Saturday, July 28, 2012

Homemade Pizza with Sausage - July 27, 2012

This pizza turned out so pretty, I just had to take a picture of it. I'm still experimenting with crust and sauce recipes and baking techniques, but am getting consistent enough results now that pretty much all of our pizza nights are more delicious than not! This crust recipe was from the no-knead book Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day. I used their standard recipe, using regular all purpose flour. I recently ordered some Italian style flour from King Arthur and intend to try that variation next.

For the sauce, I used tomatoes from our little garden and loosely followed the recipe in Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food (peeled, seeded, chopped then cooked with a little olive oil, garlic, salt, and oregano for about 15 minutes). The sausage is also homemade - mixed from ground pork from Polyface Farms. And we grew the basil as well! The only thing not home grown or home made is the cheese (maybe next time!).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Caprese Salad - July 16, 2012

Ahh, yes.  Tomatoes.  Nick and I didn't grow ours like Jaime, but we've been eating our fair share just the same.  They are especially nice on hot days when I don't feel like turning on the oven or standing outside and grilling.  We have been enjoying this classic combination quite a bit lately.  Especially since we got a big bunch of basil in our CSA delivery, of which there is no picture this week, owing to the fact that heat makes me lazy. Plus,  we got a new refrigerator delivered last Thursday, which kind of threw me off schedule.  As soon as it was in and operational, I put all the vegetables in it as fast as I could without taking the time to photograph.  My apologies.

For this particular rendition of the Italian summer classic, I used cherry tomatoes, ciliegine mozzarella and a lot of fresh basil.  I dressed the bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Simple as pie.
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend Morsels - July 14-15, 2012




It was a bittersweet weekend here in Minnesota, and one where  Nick and I did almost no cooking.  We said good-bye to my cousin Brad, who lost his battle with a very aggressive form of sarcoma, at a memorial service on Saturday.  Brad wanted creme-filled, chocolate-frosted Bismark doughnuts at the service for everyone to enjoy, and his family made sure his wish was fulfulled.  That is my kind of guy.  I ate two! 

The heat has been oppressive, but we did get some much needed rain on Friday evening.  Despite the fact that my lawn is crisp and brown, a few of my flowers are thriving.  I picked a big bouquet of Queen Anne's Lace and phlox and admired the colors and form all weekend.

Because of the underlying feelings of loss, we made sure to enjoy time spent together with family and friends.  Celebrating Bastille Day, backyard puppet shows, good food and loved ones was the perfect way to finish the weekend.   
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Hartman Garden Update - July 16, 2012

It is tomato season!

I am so excited to be harvesting tomatoes... These are some of the heirloom beefsteaks. I feel like I've been watching these babies grow for ages, starting out as just seeds germinating under a light on a corner of my desk in the dark days of winter. I am so attached that it is almost difficult to eat them! But their deliciousness wins out in the end. I've been eating them raw but their true deliciousness came to life last night when I put them on top of a pesto pizza. Even Richie - who doesn't like "chunks" of tomatoes and made a face when he saw it - gave it a try and admitted that they tasted "ok." We might convert him to a tomato eater yet!

We also have a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes and are harvesting more than I can eat, so I decided to utilize my new canning skills to preserve some for the winter. This is another recipe from The Preservation Kitchen. Don't know how they taste yet, but they sure are pretty!

The only disappointment thus far has been the San Marzano tomatoes. I've been fighting blossom end rot with them and have only managed to salvage a couple small tomatoes so far. My research tells me that the cause could be any of several issues, including a lack of calcium in the soil and inconsistent watering. I've added egg shells to the container and put mulch on the soil to help keep the moisture level, but when the temperatures soar into the triple digits, it is hard to keep up sometimes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Homemade Graham Crackers & Marshmallows - July 7, 2012

Our 4th of July travels took us to the Wisconsin Northwoods, where I wanted to be able to eat corn-free S'Mores around the campfire. Since all three of the typical elements of a S'More (Honey Maid graham crackers, Jet Puff marshmallows, and Hershey's milk chocolate) all contain one corn derivative or another, I knew I had to get creative. The bonus outcome was that my substitutes were either ultra gourmet or homemade and created the most delicious ooey-gooey creation you could ever imagine. Not "as good as the original," but much better!

I got the recipe for both the graham crackers and the marshmallows from one of my latest cookbook purchases, The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. The graham crackers (pictured above) include both whole wheat flour and rye flour, in addition to all purpose flour, resulting in a heartier cracker than the store bought version. She also dusts them lightly with cinnamon sugar, which I think is really necessary because they are otherwise a bit light on the sweetness.

Chernila's marshmallow recipe is a miracle to behold. The alchemy of the whole transformation in the mixer bowl is simply amazing. I've never been very excited about traditional marshmallows. I'll eat them once or twice a year when toasted over a campfire, but that is pretty much it. These are a totally different story. Flavorful, luscious, smooth, and pillowy... yum! I also elected to toss them in toasted coconut so they wouldn't stick together in the transport to Wisconsin and it was a delightful addition both for eating them alone and in the S'More. Instead of corn syrup, her recipe uses the British import Lyle's Golden Syrup, so it is totally safe for me to eat without any modification.

For chocolate, I used the organic dark chocolate truffle bar from Trader Joe's. For S'Mores I would prefer to use milk chocolate, but that seems impossible to find in a corn-free version.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the marshmallows and it was pitch dark outside when we actually consumed the assembled S'Mores so no photo of that either. I do, however, have a gorgeous photo of the view of the sun rising over Two Sister's Lake in northern Wisconsin. This was taken from the dock at my parents' lake house on our last morning there.

