Comfort Food for a Rainy Day

I had the most delicious roasted mushroom and caramelized onion toast at Ladybird in the East Village a few weeks back, and ever since then, my palate has been hooked on all things mushroom. Inspired by the delicious simplicity of the dish, I decided to try my hand at recreating it, from scratch… which meant also baking the perfect loaf of bread to act as a vehicle for the scrumptious roasted mushrooms and caramelized onions. And what a ride it has been!

Since today is quite gloomy, I thought I’d share a yummy whole wheat bread recipe. It is delicious as is, but somehow even more delicious once toasted. Enjoy with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onion, a generous smear of roasted garlic hummus, and sliced avocado for a spin on Ladybird’s creation, or simply enjoy with butter and Bee Local honey or Gus and Grey jam. The moral of the story…. The bread itself is so delicious that it doesn’t really matter what you top it with! So let your creativity soar!

When baking a whole wheat or whole grain bread, there are a few tips to remember. Unlike processed white flour in which the bran and the germ are removed, whole grains are fully intact with the bran, germ, and endosperm, and therefore require more moisture to ensure that the bread once baked is not too dry or crumbly. Due to the excess moisture, as well as the added bran and germ, whole grain bread is heavier than bread made with processed white flour, so additional time for the bread to rise is necessary to ensure the proper texture. Also, avoid over kneading! Lastly, depending on the humidity in the air, more or less flour than the recipe calls for may be needed, as making the perfect bread is all about feel — so if your bread doesn’t turn out great the first time, don’t fret and simply try again.

 

Happy baking!

Payton

 

Whole Wheat Bread

2 Loaves

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon dry yeast

2 cups warm water

5-6 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

 

Method:

-preheat oven to 375°

-make sponge: In large bowl, combine yeast, water, and 2 cups of whole wheat flour, stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for 30 minutes.

-Prepare the Bread:

  1. Add salt and just enough flour to create a dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  2. Turn dough out onto a clean and floured work surface and knead for 10 to 15 minutes, adding remaining flour as necessary, until a smooth dough is formed. The dough should be moist, but not sticky.
  3. Transfer dough to a clean and lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and proof in a warm place for 50 to 60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
  4. Prepare loaf pans with oil and parchment paper.
  5. After the dough has doubled in size, punch down, and allow to rise one more time.
  6. Divide dough in half, form into two loaves, and transfer to loaf pans. Allow to rise again, under a damp towel, for 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Bake bread for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. If using a thermometer, the internal temp should register between 190° and 205° F.

Lessons from a Mom

This Sunday marks my fifth Mother’s Day as a mom and my first as a mother of three boys!  While most of my days are filled playing trains, running around and cleaning up messes I couldn’t be happier with my sons.  One of our favorite activities is reading books.  I feel like I have learned a lot from the books we read (beyond the names of the entire set of Thomas and his friends) and I’d like to share some of the lessons with you.

  1. You need help from your friends In The Little Blue Truck, the big, mean dump truck gets stuck in the mud.  With the help of Little Blue and Little Blue’s friends they are able to get the dump truck out of the mud.  As a working mother of three I know I cannot do it all on my own and my friends are always there when I need them.
  2. Team work is important In Mighty, Mighty Construction Site the trucks realize they all have to work together to get the job done. While I always new it was important to work as a team, I’ve found this is a lesson I apply at work and home.  At Julie’s Beet we collaborate on ideas for the site and marketplace and work together to get our many thoughts out to you. At home, I work with my husband to make sure we provide the best environment for our children.
  3. You must work hard and be patient to get recognized. In The Little Red Caboose, the caboose is sad because he always comes last and no one is excited to see him.  Then one day the train starts slipping down the mountain and the caboose saves the day by putting his breaks on.  After that the caboose gets all of the cheers and waves.  In life (personal & professional) nothing comes easy. I’ve learned that a lot of hard work pays off.  This is especially important as Julie’s Beet enters our fourth year.  We’re going to keep at it to make our marketplace the best around and cannot wait for more recognition from others.

I have grand plans to plant a garden this Mother’s Day.  We’ll see if the weather cooperates and the boys do too. I’ll have a great Mother’s Day as long as I am with my three boys… I know we’ll get to read at least one story!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Mother’s Day Round Up 2018

This year we decided to think outside of the (Gift)box for Mother’s Day and ask some of our artisans(who are also moms) what they would want for Mother’s Day this year.  While each of these women deserves to be pampered everyday for all their hard work in the kitchen and at home, they all seemed surprised that anyone would ask them what they want.  We’re so glad we did because their responses allowed us to put together this amazing list of gifts for moms that love to cook, hike, eat and just relax.

 Hedley & Bennett Ms. Marlin Chef Coat :  This Chef’s coat is designed specifically for women, has the look and feel of a traditional chef’s coat but is designed with a cleaner cut to highlight a woman’s curves.  Perfect for a day in the pasta kitchen according to Leah from Semolina Artisanal Pasta but also great for the home chef.

Darn Tough Micro Crew Hiking Socks: These hiking socks are made in Vermont but perfect for where ever your feet take you.  These socks are comfortable, durable and perfect for those days out in mountains or the urban jungle.

Chelsea Miller Chef’s Knife –These knives are for someone who takes their knife work very seriously.  Hand Made by Chelsea Miller, herself, each knife is a one-of-a-kind.  The perfect gift for your one-of-a-kind-mom who likes to cook.  To be honest, these knives are so amazing you could consider each one a work of art.

Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour – Lucy of Lucy’s Granola made it clear that she would love a home-cooked meal on Mother’s Day but not something ordinary.  She loves this cookbook and would eat anything from it.  Apparently, it is pretty difficult to get Ethnic Ingredients up in Maine so she would also love some of the special ingredients needed to cook from this book. Persiana is full of recipes from the Middle East bringing a lot of flavor to your table.

Stasher Bags –These bags are perfect for snacks and lunch on the go while also taking care of the environment.  In half gallon, sandwich and snack sizes these bags are perfect for mother’s and their children and they aren’t just for holding food. Cook in quantity and freeze portions to make packing lunch easy and feel good about reusing the bag.  Stasher bags are also great for carrying make up and small toy parts.

Plants – Whether you choose something with a flower or not, plants definitely make moms smile.  This Herb Garden Kit from The Tasteful Garden is perfect for the mom who likes to grow and also cook.  I’m secretly hoping I’ll find this waiting for me on Mother’s Day.

Maia Moda Breastfeeding Top –Give a pregnant or breastfeeding mom a wardrobe update that is beautiful yet still functional.  For those days when you want to upgrade your look to something a little closer to your pre-mommy style, the ladies over at Maia Moda have you covered (literally). This dual purpose maternity and breastfeeding top has it all from style to versatility and is even machine washable.    Not to mention the entire line is made in the USA.

Pair any one of these gifts with one of our gift sets and your Mother will feel like a queen for the day! I hope my family reads this list so I get something amazing.

Happy Friday,

Julie

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

Saturday+Williamsburg.jpg

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