No Big Dill!

July is very appropriately National Pickle Month.  Who doesn’t want a dill spear on the side of their sandwich or a bread and butter slice on top of their burger or a pile of relish on top of their grilled hot dog? With these summer staples, pickles are the perfect accompaniment as they are crisp, fresh, light and add a lot of flavor.  Pickling began as a way of preserving foods for out-of-season use and also to keep foods fresh for long journeys.  With refrigeration, we don’t have to worry so much about keeping foods fresh for long journeys, but pickling is still used for keeping out-of-season foods fresh for the off-season. I have memories of making five-gallon buckets of pickled ramps in the spring when working at db Bistro Moderne.  They were served with a duck pate and we had to have enough to last until the following spring. It was not easy feat but somehow, we made it work.

We can’t talk about National Pickle Month without talking about Rick’s Picks.  Their Phat Beets are my favorite… I love beets for obvious reasons, and these are made with just the right amount of rosemary and garlic and are just delicious.  Their recipe for Phat Beets Happy Appy makes lots of appearances when I entertain. While Ricks PIcks Classic Sours are delicious, you cannot go wrong with adding some Mean Beans or Hotties to your Bloody Mary.  Homemade pickles are a great way to use up that load of vegetables you got from  your CSA and can’t possibly eat before they go bad, but pickling isn’t just for cucumbers and vegetables anymore.

Pickle juice has become as popular as the pickles that are inside it.  A few years ago the pickle back, a shot of pickle juice, paired with a shot of whisky became extremely popular. And this recipe for pickle-brine chicken is so delicious and flavorful.  Pickling liquid could also be used as part of a vinaigrette on a salad.  I’ve also read that a few sips of pickle juice could relieve heartburn or make that hang-over go away. The good news is that pickles aren’t going anywhere so let’s celebrate them in all of their glory this month and beyond!  We’re offering 10% off our collection of Rick’s Picks Pickles through the end of the month with code PICKLEMONTH10

Happy Friday,

Julie

The Thrill of the Grill

I just got an email from the management company of my building reminding us that it is illegal to have a propane or charcoal grill on your terrace or in your apartment.  While having an open flame grill inside your apartment sounds crazy having one outside isn’t so crazy.  But rules are rules and when we renovated our apartment we tried really hard to get the building to allow us to have a legal gas line barbecue but, in the end, didn’t succeed.  So we have our indoor grill on top of our range and it does a pretty good job.  The email got me thinking about why grilling has such an appeal that people are breaking these rules to have grilled food.

Grilling outside is a social way to cook. The stereotype is mostly true that men love to grill. I think a big part of that is the fact that they can stand around with a drink in their hand while ‘manning’ the grill.  There are obviously varying ways to ‘man’ the grill. I have memories of grilling with my grandfather where he would set a timer on his watch so we would know when to turn the steaks so they were evenly cooked and also had perfect cross marks on them.  On the other end of the spectrum is the set it and almost forget method where you simply watch for a lot of smoke or flames and then check in on what is cooking.   Both ways are satisfying for the grill master and also produce delicious food.

Cooking over an open flame also provides sense of adventure.  A gas grill is pretty easy to turn off and on, but you still have to watch out for flames firing up onto your meal.  Lighting a charcoal grill or even cooking over wood is something that requires skill and should be rewarded with a delicious meal.  The charcoal chimney is an amazing invention but there is still an amount of skill and luck to getting that fire going.  Unless you grew up as part of the boy scouts or girl scouts, starting a wood fire is tough.  Having the challenge of starting the fire and creating the environment to cook is one of the appeals of grilling.

Finally, there are the health benefits of having your food cooked over an open flame.  First off, you actually eat less fat because the fat is dripping off of the meat through the grates on the grill.  Foods retain more of their nutrients when cooked over an open flame.  This includes vegetables and proteins and happens because of low water content in the food.  You also eat less fat because you only need a little oil to keep the food from sticking to the grill but otherwise most of your flavor comes from the smoke of the grill and not from adding fats to your food. 

With summer in full swing, grilling season is also in full swing. I hope you are able to enjoy the social and health benefits from grilling. Most importantly be safe when you grill and certainly don’t have an open flame grill inside the house!  

Happy Friday,

Juliie

Food Trends from the Fancy Food Show

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show here in New York City. The show can be overwhelming as it covers most of the Jacob Javitz Center with literally 1000’s of booths.  With the right game plan, I was able to see what I wanted to in just a couple of very productive hours. One of my strategies is to visit the show on Tuesday, which is the final day.  The number of visitors is far fewer making it easier to breeze up and down the aisles.  On the flip side, the vendors have been talking and talking for two days already and some are just plain tired!   At the end of the day, the Fancy Food Show is a great opportunity to connect with some of our current artisans and also to look for new products for our marketplace.  On top of all of that I also enjoy poking around to see what the current trends are in the gourmet food world. 

