Grandma Jo’s Stuffed Mushrooms

Hello fall! We’ve missed you and glad you’re back.

Fall brings so many wonderful things: pumpkins, squash and apples… but it’s also the time of year that I always seem to crave mushrooms. It’s great weather for storing and drying them and they tend to pair well with fall produce. I decided to bring back one of my favorite recipes from the beta issue of the magazine, Grandma Jo’s Stuffed Mushrooms. These stuffed mushrooms are great to have out at a Halloween party or Thanksgiving dinner because they are easy to prepare and eat while standing around with a cocktail, or dressed as a monster. The recipe happens to call for tomatoes which due to the warm fall we’ve been having are still around! I got some today in my CSA share and the farmer of Garden of Eve Organic Farm said that he thinks this might be one of the best years for tomatoes he’s ever seen.

Joe Brancaccio of Brancaccio’s Food Shop in Brooklyn (Kensington/Windsor Terrace) shared this delicious, yet simple, recipe with me for the mushroom issue of the magazine last spring. It’s his Grandmother’s recipe. While Grandma Jo was originally from Messina, Sicily, stuffed mushrooms are popular throughout Italy (and Brooklyn). Grandma Jo used button mushrooms because that was what was available to her and affordable, but you can also use criminis, which have a deeper flavor. This special dish, which works wonderfully as an appetizer, is something she would make for birthdays and family celebrations.

Grandma Jo’s Stuffed Mushrooms

1 lb large button or crimini mushrooms

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 slices bacon or prosciutto chopped

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2 tbsp. grated cheese (parmesan or locatelli romano)

1 tbsp. parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup plum tomatoes or tomato sauce

1.   Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2.   Clean mushrooms and remove stems.
3.   Chop stems into small pieces.
4.   Sauté the onion, bacon and mushroom stems in the olive oil to a golden brown.
5.   Add bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper and simmer a few minutes longer.
6.   Remove from fire, add beaten egg and tomatoes and mix together.
7.    Fill caps with stuffing. Drizzle with additional olive oil and bake in oven for 30 minutes.

You can visit Joe at:
Brancaccio’s Food Shop
3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11218
718.435.1997

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post by Carli Heggen

French Breakfast Radishes

Not all radishes are created equal. Some are round, some are long, some are pink, some are white. When I used to think of radishes, I would envision little round slices at the salad bar which were always quite spicy. I was first introduced to the French Breakfast Radish or les radis petit déjeuner when I visited St. Rafael in the South of France. They are a small and oblong and have the classic radish-pink hue, but with white ends. They are in season in late spring and early summer.

In France, the radishes would always serve as a refreshing appetizer before we gorged ourselves for the following 2 hours. I learned the proper way to eat them from a proper Femme Provençale. First, cut off the green tops of course and the long stringy root at the end. Next, cut the white end into quarters, leaving the top half in tact. Lastly, fill the quartered end with soft, creamy butter and sprinkle with coarse salt — Kosher or Fleur de Sel is best. Butter is the perfect complement to a radish because it calms the bite, and the salt highlights the flavor of the radish and the butter. Parfait!

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post by Tiare Packard

Farm Fresh Eggs

Eggs are my most favorite food. They are extremely versatile — You can eat them on their own in various ways or use them as an ingredient in sweet or savory recipes. My dad first introduced me to farm fresh eggs when he served me up a neon yellow, almost orange omelette. The flavor was so rich and robust. It really tasted like…eggs! I have been a convert and farm egg evangelist ever since.

Farm egg on the left, Store egg on the right. Notice the difference in the color of the yolk.

I get my eggs from a local egg producer in Bend, Oregon. Receiving the box of little gems never gets old and they are always beautiful shades of whites and browns. In fact, the color of the shell had nothing to do with nutrition, but with the breed of the chicken. The best part of course is the color of the yolks when you break one open for a Saturday morning scramble. Sometimes, you will even get a siamese-yolk — 2 yolks in one egg. This usually happens with a young hen who is just getting the hang of laying.

A box of farm fresh eggs usually runs about $4 a dozen. It’s a bit more than a carton from the store, but I have noticed that they last just as long because they are so rich (One egg on toast is the perfect way to start the day). Besides, you are supporting the local farm and can be assured your chickens were roaming the fields eating grass and bugs, rather than being stuck in a cage eating grain.

I decided to make a vanilla pudding with my latest egg delivery. It is a simple recipe and you can impress your friends by making pudding from scratch!

1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.

2. Gradually stir at least half of the hot mixture into egg yolks, then stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla.

3. Pour pudding into dessert dishes. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top, touching the pudding to avoid the “skin.”

