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

The Perfect Chocolate Pairings for You and Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and what better way to show your person that you love him or her than gifting chocolate; food of the Gods, a tried and true symbol of romance. Luckily, we and Rococo Chocolates have got you covered, because nothing quite says ‘I love you’ like artisan chocolate paired perfectly with wine, spirits, and food. This year, in addition to a lovely home cooked dinner, a meal at a nice restaurant, a dozen roses, a bottle of wine, or a combination of the previous, make sure to add a bar or two of high quality artisan chocolate to elevate the occasion to the next level and show your special person the true depth of your love. We’ll supply the chocolate, you supply the love.

Rococo Chocolates was founded in 1983 by Chantal Coady who strived to change the way fine chocolate was perceived, and is now known as a luxury British chocolate company. Crafted using only the finest ingredients, Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars boast an exquisite taste, indulging consumers in a rich tapestry of flavors and balance. Not only is each bar meticulously crafted to ensure pristine quality and flavor, the wrapping  for each bar is also artfully designed to highlight the bars majesty. Luckily for you and your Valentine, our showroom selves are overflowing with Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars, and using the pairings guide below, you’ll have the tools necessary to create a magical experience this Valentine’s Day.

When pairing chocolate, it’s important to play in harmony, pairing the flavor notes of the bar with complimentary flavor notes of the wine, spirit, or food with which you are pairing; flavors that enhance one another rather than overpower. Going beyond simply taste and rather turning to molecular structure, the best pairings happen when the dominant aromatic molecules of the chocolate are the same dominant aromatic molecules of the paired wine, spirit, or food. For example, when pairing chocolate with herbal teas, one should pair fruity teas with fruity bars, spiced teas with spiced bars, minty teas with mint flavored bars, so on and so forth. Along similar lines, if pairing with beer or wine, it’s lovely to pair sweet with sweet and tart with tart, as long as the beverage is sweeter than the chocolate. When pairing with wine, opt for similar style and weight, matching more elegant, lighter flavored chocolate with lighter-bodied wine, and stronger, more pronounced chocolate with a full-bodied wine, pairings that can be further honed based on the flavor notes of each.

Below, we’ve complied a list of complimentary pairings with Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars. We hope this list proves helpful in creating a magical experience for you and your Valentine.

Shop the collection today to receive your Rococo Chocolate in time for Valentine’s Day.

Rococo Chocolates

Cheers to chocolate!

Happy Friday,

Payton

White Chocolate  Cardamom: Tokaji Dessert Wine

White Chocolate Cardamom Crackle: Terra Botanical Gin

Milk Chocolate Sea Salt: Caña Brava Reserva Añeja or similar aged rum

Milk Chocolate  Honeycomb Crunch : Aged Tawny Port

Milk Chocolate Christmas Pudding: IPA or Stout

Dark Chocolate  Sea Salt: Smokey Whiskey

Dark Chocolate  Chili Pepper: Crisp, Sweet Reisling

Dark Chocolate  Basil & Persian Lime: Pinot Noir

Dark Chocolate Gold Frankincense and Myrrh: Blue Moon Beer

Dark Chocolate  Earl Grey: Black Tea like Earl Grey

Dark Chocolate  Violet: Chamomile Tea

Dark Chocolate  Mint: Bobby Burns Whiskey Cocktail

Milk Chocolate  Rose : Pinot Grigio

Milk Chocolate Almond, Rosemary and Sea Salt: Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Dark Chocolate  Rose: White Tea

Milk Chocolate  Gingerbread: Egg nog, of course

Milk Chocolate Orange Blossom Neroli: Light and smokey Mezcal like Los Amantes Mezcal Joven

Classic Meatloaf, Amplified

Growing up in the Midwest, meatloaf was a staple comfort food during the long and cold winter months. The combination of ground beef, sweet onions, bread or crackers, salt, pepper, and a sweet and tangy ketchup glaze seems to make every midwesterner that I know very happy during the winter time. I feel that it is almost customary that every midwestern mother has her own meatloaf recipe, or at least her own unique addition or adaptation of one. In my house, my grandma Carolyn’s meatloaf recipe reigned supreme, and no matter how hard my dad and I tried, regardless of the step-by-step handwritten instructions given to us by my grandma, our meatloaf never seemed to taste as good as hers… she just has the magic touch in the kitchen, where muscle memory and eye measurements outperform numerical metrics.

