Thursday, October 29, 2009

Little Tiny Potatoes

Over the past few days we have eaten a lot of stuffed pumpkin. The thing about stuffing a pumpkin, even a small one, is that it provides you with about eight meals. So the takeaway is this: make sure you really like stuffed pumpkin before you make it.

On Tuesday, whilst Jen hobnobbed with various celebrities, shoe designers, and celebrity shoe designers, I enjoyed some crostini with goat cheese and the leftover fried sage leaves form the other night.

Tonight I had about fifteen minutes so I "roasted"* some salmon and served it with boiled potatoes and sliced heirloom tomato. The potatoes were the tiniest I've ever seen and we picked them up this weekend in Katonah, compelled almost exclusively by their miniature size.

* Okay, I actually just did the salmon in the microwave. Time was of the essence and microwaves have their applications, particularly in the cooking of fish and baked potatoes. Don't look at me like that. There's nothing wrong with me. I'm a good person!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Stuffing (Reprise)

This morning we woke up early for two reasons. Firstly because I had a nightmare about causing a young child to choke on a goji berry but more importantly because we heard about a local farmer's market which we hoped would replace our beloved former farm share.

The market was pretty nice. We got some cider, cider donuts, some bread, and these fantastic brussel sprouts which Jen is brandishing like an Uruk-hai warrior.

By the way, this is about the tenth time we've seen this vehicle downtown. Yes, that's a toilet on the roof. Yes, it claims to be called "The Floatie Mobile." And, yes, there is what appears to be a turd wearing a jaunty sailor's cap on it.

Despite the unappealing vehicles I decided to turn our stuffed pumpkin leftovers into this soup. I sauteed some garlic, onion, and the remaining fennel along with the last bit of acorn squash from the farm share. I added in some of the leftover sausage cornbread stuffing and last week's turkey stock. I toasted the remaining cornbread slices with some goat cheese, toasted the pumpkin seeds with some chili and cumin, and fried up some whole sage leaves for garnish.

As an accompaniment: roasted brussel sprouts with bacon, apple, vidalia onion, and sage.

Now we only need to find room in the freezer to fit the remaining turkey stock. And room in the garbage for the brussel sprout stalk.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkins in the Rain

Once a year we journey out in the search of apples and pumpkins. Usually we end up paying some astronomical amount of money in the neighborhood of $25 for a single bag of apples just for the joy of being able to labor in the fields ourselves and pick them. Such is the life of the insufferable yuppie.

Since we had approximately three dozen apples from the farm share that I turned into apple sauce last weekend we opted to skip the apples this year and head straight for the pumpkins. It was fortunate that our new suburban life brings us in much closer range to the farms one needs for such activities.

Our first stop took us to Hilltop Hanover Farm. It just so happened that it was their last day of pick your own vegetables. It also happened to be pouring rain and located at the end of a muddy trail. The man at the farm was very nice and gave me a handful of tiny bags and a mud-crusted knife so that we could hack our selected vegetables out of the ground.

We couldn't help but notice that despite the listing on this website which has apparently remained unchanged since 1996 they did not have any pumpkins. This site has been our guide for the past five years and this was the first time it had failed us.

Our second stop wasn't actually a stop but a drive by Amawalk Farm which displayed a sign that read "Closed For The Season."

Our third stop took us to Muscoot Farm which, aside from having a silly name, was an amazing place with donkeys, pigs, chickens, roosters, and a ten-year-old boy who had the ability to talk to animals. They also had a huge pumpkin patch which was surrounded by a fence which was chained up and locked.

There was a barn-like building which claimed to be the area to pay for pumpkins with several loose pumpkins lying around. In desperation we left a $20 bill and took a large pumpkin and a sugar pumpkin for cooking.

After a late lunch at The Blue Dolphin Diner, which had been recommended by a friend and was pretty excellent, we stopped by Sgaglio's Marketplace to pick up some sweet Italian sausage for dinner. Let me just say that this market was pretty amazing. I wish I lived in Katonah to be able to frequent this market and possibly overdose on its rustic charm.

