Monday, October 12, 2009

Turkey talk

Lee Turkey Farm is taking orders. Placed yours yet?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer in Jersey

First tomato of the season came out of the garden today!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cherry Grove Farm

Nice article in the Star-Ledger about Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Asparagus and Ricotta Fritatta

The Recipe

1 bunch local asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 in. lengths
1 Tbsp. olive oil
6 eggs
1/2 bunch Italian (aka flat leaf) parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 of a 15oz container ricotta cheese

In a 10 in. nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet, saute' the asparagus in the olive oil until just about done, between 3-8 minutes depending on the thickness of the stalks. When almost done, turn the heat down to low, and season liberally with salt & pepper.

Turn on the broiler to low. Beat the eggs lightly with the parsley and pour over the asparagus in the skillet. Drop the ricotta cheese over the top in medium- sized dollops, randomly over the top. Pop the skillet into the oven until the eggs are just set, about 2 minutes (but don't turn your back on it! Only you know how hot your broiler is and you don't want to burn up dinner.) Cut into 8 wedges and serve. Feeds 4 folks as a main dish for dinner.

The Story

Yes, this recipe is just what it sounds like- I used up leftovers in the fridge with some lovely asparagus. The kids loved it, however, and asked if I could make it again- so that's a winner-and I figured I should write it down. I made some roasted roots with it: couple carrots & couple fat potatoes cut into uniform chunks. Add a chopped onion, some dried thyme and some paprika, toss to coat with olive oil, and roast at 400 until done (1/2 hour or more depending on the size of the potatoes.) Has a nice eggs and hash browns feel that way, just with more veggies.

Would work maybe even better with goat cheese. Try 4 oz, broken into chunks.

Not sure how to tag this: lunch? Dinner? breakfast? vegetarian? leftovers? It works in a lot of categories. So I'll start a new one for eggs.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Central Jersey Farmers Market

Hightstown is starting its own Farmers Market, Fridays through the summer from 3-7, by Peddie Lake. (That's the corner of Morrison and Main Streets, aka the corner of Rt. 33 and Rt. 539, aka the park by the library.)

They're starting small but hopefully more farmers will join in soon. Come out and get what's fresh!

(Cross-posted to The Center of NJ Life)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

The Recipe

1/2 lb dry chickpeas, soaked & cooked (see The Story)
1 red pepper
2 cloves garlic, in large pieces
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil, more as needed
Juice of two lemons
1-2 tsp. salt (to taste)
1 tsp. ground cumin

Soak & cook the chickpeas; (they take 1 1/2-2 hrs.). Drain & cool; save 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Roast the red pepper over the flames on your gas stove or alternately on the grill: Do Not Cut Up The Pepper! Roast whole, turning each time the skin is charred. Once the whole pepper is blackened, put in a lidded bowl for about 10 minutes to finish cooking and soften the skin. Slip the skin off with your fingers, then cut open the pepper from the top carefully- it will steam- and remove the seeds and ribs. If you can save any accumulated juices from the pepper, you'll be glad you did.

Add the chickpeas and garlic to the food processor. It will be pasty. Add the remaining ingredients in order, blending well. Last, add the pepper and let the machine run for a while to compeletly puree and blend the flavors. Add more olive oil or the cooking liquid if you want a more dip-like consistency; leave it more dry if you use it as a sandwich spread.

Makes more than you think it will, but that's good since it's tasty.

The Story

Tahini is a roasted sesame seed paste. My grocery store stocks it with the peanut butter. Make sure to stir it very, very well before measuring- it settles. Store the extra in the fridge until the next time you make hummus or baba ganouj.

Soak the chickpeas at least 4 hours and up to 10 hours. They take 1 1/2-2 hrs to cook: put in large pan with water to cover, bring to boil, reduce to simmer until tender. It's so easy- you weren't going to go the canned route, were you? :)

If you want a creamier, impress-your-guests texture, add lots of extra olive oil and keep the food processor running for a long time. If you're eating this for lunch for the next few days, maybe keep an eye on the fat content. (We eat this for lunch often, with pita bread and carrots.) Don't worry, there's plenty of flavor either way.

The bite of raw garlic becomes stronger the longer this sits in the fridge. Beware!

I know the cumin is non-traditional, but so is the pepper. I like cumin. Leave it out if you don't.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fish Sticks and Tartar Sauce

It's Lazy Linkin' Sunday here at Sharon's Food Blog!

We had fish sticks and tartar sauce with friends on Friday. Growing up, my friend's family tradition during Lent was fish sticks and mac-n-cheese; We recreated that, homemade-style.

Fish Sticks I use pollock or mahi-mahi, whatever is a good price that day. Easy and good.

