Monday, November 18, 2013

A Few Recipes That'll Work for Thanksgiving and Chanukah

Supermarket centerpiece: roses, and mint from the produce department

Here's a link to last week's newspaper column:

I was lucky to spend a half  hour last Thursday talking to Ellen Thurston and Tom DePietro during their afternoon program on WGXC.  I took  an intermission from my usual monthly appearance, when I feature a single item of food , "How to Build a Pantry, One Ingredient at a Time" - and instead talked about the delicious confluence of two joyous holidays; Thanksgiving, and the first day of Chanukah.  This happy collision in time will not occur again for thousands of years.  Thanksgiving is always on the 4th Thursday of November, and because the Hebrew calendar is two weeks shorter than the one we use, the Gregorian calendar, you can only imagine the numerical combinations that need to click into place in order for us to celebrate a feast to give thanks for our country, and one to give thanks for  oil that lit the temple lamp, on the same day, again.

During my radio chat I spoke about many recipes that are holiday-interchangeable and mentioned that I would post some of them on this blog.


Pancakes are latkes - Latkes are pancakes.  Latkes are the emblematic Chanukah food.  Chanukah, the festival of Lights is the celebration of  oil (!!!) that seemed only to be enough to light the temple for one day after it was destroyed by invading Syrians more than 2,000 years ago - but, instead, it lasted for 8 days. As a reminder of the miracle, part of Chanukah celebrations include food that have been cooked in oil.  No food is more popular than potato latkes.
Crisp and savory - they accompany other dishes perfectly.   Latkes are classically made with starchy white potatoes.  Their starch helps to hold the pancakes together.  I experimented for a bit to come up with a recipe that would hold non-starchy sweet potatoes together.  It's important that the pancakes are flattened so that they can cook all the way through.  Make them a bit larger if you like.  A platter piled high with these crunchy, sweet, salty and herbaceous latkes will be just the right addition to your holiday table.

makes about 50 2-inch pancakes
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
1 onion, grated
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups corn oil
1.    In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, onion, sage, eggs, flour, salt, and cayenne.  Stir with a wooden spoon to thoroughly blend.
2.   In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the corn oil.  When the butter starts to brown, begin to cook the pancakes:  Put a scant 1/4 cup of the mixture into the palm of your hand and flatten, forming a small 2-inch disk.  Fry up to 5 pancakes at a time in the skillet.  (The butter adds a nice flavor to the pancakes, but will also create foam. Five pancakes will all you'll be able to see at a time.)  Use a butter spreader (which acts as mini spatula) to flip the little pancakes and fry for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, or until brown and crisp.  Remove to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.  Keep warm on a serving platter in a 200 degrees F. oven until all the mixture is cooked.  Serve hot with  sour cream and cranberry sauce, or applesauce.


I developed this recipe for Bon Appetit magazine over 10 years ago.   The popularity of pomegranate products has considerably increased since this recipe was published.  It seems downright timely.

Serves 6 - 8

6 cups water
1 celery stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
 1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 fresh parsley sprigs
1 11- to 12- pound turkey; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 lemon, quartered
1 onion, quartered
10 fresh mint sprigs
3 tablespoon chilled, unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1.   Combine the water, celery, carrot, onion, parsley, and reserved neck, heart and gizzard in a saucepan.   Simmer over medium heat.  Simmer until giblet broth is reduced to 3 3/4 cups, about 1 hour.  Strain; discard solids.
2.   Position rack in bottom third of oven and heat to 400 degrees F.   Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry.   Whisk orange juice, pomegranate molasses, salt and red pepper flakes in a small bowl to blend for glaze.   Place turkey on rack in a heavy large roasting pan.  Starting at neck end, carefully slide hand between skin and breasts, thighs, and legs to loosen skin.  Using a pastry brush or hand, apply a thin coat of pomegranate glaze over meat under skin.  Stuff main cavity with lemon, quartered onion, and mint.  Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely.  Brush turkey with some of remaining glaze.
3.  Roast turkey 20 minutes.  Pour 1 cup giblet broth into the pan; brush turkey with glaze.   Roast 20 minutes; brush with glaze.  Roast 20 minutes.  Add 1 cup broth to pan, brush with glaze, and cover turkey loosely with foil.   Roast 20 minutes.  Brush with glaze and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.   Continue to roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 175 degrees F., brushing with glaze every 20 minutes, about 1 hour 10 minutes longer, about 2 1/2 hours total.
4.   Transfer turkey to a platter.  Tent loosely with foil.  Let stand 30 minutes (internal temperature will increase 5 to 10 degrees).
Meanwhile, tilt roasting pan and spoon fat from surface of juices.  Add 1 cup giblet broth to pan.   Place pan over 2 burners.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, scraping up browned bits.   Add chilled butter and simmer until gravy is smooth, whisking.  Season with salt and pepper.  serve turkey with gravy.


