Greens

Up until a couple of years ago, I hated greens. Just though they were the nastiest, bitterest thing I had ever tasted. But I had one co-worker who made them for a potluck, and people were fighting to be able to get to them before they were gone – the co-worker asked me if I was going to have any before they were gone, and I explained to her that I never really liked greens. She convinced me to try hers. I was converted. Turns out I (or whoever was making them for me) was cooking them wrong, and that’s why they were nasty. So I got the recipe from my coworker. The secret lies in letting the ham hocks cook for hours before you even put the greens in. When you do, you’re rewarded with rich, meaty flavor incorporated throughout the greens. This recipe is unchanged from hers. I made mine with a combination of greens that I got in my CSA box.

Greens (Soul Food Style)

Several bunches of greens (collards, mustard, turnip, kale, whatever), stems removed, cleaned, and sliced
2 ham hocks or shanks
1 onions, sliced
Splash of vinegar
Hot sauce, to taste

In a large pot of water, cook hocks for several hours, or until the meat starts falling off the bones. Throw in greens, onions, vinegar and hot sauce, and simmer until tender. Serve with additional hot sauce if desired.

Thanksgiving Desserts

We’ll start our review of Thanksgiving dinner with the usual ending – the desserts. I made three desserts in total – a couple of squash custard pies, a caramelized nut tart, and a Sara Lee Blueberry pie. I’ll skip the pic of the blueberry pie since I’m sure everyone has seen one at one time of their life.

I got the idea for the caramelized nut tart from this post at Simply Recipes, and let me tell you – words can’t describe the great flavor of this. It’s like the part that makes sticky buns good condensed into tart form. Of course, I’ve always had a thing for caramel and nuts together, so… For some reason, this one didn’t go over too well, so lucky me has tons of leftovers. :) Probably because there was what everyone though was pumpkin pie to be had.

The other dessert that I made from scratch was Brown Sugar Squash Pie. It’s a great custard pie that I made with butternut squash from the CSA box, and it tasted like a cross between sweet potato and pumpkin pie, only with better flavor. I always find the spices in both a bit overwhelming, but this recipe was a nice balance. I will definitely make this again, it came out perfectly. My only change to the recipe was that I used refrigerated pie dough instead of homemade. This went over like gangbusters, my guests went through an entire pie in 10 minutes flat. :)

I definitely should do more baking. As a matter of fact, I need to start my Christmas baking soon. Haven’t decided what to make yet.

 

Thanksgiving CSA Box

We just picked up the turkey, along with the Thanksgiving CSA box. This is what we got, along with a dozen eggs:

It looks like the beginnings of a fine meal, indeed…

In the pic: hearty greens (kale & mustard), salad greens, parsley, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, chemical free apples, 2 kinds of turnips, 2 kinds of squash, and carrots.

Thanksgiving Menu

So, the final menu for Thanksgiving is decided on, and now I’m off to shop and do whatever prep I can in advance. We’re having our Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday instead of Thursday (to accommodate my sister’s day off – she has to work the holiday) – anyone who is local and would like to come over and have dinner with us is more than welcome to (we make enough to feed an army), just email me at columbusfoodieATgmailDOTcom and I’ll give you the details (time, place, etc). The more the merrier, so don’t be shy!

Paul will be picking up our turkey from Just This Farm this afternoon, and I’ll be starting the brine for it in the morning. I still have to make a few stops at the grocery store for the other items I need, like heavy cream, some spices from Penzey’s, etc. Luckily, most of the ingredients we’ll need are already on hand or included in the produce box we ordered with the turkey.

I decided that this year, I was going to (for the most part) cook the normal traditional dishes that I’ve been cooking every year – one, for posterity and to get my own recipes jotted down, and two, because that’s what my family likes and expects, at least this year. Maybe next year I’ll try some new dishes (I *am* sneaking a few in this year, we’ll see how it goes!), but this year I’m focusing on the traditional ones, with the twist being that I’m trying to use local ingredients wherever possible. Anything that will be either completely or mostly made with local ingredients will be in bold on the menu below. I’ll link to recipes that are from outside sources, and will post my own recipes on Thursday when I write a wrap-up entry.

