Monthly Archives: October 2007

Columbus Food Lovers Meetup Group

I started a meetup group so that local food bloggers/lovers could get together and pursue foodie-type interests. I’ve set up the first meeting for Sunday afternoon two weeks from now at Stauf’s in Grandview. I’d love to meet you all face to face, so please check the meetup group out, feel free to join, so we all can start doing some stuff together.



GYO #3: Pico de Gallo

For the Grow Your Own #3 blogging event, I’m contributing pico de gallo that I made with the last of the Roma tomatoes of the summer, which were grown on my back deck. The other ingredients (onions, garlic, additional tomatoes, poblanos, jalapenos, cilantro) are also local, with only the lime juice and salt being not Ohio grown or made. Wow – with the weather we’ve been having lately, summer seems like a lifetime ago. I love the reds and oranges and yellows of autumn but I think I’m already beginning to miss the bright reds and greens of August.


Pico de Gallo

10 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped and seeded
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 small poblano pepper, seeded and chopped finely
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
juice from 1/2 lime
10 stems cilantro leaves, minced
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together, and then cover and let sit overnight in fridge to steep and allow flavor to develop.

German Birthday Feast

Friday was my husband’s 40th birthday, and we made a German “feast”, so to speak, of some of his favorite foods along with other German dishes. It wasn’t until after he left for work on Friday that I even put the menu together, so we had to take some shortcuts, as you’ll see below.

One of his favorite dishes at Schmidts (a local German restaurant) is sauerkraut balls, kind of like a croquette with sauerkraut and sausage inside. We modified and combined this and this recipe on Recipezaar to come up with our version.


Sauerkraut Balls with Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce

For the balls:
8 oz. beer bratwurst, removed from casing and crumbled
1/4 c. finely chopped onions
14 oz. can sauerkraut (squeeze dry and chop fine)
2 tbsp. plain bread crumbs
1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. flour
2 beaten eggs
1/4 c. milk
1 c. plain breadcrumbs

For the sauce:
3/4 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. honey
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic salt

Cook bratwurst and onion until meat is brown; drain. Add sauerkraut and 2 tbsp. bread crumbs to the mixture. Combine cream cheese, parsley, mustard, garlic salt, and pepper. Add to sauerkraut mixture. Chill one hour. Form into small balls and coat with flour. Dip in egg-milk mixture and roll in bread crumbs. Fry in deep fat until brown. Serve hot with dipping sauce on the side.

To make the dipping sauce, mix all sauce ingredients together to combine, and serve alongside sauerkraut balls.

For the second course, we made German Lentil Soup with Frankfurters. While it looked pretty enough, neither one of us cared for the taste or texture.


For the main course, I used my grandmother’s recipe for frikadellen (the same meat mixture I use for her layered ground beef and cabbage – basically just 3 lbs. ground beef mixed with 2 eggs, 5 or 6 caraway rolls soaked in milk until soft, a tablespoon of maggi, 2 tsp of salt, and 3/4 tsp. of pepper – but this time I criss-crossed the bottom of giant muffin cups with a slice of bacon, and made frikadellen meatloaf muffins. On the side, I made a batch of my favorite spaetzle recipe which I tossed with brown butter. Yum.


For dessert, since I was so short on time, I couldn’t make a real Black Forest Cherry Cake, so I made Black Forest Dump Cake. Not exactly the same, but it had the vibe I was looking for. This was delicious with some whipped cream, I loved the deep chocolate flavor and the texture of the nuts along with crunchy bits of chocolate. This comes together very quickly, too – so it’s ideal for a last minute dessert that can bake in the oven while you’re sitting down to dinner.


Black Forest Dump Cake
recipe courtesy Recipezaar

8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained with juice reserved
21 oz. can cherry pie filling
18 1/2 oz. package devil’s food cake mix (without pudding)
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
whipped topping
chocolate shavings (optional, I didn’t use these)

Spread drained pineapple in a lightly greased 13×9 inch pan. Add pie filling, spreading gently. Sprinkle dry cake mix over pie filling. Sprinkle with pecans. Combine butter and reserved pineapple liquid. Drizzle on cake mixture. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool and cut into squares (I just scooped it up like a bread pudding), top with whipped cream and (optional) chocoalte shavings.

