This was too fun a meal not to share. While the brewery’s undergoing massive renovations to the space, and garden plans for this season have been on hold, we’ve still got to eat. The eggs have been proliferating by the hens week by week, ever since late February. Now we have a surplus, and found ourselves yesterday with a few rare gifts: seitan, from a new local company called Monk’s Meats.
The natural, wheat gluten product is handmade by a crafty couple who live in Brooklyn. They’re currently delivering orders of their seitan, which come in three flavors, not including specials of the week, to customers directly. They plan to sell their seitan this year in stores and open markets, too.
chipotle-flavored seitan from Monk’s Meats
I was introduced to Monk’s Meats through their joint participation in a pre-race dinner for the Red Hook Criterium two weekends ago. Sixpoint sponsored the event by providing beer, Fort Defiance roasted four lambs for the dinner outdoors, Monk’s Meats brought seitan, and I helped out Annie Novak and her Growing Chefs crew by making the rest of the veggie sides at the brewery (using neighbor Added Value farm’s produce). It was a collective local effort, and a lot of fun. And one of my favorite items on the menu that night was Monk’s Meats’ savory seitan braised with onions and Sixpoint Sweet Action.
the Sweet Action-braised seitan
The folks from the “vegan butcher shop,” as they call it, got in touch with me soon after to see if we could remake that entree as a weekly special for their customers. It had been such a delicious hit, they agreed. So we traded off: some Sweet Action for seitan, and the following week, co-owner Chris returned to the brewery with a few containers of the beer-braised seitan, which everyone at the brewhouse got to enjoy.
a fresh egg from the coop gets fried
Chris also brought by another flavor: their chipotle-spiced seitan, kept in a smokey-spicy broth. I brought that one home as a token goody, along with one of those rich, spring eggs from the coop. Together, they made a beautiful and satisfying lunch. It was all protein, too: the savory wheat gluten, and the hearty egg. Who cares if isn’t vegan this way? I think this vegan “charcuterie” and eggs go together quite well.
popping the yolk: one of my top 10 favorite things to do
If you’re not a vegan, you can surely relate to the oozing joy of a gently cooked egg. The creaminess of the yolk add some welcome fat to the super-healthy seitan, and bolsters the sauce. I garnished my plate with some leftover cilantro for the perfect touch of freshness. I’m not very experienced with eating seitan, and from the few times I’ve had it, it wasn’t very memorable to say the least. Monk’s Meats’ homemade chipotle-spiced version of it topped with the fried egg however, will go down in my tastebuds as a very delightful experience. Check it out soon, and here’s my simple recipe.
Chipotle Seitan ‘n Eggs
(makes 2 servings)
1 pint chipotle seitan from Monk’s Meats (or try braising plain seitan in your own chipotle-spiced broth)
handful fresh cilantro
tablespoon of oil
Heat the seitan through in its braising liquids. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a fry pan. Spread oil across the pan and crack eggs onto the pan keeping them separate. Reduce heat to medium-low and let cook until the whites are no longer clear, and the edges just begin to ruffle or brown. Sprinkle the egg with salt crystals.
Distribute seitan to two serving plates, pouring over some of the broth. Place fried eggs on top of each. Garnish with cilantro and serve.]]>
This was serendipitous, because peanut butter and brown ale go together amazingly, it turns out. The Brownstone, which has been brewed at Sixpoint for almost all its seven years, is so roasty and chocolately on its own. It has a slight hop bitterness, but none less appealing in a dessert than that of bittersweet cocoa. With peanut butter, it becomes nutty and rounder, and the effervescence of the beer helps leaven the cake. It’s definitely a new classic combo, over here.
Sixpoint’s Brownstone Ale
adding drops of reduced beer to the frosting
The cake batter incorporates both peanut butter and the ale. And since the peanut butter was so present in it, I made a buttercream frosting of just butter, powdered sugar, and a few drops of ultra-condensed Brownstone syrup.
It was the icing on the cake, you could say. The recipe, which was partly cobbled together from online recipes for stout cake, but mostly improvised using Brownstone (especially in the frosting), is below. A cake to celebrate, birthdays or not.
