March 4, 2013
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.
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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February 14, 2013
This meal is simple enough for a weeknight, but also sexy enough for a date night.
Just like a good pair of skinny black pants.
Duck turns out to cost about as much as a good piece of grass-fed beef. But somehow it seems altogether fresh and new for a weeknight meal. Toss in some bulk wild rice and some handfuls of baby spinach and you’ve got yourself something that despite it’s cheap and cheerful cost, almost poses as downright elegant.
Think of it as the H&M of meals. Fast fashion at the dinner table.
The duck is spiced simply with salt and pepper and a generous amount of Chinese five spice. Now before you go writing that off with “oh I can’t find that stuff,” know that in addition to you being able to easily grab a bit a your finer spice stores, you can also pick up a jar at your local grocery store because even McCormick’s makes it. Pan sear the duck, then drain (and save for oh so delicious potatoes) the fat that’s rendered off, then in the same pan wilt down your spinach that you douse with a bit of apple cider vinegar and a generous pinch of sugar. The wild rice, while it takes 45 minutes to cook, can easily be made ahead of time. Or you can unwind with some Jesse Ware and a cocktail while that simmers.
I always opt for the second.
Timing is, as it turns out – in fashion and the kitchen – is everything.
Chinese Five-Spiced Duck. Wild Rice Salad. Warm Spinach. For Two.
For the Wild Rice Salad
8 oz wild rice blend
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August 19, 2012
I stood in this kitchen this morning knowing that I wanted a traditional Sunday dinner. I was in the mood to let something cook, take a bit more time preparing something. I pulled out one of my favorite books that I hadn’t looked at in a while: Heart of the Artichoke, by the wonderful David Tanis. In it, the summer menus tugged at me and I decided to roast a spatchcocked chicken and make up a rice salad with some of the beautiful Carolina Gold rice some dear friends brought back from a summer vacation in South Carolina.
And, as luck would have it, none of this was actually time intensive. I love it when I have the time to give to something and the fates tell me not to worry about it.
In addition to being a really nice guy, Mr. Tanis is such a clever chef and cook, in the book he offers numerous variations on many of his recipes, adding or omitting an ingredient or two and giving you a whole new way to enjoy a dish, transitioning from side dish to satisfying lunch in a short jump. Really good stuff. It’s a way to start thinking about what you have in the pantry and the fridge to re-purpose yesterday’s dinner into a wholly new meal. It’s leftovers, elevated.
So tonight, after devouring half a lemony roast chicken and having just the teeny-ist bit of the herb rice salad leftover, I eyed the golden fond in the chicken roasting pan and remembered my favorite soup from Tasi: a lovely lemon chicken soup.
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August 17, 2012
I picked up a beautiful, heavy and sweet local watermelon at my neighborhood Giant Eagle Market District. I still can’t believe that this is my normal, everyday, hey-we’re-out-of-milk grocery store – it’s humongous. But I have to give them props: for being as huge as they are, they do try for a couple of months to really bring in a bunch of locally grown and raised produce. I really like that.
So back home, I was cutting it up and then slicing up all the leftover rinds so that they would break down faster in the compost pile and it hit me. People make pickles out of this stuff. And thankfully it’s less for the compost pile to try to digest, which is a good thing this time of year, just ask my husband, who often gets stuck with the job of carting out all the scraps. He’s a good man.
Is that a cucumber in the foreground? No! Just a well trimmed watermelon rind.
So a quick browse around and it’s a simpler method than I even thought. For half of a medium watermelon the brine is
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July 18, 2012
I understand the problem as well as anyone: we’re told to eat fish for its health benefits, but it’s a challenging ingredient that leaves us either nervous or unfulfilled. We’re afraid to eat it, and when we do we’re hungry later. Well I have the solution — trout paired with bacon.
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July 16, 2012
I came back from Georgia filled with Southern inspiration and several bagfuls of southern produce. The okra purchased at a farmer’s market just before we left was my favorite. And when I came home I was determined to try and remake it in a way that I found I loved. In Athens, we were lucky enough to have a superb dinner at Five and Ten. It was there I had some of the best okra I’d ever eaten. It was very simply perfectly seasoned then lightly charred in – most likely – a cast iron skillet.
Fast forward to a night that I have almost no energy to cook and even less to clean the kitchen after dinner.
Enter this super-summery dinner that’s cooked entirely outside and takes no more than about 10 minutes to prep in the kitchen. Tonight’s easy meal was chicken thighs (bone in, skin on please) rubbed with this quick spice mixture and left to marinate, and a ton of peak-season summer produce and a ton of flavor. But the star is the okra.
I know, you might have a thing with okra, right? Or you only eat it fried? Or in gumbo? Or perhaps, you just avoid it altogether. I challenge you to give this quick cooking method a try, it leaves all that incredible fresh okra taste with almost none of the things you might not like about okra (ahem, the slime). The trick is a high heat and, to begin with, a completely dry pan.
Favorite Athens Okra and Vegetables, serves two
15 small to medium sized okra pods, trimmed of the stem and halved on a deep diagonal
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July 12, 2012
We just got back from vacation in Georgia. It’s such a great state with so many people committed to delicious food fresh off the farm. My kind of place, really. And to be honest, they make some mean fried chicken.
While I was there I couldn’t help but do some canning of some fresh Georgia peaches. I basically followed this method for canning the teeny ten pounds I had into four quart jars. In some of the jarred peaches I packed in some fresh basil,
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