Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Crespelles With Local Strawberries + How to Chiffonade Like a Pro

This time of year, when the markets are full of fragrant strawberries just begging for a touch of something rich and creamy, crespelles, Italian crepes with creamy filling and fresh strawberries, are the perfect treats. Everybody loves them as they are, but to make them extra special, and as a nod to the Italian flag, add some basil cut into thin ribbons (this is called chiffonade; see note). And remember: The First Rule of Pancakes applies here, too. The first few crepes may not come out that perfect.

Note: To make chiffonade: stack about five leaves of basil into a neat pile. With practice, you’ll be able to handle more at a time. Roll the leaves lengthwise into a fairly tight cigar shape. Use your sharpest knife to slice across the cigar into thin ribbons. Fluff the chiffonade with your fingertips to separate the ribbons. Serve, if you want with some homemade strawberry jam.

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 cups milk
Additional melted butter as needed
In a mixing bowl combine the flour and sugar. Whisk the eggs and milk and fold in gradually using a rubber spatula, adding more milk if needed to help thin out the batter. The consistency should be just slightly thicker than that of heavy cream. Fold in the melted butter. Let it rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour to settle.
Heat a wide, shallow non-stick pan over medium heat and add about a tablespoon of the melted butter. Swirl it around to cover the entire surface of the pan. The pan is hot enough when the butter begins to sizzle.
Ladle about two ounces of the crepe batter and cover the bottom of the pan. When it is ready to turn the batter will not have any liquid left on top. Cook for about a minute, turn, and cook for another thirty seconds. Remove and let cool at room temperature. You can stack the crepes as you go.
Cannoli Filling:
Ricotta cheese
Mascarpone cheese
Granulated sugar
Combine the ricotta cheese and mascarpone cheese and mix with a rubber spatula. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste.
Plate Set-up:
Fresh sliced local strawberries
2 tsp confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp fresh basil cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)

Fill the center of the crepe with the cannoli filling and roll. Spoon the strawberries over the crepe and dust with confectioner’s sugar and a few ribbons of basil. Fold the crepe over the filling and serve.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lamb Lettuce Two Ways

Local spring greens are here. Crisp, vibrant, and utterly delicious.

We've just come across a nifty gardening trick to keep the bugs from the lettuce. It included a tip on cleaning the lettuce, but no recipes. So I decided to step in and offer some recipes.

The greens recipes below suit many greens but I want to highlight a less popular yet delicious - lamb lettuce (aka M√Ęche or corn salad).

In my humble opinion, lamb lettuce bears no resemblance to lamb but some say the name comes from the lettuce's resemblance to lamb's tongue. So be it.

The dark leaves are long and spoon-shaped and have a distinctive, tangy flavor. It is used raw in salads as well as steamed and served as a vegetable.

The season is starting now and you can find lamb lettuce at farmer’s markets and good produce sections. Choose dark, narrow leaves that are springy and unwilted. Store in an airtight plastic bag in the fridge and use quickly because it doesn't hold well. Use as a main ingredient in salads or cooked and served as a side vegetable.

Wilted Lamb Lettuce with Shallot Vinaigrette
You can substitute with spinach or baby kale.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 pounds triple washed lamb lettuce

For vinaigrette:
1 small shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 ounces Cherry Grove Farm Buttercup Brie, thinly sliced

Make vinaigrette:
Combine the shallots, salt, and vinegar and mix well and macerate for about 30 minutes. Stir in the honey and gradually add the oil, stirring to emulsify the vinaigrette. Taste and correct seasoning.

Saute lettuce
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil and garlic. Saute garlic in oil for 2 or 3 minutes. Add lamb lettuce to the pan in stages. Fill the pan with leaves and turn leaves in warm oil until they wilt. Add more leaves to the skillet and repeat the process until all of the lamb lettuce is incorporated. Season the wilted greens with salt and pepper. Serve warm with vinaigrette as a side dish, or top with local brie and serve with some crusty bread as a light satisfying meal.

Assemble the salad:
In a bowl, toss the greens with some vinaigrette to coat, arrange on four serving plates. . Sprinkle some lemon zest. Arrange the cheese over the greens. Drizzle some more vinaigrette. Serve immediately with some crusty bread.

Lamb Lettuce Salad with Mango and Hazelnuts
Catch the end of mango season.

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups lamb lettuce or arugula
1 cup toasted hazelnuts broken into pieces
1/2 cup crispy bacon bits, heated just before serving.

Combine olive oil and balsamic vinegar with salt and whisk until emulsified. In a bowl, mix the lamb lettuce and walnuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss to coat.
Place the mango on a platter. Toss the leaves with vinaigrette and place over the peaches. Garnish with the crispy bacon and serve immediately.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Breakfast From The Farmers Market

Did you get a lot of greens for the farmers market? Make a fritatta! You can serve it hot or at room temperature. It works as a brunch item, sandwich filling and even a light dinner.

Swiss Chard at the Princeton Farmers Market

6 cups baby Swiss chard leaves, packed (available at farmers markets) or 1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves stripped from stems (save stems for another use)
Salt to taste
1/2 lb asparagus, steamed until al dente, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 eggs (Beechtree Farm, Lima Farm and many other form sell super delicious eggs)
1/4 cup cream (optional)
1 cup grated aged cheese such as manchego or parmesan
Freshly ground pepper

Asparagus at Stults Farm, Plainsboro, NJ

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet and add garlic. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add chopped chard and cook, stirring, until ingredients are combined and greens wilted and nicely coated with oil. Remove from heat and let cool. Chop the greens.

Heat up a generous amount of olive oil in a 9-inch ovenproof skillet. Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a large bowl. Season with salt (about half a teaspoon) and freshly ground pepper to taste. Whisk in cream, cheese and asparagus. Stir in greens mixture.

When the oil is shimmering, scrape in the egg mixture. The bottom should coagulate right away. Cook over the stove for a couple of minutes. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes, or until set and slightly puffed. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm, room temperature or cold.