• Greenmarket Grub

    Greenmarket Grub: Garlic Scapes

    If you are a fancy pants person who reads a lot of food magazines / is first in line when the farmers’ market opens / prides yourself on your food knowledge, then you already know these are garlic scapes.

    If you are, well, me, then you need to need to look up what the hell you just brought home.

    In brief, scapes are the long, flowerless stalks that emerge from bulbs of hardneck garlic. If they’re left on, they will eventually form another bulb of garlic — but only by diverting the plant’s resources from what would otherwise be a nice fat head of garlic underground. It’s like pinching back the tops of a plant to make the rest grow better.

    Which is fascinating, I know, but how does it taste? Well, if there’s an allium Kinsey Scale where mild, sweet onions are a 0 and raw garlic is a 6… scapes are probably about a 4. Predominately garlicky but still enough sweetness to eat raw without cringing. [And I feel like there was more to make of the idea of the onion-garlic Kinsey scale but I just can’t seem to find it. WELL ANYWAY.]

    Basically, any recipe that calls for garlic could easily use garlic scapes instead — stir-fry, pizza, pasta, whatever — but I used mine to make pesto. You can either use all scapes or use half scapes and half basil, which is what I did.  Otherwise, the recipe is the same: scapes/basil (no garlic, obviously), olive oil, salt, et cetera.

    And then you can be a fancy pants, too.

    ADDENDUM: I’ve got a piece about me and my kid up on Mamalode.com today… maybe you might like to read it?

  • Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    A squishy green miracle.

    Avocado has long been my food texture nemesis… squishy, fatty, ooky, blech.


    Back in April, my Master Composter class got together to make a lasagna-style compost bed at a local community garden and a bunch of my classmates brought food for lunch. So, as I was loading a plate with pasta salad and cookies and whatever else, I saw someone had brought guacamole and, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, I scooped some onto my plate.

    I took a bite (hoping not to visibly grimace) and… it was good. Like, really good. So good, I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before: I asked my classmate for her recipe. I’ve made it twice already in the past month and I kinda already want to make it again. Like right now.

    What follows is the recipe my compost classmate Lucy generously shared with me (with a few additional suggestions by me):

    Lucy’s Guacamole
    Combine the following:
    – 5 avocados
    – 1/4 red onion
    – 3tbs of fresh cilantro
    – 1 plum tomato 
    – fresh juice of 1 lime (some one told me their secret was extra lime juice, so I put a whole bunch)
    – Himalayan Pink salt (sea salt is fine)
    – fresh ground pepper

    My version
    I use four avocados, because the local market sells bundles of 4 for cheaper than buying them individually and I use two plum tomatoes because I really like the tomatoes in it.  Depending on how juicy the limes are, I sometimes end up needing two instead. Oh, and about a half-teaspoon of cumin in this is good too but then again, I like cumin in almost anything. True facts. 

  • Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    Grape pie, revisited.

    Concord grape pieAges back, I tried my hand at making a grape pie.

    It was… good but really not great and I purposely didn’t include a recipe for it at the time, because I wasn’t that thrilled with the way it turned out. It was kind of runny and overly sweet.


    I have since revamped the ingredients and method I tried originally and turned it into this post I wrote for my neighborhood paper, the Manhattan Times.

    I’m pretty pleased with the results.

    Better-than-Before Grape Pie

    – 4-5 cups (about 2 pounds) of grapes (ideally Concords, but any variety will do)
    – 3/4 cup sugar
    – 1/4 cup instant tapioca pearls
    – 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
    – Pastry for a 9-inch pie (top and bottom crusts)

    Wash the grapes and remove the skins. (Just pinch opposite the stem, and the pulp will pop right out.) Set the skins aside for now. Put the pulp into a heavy pan, bring it to a boil, and let it boil until the pulp starts to separate from the seeds. Remove the seeds by putting the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Pour the hot pulp over the skins and let the mixture sit for 6 hours or overnight.

    Stir in the sugar and tapioca, set aside for about 20 minutes, then pour the mixture into the bottom pie crust and dot with butter. Put on the top crust.

    Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and cook 20 minutes more until the crust is browned and the juice begins to bubble up. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Reminder: tomorrow at noon, I pick a winner for my first book giveaway!
    To enter to win, just become a fan of gezellig-girl.com on Facebook.

  • Greenmarket Grub

    Greenmarket Grub: Red Currants


    In 2004, my husband and I were in Amsterdam, rushing down the street (as fast as I could push an umbrella stroller on cobblestone sidewalks without rattling my kid’s brains right out, anyway) to meet up with his family for dinner. On our way there, we approached a greengrocer’s stand selling some tiny, unfamiliar fruit, still clinging to thin branches. Smaller than blueberries and an amazing crimson color, I quickly realized they were red currants.

    I had never actually seen them before, other than in jam form. I gawked—for as long as I was able—at their amazing translucent skin that seems to catch the light in way my photo does not do justice to at all. I meant to go back and buy some, but I never quite got around to it and went home without having tried them.

    This love-at-first-sight-in-a-faraway-land story must be the reason I keep buying them… because it’s certainly not for the taste. You think of summer fruits and berries and oh, they’re all so juicy and sweet, right? Red currants, as I seem to willfully forget each summer, are shockingly tart. Sweeter than cranberries (although not by much) and without the bitterness of pomegranate seeds, but still quite tart. They’re not really a fruit I can just pop into my mouth and snack on without wincing a little.

    Currants are closely related to gooseberries (also quite tart) and, unsurprisingly, are a good, mouth-puckering source of Vitamin C. If you’re planning on getting your RDA from currants, though, better bring a checkbook—a tiny pint can often set you back $4 to $6 around here. Just for the sake of not wasting money, I tried to will myself to love these currants (yum, they’re so… lemony? oh god, who am I kidding?), but they slowly shriveled in my fridge until I conceded defeat and composted them.

    Next summer, when I will have almost certainly forgotten everything I’ve just said and fall in love with some beautiful currants again, I’ll be ready. I’m not a fan of cooked summer fruits; I’d much rather enjoy them as they are (and who wants to turn on the oven in an already 80-degree house?) but red currants supposedly mellow considerably when cooked. I think I’ll try my hand at redcurrant buns or maybe a bread pudding with currants. Next year, I won’t be quite so dazzled by their good looks again.

  • Recipes

    Meet the humble ham hock.

    Kinda gruesome, isn’t it?

    A ham hock is the end of a smoked ham where the foot was attached to the hog’s leg. It is the portion of the leg that is neither part of the ham proper nor the foot or ankle, but rather the extreme shank end of the leg bone and the associated skin, fat, tendons, and muscle. This piece generally consists of too much skin and gristle to be palatable on its own, so it is usually cooked with greens and other vegetables in order to give them additional flavor (generally that of pork fat and smoke), although the meat from particularly meaty hocks may be removed and served.

    Source: Wikipedia.

    I’d like to say I bought ham hocks because I’m embracing the Fergus Henderson idea of nose-to-tail eating, but it was mostly out of a morbid curiosity. I got them from FreshDirect and after a couple of days of them freaking me out every time I looked into the fridge, I stuffed them in the freezer and forgot about them.

    Then I wanted to make some beans.