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Posts Tagged: Jennifer May


18
Jun 15

Wild Grape Leaf Dolmades

Ever since reading Foraging & Feasting, I have been looking forward to making wild grape leaf dolmades. This afternoon, on our way to pick up our toddler, I spotted wild grape vines draping along the side of a quiet road. We snipped a few branches and brought them home. I blanched the leaves in water, salt & vinegar, then made the filling. They were deceptively easy to make, and next time I go to a vegan party, I very well make this version. Although before then, I will likely experiment with a ground meat filled variety.

wild grape leaves

wild grape leaves

Back at home, I trimmed each wild grape leaf from its stem

spring onions and herbs

These spring onions looked like jewels at the farmer’s market. Bulbs & some of their greens were perfectly at home in the rice stuffing.

dolmades ingredients

The wild grape leaf dolmades were stuffed with rice, currants, pine nuts, cinnamon, and fresh mint, parsley & dill from my garden.

blanched wild grape leaves

The wild grape leaves lost their vibrant green after blanching.

wild grape leaf dolmade

Stuffing a blanched wild grape leaf

wild grape leaf dolmades

Wrapping and finishing the dolmades. These were wrapped by the hands of three people who had never made them before (myself, and 11 year old, and a 3 year old) and each one is unique.

Recipe, based on one in Vegetarian Times:

Olive oil; 1 medium onion finely chopped; 1/2 cup rice; 1/4 cup pine nuts; 1/4 cup currants; 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon; 1 bay leaf; 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, mint, dill; fresh wild grape leaves, blanched; 1/4 cup lemon juice.

Saute onion until fragrant. Add rice and pine nuts, stir. Add currants, cinnamon, bay leaf, and 1 cup water. Simmer 15 minutes, covered. Rice should be mostly cooked but still firm. Stir in herbs, salt & pepper. Line a pan with blanched grape leaves. Fill remaining grape leaves with heaping teaspoon of rice & herb filling, fold up sides and roll into a tight bundle. Set each rolled dolmade in the pan, and fit tightly together. Set a heat-proof dish on top of the dolmades, add lemon juice & 1 cup water. Simmer 45 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand until liquid is absorbed. Best eaten at room temperature.


14
Jun 15

Mini-Vacation on Block Island, RI

Sometimes a mini-vacation is all you have time for, and all you need. My in-laws love Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. They visit at least once a year, and they always ask us along, but between work & life schedules, it’s been about 10 years since Chris and I were there. Earlier this month, we made them very happy when we all found time for a long weekend together. It was my brother-in-law’s 30th birthday, so he and his girlfriend also took time away from their busy jobs in NYC. The drive is just a few hours, the ferry is an hour, and off-season you are rewarded with wide open, empty sandy beaches.

Block Island RI ferry

A ferry shuttling people from the mainland to Block Island

Beach on Block Island RI

Me in my beach best black capris

Kite flying on the beach

What mini-vacations are made of: sandcastles and kites

We packed our cars full of our favorite foods to cook (bone-out rib eye steaks & hamburgers from the Applestone Meat Company, endless salads, asparagus and ingredients for another attempt at Béarnaise sauce), and we bought fresh lobsters from the local fish purveyor, Finn’s. We flew kites, walked on the beach, dug holes in the sand, breathed deep of the salty air, grilled, and went to bed early.

I aspire to take more mini-vacations. I want to explore in short bursts. NYC & Brooklyn I see a lot. Boston we visit maybe once a year. Last year we rented a tiny cottage on a bay in Mystic, CT. If anybody can recommend great spots withing a 4-hour driving radius of the Hudson Valley, let me know.

sand castles on beach

Finns Fish Market

Fresh from Finn’s Fish Market. These lobsters were fiesty.

Grilling on Block Island RI
Steaming lobsters

Steamed lobsters

Freshly steamed lobster

Toddler tries lobster claw

My girl’s first taste of lobster

Block Island RI Beach
Block Island RI

 


25
May 15

Wood Sorrel – Weed to Salad

My edible garden is accidentally on purpose filled with wood sorrel. This south facing slope at the forest’s edge is a hodge-podge of garden theories. I follow Lee Reich’s method of mulching to suppress weeds. But I also follow the Gaia’s Garden approach of letting things grow in organized chaos. And since I haven’t found a great source for organic compost, I don’t mulch as often as I ought. In some ways this garden is weeds suppressing other weeds. But I curate the weeds.

wood sorrel

Wood sorrel in the garden

Barberries I attack with a crowbar. Wisteria is clipped or pulled on sight. Periwinkles run rampant and the bees appreciate their early flowers. Clover is a boon for its nitrogen-fixing root nodules in the soil.

My toddler and her Nana love to nibble on wood sorrel, so it stays. Its delicate heart-shaped leaves bend and nod in every corner of the garden. It looks a lot like clover, but wood sorrel is a sour, lemony tasting green that doubles as a potent culinary herb.

Clipping the plants from where they were growing too closely to pear trees the other day, I gathered it for the kitchen, rather than the compost. I turned to Foraging & Feasting, a beautifully illustrated book about wild edibles, and made sure there are no poisonous look-alikes. (There are not.) Then I looked for recipes in my cookbooks.

wood sorrel from a garden

bunches of wood sorrel

Bunches of just picked wood sorrel

wood sorrel

ingredients for a spring salad

Ingredients for a spring salad

There are many recipes for sorrel cream sauce, sorrel and goat cheese tarts, and sorrel beverages. Apparently – although I have not tested this – cultivated sorrel and wood sorrel are so similar in flavor as to be interchangeable. I will do a taste-test when I get my hands on some farmed sorrel this summer. The delicate leaves of wild sorrel seem to me best suited to salads.

This weekend, I made wood sorrel salad, and I made a version of Ottolenghi’s lima beans with sorrel, feta and lemon.

For the salad: torn leaves of fresh young lettuce (I used red leaf), fresh dill, a big bunch of wood sorrel leaves & flowers, and since they were blooming, chive flowers.
For the dressing: olive oil, aged white balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a teaspoon of fig preserves, a teaspoon of stone ground mustard, one pressed clove of garlic, a wee bit of diced red onion, salt.
Garnish: Toasted sunflower seeds and grated aged parmesan.

Wood sorrel recipe ingredients

Deliciously sour notes of Ottolenghi: Sumac, feta, dill, lemon & wood sorrel

lima beans and sorrel in pan

Lima beans, chives from the garden, and sorrel in a pan

wood sorrel chive flower salad

Wood sorrel, young lettuce & chive flower salad

This was delicious. We ate the sour & sweet salad for lunch with some of the sorrel & lima bean dish I had left over from the day before. I made sure my husband got the single sorrel flower I harvested, and my daughter talked about that flower all through lunch.

 


19
May 15

Vegan Potluck Challenge

We were invited to a potluck at the home of some lovely vegan friends. I admit, I lean to butter and strong cheese as flavor enhancers in vegetable-based dishes. But I was sure I could find something I would love to cook, and that a vegan would love to eat. I turned to Ottolenghi’s Plenty and found a recipe for saffron-infused roasted cauliflower with green olives & golden raisins. This dish had just the kind of big flavors I like, and served well at air temperature.

The hosts made kir royale cocktails, which is prosecco and crème de cassis, and the taste of it is the reason I grow black currants. I believe I could survive on this drink alone. We threw blankets down on the grass beside old stone walls, and we were surrounded by toddlers who ran screaming to and from a chicken coop. The high pitched sound of eight little girls (my own included) was much more bearable with a glass of kir royale in hand.

It was three easy hours in the Catskills…. the stuff of which winter dreams are made.

vegan saffron olives raisins on board

Ingredients for Ottolenghi’s saffron infused roasted cauliflower with green olives & golden raisins

Cauliflower chopped on board

Cauliflower chopped on board

vegan Ottolegnhi roasted cauliflower

Cauliflower, purple onions, green olives & golden raisins are tossed before roasting

Ottolenghi vegan roasted cauliflower dish

The completed dish, and kir royale cocktails = heaven!