Our 11th anniversary is this Thursday, and I’m not sure yet what we’ll be doing. Probably going out to eat since neither one of us is up to cooking another huge meal. Anyone have any suggestions for somewhere romantic where you don’t have to get all dressed up for?

Farm Fresh and Local Produce – 10/27/07

Since I wasn’t feeling very well this morning, my husband made a solo trip to the farmers markets – considering there were just a couple of items I needed, we both figured that it would be more sensible for him to go alone and take pictures for me.

Today was the last day for Worthington (the winter market will start in 2 weeks, in the Senior Center) and Clintonville. He hit the North Market first, however, and hit the jackpot at Wayward Seed Farm for the chioggia squash I was looking for. They were offering a really nice selection of unusual/heirloom varieties of squash.


And he brought me back a picture of one of the last holdouts of summer – sunflowers. 🙂


He went to the other markets as well – since I didn’t go with him, I’m not sure which picture is from where.

I’ve grown sweet peppers before, but never hot peppers. So I do know that this is some type of pepper plant, but have no clue which. Either way, it makes for a really cool and unusual looking plant.


Does anyone else think that this jack-o-turnip is as cute as I think it is?


My husband brought this pretty centerpiece home to me as a way of making me feel better about not going today. Isn’t he a sweetie?


These are just advertised as “ornamental gourds” and a quick internet search doesn’t give me any more of a clue to what they are than when I started. But they are rather unusual looking, aren’t they? My husband thought they were underripe giagantic lychees, initially.


Did anyone else make today’s farmers market about stocking up on local food for the winter like we did? What is everyone planning for Thanksgiving?

Sauteed Pork Tenderloin and Pears in Mustard-Port Sauce

Continuing with the theme of cooking for two (this recipe claims to serve 4, but it made for two very large servings in our case) and cooking seasonally, one of the dishes we made this week was Sauteed Pork Tenderloin and Pears in Mustard-Port Sauce. I’ve been making an awful lot of pork lately, mainly because it pairs so well with all of the produce available now – apples, pears, winter squash, you name it. This dish had a lovely rich flavor, with a nice velvety sauce that coated both the pears and the pork nicely. We used a ruby port instead of a tawny (the change is reflected in the recipe below), and served it with some Herb and Butter Rice a Roni because we were in a bit of a rush to get dinner on the table. And the pears – you want them to be ripe, but not so ripe that they’ll get mushy. This recipe definitely goes in the keeper file.

Sauteed Pork Tenderloin and Pears in Mustard-Port Sauce

Sauteed Pork Tenderloin and Pears in Mustard-Port Sauce
recipe slightly modified from Bon Appetit March 2001

3 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 ripe (but still firm) Bartlett pears, cored, peeled and quartered
1 lb. pork tenderloin, sliced into twelve 1/2″ thick medallions
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. canned low-salt chicken broth
2/3 c. ruby port
2 1/2 tsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears and saute until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer pears to plate (do not clean skillet).

Sprinkle pork medallions with salt and pepper. Coat pork medallions with flour; shake off excess. Add to same skillet and cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to plate with pears. Add broth, Port, and both mustards to skillet. Boil until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Return pork, pears and any juices to skillet and simmer until pork is just cooked through and sauce is reduced to glaze, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Manestra (Meat with Orzo)

Manestra is one of my favorite Greek dishes. I didn’t even know it existed until I went to Anna’s a few years ago and Anna herself whipped a batch made with beef, especially for me (her normal manestra has lamb, which I wasn’t fond of at the time). I loved it so much that I ordered it every time I went in. After a while, all that manestra ordering got to be a bit expensive (because, of course, when you go to Anna’s you don’t always just get an entree, right?) and I wanted to learn to make it here at home. This recipe is virtually indistinguishable from Anna’s, and the complex flavors hit the spot every time. I’m making it this week for Presto Pasta Night.


