Taste New York

by Anne Maxfield on September 22, 2014

Accidental Locavore Taste NYIf you drive the Taconic Parkway, you may have noticed a lot of renovation being done on one of the “Park N Ride” stops. Governor Cuomo rescued the abandoned building and opened it earlier this summer to showcase local New York products. As this is something the Accidental Locavore is pretty passionate about, it was only a matter of time before I went to check it out. Actually, I was waiting until we got well into the summer, to see what sort of fresh produce they would have. The other day after a harrowing ride home, I decided that it would give me the perfect break.

One of the arguments against farm-fresh, local etc., is that it’s expensive. Well, if you think your local farmers’ market is pricy, check out Taste New York! Talk about sticker shock, I thought I was back at E.A.T., Dean & Deluca, or any other stupidly expensive Manhattan grocery. Vidalia onions $2. That’s each onion. Italian sausages, local (and frozen) $12.95 a package.

Accidental Locavore NY CheeseAccording to the press release, Taste NY was created to promote tourism: “When it comes to the state of New York and the story this state has to tell, and the products this state has to offer, no one can compete with us. We just have to get them to visit, we just have to get them to sample once, what we make and what we produce, and they will come back over and over again,” Cuomo said.”

Well, they might sample once, but after paying those prices, they’re not going to be able to afford to come back again and again! And, since Cuomo’s significant other (Sandra Lee), is known for her Money Saving Mealsyou would think she might have given him a reality check.

Accidental Locavore NY SalsaIf you want local products, do come up the Taconic, but pull off on almost any exit and explore the local markets. There are great local products there, and while some of them may be pricy, it’s not the stupidly expensive Taste New York.

 

 

 

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Silky Smooth Baba Ganoush

by Anne Maxfield on September 18, 2014

Accidental Locavore Baba GanoushThe Accidental Locavore picked up a couple of beautiful eggplants from our CSA recently, with the intention of blackening them on the grill and then…

Looking through some eggplant recipes, I was intrigued by one claiming to be the best Baba Ganoush ever, so I gave it a test. Interestingly, you’ll need a salad spinner for this. This made about 2 cups and you have to look at the notes to see if it was the best ever.

 

  • 2 medium Italian eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon, plus more as desired
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt

Grill the eggplants right on hot coals if using charcoal, or, if on a gas grill, put them right on top of the burners (on high heat) for 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred all over and tender. Remove from the grill and wrap in aluminum foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Unwrap the foil and carefully slit the eggplants lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh with a big spoon and place in the colander part of the salad spinner. Pick out any stray bits of skin.

Make sure the eggplant is evenly distributed in the spinner. Spin carefully until all excess moisture is removed.

Put the remaining eggplant in the work bowl of a food processor with the garlic, lemon juice and tahini. Process until smooth. With the processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. When the olive oil is well incorporated, stop and taste. Add additional lemon juice and salt as needed.

Serve drizzled with more olive oil and warm pita bread and enjoy!

My verdict: This was certainly the smoothest, silkiest baba ganoug I’ve ever had. Running it through the salad spinner got rid of all the seeds and a lot of the moisture – definitely worth doing! Flavor-wise it’s delicious, although not as smoky as I would have thought, but that might have been because I was lazy and just tossed the eggplants on the gas grill and didn’t do charcoal. If you don’t have a grill, you can do them on a baking sheet under a broiler. My husband would have liked a little spice to mix into it, maybe some harissa on top, but I thought the garlic gave it enough heat. What do you think?

 

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Portland(ia) “Is it Fruity?”

by Anne Maxfield on September 15, 2014

Accidental Locavore Douglas FirIt’s been an awfully long time since the Accidental Locavore found herself in Portland. Back then, it certainly wasn’t a hip and cool place, just a small Northwestern city with no direct flights from New York. How things have changed!

While it may just look like the gathering spot for everything tattooed, pierced and enrobed in snarky black tees (or the ubiquitous plaid shirt) Portland is doing its best to live up to the hype. It may be that after you live there for a while, you grow immune to the things that struck me as quirky.

If you’ve watched the first episode of Portlandia, you may or may not be surprised to listen to an earnest discussion about the provenance of any ingredient put in front of you. What does surprise is an intense conversation about the flavor profile of that day’s “pour-over” (coffee made in a Chemex to the rest of us). The question posed to the barista was about the fruitiness of that particular type of African coffee. “It’s fruity, but not like a citrus fruit. More like a stone fruit – say black cherry or even nectarine.” If you weren’t into that particular coffee, or the pour-over method, you had your choice of at least three other coffees and an equal variety of preparations.

Provenance aside, there’s a lot of good food to be had in Portland. Sadly, I had only a couple of days to try to cram in as many meals as possible, but we made the most of it and managed to try a variety of places in many different neighborhoods. Highlights included Smallwares, billed as “inauthentic Asian” tapas style with lots of interesting and delicious small plates, and Louisiana crab hash, a great version of eggs Benedict served over a pair of crab cakes at City State Diner.

Accidental Locavore Fifty LicksFor me, the highlight of the trip was an ice cream shop called Fifty Licks. Their peach ice cream was nothing to sneer at, perfectly creamy and loaded with chunks of local peaches, but the chocolate brown butter was simply incredible! Without a doubt, the absolute best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had! As a matter of fact, it was so good that I Googled it the next morning hoping it might be open for breakfast, but sadly it wasn’t. They pack pints, but don’t ship, which is probably a blessing for both my waistline and wallet.

We never made it to any of the famed food trucks, which are permanently moored in “pods” scattered around the city. And not enough time to try Gabriel Rucker’s Le Pigeon, or Little Bird. A shame because I became a huge fan after a class he did at DeGustibus. Ditto Pok Pok Wings, and Beast. But hopefully there will be more trips to Portland in the future and I can explore further.

 

 

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Chipotles in Adobo

by Anne Maxfield on September 11, 2014

Accidental Locavore Chipotles in AdoboWhen the Accidental Locavore was picking peppers the other day, Jes, one of the farmers at the PFP, suggested I take a bunch of jalapenos and make chipotles. If you’re not familiar, chipotles are smoked jalapenos. Before long we had a lot of jalapenos and I took them home and tossed them on the smoker for an afternoon, along with some tomatoes I was experimenting with. Because I use chipotles in adobo more than straight-up chipotles, I looked online and put together a couple of recipes for making your own. This made two 1 pint jars:Accidental Locavore Jalapenos for Smoking

  • 7-10 chipotle peppers, stemmed and slit lengthwise
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 3 cups water

Put all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered, on low heat until all the liquid is reduced to about a cup. This took me a little over two hours. Cool, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locaovre My ChipotlesMy verdict: Tastes great and can’t wait to use them! If I had used a broader, shallower pan, it would have reduced in a lot less time. The whole process, from smoking the jalapenos to making the adobo is a lot more time-consuming than jumping in the car and buying a couple of cans at the supermarket, but it’s not at all hard and doesn’t require much more that an occasional check on its progress. To store them, put in jars and refrigerate, or you could put in ice cube trays, freeze it and put the cubes in a freezer bag. This recipe for albondigas is one of our favorites and chipotles play a big part in it.

To make the chipotles, cut the stems off cleaned jalapenos, and cut them in half lengthwise. Place on a rack and smoke for at least 6 hours. You can then dry them out further by putting them on a rack in a low oven, 200° for a few hours until they are totally dried out.

Be careful handling jalapenos, even dried, they pack plenty of heat. Wear rubber gloves, or wash your hands thoroughly or you’ll do something stupid, like rub your eyes and regret it!

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