Blistered Green Beans with Garlic + Tofu Recipe

Do you ever get a hankering for a certain taste sensation and texture? The other day, I had a sudden craving to eat  blistered – almost charred – vegetables sauteed with garlic, preferably made fiery by the addition of something hot and spicy. It could have worked with any number of vegetables – say, broccoli, zucchini, onions or eggplant – but what I happened to have was a bag of frozen green beans.

But don’t think these green beans were coming from a big ole bag of frozen vegetables that had been sitting in a deep freeze for eons. Rather, they were harvested in Upstate New York just a few months ago then sold to Winter Sun Farms, who purchase crops from local farms. They then flash frozen the purchases at their new, state-of-the-art facility, which leaves vegetables and fruits fresh-looking and frozen individually – meaning you can use as many or as few frozen pieces as you desire. Their offerings include everything from sliced peppers, pureed tomatoes, kale and corn, to blueberries and raspberries. They offer a CSA-style service wherein they deliver freshly frozen (summer and autumn) vegetables to various drop-off points in the depth of winter. Sweet! And really, it’s kind of a brilliant idea because in addition to offering out of season produce, it buys up bumper crops from area farms that might otherwise wind up with unsold crops. There are at least a dozen delivery sites around New York City, including two in Queens: Sunnyside CSA and Farm Spot, the CSA in Jackson Heights. But, back to blistered beans…

This is really just a basic stir fry that I cooked until the beans were slightly charred and a bit caramelized. A couple of notes: I used quite a bit of garlic (of course, the amount can be increased or decreased to taste). At the last minute, I decided to turn this into a more substantial dish by adding a small cake of tofu that I had cubed. I did not thaw the frozen beans, but instead blanched them in boiling water before putting them into hot oil in a pan. Finally, I was out of red pepper flakes, so I instead used a red pepper salsa that I had leftover in the fridge from a recent visit to one of my favorite taco carts on Roosevelt Ave. There are infinite variations to this dish – feel free to experiment.

Blistered Green Beans with Garlic and Tofu   – 2 servings

1 12 oz. package of frozen green beans

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (such as canola)

2-4 cloves peeled garlic (or to taste), minced

1 small block of tofu (about 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ x 1″) cut into 1/2″ cubes

2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

red pepper flakes (or salsa), to taste

1) Boil a pot of water large enough to hold the beans. Plunge the frozen beans into the boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds and then quickly empty into a colander set in the sink. Let drain.

2) Meanwhile, heat oil in a large sautee pan. Add garlic, stir, and immediately add the drained green beans. Keep the heat medium-high, and continue to stir the beans to prevent burning.

3) When the beans start to wrinkle and begin to brown, push them to one side of the pan and add the tofu cubes. Add the soy sauce (or tamari) and the red pepper flakes (or salsa). Gently toss. Continue to cook until beans are blistered and tofu is browned.

4) Serve with rice, or another grain, if desired.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                – written by Sonya Gropman
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        eat+art+word

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Help for Hall Decking

Still have some last minute shopping to do? Markets and shops in Queens and around the city are bursting with one-of-a-kind treasures.

QUEENS

Astoria Market Holiday Event

12/18 12pm-6pm in the hall at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden 29-19 24th Ave, Astoria,

Zaba Kids Holiday Market at Modern Spaces

December 17-18 11am-4pm 47-42 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, (917) 463-9583

Site NYC

35-11 34th ave. Astoria, (718)-626-6030

Inside Astoria

28-07 Ditmars Blvd. Astoria, (718) 956-4000

Jackson Heights Farmers Market

Sundays 8am-3pm 34th Ave. at 77th St,  212-788-7476

Jackson Heights Pop-up Holiday Market

December 18 10am-2pm 77-05 37th Ave.

MANHATTAN

New Amsterdam Market

December 18 11am-4pm, 100 Peck Slip, (212) 766-8688

Jingle Holiday Market at the Chelsea Market

December 6th-23rd, 75 9th Ave, Chelsea, (212) 727-1111

BROOKYLN

Brooklyn Night Bazaar

December 16-17th 5pm-1am, 149 Kent Ave, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Flea

12/16, 12/21-22 2pm-9pm 12/17

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Inspired By… Pachanga Patterson’s Moo Shu Duck Tacos

When the team behind Astoria favorite Vesta opened up Pachanga Patterson in February, it quickly became one of my go-to restaurants. Like Vesta, the focus is on fresh seasonal ingredients, but this time Chef Michelle Vido has shifted her attention to what they are calling “family meal Mexican-style.” The resulting dishes are Mexican in origin, but borrow ingredients and flavors from all over the globe.

