Monday, October 31, 2011

Market Mondays: Gnocchi With Vegetables


As a surprisingly mild and sunny Halloween hit, I took a break from gorging myself on candy and made a Market Mondays meal inspired by fall veggies. I picked up leeks, garlic, yellow beans, Brussels sprouts, tatsoi (my first encounter with this leafy green that I was told has the flavors of spinach and bok choy), and basil from the Union Square Greenmarket.

I sauteed sliced leeks and one minced garlic clove with red pepper flakes in Meyer lemon olive oil, added a bit of chicken stock, and continued to cook the veggies with chopped yellow beans. When all was tender and smelling good, I added a few Brussels sprouts and tatsoi leaves, left the combo on the heat for a few more minutes and finished the the dish by tossing the whole lot with prepared gnocchi, chiffonaded basil, and grated parmesan. A quick drizzle of Meyer lemon olive oil and dash of salt and pepper finished the simple, flavorful Market Mondays meal. The recipe for Gnocchi With Vegetables is below.

Gnocchi With Vegetables (serves 4)
Ingredients:
1 lb gnocchi
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 generous handful yellow beans, chopped
1 generous handful Brussels sprouts leaves
1 generous handful tatsoi leaves, rough chop
1 tbsp basil, chiffonaded
Grated parmesan, as desired
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preparation:
1. Prepare gnocchi as directed while sweating leeks, garlic, and red pepper flakes in Meyer lemon olive oil until tender.
2. Add chicken stock and yellow beans, cook until stock has reduced and beans are tender but still crunchy.
3. Add Brussels sprouts and tatsoi leaves and cook until slightly wilted.
4. Toss prepared gnocchi with veggies, top with chiffonaded basil and as much grated parmesan as desired. Finish with a drizzle of Meyer lemon olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper.

Phillips Farms sells leeks in bunches of 3
A basket of garlic bulbs
Organic yellow beans are pricy at $4 per lb
Brussels sprouts- one of my favorite flavors of the fall
Tatsoi, new to me and apparently very versatile- good for salads, stir-fry, and braising
A cluster of herbs for sale- I chose an aromatic bunch of basil

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fat Fridays: Doughnut Plant


I rarely eat doughnuts. Calorie bombs with zero nutritional value, I don't find them to be particularly filling. I'll eat one, mindlessly reach for a second, and then I'm falling down a slippery slope with nothing to grasp hold of. Before I know it, I'm shaming myself, staring at a box of crumbs from what started as a half-dozen doughnuts.

I recently passed by Doughnut Plant's sidewalk billboard, advertising a seasonal pumpkin doughnut, and decided to treat myself to ONE. As soon as I stepped foot inside, I diverted from my initial plan of attack. Displayed prominently on the metal counter, I spotted a sign for the cake doughnut of the day- chocolate chip cookie. I had to change my order for one simple reason: chocolate chip cookie + doughnut = no chance of resistance. Priced at $3, the outstanding doughnut is flecked with chopped walnuts and chocolate chips, surrounded by a chocolate glaze, and rolled in chocolate chip cookie crumbs. Moist and nutty with sweet chocolate and crunchy cookie crumbs, it was gone in record time and made for one of the more memorable Fat Fridays indulgences.

The cake doughnut of the day at Chelsea's Doughnut Plant
The chocolate chip cookie doughnut, ready to be devoured
Layer upon layer of deliciousness

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kobeyaki


Nearly 2 weeks old, Japanese fast food restaurant Kobeyaki has become a hot spot with the Chelsea-based lunchtime crowd. The concept is casual, healthy and fast, and options include sushi rolls (cooked, raw, or broiled), bowls (with rice, noodles, or salad as a base), noodle soups, salads, burgers, buns and assorted sides at affordable prices. Every inch of the sleek space is utilized to fit several booths, a communal table equipped with round swivel chairs, order and pick-up counters, and a neatly organized condiment station (in addition to providing a home for sauces like wasabi mayo, spicy mayo, chipotle ketchup and sriracha, this is where customers pick up utensils and napkins).

In exchange for payment, lunchers are provided with individual handheld devices that vibrate when each respective order is ready. No doubt to keep people from forming a mob in front of the pick-up counter; an idea that didn't appear to be working the afternoon three friends and I visited Kobeyaki. Luckily, our group wasn't interested in take-out or standing around; we were happy to easily score a booth for four during a bustling lunch hour. We sat and sampled two hearty bowls (my friend Adam is adamant the serving vessel is no bowl and shouldn't be referred to as one, it is more of a shallow dish à la Chipotle Mexican Grill-style)- teriyaki grilled vegetables with crispy tofu cubes, and teriyaki grilled shrimp, each with a brown rice base; two juicy, flavorful Kobe beef burgers made with beef from Imperial Wagyu Beef and topped with teriyaki onions, a shredded carrot and cabbage blend, chipotle ketchup, and spicy mayo; a rather large 8-piece shrimp tempura sushi roll with disappointingly small shrimp that seemed lost in the tempura (word is the spicy tuna roll is the one to get); and a side of crispy tempura battered sweet potato fries- so good, no dipping sauce was necessary.

In a market that is oversaturated with fast food options, my companions and I left in total agreement- Kobeyaki's concept has staying power. We were pleasantly surprised, fully satisfied, and made plans to return for another go at Kobeyaki's enticing menu.

