Monthly Archives: March 2012

a visit to the local food co-op!

What a great start to the weekend… As promised, here’s an overview of the co-op that I ventured out to this rainy and raw Saturday morning. Upon walking inside, it reminded me almost of when I was younger visiting an indoor flea market, but instead of antiques and collectibles this was a selection of lovely, and in some cases exotic wares! My only disappointment was that I noticed there wasn’t any fresh produce available, however many other delights!!
I have to send thanks to Arek from ‘Zar & Co.’ for making me aware of this great gem! Met Arek at the indoor farmers market I visited. He offers wonderful products including spreads and hummus and also one of my faves Choreg, an Armenian delicacy.
One of the first tables that I checked out was from ‘The Red Ribbon Pretzel  Company’… today they had some marshmallow peeps [in the spirit of Easter], a milk and white chocolate blended crunch chock full of pretzels and nuts, in addition to dipped pretzel rods and whole pretzels. I opted to purchase the blended crunch and in a week will be able to try [gave chocolate up for lent].
Next table was some dessert treats provided by ‘Sweet Sally’s’… macaroons with a caramel sea salt topping, raspberry bars, flourless cookies and my personal favorites chocolate chip cookies! I picked up the macaroons [these are one of my favorites to make at home] and also the raspberry bars [absolutely incredible].
Onto a chili vendor I meandered… he offered a variety of chilis with different twists edging on the exotic! There were quite a few to try and all equally delicious with aThai-inspired and an Indian-inspired chili rocking out as my personal faves…
A few more tables to visit to make the rounds complete and the next to last was the gourmet cupcake vendor, ‘baked in a cup’. There were quite a few beautifully presented cupcakes displayed, but those that called my name were the s’more and red velvet! That will be dessert tonight…
The last table we had the pleasure of visiting was ‘Purple Spoon Catering’, and where we met Cynthia. I was enticed by the pulled pork with a bourbon barbecue sauce. Rich and full of flavor. I picked up a container of the pulled pork, as well as the barbecue sauce! That will be lunch tomorrow! Cynthia offers everything from an intimate dinner for two to large weddings and corporate events. Best of all they are accommodating to planning a menu around allergies, and also offer strictly vegan dishes!
So happy that we made the trip out this am, and got to meet some great local artisans. I truly feel that everyone should visit a farmers market, food co-op or if possible participate in a CSA [community supported agriculture] and help support the local communities surrounding us.
Hopefully the websites I’m listing here regarding the amazing people I met today will garner up some added support to keeping things local.
Websites:
at a low simmer…
-R

a co-op… minus the board!

Finally it’s the weekend, and what a great weekend it should be! Tomorrow there is a great food co-op that I heard about when visiting that indoor farmers market last Sunday. My goal is to make it there tomorrow to check out, as well as show my support. The co-op offers a number of enticing products with a prime focus on local items/vendors. The list seems endless and includes local varieties of honey, artisanal cheeses, fresh farm eggs, grass-fed meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables to name a few! Also from what I understand, this weekend is going to have a great deal of additional vendors participating which should be wonderful. It would be incredible to be able to come home with a bounty of meats, cheeses and veg that I can create amazing dishes with during the coming week! Fingers are crossed that this co-op will lend itself to providing just that, but regardless I am excited to hopefully just take a trip there and be a part of it! If I do make it there tomorrow, be prepared for a full report…

at a low simmer…

-R

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I’m as stuffed as those ‘chops’!

After having a stuffed veal chop this past weekend, I craved another! I stopped at the butcher and he had beautiful meats lining the cases…. so I thought what would be the best piece of meat to stuff other than a veal chop? They didn’t have bone-in pork chops in the case, but I asked the butcher and he gladly prepared two ‘chops’ for me cut an inch and a half thick. The special thing though was rather than a regular boring old ‘chop’, he cut it for me in the style of a porterhouse steak! With that cut, I was given the same idea as a steak, but from a swine… a sirloin and a filet!!
So to stuff my pork ‘chop’ I made a combo of spinach, rendered pancetta and shredded fontina cheese. This enticing stuffing was generously shoved into the pocket of the ‘chop’, then breaded and baked off. After thirty-five minutes, out came a succulent stuffed ‘chop’ yearning to be layered on my plate next to some light-as-air mashed yukon golds. To make my mash fluffy and light, I pass everything through a food mill [one of the best kitchen items I ever purchased years ago].
To drape over my ‘chop’, I threw together a sauce made up of mascarpone, dijon, onion and some good marsala wine. Delightful!
Time to enjoy one more glass of wine now.

