Thursday, December 24, 2009

And now a Canadian interval

For more information, contact the Department of the Interior, Ottawa.

Crabcakes and oven-roasted leeks

Tuesday 15 December

Before the long drive to St. Catharines, something to keep Barbara warm until her return in a few days. Creamed leeks, though yummy, were not quite the right thing with crispy crab cakes. So oven braised them. 5 minutes in a simmering broth, then cut side up in the oven for 30 minutes, basted occasionally with butter and the leek juice. Go with the grain (lengthwise) and just wrap them around your fork like American spaghetti.

Sorta Saffi

Monday 14 December
Zucchini, ham, cream, garlic, capers. Instead of salami, the ham. Or instead of asparagus, the zucchini.

Crab, corn, and poblano casserole

Sunday 13 December
The original plan was to stuff two huge poblanos with some kind of crab filling. But one of the poblanos sorta lost its structural integrity in the roasting process, so we changed plans and made New Joy's corn and poblano casserole with the addition of a lot of crab meat. It was trayf-a-lishous!

Mussels with chorizo and tomatoes

Saturday 12 December
All right, so for the second night of Chanukah, not so kosher. Somewhat Spanish in inspiration; a base of sautéed onions, then throw in the mussels, four or five chopped roma tomatoes (it's winter, but sometimes you need them), and a big glug of white wine; herbed with chervil and parsley from the almost-frozen garden.

Latkes with sour cream and lox

Friday 11 December
For the first night of Chanukah.

Note for future. Used Yukon golds for the tatties, and even though the latkes were thin, thin, thin, they could have benefited from some high oven time after the frying.

Napas, onions, and mash

Thursday 10 December
You know the drill by now.

The Dreadful Interval

Welcome Home Steak

Wednesday 9 December
After a long semester and a drive that seemed just as long, Barbara returns to Cincinnati—for a week.
To allow for the vagaries of travel, one needs either a long-simmered stew-like object or a quickie. Holt went for a vast Porterhouse steak which had been mocking his solitary state for too long now.
Served with roast asparagus and a lovely tarragon sauce over all: made with the oil-frozen tarragon cubes and homemade tarragon vinegar.

Zucchini, Salami, and Cream

Sunday 1 November, Ognisanti
Voted the People's Choice Pasta Award

Forbidden Rice with Ally & Dave

Saturday 31 October (Boo!)
Ally and Dave treated us to a pre-opera* feast. The stars—of the dinner—were salmon with a balsamic vinegar-butter sauce (rich and yet perfect for cutting the richness of the salmon). Then mushrooms and leeks served with "Forbidden Rice," perfectly al dente: nutty, resilient, and a deep purple color (as which of us is not). To which we added a salad of oranges, beets, and goat cheese.
Washed down with lashings of Rief's Chardonnay.
Thanks, Ally! Thanks, Dave! Thanks, Forbidden Chinese Emperors!

* Iphigénie en Tauride. The third appearance of this opera in the blog.
A great evening from Opera Atelier, in a new all-singing, all visible production. (Unlike the invisible Chicago production, or the CCM Gluck meets Cormac McCarthy production.

Veal Chops & Neeps

Friday 30 October
Ah, the glories of Antipasto's veal chops, frenched (or as oui say "françaised"), patted with lots of fresh thyme and rosemary from the window box, sautéed with a side of mashed, creamed (if that's not a redundancy) turnips. Continuing our Mediterranean voyage, we left Spain for Donini Trebbiano Chardonnay 2008.

Chickpea and Sausage Soup

Thursday 29 October
The blog has been in arrears for some time now, so the notes may be a tad lacunose.
Barbara brought Holt back to St. Catharines to the smell of a fine mess of pottage, slowly cooked in the slow cooker, which is a remarkably handy gadget for cooking things, especially beans and friends, slowly that is. The sausage was a spicy sundried tomato type, from Antipastos; we now know that they generally make their sausage too spicy, so it's best cooked with something bland, like chickpeas. All it needs is the usual dose of ground coriander and cumin to be just perfect.
All went well with a Candidato Temperanillo 2006, our new Iberian red of choice since the LCBO stopped carrying Vinho do Poeta.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Terroir la Cachette, Strewn Winery

Sunday October 18

Our colleague Kathleen came into St. Catharines to give an AIA talk, so we decided to take her out for an early dinner (i.e. lunch) at one of our favorite wineries. Luckily it was a warm, blue and gold day, with suitable touches of Canadian-maple red. La Cachette was glowing in the sun, and even still had pink roses around its terrace, though it was too cool to eat outdoors.

Just a light meal before the talk, so we began with the country-style bison paté, with little cornichons, caperberries, and a phyllo cup full of apple chutney. Our mains were seared rainbow trout fillets with buttery lemon and chive aioli, and a big bowl of steamed blue mussels in a light tomatoey broth. Of course, we had to order a bottle of the 2008 Strewn Rogue's Lot red, as you can't eat at a winery without wine. And we had to have a traditional butter whiskey tart (with vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis) for dessert, so that Kathleen could try it. Oh, we have so many excuses for doing the things we like.

Smoked Duck Cassoulet

Saturday October 17

Holt actually smuggled the legs and thighs from last week's smoked duck into his carry-on luggage, so we could share them in Canada. What to do with them, though? He decided to make a seat-of-the-pants cassoulet, using our new slow-cooker from Canadian Tire. A couple of cups of white Northern and red kidney beans went into the cooker, with some celery tops, two cloves of garlic, fresh sage leaves, a chopped onion, some chopped green tops of leeks, and a bay leaf, covered with salted water (that thing about not salting beans is - snigger - a canard). They cooked on high for a couple of hours, then got reduced to low all day, while Holt added, at various times, some rashers of chopped double-smoked bacon from the Farmers' Market, chopped carrot, more chopped onion, the said duck legs and thighs, and some fresh thyme as it simmered. And oh my, was it delicious.

Veal Shoulder Roast with Vedge

Friday October 16

Together again - Holt flew into Buffalo via Detroit, another fun thing he'll avoid in the future. Still, we got home to a cozy apartment and a boneless veal shoulder roast from Antipastos.

We chose to do "Arrosto" from the website
With onions, potatoes, turnips, carrots

2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoon olive oil 45ml
¼ teaspoon pepper 1ml
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves 5ml
1 tablespoon dried rosemary (15ml)
(if you have fresh, tuck branches and leaves under the string ties)
1 Boneless Veal Shoulder Roast, 2½-3 pounds, trimmed of fat, rolled and tied (1-1½Kg)
3 cups Chicken stock or broth 750ml

Preheat oven to 350°F. (176°C)
In small bowl mix sage, rosemary, garlic, oil, and pepper.
Rub surface of veal with this seasoned oil.
Place roast in a large roaster pan with a lid.
Pour 2 cups (500ml) stock around veal.
Roast partially covered for 1 hour, turning 2-3 times, until barely tender.
Uncover and roast until lightly browned, about 15 minutes longer.
Remove meat from pan, and tent with foil to keep warm.
Put pan juices in a pan over medium heat, and bring juices to a boil, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan.
Add remaining stock to pan.
Season with additional pepper to taste.
Slice veal roast thin and serve with pan juices.

