6.30.2011

An Afternoon in Eataly

Amy writes:

A few weeks ago, my mom took me on a Girlfriend Getaway tour to New York City. Between shopping and lunch in the Flatiron District, we spotted Eataly, Mario Batali's Italian food mecca on Fifth Avenue. Our tour did not allow much time, but we had to go in! We managed to sneak into the Eataly wine shop where mom picked out six bottles of Italian reds and had them shipped back to CT for our anniversary gift. See, we were engaged in Italy, and to celebrate, we had a case of special Italian wines shipped to us, so it was a thoughtful and very fitting gift. Mom and I grudgingly headed out the door to rejoin the tour, but had every intention of going back to Eataly someday soon.

That day came, for me at least, when Chris and I went into the city for an overnight this week to celebrate our ninth anniversary. In town for a mere 36 hours, we spent two of them gawking, hungering, shopping, lusting, and reminiscing in Eataly. I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to Italy six times, two of them with Chris, and the food has always been the highlight of the trip. That said, if Italy is unattainable, on a culinary level at least, Eataly is the next best thing.

Every meat and cheese we ever tried in Italy was there, ready to be tasted and/or purchased. The fresh-made mozzarella (of which we were given a complimentary tasting) had the perfect briny flavor and soft texture that we've only had in Rome and Tuscany. The variety and freshness of the vegetables on display was worthy of the Campo di Fiori itself. The fish market's offerings were plentiful and stunning. We didn't even count the different types of salt, there were so many.Each display was a marvel of colors and textures, even the inedibles. In addition to the various market spaces, there are also several spots to grab a taste - of wine, gelato, panini, pastries, and more. There is even a steakhouse inside Eataly! We only shopped, but here are some scenes from our excursion for you to enjoy until you are able to make the trip yourself.

A great selection of cheeses

Giant wheels of parmigiano reggiano

Imported pasta of all shapes and sizes

Bright summery dishes

Salts from around the world

Tomato to-mahh-to

This is just the mushroom display



Vegetables


More vegetables
And even more vegetables!


Scampi


Fresh snapper


We never knew Chris had a garlic named after him!

Eataly on Urbanspoon

6.16.2011

Berry Easy Pie

A week or so ago, we made a simple and delicious dessert - grilled poundcake with balsamic berries. Berries are in full season in Connecticut right now, and we picked up a pint of fresh local strawberries at the Farmers' Market. So we decided to do a twist on last week's success and turn it into another scrumptiously easy summer weeknight treat - Berry Easy Pie.

One thing that makes this pie so easy is that we used a store-bought crust. It's the end of the school year, and as teachers, we are very busy (and bordering on burned out), so that is our excuse. If you have the time and the skill, obviously feel free to make your own. The refrigerated crust from Pillsbury contains two pie crusts; we used one for our Meatless Monday tart, then made a dessert pie with the other one so as not to let anything go to waste.



The small yet oh-so-sweet CT grown strawberry

First, we pressed the crust into our pie pan and sprinkled it with some freshly ground black pepper. Then we pricked it all over with a fork, filled the crust with pie weights (raw beans work if you don't have weights), and baked it for 15 minutes, just enough to get it going. After that, we filled it with our delicious mixed-berry filling, the highlight of this being the local strawberries, of course. Nothing says "summer has begun" like Connecticut-grown strawberries! We poured the filling into the crust and returned the pie to the oven to finish. A light dusting of confectioner's sugar and voila! Berry Easy Pie!



Store-bought pie crust sprinkled with black pepper




Mixed berries tossed in sugar and cornstarch


As it sat on the windowsill (like a good pie should), Chris looked wistfully upon it. He said, "I forgot all about potluck lunch tomorrow. Any chance...???" That's when Amy knew she would not get a taste of the pie. Not even a sliver! However, all reports say that it was a little tart, a little sweet, a little spicy, but also a little dough-y (and not in a good way). Not a complete success, but still, a pretty good start. Any ideas on how we can improve it?

Ingredients:

1 refrigerated pie crust, thawed
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pint blackberries
1 pint raspberries
1 pint strawberries, hulled and chopped
confectioners' sugar for dusting pie

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Press pie crust into bottom and sides of pie tin and sprinkle with black pepper. Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, remove weights and foil, and set aside. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, corn starch, balsamic vinegar and berries in a bowl, tossing until berries are well coated. Pour berry mixture into crust and return pie to oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool then serve dusted with confectioners' sugar or with other desired topping.

