Tag Archives: Local Products

April Bloomfield’s Carrot, Avocado, and Orange Salad

Carrot-Avocado-and-Orange-SaladCarrot, Avocado, and Orange Salad

At the New York Culinary Experience a few months ago, I had the pleasure of assisting Chef April Bloomfield in the class that she was giving.  During her lessons, she walked students through how to make a few recipes from her book “A Girl and Her Pig.”  One of these was this colorful Carrot, Avocado, and Orange Salad, which I made a note to try at home.

Colorful carrotsColorful Carrots

I feel as though I’ve been stalking the vendors at the Greenmarket at Union Square, just lurking impatiently for the summer’s multi-hued carrots to appear.  Finally, today, I found them and grabbed up a couple of bunches so that I could make this dish.  One of the gorgeous visual aspects of this dish is the balance of color with the ruby, ivory, and orange vegetable on the plate with the greens of the cilantro and avocado and the bright-toned orange segments.  The spice and oil mixture combined with the roasting technique give this dish additional depth and make the carrots almost seem meaty, with a tangy brightness from the citrus dressing and a cool creaminess from the avocado.

Recipe set upRecipe ingredients

This is a perfect summertime vegetarian side dish for a barbecue or for an evening eating al fresco.  Seeing the colorful array of produce on the plate just makes you want to dig in and to eat your way through salad, getting a bit of everything on the fork.  If you would like to add a carnivorous component to it, I would suggest a simply grilled piece of protein.  This salad is really the star of the meal and should be allowed to take center stage.

Carrots and spices cookingCarrots and spice mixture cooking

I made a few adjustments to the recipe based upon a. my laziness and b. what I had observed during the cooking lesson.  I didn’t toast and grind the spices prior to adding them to the carrots (a).  Instead, I used already-ground spices and mixed them with garlic I had crushed, the red pepper flakes, the salt, and the oil.  Then, as the students had done in the class, I added the mixture to the carrots and used a large pan to roast the carrots on the stovetop until they were soft and had a nice color to them (b).

Cooked carrotsCooked carrots

When cooking the carrots, it is important to remember that the thinner ones will cook much faster than the thicker ones, so you might want to have a plate or tray set to the side to pull out the ones that are thinner so that they don’t burn while you are waiting for the thicker ones still to cook through.  The total cooking time on the stovetop is about 15 or so minutes, but it is best to keep a close eye on the pan.  You can definitely segment the oranges and make the dressing for the salad in the time that the carrots take to cook.

Orange segmentsOrange segments

Orange segments, it’s one of those things that I did several times in culinary school and had to do recently while at a catering gig.  One trick I’ve discovered is to use seedless oranges, as the seeds make it more difficult to make clean segments.  This is also one of those tasks where you’ll want to sharpen your paring knife before getting started as the sharper it is, the easier it will be to cut around the membrane.  I also peeled the orange with a knife, which allowed me to cut away the pith and the peel a little more cleanly.

Mixing salad togetherMixing salad together

The recipe calls for being careful when mixing the salad together because the orange segments and avocado have a tendency to break apart as they are delicate.  I discovered that the best way to combine everything was to toss it gently all together by using my hands.  Then, I used my fingers to plate the dish, arranging it so that there was a bit of each ingredient on the plate.  To finish it, I spooned up some of the dressing and drizzled it on top of everything.

Carrot-Avocado-Orange SaladCarrot, Avocado, Orange Salad ready to eat

Be prepared for you and your guests to want seconds. This salad is so delicious and has such a surprising harmony of flavors that you’ll want to add it to your recipe keeper file.  The recipe is available on line at Epicurious.com (click for link).

Buon appetito!

Brooklyn Uncorked 2013 by Edible Magazine

Wineglasses at entrywayWineglasses at Brooklyn Uncorked 2013

One of my favorite events on the NYC culinary calendar each year is Brooklyn Uncorked, put on by Edible Magazine.  Local-area restaurants and New York State wineries, many from the Finger Lakes and Long Island, set up for an evening at a former bank building in Brooklyn to show guests the breadth of vintages and variety of small plates that they can create.  I really enjoy tasting the developments in the wine industry of this state, and, each year, I find more and more wines I’d like to add to my non-existent cellar (or maybe I can find some closet space for them).

Edible Magazine displayEdible Magazine display table

As with most events of this size, I didn’t quite get to make it around to every table before the food was gone, but I tasted quite a few wonderful pairings.  In some cases, the wineries worked hand-in-hand with the restaurants to create a dish, but in others the matches were done a little bit more on the spot, as I discovered.  Some of these worked for me, and some didn’t.  Here’s some of the more memorable match-ups of the evening for me, and some of the combinations that I wish had been put together.

Favorite Food & Wine Pairings:

Marco Polo Ristorante - Wild Boar RavioliMarco Polo Ristorante – Wild Boar Ravioli

Scarola Vineyards signScarola Vineyards – 2010 “Masseria” Merlot

It’s really difficult when one of the first food + wine taste of the evening basically knocks it out of the park for me.  The bar for everyone else is then set really high.  The Wild Boar Ravioli (ok, so they pretty much had me a “wild boar”) by Marco Polo Ristorante with its amazing aromas coming from the pan in which the portions were being reheated matched with a 2010 “Masseria” Merlot from Scarola Vineyards was the best savory bite I had all evening.  The fresh pasta filled with tender, succulent meat dressed in a sauce made with a reduction of the Merlot just hit every right note.  A sip of the wine revealed round full tannins and deep red berry and cherry flavors that balanced out each element of the pasta.  I thought about going back for more, but then I realized I was only at the start of the evening.

Rosewater - salmon w puff pastry, dill cream, rampsRose Water Restaurant – Smoked Salmon with puff pastry, dill cream, capers, ramps, and ramp oil

Wolffer Estate VineyardWölffer Estate – Classic White 2012

Another food and wine combination that I thought just worked really, really well was the Smoked Salmon nibble by Rose Water Restaurant with the Classic White 2012 by Wölffer Estate, who always turns out amazing wines year after year.  The acidity and crispness of the wine beautifully highlighted the buttery richness of the smoked salmon.  The citrus notes in the wine and the tartness of the capers and ramp oil pulled this whole bite together.  The only other wine I would like to have tried this with, perhaps, is my current pick for Summer 2013 quaff, which is the new 2012 Social Club White, another perfect seafood wine, by Brooklyn Oenology, who was also at this event.

Cleaver Co - Rhubarb Brown Butter Cakes & Dark Chocolate TrianglesThe Cleaver Co. – Rhubarb Brown Butter Cakes & Dark Chocolate Triangles

Macari - wine pairing for dessertMacari Vineyards – 2010 Block E

I am so not a fan of sweet wines, and it has taken me quite a bit of time in my wine education to appreciate the subtlety and nuances that many dessert wines can have and how, with the right food, they can actually be delicious and partner very well with food.  My favorite dessert pairing of the evening was definitely the Rhubarb Cupcake by The Cleaver Co. with Macari Vineyards 2010 Block E.  The tartness of the rhubarb and richness of the brown butter cake were an ideal match for fruit and sweet notes of the wine.  The wine itself is done in the ice wine style which gave it a lightness and clean finish that I don’t usually experience with dessert beverages.

Great bites that I wanted to see paired with beer:

Gramercy Tavern - Smoked Kielbasa w Tarentaise & Country MustardGramercy Tavern – Smoked Kielbasa with Tarentaise and Country Mustard

I know, I know, this is a wine event, not a beer one.  Good Beer Month is still a few weeks away (in July).  Still, when I tasted the porky goodness of Gramercy Tavern’s kielbasa dressed with creamy slaw, spicy mustard, and a pop of caraway, I really just wanted to sit down with a whole plate of these around a big table of family and friends, glasses of lager in hand.  I mentioned this to Chef Michael Anthony, who was manning the station at the event, and he agreed completely; however, he told me I’d have to talk to the organizers about that.  Coincidentally, Brian Halweil, the editor of the magazines, was standing right there.  He didn’t comment on my remarks, but we took some time to compare notes on what we’d eaten and drank so far.

The Vanderbilt - Rampwurst w Spring Pea SlawThe Vanderbilt – Rampwurst with Spring Pea Slaw

Another dish that was just begging to be matched up with beer as well was the Rampwurst with spring pea slaw by The Vanderbilt.  I had to give them major creativity points, too, for coming up with another use for ramps, which are now heading out of season, that I’d never tried before.  The garlicky-herbal green was perfect mixed into the sausage meat.  The cool, crisp slaw with the grassy freshness of the peas was a wonderful combination.  This was definitely more of a beer-appropriate than a wine-friendly dish.

Pairings I would have like to have seen:

Watty & Meg - Tuna Tartare Taco with Pickled Spicy VegetablesWatty & Meg – Tuna Tartare taco with Spicy Vegetables

Bedell Cellars wine bottleBedell Cellars – 2011 Taste White

As I mentioned above, some of the pairings this year just seemed a little bit off to me.  The tuna tartare taco from Watty & Meg (of which I could have had a few), needed a great, crisp, aromatic wine to balance out the buttery tuna and the spicy mixed vegetables.  When I asked one of the wineries nearby to their table, they didn’t have a beverage that they’d paired up with this dish.  My pick would have been the 2001 Taste White from Bedell Cellars with its tropical flavors and slight sweetness to tame those spicy notes and make you go back for bite after bite of the taco.

Cookshop - Olive Oil Cake w Strawberries & MascarponeCookshop – Olive Oil Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone topped with Pistachios

Macari Vineyards - pouring dessert wineMacari Vineyards – 2010 Block E

Another match-up I would have made at the event was to take the dessert wine by Macari Vineyards that I enjoyed so much and tasted it alongside the Olive oil cake with strawberries and mascarpone by Cookshop.  I’d heard raves about this dish so even though it was towards the end of the evening, and I felt I’d reached my saturation point on the food and beverage front, something that does happen at these activities, I picked up a plate and walked away to a table to eat it.  Moist cake, tart berries, creamy cheese, crunchy nuts all came together in a perfect bite.  Unfortunately, many of the stations had been broken down by this point, and they were no longer serving wine, so I couldn’t put my theory to the test.

Most-used seasonal ingredient:

Palo Santo - Ramp Taco w cheesePaolo Santo – Ramp Taco

I have to give a special nod to the most-used seasonal ingredient.  You guessed it: Ramps!  By my count, this product turned up in no fewer than three dishes I tried and was used twice in one of them.  It might even have been stealthily included in a few others as well.  Next year, I’m expecting to see it in desserts – kidding, really, I’m kidding.

ALC Italian Grocery - all goneALC Italian Grocery – all finished for 2013

This is a terrific event that continues to bring great food and wine to us each year. The folks I talked to as we nibbled on our dishes and sipped local beverages all seemed to be having a great time and were really impressed by the variety of the wines and the caliber of the food offerings. The only dissent that I heard was that there seemed to be few vegetarian options this year as well as there being lots of dishes containing pork.  I sampled so many delicious dishes and drank lots and lots of great wine.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s event to see what new vintages New York State wineries will produce.

Buon appetito!

Thank you to Edible Manhattan for providing me with a press pass so that I could attend this event and cover it for this website.  The opinions and tasting notes are mine, as unrefined as they may be, and were not influenced by any of the food or beverage partners or by the magazine and its staff.

Ramps Roundup!

Ramps at Moutain Berry FarmMore ramps at the Greenmarket

These piles of ramps at the Union Square Greenmarket might represent the last of this year’s harvest.  I spoke to one of the vendors who told me that there’s really only another couple of days they’d have this seasonal green at the market.  I know, sad tears are flowing down your cheeks at this news.  While you can still get your hands on them, here’s a few recipes to try with ramps.

Greenmarket Fritatta


Looking for ways to incorporate lots of great, seasonal produce?  Try this Greenmarket Fritatta with ramps, peas, asparagus, goat cheese, and basil.



Asparagus, Ramp, Goat Cheese Tart



Asparagus are now coming in to the market in NYC, how about this Asparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart to show them off?

Sauteed Asparagus & Ramps




Sautéed Asparagus and Ramps are a simple side dish to throw together and another terrific way to show off seasonal produce.



Ready to eat


Looking for something unique and special to bring to a summertime gathering?  How about these Ramp and Jarlsberg Gougères?  These have been a huge hit with everyone who’s eaten them.


Ramp Pesto 1


Hang onto the vibrancy of spring and the arrival of these greens by whipping up a batch of Ramp Pesto.  So easy to make, and it’s terrific to add to all sorts of dishes.

Labeled Butter



Another way to extend the season’s bounty is to put together a batch of Ramp Butter.  It’s a wonderful thing to keep on hand to add to vegetables, put on meats, mix into rice or try with other dishes.


Ramps in a bowlRamps ready to use

Hopefully, this post has given you some great ideas for how to use ramps.  I’m already getting my thinking cap on to figure out what to do with the rest of the ones that I have in my fridge before they go bad.  That may mean I set some time aside for recipe testing over the holiday weekend!

Buon appetito!

Hurricane Sandy Updates

Tree down on the Upper East Side

It might seem as though I’ve been very quiet during the past few days, but if you follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, you will see that I’ve been using my social media streams to communicate with others in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to direct folks to resources, food, water, gas, and other things that they might need.  I’ve also been checking on friends and family to see how they are and to offer a place to stay for those who don’t have power or access to their homes.