Tartar Sauce Make a full batch, no matter how much you think you'll use. It makes the very best tuna fish the next day. It has to sit in the fridge for at least an hour before dinner.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another diet study confirms what we already know

Want to live longer? Cut back on red meat

"The researchers estimate that 11 percent of deaths in men and 16 percent of deaths in women during the study could have been prevented by reducing consumption of red meat. "

That's without exercise or genetics being taken into account. Just cut red meat and processed meat consumption way down. You'll be doing yourself a favor.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bistro Soliel: a review

Bistro Soliel
173 Mercer St.
Hightstown, NJ

Overall review: very good to excellent

Bistro Soliel opened last summer in charming Hightstown. On a recent Saturday night visit, we made reservations and arrived about quarter to seven. The hosts are friendly and seat diners as quickly as possible. This being a true neighborhood place, we knew folks at several of the tables around us, waving and greeting them as we went to our table. The restaurant is BYO, and our wine was quickly whisked off to the kitchen to arrive opened and with the appropriate number of glasses. Servers are pleasant and knowledgeable, reciting lists of specials (without prices) and any of-the-day items from memory. Warm, light foccacia-style bread and fair olive oil are provided, and the servers are very fast about taking orders.

And then the wait begins.

Almost every visit I've made to this lovely, pleasant place, we've waited for our food. Please don't misunderstand me- I really mean waited. At least a half hour for appetizers, well in excess of an hour for entrees. The place is always busy, and you will wait. Make sure to call ahead for reservations, bring an extra bottle of wine, take the offered second basket of bread, and prepare to be there a while. You have time to notice the suns on each bright yellow wall, the decorative lighting, the traffic on the street outside. You have time to chat with your friends and family. You will wait.

You won't be disappointed.

On our most recent visit, we enjoyed two boneless short rib appetizers; a special, where the tender meat was brazed in Guinness (celebrating the St. Patrick's season) and the crispy tostadas ($9). The two dishes were very different in flavor but both melted in your mouth. Our dining companion remarked that the cole slaw served with the Guinness ribs was possibly even better than the ribs themselves. Very successful dishes both.

Our entrees were very good as well. A special of the night, sea bass on a parsnip puree with spinach and a green curry sauce, was perfectly cooked and a surprisingly good combination. (If I wasn't afraid of embarrassing myself, I would've licked the plate clean. I scraped it pretty well with a spoon to get every last morsel.) Leg of lamb with pearl onions and peas ($18) was a lovely spring dish, a slightly sweet sauce balanced nicely with the slight tinge of gaminess that comes from good lamb. The evening's lasagna, portobello mushroom and spinach with an Alfredo sauce ($13), was a huge slab of thick pasta sheets and very flavorful fillings. Our friends raved about the shrimp & asparagus risotto ($16) and the stuffed pork loin ($13).

This is the best restaurant in the Hightstown area for food. The flavors are wonderful and everything is expertly prepared. The staff is professional, the atmosphere a nice, slightly upscale/casual neighborhood restaurant, and the decor attractive. The prices are good. The only quibble I have is the extraordinary wait for your dinners to arrive; But, they're truly worth the wait when they do.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Roasted Garlic Baba Ghanouj

The Recipe:

1 med-large eggplant (1 1/4-1 1/2 lb)
1 head garlic
olive oil
1/3 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika (or regular if it's what you got)

Preheat oven to 350. Drizzle a little olive oil over the garlic- do not separate the cloves or remove the paper, we want this baby whole- and wrap in foil. Pierce the eggplant several times with a sharp knife. Roast both in a shallow dish- the garlic for 45 min.; the eggplant for about 1 hour or until tender through.

Let the garlic cool and remove the soft roasty cloves from the paper and drop in the food processor. Let the eggplant cool in the shallow dish (I use a pie plate). Some juice will accumulate- this isn't your friend, pour it off. Peel the eggplant, using a sharp knife to pull the skin away from the soft insides. Add the pulp to the food processor along with all the other ingredients. Puree until a lovely texture. Chill in the fridge at least 1 hour or probably overnight. Great with pita bread or pita chips for dipping.

The Story

Tahini is a sesame seed paste used in hummus. My grocery store stocks it with the peanut butter. Make sure to stir it very, very well before measuring- it settles. Store the extra in the fridge until the next time you make hummus.

If you don't wrap the garlic in foil, the outside cloves will brown which imparts a great flavor. However, they cross from golden brown to burned crispy in a short window of time- watch out. Also, in summer you can roast both the garlic and the eggplant on the grill outside; just keep an eye on the temperature to keep them from burning on the outside while still raw inside.

