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!

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.

Kale Two Ways

Tuscan kale, also known as Lacinato kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, Dinosaur kale, cavolo nero, and black kale, thrives during all three growing seasons of the Hudson Valley. It’s especially available during these steamy summer months, and we’re taking full advantage….  We present it to you direct from Migliorelli Farms in our retail cases at Gigi Market and throughout our menus in both locations.  I thought I’d give you two different approaches to enjoying it; cooked and raw.

Cooked Kale

Gigi ‘LACINATO’: Sautéed Kale with Towne & Country Sausage

This is a new lunch and dinner side at the Trattoria in Rhinebeck, and part of our new summer menu.  Enjoy this sautéed Italian black kale with Towne and Country spicy sausage or simply with garlic and Gigi extra-virgin olive oil.

Makes 2-3 servings

1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 ounces (about 2 links) Towne and Country spicy sausage, sliced or crumbled
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ pounds Tuscan kale, stems removed and leaves chopped, then rinsed and spun
Salt
2 tablespoons white wine
1 cup water

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the shallots, sausage, and red pepper flakes, and cook until the shallots and sausage just begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and toss to combine. Stir in the kale and season with salt. Cook the kale, tossing or stirring to evenly wilt, then add the white wine and cook until fully evaporated. Add the water and cook until the kale is tender and the pan is almost dry, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy hot or at room temperature.

Click here to watch a brief video of this dish being made.

Raw Kale

Massaged Kale Salad

My friends (and Gigi devotees :)) Peter Amendola and Jerry Paglieri, shared this “massaged” raw kale salad with me, saying they often make it when entertaining and receive consistent raves from their guests. The acidity in the lemon juice “cooks” the thinly sliced kale making it tender and flavorful. Jerry became a fan when first trying Aati Sequeira’s recipe; as a confident cook he fined tuned it to his tastes and made it his own.

Makes 4 servings

1 large bunch Tuscan kale stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
fresh juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
freshly ground black pepper
2 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the maple syrup and a healthy amount of freshly ground black pepper. Stream the olive oil into the bowl while whisking.

Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the peaches and pumpkin seeds. Toss and serve.

Enjoy!

-Laura

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!