Saturday, July 31, 2010

Root Beer Bundt Cake - July 31, 2010

Chocolate Root Beer Bundt Cake with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Raspberry Sorbet

The Friday dessert is a day late, but it took a little longer to make than I anticipated. I found the recipe here and had it saved for awhile. Yesterday it was time to pull out the Fiesta Party Pan and give it a try. It is super delicious with a rich chocolate-y flavor and a lovely moistness, which I attribute to the root beer. I skipped the frosting because the Fiesta Party Pan leaves such a pretty design that it's a shame to cover it up. Also, we had several odds and ends of frozen treats that I thought we could utilize for garnish. The cinnamon ice cream, I'm embarrassed to say, is left over from a batch I made during the holidays. The raspberry sorbet (which must always be sung to the melody of Prince's "Raspberry Beret" in my head) is leftover from a little cookout we had on Monday evening. Together they made such an excellent accompaniment that the frosting wasn't even missed. Happy weekend everyone!
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Veggie Delivery - July 29, 2010

New Veggies

I just picked up our latest CSA share. Veggie highlights include golden beets with greens; green beans; tomatoes; fennel fronds; yellow beans; carrots with green tops; celery; sweet corn; peppers; and fennel bulbs. We are having the tomatoes tonight with some fresh mozzarella and homemade pesto. The fennel will probably go into a salad of some sort. Beans will most likely be prepared simply as a side dish, or maybe tossed in a fun salad. I may make some sort of corn salsa with our fresh sweet corn, perhaps paired with a bunch of chopped peppers since, in addition to those we got today in the box, I also have some from last weekend's farmers' market. I need to look for inspiration for the beets, carrots and celery. I am hoping to spend lots of time in the kitchen over the next few days, so hopefully I will have plenty to share with you dinner clubbers.

As always, a big thank you goes out to the HVF crew, as well as our delivery site coordinators. It wouldn't be summer in the kitchen without you all!
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kitchen Sink Nachos - July 27, 2010


A meal for one of those days that I was short on time and fridge space. I pulled out leftover grilled zucchini, Christmas Lima beans, canned tomatoes, pickled onions, cilantro, and assorted cheeses and made up this plate inspired by our favorite item on the Chef Shack menu, pulled pork nachos. Many flavors combined for a lovely dinner and as a bonus I procured some much needed refrigerator space.
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Blueberry-Sage Cornmeal Scones - July 23, 2010

Blueberry Sage Cornmeal Scones

This was meant for the Friday dessert post but I ran into technical issues and out of time. But, better late than never! I went and picked nine pounds of blueberries early last week. Most I froze, but I reserved a few for these scones. They were a perfect quick breakfast over the weekend while Matt and Nikki were visiting. I found the recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book and modified it only slightly with the addition of some fresh, chopped sage from the yard. A similar recipe can be found here for reference. They were super tasty with a great, moist crumb. Not overly sweet, they were a perfect accompaniment to our morning coffee.

Freshly Picked Blueberries

We had a great time catching up with some original Dinner Clubbers and can't wait for our next reunion!
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Wiscosmopolitan - July 22, 2010

The Wiscosmopolitan

Happy Birthday to Jaime! Continuing in the Dinner Club tradition, Nick and I concocted a birthday cocktail in your honor. Using the cosmopolitan as our starting point, we played with the recipe by adding some Mid-western details to create this tasty version to celebrate Jaime.

Recipe (makes 1 cocktail)

1/4 cup rhubarb infused vodka
2 Tbsp Cointreau
2 Tbsp cranberry juice
1-2 freshly picked strawberries

Muddle the strawberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker (add a bit of sugar if they aren't a super sweet freshly picked variety). Add rhubarb infused vodka, Cointreau, and cranberry juice to the shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass.

For this drink, the rhubarb, and strawberries were both grown in Wisconsin. Most likely the cranberries were too! The sweet-tart flavors are great, with the rhubarb playing off the strawberries nicely. Jaime is now living in a cosmopolitan city, but her heart is still pure Wisconsin. Jaime, a toast to you on your special day! We wish we could drink it with you, but we'll settle for drinking it thinking of you. Have a wonderful birthday!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Grilled Margherita Pizza - July 21, 2010

Pizza on the Grill, Served with Arugula Salad and Grilled Corn

We made our first grilled pizza this week! Summer is the perfect time for pizza, what with all the fresh veggies and herbs available to toss on, but unfortunately a 500 deg oven is usually very unwelcome this time of year. I had considered the idea of grilling pizza, but dismissed it as impossible for us due to my preference for a very thin crust. The answer was so simple, I can't believe I didn't think of it myself. The Kitchn posted a how-to and in the comment section I read about using aluminum foil under the crust. Genius! It worked great. We chose a simple margherita pizza for our first attempt along with some yummy grilled corn we purchased at the Kingfield Farmers' Market this week, and the traditional arugula salad. We will tweak the temperature and time on the grill over the next weeks until we get it just how we like it. I'm sure it will be an enjoyable task.

Matt and Nikki arrive in minutes, so mini Dinner Club reunion is about to ensue!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Potato Salad - July 20, 2010

Potato Salad with Green Beans and Salsa Verde

Another August 2010 Food & Wine recipe perfect for the veggies we got in our Harmony Valley box! This was another marked as a staff favorite and I didn't have to change much of anything to fit our pantry parameters. I used the Norland potatoes we received from the farm instead of the Yukon Gold called for in the recipe. A quick scrub under running water rather than peeling, and they were a great stand-in. Peels stay on when I know it's an organic veggie, since so many nutrients are found in the skin, or just below. Also, in a subtle but colorful change, I used a combination of green and yellow beans instead of plain old green. Suggested garnish included chive blossoms, but we are done with those for the year, so parsley blossoms performed the necessary role.

This was a light and flavorful salad, not at all like traditional potato salads (which despite my hardy German heritage, I do not enjoy). I think this same combination would be tasty with a mustard vinaigrette (instead of the salsa verde) as well.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Broccoli Pesto Pappardelle with Feta - July 19, 2010

Broccoli Pesto over Pappardelle with Basil and Feta

Last week's CSA delivery left me with broccoli from the previous box still in my fridge. I remedied that by quickly whipping up a batch of Heidi Swanson's broccoli pesto (from her double broccoli quinoa recipe) and tossing it over some pappardelle pasta. I added some basil, since we received such a nice big bag from Harmony Valley, and omitted the cream, opting for more olive oil to achieve a lighter flavor. Topped with some fresh basil and crumbled feta, it made for a great quick meal, and solved my broccoli dilemma.
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Blueberry Thyme Buckle - July 16, 2010

Blueberry Thyme Crumble with Cherry Pit Ice Cream

Here is dessert number two for the week. We bought a pint of blueberries at the Kingfield Farmers' Market last Sunday and this is how we used them. The recipe is from my Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book and it's for a standard blueberry buckle. I changed it up a bit by using half whole wheat pastry flour and adding a teaspoon of dried thyme to the crust. I also tossed in some fresh thyme amongst the blueberries in the fruit topping. For some reason I've really been digging the combination of fresh fruit and fresh herbs lately. I think this would also be good with sage or rosemary. Additionally, the whole wheat in the crust makes for a rustic crumb that I really enjoy.

And, of course, we served it up with dollops of freshly churned cherry pit ice cream on the side. Hard to beat! I hope you all have great weekends. Next week will be an exciting one here at Dinner Club. We've got Dinner Club guests visiting, plus another Dinner Club birthday, so there will be lots to celebrate.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

CSA Veggie Delivery - July 15, 2010

Vibrant Veggies

Our latest delivery has arrived despite truck malfunctions! Wow, it's a beautiful assortment. We have the always dapper savoy cabbage with it's lovely ruffled leaves. Cabbage is so versatile and shows up in many different cuisines...European, Asian and Mexican to name a few. Next up are the beautiful amaranth greens, used a lot in Caribbean dishes, including one of Nick's favorites...pepperpot soup; Norland potatoes with the red skin, which, along with some other varieties, are the featured vegetable this week complete with some great looking recipes in the Harmony Valley Farm newsletter; yellow and green beans, which I'm super excited to eat simply blanched with some olive oil and kosher salt; a huge variety of cucumbers including this ghostly white beauty, which have an incredible number of uses such as keeping slugs away from your garden (although I prefer mine in a Pimm's cup); summer squash, including a cute yellow pattypan and a large stripey zucchini; sweet Spanish onions; green top carrots (I am in love with steeping the greens in hot water to make green top iced tea); and some snow peas playing peek-a-boo with the sunlight.