The meat was tender but resilient, and the vegetables were luscious.

Chicken Chiles with Purple Pico de Gallo

Monday October 12

Today was the REAL Canadian Thanksgiving, which Barbara, ironically, had to spend driving back to Canada. So we had a big, satisfying dinner at lunchtime: beautiful roasted poblano peppers (bought from the Nice People at Findlay Market) stuffed with chicken and cheese, on an amazing salsa of PURPLE tomatillos and red bell pepper. Delicious to the palate, and crazy to the eyes.

Seared Scallops on Creamed Leeks

Sunday October 11

Yesterday when we were picking up our duck at Luken's, we were waited on by The Careful Guy, a fishy intellectual who is good about picking through the display case and avoiding the scraggly fillet or the broken mussel. So we splurged and got a pound of their large dry scallops, which he (carefully) put in a bag of ice. It is worth waiting to get this guy, especially when you're dealing with fish. It is also worth spending extra to get dry scallops, because they haven't been treated with STP (not the racer's edge, but sodium tripolyphosphate), which makes them last longer but gives them a tinny taste. You so don't want either.

Only dry scallops will really sear without leaking juice, so that's what you do, especially with big ones like this. First we got them a nice soft bed: whites of leeks, trimmed, washed, and sliced small crosswise, cooked low and slow (with a bit of minced tarragon) until they were melting, then doused with cream, boiled thick, and set aside. Then the scallops, adorned with fresh thyme and a sprinkle of kosher salt, went into a hot oiled pan, where they seared brown on both sides. Finally they were set on their creamy beds, and their pan was deglazed with wine, for a slightly browner sauce.

As they're so sweet and gentle, scallops need a vegetable that's savory, but won't drown their flavor out. These creamed leeks are ideal, though we've also seen good results with roasted brussels sprouts.

Smoked Duck with Asparagus

Saturday October 10

Since it was Canadian Thanksgiving, or at least that weekend, we had to have a festive bird. And as two people and a turkey is just as close to eternity as two people and a ham, we chose a lesser fowl, to wit (and to-whoo, though not an owl), a duck.
(Hold on, I have to catch my breath after that outbreak of mock-Shakespearean whimsy. There, that's better.)
The weather had cleared up into a beautiful blue and gold day, typical of autumn in Cincinnati. So we hauled out the old smoker and fired it up, and Holt smoked the duck on a nest of fresh thyme that Barbara had just trimmed out of the herb garden, while the charcoal fire was feed with all the old, dried, herb clippings.
We had the breasts elegantly sliced, with roast asparagus, and the smoky flavor was perfect for the rich, unctuous duck. Add a crisp, appley Chardonnay and a couple more adjectives, and it's a sophisticated Toronto take on Thanksgiving.

All-day chicken soup with tortellini

Friday October 9

The bag of frozen chicken bits (bones, necks, pope's noses) was getting too big for the freezer door, so it was time to take - and make - stock.
This is a lovely thing to do at home in your grubbies, while preparing powerpoints on Etruscan habitation evidence or the Saite period in Egypt (for example). It's also nice to be able to go outdoors and grab a handful of parsley and thyme to throw in the pot. So for dinner there was soooothing soooup, with some of the picked chicken and the soup onions thrown back into it, and tortellini boiled therein. Okay, so they were Trader Joe's dried, not the fresh ones we used to get at the Pasta e uova place on Via dei Quattro Venti, so they clouded the soup a bit. Still pretty damn soothing.

Gnocchi with Venison Ragu

Thursday October 8

Barbara only began the eight-hour trek back to Cincinnati at one PM, so despite a very hard day at the office, Holt had time to go home and simmer something savory for the big homecoming dinner.
So an long-simmered V-burger ragu, with lots of little dice of the trinity of Celery, Carrot, Onion.
Trader Joe's has recently changed their gnocchi supplier, and these were far inferior: just doughy lumps, with no little shaped dent to catch the sauce. But it's the sauce that makes this dish, and after a long, rainy drive, and with a glass of red wine, it was just the thing.

Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend in Cincinnati

It's been an age since we posted last. We're only together on various weekends, and when we've been together, we're too busy to blog. So a bit of ketchup, uh, catch up.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shrimp and Artichokes with Rouille

Sunday 4 Oct.

Saturday’s farmers’ market had yielded some lovely Shepherd’s peppers and as the shepherd wasn’t using them, we roasted them, and then turned them into a rouille with some Ontario garlic, dry toast crumbs (actually samples from zehr's bread counter, see below), and olive oil (from Italy, judging by its accent).
But there was also a supermarket find: Zehr's actually carries fresh little artichokes for only 3 for 99 cents. so we boiled up these tender little marvels, and they went wonderfully with the rouille as well.


Saturday 3 Oct.

The evening banquet for the conference, held at “Alphie's Trough,”* a Brock faculty club of sorts, which is desperately trying to “rebrand” itself as "Alphie's Bistro."

Good appetizers (especially the swedish meatballs and spring rolls) circulated.

Dinner started with a refreshing salad with raspberry vinaigrette. A dry-ishbanquet chicken, but actually a rather good cream and mushroom sauce to go with it. And pleasant fruit tarts and pleasant staff.

*Named for Sir Isaac Brock’s horse.


Friday 2 Oct.

After a successful day of giving papers at the Greenscapes Conference at Brock (Holt’s was about dirty English gardens. What else?), we felt the need for some refreshment. We two, our former student at Caesarea Jennifer (who teaches at Rochester), Kathy, and her two students, Kate and Toby, went to Tôi on Fanny’s recommendation (“Go fast.”) Sort of a French-Asian-fusion-Vietnamese (Tôi means “I”, 1st person sing.) tapas bar. You know, the usual.

From the headings “grow” “swim” “fly” and roam” (and we are getting a mite tired of this particular whimsy on menus) we picked:
· sweet potato frites, with a sambal soya dip: a big hit
· fresh sweet potato rolls with cucumber, cilantro, daikon and baby cress: not as successful, maybe too close a repetition of flavors.
· grilled quails with tamarind glaze: mighty good mouthful
· jerk-style spiced chicken with coconut sticky rice: just the right amount of stick.
· lamb with prunes on couscous.
And we got a skewerful of shrimp, apparently by accident.

