Category Archives: Food Blogging Event

OLS Week 6: BBQ Chicken and Sweet Corn Risotto

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One of the things that has popped up the past couple of weeks at the farmers market is one of my favorite things about summer – sweet corn. Last week I kept it simple by just boiling it and eating it off the cob, but this week, for One Local Summer, I wanted to kick things up a notch and use the corn in a recipe that would bring out its inherent sweetness and creaminess. This was absolutely delicious eaten al fresco on my deck tonight, with the beautiful breeze we had going.

I served it with some local chicken breast that I grilled outside, which I then brushed with locally produced barbecue sauce.

Here’s a rundown of the ingredients that I used and where I got them. There are a couple of items where I can only record the market where I got them, but both of those markets are producer only, so I’m sure the items are local.

OMC Farms Chicken Breast (Worthington Farmers Market)
Kansas City BBQ Sauce from OK Mercantile (Worthington Farmers Market)
Kitchen Basics (OH produced) chicken broth (The Anderson’s General Store)
Sweet Corn from Rhoads Farm Market (North Market Farmers Market)
Garlic and parsley from my backyard garden
Arugula from Honeyrun Farms (Worthington Farmers Market)
Ohio Amish Roll Butter (Carfagna’s Market)
Leek (Worthington Farmers Market)
Hot Italian Pork Sausage from Mr. Meatball (Columbus, OH)

Not local = olive oil, arborio rice, salt and pepper, wine, and Romano cheese
BBQ Chicken Breast and Risotto with Corn, Spicy Sausage and Wilted Arugula

Risotto with Corn, Spicy Sausage, and Wilted Arugula
recipe courtesy Fine Cooking magazine

6 c. lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
3 medium ears fresh corn, shucked and halved crosswise
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 packed cups trimmed arugula
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium leek (white and light green parts only), finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 lb. hot Italian pork sausage, casings removed and broken into chunks
2 c. arborio or carnaroli rice
1/2 c. dry white wine (like Pinot Grigio)
1/2 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano; more for serving
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan over medium high heat until very hot. Add the corn and cook until the kernels are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the corn to a cutting board and reduce the heat to keep the broth hot but not simmering.

Once the corn is cool enough to handle, slice the kernels off four of the pieces. Grate the kernels from the remaining two pieces using the large holes of a box grater. Discard the cobs.

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large, heavy saucepan or medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the arugula and toss with tongs until wilted, about 1 minute. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the arugula to a cutting board, let it cool slightly, and then coarsely chop it. Wipe the pan clean.

Melt the butter in the cleaned pan over medium heat. Add the leek and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the sausage, breaking it apart with a fork or spoon into crumbles, and cook until no longer pink. 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated with fat and the edges become translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir until it’s absorbed, about 30 seconds. Stir in the grated corn.

Ladle enough of the hot broth into the pan to barely cover the rice, about 1 1/2 cups. Bring to a boil and then adjust the heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is mostly absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue adding broth in 1/2-cup increments, stirring occasionally and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next.

After about 20 minutes, the rice should be just cooked but still fairly firm. At this point, add the whole corn kernels, chopped arugula, and another 1/2 cup broth. Continue to simmer and stir until the corn is warmed through and the rice is just tender to the tooth, an additional 1 to 3 minutes. Stir in another splash of broth if the risotto seems too thick. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the risotto immediately with a sprinkling of cheese and parsley, if using.

OLS Week 5: Soul Food

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This week’s edition of One Local Summer was entirely inspired by collard greens I saw last week at the Elizabeth Telling Farm stand at the North Market Farmers Market. Collard greens are one of my favorite things about summer, and when I think of collard greens, I think of soul food. So this week is all about comfort – the way food can reach down to your very soul.

For the fried chicken, we used all thighs from Speckled Hen Farms.

Soul Food made w/ Local Ingredients

Spicy Southern-Fried Chicken
recipe courtesy Country Living

Buttermilk Marinade:
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Fried Chicken:
1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups vegetable shortening

Buttermilk Marinade: In a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag or a large bowl with a tight-fitting lid, combine the buttermilk, mustard, salt, dry mustard, cayenne, and black pepper. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Frying the chicken: Preheat oven to 150 degrees F. In a 13-inch by 9-inch by 2-inch pan, whisk together flour, baking powder, dry garlic, and salt. Add chicken pieces and turn to coat thickly. Let the chicken stand 10 minutes, turning occasionally to recoat with flour. Shake off excess flour before frying.

