Category Archives: Farmers’ Market

London Fare: Borough Market

It was miserably cold and wet, thick droplets of persistent rain soaking into my jeans. The harsh wind twisted the umbrella in my hand and a man had to quickly step out of my way so that it wouldn’t hit the small girl riding on his shoulders. I could barely feel my feet anymore. But I was happy as could be, and judging by the looks on their faces, the hundreds of other people wandering the twisting labyrinth of food stalls were too. On one shoulder I carried a bag full to the brim with fresh, inexpensive vegetables, and in my umbrella-free hand I held a venison sausage in a sesame bun topped with caramelized onions, greens, and spicy tomato sauce. Life was good, horrifying weather and all.




Borough Market is a foodie’s paradise. Not only is it a very sizable market selling anything you could think of, but the streets surrounding it are lined with hip cafés, bakeries, steakhouses, noodle shops, and more. The market itself is a haphazard mix of specialized stalls, some as specific as artisan honey sellers, others as general as produce. There’s a juice bar, wine shops, gluten free bakeries, organic meat shops, a stand selling coffee with a smell so intoxicating I got a caffeine rush from passing by. I was very tempted by the specialty olive oils, pates, and granolas. And don’t even get me started on the stalls upon stalls of sweets. I could go every weekend for the time I’m here and not hit them all.


Just a few highlights. There’s a bakery called “Bread Ahead” on one of the streets surrounding the market. They also have a stand in the market, which sells, among other things, cream-filled doughnuts. They come in many flavors, including caramel, hazelnut, and praline. For me, the cream to dough ratio was a little high, but the flavor was still excellent and the size quite satisfying. The actual store was pretty small, but when I walked past I noticed that the bakers were leading a cooking class. I wouldn’t mind learning how to make a cream-filled doughnut.


And then there was the pain aux raisin I got from one of the many bakery stands. Most of them sold this delightful treat, but the stand I went to served it with a crumble sprinkled on top. I got it to go and grudgingly forced myself not to eat it on the bus ride home. My self control was all used up by the time I got back to my room and it was with a great effort that I waited another minute to eat it so that I could warm it in the microwave. The buttery bread wound around layers of perfectly proportioned cinnamon and raisins. Each bite was the perfect combination of texture, sweetness, and saltiness. I can honestly say it was the best rainy day pastry I’ve ever had.




It’s a pretty safe bet that I’ll be back at Borough Market this weekend and many more to come. I just need to try that wonderfully aromatic coffee, one of the quintessentially British meat pies, and maybe a scotch egg or two. I look forward to warmer days, when I won’t have to wear multiple pairs of wool socks to stay warm, but still, rain or shine, you’ll know where to find me on a Saturday morning.


Walk in the Cold – Greenmarket at Union Square



With it being winter and all, this writer has been a lot more hesitant to go out and explore the street food of New York City. At times like these, it is much more likely you’ll find me hiding at home with a hot cup of coffee in hand, bingeing on Netflix. However, as I’ve learnt, you should never pass on going out on a sunny day, no matter how cold it is outside, and today was just that day.


I decided to go check out the Greenmarket at Union Square, which is supposed to be a large market with lots of farmers’ stalls selling their own products. I was looking forward to it, but I was a little disappointed to see a few stalls rather sparsely located across the Northwestern corner of the park. I was even more disappointed that there weren’t any stalls selling cooked food at the time I was there, which was around 1 in the afternoon. But I guess with it being winter, outdoor markets like these would be pared down. I did buy some apples and moved along quite disappointedly.





I thought I might walk down to Washington Square and check out if there was anything going on there. Unwittingly, I waded into NYU territory as I made my way from Union Square. I was of course jealous of the variety of shops and bars and restaurants that were in the area. One place that caught my eye was Gunz, which is sells “European fine food”. So I immediately walked in and they were selling Austrian coffee, which was a good strong brew and inexpensive. In fact, everything in that shop was quite inexpensive for what I assume was imported food from Europe. From Italy they stocked olive oils, pestos, pastas and antipasti, butter cookies from Denmark, shortbread from Britain and wafers from Poland and Belgium. I bought myself some Italian hazelnut cookies and some pasta.




After that I walked down University Place further, and I was feeling hungry because I didn’t find anything to eat at Union Square. I thought I might check out Space Market, which is a grocery store. What impressed me was the salad and hot food bar that they had. It was the kind where you’d just help yourself and they had your usual suspects: pasta, meatloaves and sushi but what got my attention was the “Chicken Gumbo” at the soup counter. Being a self-professed fan of anything closely related to New Orleans food, I went straight for the gumbo and walked a little ways down to Washington Square to try it.


