Archive | March, 2013

WGBY Wine Lover’s Event

14 Mar

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WGBY Wine Lover’s Event

BECSConsortium chefs Rebecca Joyner, Nicci Cagan and Noel Conklin serve up local food tomorrow, Friday March 15, at the WGBY Wine Lover’s Event – a wine and food tasting.  The event is part of WGBY’s 27th Annual Wine Weekend which includes 80 regional distributors and features more than 400 varieties of wine.

The menu

  • R & G Cheese Display
  • Crostini with R & G Maple Chipolte chevre and peppery bacon and leek compote (featuring R & G Cheese, Holiday Farm, The Old Creamery Co-op)
  • Local potato and ale soup
  • Warm crepes with R & G Greek yogurt and honey lavender ganache (featuring R & G Cheeseworks and Chocolate Springs)
  • Assorted Chocolate Springs signature bon bons

WGBY/57 Wine Weekend

Wine and food tasting, Friday, 5 to 8 p.m.
Wine dinner, Saturday, 6 p.m.
Springfield Marriott, Springfield Marriot, MA
Advance tickets: Tasting – member, $40; non-members, $45; and Connoisseur’s Room, $75. Wine dinner – members, $140, and non-members, $150
(800) 781-9429, ext. 451

Maple frozen yogurt

13 Mar

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Maple frozen yogurt

Ellie Markovich, multi-media storyteller and Brazilian chef, carries a camera and recipes with her at all times, producing inspiring recipes for her website Story Cooking, and profiles of local food and cooks in collaboration with the Sanctuary for Independent Media. She is actively involved in the Capital Region community, conducting healthy-cooking, participative workshops with organizations like the Honest Weight Food Co-op, Denison Farm, and Capital District Community Gardens.

Recently Ellie’s husband has taken on the duty of ice cream making for their family.  For maple frozen yogurt, Ellie first makes Greek yogurt, then her husband sweetens it with maple syrup and runs it through an ice cream maker.  Here is the recipe:

Maple Frozen Yogurt

Mix 4 cups of Greek yogurt with 3/4 cup of maple syrup. Mix well.
Chill the yogurt mixture and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Ellie’s Homemade Greek Yogurt Using a cooler box

  • 1 gallon of milk (unhomogenized milk if available, we use Battenkill Creamery)
  • 8 oz of plain Greek yogurt with live cultures (to use as your starter the first time) at room temperature
  •  Sterilized cooking utensils and containers (boiled in water for five minutes)
  1. Take a large stainless steel pot, add milk and bring to a temperature of 185F (when little boiling bubbles are about to start) then turn it off
  2. Let the milk cool to 105F
  3. Add 8 oz of plain Greek yogurt, to the milk mixing with a clean metal whisk, mixing well.
  4. Cover with a tight lid.
  5. Wrap your pot with a warm blanket and place in a cooler box for 12 hours.
  6. Strain out whey with a cheese cloth to desired consistency. Transfer to clean jars and refrigerate (makes 8 cups).

-Save 1 cup as a starter for the next batch
-The whey is excellent liquid to make bread

Sights and sounds of the Cannon Cattle Ranch Maple and Milk Tour

As part of her job with the Agricultural Stewardship Association, Ellie Markovitch produced a slide show to capture the sights and sounds of the maple and milk tour at Cannon Cattle Ranch on March 10, 2013.

Tapping A Maple Porter

13 Mar
As a number of people ventured out into the New York sunshine to celebrate a spring-like day, the festive gathering at The Pony Bar included visitors from around the city and upstate New York, and even international travelers.  While only 200 gallons were made, fans are all hoping for another round of production.

As a number of people ventured out into the New York sunshine to celebrate a spring-like day, the festive gathering at The Pony Bar included visitors from around the city and upstate New York, and even international travelers. While only 200 gallons were made, fans are all hoping for another round of production.