The restaurant has literally been packed since opening night. Like my fellow Astorians, I keep returning for the inventive cooking and well-crafted cocktails. Some initial menu standouts include the Pachanga Salad, the Moo Shu Duck Tacos, the Grilled Lamb Tacos, and the Veggie Jenga; but the menu is constantly evolving. The dessert menu has changed a couple of times, but their twist on Vesta’s Baby Jesus cake- El Diablito- is a constant. It is a sticky toffee date cake topped with caramel and a zing of chile that you should definitely save room for. The cocktail list mirrors the creativity of the menu, and El Boludo is a particular favorite.

I like to frequent restaurants that encourage me to broaden my own cooking horizons and Pachanga Patterson provides plenty of culinary inspiration, with the Moo Shu Duck Taco being an excellent example. At Pachanga Patterson, the Mexican-American-Chinese taco consists of shredded duck on a corn tortilla with sriracha hoisin, radish, and cucumber. While I am not usually prone to ordering duck, the Moo Shu Duck Tacos have quickly become my standby order.

Last weekend I picked up some duck breasts from Quattro’s Game Farm at the greenmarket and decided to try my own spin on Chef Vido’s dish.

Duck Tacos

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 duck breasts

Salt and pepper

3/4 cup hoisin sauce

Sriracha

Thinly sliced radishes

Thinly sliced cucumber

6 corn tortillas

Score fat on duck breasts.

1. Pat duck breasts dry with a paper towel. Score the fat in a cross-hatch pattern, taking care not to cut through the breast meat. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Render fat over a low flame.

2. In a pre-heated skillet, place the duck breasts skin-side down over a low flame. Allow the fat to render and the skin to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Turn duck over and cook for 1-2 minutes.

3. Flip duck breasts over and continue cooking for 1 to 2 more minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat duck breasts on both sides with 1/4 cup of the hoisin sauce and then bake in the oven for 4 minutes. Allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing.

5. Mix sriracha into hoisin sauce to taste, depending on your heat tolerance.

6. Assemble tacos. Drizzle some of the hoisin-sriracha sauce mixture on the corn tortilla and top with sliced duck breast, radishes, cucumber, and more hoisin-sriracha sauce. Serve- perhaps with coconut cilantro rice.

This recipe definitely satisfied my craving, but it didn’t compare to the Moo Shu Duck Tacos at Pachanga Patterson. My choice to slice the duck rather than shredding it resulted in a slightly unwieldy taco, but the spicy sweetness of the sriracha hoisin helped approximate the flavor of the original dish.

To try Moo Shu Duck Tacos and other unique Mexican based dishes, head over to:

Pachanga Patterson

33–17 31st Ave., Astoria, NY
(718) 554-0525

Written by Maria Cerretani

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We’ve moved!

Hi everyone!

Just a note that we have moved! Please visit us at www.ediblequeensblog.com!

Thanks for reading,

Leah McLaughlin
Editor & Publisher
Edible Queens

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Hosting at Home, Queens-Style

cappuccino cake and sugar cookies from the Bonelle Pastry Shop in Forest Hills

It’s not always easy for New Yorkers to host at home. The exchange we make for living in this exciting city is that our apartments tend to be a tad smaller than what one finds in the rest of the country for the same money.

As many of us, seeking opportunity and adventure, relocate here from all over the globe, we cannot always be traveling home for every holiday, and we tend to develop urban families, groupings of friends and colleagues with whom we share those traditional gatherings. We’re doers, movers and shakers, and we like nothing more than to express our culinary knowledge and entertaining creativity by inviting our chosen families over for meals.

Perhaps you’re hosting a Passover Seder (which, I know, has a very specific menu) or an Easter brunch for your pals. What to do? Experience has led me to some conclusions on the matter, and I share them here hoping they may inspire you.

SIX PEOPLE IS THE RIGHT AMOUNT. M. F. K. Fisher said it and she was right. If you want the maximum crush of people to see your new artwork, or are looking to mastermind a sizable networking opportunity, or need folks to write checks for your candidate, make it large. But if you want to create a meaningful, personal and memorable gathering of individuals, stick to small. The spatial limitations of your residence actually present a fantastic opportunity for intimacy and comfort.

ACCEPT THAT YOU HAVE A SMALL KITCHEN. And here’s where living in Queens is so great. I often go halves on what is home-cooked and what is brought home from elsewhere. Maybe the take-out item is a rich mousaka. Or maybe it’s a side dish of fried rice. One Christmas I hosted a luncheon and took a trip to Jackson Heights a few days before my event to pick up tamales – an accompaniment for a main chicken dish – and I simply re-steamed the cute bundles before serving. The cappuccino cake shown above, perfectly sized for six, is from the excellent Bonelle Pastry Shop (10830 Ascan Ave., Forest Hills, 718-575-1792), as are the fresh sugar cookies.

