this week’s lusciousness

It’s chili week!

A few years ago, I froze my hands off at the Water Street Market Chili Cookoff in New Paltz. It was worth it, though, because I won!

Note the snow in the background:

So I can say without tooting my own horn that the chili this week is pretty good, filled with fresh-ground chilies (it’s only medium spicy though, don’t worry. And if you want it more mild, I can add more beans and tomatoes to yours, just let me know), homemade tempeh, chocolate (shh, the secret ingredient!), and so so much more. It is, as my grandmother would say, a gantseh megilleh (big deal) to make. But it’s fun!

Here’s the entire menu for this week, quite a balanced one in terms of good protein sources, healthy complex carbohydrates, and of course oodles of fresh vegetables:

  • Tea-smoked seitan with Jamaican jerk sauce and greens — lime-y and vibrant and fresh and not too spicy, don’t worry.
  • Coconut mashed yams — These are crazy good. Mashed sweet potatoes with coconut and thyme and a hint of nutmeg.
  • Shanghai-style edamame with five spice tofu, goji berries, and soba noodles — all kinds of delicious.
  • Baby Japanese turnips above and below with homemade white miso (turnips with their greens) — turnips above and below, it’s that so poetic?
  • Three-bean chili with fresh vegetable toppings
  • Scalloped corn — old-fashioned corn deliciousness.
  • Soup: Spanish lentil and garlic soup — with super slow-cooked garlic cloves that are sweet and toothsome.
  • Salad dressing: Orange-port dressing with walnut oil

Just let me know if you’d like to place an order.

Have a great week!

this week in photos

It starts like it always starts.

Wait, no, actually it starts before that.

With shopping.

After the asparagus score, I picked up lots of greens and salad mix from my main squeeze Pete Taliaferro, then it was off to my besties Ken and Doug’s beautiful homestead, where they’ve built a house, run a gloriously adorable farm, and run their thriving business, the Hudson Valley Seed Library. Have you heard of the HVSL? It’s a truly revolutionary idea–and if you don’t want to save seeds and return them (or if, like me, your garden tends to falter due to neglect around July or so), you can buy their beautiful Art Packs with local seeds printed with art made by local artists. Additionally, they are pretty much the sweetest people ever.

In order to thin out some of their crops, they offered to sell me some of their veggies (actually, we’re doing a trade so that when they take a little “staycation” they can get meals from me!). This week is was these Easter Egg Radishes–scroll down to see how beautifully they held their color when steamed.

Ken and Doug from the Hudson Valley Seed Library with their lovely radishes!

Then, Farmer Dave from Muddy Farm came by with some of his newborn Hakurei turnips. How juicy and fresh and delicious these turnips are really can’t be expressed in words. They are really not related at all to what most people think about when they think about turnips. They are a spring crop, for one thing, and don’t store well. Thus, they are never woody, just 100% sweet and tender.

A few more deliveries and shopping trips, and it was down to work.

Plantain pyramid! For the Cuban coconut rice and black beans dish.

So much for that...

Peppers ready to be sauteed for the Cuban dish--juicy!

Dave's turnips! (The greens are in the Sofrito Greens dish and also the Shiitake soup!)

The entire food revolution nicely encapsulated in one ingredient: a super fresh, properly piquant radish (I have sort of a peeve about non-local radishes: it seems that their vibrant spiciness has been completely bred out of them, have you noticed? Radishes should be spicy!), bartered from a fellow small business and grown super close to the kitchen where it was prepared.

Radish greens! These can be a little, well, spiny, if you lightly steam them, but if you give them a bit of nice olive oil, slivers of garlic, and a longer sauté, you will be rewarded with silky, sweet greens. These went with the Teriyaki Carrots dish.

Related to nothing, I just want to show off the new hair scarf my pal Maresa gave me. Cute, no?

Carrot stars for the Shiitake Soup.

Teriyaki Carrots, before their seared scallion and radish greens were added.

Homemade preserved lemons for the Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette for the radishes and turnips

My best miso yet, a 2005 red vintage. Miso never goes bad, did you know that? Well, if it was stored improperly it wouldn't be tasty, but otherwise it just keeps getting better and better with time. This is all I have of this batch! But I have many other batches slowly, so slowly, fermenting away.

Easter Egg Radishes, post-steam, pre-vinaigrette.

Steamed Radishes and Turnips with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette. In order to up the liberal cred of this dish just a bit more (what we've got already: 100% local veggies, handcrafted preserved lemons and 6-year-old handmade miso in the dressing), I'd like to state that I was watching Spike Lee's brilliant movie Malcolm X as I prepped all those teeeny veggies.

Another beauty shot of Dave's turnips

Phew! A lot of chopping this week!

this week’s menu

This week we have a lovely, easygoing menu. Friendly, casual meals that everyone likes. Perfect for these lovely, easygoing springy days.

