Smorgasburg!

As the days quickly get warmer, New York City seems to recharge and become more and more alive. From  markets, street fairs and concerts, there is an abundance of things to do outdoors on a beautiful Spring or Summer day. Since we’re all about food, we especially love the warmer months of the year due the re-emergence of SMORGASBURG from its winter hibernation. Dubbed by the New York Times as “The Woodstock of Eating”, Smorgasburg was launched in 2011 and is now the largest open-air food market in the United States. Every Saturday in Williamsburg and every Sunday in Prospect Park, one-hundred local vendors come together to bring hungry people delicious food throughout Spring and Summer. From po boy’s to grilled lobster to vegan fare and everything in between, Smorgasburg has something delicious for everyone. One of my personal favorites is the Calexico Burger from Chickpea & Olive followed by a vegan scoop from Bona Bona Ice Cream Truck. Make sure to bring a blanket to spread out on the spacious open grounds, a book, and good company to help you enjoy the day! Also, most of the vendors are cash only, so if you don’t normally carry cash, be sure to stop at an ATM before starting your day.

– Payton

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Week Night Dinner with Eggs

I love cooking and especially love cooking for my family. Every week I plan out our dinners based on who will be home and their eating preferences.  On occasion my husband will tell me he’s going to be out and then at the last minute change his plans and come home for dinner.  I think he just wants to keep me on my toes.  In these situations I often get pretty creative with what is in the refrigerator and pantry.  This recipe for Shakshuka is from one of those nights. The side dish, spaghetti squash ‘hash browns’ is definitely still in the development phase!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Ingredients:

2 large red bell peppers, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

1 jar Hellenic Farms Kalamata Olives

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

6 oz baby spinach leaves, washed

5 large eggs

Olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350°F

-in a cast iron skillet, sauté peppers and onions until they are tender. Add the Hellenic Farms Kalamata Olives and tomatoes and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.  Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Season with salt and pepper as you are cooking. Remove the pan from the heat.

-Make 5 wells in the mixture.  This is where you will crack your eggs.  Crack an egg into each well.  Place pan in pre-heated oven and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Egg whites should be cooked and you can adjust the cooking time to keep the yolks runny or cook them through.

-Remove from oven and enjoy along with some crusty bread.

Happy Birthday President Jefferson!

We all know Thomas Jefferson as one of the founding fathers of the United States of America and the third president of our country.  Today, April 13th, marks his birthday.  While Jefferson was a very influential in writing the Declaration of Independence and made many great contributions to our country, he is often overlooked for his influence on farming and his love of food.

As a farmer, Jefferson was obsessed with new crops, soil conditions, scientific agricultural techniques, and garden designs.  His main cash crop was tobacco, although it was rarely profitable.  Jefferson tried to achieve self-sufficiency with many vegetables, wheat, corn, hogs, and cattle to supply his family, slaves, and employees. Unfortunately, he was always in debt due to his other interests.  Among other interests, Jefferson was an inventor.  He is credited with making the moldboard plow.  This plow allowed farmers to turn the top soil on their fields and greatly reduce the time needed to prepare a field.  This in turn allowed farmers to work a larger area of land.

Thomas Jefferson was also interested in wine and considered a gourmet of his time.  As president, Jefferson, is remember for his elaborate entertaining.  Meals often consisted of wild fowl including pheasants, partridges, and wild pigeons.  Even when he wasn’t entertaining President Jefferson often began his day with Squab baked in a flaky crust or beef tongue.  He loved exotic fruits like pineapple and always had a supply of fresh-baked bread.  Jefferson continue to enjoy these foods beyond the end of his term.

As you can see Thomas Jefferson wasn’t only important in the founding of our country but was also a key player in adjusting the social norms around growing and eating food!  I can relate to his love of dining and entertaining. I also see that he set the precedent that our nation’s leaders should be a renaissance man with many different passions.

Happy Birthday President Jefferson!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Eating With the Season: Roasted Mushroom and Asparagus Pasta

Spring is finally in the air! And what a long wait it has been. The temperature will soon rise and rain will soon fall, setting into motion the bloom of the bountiful Spring season. We as New Yorkers are very lucky to live within such short distance of so many amazing local farms, providing access to fresh and delicious in-season produce. Shopping at your neighborhood Farmers’ Market or Green Market is an amazing way to find in-season produce and can also be a source of meal inspiration. There are many great online resources for navigating the produce of the season, including: https://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket/whatsavailable which not only provides information on seasonal produce available, but also recipes, gardening information, and information on the importance of eating local and with the season.

Although I tend to eat lighter in the Spring, I sometimes crave a heartier, more comforting meal on a chilly Spring evening. My go to is roasted mushroom and asparagus pasta coated in an almond cream sauce. See recipe below.

Enjoy!

Payton

Roasted Mushrooms and Asparagu

Ingredients:
1 lb cremini mushrooms, washed, stems removed, thinly sliced
1 lb asparagus, washed, woody stems removed, chopped into 1 inch pieces

1 lb Semolina Artisanal Strozzapreti Pasta

Almond Cream Sauce
1 cup blanched almonds
2 cups water
1 medium yellow onion
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons chickpea miso
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Add mushrooms and asparagus to a half sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, toss, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until lightly caramelized.

