From the Market: Week 5

gluten-free

Right off the bat, I’ll admit that yes, I cheated a little here. Asparagus hasn’t been seen at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market for the past two weeks, but 1) I had a craving and 2) didn’t it make for a pretty — if slightly pornographic — shot?

Because I operate under the assumption that pretty much everything is better when topped with a fried or poached egg (especially the super-fresh ones we get from Nina), I went with a variation on a shaved asparagus salad from the pages of Food & Wine for Sunday’s lunch:

The ricotta salata I substituted for the Parmesan was creamy and subtle, but I think I’ll try the recipe as written next time for even more of a punch.

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Because I eat yogurt with fruit every weekday for breakfast, I like to change things up a little on weekends, so we had gluten-free pancakes before hitting the market Saturday morning. I’m still playing around with flour combinations for breads and pie crust, but this pancake recipe was perfect as written. (By the way, I have no plans to turn this into a blog about dietary restrictions, but if you’re looking into a gluten-free diet, I highly recommend the Gluten-Free Girl blog. It’s an amazing resource.)

But back to the pancakes. I cooked them in only about 1/2 teaspoon of butter each, but they were so rich-tasting and slightly sweet on their own that they only needed a dollop of the raspberry jam I picked up recently from B&B Jams to put them over the top.

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I didn’t really load up on fresh vegetables this weekend because I went overboard last week and still had quite a bit hanging around in my vegetable drawers. I’ve been on a leftover kick all week long, but only yesterday did I finally get around to using up the last bit of the smoked beef tongue (courtesy of Snoep Winkel Farm) I made last weekend. Of course, on that first day, we had it in tacos as we always do, but during the week it made appearances sliced on crackers with Dijon mustard or just nibbled out of hand straight from the cutting board.

But my plan for Saturday’s lunch included my latest favorite way to use leftover bits of meat and vegetables: Vietnamese bun, a refreshing salad served with cold rice noodles, and the perfect thing on a hot summer day.

This was made entirely with odds and ends from the refrigerator: Tatsoi, cabbage, carrots, red bell peppers, radishes, green onions, basil and cilantro, all tossed with a sweet-sour-salty-spicy dressing, funky with fish sauce and garlic. And hit with a lot of Sriracha, naturally. I’ve found that if you get the sauce right (I used the one from this Vietnamese Chicken Salad), the rest of the salad just falls into place.

It’s been a migraine-y day for me, so I have nothing more to offer at the moment, but I’m hoping to get around to an apricot & goat’s milk frozen yogurt sometime this week. Hope you have a great one!

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market: Week 5”

From the Market: Week 3

Week 3 at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market was all about dogs and berries for us. It took almost an hour to make a full circuit as we stopped to play with other dogs, chat with their owners and meet fellow dog lovers who happened to be without canine companions at the time. One of the best things about heading out there every Saturday is getting to chat with the people in our neighborhood we’d never see otherwise.

And the berries – oh, my, those berries. See, I’ve always loved the idea of strawberry pie or tart more than the actuality of it. Reason consistently took a back seat to desire whenever I’d see those plump, glistening berries perched atop a golden crust until I took my first bite and found … nothing. No satisfaction, certainly, but not even much in the way of flavor. Too often, those strawberries bore a striking resemblance to supermarket tomatoes — beautiful, and about as tasty as plastic. With that disappointing history, I put the thought of a strawberry tart out of my mind until I realized the Orchards of Concklin‘s berries are so juicy and luscious that any dessert featuring them must be just as spectacular.

To up the ante on the tart, I decided to go with a butter/lard crust instead of a regular all-butter one. To be honest, I chose to use lard as much for its reported baking benefits as for the cracklins that come as a by-product of the rendering process:


Cracklins and a quart of lard. Is it just me, or are you looking at that Mason jar and thinking, “This cow got into an onion patch,” too?

As far as I can tell, our local market doesn’t carry leaf lard, so I ordered a couple of pounds from two sources — Flying Pigs Farm and Bobolink Dairy. It’s important to me to get quality animal products from reputable sources; factory farms have horrible reputations for animal welfare and antibiotic use, so I just avoid them and (admittedly) buy more expensive meat, but eat much less of it than I used to.

The rendering process wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined nor as smelly as its reputation. In fact, if a person is willing to eat lard at all, I don’t understand how they wouldn’t want their house to smell the way mine did while the lard was on the stovetop, bubbling away. If you’re looking to render your own lard, I found this to be an invaluable resource.

Despite the deep color of the lard when it came off the burner, the tart crust didn’t have a porky flavor in the slightest, but instead was slightly nutty with a rich and decadent feel. I chose an Emeril Lagasse recipe mainly because it came up first in my search and called for pastry cream instead of berries glazed with a sugary syrup; pastry cream is one of those things that just makes my toes curl. Instead of the crust in the recipe, I tried a gluten-free version, but wasn’t happy with the combination of flours I used. I’ll continue to experiment and will give you something that really works…soon, I hope. But for now, we’ll just enjoy the penultimate tart we have, instead of crying over missed perfection:

Later on, I glazed the berries with some of the raspberry-plum jam I’d happened to pick up from B&B Jams. It added a much stronger flavor than plain apricot jam would’ve without overpowering the fresh berries; in fact, I think it complemented them very, very well.

Oh, and the peonies we picked up a couple of weeks ago? Still beautiful, though decaying:

Next up: Vegetables of Insane Greatness.

From the Market: Week 1

Kofta with Spinach & Arugula Salad

The Ringwood Farmers’ Market opened this weekend, and not one minute too soon! I’ve been craving their fresh produce since the weekly market closed last November; winter market (new this year) only took place once a month, and the pickings were slim. It was winter, after all.

