All posts by The Experimental Gourmand

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!

Brooklyn Eats!

Brooklyn Eats entryBrooklyn Eats! at the Pfizer Building

Last week, The Summer Fancy Food Show, the major industry food expo was held in New York City at the Javits Center. I’ve covered this event for several years, talking about some of my edible finds and scoping out potential trends that I saw (as well as just noshing my way around the display of culinary treats for a few days). This year, I decided to focus my attentions a bit more locally.

Brooklyn Eats check-in tableCheck-in table

Brooklyn Eats! was held the Friday prior to the main conference, sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, focusing on food artisans and entrepreneurs that are making NYC such a hotbed of gastronomic creativity.  The first one of these expos was held last year.  I think it flew under the radar of folks a bit, from what I heard.  This year, it seemed better promoted, bringing out a steady pack of food industry people, buyers, writers, and retailers.  The BCC also assisted those exhibitors who wanted to take part in the SFFS, too, helping them to register and set up their booths, so this project helps entrepreneurs not just in their community but also in the larger, more competitive specialty food market.

Bacchanal Sauce - displayBacchanal Sauce – check out this fiery condiment!

Brooklyn Delhi - displayBrooklyn Delhi – spruce up your meals with these tangy-spicy relishes

There was no shortage of great food products to sample at this event, either.  As I ate (and drank) my way around the tables set up at historic Pfizer Building (the event venue as well as the site of production kitchens for some of these companies), I was struck by a few interesting aspects.  Yes, there were plenty of new, intriguing products to try.  At the same time, what made me the happiest to see was that many of the folks whose foods I’ve tasted over the years are still in business.

The Jam Stand - no-sugar jamsThe Jam Stand – look at their new lo-sugar line

City Saucery - saucesCity Saucery – check out their expanded product line and new, larger jars of their sauces

Not only that, many of them have grown and are thriving, adding new items to their product lines and venturing into other areas.  Quite a few have gone from the markets like the New Amsterdam Market, Hester Street Fair and Smorgasburg to brick-and-mortar locations.  They now employ full-time staff and also mentor other budding culinary start-ups.  Many of the founders of these businesses also participate in panel discussions and at other events to discuss in the ins and outs of creating your own food items and brands, offering tips, advice, and resources to those who are thinking of breaking into the industry.

Liddabit Sweets - displayLiddabit Sweets – follow them to see where they’ll be opening up their new store

Robicelli's - displayRobicelli’s – drop by their shop in Bay Ridge

While I don’t have any idea of the dollar amounts that these activities contribute to the NYC economy, I do know that they add invaluable services and grow the resources of the city.   It’s exciting to see the continued success of these hard-working folks.  Of course, getting to eat delicious things is a bonus for the rest of us, too!  I definitely think that our foodscene has improved and grown due to their efforts.  Check out the slideshow below to see what other great treats I found at this event.

Buon appetito!

Courgette Frittata / Zucchini Frittata

Plated courgette frittataCourgette (aka Zucchini) Frittata

Recently, I’ve been seeing piles of squash arriving in at the local farmers market.  This means, it’s time to bring out those recipes that use zucchini (also known as courgettes) to use up this year’s crop.  I found this recipe in a British magazine when I was living there, but I’m not sure where my copy of it got to in all my changes of households over the years.  At some point, I’d tweaked it and modified it so much that I might have even tossed out the original instructions.  Now, I just recreate it from memory whenever I have a craving for it.

Courgette frittata with berries & smoked salmonFrittata with Smoked Salmon and Berries

Having picked up a bag of mixed zucchini (courgettes) and summer squash at the Greenmarket this week, along with a dozen eggs and cheddar cheese from one of my favorite stands, I knew that I was going to put this together for brunch over the holiday weekend.  I also snapped up a couple of sets of red and black raspberries to add to the dish as a garnish.  This frittata is terrific to serve on the breakfast side or the lunch side of brunch, so adding a green salad would also work, too.

Courgette frittata portioned outCourgette frittata portioned out

This recipe would be great to make for a picnic, as well.  It doesn’t need to be served scorching hot; room temperature will do.  It also packs up well to pop in the oven or microwave to reheat for a quick and easy meal on the go, as you’re running out the door to get to work (or even when you are already there before answering the a.m. barrage of emails and phone calls).  One of the reasons this is in my keeper file is that it is not only delicious, but flexible and quick and easy to make.  It’s a good option for those Breakfast for Dinner nights, too.

