I had been thinking about changing the market platter for a very long time. The need to improve it had been slowly gnawing at me. Customers had been asking for a dressing, which it didn’t normally come with, because all of the prepared salads in it were individually dressed. But I wanted to listen to them- something was not working for me either. So I went back to the roots of why I had wanted to start the market platter to begin with. . . to support and show off the amazing local ingredients that are available to us here. To do a macro Victory Garden of all of the amazing farms that come to the Greenmarket. So that is what I did- the market platter is now even more of a collection of the best of our local farms.
The base of the platter is organic yellow- eyed beans that come from Cayuga Pure Organics. They are deliciously starchy and creamy, and create a lovely base note for everything else. If you do not think there is a difference in flavor between local beans and commercial ones, we ask you to try these (or our black bean hummus!). We layer some organic greens on top of the beans. Right now, we are using arugula and sorrel from Two Guys from Woodbridge, however, the greens will change depending on what we find. There is also a seasonal veggie present all the time. The one we have pictured is a Denver Carrot from Windfall farms. The salad dressing is our VG house dressing (recipe below), which we make with a mustard from Beth’s Farm Kitchen, who use local mustard seeds. We also include eggs from Campanelli’s Poultry Farm in Kenoza Lake, NY, and Frere Fumant Sheep’s Milk Cheese from 3 Corner Field Farm. We will be adding some little tweaks here and there, so please let us know what you think! We also had to raise the price just a little, so that we could be sure that we were getting you the best of what we could find, and we think that we did.
VG Dressing: Combine 1/2 cup garlic rosemary mustard, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar in a blender. We add a few sprigs of cilantro, parsley, and basil as well, but it is up to you. Blend those ingredients together well. Remove the little window piece in the lid of the blender, and slowly pour in about 1 cup of olive oil, blending to emulsify. You can adjust the thickness with some water. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon to taste. Makes about 1 quart.
There are so many things that I find at the farmers market that are named “watermelon” this and “watermelon” that. I wanted to combine them all into a salad that is all things watermelon. This is our Watermelon Salad, inspired by the Mediterranean way of eating crispy, juicy melons with feta. It includes watermelon cucumbers (sanditas), watermelon radishes, watermelon seeds, crispy halloumi, feta, mint, and watermelon rind pickles.
I wanted to write a quick post about ramps, which are in season right now. We are using them at the shop in our Spring Soup, along with leeks, potatoes, asparagus, and spinach. Ramps are like a secret weapon- a simple ingredient that carries a ton of flavor. That nuanced flavor that will make a huge difference in whatever they are added to. Ramps are wild leeks, but look more similar to scallions with a wide, grassy-like top. They are a one-stop shop when it comes to Spring cooking. You can use them as your one ingredient in simple preparations and they will make you feel like you are eating like royalty. Sort of like truffles, but only at $4 a bunch. Last week I was working a lot, and didn’t get a chance to get groceries. All I did was cook some finely chopped ramps in olive oil, and then make scrambled eggs. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, and my smoked chile flakes from Daphnis and Chloe. I did this three times in a row, and each night I felt like I was indulging in something so divinely delicious that I shouldn’t tell anyone about it. On Saturday night, I invited my friend over for dinner, and we dined on whole wheat spaghetti with ramps, smoked chile flakes, and Parmesan. We decided that they really don’t need anything else, because otherwise you mask their amazing flavor. Buy yourself a bunch and try them out! Just rinse them of any dirt, trim the tips, and then chop them from nose to tail.
I came across PremRose Edibles rose petal jams when I was visiting my friend Emma in Eugene, Oregon back in 2009. There was a market every weekend in town, and we would comb the stands, relishing in all of the amazing ingredients that come from the Willamette Valley. I bought a rose petal jam and took it home with me. It was, and still is, the most delicious rose petal jam that I have ever had. When I was going to open the shop, I knew that I had to carry PremRose jam. Linda Shumate grows and preserves the roses on her farm in Creswell, Oregon. I sent her a few questions about her and her rose petal jams, and the answers are below. I hope to do more of these farmers in focus, because it gives more depth to the products that you see on our shelves. Once you know their story, you have a deeper understanding of the work and passion behind them. Please keep in mind that farming and making products is demanding work, and the editing is kept to a minimum to preserve the authenticity of the conversation.
