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Archive for October 2010
Oct 31 2010
Thanks to Emily from The Culinary Couple and to my friends Marylinda and Ellen for their suggestions on good ways to cook acorn squash. Emily suggested roasting it, mashing and mixing with a little butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. I used maple sugar instead of the brown sugar because I am addicted to the products from Paul Bunyan Maple Sugar Camp. The result was a creamy, homey, sweet bowl of wonderful. The photo shows how much I liked it . . there’s not much left . . . and I am saving the remainder for breakfast tomorrow. I’m not a bagel or toast girl and I think this is the perfect way for me to start November. Thanks, Emily!
Since I had multiple acorn squash on my counter, I also made the other recipe, too. But because I wanted to stay home all day ( I try to do that a few days a week to make up for excessive driving on other days) I substituted some ingredients. For the chickpeas, I used white Indian dal from my favorite store for unusual ingredients, Kalustyan’s.
For raisins, I used dried currants, and for the couscous, I substituted whole wheat orzo. I would think other grains such as quinoa or kamut could be substituted, too. The filling was so aromatic that I began eating it before I even stuffed it into the squash. I noticed that my filling looked runnier and not as chunky as the photo attached to the original recipe, but it was still so good. Beautiful and healthful. . and perfect for a fall evening. Thanks again to my friends for getting me to actually eat the acorn squash instead of just using it as part of an autumn centerpiece and then tossing it outside for the animals in backyard to eat.
Here’s the original recipe:
Oct 29 2010
Last weekend we drove on over to Soergel Orchards in Wexford, a place that holds many precious fall memories of hayrides, cornstalk mazes and sticky candy apples. But those days are long gone and now the barn where the cider is made interests us more than face painting (thank goodness.) The whole building was filled with the sweet smell of apples. It was really pretty neat how the fruits were mashed and spread on a riveted tray. Then the trays were stacked until there were about twenty all piled up; then they were squished with a large steel “presser.” The cider ran off the sides of the stack, into a filter and then to a pipe that transported that sweet juice into another room for pasteurization. I love the mechanics of food processing, so I could’ve stayed here all day.
And I love Soergel’s, but my favorite place for pumpkins is the farmland near Lancaster. The farmers put out giant piles of pumpkins on the side of the road. Folks stop by, select their pumpkins (top price. . . one dollar . . . no kidding) and put the money in a little metal box near the pumpkin pile. It’s the best pumpkin deal around (okay, it does take a few hours to drive there) and the lack of commercialism is downright charming. Last year I bought a nifty metal stand at an Amish store which allows me to make fun pumpkin piles. Look at the great selection that I chose for my front porch decor . . all at a total cost of about $2.75.
On to other squash. I love butternut squash. Nutterbuts as we call them here. But acorn squash are another story. Why don’t I like them? Why? I feel sorry for the four or five acorn squash on my counter right now. I’ve been accumulating them each week from my CSA box. They’re so cute, but . . . ick. If anyone has a good recipe for acorn squash, please send it my way. In the meantime, I am getting out my fave oldtimer vegetable cookbook. The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash. Maybe tomorrow I’ll post photos of my acorn squash cooking results.
Oct 24 2010
But I can’t help it. I can’t imagine another place with so many good foodie finds in such a small area. And so many nice people. Today I’m thinking of Heather and Bob Kuban, who own Currant Thymes in Ligonier (136 E. Main Street, 724.238.2930) and Kandi Newell and her husband Dave, who run Old Linn Run Coffee Roastery, in Rector, Pennsylvania. Not only did these folks generously give samples out to the ladies on my culinary tour, but they sell some of my favorite treats to purchase for myself and for gifts.
One of my rules of stops on the tours is that the owners have to be kind and the products/services have to be the best. Heather sells some of the finest maple syrup on the planet, tapped in Rockwood on the Paul Bunyan Maple Syrup Camp. Their Maple Cream is smooth and sweet, heaven on a spoon, or on pancakes, waffles or toast, too. Heather also carries a line of towels from a company called Mu Kitchen.(The Mu is missing an umlaut – two dots – over the u, but I couldn’t find it on the WordPress symbol tab.) They’re colorful and stylish, and I especially love the ones with the built in scrubbers. Heather samples a warm spicy chocolate dessert soup, a broccoli cheese soup and a rich puff pastry hors’ deuvre filled with brie and Meyer lemon preservs. Oh my! And then there was Kandi. Working hard to promote her small batch coffee roasting business, she cheerfully explained all about their beans and the roasting process. And the subsequent brewed coffee was (is) the best. Full flavored with some zip, the Bobolink Farms Brazilian is my favorite.
My tour was called Hidden Culinary Treasures in the Laurel Highlands, but I would love it if everyone knew about these folks. They wouldn’t be so hidden, but they’ll always be treasures to me.
