Archive for ‘Cheese’

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.

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July 24, 2012

Despite the Heat | Tortilla Soup

Eating soup when it’s hot out can strike people as odd.  But think French-inspired Pho in steamy Vietnam, or British-influenced Mulligatawny in India.  There’s a point to eating something hot and spicy when it’s hot out: it makes you sweat (I glow).  And that helps you cool off.  So while it may seem counter-intuitive, now is certainly the season to give some spicy soup a go.

It’s always hot in Texas.  So it’s not surprising that tortilla soup is on just about every menu you peruse in San Antonio.   There’s something about it that San Antonians can’t seem to get enough of, no matter the season.   Perhaps it’s the mix of textures, but like Pho and Mulligatawny, it’s spicy and hot and a treat to eat.  (It also happens to the be the exact thing I was eating when Hades first fell in love with me fifteen years ago.  I even spilled it all over myself and he still loved me.  Magical stuff this is.)  And summertime is when the produce that comprises the bulk of the ingredients for tortilla soup are at their peak.

I like to play around with ingredients: if there’s corn, add some, if there’s not, no worries.  Zucchini and summer squashes work wonderfully, too.  Tomatoes, however are a requirement. 

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January 26, 2012

Why You Always Buy Beets with the Greens | Beetroot and Blood Orange Salad

Beets make me happy.  I know.

But I love their color and their dense, earthy flavor, greatly enhanced by slow roasting them whole for what almost feels like too long.

I make sure to buy them whole, with their greens attached.  Because beet greens are delicious.  I’ll show you an old family recipe for that soon (updated with the addition of some duck fat).  But in the meantime, head out to the store, buy some whole beets and give this simple composed salad a try.  Diana Henry’s recipe will get lots of good vitamins in you during the dark days of winter, good for staving off, the best you can, all those winter colds.

Playlist included Game of Thrones Freestyle, by Gotye featuring Dice Raw.

September 19, 2011

An Ohio Casserole Classic | Johnny Marzetti

Food trends come and go.  And ideas, ingredients, or dishes that you might think aren’t exactly cool, always seem to have a way of coming back around.  Being thrifty and using offal and off cuts is fashionable.  It’s hip to garden again.  The values of my Gran are suddenly in vogue.  How charming!

My friend John loves Columbus, loves food and thought it would be great to celebrate Johnny Marzetti with a collection of blog posts from local Columbus food bloggers.  I was so pleased to be included in the crowd and to learn about this dish, not being a Columbus native.  I assured John I’d never heard of or eaten this dish before.  But now what truly fascinates me is that there is a version that made its way to the Rio Grande valley of Texas, a stone’s throw away from where I grew up.   And as it turns out,  it’s something that my Grandma often made for Sunday dinners and potlucks.  I knew it as Macaroni Crunch, but many others knew it as Johnny Marzotti.  Maybe this is the sort of unspoken influence that food has on our lives.

Here’s my version of this Ohio and South Texas classic.  I’ve put my own spin on it by using heirloom tomatoes, fresh mushrooms and peppers from my back garden.  The result is a fresh take on the already entirely delicious French’s-fried-onions-canned-mushroom-soup-and-canned-tomato version with which I grew up.  And somehow, I think Grandma might be proud.  Proud of my garden and my thriftiness and my comfort in the kitchen.

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September 7, 2011

Curds and Whey, Two Ways

Something has been stirring in me to make some more ricotta.  It’s so easy, you know every ingredient that goes in it (milk, salt, lemon), and there’s such satisfaction in making your own cheese.  I have, however, been distressed every time I’ve made it that I have so much whey left over after the curds separate out.  I mean honestly.  The cows at Snowville are such beautiful productive girls, how could I carelessly dump half of that milk down the drain?

I happily came across this great recipe for whey crêpes that are the most delicious ones I’ve ever had that weren’t made by a French person.  They are staggeringly good. 

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July 21, 2011

Roots | Tex-Mex Enchilada Gravy

It almost pains me to give up this recipe.  Almost.

But I think everyone should try hyper-local specialties: Texas style enchiladas with chili gravy; Taylor ham, egg and cheese; mirabelles.  It’s a taste of place.  It should be a bite that makes you say, “Yes, this is what it tastes like in San Antonio.”  “This is what it tastes like in northern New Jersey.”  “This is what it tastes like in Nancy.”  It’s one way of understanding the world in a deeper way.

This recipe harkens from my father’s mother, passed to my mother, passed to me, passed to Cherub.  (She still likes my Mom’s better than mine.  But she’s not wrong.)  To me, this chili gravy that smothers corn tortillas that cuddle spoonfuls of ground beef, chopped onion and cheeses tastes not only of San Antonio, but of childhood and tradition and family.  And love.  Lots of love.

Enchilada Gravy, makes enough for approximately 48 enchiladas

1/2 c flour

1/2 c vegetable oil (or lard)

1/2 c chili powder (what your powder tastes like will be the dominant flavor of the sauce, taste for sweetness, heat, etc.)

2 heaping T ground cumin

3 or 4 garlic cloves, finely minced

Salt to taste

2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 6 to 8 c very warm water

In a large pan (ideally a cast iron skillet) over medium heat, warm the oil or lard and brown the flour lightly.  Remove from heat.  Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic and salt.  Return to medium heat with enough water to make a gravy.  Simmer for twenty minutes.

{To assemble enchiladas, warm corn tortillas in oil, then roll, filling with any combination of grated cheese, diced white onion and ground beef.  Place in a baking pan in in close rows that had a ladleful of gravy covering the bottom.  Ladle more gravy over the tops of the enchiladas, sprinkle with cheese or whatever fillings you’ve chosen.  Cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.}

Playlist included Blisters May Come, by Centro-Matic.

July 11, 2011

Summer Salad | Pickled Cherries and Serrano Ham

I adore the big pots of mesclun that have been moved to the shadier spots in my backyard now summer is in full swing.  A few snips and I have the base for a fabulous summer lunch.

There’s no real dressing to make, just assembling a couple of ingredients, including a few slices of Serrano ham, shavings of Parmesan and a handful of yellow cherries pickled with Chinese Five Spice.  Somehow these three things paired with just picked lettuces and tender herbs result in a taste greater than the sum of their parts.

The cherries were the result of about an hour in the kitchen over the weekend.  Now preserved for the dark days of winter, I couldn’t help but crack into one of the jars for this salad.  And I’m glad I did.  I have to make more of these while cherries are still in season.  I did not make enough.  These cherries are not only wonderful in this salad, but perfection with a cheese plate.  I want to have plenty on hand to dish out with nibbles of cheese when friends pop in for a cocktail.

For the salad, combine

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