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Thursday, July 28, 2011


Tomatoes are really starting to ripen now.  Our counter top is starting to get filled up.  But that's OK with me.  I'd eat fresh tomatoes with pretty much anything--or nothing.  Give me a little salt and I'll eat them all by themselves.  Mmmmm....

Part of last year's crop.  Not as many this year--yet.
Here's a link to an article that I wrote for Bucks County Taste that gives a little history and some tips about what I think is the best tasting thing about summer--the tomato.  While you're there, read about some of the other great food-related stuff going on in Bucks!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh Wow! (Again)

Nice hairdo.  Of course, it doesn't matter if you have a cone
of Fudge-Walnut Swirl.
Jake and I treated ourselves to a bit of ice cream at Owowcow Creamery.  So yummy.  At least we went to Lake Nockamixon and worked it off--Jake rode his bike while I followed on foot.
My delicious cup of Chocolate Mint topped with
Blood Orange-Raspberry.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tasting With Your Ears (Or Hearing With Your Mouth)

As most of you know, two of my true loves in life are music and food.  There's not much time in my waking life that one or the other (or both) don't show up in some form.  (As I write this, I am seeing the rain come down--finally--thinking how the veggies in the garden are going to be so happy.  I'm also eating an incredibly tasty apricot and listening to Elvis Costello singing "My Little Blue Window".)

"Mmmmmm, Cake!"--The Beatles
I just ran across an article from The New York Times about a couple in San Francisco who have a blog called Turntable Kitchen.  In it, they pair up meals, dishes and ingredients to music.  If you can pair the nuances of wine to specific foods, why not do the same with music?

I love the idea.  I think that music (and any art, to some extent) and good food are real comrades.  To truly enjoy both, you have to appreciate what goes into creating it.  You can see the artistry that leads from taking the raw ingredients and creating something amazing out of them.  Both, when done right, can stir the senses and create an emotional experience. 

In so many places, food and music are paired--bars and restaurants almost always have some sort of background music going on.  Food is almost as integral a part of a music festival as the music.  Unless there's a Phillies game on, we almost always have music playing while we eat dinner. 

What about you?  Does pairing music and food make sense to you? 

In the article, they mention that Blair Warsham, chef and co-founder of "Covers" dinner and music program, pairs Bob Dylan with Aged Beef, Soy & Seaweed because
...the beef represents Dylan’s leathery exterior — the man is 70, after all — and the seaweed and soy provide heavy notes that pair well with his raspy voice.
Norah Jones pairing with blueberry pie.
Norah Jones just came on.  I'd pair her with something smooth and soothing--maybe a nice creamy bisque.  Elvis Costello is another story.  I'd pair him with something a little sharp, like his voice, on the outside.  But something that makes you ponder what you're eating--like his lyrics.  Sea urchin?  Ahh, now it's Yes playing.  Something classic that takes a long time to prepare since their songs are usually so long.  A pot roast--OK, so that doesn't really work.  I'd have to think about that one a little.

How about the Beatles?  Rufus Wainwright?  Ben Folds?  The Cranberries? (That should be too hard.)  Louis Armstrong?  The Quakertown Band? 

Do you have any music/food pairings?  Let me know--it could be fun! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lotsa Shrimp

This was a really cold winter throughout the whole East Coast.  That includes coastal South Carolina where the cold air and water temperatures threatened to do a number on the state's top commercial fish product, shrimp.

According to an article in The Sun News, water temperatures were below 47 degrees for 31 straight days starting in mid-December.  This killed many of the white shrimp living in these waters.  And because of it, the commercial shrimping season was delayed until June 22 (it usually opens late May or early June).

Surprisingly to many shrimpers, the season has been fruitful so far.  They hope that it'll keep going that way into the fall. 

According to the article, 80-85% of the shrimp bought in the US is imported.  But as in most other culinary areas, the local food movement has made using locally caught shrimp more popular.  Just like local veggies or meats, locally caught shrimp are fresher and taste better than those that must be shipped abroad.

The number of commercial shrimpers in the area has dropped from over 1500 in the early 1980's to only 430 now.  But they are hoping that local restaurants, markets and consumers will see the positive aspects of buying local shrimp.

For more information about buying shrimp, check out my post from last September.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Where's the Beef?

In a recent New York Times article, Mark Bittman wrote:
The grill, as everyone knows, is the best place to cook a steak, but that doesn’t mean you have to cook a steak every time you fire up the grill.       
Very true.  I mean, a really good grilled steak is hard to beat.  But you can do so much more on a grill than just meat and poultry.  All kinds of veggies are great when mixed with the smoky goodness that comes from grilling.

If you read my last post, you would have gotten a great recipe for a grilled veggie salad.  Marinated veggies with those yummy black char marks.  Mmmm...

Although people don't think of doing it very often, grilling fruit can be a wonderful way of bringing out the subtle flavors of fruits like peaches, bananas, pineapple, melons and more.  This weekend I made a Grilled Pineapple-Banana Fool (a parfait-type dessert layering the grilled fruit tossed with a little honey and sweetened whipped cream). 

Grilled fruits aren't just for desserts, though.  Sprinkle pineapple slices with salt, pepper and something spicy (like cayenne) and grill them to use as a side dish for grilled fish or pork.  The possibilities are as endless as your creativity!

Read more about grilling meaty veggies in Bittman's article.  Then get the grill fired up!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Still Down on the Farm

I made a grilled veggie salad at Blooming Glen Farm the other day.  It's based on a recipe from Cook's Illustrated, but I used only veggies that were available at the farm and added some yummy tarragon for a little more diverse taste. 

