Monthly Archives: September 2008

Heirloom Tomato Tart


After trying the delicious heirloom tomato tart from Sassafras Bakery two weeks in a row, I wanted to try my hand at making one myself. Armed with this recipe from Chez Pim to start with, I made one of my own. I stayed true to the recipe the first time around:

Heirloom Tomato Tart

The next couple of times I made it, I blind baked the tart crust first, and then laid down a layer of fontina cheese and the tomatoes, sprinkled it with some parmesan shreds, and then baked it for a half hour or so until everything was bubbling. So, so delicious served in wedges and dressed with some really good olive oil and balsamic glaze.

I’m submitting this tart to be part of the Savory Pies event, hosted by Kopiaste.

Simple Apple Squares

I like to bake with seasonal ingredients – in late spring and early summer, you’ll see a lot of berry dishes. In late summer, a lot of stone fruit. Autumn, to me, is all about apples and pears and winter squash. Mostly apples.

From the way this recipe looked on Jill’s blog, I expected the final product to be moist, but still be something you can eat with your hands – wow, this recipe was WAY moister than I expected it to be. Great flavor, but didn’t hold together for love or money. It would be great as the base for a sundae. It kind of reminds me of the country apple cake I used to make.

I’m submitting this to Joelen as part of her Tasty Tools – Bakeware event.

Apple Squares

Simple Apple Squares
recipe from Simple Daily Recipes

3 large apples, peeled and diced
1 c. pecans, roughly chopped
2 c. flour
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs or 1/2 c. healthy egg substitute
3/4 c. canola oil or natural applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350ºF degrees.

Prep the apples and pecans, set aside. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon and salt together. Make a well, pour in eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir by hand. The batter becomes very thick. Fold in the apples and pecans until well mixed. Pour into a well greased pan. There’s enough batter to fill one 9 x 13 inch pan.

Bake for 40 minutes. Allow to completely before removing from pan.

So Sweet, So Crisp, So Fleeting…

Alas, as soon as they arrive, they’re almost gone. Only one farmer had Honeycrisp apples last week. Only one. I live for September, for the sweet, sweet taste and crunch of the lovely Honeycrisp. But it seems the rest of you love them as much as I do, and have exhausted the local supply weeks ahead of schedule. 😉

For posterity, so I can stare at it a few months from now and drool:

Honeycrisp Apple Half

Review: Sammy’s New York Bagels

Update: Sammy’s is now closed, although there is a note on the web page stating it would be reopening soon under new management.

There are few things that are necessary for survival in any town – knowing the location of a good bagel shop/deli should be among them. Having moved here over a decade ago from New Jersey, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I discovered, in the predominately Jewish enclave of Bexley, some of the best bagels I’ve had this side of New York City. Block’s has been my shop of choice, mostly out of necessity (it’s the only one open on Saturdays), with their authentic water bagels that have a density and texture that imposters like Panera don’t.

We finally were able to hit the “other” Jewish deli in town while running errands this afternoon – every time we had tried to go to Sammy’s before, they were closed for Sabbath. When we saw them open today, we made a point to stop. Even after typical lunch hours, the place was packed, with regular customers picking up Challah and Honey Cakes and other baked goods (I just realized that today is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, so that explains it!)

We were greeted by the owner himself, an outgoing sort who seems to be genuinely friendly rather than as a facade, and his postive attitude was absolutely infectious. Because Sammy’s is completely kosher, there is no meat on the menu – but trust me, you don’t miss it. Eggs and lox can go a long way toward making me happy happy. We took a while to decide, and he encouraged us to try a couple of different salads, which was a nice touch.

Paul got an Lox, Onion and Egg sandwich on a garlic bagel ($4.59), which was piping hot scrambled eggs redolent with large chunks of very fresh lox and sauteed onions served on a toasted bagel. They definitely don’t skimp on the good stuff!

