Recipe: Dirty Farro

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Ancient grains have been trending lately as healthier options than modern varieties, and besides being better for you, they actually taste great. For your consideration: Farro, the nutrition-packed grain from Mesopotamia that once fed Roman Legionaries. This ancestor of our current industrialized wheat is a nutty and delicious alternative to pastas and rice (and less expensive one compared to trendier grains like Quinoa). For the most nutritious “bang-for-your-buck,” always purchase whole farro which includes all the fiber and bran as opposed to “pearled farro.”

“Dirty Farro” Soak one or two cups of farro overnight in a big bowl of water in your fridge. When you are ready to cook, drain and rinse in a colander.  In a large pan fry some freshly made Italian or Andouille sausage with three ribs of celery, one half Spanish onion, and a bell pepper. Add a teaspoon of sweet paprika and another teaspoon of cumin. Fry until the sausage is browned and the onions are translucent.

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Combine your rinsed Farro and toss it with the cooked sausage and aromatics. Add a cup or two of black beans. Then add enough chicken or pork stock to cover all the ingredients of the pan and let this simmer down until the liquid evaporates. Salt and pepper to taste.

I must say, this recipe came out even better than I was expecting. The farro added much more texture, heartiness and flavor to this dish then your typical dirty rice. Try it out!

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Struffola aka Struffoli

Struffola (or Struffoli) is a traditional Neapolitan sweet treat prepared for Christmas made of marble-sized dough balls that have been deep-fried and soaked in honey. Struffola are embellished with sprinkles and candied fruit for a more festive effect. Large amounts are typically created in bulk, to be given as presents to relatives, neighbors and friends. Struffola platters are usually left on dessert buffet tables to be plucked off from at a leisurely pace throughout the holidays. This dish is ubiquitous in the households and kitchens of Southern Italian immigrants in the New York City area.

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An interesting aside about Struffola is that this sweet dessert displays the cross-pollination of cultures in the southern Mediterranean. Recipes such as Luqaimat (enjoyed in Egypt and the Middle East) and Pignolata (the Sicilian version) are all very similar.

To pick up some Struffola for yourself, take a stroll down Mulberry street in Little Italy, Manhattan during the holiday season and stop by any bakery. Or try making it yourself using this recipe. Merry Christmas!

Chicken Noodle Soup with Kale and Pancetta

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Autumn is soup season, and I’ve been on a mission to make savory amalgamations every weekend. My latest creation is chicken noodle soup with kale and pancetta.

Ingredients: Chicken broth, any favorite pasta, pancetta, celery, carrot, onion, paprika, salt, pepper, kale, and some coriander.

This soup cooks in about an hour, cook the aromatics with the pancetta, deglaze with two quarts of broth or stock, add a small bunch of kale (trimmed) and then when its bubbling away nicely, add a little less then a half a pound of pasta, season to taste. Nutritious, and delicious. Enjoy.

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San Gennaro Begins Thursday!

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The legendary Lower Manhattan Feast of San Gennaro (Patron Saint of Naples, Italy) begins this Thursday, Sept 12 on Mulberry Street, NYC! Imagine enough zeppoles to fill a Zeppelin, craters of calamari, barrels of briaciole! If you’ve never been, you MUST go… Even if you’re not Italian!

From SanGennaro.org:

The 87th Annual Feast of San Gennaro will be held in Little Italy for 11 days from Thursday, September 12, through Sunday, September 22, 2013, on the streets of historic Little Italy, the lower Manhattan neighborhood which served as the first home in America for hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants who came here seeking to improve their lives beginning in the early part of the 20th century…

Check out images from the 2012 Feast right here on Proof Pudding.

My New Greenpoint CSA Membership!

Hi all, I decided to participate in an organic farm-share this year in beautiful McGolrick Park in Greenpoint. The Greenpoint CSA or “Community Supported Agriculture” is a organic farm-share that occurs in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

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McGolrick Park in the Spring

Simply put, locally grown organic vegatables will be available to me weekly at a local drop off, from “farm to table.”  Most vegetables and come from farms in Long Island as well as New York State and New Jersey.  Here is a link to the Greenpoint CSA.

The purchase options are either weekly or bi-weekly. Being a busy New Yorker that has to dine out often, I can’t commit to the weekly share, but bi-weekly should provide enough roughage for the summer. (It would be a shame to throw out anything I am not able to use).

Weekly Vegetable Share
$595.20 / pick-up|Details 24 Distributions
Biweekly Vegetable Share $315.00 / pick-up 12 Distributions
Weekly Mega Combo (frt-veg-egg-flwr) $1,050.00 24 Distributions
Biweekly Mega Combo (frt-veg-egg-flwr) $570.00 12 Distributions

But wait, there’s more! You can also add:

Weekly Fruit Share $275.04 / pick-up 24 Distributions
Biweekly Fruit Share -$150.00 / pick-up 12 Distributions
Weekly Egg Share $66.00 / half-dozen 24 Distributions
Biweekly Egg Share $33.00 / half-dozen|Details
Cheese Share $200.04 12 Distributions

I did the Bi-weekly vegetable/fruit/egg share which ran me about 517 dollars. Also, on top of that you have to volunteer to work some shifts assisting the CSA, either driving extra food to soup kitchens, unloading trucks, or working shifts at the farm stand on Saturdays. A small price to pay for delicious local produce.

I will let you all know how it works out! Stay tuned.

Apple Picking and Animatrons

While Autumn apple-picking at Wilkens Farm in Yorktown Heights NY, I encountered this animatronic doughnut-making device. Before it becomes self-aware and destroys all humans, I believe it enjoys serving mankind by making delicious deep-fried cake goo. Yum.

Here are some arcadian images from the farm:

Apples on the vine (or branch).

Idyllic New York State farm scenery.

A glut of gourds.

And of course, the apple of my eye.