What was weird was sitting on a park bench at below freezing. I was the only idiot in the park doing it. However, with the sunshine and hot soup it really wasn’t so bad. Washington Square Park was quiet, almost empty, with snow and ice covering the grounds. For people who do not like the taste and gooey texture of okra, gumbo is probably disgusting gunk, but I’m a fan. In fact, the gooier, the better. The strange thing about this gumbo was that it was very tomato-y, probably a Manhattan twist on the classic gumbo. It was a great thing to have on a cold day.




As a student of Columbia, I have been guilty of spending too much time in my Morningside bubble and not getting out enough to explore the rest of what this great city has to offer. Perhaps it is a case of the-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side, but I always felt that students at NYU have a much better deal in terms of the neighborhood they’re in, with all the bars and restaurants and other shops around, not to mention two nice parks – Washington park and Union Square park.


What I did learn though, is that outdoor markets are going to be a lot less than spectacular during winter, naturally; that NYU has a much sweeter neighborhood and that it’s not a bad idea to venture out into the cold every now and then, especially when the sun is out.

Cool as a Cucumber

The sun is shining, the days are long, the students of Columbia have taken up permanent residence on Low steps. I’ve already had my first sunburn of the season. Summer is nearly upon us, and with it, cucumber season!

Fresh cucumbers are one of life’s greatest joys. The satisfying crunch, the sweet, juicy insides! Sliced and diced into quick salads and crudités, cucumbers are the quintessential summer vegetable. However, for a little variety, to keep myself eating cucumbers all season, I like to have a few tricks up my sleeve. Here are two delicious ways to serve cucumbers.

For those larger cucumbers you might find at the farmer’s market, these light and satisfying hors d’oeuvres, adapted from the kitchn, are a must-try. To make them, peel a cucumber and slice crosswise in 1.5 – 2 inch slices. Scoop out the centers, a melon baller works great, but a shallow ice cream scoop or paring knife will do the trick. Be very careful not to dig to deeply; the seedy inside is soft and easily ruptured, and the last think you want is disappearing noodles! Set the cucumber cups aside.

Now, you could put just about anything in these. Fill them with a tzatziki or sweet chili sauce, and make them the centerpiece of a crudité or satay platter. Alternatively, serve any chilled summer soup in these edible soup shooters.

I gave the soba noodles a try, with excellent results. Cook the soba noodles and let them cool completely. Mix two parts rice vinegar or mirin with one part of each soy sauce and sesame oil. I also whisked in finely minced fresh ginger with the finely sliced scallions. Toss the noodles with the ginger mixture, and just before serving, gently spiral a few noodles at a time into the center of the prepared cucumber cups. Garnish with extra scallion.

Fresh cucumbers also make fantastic smoothies. Here, I’ve blended chilled cucumber with fresh mint, lime juice, greek yogurt, ice, and simple syrup. To make a simple syrup, simply heat one part water with two parts sugar in a saucepan over low to medium heat, until just dissolved. Make a batch ahead of time, and use it in iced coffee or impromptu cocktails. Serve the smoothies in a wide glass and garnish with fresh mint. Enjoy!

Kale and White Bean Soup

I know everyone else is writing spring recipes, but I’m still wearing my north face and missing the smell of winter herbs in my kitchen. As a farewell to the chilly weather, I wanted to share with you my favorite winter recipe, a kale and white bean soup. For me this soup embodies cozy nights at home with my family and friends. The flavors, warm and subtle, also make it a good soup for spring’s wettest days. I hope you find as much joy and comfort in this little recipe as I do.


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped

1 tsp pepper

½ pound frozen kale, thawed and squeezed dry

1 15oz can cannelloni beans, drained

1 cup of whole grain ditalini or other little pasta, al dente

1 tbsp herbs de Provence

4 cups of vegetable broth

Grated Parmesan for garnish

Salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, baby bellas, and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden brown and the mushrooms are soft.
  3. Add the kale, beans, herbs, and broth. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. For the last 5 minutes add the cup al dente pasta.
  5. Turn off the heat, and enjoy with grated Parmesan and slice of crispy bread.


Basil Polenta with Poached Egg and Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This post and recipe is dedicated to my lovely mother, Susan Kuper.

