Thursday, October 23, 2008

And The BEET Goes On

Beets enter farmers’ markets in early to mid summer and then again in the fall and early winter. Growers in very warm climates can supply organic beets to the markets year round through successive sowings and storage of the roots during the winter and spring months.

With a deep purplish red color and an earthy sweet flavor, beets are packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients. One cup of beets contain folate, antioxidants, manganese, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamins A, B and C, magnesium, tryptophan, iron, copper, phosphorus and only 74 calories. Not only are they good for you, beets are delicious and easy to prepare. Roasting is one of the easiest ways to cook them.

Roasted Beets:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wipe the beets clean and place them all on one large sheet of foil, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and wrap them tightly in the foil. Place the foil packet in the oven and roast until they are tender when pierced with a knife, approximately 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, slip the skin off with your fingers or use a paring knife. The beets are ready to eat or can be used in your favorite recipe. This simple and elegant salad is one of my favorites.

Roasted Beet Salad With Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts And Sherry Walnut Vinaigrette

For the roasted beet salad:

2 cups roasted beets quartered
2 ounces goat cheese crumbled
1/2 cup toasted walnuts

For the sherry walnut vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon shallots minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic finely minced
1/4 cup walnut oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a glass bowl mix the dry sherry, sherry vinegar, dijon mustard, sugar, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the walnut oil until emulsified.

To plate:

Toss the beets with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette and mound them in the center of a serving plater. Crumble the goat cheese over the beets and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts. Drizzle the plater with a little of the vinaigrette. Serves 2.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Visit To Three Of Our Local Farmers Markets

We Western New Yorkers are fortunate to have many farmers that are eager to bring us their bounties to local markets each week. Farmers and artisans from Erie and surrounding counties congregate in parks, parking lots, and (in winter months) church basements offering their fresh grown, raised and homemade foods.

We can expect to find organic honey, pasture raised meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, artisan breads, maple syrup, wines and ciders, jams and fruit butters, desserts, heritage vegetables, fresh herbs, homemade pasta, artisanal yogurt and many other fine food products.

This week I set out to shop at three farmers markets. I had a great time shopping and enjoyed running into friends as well as making some new ones.

In East Aurora the farmers market in the Tops Plaza parking lot is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7am-1pm from April to Thanksgiving. On my visit I meet Audrey (left) and Debbie (right) from Schwab Farms. Thanks for the nice smiles ladies.
New this year is the Hertel farmers market, located in the Holy Sprit Church parking lot on Hertel Avenue at Delaware Avenue. The Hertel farmers market is sponsored by Holy Sprit Church, Chateau Buffalo, Pride of New York and Buffalo Indie Market. Hours are Wednesdays 3pm-6:30pm, July to October. Anyone interested in becoming a member or volunteer can contact for more information.

The Bidwell farmers market has become a destination onto itself - thanks to the combined efforts of Christa Glennie Seychew of Feed Your Soul Buffalo, Sandy Starks of Slow Food Buffalo, David Setzer of Artful Table and the creativity of some of our leading local chefs.

Each week at the Slow Food Buffalo tent, Christa and Slow Food Buffalo team up with one of our leading chefs to shop the market. Using ingredients purchased from the market venders, the guest chef prepares a dish for shoppers to sample. This week's dish was a creamy Pumpkin Soup with tender Herbed Potato Gnocchi, prepared by the amazing Adam Goetz of Sample Restaurant on Allen Street. Perfect for a beautiful fall day.

Check out the team at work.
Located on Bidwell Parkway between Elmwood Avenue and Colonial Circle at Richmond Avenue, the Bidwell farmers market is open Saturdays from 8am-1pm May until Christmas.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Taking The Bitter With The Sweet


I am, for all intent and purposes, a wine guy. It’s what I enjoy drinking most. Big luscious reds, crisp dry whites and effervescent sparkling wines have taken their place among the cocktail crowd. At the dining table, when properly paired, wine can elevate a meal to a whole new level of pleasure and add a heightened element of sophistication to the occasion. Beer has also taken a place of honor at the dining table, adding its own distinctive flavor profile, enhancing the meal.

That is not to say that cocktails have taken a back seat. Designer liquors have given rise to endless choices on martini bar menus, and everyone has their favorite drink. My choice - the classic Negroni.


Fill a rock glass with plenty of ice, then add;
1 part gin
1 part red vermouth
1 part Campari
garnish with an orange twist

Campari, a type of bitters, is an aperitif made from a blend of alcohol and distilled water that have been infused with bitter and aromatic herbs, plants and fruits. The result is a liquor with an addictive flavor that is slightly bitter.

To complement this refreshing cocktail I serve these spiced nuts which have a slight hint of sweetness, creating the perfect balance of flavors. (adapted from Nigella Lawson)


2 1/2 cups assorted unsalted nuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a sheet pan and roast until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients.
Add the warm nuts and lightly toss to coat.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

By the way, these nuts are also addictive.

Cin cin!