Parents walk with children by stone wall

Strolling by classic stone walls in the Catskill Mountains


13
May 15

Barely Béarnaise

Another tempting recipe from A Girl and Her Greens – asparagus with ramp béarnaise sauce. This will be the last ramp recipe of the season for me! But I had to try it, and I only had a few mishaps. First, I made clarified butter, and that went smoothy. Then onto the béarnaise, and I have never made that before.

The reduction of ramp bulbs & champagne vinegar went well, but it fell apart after that. Perhaps the egg yolks were too small, perhaps I didn’t heat them long enough in the double boiler, or perhaps I added the clarified butter too quickly. I ended up with béarnaise butter soup. I chucked it.

Luckily the clarified butter recipe had made twice what I needed, so, I started again. This time I used shallots (I was out of ramp bulbs), and I whisked that sauce until my arm ached. I poured in the slowest stream of clarified butter, stopping well before it got soupy. I’m sure it was too thick. But I stirred in the fresh ramp leaves, and dolloped the tasty mess onto boiled asparagus, and it was delicious. It was all the more delicious eaten with a steak we had been saving from the Applestone Meat Company. And when the wind knocked our power out, we ate this elegant feast by candlelight.

I’ll get a few béarnaise tips from my food stylist/chef friends, and give it a whirl again. It had great flavor, if not authentic consistency.

Clarified butter

Clarified butter

asparagus ramps

Ingredients for April Bloomfield’s asparagus with ramp béarnaise

ramps and asparagus

Ramps and asparagus

asparagus and bearnaise

Asparagus and ramp bearnaise


11
May 15

Mother’s Day

For Mother’s Day, I took a moment to survey the blossoming trees in my garden. It’s a promising year for pears, wild plums, and paw paws.

I also cooked from April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Greens. There was a roasted & raw fennel & fresh orange salad; a bowl of fingerling potatoes with butter & mint; and a pea, mint & pecorino spread. There was also a 90-degree heatwave (in early May!), and I didn’t get around to photographing the food. But we did manage to transport it and ourselves to a park in the Catskills where Chris grilled wild salmon beside the lake. When the temperature cooled, we went for a walk in the golden hour, and I photographed my daughter and her grandparents.

It was a lovely, relaxing day. Can’t ask for more.

field at sunset mother's day

A daughter and her grandmother

blossoms in and edible garden

Left to right: blossoms of pear, wild plum, and paw paws in my edible garden

mint

Fresh mint on the counter


10
May 15

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads appeared in the market, and I cooked them for a mid-afternoon snack. This is a play on a Martha Stewart recipe. The fiddleheads are cleaned, steamed, and sautéed in butter. They are served with a squeeze of lemon and salt. I ate them all before I even sat down.

Fiddleheads


5
May 15

Apple Slaw with Onion Seedlings

This morning, while planting out seedlings in my edible garden, I discovered a patch of volunteers. A taste-test revealed them to be onion seedlings, and they had clearly sprung up from the spent seed heads I left in the garden over winter, to feed the birds. I am grateful to these volunteers for planting themselves – it’s less work for me, and it’s a clear indication of what thrives in my particular plot of partly shaded soil.

I have a patch of calendula seedlings – offspring from a single plant given to me at Field Apothecary a couple of years ago when I photographed them for Edible Hudson Valley. I will let the calendula grow as they are. My alpine strawberries, aka fraises du bois, are popping up all over the garden. I imagine the creatures who stole the fruit left a few seeds behind where they ate them. I am moving these tiny plants one by one into a brand new dedicated (and protected) garden bed – they are just too precious to share with wildlife.

The onion seedlings are growing too densely to leave alone, and I don’t have room for 100 onion plants in my already crowded garden. So, I pulled a bunch of them, washed them, cut off their roots, and added them to an apple-napa cabbage slaw. Micro greens!

onion seedlings

Onion seedlings thinned from my spring garden

apple slaw

Apple & napa cabbage slaw with onion seedlings


3
May 15

Ramp Butter & Quail Eggs on Toast

Ramp season means spring is on; and they are a rare treat. I did an online search for the most enticing ramp recipe and found one by April Bloomfield from her new book, A Girl and Her Greens. Sauteed & raw ramps, butter, anchovies, lemon juice & zest, salt, hot pepper, mixed and spread on toast, topped with a fried quail egg: I had to try it!