Tapping A Maple Porter

By Annette Nielsen

Elizabeth (Betsy) Folwell, editor of Adirondack Life and husband Tom Warrington enjoy ‘Life Support,’ where staff at the magazine sourced the syrup from 12 producers representing the 12 counties within the Adirondack Park.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Folwell, editor of Adirondack Life and husband Tom Warrington enjoy ‘Life Support,’ where staff at the magazine sourced the syrup from 12 producers representing the 12 counties within the Adirondack Park.

In the North Country it’s time for liquid gold – throughout the Adirondack Park you’ll see sugar houses fired up to make maple syrup, the first harvest of the year. Used as a topping for pancakes and waffles, this popular sweetener has also found its way into ‘Life Support,’ a maple porter made by Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, a joint project with Adirondack Life magazine.

Staff at Adirondack Life were inspired by “Keg Party,” a recent article about the local beer renaissance. They approached the pub’s owner Chris Ericson about a collaboration that would include maple syrup sourced from all 12 counties within the Adirondack Park in a seasonal, limited edition brew.

Ericson notes, “The process of making a beer with maple syrup sourced from so many different, small facilities was exciting for us.  I always try to encourage people to get past local only meaning ‘local food’ (not that beer isn’t food) and ‘local shopping’ and into other ‘local’ items.  We’re also hopeful that teaming up with local syrup producers would lead people to think on that next level and support the smaller breweries and sugar houses in their own areas.”

Homestead Maple’s Scott Henze, a producer in Northville (Fulton County) was one of the 12 maple producers tapped to contribute to the inaugural run of the maple porter.

“I was very honored when asked to take part in contributing maple syrup for the brewing of ‘Life Support,’ especially since the 2013 season is only my second year of production.  Being an Adirondack native born and raised in the village of Northville, it has always been a dream of mine to be a sugarmaker and I take pride in producing pure Adirondack maple syrup.”

Dan McLaughlin, owner of The Pony Bar in Hell’s Kitchen (and another location on the Upper East Side) and fan of the Adirondacks, serves only American craft beers, and always has some offerings from Lake Placid Pub & Brewery on tap.  “As a bar owner that focuses solely on pouring American made beer, I take great pride in making sure our guests have access to the best made beers available.”

Sometimes that means taking a trip from Hell’s Kitchen to Lake Placid.

“It’s not uncommon for me to drive the 300 miles (one way) when there is a rare keg to be had,” McLaughlin says, as in the case of the ‘Life Support’ maple porter.

Adirondack Life’s creative director Betsy Folwell and husband Tom Warrington, traveled from their home in the serene Adirondack community of Blue Mountain Lake to New York for the tapping of this special edition brew.

“Not many projects criss-cross the Adirondacks, and not many products include a little from each part of the park. ‘Life Support’ maple porter from Lake Placid Pub & Brewery is that rare thing, ephemeral like Adirondack spring but hearty too, like a real beer should be. The partnership between Lake Placid Pub and Brewery and Adirondack Life has worked really well and brings the terrific maple flavor to new people in Placid and Manhattan. There’s a little dark, flavorful syrup from 12 different counties, plus hops, malt, pure water and alchemy from the brewmasters in Lake Placid.”

The large group of people at the bar spilled out onto the city sidewalk at the corner of 45th Street and 10th Avenue – the first day of spring-like weather combined with the flavor of the first sweet harvest of the season.

If you’re not able to taste this year’s ‘Life Support,’ there are other ways to join in the upcoming maple festivities throughout New York State – visit www.mapleweekend.com.

Photographs by Annette Nielsen

Ba-Tampte Half Sours

11 Mar

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Ba-Tampte Half Sours

A food review by Daniel B.

Brooklyn is a modern pickle mecca. McClure’s and Brooklyn Brine may get the spotlight as they bring new life into this New York classic. But Ba-Tampte has been making some amazing pickles for over fifty years, the old fashioned way: fermentation.

