Sunday, June 26, 2011

Free-Range Cooking

What a full weekend it's been!  It began with a BBQ dinner party, ended with a farmer's market cook-off, and included my niece's 6th birthday party, a pasta class full of Mormons, and the legalization of gay marriage in New York!  Boo-ya!!

Here's a taste of what went on:

Today was a gorgeous day at the Jackson Heights farmer's market, where you can really tell that summer is in full swing.  From the sour cherries that have just cropped up, to the tomatoes, lettuces, zucchini, and peas, it's all there, ripe for the picking.  I was one of three chefs taking part in a pea-themed cooking demo, co-sponsored by Greenmarket and the Queens Harvest Food Co-op.  We handed out samples of sauteed peas with mushrooms and shallots, a raw snap-pea salad with mint and radishes, and (my creation) a snow pea and potato curry.  We had a great turn out and I'm looking forward to helping out with more outdoor cooking demos as the summer progresses!  Here's a recipe for what I contributed:

Snow Pea and Potato Curry (printable version)
(serves 4)
2 tablespoons oil or butter

2 garlic scapes or 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 knob of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
4 medium red-skin potatoes, peeled and diced small
1/4 cup water
1 pound snow peas, washed, trimmed, and roughly chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, washed and roughly chopped
salt to taste

Heat the oil or butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, ginger, and spices and cook about 3 minutes, being careful not to burn.  

Add the diced potato and water and a generous pinch of salt, and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.  If all the water evaporates before the potatoes are cooked, add more a tablespoon at a time.

Stir in the snow peas and cilantro, and return heat to high for another 1-2 minutes of cooking.  Season with more salt to taste and serve immediately.

On Friday, I decided to serve the BBQ pulled pork I made with some homemade buns, and here's how I did it:

the Kitchen Aid is key
Dough after it's doubled in size
Before baking
After baking

Burger Buns - from the King Arthur Flour recipe
(makes 8 large buns)

6 to 8 ounces lukewarm water
1 ounce butter
1 large egg
14 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour
1 3/4 ounces sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast

*note: to get the best results, use the smaller amount of water in the summer and the larger amount in the winter.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix and knead all of the ingredients, either by hand, in a mixer, or in a food processor, until a smooth, soft dough forms.  Cover and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours, till doubled in size.

Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 8 even pieces.  Shape each piece into a round ball and flatten to about 3" across.  Put the buns on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and cover and rise for about an hour, till puffed up.

Brush the buns with melted butter and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, till golden.  Remove from the oven and brush with more butter to give them a satiny sheen.  Cool on a rack.

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