Egg, Lox and Onion Sandwich on Garlic Bagel

Paired with his sandwich, he had a side of Sammy’s very good deli-style potato salad – creamy and not sweet, potatoes with the just right amount of bite – we loved this simple salad so much that we got a pound of it to take home with us.

Deli-Style Potato Salad

I went with Egg Salad Sandwich on an everything bagel ($4.59). I’m very particular about egg salad that I don’t make, but this was at least as good if not better than my own. The red onion and tomato did beautiful things for it – and the side of the bagel that had the everything toppings? ::swoon:: A perfect combination of flavors and texture.

Egg Salad, Red Onion and Tomato on Everything Bagel

By the way, I am SO not a pickle fan. I mean, I usually *tolerate* pickles if they’re on a sandwich I’m eating or in some type of salad, but I don’t actively go and seek them out. I don’t crave them. Sammy’s pickles are absolutely crave-worthy.

With my sandwich, I ordered a bowl of matzoh ball soup ($3.50), which was the best I’ve ever had outside of New Jersey. VERY flavorful broth with a good amount of schmaltz, nice tender matzoh balls which weren’t too salty. *This* is the Jewish penicillin of my childhood memories.

We ended up going back to the counter to get a couple of cakes, some bagels, and some salads for takeout. I think we spent more for take home stuff than we did for a sit down lunch. Now that we’ve discovered Sammy’s, I think we’re going to relegate Block’s to a backup place, if for nothing else than the awesome flagels (more about that this weekend!). There are places that you realize that you’ll be a regular at the second you step in – the combination of excellent food and very friendly service paired with reasonable prices guarantees that this will be a regular stop. Highly recommended!

If you’d like to go: Sammy’s New York Bagels, 40 N. James Rd, Columbus, OH. 614.246.0426. Closed Saturdays.

Sammy's New York Bagels on Urbanspoon

Berry Trifle


I figured I would post this one while it was still a recent memory (or would it have been better to post it in January to cheer me up and give me something to look forward to?) Either way, this was something I made a couple of months ago when I could still get strawberries and blueberries at the farmers markets. The “grow my own” ingredient in this is mulberries that I foraged right from the tree in my backyard. I’m so glad that mulberry tree survived the tree falling in the windstorm a couple of weeks ago – as a matter of fact, it may be a blessing in disguise since the tree was growing in the split of the older tree, and now that half of the tree is gone, it has much more room to grow.

I used Bird’s custard mix as the recipe suggested, maybe next time around I’ll just make my own – don’t get me wrong, it worked, it just didn’t have the exact mouth feel I was looking for. The blend of berries went nicely with the sherry, but I may mascerate them in Grand Marnier next time around. I’m submitting this recipe to the Grow Your Own event hosted by Denise at Chez Us.

Berry Trifle

Basic Trifle Recipe
recipe courtesy BirdyBaker @ RecipeZaar

1 pre-made cake (I used angel food)
2 instant pudding mix (I used Bird’s custard mix)
2 (1 lb) bags frozen fruit or fresh fruit (I used a combo of fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and mulberries)
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. whipped cream
Additional fresh fruit, to garnish
1/3 c. sherry wine or juice or water (I used dry sherry)

Prepare the pudding or custard according to the directions and let cool. Mix the fruit with the sherry. Cut the cake into 1″ chunks and place half of the chunks in the bottom of a trifle bowl (I used individual trifle bowls, and put a few cubes in each bowl). Layer fruit on top of that, and then pudding on top of the fruit, and then repeat layering. Top with whipped cream and garnish with fresh fruit. Chill well before serving.

Heirloom Tomato Risotto

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This was my first attempt ever at making risotto, and I think it came out quite well. I used a recipe I found on the Lambert Bridge Winery web site. The risotto was tasty. Creamy without being too fatty. Had a nice toothsome bite to it. Great flavor. And was much easier to make than I imagined. I can’t wait to make risotto again with other flavor combinations. I served it with a couple of beautful tenderloins from Bluescreek grilled outdoors.

