Category Archives: Food

Local Eggs: Sweet & Delicious

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

It’s been a long time since I’ve had an egg as delicious as this: bright orange yolks, rich, sweet and creamy, almost like a dessert when soft-boiled on toast and in yesterday’s salad! Leigh Melander, a colleague at WIOX and founder of Spillian bought a bucket of eggs into the radio station to share. Leigh says her hens, who are completely free range, are very happy and I believe her. They were presented with some art a few days ago and all flocked around to inspect it.

Part of the lure to the country or Upstate New York, apart from the fresh air, is the local food. It’s worth battling five months of winter for glorious food like this. When wholesome food of this calibre becomes an expensive luxury in the city, it’s time to move upstate where your neighbors bring you eggs, cheese, bread, jam or any number of spring items that they have produced on their homestead. Just the fragrant aroma of a homegrown tomato feels like a miracle.Local, country board meetings are never without something homemade to pass around like goat’s cheese or bread. This second rainy and gloomy day of the week has been lit up like a summer’s day by simple eggs on toast using local bread.

Winter is tough up here, but the spring rewards are like Sunday Best, not taken for granted and savored all the more.

Forsythia Syrup

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Forsythia, which is in bloom at the moment, is a shrub that produces gorgeous bright yellow flowers in the spring before its leaves start to shoot. After attending Rob Handel’s Wild Edibles class last week, I discovered that I had a huge forsythia bush on my property and that now is the time to make forsythia syrup with the flowers on this shrub.

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Peekamoose’s Cucumber Gazpacho

© J.N. Urbanski

Back in the day, Peekamoose Restaurant made this incredibly delicious cucumber gazpacho, which is no longer on the menu, that reminded me of England, where we love our cucumber in all its forms because it’s so refreshing. English cucumbers are different to the cucumbers that you find here in the US. They are lighter, softer, less dense and go well in smoothies. Years ago, Marybeth, the owner, once reeled off a list of ingredients for their gazpacho and the next day I tried to remember what they were. (I’d had a couple of drinks). After some experimentation, I believe I have mastered it. To continue the theme of giving the gut a spring clean, here’s another raw, vegan recipe that’s cooling, simple, easy and nutritious.

Cucumber Gazpacho

Three medium sized English cucumbers
Half cup of raw almonds
Half cup of water
10 grapes or half an apple
Three teaspoons of olive oil
Half teaspoon of salt
Half teaspoon of pepper

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Taste Buds Gone Wild

© J.N. Urbanski

Last night, Rob Handel, chef at Heather Ridge Farm, impressed a large crowd packed into the Catskill Center with his knowledge on wild edibles and foraging. After conducting a talk on how to incorporate wild vegetables into our diet by producing tinctures, ferments and syrups, he brought out some delicious, earthy, wholesome food to taste that made the taste buds come alive.

Endive stuffed with porcini mushroom pate topped with ramp pesto accompanied by carrot, burdock root and garlic grass salad (pictured above).

A pickled milk weed pod

Forsythia Syrup with Soda

Nettle Soup

Some of the ingredients in last night’s tasting were foraged recently: forsythia is available now and ramps are coming up. The nettle soup was fresh and exquisite. Some ingredients were preserved; the pickled milk weed pod tasted like a larger, yet much more subtle, caperberry. The crowd was so large for this event, not only because Rob is so knowledgable, answering everyone’s follow-up – and non-follow up/general experience – questions with ease, but because wild edibles are becoming very popular. Gradually, people are turning away from traditional foods and taking a keen interest in the wildly diverse tastes of foraged herbs, funghi and vegetables that they can find on their property like garlic mustard, burdock, nettle leaf, sumac, dandelion, sheep sorrel, milk weed, porcini and more. This kind of rare, unusual – and FREE! – food excites the taste buds. Plus, it’s fun to forage. Rob recommended a few books, one of which was The Joy of Foraging by Gary Lincoff.

Peekamoose’s Ramen Bowl

© J.N. Urbanski

The new bowl on the block: the sensational ramen with braised pork at Peekamoose. Ramen can be too salty but not this one. House made noodles with a soft boiled egg, kale and some very tender braised pork, all in a mouthwateringly delicate chicken broth. Move over, charcuterie board, you are no longer the go-to. Wait, I didn’t mean that.

Catskills Restaurant Week: Ate-O-Ate at Union Grove

© J.N. Urbanski

It’s Catskills Restaurant Week this week and today, April 14th, is the final day. Last night’s dinner by Ate-O-Ate Food Truck catered at Union Grove Distillery was a choice of two delicious full course meals for $35 plus tax and tip. Drinks were separate.

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Vegan Chocolate Oat Pudding

© J.N. Urbanski

Here’s a highly nutritious breakfast that looks like a chocolate pudding made with raw oats, avocado and nuts that makes a good replacement for oatmeal or porridge, if you need that sort of thing for kids or other family members who dislike it.

