect dinner– especially after the work week and sometimes not so great eating habits. My friend Annie and I enjoyed a meal there on Saturday, and she was so happy to have some nutrients after a day stuck is the office surrounded by sweets. Another plus is the restaurants BYOB policy– it makes it a great spot for a reasonable meal (that won’t bog you down, or put you in a food coma) before going out. Though no reservations are accepted I’ve never had to wait more than 15 minutes, even on a busy weekend.

Angelika Kitchen is located on 12th st between 2nd and 1st avenues. It is such a convienient location, and since I am always in the area, I stop in pretty often. Next time you’re in the area, I would make it a point to check it out, even if you are not a vegetarian, for a delicious Dragon Bowl, or any of their other menu items.

Upcoming Events: Eat Drink Local Week

Click Here to find out more about the second annual Eat Drink Local week, a collaboration of Edible Communities, Grow NYC, and local restaurants, wineries, breweries, farmers, food artisans, and more. Described not just as a restaurant week, but as a get-to-know your local food market, farmer, and artisan food-maker week. Events feature locavore meals and deals, the Sotheby’s Vegetable Auction, the Stone Barns Harvest Fest, and more.

Butternut Squash, Wild Mushroom, and Sage Risotto

That brisk breeze in the air this week has been quite the relief. No more air conditioners, and hopefully a final farewell to the general stickiness, smelly-ness, and other joys that make up summer in the city. Fall is also a time to welcome back our favorite sweaters, scarves, flannels, the warm colors of the changing leaves, and some of the most comforting ingredients from local harvests. Fall means apples, winter squashes (Butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin), leeks, root veggies, Brussel sprouts, and beans. These are some of my favorite vegetables, and autumn dishes are some of my favorite of the year. I am looking forward to doing a lot of experimenting while practicing my knife skills and cooking techniques for school.

This week I made a simple Butternut Squash, Sage, and Wild Mushroom Risotto. Risotto is easy to make, inexpensive, and can make a hearty main dish as well as a rich side to meat dishes. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 large butternut squash
1 cup Arborio rice
1 quart homemade or free-range chicken stock
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 T butter
1 T chopped fresh sage
Hen-of-the-woods (Maitake) mushrooms
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Procedure:

1. Peel the squash, remove seeds, square off, and chop into 3/4 inch cubes. Put on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper Roast about 30 mins.

2. Mince shallots, and in a large pot, melt butter. Saute shallots until clear. Ass the rice and cook for about 3 minutes.

3. Add stock one cup at a time, simmering on low heat, about every ten minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the mushrooms in a rough chop. Saute in oil or butter, adding water, until somewhat soft (about 10 minutes, but it’s best to taste for doneness).

5. Cook for about 45 minutes total (until rice is al dente). Remove from heat.

6. Add squash, and stir in cheese and chopped sage.

7. Garnish with cheese.

Stay tuned for my next fall recipe, Savory Polenta with Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes, Japanese Eggplant, and mozzarella Cheese.

Maitake Mushrooms, fresh from Union Square.