Whether served hot right out of the oven, or cold between two slices of buttered bread, a basic meatloaf comes together in minutes and provides the hearty and stick-to-your-ribs satisfaction that most individuals crave during the winter months. I no longer eat meat, and I haven’t for years, but I vividly remember the delicious comfort that meatloaf provides, a comfort that is both filling and warming, as well as nurturing.

In hopes to provide you with the best possible meatloaf recipe, I called my grandma this afternoon to request verbal instructions of her exact procedure. Of course, as mentioned above, she reiterated that she relies only on sight rather than measurement, but she was able to provide me with a quantifiable recipe that is similar to hers. Thankfully, it’s quite easy, as any meatloaf recipe should be, containing only a handful of simple ingredients. Of course, because I can never leave well enough alone, I’m going to swap out saltine crackers for The Matzo Project Salted Matzo Crackers and Heinz Ketchup for D.a.T. Ketchup which I think will provide a more unique and complex flavor, as D.aT. Ketchup boasts a few additional spices that Heinz Ketchup doesn’t contain. I’m leaving everything else alone, so please rest assured that this meatloaf will be nearly as good as my grandmas.

First things first, it’s all about the beef. Not all ground beef is created equal as it can contain various amounts of fat, so when choosing ground beef for your meatloaf, choose something with a higher fat content to insure that your meatloaf doesn’t get too dry during the cooking process. 70/30, which is the ratio of lean meat to fat, is a good choice, as the higher fat content will keep your meatloaf moist as well as add additional flavor and richness. Second, a ketchup glaze is key. A tangy and sweet glaze is not only delicious, but is also needed to cut through the fatty richness of the meatloaf rounding out the flavor to make it even more palatable. Lastly, chose your additions wisely, as simplicity lends to the best final result.

I hope you all have had a wonderful start to the new year! Cheers to lots of love, laughter, hugs, happiness, and of course, delicious food this 2019!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Classic Meatloaf, Amplified

Ingredients:

1 lb 70/30 ground beef

1 c crushed Matzo Project Salted Matzo Crackers

1 c minced white onion

1/2 c whole milk

1 large egg, whisked

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tbsp D.a.T. Ketchup

Glaze:

1/4 c D.a.T. Ketchup

2 tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tbsp white vinegar

Method:

-preheat oven to 350 degrees

-to a large mixing bowl, add ground beef, crushed crackers, onion, milk, egg, 2 tbsp ketchup, and seasonings. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overwork the meat

-gently compress meat mixture into a 9”x5” loaf pan

-meanwhile, combine 1/4 c ketchup with brown sugar and vinegar and then spread on top of meat mixture

-bake for 1 hour, uncovered, and then remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing

Enjoy!

Holiday Treats… an ode to National Cookie and National Brownie Days

I’m sure that it’s no surprise to any, but I love baking. At times, I find myself dreaming about sugar and sweet creations. Seemingly infatuated by the all-encompassing world of pastry, I find the combination of sugar, flour, fat, salt, heat, and other flavor components to be something of a magical science. As a child, instead of watching Saturday morning cartoons, I found myself enchanted by the cooking shows on the Food Network, and nurtured by a family of wonderful cooks and bakers, I find much comfort and joy in creating in the kitchen. The realm of pastry is vast and endless, and I quite love exploring it.