Gathering my supplies for dinner the other night, I listened to the grizzled gusts of winter rattle against my window overlooking the gray bustle of Broadway. I wished for spring. I grabbed a bag of yellow polenta from the cabinet and thought back to the first time I helped my mom plant tulip bulbs in the garden during the fall. Only a child, I would run outside everyday and stare at the freshly turned earth on my hands and knees looking for some sign of growth sprouting upwards.

But I never saw anything.

I would fill up my dad’s big plastic watering can and wobble it over to the garden with muddy hands to pour water onto the dormant patches of earth. After a couple of days of no success, I went to my mom and asked if our flowers were sick because they weren’t growing. My mom laughed and hugged me close as she explained that our tulips would grow in the springtime. I couldn’t believe we had to wait that long. But she reassured me that when they sprouted from the ground and unraveled their colorful yellow petals it would be the most beautiful sight to see after a long winter. For a while I forgot about our sleeping garden until one day in early spring I saw bright green petals growing from the earth in our backyard. A couple weeks later they were in full bloom, softly swaying in spring zephyrs. I asked my mom if we could grow tulips again next year, and smiling she said yes. And smiling I ate my big bowl of warm, tulip-yellow polenta.

Ingredients (serves 1)

Basil Polenta

1/2 cup polenta

1 1/2 – 2 cups of vegetable broth

1/8  up grated parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)

1 tsp basil pesto


Poached Egg

1 large egg

Splash of vinegar


Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Handful of Brussels sprouts

1-2 tsp olive oil

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp minced garlic




  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Heat the vegetable broth in a large saucepan until simmering. Slowly add the polenta and stir to prevent clumping. Stir for the next couple of minutes and then reduce the heat and simmer. Stir the polenta every five minutes to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. If the polenta begins to become too thick, add a bit more vegetable broth or water and stir. Don’t hesitate to add more vegetable broth more than once. We want the polenta to have a creamy and smooth consistency. Cook for a total of 20-25 minutes.
  3. While the polenta is simmering slice off the ends of the Brussels sprouts and toss out. Then cut the Brussels sprouts into fours. Once all sliced, toss into a bowl and drizzle with 1-2 tsp of olive oil so all the sprouts are lightly covered. Then squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top. (I absolutely love the flavor of lemon so if you want something subtler don’t add as much). Add 1/2 tsp of minced garlic and a couple of cranks of pepper to the bowl, and then toss the sprouts with spoon or hands to evenly coat them. Remove the Brussels sprouts from the bowl and onto a baking sheet. Be sure to spread them out evenly so they have room cook. Place cooking sheet with sprouts into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until a vibrant green with a deep gold crisp along the edges. Then remove from oven.
  4. Before poaching the egg, check the polenta. Polenta is done when it has a smooth and creamy texture. If it is no longer gritty, turn heat to low. Add 1/8 cup of Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp of basil pesto. Stir into the polenta until well combined. Remove from heat.
  5.  To poach your egg, put a pot filled with a couple inches of water onto the stove. Add a splash of vinegar and turn on the stove to medium-low. Crack egg into a separate bowl.
  6. Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. You don’t want boiling or simmering water. You want very hot water, at the point right before it starts to simmer. When it reaches this point, turn the temperature down slightly. Then with spoon stir the water in the pot around a couple of times. While the water is still swirling slide the egg into the center of the swirling water. The egg will softly tumble along with the water and start to take shape. With your spoon you can softly guide the egg to help it form. Let sit for 3-5 minutes and then remove from heat when egg is shaped and solid white.
  7. To serve scoop polenta into a bowl and top with poached egg and roasted Brussels sprouts. Top with Parmesan and enjoy!


Smoked Duck Breast Crostini with Apple Confit

Credit: Scout MacEachron

Another entertaining post by Pippa, this one focuses on making duck crostini.  Pippa keeps it real and direct, so go ahead and try it!

Ducks. They look cute and, if I must be blunt, taste delicious. The meat is flavorful and has a huge cushion of fat that, when crisped up right creates enormous amounts of flavor. Duck is one of those meats that is hard to find in a normal supermarket unless it is D’Artangnan. Personally, I am not impressed by D’Artangnan. It is over priced and the portions they sell are so small that it is almost comical. However, there is a solution to this problem! Hudson Valley Duck Farm, which is located in Ferndale, NY rocks my world and is a vendor at the Columbia Greenmarket. See below for more info but for now the most important thing is that an applewood smoked duck breast is only $8.00. The best part about buying smoked meat it that it is already cooked so all you have to do is crisp the fat and slice.