For afternoon snacking, we’ll be having a selection of mostly Ohio cheeses (procured from a combination of what I have left from the Clintonville Farmer’s market, and some new cheeses purchased from Curds and Whey in the North Market, and Whole Foods), along with the usual accouterments like crackers, Ohio apples, a meat plate w/ sopressata and other dried sausages, etc. Since it will be fairly close to dinnertime, I don’t want to overwhelm everyone with too much pre-dinner food.

For dinner, I’ll be serving Apple Cider Brined turkey  (apple cider from the North Market Farmer’s Market [not sure which one of the orchards it's from - it's the one that's near the end of the row with the huge selection of different apples], and the turkey is from Just this Farm in Galloway, Ohio), Candied Sweet Potatoes (my own recipe, using sweet potatoes from the CSA Thanksgiving box), New England Autumn Casserole, using apples and winter squash from the CSA Thanksgiving box), Cranberry Sauce with Frills (using some Grand Marnier and walnuts in there somewhere), Turnip Mashed Potatoes (using turnips and potatoes from the Thanksgiving CSA box), Stuffing (my own recipe, using stuffing bread locally baked at Great Harvest, and onions from the Thanksgiving CSA box), Pineapple Souffle (not really souffle, this is something we had last year at my sister-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving, and we loved it!), Pennsylvania Dutch Potato Stuffing (mostly for my husband, who loves the stuff), Classic Green Bean Casserole, Dinner Rolls (from Great Harvest), and Gravy (from pan drippings).

For dessert, Caramelized Nut Tart, Brown Sugar Squash Pie, and Blueberry Pie (still deciding on whether I want a fourth apple dessert or not).

Somehow, I still feel like I’m forgetting something. Any clues?

Friday Roundup 10/27/06

Well, I’m back – computer problems are mostly handled (I got a new system out of the deal, but there was a ton of stuff on the old computer that I really need – food photos, my calendar, etc. – which I may or may not be able to get back, don’t know yet). We’re trying to get the old system to operational status – since the boot drive was the one that went paws up, that means we have to install a new hard drive with a new OS, and try to access the dead drive as a secondary drive. It will take me a little longer tonight to get out the events posting, since all of my links to the different Columbus event sources went bye-bye with the hard drive.

I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa the Restaurant Widow this week, and let me tell you, folks – she’s as friendly and warm in person as she is in her entries. She even brought me a copy of Donna Hay magazine when she realized I had never heard of her (thanks again, BTW!) I’m going to be having dinner with Rosie and her husband this weekend, and can’t wait! :) We Columbus food bloggers should all get together and have a potluck sometime soon. Or a get-together at a restaurant. Or something.

I can’t believe that tomorrow is the last farmer’s market of the season! :( I’m playing around with the idea of stocking up on necessities (like potatoes, onions, squash, root veggies, etc) and doing some cold storage this winter. Probably not, though, as I didn’t leave much time to prepare. I’ll definitely get enough to last me the better part of the next month, though. Now that I’ve made eating local a way of life, winters are going to depress the hell out of me. Next year’s plan? Lots of canning and food preservation, so I can still have the taste of June strawberries in December. I don’t think I’m going to do the CSA next year, though. It was a great experience, but just too much food and too much waste when we couldn’t get through the share every week. There’s about 3 more weeks of CSA left. :)

Speaking of CSA, is it sad that I’m already planning out Thanksgiving dinner? I’ll be getting a 15-18 organic pasture raised turkey from Just This Farm, the same place I have my CSA share with. Along with that, he’s offering a box that includes most of the ingredients you need for Thanksgiving (enough to feed 6-8 adults) for $48. Turkey is $3.49/lb. so I’ll probably end up spending about the same as if I were going conventional. I’m still undecided if I’m going to do my typical spread, or if I’m going to try some new recipes this year. Probably a mix of both, with some new dishes thrown in along with the old ones (for example, my husband would kill me if I stuffed the bird with anything other than my usual stuffing recipe). I’ll probably have my menu finalized in another week or two. We’re playing around with the idea of buying some grass-fed beef from him too, to get us through the winter. I usually get these things at Bluescreek or at the farmer’s market – we’ll see if we have the freezer space available.

