Posts By Michelle Maisto

We Asked the New York Times’ Melissa Clark: What’s in Your Larder?

It’s said that Americans love to talk about food but that we actually do little cooking. Which, well. Life is busy. And tiring. Takeout can save a bit of sanity.

But so can the ability to, with a few ingredients, feed ourselves and the ones we love in a pinch, in a snowstorm, or when the dinner hour sneaks up on us.

And that’s where a stocked larder, or pantry, can help. And always has. Pre-refrigeration, the larder was a cool, dark space, often underground or behind a staircase, where rich foods were stored. The word comes from the Middle English (laridum) and Old French (lardier), meaning a place for meats. Today, it’s more like a place where ingredients wait for you to claim them.

We recently called up author, cook and New York Times columnist Melissa Clark, a woman who knows her way around a larder and actually also our Larder. A Brooklyn native, she lives just a few blocks from the shop and wrote the franny’s cookbook along with Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg, the husband-and-wife co-owners of franny’s and Bklyn Larder.

“There’s this dish I make that I couldn’t make without the ingredients from the Larder, because it’s all about the ingredients,” said Clark. “If you’re not getting the good stuff, the dish isn’t going to taste good. And really the thing is, when you use high-quality ingredients, you only need a few of them.”

bucatini-pileMinus the pasta water, the recipe is a short shopping list from our shelves: Calabrian chili flakes, anchovies, Pasta Gentile, olive oil, flaky sea salt and garlic.

“I make it once a week,” said Clark. “It’s the thing I make when I have nothing else to make. It’s just so delicious and restorative.”

What makes her version special, she noted, is a technique she picked up while writing the franny’s cookbook.

“When I sauté the garlic with the anchovy, I let it become really deeply colored. That caramelization adds an incredible depth to the dish. You can make the same dish and keep the flavors bright, but I like that really deep flavor,” she said.

If anyone can make something from nothing it’s Clark. But she reiterates, that’s not what this is about.

“There are dishes where, the first time it takes you maybe 25 minutes, because you’re kind of figuring it out and measuring things. The second time it takes five minutes less. But the third time you make it, it takes exactly 2 minutes longer than it takes to boil the pasta. Because you’re in a rhythm. And developing that rhythm is the key to being able to set yourself on auto pilot and cook something delicious for dinner,” she explained.

“It’s a really important dish to have in your repertoire — that one dish you can make from your pantry, no matter how tired and cranky you are. No matter what else you’re thinking about. You just do it,” she said.

“I really think it takes three times, and then it’s yours. You can say, ‘Oh, I have kale! I have leftover broccoli I’ll throw it in.’ That dish is your dish and you can do whatever you want to it.”

Key takeaway: “Invest in quality,” said Clark.

And finally, the one ingredient that’s always in her larder?

“I’ll break out into a sweat if I don’t have anchovies,” said Clark. “It just makes me really uncomfortable.” •

A version of the recipe is available on The New York Times site. 


Stagg Jam & Marmalade Has Its Heart In Louisiana

Early this summer, we began selling Stagg Jam & Marmalade — a brand new product made in Brooklyn but “born in Louisiana,” as its label proudly states. Candice Ross left a career in architecture to start the company, which she named after her grandfather, a farmer, father, mechanic and maker who “lives a life filled with love and simplicity,” says the Stagg web site. We called up Candice recently to ask her about her jams, the food scene and her decision to switch paths, in search of a life similarly filled with what matters most. 

*In response to the devastating floods in Louisiana, Stagg Jams has announced that now through Sept. 1, 100% of the proceeds from sales of marmalades (Lemon, Orange & Grapefruit) on the Stagg site will be donated to the United Way of Acadiana, to help with rebuilding efforts.

Let’s talk about that Banana Jam. We’re in love.

It’s magic. (Laughs.) I make it, so, obviously, I know how it works. But I’m still always like: Wow! I am convinced that it’s the vanilla bean. There’s organic vanilla bean, and I think it makes everything just pop.

When I first moved to the city 11 years ago, like every 23 year old, I had no money. Like, at all. And I was working at this architecture firm and would have to go on site a lot, and I ended up getting into this habit of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, legitimately, every single day. They’re cheap, you throw them in your bag, they don’t go bad. But I had this problem with the bananas, because they would go brown. I’d buy a bunch of bananas, because they were cheap, and they’d go brown.

And it was around the time I’d started making jam anyway, and so I thought: I’ll just make them into a jam.

Banana Jam- w spoon-01

Very functional Banana aside, how do you choose your flavors?

