tomatoes

Farmers and Chefs Restaurant

by Anne Maxfield on September 17, 2018

Accidental Locavore Farmers and Chefs OctopusIf you went to a restaurant named Farmers and Chefs, you’d probably be expecting a farm-to-table experience, wouldn’t you?

Maybe I’m being a little fussy, but the first thing I thought of when I saw the menu at Farmers and Chefs was that it was surprisingly unseasonal for a place that is “Drawing inspiration from our regions [sic] beautiful Hudson Valley farms while combining the freshest in season local ingredients combined with global influences.”

In the heat of August, don’t you just yearn for steak, duck, ribs and lots of pasta? Even the specials on the night I was there, while starring heirloom tomatoes (from Poughkeepsie Farm Project) were pasta, risotto and a fish stew. Hardly light and refreshing, any of it.

The restaurant is on a corner in a neighborhood in Poughkeepsie that has seen the opening of several new places recently. It’s an open space with lots of hard surfaces, making it noisy even when it’s not fully booked.

Go as a foursome, as the choice of tables we were offered as two diners (with a reservation) was limited to a two-top next to the door or another one next to the bar. A few larger tables I asked about were supposedly booked but remained empty the entire time we were there. Just saying. There’s also an outdoor deck for drinking and dining with a nice view of the underside of the Walkway Bridge and the (limited) parking area.

Accidental Locavore Farmers and Chefs BeetsMy friend started out with the beet carpaccio. It was a small but elegant plate with thinly sliced beets flanked by thinly sliced turnips, topped with apricots, and a fennel frond for greenery. She said the beets were perfectly cooked, tender and delicious and because you know how I feel about beets, I have to believe her.

Something I did stick my fork into was her other choice, the Portuguese octopus. It was a perfectly cooked tentacle, sitting on a puddle of lemon crème fraiche with slices of potato, some micro-greens and cherry tomatoes with a dusting of chili powder.

Accidental Locavore Farmers and Chefs Lamb PastaIn the end I ended up going for pasta–cavatelli, a special that night. It was served with a lamb bolognese sauce with kalamata olives (3-4 of them) and feta cheese. It was a good dish, solid if not spectacular. A few more olives and a little more feta would have made this a special special.

We split their version of a tarte tartin—caramelized apples on a thin pastry with ice cream, which, like most of the other dishes, was good but not outstanding.

The owner of Farmers and Chefs, John Lekic won praise for his previous restaurant, Le Express, so it was surprising that so much of Farmers and Chefs fell flat. Fingers crossed that time will smooth out some of the bumps.

 

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The Best Gazpacho Ever!

by Anne Maxfield on July 30, 2018

Accidental Locavore Drinking GazpachoNow that it’s time for great tomatoes, do yourself a favor and give this amazing gazpacho recipe a try. Thank me in the comments.

It’s become our go-to gazpacho, it’s so good!

After I read the description of this gazpacho in the NY Times and remembered how good it was when Chef Jose Garces made it at his house a couple of years ago,  I needed to give it a try. Use the best tomatoes and olive oil you can.Accidental Locavore Gazpacho IngredientsBest Gazpacho recipe:

  • 2 pounds of red tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
  • 1 Italian or Anaheim pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • Part of a Serrano chile, seeded and thinly sliced (optional, if you like a little heat)
  • 2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
  • ¼ cup good olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Accidental Locavore Straining GazpachoCombine the tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic in a blender.

Blend at high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes.

With the motor running, add the vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt, taste and add the Serrano chile if you’re using.

The next part you might want to do in batches unless you have a big blender.

Very slowly pour in the olive oil, so the gazpacho can emulsify. It will thicken and change color, becoming more orange.

If it seems thin, keep slowly pouring in the olive oil and it will thicken up. Taste and adjust the vinegar, salt and oil as needed.

Strain and discard the solids.

Pour into a pitcher and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve in glasses with a drizzle of olive oil on the top and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Gazpacho Close UpMy verdict: Fabulous! It took a few minutes, but the color did change and the texture and taste was perfect. You really need a blender for this – sadly, a food processor won’t give you a fine enough puree.

I didn’t have the right kind of peppers, so I seeded and chopped a couple of pepperoncini, and they worked fine.