But now we’re back to greens, berries, honey and meats from small local farms, so let’s dive in.

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What I missed most about the early markets was the amazing spinach and arugula from Bialas Farms, not to mention the rest of the veggies and fresh herbs that always make up the bulk of my shopping experience on weekends. Because I was impatient to try the first haul, I made brunch as soon as we got home — a quick pesto with the spinach and arugula, some walnuts and grated locatelli, all smoothed out with a Ligurian olive oil. The pasta was a gluten-free selection from Fontanarosa’s, which I only visited for the first time this weekend. I now plan to shop there all summer long.

[About the gluten-free thing: I cut out the major sources of gluten about a month ago after reading The GenoType Diet. I’m highly suspicious of any diet at all (and definitely didn’t try this to lose weight — so don’t worry, those of you who know me), but thought I’d give this one a try since a lot of what the author said about my type rang true, given my experience. Anyway, I can honestly say that the mild-to-moderate joint pain I’ve had for the past few years has completely disappeared since I cut the out the gluten. (Other things I won’t go into here have cleared up as well.) Maybe it’s all unrelated, and I hope it is, but we’ll see how I feel when I re-introduce regular pastas and whole-grain bread into my meals.]

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Even though we were invited to a BBQ Sunday afternoon, I had to get in a little grilling of my own this weekend, so I threw together a quick-ish lunch. The appetizers were inspired by this post at Smitten Kitchen and I was thrilled with the way they turned out:

That’s a lot of good stuff packed into a couple of bites, and it came together with almost no effort on my part. I just grilled 1/2-inch-thick slices of homemade bread till they were toasted, smeared them with loads of truffle butter, some room-temperature robiola (one of my favorites, but you could try whatever you like here), and topped them off with ribbons of asparagus, crunchy fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.

To make the ribbons, just grasp the tip of the spear and use a vegetable peeler to shave down the length of the asparagus.

Our main course was a kofta salad. The spinach and arugula made another appearance here, tossed with tzaziki sauce for the salad base. I had a few extra asparagus ribbons from the appetizers, so I threw them on as a garnish. But the real draw was the kofta made with ground lamb from Snoep Winkel Farm. I used the recipe that’s become my standard, substituting walnuts for pistachios since those were, um, about 18 months out of date. Oops.

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And then we went to a BBQ where I consumed lots of steak and delicious veggie skewers, so I was pretty meated- and veggied-out by Sunday morning and took it easy with a little goat’s milk yogurt with fresh strawberries, blueberries and honey. (Sadly, the blueberries were store-bought since they aren’t quite in season here, but the The Orchards of Concklin‘s strawberries are as perfect as ever, and their peonies aren’t half-bad either. I’ll bring my camera next time we go so I can show you just how popular Rufus and Otis are with the proprietor. The honey is local, too — from Nina’s Red Barn Farm, where we buy our fresh eggs and where I’m evidently known as Rufus’s mom.)

gluten-free

Hope everyone had a safe and relaxing Memorial Day Weekend.

This & that, on my first snow day

The day started with this:

Which was followed by this:


Mushroom ragu with no-stir polenta.

While all around, this was happening:

All of that, combined with Monday’s personal day makes this the best work week ever.

Loungey

It’s been a pretty low-key weekend around here. I treated Gil to a birthday dinner at Marea Saturday night, but apart from that wonderful (fantastic! amazing! delightful!) experience, we’ve done a lot of lounging. (Which has been wonderful, etc. in itself, only in sweats, and with football.)

Ordinarily, we don’t let the guys on the furniture, but Otis adopted the fainting couch early on and really…how could we say no?

Ru, on the other hand, wouldn’t dream of setting paw to furniture (while we’re home), but prefers to use Otis as a pillow.

So…food. After such an exceptional dinner, I could barely consider cooking today and didn’t have the heart to attempt anything challenging. What would be the point? But still in need of sustenance as lunchtime rolled around, I made a vegetarian chili loosely based on Heidi’s Pierce Street Chili, adapting it to use ingredients already in my pantry. This turned out to be the perfect dish for our loungey weekend. I highly recommend the original recipe; it was probably the best vegetarian chili I’ve ever made.

Hope you all had a great weekend and managed to stay warm!

Season’s greetings from the Roths

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Hi all, and happy Hanukkah! We had slightly non-traditional latkes (fried in duck fat) for breakfast this morning as a late start to the festivities, but there’s been a distinct lack of cooking going on around here otherwise. I’ll try to do better by you, but can’t promise anything until next weekend.

Instead, you get cute holiday pictures of the dogs after the jump!

Continue reading “Season’s greetings from the Roths”

Almost heaven, New Jersey…?

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Sure, I moan about missing summer, but a sunset like this makes it easier to consider the glass half full — the stripped-down trees guarantee an unobstructed view of any late afternoon glory that comes our way. (As always, click on the images to see the larger view on flickr.)

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Better late than never

I’m a week behind, so let’s hear it for Halloween pictures! We should celebrate with leftover candy (assuming it’s lasted this long).

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Rufus begged to wear his Halloween costume to the last farmers’ market of the season. How could we refuse? All I cared about was getting a few veggies and a nice chuck roast for beef bourguignon. As you can see, we both left happy.

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I combined the classic recipe from Julia Child with a couple of Anthony Bourdain’s modifications and tweaked a bit more based on ingredients we had at hand. To say this was the best beef stew I’ve had would be an understatement; I’m sure it was the overdose of demi-glace that did it, but that doesn’t demystify things at all.

recipe and more Ru pics after the jump

Continue reading “Better late than never”