august tomatoes.

It is August and you know what that means... tomatoes are out in full force by the bushel load!

The farmers market was bursting with every shape and size. Our little garden upstate is not too shabby either. It seems that hot spell was just what they needed. Delaware County has a ridiculously short growing season so when we get tomatoes we are ecstatic.

I am eating them every way I can. Last night I made a salad inspired by one I ate at the new restaurant Estela on East Houston Street in NYC. There is really no recipe here as I just kind of threw them together based on the flavors and ingredients I remembered from the dish.

This is what I put in mine.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Purselane

Canary Melon

I added some fresh herbs and topped it with olive oil and chive blossom vinaigrette.

Hope you are inspired to make something with tomatoes too! When January comes you will be craving a real tomato. So what are you waiting for?

You can see the completed salad on instagram here

Check out the August issue of Bon Appétit Magazine for some great inspired tomato recipes

xx

roasted concord grape two ways.

Oh dear, I have been so delinquent in keeping up the blog lately! Life is getting the better of me and the days are flying by. Here we are mid October already! I want to share some of the things I have been making and eating lately. There are no recipes to accompany these as they are meant more for inspiration. The first is Roasted Concord Grapes With Olive Oil Maple And Sea Salt, on top of Greek yogurt with maple and flax seeds.. You can do it with any fruit as I been doing since the first stone fruits arrived in the Summer and unless you are really wild about Concord grapes like I am you might be better off with a simpler fruit like apple or plum The Concord grapes are real pain with the seeds and they require some serious work to get them out!breakfast I know I said I wasn't going to give a recipe but here is the gist of it in the loosest sense; Take whatever fruit you decie to use and spread it on a lined sheet pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and top with a touch of maple syrup. Pop the whole tray in the oven and slow roast the fruit at 350 degrees until it is soft. (With the Concord grapes, you must carefully split the grape and remove the seeds once they are soft and roasted... this takes patience and diligence and a small sharp knife!)

Once your fruit is roasted, Place a generous portion of it on top of your bowl of Greek yogurt and drizzle with a little maple, a tiny hit of sea salt and a good heaping tablespoon or two of flax seeds!

My other grape inspired recipe is Concord grape and Hen Of The Woods Crostini.

Place a generous amount of hen of the woods mushrooms on a lined baking sheet or in a big cast iron frying pan. Drizzle with olive oil, seas salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Cut a handful of concord grapes in half and gently remove the seeds. toss the Concord grapes with the hen of the woods and olive oil mixture. Throw the pan in the oven and roast at 350 degrees until the mushrooms are soft and some of the edges are a touch crispy.

Toast some really good bread and brush with olive oil after toasting. Top the bread with the roasted mushrooms and grape mixture. Shave some Pecorino Romano on top and get to eating! 

That's it! 

Have lovely Tuesday friends!!

I promise to be back sooner than later! 

where the wild things are. no. 20. pick a peck of pickled milkweed.

I have gone a little mad for milkweed this summer! You could have knocked me over when I first learned that it was edible. I have always known that Monarchs are dependent on milkweed for survival but I was dubious about eating it but no more, I am now a total convert. I have made milkweed frittata, a tempura of the blossoms and buds and now i have come to the pickled milkweed pods! They taste a bit like pickled ochre  and have a caperberry like texture. Do not worry, you will not end up like Sylvester with a mouthful of fluff! The tiny pods get pickled when they are between one to two inches long and the fluff inside the pod is not really fully fluff yet. I have tried these out on friends and family and the consensus seems to be that they are surprisingly good.

So grab some milkweed pods before they get too big and get pickling.

Pickled Milk Weed Pods

4 cups of milkweed buds (between 1-2 inches in size)

5 cups raw apple cider vinegar

1/4-cup sugar in the raw

2 sprigs of fresh dill flower

1-tablespoon whole juniper berries

1/2 teaspoon crushed juniper berries (crush them with a mortar and pestle)

1 tablespoon of black pepper corns

3 tablespoons grey sea salt

 To Make The Brine:

Add the spices and sugar to the 5 cups of vinegar

Heat to a boil in a non-reactive pot

Turn off and allow steeping for 20 minutes for the spices to infuse

In the mean time, clean and wash and de-stem the milkweed pods 

Blanch the milkweed pods for 30 seconds and then plunge them into an ice bath

Place the blanched milkweed pods in two 4-cup sterilized mason or Weck jars.

