A Winter’s Soup, Southeast-Asian

squash soup

After the celebrations of the holidays, and the holiday foods that go with them, January feels like somewhat of a let down. Winter has set in for good and the farmers’ markets, (if you’re lucky enough to have one that operates year round), will for the next few months have little produce-wise other than apples, potatoes, onions, root vegetables and greenhouse greens – at least that’s the case in the northeast.

Still, January does have the the last flings of fall with squash and sweet potatoes. Snatch them up while they’re still here! Of course, you may be tired of these epitomes of fall, so here’s a different take on squash soup. No nutmeg. Not even the slightest hint of Thanksgiving. Instead ginger and lemongrass, coconut milk and lime. The bright refreshing flavors of southeast-asia that are warming and bright, to counteract the grey outside.

Ginger Lemongrass Squash Soup – 4-6 servings


  • 1 stem lemongrass
  • 2 inches ginger
  • 4 ½ cups cubed squash (kaboka or other sweet squash, buttercup, kuri etc.)
  • ½ cup sliced carrots
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • broth to 3 total cups liquid
  • 1 splash fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs cilantro (Optional)
  • lime wedges (Optional)


  1. Trim squash and carrots and cube/slice.  Heat 3/4″ inch water in a medium sauce pan with 1″ ginger thinly sliced and half the stem of lemon grass.  Add steamer basket and steam squash and carrots over low to medium heat until very soft, 30-40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat coconut milk with enough broth to make three cups of liquid.  Add remaining ginger and lemongrass, thinly sliced.  Add a splash of fish sauce.  Let steep over lowest heat while squash steams.
  3. When done, remove squash and reserve steaming liquid.  Return squash to sauce pan.  Pour coconut milk mixture through a seive over the squash and puree thoroughly.  If too thick, add small amounts of steaming liquid until you like the consistency.
  4. Reheat to almost boiling and serve garnished with cilantro and a lime wedge.

My pictures show the soup garnished with peanuts, which make a lovely addition, but I didn’t think the flavor added that much.  The crunch, however, was a nice addition.  Also on the plate are some scallion (and kale, sshhhh, don’t tell Luis) pancakes, based on a recipe from Eating Well (unfortunately, they seem to have lost the recipe online…I may post it later).  Enjoy.

squash soup from long angle

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Yes We Can

The first step on the newest turn in our journey. Wishing hope to us all.

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Summer for Breakfast

There are a lot of things I love about summer, the long days, the warm evenings, the blush of outdoor fun on everyone’s skin. One of the things I love most about summer is the fruit. Succulent, juicy, colorful fruit. I’m not willing to pick a single favorite, but high up there are peaches and blueberries. Such a wonderful combination no matter how you combine them – salad, cobbler, under cream, over ice cream. Mm-mm-mmm. This morning I decided on blueberry scones with sliced peaches on top.

blueberry scones with peaches

These scones are based on my mother’s recipe, always tasty and remarkably low in sugar. Easy to make with a food processor. They never last long.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Scones6 servings


  • 2 c. whole wheat flour (or pastry flour)
  • 1/2 c. white flour
  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. butter
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. allspice
  • ¾ c. blueberries
  • 1 T. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a baking sheet.
  2. Add all the dry ingredients (flours, oats, salt, sugar, soda, powder, spices) and the butter (cut up into chunks) to your food processor. Blend briefly until the butter is blended to form a course meal. If working by hand, with forks, knives of pastry blender, this may take 5 -10 minutes. When blended, remove to a large bowl and toss in the blueberries.
  3. Combine the wet ingredients, then add them to the dries. Stir gently until just incorporated. At this point you get to choose the shape of your scones. Quick and easy is forming the dough into two 1/2″ thick disks and gently cutting with a knife into six sections each. Slightly more time consuming and definitely messier is cutting your dough into twelve portions and forming each portion into a cylinder – that’s what I did this morning.
  4. Bake your scones for 18-23 minutes depending on the temperature of the ingredients and the shape of the scones you choose. Let cool for 5 minutes (if you can wait that long) and serve with fruit or preserves, butter or whipped cream of your favorite combination.
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City Bees

NYC rooftop honey bee hive

This morning I had the privilege of meeting some of New York’s smaller and rarer denizens. David Graves, owner of Berkshire Berries and one of Greenmarket’s Producers, keeps hives on some carefully selected (and assiduously permission granted) roofs in New York City. From these hives he has been gathering and selling New York City honey for eleven years.

David was kind enough to take some lucky Greenmarket staff to visit one of his hives. This meant an early morning start for me, but I can’t complain as most of our market managers have to get up well before my 5:30 wake up hour this morning. We walked up more floors than I generally care to and stepped out into brilliant sun with a few bees.

