Monthly ArchiveMarch 2010

NYC Greenmarkets 30 Mar 2010 11:12 pm

Borough Hall Thursday Market Starts This Week

Brooklyn Borough Hall GreenmarketBeginning this Thursday, April 1, the Borough Hall Greenmarket will be open on Thursdays. The market is also open, year ’round, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Here’s more info from Jessica Douglas, the regional coordinator for the GrowNYC / CENYC Brooklyn Greenmarkets:

Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket returns on Thursdays starting April 1st!

The Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket has brought fresh, local produce to this thriving downtown location for over 25 years. This year, we will be accepting EBT/Food Stamps from May – December! Three days a week we serve the diverse communities of Brooklyn Heights, Clinton Hill, and Downtown Brooklyn with a bounty of fresh picked fruits and vegetables, beautiful plants and flowers, grass-fed meat, grass-fed dairy products, including the best goat cheese you’ll ever eat, just caught Long Island fish, and amazing free-range eggs. Plus, there will be free events all season long like cooking demonstrations, raffles, school tours, and kids & family friendly activities. Come talk to the friendly farmers who grow your food, meet your neighbors, bring a friend, and taste the difference at your neighborhood Greenmarket!

The Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket is located in Camden Plaza at Court St and Montague St, and is open from 8am – 6pm every Tuesday and Saturday, year-round, and Thursday from April to December. EBT, WIC & Senior FMNP accepted.

Seasonal Cooking 28 Mar 2010 07:36 pm

Stuffed Pasta Frittata (whole-grain quest, part 3)

Stuffed Pasta Frittata with Whole Wheat FettuccineClick Here to read the recipe.

Stuffed pasta frittata was probably my very first ‘repertoire’ dish – that is, the first dish  that I mastered enough to make frequently, with invented variations, and without consulting the recipe. I learned it originally from the first cookbook I bought for myself, the Better Homes and Gardens Italian Cookbook. (I bought it, as I recall, home from college one summer and wanting to cook dinner to impress a date).

This cookbook, now apparently out of Home Made Whole Wheat  Fettuccineprint, is just about the only source I can find for this recipe. None of my more authoritative Italian cookbooks has any version of it. (Bastianich, though, does have an interesting-looking recipe for ‘Artichoke and Bread Frittata’ that I’ll have to try some time). A Google search will turn up a few recipes for ‘pasta frittata,’ but searching for a stuffed version turns up only this recipe on a pasta company’s website. So I have no idea if this dish has any actual Italian provenance or was made up entirely by the Better Homes and Gardens authors.

But regardless if it boasts an authentic heritage in some Umbrian osteria or was dreamed up in a New Jersey test kitchen, it’s a delicious dish. It’s easy to make, allows wide variations, and is crowd-pleasingly unusual. It’s good for Broccoli Rabe and Sausagebrunch or paired with a salad for a light supper, and is a great make-ahead dish for brown bag office lunches. It’s also a good way to use up leftover pasta.

The basics of the dish are: beat three eggs with salt & pepper and allow them to come to room temperature (to bring them to room temperature quickly, beat them in a bowl that’s partially submerged in warm water); cook 8 ounces of pasta –Parmesan Mornay a long pasta like fettuccine or spaghetti works best – toss it with a little olive oil and allow it to cool, then mix the eggs and pasta together. Spread half of this mixture in a heated skillet, top with some kind of filling, and spread the remaining egg & pasta mixture on top. Cook until the bottom is set, then cook the top by running it under the broiler or by inverting it onto a plate & carefully sliding it back into the skillet. Remove to a board or plate, cut into wedges and Rapini and Sausage Fillingserve.

The filling can be sauce and cheese; sausage and cheese; spinach, pepperoni, mushrooms, artichokes and garlic; whatever your imagination dreams up or your tastebuds call for. The frittata I made recently was filled with broccoli rabe that had been braised with mushrooms Stuffed Pasta  Frittataand Italian sausage, then dressed with a parmesan sauce mornay (that is, a white cheese sauce). For the pasta I used home-made whole-wheat fettuccine noodles – noodles made, in fact, from dough left over from the celery root ravioli I featured in a recent blog post. The whole-grain noodles gave the frittata a fuller, nutty flavor and satisfyingly filling heft. And they gave me a serving of whole grains  without the feeling that I was eating some debased ‘whole grain’ version of some better dish.

