What To Eat In The Heat: It’s Goldie’s Summer Gazpacho Recipe!

I know it’s hot outside. But I refuse to let the heat and uncomfortable mugginess prevent me from enjoying fine homemade cuisine. In the summer, this might sound complicated. Of course if you have a backyard grill like I do, you can utilize it to prevent your oven from heating up your living space further. But steaks, chops and burgers aren’t always appetizing when the weather is so unforgiving. My answer to this quandary is something that’s refreshing as well as compelling to eat, and uses no heat to prepare. In fact, it’s served cold! No, it’s not ice cream (but I wouldn’t count that out for dessert). My friends, August is the time to embrace the mighty and fanciful cold soup we call gazpacho!

Classic gazpacho is appropriate for lunch or dinner, and will tantalize your palate without weighing you down (that’s what the humidity is for). It’s cold, texturally substantial, spicy (or not), tweakable, and works brilliantly with certain wines. I recently served a special version of gazpacho to my guests at an exclusive DRIVEN wine-pairing dinner event, and it was the most requested recipe from the evening. See the recipe below, and feel free to adjust it to your taste, while considering the garnish approach that follows. And don’t forget: a nice crusty peasant bread for dunking adds dimension to the meal. Cheers!

Summer Gazpacho
(serves 6)

2 ½ lbs plum tomatoes, rough chop
½ green pepper chopped
2 jalapeños, chopped
1 cucumber, thinly sliced (seeded and peeled)
6 oz low sodium V-8 juice
2 cups parsley, chopped
2 ½ T tomato vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
1/3 cup Amontillado sherry
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic

Working in batches, simply puree all ingredients. Adjust for salt and pepper. Chill overnight so the flavors marry. Serve straight from the fridge in cold bowls.

For Garnish:

3 eggs, hard-boiled, white and yolk separated and chopped
1 cup chopped cucumber
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
Fresh Chives
A drizzle of EVO

Pair your gazpacho with a feisty and equally refreshing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Or, consider swapping out the green bell pepper for a red, yellow or orange one, and pair with a subtle, superb dry rose.

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Eggs. It’s What’s For Dinner: 2 Exceptional Recipes Merging Eggs & Leftovers

IMG_4689Why do leftovers get such a bad rap? To me, a fridge full of unconsumed culinary creations is like a painter’s palette ready to inspire some creativity. But in my case, it all happens at the stove. It must be the short order cook in me who loves conceiving of meals from parts of other fantastic meals. It all began when I was in my 20s, before the advent of Top Chef, when my theme would be leftovers. It was a great lesson in flavor integration and textural diversity, and some of the most memorable meals resulted.

One key ingredient that can bring all leftovers together in harmony is the incredible, edible egg (a dozen-or-so of which are likely in your fridge right now). If you can get comfortable with the concept of an egg-derived dish for dinner, a whole new world of savory delight can be opened up to you. And the best part is that you have the freedom to invent as you go.

If you’re feeling a lack of creativity, or perhaps a wave of intimidation at the thought of flying solo this way in the kitchen, allow me to inspire you. I recently created two dinners on the fly, made entirely of eggs, leftovers and other common ingredients, both of which have now ended up in my permanent recipe catalog. Included below are those recipes, as well as links to my recipes for the meals that yielded the initial leftovers. It’s like getting 4 recipes for the price of one! Enjoy the process, and please feel free to share your results with me.

Black Bean Soup Mexicana (Serves 1)
Link HERE for my BBQ Black Bean Soup recipe

2/3 cup Leftover BBQ Black Bean Soup
1 cup brown rice
1/3 avocado, diced
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 eggs

Cook the brown rice fully, and place into a large microwave-safe bowl. Ladle the black bean soup over the rice, and cover with a moist paper towel. Microwave until hot (1-3 minutes). Remove and top the soup with sliced avocado sprinkled with smoked salt. Heat oil in a small frying pan. Fry two eggs in desired style, and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Perch eggs atop the avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro and a finishing salt. Serve and enjoy the deep, rich flavors, while getting a serious serving of protein! Pair with a refreshing lager or pilsner.

