Archive for ‘Local Matters’

October 6, 2010

“Eat at a Locally-Minded Restaurant”: Let’s go to Skillet!

A great suggestion for one of the things you can do to participate in local foods week is eat at a “locally-minded” restaurant.  So to make sure we touched as many points on the Eat Local Challenge Pledge Card as we could this week, my family visited the cheerful Caskey family at Skillet for lunch today.  Even home-body Persephone loves a good meal out.  

Hades started with the Red Beans and Rice.  Chef Kevin Caskey really nailed the smokey, French Quarter flavor of this creole classic.  Sadly, we dug in too quickly and have no photo to prove its existence.

Mommy told Cherub the grilled cheese was a real winner.  So she ordered the grilled cheese and pumpkin and black bean soup for herself (she’s a very confident three-year-old).    

While we have worked hard to make sure she tries all types of foods with different flavors and textures, I have to say, I was shocked to see how much soup she vacuumed up.  Then I tasted it.  Well, of course.  It’s a fantastic combination: silky pumpkin with perfectly cooked and seasoned black beans.  What’s not to love?

I am no stranger to Flying J Farms beef.  It’s some of the best we’ve tasted.  I had to order the Diner Burger: made with ground beef from Flying J Farm‘s grass-fed and finished cows, on grilled brioche, topped with fontina,  a fried egg and peppery arugula.  The egg still had a delicious thick yolkiness, that  further “sauced” the burger (and my shirt, since Persephone is nothing if not a graceful eater).  It was tremendously good.  But what really set it off was the lovely tomato marmalade.  In a word: finesse. 

Hades ordered the Fried Green Tomato BLT, topped with a fried yard egg, a pretty ruffle of frisee and oo-wee sauce.  Let me tell you: oo-wee, it’s good sauce and a good sandwich.  I think fried green tomatoes can be kind of pain to do right.  And Chef Caskey does them right.  Nice, thick, meaty tomato (you can easily screw them up and make them mushy, not so here), along with thick, meaty bacon made a wonderful fare-the-well to summer sandwich.

Both Hades and I had small sides of different, but perfectly paired, potato salads.  His a homestyle and mine a cold German-style. 

All sandwiches were $9.  Not much for locally sourced, creatively conceived and downright delicious fare.

I really do love this restaurant.  It’s the kind of place that if we go out, which is rarely, we want to go here.  Make sure you visit them this week.

October 5, 2010

Lake Erie Walleye with Spaetzle and Cheese

Another play on a classic today, the eternal combo of fish sticks and mac and cheese. 

While I didn’t fry the walleye, you could.  I seasoned the walleye with salt and pepper, cut a shallow slit in the top of each fillet and stuffed them with a combination of fresh herbs.  Then a drizzle of olive oil and it’s into the oven for about 15 minutes, depending on the size of your fishies.  If you have the time, brown some butter in a pan with a sprig of fresh rosemary for a quick and flavorful brown butter sauce to drizzle over your fish.

Spaetzle is a simple batter to mix up.  I used about two cups (half whole wheat flour from Flying J Farm and half unbleached white flour from prairie Mills) along with 3 local eggs and about a half a cup of milk from Snowville.  You want it nice and thick (like pudding almost) so you can press it through a colander with the back of a spatula over a deep pot of salted boiling water.  You don’t want it running through of its own volition, you need to push it through, otherwise you’ll be left straining out a bizarre oatmeal-looking slop.  (Not that this has ever happened to competent Persephone.)  Each batch of teeny tiny dumplings are done in about a minute.  Lift the spaetzle out of the water with a strainer and place on a clean kitchen towel to drain.

Homemade cheese sauce is a snap to make.  Warm a chopped yellow tomato and some garlic  and add it to the cheese sauce to give a potentially heavy dish a nice touch of freshness.  Mix in a couple of generous spoonfuls of the tomato cheese mixture into the spaetzle that’s been moved to a saute pan to rewarm.

Serve the two together and you might be able to get your kids to try your version every once in a while.  And every once in a while is not a very bad start.

The only items in dinner that were not local were the olive oil and the salt and pepper.  Neat-o.  Complete sourcing can be found on the Farms and Producers page.

Playlist included Superior, by Columbus local Colin Gawel.

October 5, 2010

Steak & Eggs

It’s a classic.  Make it extra sexy by using local eggs and Ohio-grazed buffalo.  Saute a Roma tomato from Wishwell Farm, and add slice of ten grain toast from Daily Bread slathered with fresh made butter from Snowville.  Girl, please.  

Juicy tomatoes make a perfect "sauce" for the rare tenderloin.

 

Seared Vista Grand Ranch Buffalo Tenderloin with Manchester Hill Farm Eggs  

Preheat the over to 400˚.   Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper, drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  In a scorching hot pan, add the tenderloin and sear all sides to a nice golden brown.  When evenly browned, insert an instant read digital thermometer and set the temperature to 120˚.  Slide the pan (make sure it’s oven safe) into the preheated oven.  Entire cooking time in the oven is somewhere between 20 to 25 minutes.  When you rest the meat, the carry over cooking will raise it to 125˚ to 130˚, which will make it a brilliant medium rare.    

While your buffalo is in the oven, chop up one large Roma tomato, and cook over a low heat in a saute pan with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.   

Do all of the following tasks at your leisure, because when the thermometer beeps that it’s reached 120˚, you still need to rest the meat for at least 10 to 15 more minutes before you even think of slicing it.  In fact, while it’s resting, put a generous pat of butter on top.  Don’t rush this step, give it time to rest, you don’t want it bleeding out all over the cutting board.   

Scramble a couple of eggs with some butter, a drizzle of milk and chopped fresh tarragon over very low heat to make them extra creamy.   

Toast a couple of slices of bread and slather with that Snowville butter.   

Playlist included the totally dominant Tighten Up, by The Black Keys.  Ohio music rocks. 

Complete sourcing for all the local produce and products can be found on the Farms and Producers page.

October 4, 2010

Dinner, Day Three: Braised Short Ribs from Flying J Farm

I can’t tell you how much I love short ribs.  They’re cheap, they’re easy to prepare, and with a little forward planning, they’ll give you more flavor than cuts that are five times the price.  Unfortunately, they’re also terribly underutilized in the home kitchen.  Even if you aren’t that comfy in the kitchen, they are very forgiving.  So go ahead and keep your filets – this unsung cut is the one for me.

For this dish I used grass-fed short ribs from Flying J Farm, which were second to none.  They were dense and meaty, with just the right amount of fat for succulence.  And marvelously bordering on just a bit wild tasting because of the grass diet.  Just remember: low heat, long time, and you’ll have a smile on your face at the dinner table.

Braised Short Ribs with Red Pepper Gravy and Sweet Potato Mash

3 pounds of grass-fed, Flying J short ribs, or grass-fed if you’re not from Ohio

1 T of bacon fat (Curly Tail Farm)

2 green onions, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, diced

2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 medium red bell peppers

1 small, red, spicy chili

2 T of flour

3 cups of stock, 3 cups of water

Salt/pepper

To get started add a thwack (that would be a heaping tablespoon, more or less) of bacon fat to a large, heavy-lidded roasting pan.  Turn up the heat pretty high.  Generously salt and pepper the ribs, then add them to the pan, searing on both sides.  I must emphasize two points here: 1.  Sear them until they begin to brown, and 2.  Do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan.  I will repeat:  do not crowd the pan.  Stack your ribs on a plate and set them aside.

Turn the heat way down, and add the onion, the chili, and the garlic.  Scrape the bottom of the pan somewhat obsessively to release all that goodness.  When soft, then add the peppers and tomatoes, and soften them somewhat.  Then put the ribs back in, along with any juices on the plate.  With flair, sprinkle everything with the flour, then add the liquid.

PK Tip:  After last night’s Chicken dish, we had leftover bones.  While cleaning up, I put them in a pasta pot, filled it with water along with some vegetable trimmings (like leek tops, carrot tops, radish tops, the odd tomato), bay, thyme and peppercorns, brought it to a boil, and simmered over low heat for 45 minutes.  Voila…stock.  In all honesty, if at this stage you don’t have stock made this way (or something similar), I would say just use all water and not a boxed stock.

Back to the show:  Place the lid on the pot and place in the oven at 300˚.  Two and a half hours is an absolute minimum.  Three is better, Four better still.  When it’s done, pull out the bones (won’t be hard – and save them!  That’s beef stock!), skim/remove any fat, and pull the meat apart with two forks.  Lovely.

Meanwhile, you’ll have plenty of time to make the sweet potato mash.  That’s one mammoth Beauregard sweet potato (thank you Northridge Organics), cubed, boiled, drained and mashed.  Add heavy cream, milk, salt and pepper to taste.  At the risk of repeating myself, lovely.  If you’ve got some fresh corriander (that’s cilantro), chop it and sprinkle it over the top, it’s fantastic.

According to James Beard, short ribs are best served with beer.  As a rule, you should never, ever disagree with James Beard.  So Columbus Brewing Company’s Scottish Ale it was.

Playlist included Bloodbuzz Ohio, by The National.  God, I love his voice.

Complete sourcing for local produce used in this meal can be found on the Farms and Producers page.

October 4, 2010

Weekday Apple Salad

I couldn’t help myself.  In light of Saturday’s article in the WSJ, saying bacon is singing its swan song, I defiantly made a tasty fall salad with bacon ends from Curly Tail Farm.  I can’t help it if it goes so well with fall apples from Gillogly Orchards and sharp cheddar from Ohio Farm Direct and a few spicy mustard greens from Honeyrun Farm.  I. just. can’t. help it.

Combine those ingredients in the quantities you like (I like lots of greens, lots of apples, a little bit of cheddar and a little bit more bacon).  Then dress it in a vinaigrette made from apple cider vinegar, Hays apple cider, olive oil, salt, pepper, and just a drop or two of sriracha.

Cherub ate a local version of mac and cheese: some of the leftover Mrs. Miller’s Homemade noodles from last night’s chicken, along with a quick bechamel (equal parts flour and butter in a small saucepan, heated until bubbly for a minute or two, then whisk in Snowville milk to make a sauce) then add in a few ounces of cheese mixing to melt.  Add noodles to sauce and voila!  Scratch mac and cheese in under ten minutes.

See the Farms and Producers page for complete sourcing.

October 4, 2010

Apple-licious Breakfast

Cherub likes a good breakfast. 

This morning, since it’s gotten a little chilly, I served her some hot cereal.  I couldn’t find local oatmeal, so rolled spelt, from Stutzman Farm made an even exchange.   You can find Stutzman products at the Greener Grocer.  It cooks pretty much like oatmeal, two parts liquid (milk, local apple cider, water, etc.) to one part spelt.  I topped it with carmelized apples (sliced apple from Gillogly Orchard, sautéed in butter from Snowville, with a drizzle of local honey from John E. Egleston and a sprinkling of non-local cinnamon) and a further drizzle of honey. 

The great thing about it, too, is that there’s enough for leftovers.  So before school tomorrow, her healthy local breakfast  is already made.

October 4, 2010

Dinner, Day Two: Needmore Chicken

Sunday dinner with the family is important to me.  It’s a time when the extended family  is invited (tonight it was Cronus and Rhea) and everyone partakes of a leisurely meal.  It’s a great thing for Cherub, who is three: she gets to practice her table manners and eat something the whole family is enjoying.    

For Local Foods Week, I thought chicken would make for a good Sunday dinner.  As it turns out, Hill Family Farm is in Xenia, about an hour away.  We bought a whole bird and decided to take it the French country route, a riff on a Coq au Vin.  Anthony Bourdain’s recipe in the les Halles Cookbook was a jumping off point.  I used Ohio wines for marinating and for the table.  Since we purchased our bird at Dorothy Lane Market, what better musical inspiration than Dayton’s Guided by Voices.   

Hades has hung with Franz Liszt; gave the odd tip to Stravinsky.  He’s held his own with Shane MacGowan, and there’s a rumor that he wrote the bassline to “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”  In short, he knows music.  He cannot impress upon me the greatness of Guided by Voices often enough.  Its time to rock.  Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, Ohio’s own, Needmore Chicken!    

Needmore Chicken    

1 whole roasting chicken, giblets removed and reserved for another use    

2 parsnips, sliced (ours were from the backyard)    

4 green onions, white parts only, sliced in two lengthwise (we were late to the farmer’s market, feel free to use a whole diced onion)    

Bouquet Garni – cheesecloth wrapped bay leaf, 10 peppercorns, small sprig of fresh thyme, two sprigs of parsley)    

1 bottle of red wine (we used Firelands Cab Sauv)   

  

    

In a large bowl that will hold the chicken comfortably, combine all ingredients.  Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate overnight to 24 hours.    

Notice the lighter parts where a parsnip or chicken wing stuck close to the breast skin during marinating.

 

    

2 T butter    

1 T flour    

Salt and pepper    

After marinating, remove chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Season inside and out with salt and pepper.    

Remove the bouquet garni, and strain the solids out of the marinade, reserving each seperately.  In a large, heavy lidded pot, add 2T of butter and heat over medium high heat until almost smoking.  

    

Using it for its God given purpose.

 

Place the chicken in the pot and sear on all sides until golden brown, turning as needed.  Remove chicken from the pot and set aside.  Tip in reserved vegtables from the marinade and cook until softened, about three to five minutes.  Sprinkle the vegetables with 1T of flour and stir to coat, cook for another minute.  Add back in the chicken, pour in the marinade.  Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer for an hour and 15 minutes.   

1/4 pound bacon ends, chopped finely   

 1 large handful of shitake mushrooms, stems sliced, tops quartered   

 6 to 8 whole baby shallots (or pearl onions)   

Pinch of salt, pinch of sugar, water   

In a small skillet, render the bacon ends until crisp.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.  Keeping only 1 T of bacon drippings, heat over medium high heat and add in the mushrooms.  Sear until browned, remove to same paper towel lined plate as the bacon.  In the same pan, add in the shallots or onions, along with the salt, sugar and water to cover.  Cut a piece of parchment or wax paper to cover the pan, reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid is evaporated and the shallots are carmelized a bit.  Add in two ladlefuls of the cooking liquid from the chicken and reduce until syrupy.  Remove from heat.   

When finished cooking, remove the chicken from the sauce and place on a cutting board to slice up.  Strain the liquid from the pot and add to the skillet with the reduction.  Mix in the bacon and mushrooms, remove from heat and whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter to finish the sauce.   

A simple, elegant appetizer for this meal, or any meal, let’s be honest, is French breakfast radishes with herb butter.  The butter was from Snowville cream, and mixed with backyard herbs (this time, parsley, tarragon, rosemary, basil, and green onion).   

Serve with egg noodles and Provencal tomatoes (tomatoes halved and stuffed with breadcrumbs, parsely, garlic and chopped tomatoes).  Pour a ladle of sauce over the noodles for good measure.   

Meal notes: breadcrumbs for the tomatoes were from the left over biscuits from this morning.  Noodles were from Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles, Fredrickstown, Ohio.  Herbs were from Cronus’s garden.  All other sourcing can be found on the Farms and Producers page.  Wine served with dinner was a 2008 Syrah from Kinkead Ridge, Ripley, Ohio.  

  

Playlist included Bulldog Skin because it totally rocks and it’s my personal favorite GBV, unless you count My Valuable Hunting Knife…

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