10th Annual Hudson Valley Restaurant Week

Cat’s outta’ the bag: the Hudson Valley has become a culinary destination. With an abundance of local farms, regional bounty and passionate food makers, it’s no surprise. Over the next couple weeks, Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, presented by The Valley Table magazine, is celebrating the burgeoning local food scene by giving diners a chance to feast on this season’s best farm-to-table dishes for less.

In its 10th annual iteration, HVRW has over 230 participating restaurants, each of which is presenting a menu that highlights local ingredients.  Chef Eric Gabrynowicz of Restaurant North is taking the onion – a vegetable typically subjugated to supporting cast member – and letting it shine as the main ingredient in a new vegetarian dish. Taking onions from Blooming Hill Farm, he’ll be “slathering them with locally-sourced butter and roasting them on high heat, scooping out the inside and making a hash that consists of the inner onion, ancient grains and pickled vegetables. . . They are sweet, pungent, incredibly mineral rich and unmatched!” That is the beauty of creative cooking – taking an often-ignored veggie, preparing it in a way that accents its natural sweetness and letting it sing, front and center. Another dish not to be missed is the Madura Farm Mushroom Paprikash from Le Express Bistro  & Bar. Owner John Lekic selected organic mushrooms from Madura Farms to offer diners a veggie-forward take on a classic Hungarian recipe made with – you guessed it – paprika.

In full swing until March 20th, make your reservations now for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. For the full deets including a complete list of participating restaurants, head to www.HudsonValleyRestaurantWeek.com.

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Simply Sundays’ gyro loaf

I promised myself I was going to eat more veggies this weekend. I don’t know about you, but when the temperatures drop nothing sounds better than a heaping bowl of steaming hot pasta, so I have to make a conscious effort to fit greens on my plate. But when Susan and Mike of the food blog Simply Sundays contacted me about contributing to The Local Feast, and I spotted their gyro recipe, I had to give myself one more meat + carby meal. (Plus the gyros have spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers, so we sneak some veggies in there too!).

On Super Bowl Sunday, as the pre-game teasers talked about Peyton Manning, my gyro loaf – a combination of ground turkey, chicken, spinach, garlic and spices – warmed in the oven. While the loaf cooled, I chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, warmed up flat bread and texted my nervous Broncos-fan friends.  Just after kick-off, we assembled our gyros, slathered on the tzatziki and dug in. For those beginning moments, the entire party, Broncos and Panthers fans alike, were enjoying in unison.

Like the title of their blog suggests, Simply Sundays is a collection of family-style recipes, from street food to classic comfort food, perfect for Sundays meals. When I asked about the inspiration for the gyro recipe, Susan and Mike talked about their love of street fairs and festivals. Susan explained that when there is a gyro food truck in sight, “my husband and son are drawn like magnets.”

“Many of our recipes are inspired by places we go, dishes that we try and food we can recreate in our own kitchen.” Their recipes are also “based on nostalgic dishes that our families made in the past. We both come from families who love to cook and are trying to keep up the tradition of sharing home cooked meals.”

The gyro recipe was easy to follow and a definite winner at my Super Bowl party. Thanks to Susan and Mike for this delicious addition to The Local Feast.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds ground turkey (*I used a combination of chicken and turkey)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup of plain bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Gyro seasoning
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1-10 ounce package of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained well)
  • 1 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons each of kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • flat breads, sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes and tzatziki sauce for serving

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
  • In a large bowl, use your hands to combine meat, bread crumbs, eggs and gyro seasoning
  • Add garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, and mix until combined evenly
  • In a baking dish, form meat into a loaf shape
  • Bake for 1 hour or until you can slice into the middle and meat is fully cooked (no longer pink)
  • Allow loaf to cool slightly, then slice and serve on warmed flat breads with all of the fixings

Have a recipe you want to share on The Local Feast? Email me at caitlin.gunther@gmail.com.

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Anthony Bourdain’s Mushroom Soup

 

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mushroom soup 4I hope 2016 is treating you well so far. Mine has gotten off to a healthy-ish start – no drinks, more exercise, more sleep, and as much dessert as I want (because balance, right?). There have been boozy temptations too – like last weekend when I had Mexican food at El Bandido’s with the Moms and ordered a virgin margarita for the first time in my life. But you know what – once the fuss of ordering is over and I’m into the conversation, I forget that anything’s even missing from the table. So yea, dry January has been a success so far.