During the holiday season in general, more over as soon as the weather begins to cool, my urge to bake begins to intensify. Cold weather plus the joy of the holiday season creates the perfect baking environment, as being surrounded by friends, family and warmth makes the experience all the better. Sugar cookies are by far one of my favorite things to bake for the holidays, with gingerbread cookies following in close second. My grandma makes the best cut-out sugar cookies, which are thin and crisp, yet they surprisingly still melt in your mouth, that she decorates with vibrant holiday colors — which I attribute to the reason why I love to bake them. I recently purchased a rolling pin embossed with a holiday scene that I’m so excited to try out on this years cookie creations.

Every Christmas morning, I find myself baking cinnamon rolls for my family and myself. On occasion, they come from the Pillsbury can, other times they are scratch made. I made cinnamon rolls the last time I was home in Minnesota which I plan to recreate this Christmas. This time, however, I plan to add more of a pecan pie element to the rolls — I’ll let you know at a later date how they turn out. I also recently made lemon scented Belgium Waffles which were quite fluffy and airy due to the addition of a high quality Italian lemon soda that I can’t wait to make for my family!

Since the holidays are soon approaching, and since both National Cookie Day and National Brownie day were celebrated this week, I wanted to share with you two amazing recipes that you can wow your friends and family with! The fi-rst recipe is my take on a traditional peanut butter blossom cookie — which my grandma always makes for Christmas as well — in which I subbed Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels  for Hershey Kisses. These cookies are so moist and pack a serious peanut butter punch! The second recipe is for fudge brownies featuring Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate and a Gus and Grey Spellbound infused cheesecake swirl. The combination of rich chocolate and blueberry and lavender cheesecake is truly irresistible!

If you’re anything like me, you love baking with friends and family for the holidays. My wish for you is that you’re able to find some time in the kitchen surrounded by those you love and together create your favorite holiday treats. The recipes below are a great place to start! I wish you all a safe and happy holidays!

And most importantly, happy baking!

Payton

Classic Peanut Butter Blossoms with Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels

Yields 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 c granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting

1/2 c firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 c creamy peanut butter, I prefer natural

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 box Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels, unwrapped and cut in half

Method:

-preheat oven to 350 degrees

-cream butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, roughly 3 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated

-Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add to the wet ingredients, stirring just to combine. Be careful not to over mix

-Using a 1 tablespoon scoop, scoop the dough, roll into a ball, roll in granulated sugar, then place the dough onto a parchment lined sheet tray approximately 2 inches apart

-Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden and set. Immediately place a Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramel in the center of each cookie and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Fudge Brownies with Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate and Gus and Grey Spellbound Infused Cream Cheese Swirl

Yields 1 8×8 pan of brownies

Brownie Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 c granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 c Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate, plus additional for dusting

1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream Cheese Swirl Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 c granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 c Gus and Grey Spellbound Jam

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-Butter an 8×8 inch cake pan, then lightly dust with drinking chocolate, making sure to tap out any excess

-Combine melted butter, which has been allowed to cool slightly, with sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon powder, drinking chocolate, and salt, whisking to combine. Gently fold in flour and baking powder until just combine, be careful not to over mix, then pour into prepared baking pan

-Meanwhile, make cheesecake swirl by combining cream cheese, sugar, egg, and Gus and Grey Jam, whisking to combine. Dot the surface of the browning batter with the cheesecake mixture, then using a wooden skewer, swirl the cheesecake mixture and brownie batter together

-Bake for 30 minutes, or until slightly set

Enjoy!

The ABC’s of Thanks

As I packed our bags to fly to St. Louis to spend Thanksgiving with my family I thought about all of the things I am thankful for this year.  While it is easy to think about what we are thankful for, it is often more difficult to tell others.  Here are the ABC’s of what I am thankful for this year.

A – Avocados… packed with nutrients and ‘healthy’ fats, avocados take any dish to the next level and are delicious!

B – Boys… I have four of the most wonderful boys at my house who love me with all of their hearts and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

C – Creativity

D – Democracy

E – Exercise… it comes in many forms these days but exercise is the way I relieve stress and I often come up with my best ideas while I’m out for a run.

