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Archive for the ‘Produce’ Category

PumpkinFor New England bakers, the time of year has come when pumpkin makes its appearance on the menu. These goodies are invariably accompanied by crisp, autumn days, clear blue skies and beautiful fall foliage.

I recently learned that canned pumpkin in the supermarket is not a reduced form of jack o’ lanterns. What you get in those cans is a type of squash, just not the one we cut up and decorate for Halloween.

In the US, about 80 percent of the canned pumpkin market is held by Libby’s and they use something called the Dickinson pumpkin, which is paler and a bit more oblong than jack o’ lantern pumpkins. (more…)

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Cabot Clothbound cheddar and heirloom applesSpring may be the season of rebirth, but we can’t help a similar feeling of renewal when September rolls around: new season, new school year, cooler temperatures (at least in the northeast). Autumn is also the time to celebrate the harvest – particularly the new batch of apples, that most emblematic of fall crops. Fresh or preserved, apples are a simple and versatile addition to any cheese plate. (more…)

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Sweet Basil

A couple of years ago, on one of my many visits home, I bought a cheapie pot of basil at the supermarket. That pot of basil still sits on the window sill in the kitchen at my parents’ house and my mother plucks leaves from it when she makes a Caprese salad or needs some fresh seasoning. It doesn’t look too pretty now – it’s rather tall and skinny with a stick that helps to keep it upright – but it continues to be a fragrant and delicious addition to family meals. (more…)

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Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomato season recently kicked off here in New England – a sign that we are in the mid to late stages of summer. Technically a fruit, tomatoes are treated as a vegetable for cooking purposes. There exist more than 5,000 varieties globally and we are increasingly seeing heirloom tomatoes available at markets here in New England. (more…)

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Rhubarb

In April, I walked into the bakery and saw rhubarb piled high on the work bench, waiting to be added to a strawberry-rhubarb crisp. At the time, the weather had turned spring-like but we were still several weeks away from our own local rhubarb season. Still, that first sight of rhubarb was a lovely indicator that warm weather was on its way.  This week, our produce manager, Julio, told me that we have just started getting in local rhubarb to the shop!

Rhubarb reminds me of home – my mom makes a fantastic strawberry-rhubarb pie and, as a baker myself, the bellwether rhubarb sets my mind racing with ideas for what will soon be a profusion of fruits to choose from for crisps, breads or crostatas… (more…)

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Spring is here and we’ve gotten in a lots of exciting new produce (like spring garlic and ramps) but the most exciting things I’ve come across while wandering through the produce section are green almonds.

These fuzzy pre-nuts are popular throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East, most commonly eaten fuzzy skin and all with a sprinkling of sea salt.  When you bite into a green almond, you get a satisfying vegetal crunch that exposes the translucent nut at the center and the soft hull around it. These almonds have a bright, natural acidity, and a texture reminiscent of both cucumbers and celery. Green almonds were a childhood favorite of Formaggio Kitchen owner, Ihsan Gurdal, who grew up in Turkey. If you’re looking for something refreshingly different stop by and try these staff favorites while they’re around.

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Bergamot oranges

A couple of Sundays ago, a fellow Formaggio Kitchen colleague introduced me to Bergamot oranges.  Our produce department recently received a batch and I had never seen one before!

Bergamot gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavor (the essence is extracted from the skin of the orange).  When I sampled one, I was given a small slice to try because it turns out they are more like lemons in terms of their sourness than they are like conventional oranges. (more…)

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Poschiavo, one of our favorite pastas, is perfect for the recipe that was featured this week in our weekly dinner email: Spaghetti Scented with Orange. To sign up to receive more recipes like this along with our weekly takeout dinner menu, email us at contactus@formaggiokitchen.com.

2 oranges
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
Coarse sea salt
1 pound spaghetti
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
1/3 cup of finely chopped fresh chervil (plus more for serving)
1/2 cup freshly Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (plus more for serving)
3 large egg yolks
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Warm serving plates in a low oven (200°F).

Using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife cut zest from the orange into long strips, avoiding the white pith. Very thinly slice the strips lengthwise.

In a medium sized skillet melt the butter over medium heat until the foam subsides. Add the zest and a pinch of salt. Turn heat down to medium-low and cook stirring occasionally until soft and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al-dente. Meanwhile, in a medium heavy saucepan, bring cream, chervil and a pinch of salt to a gentle simmer and cook for about 4 minutes.

Just before pasta is ready, spoon 3 tablespoons of cream onto warmed serving plates. Using the back of a spoon, spread cream to cover plates. Cover to keep warm. Drain pasta, transfer to a large bowl and immediately toss with the remaining cream mixture, cheese and egg yolks. Continuing tossing until cream and yolks are fully incorporated and the strands of pasta are nicely coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer pasta to prepared serving plates; sprinkle with zest, remaining chervil and extra cheese. Serve immediately.

La Cucina Italiana

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Local Crab Apples

We recently held our first ever Apple Fest at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge and, ever since, I have had apples on my mind!  For me, apples provoke a range of memories and positive associations but, only recently, did I take the time to delve a little further into the history and science of this fruit.

When I was a child, we used to visit my grandparents’ place in Connecticut and, in their orchard, we were able to pick McIntosh apples straight from the trees.  Eating an apple outside and, remembering the legend of Johnny Appleseed, I would try to plant the odd apple seed.  When I did so, I always envisioned a bountiful apple tree heavy with fruit and looking precisely like the apple I was munching on.  Little did I know that my seed, had it ever come to fruition, would have produced something very different.  Apple seeds are heterozygotes meaning that, like human children, they often bear only a slight resemblance to their parents.  This is why there are so many apple varieties!

The part of me that loves to spend time in the kitchen relishes this time of year – a time that has traditionally brought with it a slew of delicious, apple-derived dishes: apple pie, caramel apples and apple cider to name a few.  The prominence of the apple in the American food psyche is nothing new.  If anything, it is less prominent now than it was a century ago.  In the 19th century, Americans were growing in the region of 14,000 distinct varieties of apples, a period in our history that has been called the “golden age” of pomology.  Apples were reviewed with the same enthusiasm with which people now review movies! (more…)

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