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In keeping with my new lifestyle, I’ve been trying to fit veggies into all of my meals. Like today’s recipe – filled with a variety of mushrooms (have I mentioned? I LOVE mushrooms), but healthy-ish because it’s also made with a ton of good old fatty butter. Then I finish it with some hard boiled egg (protein!), a dollop of sour cream and a few sprigs of parsley for freshness. The recipe comes from Anthony Bourdain, and it’s simple, but also so delicious that your dining companions will be begging for the recipe for this rich, satisfying soup. Also, like all soups, it mysteriously tastes even better the next day, so do make enough for leftovers. Bon appetit!

[scroll down for recipe]

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Anthony Bourdain’s mushroom soup (recipe via Epicurious)
(serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp quality, unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces mushrooms – * I like to use a variety
  • 4 cups/900 ml light chicken stock or broth
  • 1 sprig of flat parsley, plus more for serving
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 ounces/56 ml high-quality sherry
  • sour cream and a couple hard boiled eggs, sliced in half, for serving

Instructions:

  • In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the mushrooms and the remaining butter. Let the mixture sweat for about 8 minutes, taking care that the onion doesn’t take on any brown color. Stir in the chicken stock and the parsley and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour
  • After an hour, remove the parsley and discard. Let the soup cool for a few minutes, then transfer to the blender and carefully blend at high speed until smooth.
  • When blended, return the mix to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and bring up to a simmer again. Add the sherry, mix well, and serve immediately.

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compost cookies

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Almost time for a New Year’s cleanse. Time to rid the body and spirit of 2015’s excesses and plant the seeds for next year’s projects. Time to replace old habits that are slowing us down with better habits like cooking wholesome meals, drinking more water and less alcohol, sleeping more (if you’re like me and average six hours a night) and stressing less. Time to reflect on all of the people who make our lives enjoyable on a day-to-day basis – friends who check to see how your weekend went, coworkers who make you belly-laugh at 5 in the afternoon before you return to your work cage, sisters who text every day just to say good morning – I’m sure there are at least some people on that list that we forget to show our appreciation for.

So I know you may be thinking “but wait – isn’t this post about cookies!?” Yes, yes it is. But two things: first, consider rule #39 of author Michael Pollan’s 64 food rules: eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. Sure, if you’re baking brownies every day this advice may not be the best for you. But within reason, if we eliminated all the random pre-made junk from our diets and only ate the junk that we took the time to make ourselves, we’d be in better form. And second, consider rule #64: break the rules once in a while. I’ll build on that and say it’s an even better time to break the rules when you’re gearing up for a cleanse or healthy new routine in the new year.

In memoriam of last year’s refuse, I cleaned out the pantry and made the (AMAZING) compost cookies from Milkbar. The tastiest, junk-filled cookies you ever will make. I baked these cookies using the pre-made Milkbar cookie mix, which makes the whole process a cinch and can be purchased here.  The more ambitious bakers out there can take on the from-scratch recipe, available here.

It’s going to be your best year yet. Happy holidays  from The Local Feast.

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Ingredients:

  • cookie mix
  • compost packet
  • 5 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup potato chips
  • 1/2 cup mini pretzels (but I used PB-filled pretzel nubs)

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Spray baking sheets with non-stick spray OR line with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl, combine the cookie mix, butter and egg by hand (that’s how they did it in the old days) or with an electric mixer on low-speed until moistened.
  • Stir in compost packet, crushed tater chips, crushed pretzels and any other junk until evenly distributed.
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Drop golf-ball size rounds of dough onto baking sheets, 3-4 inches apart from one another – make sure you separate them sufficiently or you will end up with a sheet of cookie.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies have puffed, spread and browned slightly around the edges. Let them cool, then transfer them to a plate or airtight container.

 

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chocolate nutella rugelach

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Holiday baking means cookies. Sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, chocolate chip cookies, rugelach – the options are endless. Here on the Local Feast, I’ll be testing out holiday cookie recipes and sharing my favorites – to inspire you to get into the kitchen and get your bake on.  What holiday cookies are you baking? Share in the comments below. 