Here are the trends I found most prominent at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show:

Plant Based Everything: From oat milk to almond milk to cauliflower pizza crust and even some ‘meat’ products, there was a BIG emphasis on eating from foods we can grow.  While we know this type of diet has many health benefits including reduced risk of some cancers, I am a purist is most areas. I want my milk to come from a cow and my beef too for that matter. I do try to keep a low-carb diet so am on board with things like cauliflower pizza crust and pasta made from chickpeas. It is good to know these products are available for those who choose this lifestyle and also opens a lot of options for people with allergies to certain foods.

Allergy-Free Items:  To my last point, there is an increased awareness to allergies and more products are available to benefit allergy sufferers.  It doesn’t surprise me that these products are often created by parents who are looking for something delicious to feed their child who has a gluten/nut/dairy/soy allergy.  While my children, luckily, don’t have any food allergies I find these products have a place in our home because schools are super sensitive to allergies and a lot of packaged items are not allowed due to the allergens they contain.

Cold Brew Coffee:  I remember it like it was yesterday… making batches of cold brew coffee at Bouchon Bakery almost 10 years ago.  We had to let the coffee sit in the water overnight to brew to the proper strength.  It was not an easy feat.  Clearly times have changed as cold brew is becoming very main stream and in a good way.  A great bottle of cold brew in your refrigerator means fewer trips to the local coffee shop and for those who don’t live near a coffee shop, you can still have your gourmet coffee.

While most of these trends don’t align with the philosophy around the products selected for our marketplace, it was great to see how the food scene is changing.  I did find some wonderful products from smaller producers t that I hope to bring to our marketplace in the fall. I look forward to telling you more about the products and the stories behind them soon!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Summer time is for peaches!

Summer is a time for lots of gatherings with friends and family. I often feel compelled to bring something delicious to the celebration. It is an excuse for me to cook something different and who doesn’t love getting tons of compliments on the dish they prepared.  One of my go-to summer desserts is peach cobbler.  Peaches are in peak season and this cobbler is so easy to make for 8, 18 or even 28!  Serve with a side of vanilla ice cream and you’ll have a dessert everyone is going to remember.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Peach Cobbler

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar, divided

1 tablespoon baking powder

A pinch of salt

1 cup milk

4 cups fresh peaches slices

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method:

-Melt butter in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish while preheating your oven to 375°F.

-Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt with milk.  Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter but do not stir.

-Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peaches and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour over batter(do not stir).

-Bake at 375°F for 40-45 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Cool Down with a Salad!

Summer is officially here and I try my best to cool things down in the kitchen when the weather heats up outside.  I like to have make-ahead sides that can be served at room temperature and often serve salads for dinner. Cooking in the morning before the weather really heats is a good way to beat the heat in the kitchen.  Here are the key components to a successful entrée salad.

  • A good base of GREENS: whether it be kale or Romaine or a mix of baby greens you need a base for your salad. Greens come in all flavors from mild to strong and provide the perfect back drop to a delicious salad.
  • Protein: Having a protein is key for turning a salad from a side dish to an entrée. I love grilled salmon on a salad or hard boiled eggs. Both of these can be made ahead to beat the heat at dinner time. If you really don’t feel like turning on the oven or stove, open a can of tuna or add some canned beans to your salad to provide protein.
  • Some Crunch: This could come from something as simple as toasted almonds or a crisp apple.  Adding some crunch to your salad gives it some texture and makes it more appealing to all of your senses.
  • Something Salty: If you are feeling simple, sprinkle your salad with some Jacobsen Salt Co. Flake Salt. If you want to dig deeper add a salty cheese or maybe some crushed tortilla chips or perhaps some salty meat like a cubed salami.
  • Something Sweet: I love putting some dried fruit on top of my salad… raisins & apricots are always a good choice. Candied nuts are a great option to add something sweet and crunchy!
  • Dressing: This could be the most important component of your salad as it provides lots of flavor to your meal.  I am partial to line of amazing dressings from Farmhouse Lab. I would say my favorite is the Berry Olive but the truth is I love them all.  A dressing should add flavor and bring all of the other components in  your salad into one dish.  If you prefer to keep your dressing simple, I would recommend FIVE Extra Virgin Olive Oil and FIVE Aged Balsamic Vinegar.