Decadent Polenta Cakes (Serves 1)
Link HERE for my creamy Polenta recipe

3 Tbsp olive oil
Polenta, cut into 3 x 3 inch ‘cakes’
2 Tbsp flour
1 large garlic clove, minced
6 oz spinach
2 eggs

This takes an extra strategic move after initially enjoying the polenta. In creating leftover polenta, transfer it into a pan that allows the cornmeal to cool in a flat, round ‘brownie’ form, 1½ inches thick and flat on the top.

Heat 1 and 1/3 Tbsp olive oil (1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) in a pan until almost smoking. Dredge the polenta cakes in flour and delicately tap off excess. “Fry” the polenta until brown on both sides (about 3 minutes a side, taking care when flipping, since the creamy inside can become unstable). Transfer to a plate and keep warm in a toaster oven. In the polenta pan, heat 2 tsp oil and fry up 2 eggs any style. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, in a separate large fry pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil. Add garlic when oil is hot. Add spinach when you can first smell the fragrance of the garlic, and sautee. In a shallow bowl, layer spinach then polenta then eggs. Top with some grated parmesan cheese if desired. Serve and enjoy this restaurant-style delicacy! Pair with a serious sparkling wine, like a vintage Spanish Cava.

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Spring, Finally! How About Some Wine?

In the Hudson Valley this year, springtime has felt more like an extended late-winter. A warm March prompted us to settle into spring extremely early, and the same could be said for the local vegetation. But when things cooled right back down in April, it sent nature into a state of confusion. These mixed messages might have kept us in corduroys well past spring’s due date, but it also made for a delightfully extended scavenger season, most notably for the seekers of ramps and fiddlehead ferns (which has inspired me to create more than one delectable risotto in the month of May).

Accompanying the unseasonable temperatures and the strange jumble of cuisine was the consumption of heartier, denser wines that aren’t the usual selections for April and May. Michael and I actually found ourselves uncorking red wines from Bordeaux, Southern Rhone and Super Tuscany even as recently as last week. But the vibe I’m feeling now is that it’s all about to change, which is why I’ve also kept my finger on the pulse on the types of wines we would normally be drinking in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day. A trade tasting or two, a by-the-glass selection here and there, and frequent visits to DRIVEN’s strategic partner Suburban Wines & Spirits have kept me current on the brighter, leaner, mild-weather wines in the NY market.

Without further delay, I proudly offer you my springtime wine choices for 2016. Try one, try them all. Bring them to Memorial Day gatherings or give them as gifts. If you order them through Suburban, they can arrive at your NYC doorstep usually within 24 hours. Click on the wine names to purchase. And always remember: If you would like any additional wine recommendations, contact our resident vino maven Michael at michael@drivenpros.com. Happy Spring!

Avinyó Petillant Vi D’Agulla ’15, Penedes, Spain ($12)

It’s the most fun and delightful wine category you’ve never heard of. “Pet Nats” or PetillantAvinyo Naturel wines are mildly-sparkling white wines that are made in a less complicated manner than Cava or Champagne. The wine is bottled and capped before the fermentation is complete, allowing the last traces of sugar and yeast to interact in the bottle. The result: a simple, dry, refreshing white with a tingle of fizz (rather than a rush of bubbles). Adding to the delight is watching the delicate strings of carbon dioxide as they wind through your glass!

Neumayer Gruner Veltliner Rafasetzen ’13, Traisental, Austria ($20)

Michael and I have been introducing people to Gruner Veltliner so often lately that it’s Neumayerbecoming cliché. But it’s no less compelling as a wine, especially when it’s as well-made and radiant as this single-vineyard example. Both powerful and detailed, it possesses everything I’d want in a springtime white: Density of texture; perky acidity; aromas of white pepper, mineral and grass; yellow fruit character on the palate; secondary notes of familiar favorites from the spice rack; a dry and lengthy finish. This Austrian is at once serious and accessible. Check it out!

