Grilling with Black Currant BBQ Sauce

Ahhh, the start of summer; long glorious days at the beach, the pool, the kids driving you nuts…Joking…We all love summer. One of my favorite parts of the season is all the great grilling you can do and all the interesting ingredients you can use! I’ll be sharing some new ideas, delicious recipes and helpful tips throughout the summer that will help you maximize that grilling goodness!

Take black currants for example. Probably not something you would have thought of for the grill! But, they make a great BBQ sauce. Not only are they delicious, but they are one of nature’s most potent anti-oxidants! These little berries contain two times the antioxidant power of blueberries, four times the vitamin C of oranges, and twice the potassium of bananas.

Since the currant bush likes hot, humid summers, and cold winters, it’s perfectly at home in the Hudson Valley. Black and red currants have a tart flavor, but are great in jellies, sauces, and pies. They’re also the main flavor in cassis, the French liqueur.  But I digress…

Black Currant BBQ Sauce

1 pint fresh black currants
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely diced shallots
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoon butter
Salt

To prepare the BBQ sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the currants, raisins, ½ cup water, brown sugar, ketchup, rice vinegar, shallots, raisins, mustard, and cayenne and stir to combine. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Puree the sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, using a rubber spatula to push as much sauce as possible through the mesh. Season the sauce to taste with salt.

What I especially like about currants is how their slight bitterness and astringency marries perfectly with richer, more flavorful meats like lamb. While we’ve prepared it with lamb for this post, this sauce is also wonderful on grilled, seared, or roasted salmon; the acidity of the currants works well with the fattiness of the fish. It is also good on beef kebobs, prawns, and venison medallions.

If you are too busy to make the BBQ sauce, you can always pop into Gigi Market and pick yourself up a container. Enjoy!

-Laura

To learn more about currants, visit the website of Hudson Valley expert on all things currant, Greg Quinn.

 

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

Asparagus Pesto Linguine

Asparagus is one of the other delicious favorites that is in season right now. Along with strawberries, you can head to Greig Farm in Red Hook and pick your own. It doesn’t get fresher than that!

At Gigi Trattoria and Gigi Market we use the fresh herbs, leaves, and vegetables of spring, summer, and fall to make delicious pestos that can be tossed with our hand-made pastas. Fresh asparagus makes a wonderful base for a fresh pesto.

Asparagus Pesto Linguine

Makes 4 servings

1 pound asparagus spears
3 garlic cloves,chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese,plus more for topping
3 tablespoons chopped fresh falt-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 pounds dry linguine or spaghetti

Snap the tough ends off the asparagus. Remove the tips; reserve the tips and stems separately.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Season with salt. Add the asparagus stems and cook until they’re just tender,3 to 5 minutes,depending on thickness. Using tongs,transfer the asparagus to a large bowl,cover with cold water,and then drain. Slice the stems into ½-inch long segments and place in the work bowl of a food processor.

Add the tips to the boiling salted water; when tender,about 2 minutes,fish them out with a strainer or slotted spoon. Place the tips in a small bowl,cover with cold water,and drain. Set aside. Keep the cooking water at a low boil.

Add the garlic,mustard and ¼ cup of the olive oil to the food processor with the asparagus stems. Pulse to combine. Add the Parmesan,parsley,and pine nuts. With the motor running,drizzle the remaining olive oil through the feed tube of the processor. Season with salt and pepper and the lemon juice to perk up flavors. Pulse again to combine. If you want a thinner consistency,a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water can be added later.

Return the cooking water to a full boil and add the linguine. Cook,stirring occasionally,until done,8 to 12 minutes; check the package instructions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water before draining. Add the drained pasta back to the pot and add the pesto and reserved asparagus tips. Cook,stirring,over medium-high heat until hot and well combined,about 1 minute. Add a spoonful of the pasta water,if necessary,to loosen the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with grated Parmesan.

Serving suggestions: Enjoy the pasta immediately.

