Every year children flock to the Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm in upstate New York to learn firsthand about where fresh food comes from—how to grow it, how to harvest it, and how to use it to prepare great-tasting meals. Now Sylvia’s Table brings these lessons and recipes straight from the farm to your kitchen in a deliciously unique cookbook for families. From Homemade Apple Roll-Ups to Butternut Squash Bread Pudding and from Spinach and Strawberry Salad to Grilled Tamarind Turkey Burgers and Baked Sweet Potato Fries, here are almost two hundred recipes that you and your family will enjoy.
Featuring recipes from “the friends of Katchkie Farm”—chefs like Michael Romano of Union Square Cafe and Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto; culinary experts including Food & Wine’s Dana Cowin; cookbook authors Giuliano Bugialli, Rozanne Gold, Deborah Madison, and, Sara Moulton; and many others—this is a family cookbook guaranteed to be loved by cooks (and kids) of all ages.
Grilled Tamarind Turkey Burgers
Most children today have been exposed to a greater range of flavors than we were when we were very young, and their tastes are more developed, even for spicy foods. I cannot count the number of times I meet children who can rattle off their favorite sushi! So there’s no worry that the warm but not too spicy Southeast Asian seasonings in these turkey burgers won’t appeal to young palates.
Ground turkey, like boneless chicken breasts, is receptive to a wide range of flavorings, making it another option for good, tasty, quick, and affordable meals. This recipe can be halved, but the mixture freezes well, so, unless the turkey has already been frozen, you may want to make it all and freeze some of the burgers.
Makes 8 patties
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 jalapeño with seeds, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and about 1 inch of green parts
2½ pounds ground turkey, ½ white, ½ dark meat
Hamburger or other rolls
Garnishes of your choice:
sliced tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, pickles, etc.
for the glaze
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon peeled and minced garlic
½ cup tamarind concentrate (see page 168)
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons Sriracha (see page 168)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
for the burgers
Cooking spray or vegetable oil
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
For the glaze, heat the oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tamarind concentrate, honey, Sriracha, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and reduced to about 1 cup, stirring often, about 8 minutes.
Let the glaze cool completely, then mix in the lime juice.
Prepare a charcoal fire or gas grill to medium heat or place a grill pan over medium- high heat and coat it with cooking spray or oil. A nonstick or cast- iron pan is also fine for cooking these.
For the burgers, mix together the mayonnaise, ginger, salt, pepper, cumin, jalapeño, cilantro, and 4 teaspoons of the glaze in a large bowl, then mix in the scallions. Add the ground turkey and mix it well but loosely with the mayonnaise mixture; do not overwork. Shape the turkey into eight ½- inch- thick patties (or smaller ones for little people).
Grill the rolls, cut side down, until golden, about 2 minutes; transfer them to a serving platter. Grill the burgers until cooked through and a thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees, about 8 minutes on each side. Brush each burger with the remaining glaze and serve with garnishes, and a spread of your choice for the buns— I like mayonnaise spiked with a drop or two of Sriracha.
Lime- Seared Scallops in Lemongrass Broth
Lemongrass can be nearly addictive, with its delicate lemony scent and flavor. No wonder it is pretty much indispensable in Thai cooking. I am seeing it more and more in ordinary supermarkets, and it is certainly available in Asian and specialty markets.
Get the largest scallops you can find for this recipe and remove any tough ligament that is still attached at the side.
Serves 4 to 6
4 teaspoons extra- virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon
Zest and juice of 1 lime
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 pounds fresh sea scallops
2 stalks lemongrass
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 cup vegetable stock, homemade or good-quality store bought
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions or chives
Cooked white or basmati rice, for serving
Whisk together 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, the tarragon, lime zest and juice, and half the garlic, shallots, and ginger in a wide, shallow dish. Add the scallops, toss to coat, cover, and refrigerate for no longer than 30 minutes.
While the scallops are marinating, prepare the broth. Cut away the small pale bottom part of the lemongrass and peel off the tough outer leaves. Place the pieces on their sides and press down, with your palm or the side of a large knife, to bruise them. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add the remaining shallots and slowly sauté until they are caramelized— richly browned but not burned. Add the remaining garlic and ginger and stir for about 1 minute.
Add the lemongrass and fish sauce to the pan and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, then pour in the vegetable stock. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Set the sauce aside and keep it warm.
Meanwhile, drain the scallops of excess marinade and set them on paper towels for a minute or so to dry.
Place a large skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes, then coat the surface with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, gently add the scallops to the skillet without crowding them; sear the scallops in two batches if necessary.
Cook the scallops on one side for about 2 minutes, or until they are browned. Do not move them about or the searing process will be affected. Turn the scallops over and cook for 2 more minutes.
To serve, pour some of the warm sauce onto individual plates and set the scallops on the sauce; garnish with the scallions and place the rice to the side.
