Jersey Fresh Recipe: Pasta with Zucchini & Mint

Pasta with Zucchini and Mint
I always have a bit of a panic attack when I pick up my CSA box from Dreyer Farms. Even though we get the smallest box it’s a lot of food for the three of us to eat (well really only two of us since my daughter has decided vegetables are definitely not her thing). As soon as I know what we’ll be getting that week I flip through my cookbooks or do a Google search and hope inspiration strikes. This week I wanted to pair the zucchini with the mint and also use up Casa di Trevi cavatelli I had in the freezer. I came across this recipe that seemed pretty easy and used ingredients I already had in the house. It came out even better than I was anticipating with the lemon juice providing a nice splash of citrus and the feta finishing it off with a bit of tang. This is going into my regular summer recipe rotation!

Pasta with Zucchini and Mint (adapted from Southern Living)
8 oz. pasta of your choice, cooked
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Crumbled feta cheese

Melt butter with olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add shallots, and sauté 2 minutes. Add zucchini; sauté 5 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Stir in minced garlic, and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Toss in cooked pasta, fresh mint, and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with feta cheese just before serving.

Serves 2.

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Kings Food Market Giveaway!

I was so excited when Kings Food Market contacted me about doing a giveaway to celebrate the grand re-opening of their store in Garwood. Have you stopped by there yet? They sent along a description of all of the great things the store now offers:

Kings Garwood new store features include an expanded gourmet candy section, Wi-Fi enabled indoor-café, expanded floral area, and new olive and mezze bars, where customers can bring their creativity to Kings’ prepared meals and try a variety of delicious dishes, such as marinated chickens, fresh pickles, falafels, coleslaw and hot peppers. Now in store is also Kings’ exclusive 24 Hour Just Picked Promise – a commitment to make locally grown, farm-fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs available to shoppers within 24 hours of being picked. Kings’ Just Picked Promise gives shoppers the benefits of a local farm stand in the convenience of their neighborhood food markets.”

I love that the store is now focusing on local produce – the taste difference between something that’s locally grown and something that isn’t is amazing. Plus it’s always great when you can support local farmers.
Kings healthy basket
The basket that Kings is giving away is their “healthy basket” and it looks like there are a lot of goodies in there. So how can you enter to win? Just leave a comment on this post and I’ll pick a winner randomly. The deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday, June 22. The winner will then pick up their prize at the Kings in Garwood. Want to keep up-to-date on everything going on at Kings? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Good luck!

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Local Roots Cranford Welcomes Summer

You might think that only a few months after opening their second restaurant in Cranford that Andrea and Jim Carbine would be content to sit back and relax. That’s just not in their vocabulary though, as their two restaurants under the umbrella of Local Roots Cranford, A Toute Heure and 100 Steps, have big things in the works.

100 Steps is the newer restaurant and one of the reasons it was started was to give Executive Chef Kara Decker the freedom to create her own menu based on the ingredients and dishes she loves. In April Chef Decker overhauled the menu to adapt to the changing seasons and will continue to tweak it depending on what’s available. The current menu includes dishes like King Salmon with marinated cucumber, snapper crudo, beef and chorizo meatballs, and duck ragu with homemade pasta. 100 Steps also recently started a Happy Hour which is every Thursday-Saturday from 4-5:30. The Happy Hour allows customers to just walk in and enjoy mocktails, bar sandwiches, and oysters.
100 Steps
Even as the Carbines and Chef Decker nurture 100 Steps through its first year they maintain their focus on A Toute Heure, their flagship. A Toute Heure recently started offering Community Hour Tuesday-Friday from 4:30-5:30 where they offer their famous burgers, along with a few other items. A dollar from each burger is donated to a monthly charity, with May’s recipient being American Farmland Trust, an organization dedicated to farming and farmers. A Toute Heure is also planning Pop-Ups this summer, including one with the owner of &grain in Garwood and the chef from Arturo’s and Razza.
A Toute Heure
For all of the latest information on the events Local Roots Cranford has planned make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. It would be hard to find restaurant owners who work as hard as the Carbines and the fruit of their efforts can be seen in not only the success of their restaurants, but in the loyal following and goodwill from their customers.

