Thursday, December 5, 2013

'Tis the season for Winter Farmers Markets!


Cherry Grove Farm
The Central New Jersey Slow Food “Eat Slow” Winter Farmers Market ninth season kicks off in December with the first market on December 8th at Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville. These markets are organized by the West Windsor Community Farmers Market in collaboration with Slow Food Central NJ.
On December 8th from 10am -2pm, Cherry Grove Farm will open its outdoor event barn to market-goers, offering an array of locally grown and produced foods including cheese, baked goods, fresh produce, jams, wine, mushrooms, chocolates and much more. Dress warm and enjoy the season’s best local foods! Visi for directions and more information about the farm.
December 8th from 10am-2pm
Cherry Grove Farm
3200 Lawrenceville Rd
Lawrenceville, NJ
January 11th  from 11am-3pm
Tre Piani Restaurant
120 Rockingham Row
Princeton, NJ
February 8th from 10am-2pm
D&R Greenway Land Trust
One Preservation Place
Off Rosedale Rd
Princeton, NJ
Entrance and parking are always free. $2 suggested donation to benefit Slow Food Central New Jersey. for a full list of vendors or call 609 577-5113 for more information.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Braised Endive with Pancetta Recipe

The first local Belgian endives indicate that fall is really here. This hearty, pleasantly bitter leaf lends itself well to rich preparations with bacon, cheese or butter. Here is one fine example:

Braised Endive
2 ounces pancetta or good quality bacon, diced
6 heads endive
Chicken Stock
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated raclette or other good Swiss-style cheese (option)

In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, cook the pancetta until fat is rendered and pancetta is crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Drain the fat and wipe the pan clean.

Trim 6 endives and slice them in half lengthwise. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.

In the same skillet, heat some butter and brown the cut side of the endives over a high flame. Do this in batches, adding butter each time. The pan will brown, which is fine - just don't allow it to blacken; if it does, wash it out before the next batch.

Place the endives, brown side up, in a gratin dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer and scatter the cooked bacon between them. Pour chicken stock into the dish to a depth of ½ inch. Cover tightly and bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 20 minutes or until quite tender.

Option: uncover and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered for 5 minutes or so until the cheese melts. Serve as a side dish or - if using cheese - a vegetarian main course.

Lamb Braised with Jersey Tomatoes and Oak Grove Plantation Polenta Recipe

The Grain Grinder at Oak Grove Plantation 

In beautiful Hunterdon County there is a real plantation. An old gate opens into 160 acres of sprawling farmland that surrounds a big, old plantation house. The farm, Oak Grove Plantation, grows a fantastic diversity of vegetables (more than 250 varieties of tomatoes alone!) and excellent grain products like cornmeal, whole wheat flour, popcorn and wheat berries.

The owners Susan and Ted Blew bought the farm in 1977. According to Susan it was so overgrown you could barely see the house and the fields. They cleaned it up and over years of trial and error learned “exactly what varieties work on our farm and how to get the best of them.” No wonder then that chefs line up for their products, sometimes all the way to their Union Square farm stand in New York City.

You can always find Oak Grove Plantation polenta on Tre Piani’s menu. The heirloom corn is ground on the farm in this funny looking old machine (see picture) and makes exceptionally tasty polenta. Now, as the days get colder, it’s the perfect time for a creamy bowl of polenta, mixed with some fresh kernel of Jersey corn. You can top it simply with Jersey late summer tomatoes and basil, or try a meltingly tender lamb braise.

Creamy Polenta with Jersey Corn Kernels
1 cup polenta
3 cups water (more for a softer polenta)
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
1 cup fresh corn kernels
Bring water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Stir in salt. Pour in polenta steadily, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until polenta is thickened. It should come away from sides of the pan, and be able to support a spoon. This can take anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes. Stir in the butter and corn. Taste and add salt and butter if needed. Pour polenta onto a wooden cutting board, let stand for a few minutes.