Peanut Butter & Brownstone Cake
(makes 8″ double-layer cake)
1 stick and 2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup Sixpoint Brownstone Ale (or another brown ale, or a stout)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
for the frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
about 1 – 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 cups Brownstone Ale, reduced to about 1 tablespoon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, bring the beer for the cake to a boil and add the 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter. Heat until melted through. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add a small splash of the warm beer and butter mixture to the eggs while whisking. Continue adding gradually, while whisking, until incorporated. Gradually add the flour mixture next, a small amount at a time to prevent lumps. Beat until fluffy and light. Pour mixture into two greased, round, 8″ baking pans. Bake about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let cool at least 20 minutes before adding the frosting.
To make the frosting, boil the 2 cups of beer into a thick syrup of about 1 tablespoon. Cut the softened butter into small squares and gradually whisk in the confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle this into the mixture as you beat to add more moisture as you go along. It will stain it a nice tan color.
Carefully remove one cake from the pan (the flatter one, if there is one), by placing a plate on top of it and flipping it over. Loosen the edges around the cake with a butter knife first to help it drop out. Spread a layer of frosting on the (flat) top of this cake. Then invert the second cake onto a plate, also upside-down, and place it flat side-down on top of the frostinged first cake. Spread frosting all over the surface of the cake, and enjoy.]]>
So I didn’t tell anyone that I took the last five or six of their dried apricots from the kitchen, which had been left out for more than a week. What I did was chop them up and fold them into a rich, milky concoction of chopped apples, brown sugar, beaten eggs and tears of stale bread. There it stayed to soak for a while. Then into the oven it went, with pats of butter on top.
And out came the best version of a bread pudding dessert I’ve ever had. I’m a huge fan of bread pudding, that miracle job for stale bread-turned-sublime. I’ve made savory versions of it when the garden was in full swing, and I wasn’t sure what to do with a handful of cherry tomatoes and random vegetables that were just harvested, too. For an environment that frequently has stale bread sitting around in large quantities (thanks to Orwasher’s Bakery, which makes bread with a Sixpoint beer and occasionally drops off bags full of their loaves), and eggs from the hens outside, this is a no-brainer fix for lunch. But a late-afternoon dessert in the dead of winter is a welcome treat as well.
When soaked enough with eggs and milk, the texture of sodden bread pieces, once stale, becomes a custard when cooked. It lends a more savory, yeast-y note to what would be a typical creme anglaise, or egg custard, and because it breaks apart in the solution it gives it more lightness without having to be whipped. Add some sugar, and fresh and dried fruit while it all soaks, and the whole thing absorbs these delicious flavors down to the last crumb.
I can’t say enough good things about bread pudding; it’s one of the best things I’ve learned to do in life. If you’re new to making it, this recipe is a good start, but keep in mind that you can add any fruit to it, as well as nuts or chocolate bits or whatever you have on hand. I didn’t go out and purchase anything for it, but used an apple that had gotten so overripe it was unpleasant to look at, and a handful of sage, one of the only plants still keeping on this winter season in the garden.
Apple Bread Pudding with Dried Apricots & Sage
(makes about 8 servings)
3 cups torn, stale bread, preferably a baguette or other European-style loaf, in coarse 1″ pieces
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 ripe apple, peeled, cored and sliced (as if you were making apple pie)
6 dried apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, slivered
4 tablespoons butter
Beat the eggs with the brown sugar and beat in the milk. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the butter and pack down the bread until soaked through. Let sit for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pack the mixture into a lightly buttered 9″ deep pie or tart pan. Slice the butter into thin pats and arrange evenly on top. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.]]>
My first victims were these charming “Paris Market,” or Parisienne carrots, with their squat, rotund shapes with blunted ends. I’ve also heard of them referred to as “Thumbelina carrots” — in any case, they’re clearly adorable and I thought they’d be great for pickling when I bought the seeds.
Then, there were some lemon sorbet-yellow Nantes carrots that had grown to wildly differing sizes; and “dragon” carrots with deep wine-colored exteriors and bright orange cores. They all smelled extremely sweet and carrot-y as I was washing off all the dirt from their skins.