With these key components and a combination of your favorite fruits and vegetables you are sure to have a delicious salad on hand for dinner tonight.  The best part of having a really good salad for dinner is saving the leftovers for lunch the following day!

Happy Friday,

Julie

How to host a party, fun for kids & grown-ups!

Yesterday was the last day of school for my two oldest boys. It has become a tradition that we host a party  to mark the occasion, inviting all of the children from each class as one last get together as a group.  While it may sound daunting to host 22 children and their families with enough planning and preparation it can be a breeze.  Here are some tips on hosting an event that can come together easily and is enjoyable for both grown-ups and children.

  1. Plan an appropriate menu for the age groups – For us this means having choices that are approachable to children while also having something fancier for the grown-ups. I always follow the rule of making at least one home-made dish and fill in the rest with open and serve items.  I’ve been looking for an excuse to make this Chicken Alfredo Ring so that was my home-made dish.  We also had a cheese tray, pretzels, chips, a fruit tray, veggies and hummus and home-made cookies for dessert.
  2. Have a special beverage station – Keeping the drinks separate from the food makes people move to different rooms in the house. Having a special drink makes the party more fun for kids and grown-ups. At this age, the kids get pretty excited about juice boxes or lemonade.  We have wine and beer for the grown-ups because they deserve to relax a little as well!
  3. Plan a menu that can be made ahead – Everything we served could be prepared ahead of time and set out on the buffet for all to enjoy. This meant that during the party I didn’t have to be working in the kitchen to heat something up and could chat with the other grown-ups or keep the kids out of trouble.
  4. Have an activity to engage the children so they don’t destroy your home – We had a cookie decorating station set up where the children could frost and decorate their own cookie to take home or enjoy on the spot. This kept their attention just long enough that the selection of toys that were out were interesting and kept my home relatively clean.
  5. Prepare your toy selection – I highly recommend putting away toys your kids don’t want to share to prevent any arguments. We also put away noisy toys(think musical instruments) and toys with lots of pieces(legos!). This keeps the noise level down and makes clean-up a little bit easier.

I have always enjoyed entertaining and while it has changed since having kids in the mix, there is a way to still make it enjoyable.  The next time you find yourself overwhelmed by a big event look at my tips and you’ll surely be able to sit back and enjoy at least a glass of wine!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Running for a Cause

This weekend I’ll be participating in my 7th race with Moms in Training.  Moms in Training is a group of Moms that train together to run a 10K while also raising funds to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I started with this group in the fall of 2014 when my son was 4 months old.  He would sleep in our running stroller while I trained in Central Park.  I’ve always loved running but once I became a mom it became more difficult to find time to run.  By participating in Moms in Training, I have an excuse to go for a run each week and can feel good about it since I am supporting a great cause at the same time. With three boys now, I am finding it even more difficult to find time to run. I upgraded a few years ago to a double running stroller so now can push two of them while I train. That leaves my supportive husband with just one to look after.

This season has not been an easy one for me as far as running is concerned. I was formally diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis the week before the Moms in Training Season began. That didn’t stop me from going to the team kick off where we met this season’s team honoree, Jackson.  There wasn’t a dry eye among the crowd gathered there listening to Jackson’s father tell the story of Jackson’s battle with cancer.  Jackson is now 11 and has been cancer and treatment free for 5 years.  The one comment that resonated with me with was when Jackson’s father said that beating cancer was one of the easier challenges Jackson had to overcome.  Jackson was already challenged with numerous health and development issues that accompany Down Syndrome nonetheless Jackson persevered and overcame the challenge.  What I am facing is far less severe compared with Jackson’s story and it puts it all in perspective.  I’ve been going to physical therapy to work through the heel pain and it has helped. I have been running a little ahead of the race but not as much as I would have without the heel issue.

As I head into the race tomorrow, I’ll remember what Jackson’s father said and think about the millions of people who are affected by blood cancers.  I’m not likely to win the race, but I do hope to have a good time running it.  If you’d like to support my run with Moms in Training you can donate through this link, https://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/mit19/JRosenberg

Go Moms!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Spring into Summer

After Memorial Day, I really start to feel the transition from spring into summer.  Spring is one of my favorite seasons. Everything starts to turn green and we get to be less bundled as the temperature begins to creep up. Produce also begins to turn green and there is a new variety of vegetables and fruits to use in the kitchen! Now that we have passed the unofficial start of summer, I can dig out those white pants from of the back of my closet(Just kidding!) and embrace even more produce.  These days we do start to wear shorts more than pants and there are more days when I go out without a jacket.  School is slowly coming to an end and we can all look forward to the care-free fun of camp during the summer. 