I was so glad to see that Blogging Ohio reviewed one of my favorite restaurants in Columbus, the Starliner Diner. We’ll be heading there this weekend, so expect me to post a review of our meal there sometime next week. :)

Also featured in the Dispatch this week was one of my favorite places to eat breakfast, Nancy’s Home Cooking. Totally uncomplicated, down-home comfort food, just like eating at mom’s. If you get down that way, give it a try. You can’t go wrong with *anything* on the menu.

Go to any Chipotle location on Tuesday, October 31st dressed like a Chipotle burrito, taco, bol or salad, and they’ll give you a free burrito. I think I’d spend more on wrapping myself in foil then I would paying for a ‘rito. Just saying.

L’Antibes is for sale. Along with The Refectory, you can count the number of French restaurants in this town on one hand. I haven’t had the opportunity to try either yet (although I’m dying to get to The Refectory for their three-course prix fixe bistro menu for $21 per person – from what I hear, one of the best deals in Columbus). I don’t know if I should keep putting off my visit to L’Antibes, though – if it does sell soon, there’s no telling how much the menu will change, let alone whether or not it will remain a French restaurant. Is anybody familiar enough with both restaurants to tell me which one *you* prefer? Thanks. :)

Dispatch readers said that Giammarco’s has the best lasagna in town. Can’t say for sure, haven’t been there. To those who have, is it worth a visit? Even though I like most of my Italian rustic, I like lots of stuff in my lasagna, which is why I usually prefer to make it myself. This week, they want to know who has the city’s best happy hour? I’m going to have to sit this one out, too – I don’t usually eat out during happy hour (and I’m not a huge bar person), so I wouldn’t know. Put in your two cents and enter to win a $25 gift certificate.

My goal for November, in honor of National Blog Posting Month, is to blog every day of next month. I came close this month until my computer decided it wanted to die. November is my month! I can feel it! :)

seal_yoda

My “keeper” recipes for this week (ones that I want to try ASAP) are: Creamy Delicata Squash from A Finger in Every Pie, Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger-Pecan Crust from alpineberry, Spinach and Feta Quiche (wow! I wish my pictures came out like that!) from Bron Marshall, My Favorite Beef Stew from Chez Mégane, Warm Tarragon Dressed Potato Salad from Coffee & Cornbread, Crunchy, Hearty Oatmeal Cookies from Cookie Madness, Baked Oatmeal from Everybody Likes Sandwiches, Paneer Makhani from Hooked on Heat, Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Jus and Autumn Vegetable Stew with Mashed Sweet Potato Topping from Ja Mange la Ville, Crock Pot Carnitas from Kayaksoup, Garam Masala from The Kitchen – Apartment Therapy, Paneer Pad Thai with Bok Choy from Mahanandi, Potato-Ricotta Salata Gnocchi from Porcini Chronicles, Creamy Macaroni and Cheese from Smitten Kitten, Kitchen Sink Eggs from Tigers & Strawberries, Scotch Eggs from tsogb,and Spiced Candied Pecans from Slashfood.

In informative posts this week, Dave from KitchenSavvy answers the question How Long Can Cooked Food be Left Out?, and learn all about making soup with WhiteTrashBBQ.

CarbWire talks about huge portion sizes in restaurants this week, and I’ve honestly got to agree. I’ll go to a restaurant, order beef stew, and get the equivalent size bowl and serving as what fed my whole family of 4 in a meal when I was growing up. The only way I can come close to finishing a serving these days is to not eat an appetizer or dessert. Most of the time, I’m boxing up darn near everything, and get the “was everything OK”? question from the waiter/waitress. Yup, everything’s fine – just can’t eat this much food in one sitting! I’d rather get half as much food for half the price. I think that’s why I’ve been wanting to go to places like the Refectory lately. Smaller serving sizes, but rich enough to satisfy. My mom and I were having this discussion a while ago. I’d rather have a small serving of really good food, rather than a huge serving of crap. Anyone with me on this?