Once home we rung out our close, toweled ourselves dry, and took an hour long nap. After waking from the nap I was pretty sure my pneumonia had fully taken hold. Be that as it may I wasn't going to let that stop me from stuffing the hell out of a pumpkin

First we went through our bounty: from Hilltop Hannover Farms: fennel, chard, leeks, rutabaga, and mizuna. From Muscoot: one cooking pumpkin and one carving pumpkin.

You may recall that last year we made my mother's traditional Stuffed Pumpkin, a dish I am accustomed to eating this time of year.

This year I decided to try something a little different, mostly due to a lack of ground beef at home.

This year I stuffed the pumpkin with a stuffing made from onion, garlic, fennel, chard, sweet Italian sausage, cornbread, and sage. The result was pretty delicious. I felt a little guilty bastardizing my mother's recipe until I tasted the end result.

We'll see how impressed I am with myself after I also eat this stuffed pumpkin for the next six consecutive meals. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The End of an Era

With distance and time a factor we have had to leave our farm share behind. There are a few weeks left of our farm share but we are left a little too remote to pick it up. This week would have brought us fennel (or broccoli), leeks, potatoes, carrots, celeriac, onions, lettuce, kale and chard. Unfortunately, I know this thanks to Farmer Ted's weekly email and not because it is currently sitting in my fridge.

There is a farmer's market in town that we will likely visit this weekend in hopes of making up for vegetables lost. Incidentally, if you live in the vicinity of the George Washington Bridge and want some free vegetables for the next few weeks, contact me for details.

One of the last hurrahs for the farm share was this absurdity. It was just the remaining broccoli with some cheese ravioli and simple tomato sauce. A lack of creativity blended perfectly with a freezer full of quick fix meals that I'd stocked up on last week prior to a few late nights at work and Jen contracting the flu.

While Jen had the flu I didn't make much aside form chicken soup, a large pot of turkey stock and about two gallons of apple sauce from the last three weeks of farm apples we've received. I would have posted pictures but strangely the turkey stock and apple sauce look pretty similar. So similar, in fact, that Jen almost ate a spoonful of turkey stock the other night before I intercepted her. I fear that had I not interrupted her action she may have been put off both stock and apple sauce for a very long time.

Tuesday night was the first real dinner in a while. I roasted a red snapper stuffed with lemon wedges, parsley, and capers along with my traditional oven fries. I also made a mixed greens salad with grape tomatoes and goat cheese.

Tonight was another low-inspiration, high convenience meal. I baked this mustard-panko chicken breast along with wedges of acorn squash from the farm which I tossed with olive oil, sea salt, cayenne, and cumin. As an accompaniment I made a rerun of Tuesday's salad with a baked potato.

This weekend may bring a trip to the farmer's market to make up for the vegetables we have been missing. There may have also been enough time that has passed so that we might be able to go out to dinner again after our initial move in to the new place.

Oh, just imagine the wild adventures we will have this weekend with no one dying from the flu, no out of state weddings, and gas. It's going to be a wild time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vegetables That Roast and Simmer

I've lived in range of a grill for ten days now and I still haven't used it. I have not had reliable grill access for over five years so I thought I'd be taking more advantage of this. Unfortunately I haven't had a great deal of free time to be cooking these days. Last night was no different. Getting home late it was all I could do to turn on the oven, chop up some vegetables, and throw them in to roast while I showered and caught up on some other miscellaneous work.

I have become quite fond of roasting in the recent years. Now that we live in an apartment with ventilation and roasting does not mean triple degree room temperatures even in the dead of winter, roasting has gained a bit more luster under these circumstances.

Whilst the roasting occurred, I threw together a quick salad.

This salad isn't exactly a typical depiction of our Thanksgiving leftovers, however, we are running out of leftovers to utilize. I threw this together with the mimolette, red grapes, green grapes, black grapes, and some sweet Connecticut grape tomatoes.

