Thursday, February 28, 2008

Indoor Farmers Market at the Westchester County Center

If you live in the NY metro area and are looking for a taste of spring, check out the indoor farmers market in Westchester, a monthly event that features fresh produce, delicious baked goods, maple syrup, honey and jams, meats, wines, and dairy products. The event takes place Sundays, March 16, April 20, and May 18, 10 am. to 3 p.m. Free Admission, Parking $4. For more information, visit www.countycenter.biz . The Westchester County Center is located at 198 Central Avenue, White Plains, NY 10606; Phone - 914-995-4050.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hot tamale!

Ususally when I buy more than a pound of ground beef in one package, I split it into smaller portions before I freeze it so that I am not thawing more beef than I can use at once. But recently I bought some meat on sale and just threw it all in the freezer. I made burgers and potatoe skins on Monday and I had some extra ground beef in the fridge. I was looking for something more exciting to do with it than make burgers, meatballs or chili, so I looked in one of my gazillion cookbooks. I found "Beefy Corn Bread" in a book called Family Meals by Borders at Home. I threw this recipe together in the morning and just had to heat it for 10 minutes when I came home at night. It was a surprisingly nice combination of salty, sweet and a touch of spice. It reminded me of a tamale without the wrapper. Below is my adapted version. The original called for cumin which I left out and I added a pinch more taco seasoning instead.

Beefy Corn Bread
Ingredients:
10 oz. extra lean ground beef
1 teaspoon chili powder (I used a taco seasoning mix)
1/2 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed (I used canned corn, drained)
1/4 cup salsa
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp. sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
3/4 cup fat-free milk (I used 2%)
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preparation: In large skillet, brown the beef and add the seasoning. Drain any excess fat. Stir in the corn and 1/4 cup salsa. In medium bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk and oil then add the flour mixture until just moistened. Spray a 2-quart baking dish (I didn't have this so used a one-and-a-half quart baking dish and baked for an extra 5 minutes) with non-stick spray. Spread half the cornbread mixture in the bottom of the dish. Spoon meat mixture over batter and sprinkle with half the cheese. Spoon remaining cornbread mixture on top and spread to cover meat. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve with 1/3 cup heated salsa. (I forgot this step, but it was still yummy). Makes 6 servings.

They recommend topping with fresh cilantro and jalapeno slices if desired, but I don't particularly like either, especially cilantro, so I skipped it. I might in the future try baking some jalapeno into the bread since I find jalapeno corn bread without meat is tasty.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chick pea salad

Delicious, nutritious and easy. I found a recipe on the can of Goya chick peas and had all the ingredients so I made it with dinner last night and my husband took the rest for lunch today with a salad. The great thing is it is served chilled or at room temperature making it a great side for entertaining or to take to work for lunch. It can be made a couple of days ahead of time but if you do that, be prepared to double the recipe or there will be nothing left when you go to serve it!

Here's my adapted version:

Chick pea salad
1 15.5 oz. can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 small cucumber, chopped
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
Garlic powder and salt to taste

Toss ingredients together and serve.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The best homemade brownie recipe

Although I have made brownies from scratch countless times, I always go back to the ones you make out of the box because I have found that they are inevitably more fudgy with richer chocolate flavor. But, I finally found a recipe that I like (and so does the family) and they only have 6 tablespoons of butter! I made these last night.

Adapted from a recipe in All You magazine:
Fudgy Brownies
Prep: 20 min.
Bake: 25 min.
Yield: 16

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (semi-sweet chocolate chips also work)
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil leaving a 1 inch overhang. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Melt butter and chocolate until smooth in a saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly. Combine eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and stir in chocolate and butter mixture. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add chocolate chips. Pour into pan and bake until set in center, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool. Place plate over pan and turn upside-down to release the brownies. Cut into small squares.

The addition of the chocolate chips was not in the original recipe but I added them in case the recipe by itself was not fudgy enough. The recipe calls for baking 20 to 25 minutes. In my experience (depending on your oven of course), 20 minutes is plenty and more would make them dry.