The bees increased drastically in number as David opened the hive and pulled out a comb, but they mostly ignored us, aside from the stray bee or five which kept thunking into my hair. (I am glad to have enough hair that my scalp is sheltered from a bee running into it.) The first hive Davide opened is nearly ready to be harvested with nearly fully combs. David let us sample some of the honey – it was incredibly clear, with very little color a complex flavor that I am at a loss to describe. Not as overwhelmingly sweet as some honeys can be. When asked about air pollutants, David responded that the nectar in flowers is so deep down into the flower that it is mostly protected from stray dust etc., and that if a bee gets into anything nasty, it will probably die before it makes it back to the hive.

David told us that honey bees are rare in the city, but that when introduced, they keep down the populations of wasps and yellow jackets. Amusingly, David passed on that these city bees seem to have picked up city habits, they work from early morning through until 8pm, unlike his country bees up in Massachusetts, who, he says, kick off right at 5pm.

After examining the first hive we went to a different part of this roof to take a look at a second – it needed to be “re-queened”. The old queen had either died or flown away and the colony needed a new queen to keep it going. David showed us the queen bee he had ordered in the mail (yes, you can ship lives bees through USPS – they have bright green stickers that say “Live Queen Bees” on them – and come in a little wood box with screen mesh on one side to all good air flow).

Partially filled honey comb

He opened up the top of the second hive, pulled out another comb and showed us where some of the worker bees had started trying to make a new queen. This hive definitley needed the new queen. After sliding the new queen, still in box (where she’ll stay until the bees eat the “candy plug” which keeps her in), into the hive, he set up a quart jar of home brewed nectar to fee the hive, making sure that the queen would see food coming into the hive and begin laying eggs to keep the hive’s population going (David said these worker bees only live for 35 days, so for a hive to survive the queen needs to keep pumping out new ones). David’s home brew for the bees is a mix of honey, sugar water and mint – sounds like a lovely beverage to me!

You can check out my gallery for a full set of photos from our visit. You’ll notice a lack of any protective gear – David described the bees as “very gentle”. I guess humans just aren’t too interesting when there are flowers to find.

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Early Summer Soup

It may not be early summer where you are, but here in New York, our seasons mostly align with the solar cycle. The Vernal Equinox heralded a string of warm, grey, drizzeling days during which the trees quickly sent out buds, the blossoms and soon leaves. With the Summer Solstice upon us we have already had a heat wave, the first cherries are in the farmer’s market and CSA’s have begun their deliveries.

This afternoon I attempted to leave work early and took a quick ride (less than 45 miutes to cover the 8 miles up Manhattan) up the bike path along the Hudson river to the church just two blocks from my apartment where the CSA I subscribe to has its Upper West Side pick-up location.

This week we had zucchini, yellow squash, mixed lettuce, garlic scapes, parsley, braising greens, turnips and broccoli! With paniers full of produce I headed home, trying to decide how to eat my way through it. I stil have some things left from last week, and eating your way through a CSA pick-up on your own can be bit daunting. I look forward to having Luis back to help me munch through all the beautiful vegetables.

Riding two minutes home (mostly spent at stop lights), my mind alighted on cream of broccoli soup. Something I never made for myself. The web offered a variety of options and as I organized and put away, and oggled the garlic scapes, I was reminded of a spread that one of my co-workers brought in to our staff-meeting potluck yesterday – onion, garlic scape and peas! Instead of cream of broccoli, creamless broccoli and pea soup sounded much more appealing. Light, summery, tasting fresh and bright.

Again with a few web suggestions, It worked out almost as well as I had hoped. Here is the recipe I will use the next time I make this soup.

Early Summer Broccoli & Pea Soup – 4 servings

  • olive oil
  • 3 garlic scapes, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 c. chopped broccoli stems and some florets
  • 2 c. of your favorite broth
  • 1 heaping Tbs oats
  • 1/2 c. peas (preferrably just shelled)
  • 1 tsp lemon rind, finely chopped
  • 1 – 1 1/2 c. broccoli florets, cut very small
  • 1 – 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • parsley and lemon zest for garnish


1. Heat a large sauce pan, add the oil and then the garlic scapes and onions. Allow to cook slowly over low heat with the lid on while you chop broccoli.

2. When the garlic and onion are soft but not brown, add the broccoli, broth and oats. Turn up the heat slightly and let simmer uncovered until the broccoli start to look bright green. Add the peas and simmer another 3-5 minutes.

3. Add the lemon rind/zest and remove from heat. Puree thoroughly, taste for salt, add more water if needed.

4. Return to very low heat and add broccoli florets. Let heat until the florets appear bright green and are to your crunch preference. Mix in the lemon juice, remove from the heat and serve garnished with chopped parsley and additional lemon rind/zest.

