I've decided to take the leap and change to another blogging platform. I want to customize my site more and have you involved as much as possible. So, I've set up a new blog on Wordpress. My new name, The Houndstooth Gourmet, is inspired by my new logo which shows a waiter in houndstooth pants being trailed by an adorable pooch who is waiting for his owner inside the bistro. Gourmet, meaning a connoisseur of fine food and drink, nods at my desire to find good, hearty food to share with you.
Please visit me at http://houndstoothgourmet.com/ and look for more features in the future as I customize my new site. All of my posts and comments can now be found on The Houndstooth Gourmet, and I will continue on my mission to bring you food for thought and food for your table.
The Houndstooth Gourmet
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Posted by Ramona at 4:14 PM
What a fantastic couple of days these have been. Once again on Friday I was at the Kingstowne farmer's markets reveling in the produce, breads, jams, artisan cheeses and ice cream. Although the temperature read 81, the air was clear and the wind threatened to raise the canopies as their ropes strained against the intermittant gusts.
Now, a slight miscommunication with my better half last week left me without a pint of my newly rediscovered favorite ice cream flavor: mint chocolate chip(we'd bought a pint the week before and absolutely loved it). Let's see, it went something like this:
"Oh look, she (the Middleburg Creamery and Country Store) has that chocolate truffle thingy ice cream and mint chocolate chip!", I said to Frank as I pointed to the sign in the truck window.
"OK, let's head over there after Allenberg Orchards", he remarked.
OK.....so far we're on board. We lined up for the ice cream and "Oh, there's Smita at Crackpot Gourmet" I said, excited to introduce myself to her.
I visited with Smita and joined up with my husband, who was holding a cold white bag. Yes, the ice cream.
We got home and Frank put the bag on the kitchen island and unloaded the chocolate truffle thingy ice cream. I told him to put both pints in the freezer downstairs.
*blank stare* "I only got one", he remarked gingerly as if waiting for a forehead slap from yours-truly.
"OMG!! you didn't get the two I mentioned?" Huff..huff...huff.
"Ack! We like need, I don't know, couples counseling! We just don't communicate!" I bemoaned, as if my world were teetering on a very thin edge of mint chocolate chip ice cream-less misery.
"I'll go back", Frank offered
"It's OK" I spoke a little more softly, reigning in my insanity. "I'll buy more next week. But why oh why didn't you get the mint chocolate chip?" *whiny tantrum over*
(Men put up with a lot of hormonal garbage, admit it ladies)
Moments later, with restored sanity and steadied nerves,I saw we still had plenty of berry sorbet in our kitchen freezer. Tragedy was averted and the world was good again.
This week at the alter of delicious ice cream goodness, I got myself 3 count'em 3 pints.
French Vanilla Espresso
Mint Chocolate Chip
Saturday morning started with loading Tucker and Cole into the Boobaroo and taking them to the groomer. Our groomer (Pet de Lite) is a lovely woman with whom conversing is pleasant if not a bit "lost in translation" due to English being her second language. With trepidation I told her that I wanted Tucker's hair just trimmed on his body, but to really clean up his face and legs. "No summer cut", I said hoping that ESP would have her seeing the picture of Tucker in my head if I concentrated hard enough. Not Yeti, but not like one of those Persian cats who has bad allergies and gets shaved so they wind up looking absolutely ridiculous. Don't laugh. He's been snickered at before. She intently entered all instructions into her computer. Cole could get the usual puppy cut with a snowball head. We left the dynamic duo in good hands and headed back home to pick up Daisy and spend the morning in Old Town.
Our first order of business was breakfast. Old Town seemingly has more and more breakfast options and King Street Cafe is one of them. They make a good, cheap breakfast sandwich that is all I need to fuel me up for a nice walk and visit to the market. Saturday's al fresco breakfast was enjoyable in the shady coolness.
Farmers Market- Part 2
With my appetite for market goods not sated with my Friday market visit, on Saturday I bought shitake mushrooms, a savory scone and small raspberry loaf from Maribeth's Bakery, and a bag of Lapsang Souchong tea (which I want to cook with).
Posted by Ramona at 1:01 PM
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Plums had been showing up at my local farmers markets and their aubergine beauty drew me to them.
I dabbled in a plum upside down cake yet still had a handful leftover. They were beginning to look a little sad and shriveled so "what to do with them?", I thought. It's fall and I begin to think about roasts and turkey married with delicious fruits. "Ah, a sauce!".
Here's a recipe for a sauce using plums and savory herbs. The flavors compliment meats such as pork, chicken, turkey and veal.
What you'll need:
For the sauce.
8 prune plums or 2 black plums halved, pitted and sliced
3 Tbsp. raspberry jam
1 Tbsp. butter
1 shallot diced fine
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary chopped fine (or 2 tsp. dry)
1 Tbsp. fresh sage chopped fine (or 1 tsp. dry)
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add herbs and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock and plums. Simmer in covered pan for 10 minutes, until plums are completely softened. Add jam and balsamic vinegar. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add butter, salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate.
This sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead, or frozen and gently reheated when ready to use.
For the pork.
Turn on broiler and place rack 6-8 inches below broiler.