Most pickles found on the shelf of a grocery store don’t deserve to bear the name. Clausen’s refrigerator kosher dill spears take the shortcut of starting with vinegar and then adding “natural flavor”. Vlasic’s shelf stable zesty dill spears take that sacrilege and go a step further by adding yellow #5.

Ba-Tampte uses no vinegar in their “original brine” half-sours or garlic dills. These start off as Kirby cucumbers that are transformed into pickles naturally using salt, water and spices. As a fermented pickle they require refrigeration. And because of this and their lack of vinegar, Ba-Tampte’s pickles retain a lot of crunch.

Both of these pickles are magnificent, but I have a newfound appreciation for the half-sour.

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For a long time the half-sour was a mystery to me. In the bowlfuls of pickles dropped off on the deli table the half-sours were easy to see. They were the bright green ones that barely tasted like a pickle at all.

Trips to the deli were about big bold flavors of pastrami, rye bread, deli mustard, and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda. The half-sour just couldn’t compete. The full-sour was another matter entirely. In a meal that was laden with glorious glistening fat, the intensely sour pickle shocked the taste buds back into action. And while the stomach might have been whimpering at the thought of another beefy bite, after a nibble of pickle the mouth demanded some soothing pastrami.

It’s not uncommon when learning to appreciate a form that the neophyte is attracted to bigger more bombastic flavors. In wine the battle cry is big reds. In cheese its big blues or stinky washed rinds. In spirits it’s big Scotches. But as tastes grow and mature, people begin to notice more nuances and appreciate more subtle graces. So wine lovers find pinot noir. Cheese aficionados may turn onto the grassy undertones of a Saint-Nectaire. And seasoned spirit sippers will discover the wide world of cognacs (if they are lucky).

The same held true for me and pickles.

At first I held disdain for the half-sour because of how little it tasted like pickle. But then I realized how little the full-sours tasted like cucumber. This was a small but important change of perspective that allowed me to appreciate the half-sour in a whole new light. Not all that dissimilar to enjoying a Beaujolais nouveau.

Tasting that point where a fresh cucumber has just crossed the line into something else entirely is actually pretty exciting. It’s even more exciting now in March when the hope of spring is in the air, yet even the first wild ramps are still countless weeks away.

There’s a rumor I have yet to confirm, but it does make some intuitive sense. Since the Ba-Tampte half-sours are fermented, even though they are refrigerated, the pickles can continue to develop a little bit in the jar. So the rumor suggests that jars with clear brine and non-bulging lids the youngest of the half-sours, providing more of that fresh cucumber experience. The flip side of that is if the brine is cloudy and the lid of the jar has a slight bulge, than the pickles will be a bit more sour than just half.

However, I can confirm that Ba-Tampte does indeed mean “Tasty”. The name is Yiddish, and I suppose it could also mean “Delicious” But Yiddish can be an imprecise language. Not all that different from the imprecise nature of a half-sour.

Regardless, it’s a damn fine pickle. And it’s amazing that such a thing can be found in grocery stores across most of the United States. I wish I could say the same thing about pastrami.

About Daniel B.

A west coast transplant now living in Albany, Daniel Berman is applying his communication strategy background to food writing with the ultimate goal of improving the culinary landscape in the Capital Region. He writes the FUSSYlittleBLOG and contributes regularly to All Over Albany.

Beets, new and old school

10 Mar

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Beets, new and old school

Sexy and here to stay…

Beets, historically an old school winter storage vegetable, are more popular than ever. Today farmers are selling dozens of varieties of all different shapes, sizes and colors to hip foodies and chefs who have elevated the vegetable to a sexy new status with trendy new recipes. The vegetable’s appeal has transcended seasons, finding a permanent place on spring and summer menus at “fresh local” bistros throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley. No one seems to remember that not long ago beets were considered “a food that only grandma liked”. Today even pickled beets have found high brow appreciation with boutique producers who have included their twist on the classic among the other pickles, chutneys and relishes in their product lines.