  • Cuban coconut rice and black beans with plantains. Yep, this is a variation on the classic beans and rice, but it’s sort of ridiculously great, if I say so myself. It’s sweet peppers plus creamy, coconutty rice and black beans cooked in an aromatic broth, with sauteed plantains for a touch of sweetness.
  • Sofrito braising greens: slow-cooked local organic greens with a sofrito, a Latin American (well, originally Spanish) sauce made of finely chopped aromatic ingredients like onions, peppers, tomatoes, and lots and lots of garlic cooked in olive oil. These greens are tender and toothsome.
  • Twice-baked stuffed potatoes with miso-mushroom gravy, a stick-to-your ribs meal made with homemade tempeh for protein and whipped potatoes with other veggies folded in and of course my famous “I could drink this gravy” gravy made with my homemade miso and local shiitakes. (That’s an actual quote from a client, yep.)
  • Steamed spring vegetables with preserved lemon vinaigrette and homegrown herbs: simple and sweet. And tangy. So far it looks like I have toothsome tiny local turnips and radishes, which, just you wait and see, are amazingly lovely when steamed! I don’t know why roasted and steamed radishes aren’t more of a thing.
  • Grilled ma-po tofu with scallions and GABA brown rice: I discuss GABA brown rice on the glossary page–just scroll down to “brown rice” and please note that I got my rice cooker three years ago, so I am not 29 still, just lazy about updating the website!
  • Teriyaki-style carrots
  • Soup: Shiitake soup with soba noodles and carrot stars, with local shiitakes and scallions, plus sesame oil and a rich shiitake broth, this is one of my favorite soups in the entire world.
  • Salad dressing: pomegranate vinaigrette

There we go! As usual, if you’d like to place an order, just email me at

(more) snapshots from this week’s meals

White beans with lemon, tarragon, and pickled red onions

yellow oyster mushrooms for the mushroom ragoût

yellow oyster mushrooms for the mushroom ragoût

Oh man, I can't get enough of these gorgeous local organic 'shrooms! Gary Wiltbank from Wiltbank farms in Saugerties grows them, and he's just about the coolest dude ever.

Artichokes beginning their simmer for the fettuccine with artichokes barigoule dish.

oysters (grey and yellow) plus shiitakes for the wild mushroom soup with sherry and thyme, as well as the mushroom ragoût

These are scape-type darlings that grow in the middle of the bunches of spring onions I've been getting from Pete Taliaferro. They are too tough to slice and eat, but how otherworldly and lovely are they when playing the role of flowers?

Onions just beginning to grill for the barbecue seitan dish

twelve photos of artichokes

I fall in love with artichokes every year. Just look at them–how could you not? O most luscious of thistles, O edible flower of my heart!

This week I couldn’t help it: I took pictures of practically every cynara cardunculus that wandered onto the chopping block. Repetitive? I don’t think so. They are all so different. I fell in love with each and every one.

Continue reading

a day at Bradley farm

My friend Maresa and I recently paid a visit to Ray Bradley’s gorgeous eponymous organic farm, located about five minutes from my kitchen and exactly 2 doors down from Maresa’s house. We were there to take photos of her lovely porcelain quarts for the general store mentioned above, but I couldn’t resist taking some snapshots of the gorgeousness of a working farm in springtime, too.

I use Ray’s super fancy, chef-coveted produce every chance I get. He used to be a sous chef for David Bouley in NYC, so he knows what chefs want to cook with. He regularly sells amazing handcrafted artisanal products like his own paprika, dried hot peppers, pickles, and much more, too. He sells at some NYC markets, too. Get all the info here.

Farmer Ray!

Our pal Kira farms right down the street from Ray, and on the “beware, farmers” sign like this in front of her farm, another of our friends attached a long braid, Kira’s signature hair style, to the sign. Too cute.





this week’s menu!

Hello everyone!

Lots happening this week! The cold snap of the past week means no asparagus for us, but there are still some great local beauties popping up. I’ve secured some great greens and spring onions and ramps that I’ll be picking up this weekend.

Also, there are two brand sparkling new dishes on the menu! Fettuccine with a lovely white wine and lemon sauce and Brussels sprouts and artichokes (and I can do regular fettuccine, spinach fettuccine, or rice noodles, just let me know. Regular tasty fettuccine is what I’m planning on, but the other options are there.), and a very nice confit made from carrots–I’m asking farmers to try to get some great newborn baby carrots–and fennel. Yum!

