June 26, 2008

Irving Farm Coffee Company

My latest purchase that I am excited about is my freshly ground coffee beans from Irving Farm Coffee Company. This farm is located in the Hudson Valley (north of New York City) in the foothill mountains of the Catskills and the Berkshire mountains. No, no…they do not grow the beans there, but they do roast them. They have a great selection of all types of coffees with descriptions that make you crave your next caffeine fix.

I usually just stop by one of their cafes for a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I find that their coffee encompasses such a great full-bodied richness without the bitterness that you sometimes find. Today, however, I was ready for the next step in purchasing my own beans for personal brewing in my beloved French press (um…I keep this at work and while others are serving themselves that god-awful “work coffee” in the pantry, I am diligently brewing my own sumptuous coffee—sign #127 that I am a foodie).

I chose one of Irving Farm’s flavored coffees—Sinful Delight. This coffee is flavored with chocolate, hazelnut and caramel. Pretty much, it is desert in a mug. Their selection, however, is primarily non-flavored coffees and does include some organic blends for all you purists out there.
Irving Farm Coffee Company has cafés at the following locations:

71 Irving Place Coffee & Tea Bar
71 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003

Irving Farm Coffee Company

56 7th Avenue
New York, NY

Irving Farm Coffee House

44 Main Street
Millerton, NY 12546

Don’t live in New York? You can also order Irving Farm’s coffee via their website.


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June 23, 2008

Whole Wheat Pizza with Caramelized Shallots, Goat Cheese, Cremini Mushrooms, & Watercress

My friend, Sarah, was in town from London this past week, and we met for dinner at a fun Italian restaurant located in the West Village. With Italian food fresh in my mind, I yearned for more and as a result decided to make pizza—from scratch.

I was visiting another friend, Zaidee, a few weeks ago and together we made pizza using a recipe for whole wheat dough from her Canyon Ranch Cooks cookbook. This is a cookbook geared towards those who eat healthy—something I strive towards but often stray from. Surprisingly, the dough was super simple to make (aside from some stickiness) and tasted pretty good for something that is healthy. However, all healthy aspects of the dough recipe were offset by the naughtiness of my rich toppings. Oh well.

Once you make your dough and roll it out, you can really then top it with whatever your heart desires. On this particular Sunday evening, my heart desired the sweetness of caramelized shallots matched with the creamy tang of goat cheese combined with the earthiness of cremini mushrooms freshened up with the peppery, fresh flavor of watercress. Yum!

Once my pizza was finished I sat down and indulged in my creation, which was scrumptious. On Sundays some people reach their spiritual ambitions by hearing sermons in church. I on the other hand reach my spiritual journeys through food. Oh, and wine helps too. As I devoured my pizza along with my glass of Sauvignon blanc, I did feel like I was in heaven.

So here is how you too can make this pizza. Feel free to just take the dough recipe and experiment with your own combination of toppings. Or try mine. I think either way you will be delighted. Of course, I’m sure that a proper pizza dough recipe is better, but for a healthy crust, I think this is good.

