Tag Archives: Restoration Farm

Lasagna Latina: Tortillas, Beans, and Shredded Chicken

4 Oct

The start of the semester for me and kindergarten for Leandro has me in a tizzy.

One month in, the days seem never-ending and yet never long enough. I am up at 5:30 a.m. every day. Eighteen hours later, I still find myself vertical, eyes open, preparing food, washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom (!), folding clothes, laying out everything for the morning in a semi-headachy fog, wrinkling my nose and wondering, in the words of David Byrne, “How Did I Get Here?”

Scenes from the Farm

So when — oh s**t! — the Restoration Farm End-of-Summer-Potluck came roaring up, I was sort of astonished, and not a little dismayed. Continue reading


Pasta with Tomatoes, Spinach, Goat Cheese and Black Olives (feeds a crowd!)

22 Mar

The planting season is picking up at Restoration Farm, the C.S.A. that we belong to at the historic Old Bethpage Restoration Village here on Long Island. I say that as if I were right in there, pruning the apple trees and preparing the beds and raising those heritage birds, getting dirty and sweaty in honest, sacred labor on the land.

Uh, well, not exactly.

Farming has always been more theoretical than hands-on in my life. Sure I have come out to volunteer at the farms we have belonged to, but in all honesty, since I’ve had Leandro, it’s been more about picking a couple of pea pods, then taking him to see the pigs or the chickens  or to the bathroom, rush, rush, than it has been about actually doing anything useful in an agricultural sense.

This year will be different, in two ways:

1) We have a little more sun in our yard these days, thanks to some trees that had to come down. Last year we did some experimental container gardening to gauge where we could actually grow vegetables. Now that we’ve established that, we will be putting in some raised beds this year and trying to grow more stuff for ourselves.

2) Leandro is more self-sufficient and mature and I have hopes that our volunteering days at the farm will be less like outings to the zoo and more like real contributions.Call me crazy, but a girl’s gotta dream…..

In the meantime, we attended the season-opening potluck at the farm last Sunday and — while I listened with longing, yearning, and almost dismay as the real farm folks told me with great enthusiasm about everything they’ve been doing in the last few weeks — I tried to keep positive about what is to come for me in the world of growing things! (and we have started peas, tomatoes, peppers and culantro from seed this week).

This was my contribution to the potluck…it seemed to go well for everyone (except my own traitorous offspring who decided he didn’t like the look of it and proceeded to stuff his face with the stuffed shells and the two different baked macaroni and cheese, and the Hardscrabble chicken — anything but my dish, the one I had made thinking he’d love it; thanks for the support, little dude) and I had enough to bring in for my esteemed colleagues. At least one has decided that she doesn’t have to cook this week thanks to this abundant, rich, very easy and super-tasty, creamy dish.

You’ll be able to use this recipe next time you have to feed a bunch of people with stuff you already have on hand!

Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Black Olives

1.5 lbs penne or other short pasta

6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, sliced thin

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more if you want it spicy)

28 oz canned of diced tomatoes (or two Cups fresh)

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 oz – 16 oz frozen spinach

20-30 pitted black olives, sliced

½ Cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano or pecorino

6 oz fresh goat cheese (chévre)

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water, drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook at medium low until softened and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste (if using fresh tomatoes, cook until they begin to soften) and then add spinach, cooking at medium low until the spinach is heated through and incorporated, about 5 minutes. Add olives.

Add the pasta and the grated cheese (and tablespoons of the reserved pasta water if the sauce is too thick) and stir until the pasta is fully coated. Add the goat cheese, mix well (but gently) and serve, with additional grated cheese if desired.

See My Article in Edible East End magazine

26 Oct

As regular readers know, I am a member of Restoration Farm CSA. This month you can read my article about the farm, On Good Land: Restoration Farm, in Edible East End magazine, either by clicking here, or by picking up a copy if you live in Eastern Long Island.

It’s a gorgeous magazine – Edible Communities family of magazines just won a James Beard Award for Publication of The Year 2011  — so I am quite pleased to be a part of what they do. If you do go and have a look, please comment on the article, as I believe that will encourage the publisher to continue recognizing and supporting good food efforts in my overpopulated part of NY!

Asian Stir Fry Sauce (this time with vegetables and your choice of noodles or rice)

27 Jul

One of my favorite prepared sauces comes from Sang Lee Farms in Cutchogue, on the North Fork of Long Island http://sangleefarms.com/. Their Asian Stir-Fry Sauce is all organic and adds incredible Asian pop to stir fry dishes, without the annoying cloying sweetness and goopiness of other seasonings in a bottle.

However, I run out of it pretty fast, so I am in the process of trying to recreate it at home. I haven’t quite got it, but this version is very yummy and does the job pretty damn well. When I hit exactly the combination I want, I will make larger batches, but for now, the amount in this recipe will season a couple of pounds of vegetables – enough for two to four people, depending on what you serve it with.

We used soba noodles (Leandro’s request, cause the curly noodles and Japanese writing on the package caught his eye and he absolutely loved them). We also had enough left over to drizzle over some cold chicken wraps I made the next day (and which will be the next post, haha!).