Here’s the menu:

  • Barbecue: (homemade, with the flour above) seitan with barbecue sauce, rice, and grilled onions
  • Pesto pasta salad with capers and artichoke hearts
  • Soft buckwheat polenta with mushroom ragoût and kale
  • White beans and flageolet beans with lemon and tarragon
  • Fettuccine with Brussels sprouts and artichokes barigoule (wine-lemon sauce)
  • Fennel and carrot confit with Provençal olives
  • Soup: Velvety wild mushroom soup with sherry and thyme
  • Salad dressing: to come! For some reason the dressing scheduled is the Moroccan vinaigrette that was on the menu last week. I’m going to go through my files tonight to find a brand new, exciting one to make. If you have any salad dressing wishes, let me know!

If you’d like to place an order, just email me at

this week’s meals!

Mushrooms stuffed with mushroom-walnut pâté

Newborn chickpea tempeh

Tempeh cooking in a bath of white wine, pomegranate molasses, spices, and shoyu for the Persian tempeh

Persian tempeh with mustard greens (and flowers), fennel, and broccoli

Beet, cauliflower, and carrot side with fennel-orange dressing

Asparagus vinegar for the asparagus bisque!

Homegrown herbs for the olive oil-fried almonds!

Spinach fettuccine with artichoke-asparagus sauce and pine nut gremolata

Pine nut gremolata

Pine nut gremolata!

Toasting spices for the Ethiopian Wat

Teff muffins with caramelized onions!

Here’s what my client Pam had to say about the muffins:

Oh my, the wat with teff muffin (ingenious alternative to injera) was a
gustatory sensation — I was reminded of the scene in the animated movie
Ratatouille (which I saw with my daughter and you may well have missed) in
which the protagonist rat Remi, a consummate foodie and master chef, is
trying to explain to his brother of more pedestrian tastes, what happens
when you hit upon just the right blend of flavors — this is illustrated by
fireworks and kaleidoscopic colors dancing on the screen, and that is how my
mouth felt while I was eating the wat just now.

Just in case there was any doubt about your talent. (-;

cancer, chemicals, chocolates, containers: food news you can use

A client pointed me to this Nicholas Kristof op-ed in the NYT on new links between chemicals and cancer. This is the kind of news we all suspected, but here it is all double-blind tested and everything. It reminds me of three things:

  • Of course, the importance of knowing your farmers! Even in the beautiful Hudson Valley, I’m sorry to say that there are some farmers who liberally coat their veggies (particularly apples) with chemicals. (One of them has a beautiful farm that is 2 miles from my house, so this is an issue that I think about a lot.) Of course, I don’t buy from these farmers, but I worry that tourists will think that all picturesque farm stands sell 100% safe food. Be sure to always ask questions! Farmers who are concerned about the same issues you are will talk your ear off about why they are or are not certified organic (many of the farmers I get produce from are way, way beyond organic and aren’t certified because they don’t want to pay the USDA high fees or reward the USDA for their shoddy organic standards. Many of them are Certified Naturally Grown, which is a superior, in my mind anyway, system.), how they treat pests, etc etc. I love listening to farmers, my oh my. Right now I’m engaged in a long Facebook conversation with a farmer pal about why garlic has scapes and other alliums like onions and scallions do not. (Yep, I am a major produce dork!)
  • Second, I’ve been meaning to rant a little about why you’ll never see pretty colored chocolates sold by Lagusta’s Luscious. Do you know those gorgeous little bonbons that have adorable pink stripes or a plaid print, or even a tiny image of a Scotty dog or bow on them? Many, if not most, high-end chocolatiers make them. It’s really fun to color the ears of your chocolate Easter bunny a pretty pink, or to make a raspberry chocolate that’s colored with tinted red cocoa butter. I’ll never make these pretty chocolates, however, because all those colors are 100% chemicals. They are sold in sheets that you press onto chocolates, or in squeeze bottles or pots, and it’s just food dye. I can’t do it. If I’m out in the world, I might indulge in a vegan cupcake made with Earth Balance margarine, but I could never bring myself to cook with it, just like if I see a pretty vegan chocolate decorated with smart little stripes I might taste it, but I can’t bring those artificial colors into my kitchen. Now you know! My chocolates are and will remain brown, decorated only with organic rose petals, my beautiful homemade organic local beet cocoa powder (!), dehydrated and pulverized local organic apple powder, nuts, seeds, and so much more straight from the natural world.
  • And finally. For the meal delivery service I use a mix of BPA-free plastic containers and glass Pyrex containers. If you’re concerned about plastic, you can get your meals delivered in all glass containers. It makes the bag a bit heavier, so straphangers beware, and I have to charge a one-time refundable $25 containers charge because of how often the Pyrexes become chipped when they are stacked and returned. To reduce chips (which of course make the containers useless for anything but me storing beads and buttons in them at home, and I am running out of beads and buttons), kindly put the lid on all containers before putting them in the bag, or if they need to be stacked, put a paper towel between them. I can’t thank you enough for that—those containers are really pricey!

OK, off to grocery shop!