F – Family… having a special bond with my sisters and beyond makes for a fantastic get together at Thanksgiving.

G – Giving… I am so fortunate to have the ability to give to others who don’t have as much as I do.  Especially during the holiday season, I think it is super important to give back.  As you know, we’ll be donating part of our profits from now until the end of the year to NY Common Pantry.  Now you can feel good about shopping.

H – Heat and Hot Water… Since the gas got turned off in my building I have been frustrated with my electric cooking situation but I definitely appreciate that we are still able to keep warm and have hot water to cook and clean with!

I – Ice Cream

J – Joy

K – Ketchup… one of the few things that makes French Fries better, hold the truffle oil, I’ll take ketchup any day!

L – Legs… my legs are my vehicle in the city getting me where I need to be, helping me be strong and allowing me to go, go, go.

M- Music… the tunes set the mood for whatever I am feeling or need to feel.

N – Nachos

O – OxiClean …. Keeping our clothes stain free!

P – Phone… this should really be  iPhone. I know we’re all on our phones too much lately but how convenient is it to have a way to talk to someone, get your email, check your calendar, use a calculator and follow the news all on the same place.  And that list is just the beginning.

Q – Quiet … I truly appreciate the moments in my day without noise to let myself think and decompress.

R – Rest… I need more of it but truly am thankful for the rest I am able to get in my day.

S – Subway… mass transit, not the restaurant! It is entertainment for my kids but also a great way to get around the city

T – Trucks … on the street we love looking for construction trucks, garbage trucks, delivery trucks, etc.  They make our walks entertaining and keep us looking ahead.

U – Umbrellas … Anyway to keep dry on a rainy day is something I am thankful for.

V – Vaseline… it keeps your lips from getting chapped

W – Women… My grandmothers, my mom, my sisters and my friends; I couldn’t get through life without their examples, strength and support.

X – Xi… perfect for when I have an  to use and X in Scrabble

Y – Yogurt… a meal any time of the day and perfect for all ages

Z – Zippers… closing jackets in a flash!

Happy Black Friday,

Julie

Our Salad Game Just Got A Whole Lot Better

We all know that salads become a little harder to eat, let alone crave, once the weather begins to get colder. The nourishment that a salad provides, however vast, becomes slightly unappealing with the decline of exterior temperatures. Luckily, we’ve recently stocked our shelves with a delicious and versatile new line of salad dressings from Farmhouse Labs to improve your salad game, moreover food game in general, as these dressings are a delicious addition to more than just salads. These sustainably sourced creations from Farmhouse Lab will have you craving salad even in the dead of winter, which is a win for your body and for preventing winter weight gain, as well as a win for bringing a little summery brightness to your next meal.

I usually begin my day with a large black coffee and then fast for the next few hours — I feel like this allows my body time to flush everything out of my system before restarting digestion for the day. My favorite thing to eat for breakfast after having fasted for hours, as odd as it may sound, is a large mixed green salad loaded with fruit, veggies, nuts and grains — so I’m very excited about the addition of Farmhouse Lab Dressings to our marketplace. I especially love a baby kale and baby spinach salad with quinoa, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, blueberries and strawberries all dressed in a simple lemon Tahini vinaigrette. I feel like this salad will also pair perfectly with Sunny Avocado, which boasts a delicious fruity sweetness and acidic tang.

I love salads for their versatility, as you can add nearly anything you desire to a salad, from meats and cheese, to vegetables and legumes, to chips and crackers, to fruit, nuts, and seeds — really anything goes! That’s the beauty of it. You can pack so many nutrients into a salad and set your day off right! When it’s colder, try serving something hot or warmed over a bed of heartier greens like kale or rainbow chard. A simple chicken salad with chickpeas, roasted root vegetables, and toasted walnuts may be the way to go, as you can add chicken directly from the stove or oven to your salad and enjoy warm. Try marinating chicken breasts with herbs, citrus, and Farmhouse Lab Red Sunflower dressing for an added spicy kick for at least 12 hours. Then roast in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the breast reads 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Also, while we’re experimenting, maybe add some cooked brown rice that has been tossed with cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and raisins to the base of your salad before adding the marinated chicken and roasted vegetables. Of course, drizzle with more Farmhouse Lab Red Sunflower dressing to serve.