Pat 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick boneless pork chops dry. Salt and pepper each side. Place pork chops in a pan lined with heavy duty aluminum foil.
Place pan on rack under broiler and broil on each side for 5 minutes. Turn off broiler and set oven to 425 degrees. Allow pork chops to continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 145-150 degrees. Allow pork chops to rest for 8-10 minutes before serving with plum sauce.
1 Bichon Frise
* Weekend Herb Blogging is a weekly event sponsored by Kalyn's Kitchen and hosted by Ulrike at Küchenlatein this week.
Monday, September 24, 2007
A painter sees a flower and is inspired to paint. An architect sees a building and envisions how to build it. A poet experiences a powerful life event and takes pen to paper. I see fresh, available ingredients and think about their peak of flavor, how they work with other ingredients and what recipes make them shine.
On Saturday, I packed up my Bichon Frise, Cole, and headed to Del Ray. Looking at the slide show in this post, you can see dogs are very popular in Del Ray. While not allowed in the market proper, they are welcomed on the grass nearby. Cole got to cavort with a nice black lab while his mama went shopping.
(He was way more excited to go to the market. He gets to lick babies)
Indian Summer came on cue one day before the Autumnal Equinox. Fittingly, nectarines were still available at Toigo's stand, as were Bartlett pears. I bought a handful of each and wandered over to the "cheese guy" from Apple Tree Goat Dairy. Based on my enjoyment of his mediteranean herb covered chevre, I bought a cheddar-horseradish chevre this time around.
Next, I headed over to the farmers from Reva, Va. (first stall on the left as you enter the parking lot). These folks are so nice and their prices are easy on the wallet. I picked up kale and a butternut squash. Finally, as I could hardly wait a minute longer, I bought a chicken saltena from Marcela's Bakery stand. These golden and spicy stew filled savory pastries were piping hot out of the oven just up the street. It was still good and warm when I got it home and tucked into it's goodness.
Stay tuned for a recipe using the kale: Caldo Verde. Yum!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Although yesterday had me still in shorts, the signs of fall were apparent at the market. Gone were the peaches and nectarines. Small ears of corn were a mere shadow of their robust August counterparts. But, that's OK. This is what seasons bring us: produce that burns as bright as a star, then goes to ground only to emerge again next year in full splendor.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
At first glance, country captain chicken would appear to be a southern dish conjured up to delight dinner guests with it's far eastern spice. In fact, this dish is an easy East India curry probably first served at an English table by an Indian soldier in service of the United Kingdom. While in the service of the UK, Indian troops were referred to as "sepoys". In their native India, they were called the "country troops". The "Captain" likely refers to a native captain of troops.
Philadelphia has a rather large Polish population in the neighborhood of Port Richmond, were my mother grew up. Polish grocery stores carry Polish products of all sorts. These mushrooms caught my eye and made me reminisce about that earthy soup, usually served on holidays. My mother's version adds potato dumplings and prunes. Tonight, I garnished mine with sherry and a dollop of sour cream.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
I've been making meatballs for like I don't know...ever. When I was dating my husband Frank, he made for me and a few friends his grandmother's meatballs. Come to think of it, I do believe that was the last time he cooked for me! Well, I was impressed and after we were married, we combined our cookbooks and loose recipes together. Handwritten on an index card was the meatball recipe, passed down from his grandmother to his mother and then to me.
Frank's Italian grandmother took her cooking seriously. Her recipes were taught my my mother in law personally so her son would not miss her cooking. While not in person, I learned from her meatball recipe what makes the meatball turn out tender and savory. First, use fresh bread crumbs and milk/cream. No dried pre-made bread crumbs from a container. Next, use garlic salt. I don't know what it is, but there's something about garlic salt whose flavor surpasses powdered garlic and salt. Perhaps it's the blend whereby the ratio of garlic to salt is just perfect. All I know is that it works.
Here's my recipe, inspired by grandmom, and made my own. They are tender, moist and delicious. Makes about 28 meatballs.
2 1/2 lbs ground beef, 80/20 lean to fat ratio
1 tbsp. each:
dried onion flakes
dried shallot flakes (optional)
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (I used white bread with crusts, about 4-5 slices)
1/2 cups each:
half and half
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs gently beaten
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place ground beef in large mixing bowl. Add herbs, cinnamon, bread crumbs, Parmesan, eggs, parsley, half and half, milk and water. Gently combine. Do not overwork meat. Add salt and pepper. Mix throughout meat.
Into a heated pan, cook a small patty of the meatball mixture to test for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
Gently hand roll golf ball sized meatballs and place onto an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Treat surface with non-stick spray. Place meatballs at least one inch apart.
Place baking sheet( I used 2 half sheet pans)on racks set in the middle of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotates sheets upper rack to bottom rack and vice versa. Bake and additional 15 minutes. The meatballs should be golden brown.
Transfer meatballs into gently simmering marinara on stove top. Cover and continue to simmer on low for 30 minutes to an hour.
While meatballs are simmering, cook pasta according to directions. Drain pasta and portion into bowls. Top with meatballs, marinara, grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.
Enjoy the slide show!