Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Roasted watermelon salad

As promised....more frequent blogging!

Seriously you're gonna want to eat this- like right now 
Like I mentioned here, this weekend I had the chance to check out the Union Square Greenmarket. This summer, watermelon has been my go-to food- roasted watermelon salad in particular has been a favorite meal.
Can you see the beautiful caramelization happening on the roasted watermelon & figs? It was really hard to get a picture before I scarfed this down.
Last night, with just 90 minutes between getting home and needing to head out to dance class, I pulled together the most amazing roasted watermelon salad. Although I believe the best salad "recipes" are merely just guidelines, here are some notes on how I did it:

First, I washed some baby arugula and arranged it on a plate- I like greens a lot so I used about 1.5 cups. On top of that, I sprinkled about 1/4 cup of blueberries and a half cup or so of very thinly sliced red onion. Next, I tore up 2 or 3 big sprigs of mint and scattered them around the plate.

Next, the good stuff!! I sliced up about a quarter cup of this delicious salty sheep's milk feta from Ardith Mae farms and added to plate of salad. I don't think I can even do this cheese justice with words- salty, creamy, dreamy, and wonderful all fall short. The thing I love about high quality cheese is how little you need to add some major flavor to a dish.

 The final, and most important step, roast your fruit! To get mine perfectly toasty, I melted about a tablespoon of coconut oil in a very hot pan. Then, I threw in some sliced figs and chunks of watermelon. The sizzle sound means it's working- or at least that's what I told myself.... Once I saw some pieces starting to form a darker crust,  I scooped the fruit (and the bits left behind in pan) out and laid them gently on top of my plated other components. And then I dug in and didn't stop until it was all gone.

You could choose a dressing for this salad, but I liked mine as is. The juices running out of the fruit added a nice little "sauce" and the lack of a dressing allowed the produce and cheese to really shine.

Can't wait to dream up something to do with the eggplants I picked up!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lazy Saturday afternoon in Union Square Greenmarket

A few things in life I really love: fresh vegetables, scoring a sweet deal, and meandering through my city. Yesterday afternoon was a culmination of all 3 of those for me. Check out a few pics from my exploration of New York City's Union Square Greenmarket:

There's a lovely lively bar in the middle of all the action

Most of the farmers are more than happy to let you sample a few bites before you buy. 

Avocado squash is creamy and perfect and wonderful- like no other squash I've ever tasted.

There are artisan foods for everyone- I personally don't understand why you'd seek out a sugarless cookie but hey someone is probably really glad to see this vendor!

Need a break from the shopping? Grab a snack and table  in front of the multiple cool statues in the park.

The first thing I used out of my haul from yesterday's market adventure were these beautiful French breakfast radishes. only $1 bought me a whole big bunch of them! This morning, I sliced them thinly and topped them with a poached egg, a healthy drizzle of toasted sesame oil, and some freshly grated ginger. Heavenly late summer brunch. 

Stay tuned later this week for recipes and photos of how I used the rest of the vegetables and handcrafted goat's milk cheeses I brought home. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bacon Goat Cheese Waffles with Spicy Fig Preserves

Late August bleeding in to early September is my favorite time of year. Summer still holding on a little, autumn gently beginning to show itself. This is the perfect time of year for lazy brunches with lots of buttery homemade pastries and French presses full of steamy dark coffee. When a good friend invited me over for just such a brunch last weekend, I knew I needed to make something special.
Throw in a mimosa and I think we have the most perfect breakfast ever right here.

My thoughts instantly ran to figs- the perfect marriage of summer and fall! Fresh, juicy, and fruity like summer but with a dark, velvety exterior that shouts “autumn” joyfully…..okay, maybe I actually just needed to use the box staring at me forlornly in the fridge, but we can pretend I started this recipe with poetic intentions, right? 
Step 1: refrain from eating all figs whole as you prep them

I am a firm believer that figs have 2 best friends, bacon and goat cheese. Each on it’s own is delicious, but all 3 together? Oh yeah!! With that in mind, I set out to create a bacon goat cheese waffle with a spicy fig preserve. What brunch is complete without a waffle?!

A few notes on this recipe- I have a really cool waffle stick pan that bakes cute little sticks of waffle in the oven, but you could just as easily use this mix to pour in to a traditional waffle iron and create full size waffles. Also, my recipe is gluten-free because 2 of the brunch guests were gluten-intolerant, but regular flour could be swapped just as easily (I tested it both ways). If you want to, you can make fig preserves in advance and let hang out in the fridge until you are ready to use them. Letting them sit in the fridge helps bring out some of the spiciness from the cardamom and black pepper.

Waffles, meet bacon and goat cheese.

Spicy fig preserves
This will make a large, nearly full jelly jar batch. You can refrigerate any leftovers and use again on another dish. Maybe a pork chop with fig preserves on top?
You will need:

2 cups Black Mission figs, stems removed and fruit cut in lengthwise

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 13-ounce glass jar with lid (sterilized)

Candy thermometer

To do:

Scoop the flesh from the figs with a spoon and throw out the peels. Boil sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Stir in figs, lemon juice, cinnamon, caradmom, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until a candy thermometer reads 210 degrees F (100 degrees C). This should be about 17-20 minutes. When preserves are ready, you should have a jelly-like consistency with very few large chunks of fig left. Pack the hot preserves into your jar up to ¼ inch from top. Screw on lid and let sit out on counter to cool slightly before storing in the refrigerator.
(this recipe was inspired by, and slightly modified from: All Recipes: Black Mission Fig Preserves)

You can serve preserves cold or reheated lightly over waffles, it’s your preference. I kind of like the contrast of cold preserves over a hot waffle personally.

Gluten-free Bacon Goat Cheese Waffles
You will need:

1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free baking flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tbs olive oil

1/2 c whole milk

1/4 c water

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/8 lb of bacon, cooked to your liking (I like mine extra crispy. You can also use more or less bacon according to your preferences)

3/8 c crumbled goat cheese (again, please feel free to add more or less)

To do:

Combine first five ingredients in a bowl and stir until well-mixed. Next, whisk wet ingredients together. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisky until slightly lumpy. Let stand for five minutes. Fold in bacon and goat cheese until well incorporated. Pour batter into your waffle iron and cook according to machine directions.

(recipe inspired by: Easy Gluten-Free Waffles)