PRODUCE & EGGS
Confession: I will never be one to abstain
from some yummy treat
just because it is "off-season." Sometimes, a
fresh pepper is exactly what I need to escape
winter doldrums. Still, I love the challenge
of trying to cook with the seasons.
Eggs supposedly change throughout the year, too. And I am
eager to find out how. Watch for seasonal postings on how the
yolks, consistencies and flavors are changing in NY and NJ-born
eggs -- and how the differences can best be put to use.
Granny Smith: Apple Pie Turned Inside-Out
Brussels Sprouts II
Celeriac: Ugly Roots Make Yummy Soups
Eggplant, As Addictive as Cigarettes?
Mushrooms: Grey is a Color, too!
Pumpkin Project Day
Brussels Sprouts I
When Peaches aren't Peachy
I’ll admit I have been underwhelmed by this year’s peaches. (The
nectarines and plums, on the other hand, are incredible right now.)
Maybe I’ve just had bad luck, but letting summer close without having
had my fill of furry chin-dripping fruit did not seem like an option.
So, I bought a four-pound bag, all of which were too hard and ornery to
bother eating raw, and cajoled and tickled them until they succumbed --
finally offering smiles, good humor and yes, juicy goodness. In other
words, I made a pie.
It looks like an alien from outer space. All the more reason to
invite it into the kitchen! Kohlrabi, a favorite in Indian cuisine
(especially in the North), is yet another member of the cabbage family
(like kale and broccoli) but has a delicate sweetness all its own. More...
Planning for a Berry Christmas
I was too preoccupied with munching, make that devouring,
strawberries and cherries over the last several weeks to do what I
ought've. Each bite required a puckered chomp, a kiss that was rewarded
by plump flesh dripping with such sweet-tart berry juice, I forgot all
thought of tomorrow and ate for today
. More...The Baby Strawberries are So Sweet
So I made this strawberry sun salad. More...
The Eggs are Ready!
Yes, eggs do have a season. More...
Born Again Greens
All the winter greens have been sprayed by the fountain of youth. They are showing up in the market sporting tender curves and babysoft complexions. Beware, however, of their apparent innocence. More...
the Carroll Gardens Sunday greenmarket, I stumbled upon an intimidating
head of lettuce. It came with a neck! And, if you count the pot,
Cooking, the Way to Man's... Brain?
(Spinach and Eggs)
The theory that primordial Iron Chefs led to the evolution of humanity proved itself in a pan on my stove earlier this week. More...
Big ol' Head of Cabbage
I love ingredients from the market that last for weeks and weeks. More...
Parsley's Second Act
My kitchen's most perishable item is my most demanding boss. More...
Flower Children - They're what's for dinner
I love the over-sized smile of a sunflower just as much as the next gal, but... More...
Nice to Meet You,
Discovering a new ingredient at a farmer’s market is like meeting a potential new friend at a party. More...
Back to Our Salad Days
Salads have become so familiar, almost obligatory, that their potential pleasure is often forgotten. Perhaps it will help to remember that doctors used to warn against them. More...
Green Purses: When Veggies get Rich
A few days ago, I found myself with a need to kill time and hunger pangs in the dimly-lit outer section of the Istanbul airport. More...
Childhood Tossed with Pasta
Dandelions make me remember being five years old. I would wait with great anticipation as these lovely weeds turned into delicate fluffy balls that simply had to be blown as hard as I could, sending all those seeds soaring out over the yard swinging gaily from their fuzzy parachutes. More...
Root Vegetable Overload
Before I knew what was happening, teenage parsnips, celery roots and all kinds of knobby, occasionally hairy, root vegetables were jumping into my bag. More...
Pea Shoots for the Weary
My growing hunger for spring caused me to exclaim with glee at the sight of pea shoots. More...
Rhubarb in the dead of winter
Several months ago, after one my first shopping trips to the farmer’s market, a test bite of a carrot filled me with such elation I actually pranced (really, I pranced) it over to my husband, finding it fully worthy of interrupting his book.
Today the carrots are much more modest, sold in bags of knobby broken pieces, leftovers from earlier in the season. They aren’t as sweet as they were this fall, but they are still better than anything I’ve tasted from a store. Don’t be put off by the great many carrots sold in a single bag. They keep well and are welcome additions to a number of dishes. However, if you are as terrified of waste as I am, here’s a yummy way to use lots of carrots in one go. Freeze the leftovers (if there are any.)