This Thanksgiving, why not impress your friends and family with a modern take on a traditional Caprese salad recipe. First, cook one package of Semolina Artisanal Strozzapreti Pasta according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, quarter 3 quarts of cherry tomatoes — try to find an heirloom organic variety at your grocery store — and add to a large bowl. Meanwhile, add 1 pound of cubed fresh mozzarella to the bowl of tomatoes, as well as 2 cups of basil leaves that you have gently torn. For added interest, roughly dice 3 peaches, peeled, and add to the bowl as well. Once the pasta has finished cooking — al dente… now is not the time to over cook your pasta — allow to cool for roughly 10 minutes and then add it into the bowl with tomatoes, cheese, peaches and basil. Finally, add a generous pour of Farmhouse Lab Berry Olive dressing, a nice amount of freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste. Serve this modern take on a Caprese salad over a bed baby arugula and enjoy. I’m sure this with be a crowd pleaser!

As snow is in the forecast for the coming days, be sure to not allow it to stop you from consuming your greens. Farmhouse Lab dressings will rescue your salad from its winter blues, as well as help transform many other foods into delicious culinary works of art. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Happy Friday.
Payton

 

Our Shared Table, the Countdown to Thanksgiving

The warm hug of radiating love. The gentle melody of dancing laughter. The glimmer of magic manifested from being surround by those whom you love. These are just a few of the reasons why I love Thanksgiving, moreover the holiday season as a collective. Coming from a large family, the holiday season has always been a magical time for me, as there is something so special about gathering with your family and friends. From the smell of burning wood, cinnamon, and baked apples, to the outward pouring of love and joy, and not to mention the immense spread of food, it’s hard to articulate the exact feeling that the holiday season induces, other than bliss. My wish, now more than ever, is that every being on the planet is able to experience the joy, love, and light of their respective holiday.

My family always seems to go all out when it comes to holiday feasts, as the bounty is truly never ending. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that all of my relatives on my father’s side spend together — roughly 100 of us give or take — all sharing a meal together. From Turkey, ham, meatballs, candied carrots, stuffing and mashed potatoes, to lefsa, rommegrot, krumkake, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and scotcheroos, our thanksgiving table is one of indulgence to say the least, a beautiful holiday spread that everyone not only shares in eating, but also shares in creating. Despite the cold temperatures outside, my family’s Thanksgiving is one of the warmest places you could be, the physical embodiment of love, laughter and joy. Housed at the local legion due to the staggering number of us, our Thanksgiving is a time of reconnection and shared joy, a warmth that I wish everyone had the privilege of experiencing.

In years past, after celebrating with my dad’s side of the family, my immediate family and I always went to my mom’s parent’s farm to spend the afternoon and evening, and of course we’d indulge in more food, only after taking naps by the fire, however. Already stuffed from dinner, we’d all make a cozy bed on either the sofa, recliner, or floor, and rest by the glow of a warm fire for hours, only to awaken and eat more food, usually, but not limited to, pumpkin pie, turkey, snicker bar salad and my grandma’s incredible home made bread, which no one could ever get enough of. I am so thankful for these memories and I will treasure them always.

