Posts Tagged ‘Green Emporium’

Pasta with Melon? You Bet!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

melon pastaweb

My friend Michael Collins accompanied me to my most recent TV appearance. Michael and his partner Tony, an artist, were the owners and hosts at one of my family’s favorite western Massachusetts eateries, the Green Emporium in Colrain.

That restaurant closed a couple of years ago, but they are hoping to reopen in a new location, and they want to keep Michael’s work as a chef in the public eye. So he made the main course for our gig on Mass Appeal, and I put together the dessert.

His dish was absolutely fabulous. I would never have thought of pairing fresh local melon (or any melon, for that matter) with pasta, but the sweetness of the melon with the acid of Michael’s tomato sauce really worked. (The cream didn’t hurt, either.)

Michael’s recipe appears below (thank you, Michael, for sharing it), along with the video of his segment. I’m afraid my face disappears behind my hat somewhere in the middle of the segment, but he looked fine, and that’s all that matters.

But before we get to the recipe, I want to announce that we have a winner for the Yummy Yammy salsa giveaway—Peter from Connecticut. Thanks to all of you who left comments on my last post.

On to Michael’s triumph……

Tinky Michael Cweb

Michael’s Pasta with Melon and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 local cantaloupe, peeled and seeded
butter and olive oil as needed for sautéing
the juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pint heavy cream
approximately 4 cups marinara sauce, pureed
grated Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh basil, and freshly ground pepper for garnish

Instructions:

Cut the melon into 1-inch chunks. Sauté it very briefly in butter and olive oil. Add the lemon juice, the salt, the pepper, and the cream. Stir in marinara sauce until the whole concoction is a pretty pink, more or less the color of the melon. (You’ll probably want about 3 cups here.)

Cook for a few minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. Serve over the pasta of your choice. Garnish with cheese and basil, and grind pepper over all. Have the extra marinara sauce warm at the table in case it’s wanted. Serves 4 to 6.

Here’s the video:

And here’s the clip of my dessert, a peach cobbler. The recipe appears elsewhere on this blog.

Cider Time

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Most New Englanders see early November as a time for winding down from summer and harvest activities. The leaves dwindle, the air takes on a distinct chill, and farm stands begin closing their doors.

For cider lovers, however, this season is a highlight of the year.

Here in Franklin County, Massachusetts, we are lucky to have a weekend devoted to the joys of apples and cider, a weekend that seems to become richer each year.

Today and tomorrow mark the 17th annual occurrence of Cider Days, a celebration founded by Judith Maloney of West County Cider and her late husband Terry in 1994.

This year the festivities include a pancake breakfast, programs and sales at various locations throughout the county, canning classes, a home orchard workshop, tastings galore, and a special cider dinner.

Several local eateries will feature apple and cider items on their menus that weekend, including my beloved Green Emporium, where apple-cheddar pizza and appletinis are just the beginning of the apple madness.

This morning the Green Emporium featured cooking demonstrations by its chef, Michael Collins, and by Amy Traverso of Yankee magazine, the author of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook.

Amy also signed copies of her book, which was published in September by W.W. Norton. Norton sent me a copy of the book to review for a local paper. The book is a real find—a treasure trove of apple information (Amy has unearthed apple varieties completely new to me), stories of trips to orchards, and tempting recipes.

Amy has come to Cider Days several times although this is her first public appearance there. “Cider Days is something that my whole family looks forward to every year,” she told me.

“It’s just lovely to drive around rural Massachusetts for a day and taste apples! We may not live in wine country, but we certainly do live in cider country. I want to see New Englanders really embrace our cider heritage, and I’m so grateful to the Maloney family for helping put this drink [hard cider] back on the map. The festival seems to draw bigger crowds every year, so that’s really encouraging.”

I’m sorry that I didn’t post this in time to allow you to come to her signing—I’ve been having SERIOUS blog issues, just resolved thanks to my current hero (and always friend) Henry. Luckily, there are more events still to come this weekend.

For a full schedule of activities visit this link. For a couple of apple and cider recipes (I’m posting this a little late so we have two today!), read on….

I MEANT to photograph this in a pretty dish, but we got busy eating....

Farm Share Coleslaw

My mother’s darling nurse Pam Gerry told me months ago about her favorite coleslaw, which incorporates dill and apple with the cabbage.

I had to wait until fall to have the fresh ingredients with which to make it, however!

In early October our farm share turned up a small head of cabbage a couple of weeks ago—and we had apples on our trees and a small amount of dill still in the herb garden. The carrot was left over from a previous week’s farm share, and of course the cider vinegar was from Apex Orchards nearby.

