Archive for ‘Summer’

August 9, 2011

Summer’s Gone | Flying J Dinner

I had a lovely summer vacation.  Complete with my adorable parents (Zeus and Demeter) and my sweetest nephew visiting and plenty of fantastic time outdoors, with good food, sunshine and heat.

The apex of all this fun was Slow Food Columbus‘s Shake the Hand that Feeds You out at Flying J Farm.  Longtime readers of this blog will know that I dearly love the farmer, Dick Jensen, and his organic, grass-fed cattle in Johnstown, Ohio.  And the dinner that the Slow Food Chapter plans every year out there is truly the best food event in the city, bar none.  It was, in fact, one of the main catalysts for me starting this blog.

This year, the Caskey family from Skillet commandeered the farm kitchen to turn out mouth-wateringly delicious courses.  Sous vide beef tongue, anyone?  Please, sir, I want some more.  Demeter managed to score seconds.  Lucky.   Nicolene Schwartz custom created the Flying J, an OYO vodka based cocktail with quick pickled peppers and tomatoes from the farm.  All the vegetables for the dinner were harvested earlier that day, from the fields at the farm, by wonderful SFC volunteers.

The tables groaned under wildflower bouquets, homemade pickles of all kinds (wasabi green beans, dill pickles, chow chow), candles, oodles of wine and chilly Columbus Brewing Company beers.  We even had a buttery, whole-roasted, whey-fed pig course.  Did you know that comes right after dinner?  Right before dessert.  Of hand cranked Snowville Creamery ice cream with roasted peaches and balsamic.  Ice cream churned by happy children that spent the rest of their time playing chase in the meadows, petting ponies and the donkey, messing with a farm cat and feeding the farm dog under the table.

There wasn’t an unhappy creature in the whole bunch.  Laughter spilled over the hill and up to the barns.  Friends crowded around the table to share a meal, a laugh and a glass (or two?) of wine, a sip (or three?) of pawpaw-cello and connect over the importance of food in our lives.  It is what not only feeds us, but sustains us and connects us all.

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Not to put too fine a point on it, but it was perfect.

For more pictures of the lovely evening check out Hungry Woolf’s flikr stream or add Ely Brothers as a friend on Facebook.

Playlist included Summer, by Buffalo Tom.

July 18, 2011

Sweet Bites | Sour Cream Cherry Pound Cake

This is the last of them.  I think.  Well, there are still some in the freezer.  But there were twenty pounds of them (just my portion).  And this cake – maybe – is my favorite way to eat them.  The cherries, that is.  But I do love them pickled, too.

I made this last night after Cherub went to bed.  It was my way of unwinding after kind of a tough day.  I find satisfaction – if not a bit of peace – in the measuring, pouring, mixing, folding, testing, cooling, wrapping that it takes to make this cake.  Or any cake, really.  It takes only a few minutes to measure things out, then an hour in the oven to home-baked goodness.  The crumb is dense, the cherries jammy, the crust golden and crisp.  It’s a classic pound cake.

I originally came across this recipe somewhere in the depths of the interwebs, but halved it to fit in one 9 1/4 x 5 1/4 loaf pan and subbed fresh cherries for (gasp!) jarred maraschinos.  A bit more fiddling and I had cake.

Sour Cream Cherry Pound Cake, makes one 9.25 x 5.25 loaf

1 1/2 c all purpose flour

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July 14, 2011

Summer Produce | Short Ribs Braised in Tomato

This is a Saturday meal.  Not because it’s hard.  (It’s not.)  Not because it takes a long time.  (It could.)   But because if you head to a farmer’s market Saturday morning, or happen to run across some really fabulous tomatoes while you’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, this is what you should make.  This time, I used some beautifully imperfect farmstand tomatoes from an unscheduled stop at a roadside market.

This is, without question, the easiest way to make a fresh tomato sauce.  And perhaps one of the tastiest.  What follows is not so much of a recipe, as a way of cooking.  Let your heart (and perhaps your tummy) lead you.

Braised Short Ribs in Tomatoes, Serves 4, inspired by Scott Conant

2 pounds of really lovely ripe tomatoes, cored

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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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June 24, 2011

Strawberry Week | Strawberries in Pimm’s with Basil Cream

This is PK’s contribution to Breakfast at Wimbledon.  The Championships are perfectly situated at the dawn of summer, and so strawberries and their best friend cream have become as important as the tennis.  It’s a very simple version of a late-June favorite, but with some lovely refinements.  Just drown the berries in Pimm’s, a handful of sugar, and a whisper of ginger.  Then steep the cream with freshly-snipped basil leaves, whip it lightly, and you’ve re-made an old favourite.

Henman Hill* Strawberries and Cream, Serves 4

4 c strawberries, halved or quartered or left whole if they’re lovely and small

handful of sugar

12 scrapes of a fresh knob of ginger (I used a microplane to get it very fine)

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June 22, 2011

Strawberry Week | Jam, Two Ways

As you might remember if you read this blog with regularity, I picked ten pounds of strawberries over the weekend.  This left me with plenty to jam.  Plenty.  Especially since I’m (gasp!) kind of a novice canner.   Between picking and managing a boisterous Cherub, I chatted with a very sweet friend, Jenn (editor of the tremendous Greener Grocer newsletter) and she told me she had recently made some great strawberry balsamic jam.  Well, that’s right up my alley.

She kindly forwarded me the recipe.  I decided I’d do that (a recipe that is pectin-free – Demeter is convinced I don’t need it) and a strawberry rhubarb jam using pectin (I’ve been told by Rachel at Hounds in the Kitchen that Pomona’s is the best kind to use).

The strawberry balsamic with pepper is a jam purist’s dream.  Lots of low simmering, pleasurable skimming, and

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June 20, 2011

Strawberry Week | Panzanella Salad

This past weekend, Cherub and I, along with some Slow Food Columbus members and friends descended upon Schacht Farm Market for the last weekend of you-pick strawberries.  I left with ten pounds.  Ten pounds.

I knew there would be jam, cobblers and desserts in store, but I wanted some for lunch.  And it wasn’t like I had to worry if there would be enough.  There were obviously plenty.

I quickly cobbled together a strawberry panzanella salad that just hit the spot after a morning’s work of picking.  It didn’t hurt that we had a bit of past its prime ciabatta that made the base. And growing the in back yard is plenty of basil, parsley and mint.  I sliced up some green onions I’d picked up at the farmer’s market, although I do prefer and adore red onion in this salad.  As for a dressing, a generous drizzling of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, few twists of pepper and a pinch of salt are all you need, lemon if you have it.  And of course the berries.  Lots of those.

Strawberry Panzanella Salad, Serves two (plus a little four year old)

2 c slightly stale bread, cut into large cubes (I used ciabatta)

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