Until next week, folks…

Split Pea Soup

Most of what I’ve been getting in my CSA box lately is typical fall and winter veggies, like potatoes and onions and garlic and turnips. And I have some carrots in the fridge from last week’s farmers market, and also some parnsips that I got for another recipe. I also have a huge pantry of food to go through, so I’ve been trying to use everything I have at home already, without going out to buy anything but perishables (including produce) when necessary. I found some Amish cottage ham giant mild franks in the freezer, and had a bag of split peas, so decided that pea soup was in order. I looked at a few recipes, but what I ended up making is entirely different than any recipe I’ve seen because in the end, I pretty much winged it. Surprisingly, it turned out to be the best pea soup I’ve ever had in my life, even better than Oma’s (and that’s a feat unto itself).  Unlike most other times when I wing it, this time I wrote everything down. :)
Smoky Split Pea Soup

Smoked Split Pea Soup

1 (20 oz.) bag split peas (the kind that has the ham seasoning packet)
4 oz. double smoked bacon, diced
6 oz. cottage (or other smoked) ham, diced
1 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 turnip, finely chopped
1 parsnip, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 medium potatoes, diced
12 cups water
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. frankfurters (optional)
Maggi seasoning

Melt 4 tbsp. butter in dutch oven or soup pot, and then add bacon, ham, onions, onion, carrot, parsnip and turnip and saute until slightly softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add 12 cups water, peas, ham seasoning packet, salt and pepper. Cover, heat to boiling and boil rapidly for 30 minutes. Add potatoes and frankfurters (if desired), reduce heat, and simmer 40-45 minutes until potatoes are tender. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and Maggi.

Simon and Garfunkel Roast Chicken

My husband works with someone who raises free-range chickens (Andelaine Fields out of Springfield, OH), and we ordered one a while back. This has been sitting in the freezer for the past month or so so I could find a recipe that would showcase the taste of the chicken rather than overwhelm it.

Simon & Garfunkel Roast Chicken

After looking at a couple hundred recipes, I decided on a highly-recommended Recipezaar one: Simon and Garfunkel Roast Chicken, named after the song “Scarbourough Fair”, that talks about “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”. Those four spices are the herb mix that makes up the flavor of this dish. The chicken came out moist, the flavor of the potatoes and shallots was excellent, and the gravy (although we had problems getting it to emulsify) brought out the best in both. This dish was mostly local (except for the condiments – i.e. oil, seasonings, vinegar) as the veggies were all CSA/farmers market purchases.

Becke’s Spontaneous Pasta

Sometimes when I’m cooking, I go into “the zone” – that whirling dervish of creativity where the results don’t always look pretty, but they sure as hell taste good. I had a bunch of stuff in the fridge that I needed to use up, so decided to throw together a concoction, tasting as I went along, to make a pasta creation that I doubt even I will ever be able to recreate.

Becke's Spontaneous Pasta

While I can’t tell you exactly how I made it (a recipe), I can definitely tell you what’s in it, about how much, and when I added it. It made more sauce than I needed, and the rest is in the fridge to be tossed with some gnocchi tonight as a side dish.

I still had some sausage-eggplant mixture left over from the last time I made Baked Ziti, so I took that out of the freezer and thawed it. While it was thawing, I sliced up 2 CSA onions, a yellow and a red sweet pepper from the CSA, and crushed 2 large garlic cloves from the CSA hardneck garlic. I sauteed these in olive oil until they were softened, and then added the sausage-eggplant to the mix. Once this was heated, I added somewhere in the realm of 2-4 tbsp. of good balsamic vinegar to the mix (I prefer Saporoso).

Next, came about a pound of fresh made ricotta cheese from Carfagna’s, and about 1/2 cup of half and half to make it a bit more creamy. A little bit of salt and pepper, about 2 diced tomatoes from my garden. It was still missing something, though – so I added about a cup of tomato sauce.

To finish, I tossed about 2/3 of the sauce with a pound of cooked orechiette, and wilted some CSA arugula and baby spinach into it. Delicious. :)

OLS Week 11 – 100% Local Breakfast

Sunday is more of a day for relaxation, and eating the fruits of the labor of the day before. I love taking the time to make a nice big breakfast on Sunday morning, as it gives me the energy to do all the cooking on Sunday afternoon when I inevitably process all the purchases from the Saturday farmer’s market.