Service was a tad chaotic: somehow the whole second round of dishes got lost in or on their way to the kitchen, but our nice waiter (from Melbourne, if you please —“Sidney’s rubbish”) tracked them down and hauled them forth. All very tasty. A good wine list, too

Trout in orange sauce

Thursday 1 Oct

For Holt’s first night back in Canada, he expressed a desire for a fishy requisite. Barbara caught two nice trout at the fish counter in Sobeys. Flavored with rosemary, fried up in butter, and then the pan deglazed with a little wine and a splash of orange juice. With roasted asparagus on the side.
We also learned the dangers of using a cheap-ass aluminum foil for roasting asparagus: it fused to the broiler pan and had to be removed by force and/or violence.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Thursday September 17
Holt had to go back to Cincinnati. Waaaahhhh.

"Oktoberfest" sausage

Wednesday September 16
Antipastos' "Oktoberfest" sausage, which, since Oktoberfest is always held in September was appropriate. It tasted rather corned-beefy, so went well with mustard, fried with slivered onion and fennel, and steamed in white wine.

Salade Niçoise

Tuesday September 15
Got a jump on today's Salade Niçoise yesterday by boiling extra wax beans and potatoes, and letting them and 2 cans of cheap (ha!) tuna soak in olive oil and lemon juice. Today, added chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and black olives, re-seasoned, and tossed.

Veal Scaloppine al limone, wax beans.

Monday September 14

A trip to Antipasto's where the best cut today were the little scaloppine slices. Treated with the delicacy they deserve: a nano-second of sauté, shot of lemon, wine and capers in the pan. Crisp, tender beans from the market by way of the pan.

Roast beef and Tuscan beans

Sunday September 13

A final outing for the roasted beast, but we wanted a warm and comforting side dish. Actually, the beans were the soul of it and the beast merely the limbs and outward flourishes. So Borlotti (which the blog refuses to acknowledge in its index, but happened like this:
simmered closed with salt and 4 cloves whole garlic for 1 1/2 hours, then chopped fresh sage and rosemary, more salt and pepper added, simmered rapidly open until sauce condensed. Best beans ever.

Cat's Caboose

Friday September 11
For the first of the year Department meet & greet.
Fish & chips with overdone chips and tartar sauce and cole slaw; overdone hamburger with "buffalo chips." Katharine passed around the deep fried sour pickles (truly an experience) and potato skins. Beer.

Quicky sausages with the usual suspects

Thursday September 10
Antipastos "mild" fennel sausage and paprika, with onions and shepherds' peppers.

Beef & zukes

Wednesday September 9
Leftover thin-sliced roast beef (cold) and zucchini sautéed with garlic (hot). A côtes-du-Rhône that we'd had in storage since last year.

Chicken Shepherd's Potted Pie

Tuesday September 8

Thursday's chicken and leftover vedge, reworked by Holt - in only one pot! - into a chicken pot pie covered with a mashed potato crust.
We boiled the potatoes in the big sauce pan and turned them out on one of the plates, dotting with butter. Then a quick sautee of onions, celery, thyme and bay. Added a sprinkle of flour to the fat, made a béchamel with white wine & a bit of milk. added the chicken. Turn that out into a baking dish, returned it to the pot. Mashed it up with the business end of a whisk (all we had), with more butter, cream, white pepper, and some grated parmesan. Scooped that 'taties on the chix mix, baked for 30 min. at 350 º and then 10 minutes under the broiler. The chicken shepherds all loved it.

Labour Day Dinner

Monday September 7

Kind family friends JoAnne and Dave organized a holiday dinner and get-together, so we drove up through lush cornfields and vineyards to their house above Beamsville. There we had a little reunion with more friends, Ben, Patti, Michael, and Sandy, and reminisced about the time when Holt's Dad and Mom, Harold and Linda, lived here in Grimsby.
JoAnne had set a beautiful table, with cobalt-blue glasses, blue-patterned placemats, and a length of white tulle thrown over it, a bit of practicality that nonetheless made a very elegant picture. And the sight of it brought back a story about the first Christmas that Holt brought Barbara out to Albuquerque to meet his parents. Of course, everyone was a bit uncertain, wondering what the unknown person(s) would be like, but as it was Christmas, there had to be an exchange of gifts. So Linda presented Barbara with... a potato masher and a little white tulle canopy for keeping the flies off a picnic dish, with the explanation, "I thought it was so romantic," and that tiny glint of a joke in her eye. Needless to say, we liked each other from that moment (and a few others) on.
After the tulle was removed for business, JoAnne's table hardly had room for all the platters and bowls, so we passed to the left and heaped our plates with all sorts of fresh, local, summer foods: succulent oven-roasted chicken, red-skinned potatoes, fried okra, Patti's sweet potato casserole with pecans, baked yellow squash, sweet corn, green beans, thick slices of beefsteak tomato fresh from Sandy's garden, and corn bread in sticks and muffins; and then around again for seconds. And at the end, when no one thought they could eat a bite more, JoAnne put the ultimate persuasion on the table: home-baked peach and pecan pies, and who could resist just a slice of each?
Good food, good conversation, good people - a heart-warming and memorable evening. So thanks, JoAnne and Dave! (And pssst - JoAnne - we want your piecrust recipe!)

Picnic and peppers (and ribs)

Saturday September 5
Day 2 of our Noël Coward festival at Shaw, 4 plays broken by a picnic lunch of cold roast chicken, yellow and red tomatoes, and mirabelles, looking out at the sailboats on NOTL's eponymous lake.
So as we weren't very hungry that evening, made a version of James Beard's "Italian flag" pasta: red "shepherd's" peppers and zucchini, cut into matchsticks, sautéed with red roma tomatoes, over spaghetti.
We thought we were full but for a non-traditional dessert our nice downstairs neighbor Lauren invited us to join a backyard barbecue, and Allen produced a heaping platter of tasty ribs. We had a great time - thanks, Lauren and Allen!

Stone Road Grille (Rest), Niagara on the Lake

Friday September 4

After 3 Noël Coward plays and a frozen peach daiquiri at the Prince of Wales Hotel, we went back to one of our favorite places, the Stone Road Grille.

For wine, we took our waitron's recommendation and had the new Cattail Creek Rosé - at first seemed too uncomplicated, but was wonderful with the food.
Then we had 2 cold followed by 2 hot appetizers -
The cold were:
Chef Salad: bibb lettuce, house cured bresaola, Niagara gold cheese and confit duck with a little quail egg, nicoise olives, and tomato raisins in lemony herb vinaigrette;
and smoked salmon salad - a layer of smoked salmon on a layer of creamy cheese and a bottom layer of salmon tartare; topped with a haystack of sprouts that were actually tasty.
Then came the hot:
Mussels Steamed in verjus and fines herbes with chorizo, served with AMAZING Frites and aioli.
and Lobster triangolini, but last time we had them with lobster bisque sauce - this time in a meaty ragú. Odd, but pleasant.
And since we had room for desserts:
Cloudberry creme brulée with walnut shortbread cookies;
and the "Rest" Sundae - a circle of chocolate mousse enclosing (very) salty caramel ice cream and chocolate sauce, sandwiched between two meringues and garnished with more chocolate sauce and nuts. It becomes clear that Rest has a taste for ice creams that are just that touch beyond creative, and toward peculiar. But we still love the place.