Luckily, my friends at the Tivoli General have a farm where they raise quail, and they bake bread daily for sandwiches in their cafe. A quick trip across the river and I had all my ingredients. This recipe is truly delicious as is, and the ramp butter recipe leaves enough extra for other uses…I imagine melting it over boiled new potatoes, and it would be luscious served hot on pasta.

And then, since I love vegetable recipes that are not strictly vegetarian, I popped over to the Golden Notebook and ordered Chef Bloomfield’s cookbook. I can’t wait to see the rest of this book.

ramps, quail eggs, bread

The ingredients for ramp butter, toast & quail eggs – a recipe inspired by April Bloomfield

ramps and quail eggsquail eggschopped rampschopped rampsramp butter

ramp butter toast with quail egg

Plated ramp butter toast with fried quail egg


26
Apr 15

Edible Gardening / Rhubarb Crumble

Gardening gives me so much joy, I sometimes think it is the reason I do almost everything else: take photos, clean the house, blog. I was raised in a part of the world where everybody gardens. The west coast of Canada is so fertile, it’s easy to grow food. Vancouver is filled with yards given over to bean trellises and mammoth sunflowers, and when I was a girl on Vancouver Island, catching fish, digging for clams, and prying oysters off the rocks was a common past-time. We paired these with potatoes, peas, and herbs from the garden.

Now I live in the Hudson Valley, bordering the Catskills, and part time in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My favorite moments of the year are when I tend my edible garden. My brother built a deer-proof garden for me the month my daughter turned one, and she and I have been creating it together ever since. This weekend I added elderberry bushes – which I have been dreaming of all winter – purchased from the Catskill Native Nursery.

My own rhubarb plants are only 3 inches tall right now, although where I come from they are ready for harvest. To feel the spring groove of my homeland, I made a rhubarb crumble out of pre-New-York-season rhubarb and post-season blood oranges. It is always delicious, especially after a day in the garden.

toddler gardening

My daughter helping pot herbs

Catskill Native Nursery gardening

The Catskill Native Nursery, where I buy my most healthy plants: blueberries, raspberries, elderberries, black currants, paw paws, and more

rhubarb crumble

Rhubarb and blood orange crumble in the making


23
Apr 15

Brisket Take 2

A family member ran the Boston Marathon, and we prepared a feast for him the next day. We had smoked brisket, potatoes au gratin, kale salad, and pickled beets. We encourage our toddler to help in the kitchen as often as possible, and here she is patting down the spice rub.

brisket rub

Toddler uses hands to pat down a dry rub of paprika, granulated onion & garlic, brown sugar onto a brisket


20
Apr 15

Broccoli rabe pesto, starting seeds & the first lakeside grill of the season

This past week I shot a campaign for Andy Boy’s broccoli rabe. That’s right, an advertising campaign for a vegetable. It’s one of my favorite green vegetables, they are one of the best clients a food photographer could have, and we work hard and have a good time. I came home with bunches of the beautiful stuff, and set to work making broccoli rabe pesto, right from their recipe page. I was going to bring some to our first lakeside cookout of the season, but we ate the batch I made (although there is lots more in the freezer). It’s one step more complicated than traditional basil pesto, because you parboil the rabe, but then you reserve that green water and boil your pasta in it, and I love that.

Back at home, the week was filled with starting spring seeds – rabe seeds! a gift from Barb Fritz, a prop stylist I work with a lot – and flowers for the pollinators. Then we grilled, and found a tadpole at the lake.

