Monthly Archives: July 2014

Taste of Jewish Culture

Workmen's Circle - bannerTable at the street fair

On Sunday, a city block in the middle of a larger street fair on Madison Avenue was host to a mini festival celebrating Jewish food and culture.  The Workmen’s Circle sponsored the event, which was put together by Noah Arenstein of Scharf & Zoyer.  There were stalls with food stuffs inspired by traditional Jewish tastes – some classic, some a bit more modern.  Folks crowded the stand selling handmade Egg Creams and picked up bialys and babka to take away with them.

Yiddish Swing BandHoward Leshaw’s Yiddish Swing Band

A stage set up in the middle of the block featured a number of bands with singers belting out tunes and keeping the crowd entertained while they noshed on the different treats available.  This gave the whole event a festive and small town-like vibe right in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.  I spoke to Noah, who said that there might even be another of these gatherings in the works for later on this year, so if you missed out on this one, keep a lookout for another installment.

Buon appetito!

For more information about The Workmen’s Circle and their programs, please visit their website.

Roasted Radishes with Garlic Scape Butter

Roasted Radishes w Garlic Scape ButterRoasted Radishes with Garlic Scape Butter

Remember the Garlic Scape Butter you made so as to keep on hand the bright green, slightly garlicky fragrance of this late spring produce?  The arrival of piles of bunches of gorgeous, colorful radishes is a perfect excuse to break out some of it to liven up your vegetable platter.

Piles of RadishesBunches and bunches of radishes

I’d read about roasting radishes in several places over the years, but I’d never actually tried making them.  Radish are another one of those food items that I’ve learned to like as I got older.  I particularly like the combination of butter, salt and radishes, with the addition of a herb like chives or garlic to give them a bit of a zing, as in the crostini I’d added to the restaurant menu.  So, I thought, let’s give cooking the radishes a chance and toss them with a bit of the butter I’d made earlier.  They were wonderfully peppery with a hint of richness from the butter sauce.  I just wished I’d had some crusty bread to sop up all the extra sauce left behind!

Bunches of radishesRadishes

Roasted Radishes with Garlic Scape Butter

Prep time: 30 minutes or less

Serving size: 4-6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

2 bunches Radishes (any type)

1 tsp. Olive Oil

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 pinch Black Pepper, freshly ground

1 Tbsp. Garlic Scape Butter (click for recipe)

1 large pinch Sea Salt

Assembly:

Chopped Radishes in waterChopped radishes in water

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Centigrade / Gas Mark 4).  Cut radishes into 1/2-inch (1 cm) pieces.  Place in a bowl of cold water until ready to cook so they stay crisp.

Radishes ready for the ovenRadishes ready for the oven

When the oven is heated up, drain the radishes and pat them dry with a towel.  Toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Put them into a sauté pan that can go into the oven.

Radishes out of the ovenRadishes out of the oven

Cook for 15 minutes until the radishes are tender when a knife can easily pierce them.  They shouldn’t look withered or pick up lots of dark color.  Place the saucepan (remember to keep an oven mitt on the handle!) on the stovetop.

Garlic Scape butter added to radishesGarlic scape butter added to radishes

Add garlic scape butter to the roasted radishes in the pan.  There’s no need to turn on the heat underneath the pan, as the residual heat from cooking the radishes in the oven will melt the butter.  Swirl the butter and radishes around until the butter melts and coats all the vegetables.

Bowl of Roasted RadishesBowl of roasted radishes with garlic scape butter

Pour the radishes and the garlic scape butter into a bowl and serve them while still warm.  Make sure to have some crusty bread on hand to soak up all the delicious garlicky-salty-butter sauce at the end!

Buon appetito!

Garlic Scape Butter

A bunch of garlic scapesA bunch of garlic scapes

Along with ramps, there’s a brief few weeks when garlic scapes (which grow on the same plant as garlic bulbs) are in season.  It’s now probably just getting close to the end, then we’ll have bulbs of locally-grown garlic available in the markets.  That is the time to stock up.  For now, however, a good way to continue having this delicately-flavored produce on hand is to use it in a compound butter and to freeze that.  I like to add it to eggs, pasta, and other dishes that need just a little lift and a bit of a savory punch.

