Summer Escape

Summer has a whole new meaning when you are a kid compared with when you are a ‘grown-up’. As a child, summer is a break from the norm of the school year, a chance to play more and work less.  As an adult or grown-up summer is pretty much the same… while the attire at the office may be more casual, and if you are lucky, you get to leave early on Fridays, there is still work to be done at the office and around the house.  This summer at my house was no different than past summers… my two older boys had too much fun at camp, my husband went off to work sweating in his suits on the subway platforms and Julie’s Beet continued to grow and evolve.  My husband works in an industry with a mandated 2-week vacation.  Clearly this isn’t any food related industry😊His vacation from work has always provided us with the opportunity to take some time away from the city and really enjoy summer as a family.

This week I have been in Ulster County New York with my family. We recently grew from a family of 5 to a family of 6 so didn’t want to venture too far from home. We are far enough from Manhattan that it really does feel like an escape from the city.  We debated going away at all this summer but I really felt like it would be good for all of us to take a real break from our everyday lives before the kids head back to school and business is back to normal.  We rented a house with a pool and a big yard so we really don’t have to go too far to find entertainment.  What I have found is that there are a lot of really cool things about New York State that I have never experienced until this vacation.

I see a lot of farm names in the supermarket and when I am placing my Fresh Direct order.  Driving down the road the other day I spotted 2 different farms that I recognized.  We really are immersed in the farms of New York and it is great to put a face with a name, so to speak.  On that note there is plenty of fresh produce to find along the side of the road and at local farm stands.  We picked out some local tomatoes and raspberries at the local farmers market which were superb. I am not sure what it is  but everything tastes better when you know where it came from.  There are also a lot of local vineyards, breweries and distilleries. So along with locally grown food products, there is also a lot to drink!

Tomorrow morning, we’ll load up the car and head back to the city.  I hope we’ll return feeling a bit refreshed from the week away. I can assure you we have taken in more sunshine and fresh air than we do on a normal week in NYC.  We’ve gotten used to being a bigger family and working together to make that successful for all of us.  I hope you’re off enjoying the last un-official weekend of summer. I’m not sure about you but I am definitely counting down the days until school starts, just 4 more days until my oldest starts kindergarten!

Happy Friday!

Julie 

 

Spring Feasting is upon Us

I know I’ve been saying it a lot, but I am so excited that SPRING IS HERE!   My son and I walk down the street pointing out green buds on trees, blooming tulips and daffodils and the many other signs that spring has sprung.  My favorite place to welcome spring is at the farmers market.  The stands are filled with green asparagus, peas, fiddle head ferns and all the beautiful flowers that come with spring.  I’ve been writing a lot of recipes for Easter lately and what really excites me are the vegetables!

Here is a menu I’ve been dreaming about with spring’s bounty:

Mint Pea & Goat Cheese Dip with baguette crostini

Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Leek and Potato Galette

Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake

The menu is fresh, innovative and really highlights spring.  I have been having a sweet tooth lately too so immediately went to test and modify the cake. Here is my version of the recipe for the Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake made with Gus and Grey Spellbound, Blueberry Lavender Jam.

Happy Friday,

Julie

P.S. Get your Easter orders in by midnight tonight for standard shipping and delivery before Easter.

Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake

Makes 1 9-inch Loaf

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1 ¾ cups sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup plain yogurt

5 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup Gus & Grey Spellbound Jam

Lemon Glaze:

¾ cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line the loaf pan with parchment paper leaving a little extra hanging over the side. Spray the loaf pan with cooking spray.

-Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk lemon zest into sugar into a separate bowl until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add eggs, oil and vanilla and whisk until light in color, about 3 minutes. Whisk in half of the dry ingredients, then add the yogurt.  Whisk in the remaining dry ingredients. Add lemon juice and whisk to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan.

-Bake cake until golden brown, 55-60 minutes. Cool for 2 hours or more.

-Once cake is cool, remove from pan and transfer to a baking sheet. Starting at one end, use a 1/8” dowel(or end of a wooden spoon) to make rows of holes in the cake about ¾” apart. 

-Transfer Gus & Grey Spellbound Jam into a squeeze bottle.  Carefully squeeze the jam into the prepared holes, filling them.

-To prepare the glaze whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon water in a medium bowl.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.  Spread the glaze over the top of the cake with a spatula, filling in the holes.  Toss the blueberries in the bowl to coat.  Sprinkle over the top of the cake along with the lemon zest.  Chill until the filling and glaze are set, about 1 hour.