Shabbat Chicken on Thursday

Thursday September 3
Antipasto's giant roast chicken, with rosemary and sage under the crispy skin, and roast onions, parsnips, and carrots.

Emergency Veal Chops

Wednesday September 2
After a day of unpacking and exhaustion, Antipasto's veal chops with rosemary, thyme, butter and shot of anchovy oil (because we thought we had olive oil, and we so didn't; but this tasted fabulous) on boiled yellow potatoes.

The Keg

Tuesday September 1
The Big Drive to St. Catharines. We stopped at The Keg for dinner - had a grilled sirloin Oscar, topped with shrimp, scallops, asparagus and Bearnaise sauce; and three mushroom top sirloin with sautéed portabello, shiitake and button mushrooms in a balsamic cream sauce. Red wine, of course. And then on to our new apartment...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eggs Beatrice

Monday August 31

Again, when you've got lotsa lox (and we do, see below), you make this favorite.

Pasta al Salmone

Sunday August 30

We've given up counting how many times we've had this. We made it with some of the pound of smoked salmon we got as loot from the Nashville Costco, and the last of the cream.

Venison Chili

Saturday August 29

The sight of all those rolls of v-burger in the Kelleys' freezer (some of which snuck into our luggage, making us once again interstate food smugglers) gave us a taste for a good ol' long-simmered venison chili. We were a mite late in getting the kidney beans soaking, but after a couple of bouts in the pressure cooker (with salt! because that thing about salt making them tough is a myth!), and a long simmer with chopped fresh tomatoes and the other chili secrets, the chili was satisfying and savory.

Corn, Pepper and Cheese Casserole Redux

Friday August 28

See Sunday, below - it makes enough for two meals, so it's nice to have the other half reheated after the long drive home.

Lamb Feast in Nashville

Thursday August 27

When visiting the Kelley-Parker abode, we try and fit in a visit to the local Costco, where we load up on things we can't get elsewhere, like giant jars of artichoke hearts and cheap legs of lamb. We also try to make a big family meal, so the latter served as an excellent main dish, once again rubbed with mustard and broil-roasted until it was good and rare. Garrett was unsure of whether lamb was one of the things he ate, but he good-naturedly tried it, and we were pleased to find that it sure was. He ignored the imported Cincinnati pattypan squash, steamed and served with butter, but the rest of us did not. David (had he known) provided the wine, a classic 2003 Paradigm, and we only wish he'd been there to enjoy it with us.

Tomato and feta salad

Wednesday August 26

We were up at the Vanderbilt campus, where we met our old friend A.-J. for a big, slightly late, Indian buffet lunch. Well, of course you can't help but try a little bit of everything on a buffet, and afterwards, you can't actually tackle a proper dinner. So we chopped up a bunch of varicolored tomatoes - and yes, we'd brought them from the garden at home, so I guess you can call us interstate tomato smugglers - and had them with some sundried-tomato-flavored feta we found in JoDee's fridge.

Green chile chicken enchiladas

Tuesday August 25

JoDee is a great cook, and what with her hectic schedule, she has become adept at throwing a tasty meal together that can be microwaved and eaten at any time. This one recalls the Parker clan's home of Albuquerque, where the green chile is the state vegetable, and tree, and fruit, and possibly insect (the bird, of course, is the roadrunner - though chicken is far preferable for the enchiladas).

Penne Qualcosa

Monday August 24

...with sautéed red onion, then bits of Schad's ham, dollops of ricotta, parmesan, and cream thrown into the pan to warm, and garnished with fresh basil, oregano, and nutmeg, with the boiled penne thrown in at the last and tossed. Odd but endearing, it was something to clean out the fridge before taking off for Nashville.

Corn, Pepper and Cheese Casserole

Sunday August 23

This is the recipe from new Joy, which we've done before, using poblano peppers, this time from the Italian sandwich place in Findlay Market - ten for a dollar, can you believe it?- and lovely sweet summer corn. We even froze some for those pepperless days of winter.

Different Squash Blossoms and Gazpacho!

Saturday August 22

Two recipes from the latest Gourmet added a mite of variety to our seemingly-endless parade of garden produce:
Squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta and mint, and
Tomato and tomatillo gazpacho.
We made the latter with ripe greeny-yellow tomatoes, so it was all a green thought in a green shade (of green).

Scallops with Tomatoes

Friday August 21

The recipe that inspired us is this, but with heirloom tomato and cherry tomatoes from the garden. The scallops were just the frozen sort, so this recipe suited them, as they are just barely cooked and then removed, so their copious juices can be boiled down while they remain tender. We also ransacked the garden for both lemon and lime thyme, which added to the lively citrus flavors.

Lamb Hash

Thursday August 20

This is great to use up the slightly-browner ends of roast leg of lamb. We've done this with just turnips before, but this time we used both potatoes and turnips, and a healthy dose of fresh chopped parsley. All were diced by hand rather than processed, as last Saturday's lamb actually didn't have any less-than-perfect bits, and we wanted to preserve its rareness and texture. And we actually had some lamb broth from its bones too.
Though manually-diced hash doesn't stick together and brown like the processed kind, this is the apotheosis of lamb hash. Holt didn't even put any ketchup on it, which is the ultimate hash accolade.

Napas with Onions and Pattypan Squash

Wednesday August 19

Another garden-dictated meal, as every morning Barbara goes out and, at the cost of being thoroughly mosquito-bitten, lifts the enormous squash leaves and finds adorable little marble-size pattypans. So after preparing our favorite Napa sausages in the usual manner, fried with onions and then steamed in wine, we delicately placed around them many little yellow half squashes, each little one set to soak face-down in the pan juices, and covered until tender.

Gnocchi with fresh tomato and basil sauce

Tuesday August 18

There are so many tomatoes out in the garden, and so much basil that needs to be snipped down, that this one's a natural. And you can introduce a little variety by choosing a different kind of pasta, or in this case Trader Joe's gnocchi. (Actually, the mix of what's ripe among the tomatoes always makes a nice change too.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Baked Chiles rellenos with cheese, oil-cured tomatoes and scallion, and squash blossoms stuffed with tomato, parmesan and crumbs with tomatillo salsa.

Monday August 17

With that title, who needs a recipe?
We wanted to do some kind of big ass fry-up of the superabundance of squash blossoms (I know, your heart bleeds for us) and we also wanted to do something different with the four poblanos we had bought on Saturday and roasted the previous night.
So a typical H&B production: found a suggestion somewhere (can't find it again) of making a bread crumb stuffing (as if for mushrooms) and then baking the buggers. Some onion sauteed in olive oil, then the chopped tomatoes, a little oregano, then the last of the bread crumbs and lots of parmesan to bind. Meanwhile Barbara grated up a mess of Colby cheese, some sun-dried tomatoes, etc. as if for the usual rellenos in batter, but we just put everything on a backing tray, with a little more oil and into the oven at the people's temperature for the people's time (in this case, half an hour). Then served with the last of the tomatillo salsa.
Pretty darn nice: the blossoms came out nice and crisp, almost crackly, and the rellenos were a welcome change.