Lamb Braised with Jersey Tomatoes and Pecorino
½ cup olive oil
2 lbs. boneless leg or shoulder of lamb, cut into bite-size cubes
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 very ripe Jersey tomatoes, grated
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup fresh pecorino cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. Add the lamb and let it brown all over. With a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan (you may need to add a splash of water to the pan to do that).
Add the onion and carrot and continue cooking until the vegetables begin to sweat. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until paste dissolves. Add 1-1/2 quarts of water and bring to a boil (if you are not using a Dutch oven, transfer the contents into a large ovenproof casserole). Add the potatoes, cover and put into a 350 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours or until the meat is tender and slightly thickened. Remove from the oven and season with parsley, salt and pepper. Serve over polenta and top with grated pecorino cheese.

Oak Grove Plantation
266 Oak Grove Road
Pittstown, NJ 08867-4008
(908) 782-9618

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Local Lunch Box - Ideas and Recipes

Children are back at school and parents are back at work, which means that the brown bag lunch is back, too! Though we would love to welcome you for lunch at Tre Piani, sometimes it is just impossible to leave your desk. We believe, however, that you deserve to eat well-even in your cubicle-so we compiled some tips and recipes for assembling delicious, healthy lunches at home.
Farmers markets are still going on strong and will continue through fall. You can get some great local meats, cheeses, breads and veggies for super sandwiches. Mix up some interesting salads that will hold up, too, like pasta salad with fresh veggies, cheese and olive oil, or quinoa-tzatziki salad (tzatziki is actually better made the day before, which makes it a great brown bag lunch choice).
Try whole-wheat bread from a local small bakery (some loaves are baked in square pans and are perfect for sandwiches). Spread with a nice bean hummus or even roasted garlic instead of mayo. Fresh local apples and pears have just made their annual appearance at the market. Slice them thin and insert into peanut butter sandwiches instead of jam.
For a sweet treat, choose plain organic yogurt - try goat yogurt from our friends at Valley Shepherd Creamery (they sell it at farmers markets and we bet that if you call ahead they will hold some for you). Sweeten it with some local jams or honey, also available at farmers markets. Garnish with apples and pears.
Soup is another great food that kids and grownups love. If you make pureed soups you can even sneak in healthy things-kids won’t even know they’re in the soup!  This time of the year make sungold cherry tomato soup and pack in a thermos. It is naturally creamy and sweet, and tastes great at room temperature.
Here are some recipes to get your creative juices flowing.  

Carrot Curls With White Bean Hummus
Also makes a nice party presentation
1 carrot, peeled
3 tablespoons white bean hummus dip (see recipe)
Place the carrot on a cutting board, and using a vegetable peeler, press hard as you peel long, thin strands of carrot. (Pressing hard will help the strands curl.) Pack dip in a small container and take along with carrot curls.
White Bean Hummus
2 cups home-cooked or 1 16-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 roasted garlic clove (see recipe)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine first four ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil throughout.

Sungold Tomatoes Soup

Intensely flavored sungold tomatoes are available at farmers markets. If you’re using other kind of tomatoes you may need to add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a little sugar to intensify the tomato flavor.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large white onion, diced
3 cloves roasted garlic (see recipe)
2 cups low-salt chicken broth, homemade vegetarian broth, or water
4 pints sungold tomatoes
1 sprig fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil, chives, or dill, or a mixture of all three (omit if sending it with your child to school)
In a nonreactive 5- to 6-quart heavy pot, heat the oil and butter over medium-low heat until the butter melts. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, about 8 minutes.
Add the broth, tomatoes, sugar, thyme, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat while stirring. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Discard the thyme sprig. Let cool briefly and then purée in two or three batches in a blender or food processor. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with the herbs.

Popped Quinoa With Tzatziki and Chickpeas

Pack 1 cup quinoa with 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas and some vegetables in a container. Top with 1/4 cup tzatziki sauce or bring the sauce with you in a separate container.

Double or triple the recipe and serve for dinner on a weeknight. Make sure the kids hear the popping sounds, they make the quinoa sound tasty.
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1-1/2 cups broth or water
Heat olive oil or butter in a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add quinoa and salt and stir to coat with oil. Keep stirring until you hear “popping” sounds (just like popcorn) and the quinoa emanates nutty aromas. Add water or broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer approx. 20-25 minutes until all water is absorbed and quinoa is slightly "puffed.” Take off the heat, fluff with a fork, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. To intensify the nutty flavor, you can stir in some good butter (preferably from grass-fed cows).

