HARLEM — Lenox Avenue turned into a kitchen this weekend.
Leah Abraham, chef and owner of Settepani, held a cooking demo at the Lenox Hill Farmer’s Market on 117th Street and Lenox Avenue Saturday. She used ingredients from the market to make her Tuscan bean soup.
“I shop at farmer’s markets when I can find them,” Abraham said. "It’s a habit you can start early. I think everyone sort develops the taste. You end up loving it.”
The demo is part of EmblemHealth’s partnership with Harvest Home to bring fresh and affordable produce to low-income areas. Their goal is to raise awareness about where to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and inspire healthy eating.
The non-profit has been hosting cooking demos at uptown markets for three years but has just recently recruited local chefs to increase exposure. In August, chef Edi Seitllari from the Barking Dog made a cobb salad at a market on East 99th Street and Third Avenue.
All of the recipes are made with ingredients people can buy in the markets. They also don’t require a lot of time to cook.
“Cooking doesn’t have to be difficult,” Abraham said. “Anyone can cook. There is a science behind it but it’s not baking. You can add ingredients that you like. Everyone can improvise.”
While shopping Abraham kept an eye out for fall produce, which is starting to come into season. Fall produce includes leafy greens like kale and root vegetables like carrots and pumpkins, she said.
Her demo was done in minutes.
First she sauteed carrots and onions in a large pan. Then she mashed white beans — which had been soaked in water overnight — with some olive oil and added them to the pot. Next she poured in some vegetable broth that she made by straining vegetables. Finally, she added kale and a little bit of sage.
You can also turn the soup into a casserole by baking the leftovers with croutons, bacon and cheese, she told the crowd as she whipped out the casserole she had made before the demo.
“I don’t like white beans but I like this,” said Flor Lagos, who lives on 117th Street and was shopping at the market when she stumbled upon the demo. “I love soup, I’m going to make this at home.”
EmblemHealth also hosts similar cooking demos at Harvest Home farmer's markets in 137th Street and Broadway, East 104th St. and 3rd Avenue and 99th Street and 3rd Avenue.
They also have a neighborhood care center on 512 W. 125th St. where they provide free health and fitness classes and well as health services.