Archive for ‘Seasonal’

December 11, 2012

Simple and Heartfelt | Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Ball SoupSometimes, you just want soup. When it’s rainy (no snow?) and cold and dreary and grey, you need something that says, “Bubbala, where are your mittens?”

This fantastic soup is something that anyone can make, with the most simple of ingredients.  And it’s pretty much the single most biggest bang for your buck kind of thing you can make.  People love it.  It’s funny like that.  Because you say to yourself, “Really?  This is that good?”

But it is.  You might even get a bit greedy for the leftovers.  But then, you won’t, because you know better and because this is wonderful to share.  Because the leftovers are even better.  And this, in the season of giving is a wonderful thing to give: warming, comforting and 98% love by volume.

This particular recipe/method uses every possible bit of the soup, even the fat that you skim off the top of the stock.  Because thrift is what takes this soup from ho hum to oh nom.  Yeah, I went there.

Matzo Ball Soup, Serves two for dinner, plus five for leftover lunch, so, yeah. Lots.

For the stock

1 split chicken breast, bone in, skin on

2 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on

2 chicken drumsticks, bone in, skin on

2 carrots, quartered

August 17, 2012

Why Haven’t I Done This Before? | Watermelon Rind Pickles

I picked up a beautiful, heavy and sweet local watermelon at my neighborhood Giant Eagle Market District.  I still can’t believe that this is my normal, everyday, hey-we’re-out-of-milk grocery store – it’s humongous.  But I have to give them props: for being as huge as they are, they do try for a couple of months to really bring in a bunch of locally grown and raised produce.  I really like that.

So back home, I was cutting it up and then slicing up all the leftover rinds so that they would break down faster in the compost pile and it hit me.  People make pickles out of this stuff.   And thankfully it’s less for the compost pile to try to digest, which is a good thing this time of year, just ask my husband, who often gets stuck with the job of carting out all the scraps.  He’s a good man.

Is that a cucumber in the foreground? No! Just a well trimmed watermelon rind.

So a quick browse around and it’s a simpler method than I even thought.  For half of a medium watermelon the brine is

August 10, 2012

Local Foods Week | Whey Crepes with Ricotta and Zucchini

It’s the time of year where just about anything your heart desires is available fresh and local here in Ohio.  Farmer’s market tables groan under the weight of melons, zucchini, tomatoes, peaches.  Oh the loveliness.

Local Matters (whose mission is to transform the food system in central Ohio to be more secure, prosperous, just and delicious) hosts Local Foods Week every year.  This year they have so many events from tastings to picnics to special local foods week tours.   It’s kind of a party with produce all week.  Which is awesome.

Cooking with local produce is my personal favorite thing to do this week.

But it’s summer, too, and if you ask me, that means cooking should be just barely above a simmer.  If you’re in the house, lightly sauteed or not cooked at all are methods I can stand behind.

August 9, 2012

New in Town | Little Eatery

The Hills Market has a fantastic little pop-up happening on the Veranda, home to so many good events as it is.  Little Eatery is occupying the space on Wednesdays and Thursdays in the summer from 11am to 2 pm and creating fresh, locally-sourced salads.  Its chef, Cara Mangini, honed her craft on both coasts: in New York as Mario Batali’s vegetable butcher and in Napa in the farm-to-table kitchen of a restaurant and winery.

But honestly what I loved as much as anything was sitting and chatting with her while she deftly mixed up bowls of emerald kale with Lake Erie feta or arugula and peaches and doled out samples of her market salads: lovely combos of watermelon and that feta, or cabbage and peanut slaw.

Tastes all depend on the day, folks, as it should with good vegetables.

Not to be missed are her buttermilk cheddar biscuits with honey butter, the perfect foil to all those well dressed greens and veggies.

It’s nice to have a new face in town.  Grab lunch and go say “hi.”

Playlist included, of course, New in Town, by Little Boots.

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July 12, 2012

The Teaches of Peaches | Herb Nectars

We just got back from vacation in Georgia. It’s such a great state with so many people committed to delicious food fresh off the farm.  My kind of place, really.  And to be honest, they make some mean fried chicken.

While I was there I couldn’t help but do some canning of some fresh Georgia peaches.  I basically followed this method for canning the teeny ten pounds I had into four quart jars.  In some of the jarred peaches I packed in some fresh basil,

June 27, 2012

Good on Everything | Ajvar

This is something I will be making repeatedly throughout the summer.

Roasted red bell peppers and eggplant, finely chopped, along with copious amounts of garlic and a bit of olive oil and salt.  I was quite astonished to find the depth of flavor in something that truly only had four ingredients.  Roasting is certainly what certainly makes it so good.  And the thing is, with a gas stove (or this summer the grill, which is in near constant use) roasting takes almost no time.  Five to seven minutes or so straight on the burner over the heat, turning every so often to completely blacken the outsides.  Put in a covered container to steam and cool for 10 minutes, the skins on the peppers slide off like a silk dress.

This is sexy stuff.

I want it on steaks, on fish.  On these balkan burgers.  On regular burgers.  In my eggs.

In this recipe, I included a bit of roasted eggplant (at which Balkan traditionalists would have been shocked and horrified) but I found it gave a gorgeous texture.

For some background: ajvar is typically made in Serbia in the fall, where in small towns its process requires just about everybody who lives there to pitch in and help.  The peppers are roasted, peeled and deseeded.  Everything is pureed and put up in jars for the winter.  Only here, I can’t wait that long: I ate spoons of it out of the dish while we were waiting for company to arrive.  They were lucky they got here when they did.  I would have eaten it all.

Lovely stuff.

Make some.

Ajvar

2 red bell peppers, blackened over a grill or stove, skin, stem and seeds removed, chopped

June 20, 2012

Words Fail Me | Garlic Scape Pesto and Prawn Pizza

I have a tendency to be effusive.

I also wish, at times like this, that I wasn’t all those other times.

Because sometimes, you end up with a garlic scape pesto and prawn pizza with an egg on top.

And you haven’t ever made pizza before because you just thought, “well, I am kind of terrible with breads and I’ll probably be terrible with pizza crusts, too.”  But then, lo! you have this amazing friend, who’s super-supportive and encouraging for you to go ahead! Try to make it! You can do it!

My friend Kate is this person.  In addition to being a talented and creative entrepreneur, she’s also an incredible cook.  I stood in her kitchen for a few moments mid-day today after she handed me gifts of a ball jar of cherry stones and a bouquet of garlic scapes from her very own enthusiastic garden and I remembered: she makes really great pizzas.  I remembered, too, that Kate never seems to fuss with her dough and when I asked her about it, I had all of those questions: “oh you’d have to rest it, right?  and you need to make it in the morning or something, too, huh?”

Quite simply she said, no.

She stood in the kitchen with the sun streaming in through the window and wrote on a scrap of paper the simplest recipe for pizza dough around.  And said, “hey, those scapes make awesome pesto.”

After her incredibly simple explanation of the dough and remembering the ease of pesto, I stood there gesturing wildly with my jar of cherry stones exclaiming, “Yes!  I will make pizza tonight!  I will do it.”

“Here, take some cheese,” she said.

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