Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Added Value Red Hook Community Farm

All images © Valery Rizzo

Hi everyone! just wanted to let you know about my September Photo Feature for Nona Brooklyn about the Added Value Red Hook Community Farm and the farm at Governor's Island. Nona Brooklyn is a resource for Brooklynites looking to discover local, artisanal, sustainably-produced and just plain good food in Brooklyn.The Red Hook Community Farm is a 2.75 acre vibrant urban farm right in the heart of Red Hook Brooklyn, to see the full feature on Nona Brooklyn click here...don't forget to stop by the farm's Harvest Festival on Saturday October 22!

Foraged Wild Greens, Purslane and Lamb's Quarters

All images © Valery Rizzo

Remember I told you about the urban farmer and homesteader extraordinaire Megan Paska in a previous post about Brooklyn Honey. Well for a few days every week Meg goes up to the Catskills to work at the Newton Farm Cooperative. Over the summer she started bringing down produce from the farm to sell in Brooklyn in the form of $20 farm baskets or CSA shares. I decided to give it a try and man for $20 or two large bags full of healthy food, I ate like a vegetable king…or would I be a queen? for the entire week.

I arrived at Meg's apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to pick up my share which consisted of a choice of either a half dozen farm fresh eggs or a lb of red potatoes, tender collard greens, broad green beans, juicy heirloom tomatoes, beautiful plum and cherry belle radishes, an eggplant, some wild greens they were foraging at the time, which were purslane, wild thyme and lamb’s quarters, a head of German red garlic, radicchio, cucumbers, green peppers, lime basil and holy basil.

That week I made several recipes from my large bounty including a salad of heirloom tomatoes with cucumbers, mozzarella di bufala, purslane and olive oil, a red cabbage salad with lamb’s quarters, lemon juice and olive oil, collard greens with caramelized onions (yum, yum), steamed red potatoes with broad green beans mixed with my own heirloom pole beans from my Brooklyn garden (yum, yum, yum), pan roasted vegetables with olive oil and wild thyme, I threw my radicchio into a salad and my basil into pasta. Very healthy week!

If you're interested in learning more about Megan Paska or her Brooklyn based Newton Farm Cooperative CSA offerings check out her blog Brooklyn Homesteader...she is offering some great workshops right now!

Purslane is a wild edible green and has a lemonie crisp taste. Its leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads and it also contains high amounts of Vitamin C and A as well as iron.

Heirloom tomatoes
1 ball mozzarella di bufala
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers into quarters and toss into a large bowl. Over same bowl with your fingers pull apart your ball of mozzarella into rustic bite-size pieces and add to salad. Using only the leaves with small sprigs pick apart your purslane and drop desired amount on top of salad. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss mixture together and serve with a nice loaf of 7 grain bread to soak up the nice juice left in the bottom of your bowl.

Lamb’s Quarters is a backyard weed, also called wild spinach. Although it is extremely mild in taste it is packed with nutrition. It has more protein than spinach and more calcium than most dark leafy greens including kale and collards and also contains iron vitamin C and vitamin A.

Red cabbage
Lamb's quarters
1 lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Remove outer leaves of cabbage and cut its root end off. Cut cabbage into quarters and working with one quarter at a time, slice as thin as you can into long slices and throw into a large bowl. Take your bunch of lamb’s quarters and pick off leaves whole as well as some flowers and tossed on top of cabbage. Add on top the juice of one lemon. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss together and enjoy with a nice piece of healthy wheat bread.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Brooklyn Photo of The Week : West Indian Day Carnival

Photo © Valery Rizzo

Every Labor Day Brooklyn celebrates with its West Indian Day Carnival along Eastern Parkway, starting at Utica Avenue. Besides all the amazing bright and colorful costumes and dancing there is all the West Indian food you can eat. All of Eastern Parkway is lined with stands featuring various dishes from every Caribbean island, made by restaurants as well as homemade varieties from someone's kitchen. They sell jerk chicken, chicken stew, fried chicken, beef stew, oxtail, rice and peas, salad, macaroni pie, fried flying fish, curry goat, roti, callaloo, souse, salt fish, fried bake, coconut bread, and much more. Today's special drink I found was sorrel, made from a meadow flower and mixed with spices and 100% proof rum.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Caponata with Potatoes

All images © Valery Rizzo

Usually this time of year I am in Italy visiting with family. But since this August I am here instead and eggplants are in season I thought I would do the next best thing and pretend, by making a late summer Caponata or Ciaolella as they call it in Cilento, the southern region my family is from. Cilento is an Italian region of Campania in the central and southern part of the province of Salerno. According to my father Ciaolella (chow-LELLA) means a woman who is a little bit crazy and this is a dish, which is also a little bit crazy.

I basically cooked my father's recipe but then added potatoes à la my aunt Rosetta and then added a little bit of Brooklyn by using some local organic various smaller and striped eggplants I found at the food co-op and the Added Value Farm in Red Hook. I also added whole basil leaves to mine. My father likes to season his with red pepper flakes to add a little fire. Caponata is usually a side dish but I like to enjoy it as a main dish with a nice piece of bread to soak up the sauce on the bottom of the plate.

This dish reminds me of summers in Italy because my aunt Rosetta would send us off to the beach with sandwiches filled with, unbelievably, potatoes and eggplant. I thought to myself, how odd, a sandwich with potatoes? But on the beach they were amazingly delicious. So I also made sandwiches with the left over caponata inside of a Rosemary Cibatta roll. 

8 medium to small potatoes
1 large yellow onion
1 large red pepper 
2 cups of eggplant (any type you like, cut ¼ in by 1¼ in rectangular pieces)
1 medium can San Marzano Pomodori Pelati (peeled tomatoes)
10 whole basil leaves
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper (I like to use sea salt and freshly ground black pepper)

Halve your potatoes and then cut each of those halves into quarters. For larger potatoes cut into threes before cutting into quarters. Place your potatoes into a steamer or boil them until al dente or just about cooked. Set aside for later.

While your potatoes are cooking, prepare all the other vegetables and place into three separate bowls. Cut both ends of onion and then cut onion in half. Take each half and cut that into threes and then into half again. You should be left with somewhat rectangular pieces about ¼ inch to 1¼ inches in size. Cut the red pepper similarly after removing the top and the seats from inside. The eggplants should also be cut similarly and will vary depending on which types of eggplants you use. For really thin or small eggplants I cut circular pieces until I reach the larger part of the eggplant which I then cut in half and continue cutting into the same rectangular pieces. Basically all your vegetables should be the same size.

Coat liberally the bottom of a large deep frying pan with extra virgin olive oil. Over medium heat when olive oil is hot throw in your onion and cook about 5 minutes or until they start to yellow. Add red pepper and cook about 5 minutes.

Add 5 large tomatoes along with half of the sauce from your can of pomodori. While in the pan using a fork and knife cut each tomato into threes and then cut in half. Stir everything together. Add 10 whole basil leaves and stir together. Cover the top of pan halfway and let cook for 5 minutes.

Add your eggplants, stir in together and season with salt and pepper. Here you can choose to optionally add some red pepper flakes, if you like spicey. Cook about 10 minutes or until eggplant is tender. Then add cooked potatoes. Stir everything together and cook about 3-5 minutes more.

Serve hot paired with a nice loaf of bread to soak up the tasty sauce. The following day you can use the leftovers in a sandwich, especially if you're going to the beach.