Water at the entrance to the FDR Drive

Fortunately, everyone seems to have come through safe and sound.  Folks will have to empty out their refrigerators and clean up their homes and yards, but at least they are all right physically.  Some of us took hits during last year’s Hurricane Irene, including my parents who lost power for several days.  So, this year, while I was prepared for the worst, the damage was minor, despite my hearing construction equipment flying around outside of my building on Monday night.  Today, there’s a steady hum of chainsaws and jackhammers going on outside of my window.

Debris on the FDR Drive (closed to traffic by the NYPD)

The food blogging community and food community in New York is amazing and has been sharing information and resources (especially about where to find food and water) to help get this mess cleaned up and to get the city in shape again.  I saw a Tweet about an initiative launched by Creative Culinary and Jenn Cuisine to write up a post for today about a comfort food that you’d take to a friend or a neighbor and to tag posts for today with the hashtag #FBS4Sandy.  They also ask that you donate to the relief efforts.  I’m putting up this post with a list of additional resources and tangible ways that you can contribute to helping out at this time and in the months to come.  I’m skipping over the comfort food recipe because, frankly, to be blunt about it, my friends who have had to evacuate from their homes and/or who don’t have power are not really going to be making those anytime soon.

Trash washed up on the East River shoreline

If you are are a regular reader of this website, you’ll know that I strongly support local food artisans, area markets, and the farmers markets in New York City.  I don’t have enough words to write about these terrific people and what they contribute to the city.  Right now, these folks need help, too, and may not be in a position to get loans or other types of assistance.  They have lost wages, have had inventory destroyed,  and have been unable to get to their clients during this time.  Some of them have no idea when they will get back into their kitchens or storage units.  Help them out.  Shop at their on-line stores, drop by the local NYC markets to visit them and to buy from them, send your friends and family gifts for the holidays or just because.  Also, get out there to the area markets on your next trip to the city.  These people create jobs and opportunities for all New Yorkers and are an invaluable part of our community and way of life.  For more about some of them, listen to Heritage Radio Network‘s series of interviews about the storm’s aftermath: http://soundcloud.com/heritageradionetwork/sets/hrn_on_sandy/

Storm remnants - East 95th StreetConstruction site strewn down East 95th Street

Here’s a list of suggestions for places to go visit in the city this weekend, if you need to get out of your home and would like to support the city with your wallet.

Eater (also has list of where to make donations)

#EVopen (restaurants open in the East Village)

Greenmarkets (note that the Union Square one is moved to Madison Square Park)

Brooklyn Flea (Saturday and Sunday)

Smorgasburg (Saturday and Sunday)

Village Voice (list of various resources, including food distribution centers)

New Amsterdam Market is closed this weekend due to the hurricane damage, but they are hosting their Peck Slip Pickle Festival next weekend.  Also, New York Mouth is donating a portion of the proceeds from these gift packs to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. 

Here’s a partial list of other ways that you can help out with the relief efforts or get help if you need it.  I am not endorsing one organization, website or company over another.  The best way to find out what they need is to follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter, which seems to be being updated more frequently than their websites.

American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/news/press-release/Massive-Red-Cross-Relief-Response-Spans-Ten-States)

Brokelyn (http://brokelyn.com/?s=sandy) – various resources

Brooklyn Based (http://brooklynbased.net/?s=sandy) – various resources

Brooklyn Exposed (http://brooklynexposed.com/food-drink/entry/volunteering-during-hurricane-sandy-in-brooklyn-and-nyc/) – various resources

Brooklyn Recovery Fund (http://www.brooklyncommunityfoundation.org/brooklyn-recovery-fund-1)

City Harvest (http://www.cityharvest.org/hurricanesandy)

Citymeals-on-Wheels (http://www.citymeals.org/events-and-news/10-29-2012/citymeals-responds-to-hurricane-sandy) – for a list of resources to access if you need food, water, food stamps, click here

DisasterAssistance.gov (http://www.disasterassistance.gov/)

FEMA (http://www.fema.gov/sandy)

Food Bank for New York City (http://www.foodbanknyc.org/)

Food Systems Network NYC (http://foodsystemsnyc.org/announcement/post-sandy-volunteer-donation-opportunities)

Food + Tech Connect (http://www.foodtechconnect.com/blog/2012/11/02/sandy-recovery-where-eaters-techies-can-donate-volunteer-this-weekend/)

Friends of Firefighters (http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/846227/77cd417d72/ARCHIVE)

God’s Love We Deliver (https://www.glwd.org/clients/message.jsp)

Manhattan User’s Guide (http://manhattanusersguide.com/) – lists various resources

NYC.gov (http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycservice/home.html) – including Parks Department clean-up opportunities

New York Blood Center (http://www.nybc.org/press-release.do?sid0=60&page_id=152&content-id=791)

New York Cares (http://newyorkcares.org/volunteer/disaster/)