Soak almonds in 1 cup hot water for at least 15 minutes. Add almonds and soaking water to a high speed blender and blend until smooth, slowly streaming in remaining cup of water.
In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and sweat onion until soft. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes.
Add sweated onion and garlic to the blender, along with miso, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour sauce back into the saute pan and heat slowly, whisking to break up lumps. Stir in lemon juice. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

Cook pasta according to package instruction
Add roasted mushrooms and asparagus to the sauce.

Toss cooked pasta with sauce, serve and enjoy!

In like a Lion, out like a Lamb

March has been a very busy month… it came in roaring like a lion and hopefully, will go out like a lamb.  Tonight we begin the celebration of Passover with the first Seder. It is a time to be with family and friends to re-tell the story of the Jewish People’s exodus from Egypt.  One great part of any holiday is the traditions that go along with it.  As my children grow our traditions bring on new meaning and continue to grow as well. Here are some of my favorite family Passover traditions… you’ll notice most of them involve food.

  1. Singing Songs – At the end of a long seder, it is late and everyone has had a couple of glasses of wine(technically 4, but who’s counting?). It is the perfect time to sing all of the songs at the end of the Hagadah. One of my favorites is a counting song where each person takes a phrase. It is always a hoot to see who forgets and who remembers their number to keep the song going.
  2. Egg Soup – Eggs are a strong symbol at Passover representing life. It is common to eat a hard boiled egg at the seder but my friends take it a step further. They mix the hard boiled egg with salt water to produce egg soup and it is delicious.
  3. Chocolate – Since you cannot eat anything leavened during Passover most of the sweets tend to be chocolate related. I’m definitely okay with that and plan to eat chocolate before, during and after the Seder.
  4. Practicing our Hebrew – At my family’s Seder we take turns reading from the Hagadah. You are always encouraged to read the Hebrew rather than the English. The best part is that my mother-in-law follows along and corrects any mistakes along the way!  If someone is a good(meaning quick) reader we always make sure they take a long turn.  The faster you read, the sooner you get to eat!
  5. Family & Friends – At the end of the day, the best part of the holiday is spending it with family and friends. I’m lucky that I have 2 very special seders to attend and hope this tradition continues year after year.

Whatever holiday you are celebrating this weekend, I hope it is happy and meaningful and filled with all the traditions you love.

Happy Friday,

Julie

From Grandma with Love

My love for food was ignited at the head of my grandma Carolyn’s old farmhouse table as she taught me how to roll out handmade cinnamon rolls when I was five years old. An unconditional nurturer, my grandmother radiates love and kindness, manifesting her love most clearly through food, always served with the most illuminating smile. As the mother of five children, a restaurant owner, and the head cook at Spring Grove School for more than two decades, my grandmother has dedicated her life to food. Her ability to share her love and warmth through food inspires me everyday to create beautiful and nourishing dishes for myself and the ones that I love.

As Easter nears, I wanted to share a recipe for one of my grandmother’s most sought after desserts — Scotcheroos — in hopes to inspire a fun family project in the kitchen. A simple combination of peanut butter, sugar, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips, my grandma’s Scotcheroos are devoured almost instantly at any gathering that she brings them to. I hope you enjoy!

Payton

Grandma Carolyn’s Scotcheroos

Ingredients:

1 c sugar

1 c corn syrup

1 c creamy peanut butter

3 to 4 quarts popped Tiny but Mighty Popcorn

Optional*

1 c milk chocolate chips

1 c butterscotch chips

Method:

-Add sugar and corn syrup to a medium sized saucepan. Over medium high heat, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter. Pour over popped popcorn.  Form into eggs. Allow to cool.

-The options for add-ins and toppings are endless! While forming, feel free to fill the center of your egg with your favorite candy of choice. Or drip or roll in melted or chopped chocolate, nuts, or candy pieces.

-My grandma always tops her scotcheroos with a combination of melted milk chocolate and butterscotch chips. Simply add chocolate chips and butterscotch chips to a glass bowl and melt over a double boiler. Once melted drizzle over the top of the formed eggs.

Entertaining Made Easier

Entertaining can fun but also overwhelming, especially when you have kids.  For example, this weekend I’m hosting a brunch for my family which happens to be 20 people. Over the years I’ve discovered a few tricks that allow me to actually enjoy the celebration instead of feeling like I am slaving away in the kitchen or as the clean up crew.

Divide and conquer: This means get some help. At my house, I typically take care of the food while my husband takes care of the beverages. That means everything from selecting the wine to stocking the bar with ice, cups and garnishes, and ensuring the champagne saber is handy(usually just for New Year’s Eve).

For brunch on Sunday, my husband is in charge of picking up at the coffee at Dunkin Donuts and also responsible for picking up the bagels and smoked fish the day before. It isn’t a big drinking crowd so he should be able to handle both!

DO NOT try to make everything from scratch: I’ve learned that having 1 or 2 homemade items mixed in with some open and serve items creates the impression that you’ve done a lot of work and your guests will be really impressed.