Billsboro Rosé of Pinot Noir ’15, Finger Lakes, New York ($18)

On my most recent visit to Seneca Lake, the winery discovery of my trip was Billsboro, Billsborolocated just south of Geneva. Their wines stood out amongst even the best of this rising star region, adding to the momentum that quality NYS wine has been enjoying in the local market. Their Rosé of Pinot Noir is the perfect response to the French model for this type of rosé, including those from Sancerre and Burgundy. It’s dry, subtle, and gentle in its delivery of raspberry-like fruit. And with a mere 154 cases produced for the ’15 vintage, we’re lucky to get our hands on some without making the 6-hour drive to the winery. A most versatile food wine.

Douloufakis Liatiko Dafnios ’13, Crete, Greece ($12)

The forever-overlooked wine-growing nation of Greece is finally emerging as a major Dafniosplayer in the vino market. A perfect example of what they’re doing right is this serious, affordable red from Crete. This is my very first exposure to the indigenous Liatiko grape, and I have since tried one or two other examples for comparison. It’s for lovers of wines like real cru Beaujolais (not that crummy stuff that you buy around Thanksgiving time), sporting a medium body, ripe red fruit, and pleasantly distinctive aromatic notes of dried flowers and baking spice. It’s my find of the year, to date!

Manoir de la Tete Rouge K Sa Tête Pineau d’Aunis ’14, Loire, France ($24)

Aside from being special, there are two aspects of this red that make it unusual: It’s grown Pineauin the Saumur commune of France’s Loire Valley, which is a little-known area to most American wine drinkers, and it’s composed of the Pineau d’Aunis grape variety, which is more commonly encountered as a rosé. This red is soft and chill-able, yet is uncompromising in complexity and character (dig the pine forest-like aromas). The vineyards have been organic since 1998, and the purity shows through in your glass. Great for chops on the grill.

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Like A Big Pizza Pie: A Chance Recipe That Stole The Show

IMG_4590Who doesn’t like pizza? Well, there might be somebody out there who doesn’t. But in assuming this comfort food classic is universally beloved, I’m sure you’re all familiar with its various incarnations. When you consider preparing homemade pizza, the strategy is in your hands, and the possibilities are virtually limitless. Want pineapples or anchovies on that pie? Go for it. Prefer a Parisian-style over the definitive Italian? You’re speakin’ my language. Satisfied with traditional Neapolitan pizza without fancy toppings? It’s a free country!

I enjoy creating completely new pizza topping combinations every time I prepare homemade pizza. I call each example the “pizza mash-mish”, which typically amounts to a controlled chaos situation whereby leftovers find themselves mingling with other leftovers atop the pie. Over the years, these toppings have included prosciutto, green stuffed olives, and even duck confit! All of the pizzas usually end up tasting delicious, but some are so good that they just stick in your memory. Today’s recipe is one of those. Before preparing it, keep in mind that two of the toppings require their own separate preparation, and the links to those recipes are included below. You also might want to invest in a pizza stone and a cutter (Sur la Table is a great online source).

Follow the recipe closely, and before you know it, you’ll be eating exceptional, wonderfully-crusted pizza with minimal preparation time. But be warned: Pizzeria pizza might never again be good enough!

Goldie’s Standout Pizza Mash-Mish (Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

IMG_4587

Before Baking

1 Fresh Pizza Dough
6 Thin Slices Genoa Salami, sliced further into thin strips
1 Large Roasted Red Pepper, sliced
2 oz Spinach Pesto
1 Cup Roasted Eggplant, Cubed
1 oz Reggiano, Coarsely-Grated
4 oz Fresh Mozzarella, Coarsely-Grated
Olive Oil or Bacon Drippings

Let dough come to room temperature and rise (I dust it with a bit of flour, put it on a plate and cover it with a kitchen towel). Put pizza stone into the oven and preheat to 400 F. Coat a sheet of aluminum foil with olive oil and place it atop a cutting board (bacon drippings are even better for flavor, so consider saving some the next time you fry bacon). Stretch the pizza dough evenly, by hand or with a rolling pin, and place it on the aluminum foil (note: the stretched dough does not have to be perfectly round). Brush the top of the dough lightly with olive oil or bacon drippings. Place sporadic dollops of pesto atop the dough, followed by the eggplant cubes, roasted pepper slices and salami. Top evenly with mozzarella and finally with Reggiano. Slide the dough (aluminum foil included) off of the cutting board and into the oven atop the pizza stone. If your oven has a convection option, switch to it now. Bake until dough is browned and cheese is melted (about 20 minutes). Remove pizza from oven and separate from aluminum foil, making sure no foil is stuck to the pizza’s bottom. Place pizza atop a cutting board, slice and serve hot. Pair with a fragrant, light-bodied Northern Italian red wine.

