Friday, June 21, 2013

Gnocchi With Asian Vegetables Recipe

2 large russet potatoes, washed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup parmesan cheese

1 bunch Chinese water spinach washed and cut into strips
1 bunch Chinese leeks, julienned and washed thoroughly
Kernels from two ears fresh sweet corn
6 Chinese long beans or green beans cut into one inch pieces and rinsed
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh jalapeno pepper (optional and to taste)
2 cloves garlic sliced
2 eggs
½ cup grated Toma (from Cherry Grove Farm) or other semi-hard sharp cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Roast the potatoes in a 350 degree oven until fork tender, set aside to cool. When the potatoes are cool, cut in half and remove the insides with a spoon and discard the skins. Run the potatoes through a ricer and combine the flour and cheese. Mix until incorporated.
Fold in the butter and egg yolk and mix the dough by hand. Be careful not to over mix or the dough, stop when it is just barely a smooth dough. Let the dough rest wrapped in plastic for at least thirty minutes in a cool area or refrigerator.
Put on a pot of lightly salted water to boil while you make the sauce.After thirty minutes or more, unwrap the dough and put it on a large cutting board or clean counter. Cut off pieces and roll them into long thin cigar shaped pieces about twelve inches long. Cut each roll into small bite-size pieces and dust them with a little white flour to keep them from sticking together. (traditionally each piece is rolled off the back of a fork to give them their authentic shape but they do not need to be). Keep the gnocchi spread out in one layer on a lightly floured pan until ready to use or they can be frozen for up to one week. (If you choose to freeze them, put them in the freezer on the pan in one layer until they are frozen solid. They can then be moved into a ziplock bag or similar until ready to cook. Cook them frozen.)

In a large sauté pan or wok, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Let cook for about thirty seconds – do not let it burn! Add the peppers, leeks and the long beans with a pinch of salt. Saute until the beans begin to sweat, about 2 minutes. Next add the sweet corn, spinach and saute for another 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the pasta water and the basil. Taste for seasoning.Cook the gnocchi in rapidly boiling water for about four minutes or until they float. Drain them and add them to the vegetables and stir well. Add the cheese and serve immediately.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Local Cheese, a Weekend Day Trip and a Little Story to Make You Proud.

The weekend is going to be beautiful, perfect for a family day trip to Valley Shepherd Creamery, where they make delicious cave-aged cheese.  Here is a little story about their cheese that will make you very proud (the whole story appears in Locavore Adventures).

Jim and Eran Wajswol, the farm’s founder and owner were sitting on the patio at Tre Piani, discussing cheese...
“Somewhere in middle of our freewheeling afternoon, one of my servers approached the table. She said that she had a customer who was visiting from Italy and, as is the European custom, craved a little cheese to cap his meal. What should she give him?  Eran sat up like he had just heard a fire alarm. “Here, let ‘em try this,” Eran said, like it was a challenge. Then he handed over a small chunk of his pecorino-style cheese...A few minutes later the server was back at our table. The customer wanted to know --- where was the cheese from?  “Tell him New Jersey,” I said. A minute later, she’s back. “I hate to tell you this,” she said, “but the customer is laughing at me. He wants to make sure he understood right. This cheese is from New Jersey?”
Not the thing to say in this company. Eran whipped out his business card like a gunslinger. “Here, give ‘em this,” he said, adding some choice words about who does this guy think he is, who can mess around with New Jersey cheese? A minute later, our Italian visitor is on the patio, covering us in a blast of hand shakes and cheerful apologies. “Mie scuse! “Forgive the mistake,” he said, “it tasted just like the pecorino made near my town. Then we looked at each other, grinned, and raised our mugs in a toast: Cheers to Eran’s own home-grown New Jersey pecorino, now with a seal of approval from the home country! Our new Tuscan buddy had confirmed what we had set out to do: offer the public memorable food that’s world-class quality but produced right here at home. As for me, I was over the top. I felt it was a very proud moment in the history of slow food in New Jersey.”

...And there is so much to see at the farm besides cheese.  Located on a hillside in Long Valley, it offers tours, kids activities, classes, shopping and all kinds of fun. Check out their website for more info, and don’t forget to come back with a delicious piece of local cheese! 
For those of you who stay home, come try Valley Shepherds Pepato on our menu!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Two Grilling Recipes (Including a Homemade Spice Rub and a Homemade Barbecue Sauce)

A preview of Jim's grilling class. Get the whole scoop on Thursday July 25th, 6:30-9:30. To make reservations email or call 609-452-1515

Grilled Chicken Breast Rollatini
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 slices prosciutto ham
2 slices mozzarella, provolone or Swiss cheese
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup olive oil

You will need the chicken to be either butterflied open or pounded gently with a meat
mallet to provide you with a large, thin, and even piece of chicken. Lay the chicken on large cutting board and season with salt and pepper. Lay the prosciutto slices on the breast so they are half on and half off. Place the cheese on the center of the breast. Begin rolling the chicken from the end that the prosciutto is not hanging off and keep rolling so that what you end up with is a rollatini with prosciutto both inside and outside the chicken and with all of the cheese inside. You can secure these packages with toothpicks or skewers. Brush with olive oil and cook on a medium hot grill with the lid closed, checking frequently to prevent scorching. Serve.

Simple Barbecued Chicken
1 chicken cut into quarters bone in
For dry rub mix:
4 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dry thyme
1 tsp. dry rosemary

Other ingredients:
¼ cup cooking oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the dry spices and herbs together thoroughly. Rub the chicken pieces all over with the mixture; let rest for at least 15 minutes (or as long as overnight). The flavors will permeate deeper the longer the chicken marinates. Preheat your grill on high heat, making sure that
the grates are clean. Add the chicken pieces and lower the heat to medium. (The thicker the chicken pieces, the longer the cooking time, thus cook for longer at a lower
heat to prevent burning). Cook the chicken with the lid closed and check it often to make
sure it does not burn. You can adjust the heat accordingly allowing common sense to dictate whether or not the bird is cooking too quickly or too slowly.
Meanwhile, or up to a week ahead of time, make the simple barbecue sauce. In a saucepan, add the oil, garlic, onion and peppers. Let the mixture cook slowly until the vegetables are soft. Add the brown sugar and let it melt. Add the vinegar, bring to a boil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. This sauce may be pureed if desired. When the chicken is less than two minutes away from being cooked to your desired doneness, baste it with your sauce. Turn once and baste the other side. Serve.

1) A dry rub is preferred for longer cooking times because it will not burn quickly. The
sugar in the mix will actually caramelize onto the meat.

2) There are no exact cooking times because the size of chickens varies, as does the heat
of each grill. This is the part where people need to spend less time reading the recipe and more time watching and learning about the idiocinquerecies of their grill.

3) The spice rub recipe is very basic and can be adapted to your taste by using your favorite spices and dried herbs. Feel free to make it spicier, sweeter, saltier, etc. The rub
can also be used on beef, pork, veal, seafood, corn, potatoes, antelope, yak and just about anything else that can be cooked on a grill.

4) Remember that your grill also acts like an oven when the lid is closed and your chicken will cook more thoroughly that way. Things like steaks cook better on high heat with an open lid, which ensures the desirable charring outside and a more rare center (which is why thick steaks are better).

Zucchini Blossoms 101

Only a few years ago you would rarely come across zucchini blossoms outside of a restaurant (all types of squash have edible blossoms, but the most common are zucchinis’). These days you can find them at many farmers’ markets. Bright yellow to almost orange, zucchini flowers are nearly irresistible to farmers’ market shoppers. Yet it seems many people don't know what to do with them once they've bought them. Luckily all you have to do is to realize that those beautiful flowers are versatile and easy.  You don’t even have to cook them! For your convenience, here is a crash course in Zucchini Blossoms 101:
Choose flowers that look fresh and dewy, preferably still closed. Keep refrigerated, tightly sealed, and try to use the same day. They will, however, keep for several days.

The most common way to cook them  is to fry, stuffed or not,  in a very light, almost tempura-like batter. But if you are not into frying they are delicious eaten raw and a welcome addition to salads, pilafs, soups and even to garnish desserts. They add a subtle sweetness and a slightly herbal flavor. Don’t trim their slim stem, because it adds a nice crunch. They match particularly well with the season’s leafy greens, such as baby kale and arugula.
This is how you fry them: whisk enough ice water into flour that it thickens to the consistency of heavy cream. Dip the flowers in the batter, shake gently to get rid of any excess batter, and fry them in hot oil until they're crunchy--just two or three minutes. Drain on paper towel and serve immediately with drink or on the aforementioned greens.
Bon Appetit!