Oct 17 2010
Loyal readers know that the fork on my logo is stuck in the map at Jeanette, Pennsylvania, right around the location of DeLallo Italian Marketplace on Route 30. It’s where I developed my love of cheese, salami, marinated vegetables and many other traditional Italian foods. I’ve been driving through the area a lot lately, trying to pin down some stops for a spring tour, and it’s right near Jeanette where I often need a little sustenance to carry on my mission. From the days when it was just a small roadside store, to the international presence in Italian food product sales that is now DeLallo’s, just hearing the name brings back great memories. When I stopped in today, it was really crowded and even the back parking lot was filled. So I didn’t hang out for very long, but instead, rounded the aisles speedily to pick up a few of my favorites. Here’s what I bought:
1. Pepperoni Bread (made only on weekends) – Recommended to me by the former executive chef of the swanky and special Barclay Prime restaurant in Philadelphia ( try the bacon wrapped scallops and the mac and cheese), Jim LoCascio, this bread has just the right balance of sauce, cheese and pepperoni, Gourmet food? No. Delicious? Yes.
2. Olives – DeLallo’s has lots of olives, and on the day I visited, they even had raw green ones. You can buy a few scoops of whatever you like and eat them on the way home in the car.
3. San Marzano tomatoes – Who knew that the real San Marzano tomatoes have three special labels on the side. . . . . Most of the tomatoes labelled San Marzano are not the real deal. Now you know.
4. Beautiful Beans – I love beans and I also love beautiful packaging. Could I find a one pound bag of beans for 79 cents at a regular supermarket? Yes, but just look at this beautiful jar of borlotti beans.
DeLallo’s will always hold a special place in my heart. They’ve kept up with the times, but haven’t lost that old school charm.
Oct 9 2010
A few months ago, my younger daughter stopped eating meat. This wasn’t a giant leap for her, because she already didn’t eat fish or beef, so really it was just the poultry that had to go. At home, we already do “meatless” for most of our meals so it wasn’t a freak-out for anyone else in the family, either. And furthermore, this child doesn’t even live at home anymore. I do like to take her out for dinner now and then, and so I started to look for places with more meat-free options. Vegetarian eating is a snap for the home cook, but it can be more difficult when eating out around here, especially if you crave something more than a tossed salad, deep fried zucchini or Eggplant Parmesan. Okay, it’s not that bad, but sometimes the menus have some slim pickings when it comes to vegetarian choices. I thought I’d share some of my favorites in the meatless category.
1. Quiet Storm – Buffalo chicken style tofu sticks always say “pick me”, along with the Thai salad with coconut and pineapple. Super crunchy and soooooo good.
2. Zenith Cafe – The menu changes frequently, but currently their apple and gouda plate is a winner along with the African peanut pineapple stew and the tofu walnut “meatball” sandwich. The decor is eclectic and it’s always fun to eat here.
3. Point Brugge Cafe - Although this isn’t a meat-free place, their Seared Mango and Tofu is tops on my list. (Confession: I usually pass on the tofu for a big bowl of mussels, but the mango-tofu dish is really good.)
4. The Square Cafe- The Tofu Scramble and the Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Scramble never fail to please, and there are lots of “V” choices. The Vegan Trail Mix Pancakes will keep your tummy filled for days. Really.
5. Smiling Banana Leaf – Panang Curry with tofu. Say no more.
6. The Tin Front Cafe – I’ve only eaten here twice and I am blanking on what I ate ( it’s late for me . . 8:45 PM), but this cute cafe gets my vote, in general, for great atmosphere and for effort in restoring old buildings in proud steel towns.
7. And I would be remiss if I didn’t include my all time favorite tofu dish, Laksa Noodles with Tofu from The Green Mango. I’m fairly sure it contains fish sauce, so it would be excluded from many vegetarian’s diets, but it is oh oh oh so good. Creamy and slurpy, and served piping hot, it’s perfect for a cool fall day.
Okay, so I realize that almost every item has tofu in it. I do know that there is more to veg food than tofu. Sorry about that, I just like tofu.
Oct 2 2010
Foraged food is in. Local, sustainable, organic . . it’s all that and more. It’s the new locavore fixation. But it’s a good fixation. A few days ago I went to the first dinner hosted by Wild Purveyors as part of a series called Table Terroir. Wild Purveyors sells in-season, local foods including foraged mushrooms and some other wild edibles, sustainably farmed fruits and veggies, farmstead cheese, humanely raised meats and poultry and sustainably farmed fresh water fish.
The reasons to attend this event were many, as one can see from the description of the Wild Purveyors company. But there were even more reasons to go. Point Brugge Cafe Exec Chef Kevin Hunninen was in charge of the cooking and the rustic barn at Beechwood Farms was the location. The chef from one of my favorite places in town and one of the most beautiful settings around. And a portion of the proceeds went to Farm Corps and The Audobon Society. Sign me up.
Brothers Cavan and Tom Patterson (the Wild Purveyors brothers) went all out for this dinner. From starters through dessert, every bite was thoughtfully prepared and truly scrumptious. The spelt and beet risotto, a creamy, slightly chewy spoonful of autumn, was my favorite course of the night. The centerpieces were stunning. The pawpaw infused vodka was fruity and smooth. A dessert of warm apples, nuts and a little wedge of Crotin de Chevre, a creamy camembert like goat cheese, finished the night.
A food adventure might be sleuthing out the juiciest June strawberries at a farm market, learning about gone but not forgotten area food treasures, working with a chef during a hands on cooking class or touring Pennsylvania’s artisan cheesemaker’s farms (and meeting a few cows along the way) . . or any of a zillion other fun ways to explore foodie things within a day's drive of Pittsburgh.