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 – 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.)

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.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Plum and Honey Spritzer

The heat of summer is already starting to settle into our bones. Flushed and sweaty, we end up with hair don’ts instead of hairdos, as the humidity wrecks havoc. Hot car seats burn our thighs as we struggle to keep our cool.  We are in definite need of a delightful and refreshing T.G.I.F. cocktail this week!

Voila – the plum and honey spritzer!

2 ripe yellow plums (available locally for your picking pleasure at Mead Orchards)

1/2 ounce honey simple syrup*
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice.
1 1/2 ounces gin (we use Hendrick’s for it’s clean and refreshing taste)
2 ounces dry sparkling wine such as Prosecco or Cava

Cut plums in half and remove pits and skins. In a cocktail shaker, muddle plums with honey simple syrup and lemon juice. Add gin and fill enough ice to come to top of liquid. Use your muscles to shake this one, you want to shake it hard enough to fully liquify the muddled plums. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with your favorite dry sparkling wine. Enjoy!

*Honey simple syrup is made by combining equal parts honey and very hot water. Stir until it reaches a syrup-like consistency and refrigerate. 

 

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Blueberry Cosmo

Ahhh, another day, another dollar. At least the day is Friday, and for many, payday is around the corner. Cause for celebration, we say! As we are wont to do, we try to take advantage of what is wonderful and local…blueberries. The season has just kicked in. For your enjoyable consumption, the blueberry cosmopolitan. It is too beautiful and delicious to be denied. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

1/3 cup seasonal blueberries (available locally for your picking pleasure at Mead Orchards)
1 teaspoon agave nectar (or refined sugar)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice.
1 1/2 ounces vodka (we use Tito’s)
1/2 ounce triple sec 

In  cocktail shaker, muddle blueberries with agave nectar (or sugar) and lime juice. Mash thoroughly to ensure full blueberry flavor. Add vodka and triple sec, and fill enough ice to come to top of liquid. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass. Enjoy!

Hellloooooo Friday!

Lookiing for more blueberry cocktail recipes? Here’s another we provided to Lindsay Pietroluongo for her great blog,  “Lindsay on the Rocks”  for a blueberry margarita. There are no losers in this equation! Enjoy!

The Beauty of Tradition

We launched our new “Agriturismo” dinner series last weekend at Gigi Market at Greig Farm in Red Hook.

Now, I want to be up front here. This concept isn’t our idea, in fact, it is an Italian tradition that has been around for a long time, about sixty years.

“Agriturismo” (pronounced ah-gree-tour-eez-mo) combines the Italian words for “agriculture” and tourism”. A style of vacationing in Italian farmhouses and resorts, it began in the 1950’s and was codified into Italian law in 1985. It gives visitors the opportunity to experience traditional Italian county living first hand, including eating and sometimes even helping to prepare food grown right on the premises.

Image courtesy of Agriturismo.net

While we can’t put you up, we will strive to provide you with simple yet sublime rustic fare based upon local ingredients harvested at their prime.

Having spent a lot of time in Italy, I have enjoyed this pure, simple, and delicious concept first hand. I realized that we actually had some great elements that reflected the “Agriturismo” ideal right here.  We have a beautiful, rustic location at Gigi Market; an old-refurbished barn on 500 acres of beautiful farmland.

Plus we have a great relationship with all of the local farms, giving us access to the freshest of ingredients.

I’m almost looking at these dinners as a variation on the standard dining experience you find when you go out to eat. Let’s call it an “unrestaurant”. We’re not giving you a five page menu to choose from. Instead, we’re going to decide that morning what  the freshest ingredients are from all the farms within five miles of Gigi Market.  That and that alone, will dictate that night’s menu. We’ll serve it to you in three courses, family style, in an old rustic barn. It’s more like going to a friend’s house for dinner who cooks really well. Who doesn’t love that? 🙂

Here was the menu for our first “Agriturismo” dinner last Saturday:

 

We’ll have to wait and see what the menu will be this Saturday…

BTW, what a great way to celebrate Father’s Day with a family style meal!

Mangia Bene!

-Laura

P.S. – In case you’re finding the “Agriturismo” concept appealing, here is a website of all different places throughout Italy where you can experience simple country living first hand!

http://www.agriturismo.net/

 

“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!