Vegan Raw Chocolate Oat Pudding

1 cup of oats soaked overnight in water or almond milk
Half a cup of water (additional to what the oats are soaking in)
1 medium avocado (peeled)
2 heaped tablespoons of cacao powder or 1 heaped tablespoon of cocoa
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 heaped tablespoon of cashew cream (for recipe see previous post)
1 heaped tablespoon of almond cream (see below)
Chopped dried apricots or sugared fruit to garnish

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Vegan Pudding

© J.N. Urbanski

Sometimes it’s your gut that needs a spring cleaning. I recently learned that juicing is not that good for you, that doctors feel it’s preferable that you eat all the fibre too, otherwise you’re just drinking a load of sugar-water. Allegedly, when you eat the whole fruit, the gut is lined with insoluble fibre that allows the rest of the fruit to pass through and reach your lower intestine where it’s munched on by beneficial bacteria. There have been many dodgy dietary practices in the past, but I don’t think eating more whole fruit, whole vegetables and nuts is one of those bad ideas that we’ll examine in the future and say, “what were we thinking”? Furthermore, cooking food destroys many of that food’s nutrients, so nutritionists recommend overnight soaking of nuts and grains instead. In this spirit, a small fortune has been spent at a local vegetarian supermarket to fill the fridge with homemade vegan and raw sauces, milks, puddings and butters to go in pancakes, cereals, egg dishes, soups, stews, casseroles and more. But first, the most important: pudding. I’ve been working a raw, vegan chocolate oat pudding for kids, but it’s not ready yet. Watch this space.

Cashew Cream

Take a cup of cashews, put them in a mason jar and cover with water until the water is about a quarter-inch above the cashews. Soak overnight and in the morning pour the whole jar into the blender and purée the mixture for two minutes. The mixture should thicken after you’ve finished blending.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse (serves two)

Two medium avocados
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons cashew cream
Half a cup of soaked cashews
2 tablespoons of cacao or cocoa powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Sugar ginger (for garnish)

A lot of experimentation went into this one to get it right. You don’t want the pudding to end up too thick or you won’t be able to blend it, but you don’t want to add too much water, otherwise it’ll get runny. To soak the cashews, cover half a cup of cashews in a mason jar with water overnight to soften. Don’t drain or discard the water. Finely chop the avocado and put with the other the ingredients (except the ginger and the cup of water) in a food processor – I used a Nutri-bullet – and blend for a few minutes until smooth. If the mixture is too thick you can add some of the water, but it’s better to add the water incrementally to avoid it coming out too runny. If you do end up add to much water, add a tablespoon or two of cashew cream or some more avocado. Refrigerate until cool and serve with sugared ginger garnish.

Catskills Sandwich: Mean Green Burger of Windham

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Half a pound of Angus beef served with either fries or salad; it’s the jalapeno mayonnaise sauce that gives this juicy burger a hearty kick to the palate with melted smoked gouda cheese, sliced dill pickles and lettuce. The bun is also up to the challenge, remaining steadfast despite the onslaught of sauce, which will run over and douse the perfectly cooked fries: crispy outer shell and fluffy potato within and possibly the best fries in the Catskills (along with the steak fries at Boiceville Inn). The Mean Green from Catskill Mountain Country Store and Restaurant is wholly delicious.

Catskills Sandwich: Bread Alone’s Banh Mi

© J.N. Urbanski

Bread Alone’s Banh Mi sandwich on their signature health bread, although it usually comes on a baguette: pulled pork with kimchee that’s the perfect balance between salty and spicy: juicy and delicious. The health bread is coated with seeds, thick and chewy without being dry like other thick whole wheat breads.

Catskills Pie: Zephyr’s Chicken Pot Pie

© J.N. Urbanski

The Zephyr in Pine Hill is a meat-and-potatoes restaurant in the metaphorical sense that it offers all the fundamental, everyday dishes without the stodge: very generous portions of hearty staples that aren’t overwhelmed by heavy sauces or congealing in butter. (They do offer some vegetarian and vegan options). Zephyr’s dinners are your regular squares with extra care: refreshing versions of your favorite meals. The “deconstructed” chicken pot pie consists of a lot of braised chicken in a gorgeous pan sauce tumbling over a hill of creamy mashed spuds, all topped with a wedge of puff pastry. The advantage here is that you can pick up the crust and dip it in the gravy. If you’re not used to eating such huge portions, this dish passes the overnight test and came out of the fridge the next morning ready to put in a sandwich, the chicken and mash having retained their softness without being fatty.

For a leftover chicken sandwich, cut the chicken chunks lengthways into small slices; butter two pieces of toast and lay the chicken on both slices of toast. Put the mashed potatoes into a small milk pan with a small knob of butter and mash with a fork until warm. Pile the mashed potato on top of the chicken and close the sandwich. Use the leftover gravy to dip the sandwich in. Delicious.

The Zephyr, 302 Main Street, Pine Hill, NY 12465.