Of course, you may tinker with the recipe and substitute something more conventionally coleslawy (maybe caraway seeds?) for the dill. I loved the fresh flavor it gave to the salad, however.

A generous friend sent me some REAL kosher corned beef and rye bread from New York City so I was able to make one of my favorite childhood sandwiches, corned beef with mustard and slaw. We got our cold cuts at a kosher deli where cheese was never mixed with corned beef so I never became a Reuben fan. But I adore coleslaw with my corned beef so between them Pam and Peter send me to heaven!

Ingredients:

1/2 small cabbage (about 3 cups when chopped), cored and loosely chopped or grated
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1 small apple, cored and grated (remove skin if you like)
1/3 cup mayonnaise (plus or minus to taste)
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh dill leaves or a teaspoons dried dill weed (more or less to taste)
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon salt and five turns of the pepper grinder)

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir and adjust seasonings to taste.

If you have time, let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for a while to maximize flavor. Be sure to stir it before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.

 

Sherry Hager’s Cider Doughnuts

My friend Cynthia O’Connor asked me more than a year ago if I had a recipe for Cider Doughnuts. It took me a while, but I finally got one!

Hager’s Farm Market in Shelburne, Massachusetts, will offer a plethora of apple products for this year’s Cider Days, plus the market’s signature fried dough with maple cream. I persuaded Sherry Hager and her daughter Kim to part with the recipe for Sherry’s cider doughnuts, pastries that are particularly light and crispy thanks to the cider and buttermilk in their dough … and to the Hagers’ deep-frying skills.

Ingredients:

3-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature (I used unsalted)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup buttermilk
canola oil as needed for frying

Instructions:

In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

In another bowl beat the butter and sugar together with electric mixer. Mix in the eggs until they are thoroughly incorporated. Mix in the cider and buttermilk.

Dump in the dry ingredients and stir.

“Our secret is we let it refrigerate overnight,” says Kim of the dough.

The next day preheat the oil to 350 degrees in a large pan or fryer.

Roll the out dough on a floured surface; cut it with a doughnut cutter. This can be a little tricky even after refrigeration as the dough is sticky. As you can see from the photos here, I gave up on doughnuts and formed my dough into freeform crullers.

Cook the doughnuts a few at a time until they are brown on each side, a minute or two per side.

Makes about 18 doughnuts and 18 holes.

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A Busy Weekend

Friday, August 20th, 2010

 

I’m sure ALL of my readers have these events on their calendars—but here’s a little reminder just in case!
 
First, tomorrow night (Saturday, August 21), Alice Parker and I will trip the light fantastic at the Green Emporium in Colrain, Massachusetts. Friends and fans should plan to come eat pizza, listen with rapture, and of course sing along.
 
I am actually still learning the music for our centennial tribute to Frank Loesser. It’s been a hectic month! I try to tell myself this is a good thing. I wouldn’t want to lose my spontaneity, now would I? 

The program starts at 7:30 pm. Would-be listeners are encouraged to come a bit early as the restaurant doesn’t take reservations.

 
Second, Sunday is the first day of the week-long Blogathon proudly hosted by me (with help from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and Mass Farmers Markets).
 
Loving Local: Celebrating the Flavors of Massachusetts coincides with Massachusetts Farmers’ Market week and raises money for Mass Farmers Markets, a non-profit charity that supports farmers markets throughout the Bay State. 

As I type this, we have about 70 blogs scheduled to participate. If you’d like to join in the virtual feast–it’s calorie free!–please see the instructions here. (Don’t you love our wonderful poster/logo, designed by the talented Leon Peters?)

 

Since things are a bit busy today’s recipe is for … water. I got this refreshing idea from Michael Collins, the chef at the Green Emporium. I have put lemon in water for years, but the mint is not only pretty but tasty.
 

 
 
How to Make (Actually, Serve) Water
 
Ingredients:
 
1 pitcher water (preferably delicious New England well water)
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
a handful of mint sprigs
lots of ice
 
Instructions: 

Combine the ingredients and allow them to mellow a bit together before serving. Serves 2 to 8, depending on degree of thirst and size of pitcher.

To Be Perfectly Frank: 100 Years of Frank Loesser

Monday, June 28th, 2010

 
Tomorrow will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of American composer and lyricist Frank Loesser.
 
Loesser was born on June 29, 1910, in New York City and died in 1969. He wrote or co-wrote some of our most singable songs—“On a Slow Boat to China,” “Heart and Soul,” “Luck Be a Lady Tonight,” “Two Sleepy People,” “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” and about 700 others.
 
