8/26/2014 0 Comments
Besan Puda - Gram Flour Dosa
by Christopher Totaro
This recipe may seem like a lot of work but it’s pretty fun and all of the steps are fairly simply. So, invite a friend over and share a glass of wine to make the preparation more of a social event. The dosa can be filled with anything. I chose sautéed onions and beets. The result is absolutely delicious not to mention, allows for some great glam-shots afterward. Have some fun with the presentation. Did I mention that it's gluten-free?
For the sauce
2 heirloom tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
4 small sprigs fresh oregano
about 12 fresh basil leaves
salt & pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 additional sprigs fresh oregano
8 additional fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup tahini
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
For the dosa
1 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup rice flour
pinch of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, clove, fenugreek, nutmeg
3/4 cup water
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup diced green onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the filling
1 small white onion
1 roasted golden beet
salt & pepper to taste
For the sauce
✼Broil the first six ingredients in a Pyrex loaf pan until the tomato skins wrinkle and the juices bubble. Let cool.
✼ Add cooked tomato mixture plus the remaining five ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth.
For the dosa
✼ Shred the zucchini with a box grater. Chop the basil and dice the green onions.
✼ In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients together; mix well.
✼ Slowly add the water while stirring to avoid lumps.
✼ Add the zucchini, basil, and green onions. Mix well.
✼ Warm a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Ensure that the pan is hot enough by sprinkling a few drops and watching it sizzle.
✼ Pour 1/2 cup of the batter into the skillet and spread evenly with a back of spoon.
✼ When the bottom of the pancake begins to solidify, begin to gently separate the edges from the pan until the entire pancake is released and can spin freely within the pan. Drizzle one teaspoon of olive oil on top of the pancake, then carefully flip.
✼ Flip several times until it's thoroughly cooked, crisp and brown on both sides.
✼ Repeat steps for the remaining batter.
For the filling
✼ Chop both into julienne-sized pieces. Sautée in a hot pan with coconut oil.
✼ Lay the warm pancake flat and spread half of the pancake with a thick layer of the sauce.
✼ Top the sauce side with the onion & beet filling.
✼ Fold the pancake in half.
✼ Drizzle sauce on top. (A squirt bottle is helpful here.)
8/26/2014 0 Comments
Heirloom Tomato & Onion Galette
by Cassie Sciortino
For the dough: Place 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, 1/2 t. salt, and 1/2 t. sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix to combine. Then, add 1 stick of cold, cubed, unsalted butter and run on low-medium speed until the butter is the size of dry lentils. At this point, slowly add 1/8-1/4 c. ice water in a steady stream, just until the dough holds together. It’s better to err on the side of caution in this step- you can always add more water, so don’t be heavy handed when you start to pour.
Form the dough into a flattened round, wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour. This resting period allows the gluten to relax, which will leave you with tender, flaky dough. The dough can be made 2-3 days ahead of time.
After the hour + has elapsed, remove dough from the fridge and roll it into a circle approximately 9″ in diameter and 1/8″ thick. Poke holes in the dough with a fork. Chill the dough again, covered in plastic, while the onions cook.
For the filling: Place 2 onions, thinly sliced, into a saute pan with about 1 T. olive oil. Cook them slowly over low heat, stirring often, until caramelized. If the onions start to look like they are burning in places, add a little more oil to hydrate them. While the onions cook, slice 2 small heirloom tomatoes into ¼” slices; set on paper towels to drain. Slice a handful of cherry tomatoes in half and scoop out their seeds. Once done, set the caramelized onions aside.
Set the oven to 350F. While the onions cool, brush a thin layer of egg wash or water around the perimeter of the dough. Fold the edges over slightly, about 1/4″, and seal to the egg wash. Brush more egg wash around the perimeter and use your fingers to pinch the dough, forming pleats or ridges. The beauty of galettes is that they are free-form and meant to look rustic, so don’t stress if the ridges don’t look perfect- they aren’t supposed to be.
Spread the cooled onions over the dough and top with the prepared tomatoes, 2 oz. bleu cheese, and 2 T. chopped walnuts (optional). Season with fresh herbs, salt, and pepper to taste.
Bake the galette for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
8/26/2014 1 Comment
FreshDirect CSA: Yea or Nay?
by Kim Rust
Earlier this summer, FreshDirect announced a new offering - a boxed “CSA” product. As one tweet announcement reads – “[Our] new #CSA boxes from Lancaster Farm Co-Op […] Feature [a] diverse selection of approx 8 #organic veg/week.” FreshDirect customers can now order a CSA box any day of the week and choose which weeks to participate or skip. There is no seasonal commitment. The model is “when you want it.” Boxes typically include 8-10 varieties of produce and prices range from $27.99 to $49.99 per box depending on the farm and inclusion of eggs and cheese. FreshDirect is currently showcasing Pennsylvania and New York state farms for New York City delivery.
I have used FreshDirect many times and lauded it for convenience when in a grocery bind. However, those of us who know that CSA translates to “Community Supported Agriculture” have to wonder if FreshDirect isn’t doing a bit of false advertising. Reviews are crediting FreshDirect with being a more convenient CSA – fresh produce when you want it – without the hassle making a commitment to an actual farmer and community organization on a seasonal basis. They certainly are capitalizing on a trendy acronym but how far off of the mark are they?
To understand whether or not FreshDirect’s offering is truly a CSA, let’s begin with the definition of a CSA. A CSA is a group of people who purchase shares from a given farm in advance of the growing season as a way of providing financial support for that farm. Every week, CSA members pick up their allotted vegetables (and sometimes fruit) at a predetermined location. The money invested by the community before the growing season begins supports the farm in a variety of ways - from purchasing new seeds to equipment repair.
Now, let’s hone in on the “community” component. The idea is that a group of like-minded people come together weekly to pick-up their farm shares. You chat, you exchange recipes, and you complain about the weird surprise veggie you have to take home – but you do it together. You don’t have the option of saying “yes” one week and “no” the next despite your travel or work schedule. You know every week there is some surplus and the CSA is putting that surplus to good use by donating to local shelters, youth groups, and community centers. The volunteer efforts of the community to run the CSA keep the seasonal costs down. You earn the right to your “group membership” by donating 8 hours over the course of 6 months to a host of volunteer activities. You may help on the farm, write newsletter recipes, or set-up or clean-up the weekly pick-up spot. Each volunteering opportunity is a chance to bond with other CSA members, further enhancing the community component.
FreshDirect has done a wonderful job supporting local farmers. This was true even before their CSA announcement. However, FreshDirect is misleading customers by indicating that the purchase of a box of local produce entitles them to be called a CSA member. There are essential elements of a CSA missing from the FreshDirect’s boxes of produce, making their “CSA box” a total misnomer.
A person who purchases a CSA box from FreshDirect is not a CSA member despite supporting local agriculture. The components of community building and season-long financial support of a farmer are missing in the FreshDirect model. FreshDirect should certainly continue to support local agriculture, but it should strongly consider rebranding this product so as not to confuse consumers. If FreshDirect does not rebrand, customers may shy away from joining actual CSAs in favor of the FreshDirect product. This shift could have the opposite effect customers might anticipate, providing less financial support to farmers on a seasonal basis and more unpredictability in crop yield from week-to-week.
8/26/2014 0 Comments
A Closer Look at Urban Agriculture
by Cassie Sciortino
The term “urban agriculture” brings a variety of imagery to mind: windowsill herb gardens and vertically strung buckets of tomato plants, the parcels of land on the corner of your block filled with your neighbors’ hydrangea plants and zucchini flowers. But in reality, urban farming is much bigger than what many imagine. It sees your fire escape philodendrons and raises you a couple thousand square feet. It is, according to the United Nations, “an industry that produces, processes, and markets food…throughout the urban area…to yield a diversity of crops and livestock,” a commercial venture that both takes from and gives back tenfold to the community it exists within.
This idea of adapting a commonly rural industry to a metropolitan location is not a new one; archaeologists have discovered that in ancient Egypt and at Machu Picchu, designated spaces were carved into densely populated cities in order to grow food for the community. But while the Incas, lacking our modern day transportation and supply chain developments, relied on this urban agriculture for survival, modern day city dwellers are choosing to grow and purchase produce from neighborhood farms not out of necessity, but for the betterment of their city’s economic, social, and environmental health. As the miles your food has to travel to get to your kitchen decrease, so does the impact of pollutants created though long distance transportation. At the same time, consumers are getting in season produce at its peak, their dollars contributing not to some far away economy but to the wallets of their local farmers, who in turn reinvest in their communities through every paycheck they write to their laborers and every person they help to educate on the benefits of their movement.
Brooklyn Grange, with a total of 108,000 square feet of farmland in both Queens and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is the world’s largest rooftop soil farm. Financed through crowd sourcing, private equity, and loans, the company was created to grow nutritious vegetables for New York City in a sustainable manner, while promoting education and healthy eating through its partnerships with local non-profits. Barley, oats, herbs, carrots, greens, and over 40 varietals of tomatoes all flourish, making their way to the plates of New Yorkers via weekly green market farm stands, the company’s CSA program, and the restaurants that purchase from Brooklyn Grange directly.
Mike Matteo is a sous chef at Lafayette, one of the Manhattan restaurants that rely on Brooklyn Grange for its biweekly delivery of arugula, seasonal mixed greens, micro kale, coriander berries, and more. “The appeal [of ordering produce through BG] is a combination of its incredible quality and the fact that they’re doing some really cool stuff over there. And it’s close, so I can stop by to check out what they’re growing and see firsthand what we can incorporate into the menu.” (Browsing the crates of produce in the restaurants prep area, I couldn’t help but notice that the heirloom tomato supply came from none other than Hepworth Farms).
Wandering the beds of mizuna and beans isn’t just for the cooking professionals, either. The farm has a full events calendar with weekly workshops ranging from cocktail making to beekeeping, tours of the Navy Yard facility, and Monday sunset yoga open to anyone in search of a beautiful view to pair with their shavasana. Check out their website at www.brooklyngrangefarm.com for a full calendar of events. Have more questions about urban agriculture, such as how polluted city air affects crops or how to build your own rooftop farm? That’s all there, too.
8/12/2014 0 Comments
The Best Ever Potato Soup
by Tawnya Manion
6 slices of smoked bacon
1-whole yellow onion; chopped
3 whole carrots; diced
3 stalks celery; diced
6 whole Russet potatoes; peeled and diced
8 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt; more to taste
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. blackened spice mix
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. fresh parsley; minced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese
1. Add bacon to a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook it until it's crispy; about 6 minutes. Remove the bacon, and pour off half of the grease. Keep the other half of the grease in the pot.
2. Return the pot to the stove and reheat it to medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute for two minutes. Then, add the potatoes, saute for 5 more minutes. Season with salt, pepper, blackened spice mix, and Cayenne pepper.
3. Pour the broth into the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to get tender. Whisk together the flour and milk to create a slurry, then pour into the soup and allow it to cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Pour half of the soup into a blender/food processor and blend until completely smooth. Return the blended mixture to the pot and reheat it to a simmer. Stir in the cream and parsley.
5. Serve in individual bowls with sprinkles of bacon, parsley, and cheese (I also always add extra pepper).
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