In a 10-inch by 12-inch heavy-gauge skillet with a deep-fry thermometer attached, heat the vegetable shortening over medium-high heat, bringing it to 375 degrees F. In batches of four, fry the chicken pieces, turning once when the coating is sealed and begins to brown — 3 to 4 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium to lower the temperature to 325 degrees F. Maintain temperature and continue to fry, turning the pieces halfway through cooking time until chicken is golden brown and cooked through — about 20 more minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack on a baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat the procedure for the remaining batches. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Local Ingredients used:
Chicken Thighs from Speckled Hen Farms

Red, White and Blue Potato Salad
recipe courtesy Bon Appetit

1 cup chopped green onions, divided
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pound unpeeled small or baby red-skinned potatoes

1 pound small purple or blue potatoes, peeled
1 pound unpeeled small white creamer or White Rose potatoes

2 cups cooked fresh peas, or one 10-ounce package frozen, thawed
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese (about 6 ounces)

Paprika
preparation

Whisk 1/2 cup green onions and next 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Cover and chill dressing.

Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Place all potatoes in large saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, and boil until tender, 10 to 15 minutes (time will vary depending on size and variety of potatoes). Drain and cool to room temperature.

Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place in large bowl. Add dressing, peas, and blue cheese; toss gently. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Sprinkle potato salad with paprika and remaining 1/2 cup green onions.

Local Ingredients Used:
Red, White and Blue Potatoes from Worthington Farmers Market
Green Onions from Worthington Farmers Market
Peas from Clintonville Farmers Market

I’ve been searching for a good macaroni and cheese recipe for a while. This one is definitely a keeper – cheesy without being too eggy, and creamy without tasting processed.

Macaroni and Cheese

Fannie Farmer’s Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
recipe from Recipezaar

SERVES 4

1 (8 ounce) package macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups good quality shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup buttered breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook and drain macaroni according to package directions; set aside.

In a large saucepan melt butter. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, using a whisk to stir until well blended. Pour milk and cream in gradually; stirring constantly. Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly). Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) 10 minutes.

Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Turn off flame. Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

(You can also freeze this recipe in zip-lock bags for later use – once you have mixed the macaroni along with the cheese sauce allow to cool to room temperature before adding to your freezer – I generally pull it out the night before and allow macaroni and cheese to reach room temperature; I then add the macaroni and cheese to a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and then bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling.

Local Ingredients Used:
Cheddar from Middlefield Cheese House
Habanero Gouda from Oakvale Gouda
Hartzler Dairy Butter
Snowville Creamery Milk
Snowville Creamery Heavy Cream

Green Beans with Bacon

Green Beans with Bacon

1 lb. stringless green beans, ends removed, and cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 lb. double smoked bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped

Place beans, bacon and onion into saucepan, and simmer until tender.

Local Ingredients Used:
Green Beans from Rhoads Farm Market
Double Smoked Bacon from Thurn’s
Onion from 2 Crows

Collard Greens

Collard Greens with Ham Hocks

2 large bunches collard greens, large stems removed and leaves chopped
2 ham hocks
1 onion, chopped
vinegar, to taste
hot sauce, to taste

Cover ham hock with water, and simmer for 2 hours. Add collard greens and onions, and simmer until tender, about an additional hour. Finish by adding vinegar and hot sauce to taste.

Local Ingredients Used:
Collard Greens from Elizabeth Telling Farms
Ham Hocks from Thurn’s
Onions from 2 Crows

I’m a bit picky when it comes to cornbread. I like Northeast style cornbread – sweet and moist, kind of dense. This recipe fits the bill perfectly.