New Local Cheese

© J.N. Urbanski

Spillian hosted a cheese tasting last Saturday for friends and neighbors who took a first look at Two Stones Farm’s new batch of cheese. I wrote an extensive account of Alan and Robin White’s Two Stones Farm in Halcottsville over a year ago in a piece entitled The Fine Art of Cultivation, which you can read here. The White’s farm is its own ecosystem and they are breeding goats that will eventually be perfect for the Catskills climate and terrain. The goats live in barn that’s heated by manure and are protected by two self-sufficient guardian dogs who have been known to fish out of the river: a fascinating place and worth a visit. From the goats’ milk, they are now making cheese.This delicious local cheese is produced naturally without synthetic hormones or antibiotics. Alan wanted to supplement the goat’s milk with cow’s milk, but was obliged to obtain the milk in multiple plastic bottles and because he didn’t want to put all that plastic back in the environment, he bought a cow. Presently, they produce soft cheese like a feta and a chevre, plus two types of tomme and a gouda-style cheese without the wax coating.

Dogs guard the goats and alpacas like family.

J.N. Urbanski

Honey-Glazed Beets at Peekamoose

© J.N. Urbanski

The warm honey-glazed beets at Peekamoose remind me of standing on the farm eating a beetroot, warm from the scorching August sun, straight out of the ground. In winter, when there’s a foot or two of snow on the doorstep, and you’ve braved piercing winds and roads covered in dry chalky snow on date night, beetroot warm from the oven, covered in honey and goat’s cheese creme is a mouthwatering treat. Rich, earthy and wholesome, these beets are almost like a dessert as the creme melts into the warm honey sauce, making a juice so luscious you’ll want to slurp it directly off the plate. Scrumptious.

Fire Cider Making at Spillian

© J.N. Urbansk

Yesterday was Imbolc, a Gaelic holiday, celebrated by Christians as St Brigid’s Day, marking the first day of Spring. If the snow is low enough, snowdrops traditionally have always appeared at this time. Also yesterday  was the third annual World Fire Cider Day and Spillian held a class run by Liza Belle in the ancient tradition of making fire cider. Fire cider is an ancient folk remedy and winter tonic in which curative roots, herbs and spices are steeped in apple cider vinegar. The basic ingredients of fire cider are garlic, horseradish root, jalapeños, habaneros, ginger and onion all finely chopped and covered in apple cider vinegar. To this mix you can add extras like cinnamon, juniper berries, rosemary, thyme, cayenne pepper, blood orange and rose hips, burdock root and turmeric. Last night, we chopped and chatted and went home with a can of fire cider to steep for six weeks.

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Bebert’s Chicken Tagine

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

We asked Bebert for one of his favorite recipes and he submitted a chicken tagine, which we tried for the first time by turning it vegan a few weeks ago and you can find our recipe here. Here’s the recipe for the original chicken dish, using Bebert’s own preserved lemons and spices.

Chicken, Preserved Lemons with Olives & Almonds

1 Chicken 3-4 lbs, cut into 8 pieces
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6-8 cardamom seeds
½ teaspoon pepper
(Or substitute 2 tablespoons of Bebert’s organic spice blend for the above spices)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced in half rounds
1-2 slices of preserved lemon including pulp and juice
(lemons are preserved in salt… not necessary to add more salt)
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
½ cup dried raisins
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup chopped, fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley

Put all ingredients together in a tagine, Dutch oven or casserole. Let marinate in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Cook on 350F oven for 2 hours.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Jeanette Bronée’s Roasted Carrots & Prunes

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

My last radio show of the year on WIOX focused on favorite winter recipes from colleagues, neighbors and friends working in the food industry. Jeanette Bronée is a nutritionist and health coach, based part-time in the Central Catskills, who has appeared on my show a number of times in the past few years inspiring listeners to take charge of their health. She’s author of Eat To Feel Full. A small book with a big message, it’s “a beginner’s guide to self-nourishment, offering a combination of food knowledge, insights into the habits that block our efforts to transform, and practical techniques for developing a mindful, healthy relationship with food”. She picked a recipe that’s sweet and spicy, more like a dessert than a side dish with roasted whole carrots and sweet prunes. We used unsulphured apricots instead of prunes because you can really substitute any fruit that you wish and added a half cup of wine to the recipe. We served it with a small side of braised, local venison. As Jeanette said on a previous radio show, she eats meat “like a condiment” and, excepting the occasional post-hike burger, we’ve been taking her advice ever since. This roasted vegetable dish is luscious: sweet and filling, perfect with seasonal game.

Roasted Carrots & Prunes

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Marcey Brownstein’s Shepherd’s Pie

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Marcey Brownstein is the proprietor of Marcey Brownstein Catering serving the Hudson Valley, Catskills, NYC, the Tri-State area and beyond since 2001. She moved to the Catskills full-time in 2012, settling in Woodland Valley, one of the the most picturesque and historical valleys in the Catskills. Her favorite winter recipe is Shepherd’s Pie, a rib-sticking favorite.

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Catskills Sandwich: Cauliflower & Egg

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Bread Alone’s warm cauliflower egg sandwich was on the specials’ menu on Monday in two thick slices of their delicious health bread. This time it has some sort of orange sauce plus cheese. The cheesy cauliflower goes well with the soft, slightly chewy wholewheat bread and the warm scrambled egg just melts in the mouth. Scrumptious.