New York City Coalition Against Hunger (http://www.nyccah.org/)

New York Food Truck Association (with JetBlue setting up food trucks to feed people)

New York Irish Center (http://nyirish.org/) – Specifically helping out with Breezy Point/The Rockaways

Occupy Sandy (http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/)

Red Hook Initiative (http://www.rhicenter.org/)

Restore Red Hook – taking funds for businesses that were in a particularly hard-hit area of Brooklyn

Salvation Army (http://blog.salvationarmyusa.org/category/eds/)

Slow Food NYC (http://www.slowfoodnyc.org/blog/slow_food_nyc/2012/11/04/hurricane_sandy_relief)

The Brooklyn Kitchen/The Meat Hook (http://www.thebrooklynkitchen.com/7982/hurricane-sandy-update/) – Specifically helping out with Breezy Point/The Rockaways

We Have a Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook Giveaway Winner!!!

Liddabit Sweets - cookbookLiddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook

Congratulations to Cristal C whom the Randomizer selected as the winner for this prize!!!  A big “Thank You,” too, to everyone who entered this giveaway!  From my brief tally of the responses, it looks like Anything-with-Chocolate might be the sweet of preference for everyone.  Peanut Butter-Chocolate combinations were a huge favorite, which is one of mine as well.  Liddabit Sweets has a candybar just for that: The King.

Liz Gutman & Jen King – Liddabit Sweets

I wish I could have given out copies of this book to everyone who wanted to have one as this is such a terrific edition to one’s cookbook library.  Liz and Jen are going to be on tour with their book (and treats!).  They are fantastic people and fabulous candymakers.  Check this list to see if they will be coming by your way.

Buon appetito!

Liddabit Sweets Cookbook Giveaway

Cookbook display at Liddabit Sweets eventCookbook display at Liddabit Sweets launch party

It’s here!  Last night, I headed over to 61 Local for the launch party of the Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook and to see Liz and Jen, whose delicious candies are a special treat in which I indulge from time to time.  It was terrific to see them, hang out with some of their other fans, and to get my hands on this book, a product of all their hard work and wisdom as candymakers.  Better yet, I have a signed copy (by both Liz and Jen) of the Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook to give away to one of you readers.

Liz Gutman & Jen King – Liddabit Sweets

What I really enjoy about buying their candies (aside from getting to eat them) is the liveliness and joie de vivre that they bring to their confectionery.  Naming a candy bar after Dorie Greenspan, one of their ardent supporters and mentors.  Coming up with better-for-you alternatives to popular mass-market candies, made with locally-sourced ingredients and not all that unpronounceable stuff.  Creating caramels that melt in your mouth but are different enough to make your tastebuds say, “ummm, ahhhh, now this is what candy should taste like!” I’ve not only sampled many of their treats, I’ve also gifted them to others to enjoy their craftsmanship as well.

Liddabit Sweets at The Brooklyn Local

These ladies are confectionery geniuses and are really super nice people to boot so it is my pleasure to support all of their hard work via my pocketbook and this website.  I grew up with a mother who explored candymaking for a while when I was a child.  Lollipops, if I remember correctly, came out disastrously awful.  Still, I learned a lot about how to work with chocolate and about making toffees and caramel from her experiments.  It gave me a lot of admiration for those who can get it just right and can turn out incredible-tasting products.

Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook

This cookbook is not just about recipes.  It also gives you pages and pages of techniques, instructions, and real-life tips on how to make candy, layered with their pithy advice and stories about how some of their popular creations came about.  There’s lots of hints as to how to fix things when they go wrong and how to avoid having that happen in the first place.  They demystify the process of pulling together sweet treats in your own home kitchen, drawing from their expertise and experiments in creating delicious candies.  I’m sad to let this cookbook leave my hands, but I know that it will find a wonderful home with one of you.

The Rules (There have to be some of these, you know.)

Eligibility: U.S. mainland residents only

To Enter: Write a comment on this post with the answer to the following question: What is your favorite candy?

You must also have a valid screen name (NOT “Anonymous”) with a corresponding email address to enter this giveaway. I’ll need to be able to click on it in order to contact the winner. If you list “Anonymous” or do not have a valid email address with your comment, you will be disqualified. I do not share these addresses with anyone, and they are only for the purpose of entering this giveaway.

Deadline: Is Monday, October 15, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. EDT, based upon the date/time stamp on the comments. (I’m going to be very strict about this and make no exceptions.)

The Outcome: Only one winner will be chosen for this cookbook giveaway. I’m going to put all the entries into an online Randomizer (like this one) to come up with the winner.

Buon appetito!