Taste & Create: Strapatsada

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Ethnic, Food Blogging Event, Food Porn, Recipes

Taste & Create Logo

I was lucky enough to be paired up with Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska for this month’s edition of Taste and Create, which gave me a ton of choices. I must’ve printed out a dozen or so recipes before deciding on this one. And they all sounded so awesome that the only reason I ultimately decided on this one was because I happened to have all the ingredients for it on hand. We had been toying around with the idea of making something similar for a while, but to actually have a recipe to work from? Bonus!

Strapatsada is a quintessential Greek dish, which is basically just scrambled eggs with tomato and feta. The flavor combination was incredible, and this is one we’ll make over and over again. :) Maybe as early as tomorrow with some lemon potatoes on the side?

Scrambled Eggs and Tomatoes (Strapatsada)

Scrambled Eggs and Tomatoes (Strapatsada)
recipe from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaksa

2 cups diced tomatoes (1 pound tomatoes) or 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced yellow onion, 1/8” dice (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced (optional)
1 tsp. sugar (use only if needed)
3 – 4 eggs
1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh mint (or oregano, dill, basil, or parsley) (optional)

If starting with fresh tomatoes and you want to skin them, cut a shallow “X” on the bottom of the tomato. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove the tomatoes and drop them in cold water. Drain and slip off the peels. Cut the tomatoes in 1/2” dice.

Peeling Tomatoes: Sauté the onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in olive oil until they soften and start to turn golden. Stir in the diced tomatoes, bring to a boil, turn down the heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes or until most of the water in the tomatoes has evaporated, stirring regularly to prevent scorching and to break up the tomatoes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Taste; if the tomatoes are too acidic, add 1 teaspoon sugar.

Whisk together the eggs. Stir eggs, cheese, and mint into the cooked tomatoes, and continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, until the eggs are cooked and form small curds; the eggs should be served when they’re still a little juicy. Eggs cook faster at a higher temperature, but taste better if cooked over lower heat for a longer time.

Variations:
- Use grated kefalotyri, kasseri, or parmesan instead of feta.
- Add chopped sausage, smoked pork, or ham.
- Add diced green peppers.
- Substitute puréed roasted red peppers for half the tomatoes.
- Substitute green onions for the yellow onion.
- Add Aleppo or crushed red pepper flakes.
- Add cinnamon stick to the sauce and omit the herbs.
- Add cumin or allspice to the sauce and omit the herbs.
- After mixing in the eggs and tomatoes, quit stirring and let the eggs set, then flip and cook on the second side (as for a frittata).
- When the tomatoes are cooked and saucy, turn the heat to low, make indentations in the sauce, crack an egg into each indentation, cover, and cook just until the egg whites set and the yolks are still juicy.

Farm Fresh and Local Produce – 5/16/09

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Produce

Man, does the time fly by or what when the weather gets warmer? This week has flown by, so quickly that I never had the opportunity to do last week’s farmers market report.

As usual, we got an early start. Because Race for the Cure was being held downtown, and because I got stuck within the perimeter last year, I decided to postpone my visit to the North Market until well after the race was over. So we headed to Worthington, getting there as many of the farmers were setting up.

Early birds Wish Well Farms were already set up, with a bunch of spring asparagus and grape and regular hothouse tomatoes.

Grape Tomatoes from Wish Well Farms

It was nice to see the familiar face of Carson from Mockingbird Meadows Farm, there selling honey. They had some of their regular honey there, with Carson telling me that he would be bringing the infused honey that I love so much the next week.

Honey from Mockingbird Meadows

I saw strawberries at Worthington (see below), but ended up waiting until I got to the North Market where Mrs. Rhoads had set aside her last 2 quarts of strawberries (thanks so much! they were wonderful, as usual!). It looks like strawberry season is in full force now. I went and picked my own this week, which I’ll talk about soon in another post.

Strawberries

I also picked up a bunch of green onions from 2 Crows, along with some rhubarb.

Green Onions from 2 Crows

I was sorely tempted to pick up some of these beautiful carrots, but passed.

Carrots

And as usual, I stopped by AJ’s Sassafras Bakery stand to pick up a selection of delicious baked goods.

Scones from Sassafras Bakery

So, off to bed so I can wake up in the morning to do it all over again. Tomorrow is the first official day of the Clintonville Farmers Market, so it’s a 3-market trip tomorrow.

Where are you planning on going tomorrow?

Ceviche

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Ethnic, Food Porn, Healthy, Recipes

I know, I know…I’ve been neglecting my little blog. But May has been a month of one activity after another with little time to breathe in between, let alone blog. I have so many things to talk to you all about – the farmers markets, the Apron Gala, a bunch of restaurant reviews and events I’ve gone to, but it seems as if each day is over before I have time to get started. One day this week, I’m going to have to set aside a day to do nothing BUT catch up on my writing.

So I wanted to share something that I made recently – after having some really good ceviche at a couple of Mexican restaurants/taco trucks, and having an awesome mixed seafood ceviche at the Slow Food pig roast, I wanted to try my hand at making it here at home. I never realized it was so easy! I got all of the fish/scallops/shrimp I needed at Trader Joe’s, and got the limes and lemons at the Mexican grocery down the street for a song. Simple, delicious, healthy. Perfect summer dish, that’s for sure!