I garnished my soup with avocado, feta, lemon rind and parsley. I admit, that was a bit of an overkill, and the feta added a touch too much salt for the delicate soup. It was still very tasty and I look forward to trying it a second time to see if I can get it right instead of almost right.

Here’s to summer, enjoy the longest day and the beautiful fruit of summer’s early harvest.

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A dinner worth celebrating

On Friday night, Luis took me out for my birthday to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. While we have had many wonderful, great, fantastic meals in NYC, most of them I don’t blog about, because that’s what Bruni is for. But this dinner was special. Very special. Blue Hill is a restaurant in Greenwich Village (and also family farm of the chef Dan Barber). Stone Barns is a non-profit sustainable farm with an educational mission. Blue Hill at Stone Barns is pretty much what you’d guess, a fantastic restaurant located on an amazing farm.

I’ve known about Blue Hill’s country version for a while now, have heard great things about it, have even had the privilege of a guided tour of Stone Barns farm (we greatly enjoyed this particular benefit of working in NYC’s food community – thank you Gabrielle and Craig). I have not however made it to the NYC version or even considered indulging in a trip out to Stone Barns. Luis’s revelation a few weeks ago that he had planned this dinner for my birthday left plenty of time for anticipation. Despite all my colleagues at work asking if I was excited, saying how excited they were for me, I could not have imagined the amazing dinner that we had. So, with no further adieu, an homage to my stunning 30th birthday dinner.

We were seated side by side on a long cushioned bench at the edge of the dinning hall – so we could watch the action while whispering sweet nothings to each other. We opened with glasses of sparkling wine from Long Island, tasty and very bubbly, and were told that the chef was excited to have us and would love to put together a tasting menu for us. We didn’t even look at a menu. Then began the procession of food.

Amuse Bouches:

  • Carrots and bok choy on a fence with apple-celery slushy shooters
  • Beet-burger sliders (the size of a quarter)
  • Stone Barns raised pork charcuterie with breaded salsify on a stick
  • Toast with Blue Hill Farm butter and ricotta plus dehydrated carrot and arugula salts
  • Stone Barns egg with baby collard greens and beluga lentils


  • Wrapped carrot with carrot puree/foam and fantastic butter sauce
  • Poached hake in a puddle of shellfish soup
  • Winter root and fruit salad
  • Lamb belly with carrots


  • Palate cleanser – bay leaf sorbet over diced pineapple
  • Banana fritters with Stone Barns honey and peanut butter ice cream with pork cracklings

So, that’s the list. No description of mine can capture the freshness of the first carrot, the melting tenderness of the hake, the incredible richness of the lamb belly, the inspiration of peanut butter ice cream with pork cracklings, so I won’t waste space waxing rhapsodic about every item (since practically every item deserves it). I think what really caught me, aside from the incredible quality of the food, was that this was a truly American meal. No hint of ginger, no trace of curry was to be found anywhere. This tasted like the northeast, like the Hudson Valley, like Cape Cod, like the the pastures and woodlands just outside the window where the lamb and pork came from. This meal was not just beautiful and flavorful, it had a sense of place.

Of course, this particularly extravagant food experience was also ridiculously expensive – prohibitively expensive for most – and I feel quite lucky to have been able to share this special dinner with my best friend and partner. This was definitely a celebration dinner – the kind of experience you look forward to and talk about afterwards, a gift on its own. A celebration dinner worth celebrating.

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The Difficulties with Food Blogging

I very much enjoy reading food blogs.  They can be inspiring, informative and most importantly, beautiful.  My meagre attempts to do something similar have been hampered of late by the fact that I lost the cable I used to download pictures from my digital camera, and in my latest operating system upgrade, I became unable to download pictures from Luis’s camera.  So.  I have been cooking up a storm, and even documenting it, but am unwilling to share my culinary adventures without pictures.  Perhaps I should get over the need for pictures.  Or as Luis put it, “Buy a new cable.”  I new cable has been purchased, and hopefully, I will return to sharing kitchen exploits in the near future.  Of course, these pictures will only be from my feeble pocket sized camera, not the amazing, art-producing SLR in Luis’s possession, but they’ll be better than nothing.

Here’s to more pictures and food and stories.

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Salade chevre chaude (warm goat cheese salad) – aka an Accidental Greenmarket Dinner

warm goat cheese salad

I love warm goat cheese salads. Luis will attest to this, as he sees more order them in just about every restaurant where they appear on the menu. This obsession started in Paris when we met up for the first time in a year over New Year’s during my Peace Corps stint. Every restaurant had a “salade chevre chaude,” and they were always good. But not only do I order them in restaurants, I regularly make them at home. They’re easy! And fast. And wonderfully tasty. So, the warm goat cheese salad has become a staple in my recipe pantheon.

