Sunday, July 6, 2014

All Heller's, all day!

This does not usually happen.  All the fresh produce in the post are from Hellers!  I love the play of sweet strawberries against the acidity of cherry tomatos.  And, thankfully right now both are in abundance.

I was able to pick up marinated goat cheese bells from Painted Goat, they will appear later in the week as will Leslie's wonderful baguette, and radicchio from Berry Brook.  Check infrequently follow the blog to see everything through the week. 

Here is what it made:

Here is what I used from the market:

1 lb cherry tomatos, slice in half, stems removed
1b strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
1 small Sherman onion, small dice
1/3 of a medium cucumber, small dice

Stirto combine.

Here is what I used from my pantry:

Vinegrette and fresh herbs.

To dress, normally I would drizzle with one of my favorite balsamic vinegars and a little oil oil.  I decided to do a vinegrette, because I also have some salad green for later this week.

I posted my favorite vinegrette a few blogs ago.  Instead of the apple cider vinegar, I used a combination of strawberry and dark chocolate balsamic vinegars, removed the lemon reduced the honey to a couple of tablespoons.

After I gently dressed the salad I stirred in fresh basil, mint, and parsley.

I let this sit so the flavors from the vinegrette have time merge with the flavors of the fruit and veggies.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


I love fennel.  I eat it raw, sautéed, roasted, even grilled.  I picked up two bulbs at the Cooperstown Farmers' Market this week from Berry Brook Farm.  This time of the year I usually slice it thin, throw in some thinly sliced jicama and red cabbage.  I decided that was too boring.

I love pickles.  I pickle many different things.  Bazinga!  Pickled fennel.  But it needed somebody to hang out with to cut the seriously licorice flavor fennel has.  I had purchased some Sherman onions from Hellers.  I find them to be more mild than regular white onions but not as sweet as Vidalia's.  Lucky for me I still have some (little bit now, have to buy more) of Nectar Hills apple cider vinegar. Here's how I did it:

1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup honey (Nectar Hills, of course)
2 Tbs mustard seeds
1 Tbs fenugreek 
1 Tbs peppercorns
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 small cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed

Bring fluids to a boil, drop in honey and turn off the heat.  Then I toss in the spices and let sit to cool to room temp.  In the meantime, clean and slice fennel and onion.  When the vinegar mixture has cooled, pour over the veggies, cover, and put in the fridge for at least 24 hours.  The longer it sits in the fridge the more the favors marry.

Here's what you get:


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Blogs, Facebook, Food

Well, it has been a couple of weeks of awkward confusion between all forums and formats.  I would update the blog, load it, thought it worked...alas and behold not so much!  My Facebook link would not work to post to The Cooperstown Farmers' Market; technology, great when it works, horrific when it does not.

Lamenting over.

This past week I scored huge at the market.  Nectar Hills Farm for wonderful ground goat meat.  Acrospire Farm for equally wonderful ground pork.  Painted Goat Farm for eggs.  Hellers for the first of this season's most wonderful tomatoes.  The list goes on!

I picked my favorite dish to make...ravioli.  The recipe for the pasta dough appears in earlier blogs.  I used my homemade ricotta (also in an earlier blog post), and homemade sausage.

I always make bulk sausage when I am producing because it is very versatile.  I also never make a little because it freezes so well.  

Ground Sausage:

1 lb ground goat
1 lb ground pork
3 cloves minced garlic
3 Tbs fennel seeds
1 Tbs course sea salt
2 tsp black cubeb peppercorns
1 tsp crushed red pepper

I have a marble mortar and pestle that I love.   The first step to this is to toast the fennel seeds in a cast iron skillet and let them cool; they go into the pestle with the salt, peppercorns, and crushed red.  Grind these together to break up the seeds and pepper.  You want a fine ground that will distribute well throughout the meat.