The most fun part was pickling them, though. I chose an apple cider vinegar base, and cooked it a little with cinnamon sticks and black peppercorns. Two different types of hot peppers — orange Thai peppers (the skinny, long ones) and Aurora peppers (the multicolored Christmas tree light-looking ones) — went into the bottoms of each mason jar, along with a few cloves of garlic.
As a last-minute touch, I snipped off a few wisps of a fennel plant that was long past its bulb-forming time. These sturdy green wisps have a strong anise flavor and hold up well to a soak in brine, too. I’ve seen wild fennel that looks pretty much like this old plant of mine growing all over the Bay Area — it’s nice when there’s some yellow flowering parts to combine with the green fronds in the for a floral touch, too.
I popped open one jar of these and noted that they do taste pretty spicy, thanks to the peppers used. Thankfully that can always be adjusted to taste, but I rather like ‘em hot. Can’t wait to put them on an hors d’oeuvres spread at a holiday party in a few months.
Spicy Pickled Carrots with Fennel Fronds
(makes one 16 0z. mason jar)
about 1 1/2 cups carrots, trimmed, scrubbed and cut to similar-sized spears if large
8 oz. apple cider vinegar
4 oz. water
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp Kosher salt
2-3 cloves garlic
2-3 small hot peppers (such as Thai peppers, jalapenos, etc.)
2-3 long wisps of fennel fronds
Boil the mason jar and lid completely submerged in water for 10 minutes to sanitize. Keep water boiling for processing step at end (see last instruction).
Combine the vinegar, water, salt, cinnamon stick and peppercorns in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Place the garlic cloves, hot peppers and fennel fronds in the bottom of the mason jar. Arrange the carrots inside the mason jar. Fill carefully with the hot brine, pouring in the black peppercorns and the cinnamon stick, too. Screw cap on tightly. Place the jar upright in the boiling water so that it’s mostly submerged up to the cap (but doesn’t reach the cap’s rim). Let boil for another 5-10 minutes. Remove and let cool at room temperature. If the lid’s seal sucks in tightly after a few hours, you’re safe to store at room temperature until opening (after which point you can store in the refrigerator).]]>
What to do with a random smattering of peppers, pole beans, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes to harvest on any given day? Well, one of the easiest things you can do is to put them out, fresh, as a fresh salad or crudite platter. After doing this a couple times this late summer, it occurred to me that they would do better with a thick, tangy dip on the side than a thin coat of dressing, so people could snack on them on their own time.
The first dip that came to mind was hummus. But garbanzo beans take so long to soak and cook when you start off with them dry. So I took a gamble on a package of dried yellow split peas, and cooked them just until tender in about fifteen minutes. To this, I added the classic hummus accoutrements — crushed garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. It looked a little more yellow than hummus tends to, but it tasted pretty much the same.
As a last-minute flourish, I plucked some of the white blossoms off the tall shoots of chives that had begun to bloom this early fall. These are tasty, and attractive garnishes, and they’re also great to use as a seasoning, too. So I picked apart some of the chive blossoms and dropped them into the hummus in its final stirs. Another plucked chive blossoms was placed on the crudite platter for garnish.
When staffers dunked their fresh veggies into the stuff at the brewery the next day, nobody questioned what was in the “hummus.” And the vegetables were all eaten up.
Yellow Split Pea “Hummus” with Chive Blossoms
(makes about 1 pint)
3/4 cup dry yellow split peas
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tahini (ground sesame paste)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper to taste
Cover the split peas with about 1 inch of water and bring just to a boil. Reduce and simmer on low heat covered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until water has all been absorbed and peas are tender. Let cool uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Transfer the split peas, tahini, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic to a food processor and pulse several times, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil and blend until smooth. Add the chive blossoms and stir once more. Taste for seasoning, adding any more seasonings as desired.]]>
In a word: we’re totally fine! Yes, Red Hook, Brooklyn was looking to be the eye of Hurricane Irene according to many experts’ forecasts in the few days before it hit the East Coast. But luckily, we chanced out, and our little rooftop garden suffered only a few snapped sunflower stems as a result. Hallelujah, almighty!