This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, "Classic Italian Jewish Cooking"  (Ecco, 2005).   Author, Edda Servi Machlin says, "Riso coll'uvetta is an ancient Venetian dish prepared mainly during Chanukah.  It has an interesting taste, but is not for every palate."
I like it very ,and I like how it contrasts with savory dishes.

Serves 6

 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 cups short-grain rice
1/2 cup dark, seedless raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups hot broth or water
black pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the garlic, parsley, and rice.   Cook over high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the garlic begins to discolor.  Add the raisins and salt.  Add the hot broth or water, 1/4 cup at a time, and continue to cook, uncovered , over high heat until the rice is done, about 15 minutes in all.  Taste for salt and pepper and add if necessary.  Serve hot or at room temperature.


Just waiting to be made into tasty treats.  The tomatoes were picked green about a month ago.  I think I'll try them out soon.  Maybe on toast with sliced avocadoes?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Additional Recipes for Newspaper Column

Cooking with kale in Provincetown - Caldo Verde - Portuguese kale soup
Making Fried Green tomatoes - soak in buttermilk, coat in cornmeal and flour.  Fry

Picking Apples in the Hudson Valley - making caramel applesauce; wine baked apples; and just eating them


Hello, Thank you to the readers who've asked where I've been.   I've circling around the Northeast since we last met.  And thinking about you and a new post - BUT.  There's always a "but" - isn't there?   I need to deliver a weekly food column for the Hudson-Catskill Media group and sometimes it takes all the food news out of me. I also have a few other projects that I'm working on - etc. etc. etc.

I promised the readers of the newspapers where my column is featured that I would add some recipes that are part of  the Timballo di Maccheroni  recipe in November first's column.  There just wasn't enough room to include everything .

So, here are the recipes for those of you who have read the column - and the column for you who haven't yet read it. 

RAGU NAPOLETANO  (Arthur Schwartz - "Naples at Table", HarperCollins, 1998)

Schwartz says, "This is a contemporary recipe for ragu.  If you read the old ones you would probably never cook ragu...some old recipes have three kinds of fat...and olive oil for browning the meat.   There are recipes, though rare, that also throw butter into the mix."

Makes 4 cups sauce, enough for 1 1/2pounds pasta, serving 8

1/2 pound well-trimmed pork cut in large chunks, or sweet Italian sausage
1/2 pound lean stewing veal, cut in large chunks
1/2 pound well-trimmed chuck or shoulder, cut in large chunks
1  medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup hearty red wine
2   28-ounce cans peeled plum tomatoes (not drained)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
big pinch hot red pepper flakes

1.   In a 4- to 5-quaert pot or stovetop casserole, combine the meats (except sausage , if using, which gets added later), the onion, and the olive oil.   Place over medium heat and sear the meat.  It will immediately exude juices.  Keep cooking, stirring frequently, until the meat juices have evaporated and the meats and the onions are light brown, at least 10 minutes.
2.   Add wine and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the wine evaporates.  The meat will be a much darker brown now.
3.   Pass the tomatoes through a food mill- directly into the pot if you like - and stir them into the meat.   Add the sausage, if using.  Add salt and hot pepper and stir again.   Simmer gently for 2 1/2 - 3 hours.  Stir every 15 minutes or so, but after about an hour, before stirring, skim any fat off the surface that you consider excess.  (If the meats are lean, there is usually no more than a couple of tablespoons of fat, and you'll want to leave it in the sauce.)   Also, every time you stir, remember to stir down any sauce that will have condensed on the side of the pot just above its surface.   When done, the ragu will have a dark color and a thick consistency.
4.   Let the sauce cool slightly, but strain out or pick out the meat while it is still warm.  Check for salt and pepper.
5.   Serve the sauce very hot on pasta or use it in other recipes as indicated.  The meat can be served as a separate course, or on another day.  Both the sauce and the meat can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, much longer in the freezer.    After a week of refrigerator storage, if it is necessary to keep the sauce longer, bring it to a simmer, then refrigerate it again.   It will need to be reseasoned when reheated for use.


