Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays

Whichever holiday you are celebrating and however you choose to celebrate it, Tis The Season to drink and be merry...see you in the new year. 

I may try my hand at making Panforte this time for New Year's Eve. What will you be making for the holidays this year?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Barrel Tasting at Kings County Distillery

All images © Valery Rizzo

I was over at Kings County Distillery working on some work I have been shooting as a visiting artist at The Brooklyn Navy Yard as well as finishing up a soon to come Field to Fork story for Nona Brooklyn. I accompanied co-owner and whiskey maker Nicole Austin in the 2nd floor Barrel Room, while she did some barrel tasting of a new rye whiskey she had recently made.

You might also be interested in picking up one of the distillery's new holiday gift sets, only available at the distillery. It is a beautiful box with an illustration of the historic Paymaster building which houses the distillery at the Navy Yard and has one of each of the Kings County Distillery's Bourbon, Moonshine and Chocolate Whiskeys.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Eating Brooklyn's 2012 Gift Guide

Photo © Valery Rizzo

Here are my picks for the best Brooklyn food and drink gifts for 2012, handmade by local artisans.

2. Shawn J. Davis Pottery, Handmade in Brooklyn (Found at Leaf & Bean)
3. Frankies 457, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Found at The Park Slope Coop)
4. No. 40, Charleston, Bellocq Tea Atelier (Greenpoint, Brooklyn)
5. Some whiskey to drink while wrapping presents
6. Raaka Virgin Chocolate Bars (Clinton Hill, Brooklyn)
7. Pottery from EAT, handmade by regional artisans (Greenpoint, Brooklyn)
8. Bourbon Whiskey, Kings County Distillery (The Brooklyn Navy Yard)
9. Raaka Virgin Chocolate's Anthology Box, contains all six bars in the collection (found at The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hot Sauce and Pepper Salt with Eagle Street Rooftop Farm

All images © Valery Rizzo

It’s hard to think about anything other then helping those in need and rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy devastated the New York City area and New Jersey. Many of the Brooklyn businesses that I talk about here and often photograph for Nona Brooklyn were wiped out by the storm. Nona Brooklyn, is publishing some great stories about these places if you would like to find out more and if you would like to volunteer your time or make a donation to the countless number of people without power or that have lost everything you could try here, here and here.

A couple of weeks before the storm I was invited to photograph Annie Novak and the rest of the crew at Eagle Street Rooftop Farm harvesting the farms many varieties of hot peppers and then to follow them over to Eat, a beautiful little cafe in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where they make the farm’s beautiful Pepper Salt and amazing Hot Sauces.

Eat has a natural and relaxed atmosphere and is dedicated to sourcing exclusively from small local farmers and producers, Eagle Street is one of them. Beautiful pottery, furniture and accessories fill the cafe are all handmade by regional artisans, Eat's mission being to promote and preserve a handmade life.

The Pepper Salt is made by crushing fresh Cayenne peppers, whole fruits and seeds, in a coffee grinder and then tossing it together with coarse sea salt, infusing the flavors. It’s great to bake, cook or season with. Annie likes to use the Pepper Salt when she bakes corn bread, yumm. Recently I have been making steamed sweet potatoes and drizzling extra-virgin olive oil and the Pepper Salt on top, which gives the potatoes a nice little kick. The jars of Salt are beautiful too!

During the fall and winter of last year Annie studied and traveled from Arizona to Jamaica to find great peppers worth growing. The farm has made several different hot sauces with this years harvest. Awesome, Sissy, Death Sauce, Scotch Sunrise and Canyu Cayenne, each having it's own characteristic and heat. To learn more about the flavors of each of the sauces and for more info on the farms peppers visit their hot pepper page here

This weekend, November 9, 10 and 11 at The Brooklyn Kitchen, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm will be selling a limited edition sauce to support the folks down in the Rockaways effected by Hurricane Sandy. Also the farm's last market will be on Sunday November 18th from 1 - 4pm and you can also find them, their Pepper Salt and Hot Sauces at The Brooklyn Night Bazaar on Fridays and Saturdays in December. In the mean time it is an honor to have Annie share her recipe for the farm’s Awesome-Sauce style sauce here with us on Eating Brooklyn.