Then, I’ve been out of circuit for the last month, and was relying on the account of the wonderful garden apprentices I’d appointed while I’d be out of town. I can’t tell you how funny it felt to be volunteering at the 40th Anniversary of Chez Panisse and the Edible Schoolyard event in Berkeley on August 27th, and spending most of that time talking on the phone or emailing with my constituents back home on how to secure the chicken coop. I was freaking out so much during this festival, that I could barely cut the dozen barrels or so of watermelons that I was designated to do that day.
enormous red okra; a bee feasts upon chive blossoms
As it turned out, all was taken care of — the coop was covered with a tarp via staplegun, all loose objects were moved from the roof, and I cut watermelon after watermelon — but the uncanny difference between two very different (and yet, strangely similar) coasts was impossible to miss. I’d traveled to California to get a fresh perspective on the farm-to-table food scene. There I got it, but it was my home in New York that propelled me to research this topic more.
incredibly, the multi-colored peppers turned just that instead of all purple!
I’m grateful to say that our garden at Sixpoint is doing just great, given the challenges that the summer of ’11 has thrown at it. There are a lot of things that you can do to prepare for the healthiest plants (and chickens) over a growing season. But some things, you just have to leave in nature and fortune’s hand. So we’re fortunate for a great crop of peppers, cucumbers, herbs, leafy greens and red-colored okra, which came up late. The tomatoes were great for a while in August, but they’ve weathered too many summer storms and weakened as a result (like the tomato plants of many neighbors’ container gardens that I’ve seen or heard of, too). We’re grateful for all these things, as well as the continual surge of pole beans which refuse to stop growing, it seems!
However, not all of the Northeast was pretty, farming-wise. We’ve gotten word that some 15% of the farmers who supply CSA shares to New York City have been flooded, and their crops were demanded unfit for selling. That’s 70-80% of the remaining harvests at these individual farms, according to Just Food’s website, and a loss like that right in the middle of harvest season is nothing to sneeze at for the struggling small farm. You can help out! With events like Lots of Hudson County Farms Need Your Support and more, to be listed on Just Food’s website. I know that CSA leader Wen-Jay Ying and I are already talking about a fundraiser for Rogowski’s farm, which was hit very hard by the hurricane as well as edicts to not sell the food from which.
the Free Farm in San Francisco
Growing Home Community Garden in San Francisco
While on the West Coast, I got to visit many urban farms, including Hayes Valley Farm and the Free Farm in San Francisco. I talked with their principals, ate from their crops, attended their workshops and inspected their plants. And I was able to glean from them a great perspective on how to maintain and organize a community, based around a garden. But the specific growing conditions for every climate, region, and particular season, are always going to be different, day after day.
I’ve learned that it’s not so much about what you do in a garden, but what you do with a garden that counts the most — to your community at least, if not to the plants. And to that respect, I’m most proud of my garden interns, Sarah and Kristina, who helped tend to the Sixpoint garden for a whole month while I was away and got some experience in rooftop container gardening as a result. You guys held down the chicken coop in a Northeast hurricane while I was bat-shit crazy during an Alice Waters event. Thank you, thank you. And let’s eat real soon.]]>
I was even frightened by the sight of it, and thought at first a pumpkin or butternut squash had come early. It was so heavy that it had actually grown into a space in between two keg-containers, and was situated snugly there to keep above the ground. That’s why there’s a slight dent in one side, from the contours of the containers.
But a cucumber it was, and there were many more that I’d recently plucked from the vines, too. So, on one of the hottest days of the year thus far, I whipped up a great batch of cucumber salad, with fresh mint.
There was a small handful of sungolds and red cherry tomatoes that had just turned ripe, and a number of bell peppers. The heirloom Sultan’s Gold pole beans plant is still producing. So a few of these vegetables were chopped up to toss in, too.
The mammoth cucumber, however, seemed to demand special treatment. After cutting it in half to make sure it was actually a cuke, I noticed that despite its size, its seed pocket was quite small. I continued slicing into it, to see further into the thing. The great, dense discs plopped over onto the cutting board, about the size of silver-dollar pancakes. They were too impressive to cut further. So I prepared this cucumber as a separate salad, sprinkled with sea salt, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprigs of fresh herbs, more or less like a platter of fresh tomatoes.