An extra special thank you goes out to the HVF crew today! They managed to deliver these amazing veggies despite a truck breakdown this morning. I know everyone worked harder and was under more stress today and I just want you all to know how much we appreciate it. You guys ROCK!
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Cherry Pit Ice Cream - July 15, 2010

Noyaux Ice Cream

Two treats are on tap this week due to my lack of one last week. The first is a new and exciting ice cream. While researching recipes for sour cherries, I came across a link for cherry pit ice cream and my interest was piqued. It turns out that once the hard outer layer of the cherry pit is cracked, a tiny little kernel lies inside. This kernel, referred to as noyaux in French, packs a very strong flavor, apparently like that of bitter almonds, which are used to make 'almond' extract. Thus finally solving for me the mystery of why almond extract doesn't really taste like almonds.

Noyaux (Cherry Pit Kernels)

Excited that I would be able to use yet another part of my cherry harvest, I went to work cracking open my pits by wrapping them in a towel and giving them a quick tap with a hammer. I thought it would be a tedious task, but it ended up being quite enjoyable, mostly because the pits cracked easier than I anticipated, but also because I was so delighted by the tiny 'almonds' I found inside. After I had my bowl full of kernels, I simply followed the recipe. The ice cream is delicious with a faintly sweet flavor similar to amaretto, although not nearly so strong. The consistency turned out extra creamy and thick...and it made a lot. This ice cream will be showing up all summer for dessert at our house.

Another recipe can be found here.
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Japanese Quinoa with Egg and Snow Peas - July 14, 2010

Japanese Quinoa with Egg Whites and Blanched Snow Peas

I found the recipe for this tasty quinoa here (scroll down a's there), via the kitchn. It sounded good when I read it, and tasted great! As usual, I had to make a couple substitutions due to pantry limitations, including cippolini onions for the shallots and vermouth for the sake, but all turned out well. Also, I had a bowl of egg whites in the fridge (leftover from a dessert you will hear about soon) and decided to use them up by cooking with salt and pepper and placing them on top of the quinoa as an additional protein source. The snow peas just looked like they belonged in the bowl as well, so I treated them to a quick blanching and tossed them in. Everything was delicious and I have a feeling this Japanese-inspired dressing will find itself in other dishes in days to come.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Roasted Zucchini - July 13, 2010

Roasted Zucchini with Fresh Yogurt and Mint

Last night, inspired by the new issue of Food & Wine that arrived in the mail, I made this dish. The recipe was marked as a staff favorite, which is always a good indication of it's quality. The only change I made was substituting plain whole milk yogurt for the ricotta. To thicken it I let it drain through a cheesecloth lined sieve for about a half an hour and it ended up nice and creamy. The yogurt and mint helped tame the heat of the red pepper flakes nicely. Nick and I both thought this was delightfully tasty and a great way to use up some zucchini that are sure to be coming fast and furious from the garden in the upcoming weeks.
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Cumin-Fennel Toasted Cauliflower - July 12, 2010

Cumin and Fennel Toasted Cauliflower with Currants and Pepitas

Sorry I missed posting yesterday, Dinner Clubbers. The computer was feeling under the weather and I had strict instructions not to turn it on. Today things seem to be feeling better and so, here is the first of two posts today. Sunday's supper, inspired by this recipe, used up our head of cauliflower from the CSA share. I chopped it up into little florets and tossed with some olive oil. Meanwhile, Nick toasted 2 tsps each of ground cumin, ground coriander, and chili powder along with 1/4 cup of ground almonds and salt in a hot cast iron skillet. After a minute or two, we tossed in the cauliflower and let it caramelize for about 3 minutes on each side. Next we tossed in the juice and zest of one lemon, a handful each of dried currants and pepitas and cooked for another 3 minutes or so. It was toasty and nutty and thoroughly enjoyable.
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Friday, July 09, 2010

