Tag Archives: greenmarket

Perfect for the Weekend: Papalo Guacamole

Ingredients for Guacamole

On Friday, my good friend (and chef) Billy Barlow gave me a small leafy herb to experiment with over the weekend. Before I even knew what it was, I noticed that it had a very pungent aroma that smelled slightly of soap, and that it tasted like a stronger version of cilantro.

“It’s papalo!” he told me—certainly not something you find at just any greenmarket around town. Indeed, Billy had sourced his from Blooming Hill Farm in New Jersey.

Intrigued by the herb’s peculiar flavor, I got Billy to give me a few clumps of the exotic herb to throw in something at home. “A little goes a long way,” he warned me as he gave me just a few leaves.

Once I got home, Laura and I talked about how we wanted to use it. It was a nice summer day outside, so considering that and the fact that we are both Texans by birth, we decided the only thing it could rightly be used in was guacamole.

Fresh Avocados for Guacamole

Deseeding a Jalapeño

Laura had told me that her dad, in addition to being a badass cyclist (see photo), makes a mean guacamole, so I left the prep work and mixing up to her, but it’s really pretty simple: a few avocados, mashed together with chopped onion, jalapeño, tomato and cilantro (or papalo, in our case).

The Beginnings of Guacamole

Billy was right about a little going a long way–the few leaves we used were more than enough to add a new flavor to an old standby.

Easy Homemade Guacamole

Using papalo in place of cilantro definitely yielded a different guacamole than we were used to, but it wasn’t a bad thing at all. The papalo’s sharp taste seemed to cut right through the jalepeño’s spice to create what we determined was an almost floral note.

Sitting on the Fire Escape

Along with a couple of margaritas, we sat out on our fire escape and enjoyed our new creation while thinking up other ways to use our newfound herbaceous friend.

Have a safe and fun holiday weekend!

– Ryan

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Greenmarket Cocktails, Take Two

Cherries, Gooseberries and Chamomile

We had so much fun mixing up a few greenmarket cocktails last week that we decided to do it again.

But, this time, a caveat: one of Ryan’s co-workers said that all of our drinks were too girly (hi, Graham!) and requested that we make more “manly” drinks this time around.

I didn’t think any of last week’s drinks were particularly feminine—okay, maybe lavender is a little too “ladies who lunch”—but we aim to please, so this week we broke out the bourbon and mezcal and got to work.

Gooseberries

This week’s cast of characters: fresh gooseberries from Kerran Farms in New Jersey, cherries from Locust Grove Fruit Farm in Milton, New York, and fresh chamomile.

The first drink we mixed ended up being our personal favorite. In fact, we made another one later in the evening and will probably keep drinking it throughout the summer. We’re calling it a Summer In Manhattan.

Summer In Manhattan Cocktail

First, muddle 5-6 cherries with a 1/2 tsp. superfine sugar and a 1/2 oz. of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Then, add 1 oz. of Luxardo Maraschino, 2 oz. of bourbon (we used Bulleit Bourbon), a dash of Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters. (P.S. you can get them here!)

Cherries, Gooseberries, and a Cocktail

Shake vigorously and served in an old-fashioned glass, preferably with a big ‘ol sphere of ice and garnish with a lemon twist.

The cherries were much sweeter than anticipated so we tweaked this drink a few times until we perfected it. The final product (the above recipe) is a perfect balance—the overly sweet cherries are complemented by the oaky smoothness of the bourbon and the cherry bark bitters added an entirely new dimension. (Of course, I still can’t get over the drink’s carmine hue. I thought my hands would be stained with cherry juice for weeks!)

Next up: gooseberries!

You’re probably wondering a) what is a gooseberry, and b) what can you do with a gooseberry?

They have the texture of a grape, the interior appearance of a more-solid passionfruit, and the flavor of a slightly less sweet raspberry. Now you’re even more confused, I’m sure. Apparently you can make all sorts of tasty jams and jellies with them, but that didn’t sound nearly as fun as mixing them into a cocktail.

Gooseberry Cocktail

I kept it pretty simple with this drink. I initially wanted to do a take on a paloma, but gooseberries are such a strange ingredient that I didn’t want to overwhelm the palate with gooseberries, lime, and grapefruit.

I muddled six little gooseberries (Ryan pointed out that they look like little striped beach balls!), then added a 1/2 oz. of lime juice, 1/2 oz. of simple syrup, 1/2 oz. of St. Germain and a 2 oz. of Fidencio Clásico mezcal. Shake, strain and serve in a coupe, garnished with a lime wheel and a spare gooseberry.

When I went to buy the mezcal at Astor, I actually had the opportunity to meet Arik Torren, the chief operating officer of Fidencio Mezcal. Arik was hosting a tasting of all three of Fidencio’s mezcals and offering tastings of a few different cocktails made with them.

All of Fidencio’s mezcals are “sin humo,” or without smoke, which produces a lighter, smoother mezcal than some others on the market. I initially went into Astor to purchase another brand of mezcal, but after trying all three varieties of Fidencio, I was sold.

