At some point during the day, we all sit at our desks and ponder our next career change. Usually, we hope that we'll stumble into something that will allow us to more authentically channel our passions into a lucrative profession. It is very few, however, who take the leap of faith and actually turn their hobby into a bustling business.
Elizabeth Stark, the artist behind Brooklyn Supper, is one such person who followed her instinct. She admits, however, that she "never thought of it as something I could have a job at, let alone pursue it in any meaningful way." Luckily for her, fortune smiled on her.
It all began with the Brooklyn farmers' market (and this was even before Smorgasburg!):
"I started the blog because my husband and I had really fallen in love with all the farmers' markets in the New York area and especially the NYC green markets. It was such a nice opportunity to have this fresh, local food and I found it really inspiring."
This inspiration, according to Elizabeth, was merely that: a small nagging feeling at the back of her thoughts that prompted her to crusade through life working to enamor others with the natural beauty of seasonal food. At the beginning, however, things weren't as glamorous as the idea suggests.
Brooklyn Supper was more of a photo diary of kitchen exploits rather than an online cookbook. The result was unsurprisingly a collection of "a lot of really weird foods" and a "bunch of small fires."
She admits, "It was very unprofessional. It was the way I liked the food. I didn't really care if I like it with too much pepper or too little sugar. I don't care if you like it. It was a 'this is my way' kind of thing."
Since then, Elizabeth's cooking developed more of a finesse.
Today, each recipe on Brooklyn Supper is a careful meditation on the availability of seasonal ingredients and the unique flavor profiles that they can introduce to an untrained pallet. "Our mission, and what we see as our goal, is we say the blog is about seasonal food for everyone. So we want to connect people with ingredients that they might not be familiar with."
After a thoughtful pause, Elizabeth amended her statement - she herself won't even claim to be a strict locavore. "I'm just about trying to eat in season and locally when I can. But I also have two kids and they're not down with eating rutabagas and turnips all winter."
Although, when springtime rolls around, her recipes begin to feel the first blushes of spring. Especially when the cherries arrive. For Elizabeth, strict locavore or no, the arrival of sour cherries is a monumental event to be anticipated and relished for its fleetingness:
"In New York, I used to think, 'Oh, they're in season for 4-6 weeks.' And that it's just that their season makes its way up the East Coast over the course of 4-6 weeks. But in Charlottesville, sour cherries are only ripe for a weekend. There is literally one weekend at the farmers' market and if you get them, you get them, and if you don't you have to wait until next year."
On Thursday, I had the honor of hearing my hero @alicelouisewaters issue a call to farms in her speech at the @tjmonticello Founder's Day celebration. She spoke eloquently about the importance of nurturing small farms and creating a healthy garden + food curriculum for all school children. (?: The Monticello kitchen garden in all its spring glory.)
Although she isn't adamant about adhering to a strictly local diet, she does believe that there is something special about fleeting flavors. "I love those kinds of flavors. The one we can just pick and eat or you have them at one single moment in the year. It makes it that much more special."
Are you ready to try a hyper-seasonal recipe? Elizabeth recommends her sour cherry galette. She says it makes her smile every time.
Sour Cherry Galette
By: Elizabeth Stark of Brooklyn Supper
A simple, rustic sour cherry galette recipe that highlights the tart flavors of sour cherries beautifully. Sweet cherries or ripe berries can be subbed if sour cherries aren't available - see note below.
Makes: One 12-inch galette
For the crust
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons cold butter
4 - 5 tablespoons ice water
For the filling
3 heaping cups pitted sour cherries*
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons finely ground instant tapioca (I use my coffee grinder for this)
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
egg white, lightly beaten
In a medium-sized bowl, use a fork to whisk the flours, sugar, and sea salt together. Grate in the butter, using fingertips to massage butter into the flour mixture. When the mixture is well combined and crumbly, drizzle in just enough water for it to hold together. (If you're new to homemade dough, add enough water to handle the dough easily - it will be fine.)
Form dough into a disc, wrap tightly with plastic, and chill for an hour or longer.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
To prepare the filling, fold the pitted cherries or berries, sugar, tapioca, lemon zest, sea salt, and cinnamon together. Set aside while you roll out the dough.
Take the cut parchment from the prepared baking sheet and dust very lightly with flour. On the parchment, roll the dough out into a rough 14-inch circle. Place parchment with dough round on the baking sheet.
Working quickly, mound the filling in the center of the dough, doing your best to leave excess juices behind. (Paper towels can be used to sop up any running juices if needed.) Fold the dough up in 4-inch sections and lightly press together. Brush with egg white, sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and slide into the oven. Immediately turn heat down to 425 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate galette, turn heat to 375 degrees F and bake until galette is a deep golden brown and juices are bubbling, 20 - 25 minutes longer.
Cool for two hours before serving. Scoops of vanilla ice cream are optional.
Note: If fresh sour cherries aren't available, sub pitted sweet cherries or berries and reduce sugar to 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons, divided.
Follow Elizabeth on Brooklyn Supper and dive into her delicious seasonal recipes. Do you have any favorite seasonal recipes? Let us know in the comments!