6.14.2011

Fish Fest from the Farmers' Market

Chris writes: As I am sure you read in our post a couple of days ago, Sunday was Seafood Day at the Coventry Regional Farmers Market. Although Amy posted some great pictures of ceviche and oysters, what she didn’t mention was that she doesn’t really like the stuff. Lobsters, YES. Crabs, YES. Clams on the grill, Oh Yeah! But fish? Not really. Between learning how to cook Grouper in Mexico or having Zuppa de Pesce  in Italy she has warmed up to it over the past couple of years but overall she still doesn’t appreciate it like I do. I love fish. Salmon, Snapper, Fluke, Mahi Mahi, Sable, Skate, Anchovy, Eel, Octopus (technically not a fish) -- I love 'em all. This is why I was so excited about the theme at the Market this weekend. I bought stuff (from the folks at The Fish Market) that I knew I wouldn’t have to share with anyone else but you.

Striped Bass steamed in Limoncello and Hyssop
Fillet of bass (~6 oz)
Pink Himalayan salt
Olive oil
Hyssop (3 leaves)
Tarragon (1 sprig)
Limoncello

Salt and pepper one fillet of striped bass. (I prefer pink salt with this dish because it seems drier on my tongue – but that’s just me.) Splash some olive oil onto a piece of tin foil large enough to become a tent. The oil smear should be just larger than the fillet. Place the fillet on the oil and add some strips of hyssop and a sprig of tarragon. Splash with an equal measure of Limoncello. Seal and place on medium-high for about 4 minutes each side. The essence of the fish and Limoncello mixed with the gentle anise flavor of the hyssop blends beautifully with the pink salt and tarragon.

Lemon Peppered Tuna Steak
Tuna steak (~4 oz)
Lemon Pepper (from Boxed Goodes)
Ponzu sauce
Cover both sides of tuna steak with seasoning. Grill on high until seared on both sides (about 2 minutes each side). Let rest for 1 minute. Slice. Drizzle with Ponzu Sauce.

Oysters on the half shell
Plucked fresh from the waters off the coast of Mystic, Connecticut. I choose not to cover their deliciousness with cocktail sauces or what not. I don’t get to the ocean that often and compare eating an oyster to having the ocean come to me. Why would I want to screw with that?

Grapefruit Salad
One medium pink grapefruit
Herbes de Provence

Skin and chop one grapefruit. Toss with 1/8 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence. The acid of the grapefruit combined with the aromatics of the rosemary and lavender merging with the sharpness of the thyme really surprised me. It made for an excellent complement to this meal. I will definitely keep this one in my repertoire.
             

6.13.2011

Meatless Monday: Spring Onion and Ricotta Fresca Tart with Scapes and Sage

We grew onions for the first time this year and they were the inspiration for this week's Meatless Monday dish. Well, not just our home-grown onions but also our sage, as well as a few ingredients from Sunday's Farmers' Market, namely, a handful of garlic scapes we got for a dollar, and some just-made ricotta fresca from our friends at Beltane Farm in Lebanon, CT. We call it a tart, but the addition of milk and eggs may cause a debate among our foodie friends and readers who may want us to call it a quiche. Suum cuique, we say. All we know for sure is that it was deliciously satisfying.



Home-grown inspiration:
onions (left)
and sage (right)






Bushel of garlic scapes, Coventry Regional Farmers' Market

We allowed the onions and scapes to caramelize in some fresh-sage-infused olive oil with a bit of sugar, salt and balsamic vinegar. Whisking in egg yolks with the whole eggs and milk gave the tart that rich and creamy yet still springy consistency one desires in a tart/quiche-thing. The crumbled ricotta fresca made from goats' milk resisted melting, was milky and sweet, and gave us something to bite into, which meant we hardly noticed it was a meatless dish. Meanwhile, the store-bought refrigerated pie crust made things a bit easier for a "manic" Monday.


Quickly frying the sage leaves makes for infused oil and pretty garnish

Onions and scapes are sprinkled with sugar then caramelized


Egg yolks, eggs, milk and chopped sage about to be whisked together


Ricotta Fresca from Beltane Farm


The ricotta is crumbled over the caramelized onion mixture inside the (raw) pie crust, awaiting the milk and eggs...


 
Ingredients:

1 refrigerated pie crust, thawed
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 large fresh sage leaves (whole)
2 onions, diced
6 garlic scapes, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tabelspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup milk
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
6 ounces ricotta fresca*

*Note: it so happened that our ricotta was seasoned with chopped chives which enhanced the flavor of the spring onion. If you so desire, chop one or two fresh chives and add them to the mix.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press the pie crust into a pie plate and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and fry the sage leaves until they are crispy. Carefully remove the sage leaves and place on a paper towel; set aside. Add the chopped scapes and diced onion to the oil and place over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with sugar and cook the onions until they are translucent. Add the salt and balsamic vinegar and continue to cook until caramelization occurs. Spread the onions into the bottom of the pie crust and crumble half of the ricotta fresca over the onions. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, eggs, black pepper and sage. Pour this over the onions and cheese inside the pie crust. Crumble the remaining ricotta into the mixture and place in oven. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until the center of the tart is firm and springy. Serve each slice garnished with a fried sage leaf.