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Did You Know That Business Networking Is Like Growing Grapes?

Networking. It’s not just a profound concept, but it’s a dynamic word. In its root form “network”, it’s first a noun: “My network has grown in size by 50% this year.” “Networking” demonstrates its verb usage: “I plan to spend Wednesday evening networking”. In either incarnation, “networking” defines a powerful business technique that, when taken proper advantage of, can advance your career exponentially. But often, professionals don’t take networking seriously; I have numerous colleagues who avoid it like the flu, seeing networking events as emotionless gatherings where you shake hands with other professionals, exchange business cards, and don’t get around to the follow up.

But if we reframe networking, and as a result become more engaged with managing our networks, it becomes clear that the endeavor is similar to the role of a vineyard manager. So, I invite you to pour yourself a glass of wine and settle in as I give you a better sense of what networking really is through entertaining wine analogies.

Commonalities Build Upon Each Other

Managing a vineyard amounts to much more than just watching grapes grow. A strategic vineyard manager first plants specific vine varieties, chosen not because she prefers to drink Pinot Noir instead of Cabernet, but because the varieties are a good fit with soil type, weather conditions and altitude of the estate (if you want to impress your wine-knowledgeable friends, these considerations collectively are called ‘terroir’). Equating this approach to business networking, we must weigh carefully where we choose to spend our time. If, for example, you’re a vegetarian, perhaps you should pass on attending a dinner networking event centered around enjoying local meats. Since you’re not going to enjoy the topic (or the food), you won’t be able to enter into pleasurable discussions and thus, you may not be able to connect with people deeply. Each relationship we build has the potential of being a robust grapevine or a diseased one. The outcome has more to do with the origins that you might realize.

Getting To Know All About You

The next step for a vineyard manager is to nurture those vines. Understanding how much water the plants need and whether the grapes will grow best with or without abundant direct sunlight are vital to coaxing the best quality of juice from the fruit. To draw a parallel, nurturing your network ultimately equates to providing value to these folks, and begins with understanding each and every relationship. I call it the ‘getting to know you’ part of networking, and it not only makes business fun to engage in, but it functions as a time to plant the seeds that will serve to enrich these relationships in the future.

Dropped Like A Bad Habit

The third key function of the vineyard manager is the pruning of the vines and the elimination or “dropping” of some inferior, poorly-ripened fruit. If the vines are left to grow untamed, the overall concentration of fruit in the grapes will be diluted. To liken this to networking, we can’t keep endlessly adding contacts to our networks without ‘dropping’ some dead weight. It’s important to have a clear understanding of which relationships we should be laser-focused on, and which should be less prioritized or severed completely.

Effort + Time = Rewards

Ahhhh! The time has finally arrived for the vineyard manager to complete the harvest. She’ll have to pick the grape clusters, sort the berries, crush them, ferment the juices and craft a wine that will one day reward the drinker. In business, this is what I would call leveraging your network. It includes benefits like getting an introduction or winning some sweet business in return for all the care you’ve given to your contacts from day one. But here’s the thing: It takes about six years of growing newly-planted vines until the fruit they yield is physiologically and chemically sound enough to create wine from. That amounts to plenty of money and other resources before we even see bottle #1. The same goes for the organic process of networking. Returns on your time and energy investments are not seen until months or years down the line. The good news is, like with grapevines, as your relationships mature, the rewards become richer and more concentrated. So the next time you see the words “Old Vines” on a wine label, acquire the bottle and toast to all of those valuable network relationships you’re about to build, and the key allies who will emerge.