Handheld vibrators signal pick-up is ready
A brown rice based teriyaki vegetable bowl, loaded with fresh veggies and chunks of crispy tofu
A delicious fast food Kobe beef burger
The large and in charge shrimp tempura roll
The interior of the shrimp tempura roll- sadly, the shrimp is lost in all that is packed inside
The teriyaki shrimp bowl over brown rice- a generous amount of shrimp and veggies
Tempura sweet potato fries

Monday, October 24, 2011

Market Mondays: ABC Kitchen's Roasted Kabocha Toast


Abc Kitchen's roasted kabocha toast is (was?) one of my favorite items on a menu filled with awe-inspiring dishes. Sadly, it is nowhere to be found this fall (I know, it's still early). In its stead, there are three toasts for diners to choose from; roasted eggplant toast with marinated peppers and lemon (I have yet to sample), heirloom tomato toast (delicious), and crab toast with lemon aioli (delicious).

Luckily, after a not-so-lengthy internet search, I found chef Dan Kluger's recipe for roasted kabocha toast and decided to make it at home for this week's edition of Market Mondays. It is every bit as outstanding as I remember. The recipe (reprinted from the TODAY Show's website) is below.

ABC Kitchen's Roasted Kabocha Toast
Ingredients:
1 kabocha squash, washed and peeled
2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried red chili flakes
2 tsps. kosher salt
2 Spanish onions, quartered and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup cider vinegar
4 slices rustic country sourdough bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup ricotta
3 sprigs mint, wide chiffonade
2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt to taste
Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2. Combine squash and extra virgin olive oil in bowl and season with the chili flakes and salt (with no direction for size, I cut the squash into smallish cubes). Place on sheet tray lined with parchment paper in one even layer. Roast at 500 degrees for approximately 8-10 minutes, rotating with a spatula every few minutes for even cooking (I roasted about 15 minutes). Squash should be lightly colored and tender.
3. In a medium saute pan heat the extra virgin olive oil and add the onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden brown. Add the vinegar and maple syrup and reduce quickly until syrupy (while the directions say quickly, the reduction wasn't that fast).
4. While the onions are still warm, combine with the roasted squash, cool and reserve.
5. Drizzle bread with extra virgin olive oil and cook in a nonstick pan over medium heat until golden and crispy. Spread 2 tablespoons of ricotta over the toast, then top with about 1/3 cup of kabocha mix and spread evenly. Cut the toast into 4 and top with mint, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (with so much oil already in the recipe, I left out the final drizzle) and coarse sea salt.

Kabocha squash at the Union Square Greenmarket- $2 per pound
Glistening red onions
A big jug of maple syrup from Berkshire Berries- $15
Organic sourdough bread
I chose spearmint as opposed to peppermint- each priced at $1.50 for a generous bunch
Post roasting- tender with light browning
As the onion, maple syrup, cider vinegar concoction reduces
Finished toasts- cut into 2 big pieces instead of 4 smaller pieces like the restaurant serves

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October At Stone Barns Center For Food & Agriculture


Scenes from Stone Barns Center For Food & Agriculture- on a sunny, gorgeous Saturday afternoon in October.

The Grounds:
Situated in Pocantico Hills, a mere 25 miles north of Manhattan, Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture is a working, non-profit farm and educational center. Located on the farm's 80 acres is the critically acclaimed restaurant, Blue Hill At Stone Barns- an experience that is worth the 25 miles and then some. Visitors are free to roam the grounds, including the vegetable fields, greenhouse, terrace garden, and pastures, taking caution not to disturb the animals or plant life.

Cows were penned with a watchful donkey
One lazy pig and two frisky friends
Geese land to graze on the plush grounds
A loose chicken, crossing the road
Turkey, enamored with two dogs sitting safely outside the fence
Farmer Sarah, looking like a pro on a decorative tractor

Farm Market:
Unbeknownst to my farm companion and me, Farm Market at Stone Barns occurs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1:00-4:00 pm. In addition to just-picked produce like tuscan kale, squash, and broccoli, there are fresh eggs and pastured meats (turkey, chicken, pork, lamb, and beef). This past Saturday also included a baked goods table from nearby Irvington's Red Barn Bakery; an organic bakery with cookies, pies, and savory tarts.

Farm Market at Stone Barns includes items from the vegetable field, greenhouse, terrace garden and pastures
Purple and red beets
Orange carrots
A basket of peppers
Fresh ginger and an accompanying recipe
Trimmed leeks
Buckets of onions and assorted greens
Available meats include pork breakfast sausage, beef franks, and chicken wings
Apple crostata from Red Barn Bakery
A chocolate chunk whole wheat scone- it was overpriced, but delicious
A cranberry and nut whole wheat scone

Blue Hill Café:
In addition to pre-packaged, farm-made goods like granola, jams, nuts, and cookies, Blue Hill Café offers visitors light lunchtime fare. On any given day there are a variety of fresh baked goods, frittatas, seasonal salads, sandwiches, and soups in addition to hot chocolate, coffee, tea and cold drinks. On weekends the line is long and the courtyard seats are scarce, but there are no alternatives on site- other than a bagged lunch brought from home.

Blue Hill's granola- $6 a bag
Seasonal jams are sold in the café- I went home with one jar each of apricot (sweet with vanilla pods floating inside) and blackberry (slightly too tart for me)
Bagged nuts are $4
Miniature chocolate chip cookies
Farro salad with vegetables was offered for $12.25 per pound
Wheat bread with leeks and peppers
Beef sandwiches were made on focaccia bread
Just-picked apples
I chose a butternut squash soup and what I thought was a salted roll- it was actually a sweet brioche roll with dried fruits inside and sugar on top
A rectangular slice of zucchini focaccia