broccoli rabe pesto

Ingredients for broccoli rabe pesto

broccoli rabe

The heady smell of fresh rabe (aka rapini) has me dreaming of Italy, and of ancient Rome

broccoli rabe pesto

Blanching rabe; reserved green water for boiling pasta; finished pesto; a pear tree in bud; starting seeds for the garden

bbq at a lake

children look for tadpoles

Finding the first tadpole of the season


5
Apr 15

Easter Weekend

Easter was a weekend of cooking for friends and family. Whenever I cook for friends, I look to recipes I’ve shot for Alana Chernila’s books. This weekend I riffed on radish butter, which we photographed this summer for her upcoming title. I also made roasted & marinated eggplant from Jamie Oliver’s Italy, it’s loaded with fresh mint, garlic, oil & vinegar. We (my husband) smoked a huge brisket, delivered to our door from the Applestone Meat Company. There were cocktails around a fire, an egg hunt in snow flurries, a spring walk wearing winter gear, and general frivolity.

radishes-sm-Jennifer-may-photography-5495grill-sm-Jennifer-may-photography-5480
mint-sm-Jennifer-may-photography-5454meat-truck-sm-Jennifer-may-photography-5430easter-2015-grid-jennifer-may


2
Apr 15

Roasted Root Vegetables with Capers & Lemon

One more recipe – this time roasted root vegetables – from Ottolenghi’s Plenty, and I’ll move to another book, I promise I will try. This is an incredible way to use up the last of the winter vegetables kicking around. Chop and roast, in progression, parsnips, red onions, olive oil, thyme, rosemary, garlic, sweet potato, cherry tomatoes. Roughly chop capers, and whisk them into lemon juice, maple syrup, and Dijon. Don’t leave this hanging around on your counter through the day or I’m sure it will disappear quickly. The bite sized pieces are too enticing.

Yam roasted root vegetablescut garlic and fennel roasted root vegetablesParsnips roasted root vegetablesroot vegetables roasted root vegetables


31
Mar 15

Caramelized, Roasted, Bitter, Funky, Sweet: Salad

Is it a salad when it is roasted and drenched with melted cheese? Probably not, but it is delicious, and I’m sure it counts as two vegetable servings. This dish is a play on one I found in Ottolenghi’s Plenty. I didn’t have endives and Gruyere, but I did have radicchios and Taleggio, so I made due. It’s so simple: Cut, caramelize, cover with sliced cheese, bake, add bread crumbs & thyme, eat while piping hot.

Radicchio SaladradicchioRoasted Radicchio Saladcut thyme on a boardTaleggio cheeseRoasted Radicchio Salad

 


30
Mar 15

Cucumber, Smashed Garlic & Ginger Salad

I always feel grounded and balanced when I’m eating lots of salad, and I’m always looking for new twists. This one, inspired from Ottolenghi’s Plenty, is sure to be repeated. The basic idea: Chop cucumber & red onion and toss into a vinaigrette of smashed ginger & garlic, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and top with roasted sesame seeds. There’s a little salt, sugar, and cilantro in there to balance out the flavors.

Cucumber SaladCucumber Salad Cucumber Salad


28
Mar 15

Dandelion Greens Salad

This is a riff on a dandelion greens salad by David Tanis from Heart of the Artichoke. I didn’t measure my ingredients, and I used white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, shallots, mustard, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme leaves. Chop, whisk, toss. It’s hearty and spring-inspired at the same time.

dandelion greens saladdandelion greens salad


 


5
Mar 15

Courtney Lapresi, MasterChef Season 5 Cookbook

Last year, in a top secret studio setting, I photographed the winner of MasterChef Season 5, Courtney Lapresi. Her cookbook, Everyday Fancy, will be published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang in May 2015. Courtney was such fun to photograph. She truly shines and the camera loves her. I can’t wait to see the rest of the book, for now, here is the cover.

Courtney Lapresi cookbook cover


10
Feb 15

Against the Grain Gluten Free cookbook

I am excited to announce the publication of Against the Grain: extraordinary gluten-free recipes made from real, all-natural ingredients. The book was written by Nancy Cain and is published by Clarkson Potter. I will be adding interior shots to my main website soon, but for now, here is the cover… a gluten-free breakfast pizza. Even a gluten-lover like me loved this!

Against the Grain cookbook cover


25
Jan 15

Citrus Season, Juice & Peels

Before and after still lifes with multi-colored juice & eating oranges, and grapefruit.

citrus season fresh fruit


citrus season fresh fruit juice salad
citrus season fresh fruit