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Big Business Blunders: The Importance of Follow-Up When You’re On The Sell-Side

IMG_6275Here’s something funny: My clients are always amazed that when I schedule a 9am phone call with them, their phone rings precisely at 9am. Why is this funny? Because it doesn’t happen to them more often. Isn’t the number one rule in client relationships to have respect for the client? Well, what greater sign of respect is there than valuing someone’s time? As someone with services to sell, my sell-side effort must have a punctuality factor built-in.

What’s not funny about all this is hearing the numerous stories of sell-side blunders, particularly in the department of follow-up. Often, while caught in the trance of ‘keeping up’ with our jobs, we forget that there’s another person involved in the business transaction at hand. The short-sightedness that permeates the business world should serve as a wake-up call for all professionals. Here are three doozies to put things into perspective, along with their proactive solutions. Names have been changed to protect the ‘offenders’, since the following scenarios actually happened.

Blunder #1: Rachel

 

Sara graciously introduced Rachel, a website designer, to Jane. Sara knew that Jane was going to be in the market for a web designer, since she just launched a new business. When Sara asked Rachel the following week about her interaction with Jane, Rachel had to admit that she hadn’t yet gotten around to responding to the introduction.

 The Solution: Knowing that she had a hot lead, Rachel should have reached out right away. Since she didn’t, Sara should note this and think twice about reaching out to Rachel in the future. If a repeat were to occur, Sara could begin to gain a bad reputation among her professional peers.

Blunder #2: Louise

Camille introduced Louise, a marketing specialist, to Andrea, a realtor who is progressive and expressed an interest in learning more about Louise’s services. Louise reached out to Andrea by email and suggested that Andrea find a convenient date on Louise’s calendar service and book the appointment. Then Louise sent Andrea a confusing note explaining “oops”….the spot she had chosen was actually double-booked and she needed Andrea to go back and choose again.

 The Solution: Louise needs to make it easier for potential clients to book appointments with her. For instance, she should have offered Andrea three specific dates that were available in Louise’s calendar in the introductory email. This would have made it easy for Andrea to choose. The email should also have invited Andrea to suggest alternative dates, if none offered were convenient for Andrea. Buyers shouldn’t have to ‘work’ to buy.

Blunder #3: Carol

The Acme Law Firm was looking for a career coach to work with some of their partner candidates. Maggie introduced Carol (a coach) to the firm. Six months later, when Maggie was having coffee with her contact at the firm, the contact mentioned Carol’s work with the firm, revealing that Carol never told Maggie that she had scored a job as a result of her introduction!

The Solution: If Carol had remembered that appropriate follow-up for a successful introduction takes no more than a quick email note expressing gratitude, she could have saved her professional relationship with Maggie and possibly been introduced by Maggie to additional clients in the future. If your handwriting is legible, a handwritten note goes even further. In the instance of a “big score”, a small gift would be in order. Consider the good deed doer’s interests, and personalize the gift (a bottle of wine shipped to her office, for instance).

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Ask And You Shall Receive: Networking As A Two-Way Street

Interviewing seasoned professionals has been a great way for me to gain wisdom and insight into industry trends, company challenges, and corporate culture, and has provided me with a sounding board for new ideas. I value such opportunities, and during discussions I actively reciprocate for these individuals and for other professionals for whom I could be of added value. But when someone asks if they could “pick my brain”, I instantly feel less excited about the prospect of helping them. Their intentions might be harmless, but the imagery in their language reminds me a bit too much of a famously disturbing movie scene starring Anthony Hopkins and Ray Liota.

Even if I hadn’t had the misfortune of viewing and remembering that scene, I would still remain somewhat apprehensive about the request. A subtle negative vein of intent runs through this stale idiom, and it’s related to the one-way benefit that it implies. It shouts, “You give, I get”, exhibiting zero evidence that any interaction with this person will yield an opportunity for discussion. The value that I bring to the table is worth more than that, and so is yours….a notion that young professionals in particular often forget.

