T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Cranberry Cobbler

We finally noticed this week  that all the leaves are turning color. It always seems to sneak up on us. We’re never sure if we weren’t paying attention or it really did happen overnight? All of the great and vibrant oranges and reds we’re seeing around us inspired our delicious cocktail this week, the cranberry cobbler. Perfect for a fall weekend!

Cranberry Cobbler

Place about a dozen cranberries in a shaker and muddle thoroughly with about a teaspoon of cane sugar. Then add:

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (we use Bulleit)
1 oz Carpana Antica sweet vermouth
1 oz blood orange juice

Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into martini glass or enjoy on the rocks. Leave the cranberries in the drink for a festive look. Enjoy!

Maple Pumpkin Polenta

Yesterday, Gigi Hudson Valley participated in a great event in support of Olana, the historic estate just outside Hudson. The fundraiser was entitled “Eat for Art’s Sake.” Each participating Hudson Valley eatery who volunteered their services, created a dish to be sampled at the gala, inspired by one of Frederick Church’s paintings (the artist who also built Olana in 1870.)

Gigi’s owner, Laura Pensiero,  chose “Clouds Over Olana”.

Inspired by the painting, Gigi Hudson Valley presented a Vegetable Hash over Maple Pumpkin Polenta. While the dish was not a literal interpretation of the painting, it served as inspiration, and it allowed Gigi HV to take advantage of great local and seasonal ingredients! As Laura noted, “It’s a very colorful plate that went with the back drop of the setting and  looked like a fall day. What we were trying to do was grab the season and bring that into the food, which this painting seemed to represent best.  We used Hudson Valley ingredients: New York State maple syrup and polenta from Wild Hive Farm and Store, in Clinton Corners,  with pumpkin from Mead Orchards, in Tivoli, as well as carrots, turnips. squash, and celery.”

We thought we would share the recipe for the Maple Pumpkin Polenta, enjoy!

Maple Pumpkin Polenta

This is among the most popular side dishes during the fall and winter months at Gigi Trattoria. The addition of pumpkin and maple syrup adds a seasonal and a festive hue to polenta. We buy ground cornmeal from Wild Hive Farm in nearby Clinton Corners. Any coarse grain cornmeal can substitute. Enjoy the slightly sweet notes balanced by a little spice from cayenne pepper.

Serves 4

1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cups finely ground yellow cornmeal
1½ cups pumpkin puree (boiled,drained,and pureed or 100 percent natural canned pumpkin)
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon butter

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt and the olive oil, reduce the heat to simmer, and gradually whisk in the cornmeal, a small amount at a time, to prevent clumping. Reduce the heat to low and cook the polenta, stirring often, until tender and it is pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and cayenne and cook another minute or two, then remove from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano and the butter. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve warm.

Nutrition: Polenta (cornmeal) is a whole grain. The pumpkin contributes enough beta-carotene to supply about 25 percent of your daily needs of vitamin A.

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

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – The Hudson Valley Pear Martini

Thank goodness another Friday is upon us, and for many, the start of a long weekend with Columbus Day on the horizon. We love long weekends, especially because it gives us more time to try one of the super delicious cocktails on our fall menu; the Hudson Valley Pear Martini!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz. House Infused Pear Vodka
2 oz. Pear Nectar
1 tsp Orgeat Syrup *
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg and a slice of pear. Enjoy!

 

*Orgeat Syrup is an almond flavored syrup.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Gigi’s Apple Cider Margarita

Well it is officially fall, no turning back now. The temps are cooling, the leaves are starting to drop and the shorts are getting packed away ’til next year. But as we all know, fall in the Hudson Valley is a wonderful thing, with beautiful sites and delicious seasonal ingredients. Nothing says fall like apple cider!! Behold the delicious, festive, fall bonanza that is Gigi’s Apple Cider Margarita!

1 3/4 oz. Sauza Gold tequila
1 1/4 oz. Tuaca
1/2 oz. cinnamon apple syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
2 oz. apple cider (We use local cider from Migliorelli Farms)

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into rocks glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar over ice and enjoy.

Happy fall!

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Pomegranate Ginger Cosmo

Saturday is the first official day of fall, so we thought we would dive right in with one of the festive recipes on our new, delicious, fall cocktail menu. Voila – the Pomegranate Ginger Cosmo!

Pomagranate Ginger Cosmo

1 1/2 oz pomegranate tea infused vodka*
1 1/2 oz ginger syrup**
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz pomegranate juice

*We use Harney & Sons pomegranate oolong tea bags to infuse vodka (about 3 bags per quart of vodka.)  You are good to go after about four hours of infusion.