Ceviche

Ceviche
adapted from Simply Recipes

1 lb. bay scallops
1 lb. medium (20-24 ct) raw peeled and deveined shrimp, tail removed and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 lb. orange roughy or other firm white fish, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, completely deboned
3/4 c. fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely diced
1 1/2 cup of fresh peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp. salt
Dash of ground oregano
Dash of Tabasco or a few grains of cayenne pepper
Cilantro
Avocado
Tortillas or tortilla chips

In a non-reactive casserole dish, either Pyrex or ceramic, place the seafood, onion, tomatoes, chile, salt, Tabasco and oregano. Cover with lime and lemon juice. Let sit covered in the refrigerator for an hour, and then stir, making sure more of the fish gets exposed to the acidic lime and lemon juices. Let sit for several hours, giving time for the flavors to blend.

Serve with chopped cilantro and slices of avocado with heated tortillas for ceviche tacos or with tortilla chips.

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 5/9/09

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Farmer's Market, Produce

Wow, I’m such a slacker. I’ve spent so much time doing stuff to write about (cooking, going to events, eating out) and planning to write that I never actually got around *to* writing. Sorry about that, folks. I’ll do my best to get caught up.

I got up bright and early on Saturday morning to go to the farmers markets. We got to the North Market super-duper early, before nearly anyone set up, so we walked around for a few minutes. I was thrilled to death to see Toby Run Growers, as I’ve been craving Jim’s super-fresh shiitake mushrooms all winter. I picked up a pound to use in a batch of paprikash I made this past weekend.

Shiitake Mushrooms from Toby Run

I also decided to pick up one of those praying mantis nests that I saw last week, as so many people have raved about how well they work for natural pest control. This is now residing in a tree in my backyard:

Praying Mantis Nest

I inquired at Wish Well Farms to whether or not they had morels this year like they did last year, and the kind lady informed me that they had them at Worthington, but not there. So, a woman with a mission, I headed out to Worthington immediately, not even waiting for all of the North Market farmers to set up, or taking the time to go inside the market.

Worthington was already a bit crowded when I got there around 8:15 to 8:30. Gillogly Orchards had the prettiest French Breakfast radishes.

Radishes from Gillogly Orchard

And mission accomplished. I got there early enough to get a few morels from Wish Well, for a dish I had been planning to make.

Morel Mushrooms from Wish Well Farms

Additionally, I picked up a basket of hydroponic strawberries, which I ate the same night. Delicious, but can’t wait until this weekend, when I know that the first strawberries of the season will be available.

Hydroponic Strawberries

Another major stop for us was Sassafras Bakery, where I picked up a bunch of baked goods from AJ. I didn’t get this, but the beauty of this meringue pie shows the care that she puts into pretty much everything she makes.

Lemon? Meringue Pie from Sassafras Bakery

I also picked up some rhubarb. I was going to make a savory tart, but think that it’s somehow going to end up as a rhubarb chutney instead. We’ll see.

Rhubarb from Pop & Judy's

We finished the morning by stopping at Banana Bean Cafe for brunch. I got Eggs del Mar and we shared a huge plate of eggplant fries and all left fat and happy.

Eggs del Mar from Banana Bean Cafe

I came home to be greeted by the first bloom of my clematis, which has been promising to open for a couple of weeks now. And to see that bloom, and feel the warmth of the sun, and breathe in that spring air, after a day of farmers marketing? Priceless.

Clematis

Next week should be interesting, as it will be the Race for the Cure. I don’t want a repeat of last year (getting stuck in the perimeter of the race course for like an hour plus), so I’ll probably save the North Market for last if I go at all (I hear the North Market on Race day is a madhouse!). So where did you go and what did you get this past weekend?

Event: Taste of the Independents 2009

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Charity, Columbus, Eating Local, Events, Food Porn

May is definitely a busy month for foodies, with several events all taking place within days of each other. The first of these we attended was last Thursday’s Taste of the Independents, an annual fundraiser that benefits Dine Originals Columbus. We were lucky enough to attend last year, so we’ve been looking forward to it for months now.

Much of the food was visually stunning, the most striking of which was the plating of this Lamb Sirloin with Sweet Pea and Minted Pesto from Basi Italia. Luckily it tasted as good as it looked.

Lamb Sirloin with Sweet Pea and Minted Pesto from Basi Italia

Even though I’m not usually a fan of chocolate covered strawberries, the ones from Handke’s Cuisine were downright addictive, and I went back for seconds…(and thirds…)

Chocolate Covered Strawberries from Handke's Cuisine

I loved the presentation of these Parfait of Walnut Cakes with Buttercream Espresso from Alana’s Food and Wine. Alana made about a half dozen dishes, putting her own creative spin on all of them.

Parfait of Walnut Cake with Buttercream Espresso from Alana's Food and Wine

I think it’s so awesome that there are events like this, that showcase the talents of this group of independent restaurants, all under one roof. I had an awesome time going from station to station, noshing on this and that all night. By the end of the night, I was stuffed.