This year, try spicing up your holiday spread with some incredible products from our marketplace. Take your pumpkin pie to the next level by making the crust with Paul & Pippa Cocoa Biscuits or Lady Carrot Cake Biscuits, either of which would lend a modern twist to the classic favorite. As mentioned in posts past, honey is an amazing addition and compliment to both sweet and savory dishes, so this Thanksgiving, make sure to find a place for Bee Local Honey on your holiday table by using it in a glaze for your holiday ham, a sweetener for your cranberry sauce, a candy coating for your pecans, or as an infusion for your butter to then be used to spread on warm bread and dinner rolls — all of which will definitely pack a delicious holiday punch. If looking for even more invention, try adding some Gus and Grey Pearfection Jam to your your stuffing recipe, as sweet always compliments savory and vice versa, and the flavor of pear and cinnamon are the perfect addition to your holiday feast. Semolina Artisanal Pasta could be a fun addition if you’re looking for something a little less traditional, in which case you could mix cooked pasta with roasted vegetables, cheese, and herbs and toss with a simple lemon and Bee Local Hot Honey vinaigrette for an easy yet sophisticated pasta salad.

The options for holiday food is truly endless, so please check out our recipe box for season inspired recipes and ideas, as well as our Pinterest board. Find the link for both pages below.

We would also love to spread joy and compassion this holiday season, as we are well aware that not everyone is as fortunate as we are, so we’ll be donating a portion of our holiday sales to a New York City based food charity this holiday season. Whether you have a little or a lot to give, please find someway to help those around you this holiday season by either donating food to your local food bank, or volunteering to make meals for those less fortunate, as together, we can help try to make the holiday season a magical time for everyone.

Happy Friday.
-Payton

Recipe box: https://www.juliesbeet.com/pages/recipe-box

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/juliesbeet/thanksgiving-inspiration/

Apple Season

Apple season, as I’ve mentioned numerous times before, is my favorite fall produce season. I dream year round of the moment when the morning air becomes crisp and steam dances from between my lips as I enter the world dressed in my fall layers. I love nothing more than starting my day before the sun rises during the fall, outdoors with a hot coffee in hand, just to admire the enchanting beauty. Apples are the perfect companion to fall weather — Mother Nature obviously knows what she’s doing — as they pair so wonderfully with warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, which make them the best addition to a chilly Autumn morning. Regardless of the season we’re in, I eat an apple nearly everyday, but that number always multiplies during the fall months, not only due to their delicious flavor and the vast variety of apples grown in New York state, but also because of their versatility.

Of course, it’s no secret that I have the wildest sweet-tooth, so my favorite way to enjoy apples during the fall months is in baked goods… especially apple pie. Growing up in rural Minnesota, I had the sweetest elderly neighbor named Margie who would always bring my family baked goods, and when fall rolled around, Margie would bring us an apple pie at least once per week. Her apple pies were famous in my small hometown of 1,300 people, as Margie had the best apple blend, which of course she kept a secret, that made for the most amazing apple pie — which is not too sweet, not too tart, not too firm, nor too soft, blanketed in a rich, buttery, flaky crust, painted with an egg wash and dusted with demerara sugar… oh, and the filling also had a shot or two of rum which only added to the magic. I have never once baked a pie as good as Margie’s, nor do I know if I ever will, but each fall I make it my mission to create something as similar to her pie as I possibly can.

I am also a sucker for simplicity, so I adore a caramel apple. There is the cutest family run farm-stand along Highway 52, minutes outside of La Crescent, Minnesota, which is home to some of Minnesota’s best apple orchards. This farm stand sells well over a dozen varieties of apples, bagged for your convenience, as well as squash, pumpkins, gourds, and a lot of other fall produce. The best thing at the farm-stand, though, has to be their caramel apples. You can choose from a classic caramel apple, to a chopped nut coated caramel apple, to a candy speckled caramel apple, to a chocolate drizzled caramel apple… my favorite of which being the chopped peanut coated caramel apple. I used to beg my mom everyday during the fall to pick me up a caramel apple — or two — on her commute home from work. A few weeks back, I shared a delicious caramel recipe that will perfectly coat your favorite apple of choice, plus provided a few ideas for amazing toppings. Making caramel apples is a great activity to do with your kids, especially if you picked the apples yourself!