 An easy appetizer that my family uses throughout the fall for everything from thanksgiving to an after school snack is thinly sliced duck breast on a garlic crostini with an apple and onion confit. By easy I mean that it takes maybe 20 minutes to make 25+ of these. When you bite into it you get the smoothness of the apples, the smokiness of the duck and the crunch of the bread. Finally the raw garlic hits you and you’re in heaven. Please, just try to resist. Continue reading Smoked Duck Breast Crostini with Apple Confit

Farm Fresh Cooking: Autumn Squash Soup and Red Cabbage Slaw

Kabocha sqaush and sweet potato soup, garnished with olive oil, sage, rosemary, and homemade roasted sqaush seeds.
New blog writer Julia has done something that I’ve always wanted to do–become a part of the MoHi farm share.  Crops are grown locally and participants, for a flat fee, get to select a variety of fresh produce.  She begins with probably a yummy ode to the autumn season.

When I arrived at the produce pickup station for Morningside Heights CSA farm shareholders this week, I felt like a little kid in a candy store. Filling my goodie bag, I moved down the line of crates with zeal. 1 bunch romaine lettuce. 3 red onions. 3 ears of corn. Then came some unfamiliar items – 1 bunch mizuna, 1 kabocha squash – and some extra special treats: purple basil and two beautiful multi-colored heirloom tomatoes.

The chill settling in slowly can mean only one thing; fall has fallen and is here to stay. Central Park will soon become a painter’s palette of autumn tones, commuters will bundle up in scarves and mittens, and my pantry will be transformed from week to week by the latest autumn harvest produce, straight from the farm.  What better way to celebrate all of that than with a warm cup of creamy squash soup?

Squash truly is the gift that keeps giving. Whether roasted with brown sugar and butter, pureed into a soup or a pie, its fleshy interior provides sweet, full bodied flavor that can be paired with any number of spices and textures. Moreover, there seems to be a squash for every occasion.  Yellow summer squash, small acorn squash, rich butternut and quirky spaghetti squash. The kabocha squash is medium sized, resembling a green pumpkin, which prompted me to attack it like a pumpkin… Continue reading Farm Fresh Cooking: Autumn Squash Soup and Red Cabbage Slaw

The (green)Market Watch: Cauliflower

The Columbia Greenmarket is a place filled with possibility and potential, but there always seems to be a lingering problem: Where do you start? Enter Merritt, our Farmer’s Market correspondent and a former chef. Each week, Merritt will update us about the seasonal produce–just in time for Sunday morning’s market.

Yes, this is cauliflower. No photoshop, no lie.
The Greenmarkets of New York City were my gastro-dream that I looked forward to before moving to the big city. While Union Square is a dazzling mecca that is well worth the visit, we are lucky to have our own market right on Broadway between 114th and 116th every Thursday and Sunday. Cooking local, in-season produce is a great way to learn about new ingredients and cooking techniques.Autumn is harvest season and there are loads of great produce to choose from. In October, we are not just limited to root vegetables and hardy winter squash. The last of summer’s tomatoes and lettuces are available alongside those hearty vegetables, creating an ample variety of produce.
Today, I’m going to try and convince you to pick up some seemingly boring cauliflower and turn it into something delicious.Cauliflower is, as we all know, a cousin (sister? brother from another mother?) of broccoli. For me, however, the greener of these vegetables seemed to grace our family’s table far more frequently. As a child, I thought that cauliflower looked like it would be bland (and maybe my parents shared this sentiment). The same color as what I though gruel might be, cauliflower was a vegetable for those humans who were so old that they no longer cared about taste and quality. But cauliflower actually comes in a variety of bright hues–from a cheddary orange to a vivid purple. To find these varieties, farmer’s markets are your best bet.

White cauliflower will do for the recipe below. Made with only a few ingredients, this recipe teaches you the importance of the measure and quality of those parts. If there is one thing I learned while cooking in a restaurant, it’s that everything will taste better with more salt, more fat, more acid. It’s just a fact. So don’t skimp! For this recipe, don’t be afraid to crank your stovetop up as well. We want our cauliflower to get blistery-burnt (and therefore, tasty) on the stove before transferring it to the oven to finish cooking. Two things I love about this recipe: Continue reading The (green)Market Watch: Cauliflower