Dough Recipe, adapted from Canyon Ranch Cooks
(Canyon Ranch thinks this is for 6 servings, but I think that’s crazy talk—it is a health cookbook after all. Realistically it is for 4-5 entrée servings.)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the water, yeast, sugar, salt, and olive oil. Using a dough hook on medium low speed, slowly add the whole wheat and all-purpose flour and continue mixing until the dough separates from the side of the bowl. (If you do not have a mixer, or are like me and are too lazy to lug that huge thing out, you can do this by hand. Just stir the flour in with a spoon and mix well—this will take some elbow grease.)
  2. Lightly coat a medium sized bowl with olive oil. Form the dough into a ball and place it into this bowl. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 1 hour to rise.
  3. Set the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat baking sheet with olive oil (I used parchment paper for easier clean-up).
  4. On a floured board, punch down the dough and lightly knead for 30 seconds. Divide the dough into equal servings. Roll out the balls of dough into thin layers and place onto baking sheets.
  5. Add your toppings (see my suggestion below) and bake for 10 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
Kristin’s Toppings
(just use these measurements as guides and go with what looks right for the size of your pizza)
  • Olive oil
  • 4 large shallots, sliced
  • 24 large cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 10 oz goat cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups watercress sprigs
  • Truffle oil (optional)
  1. As the dough is rising, slowly sauté the shallots with some olive oil over medium low to medium heat. (By sautéing the shallots slowly, this allows for the sugars in them to caramelize.) Meanwhile, in another pan sauté mushrooms with some olive oil. If they get soggy, turn up heat a little and continue sautéing uncovered. When the shallots and mushrooms are done, spread out on a plate to cool.
  2. Spread a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the rolled out dough (including the edges). Evenly scatter the chopped garlic. Add the goat cheese in dollops and flatten out with the back of the spoon. Now add the mushrooms and shallots. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake pizza in oven until done per directions above. Take the pizza out of the oven and top with watercress sprigs. Drizzle additional olive oil (or truffle oil, if you have any) over the top and serve.

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June 18, 2008

Skate with Peas & Mint

A couple weeks ago I watched the documentary, The Real Dirt on Farmer John. This movie tracks the history of farmer John’s family roots and the difficulties he faces in continuing the family business. As you can probably guess, keeping the family farm in business has been a challenge for him. The touching part of the film is seeing how much that affects him—not so much financially as much as emotionally. Farmer John is an endearing, unique character with a darling mother so of course I now picture every farmer being like him, which makes me want to rush out and support my local farmers’ market even more.

My urge to increase my visits to the farmers’ market is also encouraged by the environmental aspects. I admit it—I have never been all that into going out of my way to “save the environment.” This is mostly because I feel a bit confused by all the conflicting information. For example, one day those who buy a Toyota Prius are being patted on the back for saving our Earth only to find out the next day that making the dang car is actually worse for the environment than other alternative autos. Sheesh.

My friend, Libby, recently started a new blog called How Green Is…, which focuses on the environment in a realistic manner. Reading her blog has helped put the environment back in the forefront of my mind. I mean, I am still annoyed by all the conflicting information, but there are some things that are pretty straightforward. Such as, buying your food locally means that the food is being driven a shorter distance, which we can all agree is better for the environment. Phew.

So for these reasons (and some others, which I won’t get into now), I am now trying to run out to my farmers’ market even more.

The other day I was watching Jamie Oliver’s show, Jamie at Home. He brought us to his greenhouse where he put together a yummy looking dish with smashed raw peas and mint, which he served over grilled toast. This peaked my interest so I headed to the farmer’s market looking for ingredients to make something similar, and here is what I came up with (for 1 serving):
  • ¾ - 1 cup shelled, raw sugar snap peas
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp plus 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 Skate fillet (alternatively, you can also use turbot)
  • Flour
  1. Carefully chop the fresh peas, and then put them into a bowl (or you may have better luck keeping them on the cutting board). Add the mint, zest from the whole lemon, and 1 tbsp olive oil. Smash together with a pestle/ back of wooden spoon/ or fork. Squeeze one half of the lemon into the mixture. Add salt to taste (don’t be shy with the salt). (If you have a mortal and pestle, this would be ideal. Using a food processor on “pulse” would also make this easier.)
  2. Rub the sake fillet with 1 tsp of olive oil. Dredge fish in flour and shake excess flour off. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add the fish and cook on both sides until cooked through. (My fillet took about 3-4 minutes on each side.)
  3. Serve fish on plate and squeeze other lemon half on top. Spoon pea mixture onto fish. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil on the plate around the fish.

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June 15, 2008


I have a great, new summer drink for y’all—Caipirinha’s. This is a Brazilian drink that some friends of mine who lived there introduced to me. They are refreshing yet have quite a nice bite to them. The liquor used is cachaca, which is derived from sugar cane (similar to rum but less sweet). This liquor is then off-set with the refreshing taste of lime sweetened with sugar. It is a great drink to enjoy on a summer evening, but be careful—these drinks may look innocent, but they are quite strong!