The main course was assorted roasted farm vegetables: shallot, hot wax pepper, onion, celery, celery greens, acorn squash, and a little leftover butternut from Thanksgiving. I sauteed them with a little olive oil (no garlic to be found) and sprinkled lightly with a touch of cinnamon and cardamom.

Normally I think baked chicken is kind of lame. I guess there's really no way to really define baked chicken. They taught me at culinary school that baking only happens to something that is made from a dough or batter. In my mind I guess baked chicken is chicken that is placed into the oven cold with no searing. Before last night I'd never used this technique. Of course the term technique is used to cover up for my incredible laziness and lack of preparation time.

In the past I have always seared and finished in the oven. Last night I tossed in salt, pepper, and roughly chopped parsley from the farm.

The result was pretty good. The parsley from this week's farm pick up has been exceptional. A couple of years ago I would have laughed at the thought of exceptional parsley. It's kind of like exceptional water.

Tonight I used the leftover roasted vegetables from last night to make this salad along with the red leaf, arugula, and Connecticut sweet grape tomatoes.

On Tuesday I was fortunate enough to get my hands on some burrata. The only disadvantage to having something as delicious as burrata is t nohat one feels guitly even combining it with something as neutral as a water cracker. Burrata may be best enjoyed accompanied by only a spoon.

I used to work at a job where one of my responsibilities was to make 5 gallons of two to three different varieties of soup a day from leftover items we had lying around. In that time I became fairly adept at coming up with soups as I went along. Tonight I relived my roots by making a soup from some assorted farm leftovers including carrots, onion, celery, butternut squash, and the rind from a piece of Parmigiano.

The result was actually not that great. I think, perhaps, I may have gone a little heavy on the celery greens as the soup seemed to taste predominantly of celery.

For dessert we ate a wedding favor from last weekend's wedding. It was Jen's all time favorite thing in the world, a chocolate/caramel apple. This particular apple was from Dipalicious in Rhode Island.

We still have a giant bag of candy from the wedding and a fridge and freezer full of leftover desserts from Canadian Thanksgiving.

So pretty much it's the best thing ever.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Giving Canadian Thanks

On Sunday we hosted the first Canadian Thanksgiving in our new place. Aside from the difficulty of preparing the meal with only nine fingers and an unexpectedly exploding Pyrex dish it was a tremendous success, and a great turnout.

The menu was simple due to the quantities of food necessary and the lack of appropriate digits to prepare said food: brined, herb roasted turkey; wild mushroom risotto; roasted vegetables; mashed potatoes; stuffing; sweet corn tomalito; and cranberry sauce.

For dessert Jen made her maple leaf pumpkin pie and our guests brought a wide range of desserts including cookies, apple crisp, apple pie, whoppie pies, pecan pie, and brownies.

Typically tonight's meal would be hot turkey sandwiches, however, our turnout was so good for Canadian Thanksgiving that we had nearly no leftovers. Only a tiny plate of stuffing was left which made for a somewhat bizarre dinner last night.

Today's farm share pickup consisted of: Lettuce, corn, carrots, komatsuna, parsley, squash, arugula, celery, chilis, onions, Empire apples and Jonagold apples.

I used the immediate delivery to make this salad with leftover Blue Bavaria cheese and apples.

For the main course I made some potato gnocchi with olive oil and torn parsley leaves. This parsley was likely the finest proof that the old myth that parsley has no flavor is a load of crap.

One of the best things of the aftermath of the holiday is having a huge variety of desserts to enjoy after dinner. The only thing that could really make it better would be if a little man pushed around a cart and we got to select all of these various items from off of it.

There's always next year.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Catch Up In The Rye

The last week has been fraught with challenge, intrigue, injury, and too many meals eaten out. That being said we are finally quasi-settled in our new apartment and have left the sticky-dust filled air of Manhattan for a land filled with far more yuppies, chirping crickets, and the smell of the occasional skunk. Despite the latter it is often better smelling.

With a million things to tie up, change, abandon, and adopt, our main tie to the farm share has been in picking it up, putting it in the fridge, and wishing we had time to do anything with it.