Gooseberry Cocktail

The finished product, which we’re calling La Grosella (gooseberry in Spanish), was similar to a margarita, as you would expect, but the mezcal added more depth than just a regular bottle of agave tequila would have. The gooseberries complemented the elderflower notes in the St. Germain, while the lime added a perfect citrus kick at the end of the palate.

I think this drink would be particularly good in a larger scale—perhaps in a pitcher at a barbecue? (If you host, I’ll make it.)

Finally, the chamomile.

The chamomile was a total impulse buy at the Union Square Greenmarket the other day.

We were down to our last dollar when I saw it and knew it was a must-get. A must-get for what, I didn’t know, but the ropy, fragrant vines sold me right away.

I made a few different drinks with it, but I ultimately decided it works best in a Tom Collins or Gin Fizz-type drink, and thus, the Chamomile Fizz was born.

Chamomile Fizz Cocktail

I coarsely chopped the chamomile, blossoms and all, and muddled it with a 1/2 oz. of sugar and a 1/2 oz. of lemon juice. Then, I added 2 oz. of gin. We used Plymouth again here, but Hendrick’s would really be fantastic, if you have it. Then, add an egg white to the shaker.

Shake, strain, and serve in a Collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with more chamomile.

If you shake vigorously enough (which you always should!), you should have a beautiful white, foamy head after topping with the soda. Ours almost looked like cream!

Chamomile Fizz Cocktail

This drink, despite the feminine ingredient, was quite possibly the most manly of the bunch! The chamomile was incredibly earthy and played so well with the botanicals in the gin. It also remained subtle and not too sweet. It was a great drink to sip slowly, even after the enthusiastic foam had subsided.

We were quite pleased with this batch overall. If the market agrees and offers more fun bounty, we’ll be mixing even more creations up next week.

– Laura

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A Daily Dinner: Lamb Chops with Tomatoes and Olives

Daily Dinner: Lamb with Tomatoes and Olives

It might seem shocking given what we write about, but believe it or not, Ryan and I eat at home most nights.

We’re completely and utterly in love with FreshDirect and the greenmarket and typically eat at least four meals a week at home.

We try to keep our weekly menus focused on seasonal ingredients and I also like to mix up proteins. For example, last week, we had bluefish, lamb (which you’ll see here), pork chops, and a meatless pasta dish.

Fresh Australian Lamb Loin Chops

We both particularly liked this dish, so I figured I’d share it here, as I hope to do with some of our future meals. Lamb is my personal favorite protein and I’m lucky that Ryan likes it as much as I do! We prefer ours quite rare (almost still “baa”-ing, even), but if you like a more well-done product, you can simply increase my recommended cooking times by a minute or two.

Before I get to the recipe, I also want to mention a funny little side dish that we ate with this meal: purslane.

Purslane from the Greenmarket

I picked it up at my office’s greenmarket, not really certain of what it was. After a little bit of Internet research, I discovered that it’s a tenacious little weed that many gardeners spend lots of money and time trying to get rid of!

Of course, it also happens to be very nutrient rich and quite tasty. I ate some raw, but for our meal, I blanched it for a few minutes and then sautéed it in some parmesan butter I had mixed up earlier in the week.

When it’s cooked, it has a slight crunch that then yields to an almost okra-like texture. Cooking it also mellows out the flavor, which is why I liked having a little extra kick from the parmesan and the butter.

If you see some at your market, I highly recommend it as a nutritious leafy green. It seems like it can be prepared quite similarly to spinach or chard or arugula or any other salad green, so I look forward to experimenting with it further. If you try it, let me know what works for you.

Lamb with Tomatoes and Olives

…And with that, I digress. Here’s the recipe for our delicious one-pot lamb, tomato and olive dish:

Lamb Chops with Tomatoes and Olives
Adapted from Real Simple

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 2″-thick lamb loin chops
1 tsp. paprika
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 shallots, quartered
2 tomatoes, quartered
1/4 c. pitted kalamata olives
1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley, torn

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Season lamb with paprika, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
3. Add shallots to the skillet, transfer to oven, and cook lamb to the desired doneness, about 6 minutes for rare.
4. Add tomatoes, olives, and parsley to the skillet, with lamb, and toss with the shallots to combine.

Simple, right?

We don’t have a particularly elaborate kitchen (in fact, it’s actually a pretty big downgrade from my previous kitchen in Dallas) but it hasn’t stopped me from making anything that I want to make. We have, oh, perhaps five pots and pans of various sizes, one roasting pan/baking sheet combo, a colander, a few bowls and utensils, and that’s about it.

Fresh Purslane and Lamb

But, I can tell you with certainty: that’s all it takes to make healthy, delicious meals at home.

– Laura

(P.S. Have you “liked” us on Facebook yet?)

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Cocktails, Fresh from the Market

Strawberries, Lavender and Basil

On Wednesday night, Ryan and I decided to make a few cocktails with some ingredients from my office.