IngredientsIngredients

Courgette Frittata / Zucchini Frittata

Prep time: 30-45 minutes

Serving size: 4-6 people (depends upon how big you’d like the portions to be)

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized Courgettes / Zucchini (dark and/or light green),

3 oz. (75 g) Cheddar Cheese, white, mild (not extra-sharp)

5 Eggs, large (can also use 2 whites and 3 whole eggs)

1 pinch Salt

1/4 tsp. (1-2 g) Black Pepper, freshly ground

2 Tbsp (30 g) Shallot, finely minced (about 1 medium shallot)

1 Tbsp (15 g) Unsalted Butter

1 tsp. (5 g) Olive Oil

Assembly:

Grating courgettesGrating courgettes (zucchini)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Centigrade / Gas Mark 4).  Trim the end of the courgettes (zucchini) and move them cross-wise on the large holes of a box grater to create large shredded pieces.  Stop just before you get to the end of the courgettes (zucchini), as you don’t want to use that part (like the photo above).  You should end up with around 200 grams (or 8 ounces or 1 packed cup) of vegetables.  Squeeze the courgette (zucchini) using cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel (or your hands – I usually do it that way) over the sink until most of the water is gone from it.  Set it aside.

Prepped ingredientsPrepped ingredients

Grate the cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater.  Put that to the side until ready to mix with the courgettes (zucchini).  Chop the shallots very finely.  Also set that aside until ready to cook them.  You’ll end up with separate piles of the ingredients ready to be combined with the eggs.

Egg whites & yolks separatedEgg whites and yolks separated

The next step is a bit of a fussy one, but it’s one that I use when making omelets as well, too.  I separate the egg whites from the yolks (darn – there’s always that one yolk that falls apart!).  Then, I whisk the yolks until they are smooth and creamy.  Into the egg yolks, I add the shredded courgettes (zucchini) and cheddar cheese along with the salt and pepper.  Stir to combine all these ingredients.

Egg whites - whiskedWhisked egg whites

Whip up the egg whites until they are light and frothy.  They should not get anywhere near the meringue stage, just agitated enough to break down the structure of the whites and make them more liquid and fluffy.

Courgette mixture combined w egg whitesFrittata ingredients combined

Pour the courgette (zucchini) mixture into the egg whites.  Gently fold in the courgette mixture until it is thoroughly combined with the egg whites.

Shallots cookingShallots cooking in butter and oil

Place a 23 cm / 10-inch ovenproof skillet on the stove over low to medium heat.  Put butter and olive oil in the skillet so that the butter melts and the liquid combines with the oil.  Add the shallots and cook until they are softened, about 1-2 minutes.

Frittata on stovetopFrittata cooking on stovetop

Pour in the frittata ingredients.  Very quickly give a couple of gentle stirs to combine the shallots and butter/oil into the courgette (zucchini) mixture so that they are incorporated with the vegetables, cheese, and eggs.  Leave the frittata alone to cook on the stovetop for 5 minutes until the frittata is mostly set but still wet and jiggling a bit in the middle, like with a custard.

Courgette frittata out of the ovenFrittata out of the oven

Put the pan into the oven and let the frittata cook for another 5-10 minutes until it is completely set and is golden brown around the edges (check to see how it is doing after 5 minutes).  The top of the frittata should still be a nice, sunshine-y yellow.  *Leave it in the pan on a trivet or the stovetop to cool for a few minutes before cutting into it.  Serve warm or at room temperature or save for eating later.

Kitchen Witch Tip:*

Hot pan handleSign of a hot pan handle

When the pan in which you cooked the frittata comes out of the oven, it will be scorching hot, enough to really hurt the person who touches it bare-handed.  I know this sounds like it makes common sense, but when you have people running around your kitchen or you’re greeting guests, there’s that one split second when you might forget just how fired-up this cooking implement really is.  It will take quite while for it to cool down.

In the professional kitchen (and as we were taught to do in culinary school), there’s a a couple of ways we indicate to our fellow team members that they might want to take caution when handing a hot pan.  A. leave a side towel wrapped around it or B. sprinkle flour on it to make it stand out.  In your own home kitchen, wrapping a towel around the handle or covering it with a potholder, as in the photo above, are good options.  Just remember to let the person washing your dishes know that the handle is hot before he/she slips off the covering and places it in the sink. (It’s probably not necessary to say “caliente” before handing into to him/her to clean, as we do in the restaurant.)

Buon appetito!