communtiy garden in Brooklyn

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Grilled vegetables

Tis the season for grilling! Use that grill for something other than hot dogs and burgers for a change and grill an assortment of vegetables like this one. I cut up potatoes, onions, beets, carrots and rutabegas, tossed them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, thyme and rosemary. Then make an aluminum foil patch for the vegetables to go into and place the pouch on a hot grill to cook for 30 minutes or so. When they are ready, they will have a nice smoky flavor you can get anywhere else besides your grill!

Gardening season has begun!

So it's the end of March and this is my gardening update:

Seeds are started..I've got egg cartons full of cilantro, basil, cherry tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, and roma tomatoes (hopefully to make lots of sauce from!)

Spinach is planted in the backyard...

And at the community garden, the winter cover crops have been turned over and turnips went in the ground today!

I love spring!

More pictures to follow!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Clam Chowdah

The story behind this "chowdah" as they say in RI, comes from my days of working as a cook at the Rhode Island School of Design. One of my favorite places I've ever worked I might add. During the summer, RISD entered a clam chowder contest in Newport, RI. If you ever get the chance to visit RI, I highly recommend Newport. The big houses along the beach are nice, the bridge taking you into Newport from Providence is pretty cool, the sailboats are a nice sight to see, but the clams, they are amazing. You have to eat at a little clam shack called Flo's, across the street from the main beach in Newport. There are 3 things you must try:
1. Stuffed fiery quahogs
2. The $5 special - Bowl of clam chowder, clam cakes and a cup of beer.
3. The $50 special - 2 hots dogs and a bottle of champagne! (I am going to do this someday when I go back!)

Back to my RISD story - we entered a clam chowder cook off and although we didn't win with our aurora chowdah, the day was a blast! This isn't exactly RISD's recipe, but it is similar and delicious!

2 strips bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 medium sized yukon gold potatoes - diced
2 dozen clams, steamed, juices reserved, clams chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
thyme, salt and pepper to taste
milk - about 2 cups
heavy cream - about 1 cup

1. Saute bacon in stock pot until cooked through. Add 1 tsp butter if needed. Then saute onion until soft. Add potatoes, milk and seasonings.
2. Simmer until potatoes are soft, then mash potatoes a bit with a fork.
3. Add clam juice and chopped clams, diced tomatoes and heavy cream. Simmer for a few minutes longder, do not let boil. Taste, adjust seasonings.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homemade biscuits and apple jam

The inspiration to make apple jam came when a friend requested some more fig jam that I made last September. I only had a bit left, so we decided to make apple jam, because apples are so plentiful right now.

Jam making is actually pretty simple. I have yet to find any pectin in my Brooklyn neighborhood, so instead I've made jam twice without it. Time works just fine as the thickener.

We used a variety of apples, about 10 total. Peel, core and cut them into small pieces. Add juice from 1 lemon, a cup or so of sugar, 1 T. fresh grated ginger, 2 t cinnamon, a few dashes of nutmeg and a teaspoon of freshly ground cloves. Add everything to a large pot and cook on low heat until the desired consistency is reached. Add water if needed, although I don't think you are "supposed to", but we did.

Sanitize ball jars (a dishwasher is usually recommended)
Bring lids to boil in water, turn off heat, cover.
Heat jars in the oven.
Ladle jam into hot jar, wipe rim clean. Place lids on jar (use tongs to remove from the hot water). Turn jars upside down and let cool.

What better pairing with jam than homemade biscuits? I used a simple drop biscuit recipe, becasue I don't have biscuit cutters, although I have used cookie cutters in the past..heart shaped to be exact.

Buttermilk Biscuit recipe: (adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
3 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 T sugar
1 t salt
3/4 t cream of tartar
1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I didn't have buttermilk, so I made/used sour milk - just pour a T vinegar in a measuring cup and then fill it up the rest of the way with milk. Let sit for 5 minutes before adding it to the other ingredients)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Stir together dr ingredients. Cut butter and shortening into flour mixture. Add buttermilk all at once, stir with a fork until just moistened. Don't knead or anything, just drop dough by the spoonful onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Eat immediately!

Just realized we were too busy drinking wine while making the apple jam to take any pictures of the process! We will just have to make it again! darn!

Baked cod with smashed potatoes and roasted balsamic asparagus

One of the many great things about living on the coast is the abundance of fresh seafood. The fish stand at the farmer's market I go to every week always has a great selection of fresh fish. I grew up eating lake fish, mostly catfish, so I've had to learn to get used to some new types of fish. Skate and hake are two good ones, as is the commonly known cod fish. I paired the fish with smashed potatoes, (yes smashed, not mashed, because I didn't peel them) and roasted asparagus (I know, I know it's not in season!). This meal was inspired by a friend's meal at the Brooklyn Public House a couple weekends ago.

To cook the asparagus, break off the tough ends wherever it breaks easily when pressed. Peel the ends. Steam until tender, shock in ice water (blanch). Toss with olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and roast for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Bake Cod:
Juice of 1 lemon
sauteed mushrooms
1 T vinegar
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
bake at 350 degrees F
Finishe dwhen fish turns from opaque to white

Smashed potatoes - no directions know what to do!