Category Archives: Greenmarket

Eggplant Curry

Last Saturday was not a Hemingway in Paris type of Fall day. It was cool and sunny, and I rode my bike along the Hudson river without sentiment (although there was plenty of red sediment in the river itself from flooding upstate). I wore a sweater and a scarf and fingerless gloves which came off (the gloves, not the sweater, or the scarf for that matter) soon after we reached the market at Union Square.

There is a lady at the market who sells Mexican food from a small wire shopping cart–the kind you see old ladies pulling into Fairway, the kind with plastic wheels that fall off if you don’t know the exact angle at which to push around a corner. She always has a circle of people around her, peering over her shoulder into red coolers full of sauces and fillings. This week we tried gorditas. They were spicy. Good and spicy. My tongue tickled from the burn, but I couldn’t stop. And then I wanted another one.

The market wasn’t crowded this week, so we were done our shopping and back on our bikes by 9am. We would have been home napping by 9:45 if it weren’t for the motorcycles. My front tire had just touched the Henry Hudson when a police officer in an SUV blocking the crosswalk waved me back. Behind him, a parade of motorcycles came rumbling up the highway. A long parade.

People began to crowd at the crosswalk. I wanted to join the two kids shielding their ears from biker thunder. I exchanged a smile of commiseration with a woman in a gray suit. We waited and waited, and the bikers kept coming and coming. Cars waiting to turn on the highway honked with nowhere to go, adding to the cacophony. A runner stopped next to me, yelled “fuck!”, and decided to cross anyway, weaving through the motorcycles as if she were on the streets of Hanoi.

We were delayed again by the wind. Riding north on the river path, the wind was in my face. Each curve in the path brought another gust, and the entire way home felt like an uphill struggle. The wind is my enemy. I even started swearing at it. I was swearing at the wind.

All of this brings me to eggplant curry. When we got home, we were cold and tired. Curry fixes both of those things. Plus, eggplants are related to tobacco. 20lbs of eggplant = the same amount of nicotine as 1 cigarette.

Eggplant Curry

1. Cube 1 lb eggplant and put in a bowl. Sprinkle eggplant cubes with some ground turmeric and salt. Set aside.

2. Cut 2 small onions in half (the long way) and slice lengthwise (not across).

3. Slice 4 chilies lengthwise.

4. Heat oil in a large pan. I used a cast iron pan, but a wok would work as well. Add the eggplant and fry until soft and light brown. Eggplant soaks up a lot of oil and takes a while to cook, so add more oil if necessary. It will take about 5-10 minutes, but eventually the eggplant will begin to release some of the oil. When the eggplant is done, remove from pan and set aside.

5. Add more oil to pan if necessary and fry the onion until soft. Mix in 1 tbs curry powder and the green chilies. Add 1 cup coconut milk and salt to taste. Boil until coconut milk begins to thicken. Stir in eggplant and cook until sauce becomes the consistency of gravy.

6. In a small pan heat a very small amount of oil and add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, 4 dried curry leaves. Cook until fragrant and the seeds begin to pop. This is the tempering oil. Remove the curry leaves and pour over the eggplant mixture.

7. Squeeze at least 2 tsp of lime juice into curry, but add more if the dish needs more acid.

8. Serve over brown rice.


Buttercups, Ramps, and Rhubarb

When it come to the fields and cow pastures of Vermont, spit bugs and buttercups are synonymous.  Oily golden flowers supported by precarious green stems extending downward to meet in a sharp V.

The V is where the spit bug lives.  Translucent green, as small as a speck, and protected by a cocoon of his own frothy mucus.  Our fields were full of buttercups in the spring and therefore full of spit bugs.

We would carefully pick handfuls of flowers, passing over the spit bugs with laser precision.  Memories resurrected by the presence of buttercups at the Union Square greenmarket, I habitually probed them for any slimy friends.  None present.

Influenced by current NYC food trends, I also purchased two bunches of ramps at the same greenmarket for $3.00 a bunch.  Until this spring, it was my understanding that a ramp was a gentle incline often used in the place of stairs.

Ramps have a strong earthy garlic smell, and after removing the roots, the entire plant is edible.

I sliced the bulbs in half and coarsely chopped the greens.

The first bunch of ramps was used to make a pasta dish from Lucid Food.  This dish also called for morel mushrooms, but at $10 a mushroom, I used shiitakes instead.  With a glob of mascarpone:

Pizza and ramps are a popular combination and the inspiration behind this focaccia bread.

Simple topped with only ramps and cheese, and so good that I ended up making it again a couple of days later.  “Ramps” feels weird to say… rough and undignified.  I vote for a name change.  They are also referred to as wild leeks.

Ramp Focaccia Bread

  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 cup water (warm)
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbs sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Mix together all ingredients except oil.  Once combined add the oil.  Knead for about 10 minutes.  Form dough into a ball, coat with oil, and let rise (covered) for 45 minutes. Oil a pan with olive oil and spread with cornmeal to prevent bread from sticking.  I used a large cookie sheet which ended up being the perfect shape for my bread.  Stretch the dough into a long rectangle about 1/2 inch think.  Place dough on pan, cover, and rise for another 15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 f.  When dough has finished rising, make dents all over the surface with your fingertips and brush with olive oil.  Top with ramps, mozzarella cheese, and ground pepper.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Posts have been rhubarb heavy lately, but I do have one two more recipes to share.

Mexican Rhubarb Chocolate Brownies.  Spicy, sweet, chewy, delicious.  I know, they sound weird.  Just trust me on this one.

Spicy Rhubarb Brownies

  • 1 cup sliced rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp or more (I used more) of chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 oz chocolate chips

Oven to 350 f.

Mix rhubarb, water, and 2 tbs sugar in a saucepan.  Bring to boil over medium heat.  Lower heat and cook about 10 min. until rhubarb is soft.  Remove from heat and puree in a blender.

Mix flour, baking powder, chile powder, and cinnamon.  In a saucepan melt the unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate.  Cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Stir in the rhubarb mixture and melted chocolate.  Slowly add the dry mixture.  Finally, stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into a greased small baking dish (9×9 or something like that, I lined the bottom of mine with parchment paper) and bake for 35-40 minutes.

And the last rhubarb experiment…. a much lighter lemon rhubarb bundt cake with buttermilk.