1 large zucchini or other summer squash, scraped but not peeled
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups (450 gr) Greek yogurt
1/3 cup chopped dill and fresh mint, mixed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Shred zucchini with the large holes of a box grater. Mix the the zucchini in a strainer with the salt, and let them stand for about 30 minutes, shaking and turning them a few times to encourage them to expel their water.
After they’ve drained, squeeze the shredded zucchini in a dishtowel to get out most of the excess liquid, and transfer to a large bowl.
Mix zucchini with the garlic, yogurt, herbs, and olive oil, and taste, adding more salt if desired. Depending on the brand of yogurt, you might want to add a squirt of fresh lemon juice or a little sour cream if you want it more tangy and or rich.

Roasted Garlic
It’s creamy, it’s aromatic, and your co-workers will thank you for the lack of a garlicky aroma. Add to sauces and dressing or even use as a spread. 3 large heads garlic, cut horizontally in half
3 cups extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut off the top of the garlic heads. Put them in a small casserole or ovenproof pot and pour the olive oil over them. Add the thyme and pepper. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the garlic is soft.
Cubicle Meal Salad With Local Cherry Tomatoes
We can’t get enough of those cherry tomatoes. Here they are combined with beans and shredded local chicken breast (you can get some from Griggstown Poultry Farm) to make a hearty salad that will keep you going until dinner.
1 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups local cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cooked chicken breast, diced
1 tablespoon aged sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup excellent olive oil
1 cup baby arugula leaves, packed separately

In a large bowl, combine white beans, tomatoes and chicken. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and a little salt and pepper. Add the oil, whisking constantly so that the dressing emulsifies and thickens. Season to taste.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Pack a serving into a plastic container. Take the arugula along and mix it in just before eating.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Roasted Duck Breast with Roasted Vegetables and Port Reduction Recipe

A perfect dish for the last days of summer, when the weather is cooler, summer vegetables are abundant and full of flavors and fall’s tender greens are starting to come in.

Cook the Duck

Duck breasts, halved.  

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. With a sharp knife score the fat of the duck breasts in a criss-cross pattern. Season the duck with salt and pepper. Warm a heavy bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
Place the duck breasts, fat side down, in the skillet to render off the fat, about 6 minutes. Reserve rendered duck fat. Turn the duck breasts over and sear for 1 minute. Turn the fat side down again and place the skillet into the oven to roast for 7 to 9 minutes, until breasts are medium rare. Let the duck breasts rest for 5 minutes then thinly slice.
Serve on a top of roasted summer vegetables and sauteed fall greens, drizzled with port reduction (recipes follow).

Port Reduction
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 bay leaves
3 cups port wine
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve; let cool to room temperature.

Roasted Vegetables
4 summer squash (about 2 pounds), halved lengthwise if large, sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
2 onions, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide squash, tomatoes, cauliflower, onions, and garlic between two large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat and then spread evenly. Roast (without tossing) until tender and starting to brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, let cool to room temperature and then gently remove the vegetables. Be sure to scoop out the delicious brown crust that forms at the bottom of the vegetables.

Sauteed Fall Greens
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 lbs tender fall greens such as chard, spinach, baby kale cut into bite size pieces.
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add greens and toss to coat. Cover and cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add vinegar, salt and crushed red pepper. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Return of The Jersey Tomatoes

Jersey tomatoes season is finally here! To celebrate the arrival of summer tomatoes we would to like to return to the eternal question - is there such thing as a Jersey tomato? Jim asked a Rutgers extension scientist by the name of Jack Rabin. This conversation is recorded in Locavore Adventures.
“he [Jack] opened our conversation with a shocker.
“You know,” he said, “there’s no such variety as ‘The New Jersey Tomato.’”
Now, as a chef and restaurant owner who really pays attention to what I put on my table and serve to my guests, that news bowled me over. I thought ”New Jersey Tomato” (or Jersey Tomato, for short), was its own variety, born and bred. But Jack said the name actually has been trademarked by a southern New Jersey farm to refer to its own crop.
On the other hand, when you hear the name “Rutgers Tomato,” that’s the real deal. It’s an actual variety of tomato which was developed in 1934 to enhance specific properties. The Rutgers Tomato has earned its place in history...It became a worldwide bestseller - one of the most celebrated tomatoes known not just for its canning properties but for its wonderful eating flavor. ”