Since beginning to shop at Greenmarket, and particularly at Lynnhaven’s goat cheese stall, this salad has become even more common in the dinner rotation. We have it at least once a month, often twice (and sometimes once a week if I’m not feeling creative). I swing by the market, grab the cheese and greens, pick up my weekly loaf of whole wheat levain at Our Daily Bread, et voila! dinner.

It’s not that I’m planning to make a dinner of market ingredients (which I’m sure I will make a point of during the summer), it’s just that I can get wonderful cheese, beautiful fresh greens and great bread all in one place. I don’t even think of it as “having a local dinner” until it dawns on me that I happened to get all the major pieces from the market.

Of course, there are caveats. The dressing contains no market ingredients, the cashews also come from far away, and the wine served with dinner, while it may be local, it’s local to my CA hometown, not my current New York residence. As I said, this wasn’t a planned Greenmarket dinner. It just happened that way. And I love it. The fact that I can put most of a meal together from the pieces available at the market makes me smile. No wonder I love working there.

How to? Slice rounds off a log of goat cheese, put on yummy bread and broil until cheese is just melted or bread looks as brown as you want it. Make a mustard vinaigrette: dijon mustard, white wine vinegar (or rice vinegar), olive oil, salt pepper, dill, a little honey if desired. Dress. Cashews and anything else optional.

dinner salad

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Being Spoiled for Dinner

I was a princess yesterday. Or, at least, wonderfully lazy and treated quite nicely. Luis, on his first day of spring break, decided that he would cook dinner for me. After a lazy morning, we headed down to the Greenmarket at Union Square, picked up what we could there for the recipes of choice (this time of year, that’s mostly potatoes, onions and squash, plus a drinkable yogurt for Luis from Ronnybrook Farm Dairy). Then we hit Whole Foods for the non-seasonal, non-local items. Even with the best intentions, I can’t bring myself to eat *only* local and seasonal. I’d lose ginger, chocolate, citrus, bananas, peanuts and year-round bell peppers.

Back at home, I lounged and then played the occasional sous-chef for Luis. The result:

special dinner

Curried Winter Squash and Sweet Potato soup (New World Kitchen) with Salmon Cakes and Corn Salsa (Foster’s Market Cookbook). Both of these cookbooks create dishes with amazing flavors, involving many ingredients and much time. We usually save cooking from them for weekends.

If you happen to have a weekend and feel like playing, the Salmon Cakes are absolutely worth trying. Every time we make them I think, “Oh, these really are worth it.” So, for the next time you have two hours and a craving for salmon cakes, here you go. Straight from Foster’s to you (via Luis’s cookbook purchase and my blog, reduced by half).

Salmon Cakes with Crunchy Corn Relish – makes ~8 2″ cakes (4 servings)

Ingredients – relish (make first and allow to chill)

  • 1 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/8 c. dry white wine (Vermentino works well, and is good w/ dinner)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs. julienned fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. fresh thyme (or 1/2 Tbs. dried thyme – can be omitted)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbs. pink peppercorns (if available)
  • 1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cored seeded and diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cored seeded and diced
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions – relish

1. Place the corn, wine, vinegar, ginger, thyme, garlic, peppercorns, coriander, sugar, salt and bay leaf in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir and cook about 5-7 minutes, until the seasonings are incorporated. (If using frozen corn, reserve the corn, let other ingredients cook for 5 minutes than add corn for the last 2 minutes.) Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the green bell pepper, red bell pepper, scallions and basil and stir to mix.
3. Add the corn mixture to the pepper mixture and stir to mix. Season with pepper and check for salt balance. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use. Discard the bay leaf before serving.

Ingredients – salmon cakes

  • 1 lb. cooked salmon (poached, grilled or canned)
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • 1/4 mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 c. canola/safflower oil (for frying)

Instructions – salmon cakes

1. Carefully break up the salmon with a fork into large chunks in a large bowl. Add all the ingredients EXCEPT the cooking oil and stir gently to combine. Do not over mix; the salmon pieces should be bite-sized chunks, not fine flakes.
2. Form the mixture into 8 2-inch cakes about 1 inch thick. Coat both sides of the cakes lightly with the remaining 1/4 c. bread crumbs, shaking off excess crumbs.
3. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, non-stick skillet. 3-4 cakes at a time, about 3 minutes per side, turning only once, until light golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain. If desired, place in pre-heated oven to keep warm while cooking the second batch of cakes. Serve immediately with Crunchy Corn Relish.

The prep is pretty simple, just lots of time-consuming chopping, mincing and dicing. Still, let me repeat, it is absolutely worth it. Ever so tasty, and what a wonderful treat to have them made for me!

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