Chris Bradley’s Favorite Winter Dish: Cider Braised Duck

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Chris Bradley has been Phoenicia Diner‘s executive chef since May of this year. He picked his favorite winter dish, which is currently being considered for the new menu that comes out next week and it’s delicious. The duck was tender and juicy, the vegetables perfectly roasted and not salty. A gorgeous winter recipe that’s rib sticking, but won’t sit heavily in your stomach. Plus, it’s no longer a mystery as to how their grits are so utterly mouthwatering. Here’s the recipe for it.

Cider Braised Duck, Butternut Squash & Brussels Spouts
Serves 4

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The Bull & Garland

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

To an immigrant, the value of a taste of home can’t be overstated. When that taste of home is of such a high standard there’s all manner of excitement. Bull & Garland, a British-style pub with grub in Hobart, began operation as an inn this past summer and now they offer food available to eat at their cozy bar or in their dining room. Theirs is a fledgling operation with a limited but superb and authentic menu and a fine selection of beer, wine and spirits.

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Supper Club at Heather Ridge Farm

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Now that the sun sets at 4.30pm and night falls before dinner, the journey to Saturday night eats becomes more romantic. Almost an hour spent on winding, country roads, through picturesque towns like Roxbury and Gilboa – site of one of the Catskills’ famous dams – to Preston Hollow is like winter film noir. Bright squares of light from homesteads and farmhouses flash by in the waning dusk and you catch fleeting glimpses of the toughest work days being put away. Farmers enjoying their own dinner at tables are spotted briefly through front windows. A farmer’s work is never done though and those farmers who have full-time jobs have to tend to animals through the night or help family members milk cows.

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Classic Moroccan Tagine with Local Vegetables

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

This recipe is a seasonal twist of the classic Moroccan tagine. Bebert’s Moroccan Cafe in Fleischmanns sells organic custom blends of traditional herbs, spices and condiments used in Moroccan cuisine and they perfectly complement this season’s local vegetables. The recipe below is amended from Bebert’s favorite that we’ll publish later in the season This one uses his organic spice blend Spices De Fes and Preserved Lemons which make for a deliciously tangy, sweetly spicy sauce. Don’t use zucchini or a watery squash for this recipe because it will release too much water. Also, if you like your spicy food on the weaker side, only use one tablespoon of the Spices De Fes. This is an earthy, hearty stew for winter that freezes well. Absolutely delicious.

Bebert’s Tagine with Local Vegetables

1 medium butternut squash (about 3-4lb), cubed
1 small sweet potato (about ½lb), diced or grated
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6-8 cardamom seeds
½ teaspoon pepper
(Or substitute 1-2 tablespoons of Bebert’s organic spice blend Spices De Fes for the above spices)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced in half rounds
1 slice of Bebert’s Preserved Lemons including pulp and juice (lemons are preserved in salt… not necessary to add more salt)
½ cup dried apricots (or raisins)
½ cup sliced almonds
1 cup white wine
¼ cup chopped, fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley

Put all ingredients together in a tagine, Dutch oven or casserole. Let marinate in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Cook on 350F oven for 1.5 to 2 hours. The sweet potato cooks much more slowly than the butternut squash, so it should be diced into very small pieces, chopped or grated. If you like your tagine sweet, add a cup of diced carrot.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Catskills Treats: Bebert’s Coconut Macaroons

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Use Trader Joe’s shredded coconut for these treats. Mix together with egg whites and condensed milk and you have yourself a coconut macaroon. Warm, straight out of the oven, they are crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. Perfect afternoon treat at Bebert’s on Main Street in Fleischmanns. Also sampled today was Bebert’s delicious rice pudding with orange peel and spices. A beautiful sunny day for hanging out in our Moroccan cafe in the Catskills.

Catskills Pie: Bull & Garland’s Pot Pie

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Chicken and Tarragon Pot Pie on the menu at Bull & Garland in Hobart, New York. Deliciously light for a pot pie and buttery with an ethereal crust. You won’t ordinarily get two crusts. We took our pot pie to go, after a filling tour of the exceptional starters, and scored a free crust and some extra mashed potato. This is a pie to love.

Catskills Pie: Holiday Biscuit Co’s Sausage Pie

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Found at the Pakatan Farmers’ Market which runs through November: Holiday Farm Biscuit Co’s sausage pie. This delicious pie comes in two varieties, egg/sausage and chorizo/manchega. Light and crumbly crust with subtly flavorful filling, it’s not so heavy that you’ll feel stuffed afterwards. Served warm, it’s makes the perfect winter breakfast. Get some.