Since you really taste the oil, be sure to use something delicious. If you wanted, a shot of vodka might be interesting.

The original recipe suggests pouring the gazpacho over ice, which I think is a good idea; even though ours had chilled all afternoon, it never tasted really cold.

And forget Christmas in July, I’m thinking about making a batch and freezing it, so it can be August in the middle of January!Accidental Locavore Gazpacho Gone

 

 

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16 Top Tips For Shopping a Farmers Market

by Anne Maxfield on June 18, 2018

Accidental Locavore Farmers Market Produce As we start to get into peak farmers’ market season, here are my top tips for making the most of your market trip:

accidental-locavore-farmers-market-haul16 Top Tips For Shopping Your Farmers’ Market:

  1. If you want something special or the best selection, shop early
  2. When you find a farmer or stand you like, ask for a card. That way you’ll always know who has the perfect tomatoes.
  3. Bring bags, both big and small. A plastic box is always handy for carrying precious berries
  4. Bring cash, small bills and change
  5. Leave kids and dogs at home if at all possible
  6. Park bikes
  7. Give yourself time to cruise the market and then go back to make purchases
  8. Ask the farmers for advice and don’t forget to admire all their hard work!
  9. Even if you’re in a hurry, hand money directly to the person behind the counter. Don’t leave it on the counter or wave it in their face.
  10. Don’t shuck corn. Corn in the husk stays fresher, gives you more cooking options and is actually easier to shuck once it’s cooked.
  11. As tempting as it is to squeeze the tomatoes, if you don’t buy it, it will end up like a water balloon by the end of the day.
  12. Ask to taste something, but take the box you tasted it from if you’re going to buy it.
  13. Try something different. If you’re not sure what to do with it, ask the farmer.
  14. Be clean. Don’t leave trash or coffee cups on the counters.
  15. Wash everything when you get home. Store in clear containers or bags so you’ll see it and use it.
  16. Enjoy! There’s nothing better than food straight from the farm.

accidental-locavore-farmers-market-lettuceAny tips you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’d like a sheet to print out, click here. Accidental Locavore Farmers Market Tomatoes

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Intimidation (or Tabouli for Chefs)

by Anne Maxfield on August 14, 2017

Accidental Locavore Tabouli for ChefsIt’s surprising when people say they’re intimidated to cook for me.

I guess it’s because I’m around food all the time.

What they don’t understand is that a night of not having to think about “what’s for dinner” is generally a good night.

I never much worry about cooking for other people. If they’re friends and something turns out less-than-stellar, there’s always take-out and they’ll forgive me.

This all came to me in the middle of making some tabouli. Chopping the first tomatoes from the farm, it hit me. This batch of tabbouleh was for a meeting of Slow Food Hudson Valley.

There would be chefs there.

Chef-instructors from the Culinary Institute of America.

Accidental Locavore Chef KowalskiFunnily, I wasn’t particularly worried about what they would think of my tabbouleh. It’s not authentic, nor does it want to be. It’s just the way I make it. If you want to join the social media, food-shaming route that says Nigella Lawson’s carbonara isn’t authentic because there is (gasp) cream in it, be my guest.

My tabouli has lots of mint, little, often no parsley. There’s a lot more bulgur than herbs and a big toss of allspice. It’s the way I like it.

Funnily, what I was worried about was the potential scrutiny of my cuts. My knife skills.

Were my tomatoes and onions properly diced? Parsley and mint evenly chopped? No pits from the lemons (my husband’s pet peeve)?

In the midst of thinking about intimidation, what I forgot was the key ingredient.

Confidence.

Confidence that it would taste great and no one would care about anything else.

And then I tasted it.

Ugh!

Accidental Locavore Parsley for TabouliRemembered why I seldom put parsley in it.  Whether you believe it or not, parsley has a distinctive taste. This parsley was straight from the farm where I had picked it an hour earlier. Boy, did it have a taste and it wasn’t good.

Because you can overlook improperly chiffonaded mint, but a bad flavor profile is a whole other thing.

Fast fix…more lemon, more tomato, a little more olive oil and some salt seemed to get it to a better level.

The verdict from the chefs?

“What we really care about is the flavor profile,” and that was fine (if not my best).

So the next time you might be intimidated cooking for someone, remember it’s all about the flavor.

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