One of my favorite parts of summer is the ability to serve something that requires little to no cooking.  Salads become staple on our dinner menu. I dare you to count the number of times I post a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad this summer. I’ll be changing them up slightly each time by using different sized tomatoes, perhaps using a dressing from Farm House Labs one week and the following week simply drizzling the salad with 5 Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I plan to cook vegetables ahead of time and serve them with a light vinaigrette to greet the freshness of summer.  The wine in our house also begins to change from red to white and maybe with a rose mixed in.  With the summer heat, a chilled wine is always appreciated and this summer we are ready for drinks on the terrace with plastic wine glasses!

One downside of the heat is that we need to ship some of our products express to make sure they arrive in their best condition.  You can check out all of our summer shipping guidelines here.

Whether you spend your summer in the city, at the beach or somewhere in between I hope it is as relaxing as you want it to be.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Fire up the Grill!

Fire up the grill!

Who doesn’t love to grill…especially on a warm sunny day, am I right?  At my house I typically do the cooking but my husband is always in charge of the grilling.  It isn’t that I don’t know how to grill, it is just that he likes it and it is an easy task for me to delegate to him.  In the city, we have a grill as part of our Wolf Range which isn’t quite as romantic as grilling outside (but better than not grilling at all).  When we go on vacation, we always rent a house with a grill.  On those instances I am pretty sure my husband loves being outside by the grill, sipping glass of wine and enjoying the weather. 

With Memorial Day Weekend starting, summer has un-officially begun and that marks the start of grilling season for most.  When I grill a protein I typically don’t follow  recipe.  The meat or fish is seasoned with one or more spice blends from La Boîte and some kosher salt.  For side dishes I tend to be more of a recipe follower.  Here is one of my favorite grilled side dishes. I first started making this when I lived in London and we had a charcoal grill on our roof top.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Grilled Romaine Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

2 heads Romaine Lettuce

1 red onion

2 ripe avocados

1 pint grape tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

-Pre-heat grill to medium high heat. While the grill is heating prepare the vegetables.  Slice the heads of Romaine in half from the stem to the tip.  Peel and slice the onion into ¼ inch slices.  Season lettuce and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper.

-Place onion slices on the grill away from the direct heat.  Allow to grill for about 20 minutes or until no crunch remains.

-Place lettuce on grill and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes per side.

-Slice grilled lettuce into 1-inch ribbons and put into salad bowl.  Chop grilled onion and add to the bowl.

-Slice the grape tomatoes in halve and add to the bowl.  Dice the avocado and add it to the bowl as well.

-Drizzle with a little more olive oil and salt and pepper if desired.  Toss to coat and enjoy.

 

C is for Chocolate Chips

This past Wednesday was National Chocolate Chip Day, a holiday I can support without question.  If it were up to my children we’d probably sprinkle chocolate chips on everything… needless to say I am a huge fan. It all got me thinking about where Chocolate Chips came from.  As you might have suspected, the creation of the chocolate chip came about for a cookie recipe.  Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts added cut up chunks of a semi-sweet Nestle chocolate bar to a cookie recipe.  They were an immediate success.  Wakefield reached an agreement with Nestle to add her recipe to the back of their bags in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate.  That was in 1939 and Wakefield lived until 1977.  That is a LOT of chocolate.  It was around 1941 when Nestle began producing chocolate chips, before that they added a cutter to their larger bars.  This creation changed cookie making as we know it.

These days it is difficult to find a traditional bakery that doesn’t have some sort of chocolate chip cookie on their menu. While the Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe is  a staple at home, here are some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies to eat when someone else is baking.

Bouchon Bakery Chocolate Chunk – This cookie is crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle. I had my fair share when I worked at Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center for over two years. Sometimes quality control is part of the job and I wasn’t complaining.

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies – These cookies are HUGE and sinful.  They are pretty gooey on the inside with just the right balance of richness from the chocolate and crunch from the walnuts.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Coated Chocolate Chip Cookie – This chocolate chip cookie is coated on the bottom with 60% dark chocolate… WOW!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Shots from Dominique Ansel Bakery – Cookies and milk are a great combination and this one allows you to have your milk in your cookie.  It literally is a cup made of chocolate chip cookie. 

If you missed National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day do not worry, there are chocolate chip cookies made everyday.  Pick one up at your favorite bakery and let us know why it is the best!

Happy Friday,

Julie