Place meat in large bowl.  Work these together until it is difficult to differentiate between the two.  Put in the fridge and allow the fat to cool and solidify.  Add the garlic and about 1/2 cup or so of cold water.  Blend well, the water will absorb into the meat, add the ground spices and rub throughout the mixture.  Chill again.  Separate what to use now and then freeze the balance.

Brown the ground sausage and allow to cool.  

I use a scalloped edge biscuit cutter to create the rounds from the pasta dough.  In this instance, the 3" size.  I use approximately 1 Tbs of ricotta and 1 Tbs of ground sausage mixture.  Use a little egg wash on one half of the round, fold over, and pinch the edges together.  I always freeze my ravioli and then pull them out and either cook them or put them in food saver bags, remove the air, and freeze to cook later.

Bring water to a boil, salt the water, and place ravioli gently in the water, do not crowd.  Reduce the heat so water is moving, but not a rolling boil.  Cook for about 11 minutes.  Remember, the filling is cooked, so all you need to do is heat the filling and cook the pasta.  These are great with your favorite tomato based sauce, pesto, or just plain but really good olive oil and salt and pepper!

Test batch:

These are so good!  I only used about 1 cup of the sausage for one recipe of pasta dough and cheese.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I love eggs.  At the end of a busy day mowing the lawn, planting some future side dishes, and setting up the camper, dishes that come together quickly and for the most part simply are the best.

Here is what I used from the Cooperstwon Farmers' Market:

Purple potato and spring onions from Heller's Farms;
Mesquite smoked bacon and spinach from Gaia's Breath; and,
Eggs from Painted Goat. 

From my pantry:

Butter, olive oil, organic cheddar cheese, garlic, crushed red pepper.

Here is what I did:

I diced the bacon and tossed it into a heated pan with a little olive oil to start the process of rendering the fat.  While that was working, I put a 1/2" dice on the purple potatoes and finely chopped the garlic. I chopped enough for both the potatoes and the spinach.  I would rather chop once and put aside what I am not using so that it is ready for the next dish.  I like to use cast iron as much as possible and so pulled out my little 8" pan, heated it, added a little butter and reduced the heat.  I did not want the garlic to burn.  I tossed in the potatoes and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Do not crowd the potatoes or they will steam more than brown.

I pulled the bacon from the rendered fat and set it aside to drain.  I removed some of the fat and added it to a stainless steel pan, slowly heated on the back burner.  I added a little crushed red pepper and let it infuse the oil for a minute then added the garlic and sautéed.  Once the garlic softened. I added the spinach, salted it and tossed it around to coat with the oil.  Reduce heat to low and begin the eggs.

Another cast iron pan heated with a little butter melted, a little  crushed pepper, and the chopped bulbs of the spring onions sautéd until the the onions are soft.  Whisk the eggs with a little water, I find the eggs are somewhat fluffier when I use water rather than milk.  I seasoned with salt and pepper and turned the heat down to medium low under the pan and added the eggs.  I let them set up before running a spatula through them.  I cooked them until they were set, firm but not rubbery!  I tossed in the chopped tops of the spring onions and a little shredded organic cheddar.  

A wonderful spring dinner after a long day of preparing for summer!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A little Farmers' Market, a little pantry

I had to work later in the day yesterday, but I still wanted to come home to a healthy meal.  I arose early enough to grill a chicken, asparagus, and some corn.  I split the chicken, removing the backbone, so that it would cook a little more evenly.  A little salt and pepper, a little olive oil and off to the grill it went skin side down.  I flipped it after twenty minutes and put the corn on the far side of the grill without the burner on, letting it cook over indirect heat.  I had soaked the ears in cold water the first twenty minutes the chicken was on the grill, so that when I tossed them on the grill husk and all, they would steam and grill (I like a little smoke flavor in my corn.) I flipped the chicken after another twenty minutes and put the asparagus on the top shelf of the grill.  I poked my meat thermometer in the thigh.  I do not pull the bird until I hit an internal thigh temp of about 165, the breast should be done by then if the bird is flat.  I gave everything another ten minutes and then pulled it all.  