Stir fry pork with scallions

Sunday August 16

Among Mark (I went to Spain with Gwenth Paltrow) Bittman's "thousand best recipes": But in fact rather plain, so we marinated the pork in the usual way, with soy and Shao Xing wine and a pinch of sugar. Since scallions cook rather fast, we added them after the meat had been stir-fried, as directed. But they also cook down enormously, so even though we had used two bunches instead of Bittman's one, we should have used three. Anointed with a touch of sesame oil at the end, it still tasted pretty good.

Roast Lamb with mustard coating, roast carrots, onions, shallots and potatoes

Saturday August 15

A buy on lamb at Kroger's (the nice sausage guys in Findley Market) led to a standard roast. Holt boned it out, saved a rolled roast for stuffing later, plus the straggley bits for a stoooo. Painted it with Julia Child's mustard coating, and tossed in a mess o' vedge. Oddly satisfying with on a hot summer's night.

Leftover chicken with bok choy and onions

Friday August 14

Pretty much as it says. Did the bok choy (the last probably of this year) stems chopped, with a little garlic and onions, then a chiffonade of the leaves. Added the leftover Shabbat chicken and a tiny bit of chicken broth. Covered, and let the chicken reheat. About 25 minutes from start to finish.

Ratatouille with Pattypan Squash and Yellow Tomatoes

Thursday August 13

We being taken over by squash and though we nip a lot of them in the bud, we still have more. So a tasty rat was in order, with the last eggplant from the market, and lots of yellow heirloom tomatoes.

Venison Medallions with Potato Galettes

Wednesday August 12

We still had some of the lovely blackberries left, and Holt had a vision of venison. This was a meal largely furnished by and dedicated to our brother-in-law, David Kelley. A mighty Nimrod (and we mean that in only the nicest way) he gave us both the Paradigm wine but also the back strap, which somewhat to our surprise was not the whole loin but pieces. Not to worry, we just dusted them with salt and pepper, pan fried them (instead of roasting it), deglazed with a dollop of balsamic vinegar, then added a few berries to the sauce, smashed them and then added the rest whole. Served over the wonderfully easy potato galettes.
For a little side dish, we had just a few nice tomatoes and squash from the garden. Holt reduced some more balsamic vinegar in his saucier (Holt loves his saucier and the giver thereof). He then had the great idea of hotting up the squash a little by placing them in the microwave for 30 seconds. They exploded rather neatly in half, precisely as he had always intended.

Spaghetta alla Norma

Tuesday August 11

A buy on eggplants led to a vague memory of something nice to do with them. And the blog reveals its helpfulness in recalling the last time we did this splendid recipe from Jamie Oliver.

Swordfish steaks with tomatillo pineapple salsa

Monday August 10

We had tomatillos, we had pineapple, both bought on spec. What to do with them? Found this nice recipe on Epicurious. The recipe calls for an avocado; we didn't have an avocado, so we didn't put in an avocado. Basically a standard grinded up tomatillo salsa (infinitely flexible) with a little dash of chile, cilantro, some onion, but sweetened with some chopped pineapple. Made a nice play of flavors with the swordfish stakes.

Spanish Potato Salad

Sunday August 9

A good thing to prepare on the Saturday before. Much as the last time.
Then for desert: fresh blackberries (from Thistlehair Farms) with a little lemon curd at the bottom.

Chicken Breasts with Leeks and Mushrooms

Saturday August 8
Chicken Breasts with Leeks and Mushrooms
A nice fresh dead chicken from Findley Market (the egg guys on the left just before you enter the shed). About $3.50 a lub, but well worth it. Our favorite thing with chicken is poulet Celestine, but a change of pace. So we broke down the chicken into breasts, thighs, wings, drumsticks (back, etc. into the bone bag in the fridge). So sautéed Mr. Chicken in gobs of butter, sprinkled with thyme and tarragon (would have been even better with the herbs under the skin), added a mess of sliced leeks (also from the market), then mushrooms, cut into ½ in slices. Only about a teaspoon of wine, since the ‘shrooms give off enough. Cover, and when done (20 minutes), remove the chicken, add a glug of cream, cook down a bit and put back the breasts (we saved the other pieces for another meal).
This was a wonderfully moist and tasty bird.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Penne Carbonara

Friday August 7

The classic, but the local free-range eggs have yolks the color of marigolds and the egg-cheese-pepper mix needed just a dollop of creme to thin it.

Squash blossoms - again?

Thursday August 6

Ah, but this time stuffed with the herbed cream-cheese mixture plus some goat cheese. A tasty combo, and using the pastry tube made stuffing the flowers a snap.

And here's a kitchen action shot:

Cold pork - again?

Wednesday August 5

Ah, but this time with Barbara's prize-winning (OK it was 2nd prize) cranberry chutney and tomatoes and basil. And for starters: cold melon yin-yang soup.

Steak n Squash

Tuesday August 4
T-bone steaks (IGA cuts them too thin to do anything but pan fry) with a summer vegetable ragout, featuring garden pattypans and little tomatoes.

Transcendent Leftovers

Monday August 3

See Saturday's Librarians' dinner for the pork tonnato and a lovely tomato and feta salad.

Transcendent Chowder

Sunday August 2

This is close to our usual but used bacon, the sweet silver queen corn we got from the farmers and boiled up yesterday, and the truly transcendent item, Holt's home-smoked salmon from last week.

Librarians' Dinner

Saturday August 1

We wanted to have the ever-helpful librarians (past: Jean) and present (Mike and Jacquie) with attendant spice (Donald and Susan) over for a cool summer dinner.

The appetizers were simple: various bowls of pecans, the “festive” olives from Dean's, sungold cherry tomatoes from our garden. The only made-up things were little cucumber discs topped with herbed (lemon thyme, lemon balm, chives) cream cheese and Holt-smoked salmon from last Saturday.

The center piece was a roast pork (done the night before, and don’t let anybody fool you: pork is done at 130-35º and anything higher is dry) with a tonnato sauce (made with the home-made mayo from the BLTs).

The farmers' market had more gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, which we decked out with basil and garnished with feta cheese dressed with oil and lemon thyme. Plus a lettuce salad, with our last garden radicchio.

Drinks were the Four Vines Naked Chardonnay, and fuzzy water (sometimes all over the table).

