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Cooking with Convenience Foods

The store-to-table movement: A locavore grocer shows how to turn top-quality convenience foods into speedy recipes.

Adam and Andrew Erace grew up in Philadelphia's Italian-American Passyunk neighborhood, shopping at mom-and-pop stores for just-made mozzarella and lemon ices flecked with citrus peel. Now the brothers have their own Passyunk store, the tiny (just 260 square feet) Green Aisle Grocery, where they offer a carefully curated selection of local, sustainable foods. "We can tell you the name of the person who baked every loaf of bread," Adam says. "We can tell you where the plums in the plum jam came from—our yard!" Inspired by some of Green Aisle's best prepared items—like apple butter and hummus—Adam created the five supereasy recipes here.

Apple-Butter Ice Cream with Ginger-Chocolate Ganache

Convenience Food Ingredients:

Convenience Food Ingredients: Ice Cream
Ice Cream: Soften ice cream in microwave.
Convenience Food Ingredients: Apple Butter
Apple Butter: Fold store-bought apple butter into the softened ice cream.
Convenience Food Ingredients: Gingersnaps
Cookies: Assemble the sundaes with gingery chocolate ganache and store-bought gingersnaps.

Finished Recipe:

Cooking with Convenience Foods: Apple-Butter Ice Cream with Ginger-Chocolate Ganache

Folding apple butter into vanilla ice cream is a great way to add elegance. Green Aisle Grocery's Adam Erace also adds grated ginger to melted chocolate to make a fast sundae topping; for a more caramel-like sauce, substitute dulce de leche for the melted chocolate.

Sweet Potato, Balsamic Onion and Soppressata Pizza

Convenience Food Ingredients:

Convenience Food Ingredient: Prebaked pizza crust
Crust: Buy a good-quality prebaked pizza crust to use as the base.
Convenience Food Ingredient: Mashed sweet potatoes
Topping: Mashed sweet potatoes from a store replace tomato sauce.

Finished Recipe:

Cooking with Convenience Foods: Sweet Potato, Balsamic Onion and Soppressata Pizza

Every winter, Green Aisle's backyard becomes a charcuterie cellar—the landlord strings homemade soppressata on the trees to dry. Erace uses the soppressata to top this clever prebaked-crust pizza, along with mashed sweet potatoes and mozzarella cheese.

Published February 2011
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