3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter
1 large egg
5 to 6 tablespoons milk

Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, then add the butter cut into 1-inch pieces.  Pulse the flour mixture and butter together until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the lesser amount of milk, then pour it into the work bowl.    Pulse a dozen or so times to mix thoroughly, then let the motor run a few seconds, until the dough gathers into a ball.  If the dough seems dry and doesn't quite hold together, add a little more milk.  Remove the dough from the food processor bowl and place it on a board.  Knead it a few times.  Let it rest under a kitchen towel.  Divide the dough into two portions, one about 3/4 of the dough for the bottom of the timballo/drum, the remaining 1/4 for the top crust.  Form two 1-inch thick disks, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate (to rest) for at least 30 minutes.  (If refrigerated longer, return to room temperature before rolling).

SUSANSIMONSAYS:    I'll try to be more timely with future blogs.  We're approaching shorter, darker and colder days.  The kind of days that make being in front of a hot stove one of the more comfortable - and pleasurable -  places to be.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sandwiches and Happy Hour for Kids

Glimmerglass Opera - inspiration for this week's column

sandwich from a loyal reader of this blog

My lunch inspired by your article... Just before the idea to sprinkle chopped pistachios over the tomatoes.  A basic BLT but with the addition of some home grown avocado,  a smear  of fresh pea puree on 1 side of  toasted home made bread.  Obviously the other toasted slice had a wisp of Hellmann's. 

 It was delicious! - Mr. Guy, The Peninsula House, Las Terrenas, D.R.
Not just sandwiches on my mind - although they do make eating a meal a convenient exercise - but also cocktails.
I refer to the time spent with the friends mentioned in my article.  I was happy to be their guest at the same time that their daughter, and grandchildren were also in residence.   Somewhere around 5:30 - 6 pm when there's a universal desire for an apertivo - a little preprandial cocktail, something to stimulate the appetite(should you need to be coaxed - or not).
I tried to explain the concept of happy hour to the kids, ages 5 - 10 - and talked about the Shirley Temples of my childhood and started to remember the ingredients for the cheerful, non-alcoholic cocktail named for an equally cheerful child movie star (MUCH older than I).   Grenadine is the addition that gave the drink its color and faint flavor.  Grenadine is made with pomegranates I said.  And that's when Rita, my host, said that she had some pomegranate molasses.  Then Tessa, the 8-year old, middle grandchild, and I created an eponymous cocktail for the minors in the group to enjoy.

Tessa thought that adding edible pea blossoms to the straw would identify the cocktail.  She was right. Her comment after her sip - "It tastes a little like Gummy Bears."  High praise, don't you think?

makes 1 drink - highball

1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
a few splashes orange juice
lots of ice
2 - 3 sprigs fresh mint
sparkling water
a straw
edible pea blossoms for garnish

Add the pomegranate molasses to a highball glass.  Add the orange juice, ice and mint.  Pour in the sparkling water to fill the glass.  Stick a sweet pea blossom into one end of a straw.  Use the straw as a mixer, and stir/muddle all the ingredients together.  Sip.

Campari, soda and mint for the adults

Chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms which were harvested right after this photo was snapped - grilled with garlic and olive oil, garnished with freshly chopped garlic  - eaten with dinner.

SUSANSIMONSAYS:   another thing to do with what will soon become a surfeit of vine ripened tomatoes (isn't that the  way it goes - you wait and wait for them and all of a sudden there are mounds and mounds of them and not enough time to make everything you desire?).
I call this Pan Valenciano because that's what I understood it to be called when I ate it in Barcelona years ago.  I think that it's also called Pan Tomate. It's simple: Cut a baguette in half, lengthwise (or any bread); cut a very ripe tomato in half and squeeze and smear it on the bread; drizzle extra-virgin olive oil all over the bread and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.  Bake at 350 degrees F. until the bread is golden and appears crispy.  Eat with just about anything.