For dessert: our OZ friend the friand, as here served with a puddle of fresh raspberry coulis, marbled with cream, and adorned with Thistlehair Farm blackberries.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Nacho Mama

Friday July 31

It was Friday, which means that our energy, both mental and physical, was low. Also, that we had to clean the week's leftovers out of the fridge before doing the big market run tomorrow. So we rummaged for some old tortilla chips (carefully tasting them to make sure they were still good), and laid them out on two oven-safe plates. We made a salsa out of our last heirloom tomato, onion, one little hot numex chile and the mosquito-bedeviled pickings of coriander from the garden, and scattered it on the chips, then topped that with the leftover meat from our stuffed-baby-squash-blossoms from Tuesday (which, as both our readers remember, was itself made of leftovers from Saturday). Then we hid both piles of trash under a haystack of grated colby cheese (no, not Velveeta - we haven't fallen so low just yet) and put them under the broiler until the cheese melted.
With a couple of beers, it wasn't bad. But there are few things that are bad with a couple of beers.

Tuna Steaks and Bok Choy Provençal

Thursday July 30

We still have a few bok choy from the garden, but they get tougher as the summer goes on. Also, one gets a little tired of the Asian-stir-fry theme. So this recipe from last month's Gourmet, which treats bok choy just like swiss chard, was a real find.

Once the vegetables were done and simmering, we threw two thick tuna steaks (defrosted from Trader Joe's) on the grill. We now flip them every minute, because they're just like beef steaks and can get overdone if you leave them even half a minute too long. But a careful admixture of instant-read thermometer and cut-peek-and-cheat will get you a lovely rare steak to slather with fragrant summer vedge.

Spaghetti with Artichokes and Prosciutto

Wednesday July 29

If you have a big jar of artichoke hearts from Costco, and some leftover prosciutto (which we surprisingly often do), here's a quick pasta. Originally we were going to do this Artichoke-Fennel-Sauce-with-Prosciutto, which sounded nice: a raw, grated vedge sauce, but when we put the farmers' market fennel bulbs, which were the Florentine type that Barbara grew last year, through the grater, they came out looking and tasting like mohair.
So we put together everything else (except the fennel seeds) as the recipe directs, and it was great.

Stuffed Baby Squash and Blossoms (plus veal stock)

Tuesday July 28

Back on Saturday, when Holt was busy kneading bread and whipping mayonnaise, Barbara decided to burrow through the freezer for all the veal bones we had saved to make a new batch of veal stock, because we were CLEAN OUT OF IT (the horror!).
We cook this the Julia Child Way to Cook way (to cook), by browning the bones (even frozen ones) with chopped celery, carrots, and onions in a 400-degree oven, then deglazing the pan, putting it all in a pot with water to cover, and simmering AT A VERY SLOW BUBBLE for 3-4 hours. But what nobody else says is that at the end, you can not only strain, chill, skim and freeze the broth, you can pick over the bones and get quite a bit of edible meat and vedge.
So we ran the “mystery meat” through the food-chopper with some shredded cheese, and stuffed it into the latest pickings from our garden: squash blossoms with the tiny yellow pattypan squashes now attached. We dipped them in our new experimental masa batter, as we did last Wednesday, but it didn't stick too well, so from now on we'll go back to Holt's brilliant whipped-eggwhite batter.

Still, they looked so pretty on their yellow-tomato, red-pepper, and red-onion pico de gallo. And they tasted damned fine too.

Linguine with Smoked Tomato Sauce

Monday July 27

We did this a couple of years ago, when we had just smoked a bluefish and the smoker still had plenty of oomph: we halve a bunch of tomatoes (in this case, I think they were Rutgers), roll them in a little oil, and plop them, cut side up, into the smoker. And since Barbara saves and dries all her herb clippings, we were able to use basil stalks to provide the perfect herb smoke.
We didn't refrigerate them after smoking, just let them sit out in oil overnight. So the next day, all we had to do was whiz them up in the robot-coupe, throw them in a bowl with a couple of torn-up fresh basil leaves, pour hot linguine in, and mix. It's true Ohio ambrosia.

Garden Dinner with Julie

Sunday July 26

When you have a cool evening in July in Cincinnati, it behooves you (did I ever think I'd write that word?) to dine outside on the patio, overlooking the garden from which you picked the produce you are about to eat. It also inspired Holt to fire up the smoker and try to smoke a side of salmon, more or less as HERE.

We adapted it to what we saw Steve Raichlen actually do on TV, by letting it marinate all day. And instead of sawdust, we used dried herb clippings from the garden, so the smoke savored of sage and thyme. It took about 45 minutes, but we whiled away the thyme drinking white wine (Julie brought a nice New Zealand sauvignon blanc) and eating bowls of heirloom tomato gazpacho (traditional type, with cucumber and red onion dice and a slug of sherry vinegar).
Results were great: firm and savory smoked fish, delicious eaten warm (as we did) or cold (as we did later). Teamed with the aforesaid garden produce: last of the sugar snap peas and first of the baby pattypans.
Our strawberry plants provide about one strawberry a week, and we have to fight the birds for that. So dessert was South Carolina peaches from Madison's.

Locavore BLTs

Saturday July 25

Findlay Market is finally getting some real summer produce in, though we are thankful for this cool July. So with our first Indiana melon (smuggled across the border at colossal expense), we made a simple plate of prosciutto e melone, by draping slices of Canadian prosciutto across. (Since we started living in St. Catharines, we count Canada as part of our locality. So sue us.)
The Farmers' Market also provided some wondrous heirloom tomatoes, inspiring us to make amazing BLTs out of: fresh Holt-baked brown bread, Holt-made mayonnaise, Barbara-grown-and-picked-in-the-mosquito-swarmed-garden lettuce, and bacon from... some pig. (It's been in our freezer for a year, does that make it local? No? So sue us.)

Sausage and Peppers and Onions

Friday July 24

Our standard.
Just like the Feast of San Gennaro, except that the sausages were Napas, and we had yellow and red peppers from Findlay Market.


Thursday July 23
Haven't a clue.
This shows the danger of waiting even a day to jot down what we did. Post more often, Holt and Barbara!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chiles y flores de calabaza rellenos

Wednesday July 22

Yes, it's the squash blossoms again, this time part of a Mexican fiesta. We got some nice big poblanos and some tomatillos at Findlay market on Saturday. The first got roasted, the second got ground up with some garlic, fresh coriander, lime juice, and red onion to make the piquant pico de gallo on which everything would repose.
We followed our basic relleno procedure but the stuffing was a quarter pound of goat cheese and over a half pound of grated swiss, seasoned with a few ground oil-cured tomatoes and a little epazote we're growing in the garden.
With this, we stuffed four poblanos and ten beautiful squash blossoms.
The batter was made according to Holt's special method, but again, with a difference: we added a little masa harina. And what do you know - it began to puff up as if it had baking soda in it! So we quickly rolled and fried the chiles, plated them in the warmer, and then did the same to the blossoms, until all the golden fried things could be piled on the green salsa.
A fiesta in your mouth!