Root Vegetable Soup with Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

If you never truly appreciate something until it has gone, then I was really very much appreciating the Saturday Summer farmer’s market until I found out it was extending until the end of November. Owing to an Autumn that was warmer than usual, local farmers have more produce to sell. I haven’t been to the market as often as I have liked this summer and am grateful to have another three or four opportunities. On Saturday, in addition to kimchee and fresh ginger, I picked up a box of assorted root vegetables. Plus, I planted the rest of the fresh ginger as it had a couple of green shoots. There’s nothing like firing up the wood stove for the first time and watching a fresh, organic root soup simmering for the evening. Fall is almost finished and the landscape is swaddled in a thick blanket of caramel oak leaves, the last trees to turn.

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Beans on Toast in the Catskills

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

What happens when a loyal proponent of beans on toast, the iconic British snack, gets a case of the Mondays. You may also find beans on toast occasionally at Jack’s Place in Arkville. Beans on toast is a great way to accompany a whole day’s worth of reading and transcription. You can find a full examination of beans on toast on this website here. If you happen to wander upstate a bit further, you will find an enormous English section at Wegmans that includes Heinz Baked Beans. You can also find all manner of English food at Jolly’s English Grub on Route 212 near Saugerties.

Tomato Season

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Farming is a risky business. Every year, at least one crop gets a blight. This year it was the squash that gave up just after it blossomed, making me kick myself that I didn’t take those blossoms, stuff them with goat’s cheese and fry them. This year the tomatoes (that suffered their blight three years ago) are doing well like the onions, potatoes and garlic. The rhubarb, now ready to harvest once three years old, was so exceptional that we planted four or five more plants – from previous years’ saved seeds – in our meadow and in the orchard with some asparagus. They sprang forth quickly. Rhubarb likes it around here and we like it. Last year’s tomatoes were equally good. Once you grow your own tomatoes, you’ll never buy store bought variety again. Plus, it’s so easy to have an indoor tomato plant on the windowsill and fill your kitchen with that heady tomato smell.

Mushroom Gravy With Foraged Bolete Mushrooms

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Bolete Mushroom Gravy

2 cups of chopped mushrooms
1 medium onion
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon of ground celery
2 tablespoons of local butter
2 tablespoons of whole milk
2 cups of boiling water
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of sage
1 sprig of rosemary
1 tablespoon of all purpose flour

This recipe calls for chopped mushrooms, but if you like your mushroom gravy lump-free, then you will either need to use minced mushrooms instead of chopped, whizz them in the blender or you will have to purée the gravy with a hand blender once it’s cooked.

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Foraging: Boletes

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

It’s mushroom season and while foraging I found a huge stand of bolete mushrooms growing under maple and oak trees on the edge of my forest. I’m a novice forager, so I had FOUR separate people confirm that what I had was edible. Before proceeding to eat any mushroom, you must first be certain of its identity. Seek the counsel of experts as it’s simply not worth making a mistake in this case. Even as my mushrooms are cooking, I’m still worried about eating them. A couple of neighbors have applauded my courage, so it’s safe to assume I will have what I cook all to myself. I will keep readers posted as to the state of my stomach. Over the next month or so, I will be taking some foraging classes, but in the meantime, I wanted to get started and make the most of what my garden had to offer.

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Catskills Sandwich: Peekamoose Pastrami

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Anything at Peekamoose is delicious and well made, but the Pastrami is arguably the best pastrami in the Catskills. Thick and juicy, it arrives with a side of mustard and a handful of tangy caperberries. Exceptionally for last night, it came on this bun but you can also find grass-fed beef pastrami on the charcuterie plate with pork, cherry and pistachio terrine, chicken liver pate, pickled red onions and house made bread (which you can take home and use to make the world’s best leftover sandwich).

Green Tea Iced Lollies

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

If you’re hiding out in the mountains, with no desire to go any further than the hammock, but have a hankering for something sweet and icy…

My pal Esther De Jong from Green Label Home bought me some extremely cute iced lollipop moulds for my birthday and now I’m experimenting with yoghurt and cream. Sadly, vodka won’t freeze but tea will and we all know how I feel about tea. Organic Traveler’s Tea blends the best organic tea for hikers called Trekker’s Reprieve with gunpowder green tea, orange peel, cinnamon and blue vervain. It’s refreshing hot and spectacular cold: a gorgeous, healthful, cold hiking drink and now, an iced lolly. Here’s the recipe:

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Things To Do With the Humble Spud

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

One of the stars of the garden this year was the humble spud. To a British lass, there’s nothing more comforting than a roasted spud covered in butter, thyme and sage, evoking memories of lazy, English weekends. The erratic tones of English football commentary on the television was only interrupted by the occasional hissing and spitting of a Sunday roast in the oven, the smell of which saw us salivating slowly over the course or four of five hours. This year, we have more than we know what to do with, so will be trying to think up ways to cook this essential vegetable. As a much-maligned carbohydrate, the modern potato has a bad reputation and the term “couch potato” further conjures up negative connotations, but this vegetable is actually very nutritious. They have Vitamin B & C, thiamin, folate, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and small amounts of iron, calcium, zinc and copper. Potatoes are the easiest vegetables to cultivate, especially if you don’t have a lot of room to spare.

