Category Archives: Greenmarkets

#Pie Day with #UpSouthCookbook’s Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk Pie in Pie PanButtermilk Pie

I’ve been waiting for a while for just the right moment to post about this recipe. #PieDay seems like an appropriate time, donchathink?  This custard-like, fragrant concoction is a Southern staple, and I’d heard about it for years, although my mother didn’t make this kind of sweet really ever.  For all the desserts I’ve made, I’d also never tried my hand at this one until Nicole Taylor (aka Food Culturist) asked if I’d recipe test it for her Up South Cookbook last year.  Now, I’m hooked on it and can think of all sorts of events at which it would be perfect to bring to the table.

Buttermilk Pie in Tart Pan

Buttermilk Pie in tart form

The original pie in the photo that leads off this post found an audience at a shiva for a friend’s father.  The creamy, cool interior and flakey crust was admired and devoured by the assembled guests.  The photo at the top of this paragraph was a bit of a re-creation on my part.  For the annual #PieParty that is put together by a couple of fellow NYC food bloggers, I swapped out the pie plate for a tart pan and let it cook a tiny bit longer for some more color and a brûlée effect.  One of the chefs at our host location, the Institute of Culinary Education, happily consumed the few leftovers that remained, calling it one of the best baked goods he’d ever eaten.

UpSouth Cookbook

 Up South Cookbook

For my next cooking adventure with this recipe, I think I’m going to morph it even more and make tartelettes.  I have this great Nordic Ware pan that I’ve used to make mini crostate that I think will work out really well.  Nicole includes the pie crust recipe as well in her cookbook; it’s one that is super easy to pull together.  I’ll likely double that and make one batch of the filling, with its scent of cardamom, nutmeg, and vanilla that casts a lovely, warming perfume as it bakes.  That way, more guests can enjoy this taste of the South and of the regional hospitality that goes along with a slice of pie.

Kitchen Witch Tip:

Use the best-quality, full-fat buttermilk in this recipe.  It is so worth the end result to spend that bit of extra time and money to track it down.  In the NYC area, you can find Five Acre Farms products or visit the Union Square Greenmarket and pick up some from Tonje’s Farm Dairy.  

Mercato Notturno at Union Square Greenmarket

Bologna City of Food

Friday night, between the end of work and the start of going out with friends to see The Ivory Tower at Cooper Union (if you are curious about some of the real costs of higher education, I highly recommend seeing this movie), I swung by the Union Square Greenmarket for one of their two upcoming night markets.  This one called Mercato Notturno (night market in Italian), featured foods from Italy as well as a pasta-making demonstration.  There was also a table at the market that had information on it about Expo Milano 2015: “Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life,” where the United States will have a pavilion.  For me, it was a little trip back to Bologna, the central focus of the market, where I lived for several years.  Here’s some pictures from the event:

Pizza al FornoPizza al Forno by Pizza Moto

Risotto with PestoRisotto alle herbe from Risotteria Melotti

Mortadella di Bologna on the slicerMortadella on the slicer

Info sign about chefsInformation about the participants

dolce non dolceDolce non Dolce by Agostino Jacobucci

Ricotta made with the leftovers from the production of Parmigiano-Reggiano along with a syrup made with Lambrusco and pistachio powder.

La SfoglinaLa Sfoglina – Stefania Civolani of Trattoria del Gallo

Rolling out pasta doughStarting to roll out the pasta

Rolling out Pasta SheetRolling out the sheet of pasta (la sfoglia)

Cutting the pasta into squaresCutting the pasta into squares

Adding tortellini fillingAdding filling to make tortellini

Forming tortelliniForming the tortellini

Cutting tagliatelleCutting pasta sheet into tagliatelle

Showing la tagliatelleShowing off le tagliatelle

Ribbons of tagliatelleRibbons of tagliatelle

Nests of Pasta“Nests” of pasta drying (i nidi)

MBA in Food & WineMBA in Food & Wine at the University of Bologna

For those who would like to find out more about Bologna and its cuisine, or just about the marketing of Italian food in general, you might consider looking into this new program put together by the University of Bologna’s Business School.  To learn about Bologna, in general, you can see my photos of the pasta class that I took at La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese and read about a trip outside the city to drink wine and enjoy pasta in a vineyard nei colli (in the hills) and about my adventures traipsing around the city eating gelato.