While everything cooled down, I boiled some purple potatoes from Heller's farm and while they cooled, I peeled the corn and quartered the chicken.  I sliced the potaoes, thick, about 1/4", and then cut the corn off the cob.  Everything in separate containers in the fridge.  At 8:30 last night, I made a vinegrette with olive oil, Nectar Orchards  apple cider vinegar and honey, salt and pepper then sliced some breast meat and put it over mixed baby greens from Berry Brook farm, placed the potatoes and asparagus and added the corn.  Dinner served!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Love ravioli!

Beef short ribs?  Yes, the meat is a key ingredients in my ravioli.  I begin by  braising the short ribs. I always put a good sear on my meats and sauté a mirepoix of carrots, celery, and onions.  I usually use a ratio of  three large carrots, two stalks of celery, and one whole onion

The best thing about braising?  Your time is your own.  I allowed these ribs (approximately a pound) to cook about a three hours in a liquid of of red wine and coffee.  I then separated the ribs, mirepoix, and liquid and allowed wach component to cool.  In the the time it took for the to cool, I made the cheese, (see earlier blogs for this process) and the pasta dough.  I simmered six cloves of garlic in one cup of organic olive oil and added that to one can of San Marzano tomatoes that were puréed with the   braising liquid  for a lucious, silky tomato sauce.


The pasta dough that I used and the cheese recipe are in earlier post; scroll through the blog if you  are interested in seeing them.  When I make the ravioli, I rolll the the dough by hand; not using the pasta roller, and use a biscuit cutter to make perfect rounds.

I cool and chop the beef before adding to the cheese in the ravioli, and since these are usually made with left over beef, it is not a problem. If you are doing this same day, cool the meat.  The last thing you want to do is add hot ingredients to cold and then try to freeze. It can also be dangerous.  Use an egg wash on the ravs to seal help seal them.  I made mezza luna shaped ravs.

And here is the end product:

I froze these to be sure they will cook from frozen (an earlier blog refers to the debacle of gnocchi!). I do not recommend these as a week night meal.  I literally spent all day cooking.  I usually use left over short rib meat for these, make the ravs and then freeze them for future use.  The a availability  of product at the market drove my crazy cooking desire to make them on a weekday.  Freezing the ravs when I make them on the weekend makes it easy to throw together a quick meal.  I often serve these with a sage brown butter.  Ravs can be made in advance and the fillings are endless; Swiss chard, or spinach sautéed with garlic;  venison sausage; or just a cheese mixture.  They are easy to make in batches and easy to freeze.  

The ribs were purchased at the Cooperstown Farmers' Market from Raindance farms, the carrots and garlic from Heller's Farm, the duck eggs (for the pasta) from Nectar Orchard

Thursday, May 15, 2014


My husband suspects he may have gout.  And so we both did our own research, and because I am a huge fan of medicating through food, I checked out WebMd to check for food recommendations.  We have found foods that he will certainly have to eat in moderation and make some other dietary changes, but scallops seem to have a big red flag.  That may be the only food we stay away from.  

Discovering this challenge midweek, after having shopped the Cooperstown Farmers' Market and Cooperstown Natural Foods store, I had to deviate slightly from the meal plan.  Last evenings was to be dried cannellini beans, cooked with andouille sausage, corn tortillas, Sabras salsa, Sabras guacamole, and sour cream.  Beans, apparently, are not the best option during a flare of gout.  Thankfully, I purchased the rice varietal blend from Cooperstown Natural Foods store.  I had purchased beef andouille from Raindance Farms and chives from Heller's Farms while I was at the Cooperstown Farmer's Market.  I substituted the rice for the beans and dinner was served!

