Posts tagged ‘local foods’

February 14, 2013

Fast Fashion | Five-Spice Duck

This meal is simple enough for a weeknight, but also sexy enough for a date night.

Just like a good pair of skinny black pants.

Duck turns out to cost about as much as a good piece of grass-fed beef.  But somehow it seems altogether fresh and new for a weeknight meal.  Toss in some bulk wild rice and some handfuls of baby spinach and you’ve got yourself something that despite it’s cheap and cheerful cost, almost poses as downright elegant.

Think of it as the H&M of meals.  Fast fashion at the dinner table.

The duck is spiced simply with salt and pepper and a generous amount of Chinese five spice.  Now before you go writing that off with “oh I can’t find that stuff,” know that in addition to you being able to easily grab a bit a your finer spice stores, you can also pick up a jar at your local grocery store because even McCormick’s makes it.  Pan sear the duck, then drain (and save for oh so delicious potatoes) the fat that’s rendered off, then in the same pan wilt down your spinach that you douse with a bit of apple cider vinegar and a generous pinch of sugar.  The wild rice, while it takes 45 minutes to cook, can easily be made ahead of time.  Or you can unwind with some Jesse Ware and a cocktail while that simmers.

I always opt for the second.

Timing is, as it turns out – in fashion and the kitchen – is everything.

Chinese Five-Spiced Duck. Wild Rice Salad. Warm Spinach.  For Two.

For the Wild Rice Salad

8 oz wild rice blend

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.

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.

June 4, 2012

Two Light and Easy Nights | Summer Miso Soup

This past weekend the most recent Top Chef winner Paul Qui was in town at Market District to do a demo and answer questions.  Honestly, I don’t think there has been a nicer, more unassuming winner of that crazy show.   He’s just such a humble, talented guy.  His dishes were lovely light versions of chicken rice (his with lots and lots of a lemony ponzu) and a summer miso soup.  Things, he says, are his comfort foods.  I can completely see why.

His cooking got me thinking about dishes I had made in the past but could bring together for the perfect, almost no effort summer dinner.  Granted, you’ll have Asian food a couple of days in a row, but I don’t think that ever hurt anyone.  Plus, this is the time of year that you can gather just about everything locally, aside from the kombu, katsuobushi and a couple of pantry items.

But perhaps the thing that makes me happiest about this kind of dinner is that since everybody gets to choose what to include in their bowls, it’s lots of fun for Cherub.  She amazed even me tonight by her choice of tofu, zucchini, carrots, green onion, bean sprouts and snap peas.  But she passed on the fresh sweet corn.  (What kid does that?)  And she even had seconds.

May 25, 2012

Simple Summer Snack | Strawberry Lemon Balm Paletas

There’s only so much jam you can make.  Sometimes, you just need to start eating those 16 or 17 pounds of strawberries you picked.  And maybe you need to enlist the kids, too.  Enter the world’s simplest way to do that: popsicles.

I, of course, can’t just let strawberries be strawberries.  Besides, Cherub loves too much to graze through the herbs in the garden, and she’s going to be eating the bulk of these paletas anyway.

For this first batch, I made a quick mix of strawberries and sugar, boiled it for five minutes and then just ever so slightly pulsed them in a blender for a half a second.  Then I added in a finely chopped bit of fresh lemon balm (but what’s your favorite? mint? lavender? coriander?), poured into molds and froze.

Voila!  The world’s most refreshing snack.  And a great breakfast if you’re feeling generous.  And it’s especially hot.

Paletas de Fresa y Melisa (Strawberry and Lemon Balm Popsicles), inspired by the post at The Parsley Thief.

1 qt strawberries, tops removed and quartered

May 20, 2012

Precious Little | Strawberry Peony Jam

It’s the time of year that it’s hard to pin me down.  I’m outside.  Busy in the backyard, planting, weeding, sitting, contemplating.  I just want to be outside.  Watching for the return of Chestnut.  Seeing if we have any new baby rabbits in the yard.  I just find so much peace there, that you’re hard pressed to get a post out of me.  I have better things to do.

Because of this I was there, in the backyard, when the peonies bloomed this year.  They are my absolute favorite flower: profuse, heavy blooms; heady fragrance.  I turned the confetti of abundant petals into syrup.  I did this last year, but not as adroitly.

Marry to this that I went strawberry picking with friends last week.  And 17 pounds picked meant there was certain to be some jamming.  Did there happen to be some master pastry chefs along?  Why yes, there were.  (Thanks, B.)  So I asked them how to incorporate my peony syrup into the jam that was sure to follow all that picking.   Add the syrup at the last minute, they said, to keep all the flower essence.   But of course.

Ten cups of strawberries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 597 other followers

%d bloggers like this: