I become very attached to the farmers at my farmers market, but I become absolutely addicted to their food. Those of you who have eaten in my home, or who regularly eat the food from your own farmers market, understand exactly what I mean. There’s no comparison between food from a farmers market and food from a grocery store.
I learned recently that one of my favorite farms, Dancing Ewe, won’t be coming to the Union Square Greenmarket this year. That means I won’t see my friends, farmers Jody and Luisa Somers and their infant son Mateo, nor will I be bringing home weekly supplies of sheep’s milk ricotta, pecorino romano, merguez, capicola, or pancetta. I still have a bit of pecorino romano left from last fall, which I carefully preserved over the winter. When I’ve eaten the last bite, I know I will cry, not only for the loss of their wonderful food, but because I will miss their lovely smiles.
We live so close to the Union Square Greenmarket, that the food in restaurants rarely tastes better than what we can eat at home. Consequently — unlike most New Yorkers — we don’t eat out very often. One thing we love to go out for, though, is Asian food. All kinds of Asian food. Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese all top the list when we’re choosing a restaurant. So, if you find yourself in New York City’s East Village on a Saturday afternoon, stop in at Hasaki for their delicious lunch special. It’s a bargain that will make your taste buds as happy as your wallet.
Cooking isn’t a game, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Of course, if you’re too concerned about getting perfect results every time, you won’t always enjoy yourself. But if you keep working at it, and learn from your mistakes, I’ll be surprised if you don’t have a great time and find yourself feeling like a winner.
“Waste not, want not,” my Gramps told me, as he scraped the last of the jam from the jar, filled the jar with tap water, and shook it up.
“What are you going to do with that?” I asked him, wide-eyed and spellbound.
“It’s jam juice!” he declared before pouring half the vaguely pinkish water into a small glass for me, and drinking the rest down straight from the jar.
I followed his lead, noting that the liquid no longer tasted exactly like water, nor did it taste anything like juice. In fact, I wasn’t really sure I liked it. But I smiled widely and drank it all anyway, because I loved my Gramps, and that was good enough for me.
With the weather still cold, and snowflakes falling as recently as yesterday, posting a photo of beautiful, fresh pea shoots could very well seem like a cruel April Fool’s joke. But, thanks to Bodhitree Farm in New Jersey, the bowl of pea shoots I ate for lunch yesterday was no joke; rather, it was a delicious oracle of the bounty of fresh, spring produce that will soon grace our farmers markets and tables. Happy April!
For the past couple of years, we have shared half a lamb with a friend through a local CSA. We never know exactly what cuts we’re going to get and, frankly, we don’t really care. It’s all delicious. And part of the fun for me is thinking up new ways to prepare it.
One of the cuts in this year’s share was a small roast on the bone — not more than 3 pounds in all. I made a gremolata and spread it across the top of the meat, put the roast in the pan in which I intended to cook it, then let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours so that the meat would absorb the lemon, garlic, and parsley goodness in which it was dressed. I preheated the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and, after letting the roast come to room temperature for about a half hour, I threw the whole pan right into the hot oven with a bit of mire poix and red wine. After about 15 minutes, I turned the oven down to 350 degrees, and continued cooking the roast until it registered just under 140 degrees on my instant-read thermometer— the high end of medium rare, especially after accounting for carry-over cooking.
You can see the results for yourself here . . . but you won’t be able to taste them unless you try it yourself at home.
As instructed, I chopped and blanched the kale stems, along with a few cloves of garlic, before adding it all to my food processor with olive oil, lemon zest, parsley, red pepper flakes, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and a big handful of organic walnuts — a gift from a dear friend with a walnut ranch in California. I tossed the pesto together with fresh, homemade spaghetti and some spicy chicken sausage made on a local farm, then I topped it all off with grated Romano cheese from Tonjes Farm Dairy. It was sublime.
I doubt that I’ll ever throw my kale stems into the compost pile again.
Those of you who have asked me repeatedly to include recipes in my blog posts know that I’m a believer in experimenting — without recipes — in the kitchen. You also know that I believe the internet is already bursting with recipes and, if that’s not enough, the book stores and libraries are brimming with cookbooks.