I cooked the rice, one cup to two and half of water.  I sautéed it first in a little olive oil, then added the water, brought to a boil and reduced the heat to medium low, and let it cooked for about forty-five minutes.  While the rice cooked itself, (because, let's be honest, it does) I sliced the andouille (about a pound) and sautéed in a little olive oil so it crisped up a bit, chopped the chives and cooked the tortillas.  Once the rice was cooked, I added the chives and stirred them together.  When they andouille  was crisp I added the rice to the pan and mixed in approximately a cup of salsa.  I chopped some grape tomatoes, a small onion, and half a jalapeño, added lime juice and chopped cilantro.

True, recommendations for dietary restrictions for gout include limiting beef as well as beans.  I felt replacing the beans with the rice was a fair enough trade as I work to pay more attention to what I purchase at the markets moving forward!  My husband has a doctor's appointment the end of this month, hopefully we will know more after that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Any gadget in my kitchen has to do more than one thing. My coffee station is both for coffe and espresso.  My Ninja is the insanely strong blender and has the produce slicing attachment with a variety of blades.  My panini unit makes paninis, toast, and can grill chicken.  My Kitchen Aid mixer has a meat grinding attachment.  My Cuisinart immersion blender can cream hot veggies into soup and has a whip attachment for cold cream.

The only exception to the rule- my Robot Coupe.  It is a food processer on steroids that can grind anything to a pulp in mere moments.  My husband loves to harvest fresh horseradish this time of the year.  I cut those babies in thirds, throw them in and press the on button.  Within seconds, it is ground to the familiar condiment most commonly added to ketchup to make cocktail sauce or mayo for roast beef!  And my eyes are tearing.  With ramp season underway, I pack the bulbs, leaves, some parsley, toasted pecans, and olive oil into the unit and within seconds  I have beautiful bright green pesto.  I have even been known to whip (pulse?) together a double batch of scones because the dough comes together very quickly, reducing how much it is handled, producing a more tender scone.  Breadcrumbs from day old bread can be made in seconds to add to meatballs, meatloaf, roasted tomatoes, and salmon cakes.  Fresh salmon please, not that canned stuff.  I cringe just thinking about that product!

My kitchen is small, my house is small. Every nook and cranny is important space that must be used efficiently.  But I splurge because the singular focus of this appliance is that good.

Monday, May 12, 2014

What to do with duck eggs?

Why of course, make the absolute best-ever pasta dough!  Duck eggs are only available at the Cooperstown Farmers' Market for a short tome, and Sonja from Nectar Orchrds sells them by the half dozen.  I love to make pasta.  It is easy, it is fun, and it is really difficult to do wrong!  

Basic pasta dough:  Eggs, flour, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  It is also really easy to remember the process: two eggs, two cups of flour, one tablespoon olive oil, pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper.  I do not have a pasta board, so I use a large serving platter that has short sides.  Put the flour on the plate use a fork to mix the salt and pepper throughout and make a well.  Beat the eggs with the olive oil and put in the center of the well.  When I use duck eggs, I always beat them first because the yolk is a bit tough to break up easily.  Using a fork, pull the flour from underneath the walls of the well until a dough come together.  Once there, turn onto a floured board, kneading in flour until the dough is pliable and no longer sticky.  Wrap up in plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for about half hour, forty-five minutes.  Handle the dough as little as possible, you do not want to develop the gluten proteins too much, the dough will become tough.  I always use 00 flour, not all-purpose, when I make pasta.  The end product is silky and tender.

I have a small pasta roller that I purchased years ago, great investment.  I can roll and cut.  Before I purchased the roller, I hand rolled with a French rolling pin and cut strips, measured with a ruler and then used the ruler as the straight-edge and cut with a pizza cutter.  This is on quarter of the round of dough the recipe produces. 


Before I cut the pasta dough, I always have the boiling water heavily salted and ready to go.  Once it comes to a serious boil, I add the salt, and then reduce the heat so that the pasta is not beat up!  Fresh pasta only takes minutes to cook, depending on the thickness.  I rolled mine to a 7 on the dial and then cut.  It only needed about two minutes and then I pulled it and put it in the sauce.