Variations:

  • Brush whole fish,steaks or filets with the pesto as it grills or roasts.
  • Marinate asparagus spears in the pesto before roasting or grilling.

Leftovers: Use pesto for up to 4 days.

Nutrition: A typical serving of asparagus provides more than 50 percent of the Daily Value for folate, a B vitamin that helps in the duplication of healthy cells and protects against heart disease. It’s also a rich source of antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin A, and phytochemicals.

Economy: $$ Purchased in season, asparagus is tasty and inexpensive.

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

“Agriturismo”

Beginning  June 9, Gigi Hudson Valley will introduce “Agriturismo Dinners” to the Hudson Valley. The dinners will be held at Gigi Market in Red Hook. We thought we would share the history of Agriturismo to help you understand the appeal for us, and why we thought it would be a great fit.

The Agriturismo concept arose in Italy beginning in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and was finally codified into Italian law in 1985. Combining the words “agriculture” and “tourism”, it is a style of vacationing in Italian farm houses and resorts.

Fattoria Voltrona in Tuscany

This allows farmers to reacquaint visitors with traditional Italian country living, including food grown and prepared right on the premises. Here is a travel piece to give you some more background.

While we’re not going to put you up, 🙂 we thought it would be great  to provide a similar enjoyable eating experience.  Our food typically uses lots of locally grown products, and we also wanted to challenge ourselves and make good use of our rustic-elegant space at Greig Farm. So, we decided to source ingredients grown right in our back yard; in Upper Red Hook, and nearby Columbia County. We’ll find the best ingredients within five miles of our café, Gigi Market, on Greig Farm.

We’ll source our ingredients from nearly Migliorelli Farms, Mead Orchards, Northwind Farms, Montgomery Place Orchards, Hearty Roots Farm, Paisley Farm and of course, right outside its back door on Grieg Farm.

Keeping the Agriturismo ‘spirit’ alive, all meals will be family style and rustic. There will be homemade crusty breads to enjoy, an antipasti course with farm fresh vegetables, and the option for local cured meats and cheeses. This will be followed by a main course of either a delicious pasta/risotto or local beef, pork or chicken along with salads and side dishes. For dessert, you can bite into ripe local fruit or rustic tarts, pies, cobblers, even homemade gelato. Menus are posted the day of the dinner and will rely solely on what local farmers have ready to harvest.

Beginning June 9, we’re going to run the Agriturismo dinners every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until early October. No two will every be the same! We hope you’ll join us! We would suggest reserving your seat at the table! Oh, by the way, kids under 10 eat for only $10.

For reservations you can call 845.758.1999 or email anne@gigihudsonvalley.com.

Mangia!

Fresh Strawberries for the Grill

When you think of summer weekends, you think of cool cocktails, hot BBQ off the grill,  and entertaining. We at Gigi HV also like to incorporate what is fresh, at its peak, and can be had locally.  Right now strawberries are prime! You can even pick your own at Greig Farm in Red Hook. If picking isn’t your thing, come on into Gigi market and pick up a pint or two. We thought we would share a great recipe that incorporates the grill, the strawberries and a perfect meal for your next get together. Enjoy! Let us know what you think.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry BBQ Sauce

We have adapted the classic pork and applesauce combination by pairing it with strawberries for this late spring BBQ version. This strawberry balsamic glaze is the perfect sweet and sour accompaniment to pork. In the summer,substitute peaches or fresh plums for the strawberries.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for brushing the grill
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 garlic clove,minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives,or a combination of tarragon and chives
2 pints strawberries,cleaned,hulled,and halved
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Two 10-ounce pork tenderloins

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium to large nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Add the shallot, garlic, and chives and cook, stirring often, until the shallots are softened, about 2 minutes. Add the strawberries and sugar and cook, tossing or stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates to a few tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and simmer until thickened and syrupy, about 4 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Put half the BBQ sauce in a small bowl for brushing the pork and set aside to cool. Set the remaining sauce aside to serve with pork.