Manestra (Meat with Orzo)
recipe from “The Complete Greek Cookbook” by Theresa Karas Yianilios

1 tbsp. oil
1 lb. beef or lamb stew meat
2 onions, chopped
1 c. tomato sauce or 1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. spearmint flakes (I use about half as much)
4 c. boiling water
1 c. orzo
1 c. grated mizithra cheese (I use a bit less – use Parmesan if you can’t find Mizithra)

Heat oil in large saucepan and brown meat and onions for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add tomato, seasonings, and 2 cups water. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

Add remaining water and bring to a boil. Add orzo. Stir once or twice. Simmer 20 minutes more. Serve hot with grated cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Glazed Cottage Ham and Two-Potato Gratin

The butternut squash soup I posted about yesterday was only the first course of our local autumn meal. Here’s the second.


One of the main problems that we run into in a two-person household is that some of our favorite foods often come in packages that are way too huge for a couple to tackle. Take ham, for instance. You can buy smallish hams, but most are pretty grim. Cooked, but flavorless. In order to get the kind of flavor I want, I usually have to get a bone in ham over 10 lbs. The leftovers inevitably end up in the freezer, where they proceed to sit for months and get freezer burn before I get a chance to use them.

And then I discovered cottage hams. At least that’s what they’re called in Ohio. In other parts of the country, they’re known as smoked pork shoulder. And that’s what it basically is. A boneless pork roast that is netted and smoked like a full sized ham would be. When you buy them, they’re still uncooked, but a couple of hours of boiling gets them to the point where you can either eat them like that, or brush on some glaze and roast it for a while longer in the oven. We got a nice 3 pounder at Thurn’s, during our requisite smoked meat trip. Al told us to boil it for a couple of hours, and then to throw it in the oven, which was pretty much what I ended up doing after finding this recipe. The flavor? Awesome. Every bit as salty-smoky-tender as a normal ham would be. And the best part? We had enough leftovers to eat a couple of sandwiches the next day, and then they were gone. 🙂 No ham graveyard in the freezer!

Glazed Pork Shoulder

1 boneless smoked pork shoulder or Boston Butt, about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 lbs.
4 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 medium bay leaf
1/2 c. apricot preserves

Place pork butt or shoulder in a large Dutch oven or 6-quart pot; cover with water. Add peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours, or until pork is very tender.

Remove from heat; let meat cool. Place cooled pork into a roasting pan; spread with apricot preserves. Bake at 375F for 30 to 40 minutes. Slice and serve with potatoes, and your choice of vegetables. Glazed pork shoulder serves 6 to 8.

Along with the ham, we made a gratin from local Yukon Golds and yams, with the butter, cream, broth, garlic also being local, from the same sources as the soup. Great complement to the ham, but next time around I’d slice the potatoes a bit thicker.

Simple Two-Potato Gratin
recipe courtesy Bon Appetit

3 pounds mixed russet potatoes and sweet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
Butter for baking dish and foil
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1 minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon kosher salt
ground black pepper
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese

Spread potatoes in a buttered 11×7-inch baking dish. Combine heavy whipping cream, chicken broth, chopped sage, garlic, and salt; pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with pepper. Cover with buttered foil; bake at 425°F for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with Gruyère cheese. Bake uncovered until brown and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let rest before serving.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

There’s a fairly new food blogging event called Homegrown Gourmet, that celebrates foods that represent your home area in some way, whether it be local food, a traditional dish from your area, or whatever. And the theme this month is soup. So we decided to make it “local” in two different ways. First, the dish is inspired by soup we had at The Refectory, a local restaurant. And best of all, the soup is made with almost all local ingredients.