Now, I just wish I’d saved some of those slices to place over my eyes and escape this heatwave!]]>
It’s funny, because the seed package for them showed an array of different colors, just like Christmas tree lights. But for some reason both plants of these that have made it past flowering thus far have produced only purple fruits. How peculiar! But what a pretty color anyhow.
So, if you think you know the name of these bright, hot and PURPLE peppers, fire away! And if you have a good suggestion for how to use them next, I’d appreciate that, too. Pickled purple peppers sounds pretty good to me right now — they’re so fiery it would make a bright addition to a winter stew.
There are also medium-hot, mild and sweet peppers starting to produce greenish fruits now. I love the specific names for them all. This one has a name that could be that of a woman’s. I’ll keep clues to that for now before the guessing begins!
And I’ll hook up the first person to comment with the correct name of this plant with one of each of Sixpoint’s four-packs of cans. That’s right, a pack of Bengali Tiger, Sweet Action, The Crisp and Righteous Ale, no matter where you live. Let the guessing begin, and look forward to announcing a beer that will actually be made soon with a rooftop garden ingredient for inspiration…
So I’ve found these deviled eggs to be an easy fix for snacks, or a side dish to a platter of sandwiches. The secret is whole-grain beer mustard, made by our friend Anna Wolf of My Friend’s Mustard. This gives the deviled custard a noticeable texture, from mustard seeds that pop in your mouth like caviar. And, it’s made with Sixpoint’s Brownstone Ale (the brown ale mustard, that is), so the flavor is quite familiar and well-liked around here.
photo by Local Roots NYC
We served these deviled eggs, topped with some rooftop greens, at 61 Local recently for a special event. In collaboration with Nona Brooklyn and Local Roots CSA, the bar hosted two local food makers for a meet and greet over their wares. Anna was on hand to sell her mustard alongside Mike Kurtz, who makes Mike’s Hot Honey. The deviled eggs were added to the bar’s menu for this occasion, as well as a special grilled cheese sandwich with Mike’s Hot Honey and roasted peppers.
There are three different flavors of My Friend’s Mustard now, so it’s been fun experimenting with each one in deviled eggs (they all taste great). I wouldn’t know how to start making my own mustard, and with a friend who makes it like this I’m not sure I will. If you don’t have one of these jars handy, it might work with any other grainy, textured mustard instead. But it’s really the “it” factor about this recipe. And chives, the preferred herbal topping for it here.
Deviled Eggs with Beer Mustard and Chives
(makes 24 pieces)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup My Friend’s Spicy Brown Ale Mustard (a whole 8 oz. jar)
about 1/4 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
chopped chives for garnish
Hard-boil eggs. Peel and slice in halves lengthwise, reserving the cooked yolks in a large bowl. Mash and whip with the mayonnaise, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a piping bag (or a clean plastic bag with a corner snipped off) and fill each egg white half with the custard. Top with chives.
I’ve misplaced some of the half-empty seed packets that were used this spring, so it took me a little while to retrace what this plant’s called. But it has definitely been the question of the hour at the brewery, since their stalks are so productive that I’ve been handing out one of these incredibly long, purplish-pink, somewhat string bean-looking objects to everyone and anyone who comes by on any given day.
It seems that I bought only the strangest beans among the seed catalogs and called it a day. I don’t miss normal green beans one bit with these heirloom gems hanging from the stalks. That’s a great thing about being a home gardener rather than commercial one — you don’t have to feel tied to your customers’ expectations, and grow whatever you want so long as that their seeds still exist. I like it when people don’t know what a vegetable is called nor has ever seen or tried it before but chomps it up anyway. These beans are a real test of that attitude.
These beans, which are certainly long and do have “long” in their three-word name, taste sweet and crisp when young. When they’re fully mature — about two feet long yet still the same width as a regular string bean — they begin to taste even more sweet and a little bit starchy, and the pebble-like beans inside the pods are much more pronounced. You could shell them and just eat the small beans, like favas. I threw some on the grill at a 4th of July barbecue yesterday and they tasted great a tiny bit charred, too!
Now I have a hankering to try out pickling them, like I did with the Sultan’s Golden bean a couple weeks ago (which turned out quite tasty according to its winner). So the first person to correctly name this plant in a comment below will receive a jar of home-pickled X beans — those above!]]>