Posts tagged ‘local produce’

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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June 27, 2012

Good on Everything | Ajvar

This is something I will be making repeatedly throughout the summer.

Roasted red bell peppers and eggplant, finely chopped, along with copious amounts of garlic and a bit of olive oil and salt.  I was quite astonished to find the depth of flavor in something that truly only had four ingredients.  Roasting is certainly what certainly makes it so good.  And the thing is, with a gas stove (or this summer the grill, which is in near constant use) roasting takes almost no time.  Five to seven minutes or so straight on the burner over the heat, turning every so often to completely blacken the outsides.  Put in a covered container to steam and cool for 10 minutes, the skins on the peppers slide off like a silk dress.

This is sexy stuff.

I want it on steaks, on fish.  On these balkan burgers.  On regular burgers.  In my eggs.

In this recipe, I included a bit of roasted eggplant (at which Balkan traditionalists would have been shocked and horrified) but I found it gave a gorgeous texture.

For some background: ajvar is typically made in Serbia in the fall, where in small towns its process requires just about everybody who lives there to pitch in and help.  The peppers are roasted, peeled and deseeded.  Everything is pureed and put up in jars for the winter.  Only here, I can’t wait that long: I ate spoons of it out of the dish while we were waiting for company to arrive.  They were lucky they got here when they did.  I would have eaten it all.

Lovely stuff.

Make some.

Ajvar

2 red bell peppers, blackened over a grill or stove, skin, stem and seeds removed, chopped

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June 4, 2012

Two Light and Easy Nights | Summer Miso Soup

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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November 30, 2011

Pie Season | Parsnip and Butternut Tart

Pie.  Tart.  Deliciousness in a dish.

The recipe for this Any Season Fruit (or Vegetable) Tart (page 19) is from Gilt Taste.  It’s a surprising base that can skew sweet or savory.  But on first blush, you could only assume it would be sweet as the base is butter and sugar creamed together.  It has to be cake, right?  But no, with a full teaspoon of salt in it, as well as some savory and thyme (thrown in by me), this autumnal pastry was devoured by everyone, including Cherub.

I used a combination of parsnips and butternut squash, parboiling them for just five minutes in heavily salted water before draining them and adding them to the tart.  I also sprinkled in some dried thyme and savory.  To add a little extra oomph to the final dish, I shook up a quick chili and sriracha cream in a half pint ball jar until thick.  A tablespoon per slice adds a nice kick of heat.

Playlist included Video Games, by Lana Del Rey.

October 24, 2011

Final Harvest | Corn Milk Soup

It’s simply the best of the last of the garden.  Eight ears of the last of the sweet corn.  Cobs scraped completely clean, releasing all that sweet corn “milk.”  I think it’s what makes this soup special.

But perhaps, too, it’s that I added in the last few peppers still standing on my counter.  Another handful of tomatoes that were picked green in the back garden, but managed to ripen despite that deep insult.  And green onions picked up at the farmer’s market.  Plus two palmfuls of teeny purple potatoes (that were a growing experiment by me) from a more experienced gardener friend.  Generous pinches of fresh thyme from the terracotta pot on the patio.  Twists of pepper.  A blessing of salt.

Poach a few shrimp in the hot soup to make it more substantial.  Or some smoked haddock would be perfectly at home.  Or if you have leftovers, top bowls of soup with a crumbled a link of andouille and some sauteed shrimp for a take on a gumbo.  That’s what I’m going to do.

Corn Milk Soup, serves 6 to 8

4 strips bacon, sliced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

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September 26, 2011

Things I Like | Green B.E.A.N. Delivery

I love local businesses.  I love local produce and groceries.  I love this idea.

Green B.E.A.N. Delivery (the BEAN stands for Biodiversity, Education, Agriculture and Nutrition) is a grocery delivery company that serves Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.  I truly admire their dedication to support local farmers and artisans in the area.  Their produce bins are chock full of local stuff from local folks (now realize, we do have a winter around here and the bins do reflect that come December).  Most recently they featured a really fantastic farm, Rock Dove.  And I have, quite honestly, had some of the best bacon in my life from these guys.

The small produce bin that landed so cheerily on my doorstep recently included plenty of fruits and veggies for our family for a week or so.  Heirloom tomatoes from Northridge Organic farm, a lovely bag of clearly organic greens, jalapenos, green beans, carrots, onions and plenty of fruit.  A lot of it local, but some from further away (I’m almost sure that we just can’t manage a great crop of flame red grapes here in Ohio).

I really loved how most all the fruits and veg were contained in brown paper lunch bags instead of plastic ones.  It gave me the feeling that everything was carefully hand packed with thought given to how things would best travel.  And I know, it’s better for the environment, too, isn’t it?  Bonus points.

Minimum orders start at $35, although you can order a $28 bin and supplement it with groceries like Snowville milk and that fantastic bacon to get it up to $35.  Just about any staple you could need you can find in their virtual aisles.  And orders can be made as rarely as every two weeks.

I can see giving this as gift to new parents, or people that perhaps just need the gift of time.  It’s certainly something that made my (much busier than usual) week easier.

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Playlist included Listen to Your Love, by Mona.

**Green B.E.A.N. Delivery gave me a free bin to review.   But of course you know that Persephone always says what she thinks, even if she’s been given something for free.  My opinions are, as always, my own.

September 7, 2011

Curds and Whey, Two Ways

Something has been stirring in me to make some more ricotta.  It’s so easy, you know every ingredient that goes in it (milk, salt, lemon), and there’s such satisfaction in making your own cheese.  I have, however, been distressed every time I’ve made it that I have so much whey left over after the curds separate out.  I mean honestly.  The cows at Snowville are such beautiful productive girls, how could I carelessly dump half of that milk down the drain?

I happily came across this great recipe for whey crêpes that are the most delicious ones I’ve ever had that weren’t made by a French person.  They are staggeringly good. 

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