Yes, you read that right: my office. Luckily for me, Hearst Tower’s Cafe 57 hosts a greenmarket every Wednesday, featuring produce from local New York and New Jersey farmers.

Fresh Greenmarket Lavender

As you may know, I go crazy for the greenmarket as it is, so having one in the cafeteria of a 46-story office building is particularly exciting to me!

That’s why when I saw fresh lavender, basil and strawberries, I scooped them up right away! I admittedly didn’t know what I would do with my new treasures, but as I was sitting at my desk, the scent of lavender wafting into my nostrils, my mind wandered to cocktails.

Strawberries, Lavender and Basil from the Greenmarket

And then I knew: cocktails with ingredients fresh from the farmers themselves! Yum!

Ryan was obviously a willing partner, so we got to work on Wednesday evening, mixing and imbibing.

Live Basil Gimlet Cocktail

First up: a live basil gimlet, from the New York Times‘ Summer Drinks feature.

For this drink, from Scott Beattie’s Spoonbar in Healdsburg, Calif., we muddled five large basil leaves with 1 1/2 ounces of gin, 3/4 ounces of freshly-squeezed lime juice, and a 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.

Shake, then strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a basil leaf. Delish!

Deutsch 75 Cocktail

Our second concoction was a creation of our own. We named it the Deutsch 75—a riff on the classic French 75, one of Ryan’s all-time favorite drinks.

While the classic French 75 is topped with champagne, we grabbed a sweet Riesling instead. Note that your choice of Riesling doesn’t need to be expensive—a bottle in the $10 range is just perfect for this refreshing summer tipple.

Deutsch 75 Cocktail

To try our Deutsch 75, take five or six fresh strawberries and muddle with 2 ounces of gin, 1 teaspoon of superfine sugar, and a 1/2 ounce of lemon juice.

After shaking and straining, pour into a chilled champagne flute and top with Riesling. Garnish with a sliced strawberry and another strawberry in the glass, if you wish.

Our berries were from Berried Treasures, located in Cooks Falls, New York. These berries were the small, sweet variety, rather than the large, mass-farmed kind, so I definitely recommend seeking out berries from a local farmer, if at all possible. You’ll taste the difference.

Purple Pilot Lavender Cocktail

Lastly, we modified a little bit (actually, a lot!) on one of our classic favorites, the Aviation. We’ve named our new creation the Purple Pilot.

For this drink, I chopped up a handful of the lovely lavender blossoms you see above, allowing them to release their aromas and oils. I muddled these blooms with 2 ounces of gin, an ounce of simple syrup, a 1/2 ounce of Crème Yvette, and 3/4 ounce of lemon juice.

(As a side note, Crème Yvette is a very old spirit that just recently returned to the market; it can be tough to find. You can order it from Astor Wines & Spirits, or, if you can’t find it, you can substitute Crème de Violette.)

After shaking and straining these ingredients in a Collins glass, I topped with soda and garnished with some fresh lavender blossoms. By the way, don’t you love our metal spoon straw? Our favorite bar, Little Branch, sells them for just $3 each.

Each drink was delicious, but yet simple enough to let our fresh ingredients shine through. I can’t wait to see what next week’s market brings. (I’ve got my eye on you, watermelon radishes!)

By the way, are you following us on Twitter yet? We’d love to get to know you.

– Laura

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Greenmarket Delights

Now that spring has officially sprung here in the city, not only do we get to spend more time outside, but we also get all of our wonderful greenmarket vendors back! Since there is a such a variety of tremendously good produce available right now, I’ve taken to ordering only dry goods from FreshDirect and buying the rest at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday mornings.

It’s such a feast (both for eyes and stomach) that I can’t resist photographing, tasting and touching everything in sight. Ryan already makes fun of me for reaching out and touching anything and everything that attracts my interest (whether we’re at a bookstore, Barneys, or the grocery store), so I’m kind of glad that he’s typically not going to be around on Saturday mornings to witness my full-on love fest with the greenmarket.

I planned our menu for the week, mostly centering it around what I knew would be available—truly seasonal eating. This weeks menu features lots of spring greens (tatsoi, mustard greens, lamb’s-quarters and baby arugula), Swiss chard, asparagus, and ramps.

Oh, ramps. They’re an obsessive thing for most chefs, since their season is so short and they can be tough to find, but I find the obsession to be entirely justified. Just a few weeks ago, while at The Spotted Pig, we were treated to sauteed ramps with a farm-fresh egg on top. The pure simplicity and freshness of the dish reminded me that spring really is here and also motivated me to get some ramps as soon as possible.

The greenmarket is also the spot to find any certifiably weird ingredients that you may not be able to find anywhere else. Pineapple mint? Shiso leaf? Lavender-calendula tea? Goat meat? It’s all there.

It thrills me to no end that a) I can find this stuff and, most importantly, b) that I can support real agriculture in the middle of Manhattan. (And that I can touch everything ’til my heart’s content!)

– Laura

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