** Make ginger syrup with raw sugar, water and fresh ginger. Boil for about 20 minutes. 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into martini glass, garnish with lime, and enjoy. Hello fall!

 

Gigi-Pure Mountain Fig Vinaigarette

If you haven’t stopped in to Rhinebeck’s hottest new store, check out Pure Mountain. They sell the most amazing naturally flavored 12-year old balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy, made in the traditional style that makes them rich, subtle syrupy and delicious. We’re using them in our cocktails (yes!), sauces, soups and you’ll be seeing this lovely vinaigrette on some of our fall salad specials.

I developed this Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette as part of the tasty and healthy seasonal fall menu for Just Salad. It is light and delicious with a great depth of flavor.

Gigi-Pure Mountain Fig Vinaigrette

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoon Pure Mountain Dark Fig Balsamic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup canola, safflower oil blended oil oil (extra-virgin, while delicious, takes over the subtle fig flavor notes)
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a small mixing bowl, combine the mustard, lemon juice and salt. While whisking, slowly add the oil. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and add black pepper.

Herb Marinated Butterflied Northwind Farms (NWF) Chicken

It’s still summer, so don’t put away the grill yet! Our Gigi marinade goes with just about all you can throw on the grill, including rib eye steaks, pork loin or chops, shrimp, whole fish like snapper, salmon or swordfish filets,  to name a few. It is, however, especially delicious on tender and juicy Northwind Farms chicken. To increase the surface area with the delicious marinade and cut the cooking time on the grill, we butterfly it. This flattened approach, when grilled to perfection, is also easy to cut into quarters or eighths.  Please check out our video to better understand how to butterfly. Alternately, we’ll do it for you at Gigi Market or you can pick up a grill-ready marinated NWF chicken or simply the Gigi marinade in our retail case at the market in Red Hook.

Make 3 to  4 servings

1 2 pound NWF chicken
1 cup Gigi Marinade*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Gigi Marinade*
Makes  1 cup
4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
leaves pulled from 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
2 cups fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 fresh garlic clove
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare the marinade: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the herbs and garlic and pulse a few times to chop. With the motor running, drizzle the oil through the feed tube. Process until well combined. The marinade can be held, covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Butterfly the chicken: On a cutting board using a sharp chef knife, remove the excess skin from the chicken neck. Place the chicken on its legs, with breasts facing away from you, and cut down the backbone on both sides to remove. Turn the chicken around, and place on cutting board breast side down. Using your hands slightly bend the chicken back to flatten. Pull out the triangular cartilage between the legs at the base of the breasts to further flatten. The chicken is now ready to marinate.

Pour half of the marinade into a large Zip Lock bag then add the chicken. Pour the remaining marinade into the bag, zip, and massage the tasty marinade into the chicken. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Preheat the grill to medium – high. Have a squirt bottle of water ready by the grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on the grill, skin side down and grill until the skin becomes golden brown and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes. Extinguish any flare-ups with the squirt bottle.  Turn the chicken 90 degrees and cook another 2 to 3 minutes (this will give you those lovely grill marks.) Turn the chicken over and cook about 5 minutes more. Using grill tongs, transfer the chicken to the “off” side of the grill and turn the other side to high. Cover and let the chicken roast in the grill until cooked through and over, close the cover and continue grilling until just cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes; an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°F. Transfer to a cutting board, loosely tent with foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving.

Cut the chicken in half along the breast bone, then cut between joint holding the leg to breast to quarter. Enjoy immediately.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Watermelon Ginger Margarita

Well, it’s September; the kids are back in school, nights are cooler and the days have been more mild here in the Hudson Valley. But, it is still summer! We’re not quite ready to let it go, and scored some beautiful watermelons from Mead Orchards this week. In celebration of the last weeks of summer and the coming of fall, we’ve put together an absolutely delicious cocktail that celebrates both. The fresh watermelon juice is great even on it’s own, but we’ve added some warmth with a house made ginger simple syrup and assembled an unconventional margarita that won rave reviews at the Trattoria over the week. In fact, the term “luscious” was used. 🙂 People loved it so much, we will have it available for you again this weekend, so stop in and enjoy one!

