Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Dear Friends,

Sorry I've been a bit of an absentee for the past few weeks.  Like really absentee.  I have a lot of excuses, like a lot of work traveling, sick kiddo, etc, but none are that exciting.  I promise to fill you in on a TON of new posts, including the tail end of our CSA.  In the meantime, I'm in the process of cooking up batches and batches of Christmas cookies.  I'm making two family regulars, rum torte and moon cookies - recipes handed down from my Grandmother.  The new one I'm trying are chocolate sandwich cookies.  I would be happy to post pics, but I seem to have misplaced my camera cord (dast!).  

Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season thus far, and worry not - exciting things to come soon!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sometimes I Amaze Myself - Part Deux

This is another one of those meals that I was like, wow...I came up with that?  Friend Kassie informed me that there is a Greenmarket each Wednesday at 49th/1st just across from the UN.  This is very exciting to me, as I no longer have to schlepp down to Union Square to fight with the crowds (not to mention a baby).  The market was excellent.  It obviously isn't as huge as the Union Square market, but the selection is excellent.  Last Wednesday I was in a "spending" mood and couldn't resist the fish stand.

Fish isn't super popular in our house.  I absolutely love fish, but usually do not purchase it as hubby will not touch fish with a ten foot pole.   This time I decided to rebel against the norm of  chicken, pork and beef, and splurge on the fresh caught mahi mahi.  The gentleman at the stand suggested broiling or grilling as method of preparation.  Since grills are a bit difficult to come by here, I chose to broil.  I also picked up some delightful vegetables while I was there, and was able to put together a healthy, colorful quick meal.  This was my result:

Broiled Mahi Mahi with Fresh Summer Harvest Salsa

Coat baking dish with a small amount of olive oil (to prevent sticking).  Sprinkle fish with creole seasoning or other seasoning of choice.  Place under broiler.

Meanwhile, sauté chopped red onion in a bit of XV olive oil, add fresh corn (cut off the cob) and fresh diced tomato (I used the yellow heirloom variety).  Cook together until tomato and corn are soft.  Then add desired amount of fresh chopped cilantro.  Continue to cook just until cilantro is slightly wilted, but still bright green, 1 - 2 minutes.  Place fish on plates, spoon abundant amount of salsa over fish.   Enjoy!

Cook's Notes:
I did not add extra salt, as I felt the creole seasoning on the fish contributed enough salt to the dish.
Since hubby does not like fish, I made him a grilled chicken breast, marinated in tomatillo salsa and extra lemon juice.
Also would work well with tilapia or other white fish.
Total prep and cooking time was about 30 minutes.

P.S.  If you don't have Tony Chachere's Famous Creole Seasoning in your collection of spices, I suggest you buy some pronto.  It adds an extra bit of flavor to everything.  Throw it on chicken, fish or other meat for quick flavor, sprinkle on homemade french fries, etc.  Serious.  Buy it.  I swear by it when I need a little extra in a meal without a ton of work.

Sometimes I Amaze Myself

Somedays I am in a total funk with what to make for dinner, the food is good, but I don't always feel like it's amazing (although sweet hubby always says otherwise).  One day I was confronted with lots and lots of veggies that needed to be used.  This was the result:

Roasted Fall Harvest Vegetables with Pan Seared Pork Chops

Toss your choice of vegetables with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and olive oil to taste.  Place in baking dish and roast in oven for 25 - 40 minutes at 425 degrees.

Pork Loin Chops:  coat frying pan with olive oil, fresh minced garlic, kosher salt and chopped herb of choice.  Sautée until fully cooked.

Cook's Notes:
Length of cooking time depends on what types of vegetables used (i.e. potatoes take longer than say squash or eggplant)
I used fresh carrots, asparagus, eggplant, fresh sage, potatoes and whole garlic cloves.  The beauty of this dish is it enables you to use whatever you have on hand - it's a great way to NOT waste food!

Easiest Tomatillo Salsa...ever

A few weeks ago we were blessed with two pounds (!) of tomatillos. The thought did cross my mind to make a load of the famous Cafe Rio tomatillo ranch dressing, but decided to go with something that would be a bit kinder to my hips and the few remaining stubborn post-partum pounds.

After a bit of searching, I came across this lovely recipe from Martha Stewart (my second favorite recipe source). Everything was popped in the food processor - no roasting, cooking, etc. This would be an excellent recipe for summer (no cooking required) and in addition to our household staple of tortilla chips, would be great served over fish or chicken. I'm am the only one in our house who eats salsa, so I've frozen it for a rainy day. The amount of spice is perfect - just enough zing, but not over powering.

