Asparagus

Accidental Locavore Mixed MushroomsThe Accidental Locavore bought a beautiful bunch of wild mushrooms and some nice fat asparagus at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market recently. What better way to show them off than in a beautiful risotto? We also had some mixed dried mushrooms, so they got added to the mix. What’s good about using the dried ones too is that you can use the soaking liquid as part of the broth for the risotto (just be sure to strain it first – a coffee filter will work fine for that). This easily fed 4.

  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced into ½” strips
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ cup dried mushrooms (like porcini)
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock, hot
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan

Soak the dried mushrooms in very hot water for about 20 minutes until they are pliable. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid and strain the liquid through a fine strainer or a coffee filter. Set the liquid aside.

Accidental Locavore Mushroom RisottoAdd about 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until they turn golden. Remove the garlic from the pan. Add all the mushrooms and the asparagus and season with salt. Saute until the mushrooms are pliable. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add another 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Stirring frequently, cook until they are soft and translucent but are not browning. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, to toast the rice. Add the wine, and stir frequently until it has all been absorbed by the rice. Add enough of the liquid from the mushrooms to cover the rice and stir until that has been absorbed. Add any remaining mushroom liquid and enough of the chicken stock to cover the surface of the rice. Keep stirring until that is absorbed.

Accidental Locavore RisottoKeep adding the stock to cover the rice and stir until it’s absorbed. Depending on your rice, this may be 2 or 3 more times. When you think you’re about to add the last addition of stock, add the mushrooms and asparagus into the pan. When the rice is cooked to “al dente”, remove from the heat and add the butter and cheese. Stir well. The rice should be very creamy. Serve and enjoy!

 

My verdict: A perfect spring combination! If you wanted to keep this vegetarian, you could easily substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock. One of the great things about risotto is that almost anything works in it. Because I’ve been trying to keep the salt down, we ended up adding more Parmesan to it as we were eating. What’s that expression about robbing Peter to pay Paul? Just swapping out the “evils.”

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No. 9 Restaurant, Millerton

by Anne Maxfield on June 3, 2013

Accidental Locavore No 9 Quark Like things, good food happens for a reason. Such was the case on the Accidental Locavore’s birthday. My husband thought he made reservations at Serevan, but when we pulled up, it appeared to be closed (and it was). We headed off towards Millerton, to see if we could get a table at No. 9, a favorite with friends of ours.

We pulled into Millerton, I went in and told the hostess our tale of woe. Soon we were seated at a lovely table. As it turned out, she was essentially alone in what is a decent sized restaurant, acting as hostess, waitress, bartender, et al. If you remember the scene in Ratatouille where the chef is on roller skates, tossing plates at diners, you start to see what Jessica was up against.

Accidental Locavore No 9 FishEven as she juggled her many hats, she took the time to explain items on the menu to us, and when asked, expressed an informed opinion as to the merits of various dishes. As per normal, Frank went along with her suggestions, while (like directions) I mostly ignored them. One of the attractions of No. 9 is they try to source locally as much as they can, but not at the expense of serving great food.

OK, so I’m finally getting to the food. It was wonderful! It’s very rare for me to have a meal in a restaurant where there are no false notes. Everything we ate at No. 9 was beautifully presented and, more importantly, absolutely delicious! I started with a tuna crudo, which was three perfectly sized pieces of tuna with bits of Meyer lemon and toasted pine nuts – a great combination! Frank had the quark spatzle with vegetables and truffles, one of Jessica’s suggestions and another winner!

Accidental Locavore No 9 DuckWe argued over the main courses; I’d been craving pork chops but decided on a leg of lamb special with a niçoise olive reduction over polenta. Local lamb that actually tasted like lamb – so good! Humoring me (it was my birthday, after all), Frank had the pork chop. It was everything you’d want in a pork chop and more. Perfectly cooked, with wonderful seared pork fat edges, it was all I could do to keep from stealing more bites.

I need to say something about the dessert menu, because it was the first one I’ve seen in a long time where I would have happily eaten most of the desserts. Although you always hear restaurant people (or maybe just talking heads on Top Chef) saying that dessert is the last impression diners have of a restaurant, recently it’s been super-easy to bypass them. Too cute, too nostalgic, too savory or too uninteresting, choices have been extremely disappointing. Not so here!  My bittersweet chocolate cake and salted caramel ice cream (that Jessica was kind enough to substitute for the crème Anglaise) were both fabulous.

Accidental Locavore No 9 SouffleWe were back to No. 9 a few weeks later with friends, on a Saturday night. Once again, everything was terrific, possibly a better testament to the ability of chef Tim Cocheo to turn out great food under pressure (a full house and a celebrity chef in orange clogs dining with his family).  This time, because we were four, there was lots more food to taste. From perfectly crisp asparagus in that night’s version of the quark dish, to a superb duck breast with a huge white asparagus, we enjoyed every bite! Our only quandary? When to go back!

 

Note: These photos don’t do the food justice, but I was shooting in very low light, so use your imagination and trust me, it was all fabulous!