The squash in this soup is from Wish Well Farms at the North Market farmers market, as is the onion and celery. The butter was from Hartzler Family Dairy, and the cream was Smith’s Dairy. Chicken stock is made in Ohio by Kitchen Basics. The soup was flavorful and rich (but not too rich), savory yet sweet, and nearly a dead ringer for the soup at The Refectory, albeit a bit thicker. Like theirs, we floated ours with a crostini made at the local Whole Foods, which was topped with goat cheese from Lake Erie Creamery. Since there are only two of us, we cut the recipe in half, otherwise it would serve 4 easily.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
recipe slightly modified from

1 (3 lb) butternut squash
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 medium white onion
5 stalks celery
2 tbsp. butter
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Sat and pepper to taste
4 crostini rounds (optional)
2 oz. goat cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, seed and cut butternut squash into cubes, approx. 1″. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Place squash on baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes until fork-tender Meanwhile, dice onion and celery and saute in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add roasted squash to saute pan and pour in chicken stock to cover veggies. Cover pan and bring to boil. Once liquid is boiling, uncover and reduce. Puree in a blender or food processor, adding heavy cream, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Reheat and serve.

Notes: Sprinkle nutmeg on individual servings, if desired. If you’re serving it with the crostini, schmear the goat cheese onto the crostini and then float on top of soup. This soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 10/20/07

It was still dark out when I woke up at 7:30 to head to the market this morning. More than even summer or winter, I love these transitional seasons like spring and autumn. The temperature is comfortable, the scenery is beautiful, everything changes from day to day. However, I hate the lack of light when fall changes into winter. I get seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Let’s hope it’s a short one this year.

But I digress. About the markets… There is only one more week left now, after this. Next Saturday and then both Clintonville and Worthington are done for the year. I am heartened by the fact that the North Market still seems to have some life in it after the others close, and super happy about the fact that Worthington is having a winter farmer’s market in the senior center this year. But sad as I am to see the farmer’s markets gone for the year, I am sort of glad that I’ll get my Saturday mornings back. 🙂 And this time of the year, the scenery is pretty much the same same same anyway – as you’ll see by my pics this week, winter veggies aren’t very pretty.

I skipped out on the North Market this week, since the mushroom-monger is out of town this week, and headed straight to Clintonville, to get my requisite take of 2Silos eggs, plus a ton of short ribs (at $2 a pound, even!) at Flying J. and a huge stock up on meat at OMC Farms. But most of what I saw there was squash, squash, and more squash. And to save you from yet another picture of squash, here’s a picture of the dried corn that decorated the Wish Well Farms stand.


And of course there were apples – everywhere. Here’s some Golden Delicious, representative of the boxes and boxes of apples that nearly everyone had.


It was quickly off to Worthington, where it was populated a little more sparsely than usual, both on the vendor side and the customer side. No big deal for me, as the crowds during the summer combined with the heat make me feel a bit anxious anyway.

I saw some really pretty cauliflower, but didn’t get any because I sort of pre-planned this weeks meals, and probably wouldn’t have gotten around to using it.


And there were strawberries and raspberries (for probably the last time this year) at Crum’s, so I got both, which I plan to use in making some chocolate-chocolate chip waffles this morning. But one of the most unusual finds I saw at the market was these English Walnuts, which were grown locally. I still haven’t figured out what to use them for yet, but they may end up factoring into a local Thanksgiving meal.


Other than the squashes, not many bright colors today – almost everything color-wise is fading into that muddy brown-gray of winter, like these potatoes.


But these radishes lent a bit of bright red into an otherwise dull landscape.


I got a few other things at Worthington – a Toll House pie, some tomatillos, a bunch of lettuce, some blue potatoes, but overall a much lighter load than usual, since I still have much of last week’s stuff to use.

I had a weird moment in Thurn’s yesterday – I was there for my usual Saturday shopping trip, and overheard part of someone else’s conversation yesterday…Person 1 says to Person 2, “Where did you find out about this place?” and Person 2 answers “Columbus Foodie”. Total deer in the headlights moment, so I just kept my mouth shut..LOL.

