One Local Summer 2008 – Week 7

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Since I didn’t do too much original cooking this week, I had a hard time deciding what to submit for One Local Summer, so I decided to go with something I made earlier in the season. If there are any recipes that lend themselves to using local ingredients, this is one of them. John Hard, a Columbus-based hot sauce/salsa maker, has tons of recipes up on his web site that use his products. Some can be made completely local, like this one. His version of this, for some reason, tastes better than mine. Don’t get me wrong, mine tastes great. But I think his benefits from cooking for much longer than mine does.

Cajohn's Corn Chowder with Smoked Sausage

To make this local, I used local corn that I had frozen after last year’s harvest, Walnut Creek butter, smoked sausage from Thurn’s, heavy cream from Snowville Creamery, CaJohn’s Salsa Verde and Grill Seasoning, and shredded cheese from Meadow Maid. I finished it off with a little bit of home-made salsa.

CaJohns Corn Chowder with Smoked Sausage
recipe courtesy John Hard

1 lb Smoked Sausage
1 stick Butter
6 cups Frozen Corn
3 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Heavy Cream
2 jars CaBoom! Salsa Verde (your choice of heat)
2 Tbsp CaJohns Chipotle Grill Seasoning
2 cups Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
Salt to taste

Dice the smoked sausage and place in a stock pot. Sauté until edges are crispy. Remove sausage, leaving drippings in the pot. Add butter, heat until melted. Put corn in the pot and sauté until it becomes a golden color. Place broth and 2 cups of the cooked corn into a food processor or blender and whirl until smooth. Add this mixture back to the pot. Stir in the heavy cream and salsa until well blended. Bring to boil over medium heat stirring constantly.

After you reach a boil, stir in sausage cubes. Cook for a couple of more minutes while stirring. Remove from heat and blend the shredded cheese into the soup. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Farm Fresh and Local Produce – 7/19/08

Let me stress before I begin that this was a very, very, very light farmer’s market week for me, for a couple reasons that I’ll get into a little later. I’m so proud of myself – I only spent $12 total today. Way to stick to the budget plan. :) We did get up and at ‘em early – out the door by 7:15. Off to the North Market first, by 7:30am. Did some of the vendors wake up on the wrong side of the bed today? There was one (not sure who, tucked between Elizabeth Telling Farms and Toad Hill Organics) lady, first time someone approached her (didn’t even ask anything, was just looking) she snapped “I’m not open!”, when we were walking by a little later, after 8am, someone asked “what is this?” and she snapped back “parsley! don’t touch it!” Wowsers. And I thought I was in a pissy mood this morning. Good thing it wasn’t me she was barking at, as I would be having none of it. Which brings us to reason #1 why this is a light week – I did something bad to my hip and it’s killing me. Pain, pain, pain, and I’m not a very nice person when I’m in pain. So I can guarantee there won’t be much involved cooking coming up this week, unless it’s Paul that’s cooking it.

So anyway, back to the North Market. I didn’t even get my weekly dose of mushrooms, sadly enough. I deliberately planned the menu this week with no mushrooms so I wouldn’t be tempted to lay out a bunch of money for delicious shiitakes. Which brings us to reason #2 for a light week this week. Prices were so darn high. $5 for a pound of tomatoes. $1.25 for two (as in two total, not two pounds) small potatoes. $5-6/dozen for corn. Way, way, way too rich for my blood. I believe in eating local, really I do, but times are friggin’ tough. And unfortunately, I can’t justify paying what they’re asking for when I can get it cheaper at Whole Foods, of all places. I wouldn’t even pay $5/lb. for heirloom tomatoes, let alone a standard variety. I’m not sure if it’s just fuel costs trickling down to the consumer, or that the demand is higher because more people are buying at farmer’s markets due to the health scares with peppers and tomatoes and vendors think they can charge more now, but really – from now on, I’ll get locally what I can get a good deal on, and get the rest conventionally at the supermarket or Aldi or wherever it’s cheapest. Our biggest concern right now is to cut our food costs by like 50% and to eat mostly out of the pantry and freezer.

Rant over. I digress. Back to the North Market. Lots of variety this week. Unfortunately, Bridgman Farms no longer has that yummy lettuce mix until fall, so no local salad for me this week (although I just planted the salad mix in my Aerogarden, so only 2 or so weeks until I’m harvesting my own!) I got some Roma beans at Comb’s Herbs ($2.50 for a good sized container), but they also had these lovely green, purple, and yellow beans too.

Beans from Combs Herbs

Also at the North Market were these really cool looking hot pepper plants. I’m already up to my eyeballs in hot peppers (I never realized just how many peppers come from one plant!) so I passed, but I love the colors of this. It would make a pretty houseplant.