Cornbread

Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread
recipe courtesy AllRecipes

1/4 pound butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Local Ingredients Used:
Hartzler Dairy Butter
Eggs from 2Silos
Cornmeal from Flying J Farm

Peach and Raspberry Crisp

Peach and Raspberry Crisp
recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

4 to 5 pounds firm, ripe peaches (10 to 12 large peaches)
1 orange, zested
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pint raspberries
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place them in cold water. Peel the peaches and slice them into thick wedges and place them into a large bowl. Add the orange zest, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the raspberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid, add 1 more tablespoon of flour. Pour the peaches into the baking dish and gently smooth the top.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the peaches and raspberries. Bake for 1 hour, until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator and reheat in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until warm.

Local Ingredients Used:
Peaches preserved from 2Crows
Raspberries from Rhoads Farms
Butter from Hartzler Dairy

OLS Week 4: Local Italian Feast

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One of the great things about eating local is that it doesn’t always need to be a major production – we have tons of locally produced convenience items. For this week’s edition of One Local Summer, by pairing convenience items with a salad made with romaine from my garden, we had a nice, filling and delicious Italian feast.

Caesar Salad

Thick and Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing
recipe courtesy Recipezaar

2 ounces anchovy fillet (1 small can or about 12 fillets)
8 cloves garlic
1 egg
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Place all except oil and mayonnaise in food processor or blender and process until smooth. While processor is running add oil VERY SLOWLY and process until thick and creamy (about 4-5 minutes). Pour into bowl and add 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and blend thoroughly with a fork. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste (sometimes I like to add a couple more tablespoons of Parmesan cheese). Cover and chill until ready to use.

For the main course, we took some meatballs (which are made fresh twice a week) and sausage from Mr. Meatball, and simmered it in a jar of Carfagna’s sauce. We let it simmer for a couple of hours, and the sauce flavored the meat and vice versa. We served it with a mix of cheese and meat ravioli from Mr. Meatballs, sprinkled with a touch of Parmesan cheese. Easily the best ravioli we’ve had outside of New Jersey.

Cheese Ravioli, Meatballs and Sausage from Mr. Meatball

The Italian bread came from one of my recent discoveries, Auddino’s Italian Bakery on Clara Ave, right off of 11th St. exit of I-71. More about that discovery later. 🙂 And on it, I put garlic spread from Mr. Meatball.

Garlic Spread on Auddino's Italian Bread

Local Items:
Romaine lettuce – from my garden
Egg for dressing – 2 Silos (Mt. Gilead, OH)
Cheese and meat ravioli – Mr. Meatball (Columbus, OH)
Meatballs and Sausage – Mr. Meatball (Columbus, OH)
Spaghetti Sauce – Carfagna’s (Columbus, OH)
Italian Bread – Auddino’s Italian Bakery (Columbus, OH)

OLS Week 3: BLT Bonanza

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This week’s One Local Summer meal(s) were inspired by the beautiful Crispino iceberg lettuce I bought from Wayward Seed Farm at the farmers market last Saturday. With lettuce so fresh and crisp, it was just begging for me to make a BLT with mostly local ingredients. The bacon was from Thurn’s, the tomatoes from WishWell Farms, and the bread was Vienna bread from The Andersons.

BLT

After making the sandwiches, I still had a lot of leftover bacon, lettuce and tomatoes, so I made a recipe for BLT Pasta Salad that I found on another food blog. It had a nice tang to it, like a BLT minus the bread. The recipe is definitely a keeper, although next time I’d add more tomatoes and bacon. Also, I used wagon wheels instead of rotini because it was what I had available.

BLT Pasta Salad

BLT Pasta Salad
recipe courtesy Blog Chef

Ingredients:
1 (7 ounce) package rotini pasta noodles (cooked and drained)
8 slices bacon (cooked until crispy and crumbled)
1 cup mayonnaise (or salad dressing)
¼ cup lemon juice concentrate
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons chicken flavored instant bouillon
1 large tomato (seeded and chopped)
¼ cup green onions (sliced)
4 cups lettuce (thinly sliced)

Cooking Instructions:
Step 1: In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, chicken flavor instant bouillon, and sugar. Mix well until smooth.
Step 2: In a serving bowl add noodles, bacon, tomato, and green onions, Toss with dressing. Stir in lettuce right before serving.
(Makes 10 Servings)

OLS Week 2: A Comedy of Errors

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It’s the second week of One Local Summer, and despite many attempts at making a local meal this week, I’m lucky I have anything at all to post. Murphy was living in my kitchen this week, because anything that could go wrong absolutely did.