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Catskills Sandwich: Phoenicia Diner’s Reuben

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

This year’s Reuben is a tasty, juicy and modestly-sized; this last phrase is meant in the best possible way. So much of what we order today is either a belly-deadening doorstop or enough for two people to share, which limits your options. But even if you only eat half this sandwich, it survives a night in the fridge, like so many don’t. The Phoenicia Diner was written up in the New York Times this month and if it gets any more popular, we’ll start needing a reservation.

Farm to Belly: Carrots & Beets

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The first harvest of beetroot and carrots has been pulled and there’s no end to the possibilities. You can eat the carrot straight out of the ground but some sources say that they have to be steamed to give you all their benefits. If you want a raw treat, grate them and mix with balsamic vinegar and feta cheese for a truly healthful side dish that I posted last year. Scroll down for the recipe.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Beetroot, Carrot & Feta Salad

3 medium-sized beetroot (with leaves)
4-5 medium-sized carrots
1.5 ounces of balsamic vinegar
3 ounces of goat’s milk feta

Grate the carrots and beetroot. Chop up the beetroot greens. Cut the feta cheese into cubes. Mix the grated vegetables, and cheese together in a bowl with the balsamic vinegar for a quick, easy, utterly delicious, juicy and crunchy salad.

Farm to Belly: Garlic Scapes

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Garlic Scapes are the buds of the flower that garlic sends up in the spring. Farmers cut them off in order to encourage the plant to focus on the bulb. They have a much lighter, gentler garlic taste than bulb garlic and ever so slightly sweet. Delicious in omelettes, scrambled eggs, stir-fry dishes and roasted garlic potatoes, but they can get lost in soups unless you use a lot of them.

They also make a superb pesto. Eaten raw, garlic provides those infamous, extraordinary health benefits.

Garlic Pesto

10-12 large garlic scapes
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/4 a cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all the ingredients except for the oil in a blender. Mix in the oil when the other ingredients are blended well. If your pesto is too thick, add a drizzle of extra oil. Serve on bruschetta, toast points, crackers. Or add a dollop to soups, pasta and cheese plates. Delicious!

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Bebert’s Potato Cake

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Bebert’s Moroccan Cafe & Grocery opened in Fleischmanns last week. I wrote an article in the Watershed Post about it that you can find here. For the article, I had a tasting of Bebert’s condiments, and Bebert made a delicious Moroccan Potato Cake to go with some iced tea, which I mentioned in the article. The potato cake was delicious and included one of my favorites: peas. Here’s his recipe:

Boil 8 medium potatoes. Peel and mash coarsely. Beat 5 eggs, add to potatoes and mix well. Add 4 ounces of green peas (fresh or frozen). Add 2 slices of preserved lemons finely chopped. Season with 1 teaspoon of paprika, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into oiled, medium cast iron skillet. Cook in 350F oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Invert skillet and serve hot or room temperature.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

 

Catskills Fish & Chips

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

To your average British immigrant fish and chips is the ultimate comfort food and Arkville Bread Breakfast’s version last Saturday was perfectly fried and, although not specified, tasted like haddock that was steamed to perfection in a beer batter. It was a distant memory even at the time because it disappeared down my gullet quicker than you can say pudding. Accompanied by tartar sauce, delicious mushy peas and jacket wedges, it was so delicate it almost slipped through my greasy, quivering fingers. Quite possibly the best fish and chips in the Catskills.

English Food in the Catskills

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

If you like a proper British slap-up meal, this Saturday and Sunday May 21st and May 22nd, Arkville Bread Breakfast, home of the best fish and chips in the Catskills will be serving it up. On both Saturday and Sunday mornings, full English breakfast will be served. Plus on Saturday, a full British lunch too. ABB is open until 2pm Saturday and 1pm Sunday.

Menu

Full English Fry-Up
Bangers & Mash
Eggy Bread
Bacon Butties
Sides include Bubble & Squeak, Heinz Beans, Black & White Pudding
Scones

Get Ready.

43285 State Rte 28 (on the other side of the tracks at the crossroad of Rte 38)
Arkville, NY 12406
Tel: 845-586-1122

Pizza Night at Lazy Crazy Acres Farm in Arkville

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

We’ve waited all winter for a lot of things and Pizza Night at Lazy Crazy Acres Farm in Arkville is one of them. You can’t spit in the Catskills without hitting good pizza and Lazy Crazy Acres’ delicious pies are up there with the best, hand made right in front of you in their outdoor oven. Lazy Crazy Acres is a picturesque, rural homestead nestled in Rider Hollow by a roaring brook, with chickens, kittens, a barn, maple syrup for sale ($10 a pint), a kids’ play area, a rhubarb patch and hay rides up to their ridge above the farm that boasts stunning 360-degree views of the Catskill Mountains.

