Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gazpacho Recipe

I am always amazed by the talent of chefs.... It is so cool the way they are able to know instinctively what ingredients blend well together. They also seem to be able to just rattle off the amounts of the ingredients without thinking twice. I, on the other hand, still need to follow recipes when I cook...most of the time. I'm O.K. with that. I love recipes! I especially love the recipe below. Yea, I know, its kind of raggedy. Its kind of stained and yellow. Its not pretty.

When I was in college in Louisville, KY, I was lucky enough to live next to a chef in training. One day I mentioned that I was looking for a good gazpacho recipe and he scratched this out for me in minutes. I have been using it for about 18 years! Thus, its ugly appearance.

This picture is a little more attractive. Gazpacho is from Spain and I've heard people call it "liquid salad" which describes it well. It can be served cold or at room temp and is great on the hottest days of summer. O.K. I'm done talking about it... the recipe is below.

Gazpacho Louisville

Blend the following ingredients in a blender or food processor:

4 tomatoes

2 cucumbers

1 bell pepper

1 carrot

1 pint of V8 juice(I like spicy)

2 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 dash of tobasco

1/2 t celery salt

1 t fresh garlic

2 t salt and 1 tsp pepper

Add these following ingredients to the soup chopped finely but not blended:

1 small onion minced

1 stalk of celery minced

1 tomato diced

dash of cumin

Garnish with cilantro if you like.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Coconut Oil???

Well, I have to say as much as I love health and wellness and have been working in this field for some time now.... I still become so confused and crazed with all the false advertising and confusing nutritional information that I hear daily in the media . Right? It can be so frustrating. It's no wonder people in this country are becoming more and more obese. We are bombarded with so many mixed messages. Who can decipher which bits of information are true and valuable?

Take coconut oil for example.... I am not exaggerating when I tell you that if there was a list of EVIL foods in my college dietetics courses, this would have been tops on the list. It is very high in saturated fat and therefore, puts people at risk for high cholesterol and weight gain.

So, that being said.... The other day, I received some coconut oil from one of my family members. I was taken aback at first... are they trying to upset me? Then she explained that she had heard how much better coconut oil is for you as compared to other oils. Huh?? She must be delirious. So, I took the coconut oil home(tried to keep an open mind) and decided to see what all the hype was about.

According to my most sound resource, The American Dietetics Association website, coconut oil still continues to be a food that high is saturated fat. It does, in fact, raise both the bad cholesterol(LDL) and good cholesterol(HDL). However, the fact that it raises both does not change the ratio of bad to good cholesterol. This is a good thing. So, in other words, it is probably not as bad as butter. And it has a pleasant coconutty flavor when you cook with it.

Another reason for the hype... it can be used by vegans as a butter substitute.

I found this recipe printed by the NY Times- Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes....

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and cut up 3 to 4 sweet potatoes into 1/2 in chunks

3. In a large bowl, combine 2 tsp of brown suger, 3/4 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Add 2 T. virgin coconut oil.

Toss in the cut-up sweet potato and mix gently mix until it is well coated. Spread the sweet potato chunks onto a baking sheet.

Roast in the 350 degree oven, until soft and carmelized, for about 1 hour.

Delicious! No butter needed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Recipe... Whole-Wheat Linguine with Tomatoes and Green Beans

Looking for a good recipe for all your garden cherry tomatoes and green beans?? I keep finding myself going back to Giada. Her recipes always turn out well and are simple. Now that school has started, I will be looking for lots of simple meals. The tough part is trying to find simple while still being healthy.

This pasta recipe feels like a heavy cream sauce without all the fat and calories. It uses part-skim ricotta and pasta water which mimics an alfredo-type sauce. The recipe is as follows:

1. Boil 1 # of whole wheat linguine for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, but, make sure you reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Add 1/2 c. part-skim ricotta to the hot pasta.
2. Next, saute 1 chopped clove of garlic in 3 T olive oil. Add 1/2# of trimmed green beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the reserved pasta water and cook for about 4 minutes or until tender.