I have seen brownie recipes call for foil in the pan before and thought it would be a mess with batter seeping under the foil and making it all stick together, but this batter is very thick, so it was not a problem and in fact, removing the brownies was so easy, I may do it this way every time. I sprayed my foil with baking spray to be sure it didn't stick. I saw the Neelys on Food Network make their brownies with foil in the pan the same day I tried this, so thought they all can't be wrong! Enjoy!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wine and Food Festival

I am very much looking forward to this year's bigger better greater NY Wine and Food Festival event organized by the Journal News. The event will take place in April at the Doubletree Hotel in Tarrytown and will feature tastings, celebrity chefs, competitions and more. For more information or to buy tickets click here http://lohud.com/bo/wine/index.html.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dine out to end hunger in NYC March 2

Invite your friends and family to dine out on March 2 for the fifth annual Time Out For Hunger campaign in partnership with Time Out New York magazine. More than 80 restaurants will donate 10 percent of the day’s proceeds to help New Yorkers at risk of hunger. For more information, visit http://www.foodbanknyc.org/index.cfm?objectid=6ECD2E9D-FF43-391F-1C835B67E0621E04&tr=y&auid=3398629.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Secret to the Perfect Omelet

I have discovered the secret to the perfect omelet and it's not onions, peppers or cheese - it's a stainless steel pan. Most of my life I have cooked with non-stick pans, mostly because they are affordable and I didn't know any better! I have slowly been discovering the joys of cooking with stainless steel since my father bought me a beautiful set of stainless pots and pans for Christmas. So, this morning I sprayed my 8 inch pan with olive oil and heated the pan. Once I added the eggs, the omelet cooked quickly and evenly and flipped easily. I'm never going back.

Another cooking tool I am learning I can't live without is a good knife. I spluged on one when I hosted a Pampered Chef party a few months back and I now relize I have been chopping with a handicap for years. Good knives are worth the extra money.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

L'Absinthe - French Restaurant in NYC

I had the pleasure this afternoon to enjoy the best of NYC cuisine at a french restaurant called L'Absinthe located in Manhattan's east side. I was meeting some media contacts so had an excuse to have a decadent lunch. I ordered the cheese platter as an appetizer. If I was stranded on a dessert island, and I could choose one food it would be cheese! Pasta would be nice, too. But anyway, the platter was a wonderful selection of hard and soft cheeses inlcuding bleu cheese and brie. The platter came with mixed greens with oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt, and walnuts and dried apricots, so was the perfect blend of sweet and salty. My second course was vine ripened tomatoes with lentils and cucumber "tagliatelle" topped with bleu cheese. I must admit, I was initially disappointed when the dish came and I saw how little bleu cheese was on it - it was topped with a finely grated dusting of the cheese, but I came to appreciate the subtlety of the flavor. It was not at all overpowering. The restaurant is offering a special menu for Valentine's Day - a three course menu for $90. The restaurant is located at 227 E. 67th Street, NY, NY 10021, 212-794-4950. More details at www.labsinthe.com or www.labsinthenyc.com.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Winter market to sell New York's Hudson Valley's local foods

If you are like me and longing for Spring and signs of the first blooms - and the first farmer's markets - here's an event for you that I read about in the Poughkeepsie Journal. Winter Sun Farms will sponsor a Winter Market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this coming Saturday at Deyo Hall on Broadhead Avenue in New Paltz, New York. The market will feature Hudson Valley products and fun family demonstrations. Participating farms include: Taliaferro Farms, Four Wind Farms, Phillies Bridge, Brook Farm, Grey Mouse Farm, Veritas Farms, Acorn Hill, Conuco Farms, Bradley Farms, Pika's Quiches, Threshold Farm, Wild Hive Bakery and more. Winter Sun Farm was launched by Jim Hyland, in order to create a line of frozen vegetables under one label that are being sold in a community-supported agriculture model. For information: E-mail jim@wintersunfarms.com; call 845-255-1699; or visit www.wintersunfarms.com

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tomato Sauce with Pancetta

This past Christmas, I made food gift baskets for all the grown-ups in my family. I sent one to my aunt and uncle in Michigan and they sent a nice note of thanks a while back and asked for the tomato sauce recipe. So, here I will hit two birds with one stone and make it my blog entry for today. I loosely based the sauce on something I saw Giada DeLaurentiis make on her show before the holidays. Here's my version:

Tomato Sauce with Pancetta

Ingredients:
Two cans tomato puree
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb. pancetta (which is like Italian bacon and can be found where prosciutto is)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 or 3 large carrots, grated
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
Dried basil, parsley, thyme, salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation: Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add pancetta and cook until browned slightly. Add onion and cook until softened. Deglaze the bottom of the pot with the white wine or broth. Add tomato puree, carrots, herbs, salt and pepper and simmer on medium heat until thickened and the flavors are blended, about an hour. Pour over pasta and top with pecorino romano cheese or pour into a jar and save. This sauce can be frozen until you are ready to use.