I’m sending this to Pam of Sidewalk Shoes, who is hosting this week’s Bookmarked Recipes event.

Heirloom Tomato Risotto and Bluescreek Tenderloin

Heirloom Tomato Risotto
recipe courtesy Lambert Bridge Winery

2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 C Arborio rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 C white wine
3-4 C chicken or vegetable stock, kept hot on the stove
4 medium-large heirloom tomatoes, diced
salt & pepper to taste
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/3 C basil, chiffonade
½ C dry jack cheese, grated

In a large heavy bottom skillet, heat butter and olive oil. Add onions and sauté until translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in rice and garlic, cooking until kernels start to turn golden brown. Deglaze with wine and allow liquid to almost evaporate. Add about 1½ cups of hot stock, stirring until almost completely absorbed. Continue until stock is gone and rice is al dente. The whole process should take about 16 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add balsamic vinegar. At the last minute stir in tomatoes, most of the basil and half of the dry jack. Place risotto on a platter and top with the remaining cheese and basil. Serves 4.

Crispy Chewy Oatmeal Walnut Cookies


I’m very particular when it comes to oatmeal cookies – I don’t like raisins in them – don’t like cinnamon in them – don’t like cakey oatmeal cookies. I don’t think I’ve had a “perfect” oatmeal cookie since I was a kid, and to be honest, I don’t even remember who made the last perfect one I had. But “perfection” is very subjective, isn’t it? I do know that I like my oatmeal cookies thin and crispy and chewy rather than soft. So when I saw this recipe on the Taste Buds blog, going by the picture it looked just like the texture I was looking for. A quick scan of the ingredients – no cinnamon. Chocolate chips (which I don’t want in my oatmeal cookies), but no problem, I can work around that. So I modified her recipe very slightly to take out what I didn’t want, and add in what I do. So the final cookie? Oh, so very close. The texture is right, the flavor is mostly right, just need to work on making them taste a little more like oatmeal.

I’m submitting this to the Sunday Snacks event, hosted by SnackORama.

Crunchy Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Crispy, Chewy Oatmeal Walnut Cookies
slightly modified from Taste Buds blog

1 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1 c. walnut pieces

Combine dry ingredients; set aside. Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs and mix until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in oats and walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees on greased or lined cookie sheets 10-12 minutes.

Farm Fresh and Local Produce – 9/27/08

I’ve kind of become used to waking up for the markets on Saturday, with very little sleep, greeted by darkness and a big chill in the air. It, more than anything, tells me that we’re nearing the end of market season. No longer is the sun my alarm clock, and shorts the wardrobe for the day. Now, it’s dressing in warm clothes, and hauling my dreary eyed self to the car when the sun is just rising. This was so much easier when Paul was doing it with me, yet I can’t bear to *not* go. It’s a way of life for me at this point.

With each passing week, it gets harder and harder to narrow down the pictures to post, because there’s just *so* much to see at the farmers markets. Unfortunately, that is going to change soon, because for many farmers, the harvest season is over and they won’t be at the markets anymore. We’re at that precarious point now where it’s the absolute last week to get some things (sweet corn, certain tomatoes, other summer veggies), and it’s well into the season for autumn crops like apples, winter squash, root veggies, etc.

So the first stop, as usual, was the North Market. As usual, I got there around 7:35, when most of the farmers were set up already. When I stopped to get what’s apparently the last of the Sungold tomatoes, I spoke to the nice lady at Bridgman Farms and found out that she lost her greenhouse in the windstorm a couple of weeks ago. Thank goodness she was insured, or it could have ended up a lot worse for her. But it did cut her season short a bit, and she’ll be taking the next few weeks off until her lettuces come in.

Persinger Farms had tons of root veggies, especially squash – including this colorful Turban variety. I’ll have to get some before the season is over. As it is, I picked up a bunch of storage onions and a couple of zucchini.