Quinces are some of the most beautiful fruits which one can enjoy. Every time I eat quince, it truly feels like a gift. This ancient fruit is not so popular in the United States, though it does grow locally, and you can find it at a few farm stands in the late Fall. In the Eastern Mediterranean and in Europe, it is cherished and prepared in both sweet and savory dishes all season long. One of my favorite dishes that I ate in Istanbul once was a poached leek in olive oil (zeytinyagli style) with little cubes of quince. The two married together on that plate in the most surprising and delightful way. But it seems like each time with quince is the same- it always surprises me, delights me, and whisks me away.
Quince is not easy to prepare, but it is not difficult either. It just requires a bit of time. Exactly the kind of time that one has when it gets dark at 4:30 pm and one find oneself wanting to hide inside. This is the perfect kind of time for cooking quince. One must cook quince over a long period of time to be able to eat it. Below is a picture of some quince I bought from the Greenmarket in Union Square. Once you cook it, it changes to a color that I like to call “Cinnamon Rose”. It is soft, sweet, and floral blossom-ish in taste. And while it is cooking, brings the most delicious perfume to the air – all the more reason to make some time for it.
I have a few recipes from Kitchen Caravan highlighting quince that I would like to share. One is for Quince and Tahini Love Letters, which are a sort of romanticized pop tart. The other is a Lamb and Quince Stew, which is cooked with hard cider. It is a quince-essentially (I couldn’t help it) Fall dish that really shows off quince’s ability to make a wonderful addition to a savory dish. But really, no exact recipe is needed to enjoy quince. You can poach it with sugar for about an hour or an hour and a half, and then eat it with a dollop of yogurt or something to cut the sweetness. The Turks eat it with their Kaymak, or clotted cream. Let me know if you try it with something. At the shop, we will be serving quince on our Mini Goat Cheesecakes scented with cinnamon, so be sure to come by and pick one up.
I have been wanting to make this brownie recipe for a while, because it combines two of our most popular flavors: Salted Caramel and Chocolate Rosemary. I keep wanting to call it the Salted Caramel- Chocolate Rosemary Brownie, but then the Chocolate part is redundant. Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, and it pairs so well with desserts. It is a lovely match for cream, honey, chocolate, and cornmeal based confections. Rosemary adds a sophisticated savory element to sweet things, along with an herbal essence that is hard to resist. If you have ever tried our Rosemary Polenta Cake, you will know what I mean. The brownie has fresh chopped rosemary from Keith’s Farm- my favorite source, as well as our goat milk caramel swirled into the top. We sprinkle some Maldon sea salt before baking. We will be rotating this in and around with our other baked goods.
There are two deep purple fruits of fall that I look forward to every year: Conchord grapes and Italian plums. I usually slow roast them in a slow oven of about 275-300 degrees, and then eat them over ricotta or yogurt. The slow roasting concentrates the sugars and makes them delightfully sweet, as well as providing a sauce to serve alongside. This makes a great dessert for a simple dinner, as well as a lovely brunch dish to serve for friends. You can add granola, seeds, nuts, or any herbs and spices to liven it up in your own way.
This season at the shop we are making a Purple Power Smoothie, which combines plums, grapes, tangy goat milk yogurt, and sour cherry juice from Red Jacket Orchards. It is perfectly tangy and sweet, with no other sweetener than the TGM. It comes out a beautiful purple hue, and feels very true to the season. Enjoy this while it lasts, as Conchord grape season is fleeting. And although we are putting away as many as we can, it is moving quickly!