And there’s more:  The Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (RNJAES) has rediscovered  the old portfolio of red round tomato varieties that were grown in the early 20th century and named Jersey Tomatoes. These tomatoes were known for their outstanding flavor and hence earned the Jersey Tomato claim to fame. The extension had been working on bringing some of these varieties back for home gardeners and local farm markets. Seeds of the much loved Ramapo and an early season companion Moreton were reintroduced to the market last summer through the Rediscover the Jersey Tomato project. More old time Jersey Tomato variety seed offerings will be added in the next few years.

Read more about the New Jersey tomatoes in Locavore adventure.

Zuppa di Mozzarella
4 1 oz. pieces fresh made mozzarella
2 pounds fresh tomatoes peeled and seeded (Jersey of course)
3 cloves garlic sliced thin
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil ½ cup olive oil

Heat two thirds of the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add the sliced garlic and cook slowly until lightly browned. Add the crushed red pepper and the tomatoes. Let the sauce cook until it begins to thicken. Season with the parsley, basil and salt. The consistency should be somewhere between soup and sauce
Place one piece of mozzarella in each serving bowl and pour the hot sauce over it. Drizzle with
the remaining olive oil and serve immediately.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Grilled Peach and Arugula Salad With Grilled onion, Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Crispy Prosciutto

Serves 2

2 peaches, cut in half and pit removed
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into think slices
4 large slices prosciutto (sliced thicker than usual like bacon)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups arugula leaves
¼ cup toasted walnut pieces
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

Heat the grill. 
Rub cut side of peaches with a little olive oil and put on the grill, cut side down. Cook until the peach chars slightly and then turn on other side until warm through. Repeat with the onions and set aside. 
Heat an oven to 400 degrees. Lay the ham out onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven until slightly crisp, about 5 minutes.
Make a vinaigrette by combining olive oil and balsamic vinegar with salt and whisking until emulsified.
In a bowl, mix the arugula, walnuts, and cheese. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss to coat.
To plate: Place the peaches and onions charred side, in a serving bowl. Toss the arugula mixture and place over the peaches. Garnish with the crispy prosciutto and serve immediately..

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Annual Free Concert Starring The Dovells and Lights Out

PRINCETON, NJ ― June 30, 2013 ― Princeton Forrestal Village (PFV) announced today its exciting annual “Hot Hits Rock n Roll Festival” featuring the original chart-topping Philadelphia doo-wop group, The Dovells, and the note-perfect Four Seasons Tribute quartet, Lights Out.  The outdoor concert will be held Friday, August 23, 2013 from 7pm to 9pm at the Forrestal Village, located on US Route One South and College Road West, adjacent to the Westin International Hotel of Princeton. Rain date for the concert is the following day, Saturday, August 24, 2013.  For the concert, limited first-come/first serve seating will be available, but everyone is encouraged to bring their own chairs, blankets and refreshments. For more information visit or call 609.799.7400.

 The concert is free and open to the public.  This year will feature back-up by the Sleepless Knights R&B band, and – once again -  the ever popular WOGL Oldies Radio Prize Wheel with tons of great give-aways.  And there’s plenty of free parking throughout the Village.

Known for their 60s chart-toppers, “The Bristol Stomp,” “You Can’t Sit Down,” and “Hully Gully Baby,” The Dovells continue to sell out houses around the country recently doing so at the Cyprus Bayou Casino in Louisiana.  Light’s Out, with their crystal clear a capella harmonizing are a stroll down memory lane with renditions of all the memorable hits of Frankie Valli and the Fours Seasons such as “Walk Like a Man, “Rag Doll,” and “Sherry.”  Lights Out recently sold out the large rooms at the new “M” Casino in Las Vegas.