The sauce was easy.  I love garlic and olive oil on fresh pasta.  So here is my riff using fresh ingredients from the market.  Here is what I used:

One half pound package of pancetta and a dried pepper from Gaia's Breath Farm, a bunch of ramps from Painted Goat and olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice, and zest from my pantry.  I put a half inch dice on the pancetta, rendered it in the olive oil until the pieces were crisp, removed the meat and added the I chopped the bulbs and stems of the ramps and the pepper (cut in half) and added some smoked Himilayian sea salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper.  I sautéd until ramps were tender, added the chopped leaves and wilted them in the oil.  I finished with the lemon juice and pulled the pasta from the water, added it to the pancetta/ramp mixture and combined gently.  I finished with Pecorino Romano cheese and the crispy pancetta.  Sprinkled with zest and served.

Yum, happy eating!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Whole, real food

I jumped on the fat free bandwagon years ago; jumped on the butter is bad for you wagon for a while; did a stint on the vegetarian express, and most recently attempted gluten free.  Let's be real, unless you absolutely have to, who wants to live without pasta, bagels, and good bread?  All of those extremes did encourage temporary weight loss.  But the most successful I have ever been has been with real foods, portion control, and exercise.  I lost 50 lbs. a couple of years ago, again.  With the stress of some personal issues this past fall and through the end of January, I regained 15 of the 50.  

Summer is coming and the bounty of #thecooperstownfarmersmarket, I feel comfortable that I am back on track.  Last night I sliced some thick chops from a pork loin because I was running a time deficit and knew roasting the loin whole would put dinner on the table at 8PM, instead of 7:30PM. I had some spinch and parsnips from Heller's Farm.  I boiled the parsnips drained them and put them back on the burner to dry them out a touch and puréed them with a very little bit of butter and organic heavy cream (very little, a teaspoon of butter, a tablespoon of heavy cream.)  I sautéed the spinach in some organic olive oil that I heated with garlic cloves to flavor the oil and pan seared the chops to get some color on them.  I finished them in the oven, pulled them out and deglazed the pan with the Merlot I was drinking, reduced and voila, a pan sauce!

Real food, exercise, and portion control.   Chunky pup has been put on a new eating plan as well and she has lost three pounds since the end of January, five pounds in a about a year.  She has at least ten more to go so she and I and Small pup (Zeus), our acting supervisor are off for our two mile walk!

Thursday, May 8, 2014 I need to say more?

I love beans:  Black beans, red kidney beans, cannellini beans, lima beans, garbanzo beans, butter beans, heck even fava beans.  What I do not love:  Canned beans.  I bought my first electric pressure cooker a little over a year ago; loved it.  I was still working full time and the fact that I could come home at 5PM and still have dinner on the table by 7PM astounded me, and I am not talking take out!  I was losing weight and eating healthy and dried beans made it easy.  And then, tragedy.  I had become so accustomed to having it, that I gave how easy it made my life nary a thought until November 2013 when the pressure gauge broke.  I was on my way home from Long Island on the train a couple of days after Christmas when I realized I could no longer do without it.  I ordered another one.  Truth be told, I liked my first one better because it multi-tasked better, but this one was on sale.  

I did not start using it regularly until early April and now, I am convinced I will never live without one again.  The electric version is not terrifying as your grandmother's traditional stove top one was.  I have yet to have it explode the hot contents all over (although I did do that once with a roasted eggplant and still have a small scar, but that is another kitchen adventure of years gone by and I come off looking silly.)