Do you make your own stir fry sauce? Please add your ideas in comments in this post!

Soba noodles make a worthy (and fun) accompaniment to stir fry veggies

Asian Stir-Fry Sauce

¼ Cup soy sauce or tamari (preferably low-sodium)

½ tsp crushed garlic

Scant ¼ tsp sesame oil

¼ tsp grated ginger

½ tsp lemon juice

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate overnight if possible.

When you are ready to cook the dish, begin preparing a cup or two of white rice or a package of soba noodles or other pasta of your choice, following package instructions.


2-2.5 lbs mixed stir-fry vegetables, cut into ¾ inch pieces (we used onions, carrots, some leftover chard stems and a beautiful purple pepper, all from Restoration Farm, plus broccoli from the supermarket)

Generous ½ tsp sugar

Heat the  vegetable oil in a 12 inch skillet with a heavy bottom, until just rippling and just beginning to smoke. Add vegetables and sprinkle the sugar over, coat with the oil and cook, stirring frequently, for about eight minutes, looking for caramelization on the vegetables. Lower the temperature to medium if you get a lot of sticking.

Push vegetables to the side and add a tablespoon of the stir-fry sauce , stir to heat, then mix with the vegetables. Add two to three more tablespoons as desired, being wary of making it too salty.

Serve over rice, noodles or pasta.

No-cook Cannellini and Garlic Scape Dip (fast and seasonal)

26 Jun

Garlic scapes are the gorgeous twisty tops of garlic plants as they begin to mature in late spring. They need to be removed from the plant so they don’t take growing power away from the bulbs still developing underground.

They are so good to look at that I actually stick them in vases and use as centerpieces when they are in season, but of course I pull them right out of their decorative function whenever I need garlic flavor, which is what garlic scapes give you. You top and tail them to remove the crown and any woodiness at the bottom of the stem, slice and voila! fresh tasting garlic. When I have had overabundance, I have diced and frozen them to good effect.

This is a recipe that Caroline Fanning, head grower at Restoration Farm, suggested I play around with, as the farm had just such an abundance this year. I added the oil and thyme; You can really experiment with whichever herbs you like. Basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley, savory, and sage all complement the nuttiness of cannellini beans.

You can use this as dip or spread on sandwiches or wraps, to add flavor and creaminess to other ingredients. Great party dip! I served them as an appetizer, using teacups for individual servings of dip with cut vegetable dippers stuck right in!

No-cook Cannellini and Garlic Scape Dip

4-5 garlic scapes, crown removed and stem trimmed of any woodiness at the bottom

2 15.5 oz cans cannellini (white) beans, rinsed and drained

1 generous Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp dried thyme (4 tsp fresh)

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with baguette toasts, crackers or fresh vegetable sticks.

Asopao de pollo (Soupy Chicken and Rice) with Pastured Bird!

23 Jun

Sooooo, I managed to get to Restoration Farm in time to see the very tail end of the first processing (meaning when the birds are killed, plucked and eviscerated, lest I be accused of euphemism).

I did NOT take Leandro; I wanted to see things for myself and not have to focus on keeping him out of trouble. More on his reaction to the chicken in a moment.

First I want to say that the atmosphere at this first round of chicken processing was so calm and cooperative and lovely. The team of Trisha, Lucille, Steve, Brian, Denis, Dan and Caroline was tired, but elated, but not  giddy or punchy, after seven hours of chicken guts under the trees. Dan and Caroline’s two kids were there; two-year-old Ada was calm as could be in the face of all the activity.

My first bird

The chickens — all 35 made it to processing! – weighed in between 4. 16 and 6.65 lbs. As a note, these are not certified organic birds (that’s a whole ‘nother process), but they have been raised according to organic practices – from their feed to their pasture; they just don’t have the stamp.

I also forgot my bloody camera! I wanted to shoot myself (since I couldn’t shoot pictures). So you will have to wait and see whether someone is able to send me photos; then again, perhaps you don’t care to see the goings on. Anyhoo, it was clean and well-organized.

So I brought home bird #22, weighing 5.75 lbs. I picked up the necessary ingredients for asopao from the Compare (Latino) supermarket in Farmingdale on the way home. My dad, Pedro, roused himself from the NYTimes crossword puzzle to separate the bird (we saved the breasts for another meal cause this bird was so big!) and I went to work while Leandro was still across the street at a playdate. It was beautiful to work with. So clean.

Asopao isn’t really Hot, Cheap & Easy, except for the hot, sweaty work if you want to do it right (and I did). Perhaps I will invent a shortcut version one day, but not with this special bird. And really, my mom and dad were taken back to the days of my great-aunts cooking all day long…I really got it right. The chicken gave so much real flavor; it is certainly not as tender as factory-farmed, but it is really good. In the next few posts I’ll talk about some of the more unusual ingredients here and what to do if you can’t find them.

Leandro sat down to eat and said, “These are the little chickens that got big?”

and I said “Yes, Trisha and everyone killed them today so we could eat.”

