Monthly Archives: February 2010

Fabulous Winter Fruits Part 2 – Blood Oranges

Blood oranges certainly brighten up the kitchen on a snowy winter day!!  The deep red color of the flesh and juice is quite a shock if you’ve never seen it before.  Sometimes the skin is blushed with the same color but not always.  The flavor is delicious and the zest makes a very colorful ingredient in cooking (ask anyone who ordered our Roast Duck with Blood Orange Sauce for Valentine’s Day)! They’re great for juicing and make a tasty cocktail as well.

There is no better orange to use for this classic Italian salad.

Fennel and Orange Salad

1 lg bulb fennel
1 small red onion
2 lg oranges
2 T red wine vinegar
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Chopped mint for garnish optional

1.  Trim the top of the fennel, reserve some of the fronds,  and peel the outside of the bulb of any tough stringy parts.
2.  Slice the fennel and onion VERY thin.
3.  Zest one of the oranges then peel both and slice.
4.  Combine olive oil, vinegar and garlic with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Toss with the fennel, onion, orange and allow the flavors to blend.  Serve as is or on a bed of arugula or watercress for a sensational salad dish.

Fabulous Winter Fruits Part 1 – Meyer Lemons

What is a Meyer lemon?

Most of us are used to looking for a specific variety of apple or pear, but lemons?  Who knew?

Like most things that are grown on a smaller scale they are tastier.  Meyer lemons are a hybrid originally from China as are most citrus fruits.  Besides being a gorgeous rich deep yellow color they are delicious and a bit less acidic than standard commercial lemons. The smooth skin is a bit thinner and wonderful for candied zests or any recipe calling for the zest. A beautiful lemon tart,  lemon curd, lemon marmalades  – in any form these lemons are a joy to use and eat!  We have been having a lot of fun with them in the kitchen here at the store – they just look so cool. They’re irresistible!

Here’s our recipe for sweet and sour lemons which are fabulous on seafood, chicken, and even as a base for a quick herb vinaigrette.  If you are using Meyer lemons you may eliminate step 1, which is used to remove the bitter flavor of the white pith in regular commercial lemons.

Sweet and Sour Lemons
by Chef Richard Erickson

4 lemons, sliced 1/8” thick
1 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup sugar

1. Put lemon slices in a pan, (preferably stainless steel) cover with cold salted water, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard the liquid.

2. Combine vinegar, sugar and the parboiled lemon slices and simmer  for about 15 minutes. Let cool, discard any seeds, and store in the liquid.

These keep for several weeks. Use whole as a garnish for fish or chicken. They are easiest to use when chopped and added to sauces or vinaigrettes. I like to de-glaze a pan that was used for cooking fish or chicken with white wine, add a spoonful of the sweet and sour lemons, several tablespoons of herbs, and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.  An easy garnish that will wow your guests.

Bon Appetit!

Shrimp with Gigande Beans

One of our best-selling dishes here at Bistro-to-Go is Shrimp with Gigande Beans. It’s the simple combination of the two main elements tossed together with some olive oil, garlic, dried chili pepper and chopped parsley that makes this dish a winner! And what actually makes it SO simple is that we use Divina gigande beans because they’re cooked to perfection and canned. In the old days at Blue Mountain Bistro, Richard used to soak dried beans overnight and cook them himself, but found that they didn’t cook evenly. No matter how many beans seemed the perfect “done-ness” there were always a number in the batch that were too crunchy, thus dissatisfying. These Divina beans are perfect every time! It’s no wonder they garnered the Sofi award from the National Association of Specialty Food Trade competition which honors truly outstanding food products.

Gigandes are plump, meaty white beans grown along the mountain slopes in Northern Greece.  They’re packed with protein and have been a staple of the Mediterranean diet for centuries.  Divina’s gigandes are marinated in a delightful vinaigrette with red and green pepper strips. They can be served as a savory, stand alone antipasto dish or as a special ingredient in salads. We sell a giant can (70 oz) of gigandes for $16.99! If you aren’t planning a large dinner party to use the whole can, you can freeze whatever’s left in sandwich baggies and pull them out as needed for a quick healthy snack, make your own “hummus”, toss into a salad OR make this quick easy dish.