LET GUESTS BRING STUFF. They want to and should and will, so think it through. Don’t make them bring sad bodega flowers. The junior-most coordinator at the fashion pr firm (hang in there!) can pick up a loaf of bread or a carton of strawberries or a liter of club soda.

the mini bar

ABUNDANCE EXPRESSES HOSPITALITY.  Especially if your attention will be focused – for maybe 20 minutes – in the kitchen dishing up the food. Hors d’œuvres and cocktails (or whatever beverages you’re serving right off the bat) are not afterthoughts. They shout ‘welcome!’ so offer lots.  The variety of options will leave your guests feeling delighted and a little overwhelmed and they’re going to be eager to pick up something. Your starters don’t have to be hot, in fact, specifically choose items that are not hot so they can be set out ahead of time. Prioritize for a hot meal instead.

GET TO THE EATING AND DRINKING RIGHT AWAY. Hanging out for two hours waiting for the main event while eating chips (even with the most excellent guacamole) and drinking beer is not fun. Hanging out after your hunger has been addressed and satiated is. You are not Anne Boleyn tantalizing King Henry VIII for the longest stretch possible, you’re feeding people in your home.

STEER THE SHIP.  I find this is especially significant when serving wine. If you think it best to serve a white with the salad course and a red with the meat course – an expression of abundance and thoughtfulness, not snobbery – don’t ask questions, just do it. This not only eliminates any potential embarrassment over picking wines your guests may not be familiar with, it also gives them a feeling of being looked after. They can just sit back and take the ride.

Arzberg demitasse set from Aunt Shirley

USE SOMETHING NICE.  Maybe you bought some funky fishplates at the Chelsea flea market or you have a set of linen napkins from your grandmother or you got eight pilsner glasses from Crate & Barrel for your wedding – use one elegant set. Tell your guests you’re happy they came.

In short, serve with love. You’re not Eric Ripert and no one expects you to be. But if you meet the task with abundance and care, your guests will remember your generosity and come back and back and back . . .

-Written by Anne Shisler-Hughes

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In From the Damp with Ramps

-Across the Footbridge
Having a great meal does not always necessitate going out. As the French are perfectly aware, a great meal can be had by staying home and making it yourself. A rainy Saturday night in Queens was the perfect time to enjoy a meal at home with friends. Our invitation came from a dear family living in Sunnyside, and it included the promise of ramps, a seasonal treat!

Ramps from the farmers market are a great find this time of year.

Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are in the allium (onion) family. They resemble scallions and taste like a cross between onions and garlic. You smell them before you see them; the odor is pronounced, but not unpleasant. Ramps require very specific growing conditions and they make a rare, fleeting appearance at farmers markets this time of year. Apparently you have to get up pretty early in the morning, according to our hosts, to grab what is available before the limited supply sells out each day to savvy foodies hunting for this treasure. Lucky for us, our savvy foodie friends scored!

On the menu was a bruschetta decked out with sauteed ramps, slow roasted cherry tomatoes and creamy mozzarella. Despite all the steps to prepare this topping, our friends informed us that it was actually the bread that makes or breaks this dish. It must be cut at a specific thickness, brushed with olive oil and toasted till golden, on the spot, no do-ahead techniques would fly. Got it?

While we prepped the bruschetta, we discussed where in Queens to buy the best bread. Please readers: Weigh in on this, because we are still searching for it!

Within minutes, we were sampling the tastiest, most delectable bruschetta I have ever had. The bread was perfect! Crispy, with a soft center and still warm from the oven. The topping was a magnificent mingling of the oniony, astringent ramps, the sweetly acidic tomatoes and the mild, milky mozzarella.

As the rain drenched the streets outside and we clustered around the cozy dining table enjoying a taste of spring, our host’s beguiling six year old daughter reminded us “April showers bring May flowers.” Indeed!

Recipe:
Bruschetta with Wilted Ramps, Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella


For the slow-roasted cherry tomatoes:
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
2-3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar

Heat oven to 250 degrees F. Slice tomatoes in half and lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle the tomatoes with the oil and sprinkle the salt, pepper and sugar on top. Bake for about two hours until soft and a bit golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

For the wilted ramps:
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch ramps, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a saute pan and add all the other ingredients. Saute over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 6-8 minutes until the garlic is softened and the ramps are wilted and cooked down. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

For the bruschetta topping:
Wilted ramps
Slow-roasted cherry tomatoes
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, chopped into 1″ cubes
1 cup of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
Splash of sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and taste to adjust seasoning. Set aside to place on top of toast.