100 Steps
www.Facebook.com/100StepsRawBar
215 Centennial Avenue
908.276.6600

A Toute Heure
www.Facebook.com/TheATHCommunity
232 Centennial Avenue
908.276.6600

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Patricia & Paul Artisans of Fine Oils and Balsamics in Westfield

Just over a year ago Patricia & Paul opened their doors in Downtown Westfield, introducing the area to artisan olive oils and vinegars. Owner Patricia Hanigan has a degree in Nutrition and had previously worked in food service for over 20 years. She was interested in the health aspects of olive oil and when she decided to leave the corporate world she chose to open a store in the area she had lived her entire life. She owns the store along with her husband Paul.

Interior

Photo Courtesy of Patricia & Paul

Patricia feels that many people can’t fully appreciate olive oil until they’ve tasted a fresh-pressed, quality one. The importer that Patricia uses supplies only 100% pure olive oils and she finds that many people are surprised when they first taste one as the freshness and peppery taste really shine through. Patricia also has a large selection of balsamics which are perfect for splashing on salads in the summer months.

Olive oils

Photo Courtesy of Patricia & Paul

The olive oils are categorized by Mild, Medium, and Robust. People can taste each one before buying so they can pick whichever one appeals to their personal taste. Patricia recommends the Tuscan Herb variety for dipping, while the Garlic and Basil varieties are their “workhorses,” pairing well with anything. Patricia makes a point of telling customers that the olive oils should always be stored away from heat and will last for around 2 to 3 months once opened.

Closeup

Photo Courtesy of Patricia & Paul

Patricia & Paul offers more than just artisan olive oils and vinegars. The store also stocks a variety of food products which Patricia and Paul have found through attending fancy food shows or from customer recommendations. If you browse through the store you’ll come across numerous delicious items including French mustards, jams, dried salami, fruit spreads, and pasta. The store also takes care to stock local products like Jersey honey, Donna Toscana chocolates, and tomato sauce from Hoboken. The store has products of all price points which makes it the perfect stop for people looking for gifts.

Patricia & Paul is a welcome addition to downtown Westfield. It has quickly become a must-stop shop for people in the area looking to expand their culinary horizons.

Patricia & Paul Artisans of Fine Oils and Balsamics
20 Elm Street
Westfield
908.232.EVOO (3866)

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Dreyer Farms is Back and Better than Ever

Dreyer Farms
If you’ve driven up Springfield Avenue at all in the past few months then you had to notice the changes happening at Dreyer Farms. The old structure was completely torn down and a beautiful new building stands in its place. I spoke with CSA Director Dawn Salerno about the new building, and what new and exciting changes are coming to the farm.

One of the biggest improvements Dreyer Farms did was making the parking lot bigger. What used to be a very small, gravel-covered parking lot is now much bigger, and allows drivers to come in one way and exit out the other. That’s a relief to anyone who had to circle the building numerous times in order to find a spot. The building itself though, is what really catches people’s eyes. The new farm has two floors with bathrooms, storage, and a staff room on the second floor. The bottom floor is much larger than the old structure, which allows Dreyer Farms to expand the products they carry. A bakery is going to be added, which will bake fresh Apple Cider Donuts as well as pies.
Outside
Dreyer Farms is known locally for its CSA boxes, which many families in the area subscribe to. Dawn is hoping to hit 1,000 CSA subscriptions this year. She is constantly working to ensure their customers receive not only the best produce in their CSA boxes, but also other local products that enhance what’s already in the box. The farm is going to start offering milk from Green Market Dairy in Clifton, NJ. Green Market Dairy will also provide farm fresh eggs, artisan butter, and artisan yogurt. Members will have the option to add the products from Green Market Dairy to their weekly CSA boxes. Dawn did extensive research on the dairy, making sure that it was providing something that customers can’t get anywhere else.