Allegra either fishing for frogs or eating some grass

Friday, August 9, 2013

From This Week's Column



I talk about this lunch in today's column.  Click on link for description and recipes.
Aperol spritz, drink of choice with this meal  - Aperol, an Italian bitter aperitivo, sparkling water and a piece of citrus, lime, orange or lemon.

SUSANSIMONSAYS:   My go-to summertime meal is spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil:  
In a large skillet over medium heat sauté some chopped, fresh garlic, a minced hot pepper and lots of chopped fresh tomatoes. Add flaky sea salt to taste.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook as much spaghetti - or any other pasta, as you like, drain, and add to the skillet with the tomatoes.  Add freshly chopped basil leaves - or whole tiny leaves - and toss to thoroughly combine.  Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese, crumbled feta, whatever.  Or not.  Purists don't serve cheese with this sauce.  I, however, do.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This Saturday in Hudson

Come, meet Joshua and Jessica Applestone the owners of the renowned Fleisher's Meats in Kingston, and Brooklyn, New York, who'll be at the Hudson Farmers' Market on the 27th July from 10am - noon signing copies of their book - "The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat".   The book is a must, not just for carnivores but also for those who have eliminated meat from their diets and are reconsidering their choices.  Josh, a former vegan, and Jess, a vegetarian - will tell you in their own words about their conversion back to meat, and how they think about raising and treating the animals who'll become dinner.

The Hudson Farmers' Market is located at 6th and Columbia Streets in downtown Hudson. 
I'll be there too. 

 Susan Simon Says - Food for Thought column in tomorrow's paper - (click on columnists and scroll down to mine)  has five, almost no-cook salad recipes  to make when you don't want to rely on your stove - too much.  Not with this summer's weather.


My friend, Mary, who was my neighbor when I lived in the East Village (NYC) - still lives there, but also has a home near where I live now.  Her fully organic, biodynamic vegetable garden ripened rapidly with the recent heat wave.  Everything matured at once.  She sent me an email at the beginning of the week inviting me to go over to her property and help myself to vegetables.  The picture shows what I harvested without making a dent in what was available .  Those poor little tomatoes, just bursting out of their skins will make a wonderful raw pasta sauce or relish.
I'll be keeping track of what I make and share the dishes with you.
Of course, Allegra came along and even went for a dip in the pond.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Other Whaling Town IV


There were so many reasons that it was nice to be on Nantucket during the week that included the 4th of July, not the least of which is that it was almost always at least 15 degrees cooler than on the swelteringly hot mainland:

The blue hydrangeas that are to be found in everyone's garden, everywhere on the island, achieve their startling blue color from Nantucket's lime-rich soil.

A  Pimm's cup made by a native Englishman. Although, "Sorry, I didn't have real English lemonade", said David Lovett who put together the beautiful, refreshing, and legendary summertime drink.
Pimm's No. 1 was created in England in the early 19th century by infusing a variety of herbs and liqueurs with a gin base.   To make the drink that has become synonymous with warm weather English sporting events like the Wimbledon tennis tournament, and the Henley Regatta;
Mix 1 part Pimm's No. 1 with 3 parts chilled lemonade - the English lemonade is carbonated, so David added sparkling water to flat lemonade (I'd use San Pellegrino limonata).  Garnish with cucumbers, strawberries, orange, and mint leaves.

Fresh oysters from the Steve Bender's Pocomo Meadows oyster farm.  All that the mollusks, floating in a saline puddle, needed was a touch of lemon to complement the sweetness that you tasted once you bit into them.

Eggs gathered a few hours after they were laid, poached, and garnished with wild rose sea salt from Ambrosia.

The views that never cease to soothe me.

The variety of fresh fish at the market - or gifted from a fisherman pal. 

Serves 4 - 6

Perhaps the most repeated island preparation for bluefish, the ubiquitous summertime catch, this recipe does a good job of disguising and at the same time complementing the infamous bluefish flavor.
Here's a hint:  Take a good look at the fillets.  If there appears to be a lot of dark meat on the underside of the fish, cut it away.  That's the strong-tasting part of the fish.