Turban Squash from Persinger Farms

Elizabeth Telling Farms had these French Breakfast Radishes (which are delicious on a piece of dark heavy bread like a hearty German rye, spread with fresh butter and layered with thin radish slices, and then sprinkled with sea salt). I picked up some more rainbow chard, and also a bag of braising greens that I plan on using later this week, perhaps with some fish or steak.

French Breakfast Radishes from Elizabeth Telling Farms

Anderson Orchard (I believe) also has a banana plantation!?! here in Ohio (he says that it’s ornamental only – we don’t have a long enough season for the fruit to ripen), and brought these banana leaves to the market today. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it at the market, and I’ve seen some Puerto Rican recipes that use them, but I passed – I just don’t have the space to store them.

Banana Leaf

So I just settled on admiring these sunflowers – don’t they look as if they’re straight out of a painting?

Sunflowers from Anderson Orchards

Mrs. Rhoads says that we can expect at least another week or two of raspberries – I’m definitely going to have to plan a meal around them next week, because they’re so darn lovely. Instead, I picked up some Brussels sprouts and red cabbage.

Golden Raspberries from Rhoads Farm

Just about every apple variety was available at The Orchard of Bill and Vicky Thomas, except my beloved Honeycrisps. Seems as though that was a recurring theme today – no Honeycrisps anywhere (they’ve sold out early in the season, and the tree is still getting established), except my last stop at Gillogly.

Apples from The Orchards of Bill and Vicky Thomas

I got some of my requisite shiitakes from Toby Run, some eggplant from Wish Well Farms, a basket of heirloom tomatoes from Quiverfull Farm, and then it was off to Worthington.

I got to Worthington fairly early (8:40ish), but still had difficulty finding parking. It seems as if people are coming out earlier and earlier, with the farmers struggling to get set up in time to serve the throngs of people. I ran into Rosie and we chatted for a few minutes, then picked up a few things here and there – some lovely butternut/spinach scones and plum oatmeal scones and a Ratatouille tart from Sassafras Bakery, and the lady at Red Brick Farms was nice enough to let me do a mix and match of the different types of potatoes in the two baskets I bought.

Potatoes from Red Brick Farms

Who knew that dried corn could be so colorful? Anyone know the name of this variety?

Dried Corn

I picked up some Chioggia beets at Wayward Seed Farm, plus some cider and Honeycrisps at Gillogly Orchard. I’m so proud of myself – I controlled myself very well at the farmers markets today. 🙂

After I got done at Worthington, I headed over to Carfagna’s to get some stuff for an Italian dinner I’m making tomorrow. I got there 15 minutes before it opened, and by the time it opened, the parking lot (and both sides of the street) were full and it was like friggin Supermarket Sweep in there. Not fun, but for Cafagna’s meatball mix, I’ll put up with a bit of inconvenience.

Made a stop at Block’s Bagels on the way to Thurn’s, and tried this rather delicious creation called a flagel. Kind of like a bagel, but flatter and chewier. I liked it a lot, especially since it was super fresh. Got to remember to come here for flagels on Saturday mornings.

By the time I finally got to Thurn’s, they were out of my double smoked bacon, so got some regular bacon and sausages for later this week. Should be delicious as usual.

So where did you go and what did you get today? What’s on the menu for this week?

Beef Strogundy

One day, when searching for a beef stroganoff recipe, we came across this one. It wasn’t quite your classic Beef Stroganoff recipe, but then again, it wasn’t quite a Beef Burgundy. Either way, it was absolutely DELICIOUS. So we added it to our repertoire and started calling it “Beef Strogundy”. And since one of it’s primary ingredients is a hearty red wine, I’m submitting it to Joelen’s Fall Favorites & Red Wine blogging event.