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Fish & Bicycle: Cafe, Bar & Grocery

© George Billard

© George Billard

It’s no secret that increasing numbers of people here in the northeast are turning to farming in order to have more control of their food supply and their economy. The average age of the American farmer was quoted as being 54 years old, but that’s bound to lower significantly as young people return to the profession in droves. Not only is the Catskills being enriched by new farmers, but also by entrepreneurs, innovators, producers and artists, all contributing to the local economy in meaningful ways. New Yorkers are moving up from the city to have more space, breathe fresh air, eat better food and re-connect with nature. Laura Silverman and Juliette Hermant moved from New York City to the Catskills, in 2009 and 2012 respectively to do just that. The two met when Silverman “was poking around” in Hermant’s store in Narrowsburg. “I bought a large, 1920s brick building and breathed new life into it,” says Hermant, a painter and photographer. “I filled it with antiques and vintage pieces, 90% of which are local to the Catskills. I set about trying to engage with the community to work on revitalizing the area.”

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Catskills Sandwich: Breadfellows Bread and Homegrown Zucchini

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Homemade Catskills sandwich: Breadfellows‘ delicious semolina bread, lightly toasted with boiled eggs and last year’s home grown (frozen) zucchini sauteed in butter. Tasty.

Wild leeks & Scrambled Eggs

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

If there’s anything quite as satisfying as foraging for your lunch, apart from growing your own food, I’d like to know what that is. Wild leeks, otherwise known as ramps, are having a good season here in the Catskills and many residents have them in abundance on their property this year. Don’t pick too many to ensure that your ramps continue to return every year. If you pick your whole crop they may not grow back. They require literally no maintenance, but you can enjoy them year after year if you take no more than a third of the crop. They smell like onions, have bright green leaves, red stems and you can eat the whole plant.  A large ramp about 18 inches in length like the ones pictured below is enough for a two-egg scramble. This recipe calls for the ramps to be mixed in with the eggs.

Wild Leek & Scrambled Eggs Serves 4

10 small eggs
4 large wild leeks
1 large tablespoon of finely grated parmesan
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of oil
Half a cup of milk
Salt & pepper to taste

Take the leeks, cut the leaves off and put the leaves to one side. Chop the stems finely. Heat a skillet with the oil in it and sautee the stems until soft.

Separately beat the eggs and milk in a bowl until thoroughly mixed and then, add the chopped leaves and parmesan and beat for a few more minutes until mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the butter to the sauteed stems,  allow it to melt and mix in with the soft stems. Add the egg mixture to the stems and cook lightly until scrambled.

Bon Apetit!

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Catskills Sandwich: Fried Crab Cake

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Phoenicia Diner‘s fried crab cake sandwich with bacon served with salad on a soft roll. The crab cakes are soft and fishy, as opposed to thick and doughy, and melt in the mouth making the sandwich deliciously light.

Catskills Sandwich: Bread Alone’s Pastrami Reuben

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Bread Alone’s Reuben with gruyere cheese, Russian dressing, coleslaw and pastrami on organic sourdough rye is much less greasy than it looks and remarkably juicy. The coleslaw is quite mild in this sandwich, complementing the flavor of the pastrami, which is not overly salty. The last spectacular sandwich I recommended from Bread Alone disappeared off the Winter 2015 menu just as my review in the Catskills Food Guide went to press and was replaced with something similar. Plus, the Boiceville location where I got the Avocado & Arugula on April 4th has had the arugula removed for the spring menu. All these additions and subtractions keeps us food reviewers on our toes. Grab the Reuben while you can, as menus change frequently.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

 

Catskills Sandwich: Roast Beef

© J.N. Urbanski 3/10/16

© J.N. Urbanski 3/10/16

The Phoenicia Diner revamped its roast beef sandwich this year. They toasted the bread, added melted brie to the juicy grass-fed beef making this classic sandwich much more delicious. Moreover, it’s a reasonable size for a sandwich, not a gigantic doorstop that’s a whole day’s worth of calories and enough meat to clog your colon for weeks.

Catskills Sandwich: Avocado & Arugula

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Bread Alone’s cucumber, apple, celeraic, sprouts, arugula pesto comes on organic ciabatta bread, but is much better on wheat. Crunchy, chewy and refreshing all at the same time, if that’s possible: a delicious Catskills sandwich.

Local Grass-Fed Beef: Hubbell Family Farms

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Local grass-fed beef is now available at the Hubbell Family Farm on 46124 Route 30 near Halcottsville, New York. Call in at their machine rental business, Catskill Rentals, where you can also pick up eggs and maple syrup. Grass-fed offerings are porterhouse, sirloin, short ribs, bones, burgers, brisket, and more, that was butchered two weeks ago and available frozen. You can also put your name down for heritage pork coming up in a few weeks. Talk to Andrew, John or Cheryl. Eat locally raised meat and support your community.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Downstate Dispatch: The Pines in Brooklyn