They just kind of come to me. Basically, they’re something I would want to eat. For example, I think the Seasoned Sorrel is really kind of a good one. When I moved to Crown Heights, I kept  Continue reading

A Bloody Mary that Captures the Taste of Summer

Kingsley Amis, a prolific writer and, by his own estimation, one of the foremost drunks of his time, had much excellent information to impart on the subject of drink.

“The Bloody Mary,” he wrote in his 1983 Everyday Drinking, “is a delicious and most sustaining concoction, universally popular, just the thing for a Sunday morning party or pre-brunch session — or indeed any time when the afternoon is vacant.”

When mixing up a batch for a party, Amis advised going to a bit more trouble than the barest-of-bare vodka + tomato juice + Worcester sauce. (“Perfectly good as that is,” he added.)

We concur. But understanding the desire, on a wobbly Saturday morning, for minimal effort and maximum enjoyment, we decided to stop by the farmers’ market for the sweetest, juiciest, mid-summer tomatoes we could find and mix up a batch of Bloody Mary Mix that’s the very essence of summer. And to which you can simply add ice and either vodka or tequila.

The mixture is now in our beer fridge, along with a variety of conversation starting (or full-mouth conversation-ending) mixed pickles: watermelon rinds, cornichons, garlic scapes, ramps.

And still additionally, for those who like a good thing done exactly right, we made some fresh celery salt, which you can pour into a dish and dip the damp rim of your glass into.celery salt

Beer lovers may instead turn to the Michelada, otherwise known as the Beer Mary: a Mexican lager paired with Bloody Mary Mix. Interesting pickles and a salted rim again make for a more-perfect outcome. (El Sully from 21st Amendment Brewing is one of our favorites cervezas, and we’ve stocked the fridge with it.)

Whichever your beverage of choice, we hope we’ve offered a relaxing entryway into the weekend. Or, a welcome finish to what you started the night before.

Amis advised, in his 1973 On Drink: “About 12:30, firmly take a hair (or better, in Cyril Connolly’s phrase, a tuft) of the dog that bit you. The dog, by the way, is of no particular breed: there is no obligation to go for the same drink as the one you were mainly punishing the night before.”

However, he added, “A lot of people will feel better after one or two Bloody Marys. Simply because they expect to.”




New Gift Boxes: 20 Delicious Ways to Say Everything

Food has always been used to express love, thanks, condolences and sentiments less easily put into words. Likely, because it speaks to us in ways both simple and deeply elemental.

Consider how a bite of watermelon can lightning-fast transport you to splintery picnic table, or the curb of your neighbor’s house, with roller skates on your feet. How one cool swallow of wine can return you to a nook of a restaurant in Detroit or Cinque Terre, or a tartare spread on crisp toast.

M.F.K. Fisher, a food writer’s food writer, once wrote, “Our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.”

We’ve spent the last few months re-designing our gift box lineup, so that whatever you need to say, there’s a perfect gift, at the right price, to say it.

These boxes feature handmade selections from our kitchen and bakery, where we’re guided by ingredients that are seasonal, often local, responsibly grown and above all the most delicious we can find. A simple example is our peanut butter. We buy fresh peanuts from a single farm in Virginia, roast them ourselves and then grind and jar them by hand.

And we hold our vendors to the same high standards.

Pick up a jar of honey in a grocery store and the small print is likely to say it’s from one and/or  two countries or even continents, so unsure are they of the source of something you’re supposed to eat and feed to the people you love. We take pride — and comfort, and delight — in knowing exactly where the honeys on our shelves were made, whether it’s the Gran Paradiso National Park in northern Italy or Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.

We sell products that stand on their own as some of the best in the world. And that embody the small companies and individuals who make them.

Candice Ross was a trained architect in New York who loved the creativity in her work but not the complications that surrounded it. She founded Stagg Jam & Marmalade, which she named after her grandfather, who she describes as immensely capable and refreshingly focused on purely the things that matter most to him.

Continue reading

Introducing the Bklyn Larder Picnic Pros

Headed to a picnic? Planning a party? Wondering which cheese goes best with a green lawn and some chilled rosé? Or maybe how the Argus Ciderkin compares to the Nine Pin Hard Cider?

Please allow us to introduce Kristina and Gizella, aka, our resident know-it-alls, keepers of the details and serious, serious Picnic Pros. (Yes, uppercase letters are in order.)

Kristina, our assistant manager, is the definition of delightful — and no detail gets by her. Can’t find something? She knows exactly where it is and is probably already wrapping it up for you. Gizella, our general manager, has been with Larder since day one. She’s wry and dry and really pretty magical. That cheese you had at that party that one time? She knows what it is. And she knows one you might like even more.
Continue reading