-Enjoy

A walk through the Farmers Market & beyond

Imagine yourself strolling the aisles of the Farmers Market on a brisk fall morning, maybe with a hot coffee or hot spiced cider in hand, browsing the beautiful bounty of the fall season. Although the early morning hours have yet to be kissed by Autumn’s crisp lips, cooler days are soon upon us, and with them comes an incredible array of fall produce. There is nothing I enjoy more on a fall morning than waking with the rising sun, brewing a cup of coffee, and traveling to the Union Square Farmers Market to be windswept through the smells, colors, and tastes of the fall harvest. Since I am not Winter’s biggest fan, I try to enjoy every moment of the fall season, knowing all too well how short lived it is. Even in New York City, the fall air is painted with notes of caramel, cinnamon, hazelnut, allspice, clove, nutmeg, and ginger, the quintessential fall flavors that play in such perfect harmony with one another, seeming to dance through the bustling streets. It’s pure magic. Please, if you have yet to do so, find your nearest farmers market and take yourself there on a fall morning and taste anything and everything that you can. You’ll be so happy that you did!

It’s hard for me to name a favorite fall farmers market find, but apples are near the top of my list. We are so lucky that New York state is home to some incredible apple orchards, growing a vast variety of apples, so whether you like crisp and sweet, crisp and tart, or any combination in between, you’re nearly guaranteed to find the perfect apple! I love apples for their versatility, as they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, served cooked, raw, hot or cold, apples add a little magic to any recipe they touch. I add cubed Gala or Braeburn apples to my morning quinoa and oatmeal porridge to add a delicious sweetness and crisp texture. In combination with a touch of cinnamon, a dash of pure vanilla extract, and a generous drizzle of almond butter, this is the perfect ‘get up and get moving’ fuel! Pancakes are my breakfast of choice on Sunday mornings, accompanied by a hot cup of coffee, so you best believe that all pancakes that I consume in the fall months contain apples. Make your favorite pancake batter, I always add cornmeal to my pancake batter to add texture and create a more complex flavor, and ladle onto a hot griddle. While the pancake is cooking on the first side, I thinly slice a Honeycrisp apple, with the skin on, and right before the pancake is ready to flip, add a layer of sliced apple on top of the pancake, sprinkle with a little apple pie spice, flip, and let cook through. This pancake is magic! The apples become slightly tender and caramelized and adds so much depth to your basic pancake.  Apples are also a delicious addition to meat or poultry, add before roasting, as they caramelize in the oven and release a syrupy sweetness that compliments the savory meat so well.

One of my other treasured farmers market Autumn finds are squash and pumpkins. There are so many varieties to choose from and endless ways to cook with them. As I’ve mentioned countless times, I’m a sugar junkie, so I’m always dreaming of pastries and other sweet creations. One of my favorite things to do with a sugar pumpkin is to roast it low and slow with a sweet apple, like Gala or Honeycrisp, until it is very tender and caramelized. I then puree it, creating a pumpkin pie filling far superior to any canned version! Use this puree for pumpkin cinnamon rolls, my all time favorite fall treat, served with maple cream cheese icing — I’ll do you all a major favor and post this recipe in the coming days! This puree can really be added to anything, like oatmeal, smoothies, pancakes, so on and so forth! I also use it to create a simple pumpkin butter bursting with fall flavor. To make, simply add pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, and pecans to the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Enjoy on toast, spiced cornmeal waffles, or evenbetter, by the spoonful! For a savory option, I cube butternut squash, kabocha squash, or acorn squash, and roast with thyme, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper, and served chilled as a salad component. You could also turn roasted squash into a beautiful fall soup! Squash add a lovely buttery, nutty, and sweet note to any recipe, so it a very versatile fruit to cook with.

As the air begins to breathe a cooler breeze, I find myself craving pastries and baked goods more than usual. The bake stands at the farmers market always seem more magical, more alluring, to me during the fall months. Teeming with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove, the baked goods throughout the farmers market seem to scream my name. Body & Soul Bakery makes some amazing vegan pastries, ranging from muffins, to cookies, to cinnamon rolls. My favorite items being the apple spiced muffins and miniature pumpkin pies, which both pair amazingly well with a hot cup of coffee or hot cider. There are countless other bakeries offering a wide array of breads and pastries, which during the colder months, I feel are more common to crave.

To end my farmers market excursion, I’m always sure to pick up a few ingredients for a craft cocktail. There is nothing I enjoy more than a warm, warming cocktail on a cool fall or winter evening. I love mulled wine, spiked cider, and a hot toddy. If it’s hot and boozy, I certainly won’t say no. There are a few amazing craft distillers at the Union Square Farmers Market, so if you’re like me and enjoy a hot toddy, be sure to pick up a nice bottle of whiskey. If you’re more the cider or mulled wine type, pick up an assortment of apples, ranging from sweet to tart, peaches, prunes, plums, and grapes. There are countess recipes for mulled wine and spiked cider online, so do a little research before picking your poison. To make both, its really as simple as infusing either wine or apple cider with spices and fresh fruits in a saucepan over medium heat, portion the hot liquid out into glasses, and then topping off with a shot of liquor.

I love fall and all of the beautiful and delicious produce it yields. Treat yourself to a morning of culinary exploration, right as the sun rises, before the crowds arrive, with a lovely hot drink in had. I can almost assure you that you won’t be disappointed. You can thank me later.

Happy Friday!

Payton