“Oh. You went to see?” he said, and I said yes.

He stuck a big bite in his mouth and said, “Delicious.”

I forgot to tell him not to speak with his mouth full.

Asopao de Pollo (Soupy Chicken and Rice) Serves 6-8

Dedicated to my tía-abuelas

A – Three pounds chicken (may be whole chicken or, if you have a big bird, reserve the breasts for another meal. MUST HAVE BONES!!! Should have neck, heart and liver as well) cleaned and separated into drumsticks, thighs, wings (separated and tips cut off and reserved for stock), backbone, etc.

B – ADOBO (pound all ingredients in B in a mortar and pestle into a smooth paste)

  1. 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  2. 2 black peppercorns
  3. 1 tsp dry oregano
  4. 2.5 tsp salt
  5. 1 pinch (1/8 tsp) turmeric or sweet paprika (Turmeric stains, so beware!)
  6. 1.5 tsp olive oil
  7. ½ tsp vinegar

C – 2 Cups white rice (less if you want soupier soup.Sometimes the rice takes over.)

D – 9 Cups water and 1 Tbs salt


  1. 3 Tbs olive oil
  2. 3 oz ham steak or jamón para cocinar, diced
  3. 1 oz bacon, chopped rustically
  4. 1 green cooking pepper (cubanelle or Italian pepper), diced
  5. 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  6. 6 culantro leaves (recao), minced
  7. 4 sweet small peppers called ají dulce in Hispanic markets (do NOT purchase Jamaican ají or scotch bonnet! They look the same but the Jamaican/scotch bonnet are HABANEROS, deadly hot and inappropriate for this dish!) seeded and minced
  8. ½ Cup cilantro leaves, minced
  9. 2 Tbs vegetable oil (seasoned with achiote, for the more expert criollo cook)


  1. 1 Tbs capers, drained indifferently
  2. 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  3. 1  8 oz can Spanish-style tomato sauce
  4. 4 oz roasted red pepper, drained indifferently and diced
  5. 10 pimiento stuffed green olives
  6. 4 oz Spanish dry, cured chorizo sausage

G – ½ Cup light red wine

H –  OPTIONAL – in Puerto Rico we decorate and cool off the soup by topping with a can of petit pois or asparagus. Today’s foodies are not so hip to those particular vegetables in their mushy canned form. I leave it up to you.


  1. Separate chicken parts into two large bowls. The back bone, neck, wingtips, liver, heart, and kidneys go in one for the stock. The meatier drumsticks, wings, thighs, and breasts (if using) go in the other. I remove most of the skin and cut off much of the fat. Season all pieces with the ingredients in B. (Adobo).
  2. Soak the rice in abundant water while doing the rest of the prep and cooking.
  3. Place the ingredients in D in a large (6 qt) saucepan. Add the stock chicken pieces, cover, bring to a boil at medium high, boil for 15 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, covered.
  4. In an even larger pot, place all the ingredients in E (Sofrito 1), and sauté at medium high until vegetables begin to wilt. Add all the ingredients in F (Sofrito 2) and continue stirring until combined and beginning to stick. Add wine and scrape bottom of pot. Add the meaty chicken pieces and cook at medium, turning frequently to coat well. Cover and cook for 30 minutes on medium low.
  5. When the stock and chicken sofrito are ready, drain stock into chicken. From the stock, reserve the back and wings and get as much meat off them as you can, adding to the soup, discarding the bones. You may add heart and liver to the soup as well.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Drain the rice, stir into the soup, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, covered until rice is cooked (start checking in 10-15 minutes). Serve with roasted red pepper, peas or asparagus garnish. If the rice takes over, just add water.

Farm and chicken update (and new poll!)

7 Jun



We headed over to Restoration Farm, our CSA, today to put in a little work and visit the chickens.

Leandro was a champion snap pea picker (he remembered his skills from last year) on this bright sunny day that showed hints of what a sweltering hazy, hot and humid Long Island summer can be.

Many peas didn’t make it to the basket, as they ended up in his mouth. He won’t yet eat the pods, preferring to open them up and eat the tiny peas inside, edamame-style. It’s a start. And at least he knows they grow on vines, not exclusively in the frozen food section! Mommy gets the pods, which are wonderfully crunchy and bright.

The boy was also introduced to the delights of picking strawberries, but won’t get a chance to pick his own quart until our pick-up day, later this week. Whether any berries he picks will actually end up getting home is doubtful. I will have to make sure he doesn’t get out of hand. He can devour a pound of strawberries at a sitting and since they are amongst the most chemical-laden of fruits when conventionally-grown (see http://ewg.org/) and very expensive to buy organic, I hope this is a good year for strawberries in our neighborhood!

We visited the chickens, of course. He still loves Donna’s future egg-layers and their roving chicken coop (now painted a proper barnyard red), but the now five-week-old eating birds, not so much.

“Ew! Stinky!” is all I got out of him today, as he ran away to see what he could spirit out of the berry patch. As we get closer to our first installment of locally pastured chickens, I am starting to think about what irresistible dish to concoct for him….


%d bloggers like this: