June 4, 2012
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.
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May 25, 2012
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
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November 3, 2011
There is a vast expanse of Europe between the Black and Baltic Seas commonly known as “Eastern Europe.” Millions of Americans can trace their ancestry from this region, but many of them don’t know exactly where. They came through both the front and back doors of the East Coast in search of something more. They came to mine coal, bend steel, crunch numbers, and maybe raise hell. Many of them saw the horrors of the 20th century up close, and came here to escape. They might not have brought much, but they brought their culture, their spirit, and their food.
At the center of this culinary tradition are Pierogi. It’s the unofficial national dish of Poland, and they are eaten, with different names, from Ukraine to Latvia. They are traditionally filled with potato, cheese, sauerkraut, or fruit preserves.
But most importantly to me, it’s Hades’s favorite food and the in-laws’ official celebratory dish. Needless to say,
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October 22, 2011
Birthdays call for cakes. Half birthdays, pudding. Cherub celebrated her four and half years in this world just this past Friday. We had pudding as a special I-turned-four-and-a-half dessert. Homemade chocolate pudding is no harder than a box mix, honestly. Just just need a few ingredients. Like anything else. But these few ingredients can make a little person feel awfully special. Or a big person for that matter.
PK’s Celebratory Chocolate Pudding, Serves 4
3 T corn starch
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
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September 23, 2011
My friends and I have been kind of fawning over Sean Brock, chef and owner of Husk and McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina. Add to that that he was a James Beard Award winner in 2010. And Bon Appetit named Husk best new restaurant this year. Sean lives and breathes local. And he’s just so cute.
And he loves pugs.
I am smitten.
I was so happy to see that he was featured in September’s Southern Living and that he gave up some great recipes. I made his Lowcountry Shrimp-and-Okra Pilau for dinner tonight. Fabulousness in a bowl, really. Plus, Cherub’s first experience with okra was a successful one thanks to this recipe. I used some local Schmidt’s Bahama Mama smoked sausage as well as the okra I picked up at the Worthington Farmer’s Market. Don’t be afraid. Okra is delicious, even when unadorned and not fried.
While you do simmer this dish for about 30 minutes in the middle, you can use that time to clean up the kitchen. Because who has time to cook? You do.
Wine pairing: Chateau Bonnet 2009 Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon – Muscadelle.
Playlist included Police Dog Blues, by Hugh Laurie.
September 19, 2011
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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