My Grilled Veggie Salad (photo by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen Farm)
You can read about it and get the recipe from this post on The Blooming Glen Beet, the great blog from the farm.  While you're there, read some of the other interesting articles and look at the wonderful photos.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day at the Farm

Jake & I at Blooming Glen Farm
Yesterday I got to spend some time at Blooming Glen Farm, the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm right here in Blooming Glen (OK, I guess it's technically Perkasie, but close enough).  As they've done in past summers, Tricia Borneman and Tom Murtha invited me to do some demos at the farm while their members picked up their shares.

It's always fun to talk to these folks who are into good, fresh, healthy foods.  And since everything I made featured items that they were picking up, I hopefully gave them some ideas about how to use their shares.

And what great ingredients to use!  Squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, sweet onions, potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, garlic and loads of incredible herbs.  I tried to find recipes that would highlight the flavors of these fresh foods, not cover them up.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the samples of these simple and delicious dishes.

The garlic from the farm is like nothing you buy at a grocery store.  It's crisp like an apple and has a much less harsh taste.  Just wonderful.  Pair that with the fresh taste of herbs and you can't go wrong.  With that in mind, one of the dishes I made was an Oregano-Lemon Pesto (from Cook's Illustrated magazine).  It couldn't be easier or more tasty.  Here's the recipe:

Makes 3/4 cup pesto, enough for 1 pound of pasta

Use medium-size garlic cloves.  Thoroughly dry the herbs before processing.  This is also delicious in a sandwich, on fish or grilled steak.

A line-up of tasty dishes!
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 3/4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
7 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 oz crumbled feta cheese
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
  1.  Toast garlic in 10" skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and skins are just beginning to brown, about 5 min.  Add pine nuts and continue to cook until garlic is spotty brown and nuts are golden, 2-3 min.  When cool enough, peel the garlic.
  2. Process garlic, nuts, basil, oregano, oil, feta, zest, juice and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor until smooth, scraping down bowl as necessary, about 1 min.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  (Pesto can be covered with 1 Tbsp oil and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to a month.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dam Good

Have you tried the Dam Good Cafe on Rt. 313 in Perkasie?  It's the place formerly the Swiss Chalet and the Hoagie Factory and the Back to the '50's Cafe among other places.  If you haven't, you should.

It's a nice place to take a family--good food with lots of healthy options and great prices. 

You can read more about it in the article I wrote for Bucks County Taste.  Then stop for a bite to eat and let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The beans, peas and zucchini that we've gotten from our garden are fine.  Tasty.  But nothing compares to garden-fresh tomatoes.  And we got our first one!  Woo hoo!

She's not much of a looker, but I'm sure it'll taste just fine.  How are your gardens doing?  Let me know!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Easy Salmon Cakes

We had some salmon that I wanted to make for dinner over the weekend, but wanted to do something quick, easy and a little different than the usual grilled or baked salmon fillet.  So, as usual, I turned to Cook's Illustrated magazine.

I found a recipe in the latest issue for Easy Salmon Cakes that were, in fact, very easy, quick and delicious.  It took less than a half-hour from raw ingredients to being on the table, ready to eat.  And did I mention that they were delicious?

Try them yourself. 

Serves 4

If you buy a skin-on salmon fillet, buy 1 1/3 lbs to yield the necessary amount of meat.  When processing, it's OK to have some salmon pieces larger than 1/4".  Just don't overprocess the fish.  Serve with lemon wedges and/or tartar sauce.

3 Tbsp plus 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
4 tsp lemon juice
1 scallion, sliced thin
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/4 lb skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup veg oil
  1. Combine 3 Tbsp panko, parsley, mayo, lemon juice, scallion, shallot, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne in a medium bowl.  Working in 3 batches, pulse salmon in a food processor until coarsely chopped into 1/4" pieces, about 2 pulses, transferring each batch to the bowl with the panko mixture.  Gently mix until uniformly combined.
  2. Place remaining 3/4 cup panko in pie plate.  Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop level amounts of salmon mixture and transfer to a baking sheet; repeat to make 8 cakes.  Carefully move each cake to the panko and coat, gently patting into a disk measuring 2 3/4" in diameter and 1" high.  Return the coated cakes to the sheet.
  3. Heat the oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Place cakes in the skillet and cook without moving until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Carefully flip the cakes and cook until the other side is golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer cakes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain for 1 minute.  Serve.
They also include a variation using smoked salmon, capers and dill.  Reduce amount of salmon to 1 lb and the salt to 1/2 tsp.  Substitute 1 Tbsp chopped dill for the parsley.  Add 4 oz finely chopped smoked salmon and 1 Tbsp capers to the bowl with the salmon mixture.  Continue with the recipe as written.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Kale Storm

The next time you're out at a farmers' market, buy a bunch of kale for a snack.  Yes, I said for a snack.

In case you didn't know, these hearty greens--that many think are used only for garnish in a diner--are full of nutrients.  Like other members of its family (cabbage, broccoli, mustard greens, etc) kale is full of vitamins, iron, calcium and fiber.  And experts say that kale, unlike other greens, has anti-oxidants in it that helps in cancer-prevention. 

Kale is delicious used as a green, but if you're in the mood for a salty snack that isn't full of fat and actually is good for you, try making kale chips.  It's simple and tasty.

This recipe is from an article in the Chicago Tribune where you can also read more about the health benefits of kale.

Prep: 8 minutes
Cook: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Makes: 2 servings

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/16 teaspoon sea salt

1. Heat oven to its lowest temperature — mine is 170 degrees. Strip leaves from kale stems by pulling with your fingers from the bottom to top of each stem. Rinse and carefully dry the leaves. Place them in a large bowl. Rub olive oil into the kale thoroughly until all parts of the kale are coated.

2. Distribute leaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until the kale turns darker and crisp, 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 169 calories, 42% of calories from fat, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 22 g carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 160 mg sodium, 8 g fiber.