 

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7 Reasons Why Memorial Day is a Great Holiday!

by Anne Maxfield on May 28, 2012

Accidental Locavore Grill

Memorial Day would be a lesser holiday except that the timing of it is just too perfect! Without it, how we would ever figure out (without a calendar) when summer starts? As you and the Accidental Locavore know, the weather certainly can’t be trusted!

  1. According to popular media, we wouldn’t know when to start firing up the barbecue…OK, if you have to wait till now to grill, you must live in a very cold place (in which case, is Memorial Day celebrated there?). The Locavore and her husband barbecue pretty much year-round, the only exception being if we have to shovel snow to get to it. I don’t really know why but my favorite food to do on the grill is chicken. Steaks and burgers are great, but there’s something about grilling chicken that really makes it wonderful! What do you most look forward to grilling?
  2. Now that you’ve got the grill going in its official capacity, you need something to put on it, right? Isn’t it convenient that it’s also the start of a lot of farmers’ markets? Asparagus are great now and work really well on the grill. I’ve read a lot lately about grilling lettuce but haven’t tried it, have you? Ramps are on their way out, however it doesn’t take many to put on a grilled pizza…And local strawberries just need a quick rinse to make dessert (although a little vanilla ice cream never hurt). Accidental Locavore Strawberries
  3. We can wear white. Now most people are way more evolved, but I was brought up that you couldn’t wear white before Memorial Day (or after Labor Day) and some traditions just stick with you.
  4. Smart companies start summer hours. I’m not sure if this is a NY thing, but try to find a fully-staffed office in this town on a Friday after 2:00. Half-day Fridays; great idea!
  5. The reason for summer hours? They go hand-in-hand with summer rentals. How boring life would be if holiday rentals simply started on June 1st…
  6. Fleet Week in Manhattan. No matter how many times you’ve seen the ships come in, it’s always amazing to see them up close, to see how massive they are and how easily they maneuver their way up the Hudson River. Many years ago, my friend Laura and I got a personal tour of a destroyer and it was pretty impressive! Between the joy-sticks (that fire actual missiles!), the food choices and even ATM’s on every level, it was a memorable tour!
  7. Which leads to the real reason to love Memorial Day. Just seeing the sailors and soldiers on the streets of New York is the best reminder of what the holiday is all about; honoring those who have served. Thank you!

 

 

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Roast Chicken With Ramps, Asparagus and Capers

by Anne Maxfield on May 17, 2012

Accidental Locavore Spring RampsHave you been taking the easy way out and picking up pre-roasted chickens? Well, the Accidental Locavore is going to change your mind about doing it yourself at home! This is an easy, no-fuss way to roast a bird with nice crisp skin and added bonus: the veggies are roasted along with the bird.  I adapted this from the New York Times and added asparagus. Feel free to add whatever is in season, just add them in sooner if they need more roasting time. If you don’t do this in the next five minutes, while ramps are in season, substitute scallions, which should work almost as well.

Roast Chicken With Ramps, Asparagus and Capers

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
The Accidental Locavore adapted this easy way to roast a chicken from the New York Times. An easy main course recipe for chicken roasted with spring vegetables: ramps and asparagus.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, 4-41/2 pounds, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bunch ramps, about 6 ounces, washed
  • 1lb asparagus, washed and cut into 3" lengths
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon capers

Directions

Step 1
Rub the chicken inside and out with the salt and pepper. If you have time, do this 2-3 hours ahead of time and refrigerate uncovered (this will help the skin crisp up when you cook it). Place a large (10" or bigger) cast iron skillet in the oven and heat to 500 degrees. Leave the chicken out to warm to room temperature while the oven heats up.
Step 2
Prep the ramps: trim the roots from the bottoms and remove the outer layer of skin. Separate the leaves from the bulbs. Cut any bulb fatter than a pencil, in half lengthwise. Cut the leaves into 3" pieces and set aside.
Step 3
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, breast side up. Cut the skin connecting the legs (thighs actually) to the body. Spread out the legs until you feel the joints pop on each side. Place 2 of the lemon quarters in the cavity of the chicken. Remove the skillet from the oven and carefully place the chicken in it, breast side up. Remember the pan is really hot! Press down on the legs so they lie flat on the bottom of the pan. Drizzle the oil over the bird. Roast for 30 minutes.
Step 4
Add the ramp bulbs, asparagus, garlic and capers to the skillet. Stir to coat with the juices from the pan. Roast until the ramps and asparagus are tender and the chicken is cooked through, 10-20 minutes more (total cooking time 40-50 minutes).
Step 5
Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. While the chicken is resting, add the ramp leaves to the pan and stir until just wilted. Cut the chicken into serving pieces, and serve with the vegetables and the pan juices. Add the juice from the remaining lemon if desired. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: a great way to roast a chicken and having the side dish made at the same time is a big plus! Use a good quality chicken here, you’ll be able to taste the difference. Because I had them, I used Meyer lemons, which gave it a wonderful mellow lemon flavor that worked well with the ramps and asparagus. Tossing a few small potatoes in at the beginning might work but I would need a bigger cast-iron pan. What do you think?

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