I’m making a killer partially local but definitely seasonal dinner in honor of my husband’s birthday this week. For the first course, butternut squash soup with goat cheese crostini. For the second course, a cottage ham from Thurn’s which will be boiled until tender, and then glazed with apricot preserves and baked in the oven until done, served with a 3 potato (Russett, Orange Yams and Yellow Sweet Potatoes) gratin and maybe some green beans. For dessert, Brown Sugar Squash Pie. I hope he enjoys it.

Well, back to the grind. I can’t believe that next week will be the last post on farmer’s markets until Thanksgiving. Anyone planning on going to the winter market this year?

Beef Braised in Barolo

One of my favorite flavor combinations in the world is beef and wine. Bring me a good Beef Bourguignon and I’m in absolute heaven. So when I saw this recipe while flipping through the Fall Entertaining edition of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, it goes without saying that I was going to make it.

One small issue. Barolo wine is expensive – VERY expensive (most bottles start at a minimum of $40). And using it in cooking makes for a very expensive entree. (I’ve since found that Trader Joe’s has a barolo wine for $19.99. If I make this in the future, I’ll use theirs.) But at the time, the cost of the Barolo wine was cost prohibitive, so I ended up using a $25 Vietti Nebbiolo wine, which are the same grapes that are used to produce a Barolo. This substitution was successful, as the final dish was redolent with the flavor notes the recipe description said it would have; however, in case I make this dish again, I did buy the $20 Barolo to compare.


Also, the recipe calls for straining out the veggie bits in the gravy, but I kept them in – next time around, I’ll follow the recipe to the letter to compare as well. I served the dish with creamy polenta (which ended up solidifying up on me very quickly, I’ll find a better recipe before posting), and some Sugar-Glazed Roasted Carrots.

Beef Braised in Barolo
recipe courtesy Cook’s Illustrated Magazine

1 boneless chuck eye roast (about 3 1/2 lbs), separated at seams and each piece tied together in three pieces with kitchen twine
Table salt and ground black pepper
4 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (see recipe notes below)
2 medium onions, chopped medium (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, chopped medium (1 cup)
2 medium celery ribs, chopped medium (1 cup)
1 tbsp. tomato paste
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (1 tbsp)
1 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 bottle (750 ml) Barolo wine
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 sprig fresh thyme, plus 1 tsp. minced leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
10 sprigs fresh parsley

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Thoroughly pat beef dry with paper towels; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place pancetta in 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat; set Dutch oven over medium-high heat and heat fat until beginning to smoke. Add beef to pot and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer beef to large plate; set aside.

Reduce heat to medium; add onions, carrots, celery and tomato paste to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, flour, sugar, and reserved pancetta; cook, stirring constantly, until combined and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and tomatoes, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; add thyme sprig, rosemary, and parsley. Return roast and any accumulated juices to pot, increase heat to high and bring liquid to boil, then place large sheet of foil over potand cover tightly with lid. Set pot in oven and cook, using tongs to turn beef every 45 minutes, until dinner fork easily slips in and out of meat, about 3 hours.

Transfer beef to cutting board; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow braising liquid to settle about 5 minutes, then, using wide shallow spoon, skim fat off surface. Add minced thyme, bring liquid to boil over high heat, and cook, whisking vigorously to help vegetables break down, until mixture is thickened and reduced to about 3 1/2 cups, about 18 minutes. Strain liquid thorugh large fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids with spatula to extract as much liquid as possible; you should have 1 1/2 cups strained sauce (if necessary, return strained sauce to Dutch oven and reduce to 1 1/2 cups). Discard solids in strainer. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove kitchen twine from meat and discard. Using chef’s or carving knife, cut meat against grain into 1/2 inch thick slices. Divide meat between warmed bowls or plates; pour about 1/4 cup sauce over each and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Recipe notes: Purchase pancetta that is cut to order, about 1/4 inch thick. If pancetta is not available, substitute an equal amount of salt pork (choose the meatiest piece possible), cut it into 1/4 inch cubes, and boil it in 3 cups of water for about 2 minutes to remove excess salt. After draining, use it as you would pancetta.