When you find yourself on the ask, it lends enormously to your professional credibility if you use a creative and polite approach. Here are some suggestions that, if properly employed, can open a spigot of sought advice from other professionals.

Linguistically Speaking

“I’d be grateful for your perspective.”

 “I admire your accomplishments. Would you be willing to share your wisdom?”

 “I’m actively working to understand your industry’s challenges, and have great respect for your perspective.”

 “I value your viewpoint” or “I’d benefit greatly from your outlook. Would you be willing to invest in a 15-minute phone call?”

These are all examples of sincere, well-received spoken language possibilities useful in appealing for favors or advice from someone in your network.  Notice that not only do they express respect for, and gratitude to the other party, but they intrinsically imply a sentiment of sharing, leaving open-ended the possibility for the person to tap you for your perspective. It’s a learn-learn situation. Master this eloquence, and you will not only receive as often as you give, but you will find yourself at the center of a well-oiled network.

Beyond Words

In addition to knowing what to say and how to say it, it’s wise to have a specific agenda or goal in mind before you engage in the ask. Without this sense of purpose, your request will run the risk of being mistaken as random chat or catching up. Organize your thoughts in advance, don’t beat around the bush, and proceed with confidence in a manner that will make it entirely clear what you are seeking. Fear not that your confidence will be interpreted as presumption or arrogance; with the use of right language, you will earn respect and likely receive what you set out for.

Never Forget To Follow Up

Once your request is granted (because true professionals genuinely want to help), there are two rules of protocol that are necessary for showing your appreciation and maintaining the momentum in your relationship. First and foremost, if the favor was a lead or an introduction, do not blow it off! Formally thank the person by email, indicating your big takeaway or plans for taking next steps (give yourself bonus points for a handwritten card!). I like the touch of sending the person a published article or an idea or even a lead, based on what I’ve learned from them.

The 2nd rule: Keep the person in the loop regarding your progress with the lead by periodically checking in. This will not only serve to demonstrate what they’ve done for you was a good move and worth their efforts, but it is a clever way to keep their awareness of you refreshed.

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What’s A Black Bean Soup Without The ‘Snout?

bbsHere’s an ingredient that I include in my recipes far too seldom: BBQ Sauce! Which makes little sense, since so many people love it, and since it can add depth and complexity to a wide range of recipes simply with the twist of a cap. In fact, my only reservations about barbecue sauces relate to their incompatibility with wine (sweetness, vinegar and spicy heat tend to be the big 3 enemies of wine on one’s palate). But who says there isn’t room for beautiful beer with a meal?

The following recipe is a favorite from my arsenal, which recently received a feisty makeover by simply adding a quantity of one special barbecue sauce. ThunderSnout is a newly-introduced small brand of artisanal BBQ sauce, invented and produced in my past home of Briarcliff Manor in Westchester County, NY. My old friend and colleague Michael Vincent, in cahoots with his long-time friend Dave Mundis, developed the recipe for this tangy, spicyts number, and took it all the way to the World BBQ Competition in Memphis, where it took 1st place in the vinegar-based BBQ sauce category! When I finally got my paws on a bottle of ThunderSnout and sampled it, my culinary wheels immediately began turning. With this, I give you the recipe for my BBQ Black Bean Soup. To recreate it yourself, and to blow the minds of your guests this spring with the likes of BBQ’d pork shoulder or spare ribs, acquire a bottle or a case of ThunderSnout Original BBQ Sauce by visiting the official ThunderShout website. Additionally, see my past recipe for Goldie’s Cole Slaw, and transform it into a feisty slaw by adding a few dashes of ThunderSnout. Happy cooking!