Growing up, every so often my dad would arrive home with a white box in hand, tied shut with white and red string. As soon as us kids saw that box we knew what it meant: fresh-baked rugelach from DeFilippis bakery in Monticello. I remember unwinding the tiny crescents, eating my way from the crisp and flaky outside to the moist, chocolaty inside.

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Today’s recipe features an easier, slice-and-bake approach to the classic rugelach cookie that I loved so much as a tot. The dough is similar to a short bread cookie and the center is filled with rich, gooey Nutella. Happy holiday bakes!

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from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 13-ounce jar Nutella, divided
  • 1½ cups finely chopped pistachios, pecans, and/or walnuts, divided
  • 2 tablespoons demerara or raw cane sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, divided, plus more
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
baking
Instructions
  • Pulse cocoa, brown sugar, kosher salt, baking powder, and 2½ cups flour in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until largest pieces are pea-size.
  • Beat egg yolks, sour cream, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth. With the motor running, stream sour cream mixture into food processor and process until dough forms a ball around the blade. Turn out dough onto a surface and knead several times until smooth and homogenous. Divide in half and form into ¾”-thick disks. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  • Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°. Let 1 disk of dough sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Roll out dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, shifting often on sheet and dusting with more flour as needed to keep from sticking, to a 12″ square. Using a small offset spatula, spread half of Nutella over dough in a thin layer. Sprinkle half of nuts, 1 Tbsp. demerara sugar, and ½ tsp. sea salt over Nutella. Roll up dough to make a log, using parchment paper to help. Repeat with remaining dough, Nutella, nuts, 1 Tbsp. demerara sugar, and ½ tsp. sea salt.
  • Slice logs 1″ thick and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1½” apart. Brush tops with egg and sprinkle lightly with more sea salt. Bake rugelach until centers are set and tops are firm to the touch, 25–30 minutes; let cool.

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Pumpkin, crème fraîche and ginger snap cookie crust pie

Countdown to turkey time: two days. The pressure is on to finalize that Thanksgiving feast menu, or, if you’re like me, finalize what you’re bringing to your Aunt & Uncle’s house in New Jersey. This year, I’m going with a novel take on the most traditional dessert, pumpkin pie.

There are so many things to love about Thanksgiving. The turkey, the sides, the pies, that’s obvious. (Warning: sentimental alert – if you’re not in the mood, scroll down for the recipe promise, it’s a show stealer.) But I love that it obliges me to be in the same room with my entire family to just eat,  catch up and be together for a day, something that happens twice a year at best. I love the stories  the cousin home from college who shares the trials and tribulations of freshman year #dormlyfe; the other cousin’s new job as an NYC police officer; Grandma’s first Thanksgiving with Grandpa, and how he grossed her out by eating the pope’s nose  Grandpa loved to get a rise out of people. I love the exchange of traditions and discovering the crazy ways other people do Thanksgiving. Like my Aunt, an Italian-American from Bensonhurst, who has never celebrated Thanksgiving without a heaping portion of lasagna or pasta as a first course  every family has their own particular ways. I love bringing someone new to the table, and making them feel like your family can be their family for the day. There are so many things to appreciate on Thanksgiving. Really, the food just gives us an excuse to come together.

But back to that pie. When I found this recipe, I knew all the ingredients would combine to equal delicious. The pumpkin spiced with cardamom and sweetened with brown sugar; the accent of crème fraîche (or full-fat sour cream, if your supermarket is out of cf); the intensely buttery cookie crust. Plus, although the marbled top looks kinda’ sorta’ fancy, the preparation is actually simple  even a newb pie maker like me can handle it. So if you’re seeking out last minute PIE-deas (couldn’t help myself), I highly recommend you give this guy a try. (Scroll to the bottom for additional pie-deas!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Recipe adapted from Hummingbird High 

Special Equipment

  • a food processor
  • a 9-inch tart pan with high sides (and a removable bottom, if you can find one – I couldn’t so settled for a store-bought tin)
  • a bamboo skewer or toothpick with a sharp point

Ingredients
For the Ginger Snap Crust:

  • 10 ounces ginger snap cookies
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the Pumpkin Custard Filling and Crème Fraîche Swirl:
(makes one 9-inch pie)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup (4.70 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces crème fraîche, or sour cream (European-style if you can find that, full-fat if not)
Instructions
For the Speculoos Cookie Crust:
  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a food processor, combine 10 ounces ginger snap cookies, 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse together until coarse and well combined. While pulsing, stream in 1/2 cup melted butter and continue pulsing until the crumbs come together in giant clumps.
  • Use a rubber spatula to transfer the crumbs into a 9-inch tart pan with high sides and a removable bottom (a regular pie pan with high sides works too — you can just serve it in the pan). No need to grease the pan. Use your fingers and the back of your hands to press the crumbs onto the bottom and sides of the pan, creating an even layer. The bottom and sides of the crust should be around 1/4-inch thick.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly while you make the filling. Keep the oven on.
For the Pumpkin Custard Filling and Crème Fraîche Swirl:
  • In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, combine 1 can pumpkin puree, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt. Cook for 5 minutes, using a heatproof rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan frequently. The mixture should start to sputter around 2 to 3 minutes in, and by 5 minutes, become thick and glossy.
  • Remove from heat and slowly stream in 1 can sweetened condensed milk while continuing to whisk the mixture. Continue whisking until the sweetened condensed milk is fully incorporated, before whisking in 2 large eggs, one at a time, only adding the second egg when the first one has fully incorporated.
  • Once the eggs are fully incorporated, pour the mixture into the prepared cookie crust shell. Transfer 2 ounces crème fraîche into a piping bag (or, in a pinch, a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off) and drizzle the crème fraîche over the mixture in the pattern you desire. Use a bamboo skewer or toothpick with a sharp point to swirl the crème fraîche across the filling.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges of the filling have set. Use a knife to tap on the sides of the tart pan to test the filling; the middle should wobble slightly. Think wobble, not waves. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely until fully set. Serve at room temperature, or chilled for an hour. This pie is best the day it’s made (since the crust will remain crunchy, but will soften the longer it sits).

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More things pie:

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butternut squash, honeycrisp apple and tahini soup

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Happy Monday! Is there any better way to enjoy Sunday than going to the farmers market and then spending the afternoon cooking at home? For me, the answer is obvious.

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Sundays give me the luxury to take care with each step of my cooking projects – I have time to go to the farmers market and peruse the Red Jacket apple selection before settling on Honeycrisps. The process of peeling, coring and chopping butternut squash, honeycrisp apples, onions, shallots and garlic is my meditation. I have more time to really think about what I’m making and how everything tastes. I can start frying the squash seeds in olive oil and a pinch of crunchy salt, then realize that a splash of soy sauce would give them the extra umami kick I’m after. Then, while I’m waiting for everything to cook down, for the flavors to merge together (while listening to this recent episode of This American Life), I clean my working area and prep for the next steps – plating, serving and eating my creation. By the time my kitchen is fresh and clean, the whole apartment is fragrant with warm, autumnal veggies, my stomach is rumbling and I’m ready to put the final touches on my soup – a swirl of tahini, a sprinkle of goat cheese, a few fried squash seeds and a pinch of celery fronds. And best of all, I sit and have a Sunday meal at home, far from the noise of work or brunch lines, and a midday glass of red wine close at hand.

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This recipe is my take on the HVRW recipe from Chef Tom Costello of Thyme Restaurant in Yorktown Heights, NY. Try Chef Tom’s version, or mine, or take some time and make it your own. And don’t forget to check out all of the restaurants participating in Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, which is in full swing until November 15.

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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 cup medium diced celery
  • 1 shallot, small diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced 
  • 2 small or one large butternut squash, chopped
  • 2 medium Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and chopped (if you don’t have Honeycrisp, try Gala or any other apple that’s not super acidic)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 splash red wine vinegar
  • 1 splash soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini plus a teaspoon for swirling around before serving
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Soft goat cheese or creme fraiche, to garnish
  • Fried squash seeds, to garnish
  • A pinch of celery fronds, to garnish

Instructions

  • In a large stockpot, heat oil over low heat
  • Add onions, celery and shallot. Throw on a couple pinches of crunchy salt. Sweat, uncovered over low heat for 15 minutes. Stir often, making sure the vegetables do not caramelize.
  • Meanwhile, peel and chop squash and apple, removing the seedy center of each
  • Add garlic to the stockpot. Stir and allow to cook for a few minutes, then add apples and squash to the stockpot plus another pinch of salt. Stir and let it cook for a few more minutes.
  • Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over medium-high heat for 30 minutes, or until the squash and apples are tender.
  • Allow to cool slightly (but not totally – the warmth will help the ingredients blend smoothly), then puree the mixture using a food processor or a hand blender until very smooth. Add a splash of vinegar, soy sauce and the tahini. Stir, taste, and salt to taste.
  • Add garnishes and serve warm with hunks of bread (and if it’s Sunday) cups of wine.

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Hudson Valley Restaurant Week + Nina’s Cucumber Gimlet

The biannual Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW) is right around the corner. Nearly 200 restaurants spanning six counties will be participating, showcasing the best of upstate fall bounty. For downstate folks, there’s just one Metro North ride between you and a most memorable autumnal date night. Over the next couple weeks, The Local Feast will be featuring some choice HVRW food + drink recipes. But first, let’s go over the deets.

Each year, the Hudson Valley is becoming more of a culinary destination. Everyone from Thomas Keller to Anthony Bourdain has done a stint in kitchens of the valley. The draw is obvious. “Because of its agricultural resources, the Hudson Valley has become a magnet for big-city/big-name chefs, as well as young restaurateurs eager to put their personal stamp on the farm-to-table movement,” says HVRW Founder and Valley Table magazine Publisher, Janet Crawshaw. At this season’s HVRW, expect to see creative takes on locally-sourced ingredients, like Mill House Brewing Company’s smoked pork tenderloin, prepared with their own Pop’s Imperial Maple Pumpkin Ale, savory winter sausage, sweet potato purée and caramelized turnips.

It wouldn’t be an outstanding meal without a delicious drink to go with, am I right? HVRW restaurants are pulling out all of the stops and serving local ales and boozy concoctions mixed with locally-distilled spirits. Like the Red Hat on the River’s Hudson Sidecar, made with White Pike Whiskey distilled just a few hours up north at Finger Lakes Distilling. Or Nina’s Cucumber Gimlet made with gin from Orange County Distillery, a “true farm to bottle” craft distillery. (Scroll down for the recipe.)

Orange County Gin will be flowing at Nina's - Photo: SamanthaSeeley.com /The Valley Table

Taking the farm-to-table movement to the limit, some restaurateurs are embracing a new practice called “grown-your-own” – wait for it – growing their restaurants’ produce in their own gardens.  At Union, in Haverstraw, they’re hand-picking zucchini, tomato, pineapple sage, basil, cilantro, mint and more from their very own rooftop garden. Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish, located in a 200-year-old farmhouse in North Salem, gets more than three quarters of all the vegetables and herbs used in the kitchen from its on-site terraced garden.

Throughout HVRW, which runs from November 2 to 15, diners can savor a three-course lunch for $20.95, or a three-course dinner for $29.95. Check out the participating restaurants, peruse their menus and make your reservations now. Get ready for some farm-to-table, nose-to-tail local eats!

SamanthaSeeley.com /The Valley Table

Cucumber Gimlet – Scott Levi / Nina, Valley Table Issue 70

Ingredients
2 quarters fresh lime, plus thin slice to garnish
4 slices cucumber
1 ounce St. Germain Liqueur
2 ounces Orange County Gin
Serves 1

Method
1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the lime.
2. Add the cucumber, St. Germain and gin.
3. Fill with ice and shake until well-chilled.
4. Strain over large ice cube in a rocks glass, and garnish with cucumber and lime wheel.

Nina Restaurant
27 West Main St, Middletown
(845) 344-6800; www.nina-restaurant.com

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apple crisp

heirloom apples

If fall had a mascot, it would be the apple. A big, fat apple. There’s no doubt that when the weather gets crisp and the layers pile on, the first fruit we think to pick, bake, or turn into cider is the glorious apple. Healthy too.

Ruth Reichl, former restaurant critic for the New York Times and editor of Gourmet Magazine, and author of a handful of cookbooks including Comfort Me with Apples, is one of my favorite food writers. Her recipes are delicious, straightforward and, I kid you not, poetic.  Ruth’s latest release, My Kitchen Year, was recently featured on Yahoo Food and includes this recipe for an apple crisp. So I spent yesterday afternoon peeling heirloom apples while watching the Jets beat the Dolphins. And I used a variety of heirloom apples, because as Ruth says,

If you use apples of different textures and flavors, some crisp, some that sort of slump into sauce, some tart, some sweet, you get something that has real character.

With just seven ingredients, it’s the perfect, lazy Sunday dessert.

I’m going to include Ruth’s recipe, word for word, because then you get a sense of her style. Share your autumnal cooking projects in the comments!

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Apple Crisp

5 heirloom apples
1 lemon
¾ stick butter
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
Salt
Fresh cinnamon

Peel a few different kinds of apples, enjoying the way they shrug reluctantly out of their skins. Core, slice and layer the apples into a buttered pie plate or baking dish and toss them with the juice of one lemon.

Mix 2/3 cups of flour with 2/3 cups of brown sugar, and add a dash of salt and a grating of fresh cinnamon. Using two knives – or just your fingers, cut in most of a stick of sweet butter and pat it over the top. The cooking time is forgiving; you can put your crisp into a 375ºF oven and pretty much forget it for 45 minutes to an hour. The juices should be bubbling a bit at the edges, the top should be crisp, golden and fragrant.  Served warm, with a pitcher of cream, it makes you grateful for fall.

 

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spicy peanutty soba noodles with kale

soba noodles peanut sauce

Wednesday is the first day of fall. The Autumnal Equinox. Welcome my favorite season because: cozy sweaters, fall coats, apple-picking, apple cider, apple cider doughnuts!, upstate foliage, the smell of leaves and new beginnings in general. A fresh start. A reason to reevaluate, set new goals and start working toward them. And if you’re into pumpkin everything, it’s already pillaging the shelves of grocery stores, showing up in granola, soup, ice cream, you name it – so go ahead and celebrate that too.

Now that the cooler weather is starting to creep in, there’s nothing more satisfying than a big bowl of spicy noodles. There are times when I’m blogging about a dish and I cannot wait to be done with my food photo shoot, and not because I don’t love the process – I do – but because I want to devour whatever I just made. This dish: peanutty spicy soba noodles (made with real peanut butter!) with kale is one of those dishes. Absurdly delicious. It’s an ideal weekend lunch – a little spicy, good and salty, and a dark green veg so it feels healthy too – and your colleagues will envy your leftovers when you bring it for lunch the next day. Recipe cred to one of my favorite home cooking resources, Food 52. Happy almost fall, friends!

peanut soba noodles

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thrasher soba noodles

Ingredients:

Serves 1, but can be doubled or tripled

  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1/8 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (any type, I used a chunky, organic variety)
  • 3 ounces udon or soba noodles
  • 1/2 bunch kale, deribbed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (1 packed cup)
  • Chopped scallions, for serving
  • Fresh cilantro, stems removed, leaves whole
  • Chili flakes, for serving (optional – skip if you prefer less spice)
  • Chopped peanuts, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Heat 1 quart of water in a saucepan to boil.
  2. In a sauté pan over low or medium-low heat, add sesame oil, soy sauce or tamari, Sriracha, and fish sauce. Stir ingredients or rotate pan to combine and let cook for about 30 seconds. Add peanut butter, stir to combine, then turn off heat.
  3. When water is boiling, blanch kale for about 30 seconds. Drain the kale and add it to the sauce in the sauté pan and stir to coat.
  4. Bring clean water to boil. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook until al dente. Fresh noodles will cook very quickly; dry noodles will cook in 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Use tongs to add the noodles straight from the water to the sauté pan with the peanut sauce and the kale. The unstrained noodles will carry enough water to dilute the peanut sauce; if you decide to strain the noodles and then add them to the sauce, add 1 tablespoon water, as well.
  6. Garnish with chopped scallions, chili flakes, cilantro and chopped peanuts.

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    Caitlin Gunther

    Twitter: @back2spain Website: back2spain.com Read Full
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