Archive for ‘Columbus’

March 4, 2013

Taking Tea | Afternoon at the Harrison House

I see why they do it in the south and of course, it goes without saying, in the UK.

Taking time for afternoon tea is an immeasurably nice way to spend an hour or so in the afternoon.  And if you’ve got a girlfriend to catch up on some gossip, all the better.  The Harrison House, right now, kind of has a little secret.

But the scones and tea are so nice, it won’t be secret for much longer.

If you’re looking for an exceedingly quiet place to take tea, a few scones (good ones, with the exception of how they are cut, according to a very knowledgeable British source), some savories, some fruit, and a gorgeous dessert, let me recommend them.  No hustle and bustle here, just attentive service and the charm of a Victorian Village house.

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The afternoon tea service run by Savvy Spoon Tea is a pop up of sorts, taking advantage of off time in the Harrison House kitchen and its cozy parlor in which to serve it in.  All the better for us, who get to enjoy the scones that pop out of the oven as you’re arriving and being seated.  The tea menu is varied with all good selections, I chose the rose black.  The scones were marvelous with a little lemon curd and I was completely enamored with the mushroom pasty.  The pear cake was moist and a real treat.

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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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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

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March 28, 2012

Risotto of the Week | Spring Broad Bean and Foraged Dandelion

I returned home after a lengthy trip to Texas to find spring had sprung: the daffodils were spent and the ferns unfurling.  Nestled amongst said ferns on the shady side of the porch were dandelions, just emerged, with slender leaves and nary a flower in sight.

Which of course meant they are at their peak for eating.

Tonight’s dinner involved a return to cooking with a risotto.  Included were the fruits of my garden weeding – young dandelion leaves – and broad beans, another early spring arrival.

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January 29, 2012

Moms’ Recipes from All Over the World | Taste of OSU

This past Friday was the 2012 Taste of OSU.  Hosted by the OSU’s Office of International Affairs, the event brings some 4,000 guests to the Union to experience food and culture from all over the world.  More than 30 student groups provide the recipes, do the cooking and share a bit from their home countries.  Even more share cultural performances, from dragon dances to Bollywood showstoppers.

I love this event because people from all over the world who have joined the OSU family, come together to cook food that says, “this is what it tastes like in my country,” “this is what my mom makes on my birthday,” “this is the food that we have when we celebrate.”  These are moms’ recipes.  Moms that may be many thousands of miles away.  But at this event, it’s a chance to share a taste of something that reminds these students of home.  Proust’s madeline.

I had the good fortune to be asked to judge.  I was very excited.  Not only would I get a chance to sample a good variety of the entries from the 30 plus international student groups, but I got a chance to see some of the recipes.  Imagine my delight at being able to peruse the Russian Club’s beef stroganoff and blinis!  The Thai Student Association’s Green Curry Chicken!  The Somali Students Association’s rice!

The six finalists were the Russian Club, the Somali Students Association, Habesha Student Organization, Lebanese Student Association, the Organization of Arab Students and the Sri Lankan Student Association.  They all produced delicious dishes.

But the standout for us was the Habesha Student Organization.  And they won it with their lentils.  I scooped up some lentils with injera bread.  My eyes lit up.  This is something special.  Savory, perfectly seasoned.  Delicious.  Greedily, I flipped through the half-inch thick book of recipes.  Searching, searching.  I found the list of ingredients.

Crestfallen, I knew in a moment that there were not just three ingredients in that amazing lentil dish.

I knew Mom didn’t share her secret spices this time.  She didn’t share what makes her lentils better than anyone else’s.  Because sometimes, you have to grow up with her to be given the secret.  But if anyone asks her what makes it so special, I’m sure she’d smile and tell you it’s love.

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October 5, 2011

Local Foods Week | Rabbit

 

Sometimes dinner is completely off the grid.  Tonight’s rabbit was an example of that.  Not purchased at a store or farmer’s market, simply gifted to me from generous friends who have local farmer friends.  The dinners, over two nights, could not have embodied the essence of local more than that.

Spot the backyard bunny. No, this was not dinner.

For the squeamish, let me tell you that a beautifully raised, local rabbit might strike you as tasting a whole lot like turkey.  For the more adventurous, it is light, meaty and absolutely delicious.  It is a protein entirely worth hunting down (albeit grocery shopping or the actual in-the-woods kind) to find responsibly-raised meat.

I wasn’t home last night and Hades took it upon himself to braise our rabbit with leeks and carrots and some decidedly non-local French vermouth.  He served it with warm red cabbage, beet and apple salad and a butternut puree.

I cannot begin to express my bitter disappointment at not being home for this meal.

Freakishly, there were leftovers. 

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October 2, 2011

Local Foods Week | Brining Two Kinds of Pork

I haven’t made a whole lot of pork lately.  I’ve been swooning over spice-rubbed chicken, braising all manner of cuts beef, and grilling plenty of fish.  I think pork needs its due.  I am a big fan, particularly of bacon and pork belly.  It must be the fat.  But what about the old standby favorites?  I think I’ve been shying away from cuts like pork chops and fresh hams simply because, at first blush, seem kind of mundane.

Enter brining.  A great primer, including a simple ratio, from Cooks Illustrated can be found here.  But in a nutshell, this technique of soaking in a salt, sugar and spice “stock,” really livens up the flavor of the more lean cuts of pork and bumps up the much needed moisture.  It doesn’t require any silly flavor injectors and it’s foolproof.   Adjust the flavors and seasonings as you wish and you’ll have a dinner either as familiar or exotic as you want it to be.  Add in some locally and thoughtfully raised pork, mine was from Curly Tail Organic Farm, and the noble pig doesn’t get much better than this.

Basic Brine, make 1 quart per pound of meat

1 qt water

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