Watermelon Ginger Margarita
2 oz. Fresh Watermelon Juice (we made ours with a centrifugal juicer, but you can also use a muddle and strain method)
1 oz. Ginger Simple Syrup*
3/4 oz. Lime Juice
2 oz. Blanco Tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
While we made our Ginger Simple Syrup with Sugar in the Raw to add extra depth, you can opt to use regular granular sugar or the following:
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Cups Granular Sugar
3 Cups Water
2 Cups peeled, sliced fresh ginger
Add all ingredients to pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a low boil and let cook for 25-30 minutes. The syrup should be sweet and spicy. This will make more than you will need for one drink, but it can be used in many more recipes. If you would like to keep this in the fridge to use over a few weeks, in order to avoid spoilage, once the syrup has cooled add 1/4 cup clear alcohol (vodka works well as it is a neutral spirit.)

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Transcontinental

Well, here we are at the end of summer. We will all try to cram every summer related activity we can think of in over the next four days so we feel like we really took advantage of the weather, long days and nights with the grill. This week’s T.G.I.F. cocktail, the Transcontinental, seems a perfect, summery festive drink for this, the swansong weekend of summer.

Not one, but two Transcontinentals, as one will probably not be enough.

 

1 oz Bacardi Rum
1 oz Remy Martin VSOP
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
2 oz orange juice
1 tsp Orgeat syrup (almond syrup)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake vigorously, serve in a Collins glass over ice. Garnish with fresh mint. Enjoy!

 

Watermelon-Fennel Salad

This is a great end of summer salad. It provides a refreshing contrast of flavors and textures – crunchy sweet watermelon and fennel; salty, creamy feta; and ever so slightly bitter greens. It is perfect with grilled or seared fish or chicken, or simply on its own as simple first course. Don’t be afraid to add or substitute. Experiment!

Makes 4 servings

2 cups watermelon, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks
¼  red onion,very thinly sliced
¼ fennel bulb,thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon diced jalapeno pepper
Juice and grated zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to season
1 cup crumbled Farm feta
4 cups baby greens

In a mixing bowl, combine the watermelon, onion, fennel, mint, jalapeno, lime juice and zest and grapeseed oil. Season with salt and pepper and gently stir. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. When ready to serve, mound about 1 cup of baby greens on each plate; divide the watermelon-fennel salad over the greens. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the salad.

Serving suggestions: Serve the watermelon-feta mixture chilled on its own or over baby greens.

Variations:

* Mix it up using a combination of yellow and red watermelon.
* Substitute any young soft cheese, such as goat cheese, for the feta.

Nutrition: Watermelon gets its vibrant color from lycopene, the same potent antioxidant found in tomatoes. It is also a good source of vitamins A and C and potassium.

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

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Strawberry Lemonade

As we near the end of August, we embrace the most classic of summer refreshers, fresh squeezed lemonade. Though it sounds so simple, very few take the time to make it the right way with the perfect proportions of lemon juice, cane sugar and spring water. To those celebrating the close of the summer, we will have fresh squeezed lemonade cocktails available all weekend long at Gigi Trattoria. You won’t believe how delicious they are! Here is one of the cocktails we are featuring, strawberry lemonade, though we’ve got a few other suggestions for you; fresh blueberry lemonade, pink lemonade, or the regular old fashioned kind. Be creative! 🙂

Strawberry Lemonade

1 1/2 ounces House Infused Strawberry Vodka
1 Ounce Strawberry Puree
1 Ounce Lemon Juice 
1/2 Ounce Simple Syrup

Comine all ingredients in shaker and fill with ice. Shake very vigorously (you need some of that water from the ice to make the “lemonade” part!) Pour into a sugar rimmed martini glass and enjoy. Delicious!

Gigi Tomato Jam

Tis the season for making full use tomatoes! It seems to go from drought to flood overnight when they start turning red in the garden. This simple recipe helps you enjoy their sunny flavor throughout the fall and long winter. Try it on crostini with a shaving of Parmesan or a small dollop of goat cheese, smear on your favorite toasted bread or use as condiment for slow roasted braised dish – many of you have enjoyed it complementing our succulent lamb shanks during the fall and winter at Gigi Trattoria.

Photo by Evan Sung for NYT

 Makes approximately 1 ½ -2 cups

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ Vidalia onion, diced
1.5 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
.5 cup sugar
1 pinch of saffron
1cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes  

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it softens and becomes fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then pour into hot, sterilized 8 ounce jam jars, screw the lids on and turn the jars upside down to cool completely.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Peach Green Tea

This week’s TGIF cocktail is quite a treat, though it’s not the easiest one to slap together quickly…so we’ve decided to have it available to you as a drink special all weekend long at the Trattoria! It’s many components make a truly balanced, refreshingly light and delicious libation. However, if you don’t happen to have all of these ingredients at home, just come on in to Gigi Trattoria this weekend and have us do the work for you, it would be our pleasure. You will love it!

 Peach Green Tea

2 ounces Hendrick’s Gin
3 slices muddled cucumber
8-10 mint leaves
2 ounces organic peach nectar
2 ounces green tea (We use Harney & Sons)
½ ounce honey simple syrup
½ ounce lemon juice

 Muddle mint with honey simple syrup in shaker. Add cucumber, continue to muddle. Add remaining ingredients, fill with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into ice filled Collins glass. This would also make a great punch bowl or pitcher drink if you are serving a group, it’s sure to impress. Enjoy!

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Summer Berry Sangria

Summer is the time of gathering with friends, relaxing and keeping things simple. This week, we focus on a weekend favorite (making it the perfect T.G.I.F. cocktail) at Gigi Trattoria, the Summer Berry Sangria. We have simplified some of the preparation so that it’s easy to make at home. While everyone may have their own favorite sangria recipe, try this one, it is  delicious! Whip up a pitcher of Summer Berry Sangria for you and your guests, relax and enjoy!

 

1 Cup Strawberry or Mixed Berry Puree*
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
3/4 Cup Simple Syrup 
2 Cups Lemon-Lime Soda 
1.4 cup Triple Sec
1/4 Cup Vodka
1/4 Cup Berry Liquor (we used Chambourd)
1 Bottle of dark, dry Rose Wine (we use Lurra Garnacha 2011, Spain)

 Add all ingredients together into a pitcher and add ice. 

 *Should take approximately a pint of strawberries, or even better a mix of strawberries and raspberries. Rinse fruit and cut the tops off the strawberries, hull them if they are tough and not at peak ripeness. Toss berries into blender with some water, adding more water until desired puree consistency is achieved. 

**Shout out to our Adrienne Chiaramonte for whipping this up for us on her day off! 🙂

 

Farm Fresh Hudson Red Creamed Corn

I had the honor and priviledge last week of participating in House Beautiful’s 2012 Kitchen of the Year event in New York City, where I was invited to do a cooking demo. Wanting to focus on local ingredients, I decided to make a farm fresh Hudson Red Creamed Corn.

At Gigi Hudson Valley, we buy as much of the local corn harvest that Chuck Mead and Ken Migliorelli will sell to make this creamy Italian take on an American favorite. At Gigi Trattoria, it’s served in individual cast-iron crocks, arriving to the table bubbly brown and deliciously fragrant.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

6 ears fresh corn (about 4 to 5 cups kernels)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium Poblano pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
2 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
2 teaspoons sugar (optional—taste a kernel of corn to see if it’s needed)
1 tablespoon flour blended with 2 tablespoons water
1 1/3 cups Ronnybrook Farm milk or half-and-half
4 ounces Hudson Red cheese, in small pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Laura at the House Beautiful 2012 Kitchen of the Year event

Cut the kernels from the corncobs, then scrape the cobs with a sharp knife to get all the milk and pulp; reserve the kernels separately from the milk and pulp. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 3 or 4 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, stir in the kernels, parsley, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing or stirring often, until the kernels are cooked and lightly brown, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved pulp, the milk, and the white wine and sugar (if using) and cook until liquid has almost completely evaporated. Stir in the flour-water mixture, then whisk in the milk or half-and-half. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and stir in the herbs. Remove from the heat and stir in the Hudson Red cheese and chives. Serve immediately, or transfer to oven-safe crocks or ramekins, sprinkle the tops with the Parmesan, and broil under high heat until top is bubbly and browned.

Variations:

  • Substitute your favorite cheese (goat, grated manchego, taleggio or even cheddar) for the Hudson Red.
  • Spice it up with some diced jalapeno instead of smoky Poblano pepper. Add them when you sauté the corn kernels.
  • Cream it up: by pureeing 1/3 of the corn mixture in a food processor or blender and adding it back to the mix.

Leftovers: Before adding the breadcrumb topping, this dish reheats well.

Nutrition: Use milk instead of half-and-half to lower the fat. You can replace the Hudson Red cheese with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan to lend big flavor with fewer calories. Corn is rich in vitamins A and C and lutein, a potent antioxidant.

Enjoy!

-Laura

*This dish has been adapted from Hudson Valley Mediterranean.