Toolkit: Knives

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To be a really great chef, you need some schooling and a bit of experience and a certain creative spirit, etc. We can’t all do that, but we can make sure we have the best tools to make cookin’ a little easier. You’ll be much better off with three good-quality knives: a 12-inch chopping knife, a 12-inch serrated carving knife and a 6-inch paring knife. A good knife makes you faster and cleaner. When you’re buying a knife, check that it’s a good weight, the blade is nice and rigid and doesn’t bend and the handle feels good in your hand.

 

This Week’s Field Goods Favorite
Fiddleheads

fiddleA foraged delicacy. A pound of fiddleheads in New York City goes for something like $20. You can cook like the fanciest of chefs this week! Because they are foraged items, please wash and cook them! All you really need to do: add some olive oil and lots of garlic in a little sauté.
Storage: Keep refrigerated for a week.

Spring Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Fiddlehead Ferns
serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 cups fiddlehead ferns
1 1/2 cups asparagus
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (grab Pure Mountain Olive Oil)
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well, and diced.
2 scallions, white parts only, washed and minced.
1 clove garlic minced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
approximately 5 1/2 cups hot vegetable or chicken stock
zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Start by preparing the vegetables. Boil a medium sized pot of water, and have ready a large bowl of ice water. Thoroughly wash the fiddlehead ferns, then rub them in a kitchen towel to remove any of the brown paper-like chaff. Cut off any brown tips or blemishes. Rinse again if necessary. Blanch both the asparagus and fiddlehead ferns for about 2 minutes, until bright green, then plunge into the ice water bath to stop the cooking. Set aside. Bring the broth to a simmer, then cover and keep warm over medium-low heat. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.

Then, add the leeks, scallions, and garlic, and sauté until tender and almost translucent (about 5 minutes.) Add rice, and stir until grains are translucent at their edges but still opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. Add wine, and stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed. Next, add the warm stock by the cupful, stirring until rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid before adding the next cup. When rice is almost done (about 15 minutes), stir in the blanched and drained vegetables and the lemon zest. Stir in the last 1/2 cup of stock, then add the cheese and remaining butter. The risotto should be creamy and tender, and the vegetables cooked but with a remaining firm bite. Finally, serve immediately.

 

 

The Quick Braise

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Using your greens should be quick and keep them bright green. Hence the braise!  It isn’t hard to do: just half fill a large pot with salted water, bring to boil and add the greens you’ve got (spinach, kale, arugula, turnip or radish tops, etc. – a mix is good!). Cook for 2-3 minutes until al dente, drain in a colander. Heat a pan with a coating of olive oil, and then add 2 big cloves of garlic. After the garlic is starting to brown, throw in the blanched greens. Next, season with salt & pepper and stir to coat the greens. After a minute, remove from heat and squeeze in some lemon juice. Finally, stir up again and serve. This method is quick, keeps the nutrients in your meal, and goes with everything! SO BRAISE ON.

 

This Week’s Field Goods Favorite
Bok Choy 

braiseBok Choy can be eaten raw, roasted, boiled, steamed, stir-fried, microwaved, or even deep-fried. Remember, the entire head can be eaten. To prepare, separate the leaves from the stalks, then rinse well and drain. Shred or cut across the leaves and cut the stalks into small slices along the diagonal. Great with a bit of garlic, ginger or soy sauce, and a good braise. Better yet—you can eat the stalks raw, too! 
Storage: Up to a week in the fridge, don’t wash until ready to use.Stir-Fried Udon Noodles with Bok Choy
Ginger-Sesame Bok Choy
Wilted Bok Choy with Soy Sauce and Cashews

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can You Believe Winter is Finally Over?

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kennyAlright, Thursday gave us a bit of a scare (flurries on April 23rd? Who gave the okay on that one?), but fear not! For spring has truly sprung on our farms and winter has ended. This week’s Field Goods Favorite is asparagus! Pair that with some overwintered rapini AKA broccoli rabe– a match made in green, green heaven.

What’s that? What’s overwintering? It’s a nifty process of seeding in the fall, then covering up the land all winter until spring harvest. It works great with leafy greens. Cover can be really fancy blankets, or just regular ol’ straw. See Kenny Migliorelli here with some overwintered crops.

 

 

This Week’s Field Goods Favorite
Asparagus 

AsparagusWonder what it means to “snap the woody ends” of asparagus? While the tip and upper portion of asparagus are tender, the stalks become increasingly fibrous toward the bottom. To snap the “woody ends”, bend the stalk near the bottom and snap in two. If it is difficult to snap, move up the stalk until you find the natural break between the tender and tough portions. Save the woody ends for stock.
Storage: Up to a week in the fridge.
Asparagus Tapenade
Basic Roasted Asparagus
Slow Butter-Braised Asparagus
Asparagus Pesto

 

 

We’ve Bean Meaning to Tell You…

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Did you know most dietary guidelines recommend that Americans triple their consumptions of beans?  In a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, researchers measured the antioxidant capacities of more than 100 common foods. Three types of beans made the top four: the small red, the red kidney, and the pinto bean.

Beans are a must-have for vegetarians and vegans, but we could all benefit from having more beans in our diets. Being both high protein, high fiber, and low fat– you can’t go wrong with a good bean! Easy to can, easy to dry, fine to freeze. Beans are a hassle-free and excellent choice for a healthy, fast meal.

 

This Week’s Field Goods Favorite
Pinto Beans 

beansThey are pre-cooked and NOT dried. These are so tasty all you need to do is toss with olive oil, garlic and add some chopped dandelion greens. Combine the creamy pink texture of pinto beans with a whole grain such as brown rice and you have a virtually fat-free high quality protein meal. Popular in Tex-Mex cuisine.

Storage: Just toss these in the freezer.

Pinto Bean Stew (You can make these ahead in the slow-cooker!!)
Shredded Turkey & Pinto Bean Burritos (Great for a fun and fast dinner)
Tomato & Butternut Squash Posole (This recipe is vegetarian!)

 

UNDER PRESSURE

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It’s a time-stressed world we live in. No wonder kitchen gadgets like the pressure cooker have made their way back into our kitchens. It’s a revival! The pressure and water cook food lightning fast. Grab a fancy new model (there have been very few changes to these cookers because, well, pressure still works the same way), or get a hand-me-down. Essentially all you need to do is measure water, select pressure, and you’re done. You’ll be surprised by all the dishes you can make with this thing! Check out this 6 Minute Garlic Mashed Potatoes recipe, or comb around and find something new to try!

 

This Week’s Field Goods Favorite
Microgreens 

MicrogreensTiny, edible greens—the next living stage after sprouts. These  can be grown year-round! Microgreens are anything but micro when we’re talking about health. These little babies pack a massive nutritional punch with 4 to 6 times the nutrients of mature veggies. Munch on them as a snack, toss ’em in a salad or top a fancier dish. The entire plant is edible. Eat raw and add to salads, sandwiches, dressings, etc.
Storage: 1 week max in fridge – eat this week.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Microgreens
Arugula Microgreens, Spinach, and Three-Cheese Pesto