Preheat the grill to medium and brush racks lightly with oil. Rub pork tenderloins with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the pork,turning occasionally,until golden brown,about 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and brush the pork with some of sauce,turning and brushing occasionally,until an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into center of the pork registers 145°F,about 5 minutes longer (discard any remaining sauce for brushing). Transfer the pork to a platter,cover loosely with foil,and let rest 5 minutes.

Cut the pork diagonally into ¼- inch-thick slices. Arrange the pork slices on plates and serve with the remaining reserved sauce.

Serving suggestion: The sweetness of the strawberry BBQ make this a perfect match for the slight bitterness of quickly sautéed spinach or Swiss chard. Arugula salad with some Parmesan shavings and lemony vinaigrette is a well-paired cold side.

Variations:

Substitute grilled bone-in pork chops, chicken, and duck for the pork loin.

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

Strawberries & Rhubarb, Oh My

We at Gigi HV believe strongly in using what is fresh and in season which at the moment includes strawberries. While our strawberry balsamic BBQ sauce may seemed unorthodox but delicious (stay tuned for that recipe tomorrow!), using strawberries for dessert seems like a natural.

Also in season is fresh rhubarb which starts showing up in April and May at the Rhinebeck farmer’s market. It’s usually sold as a bunch weighing about two pounds, but I’ve seen it also sold loose, and you just pick out the freshest stalks.

Some people string rhubarb, running a knife the outside length of the stalk to remove the stringy fibers, which are similar to those found in celery. That might be a good idea with very mature stalks, but generally I don’t bother when using the young, slim, tender spring ones.

These two make a classic and elegant pairing with pound cake.

Pound Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote 

The term “pound” cake is derived from the fact that the traditional American version included one pound each of flour,eggs,butter,and sugar. While I wouldn’t call this recipe “light,” it is enlightened. I love a simple cake with juicy sweet-tart compote. Of course, you could always use store-bought pound cake (but I think homeade always tasted better!) Gigi pastry chef Louisa Demmitt always raids our retail cases at Gigi Market to prepare her rustic and sophisticated desserts.

Makes 12 servings

Pound cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter,softened
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3 egg yolks plus3 whole eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1⅓ cups cake flour,sifted

Strawberry rhubarb compote

3/4 cup sugar
⅓ cup honey
¼ cup cornstarch
2 ½ pounds rhubarb,washed,dried and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup quartered strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter and flour a standard-size loaf pan.

In a stand-alone mixer,cream together butter and sugar at medium speed. Add the eggs yolks and whole eggs,one at a time,scraping down the bowl occasionally. Add the vanilla,salt,and 1 teaspoon water. Remove the mixing bowl from the stand and fold in the cake flour gradually by hand,a third at a time,until it is incorporated. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and place on the center rack of the oven. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes,until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Tip the cake out of the pan and finish cooling on a rack.

Place a medium metal bowl in the oven until hot. Carefully remove the bowl from oven and add the cornstarch,sugar,and honey. Mix together and add the rhubarb. Coat the rhubarb with the cornstarch/sugar mixture and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. The rhubarb will release its juices and the cornstarch will help thicken them prior to cooking.

Pour the rhubarb mixture into a saucepan with all the accumulated liquid. Cook over low heat,stirring constantly,until the rhubarb is fork tender but not overcooked,10 to 15 minutes. Pour the compote into a heat-proof bowl and set it aside to cool at room temperature. Stir in the strawberries now.

Serving suggestions: Slice the cake and top with the compote. A little whipped cream is also a nice addition. 

Variations:

Use the compote as a pie or tart filling – see Rustic Tart (page 000). Simply pour the compote into an unbaked pie crust and bake at 425˚F for 30 minutes.

Enjoy the compote on its own with vanilla gelato or frozen yogurt.

Leftovers: In a cake container, the pound cake will hold for 2 days. Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote is good, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days.

Nutrition: Rhubarb is a great source of lutein, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C and anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants.

 Economy: $

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.