But, in honor of — and in gratitude to — my Irish American mother-in-law, Margaret née Nelligan, who died before I had the pleasure of meeting her, I’m publishing my recipe for Irish Soda Bread today, St. Patrick’s Day. If Peggy were here today, I would hand her a big, warm slice soaked in farm-fresh butter and tell her what a fine job she did raising her daughter. Then, as I watched the smile spread across her face, I would wonder whether the reason was the bread or the compliment.
KATE’S IRISH SODA BREAD
1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
4 tablespoons butter (COLD, cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
1 3/4 cups buttermilk (COLD)
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup dried currants, golden raisins, or combination of both
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, caraway seeds, and sea salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is cut into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a separate bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the dried fruit with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be quite wet.
Place the dough onto a well-floured surface and gently knead just enough to shape it into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and slice an “X” into the top of the bread with a very sharp knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until the crust is a deep brown and, when you tap the loaf, it has a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack.
Share with your mother-in-law, warm or at room temperature.
If kale salad isn’t your thing, perhaps you’re a fan of kale chips. These addicting, crispy little snacks are a great way to get even the most finicky eater — child or adult — to eat green vegetables. You can, of course, spend a small fortune purchasing them in plastic containers at your local health food store. Or you can save yourself a lot of money and make them at home in almost no time at all.
Simply remove the leaves from the stems, wash and dry them thoroughly, toss them in a little olive oil (rubbing each leaf to make sure it’s very lightly coated), and sprinkle with sea salt (kosher salt will work, too) and, if you like, pepper. Then spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan or two (or three), and place them in a 350 degree oven for about 12 to 18 minutes, turning the trays around after about 6 or 7 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they’re translucent but haven’t yet begun to turn black.
Try it, and I suspect you’ll discover that the hardest part about making kale chips is not eating them before they have a chance to cool.
A couple of years ago, raw kale — once much-maligned — became all the rage in almost every restaurant of note. It was hard to find a menu that didn’t feature kale salad in one form or another. In my opinion, its fame was long overdue, and my own version of kale salad has become a winter staple at Chez Ks. A simple dressing of olive oil, shallots, anchovies, capers, preserved lemon, black pepper, and chopped dates, makes the chiffonade of kale appear almost translucent. But it’s the irresistible taste that keeps me coming back for more as I patiently await the arrival of spring’s baby lettuces.
Roasted shallots are one of those things that easily impress dinner guests. “Did you individually peel every single one of these?,” they always ask, astounded by the amount of work and time they believe that would take. But peeling shallots is amazingly simple if you first blanch them in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two before dousing them in cold water. The skins will then slip right off in your fingers, especially if you first trim off the ends with a sharp knife.
The roasting part of the cooking process is even easier. Just place the peeled shallots in some melted butter in a cast iron skillet, add salt and pepper, and swirl around over high heat for a minute before placing the entire pan in an oven. It doesn’t really matter what temperature the oven is, as that will only determine how long it takes for the shallots to turn golden brown. I like to turn them over part way through the cooking process, and sometimes I’ll add whole garlic cloves and a sprig of thyme to the pan. But whether you add anything else or not, you’ll love how deliciously sweet they taste, and your dinner guests will think you’re a magician in the kitchen.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that there’s no good produce at the farmers market this time of year, I’d be a very wealthy woman. And if I had another dollar for every time I proved them wrong, I’d be twice as wealthy.
In some circles, I’m infamous for my view that chocolate milk should not be served in schools. With 3 teaspoons, on average, of added sugar per 8-ounce carton, it’s pretty clear that the nearly 5 pounds of added sugar that a child consumes in a single school year simply by drinking 1 carton a day — on school days only — will do anything BUT keep the doctor away.
Having said that, I do believe that chocolate milk makes a great treat on a special occasion. With that in mind, Kay brought me to Le Pain Quotidien on my birthday earlier this month for a steaming mug of spiced hot cocoa. Made with milk steeped in star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, and cayenne, it was indeed a special and happy way to celebrate a special and happy day. I’m already looking forward to my next birthday.