I had the best laid plans. I was going to make an all-local frittata, using local goose eggs, chorizo, potatoes, onions, and cheese. I tried to make it twice.

I have a confession to make. Even though I’m a good cook, I have trouble making some things that even a child can make. Pancakes from pancake mix is one. They come out blackened, every time. Absolutely disgusting. The other bane of my existence? Frittata. In theory, it’s simple. In execution, not so much. I’ve made crustless quiches before, which aren’t that different. So why all the problems? I haven’t given up yet, though – and have a frittata pan set on order from Amazon.com.

The first attempt was with a nonstick pan in the oven. And it…stuck. Never made it to the oven. I didn’t want to ruin my pan. So attempt #1 got thrown out. After checking some blogs, I had the bright idea of doing attempt #2 in a nonstick pan with some oil. But…because said nonstick pan has plastic handles, it’s not oven safe. which required flipping the thing over and back into the pan. It gets in the pan – not sticking at all. The bottom was browning beautifully. Then I have the bright idea of using a cookie sheet to flip it over near the sink, and splat…all over the countertop, sink, and floor. I laughed, harder than I’d laughed in a while, big giant gut-busting belly laughs, because I knew I’d cry if I thought about it too hard.

So, screw the frittata. I was out of chorizo and potatoes and goose eggs anyway. I had bought a loaf of white bread at the Clintonville Farmer’s Market, and had the bright idea to make french toast with it. I was going to sweeten up some Blue Jacket Creamery local lemon quark and whip it with a little local cream, and spread it in between two slices of said bread, which I would then dip into a mixture of local cream from Snowville Creamery, eggs from 2Silos, and vanilla, and fry in local Amish butter, and then serve it with strawberries and serviceberries from Rhoads Farms, mulberries from my backyard, and some local whipped cream. It looks pretty enough, right?

Lemon Quark Stuffed French Toast with Fresh Berries

One small problem – the bread. It just wasn’t good at all. It was dense and dry and crumbly. I soaked it in the cream mixture for a half hour and it didn’t even saturate into the bread but 1/8 inch. It was so dry it was crumbling apart in the frying pan. It was downright inedible. But at least the berries were good. Live and learn, I guess. Not everything that is local is good.

So new week, new fridge of local food, new ideas. Even though it’s an old standby, I’m thinking a local B(E)LT is in order. Stayed tuned for the continuing adventures…well, you get the idea.

OLS Week 1: Strawberry Mixed Green Salad

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Another year, another season of eating locally. I’m pleased to be taking part in One Local Summer once again this year – a blogging event where participants pledge to eat as locally as possible for one meal per week. This year, as well, I’m acting as a regional coordinator for the West region, so it should be fun!

I’m a bit slow getting out of the gate – my contribution this week is a salad that I made quite a few times last week. Unfortunately, it’s only mostly local, as neither the pecans or the dressing ingredients can be found locally. Nonetheless, it’s probably the best tasting salad I’ve ever had, and a perfect use for those beautiful strawberries in season right now.

The lettuce mix is from Bridgman Farms, and was purchased at the North Market Farmers Market. The strawberries were picked by us from Hann Farms in Obetz. And the feta cheese is from Blue Jacket Creamery, and purchased at the Worthington Farmers Market.

Now that I’ve got a full stock of local food, next week’s contribution should be a bit more elaborate.

Strawberry Salad

Strawberry Mixed Green Salad
recipe modified from Recipezaar

1 lb. mixed baby greens
1 pint strawberries, sliced (set a few aside)
1/2 c. pecans, toasted
1 c. crumbled feta cheese

Dressing:
1/3 c. raspberry vinegar
1/2 c. sugar or sugar substitute
1 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. poppy seeds

Toast pecans over low heat, set aside to cool. Combine dressing ingredients and shake well. Toss salad mix, strawberries, and pecans, dress with dressing and garnish with reserved sliced strawberries and feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Taste & Create: Strapatsada

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.