IngredientsIngredients

Ramp Butter

Serving size: 1/2 cup (one stick)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup or 8 oz.) Unsalted Butter, softened

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 pinch Black Pepper, freshly ground

2 Tbsp. Garlic Scapes (bulb and greens), finely chopped

Assembly:

Butter with ingredientsButter with seasonings and ramps

Place butter in bowl.  Add salt and pepper.  Add green and bulb parts of garlic scapes.  Make sure not to use any of the green part that has gotten to woody or stringy.

Combined garlic scape butterButter mixed together

Mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon or spatula or fork.  This is best to do without a food processor or hand blender, as the butter will get too soft and will start to melt if you use that equipment.

Finished garlic scape butterButter on plastic wrap

Spread out a piece of plastic wrap that is about 10-12 inches in length on a board or the kitchen counter.  Put the butter mixture in the center of the plastic wrap.  This will keep your hands from getting greasy and will make it easier to shape the butter mixture.  Take the piece of the plastic wrap closest to you and fold it over the butter mixture.  With the plastic wrap, shape the mixture into a long, rectangular block.

Garlic Scape buttter wrapped upShaped butter

Working quickly, so as not to allow the butter mixture to melt, work with it until the block of butter is more or less uniform.  When the butter mixture has been shaped into a rectangular-ish block, finish it by wrapping the entire form in plastic wrap and in twisting the ends. I think this is one of my better attempts at doing this.  Place in the freezer to harden and keep it there until ready to use.  You can cut off slices of the butter mixture as you need to use it, keeping the rest frozen.  Don’t forget to label it so you don’t get it confused with the Ramp Butter you made earlier!

Buon appetito!

Food52’s Butter Pecan Ice Cream Hack

Pecans + Ice CreamButter Pecans with Vanilla Ice Cream

Today is National Ice Cream Day!  Actually, the whole month is National Ice Cream Month, which is only fitting as it would be impossible to fit all of the delicious ice creams into just one day.  Several months ago, I saw this post on Food52 for a way to hack one of my favorite flavors, Butter Pecan, and today seemed like as good a day as any to try it out.  I think the first time I ate this ice cream was probably at a Baskin-Robbins, its nutty, buttery, caramel notes combined with a creamy vanilla base.  Even now, I’ll check out the versions that different makers produce as sort of an ice cream litmus test.  In the city, two of my picks are The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and Blue Marble.  Both places are worth standing on line to grab a cone (even if you pick another flavor to eat).  However, if you can’t make it to your local ice cream parlor, or just need a quick fix, this hack is definitely worth giving a shot.

IngredientsIngredients

Toasting PecansToasting pecans

Butter meltingAdding butter

Sugar addedAdding sugar

Pouring in bourbonPouring in bourbon

Cooking pecansCooking pecans

Pecans coolingPecans cooling

Vanilla Ice Cream w Bourbon PecansVanilla Ice Cream with Bourbon Pecans

Want more ice cream?  I mean, who doesn’t, really?  Check out the Ice Cream Takedown at the Bell House next Sunday, July 27th.  To get tickets, click here.

Buon appetito!

New Amsterdam Market Closing?

DSCN2379Welcome to the market!

Photo from July 2011 market visit post

On Monday, amid all the Bastille Day revelry, you might have heard a wailing “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” coming from the throats of food lovers in the city.  That morning, an email heard ’round the neighborhoods hit our in boxes.  The founder of the New Amsterdam Market, Robert LaValva, had sent a message to subscribers with the sad, sad news that the market would be closing down, effective immediately.  The final market was to be the one that had been held in June of this year.

New Amsterdam Market overviewScene from market season opening day 2o12

Here is the information from their website:

Founded in 2005, New Amsterdam Market was first held at the site of the Old Fulton Fish Market in Lower Manhattan on December 16, 2007. Over the ensuing seven years, the market grew in frequency and scope while nurturing an evolving community of small businesses dedicated to sustainable food production, regional economies, and fair trade.