Dreyer Farms is also planning to partner with a number of local businesses including Savory Spice Shop (spices) and CoolVines (wine and beer) in Westfield, Breadsmith (pizza dough) in Cranford, and Casa di Trevi (fresh pasta) in Roselle Park. People love receiving the extras in their boxes, as they not only serve as a nice surprise but also complement the seasonal produce in the box.
Nursery
The nursery at the farm is currently open and is filled with plants and flowers. The CSA program will start May 20, and will most likely kick off with radishes, spinach, greens, arugula, and herbs. It’s been a long winter, but soon enough customers will be picking up their CSA boxes at Dreyer Farms and the spring season will have officially begun.

Dreyer Farms
831 Springfield Ave.
908-477-0105
www.Facebook.com/DreyerFarms

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April is Grilled Cheese Month at A Toute Heure

Just in case you needed another reason to look forward to the end of March, A Toute Heure has labeled April “Grilled Cheese Month.” Their Sous Chef Kelly Zavala was nice enough to meet with me and talk about some of her favorite grilled cheese combinations, as well as the secrets to the perfect grilled cheese.

When asked what ingredients she adds to her grilled cheeses, Chef Zavala ticked off some of her favorites: bacon, jam, fruit, pulled pork, vegetables, fresh herbs – the list truly is endless. Some of the flavor combinations Chef Zavala has put out at A Toute Heure include Jalapeno Jam with Bacon and Cheddar; Corned Beef, Cabbage and Swiss for St. Patrick’s Day; Pears, Beet Pesto and Brie; and Ramp Jam, Bacon and Cheddar. Are you inspired yet?

Brie, Bacon, Provolone with Lemon Butter Grilled Cheese (photo courtesy of Kelly Zavala)

Like any sandwich, a grilled cheese starts with the bread. Chef Zavala recommends using a hearty white bread as that will brown up nicely. The next step isn’t a surprise – butter. Lots and lots of butter. When she makes a grilled cheese at home Chef Zavala’s 6-year-old daughter is in charge of smearing the bread with softened butter. Once the bread is buttered, then you can really let your creativity shine. The choice of cheese is one that people can tailor to their tastes. Chef Zavala’s favorite cheeses are ones that will give you the perfect melty consistency, like brie and provolone, while goat cheese is also very popular at the restaurant.

Once you’ve decided on your fillings and the sandwich is assembled, place the buttered side down in a cast-iron pan on medium heat. When the bread turns golden brown, flip the sandwich and pop it in a 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes. Cooking it in the oven will help the cheese melt and give you the ooey-gooey consistency that great grilled cheese sandwiches are known for.

Pickled red onion, pulled pork, fontina & garlic (photo courtesy of Kelly Zavala)


A Toute Heure’s grilled cheese sandwiches are one of the most popular items on their lunch menu. They offer them every day, but Chef Zavala is really planning to let her creativity shine in April. So stop by and see what delicious grilled cheeses she comes up with – maybe you’ll be inspired to take your own sandwich to the next level.

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First Taste: Bento Express in Cranford

Bento Express
The great thing about working for Downtown Cranford is always being up-to-date on the new businesses that are opening. I was very excited when Bento Express opened its doors since I love Asian cuisine, and the fact that they have a hibachi grill sets them apart from most restaurants. Though you may not realize it just from looking at their menu, they like to stress that their food is cooked in a healthier way than people have come to expect. For example, their scallion pancakes are grilled instead of fried. Scallion pancakes are one my favorite appetizers but I never order them because I’m turned off by their greasiness. But if they’re grilled? I’m all over that!
Vegetable Teriyaki
I stopped by the other day (it’s within walking distance of my office – dangerous!) and ordered the Vegetable Teriyaki. It came with sauteed tofu which I absolutely love. I chose brown rice to accompany it, but you can get white rice or noodles if you want. I loved the fact that the container they used kept the vegetables and sauce separate from the rice so it didn’t get soggy. The portion size was great, and I started off thinking that there was no way I could eat it all. Apparently I was very hungry though because I ate it all. Not my proudest moment but it was really good. The vegetables were fresh (I saw them cook them right on the hibachi after all), and the sauce wasn’t overly sweet. It was just the perfect lunch. I’m really looking forward to trying the rest of the dishes on their menu. They’re holding a Grand Opening March 22 so make sure you stop by to try samples of their food. This is a welcome addition to Downtown Cranford.

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