I bet the inventors of the “Brazilian bikini” were drinking these when they came up with the idea that bikinis that show ladies’ cheeks are a good idea…

Here is how my friend, Zaidee, makes them (per drink):
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 shots of cachaça
  • ice cubes
  1. Cut lime into quarters and squeeze into an old fashioned glass. Then throw the lime quarters into the glass.
  2. Add sugar. With a muddler smash the limes and sugar together. (This helps bring out more of the lime flavor out and also helps dissolve the sugar. If you do not have a muddler, try using a wooden spoon.)
  3. Mix in cachaca and then add ice until the glass is full and mix. (Ideally, you want the glass to have lots of ice to cool off the drink and help off-set the strength of the cachaca.)

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June 08, 2008

Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Sandwich

I don’t know about where y’all live, but in New York it is blazing hot right now. I tried walking around earlier today and found myself melting. So I quickly headed back to my air conditioned apartment. The problem was that I didn’t have anything for lunch, and what does one want to eat on such a hot day?

In the summertime while growing up in Alabama, I remember my mom and me sitting in the kitchen enjoying yummy tomato sandwiches. We would simply toast bread, spread on some mayonnaise, add slices of tomato, and then top it with salt and pepper. They were so perfect for hot summer days—the tomatoes were cool and super juicy (in fact, often we’d have to eat our sandwiches over the sink because they were so messy from the juices) and the sandwiches were nice and light.

Mmm…I loved the idea of making a tomato sandwich but was also interested in doing something new with it. Last evening a friend and I made pizzas using fresh mozzarella as a topping, which tasted great. With the virtues of fresh mozzarella still in mind, I decided to use this. Naturally, basil is the next logical ingredient. I don’t have mayonnaise right now, but the more I was thinking about it, I preferred the idea of using olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Basically, I was creating the traditional tomato, mozzarella, and basil dish in a sandwich.

So here it is (per sandwich)…my measurements are purposely vague here as the amounts really depend on the size of your toast. So just go with it—it is pretty strait forward.
  • 2 Slices of bread
  • ½ Garlic clove
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Tomato slices
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Basil leaves
  1. Toast the bread slices (I prefer toasting my bread on the stove top with a grill pan, but obviously a normal toaster works as well).
  2. When the toast is ready, take the cut side of the garlic half and rub it against the top sides of each piece of toast. (This allows for the flavor of garlic without being overpowering.)
  3. Evenly sprinkle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top side of one piece of toast. (For my sandwich, I probably sprinkled about 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar.)
  4. Now lay out the tomato slices over one of the pieces of toast. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the tomatoes.
  5. Add a layer of fresh mozzarella cheese over the tomatoes and then top with basil leaves.
  6. Now just take the other piece of toast and lay on top. Voila—an elegant and simply divine summer sandwich!

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June 02, 2008

Fruit Salad with Lime Mint Dressing

Oh, I love this time of year when warmth finally fills the air. New Yorkers, feeling relieved after a long winter, walk around with smiles on their faces and even shed a bit of courtesy to those around them. Sidewalk cafes begin to populate, and lines for the local ice cream shop grow long. Meanwhile, yummy summer fruit begins to fill the shelves at the market. I love it!

To aid my efforts in consuming all the great fruit that is finally reaching its featured season, I like to make fruit salads. Why settle on just one fruit when you can throw everything together?

When I make fruit salads, I like to keep them simple. I make one of my favorite fruit salads by just cutting up a selection of fruit, squeezing some lime juice over it, and mixing in some chopped mint. Yum!

The fruit you choose is endless for this salad. Today I made it with a peach, apricot, and plum. One lime provided plenty of juice, and I used about 1/4 cup of chopped mint. This made one large serving, or two small side servings of salad.

I would write out this “recipe”, but I think this dish works best when you run with it on your own.