Silky Carrot Soup
1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
½ large butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 large yellow onion
2 Tbs peanut oil
4-6 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste
In large pot, sauté onions in peanut oil until soft. Add 4 cups of broth, spices and carrots. Boil for twenty minutes with cover on. Add squash. Boil another 20 minutes with cover on. Add additional broth as needed. When everything is mushy, puree. Serve right away or simmer until you are ready to eat.
(I wanted to highlight the carrots’ flavor in this, but you can easily double the spice amounts if you are looking for a nice spicy Indian soup.)
It’s January. What’s with all the green at the farmers’ market? I bought two armfuls of kale, supposedly from New Jersey. Curious as I was about how these curly leaves were going to taste, I also wondered how they even existed. The root vegetables make sense to me; they stay cozy underground. But leafy greens?
In my cynical (and ignorant) mind, I conjured scenarios of being duped. Perhaps that nice farmhand, rounding my bill down to the nearest dollar, is actually an experienced swindler who bought the bulk of his goods at the nearest KeyMart and, by adding the admittedly-lovely if inauthentic farmer-market experience, sold them at an up-charge? Or, I thought to myself, trying to remain kind, perhaps he has a greenhouse?
However, having never eaten kale before (to my knowledge), this was the most pressing mystery to be solved. Not long after arriving home, my taste buds were relieved to peppery, bitterness with a forgiving texture (see recipes below). Next, I found the answer to my worries over its existential nature.
Kale likes snow.
It’s like the polar bear of leafy greens. The cold weather actually sweetens its temperament and helps bring out its dark goodness. (On that note, avoid yellow leaves.)
I now have new respect for flora. I can’t exist for more than a few hours in these temperatures, let alone live out there. And I am at peace with again with the Phillips’ Farm (NJ) Saturday stand at the tip of Prospect Park.
The simplest way to experience kale magic is to make kale chips. These turn out beautifully crispy and can quickly (and healthfully) sub in for potato chips.
1) Cut leaves, sans thick stems, into rough two bite pieces.
2) Dress lightly with salted oil (and vinegar if you like)
2) Roast at 350 degrees until crispy – about 20 minutes.
But in honor of Chinese New Year, here’s what I did with the kale last night:
Dragon Stir-fry: Chicken and Kale
2 Tbs peanut oil
4 garlic cloves (2 if using store bought instead of farm bought)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 chicken filet, thawed/soaked in orange juice and a couple dashes of fish sauce
4 oz (large handful) of peanuts
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6 cups curly kale, stem bottoms removed, cut into two-bite pieces (will shrink)
~4 Tbs duck sauce (that orange sweet sauce that comes with delivery Chinese food)
Saute garlic and onion in hot oil. Cut chicken into long narrow strips. Brown chicken in pan w/ garlic and then remove and set aside. Throw a large handful of peanuts in the bowl with it to keep it company.
Pour marinade into a small pot. Add a dash soy sauce and duck sauce (and some crushed red pepper) to taste. Boil like crazy. You are trying to reduce it to nice syrupy sauce.
Put bell pepper in pan with garlic and onion. Saute until just getting tender. Add kale. Saute and then pour hot juice syrup over the greens. Add chicken and peanuts. Stir to coat and raise temperature.
Serve with steamed rice.
While the Crispin Mutsu apples have gone a bit mealy by now, their sound-alike cousin, HoneyCrisp are just hitting their stride.
At the beginning of the season, they were crisp, no doubt, but rather watery in flavor. Now they have a sweet quality… Some might call it ‘honey-like’ and point to the name, but to my palette it tastes overwhelmingly of roses.
If you haven’t tried this variety, when I say ‘crisp’, it is not the hard crunch of a Granny Smith or the snap of a Macintosh. There is an airy quality to the HoneyCrisp apple’s texture; the crisp of a dry winter day, rather than the dewy teasing of blue-skyed autumn. The apple’s particularly thin skin gives way to flesh that is of consistent crispness from top to bottom, from inside out. If I had a microscope, I might do a comparison, hypothesizing that HoneyCrisp slices are more porous than other apples.
Eat au natural. Or with a little salt. Yes. salt. They are that sweet.