For the bread:
1/2 loaf of good crusty country style bread, sliced 1/2″ thick
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Heat oven to 350. Lay the sliced bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with the olive oil. Bake about 4 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

Assemble Bruschetta:
Place a heaping spoon full of the topping on each slice of bread and top with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

  Enjoy!

-Written by Deborah Soffel

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The Last Fish Monger in Forest Hills

The Forest Hills Fishery

We all know that Queens is chock full of culinary treasures and resources and it’s a place where professional and amateur chefs alike can gain knowledge and ideas, thus rejuvenating their œuvres. There’s one gem that I’m particularly fond of because it’s in my own neighborhood, the local fish monger. I’m a steady patron and keenly appreciative of its unique value  The charming, blue-and-white tiled store, Forest Hills Fishery, is located right amidst the busy commercial shopping district of Forest Hills, at 71-64 Austin Street.

The Fishery is near two supermarkets, a Japanese food specialty store, more than one dry cleaner, two nail salons, a bakery and other purveyors of life’s necessities. This is vitally important for a fish seller, because unless your customer really has a lot of time on his hands, he might not make a special trip to buy fish on a weekly basis. I sometimes think, “Wouldn’t it be great if my grocery also carried fish?” In fact, I once bought a pre-packaged salmon steak from a supermarket in a neighboring town to test my theory. Well, it’s clear that fish sourcing is an entire world in-and-of itself, requiring specialization, and if done right, the results speak firmly in consistently fresh product.

salmon fillets

Forest Hills Fishery always has a steady flow of customers, and one of the owners, Tina Ni, says that Fridays and Saturdays are undoubtedly the busiest days. Salmon, no surprise, is hands-down her most popular fish. She also said that her customers are not afraid to ask questions: when did the fish come in, where did it come from? So take note: Good fish mongers expect your questions.

But there are other ways to assess the freshness of your fish. For whole fishes, make sure the eyes are clear and wet and the gills are red and, well, slimy. If you can get your thumb on the item, the flesh should be firm and spring back after being touched. With fillets or steaks, the muscle should be gleaning, not foggy. Above all, if the stuff smells in any way fishy, it’s too late. Don’t buy it.

clear-eyed striped bass

I stopped in last Tuesday, and was delighted at the day’s take. A good selection of thinner fillets, suitable for sautés, parchment packet preparations and steams, were in abundance. There was grey sole for $21.99/lb., red snapper for $12.99/lb., tilapia for $8.99/lb. and whole, one-eyed flounders. By the way, any whole fish you purchase can be cleaned, and if desired, de-boned and filleted at no extra charge. There are skilled fish butchers on staff, and I met Baldo, a knowledgeable veteran of 18 years at the Fishery, who was, in addition to filling orders and answering questions, preparing large salmon sides to go. Also available that day was an assortment of thicker fillets, which do well with poaching, braising or even roasting. I specifically noticed the cod priced at $12.99/lb. There were also great, thick steaks of halibut ($19.99/lb.), salmon ($13.99/lb.) and tuna ($18.99/lb.).

Right now is the season for white fish, which is a freshwater fish, and a great quantity of these were in stock. Also in was striped bass, at $8.99/lb, both a salt- and freshwater fish, and branzino, a. k. a. European sea bass, loup de mer or spigola, at $8.99/lb.

shellfish assortment

There was a respectable selection of shellfish, with mussels, oysters and clams (cherrystone clams going for $9 per dozen, and New Zealand baby clams for $8.99/lb.), shrimp and lobster. And good medium-smallish squid for $7.99 /lb.  All the fixings are always on hand at the Fishery – lemon juice, tartar and marinara sauces, spice rubs, branded seasonings like Old Bay and coarse salt.

If you want dishes that have already been prepared or will be upon ordering, there are plenty of choices. Crab cakes and crab salad. Pre-cooked shrimp and shrimp salad. But also fillet of sole Parmesan, clams casino, flounder croquets, lobster bisque, fresh, homemade Manhattan clam chowder and riviera salad. Everything old-school and wonderful.

white fish and one-eyed flounder

There is a big, hand-written sign on the wall that reads, “The most important thing to remember in cooking fish is that too often it is overcooked.” I have seen this sentiment expressed over and over again in recipe books and food blogs and on cooking shows. Well, chacun à son goût, and each fish has its own characteristics, and each stove or grill its particularities, thus requiring your own trial and error process. But if you can stand it, when you’re cooking your fish, pick up right before you think you ought to, and see what happens. And get to know your local fish monger as I have gotten to know mine.

Forest Hills Fishery, 7164 Austin St., Forest Hills, 718-793-1374

-Written by Anne Shisler-Hughes

Baldo with newly arrived salmon

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