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post by Tiare Packard

Garlic Scapes: The Curliest Garlic

If you spot something at the market that is long, green, curly and looks like a plant you might find under the sea it’s probably garlic scapes. Don’t be scared, this is a very fresh, sharp tasting, treat. Garlic Scapes (a.k.a. green garlic) are actually just young garlic pulled form the ground before it’s bulb (what you normally see garlic as) forms. So it’s young, fresh, delicious garlic that you can treat like green onions (a.k.a. scallions).

Traditionally the scapes get ignored and more energy is put into growing the traditional bulb, but the novelty of garlic scapes is starting to help it gain popularity. When I got my hands on some and was not sure what to do with them I turned to one of my favorite food writers Adam Roberts, author of The Amateur Gourmet and blog by the same name. His simple recipe for garlic scape pesto (which he adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe) inspired me to create my own adaptation using pistachios instead of pine nuts and the addition of fresh cilantro and basil. What is almost as amazing as the dish is the video he posted of his friend’s reaction to garlic scapes:

And now for the recipe…

Garlic Scapes & Pistachio Pesto

This is a no measurement kind of recipe — if this scares you don’t be scared, just experiment!


3-4 garlic scapes (chopped into 1-2 inch pieces)*

salt

fresh basil

fresh cilantro

olive oil

parmesan cheese (coarsely grated)

pistachios (shelled and chopped)

1. Gradually add ingredients to the food processor (or blender), blend and taste as you go. You are aiming for a slightly coarse yet creamy paste.

2. Top over cooked pasta, or use to season chicken or fish. Pesto also makes a great spread for a sandwich.

*If you have trouble chopping the garlic scapes watch this highly entertaining how-to video.

In NYC you can buy garlic scapes from:

W.Rogowski Farms at the Carrol Gardens Greenmarket on Sundays.

John D. Madura Farms at the 77th Street Greenmarket on Sundays, the Carrol Gardens Greenmarket on Sundays, the Inwood Greenmarket on Saturdays, and the Union Square Greenmarket on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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post by Carli Pierce

Fast Company Loves spoonful Too!

We’re so excited because Fast company featured spoonful in a recent article! Read what they had to say.

Fresh and Local CSA

spoonful focuses on our home town, New York, but I’m happy to introduce you to some new cities and what their local food has to offer. Our newest contributor Tiare Packard is a proud new member of her local CSA in Bend, Oregon. Tiare will be sharing the adventures and surprises that CSA brings for all of us to enjoy and experiment along with. Today she talks about taking a risk with Dinosaur Kale… yes it’s really called Dinosaur Kale.

Summer CSA Box

Summer has almost arrived and today I picked up my first ever CSA box filled with the season’s crops of fresh fruits and vegetables. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture which is a direct connection from the farm to the table. It allows you to purchase “shares” from a farm which are usually picked up on a weekly basis. The share is a box which contains a wonderful variety of very fresh seasonal produce all throughout the farming season.  It allows the customer to buy local and support farms in their area. A CSA is also very community oriented — I pick mine up at a local restaurant where families walk together to receive their box and you can chat with the farmer who grew your salad. Today there was even a local baker giving free samples of delicious bread to get the word out.

The best part about the CSA box is that each week has different items and you will always be surprised by the produce you receive. It challenges you to be creative with the produce and branch out from your normal recipes. You will almost always be greeted by at least one unusual vegetable each week — Kohlrabi, Kale, Chard, Romanesque Cauliflower, Fennel and on and on. At first it can be a bit intimidating, but just jump in and try a new technique or recipe and I can guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.

This week in my CSA box, I received so many wonderful things including Red Leaf Lettuce, Radishes, Green Onions, Chard, Broccoli, Red and White Potatoes, Kale and best of all — a carton of organic Strawberries! All are in their freshest state and full of color and flavor. Everything is also organic, so you may encounter a little friend nestled between your lettuce leaves. Today I found a tiny slug! Be sure to do a few good rinses before you begin cooking.

In the spirit of being adventurous, I went straight for the oddest item in the box — Dinosaur Kale or Lacinato Kale (thank god for Google). I haven’t had a lot of luck cooking leafy greens in the past, so tonight I was determined to make them delicious. I chose a zesty combination to really give the greens a blast of flavor — Garlic, Chili Flakes and Lemon Juice. They turned out absolutely mouth-watering and I cannot wait to make them again. Note that this recipe can be used with just about any greens including chard, mustard greens, beet greens or collards. You may just need to adjust the cooking time to get the desired texture.

Fresh Kale

Garlic Chili Kale with Lemon

The greens will shrink considerably when cooked, but will still serve around 4 people as a side dish.

1 bunch of kale (about 20 leaves)

1 tbsp of kosher salt (to salt the water and also to season before serving)

2 tbsp of olive oil for sautéing

3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin or minced

1 tsp of red chili flakes

lemon juice

1. Boil a large pot of water and salt well.

2. Wash the greens to remove all dirt and trim the tough stems off. Chop roughly.

3. Add the greens to the boiling water and cook until tender. For kale, no more than 2 minutes.

4. Drain immediately and add to a bath of ice water. This will stop the cooking right away and also help the leaves retain a nice green color even after cooking. Squeeze out as much water as possible.

5. Sauté the garlic and chili flakes in olive oil in a large skillet for about 30 seconds, until the flavors come out.

6. Add the greens, stir with garlic and chili, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Stir occasionally. Serve in a bowl and toss with salt to flavor and a squeeze of lemon juice. You can also add a little lemon zest for even more flavor.

To find a CSA near you, visit Local Harvest.

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post by Tiare Packard

Asparagus: A Spring Treat

photo by Jennie Glaser

Asparagus is in it’s peak season right now and it’s going fast (evidence of this can be seen in the above photo taken at the Union Square Greenmarket). We’re very happy to have Jennie Glaser as a guest contributor this week to celebrate asparagus and even happier to have been introduced to her scrumptious asparagus recipes. Here are some words from Jennie on why she loves asparagus, how she didn’t recognize it in her grandmother’s garden and ways to cook it that you’ll love:


It’s hard to believe that I only discovered asparagus five years ago. My parents never served it at family meals growing up, and for most of my life I wasn’t inclined to be very adventurous when it came to vegetables.

But I came across it in a dish I ordered at a restaurant in Omaha, a pasta dish with vegetables in a creamy, buttery lemon sauce. A great introduction, to be sure, but in spite of the cream and the butter, the asparagus stole the show. It quickly became my favorite vegetable.

One of the reasons asparagus is such a treat is that it’s in season for such a short time in the spring. People get as passionate about fresh asparagus as they do about garden-grown tomatoes in the summer.

I’ve heard that eating asparagus the same day it’s picked is one of those experiences you shouldn’t miss. One afternoon a few years ago, I was visiting my grandparents on their farm in northeastern Iowa, and I must have been raving about asparagus. My grandma asked if I wanted to go pick some of what was growing in her garden, and I leapt at the chance. I headed out the back door toward my grandma’s sizeable garden. Once I reached it, I realized I had no idea what I was looking for. I’d recently finished Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” in which she talks about how Americans are getting more and more removed from how their food is grown, and I stood there thinking that I was a prime example. I had no idea what my favorite vegetable looked like when it emerged from the ground.

Well, I told myself, I know that asparagus is related to the lily. So I looked for something that resembled a white flower. Meanwhile, my grandmother, who had been watching me from the kitchen window, came from to the back door and shouted at me, “You’re looking at the onions! It’s in the back of the garden!”

And there they were, emerging from the ground in stalks that look exactly as they do when you buy them in a grocery store.

photo by Jennie Glaser

I find that the best way to eat fresh asparagus is to keep it simple. In fact, I would feel bad calling this first serving idea a recipe, so to placate my conscience, I’ll call it a “cooking technique” with a suggested condiment. If you’ve never prepared asparagus at home, the best way to trim the woody bottom of the stalk is to hold each end of the asparagus with one hand and bend the stalk in half. The asparagus will break right after the woody part ends.

Blanched asparagus with aioli

Set a pot of water to boil, then add trimmed asparagus. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how thick the stalks are. They’re ready when they turn a bright green. Remove the stalks from the boiling water and submerge them in an ice bath. This stops the cooking process, leaving the asparagus tender, but crisp. And it’s perfect served with aioli, a garlicky mayonnaise from Provence.

Aioli:

1 clove garlic

1 ½ cups mayonnaise

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. lemon

½ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. salt

Put the garlic clove through a garlic press. Add to mayonnaise, then whisk in olive oil, then lemon juice, a little at a time. Then whisk in salt and pepper. Serve with blanched asp

aragus.

Asparagus and linguine dressed with olive oil and Parmesan:

This is my secret weapon for fixing asparagus quickly and easily. I usually make this for myself, but because there are no set amounts, it’s easy to scale up for a bigger crowd. As written, this recipe is heavier on the asparagus than the pasta, but that’s the way I like it.

1 serving of linguine or other pasta

½ bunch of asparagus, trimmed

olive oil

grated Parmesan

salt

freshly cracked pepper

1. Prepare the pasta according to the directions. Five minutes before it’s done, add the asparagus and finish cooking both.

2. Drain and return to pot. Toss with olive oil until pasta and asparagus are lightly coated.

3. Add Parmesan cheese and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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post by Jennie Glaser

Jennie is a graduate student in the SVA MFA Design Program. She is also a member of the department’s fabulous food co-op and managing editor of CRIT.


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