Saturday, March 27, 2010


Given last week's relative barrenness at USG and the freezing-cold temps, I wasn't expecting much from this morning's trip. The hydrangeas pictured were certainly the most glamorous and colorful scene at the market today, but I was much more excited by the color green.

It's really happening:
1/4 lb. pea shoots
1/2 lb. collard greens
1/4 lb. lacinato kale
1 lb. white button mushrooms
3 lbs. mixed apples
Total spent: $22

Not only did I find marvelous (albeit pricey) young lacinato kale and collard greens at Norwich Meadows Farm, the farmer who grows my favorite carrots and shell peas in the world had pea shoots. Fresh greens! I couldn't stop smiling.

With my bounty, tonight's dinner was a salad of the pea shoots, with my standard simple dijon mustard vinaigrette, and kale stir-fried with lots of sesame seeds, ginger, and shoyu. The young and tender greens cooked up very quickly, and had so much flavor - I can't wait to try the collards tomorrow.

In other produce news, I've been making jam thumbprint cookies like crazy the past week with last season's homemade peach jam, because it turns out that jam made with agave only lasts a couple of weeks once opened. And as I'm off toast at the moment, I've got to find ways to use this stuff. Luckily the cookies are quick to make, and I haven't had trouble finding folks to eat them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sun, but not much else

Beautiful day at USG yesterday, with more vendors, most of whom were selling plants. Not much by way of produce, as I expected...but perhaps this burst of early sunshine will bring on the advent of harbinger rhubarb soon.

Just a few things:
1.5 lbs German butterball potatoes
1 lb. yellow onions
1/2 lb. shallots
1 lb. crimini mushrooms
Total spent: $14

I also bought a chive plant to go with my bedroom-window herb garden. Here they are, all nicely potted in terra cotta. I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to plants, but at least they look cute. The chives already seem like trouble.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Humble beginnings

The start of my windowsill herb garden: tarragon, thyme, spearmint, and sage. I had to build my own windowsill! And I can't figure out how to get my screen open to get the old pots out of there, but I'll figure it out. Next stop: the garden store, for new pots. I'd like to have oregano, lavender, lemon balm, and catnip too...summer savory, basil, hyssop...we'll see how much space I have.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I've seen fire and I've seen rain

Well, I did make it to USG Saturday morning, but the rain and wind had already started - though they'd get worse - and the vendor turnout was understandably sparse. I bought some potatoes, onions, cheese, eggs, and milk, before heading to Whole Foods to pick up the rest of what I needed to cook for my old folks on Sunday.

And Sunday itself was almost laughably terrible, with the aggressive gloom continuing, the leak under my kitchen seak worsening, and my rushing to get everything done before I had to run to the office to bring merch for the Hauschka show at Le Poisson Rouge (which show was perhaps the only positive of the day). It was the kind of day where you find yourself making fennel and orange salad at 1 a.m. - we all have those, right?

Oh! And my camera's broken. I haven't even begun to figure out what to do about that.

On the positive side, I finally wrote down my permutations to this baked fettucine recipe I found on Epicurious. It's a great dish - one of my clients' favorites - and can easily be made ahead and popped into the oven when dinner guests arrive. While a bit heavy on the cheese, there are enough vegetables in the mix to make the whole thing seem, if not virtuous, then at least balanced.

Also on the bright side (literally, heyo!), it's sunny and in the 60s all week - further making me feel like not going to SXSW this year was the right decision.

Baked Fettuccine with Mascarpone and Vegetables

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
2 lbs. spinach leaves, washed well
3 medium leeks, halved and cut into 1/2" strips (about 4 cups)
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
zest of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
8 oz. mascarpone (I've used fromage blanc for a lighter version also)
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
3/4 lb. dry fettuccine (whole-wheat works great here)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Sauté spinach in batches in a small amount of olive oil, adding a pinch of salt per batch. Drain, chop, and set aside.

Blanch broccoli in boiling salted water just until crisp-tender; shock, drain, and set aside.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add leeks and a pinch of salt, and cook until softened; do not brown. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, zest, thyme, several pinches of salt, and several grinds of pepper. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add flour. Cook one minute, whisking constantly.
Whisk in milk, turn up heat, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly; turn down heat and simmer (keep whisking!) until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in cheeses until mostly smooth (mixture will be a bit grainy because of the Grana Padano). Stir in leek mixture and taste for seasoning.

Cook fettuccine to al dente in salted water. Toss pasta with vegetables in a large bowl; add cheese sauce and toss until thoroughly combined. Adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer pasta to a baking dish and bake in preheated 350˚ oven until top is bubbling and golden, 15-20 minutes.

If making ahead, store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator, and toss to redistribute sauce and vegetables before baking. Can be frozen at this point, tightly wrapped in aluminum foil; allow to thaw completely before baking.

photo from Flickr: Ervin Bartis' photostream

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Vegetable blogging at ReadyMade

Hey...that's me! I'll be posting weekly at ReadyMade with info and recipes about a different vegetable every week. Check out my first post, about the wonders of butternut squash.

In other news: too sick to go to USG this week. Roasted some beets, sautéed up some greens, nothing too exciting. We've had sunshine though, so I'm getting spring fever for early veggies! Still a few weeks yet, I know.