NYC Greenmarkets 26 Mar 2010 07:38 pm

Greenpoint Greenmarket – Early (early) Spring

The strawberries and asparagus and rhubarb and sugar snap peas, all the first-comers of the new growing season, are just now basking in at their first rays of spring sunshine. They won’t be ready for market for another month or two. Until then, here’s a market report from Jessica Douglas, the regional coordinator of the Brooklyn Greenmarkets for GrowNYC (formerly known as CENYC):

Cayuga, who you know already for their beans and whole grain flours, has begun selling loaves of bread that are truly amazing. They also now have All Purpose Flour.

Also, a new arrival at the market, Oak Grove Plantation (Ted Blew, proprietor), will be at the McCarren Park Market for the first time this Saturday, March 27 . Be sure to stop by and welcome him to the market, and pick up a few herbs and plants to get that garden started on your fire escape.

Also, for those of you further south, this Thursday, April 1, is opening day for the Thursday market at Boro Hall. Stay tuned for more details!

Seasonal Cooking 08 Mar 2010 12:02 am

Celery Root Ravioli with Sweet Corn-Infused Veloute: Whole Grain Quest Part 2

For stage 2 of my wholegrain quest I set myself a double challenge: first, devise a whole-grain pasta dough and from it make ravioli; second: make it seasonal, and make it local (they are, after all, synonymous). This time of year in the Northeast cooking seasonally is certainly a challenge: the farmers at the greenmarkets are reaching into the bottoms of their storage bins and you think you can’t face another dish of root vegetables. But have hope! With a bit of imagination you can make yet another delicious dish without having succumbed to the supermarket’s flown-in-from-Chile asparagus (mmm… asparagus…)

But I digress. I decided that my ravioli would be filled with celery root, because I love its flavor – so bright for a root vegetable. And for my whole grain I would use spelt flour, because I found a bagful of it in my fridge (and what could be more local than that?)  For advice about spelt flour pasta I turned to the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook, but it was no help: it contains not a single recipe for pasta dough. I looked next in my favorite Italian cookbooks. But there were no hints from Lidia Bastianich, whose white-flour pasta recipe is a favorite of mine; and certainly not from Marcella Hazan, who sternly admonishes that pasta dough must never contain anything except eggs and all-purpose or semolina flour. Surprisingly enough even the internet wasn’t much help: there was nothing at all on Epicurious, and Google returned only a couple of dubious hints that spelt flour in pasta might work.

So there was nothing to do but plunge in headlong. I took my favorite pasta dough recipe, from Lidia Bastianich’s Italian American Kitchen, and substituted, one for one, spelt flour in place of all of the white flour. I stirred in eggs until the dough came together, then turned it onto a floured board and kneaded. And kneaded and kneaded. And kneaded. The dough did start to stiffen, as pasta dough must do, but it never really took on the elasticity and satiny sheen of pasta dough. When I poked the ball of dough with my thumb it stayed poked – the indentation didn’t push itself back out, even after I’d kneaded strenuously for 20 or 25 minutes. When I pulled a pinch of the dough to test its stretchiness, it tore off in my fingers. I foresaw filled pouches of this stuff dropped into a pot of boiling water: it would surely be a huge mess.

Take two. I made a second batch of dough using half spelt flour and half unbleached all-purpose flour. When I kneaded this batch it acted much more like a pasta dough should act. It firmed up. It sheened. It pushed back when I poked it. It developed the sort of skin that tears ever so slightly during kneading. It was pasta dough.

I passed it through the rollers of my pasta machine and clamped circles of it around a simple fillings of pureed celery root (and for good measure a second filling of pureed beet). The finished ravioli needed only a few short minutes in boiling water. It was nutty and hearty. It didn’t have the pillowy lightness of fresh white flour pasta, but made up for with a fortifying whole grain flavor. And they were further improved when, after boiling, I tossed them in a skillet with a bit of melted butter until they became brown and toasty. Healthy and delicious. I tried another batch with the “half white” wheat flour, grown and milled upstate by Cayuga Farms – also delicious, and now truly local.

The real revelation though was the sauce. I found this recipe which featured a chicken broth into which kernels of sweet corn are pureed. Fortunately my freezer is full of delicious summer sweetcorn that I’d put up on August, which worked perfectly for this broth. It was quite delicious but too brothy – it didn’t coat my nutty, skillet-toasted pasta like I wanted. So, in another pan I made a butter-and-flour roux and stirred the broth into it: sweet corn veloute. I finished it with salt, pepper and chopped parsley and was a happy man.