I had a ham bone in the freezer, dried black beans in the cupboard and time on my hands!  Also had some Sabra salsa, one of the few prepackaged food companies whose products I will occasionally use because I can read all the ingredients and they are really foods.  I also found some uncooked flour tortillas, again able to read all four ingredients, and queso fresco...and the end result:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ramp pesto

Yesterday, I talked about the dicey outcome of my purple potato gnocchi.  The outcome was not typical of past outcomes using Idaho potatoes or red bliss potatoes.  The accompaniment, ramp pesto, is where I expected the inconsistency to come from.  It always is inconsistent.  The earlier the ramps are dug, the smaller they, are the more heat and garlic flavor comes through.  The later in the season, the larger the bulbs, the smoother the garlicky flavor is and the less heat.  The flavor profiles garner the same passion as the arguememt over whether they are called ramps or wild leeks and each camp has its preference.

This early in the season, I love ramps puréed into a smooth pesto with extra leafy green parts, to cut the heat a bit.  I add toasted pecans and about a third as much parsley ( once you have the bunch, pick leaves only, please, take the time, it is woth it) as ramp greens, and throw the in the food processor.  I slowly add olive oil as the mixture breaks down.  Too much and it separates after a spell and not enough will leave a rough texture.  As the season progresses, the leaves can become stringy and makes it harder to come up with a smooth and consistent product.

I do not add salt until after I add the cheese, either Parmagarna Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, and I do not stir in the cheese until right before service.  I use a micro plane to grate it and I do add as I taste until I hit the flavor note I like.  The beauty of can be whatever you want and pretty much from whatever green herb/garlic/nut/ cheese combo favors you like.

Pesto is ridiculously versatile.  It is great with pasta, spread on grilled bread, on grilled chicken sandwiches, mixed into potato salad, and stirred into soups in the fall.  I will freeze as much as possible in ice cube trays, pop them out, and keep them in a freezer safe bag for the middle of winter when I am in desperate need of spring!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Purple potato gnocchi

Usually, I make gnocchi in batches and freeze what I am not immediately using.  Full disclosure, it did not work so well this time.  The trick to making gnocchi is to use as little flour as possible so the little potato pillows remain light and airy, instead of dense and heavy.  I always boil the potatoes in well salted water until fork tender, drain them, and then return the to the hot pot to pull extra water.  Then put them through the ricer (see first pic,) add the flour, salt, pepper until  pieces hold together and are not wet, then add the beaten egg.  I flour the work surface, and in batches, roll them into logs, cut them in one inch pieces and flick them off a fork.  I do not have a gnocchi board; I use a fork to create the classic ridges (pic 2.)

I bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and reduce heat.  Do not add the gnocchi to rapidly boiling water!  They are delicate and will not survive.  Remember, you are only looking to heat them through to cook the egg.  When the water is a rapid simmer, add the gnocchi in batches, do not crowd the pot.  When they float to the surface, give them another thirty to sixty seconds and remove to plate.

I like these with butter or with the pesto, in this case ramp pesto (see pic 3 and 4.)


I froze the balance, as I usually do.  When I cooked them, they deteriorated.  This is the first time I have ever made them with purple potatoes, as I said.  I am unsure if is the starch content in the potato, if they should have defrosted first (I never defrost them), or if they held too much water.  Always good to have a backup plan and out came the boxed pasta!

I use approximately three pounds of potato, again flour predicated on moisture in potato, and two -three eggs.  In this case duck eggs.  The potatoes came from Heller's Farms and the duck eggs from Nectar Orchards, both at the Cooperstown Farmers' Market!  

Ramp pesto to follow tomorrow.  This is a great time of year for foodies.  The abundance is just beginning.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Back at it!

It's May, it's May, the lovely month of May.  True, words from a song, but better yet....great whole foods from the Cooperstown Farmers's Market.  The abundance of real food was unbelievable.  Foods that I will eat all week long, although Sunday's Off will still be about the extravagance and pleasure that food offers.  With fresh ramps from Painted Goat farm, purple potatoes from Heller's Farm and duck eggs from Nectar Orchards I am thinking either fresh duck egg pasta with ramp pesto or gnocchi (made from the purple potatoes)  with ramp pesto anybody have a preference or should I surprise you?