Monthly Archives: May 2009

Asparagus with Morels and Tarragon

Well, those chocolate-chocolate chip cookies from last weekend didn’t last very long. Of the couple dozen or so that were left over from my picnic, they were polished off at the office on the following business day. People shamelessly admitted as I was trying to pawn off the last few to have an empty container to take home that they’d had more than a few samples (three seemed to be the average number).

The rest of the produce that I picked up at the Fulton Stall Market last weekend was polished off as well during the course of the week, but this time by me. The fresh asparagus prodded me to try a recipe that Mark Bittman had published in the New York Times: Asparagus with Morels and Tarragon. I was dreaming of gorgeous green spears teamed up with the meaty flavor of the morels (another springtime delicacy) and the sharp, licorice-like snap of tarragon all enrobed in a lovely cream and shallot bath. This kind of French-inspired rich food is something that I don’t make very often but that which I thoroughly enjoy eating. See how gorgeous this looks bubbling away in the pan:

To serve it, I decided to put the finished dish in a puff pastry cup and serve it with one of the fresh eggs that I also bought at the market. I poached the egg and sprinkled some extra tarragon on top. The combination was a perfect match. Although I made this for brunch, it would be a wonderful light dinner or lunch meal, too. A glass of chilled white wine could almost transport one to a bistro in Paris.

I also managed to polish off all the strawberries I bought downtown, as well. These were great, fat, early-season, ruby-red gems. As I’m a no-fuss, instant gratification kind of berry eater, I took the easy approach with these. Hulled and cut in half, they received a light sprinkle of orange liqueur and a tiny bit of sugar to macerate. Then, I put in dollop of the left-over crème fraîche from my previous recipe. With each bite, I gathered a bit of sweet fruit and tart cream to contrast. I can’t wait to get to the market again next weekend to see if there are any of these left.

Buon appetito!

Visit to Fulton Stall Market

Having been through the worse episode in Lower Manhattan’s recent history, I’m always very happy to hear about developments that bring new life to the area. This weekend, across the street from the former site of the Fulton Fish Market a row of food stalls opened (, featuring locally grown and sourced produce. Yesterday, I decided to take the M15 bus all the way from my Upper East Side neighborhood downtown. After an hour, I arrived at my destination.

Seems I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a great day to go to market.

Across the street, the site of the abandoned fish market
Some asparagus from Sang Lee Farms were the first purchase on my list.
I picked up a loaf of 9-grain at Bread Alone.
It was impossible for me to resist the early-season strawberries from Stony Hill Farm Market.
Knoll Krest eggs have been my favorite at the Union Square market for years.
I wonder how this compares to what I tried at Arthur Avenue, but it’s great to see this stall. They had sausages, pasta, and some other products for sale as well.

After walking back through the Seaport area, I decided to take the subway back uptown to get my purchases home as soon as possible. I think I did quite well, given that there wasn’t anything that I really, really needed to buy this week.

So what I am going to do with all of this? Remember last week, when I was talking about trying to bake my way back to having some interest in the blog and in cooking? Well one batch of brownies for my workmates was last week’s project. For this weekend, I was invited to a picnic in Central Park – weather depending. The eggs I bought yesterday, went into this culinary exercise.

I was given this cookbook years ago. It has a special significance on several levels. It was written by the chef/owner of the Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia: Marcel Desaulniers. One of the best non-colonial-tavern eating options in the city. I’ve had many wonderful meals there, including when I worked in Washington, DC post-college, and friends of mine and I would decide to make a day trip of heading down south to kick around the location of our former college escapades or do some siteseeing.

I’ve tried several of the recipes in this book over the years, mostly with success. Having been invited to a Beer, Cheese and Chocolate party, I decided to see what sweet treat I could attempt, which would pair with a Raspberry Lambic Ale I found at my local grocery store. The Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge Cookies fit the bill.

I’m off to the picnic in a few minutes. I really hope that they are a hit!

Buon appetito!

Chassons aux Pommes – Apple Turnovers

Yesterday, I ran into someone in my class at the gym when I was at the grocery store picking up the ingredients for this recipe. She said to me, as we were bemoaning our mutual attempts to drop a few pounds for health reasons, that she’d not been cooking at home very much lately. She’d just not been able to get herself motivated and couldn’t figure out what to do about it or how to get over this hump.

What struck me, and it directly relates to this blog, is that this is not a unique point of view. I’ve heard this same sentiment from several people, and at least one fellow blogger has admitted to the same thing. Is there some major culinary slump going on? I don’t think that this has to do with the economy, as good cooks and those who love to muck about in the kitchen will do so no matter how much or little they have to spend on ingredients. It just seems as though there’s some type of long dry spell taking place at the moment. I can plead guilty to have fallen victim to this same malaise (I just like to use that word.).

With spring and all the great green produce coming out, I’m hoping to pull myself out of this slump. Actually, truthfully, I’ve been trying the past few weeks to bake my way out of it. This, of course, runs counter to what I was trying to accomplish by watching what I eat more carefully and not to over-indulge. So, where is the balance? I’m not sure.

This week, inspired by a recipe that I found when I decided to sit down last week to cull the pile of articles I’d pulled from cooking magazines, I attempted to make something that has long been on my must-have, must-learn-to-make list: Chassons aux Pommes or Apple Turnovers (not to be confused with Apple Dumplings). Orangette had published the recipe in an article in the November 2008 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. Here are my results below:

Here are my confessions: I didn’t go through the expense of using real, all-butter puff pastry – I used the regular store-bought stuff; I added about 1/2 tsp of almond extract to the filling and will do so again; I cut the dough into six squares and used both sheets in the box to make a dozen, as I found using eight squares and throwing away one to be wasteful; and I agree that the filling needs to be cut in half, as I actually made two batches in order to use up everything. My first attempt yesterday I tried to follow the directions exactly. This is a recipe that I’ve tried to make before, although not this version of it. I’ve wanted to have one on file for weekend guests, as I think this is a lovely treat.

What would I do next time? I’d follow some of the suggestions that the commenters on had. I’d cut the filling recipe in half at least (maybe by 1/3). The apple combo was o.k. but I might try to make it with some varieties that are available at the Greenmarket, instead. Because I like the apple-almond flavor combo, I might also put in some ground almonds into the fruit filling. For guests, I’d splurge and buy the all-butter dough. I’d also stick to my guns that larger squares are better and easier to handle. They make a more breakfast-friendly sized pastry, in my opinion, which is just how I plan to devour them during the course of the next week or so.

Buon appetito!