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Strogundy
recipe modified from Brother Aaron Raverty’s Beef Stroganoff recipe

2 lbs. beef chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 c. chopped onions
4-5 minced garlic cloves
1 lb. sliced and stemmed shiitake mushrooms
16 oz. sour cream
1 (8 oz) can tomato soup
2 (8 oz) cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup Burgundy or other full bodied red wine
3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tbsp. Tabasco sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 lb. bag extra wide egg noodles

Dredge beef cubes through flour, and saute in vegetable oil until browned. Put browned meat into a large dutch oven, and add onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Combine all the remaining ingredients (except sour cream) and stir into dutch oven – bring up to a simmer under low heat, stirring constantly, and then increase heat until mixture just begins to boil. Return sauce to simmer, and cover dutch oven. Cook for at least two hours, stirring mixture occassionally, adjusting seasoning as you go along. At the two hour point, the meat should start getting tender. About 20 minutes before serving, start the water for the noodles, and add the sour cream to the beef mixture, stirring it in well. Increase heat slightly, and leave dutch oven uncovered. When pasta is done, mix it into the beef mixture, and serve.

Joe’s Pierogies

My mom’s boyfriend Joe and I are totally sympatico when it comes to food – our love of it and of cooking it and discovering new things has created something that we bonded over, so we’re always cooking for each other. We go over their place, they come over here – a back and forth dance that seems to just get better and better. So when they called up and invited us over for homemade pierogies? You didn’t have to ask us twice.

Fried Pierogie

This recipe? Is a keeper, folks. It’s been a month since pierogie night and my mother is still going on and on about the pierogie dough, how nice it was to work with, etc. I’m not kidding. We’ve already told her to go and marry the dough already if she loves it so much. 😉 I can vouch that the dough was what made these pierogies. So if you’ve had problems making pierogies before because of crappy dough, give it a try again – with this recipe.

He made a few different fillings – potato/cheese, potato/sauerkraut, and my personal favorite, the kielbasa/sauerkraut pierogie.

Kielbasa Sauerkraut Pierogie

They fried them up in butter with onions – and OMFG. best pierogies I’ve had in years. They served them up with an Italian pork roast and a broccoli-cheddar casserole.

Pierogies and Pork

So to say that this is a family favorite would be the understatement of the year; which is exactly why I’m submitting it to Joelen’s Read Watch & Eat with Family Favorites event, which asks us to post about a family favorite recipe.

Homemade Pittsburgh Pierogies with Sour Cream
recipe courtesy

2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream, plus extra to serve with the pierogi
1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
butter and onions for sauteing
ingredients for filling of your choice (potato & cheese filling recipe below)

Pierogi Dough
To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Add the 1/2 cup sour cream and the softened butter pieces and work until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). You can use a food processor with a dough hook for this, but be careful not to overbeat. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Prepare the Pierogies
Roll the pierogi dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8″ thick. Cut circles of dough (2″ for small pierogies and 3-3 1/2″ for large pierogies) with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.

Boil the pierogies a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes). Rinse in cool water and let dry.

Saute chopped onions in butter in a large pan until onions are soft. Then add pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy. Serve with a side of sour cream for a true Pittsburgh pierogi meal.

Homemade Pierogi Tips:

If you are having a hard time getting the edges to stick together, you may have too much flour in the dough. Add a little water to help get a good seal.

If you don’t want to cook all of the pierogies right away, you can refrigerate them (uncooked) for several days or freeze them for up to several months.

You can fill pierogies with pretty much anything you want, though potato and cheese is the most common (recipe below). Sweet pierogies are often filled with a prune mixture.

Potato, Cheese & Onion Filling: Peel and boil 5 lbs of potatoes until soft. Red potatoes are especially good for this. While the potatoes are boiling, finely chop 1 large onion and saute in butter until soft and translucent. Mash the potatoes with the sauted onions and 8oz of grated cheddar cheese, adding salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some fresh parsley, bacon bits, or other enhancements if you desire. Let the potato mixture cool and then form into 1″ balls.