Monday, February 4, 2008

My new column on My Personal Farmers has launched!

I was honored when I was asked to write a monthly column on http://www.mypersonalfarmers.com/ and this month is the first. The column appears on the recipe page (www.mypersonalfarmers.com/recipes.html) and while it was a time consuming process to create and test the recipes and then write about them, it was quite fulfilling as it is the first food writing (outside this blog) that I have done that is all about my own cooking. I am honored that they thought I was skilled enough to tackle such a project. Check out this month's entry for information on nutritious red foods and my recipes for Beet and Yam Won Ton Ravioli (which I served the parents as an appetizer on Saturday) and Wilted Beet Greens with Apples and Walnuts.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Go Giants!

Friends of ours have a Super Bowl party every year, no matter who the teams are that make it in. This year, we in the New York area all have Super Bowl fever as we root for our very own NY Giants. My friend likes to keep junk food to a minimum at her parties, so she asked me to bring fruit. I was trying to think of creative ways to jazz up fruit when it hit me that I had seen a photo of fruit kabobs in a magazine and decided to see what fruit I had around to make kabobs with. I made fruit kabobs with pineapple, strawberries and orange slices. I arranged the kabobs in a plastic bowl in the center of a platter and surrounded them with slices of pound cake. I sprinkled the cake with team colors - red, white and blue sprinkles - and topped the platter with a plastic Super Bowl decoration from a supermarket cake we had the day before.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Today we are having all the parents over - four from my side, two from the Cea side - to celebrate three birthdays. I decided to cook a Puglisi - or maybe it's Masullo (mom's side) - family favorite that we call Genoese sauce. I imagine it was originally Genovese sauce, so I have named it that below. Anyway, it was always a special treat when Grandma decided to make this dish. The base of the sauce is a pot roast which is cooked for several hours. I can remember Grandma Puglisi standing over a hot stove for hours. I have neither the time nor the patience for that, so I cook mine in a slow cooker. The one I am serving today cooked yesterday for 8 hours on low with all ingredients added from the start.

Genovese Sauce

Ingredients:
3 to 4 lbs bottom or top round (pot roasted)
1 pkg onion soup mix
6 or 7 small chopped onions
2 carrots chopped
1/2 lb proscuitto

Preparation: Pot roast meat in oil and water (simmer covered for a couple of hours until brown; keep adding water and turning). Season with salt when cooked. Pour in cooked onion soup and add vegetables and proscuitto. Simmer uncovered until thick (about an hour). Note: I have also used wine for the liquid which adds nice flavor. This time, I used chicken broth and skipped the onion soup mix. Next time I am going to try beef broth.

Serve over a pound or two of spaghetti topped with lots of pecorino romano cheese. Buon appetito!

Friday, February 1, 2008

When Pigs Fly

I just ate at the Flying Pig in Mt. Kisco because I am writing a feature story on the restaurant for the Mt. Kisco and Pleasantville Examiner papers. What an experience! The service was superb - that of an elegant restaurant. The food was unique, healthful and completely organic and local. From their website: "The Flying Pig on Lexington is Northern Westchester's standard bearer for local, natural, farm-to-table foods. With a menu that showcases farm-fresh foods from the Hudson Valley and beyond, we capture the vibrancy of seasonal flavors." The Flying Pig on Lexington is located at 251 Lexington Avenue, at the corner of Moore Avenue in Mount Kisco. Telephone: 914-MOO-PIG5 (914-666-7445). Check out their website at http://www.flyingpigdining.com.

embracing a sustainable lifestyle as a Locavore ... using locally grown and produced ingredients whenever possible ...

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