I’ve read a fair amount about Loesser, but I feel as though I don’t really know him. In books he comes across as contradictory. He rejected his family’s love of classical music yet longed to write an American opera. He was moody and quick to anger yet nurturing of his peers. He worked far too many hours yet loved parties. 

 
The man I can’t quite find in print comes across in his music as brilliant, playful, and intuitive. He knew how to structure a musical number so that it was easy to sing yet constantly surprising. And he knew how to reveal character through song.
 
His Guys and Dolls, to me the quintessential Broadway musical, illustrates this attention to character. Nathan Detroit’s passive yet sincere love for his longtime fiancée shines through “Sue Me.”
 
Sky Masterson shares his love of the city and his secret longing for connection to others in “My Time of Day.” Shy-no-more heroine Sarah lets her wild side peal in “If I Were a Bell.” And Miss Adelaide’s language and lifelong dilemma are defined in “Adelaide’s Lament.”
 
The lament exemplifies one of Loesser’s other strengths—his ability to translate colloquial conversation into music and lyrics. Miss Adelaide’s voice goes up (as mine certainly would!) whenever she gets particularly agitated contemplating her perpetually ALMOST married state: 

When they get on the train for NIAG’RA
She can hear CHURCH bells CHIME.
The COMPARTMENT is AIR CONDITIONED
And the MOOD sublime.
Then they GET OFF at SARATOGA
For the FOURTEENTH TIME!!!
A person can develop la grippe….
 

I look forward to learning more about Loesser tomorrow evening as I remain glued to the TV (well, actually, I’ll probably save some of the material for later viewing via TiVo) watching Turner Classic Movies’ salute to Loesser.
 
The lineup will include How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (1967; star Robert Morse will co-host the TCM evening!), the 2006 documentary Heart & Soul: The Music of Frank Loesser, and several other films.
 
Although there are several gems to choose from I wish one of the films were Hollywood Canteen (1944), which features Bette Davis singing (!) the first Loesser song I ever performed, “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old.”
 
I couldn’t dream of emulating La Bette’s perfect diction. On the other hand, I can of course sing rings around her.
 
I’ll also learn about Loesser as I rehearse for—you guessed it—MY OWN LOESSER CENTENNIAL TRIBUTE WITH ALICE PARKER! 

This will take place on Saturday, August 21, at the Green Emporium in Colrain, Massachusetts. (See fabulous poster below.)

 
Alice and I are still planning the program so if readers have a favorite Loesser song they should suggest it now! 
 
Meanwhile, in tribute to tomorrow’s anniversary here is a special seasonal cocktail. It’s appropriate for two reasons. First, it was invented by my friend Michael Collins, the chef at the Green Emporium.
 
Second, I MUST have something to hold in my hand when Donald Freeman and I perform “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” another song that shows off Loesser’s way of turning conversation into song.
 
“Baby” is one of Loesser’s famous overlapping songs, in which characters (in this case “The Wolf” and “The Mouse”) sing complementary music and lyrics over each other.
 
According to Loesser’s daughter Susan, the composer and his first wife Lynn Garland Loesser performed this song privately many times. She quotes her mother as saying: 

We got invited to all the best parties for years on the basis of “Baby.” It was our ticket to caviar and truffles. Parties were built around our being the closing act.

(Time Life)

 
Eventually, Loesser sold the song to MGM to be sung by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban in the 1948 film Neptune’s Daughter.
 
Lynn Loesser was deeply saddened, but “Baby” won her husband his only Academy Award for best song. (As time went by he managed to scoop up a couple of Tonys and a Pulitzer as well.)
 
On August 21 as Don (doing his best Ricardo Montalban impression) finishes the line, “Beautiful, please don’t hurry,” I’ll pop in with,
 
“Well, maybe just a half a drink more………….” 

Let’s all raise our glasses to an American original!

 
 
Chef Michael Collins informs me that he was inspired to create this cocktail by my late neighbor Florette, who made a mean rhubarb tea.
 
I have tried it three ways—with rum (as described below) at his restaurant, with a little Grand Marnier at home when I couldn’t find rum, and in “virgin” form with a little pink lemonade for my young friend Audrey. I like it all three ways.
 
Ingredients:
 
for the base:
 
6 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups strawberries, cut in half
1/2 lime
1 tablespoon grenadine (optional–for color; I found with really fresh fruit I didn’t necessarily need it)
 
for the cocktail:
 
1 cup cocktail base (see above)
2 ounces white rum
lime juice as needed for rimming
sugar as needed for rimming
 
Instructions:
 
Bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar and stir. When the sugar has dissolved add the fruit.
 
Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until the fruit breaks down. Toward the end of this process add the grenadine if you are using it.
 
