north fork: part 2

September 11th, 2008

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Yesterday we left off on Sang Lee Farm. From there we were headed to Shinn Estate Vineyards to hear owner Barbara Shinn give a guided tour of the vineyards. This had to be the most informative stop on our excursion. Shinn Estate is the first farm on Long Island to become biodynamic, which is a holistic way of farming. Shinn takes something that is seen as a burden by many, like weeds and finds a way to make them a benefit by letting them grow into a meadow underneath the vines. The meadow is mowed to keep them under control, and the clippings from the mower are piled underneath the vines and provide essential nutrients to the growing grapes. It’s pretty interesting stuff. After the tour through the vineyards, we sat down for a tasting. Aaron and Angela did the tasting and agreed that they were good stuff.

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All full of information, we headed to the tip of the North Fork to visit an oyster farm. I think I’ve tried oysters once before, but since I can’t exactly remember, I considered myself a clean slate. In fact, I was a bit nervous about the whole thing because I knew if presented with one, I’d have to suck one of those puppies down. And sure enough, as we walked through the sand along Silver Sands Resort and up to a little stand, there were lots of oysters to be had. Oysterman and all-around-friendly-guy, Dean Yaxa made us feel like we were right at home. After I voiced my apprehension, he warmly instructed me on how to eat one like a pro. “Suck it out of the shell, then chew! chew! chew! Swallow some of that juice, then chew! chew! chew!”. It was like a sporting event and I was certainly the winner. And guess what? I liked it! I even had another, this time without the coaching. Even though I haven’t had many oysters in my day, I feel confident when I say these were really tasty. You could taste the ocean with each bite and while the little buggers look really slimy in the shell, I didn’t really feel that in my mouth.

The Foodie Tour was a great way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I think one of the best things I learned was that you don’t need a special tour to do these things. Farms and farm stands dot the landscape on the North Fork and would make for a lovely summer afternoon adventure.

Here are the farms we visited:

Catapano Dairy Farm
33705 Rt 48, Peconic

Sang Lee Farms
25180 Rt 48, Cutchogue

Shinn Estate Vineyards
2000 Oregon Road, Mattituck

Pipes Cove Oysters, at Silver Sands Motel
70930 Silvermere Rd, Greenport

Here are some others we didn’t get to:

North Quarter Bison Farm
1984 Roanoke Avenue, Riverhead
free-range bison

Golden Earthworm Organic Farm
652 Peconic Bay Blvd., Jamesport
certified organic farm with rare breed animals

The Farm
59945 Main Rd., Southhold
vegetables grown biodynamically

tomatillo salsa

September 10th, 2008

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I feel like I’m always on a quest to make a good homemade salsa. I’ve tried all sorts of things, like cooking the tomatoes first or just tossing them all in the food processor without doing anything, and I’ve had some good results. But none of my attempts have given me such delicious results as this recipe for tomatillo salsa.

Not only is it good, it’s super easy too, which is always a bonus in my book. The only preparation you have to do is peel and cut the tomatillos and broil them for a few minutes. After that, it’s all about the food processor. Oh sweet goodness, the flavor has a slight hint of sweetness, but it’s jazzed up by the onion and pepper, giving it a nice full flavor. And I like my salsa thin, so the texture of this, which is almost like applesauce, fit the bill perfectly.

Tomatillo Salsa
from Simply Recipes

makes 3 cups

1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste

1
Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.
2
Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.
3
Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, Jalapeño peppers, sugar in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt.
4
Cool in refrigerator.

Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes.

Makes 3 cups.

north fork: part 1

September 10th, 2008

I read about this Foodie Tour through Brooklyn Based and couldn’t resist the urge to rent a car and go on an adventure. So last Sunday Aaron, our friend Angela and I hopped in a rental and drove an hour and half outside the city to see some farms.

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All of us being cheese lovers, the first on our list was Catapano Dairy Farm, where they make award-winning goat cheese. We could hardly contain ourselves as we drove up, all eager to learn how the cheese was made. But a little disappointment set in soon after we walked up, apparently the owner wasn’t interested in talking about her operation and walked away as we approached the table to taste the cheeses. But luckily we did have a nice woman to give us all samples of the different cheeses, including chevre, gouda and a blue, and two types of fudge. Yum! They were all quite tasty. We were able to walk around and see the baby goats playing on their jungle gym and also witness the adult goats fighting, including one that looked like a unicorn. So that was exciting. We also saw some lovely chickens, but other than that we left wanting more.

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On a whim we stopped by Sang Lee Farms to kill some time before visiting another stop on our tour. Oh boy, it turned out to be an excellent decision. Sang Lee was established in the 1940′s and soon after started supplying New York City’s Chinatown with quality Asian vegetables. Today they grow over 100 varietes of specialty vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, baby greens, mesclun, herbs, specialty Asian greens and flowers. We walked up to the farm stand and there in front of us were the most beautiful tomatoes I’d ever laid my eyes on. I mean, truly lovely little works of art in the most amazing colors and shapes.

