My family started composting in our backyard last year, and this summer, my husband scattered some of the resulting soil in the bed where we plant thyme, basil, parsley and sage. A few weeks later, out sprouted two big, leafy plants we didn't recognize. "It looks like some kind of squash," said my husband, who grew up with a quarter-acre vegetable plot in his backyard. So we let the mystery plants grow. It turns out, the seeds from a spaghetti squash we'd eaten last summer must have survived the composting process. We got tons of rain this summer, so we never even watered the plants. A few weeks ago, we had our first harvest. I cooked a squash using steps 1 & 3 from this recipe by F&W's Marcia Kiesel and tossed the strands with some whole-wheat spaghetti and pesto. The process of composting is basically benign neglect—you throw vegetable peelings, eggshells and leaves in a pile and let it sit. I never expected I would also get a vegetable garden without having to lift a finger.
Right now I am eating my way through the bushy hedge of flat-leaf parsley bordering my garden. Using the parsley like spinach, I recently blanched a pile of leaves, sautéed them with garlic and lemon, put them in a baking dish and dotted them with goat cheese. Then I topped them with bread crumbs and olive oil and baked them in a hot oven. Super!
To get ready for winter, I plan to make a puree with the blanched leaves, then mix it with olive oil for freezing in small batches. That way I'll have it on hand to drizzle over soft- or hard-cooked eggs, cheese grits and smoked-salmon sandwiches.
Here, a few more ideas for this underrated green:
Make a salad of parsley leaves and celery dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, then tuck it into a pita pocket along with olives, feta and tomatoes.
Chop a mess of parsley and stir it into mayo for a sandwich spread. Tasty and vitamin packed, it's mightier than lettuce.
Make parsley pesto in the blender to toss with angel hair pasta and scallops or to dress green beans and/or cooked, sliced potatoes.
Make salsa verde for poached chicken and grilled fish.
My morning ritual has always revolved around an oversize mug of really good coffee (usually Peets or LaMill), which I brew at my apartment and drink while reading the paper before work. But now that I'm training for November’s New York City marathon, my morning runs end at my gym near the Food & Wine offices in midtown. As a result, I’ve found myself purchasing questionable-quality Joe so that I can get my morning caffeine fix.
So I was thrilled last month when I saw that a new coffee shop called Gregorys had opened around the corner from our office on 44th Street and even more excited after I tasted their coffee and incredible espresso. After some sleuthing, I discovered that Gregorys gets its freshly roasted beans from Kobricks, a roaster in Jersey City, N.J. Kobricks imports green coffee beans from Central and South America as well as the East Indies and Africa. The family-run roaster also happens to be the exclusive importer of Antica Tostura Triestina, an espresso roasted in Northern Italy using a 100-year-old wood-oven method.
This is actually Gregorys second store. The original, on Park Avenue and 24th Street, is where all the baked goods (like the excellent granola), sandwiches and salads get made. The staff is currently being trained in latte art, so lattes will come delivered with a heart shape swirled into the foam.
Every year I miss out on olallieberry season. This is partially because the season is short, but also because olallieberries grow almost exclusively in coastal California. Their lineage is confusing, but the best way to describe them is a tart cross between a blackberry and a raspberry. I don't fret too much about missing them at the market, though, because the berries taste best when sweetened up a bit in things like jams. I’ll be placing my “order” with friends on the West Coast soon, but you can also buy this season’s jams here and here.
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Saffron Cucumber Pickles (amazing with grilled food, pictured here).
F&W Best New Chef 2009 Linton Hopkins’s Bread-and-Butter Pickles (crunchy, sweet and tangy).
F&W’s own Grace Parisi’s Winey Briny Quick Pickles (total prep time is only 20 minutes, plus overnight brining).
OR these 13 fantastic pickled vegetable recipes.