When it comes to savory dishes, apples can provide an amazing burst of sweetness without adding processed sugar to your meal. An apple inspired coleslaw pairs perfectly with grilled bratwursts, adding a kick of sweetness to create a rounder, more complex flavor profile, taking your bratwurst to the next level. For your next tailgate party, be sure to have apple coleslaw as one of your condiments… you certainly won’t be disappointed. Try adding shredded apples to a saute pan with onions, salt, and pepper, and caramelize low and slow to develop all of the natural sugars in the onions and the apple. Traditional caramelized onions are amazing on their own, but they are even more incredible when an apple is introduced into the mix, adding even more sweetness. Try this onion mixture on your burger to kick the flavor profile up a notch — or three — or in a smoked honey ham and cheese panini. Apples are also a great addition to your meat and cheese board, perfect for a holiday party or get-together. You could also impress your dinner guests by adding a layer of sliced apple and sliced fennel underneath and on top of bone-in chicken breasts with a mustard focused marinade before roasting. Really, you could try adding apples to any of your savory dishes to round out the flavor by adding a touch of natural sweetness.

There is really nothing I enjoy more on a cold Autumn evening than apple cider, especially if it’s heavily spiced with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and star anise, with a touch of citrus, and a shot or two of dark rum, whiskey, or brandy — the most amazing hot cocktail if the colder temperatures have you feeling ill… or if you’re simply wanting a yummy nightcap before bed. You can opt for store bought cider, or make your own by sauteing a mixture of gala apples, braeburn apples, honey crisp apples, and granny smith apples in a large stock pot with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, and nutmeg, then add filtered water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for at least an hour — the longer you cook, to more developed the flavor becomes. Then, remove the whole spices, blend in batches or with an immersion blender, strain, and enjoy! I love how apple cider showcases the magic of the fall months, as it’s sweet, warming, and so very cozy!

Lastly, apple picking is so much fun, and is easily enjoyed by people of all ages! I love going to family run apple orchards in the fall, surrounded by cascading leaves of crimson, scarlet, and gold, and being gently caressed by Autumn’s cool breeze. There are some incredible orchards not far from NYC, teeming with fall inspired activities like corn mazes and pumpkin patches, but more importantly, bake stands, which 9 times out of 10 will sell apple cider donuts — which may be one of the greatest types of donuts ever created! Please find time to visit an apple orchard this fall as it’s one of the best ways to spend a fall day.

Happy fall!

Payton

NYC Fall Activities you don’t want to miss

Fall is officially here and if you’re like me, you’re looking to take advantage of all that the season has to offer. Here is a round up of some great events and places to visit this fall.

New York City Wine & Food Festival: Taking place in multiple venues throughout NYC the weekend of October 11th -14th this food and wine festival is a must see.  You can choose from large events featuring television personalities like Giada DeLaurentis to intimate dinners at restaurants like Café Boulud.  The festival raises money for Food Bank New York City so you can feel good while you are out enjoying delicious food.

The New York Coffee Festival: From October 12-14th this festival will be held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea.  This event is about sipping and tasting the best coffee around. It is a mix of coffee professionals, coffee aficionados and tired people looking for a pick-me-up!  I attended this event a few years ago and have to tell you there are also loads of delicious sweets to pair with the abundance of coffee.

Pumpkin Patch at Demarest Farms:  My children love picking out the perfect pumpkin to decorate ahead of Halloween and Demarest Farms makes it super fun.  There is a tractor ride out to the pumpkin patch where you’ll also find some farm animals, apple cider, apple cider donuts and some play structures for the kids.  You can purchase your tickets online to save time when you get to the farm!

Apple Picking at Ochs Orchard:  This Orchard is the perfect place for a quick getaway from NYC and finding delicious apples.  Pick Your Own Apples or just go and enjoy the farm life and get your apples from their market.  The market is full of fresh produce and some really delicious small batch jams, jellies and food products.  Right up our alley!

Whether you head out to one of these destinations or choose to spend your fall afternoons watching football on tv or maybe playing football in the park,  I hope you’ll enjoy what this amazing season has to offer indoors and outdoors.

Happy Friday,

Julie

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