Allow the mixture to cool. Remove the half lime (DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP!), and place the liquid in a blender in batches. Blend it; then strain it, first through a strainer (don’t try to push the fuzz down through the holes) and then through cheesecloth.
 
Place it in a jar and keep it refrigerated until it is needed.
 
To make a cocktail (or two): Place the rum in a cocktail shaker, and add ice. Pour in the cup of cocktail base. Shake.
 
Pour a little lime juice around the rim of 1 large or 2 small glass(es), and dip it/them in sugar so that the sugar coats the rim(s). Strain the drink into the glass(es). 

The drink recipe serves 1 to 2. The base makes about 6 cups.

Audrey drank this cocktail with pink lemonade instead of rum.

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Matzo Mania

Monday, March 29th, 2010

 
Passover begins tonight. This eight-day holiday means many things to many people: the survival of the Jewish people in the book of Exodus, the overall history of Judaism, and even the last supper of Jesus.
 
For me, it’s a time to remember my Jewish relatives–particularly my grandparents, whom we always joined for Passover when I was a child.
 
As a food writer, I appreciate the way the whole holiday is structured around food. Each thing eaten at the Seder has its own meaning. In addition, the practice of eating no bread other than unleavened matzo during Passover commemorates the departure of the Jews from Egypt. Their bread didn’t have time to rise.
 
It is also a sort of penance. Eating matzo, pretty much the plainest of breads imaginable, reminds Jews of the trials of their forebears.
 
My grandmother served matzo without much adornment during Passover, occasionally sprucing it up with a little whipped cream cheese for breakfast or lunch.
 
Despite this tradition, I’m always tickled by the idea of getting a little fancier with matzo.
 
This year I have made two simple “matzo plus” dishes I’d like to share with you.
 
The first is Matzo Pizza. I got this idea from the website Kosher.com. Kosher.com’s resident chef, Jamie Geller, created a tasty standard pizza with her matzo—vegetables, cheese, tomato sauce.
 
I’m not such a fan of tomato-based pizza that I can’t wait eight days to have it. I do love asparagus, however. I’m a sucker for the asparagus pizza served in spring at the Green Emporium in Colrain, Massachusetts.
 
That pizza inspired this one. Matzo will never replace yeast crusts in my kitchen year round, but during Passover (or when one is in a hurry) it makes an acceptable, crispy platform for cheese and vegetables.
 
My second recipe today is a treat I’ve enjoyed for years when made by other people, Matzo Crunch. (Beware: many call it Matzo Crack because of its highly addictive properties!)
 
Marcy Goldman of BetterBaking.com invented this confection, which I have adapted a little. I have seen it covered with nuts (pressed into the chocolate when you sprinkle the optional salt). My friend Lark Fleury even makes it during other times of year with saltine crackers.
 
Marcy maintains that you can make the crunch with margarine if you keep kosher and want to eat it with meat. I think the butter adds so much flavor that I would advise you NOT to try the margarine. Just don’t eat the crunch with a meat meal!
 
Whenever and however you make it, I advise you to make sure that you have lots of people to whom you can give the crunch. It really is addictive—and very, very rich. I love to make it—and I love to get it out of the house FAST.
 
Happy Passover……
 
 

Springtime Matzo Pizza

 
Ingredients:
 
10 thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
a splash of extra-virgin olive oil
3 basil leaves, torn into pieces
a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, cut into small rings
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1-1/2 matzos (the whole matzo should be halved for easier serving so that you have three halves)
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly oil the foil.
 
Sauté the asparagus in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
 
Stir in the basil, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest; then toss in the ripe olives and feta.
 
Place the three halves of matzo on the prepared cookie sheet, making sure that they fit together as well as possible. Sprinkle most of the mozzarella cheese on top of the matzo.
 
Spread the asparagus mixture over the cheese, and top with a little more mozzarella. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts nicely.
 

Serves 1 for dinner or 2 to 3 for lunch.

 

 
Ingredients:
 
6 pieces matzo, broken into several strips each
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet, white, or some of each—even milk if you like, and I like)
coarse sea salt for sprinkling (optional but yummy)
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil, and place parchment paper or silicone mats over the foil. Place the pieces of matzo on top.
 
In a medium saucepan combine the butter and brown sugar. Bring them to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
 
Spoon the sugar mixture over the matzo, spreading it with a spatula to cover the matzo as well as you can. Bake for 15 minutes.
 
Remove the matzo from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. After 5 minutes, spread the chocolate with a knife. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top if you wish for additional crunch and flavor.
 

Allow the crunch to cool; then break it into more pieces. Makes about 40 small pieces. Don’t forget to give most of them away!

 

 

 

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