3. Add the pasta and ricotta mixture to the pan of green beans.

4. Add 1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes and gently toss.

5. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with the zest of 1 lemon. The lemon is key to lots of flavor in this dish, so, be generous with the zest.

Thanks Giada!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Geauga Fresh Farmers Market

I think I may have a problem... I have become obsessed with farmers markets. I love everything about them. I love the smell of basil that wafts through the air. I love the sight of people, both young and old, trying new foods products and smiling once they've found something delicious and new. I love hearing each of the vendors proudly talking about why their produce or bakery is the best.

I don't like to play favorites but, this market in South Russell Village has been one of the best. They had something for everyone. The vendors were so friendly, generous, and informative.
So, the rest of this post is pretty much going to be pictures which speak for themselves.

Jack's Mountain Farm- Amazing peaches both red and white

This vendor, Maplestar Farms, informed me that there are over 30 varieties of garlic ranging from mild to spicy. I chose a spicier Chesnock Red variety.

Mackenzie Creamery- OMG!

These are different varieties of goat cheese including Honey Sweet Fire, Blue, Fig, Blueberry Lemon and Black Truffle. Try the "Blue" on a burger.

Sorry, didn't catch the name, but, aren't they pretty?

Cake Kisses!

These tomatoes would make a beautiful Caprese Salad with all the variety of color!

More explosive color from Sleeping Dragon Botanicals. These were only $6... not bad.

Rock Valley Run CSA Farm. I tried a new fruit! Ground cherries! These are a combination of a tomatillo and cherry. So delicious!

Sand Farm LLC- Grass fed beef

Lots of lettuce from Great Lakes Growers

My farmers market bag is full but happy. I might have to give up my cute bag for a less stylish rolling cart.

Oh, one last vendor I need to mention...speaking of cute and stylish... This is not a food vendor, but, I thought her jewelry was amazing. I am so sorry I do not have a picture. However, you can check out her lovely creations at http://www.jlynncreations.etsy.com/ or just take a trip to South Russell Village.

FYI.... Geauga Farmers Markey will be having a tomato tasting contest on Sept 9th and a salsa tasting contest on Sept 23rd.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer Greek Salad

August rocks! I am happy to report that our garden is now abundant with ripe fruits and veges! Yeh! Kudos to my gardening spouse, Bill. I knew he would come in handy some day(just kiddin babe). Anyhow...... Gardens, much like life, are quirky and tend to hold little surprises from year to year. This year, our cucumber plants are going a little bonkers after bombing last year. Go figure.... we are up to our eyeballs in cucumbers. I am not complaining. This is a good surprise.

So, I had a fun get-together with work friends and wanted to use what I have on hand(cucumbers). I found this recipe in Fine Cooking Fresh magazine which is full of beautiful salads both for you vegetarians and carnivores. I decided on the Greek salad because of its simplicity and gorgeous presentation. So, here is the how-to.....

Start by lining a platter with Arugula lettuce or you can substitute with spinach as I did.

Next, just start adding ingredients in lines or piles. First, 3 chopped tomatoes and 2 cucumbers.

Then added some piles of pitted calmata olives and 1/2 # of cubed feta cheese.

Lastly, I added some croutons which were supposed to be made from scratch. However, I was under some time constraints, so I cheated with some store bought croutons.

When your salad is ready to serve, you can pour the dressing over the top. The recipe is as follows:

  • 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4c. red or white-wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard

  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano

  • 2 T. chopped shallots

  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Let site for 10 minutes so flavors can blend. Take to your party and gloat!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Frostville Farmer's Market

So, my tour of farmer's markets in Northeast Ohio continues. I would like to introduce one of the new kids on the block.... The Frostville Farmer's Market. It is located in the Cleveland Metropark Rocky River Reservation in North Olmsted, Ohio. The market is in its first year as of May and seems to be booming! What a beautiful setting for buying food! I'm so excited. Manager, Rae Endreola, explained that there may be different vendors from week to week which increases the variety of products you will see. There is also live music and speakers presenting on topics such as healthy cooking and gardening.

This was my favorite vendor this week! He pulled up in his pick-up with a giant load of melons in the back. He had just picked them that morning and they were so ripe that I could stick my thumb through the cantaloupe with little effort. (Don't try this at Giant Eagle, you might hurt yourself.)