Cookbook Spotlight: Gale Gand’s Brunch

I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in this round of Cookbook Spotlight, a food blogging event where a group of bloggers all receive the same book, and blog about it by cooking a recipe from within the book. On this go round, the book chosen was Gale Gand’s Brunch!: 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend’s Best Meal, which is chock full of brunch recipes ranging from both the simple to the complex.

Torta Rustica

We chose to make the Torta Rustica (pg 65-67), which easily has to be in the top 10 list of the best things I’ve eaten in the past year. You would think that a conglomeration of ingredients like puff pastry, eggs, spinach, mushrooms, ham, mozzarella cheese and roasted red peppers would clash a bit, but it melded together in a way that brought out the best of each individual ingredient. And although a bit time consuming, it was one of the simplest and most satisfying recipes I’ve made in years. Unfortunately, by publisher request I can’t include the recipe (although I’d love to), so you’ll have to buy (or borrow) the book to get it.

The book itself is visually stunning, a nice dust-jacketed hardback with large colorful pictures of each recipe. This is a book that I would have added to my collection regardless, as there are still a ton of recipes that I still want to make, like Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast, Quick Pear Streusel Coffee Cake, Glazed Crullers and more. This is definitely one you want to add to your collection if you haven’t already.

Creamy Southwest Chicken Pasta

My “go-to” dish when I just need to whip something together on a busy night is usually some form of pasta. This dish is loosely inspired by the Southwestern Mac and Cheese at Surly Girl Saloon, made with a bunch of things I already had in my pantry and fridge. I’m submitting it to be part of this week’s Presto Pasta Nights roundup, hosted by Katie of One Little Corner of the World.

Creamy Southwest Chicken Pasta

Creamy Southwest Chicken Pasta

1 lb. rotini pasta
2 poblano peppers, seeds removed and cut into strips
1 large onion, sliced thinly
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 package chicken strips
1 bottle Heinz chili sauce
1 pint cream
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
4 oz. shredded cheddar/monterey jack, plus extra for sprinkling
5 Roma tomatoes, diced
Penzey’s Southwest seasoning, to taste
Penzey’s Fajita seasoning, to taste
Red Pepper Flakes, to taste

Start water for pasta, and prepare the pasta as you are making the sauce.

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet, and then saute peppers and onions until starting to soften. Add chicken. Add corn and beans, and stir. Add chili sauce and cream, and stir. Heat until simmering, and then add cheese, a little bit at a time. and stir though until melted. Season to taste with spices. Set aside.

When pasta is cooked, drain and add to sauce and stir though. Dish out into bowls, top with more cheese and diced tomatoes, and serve.

Fromage Fort

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve got a serious cheese fixation – I’ve rarely met a cheese I don’t like. What this means for me is that at any given time, I’ve got a cheese drawer of cheese bits – packages of half eaten cheese that usually go bad before I have a chance to get back to them. That is, until I found this recipe for fromage fort, a spread made out of leftover cheese, wine and garlic. I’m a convert! Now, no cheese goes to waste, as whenever I half a half pound of cheese laying around, I whip a batch of this up. It changes flavor as it sits, and in my opinion, gets better as it ages. This particular batch is a mixture of mushroom brie, truffle cheese, and sundried tomato and basil cheese. I’ve yet to try the suggestion of spreading it on baguette and broiling it in the oven, but the idea sounds divine.

Fromage Fort

I’m submitting this recipe to be part of La Fete du Fromage, the monthly blogging event hosted by Chez Loulou.

Fromage Fort
recipe courtesy Jacques Pepin, via Food & Wine Magazine

1/2 pound cheese pieces
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup dry white wine
Black pepper
Salt

Put about 1/2 pound of cheese pieces in the bowl of a food processor, add 1 garlic clove, about 1/4 cup of dry white wine and a big grinding of black pepper. Salt is usually not needed, but taste the mixture and add some if it is. Process for 30 seconds or so, until the mixture is creamy but not too soft, and then pack it into small containers. The fromage fort is ready to use now, either served cold or spread on bread and broiled for a few minutes. Broiling will brown the cheese and make it wonderfully fragrant.