NettunoStatue of Neptune in Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

Buon appetito!

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!

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!

Crostini with Peas, Ricotta and Spring Garlic

Pea-Garlic-Ricotta CrostiniSpring Pea Crostini with Ricotta and Fresh Garlic

Along with the Radish and Chive-Butter Crostini that I mentioned last week, that same trip to the Greenmarket also inspired another menu addition: Spring Pea Crostini with Ricotta and Fresh Garlic.  This bright, verdant small bite makes a colorful contrast on a plate when paired with the radish crostini.  We were offering these as a small plate item as they are a great match for any beverage to kick off an evening meal.

Shelling fresh peasShelling fresh peas

I know that the television shows highlight the glamor and excitement of working in professional kitchens, but there’s lots of other jobs, too.  Coming in on a Sunday to find a pile of smashed glasses on the floor of the kitchen (no one has yet owned up doing to this) and having to clean it up, was just one of my many tasks the in past few weeks.  Others include throwing all that expired food out of the walk-in refrigerator.  Think it’s not a great job to do at home; try doing it when the volume and “mystery food” factor is multiplied.  Having bought fresh peas at the market, I took on another necessary but mundane cook’s task – shelling peas.  Someone has to do it.

Spring GarlicSpring Garlic

Then, I worked on the rest of the dish.  I didn’t want it to be too pea-forward.  (Being related to someone who absolutely, vehemently cannot stand peas, along the lines of the way that I dislike raisins in things, I am sensitive to the pea-adverse community.)  The spring garlic is the stage between ramps and the bulbs that we buy year-round.  It has a bright garlicky flavor with the greens lending it some of the herbaciousness that ramp tops have.  Then I tempered it a bit with the ricotta to make it more spreadable on the crostini.  These were another hit with the staff who tried them.  Alas, I couldn’t get the non-pea-eaters among them even to take a nibble, although they did admit it was pretty to look at.

Spring Pea Crostini with Ricotta and Fresh Garlic

Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes

Serving Size: Makes about 1 pint of chive butter, enough for 40 or so crostini

Ingredients:

 

1 recipe Crostini (see here)
1 lb. Peas, freshly shelled (will yield 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
1 large pinch Salt
3 stalks Spring Garlic, white and green parts
1/2 Lemon, juice and rind
2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
Microgreens for garnish (recommended ones are micro watercress or micro basil)

 

Assembly:
Blanching peasBlanching peas

 

For this recipe the peas need to be cooked briefly, just enough to soften them up a bit but not too much to actually cook them through to the mushy stage.  To do this, put a saucepan of water on the heat to boil.  When the water comes to a boil, add a large pinch of salt and the peas.  Count 30 seconds and then pull the peas off the water, drain them, and dunk them in an ice bath.*
Ingredients in blenderIngredients in blender

 

Pour the cooled, cooked peas into a blender or food processor (We use a Vitamix which I also have at home.) along with the spring garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, 2 tsp. of the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Blend until everything is a relatively smooth paste and there are no visible chunks of peas or the garlic.
Pea & Garlic pureePea-Garlic Mixture

 

When you are done, it should look like the photo above.  To get the mixture to this consistency, it takes about a minute or so in the Vitamix, perhaps a bit longer in the food processor.  Scoop the pea-garlic mixture out of the blender and place it in a bowl.
Pea-Garlic Puree with RicottaPea-Garlic-Ricotta mixture

 

Add the ricotta and the lemon zest and fold to combine thoroughly with the pea-garlic mixture.  Taste.  Adjust for seasoning, adding a bit more salt, pepper, olive oil, or lemon juice as it needs.

Pea-Garlic-Ricotta CrostiniSpring Pea Crostini with Ricotta and Fresh Garlic and Microcress

Slather some of the pea-garlic-ricotta mixture on the crostini (they should be room temperature and not just out of the oven at this stage).  Top with a sprinkle of microgreens and serve.  The microgreens should be added at the last minute, but the crostini can be made up to 20 minutes in advance.

Buon appetito!

 

*Kitchen Witch Tip:
Cooked peasBlanched peas

 

A little trick I’ve learned from blanching cases of vegetables is that it’s much easier if you drain the hot liquid and peas in a sieve or colander and then place that, peas and all, into the ice-water combo.  That way, you don’t have to spend time fishing errant peas from the liquid, and you can drain the peas simple by lifting the strainer out of the water.