Asian barbeque pork with not-so-baby bok choy

Tuesday July 21

Just some thin medallions of pork tenderloin, anointed with some of last year's (!) Asian barbecue sauce that was waiting for us in the fridge, pan-fried for a couple of minutes on each side.
We're gradually using up the bok choy from our garden, and these last ones have grown a bit mature. So they can't just be split down the middle and grilled, they have to be chopped into strips and stir-fried. No problem with that, though; it just went into the pan after the pork was done and resting in the warming oven, white strips first, then green, then some of the sauce, then a little water, then steam for a minute.

T-bones and Squash

Monday July 20

Sounds like a really bad police-buddy movie. The steaks were on sale at IGA, we just anointed with Worcestershire and grilled them. Then made an instant yogurt and horseradish sauce. While they rested, we grilled tiny whole assorted squashes, most of which we got at the Farmers' Market, but one - first! - golden pattypan from the garden.

Pasta Fredda

Sunday July 19

We'd gone out with Kathy and Russel to Uncle Yip's for a dim sum feast (very good turnip cakes), so a light dinner was in order. What we had was pasta, in this case rigatoni, boiled and thrown into a bowlful of chopped fresh tomatoes, olives, basil, and goat cheese - much like Da Paolo's specialty "Pasta Fritta."

Squash blossom pizza

Saturday July 18

When the garden gives you squash, make squash blossom everything. This is an adaptation of our previous pizza bianca, but with goat cheese this time, lotsa garlic, and more salt for savor.

Leftover Chicken and Caprese Salad

Friday July 17

Yes, it's what we didn't eat of the chicken - from just yesterday (horrors!). But on a nice summer evening, convenience is important, especially when dining outdoors. We nuked the chicken briefly, and devoted our attention to a lovely caprese salad, made with farmers' market tomatoes, our own basil, and fresh mozzarella. The latter can be really bland, especially in this country, so we pre-marinated it in olive oil and fresh herbs, and topped everything with our new discovery, white balsamic vinegar, which keeps the colors pretty and light.

London Broil with Zucchini

Thursday July 16

We did both of these on the grill; the broil was smeared with Worcestershire and horseradish mustard, the zucchini oiled and dusted with fresh marjoram. But that herb is a bit too strong and medicinal for more than a pinch of fresh, so from now on we'll stick to thyme or oregano.

Chicken Breasts with Fennel and Carrots

Wednesday July 15

Barbara's vision of a homey summer-night meal, but it was Holt who carried it through. He disassembled a whole chicken, sautéed the pieces in oil, then added sliced fennel bulb and carrots, and finally melted in some chicken stock, turned down the heat, and let it simmer for half an hour or so until the vedge was deliciously tender.

Sole Packets with Basil

Tuesday July 14

This was an experimental twist on the various sole-timboccas (and soles with sorrel) we've done before, because our basil plant is producing enormous leaves, and needed to be snipped down. So we defrosted a packet of little sole fillets from Trader Joe's, laid the basil leaves on one side of each, and then folded them in half. We painted them with egg whites (left over from the Hollandaise) and dipped them in panko. The panko, however, were a little too big and crunchy to cover the tender little fish. Maybe regular ‘Merkin bread crumbs would have done better?
Luckily there was some roast asparagus left over from yesterday to go on the side, and Holt made a quick lemony Hollandaise for topping. And what better for Bastille Day than a Dutch treat invented by the French.

Vegetable Feast

Monday July 13

The pattypan squash plants have taken over the garden, and today we had the first harvest of big yellow blossoms. Holt stuffed them with fresh mozzarella and anchovy, then dipped them in his frothy batter, and fried them in deep-ish oil on both sides.
Our other vegetables were roast asparagus and grilled zucchini; so we had one roasted, one fried, and one grilled thing (more things to clean than our usual one-pan meals).
Dessert, however, was a snap: watermelon balls with fresh blueberries from Saturday's market, and a dose of triple-sec.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Veal Sausages with Bok Choy and Onions

Sunday July 12

The frozen sausages were from Antipastos: they helped to keep the veal fresh as we smuggled our meats across the border. The bok choy was from the garden, and was first washed carefully after picking; then inch-wide slices were taken from the leafy crown; then the crisp white stalks were sliced, and washed again, because protein (i.e. bugs) can hide in there indefinitely.
First the sausages browned in oil, then got pushed to the sides of the pan while sliced onions and the white bok choy stalks fried in the center of the pan. Added some chicken broth, lowered the heat, and steamed everything tender, then added the green parts and stir-fried a bit. A nice variation on the sausage-and-onion-and-something theme.

Veal Chops and Portobellos

Saturday July 11

Lamoreaux Landing 2002 Pinot Noir
The veal coated with thyme, the portobellos with tarragon, and some Sugar Ann snap peas from the garden on the side.
Thistlehair farm blueberries, picked this morning, and a diced ripe peach, with whipped cream.

Barbara's Birthday at the Palace Restaurant

Friday July 10

It must have been a while - since 2006, in fact - since we've been to the Palace Restaurant at the Cincinnatian Hotel, since we can't find it on the blog. But it's a place we like a lot - well-prepared food in a sophisticated atmosphere, with a good jazz trio in the background, and it gives us a chance to dress up a bit.
Our amuse-bouche was a "shooter" of cold melon soup with a droozle of some spicy red pepper oil, absorbed while we waited for our Pinot Noir to be opened (Cloudline, from the Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2006).
Then we progressed to starters: yellowfin tuna two ways (seared and tartare - the seared looked like the little beefsteaks at Cucafera), with little piles of fennel with green herb squirt and piquillo peppers with red pepper squirt, and a teeny hard boiled quail egg; and the other was beef tenderloin tartare like a disc of well-seasoned hash, with a sunny side up quail egg and crispy capers on top, brioche "soldiers" to dip the eggyolk in, and sriracha aioli alongside.
Our first main was crispy-crusted roasted barramundi (just like Australia!) with tasty poached celery, sunchokes, and red pearl onions, on a beautiful marbled puddle of sauce soubise and black truffle vinaigrette; and incidentally, some slivers of truffle on top. And the second was a trio of pork, namely three thick little slices of hazelnut crusted tenderloin, a caul-fat-wrapped package of tender, savory slow roasted shoulder, and a slice of braised applewood smoked pork belly with garbanzo bean purée, frissée, and bacon jus.
Since it was a birthday, we HAD to have dessert. One was a pistachio financier: a toasted slice of cake filled with warm crème brulée, topped with sweet and sour cherries and morello cherry sorbet. And of course, Barbara had to have something lemon, namely a disassembled "meringue parfait" - a thin line of citrus “biscuit” with a line of lemon cream and then thin shards of meringue on top, spotted with dots of lemon curd and a ball of perfect lemon sorbet on the side. And at the end, a nice platter of little sweets: a wodge of candied quince jam, a tiny "oreo," a peanut butter cup truffle, and a couple of delicious chocolates.

