Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Jim's Roman Holiday Pasta

Try a new way to look at a holiday meal. You’ll get two for the price of one: the festivity of a roast with the familial comfort of pasta.

I love to braise a succulent leg of lamb with aromatic vegetables and serve it over bucatini, those thick spaghetti with a hole running through the center (also called perciatelli). Bucatini are perfect for trapping the delicious braising liquids. Topped with pecorino romano, they make the quintessential Roman-style holiday feast.

½ cup olive oil
2 lbs. boneless lamb leg or shoulder, cubed into bite-size pieces
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 lb. bucatini pasta
¼ cup fresh grated pecorino cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
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. Add the onion and carrot and continue cooking until the vegetables begin to sweat. Add the tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Add two quarts of water and bring to a boil (if you are not using a Dutch oven, transfer the contents into a large oven proof casserole). Cover and put into a 350° oven for 1-1½ hours or until the meat is tender and sauce is slightly thickened.

Remove from the oven and season with parsley, salt and pepper. Serve over freshly cooked bucatini pasta and top with grated pecorino cheese.

Serves 4-6 as an entrée.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Latkes Recipe, Made in New Jersey

Here is an all-New Jersey applesauce recipe for your latkes and beyond, followed by a Mediterranean take on latkes. Happy Hanukkah!

Apple Sauce
4 New Jersey apples
1/2 cup New Jersey cranberries
Water or cranberry juice
¼-½ cup sugar
Lemon juice

Peel, core, and dice apples. Put into saucepan with cranberries and about ¾ cups water or cranberry juice. Add sugar. Boil gently until the apples are soft but not falling apart. Drain liquid. Use potato masher to gently squish apples. Finish with a little lemon juice.

Feta-Spinach Latkes
1 russet potato, coarsly grated
1 Yukon gold potato, coarsly grated
3 handfuls baby spinach, chopped
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup minced fresh herbs (dill, mint, and oregano are my favorites to use here)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 scallions, minced
⅓ cup all purpose flour
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, for frying

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, spinach, feta, herbs, eggs, and scallions. Stir to mix well. Then sprinkle in the flour until it all is incorporated and holding together.

Fill an 8-to-10-inch skillet with ¼-inch deep oil. Heat on a medium-high heat. Place a tablespoon of the mixture in the hot oil and flatten it with the back of the spoon. The oil should reach about half the height of the center of the latke. The edges should be submerged. Repeat until the pan skillet is filled but there is about a ½-inch gap between the latkes.

Cook the latkes until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until golden brown. Transfer to a flat plate lined with paper towels. Serve hot with yogurt sauce (recipe below).

Note: If you are planning to serve the latkes immediately, keep them in one layer until serving (you can place them in a warm-250°-oven). If you are planning to serve them later, cool completely and keep in a tightly covered container in the fridge, layers separated with paper towels. To heat them up, place in one layer on a baking sheet in a 350° oven until warm and crisp.

Yogurt Sauce
When using garlic in raw preparations, you might want to to pound it into a paste rather than chop it. I find it just tastes better that way.

1 clove garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped mint or parsley
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half of a large lemon
1 cup whole yogurt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Pound the salt and garlic into a paste using a tablespoon (or a mortar and pestle, if you have it). Add the chopped herbs, the olive oil and the lemon juice, and mix.
Just before serving, mix in the yogurt and optional walnuts and correct seasoning with salt and lemon (the flavors should be bright and strong). Serve with the spinach-feta latkes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Winter Farmers Market in Central New Jersey 

Slow Food Central New Jersey's Eat Slow Farmers Market

In collaboration with the organizers of the West Windsor Community Farmers Market, Slow Food Central New Jersey is proud to announce its tenth season of indoor winter markets. Specifically, the December market will feature holiday food gifts, natural soaps and fiber products for your entire gift giving needs. Enjoy the season’s best local foods.
Here are dates and locations:

Join us for a wide array of locally grown and produced foods including cheese, wine, mushrooms, grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, breads and baked goods, jams, sauces, honey, hard to find local winter produce and much more. Live music.  Join us for this popular event as we connect local farmers, food artisans and clean, fair and good food fans.
$3 suggested donation to benefit the Central New Jersey chapter of Slow Food. Parking is free.
Slow Food USA is working to change the food system through a network of volunteer chapters all over the country. The Central Jersey chapter holds education and awareness events such as potlucks, off-season farmers markets, trainings and workshops.  These farmers markets spread awareness and allow folks to enjoy locally grown and healthful foods while helping to support local farms and food artisans throughout the winter months.
Visit www.slowfoodcentralnj.org or westwindsorfarmersmarket.org for a full list of farms and vendors or call 609-933-4452 for more information.