Goldie’s BBQ Black Bean Soup

1lb black beans, soaked overnight in 6 cups cold water
3 strips of bacon, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 jalapeños, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp ginger, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 chipotle peppers, seeded and chopped
4 oz ThunderSnout BBQ Sauce
1 cup dry red wine
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lime juice

Add olive oil and bacon to a soup pot on medium heat. When the bacon begins to crisp, pour off all but 2 Tbsp fat. Add onion and carrots. Incorporate thoroughly. Lower heat and cover the pot to let vegetables sweat for about 5 minutes. Remove lid, raise heat to medium. Add peppers, ginger, and garlic. When the garlic becomes fragrant, add chipotle and ThunderSnout BBQ Sauce. Incorporate well. Add red wine and let about 1/2 of it evaporate. Add water, bay leaves and Kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer until beans are tender (about 2-2½ hours). This timing varies greatly depending on the freshness of the beans. Season to taste with salt & pepper (get creative. For instance, use ½ kosher salt and ½ smoked salt, plus ground Szechwan peppercorns). Add lime juice. Take half of the soup and puree in a kitchen aide or with a hand mixer. Add the ‘whole bean’ portion back into the soup and serve. For additional decadence, garnish with sliced ripe avocado and a dollop of sour cream! Pair with a dramatic, dense porter.

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Goldie’s Kitchen Archives: A Spanish-Influenced Dish That Will Spoil Your Palate Forever!

IMG_4509With the rise of tapas and other Spanish-inspired cuisine in the U.S. since 2000, many restaurants that focus on these delicacies have opened their doors in NYC and other North American urban centers. For a while, Michael and I were on a tear, trying to patronize as many different tapas restaurants as we could. For me, it was trying to gain a full understanding of Spanish food; For Michael, it was the desire to recreate the superb dining experiences he had while visiting Spain in ’04 and again in ’05. Then, about 5 or 6 years ago, I began to regularly prepare an improvised version of a classic southern Spanish recipe that combined chickpeas, baby spinach, Sherry, and the only Spanish chorizo sausage available in the U.S. at the time (cured and rather commercial in quality). The dish always came out good, but never great, and I eventually forgot about it.

Then recently, when visiting my new favorite Hudson Valley butcher shop, I acquired a few pounds of their house-made, uncured, uncooked pork chorizo with the expectation that I would add it to my potato & leek soup or create some sort of a fusion-ized pasta dish with it. But immediately upon unwrapping my bounty, that old chickpea recipe raced back into my brain after more than 4 years of dormancy. The goal was to recreate it….the right way.

As soon as I smelled the paprika-derived aromas wafting from the crumbled chorizo as it simmered in a pan, I knew the magic could finally be achieved. I wove in the other ingredients, did a little further improvisation, and within minutes the most exceptional Spanish-influenced meal I’ve ever created was on the table! I highly recommend creating it for yourself. See my recipe below, which includes the aforementioned house-made chorizo from Marbled Meat Shop. The next time you plan to be near Cold Spring, NY, reach out to Chris & Lisa to reserve your batch. Salud!

Chickpeas with Chorizo and Spinach
15 minutes. Main-course for 2 hungry people, or 6 to 8 small-plate servings.

2 Tbsp olive oil
10 oz Marbled Meat Shop chorizo (in bulk, not link form)
2 cloves garlic, minced
15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
¼ cup Spanish Fino Sherry
10 oz baby spinach (or regular spinach, chopped)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium flame. Add oil. When it starts to shimmer, crumble and add chorizo. Cook through, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add chickpeas, paprika and Sherry. Stir to coat chickpeas with oil and paprika (the most wonderful aromas will fill the kitchen at this point), and cook until chickpeas are just heated through, stirring frequently, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach (in batches, if necessary), tossing to coat wilt. When the spinach is just wilted, remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and zest. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature to serve. For a twist, try it over jasmine rice, and pair it with either a dry Cava or a world-class Palo Cortado-style Sherry.

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Humanely Healthy: How To Be Sure Your Meats Are Raised With Integrity

Whether you’ll be hosting a holiday dinner this December, or creating a special side dish to bring when you attend someone else’s holiday gathering, you’ll certainly want to be proud of the food you prepare. This means using the very best quality ingredients, getting creative with your recipe, and paying close attention to detail in the kitchen. And if it’s meat that will be at the center of your culinary creation, it can be your opportunity to demonstrate integrity by choosing cuts with humane and sustainable origins. It shows responsibility for the once thriving farm animal in question, as well as for the health of the hungry folks at your dinner table.