HONEST2With so many beet varieties available at farmers markets, there seem to be just as many ways to cook them. Or not cook them…. After all beets are delicious raw, sliced thinly and tossed in a salad, or juiced and pureed as Brazillian chef Ellie Markovitch does with her delicious raw beet gazpacho soup. At Hawthorne Valley Farm “Sauerkraut Seth” lacto-ferments raw beets into Kvaas, a Russian beet drink known for its detoxifying properties.

Most chefs have a very particular outlook on how beets should be cooked. Many are still firm believers that they should be boiled – an hour for smaller beets and up to an hour and a half for the larger ones. Others prefer to cook beets by roasting them in a hot oven. One roasting method involves lining a baking pan with coarsely ground salt, placing the beets on top and roasting them until they are tender – an hour or more depending on their size (the salt acts as a buffer between the bottom of the beets and the surface of the hot pan). Some chefs will wrap a cluster of three to four beets in aluminum foil and roast them in a hot oven. With this method the beets are actually steamed as a result of being enclosed in the foil. Alice Waters, famed “fresh local” owner of Chez Panisse in California, recommends roasting beets in a pan with an inch of water, which is another way to ensure a burn-free barrier between the beet bottoms and the hot surface of the roasting pan.

Look for local beets at the Honest Weight Food Co-op, the Berry Farm and the Chatham Real Food Co-op (both are stocking beets from Little Seed Gardens), and Schoharie Valley Farms.

For pickled beets try Beth’s Farm Kitchen, Black Dirt Brand, Black Dirt Gourmet and Rick’s Picks

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Ellie Markovitch’s Raw Beet Gazpacho

  • 4 large beets, peeled
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 pinch chili pepper
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded
  • 2 apples, cored

Instructions

  1. Blend the beets and water
  2. Strain the pulp
  3. Put the juice back into the blender and working in batches, blend together the remainder of the ingredients
  4. Chill for 4 hours
  5. Serve with sour cream, lemon zest and fresh dill.
Bunched beet photo by Jane Feldman
Beet salad and soup photos by Ellie Markovitch

We Shall Not Be Moved

8 Mar

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We Shall Not Be Moved: An Evening of Spirituals to Benefit Frack Action

NOELBERRYChefs Consortium joins the line-up of musicians and anti-fracking supporters in Woodstock on Sunday March 10, 2013 for the WDST sponsored concert We Shall Not Be Moved.  Consortium chef Noel Conklin has coordinated food donations from more than a dozen local restaurants including Full Moon Resort, Peekamoose Restaurant, Cheese Louise, Bearsville Bakers, Bread Alone, Sunfrost Farms, Lucky Chocolates, Catskill Mountain Coffee, Keagan Ales, the Wine Hutch, Peace Love & Cupcakes, Blue Mountain Bistro To-Go, and Lori’s Creative Cafe.  She will also be preparing all-local fare for musicians including Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm and John Medeski from farms including Wiltbank Farm, Little Seed Gardens and Mountain Products Smokehouse.

We Shall Not Be Moved

Sunday March 10, 2013 – Doors 6pm/Show 7:30pm
Bearsville Theatre/Bearsville, NY

Buy tickets

Fourth Annual Bannerman’s Island Fundraiser

7 Mar

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Fourth Annual chef-prepared Farm-To-Table Bannerman’s Island Fundraiser

Hudson Valley chefs prepare farm to table dinner at the ruins of Bannerman Island Castle – Saturday September 7, 2012

A five-course meal prepared with locally and regionally sourced ingredients will be hosted by five Hudson Valley chefs in Helen Bannerman’s garden, among the historic ruins of Bannerman’s Castle. Chefs Consortium looks forward to returning to Bannerman’s Island for the fourth annual dinner.

The chefs

Robert Turner – Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Liz Beals – Beth’s Farm Kitchen

Jeff Loshinsky – Jeff Loshinsky Catering

Noel Conklin – Woodstock natural foods caterer

Please check the Consortium website for more details in the upcoming months