Pepper Plant

I didn’t find much else affordable at the North Market, so we were on our way, and got to Worthington way early, around 8:15 (supposedly 45 minutes before they open) and it was already so packed that it was really difficult to find a parking space. I picked up some interesting wineberries ($3) at Gillogly Orchard, and then headed across the street to look around. I was tempted by passed on these beautiful plums and apricots they were selling there.

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Here’s some of that aforementioned $6/dozen sweet corn. Pretty but not $6/dozen pretty.

Sweet Corn

I also got some leeks across the way for $1.25 a bunch (2 per bunch), plus some sweet onions bunches ($1.25 each) from Pop and Judy’s.

Sweet Onion Bunches from Pop and Judy's

And I saw the very first of the winter squash today. Tempting, but I passed, since most dishes I make with winter squash are more fall-oriented.

Winter Squash

So then it was off to Clintonville, where I just got eggs (no milk or cream because Snowville wasn’t there today, unfortunately). No pics. My hip was killing me by then. So after a trip to Thurn’s, I’m home, hurting, and ready to go back to sleep. So where did you guys go today and what did you get?

Whisk Wednesdays: Julienne Darblay

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Man, even when I have the best of intentions I always, always, always end up being a day late with my entry to the Whisk Wednesdays blogging event. Maybe in my head I should call it “Whisk Tuesdays” so I get it in on time on Wednesdays. This time, I have a good excuse, I promise. Our electric went out for like 3 or 4 hours last night. From like 6 to almost 10pm, no power, no air conditioning, nada. And while I could have made it all on the stove in the outdoor kitchen, in 90 degree plus heat, it wasn’t going to happen. So we didn’t even get started on this until darn near midnight.

If we had known how long it would take to julienne the veggies, we would have started that while the power was out and weren’t doing anything else other than sitting on the front porch trying to stay cool. So the soup was finally done at around 2 or 3 am. And it sure looks pretty, doesn’t it?

Julienne Darblay

For those not familiar with it, a Julienne Darblay is a creamed leek and potato soup that is garnished with blanched julienned vegetables. It has a super smooth creamy mouthfeel that reminds me of velvet. Or a warm version of vichyssoise. The bouquet garni added a lot to the flavor, and the julienned veggies were a nice contrast in texture. It’s probably more work than I’d do for a normal meal, but we’d probably do this one again for a special occassion.

Event: Taste of the Independents

Wow – am I behind in posts or what? This event actually took place on the 1st of May, and I got the pictures uploaded to Flickr immediately, but never got around to doing an actual writeup of the event. It was held at the Smith building on 4th, a perfect backdrop for the food.

Fennel Crusted Tuna

I love going to events like these – and this one was especially dear to my heart because it brought together independent restaurants in one place, and allowed me to make new discoveries that I hope to visit soon. It also brought a few surprises. The Elevator almost redeemed itself that night, as the couple of dishes they presented (Apricot-Fig Compote on a Pear Chip with Boursin Mousse and also Roasted Duck Confit with Grape, Cranberry Chutney and Port Wine Reduction) were nothing short of amazing – if only they could translate the dishes they offered that night onto their menu, I’d think about giving the restaurant a revisit.

If you’d like, you can watch the slideshow, or just see the detailed photos (with dish names and restaurants). And be sure to catch the event next year as well. It’s one that you don’t want to miss. And my apologies for getting this up so late.

Review: Bexley Monk

We have been buying gift certificates from the Dine Originals web site like crazy, and had a lot that were about to expire. One of the ones we had a certificate for was the Bexley Monk Restaurant & Bar in Bexley, OH – a place that I have heard about but have not had the opportunity to go to previously even though I had passed by it hundreds of times over the years. This visit actually took place in May, when it was still a bit nippy outside – unfortunately, with a bunch of other things to do, I’m just getting around to posting about our visit now, so I’m going by my notes rather than memory now.

We got there during lunch, and decided to sit on the newly opened patio even though it was a very windy day. They brought us some nicely soft bread while we checked out the menu.

Bread at Bexley Monk

For an appetizer, we decided on the Sesame Seared Tuna ($12), which is beautifully cooked piece of sesame-crusted tuna atop a sushi rice cake, which is served with mixed greens and dressed with a wasabi vinaigrette, sriracha and sweet soy sauce. The different flavors worked well together, although the combination of wasabi and sriracha really lit my ass on fire and obscured the freshness of the tuna a bit. Overall, a very nice dish but just a little too spicy for my tastes. Your mileage may vary, though.

Sesame Seared Tuna at Bexley Monk

Their chili ($3) was soupy, lacked depth and texture, and doesn’t normally get served with cheese, but on request, they added white cheddar and green onions (because they didn’t have regular chopped onions). Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed.

