I am declaring the local food season officially OPEN!! After months of dwindling vendors and almost no produce besides apples and potatoes I am starting to see the people come back. Our Inwood farmer’s market is now sporting a new vendor selling sprouts! They are not quite as delicate as Two Guys from Woodbridge that works the USQ Greenmarket. But they aren’t bad. He has told me that his sprouts are seasonal unlike the Woodbridge Guys who grow them hydroponically year round.
Another fantastic thing I keep seeing is spinach! Spinach is a spring delicacy here in New York. I just don’t see it locally as the summer gets on. Our CSA sometimes has it in June. But that spinach has a tendency to liquefy after 2 days out of the ground. This time of year the getting is good for hearty spinach. It isn’t too old or too babyish. It is simply perfect. And I think we have a few weeks too, because I am just starting to see it show up. By the middle of May the stalls will be overflowing with spinach.
The week before last, I bought 2 big bags thinking that they looked small. But when I got home, it was as though the things had had babies. There was so much spinach I almost didn’t have room for it. We now throw it into everything! Pizza, green eggs, guacamole (it is actually amazing in guacamole), and even the smoothies that Thing 2 is currently boycotting. But then again, he is currently boycotting everything. I am breathing deeply and cherishing the fact that his older brother is now eating everything from braised brisket to kale soup.
If you have trouble getting spinach clean, try this. Fill up your sink with cool water. Add a bit of vinegar. I use Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. Float your spinach in the water for 30 minutes. Be sure to agitate the plants so that all the sediment comes off. When you feel that they are clean enough, remove the plants from the water, shake off the excess and towel dry. Store wrapped in a plastic grocery bag in the fridge. Even if you place them in the crisper, they will stay good longer in a plastic bag. Or you can remove the stems and store in a large glass Tupperware in the fridge. That’s what I do. All my lettuces go together in a 4 quart glass bowl with a tight fitting lid. My greens are good for a week or two. A few days ago my colleagues at work questioned whether my stuff was really organic because it lasts so long. But they are organic. I think it is the soak in the water before storage.
Recently I went to one of my favorite place to eat a stick to my ribs lunch in New York, Le Petite Abeille. Their croque monsieur and omelettes are to die for, as are their French fries. I try to stay away, but these are hand cut lovingly fried Belgian fries. Though I try to stay away from the polyunsaturated oils and fried foods in general, I find I just can’t do it sometimes. C’est la vie, n’est-pas? Well, on my recent trip I did manage to order something that didn’t come with fries. But it did come with this oddity they called stoemp. I had never heard of it. The menu seemed pretty devoted to it. I ordered and hoped for the best.
When my plat arrived I saw, stoemp was just mashed potatoes with stuff mixed in it. My stoemp had spinach and leeks in it. Brilliant. I didn’t even have to look up a recipe for this one. I have now made the dish twice, and I highly recommend peeling the potatoes. My first batch was ruined by some very bitter red skinned potatoes. And don’t even bother cooking the spinach. I did that in the first batch, and I really didn’t need to. Uncooked spinach will wilt down when added to the mashed potatoes, but stays fresh enough to give the final dish some bulk and nice color. By the way, I made the pictured batch on Easter Sunday with a perfectly braised brisket (so much better than my overcooked Crockpot versions) and we all agreed that this was the best Easter dinner ever!
2 very large potatoes, I used peeled redskins
2 tablespoons of good quality butter
1 leek, white and light green part only (throw the top into your freezer stock bag with other veggie scraps, and if you don’t currently do that—start!)
2 handfuls of washed spinach, chopped.
Boil the potatoes until soft, drain and add milk sufficient to make mashed potatoes. Mash the potatoes by whatever means you prefer. In a small skillet melt the butter and add the leeks. Fry the leeks on medium heat until they are soft and just starting to turn brown. Mean while, fold the chopped spinach into the hot potatoes. When the leeks have cooked, add them and all the butter into the mashed potatoes and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Our kids don’t like mashed potatoes (I know, I don’t get it either…) so DH and I couldn’t finish it. Therefore there were enough for me to have leftovers with a hardboiled egg for breakfast the next morning. Hallelujah, it was an Easter miracle!