While most Sundays breakfast entrees consist of something local, this is the first time I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure that the entire breakfast is local. The One Local Summer project hosted by Liz at Pocket Farm was just the thing I needed to push me over that threshold of mostly local to COMPLETELY local. I’m coming in late in the game, but better late than never! So without further aideu, let me describe what graced our plate this week.

100% Local Breakfast

Clockwise, from the top – potatoes and onions from Just This Farm CSA, sauteed in a touch of canolive oil until browned – to say that we’ve been receiving a bounty in the past few weeks CSA boxes is an understatement. We’ve got so much stuff that we’ve been sharing much of it with family and our neighbors.

Next, Chicken Breakfast Sausage Patties from Speckled Hen Farm, purchased at the Worthington Farmer’s Market. Great flavor. We also purchased some chicken brats that we’re cooking later today, and a stewing chicken for making stock later this week.

At the bottom is an omelette made from 3 Aracauna eggs from Just This Farm CSA, filled with local sharp cheddar cheese purchased from a vendor at the Worthington Farmer’s Market.

At left, is seedless watermelon purchased at the North Market Farmer’s market, and at 11 o’clock is half of a ham and cheese croissant from Omega Artisan Bakery.

Needless to say, we’re both stuffed. And feeling pretty good about supporting local farmers.

40 Clove Garlic Chicken, New Potatoes with Balsamic Shallot Butter, and Salad

Technically, I had planned to make a variation of this meal a couple of days ago, but was so busy trying to do my cooking for the freezer that I never got around to it. But it ended up being the perfect choice for tonight, because the meal was substantial and I was feeling really famished after not really eating at all earlier in the day.

We got some hardneck garlic in our CSA box last week, and I picked up some additional at the farmer’s market this last weekend, in hopes of finally getting around to make Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. My husband said that he thought it would be overwhelmingly garlicky, but I’ve read that once the garlic roasts, it becomes mild in flavor. Kind of like peppers, I suppose. When you chop, mince or crush garlic it intensifies the flavor, so it makes perfect sense, right?

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, Balsamic Potatoes with Shallots, and Salad

I had originally planned on using a Cooking Light recipe for the chicken, but instead ended up using an Alton Brown recipe from the Food Network website, without changing a thing. Delicious, “like buddah” as I joked to my husband. And for the potatoes, I did follow the Cooking Light recipe, but used half the amount of potatoes (2 lbs vs. 4 lbs), used Red Rose (with pink insides) potatoes that I picked up at the Worthington Farmer’s Market this past weekend, and they turned out perfectly – just the thing needed to compliment the chicken and garlic. Also, rather than reducing the balsamic vinegar as the directions state, I just used the really thick and concentrated good balsamic vinegar to begin with, a choice which I do not regret in the least. I served both with a fresh spinach salad topped with red onion slivers, goat cheese, blueberries, and a fantastic balsamic vinaigrette that I purchased at Pastaria at the North Market. Both recipes are below in their original context.

40 Cloves and a Chicken (Alton Brown)

1 whole chicken (broiler/fryer) cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
10 sprigs fresh thyme
40 peeled cloves garlic
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Toss with a 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown on both sides in a wide fry pan or skillet over high heat. Remove from heat, add oil, thyme, and garlic cloves. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove chicken from the oven, let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, carve, and serve.

New Potatoes with Balsamic and Shallot Butter From Cooking Light

The balsamic butter mixture is deep brown and tastes delicious. The butter can be made ahead, chilled, and tossed with the potatoes just before serving.

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 pounds small red potatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Bring vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan; reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 10 minutes). Place in a medium bowl, and cool completely. Add butter, chopped shallots, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper; stir well to combine. Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Cut potatoes in half; place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add butter mixture and parsley; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

NUTRITION PER SERVING CALORIES 246(29% from fat); FAT 7.9g (sat 4.9g,mono 2g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 4.6g; CHOLESTEROL 20mg; CALCIUM 34mg; SODIUM 221mg; FIBER 3.9g; IRON 2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 39.9g