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Then I walked inside and there were lovely greens and other vegetables, along with a few coolers filled with things like fresh pestos and sauces made by owner Karen Lee. I picked up a container of Asian Pesto and as I was perusing the vegetables, Ms. Lee asked if I needed any help. Soon we were deep in conversation about ways to use the pesto and then about these lunch time talks she’s started in her community. You can read more about them in the latest edible east end. To top things off, we got to pick tomatoes from the vine, perhaps popping a few in our mouths every now and then. We were feeling pretty good as we made our way to our next destination.

Tomorrow look forward to two other awesome farms, Shinn Estate Farmhouse and Pipes Cove Oysters.

edible manhattan

September 9th, 2008

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Last weekend was the launch of edible manhattan. I’ve long been a fan of edible brooklyn and quite frankly I wasn’t sure what to expect of the manhattan version. Would it be too fancy or have the same character that the brooklyn has? Oh boy, it does… All of my silly worries were quickly washed away as I flipped through the first issue. With stories about beekeeping in the city and a look into the amazing cookbook store Kitchen Arts & Letters, I already can’t wait for the next issue.

I also picked up Edible East end last weekend while on the Foodie Tour and it too is chock full of interesting info. In fact, it’s helping me fill in a few holes for my upcoming posts on our food adventure, which will be coming soon, I promise.

north fork foodie tour

September 8th, 2008

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I hope you had an excellent weekend. A hurricane was suppose to cause chaos in the city, but luckily it just brought a little rain on Saturday. When we woke up Sunday, the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining. That was extra good news for us because we had planned a day trip to the North Fork of Long Island to participate in the North Fork Foodie Tour. This week I’ll be giving you little peeks into some of the farms we visited and things I learned.

whisky iced tea

September 5th, 2008

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I finally found a way that I can drink whisky without wincing, mix it with a little iced tea. I’ve been really into iced tea this summer, in fact I’ve had way more in this one summer than I have in my whole life. I’d dabbled in Thai iced tea, but I’d never been really interested in it otherwise. Then I tried this minted iced tea at the greenmarket that was sweetened with maple syrup. That’s how I got hooked.

This was my first attempt at making iced tea at home, and I have to say it turned really well, although I didn’t try the maple syrup version. Once I’d taken the tea bags out, I poured my tea in a little tea pot that has a built in infuser and stuck some fresh mint leaves in it, then let it sit in the fridge for a bit. When I was ready for a cool beverage I poured myself a glass added a shot of whisky. The sweetness of the whisky really lends itself to the minted tea.

Cheers to it already being Friday! I have a fun event lined up this weekend that I can’t wait to share with you.

whisky iced tea

4 cups water
6 tea bags of black tea
1/2 cup sugar
4-5 fresh mint leaves
whisky

1
Bring water to a boil in small saucepan.
2
Add tea bags and sugar. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
3
Remove tea bags and pour into pitcher or tea pot.
4
If your tea pot has an infuser, stuff the mint leaves in it. Otherwise use a loose tea infuser and let it hang out in the pitcher. Let it cool in the refrigerator for a few hours.
5
Pour yourself a glass, add a shot of whisky and relax.

corn

September 4th, 2008

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The Times had a nice article about corn yesterday. In it, they include this recipe for Brown Butter Cornbread with Farmer Cheese and Thyme. Needless to say I’ll be picking up some corn this weekend.

photo by Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

mint pudding

September 4th, 2008

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Mint’s been on my mind lately. There’s something about the fresh kick that you get from mint leaves that has me dreaming about ways to use it. Last year I made some fresh mint ice cream that was really, really good and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. The thing is, making ice cream takes so much time and effort and sometimes that just seems a little exhausting. Then I thought of a genius idea that would take less time and give me similar satisfaction. Mint pudding!

I pulled out some fresh mint, ground it with some sugar in my mortar and pestle and I was on my way to some tasty pudding. I also added a few sprigs of mint into my milk mixture so it would further infuse into the flavor. In less than a half hour, I had the lovely scent of mint wafting through my kitchen and homemade pudding at my fingertips. I ran the mixture through a fine sieve and put it in the fridge to chill. A bit later I tried it out and to my satisfaction, my little idea turned out great. The pudding was creamy and minty with hints of vanilla, although I wish it would have been just a tad silkier. But when I told Aaron that, he said the texture let you know it was homemade. He knows how to make me feel better.

mint pudding

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vanilla sugar*
4 sprigs of mint
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*vanilla sugar is not necessary, it just adds a little more flavor. if you don’t have it just use regular sugar.

1
Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside.
2
Mix 1/3 sugar and 2 sprigs of mint in your mortar and pestle and grind until mint is finely incorporated.
3
In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugars, cornstarch, and salt. Very gradually (a few tablespoons at a time) whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.

4
Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble forms and sputters, about 10-15 minutes.
5
Reduce heat to low; still whisking, cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; immediately pour through sieve into bowl.
6
Stir butter and vanilla into hot pudding.

7
Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding (to prevent skin from forming); chill at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Before serving, whisk pudding until smooth.