I usually see Baba Ghanouj made with raw garlic, fewer cloves. If you like the raw garlic bite, use 1 or 2 cloves only. The garlic flavor will increase the longer the dip rests in the fridge.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chicken Paprika

The Recipe

2 chicken breasts, skinned & boned, sliced into 1 in. chunks (see The Story)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. good paprika
1 cup chicken stock, homemade is always best
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes (or one fat fresh in-season tomato, chopped)
salt as needed
1-2 Tbsp. cream
1/2 cup sour cream

10 oz. egg noodles

Heat butter & oil in large skillet with lid over high heat. Saute chicken until browning and mostly opaque, about 3-5 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet; add onion and fry until just starting to turn brown. Add flour and stir for 1 min; then add paprika and stir for another minute. Whisk in stock, then add tomatoes. Bring to boil; add back chicken and reduce heat. Cover and simmer until chicken is done and sauce smells lovely, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil egg noodles according to package directions. If you start the water when the chicken goes in, it should all come out on time.

When chicken is done, turn off heat. Stir in cream, then sour cream. Taste for seasoning. Serve over noodles. Serves 4 for dinner.

The Story

I usually make this with chicken breasts (which I cut up and save the bones in the freezer for stock.) However, if your family isn't squeamish about cutting meat off of the bone, this is SPECTACULAR made with whole chicken pieces. Brown the chicken and follow other instructions, but when you add the chicken back and simmer, it must simmer for about 35-45 minutes until the whole pieces are done. Check with thermometer; internal temperature must be 165 for poultry.

The tomatoes add a nice touch of acidity to a dish that is usually very heavy. If you like your gravy thinner, add more stock. If you like more gravy, use proportionately more gravy ingredients. I love good gravy.

You do make your own chicken stock at home, right? Right?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cranberry Pumpkin Walnut muffins

The Recipe

1 stick butter
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups canned pumpkin
2/3 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups AP flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp or so ground cloves
1/2 tsp or so nutmeg (or to taste- that can be strong for some folks)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400. Heavily grease 2 12-cup muffin tins.

Melt butter; whisk butter, oil, pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in large bowl. In separate large bowl, sift dry ingredients together, then add brown sugar, breaking up with whisk. Rub large lumps of brown sugar through fingers to break up- don't worry if there are still some lumps, that's ok. Add the wet ingredients to dry, mixing gently and quickly only until most of the flour disappears. Add cranberries and walnuts; finish folding in, being very careful not to overmix. Portion evenly into muffin tins.

Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes. Makes 24 rather large muffins.

The Story

Quick, full of fiber and flavor, these hold well for a couple of days after baking. The recipe could easily be halved, but I like to make a big batch.

Using all-oil (1 cup oil, instead of half-n-half with the butter) would certainly be a possibility, but I find it a little greasy that way.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hot Chocolate

The Recipe

1/4 water
3 Tbsp. Cocoa- preferably Dutch process, but that Hershey's will do just fine
2 Tbsp. sugar, or more if you prefer
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
handful of mini-marshmallows, opt.
liquer of your choice, opt.

Combine water, cocoa and sugar in saucepan and whisk until it comes just up to a boil. Add the milk and continue to whisk until almost boiling, but not quite. When first bubbles begin to appear, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Ladle over marshmallows into two large mugs.

Drink when it snows.

The Story

We always have hot chocolate and popcorn when it snows.

This tastes much better than that powder stuff, and takes almost as long to make. It's not very sweet, so if you like it sweeter add more sugar- but remember, those marshmallows will melt.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The First Eater

From Newsweek: Obamas to keep Chef Cristeta Comerford as First Chef:
When Barack Obama was elected, foodies rejoiced. Finally, they thought, a president who enjoys the pleasures of fine dining and the virtues of healthy eating! A leader who feels our pain about the skyrocketing price of arugula! In November, San Francisco chef Alice Waters, a pioneer of the organic-food movement, wrote an open letter to the president-elect, suggesting that his eating habits could set an example for the rest of the country. Waters, along with Gourmet magazine's Ruth Reichl and New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, offered to serve as Obama's informal "kitchen cabinet." Their first suggestion: Obama should hire a new White House chef who would cook local, seasonal, organic meals for the first family, preferably with items grown in a presidential garden. Soon enough, big-name candidates for the job began to circulate, including Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey's personal chef, and Rick Bayless, the man behind Chicago's Topolobampo, one of the Obamas' favorite haunts. But then Michelle Obama announced that the family would stick with Cristeta Comerford, President Bush's chef since 2005 and the first woman to hold the job. A minor kerfuffle erupted. They kept Bush's chef? Had Obama offended the foodies?
It turns out the gastronomers didn't have their facts straight, so they ended up with egg on their faces. While Bush never hid his love for hot dogs and burgers, Comerford had actually been serving organic meals to the outgoing family for years. "It's too bad we didn't know that," says Reichl, though she insists that she and her comrades were never calling for Comerford's head. That said, Reichl hopes that the Obamas will be more forthcoming about what's on their plates than the Bushes were.