Sage and Arugula Pesto
The flavors here are pretty assertive, but this pesto is great on boiled small whole potatoes or tossed with whole- wheat pasta. Use it as a sauce with pork, grilled steaks, or seafood.
Makes 2 cups
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, 3 whole and 1 minced
½ cup shelled walnuts
4 cups (loosely packed) arugula leaves
½ cup sage leaves
½ cup grated Parmigiano- Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat about 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the whole garlic cloves and sauté until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes; do not let the garlic burn or it will become bitter. Pour the garlic and oil from the pan and set them aside.
Toast the walnuts in the skillet over medium heat until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the walnuts from the heat.
Put the arugula, sage, walnuts, and both the sautéed and minced garlic in a blender or a food processor; pulse to mince the ingredients.
With the machine running, or while pulsing the food processor, slowly pour in the remaining oil and blend just until the ingredients are well incorporated.
Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Excerpted from Sylvia's Table by Liz Neumark with Carole Lalli. Copyright © 2013 by Liz Neumark. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Q: What inspired you to start Great Performances in 1979?
A: Great Performances was started as a waitress service for women in the arts, mostly so I could find a way to pursue my love of photography without committing to a full time job. The idea was that GP would let me have flexibility with work, so I could succeed in developing a photography career. I fondly call GP my failure!
Q: What prompted you to start Katchkie Farm in 2007?
A: I had always dreamed about having a farm – but what made me finally buy land and actually start a farm was my dream of establishing The Sylvia Center on a farm. It is a personal journey and I am looking forward to sharing this story.
Q: What is The Sylvia Center?
A: The Sylvia Center is a culinary based non-profit that 'inspires children to eat well'. We do this by connecting them to the joys of being with fresh food – picking it, tasting it, cooking together and of course, eating it! We do this at the farm but also in the city at New York City Housing Authority sites, where we work with children for a six week period. We connect children to healthy eating – which of course, is very hard in 2013, given the fast food culture, the disconnect from family meals and the challenge of finding healthy options in underserved communities.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories from The Sylvia Center?
A: Any time there are kids at the farm, you just fall in love with all of them. For most of them, it is the first time they are in a wide open space; the first time they can actually see where their food comes from – that a carrot is dirty because it comes from the ground. I love snacking, with the kids, on edible flowers, dandelion weeds and other 'weird' foods. It is magical and the most natural fun you can have with children. It is exploration, discovery, science/magic and joy.
Q: What happens to the produce that grows at Katchkie Farm?
A: Most of it goes to our CSA – we will have over 400 members this year! It also goes to our central commissary for inclusion in our catering meals, or to our co-packer who turns it into our Katchkie Ketchup, Tomato Jam, Salsa, etc. It appears on menus in our cafes around town as well.
Q: What are some easy ways parents can get their children interested in food/involved in the kitchen?
A: Whatever you are doing in the kitchen, invite your children in. I think it is parents who set up barriers – children love to experiment with food and flavors. You need to let go – get messy, take chances, experiment!
Two easy 'portals' are soups (almost foolproof) and baking (chocolate chips, licking bowls, etc!). In the book, I share recipes for both, but you can follow your own instincts and find something that works for everyone. One of the ways I started was through making tomato sauce – not a lot of skill needed there.
What do you like to do – if you start with something that feels good and easy for you, it will speak volumes to your children. Confidence is contagious, as is joy and fun.
Q: In the book you include “Katchkie Favorites” which you describe as “shorthand recipes that barely require measurements; think of them as rough directions and let the season and the market lead you on”. How often do you cook this way, rather than from a recipe?
A: I cook this way all the time – in fact, I rarely use recipes! Sometimes I start by shopping in the Greenmarket – or at the farm – and just bring home produce that looks great – whatever 'speaks' to me! Then I figure out what to do. It takes a little time, but in the book I include basic guidelines you can start to incorporate that makes it all so easy.
Q: Where do you hope Katchkie Farm and the Sylvia Center will be in ten years? Twenty years?
A: What a fun question!!
Katchkie Farm: In ten years – as beautiful as ever. I guess with time our trees will grow! I planted eight willow trees which will hopefully look substantial by then. I also want to plant some fruit trees, so ten+ years will mean they are mature and productive. Twenty years – I will be on the porch, stirring giant pots of tomato sauce which I will give away to local pantries or to anyone who comes and asks! Maybe we will buy more land by then….you never know!
The Sylvia Center: In ten years, we will be established in the New York City Housing Authority, teaching families and making a wonderful difference in so many lives. Upstate, we will have integrated into the community, reaching parents, grandparents and children. I anticipate a full crowd at weekend volunteer days – and a groaning buffet of pot luck dinners!
In twenty years, I hope the obesity epidemic will be a memory and that our children's garden will be a place kids come to connect with nature, learn to love veggies and cooking. Coming together around food will never go out of style. We lost that connection in the past 2+ decades — we are working to restore it — and to protect it for future generations.