Tomato Mozarella Bruschetta from ??

Always a sucker for sweets, I spent way too much time near the Pistacia Vera table. I have a weakness for their macarons.

Macarons from Pistacia Vera

I think the best part of the evening was seeing familiar faces everywhere I looked, and taking the time to chat with some of my favorite chefs in Columbus, many of whom graciously posed for pictures even though they were busy with prepping food for hungry guests. Here’s Kent Peters of Black Creek Bistro with his new sous chef, whose name escapes me at the moment.

Chefs from Blackcreek Bistro

The only damper of the evening for me was the Fifth Floor. This year, Dine Originals Columbus offered two levels of tickets, the regular ones (for $75), or for $50 more per ticket, they offered access to the 5th Floor, which promised non-specific extras that were supposed to be really special. Maybe I was expecting too much, but for nearly double the price of a regular ticket, I was thinking there would be lobster, maybe some tenderloin or even Kobe something, foie gras, truffles, just something special that would justify the higher ticket price. When we got up there, there was a wine station, and there was this:

Taste of the Independents Fifth Floor

No food in sight. There were supposedly passed appetizers, but we never saw any the four times we went up there. Neither one of us drink much (we sip on Moscato d’Asti occasionally at home, and aren’t fans of hard liquor), so the booze up there was totally lost on us. So for $100 extra collectively, we got absolutely NOTHING. And the worst part, is that they were letting just anyone up there, without asking for tickets or names or anything. It really did put a major black cloud on an otherwise enjoyable evening. For what we paid extra, we could have gone to Alana’s and had a huge meal. And we should have. I was hoping that the extra cost would have meant that I would have had an amazing experience to blog about, something different from the mainstream coverage. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to provide that for you. At least I know better than to spend the extra money next year.

I don’t want to leave this writeup on a negative note, because I’m not a negative person. So big kudos to all of the restaurants and volunteers who put in a ton of hard work to make sure the main event was a rousing success! I can’t wait until next year.

I took a ton more pictures – almost 100 in total. If you’d like, you can see the rest of the set here.

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 5/2/09

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Eating Local, Farmer's Market, Food Porn, North Market, Produce

With none of the farmers markets “officially” open for the season yet, I was expecting the markets today to be mainly for plant starts with little else. Imagine my surprise when I found that waking up early was worth it today, as a lot of farmers were out in force at both the North Market and Clintonville with early season veggies in addition to the plant starts.

We got to the North Market shortly after 8:30, and started things out at Wish Well Farms. The color of their grape tomatoes is such a cheery red – acting almost as a beacon the rest of the goodies to be found at the market.

Grape Tomatoes from Wish Well Farms

They also had the most beautiful Ohio asparagus. I picked up about a half a pound. Not sure what I’m planning to do with it yet, but I’m sure it will be delicious.

Asparagus from Wish Well Farms

Lots of cut flowers at Somerset Herbs, including these beautiful tulips.

Tulips

At Toad Hill Organics, I picked up some arugula (shown below), spinach, and salad greens. I see a nice spring salad in my near future. And maybe some pasta. I was sorely tempted to get a praying mantis nest while I was there, as the insects did a number on my squash leaves last year. I want to keep things as natural as possible – can anyone who has used praying mantises for pest control give me any advice?

Arugula

Blue Jacket Creamery has a new variety of cheese called Ludlow, an aged cheese that’s a bit reminiscent of Swiss. I picked up some of that, along with some lemon quark.

Ludlow Cheese from Blue Jacket

We headed off to Clintonville, but got stuck inside the perimeter of the Half Marathon, so we sat at the light at Park and Vine for a while. A long while. Eventually, they let us through…

Clintonville had a ton of starts I was looking for, like Sun Gold tomatoes and poblano peppers. Can’t wait to get them into my garden! We also got some bagels and a nice Normandy Rye loaf from La Petite Boulangerie. Snowville Creamery was on hand with samples of their wonderful milk.

Snowville Creamery Milk

And we loved the colors of the creamed honey from Barry’s Bees.

Creamed Honey from Barry's Bees

So it seems the season is off to a great start. It’s amazing how restorative going to the markets are for me. I always forget how much I miss it until the season starts again, and I remember why I enjoy it so much. It’s as much about talking to the people I buy my produce from, people who I haven’t seen since last fall, as it is about the produce itself. I’m so looking forward to when the markets officially open. If you ventured out today, what did you get at the markets?

And right in my own backyard, found while mowing the grass today…morels!! I guess dumping the morel water near an old tree worked. :) I think it helps that the area my subdivision is located used to be an old apple orchard back in the day. And they’re huge! The weirdest part? I didn’t see any when I looked around the yard a couple of days ago. So what that tells me is that all the rain we got this week maybe had something to do with it. I think I’m going out morel hunting tomorrow.

Morels from my Backyard

I’m going to plant the starts I bought this afternoon, and then it’s off to the Slow Food Columbus Pig Roast tonight…what are your weekend plans?