Shrimp with Gigande Beans
Chef Richard Erickson, Bistro-to-Go

1 pound shrimp, shelled
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup good olive oil
4T chopped garlic
2-3 bay leaves
Dried red chili pepper
Chopped parsley

1.  Season the shelled shrimp with sea salt and bring to room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.  This is usually done with small shrimp.
2.  Choose a pan where the shrimp will fit comfortably (too small or too large a pan will affect the result.)
3.  Heat the oil, add garlic, bay leaves and chili pepper stirring carefully over medium heat.  At just the moment when the garlic begins to turn color add the shrimp, increase the heat and stir constantly until the shrimp are done, about 2-3 minutes.  If cooked too long the flavor of the garlic will go from nutty and aromatic to bitter and acrid.
4. Toss in the gigande beans, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Serves 4 – 6 people as an appetizer with a baguette or 4 people served over angel hair pasta as an entree

Potato Bob – What a guy!!

We always welcome our weekly delivery of potatoes from the guy we affectionately call “Potato Bob” (aka Bob Kiley) from RSK Farms in Prattsville, New York. In the winter months Bob draws from his store of carolas and fingerlings that were harvested last fall. Now that we’re nearing spring he’s getting ready to start planting all over again. I asked Bob what he has planned for this year’s growing season and here’s his list: Carola, Red Norland, Green Mountain, Adirondack Blue, Adora, two types of fingerlings = Russian Banana and Laratt, Austrian Crescent, Rose Finn Apple, New York 118, and Keuka Gold. And that’s just potatoes! This spring he’ll begin planting my personal favorite mesclun salad greens, and later in the season pumpkins, winter squash, sweet corn, string beans, tomatoes, and peppers.

Bob is what I would consider a farmer out of the old tradition – no corporate farming going on here! He and his family started their farm in Ashland, New York in 1984 with 40 milking cows – selling their raw milk to the Dairylea Cooperative. In 1998 they decided to switch over to growing vegetables “because they’d lose money slower with vegetables”!!! Over the years he’s developed a wholesale customer base of local restaurants, the Kingston and Woodstock Farmers’ Markets, and the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie.

His favorite outlet, however, is still his own personal farm stand in the front yard of his home. If you want to go for a visit, you’ll find his delicious produce on Route 23A in Prattsville, New York. Best time to visit would be late summer! For more info call 518-299-3198.

The Haitian Support Project

We are so fortunate here in Woodstock to be able to help a local organization that has been involved in supporting the people of Haiti for 20 years. Local residents Terry and Pierre Leroy founded HPSP in 1990 as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the poorest segments of Haiti’s population, and, in particular, the children. They began to do so by providing assistance to grass-roots community based projects such as: schools, orphanages, peasant/farmers cooperatives, health clinics, etc.

Their specific areas of interest are: healthcare, nutrition, agriculture, fisheries management, sanitation, and education. Prior to the earthquake, HPSP was actively promoting inter-cultural educational programs for Haitian and Dominican youth with the intention of fostering better cultural, political, and economic relations between the two countries.

The week after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, we ran a dinner special all week featuring Haitian food: Stewed chicken with riz et pois (red beans and rice) and picklese (spicy cabbage slaw) and gave all the proceeds ($450) to HPSP.

They told us the next week they had already been able to bring supplies in and that our donations along with those of many others in our community were really making a difference. Here are the most recent email updates from Terry about their progress in Haiti:

January 31, 2010
The Staff and the children of 3 of our orpnanages were very grateful for the food, medicines, and some blankets that were delivered  to them last Saturday by HPSP volunteers through the Dominican Republic. As we prepare to send an other load shortly, through Santo Domingo, we’ve made more than $9,000 cash transfers to our people in the island. We’re making some steady progress in getting the aid to our people in the Port-Au-Prince and Petionville areas.

I renew connection with Dr. Georges and my sister-in- law Annette. Their houses collapsed but they’re ok and they’re both assisting other people getting food and shelter. Dr Georges has offered his clinic and labs in Port-Au-Prince to serve the HPSP relief effort. Our medical team will then have a safe base when they arrive in P-Au-P by mid-Febuary. Annette Pradieu is converting her own place of refuge (a nearby church) into a neighborhood shelter for people who lost their homes. We’re getting the work done by our people themselves.

The residents of the KOFA cooperative  in the Central Plateau, have offered to open up their communities to others in need in Port-Au-Prince.  We have restored  our “people to people” functioning network in Haiti. This system allowed us to reach out to the most remote and isolated areas and also, to turn  over 100% of the money and items we collect to the projects we support throughout the country. Several representative of farmers cooperatives have made an urgent request for tents, plastic tarps, sleeping materials and cold medicines.
We’re having a benefit concert tomorrow night at the Kingston epicospal church of  Pine Grove St. in Kingston, NY at 3 PM with the wonderful singing choir: Art Choralis. By the way, someone has approached me about doing a poetry reading in Woodstock to benefit the HPSP’s relief effort. I thought you would be interested. I also thought we would use such an activity to get the schools of our area involved.
Let me know if you can help to make this happen.
Merci d’avance

February 15, 2010
As I write this update the Haitian Earthquake that struck at 4:53 PM on January 12th, is over a month old.  The relief effort continues with urgency as now challenges face the survivors, including respiratory illness, dysentery and much more.*  We just learned that in one of our orphanages over 8,000 feet above Port-au-Prince, where it is cold at night and the children are outside, that many now have asthma.

As you know our first shipment of food, water, medicine and clothing, reached our two orphanages, Maison d’Epsoir and La Creche, on that joyful day of January 23rd.  Our next bus which will also be carrying tents is probably leaving for Haiti as we speak.  A third bus is going to Carrefour (the epicenter) to help the family and neighbors, of a Haitian family living in Catskill, New York. This family suffered many deaths and so far has received no help. The Carrefour bus will be departing in about a week.

Equally exciting news is that 12 medical personnel, including 5 doctors, 3 of whom are Haitian, several nurses including a nurse midwife, and EMTs, want to go under HPSP auspices into Haiti, to work at the Thor Clinic outside of Port-au-Prince.  They will also give followup care to the 400 children we support in our orphanages.  An exploratory team of 5, including two doctors, one of who is Haitian, are planning to leave the first week in March.  Part of their task is to access the needs so that the next team can follow up in early April.

None of these efforts would be possible with out the great outpouring of love, donations and energy that HPSP is the recipient of.

In peace and friendship,
Terry Leroy for HPSP

If you would like to donate to this wonderful organization, here is the link to their website

Today’s Plat du Jour is poached tilapia with a lemon-dill-cream sauce, steamed baby RSK Farms carola potatoes, and a broccoli cauliflower medley. We often use this delicious light farm-raised fish for our Friday plat as it adapts well to many different preparations. During the summer we battered and pan-fried it and served it with our homemade tartare sauce – a huge hit!

We usually serve the most divine baby carola potatoes from our favorite local RSK Farm in Windham, New York. (Future blog post on Bob and his farm coming soon). He told me the other day that this is the end of the little baby potatoes! We’ll have to wait for next season to enjoy their candy sweetness again. Very sad!

Wishing you all a wonderful President’s / Valentine’s weekend – no funky weather allowed!

Super Chunky Beef Chili for the Super Bowl

Richard and Jonathan have whipped up a delicious batch of chunky beef and kidney bean chili today for all the revelers who want something substantial to feast on tomorrow along with their chicken wings!

Wikipedia defines : “Chili con carne (literally ‘Chili with meat’, often known simply as chili) is a spicy stew. The name ‘chili con carne’ is taken from Spanish, and means ‘peppers with meat.’ Traditional versions are made, minimally, from chili peppers, meat, garlic, onions, and cumin, along with chopped or ground beef. Beans and tomatoes are frequently included. Variations, both geographic and personal, may involve different types of meat as well as a variety of other ingredients. It can be found worldwide in local variations and also in certain American-style fast food restaurants. The variant recipes provoke disputes among afficionados, and the dish is used as an ingredient in a number of other foods.

Our version features beef chuck stew meat, ground beef, and kidney beans. The kicker is a cool product we sell in our store called La Morena Chilpotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. This product is from Mexico and adds a mellow smokey chile taste to the dish. Garnish with cheddar cheese (and/or chopped tomato, cilantro, sweet onion, and sour cream), you’ll blow your guests away with our chili.

Come on in today or tomorrow – $10.99 quart!