Baked Callaloo II - July 8, 2010

Jamaican Callaloo

This was our favorite amaranth recipe from last year. I had to repeat it, and this time my sister got to try it as well. The original recipe can be found here. Like last year, I made some additions, including the all important coconut, about one cup, unsweetened. A teaspoon of dried thyme and two cloves of fresh garlic, crushed, also went in. The cheese I used was Pecorino-Romano, which is flavorful, but doesn't hold the dish together. If you like things to be more cohesive, use a melt-y cheese like mozzarella or sharp cheddar. We all concurred that next time, I should throw the diced onion into the pan with the bacon to soften the flavor a bit.

Thanks for sticking with me through a spotty week of blogging, Dinner Clubbers. My sister returns home today (tear) and my schedule will return to normal weeknight cooking next week. Until then, have a great weekend!
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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Pantry Restocking and New Recipes - July 7, 2010

Treats from Bill's and Penzey's

While my sister is in town, visiting from Portland, we have been trying to visit many of her favorite haunts. It's been fun, because they tend to be my favorite places as well. Today we checked out Bill's Imported Foods and I picked up some dried currants and cranberries. I also found some fun items with which to season iced teas, including dried hibiscus flowers and dried linden flowers (!!). I love, love, love the fragrant Linden (aka Basswood) tree blooms throughout June and I've been missing their heady scent lately, so I was doubly excited at the prospect of making some flavored iced tea with the dried blossoms to prolong my enjoyment. We also stopped by Penzey's Spices (which they do have in Portland) and stocked up on a couple of items including whole cumin seed (which I never have when I need) and Chicago Seasoning.

Recipes in the Mail

And, waiting for me in the mail upon our return home, was a big manilla envelope full of recipes from Aunt Judy! I love getting new recipe inspiration and know these will all be delicious, because Judy is an incredible cook. So be on the lookout for some new recipes in the upcoming weeks. Thank you so much for thinking of us Judy!
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Holiday Highlights - July 3-7,2010

Holiday Highlights

Sorry for the lack of posts over the long holiday weekend, Dinner Clubbers. My sister (plus Scott) have been visiting and it seems as though we've been eating nearly every meal out, leaving the kitchen cold. But, just because I haven't been cooking much doesn't mean we aren't having fun. Highlights include a quick jaunt over to Madison (where I took hardly any pictures) for beers and brats, plus a chance to meet up with original Dinner Clubber, Jaime and husband Richie, who were also in town for the holiday (yay!); homemade donuts; a walk around Minnehaha Falls; and the sauce line-up at Sea Salt, which is an amazingly awesome venue for fish tacos and local Minnesota brews! So no worries, I haven't forgotten my blog duties and cooking should start up again in earnest soon.
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Friday, July 02, 2010

Cherries! - July 2, 2010

A Bowl of Cherries

Friday treat indeed. We just picked these off our Meteor Cherry tree in the front yard. It's a bumper crop this year. I plan on pitting these beauties and getting them in the freezer so that I can make some delicious goodies with them.

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

New CSA Delivery - July 1, 2010

Summer-Time Veggies

I just picked up a big box of veggies and am so excited. Our first summer squash and cucumbers have arrived, along with a host of additional summer goodies. A favorite from last year...amaranth greens! I can't wait to make up a batch of baked callaloo. More beets are always welcome, and carrots, peas, cauliflower and broccoli will be great for munching. Cippolini onions and fresh garlic will boost the flavor of any dish. Plus, the Harmony Valley Farm newsletter had a great idea for carrot top tea. They suggest steeping a handful of chopped carrot greens in hot water, straining and adding honey. I think that sounds like a delicious iced tea and might have to be my afternoon project.

A big Thank You to Harmony Valley for the veggies and the inspiration!


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