Interesting fact.... Did you know food travels an average 1300 miles before it reaches our grocery stores. Therefore, most of the produce is selected for its "durability" rather than its freshness and nutritional value.

What a gorgeous, colorful presentation of melons!
(Probably not durable, but who cares!)

More beautiful presentations at this floral stand.

This was one of the local farmer stands which is a CSA(Community Supported Agriculture). Speaking of CSA's... I hate to stray from the topic at hand, but, has anyone had a great experience with any of the CSA's in the area? I would be interested in hearing as some of my friends have had mixed reviews.....

A friendly maple syrup vendor......

One of the really cool things about this particular farmer's market is its location at the Frostville Museum. I've lived minutes from this museum most of my life and never knew it existed. Of course it took food to get me here.

Frostville is a "living history" of 19th century Ohio.

These building are preserved by over 100 volunteers in the Olmsted Historical Society

More lovely sites for all you history buffs.

There are some upcoming fetivals and events listed on the website, http://www.olmstedhistoricalsociety.org/, including a Festival of the Arts on Sunday August 14th. So, check it out.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Houlihans- Westlake

I once saw a bumper sticker that said "Friends don't let friends eat at chains". And that is kind of my philosophy also. However, I was lured in to the beautiful patio at Houlihans in Westlake only to discover that they have really good food also. I guess I stand corrected. So, this is just a brief post to give them a plug.

Hummus and white bean appetizer

Vegetable flatbread pizza

Chipotle chicken enchiladas.... hungry much???

To Market

August is my most favorite month of the year. It is warm and lazy. The summer crickets start to chirp. Our gardens start producing all those beautiful vegetables and herbs!!! It feels like we have been waiting forever, but it is so worth it. So, I bought this cute shopping bag to make my trips to the farmers markets even more exciting(my daughter just called me a loser). Well, at least I am a fashionable loser. Back to the market talk.

I found this book, pictured below, written by a local author named George E. W. Cormack. This book, "Northeast Ohio Agrilocator" is an invaluable tool. All foodies in Ohio should buy this book. He lists all of the food festivals, farmers markets, CSA'a, and auctions in Northeast Ohio. He lists them by county and by type of produce each farm sells. He also has a chapter on the Westside Market and throws in some tasty looking recipes using the produce. His main purpose is to "offer our hard working Ohio farmers a chance to promote their efforts to deserving Ohio customers". What a guy!

So, last summer I did a post on the Kamm's Corner Farmers market. This summer I would like to explore some of the other markets I have found in this book. I decided to drive out about 30 minutes to Oberlin, Ohio to check out their market this week with my friend Tina. Oberlin is a cool little college town, so, we got side-tracked by this restaurant/juice bar called Sprouts on the way. We got ourselves a concoction called Mermaid Sweat which was made from greens, ginger, coconut water, and lemon juice. Good stuff(don't be scared off by the name). All the juices are juiced right in front of you and worth the wait. All the menu items are free of gluten, wheat, meat, and dairy. So, you can feel absolutely good about anything you order there. After that healthy diversion, we were ready to hit the market.

The Oberlin market was a bit smaller than I expected, but, there are only local farmers, so I guess that makes sense.

My friend Tina( below) is picking out her Ohio grown corn. Check out those lovely bunches of Swiss chard and giant zuccs. I am kind of obsessed with Swiss chard lately. It's kind of hard to find in a lot of standard grocery stores.

There was also a bread guy which I regret to say I did not catch his name. So at this time, he will be known as "the bread and cheese guy". He is easy to find. But his sourdough is amazing! He lovingly bakes 80 loaves weekly. He has a small but delicious variety of cheeses. I purchased a chive cheese which is addicting and now gone.

These guys were also at the market. Cute, but not for sale.

Here are my goods.....

I wish I could say that I made something exciting with them, but, I pretty much just ate that produce with a good olive oil and some salt and pepper. Hope you are out enjoying summer and having some interesting food experiences. If any of you have discovered any cool farmers markets, feel free to share.