Frogmore Stew - July 4, 2012


No frogs, no stew.  This dish is also known as a Lowcountry Boil, and it was at the top of my list of must-have local food on our recent trip to South Carolina.  The somewhat misleading Frogmore name comes from the town this is supposed to have originated in, however, that could be just a bunch of bologna (or kielbasa as the case may be). Most origin stories get convoluted and embellished over time.  This happens everywhere, of course, but in no place more charmingly than in the South. 

Regardless of what you call it, it is amazingly delicious.  Fresh shrimp, kielbasa sausage, new red potatoes, and corn on the cob all boiled together and seasoned with Old Bay.  We got our shrimp from a local supplier right in Folly Beach, called Crosby's.  All told, we purchased 11 pounds of freshly caught shrimp throughout the week.  We ate peel-and-eat shrimp with cocktail sauce, shrimp omelettes, and shrimp tacos, but the Frogmore stew was by far my favorite of the week.


Often this is served dumped out on a newspaper wrapped table, like steamed crabs in Maryland, but we opted for plates.  I can't think of a better beach house meal.
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Monday, July 09, 2012

Folly Beach - June 30-July 7, 2012

Hello Dinner Clubbers!  I hope you all had a good 4th.  Nick and I just got back from Folly Beach, SC where we spent a week with Nick's family.  We had a lovely and relaxing holiday filled with days at the beach, drinking lots of beer (and margaritas), and enjoying some local, Southern food.

For the first time, I tried boiled peanuts.  This locally loved snack is sold at many a roadside stand in South Carolina, and we got ours from one called Fat Boys.  JJ and Greg picked the Cajun flavored variety and we brought them home and dug in.  These guys get a bad rap up north, but I really enjoyed them.  I think the problem is that we Yankees associate peanuts only with "nuts" and not with the legumes they actually are.  Understandably, a soggy nut does not sound appetizing, but If you approach these like you do edamame, it's a much more pleasant experience.  I thought these guys tasted a lot like cooked red kidney beans, and their delightful starchiness tasted delicious with the mildly spicy Cajun seasoning.  And with a beer.


Sadly, our rental beach house did not come supplied with the glass mason jars I'd dreamt of for our Southern drinking experience.  It's just as well I suppose, since glass is not allowed on the beach (but beer is.  Folly Beach is the only beach in the Low Country that allows alcohol consumption...for now).  Instead, we used these little, plastic stemmed glasses with our names written on blue painters tape.  Nick and Greg made sure that we had loads of great craft brews to drink all week, filling growlers up at places like the Charleston Beer Exchange, the James Island Piggly Wiggly, and the Folly Beach Brew Pub.   

Since they are experiencing a local crab shortage (this is a shell JJ found on the beach), we limited our local seafood consumption to shrimp.  It was caught fresh daily and the best I've ever had.  I plan on posting about some of the things we used it for later in the week.
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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Cold Sesame Noodles with Kohlrabi - July 1, 2012

Nick and I received our latest issue of Bon Appetit last week and promptly found a nice summer salad recipe to make for dinner.  Cold sesame noodles are a perfect dinner during a heat wave, which Minnesota has been experiencing lately.  I changed the recipe pretty significantly, but that should be no surprise to anyone.  What I kept pretty much the same was the dressing.  I had to omit the sriracha because we didn't have any, nor any suitable substitute. 

In our version, I used udon noodles rather than soba.  I really like udon so much better since my soba noodles usually either turn to mush or stick together in huge, inedible masses.  The recipe suggests using any fresh summer vegetables you have on hand.  In our case, that was kohlrabi, which I shredded in our food processor.  I also thinly sliced our remaining green onions and snap peas from CSA delivery #4.  And, rather than the cilantro called for, I added some basil and mint from the back yard.  I omitted the black sesame seeds, but only because I forgot about them until just now looking back over the recipe.  We actually do have those in the cupboard.

The result was delicious and refreshing.  The kohlrabi shreddings all but disappeared within the folds of the udon noodles, since they're nearly the same color, but we could tell they were there by the satisfying crunch in our mouths.  The scallions, along with the fresh herbs, brought excellent flavor to accompany the crunch.  And the dressing, well it would be good on almost any combination of noodles and vegetables I can imagine.   
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Monday, July 02, 2012

Omlettes with Greens - June 29, 2012

This was a quick dinner Nick and I made a few nights back.  It was an excellent use of a large amount of both saute greens and spinach from our CSA.  I dressed the greens simply with olive oil and balsamic vinegar plus a little salt and pepper to season.  Nick made up the omlettes with some chopped green onions and shredded sharp cheddar.  The combination was quite pleasant.
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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Introducing Lily - June 22, 2012

Sorry for being absent recently, but life in the Hartman house has been consumed by an adorable little creature this past week...

I snapped this picture of Lily in the backseat of the car as we were leaving the breeder's house. This was her first time in a car, first time wearing a collar and leash, and first moments away from her mom and litter mates. Needless to say, she was a little freaked out but stayed calm and put on a very brave face.

Lily quickly adjusted to life inside our house. One of her favorite things to do is to crawl onto the shelf underneath our coffee table. She's not going to be small enough to do this for long!

I snapped this adorable picture when she spontaneously fell asleep, using one of her new plush toys as a pillow. Awwwwww....


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