Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn Salads, Rainy Weekend

The harvest may be over, and the glory days of the farmers market ending, but last week, I found a lot of good stuff at two different Westchester farmers markets -- the Wednesday night market in Irvington and the Saturday morning market in Hastings. Wednesday was my second time at the Irvington market, but my first time ever shopping at a farmers market in the pitch dark. Oh sure, some vendors had rigged up small battery-operated lanterns, but mainly I had to rely on the senses of touch and smell (and the flashlight on my key ring) to pick out shallots, chard, Keuka Gold potatoes, baby leeks and what is probably the last of the summer sweet corn. On Saturday, I avoided the prepared food temptation and picked up a few supplemental items at the Hastings market, including yams, breakfast radishes and a variety of apples. And on Sunday, it rained. So it was a perfect day for cooking, particularly as I had a friend coming over for lunch. The menu included roasted pork loin, Mark Bittman's Roasted Sweet Potato Salad (with the fresh corn), Smitten Kitchen's acorn squash with chile-lime vinaigrette and a green salad I made up on the fly.
Despite the surplus of yellow and orange in the meal (beta Carotene is all good, right?), my skin has not turned orange like an Oompa-Loompa or anything. But since I am trying enjoy the autumn produce while I still can, who knows what will happen before the season is over!
Crunchy Green Salad
I love cheese in salads, but get sick of feta or goat cheese crumbles, so Ricotta Salata is a good alternative that pairs well with the sweet flavors in this salad.
3 Cups mixed greens (I used the Sorrento blend from Trader Joes)
2 Scallions, sliced on an angle
5 Breakfast radishes, sliced into thin rounds
2 T. Pine nuts, toasted
2 T. Pomegranate seeds
1/4 Cup Ricotta Salata, crumbled
Olive oil
Rice wine vinegar
Fresh ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients and toss with olive oil, rice wine vinegar and spices to taste.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Enjoying the Harvest at Stone Barns

As I hinted in my last post, I've had a crazy few weeks. The big news is that I did it -- I moved out of New York City. I am now a resident of Westchester County. Although I've been consumed with unpacking and setting up my new place, I have been exploring my new area. In fact, last weekend I made it to Stone Barns for Harvest Fest.
Ever since the farm was featured on Top Chef (not to mention a slew of blogs), I've wanted to visit. When I saw the listing for Harvest Fest online, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity.
I admit, I was a bit surprised by the admission fee but I figured I was actually making a donation, since the farm operates as a nonprofit (on a typical day, the center has a $5 parking fee, reimbursed after purchases totaling $15. If you want to attend a program, those have a separate fee). I was also a bit surprised by the lack of program information online, but ended up just going with the flow.

The program, which I received once I arrived, was pretty extensive, with music and demos and hayrides and a street-fair like farmers market. The place was also packed -- but more with families than foodies. Let's just say the stroller brigade was out in full force (one of the reasons I did not take the hayride).

But I enjoyed wandering the grounds and greenhouses, as well as sampling the food: from Stone Barns' own grassfed beef sloppy joes and roast pork sandwiches to tacos from Chipotle (hey, they were a sponsor, and their tacos are good) to Mast Brothers Chocolate to Balthazar's baked goods.
Stone Barns also had a table full of produce for sale, including delicata and dumpling squash. I had never seen dumpling squash before, and since they looked ideal for stuffing, had to buy some. The ladies at the stand recommended a savory stuffing built around rice, as well as a sweet stuffing with apples and nuts.
I opted to go for the former, and combined cooked brown rice with chopped fresh spinach and diced chicken sausage in a light cream sauce. The end result was super cute and tasty, but I realized one thing...I am not a huge sweet, winter squash fan. Oh sure, I like it as a side or in a salad, but squash as a main course is a bit too glutenous for me. Live and learn!

Stuffed [Sweet] Dumpling Squash

As with delicata, you can eat the skin/rind of dumpling squash.

Two dumpling squash, cut in half through stem end and de-pulped and de-seeded
1 Clove of garlic, minced
1 Shallot, minced
1 T. Olive oil
1 c. Cooked brown rice
1 c. Baby spinach leaves, chiffonade
1 Link chicken sausage, chopped
Splash of chicken broth
Splash of half and half
Dash of red pepper flake
Dash of nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375.
Place squash halves in greased baking dish cut side down and roast for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, saute the garlic and shallot in olive oil; add baby spinach until wilted.
Turn off heat and add rice, chicken sausage, liquids and spices to taste.
After 20 minutes, remove the squash and turn cut side up; season interior of squash with salt and pepper; pack loosely with rice filling.
Cover dish with foil and return to oven for another 20 minutes.
Serve immediately.