Chili at the Bexley Monk

The 55 on the Boulevard Salad (garden mix, red onion, bleu cheese, bacon, tomato, crostini, 55 dressing) ($4 for a side salad, $7 for a full sized salad) was a really solid salad, and we especially liked the tangy 55 Dressing that paired very well.

Side Salad at the Bexley Monk

My husband got the featured item of the day, Mexican Pizza, but was disappointed because it lacked flavor, got very soggy very quickly, and was not especially enjoyable.

Mexican Pizza at the Bexley Monk

I had been craving a Cobb Salad for a while, so naturally I got the Cobb Salad – (mixed greens, diced chicken, avocado, tomato, egg, bacon, white cheddar, blue cheese, chive ranch dressing – $12), and it just wasn’t what I was looking for although for the most part, it was made very traditionally. The one change they made to the dish ruined it for me, as the creamy dressing made an already heavy dish even heavier (Cobb salad is normally served with a vinaigrette), the portion size was outrageously huge, and worst of all, the ingredients weren’t particularly fresh. 

Cobb Salad at Bexley Monk

One thing we did notice when we were there is that they seem to cater to an older clientele – both my husband and I are middle-aged, and felt downright youthful comparatively. Maybe because of that, the dishes on the menu seem a bit dated and the ones that aren’t dated seem a bit forced. Overall, the prices are fairly reasonable. So to sum it up? Good but not great – would go there again, but only if someone else was picking up the tab.

If you’d like to go: Bexley Monk, Bexley Square, 2232 E. Main Street, Bexley. 614.239.6665.

Bexley Monk on Urbanspoon

BBQ Ribs from Trader Joe’s

I’ve always been a big Trader Joe’s fan, as a matter of fact it’s my favorite grocery store in Columbus. There are always new things to try, awesome recipes using their ingredients, it’s just one of those places that just send my creativity vibe haywire from a culinary standpoint. If I have one complaint about the place, it’s that they get rid of some of my favorite things to eat (The Emperor’s New Clove, Chicken Tikka Masala, I’m looking at you!) But since the great grill acquisition of 2008, I’ve been looking much more for stuff that I can throw on the grill and whip up in no time flat. Enter in their BBQ ribs.

BBQ Ribs from Trader Joe's

Enough to serve 3 or 4 people, it couldn’t be easier. Just throw them on the grill for about 15 minutes to heat up, and then brush on some of the reserved BBQ sauce. All of the BBQ rib taste without all of the time or work involved. The ultimate convenience food, and no one is the wiser.

What are your favorite Trader Joe products? Or what awesome dishes do you make using all TJ ingredients?

Bastille Burgers

As a matter of course, I don’t celebrate Bastille Day. But, in the same way that I don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day but engage in all of the traditions associated with it, I decided to make these burgers in honor of Bastille Day after seeing the recipe on Recipezaar. Yes, they are every bit as good as they sound. We used a Cambozola (blue/brie combination) that wasn’t French, but it lent just the right amount of kick where a more medicinal cheese would have been overwhelming. This recipe is highly, highly recommended. Just a word of warning, though – this is definitely a knife and fork burger.

Bastille Day Burger

Bastille Burger
recipe courtesy French Tart @ Recipezaar
makes 2 burgers – scale recipe as needed

12 ounces good quality minced beef
4 ounces french blue cheese (I used Cambozola)
2 hamburger buns or 2 pieces French bread, halved
2 tablespoons bearnaise sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced into rings
lettuce, washed and shredded
tomato, sliced
cornichon, sliced
pepper

Heat/light up your barbeque and allow the flames to die down. Season the beef with pepper, but NO salt – salt draws out the juices and toughens the meat! (You can add salt if you need it at the end.). With damp hands – shape the minced beef into two patties/burgers.
Cook the burgers to your liking – remember to place your blue cheese on top of the burgers to melt just before serving; then toast the burger buns or French bread.

Assemble your burger like so: bottom bun: lettuce, tomatoes, Bearnaise sauce and burger with melted blue cheese. Spread the Dijon mustard on the top bun, then place the onions and cornichons on top of the burger, with an extra dollop of Bearnaise sauce if you wish – then add the top bun.

If making these for a crowd – have all the condiments and salad ingredients handy and on a platter – and people can help themselves, as soon as the burgers are cooked. You could fry your onion – but I like the taste of raw red onion in these burgers!

Review: bonoTOGO

Update: bonoTOGO is closed, to be relocated at an as-of-yet unknown locale in the future. In the meantime, enjoy Bono pizza when Bill takes his mobile pizza oven to events all around Columbus. More information as it becomes available.

bonoTOGO is a little startup pizza joint that occupies the Eleni Christina bakery space on Russell in the Short North after hours, and the buzz has been really strong since it opened not too long ago. After listening to people on Columbus Underground rave about this place for weeks, we finally got around to ordering takeout from there the other night.