We had been a little bit slow on the Soup du Jours since starting up with soup again this fall. However, this past week we started with our Sopa Vitamina A, which translates pretty directly to “Vitamin A Soup”. It has a bunch of orange and red veggies that are rich in Vitamins A and C, including butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, red bell peppers, and tomatoes. We also add carrot tops and beet leaves, which are often thrown away, but are incredible sources of vitamins and nutrients. I personally love the flavor of bitter beet leaves. My sister was telling me the other day that the bitterness of greens has been/is being cultivated out of vegetables, due to the American preference for sweetness. This translates to less nutrients, as bitterness is a sign of nutrient density. I thought of how I have cravings for bitter sometimes, and it always when I am feeling like I haven’t been eating enough vegetables and need to detox. Anyway, we can count on beet leaves for that extreme bitterness/powerhouse nutrition when all else tastes bland. By the way, we also include the carrot tops in our carrot top chermoula dressing in the Market Plate. They are also bitter and nutrient rich, and often thrown away. To the chermoula we add herbs to soften the bitterness. Back to the Sopa. . . Sopa Vitamina A can be characterized mainly for its beautiful orange hue, but also for its spiciness. We have been adding a little habanero pepper to each batch. There needs to be a whole other blog post about habanero, but I have seen it everywhere this Summer. So many people had begged me for spicy soup, so I let them have it. A spicy Sopa Vitamina A (hence the Spanish- its more picante than English!).
From the Market | posted on September 26, 2013
Turmeric is a lovely spice that usually plays the part of supporting actor in spice blends. It does that in our Kale & Lentil Soup, letting the freshly cracked black pepper and ginger take center stage. However, if it were not there, there would be an essential component missing. I love turmeric, because it is warming, slightly bitter, and most of all, healing. Turmeric, or the curcumin compound in it, is a very powerful anti-inflammatory, that has been used medicinally for thousands of years in India and China. I love the Tumeric drinks that you can find in health food stores, and felt that lately I have been craving the spice. Perhaps it is the coming of Fall and the need to prevent colds. Or perhaps it is just so warming to the soul. Anyway, we now have a delightful Turmeric Tonic at the shop to replace the Basil Lemonade. Time to switch gears!
Our Turmeric Tonic features turmeric, freshly cracked black pepper, local ginger from Norwich Meadows Farm, fresh mint, cardamom, and local honey.
One of my favorite flavors that we do at the shop is the Victory Garden Herbal Blend. I created this flavor fairly early on after we first opened. We had the Salted Caramel, the Chocolate Victory, the Tangy Goat Milk, and the Rose. I was buying all of these fruits from the farmers market, and sourcing my local toppings, and establishing the brand. And I thought that besides the basic flavors, what I really wanted to do was create a flavor that would emphasize what I was trying to do with the concept of Victory Garden. So I created a flavor that brought in a variety of herbs from the farmers market, with touches of spice and floral notes, almost like a perfume. Almost local, but with hints of the exotic. Ever since, the Victory Garden Herbal Blend has been one of the most requested flavors that we have. It has fresh mint (chocolate mint, apple mint, spearmint, peppermint), rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, sometimes anise hyssop, sometimes lemon verbena, and sometimes lemon balm. I buy the bulk of the herbs at Keith’s Farm, my favorite source for herbs. But I also purchase some from Stoke’s Farm and Queen’s County Farm, my other two faves. Some of the herbs change with what is at market, which is another aspect of this flavor that I love- it is never exactly the same. When you are cooking with seasonal ingredients, you have to work with what is at the market, and where you want to take something that day, and the herbal blend is always consistently herbal, but with a different note here and there. It changes as the Summer passes. It also has dried lavender, crushed cardamom, jasmine flowers, and a touch of orange blossom water. It has a lot of different ingredients, but it comes together in a clean, refreshing way. I am proud of this flavor, and I hope that you will try it the next time you come in to the shop.
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