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Pork shoulder, beef burger sliders, crostini with cranberry ricotta, polenta with roasted Brussels sprouts, kale salad, pheasant soup and a plate of roasted, assorted spuds, all washed down with local cider from Wayside in East Delhi. That was last night’s delicious menu at The Pines’ backyard Catskills Comes To Brooklyn blowout that was packed to the rafters with hungry New Yorkers feasting on local produce and roasting s’mores over the fire. We even got to taste Wayside’s limited edition crab apple cider, which was worth the trip in itself, but not sure if it beats our current favorite, Wayside’s Skinny Dip, which is made with local quince. Owner of the Pines, Carver Farrell hails from upstate and a big supporter of local food. When you’re next in the city, visit The Pines. There are no photographs of the food, because it sadly did not stay on the plate long enough. Plus Wayside’s cider slips down so very easily and smoothly, just like we did after three glasses. You will just have to go and find out for yourself.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

 

Farm to Table Events: Downstate & NYC

© J.N. Urbanski 11.30am

© J.N. Urbanski

November 6th to 15th is Cider Week in NYC and there is Farm to Table style gathering at The Pines in Brooklyn, the owner of which is from Delaware County and a keen supporter of farmers and producers here.

They are hosting a Catskills backyard blowout on November 9th from 6pm to 10pm. They will be bringing down Delaware County-grown eats, wild-apple ciders and all manner of special things and special guests to the banks of the Gowanus including Wayside’s special crab apple cider.

They will be firing up seasonal snacks on the grill, roasting s’mores around the fire pit, and pouring cider all night long. Entry cost is $35 all-you-can-eat and cider specials a la carte. If you’re in NYC next week, please go to The Pines and support our local producers.

The Pines
284 Third Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Buy tickets here.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Word of Delaware County-based Wayside Cider is spreading like wildfire and they’ve completely sold out of two varieties, Halfwild and Catskills. They have very limited amounts remaining of the Skinny Dip that included local quince. Wayside has been in business for a year and thus far have pressed about 30,000 gallons. Before the end of the season, they’ll press another 7,000 gallons. This has been a tremendous year for the Catskills wild apple and many supportive neighbors have invited Wilson, and his business partner Irene Hussey, onto their land to pick their heritage apples and they’ve found five or six varieties of apples that are geo-specific to the Catskills. Some of those trees they have marked for grafting and Wilson is putting together a “roster of apples” from what exists here in these mountains.

For Cider Week, co-proprietor of Wayside Alex Wilson will be taking part in a panel discussion at Wassail in Lower East Side entitled So You Want To Start a Cidery. Tickets are going quickly.

Further north in Cold Spring, Glynwood is hosting its third annual Cider Dinner on November 13th from 6.30pm to 10pm. Guest Chef Shawn Hubbell of Soons Orchard & Farm Market joins guests in November during Cider Week NYC for a farm-fresh meal paired with the best craft hard cider the Hudson Valley has to offer.

Glynwood
362 Glynwood Road
Cold Spring, NY 10516

The Year of the Apple: Catskills 2015

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

2015 must be The Year of the Apple in the Catskills such is their abundance this year. a neighbour guesses that we have heritage apples on our property. Yesterday, I borrowed a dehydrator in exchange for ten pounds of apples. It’s clear that I’ll be making apple products like apple sauce, fruit leather, dried apples and apple crisp, for days and days to come. The image above is my breakfast for the foreseeable future: plain yoghurt layered with homemade apple sauce.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

 

Goats Milk, Grated Beet & Carrot Salad

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

If you’ve grown more carrots and beetroot that you can handle, you can make a crunchy slaw with crumbly goat’s milk feta. Serves four.

3 medium-sized beetroot (with leaves)
4-5 medium-sized carrots
1.5 ounces of balsamic vinegar
3 ounces of goat’s milk feta

Grate the carrots and beetroot. Chop up the beetroot greens. Cut the feta cheese into cubes. Mix the grated vegetables, and cheese together in a bowl with the balsamic vinegar for a quick, easy, utterly delicious, juicy and crunchy salad.

Wild Apples

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Wild apples are extraordinarily abundant and delicious in the Catskills this summer. They’re also slightly larger and sweeter than last year’s. Foraging for wild apples at the moment could not be any easier as they are just about everywhere you look. If you don’t have a tree or two on your property, it’s likely that you have a neighbour who does. If they aren’t going to pick their apples, ask them if you can pick some. Apple sauce freezes well for a couple of months and goes perfectly with and in a varied array of sweet and savoury dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Fill a large tureen with peeled and halved apples. (Wild apples go brown almost immediately after peeling, so you can pop them in a bowl of water with lemon juice to stop that if it bothers you.) Boil the apples in water slowly until they are soft, strain and mash them with as much sugar as desired. Let the mash sit for a half hour while the sugar dissolves, stir in some spices like cinnamon, clove or vanilla and then keep stirring until cool. Freeze in mason jars, but don’t add the spices if you’re going to freeze. Spices don’t freeze well, so add those when you use the sauce.

If you’re lucky enough to find a blackberry bush under the apple tree, you can add those to the sauce. Either mix them raw into the sugared apple mash for an easy pie filling or boil them separately with sugar to make a small amount of jam.

The best part about foraging for wild apples is that the fruit is pesticide-free, although it’s recommended that roadside foraging be avoided because of contamination from brake dust, motor oil and snow-melting sand or salt.