First things first. Can we just say that they have the best customer service EVER? You guys already know how I feel about trying to find parking downtown/in the urban areas, especially on weekends, because of all the meter bagging they do for valet parking. They eliminated that problem for us completely, as we just let them know what time we’d be there to pick up the pizza, and they just brought it out the car for us. Too cool!

Since they have a deal for 3 pies for $20 (they are usually $8 each), naturally, we went for the 3 pie deal. One each and one to share, although that theory ended up going out the window as soon as we dug in. So what did we get and what did we think?

First up – our shared choice – the Bianca (#18). Loved the crust on this one, and the flavors meld together beautifully. Just the right amount of gorgonzola. We both enjoyed this one very, very much. Paul bogarted all of the leftovers, so I only got like 2 pieces of this.

BonoTOGO Bianca Pizza

Next, was my choice – the Capricossa (#15). I figured that this would be an interesting choice – I’ve never had pizza with hard boiled eggs on it before. Liked it, but not a big olive fan so it got a bit cloying. While good, it was the least favorite (among both of us) of the three pizzas we ordered.

BonoTOGO Capricossa Pizza

Third pizza was Paul’s choice, the Cippolini (#13). We opted to add garlic to it, which brought a great pizza up to the level of mindblowingly awesome. Love the sweetness of this one. My favorite, Paul’s second favorite. This is one I’d order regularly.

BonoTOGO Cippolini Onion Pizza

I think I’m in love. This is the kind of pizza I like to make myself here at home, just done better – quality ingredients, with a lot of love put into the preparation. I can’t wait to go back and try some of the other pizzas (maybe a meat one next time, and the Hulk and the Funghi have my name on them). BonoTOGO gets a big thumbs up from us.

If you’d like to go: bonoTOGO, Russell Street (just west of High St, in the Eleni Christina bakery space), Short North, 614.906.8646; Wed-Sun 5p-midnight

Bonotogo on Urbanspoon

Miniature Scotch Eggs

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I’m a big fan of Scotch eggs – there’s just something about taking a hard boiled egg and wrapping it in sausage and bread crumbs and deep frying it that really does it for me. Sometimes, though, they’re so big that the whole thing becomes a giant gut bomb waiting to detonate.

So when Denise of 2Silos gifted me with a box of quail eggs to try, the first thing that came to mind was Scotch Eggs – after all, if it can be done with regular sized eggs, isn’t it possible to make little miniature Scotch Eggs with quail eggs? All the taste without all of the commitment. In short, the answer is yes – the timing for boiling the eggs took some experimentation to pinpoint, but it all came together perfectly. I’m submitting this creation to the Grow Your Own blogging event.

Miniature Scotch Eggs

Miniature Scotch Eggs

12 quail eggs, boiled for 5 minutes and then peeled
1 lb. breakfast sausage
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (use more if needed)

After peeling hard boiled quail eggs, dredge in flour, egg wash, bread crumbs, and then egg wash and bread crumbs a second time. Once all of the eggs have been encased in sausage, put in the fridge for at least an hour for crumb to firm up. Deep fry in hot oil until outside is a dark golden brown and innards are fully cooked, 5-10 minutes. Serve with a nice garlic aioli or remoulade.

Turkey Philly Sandwich

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With the gastric bypass surgery I had, it’s more important than anything to make sure that I get adequate protein in. So, for me – eating healthy IS eating protein, first and foremost. That’s why the Eat Healthy – Protein Rich food blogging event is right up my alley. For me, at least, fat intake doesn’t matter (since I only absorb 10% of what I actually eat), but I do realize that others aren’t so lucky. Even though I have tons of protein-rich foods to blog about, I picked the one that isn’t high fat. I like to buy deli meat to make sandwiches, but sometimes at the end of it’s life, rather than sending it to the freezer to die a slow death, I like to basically use up the rest of it in a nice hot sandwich. This is one way to use up leftover deli turkey.

Turkey Philly

Turkey Philly Sandwich

Whatever leftover sliced deli turkey breast you need to use up
Vegetable oil or oil spray
Thinly sliced green bell peppers
Thinly sliced onion
Cheese of your choice (I used Munster)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bread or roll

In an oiled pan, throw in green pepper and onion and saute until softened. Add turkey breast, and chop it as it heats, until it is lightly browned and thoroughly hot. Season with salt and pepper, and serve on bread with cheese. Add mayo or whatever condiments you’d like.

Assuming you use six one ounce slices per sandwich, that’s already 39 grams of protein before you even add any cheese. And since the body can’t process more than roughly 40 grams of protein in one meal, it’s the perfect amount.

Now, this is another one of those recipes that are only limited by your imagination. Sometimes I leave out the green peppers and add buffalo sauce and blue cheese. The point is, if you’ve got lunchmeat you need to use up, you don’t have to do it in a normal boring way.