Last week I picked up: Sweet corn, lettuce, beans, celery, carrots, Swiss chard, arugula, garlic, hot wax peppers, tomato, and apples.

None of the above would be used by week's end.

We did, however, eat out at the Holy Trinity of Washington Heights restaurants, Coogan's, Plum Pomidor, and Dallas BBQ., for our last three nights in the old apartment.

This lead us into the new apartment and new city where we quickly found the first of our new trinity, Water Moon, who have clearly let their domain name registration lapse.

While quite tasty, we became a little too familiar with Water Moon, eating there several days and nights in a row as we waited for conEd to be gracious enough to show up and turn on the gas so we could cook.

Of course we also had two meals delivered by Pizza Pasta & Things on the nights we couldn't even bear to go out to dinner in between assembling Ikea furniture and hanging curtain rods. Check out their website! The guy in the commercial that looks like Einstein actually delivered our food the first night. True story!

This lead us to the next week which brough: Spinach, broccoli, lettuce, dill, beans, carrots, kale, red onions, chiles, potato, McIntoch apples, and bosc pears.

With the magic combination of gas and vegetables you may be wondering why this shrimp and scallop scampi is the first meal we cooked in out new kitchen. Well, the missing ingredient of not-going-to-Ikea-or-Home-Depot-every-night-after-work was missing. Thus we could only throw some frozen shrimp and scallops into a pan, continuing to neglect the vegetables in the fridge.

But last night was going to be the night! I was able to use the arugula and greens to make a salad! Imagine that! It wasn't brought to us by a delivery driver! It didn't require dispensing a tip! Heck, it wasn't even deep fried!

I was even able to roast all these wonderful root vegetables from the farm: garlic, onions, celery, carrots, and potatoes.

We even roasted a chicken along with the vegetables! The smell of delicious roasting filled the air! Our new apartment, equipped with windows on all sides, didn't even heat up to 95 degrees as was custom in our old apartment.

Things were looking good. Until . . .

. . . TRAGEDY!

That's right, I broke our teapot. It was given to us by Jen's host family in Paris on our honeymoon. It is now broken. How did it break? Well, I filled it with tea and hot water (as one will do when making tea) then I picked it up and the handle just clean snapped off. Oh, and did I mention that when this happened the sharp broken handle bit sliced my thumb open like a lightsaber through a tauntaun? Unfortunately this particular teapot handle was not made of plasma and did not have the cauterizing properties of said Jedi weapon. This quickly made our new kitchen and bathroom resemble the scene of a grisly murder!

After I realized that this cut was not about to stop bleeding on its own we got in the car and started driving in hopes of finding an emergency room. Funny thing about Westchester: 90% of the hospitals are either psychiatric, for substance abuse, or both. After holding my hand above my head while Jen drove for nearly twenty minutes I began calling people I knew in the area to see if they knew where a proper emergency room was. After about 40 minutes we found one and there I had the most pleasant emergency room experience of my life.

At the hospital they quickly stitched me up and put this weird contraption on me that looks like a little metal doggy humping my thumb.

My last emergency room experience consisted of me waiting four hours in a waiting room while presumably dying of an intestinal virus, eventually getting seen, lying down in a drafty hallway for seventeen hours, then leaving after the doctor's had fixed me or, more likely, the virus had just worked its way out of my system.

My White Plains experience was about 30 minutes total. I was seen right away and while the nurse took my vital signs she recommended I watch a hilarious episode of Frasier where Niles cuts himself.

"You have to YouTube it," she said. "I watch it whenever I need a good laugh."

So, after a long day of refining my nine-finger typing skills for work, I made the best one-handed dinner I could with the ingredients on hand. This happened to be some frozen pierogies with some sauteed spinach from the farm. That was pretty much the best I could do.

With our annual Canadian Thanksgiving/Housewarming party on Sunday I am not quite sure how I am going to work that in my current situation. Most likely this means that Jen will do the bulk of the cooking and I will shout orders at her from a chair that I've rolled into the kitchen.

We'll see if she gives thanks for that.