In an age when commercially raised meats are quickly degrading in quality and health benefits, and the welfare of livestock is plummeting due to factory farming, the progressively-minded consumer thankfully has other options in procuring their own various vittles. In fact, one of the only obstacles we’ll encounter in the meat marketplace is clever packaging and the precarious use of misleading, unregulated food marketing terms. Staying in the know about which meats are organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, GMO-free, sustainably-farmed, free-range, humanely raised, locally raised, or all of the above is simpler than you might think, particularly if you can trust your butcher and their sources. But an even more secure approach is to recognize and understand the practices and certification logos associated with meeting the legal requirements.

I have written in the past about the various reasons for being highly selective when it comes to the modern meats we feed our families and ourselves. Allow me to offer you a little supplement to those musings by helping you identify the most thorough and responsible organizations behind today’s humanely raised meats. This will be followed by a short directory of the local purveyors I’m particularly fond of.

AWA (Animal Welfare Approved)AWA

I first became aware of the AWA label when dining at a progressive Hudson Valley restaurant in 2011. They source almost all of their animal proteins from their own AWA-approved farm, and proudly display the AWA brochure at each table. This certification requires the participating independent farms to employ the highest animal welfare standards. This includes providing a stress-free, pasture-based lifestyle for their livestock, and utilizing high-welfare slaughter practices. As a consumer of their certified products, you can rest assured that the animals were raised humanely, that the farming environments remain ecologically sustainable, and that the meat itself is antibiotic and hormone-free. Besides being of high moral standards, this project also translates into a tastier end-product for us, the consumers. The logo is uniquely recognizable, simplifying your shopping experience. Additionally, the AWA website features a searchable directory of participating retailers, farms and restaurants in your vicinity.

CHRHCertified Humane Raised & Handled ®

The Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) is an international non-profit certification organization that was established to improve the lives and lifestyles of livestock raised for food in a careful manner beginning at birth and maintained right through the moment of slaughter. Built into the program’s objective is the increasing of consumer demand for responsible farm animal practices. When you see a product with the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® label, you can be certain that the animal was raised cage and crate-free, allowing it to exhibit the natural behaviors instinctive in its species. Additionally, its feed was free of antibiotics, growth hormones and animal by-products. Particularly tough standards (created by a well-informed, international scientific committee) must be met by the participating farms, and periodic audits are performed. The products are widely available in the US, and the Certified Humane website also has a useful directory of purveyors searchable by zip code.

The Farmer’s PledgeTFP

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) was established to help New York State consumers identify and locate responsible local farms before spending their food dollars. The Farmers Pledge is signed and adhered to by participating farms, and demands of them sustainable practices and humane treatment of animals, in addition to fair working conditions and wages. 100 farms in greater New York have committed to these principles, earning them permission to display The Farmer’s Pledge logo on their products and websites. It’s good news for the livestock, for the local economies, and for deliciousness on our holiday plates! And surprise, surprise: they have a directory too!

Some Favorite Local Sources

As a resident of the middle Hudson Valley, many of my humanely-raised meat sources are about a 1-hour car ride away from NYC. If you find yourself venturing through the region, be sure to patronize any of the following. It will be well worth the time investment:

Marbled Meat Shop

3091 Route 9, Cold Spring, NY

Independently-owned butcher shop featuring exceptional non-GMO, hormone and antibiotic-free meats sourced from small, humane, family-owned New York farms, including Glynwood in Cold Spring. Friendly service with expertise.

Hemlock Hill Farm

500 Croton Avenue, Cortlandt Manor, NY

Family-owned, Farmer’s Pledge-adhering farm established 70 years ago. Raises exceptional meats and produce, and has a charming retail outlet. The most flavorful turkey I’ve ever served was purchased right from them!

GRZNGrazin’

717 Warren Street, Hudson, NY

This is the progressive, AWA-involved restaurant I mentioned above. It’s a luncheonette-style burger joint that takes the concept of burgers to new heights. You have to experience it to believe it! And great news: as of 2015, there is a new location in Tribeca at 56 Reade Street.

 

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