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

1 pound tomatillos (husks removed), washed and quartered
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno chile (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat), coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Coarse salt

In a food processor, combine tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro with lime juice. Pulse until finely chopped; season with salt. Serve with chips, over seared fish, or with eggs.

*beware: don't use your fingers to remove the ribs and seeds of the jalapeno like I did. My fingers burned for days. Lesson learned!


A bit ago I had some delectable currant oatmeal cookies at Mangia in Midtown with good friend Nikki. I had never though about replacing raisins in oatmeal cookies with currants, but the concept was delightful! Currants are very popular in Europe, but in the states they are harder to come by, at least in grocery stores.

This summer we had the pleasure of getting many currants. One week I made Blueberry Currant Jam, which I posted about here. Another week I decided to dry the currants in a very low oven temperature (150 degrees F) on parchment paper. After about 48 hours, they became raisin-like and can now be used as an ingredient in oatmeal cookies or traditional current scones.

I haven't decided what to use mine with (I'm storing them in the refrigerator until I do), but most likely they will be in either my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe from the Gourmet cookbook or in traditional scones. I love the following oatmeal cookie recipe because it focuses on the oats, and not so much the flour.

Oatmeal Cookies

1 3/4 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 TBS) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter two large baking sheets. Stir together oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add oat mixture and beat until just combined.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart onto buttered baking sheets and flatten mounds slightly with moistened fingers. Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 12 minutes total. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

Cook's Notes:

Add 1/2 to 1 cup raisins, dried cherries, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or any combination to dough if desired.
Sometimes I substitute half of the white flour with whole wheat flour. This makes me feel like I'm eating something a bit healthier.

Love Affair with Gourmet

I won't lie...I live by my Gourmet Cookbook. The recipes always come out wonderfully and impressive. Even if they aren't difficult, it makes me look like a stellar chef (which isn't always true, but is nice to have my guests think).

Gourmet just came out with a new cookbook, Gourmet Today. I'm coveting it. It will definitely be on my Christmas list along with the duo, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child (volumes I & II, which have been on my Christmas list for literally 3 years). If Santa doesn't bring Gourmet Today, maybe the Amex & Amazon fairies will have to take care of this need.

images courtesy of

Warm Herbed Bean and Endive Salad

This recipe was given to us by our CSA through the Just Food organization. It is very simple, fast and has become one of our favorites (and mine when a last minute meal is needed).

Warm Herbed Bean and Endive Salad (serves 4)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 TBS chopped fresh or crushed dry rosemary
1 (15-ounce) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
Fresh ground black pepper
2 TBS red wine vinegar
1 bunch curly endive or escarole leaves, washed and dried
1/2 cup red onion
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

In a large skillet, heat oil, garlic and rosemary for 5 minutes over low hear until garlic is fragrant. If garlic begins to color, turn off heat. Add beans, vinegar and pepper. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, until beans are warm Tear greens into bite-sized pieces; arrange on 4 plates. Spoon beans over greens. Garnish with red onions and cheese. Serve with warm whole-wheat bread as a main course.

Cooks notes: I usually use any white bean ("kidney shaped") that I have on hand and will also use whatever lettuce or other green that is in the fridge or part of the weekly CSA. This meal literally takes about 15 minutes to make. It's also a great way to use some of your food storage.
Add a bit of grilled chicken if you would like something more substantial, although it is not needed. Yes, that is coming from a true carnivore.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Have you ever seen cucumbers like this?

We got these cucumbers one week from the CSA. They are more oval in shape, have a yellow peel and pale green inside. The official name is Boothby Blonde Cucumbers-heirloom. The farmer actually calls them white, not yellow.

All I can say is they are delicious...I prefer this variety to the standard green cucumber. They were delish tossed in salad, and a few may have become pickles.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Annual Blueberry Picking

(m.e. enjoying blueberry picking)

It has been forever since I last posted - shameful, I know. Life has been extremely busy, but I'm hoping to add more posts and recipes on a regular basis from this point on.

Part of the Clark family tradition is to go blueberry picking each summer. My dad takes this very seriously. He started it years ago. One day he came home with 50 pounds of blueberries. And we're not just talking any blueberries. These blueberries are the size of grapes. They are so sweet. The quality makes the blueberries purchased in grocery stores pale in comparison. Each year after that, as a family we have picked blueberries. I've now gotten Norris into the blueberry craze. This year we took Madeleine for her second year of blueberry picking - this year she was able to pick and enjoy the farm, but actually just ate blueberries off the bushes. I should mention that these are organic blueberries. We pick at a farm in New Jersey called Emery's. They also have fantastic preserves and pies.

This year, Norris and I picked about 14 pounds of blueberries. I used the berries to make jam and a series of muffins. Not only did we eat TONS of them, but blueberries freeze VERY well.

To freeze blueberries, do not wash them. Chill berries for approximately 8 hours, then place in quart sized freezer bags. Place in freezer and voila! You'll be able to enjoy blueberries for the entire year.

We happened to have many currents from our farm share. Being the American that I am, I am not at all familiar with cooking with currents. I decided to bring the best of both worlds together and make a current-blueberry jam. The jam is fabulous - the currents balance out the sweetness.

1/4 cup water
4 cups sugar

Wash and pick over the blueberries. Set them aside. Wash and drain the currants. Put them in a pot with the water. Bring them to a boil, stirring frequently, until the berries are popped and the juice is flowing freely. Strain well, reserving the juice and discarding the stems and seeds. Put the juice in a preserving kettle with the sugar, and bring to a boil. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Add the blueberries, washed and picked over, and continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the gelling point is reached. Put in hot sterilized jars, seal, and process in boiling water for 5 minutes.

Cooks notes: I do not have canning equipment, so I simply froze in plastic containers. I did boil a little longer than the directions state as I do not have a preserving kettle.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

What would summer be without zucchini?

To my Dearest Friends and Family:

I have a most wonderful and generous gift for you. Zucchini. Joking. Really, I am.

Seriously, something would be wrong with summer if we didn't end up with pounds and pounds of squash of every variety. The first week we were promised two pounds of squash, but ended up getting four pounds. The next week two more pounds, and this last week three more pounds. Uhhh, I haven't even finished the squash from the first week. Oh, and yes I did give some to my mom and dad. Squash is the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving.

That being said...what to do with this vegetable? A friend suggested grating it and then freezing it to use later and add to red pasta sauce, etc. (nothing that requires it to be crispy/fresh tasting). A brilliant idea, I must say.

My other uses are more run of the mill but have given us delicious results. One, we've quartered medallion squash, tossed it in fresh ground pepper, kosher salt and olive oil and grilled it. The second is something that no summer cook's kitchen should be without - Zucchini Bread.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart and is one of our favorite things (yes, I have made it two weeks in a row). I dressed mine up with a half cup of coconut and a bunch of Belgian chocolate chips. The full cooking time seems to be a little long, so if you're at low altitude, I suggest shaving off 5 - 10 minutes.

2 cups finely grated zucchini (about 2 zucchini)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray paper. Combine zucchini, sugars, oil, and eggs in a large bowl and mix until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in nuts and extract. Divide batter between loaf pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Invert, and remove parchment paper. Cool completely on rack.

Here are the finished results (not sure why my large loaf "fell." This didn't happen the first time we made this).

Meal of the Week

This week as part of our farm share we got lots of herbs (red sorrel, dill, parsley and scallions. It's been rather chilly and rainy here in New York, so I decided to make Carrot Soup. This soup is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. and delicious (and super fast). I made the soup on Monday night in about 30 minutes, and we ate it again this evening. Don't skip any part of it - the purée makes it into something spectacular and you get some extra veggies. The creme fraiche adds a lot too, although we've been known to use heavy cream if that's what we have on hand.

My mom made this soup for our Easter dinner, and I'll admit that I was skeptical at first. Everyone was in love with the soup and we've made it several times since. It also freezes very well.

Carrot Soup with Herb Purée (from the Washington Post)

MAKE AHEAD: The soup and puree can be made a day in advance, covered and refrigerated. Reheat over low until thoroughly heated through, because the creme fraiche and herb puree in each portion will cool the soup down. 8 servings.


For the soup
  • 1 pound carrots, trimmed, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 mangoes (8 ounces total), peeled, seeded and cut into strips (1 cup)
  • 1 medium (8-ounce) russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 quarts low-sodium vegetable broth
For the puree
  • 1 cup (about 1 ounce) herbaceous green leaves, such as carrot greens, watercress leaves or flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped, dark-green parts only
  • 1 small bunch dill, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For assembly
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or mascarpone cheese


For the soup: Combine the carrots, mangoes, potato, pepper, salt, sugar and vegetable broth in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium; cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the carrots and potatoes are soft. Remove from the heat.

Working in batches, use a food processor to puree the soup until it is smooth. (The carrots will not break down completely, so expect the soup to have a slightly grainy texture. Alternatively, an immersion blender can be used right in the pot.) If not serving the soup immediately, let it cool, then cover and refrigerate.

For the puree: Combine the green leaves, spinach, scallions and dill; wash them well.

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat, then remove from the heat. Add the greens, stirring just until they have wilted. Drain in a colander and run cold water over them until they are completely cooled.

Squeeze out as much water as possible from the greens, then place in a food processor along with the salt, pepper and oil. Run the machine for 30 seconds, until the puree is smooth. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

To assemble, divide the creme fraiche and puree among individual bowls, then ladle the soup on top.

Recipe Source:

From columnist David Hagedorn. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Official Food, Inc. Movie Site - Hungry For Change?

Official Food, Inc. Movie Site - Hungry For Change?

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Week 1

As I said in my first post, it's taken me about two months to get around to doing this, so I'm totally racking my brain here to go back in time (the mommy brain has made me VERY forgetful). I promise I will include pictures as I go along.

Most of my recipes are quick fixes in 30 - 40 minutes. Being a mother of a running and very busy toddler, and working full time, I need to put together healthy meals fast.

Anyway, here's the menu we had for our first meal with CSA veggies. The hubby said he felt like there was a "kickboxing match" going on in his mouth. (yes, that's a direct quote) I had to agree. The idea for the sage brown butter sauce was given to me from my friend Kyndra.

Fresh Sage Brown Butter Sauce over Fresh Pasta
Mixed Greens Salad
Homemade French Baguette
(time: 30 minutes MAX)

Fresh Sage Brown Butter Sauce over Fresh Pasta
3 - 5 TBS unsalted butter
2 TBS coarsely chopped fresh sage
1 lb. fresh ravioli or other fresh cooked pasta
fresh parmasan cheese

Melt butter over medium heat. When fully melted stir in fresh sage. Continue to cook butter and stir constantly until butter begins to turn brown, but not burn, approximately 5 - 7 minutes. Toss sauce with fresh hot cooked pasta and top with parmesan. Serve immediately (bread is excellent dipped in the extra sauce).

Fresh Arugula salad:
Red Leaf Lettuce
Garlic Scapes

Toss together and serve. The salad was so flavorful we didn't use any dressing, but feel free to add something should you feel so inclined. Right now I'm LOVING the locally produced Kerry Wood Tuscany dressing I purchased at Whole Foods two weeks ago. SO worth it (delicious!)

French Baguettes (courtesy of Martha Stewart)
I made this recipe over the weekend, and the results were excellent. It was a long (but easy) process and very much worth the effort.

The recipe is so long and in depth, that I'm going to only hyperlink to this one here. It's a very authentic loaf.

Bon Appetit!

Food, Inc.

If you haven't seen the movie Food, Inc. yet, I highly recommend it. This movie changes your life and the way you view food. I haven't totally given up on meat, dairy, etc. BUT I will say I've become more selective about what I eat and what I feed my family.

Read more about the movie here and find where it is playing in your neck of the woods.

I have come to learn the importance of either having a garden or eating local "in season" foods. The quality is better, and so much healthier for you. Plus, it's better for the environment. I've been proud of myself so far because I feel like what I am doing is not only healthier for my family, but is so much better for the environment. Eating foods that are fresh and in season is how God intended it, not grabbing some chemically, corn filled product off the supermarket shelves.

Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts?

The Summer of Community Sustained Agriculture

This summer we decided to join a CSA (community sustained agriculture). For those of you not familiar with a CSA, members pay a farmer a certain amount of money in the early spring to share in the harvest later. The duration averages approximately 22 - 24 weeks and members are brought fruit and vegetables weekly (in our case on Mondays). You can read more about CSA's here.

The mission of our summer was to A. eat more vegetables, and B. lose weight. Since we have so much fresh produce coming in weekly, we must eat several servings of vegetables daily. This has forced me to become VERY creative and I have already learned so much thus far. I'm being exposed to produce that I normally wouldn't buy (i.e. swiss chard and beets), or things I've never heard of (i.e. rat tail radishes, sorrel, and garlic scapes). The goal is to not waste a single thing, and so far I've been doing quite well!

I've been contemplating creating this blog for two months now, and I've decided to finally take the plunge. This will be my place to record and share the weekly recipes I try using produce that is in SEASON, not shipped in from far away places. The taste of local produce is undeniably the best thing about the CSA. When we ate our first meal made with local, fresh produce we went crazy. Norris said: "This is what lettuce and arugula is SUPPOSED to taste like." The flavors were amazing. From that point on I was fully converted.

I hope you enjoy reading about my experience and challenge each of you to find a local farmer to support. You won't be disappointed!