A Quick Linguine Alfredo

Thursday July 9

Since we only set out from St. Catharines at 1 PM, got home quite late and hungry. So boiled up a pot of linguine, and made a quick Alfredo by coating a pan with butter, boiling down some cream in it until nice and thick, and melting some grated Romano cheese in it. Seasoned with salt, white pepper, and more grated cheese. Just what the Ph.D. ordered.

Zest, Fonthill

Wednesday July 8

The two foreigners got a chance to take their local hostesses, Jane and Jo-Ann, out for a local meal at a local place they had never been, Zest.

We almost passed it by because the "Zed" blended in with the background of its signboard, so it looked like a place called "est." But we were happy we finally found it.
It's a small place, but the tables are well-placed and comfy, all poised around a big open kitchen, so you can watch the chefs work. And the service is just as we like: friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive without being all over you. They even changed the music on the sound system to accommodate us.

The food is billed as "modern Canadian," mainly sourced locally, though they don't make a cult out of locavoraciousness the way some places do. First they dropped off an amuse-geule, a snackable little smoked-char fishcake, while we pondered over the menu and ordered a Cave Spring Sauvignon Blanc (we drink locally, too).

We just had them put the appetizers in the center, and let everyone graze on crispy fried calamari with sriracha sauce, mussels in a smooth lobster-vanilla tomato sauce with sweet peas and tarragon, a warm salad of roast asparagus and shiitakes with goat cheese, and a big plate of Lameque oysters from New Brunswick - they best place to read about these oysters (indeed, any type of oyster whatever) is here.

Our two mains were fillets of lake perch, sparkling fresh and delicate, perched on a vegetable tower and topped with a fried zucchini blossom; and haddock fried in a coconut flour crust (really - they showed us the flour, it's not grated coconut) with a dark mole-style sauce.
And of course, we had to have dessert. One was a frozen black forest cake with fresh red currants; the other some spoons of house-made strawberry ice cream, which was nice and light.

Verdict: Zest is definitely on our eat-local list.

Barbeque at Jane's

Tuesday July 7

Our friend and neighbor Sonya was taking off for vacation the next day, so our hostess Jane threw her a farewell barbeque - using Sonya's own gas grill. So the main dish was grilled steak, seasoned with Montreal Steak Spice - an excellent dry rub. There wasn't enough room on the grill for much else, so the side dishes - fried peppers and onions, fried zucchini and mushrooms, and a big green salad - were made indoors. We also ate indoors, as there wasn't as much table room outside.
Dessert was tasty strawberry and rhubarb pie, with vanilla frozen yogurt. As Sonya observed, several times: it's not ice cream.

In an Oakville Garden

Monday July 6

Ally and Dave are great cooks and wonderful gardeners, so the ultimate enjoyment is to get to eat their food out in their garden. Their cat Thera supplied the floor show, as she was on her leash among the plants, stalking the occasional bird, squirrel, and even a baby bunny (all of which were smart enough to stay just outside of leash-range).
We started with an amazing variety of olives and a Turkish-style eggplant-walnut dip on wholegrain toasted pitas; various good white wines flowed throughout the evening. Dave grilled some pretty pink trout, and there was a casserole of savory gigantes in a tomato sauce with a touch of honey. And finally, a giant plate of local cheeses, and a delicious fresh fruit cobbler - this rainy spring has been bad for local fruit, but you would never know from this yummer.
To top it all off, they brought out a souvenir of their recent trip to Skye - a bottle of scotch you couldn't equal anywhere else. We sipped (in the case of the driver, one sip was all) with delight, and resolved to visit Skye for a scotch-slosh of our own in the near future.
So thanks, Ally and Dave, for another inspiring evening!

The Keg, St. Catharines

Sunday July 5

A long day's drive up to Canada, and we didn't want to put our hostess out with a hungry late arrival. So we stopped for a relaxing dinner beforehand, at The Keg.

Now this is a chain restaurant, but they try to use local sources, and their St. Catharines branch is in a historic industrial building, some kind of Mill, with the logo written on the smokestack. It's also very comfy and dark inside, which is good when you've been driving for eight hours.
We just had mains: top sirloin with three mushroom topping in balsamic cream sauce; and a New York striploin with added blue cheese and roasted garlic crust, which was a nice touch.
Baked potatoes came on the side, one with three-cheese topping and the other with sour cream and bacon bits; the potatoes themselves were rather dry and overdone, so the sour cream was needed.
A bottle of Kendall-Jackson cab sav was also much needed; luckily our destination was only five minutes away.

Independence Day

Saturday July 4

We know a barbeque is traditional for the Fourth of July, but the weather was unpropitious: hot, humid, and eventually it just gave up and rained. So we "grilled" indoors, in a frypan. The first traditional treat was the season's first local corn, golden-kerneled, just with butter and salt. Then, hot dogs - or rather, bratwurst from Trader Joe's, mit sauerkraut (echt Deutsch, really). And traditional American Potato Salad: yukon gold potatoes, chopped celery, scallion, and red bell pepper, moistened with mayonnaise and a little grain mustard (French!).

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Tuna Steaks with salsa

Friday July 3

Pan fried tuna steaks until opaque on each side but still lovely and rare in the middle. Then a cool fresh salsa with tiny cubes of Amish tomato, red pepper, scallion, cilantro, and just a little half of the home-pickled jalapeños.

Ants Climbing the Lion's Head

Thursday July 2

Sort of a combo of two classic Chinese dishes: Lion's Head and Ants Climbing Trees.
Marinate 1 pound ground pork in a tablespoon soy and a tablespoon yu xiang wine. Chop up 1 tbsp ginger and 2 cloves garlic. Wash and halve two baby bok choys. Have chicken broth, sesame oil and oyster sauce standing by.
Heat vegetable oil in wok to high, stir fry garlic and ginger, then pork until no longer pink. Melt a quarter cup of chicken broth over it, then nestle bok choy into mess, cut sides down, drizzle with a little sesame oil, turn down heat, and cover to simmer. Keep cooking and shifting until bok choy is limp and tender. Stir in 1 tbsp or more oyster sauce. Serve by draping bok choy on platter, heaping pork over it.

Salmon and Asparagus in Cream over Penne

Wednesday July 1

Or things to do with asparagus, cream and pasta that aren't a Saffi, though done very much in that manner. This was the last day of our poached fresh salmon, and it broke down very nicely to thicken the sauce. A whisper of lemon juice to brighten it.

Cherry Soup and Salmon Cakes

Tuesday June 30

A hot day calls for cold soup. So we boiled up a couple of pounds of cherries in a rather overly-sweet Riesling with just a touch of cinnamon and cloves. They're so much easier to pit that way. Grinded it all up and served it with a lattice of cream.
Then left-over salmon for salmon cakes dipped in panko, which really does make for a crunchier crust.