at a low simmer…
-R

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twist on risotto…

Tonight I decided to put a twist on one of my favorite dishes… risotto! Instead of using arborio, I substituted with farro, but used the same elements as when making my usual risotto; onion, garlic, sliced portabello mushrooms, parsley, white wine, chicken stock and pecorino romano cheese.
Started by sautéing the onion, mushroom and garlic. Once softened, I added some white wine and reduced, then began adding the stock and stirring the farro like I normally would in a traditional risotto. This exact step continued until all of the stock was gone and the farro was creamy and cooked through. Off the heat, a healthy addition of the pecorino romano was whipped in, along with the parsley.
This was a far out risotto, but wait more like ‘farrotto’…

at a low simmer…
-R

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it’s getting steamy in here…

Tonight I decided to prepare a slightly healthier meal. Grilled chicken marinated in a ginger sauce served with steamed cauliflower, carrots and peas with mushrooms.
The dish is a very quick cook, but definitely hits the flavor full-on! The chicken which I have pounded thinly at the butcher takes roughly eight minutes to grill [love having an indoor grill when it’s too chilly outside]. As for the veg, it all depends on the type you are serving. Some take a few, while others can take a bit longer! You want them to remain crisp, and definitely not cooked to death…
All in all for a meal I normally do not prepare, this one definitely came out delicious and healthy! It’s better than a packaged product that appears healthy, but is full of additives. This will definitely makes its way on our plates again…

at a low simmer…
-R

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pasta per due!!

So after a weekend full of Italian dishes, I decided to roll on with that theme… this morning I picked up some calamari and rock shrimp [instead of regular shrimp] for my take on a frito misto and thought a refreshing pasta dish would compliment this side very well.
For my pasta dish, I sautéed chopped garlic in some olive oil with crushed red pepper for a little heat, threw in diced tomatoes and let everything simmer down. I added in some white wine and reduced some more. Once the pasta was cooked, I added it directly from the water into the sauce, vigorously stirred and added some grated pec romano for an extra salty edge.
For the frito misto, I tossed the rock shrimp and calamari lightly in flour seasoned with salt and some cayenne [love that HEAT]. Into hot oil and good things started to happen!
Once everyone was finished it was time to head to the table [or in our case a twelve foot long by four foot wide island]…
Everything tastes as good as it smelled while cooking! Can’t wait to make dinner again tomorrow…

at a low simmer…
-R

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show of support for local vendors and farmers!

This morning we awoke to much colder temps than recent. So instead of the shorts and t-shirt [my typical summer attire] that I’ve donned this past week, I pulled on my favorite tattered jeans, a pullover yoga sweatshirt, a baseball hat and off I went to visit  the last [for the winter season] indoor farmers market in a town just slightly east of me! Always full of wonderful treats, today the items that caught my eye were the fresh italian stuffed breads, cider donuts and fresh brioche loaves. I was tempted to buy some of the breathtaking mushrooms that were available, but felt the prices were a bit too pricey! Also I was intrigued by the farmer whom I typically purchase fresh eggs from on this day, he had pale blue eggs available, but I didn’t need eggs so I had to skip and move on. The same thing with the milk and cheese table… There were some wonderful vegetables scattered among wooden crates and bins, that just called out to me for a close-up. Perhaps once the weather peaks and the farmers market is back in full swing [and outdoors] the offerings will be even more spectacular. I still enjoyed walking around and seeing that local farmers markets do pull quite the draw of patrons which is a fantastic show of support for these individuals. It makes you feel good knowing you are supporting an amazing way of living and those who invest their time to bring you these offerings.

at a low simmer…

-R

Now that’s amore!

So my palate changed from Spanish cuisine to Italian as fast as the wind blows… A last minute call and dinner at our favorite resto, Amore was the place to be!
The appetizer I chose was a light as air arancini filled with a cheese, meat and peas with a side of tomato sauce. For my main, a stuffed veal chop topped with a mushroon cream sauce. Prepared milanese-style, filled with cheese and spinach with sautéed vegetables and a mashed potato on the side.
A fantastic white was the perfect accompaniment to this meal, but a double espresso with a hefty glass of sambuca was a great ending!

at a low simmer…
-R

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another weekend upon us…

What a fantastic Friday night full of wonderful food and company. Now onto a weekend of great eats! Where to go and what to have?? Japanese or Spanish could be interesting, but there are so many options to choose from… only time will tell! What are some places everyone is visiting this weekend?

at a low simmer…
-R

the perfect skirt… STEAK that is!

Today was like a warm summer day! What better to do than toss some marinated steaks on the grill. So tonight was skirt steaks marinated in an asian style marinade… soy sauce, garlic, ginger, scallions, and my secret weapon that I want to share with everyone… a touch of molasses to bring everyone together and sweeten the deal! I think it bring a nice hit of flavor and helps caramelize the steaks….
As a side, a feta, cucumber and red onion salad that was marinated in a oil and vinegar dressing. A nice slightly acidic kick from the vinegar and smoothness from the olive oil…
This was a perfect and refreshing meal, reminding me that the real summer is just a few more months away! If anyone tries this dish I would love to hear your feedback!!

at a low simmer…
-R

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