For the brunch, I’m making my favorite Sour Cream Coffee Cake and an egg casserole.  We’re serving those along side bagels & lox with all of the fixings and a fruit tray.  My two amazing dishes show I put some effort into the meal but I wasn’t cooking for days to have it ready.

Preparation is key! I learned this when I was working in restaurants. You never know what you are going to walk into at the beginning of your shift so the more you can prepare ahead of time the better.  I also select menu items that require little hands on attention. For our New Years Eve Party we serve a large selection of cheese and I always make a brie en croute.  The brie looks really impressive and all I have to do is pop it in the oven and serve.

This weekend the casserole is the only item that needs to bake the day of. Everything else will be ready and waiting the night before.

Paper and Plastic are okay. This one really came into effect when my second son was born and since my third son was born it is the rule, not the exception. I just don’t have time anymore to wash all of those dishes.  Of course if I am serving a fancy sit down dinner for 6 or 8, I’ll pull out the fine china and silver but when it is a party with kids present, disposable is the way to go!

Luckily, I live down the block from Party City. We’ve already purchased our Thomas the Tank Engine Plates, disposable tablecloths and everything else we’ll need for the party.

I hope you’ll put my tips to good use next time you are entertaining. Please let me know if you have tips you’d like to add.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Giving Back

At Julie’s Beet we love supporting small artisans by introducing you to their amazing work. We also love giving back to our community and helping others. Did you know a portion of the proceeds from every jar of Due Cellucci Tomato Sauce goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Read Stephanie’s touching story for why she got into the sauce business HERE.

We donate our time and occasionally our products to help causes from education to Suicide Prevention.  There are some great people out there doing great things and we are just happy to be contributing to their success. Here are some upcoming events we’re supporting.

A League of Our Own DREAM Chocolate and Wine Event – This event celebrates the power and potential of girls and women.  It is a night filled with chocolate and wine and also the opportunity to give back.  You can find out more about DREAM here.

Center for Women & Enterprise Auction & Gala Celebration – This organization is dedicated to helping young men and women increase their professional success and gain financial independence.  Find out more about their mission here.

The Samaritans – The Samaritans of New York operates the only community-based organization in the NYC-Metropolitan area solely devoted to preventing suicide and helping people in crisis. Join them and support their efforts at their Midtown Mardi Gras Event on Wednesday April 11th.  Read more about their important work here.

As you can see there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes so to speak.  It always feels good to give to others, especially when we are supporting the amazing work of groups such as these.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Today is a very special day at my house, it is my son’s 2nd birthday. I was feeling very nostalgic this week and took a trip back to when he was a baby. Looking at pictures of him just a year ago, it is amazing to see how far he has come.  On his first birthday he wasn’t even walking… now’s he is running, climbing, and jumping! He’s starting to use lots of words and showing us just how smart he really is.

The growing pains of starting a business are very similar to those young children experience.  While Julie’s Beet isn’t learning to walk or talk, I am still discovering a lot about the business world.  Like a one-year-old, I am learning about likes and dislikes.  Instead of learning what I like and dislike, I am learning about what you all (my customers) like and dislike.  I am working to build a marketplace to support other new businesses but need to stock it full of products you like to make it successful. I am working to streamline the offering to make your shopping experience even better.  I do feel like we are gaining our balance and running legs as we continue to master our customer service and marketing plans.  We also continue to learn how to engage our following through recipes, promotions, and contests.

While it is great to see that changes that have happened with my son over the past year it is also amazing to see that he still has the same cheerful disposition and outgoing personality.  He is going to be the life of the party wherever he goes and I’m glad he brings that excitement to his everyday life. Julie’s Beet continues to be a marketplace supporting smaller artisans and following our goal of expanding the audience of these specialty products.  I’m not sure what he is going to wish for when he blows out the candles on his Elmo cake tonight, but if I could wish for him, it would be that he continues to enjoy a happy and healthy life.

Happy Friday,

Julie

 

Salty Caramels – Yes Please!

No one knows salt better then the folks at Jacobsen Salt Co.  They have been mining salt in Netarts Bay, Oregon since 2011.  Their salts are used by famous chefs like Thomas Keller and also in my home kitchen!  In addition to carrying their flake salt for finishing and Kosher salt for cooking, we recently added their Salty Caramels to our marketplace.

These Salty Caramels are just what you would expect from a salt company.  The caramel itself is rich and creamy, with just the right amount of sticky so it doesn’t get caught in your teeth but you get to chew on it for a while.  The bright briny flavor of the flake salt is the PERFECT compliment to the sweetness and richness of the caramel.  Of course these are perfect eaten straight from the box but we’ve also added one to cup of hot chocolate(YUM!). I am sure they would be pretty amazing paired with a soft pretzel or baked into your favorite oatmeal cookie.

We’re having a contest this week to give away a gift set curated by our friend Jamie, at Adventures of A.P.E.). The gift set contains these caramels along with a collection of other amazing sweets from our marketplace.  Head to our Julies-Beet-Instagram-page for full details and be sure to enter before Sunday 2/18 at midnight.

Happy Friday,

Julie