Annie's Awesome-Sauce

20 fresh red jalapeno peppers
1.5 cups of water
1.5 cups of vinegar
2 table spoons salt

In a large pot, bring water and vinegar to a boil. Add Chiles and salt and continue to boil for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and process in a food processor or vitamix. Bottle immediately, or refrigerate.

Chef's note: Hot sauce is often made with garlic, onions, carrots and other goodies. The key is freshness of ingredients and choosing good varieties of peppers. Our sauce is awesome because it is thick (made with more peppers and less liquids than most store brands), and we use peppers with interesting flavors, colors and heat. Some of our farm's favorite peppers are the "NuMex" types like "Sunrise" and "R Naky," which have thick, fleshy walls, a lower heat, and a great flavor--blended with hots like the jalapenos or ever habaneros. This basic recipe is a good springboard to exploration of many fresh pepper types available at our and other local farm markets.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Raaka Virgin Chocolate at The Bryant Park Holiday Shops

All images © Valery Rizzo

I shot some new work for Brooklyn artisan chocolate makers, Raaka Virgin Chocolate in Clinton Hill. The work will be printed large scale and hung in their shop at The Bryant Park Holiday Shops, opening this November. 

When I tell you their chocolate is one of the best, I mean it! Producing only dark chocolate varieties, they are one of the few chocolate makers that don't roast their beans before grinding, leaving the cocoa in it's purest form. Their chocolate is vegan, nut free, gluten free and made from certified organic ingredients. The bars are each hand wrapped in beautiful paper designed by artist Elissa Barbieri at Loop and is printed with soy inks on 100% post consumer recycled, chlorine-free paper that was processed by wind generated energy.

Raaka's friends from Recycled Brooklyn and artist Alayna Rasile with be building and decorating their space at the market. By the way I want something from Recycled Brooklyn for my home! check out their Esty shop! The Bryant Park Holiday Shops open November 26th and run till January 6th, 7 days a week. 

Not in New York for the holidays :(  you can always order directly from Raaka Virgin Chocolate's website.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Still Life iPhoneography Workshop at 3rd Ward

All images © Valery Rizzo, shot on the iPhone 4s

Hi everyone, I am now an instructor for With Food in Mind and have been asked to teach a workshop about Still Life iPhoneography at 3rd Ward. Learn how to take GOOD photographs of food with your iPhone.

With Food in Mind produces projects at the intersection of food, visual culture and social change. They work with visual and performing artists, architects, musicians, writers, chefs, cooks, farmers and foragers to create grade school curricula, adult workshops, exhibitions, publications and events.

3rd Ward, for those of you that don't already know, is a multi-disiplinary workspace and education center in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

The workshop will be on Saturday, October 20th from 10am - 1pm. Register by October 13th. Interested? Click here

All images © Valery Rizzo

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Spelt Berries and Cucumbers with Garden Update

All images © Valery Rizzo

As you know I have been having lots of fun with my garden this year. I did much better than last year, I may even try composting next year. I also learned that as long as I kept the birds and squirrels fed they would leave my vegetables for alone. I made all kinds of light and healthy dishes all summer long with tomatoes, cucumbers, string beans, eggplants, basil, spearmint and other herbs from the garden. I presently have several red bell peppers I am anxiously waiting to harvest and bunches of strawberries if I get to them before the birds do.

The spelt berry and cucumber recipe was adapted slightly from Mario Batali's book Molto Gusto. I used spelt berries instead of farro which I found at the Park Slope Food Coop and the cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and basil were from my garden.

Spelt and Cucumbers with Cherry Tomatoes, Red Onion and Basil

1 1/2 cups spelt berries

2 or 3 medium cucumbers, cut into 1/4 inch triangles (I used Diva cukes but Kirbies would also work nicely)

1/2 of a red onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice

1 large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced (chiffonade) I throw in the tiniest leaves, whole

1/4 cup Lambrusco vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Fresh ground black pepper

Sea salt

Combine spelt berries and water to cover by 2 inches in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer, skimming off the foam. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook until berries are just tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Drain spelt berries and transfer to a large bowl. Add cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and basil, mixing well. Add vinegar, olive oil, salt and fresh pepper, mix well and serve, or let stand at room temperature for 1 hour to bring out the flavors. This can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 3 days. 

Serves 4 to 6 people.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm and Apiary at The Bklyn Navy Yard

All images © Valery Rizzo

I have been busy working on my latest photo feature for Nona Brooklyn about the amazing new Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm and Apiary over at The Brooklyn Navy Yard. The entire crew from The Grange are inspiring and the farm, produce and honey are unbelievable. They have several farm stands at markets in Brooklyn and Queens where you can buy their produce and honey bee products. A few retail stores and several local restaurants carry and cook with their produce as well.

For those of you unaware I also shoot a monthly, sometimes bi-monthly, photo feature for the amazing James Beard award finalist, group blog Nona Brooklyn. Nona is all about local, artisanal, sustainable and/or traditional food and drink made by people for a passion for what they do.

To see the full feature (photos and story) on Nona Bklyn, about the farm and apiary at the Yard click HERE.

Hopefully you will be as inspired as I was to grow your own food, eat locally grown produce and become more connected with your community and the environment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Brooklyn Photo of the Week: Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm

Photo © Valery Rizzo

Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, 2012.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Limoncello di Brooklyn

All images © Valery Rizzo

August always makes me feel as though I should be in Italy. The hot sun forces you to slow down and enjoy the time with friends and family preferably with a nice long meal outdoors. This year, since I could not be in Italy I decided why not bring Italy to Brooklyn by asking my cousin Amalia for her Limoncello recipe and having my sister come over and make some Limoncello with me. For those of you that are not familiar, Limoncello is a traditional lemon liqueur, served chilled and usually as an after dinner drink, in the summer. The best Limoncello is found and made in Southern Italy, particularly around the Amalfi Coast, where the lemons are the size of small footballs.

My family is also from the same region of Campania and I always remember them having homemade liqueurs in their refrigerator, when I went to visit.  Sometimes relatives would bring me homemade Limoncello to take back home with me, which was the best kind because it was made with love and given to you in reused uniquely shaped bottles. One year my cousin Annastella’s grandmother Stella tried to give me a bag of no joking, thirty lemons from the lemon tress in her garden to bring back to the US in my suitcase. I managed to get that down to ten, not having the heart to tell her I was not allowed to smuggle fruit out of the country.

A few weeks ago my sister Rossana came over with my niece Siena and while the two of us prepared the Limoncello, Siena ran around my vegetable garden.  We joked about starting our own artisan Limoncello business in Brooklyn and calling it Sorelle Limoncello, sorelle means sister in Italian. It’s not hard to make but everyone has their own variations in the alcohol used, the amount of lemons, the sugar and water combination and the amount of time that you let it steep. You can even add a few lemon leaves to the infusion, if you are lucky enough to live somewhere that grows lemons locally.

Limoncello di Brooklyn

The following is the recipe, although I feel as though Limoncello is one of those recipes you have to make a few times while trying different things until you master it. This is my version of a combination of my cousin Amalia’s recipe, a Giada De Laurentis recipe, a suggestion of leaves from Amalia’s friend Donatella who owns a beautiful agriturismo in Italy that I visited and a Brooklyn addition of organic lemons from The Park Slope Food Coop.

Traditionally Limoncello is made with 180 proof whole-grain alcohol, but it is not easy to find. Brooklynites you may have to go to Jersey for this. I used instead 80 proof vodka (which Giada uses) which you may find you like better, but if you want that stronger kick that Limoncello ususally has then make it with the same amount of pure grain-alcohol (which is more than double the proof of vodka).

11 organic lemons  (thicker skinned, oval shaped lemons work best)

2 lemon leaves  (optional) (The Coop tried their best to get them for me but due to Asian Citrus Psyiild their supplier was unable to ship out lemons with stem and leaves)

1 liter bottle of 80 proof vodka

3 1/2 cups water

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Wash lemons and using a vegetable peeler remove the peel from the lemons into long strips vertically from top to bottom. (Reserve lemons for another use). You want just the lemon peel and not the pith which is the white part of the lemon.

Place the lemon peels and optional 2 lemon leaves in a 2 quart air-tight jar. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover the jar and let steep or infuse for 15 days at room temperature. (some recipes steep anywhere from 4 days to 40 days or more)

After 15 days, in a large saucepan, stir the water and sugar together over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 min. Cool completely. Pour the cooled sugar syrup into the jar over the vodka and peel mixture and stir together. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.

The next day strain the Limoncello through a mesh strainer into another 2 quart jar and discard the peels. Using a funnel transfer the Limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to one month. Makes 2 bottles.

Before serving chill in the freezer and serve in liqueur glasses.