After the brine has infused for 20 minutes or so, return it to the heat and bring it to a quick boil and turn off.

Remove the brine from the heat and slowly pour it over the milkweed pods.

The pickled milkweed pods will last a couple of weeks in your refrigerator.

where the wild things are no.18. spruce tip honey and other bits.

A few years ago, an Austrian friend gave me a jar of spruce tip honey he had made in a big pot in his yard, over a fire, upstate. I was fascinated by the idea. He told me that it is easy to make a spruce pine or fir tip syrup from the young green tips of the spruce tree, fir or pine tree.

The spruce tip syrup strangely tastes of wild strawberries and citrus with just a hint of pine.  This is strange I know, but odd and beautiful at the same time!

I had planned to make it the following year but time slipped by and I found myself upstate at the wrong time to collect the young spruce tips. This year, however I was determined to make it! A forager friend and supplier, Evan Strusinksi, who collects for many well known chefs, sent me some spruce tips he collected in Southern Vermont. Simultaneously, we gathered a big batch of our own from upstate. So with a huge pile of spruce tips I set to work to make the mysteriously beautiful syrup! Spruce tips can also be used in various recipes; many chefs are using this wild ingredient on their spring menus. A little on line research came produced some quick shortbread, salts, pickled spruce tips and other interesting uses. So far, I have only had time to make the syrup but I have a big bag of tips in my refrigerator and they seem to keep quite well for a long time so perhaps I will get around to a bit more experimentation in the coming weeks.

Spruce, pine and fir tips are all edible and can be used to make syrup. They are very high in vitamin c. I imagined the syrup would be good on with seltzer, or in a cocktail mixed with a little gin and soda, on pancakes or in tea or as some research shows, it makes for a great spoonful of vitamin c to ward off and alleviate colds and sore throats! It seems like the perfect all around staple for a  fall/winter pantry. In some parts of the country it is too late to pick the young tips but if you are lucky and you hurry you may be able to set a jar aside for winter use., You  will want to pick the tips young because the resin qualities increase as they mature.

I found that with most things there were various techniques out there for making this syrup or honey as some call it.

I ended up going my own way because the jar that my Austrian friend had given me was quite dark in color and quite thick as opposed to the clear syrups I was seeing on line.

This recipe is really simple. I went with equal parts sugar and spruce tips and added a little extra water.

I combined all three and brought the tips and the sugar water to a boil making sure not to burn it or over boil the pot. I stirred constantly for 5 minutes or so to make sure all the sugar was dissolved. I then reduced the heat to a simmer and let it cook down slowly for three hours until it was a beautiful rose color and a little bit syrupy. It thickens quite a bit when cooled.

I then strained the tips out through a sieve and discarded them. I jarred the syrup in a sterilized quart jar and refrigerated it for later use. From what i have read on line, this syrup will last up to 4 months or longer if refrigerated.

 

See the below links for some interesting recipes found on line or check out The Wild Table by Connie Green for a salt recipe and a great spruce tip vodka. As with any wild food make sure to properly identify it before cooking with it or consuming it!

I used a different method to make mine but there is some interesting inspiration here.

http://medcookingalaska.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-to-harvest-spruce-tips-with-recipes.html

http://honest-food.net/veggie-recipes/sweets-and-syrups/spruce-or-fir-tip-syrup/

 

 

SPRUCE TIP SYRUP/HONEY

5 cups spruce tips

6 cups water

5 cups sugar

 

 

Method

Coarsely chop spruce tips

Combine water, spruce tips and sugar in a large pot.

Bring to a boil stirring constantly for five minutes.

Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or so on low or until the syrup thickens to your liking.

The color will be a light a rose. 

Remember that the syrup will thicken as it cools, so you may want to test a spoonful by letting it cool to check desired consistency. If you over boil it and it becomes too thick, you can add some water to thin it down, but the color will end up be a darker honey color as opposed to the rose.

The longer you simmer it the thicker and darker it will become.