The finished product



6.12.2011

Almost Wordless Weekender: Scenes from the Coventry Regional Farmers' Market, CT


Chef Scott Miller of Max Oyster Bar prepares his
Connecticut Landed Fluke Ceviche.



 Connecticut Landed Fluke Ceviche.



Dahlias.



Lettuce is definitely in season here in CT.



The Fish Market sells Mystic oysters for $1 each.



A variety of radishes.



Sugar Snap Peas.



 It's June, so of course, fresh local strawberries.

6.06.2011

Meatless Monday: Ginger Garlic Bok Choy Pasta

Opening Day at the Coventry Regional Farmers' Market yesterday featured loads of plants and seedlings, perfect for those of us getting started on our summer gardens. We picked up some morning glories to decorate our porch, some lavender to fragrance our bathroom, and some peas and cantaloupe to fill up our vegetable/fruit/berry garden (and, eventually, our bellies!). Soon we'll work on the front garden where we'll plant our herbs and, of course, a nice variety of tomatoes. We're getting there.

That said, there wasn't much by way of produce at the market yesterday. But we did find, and buy, some beautiful red baby bok choy that has become the focus for today's Meatless Monday recipe. We sauteed the bok choy with fresh ginger and garlic using tips and tricks we found at the blog Steamy Kitchen, then we tossed it with pasta for a quick, fresh, light, meatless meal fit for an early summer evening.



First, we carefully trimmed the stem of the bok choy, and separated and rinsed each tender leaf. Then we finely minced two cloves of garlic and grated about two teaspoons of fresh ginger. These we added to a tablespoon of canola oil inside a cold wok (below, left), so nothing would burn and taste bitter. A few red pepper flakes would give the dish some zing!

 









We heated the wok over medium heat and waited for the smell of garlic and ginger cooking (above, right). Then we added the bok choy leaves and quickly tossed them to coat them in the aromatic oil.  



To lightly steam the leaves, we poured in three tablespoons of water, then covered the wok and allowed it to cook for a minute. We carefully tossed our cooked pasta (farfalle tonight) into the wok with the leaves and drizzled our "Ginger Garlic Bok Choy Pasta" with toasted sesame oil to finish it. What a flavorful dish!



Ingredients:

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound baby bok choy, trimmed and rinsed
3 tablespoons water
1/2 pound pasta
kosher salt
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Boil water for pasta and prepare pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, pour the oil into a cold wok (or large skillet). Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes to the wok, then turn the heat to medium. When the garlic and ginger become fragrant, stir in the bok choy leaves. Toss quickly but carefully so that all leaves are coated with the oil, about 20 seconds. Pour in the water, cover, and allow to cook for one minute. Toss cooked pasta into the wok, season with salt to taste, and finish with a drizzle of sesame oil.




6.01.2011

Grilled Poundcake with Balsamic Berries

It's finally June, and berries of all kinds are popping up all over these parts. For now, we are relying on the supermarket, but soon enough (this weekend in fact!), our favorite farmer's market opens and then we can start to really enjoy the bounty of summer. We came up with this particular dessert idea after seeing some slices of poundcake strategically placed near the berries in the produce aisle. (Turning the oven on to make a cake this week was not something we wanted to do, especially since we work without air conditioning all day). Slightly grilling the slices of poundcake offered a crunchy char plus that toasty, smoky flavor we love. And balsamic and berries get along famously. We saved a few calories by not adding freshly whipped cream, but that, or a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, might push this summery treat to the brink of amazingness. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pint blackberries
1/2 pint raspberries
1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
6 slices store-bought poundcake
6 sprigs fresh mint (optional, for garnish)

Mix the sugar and corn starch in a medium saucepan. Stir in the water then add the balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Put over medium heat and add the blackberries. While continuing to stir, bring the mixture to a boil, then boil for one minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Carefully fold in the raspberries and strawberries and set aside. Spray the grates of a gas grill with cooking spray and turn the grill onto medium-high heat. Lay the slices of pound cake on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes (or until grill marks appear); flip and do the same on the other side. Spoon the berry mixture over each slice of poundcake, garnish with mint, and enjoy.