Through our steadfast presence under every adversity, we also championed the preservation of New York City’s oldest commons, where public trade has been conducted since 1642. But in 2013 the community was betrayed by elected officials who had professed their support but were ultimately swayed by the demands of the suburban shopping mall developer, Howard Hughes. As a result, Lower Manhattan has already lost one acre of irreplaceable public space and is now seeing its most precious public asset ruined by inappropriate programming.

Our last market at this location was held on Saturday, June 21, 2014.

We thank all who participated in this endeavor.

New Amsterdam Market ice cream socialIce Cream Sunday – one of my favorite events at the market!

(see recaps from 2010, 2011, 2012)

The market was held on the site of the former Fulton Fish Market, which has been a battle scene for the past few years between preservationists and those who would like more commercial redevelopment of the South Street Seaport area.  I attended a few town meetings and a City Hall session where there were passionate discussions about this topic.  Vendors, regular market-goers, neighborhood residents, and local food suppliers were all in support of the market having some kind of presence in whatever plans were being draw up to revamp and revitalize this piece of waterfront property.

Hard Cider Revival at New Amsterdam MarketHard Cider Revival – just one of the many locally-themed food events at the market

A food market, which would draw foot traffic to this part of the city, as well as bring in tourists, and highlight the culinary bounty and diversity of this region has been a topic I’ve heard discussed pretty much since I moved here almost fifteen years ago.  The Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, Pike Place Market in Seattle, and others have been mentioned in the same conversation that asks, “Why doesn’t a city like New York have a major destination food market?”

P n H Soda - Candy Cap Mushroom & Toasted Almond Egg CreamP&H Soda Co. – Candy Cap Mushroom & Toasted Almond Egg Cream

(photo from June 2013 market post)

Smorgasburg, Hester Street Fair, and other venues are all seasonal alternatives, but the combination of farmer, artisan, and special regional-focused culinary events that the New Amsterdam Market held each year, made it a special place to go.  As I wrote in June of 2013, after the first market of that season, that I ran in to so many friends that it really did feel as though the Big Apple was just a small, intimate town.  Stopping by to see the vendors whom I had gotten to know over the years and swapping stories and the most recent gossip was just a plus, as I loaded up my shopping bag with jams, meats, bread, cheese, sweets, and other goodies, often while sipping a drink from P&H Soda Co., looping back around the market for a snack from Lonestar Taco, and saving room for a treat from Liddabit Sweets or La Newyorkina.

Fulton Fish Market - NAMFor more posts, and plenty of pictures of market days, please visit the New Amsterdam Market tag on this website or visit The Experimental Gourmand Flickr photostream.

So, I’m dedicating this #TBT post to the New Amsterdam Market.  I’m hoping that, even as I type these words, the news that I saw last night that the board members are working to save the market and to figure out a solution for its future are true.  Here’s my offer to them, if you need any assistance getting a petition together or rallying support for the market to survive and to be considered an integral part of the redevelopment process of the South Street Seaport area, just reach out and ask.  This market has so many fans and supporters and has been a huge contributor to what makes NYC a special place to live, even in the short time that it has been in operation.

Buon appetito!

“New Amsterdam Market is Finished on South Street” from Grub Street (07/14/14)

“New Amsterdam Market’s Board May Try to Resume Operations” from Grub Street (07/16/14)

Bastille Day Festival 2014

Entrace to Bastille Day - 60th & LexBastille Day Festival – 60th Street & Lexington Avenue, NYC

Yesterday was the annual Bastille Day Festival in New York City.  The main one, held by the French Institute Alliance Française in Manhattan.  Another very popular celebration that also takes place each year is the one in Brooklyn along Smith Street.  This year, there was even one in Harlem.  All of these festivities help acknowledge and highlight the influence of French culture alongside those of the other nationalities that have shaped American development, food and otherwise.

Dressed for Bastille DayDressed up in French finery

There will be events taking place all around the city this week to celebrate this historic event.  Please check out this link to Bastille Week to find out more.  Here’s some photos of the sights, sounds, and food from yesterday’s street fair, including that of a band that passed through the gathering.  The crowd was really in the spirit of the day, even down to some of the most posh, four-legged participants!

Bon appétit!