3 pounds bluefish fillets
unsalted butter for greasing the pan
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup good-quality commercial mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 tablespoons lemon juice

1.   Heat an oven to 400 degrees F.  Wash and pat dry the fillets.  Butter a baking dish and place the fillets in it.  rub them with the salt and pepper.  In a bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, chive and lemon juice.  Cover the fish with this mixture.
2.   Bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish is firm and opaque all the way through.  the set under a broiler for 5 minutes to brown.  Serve piping hot.


A dog, Allegra, who still loves the beach.

SUSANSIMONSAYS:   Even although I'm posting less frequently than I have in the past, I write a regular food column for the Hudson-Catskill papers that's published every Friday in several upstate New York county papers.  You can find the column, Susan Simon Says - Food for Thought by going to , clicking on columnists and scrolling down 'til you find my column.  It would be nice if you would consider bookmarking it for weekly updates.   Thanks.

Jessica and Joshua Applestone who were scheduled to appear at the Hudson Farmers' Market this weekend, July 13th,  to sign copies of their book, "A Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat" (Fleisher' Meat market) have had to postpone until July 27th.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Grand Day in Hudson

OK - what's Lisa Dolan is telling Chris Jones that's so funny?

Marilyn, of Cedaroth Farms, with beautiful early summer flowers for sale


It's unlike me to blog  so quickly on the heels of a post ( especially since I've been a bit sloth-like for the past few months) - but after a day like this one I feel that I need to get the word out right away.   Aside from the fact that today's weather was the kind that you want to bottle for use  on a particularly dreary day in February - this day, for me, began at the Hudson Farmers' Market where we hosted our first cookbook author of the year under the market's Book Tent.

Rebecca Miller Ffrench signed her new  book, Sweet Home (Kyle Books, 2012), for shoppers, and graciously offered samples made from recipes in her book.   It would be difficult for me to say which tasted more delicious; Kahlua Chocolate Pound Cake - buttery, chocolaty with slight bittersweet coffee flavor, Brown Sugar Glazed Cardamom Cake - maybe my favorite, only because I love cardamom flavored anything (Rebecca gave me the leftover samples which I brought home and immediately soaked in homemade kefir and  topped with strawberry - rhubarb compote, Smiles from a Summer Night ), and her book-cover-photo recipe, Mile-High Strawberry Shortcake.  Which she only made a third of a mile high for anxious-to-taste shoppers.   When she ran out of the strawberries that she brought with her - she dashed right over to the Samascott Orchards' tent and bought some more. 


Rebecca says, "Layers of buttery shortcake, juicy  berries, and thick cream piled sky high are the epitome of a summer dessert, and the perfect finish to a family barbecue or Fourth of July picnic."  You listening?

Serves 10

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, plus 3 tablespoons melted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 quart plus 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 quart heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1.   Make the shortcakes:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Grease three 8-inch round cake pans with baking spray.
2.   Stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Sprinkle the butter pieces into the bowl.  Using a pastry blender or two forks, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it's coarse and crumbly.  Slowly add the cream, little by little, until a soft dough forms.  Do not over stir.
3.   Using your hands, form a large ball with the dough and then divide into three parts.  Press each section firmly and evenly into one of the prepared pans.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops become a very pale golden.
4.   Meanwhile, make the filling:  Put the strawberries in a bowl and toss with the granulated sugar and  lemon juice.   Remove half of the strawberries and lightly mash the remaining.  Stir the whole strawberries back in and let stand for 30 minutes.
5.   Remove the cakes from the oven.   Let cool for 15 minutes before carefully removing them from the pans.
6.   Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until thickened, but still soft.  Stir in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract with a spoon.
7.   Brush 1 tablespoon of the melted butter on top of each cake with a pastry brush.  Place one layer on a serving plate, butter side up.   Spoon a third of the berries with their juice on top.  Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the berries.   Top with a second cake layer.  Spoon half of the remaining berries on top and another thin layer of cream.  Repeat with the remaining cake layer and berries, reserving a few berries to decorate the top.
8.   Dollop the remaining whipped cream on top of the cake and decorate with a few good-looking berries.  Serve in wedges.

Papier mache puppet heads made to represent the characters from The Wizard of Oz by Ken Polinskie & Dan Rupe

Singer, and entertainment, Maya Azucena


Poppies from the field of poppies, The Wizard of Oz


Trixie Starr, mistress of ceremony

Today is Pride Day in Hudson - not just gay pride - everybody pride.   The day, called "Over The Rainbow" has included  many celebrations. I stood on Warren Street and watched the parade.  A good old-fashioned parade it was, with organizations from church groups to the Antique Dealers Association, dogs, from the ladies dressed in vintage, colors-from-the-rainbow dresses (Five and Diamond) to bagpipers, dogs, marching bands, the mayor, and the president of the Common Council, the radio stations, dogs, and I can't remember - but they were all fabulous. Dogs.

The parade, which started near the top of Warren Street, ended at the park on the river which was set up to receive the spectators with refreshment stands, information booths and rides for the kids.

And it's not over.  There are parties, and barbecues and a big dance party tonight at Club Helsinki.  I think that I'm done.   I need my legs to work tomorrow.

It was a grand day in Hudson.

SUSANSIMONSAYS:  If I don't get to it - and I may not by next Saturday.  Please come to meet Raymond Sokolov who will be signing his new book, STEAL THE MENU at the Hudson Farmers' Market on Saturday, June 22nd.   The book is a memoir of forty years in food that included taking Craig Claiborne's job as food editor of The New York Times, more recently the Eating Out column for The Wall Street Journal, and writing cook books like the invaluable SAUCIER'S APPRENTICE, and THE COOK'S CANON: 101 CLASSIC RECIPES EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW.   His appearance at the markets' Book Tent offers a wonderful opportunity to meet one of the legends of  food writing - and have him sign a copy of his latest book for you.

If you didn't get to the Farmers' Market today and would like to have signed copy of SWEET HOME - there are a few available for sale at MarxHome on Warren Street in Hudson.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lunch Outdoors, Yes

After the outdoor dinner that didn't happen outdoors, I was slightly trepidatious  about planning two outdoor lunches.   One involved a little voyage "upstate" - according to my NYC friends, I live upstate, but when I go to visit my friends in the northern Catskills it's real upstate - about 1 1/2 hours from Hudson.
It turned out to be a knock-out day, ever so blurred by an ounce or two of haze, enjoyable company, and delicious food.

My friend, Rita always sets pretty tables - this one on her screened-in porch overlooking the rolling lawn and pond - with the best flower (out of her garden) arrangements anywhere.  It's because they're so simple.  They feature the blossom.   And that's how she makes food she too.  It stars the main ingredients.


Rita found a locally-grown cauliflower at a farm stand in Middleburg, which is just that much farther north to have the cold nights that the compact white head needs to  thrive.  She made her interpretation of a frittata recipe out of Yotam Ottolenghi's book, Plenty.   Basically, Rita followed the recipe - she just didn't add as much cheese as it called for.  Could've fooled me - it tasted like it should have.  Super savory.


This is what Yotam says, " Scamorza affumicata  is an Italian cheese that melts fantastically well.  Often labeled 'smoked mozzarella', it is highly effective in adding depth and pungency to vegetarian dishes."    Rita didn't use scamorza - and as I said, I didn't miss it.  However, if it had been added to the frittata it would have elevated the flavor even further.   You might be able to substitute a more readily available smoked cheese.
Serves 4 - 6
1 small cauliflower, cut into medium florets
6 eggs
4 tablespoons crème fraiche  (or sour cream)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
3 tablespoons chopped chives
5 ounces smoked scamorza, grated (including the skin for extra flavor)
2 ounces mature Cheddar, grated
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Simmer the cauliflower in a large pan of boiling salted water for only 4 to 5 minutes, until semi-cooked.  Drain and dry.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Break the eggs into a large bowl.  Add the crème fraiche, mustard and paprika and whisk well, making sure the eggs and crème fraiche are thoroughly blended.  Now stir in the chives and three-quarters of the cheeses, and season well with salt and pepper.
Heat up the olive oil in a large ovenproof frying pan.  Fry the cauliflower for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown on one side.  Pour over the egg mixture and use a fork to spread the cauliflower evenly in the pan.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Scatter the remaining cheeses on top, then carefully transfer the pan to the oven.  Cook for 10 - 12 minutes, or until the frittata is set.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 2 to 3 minutes before cutting into wedges.  Eat immediately with a peppery green salad.

Our salad was full of stuff: nascent leaves and shoots from Rita's garden, cucumbers, crumbled blue cheese and walnuts.

Bread from Hudson's Bonfiglio & Bread.  Where else?

Dessert - Alice Water's recipe for baked rhubarb.  Rhubarb from the garden cut into 1 - 2-inch pieces, sugar ,and orange juice and zest baked 'til soft.  Not too long.  Rhubarb cooks quickly.  It was served with homemade kefir - sour milk.

Frankie, Rita's dog decided that she'd just watch Allegra cross the rapids


This fall's apples starting to grow

Then we went for a post prandial stroll through the lower meadow until we reached the usually docile creek which had become raging rapids from the previous stormy days.  My intrepid dog, accustomed to crossing the creek to get to the upper fields, did so - without thinking.  She made it - but thought long and hard about her return trip.   I told her that I couldn't go in to rescue her so she had better figure out a way to get back.  And she did at age 13 years and 3 months.  Brava Allegra.

Next outdoor lunch was planned a few weeks in advance.  Some friends were coming up from the city to attend a wedding on the other side of the river - the left bank.   As their destination was only about 1/2 hour from Hudson I asked them to come for lunch at my house the next day.  They accepted, and I invited some mutual friends who had recently moved to a hamlet near Hudson.

I made the meal easy for myself by buying just about everything at the previous day's farmers' market.   It's amazing how fresh ingredients can speak for themselves and give you the most delicious repast.

.    Grilled sausages from Pigasso Farm served with a sauce that I made by sautéing fresh, spring garlic in olive oil and adding chopped grape tomatoes, fennel seeds, chopped capers, hot peppers and fresh, from my garden, basil.
.    Roasted asparagus - easy peasy - place the spears on a parchment-paper covered baking sheet with sides, toss with olive oil and flaky sea salt and cook at 400 degrees F. until crispy on the outside and soft as asparagus flan on the inside
.   Tossed market salad with radishes, dressed with mustard-shallot vinaigrette
.   Assorted local cheese,  Amazing Real Live Camembert, Adirondack Cheddar, Ewe's blue
.   Bonfiglio & Bread.  Of course.

.   Semolina, coconut & marmalade cake, fresh strawberries and sheep's milk yogurt


Another recipe from my culinary crush, Yotam Ottolenghi.  This one comes from his and Sami Tamimi's  2012 multi-award winning Jerusalem.   He says,"  Semolina cakes soaked in syrup are so numerous all over the Middle East and vary in so many ways it is hard to find a single definition or an accurate enough name to fit.  Some cakes have coconut in them; some have yogurt; some bakers prefer  flavoring them with citrus syrups, others with flower blossoms; some use sugar and others honey.  In any case, the moist light texture and the aromatic flavors are what 's all about.

Makes two 1 pound loaf cakes

3/4 cup sunflower oil (I used canola)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (the juice of 2 oranges)
1 cup orange marmalade (fine-cut or without peel)
4 large free-range eggs
grated zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup superfine sugar
3/4 cup shredded dried coconut
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons semolina
2 tablespoons ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder

thick Greek yogurt with 1 or 2 drops orange blossom water to serve

Soaking Syrup
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.   Whisk together the oil, orange juice, marmalade, eggs, and orange zest until the marmalade dissolves.   In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients.   Mix until well combined.  The mixture should be runny.
Grease and line two 1-pound loaf pans ( 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 -inches) with waxed paper.  Divide the filling evenly between them.  Bake for 45 - 60 minutes, until a skewer inserted in a cake comes out clean and the tops turn an orangey brown.
Near the end of the baking time, place the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.  As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, start brushing them with the hot syrup using a pastry brush; you'll need to do this in a few goes, allowing the syrup to soak in for a minute or two before you carry on brushing with more syrup.  Make sure you use up all the syrup and it is all absorbed into the cakes.
Once the cakes have cooled down a little, remove them from the pan and leave them to cool completely.   Serve with the Greek yogurt flavored with a drop of orange blossom water.

These cakes will keep well for at least five days if wrapped carefully in parchment paper or aluminum foil.

SUSANSIMONSAYS:   This Saturday at the Hudson Famers' Market come meet Rebecca Miller Ffrench and let her sign a copy of her newest book, SWEET HOME, just for you - or a friend who's having a birthday, etc.  Rebecca will be serving samples made from one the recipes in her book.