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My Alice Waters Sighting
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Alice Waters has been ubiquitous lately. Serious Eats discussed her guest spot on The View, as did the Amateur Gourmet (who also admitted he Tivos the show). Adam from the Amateur Gourmet featured a video of Alice Waters at the Union Square Greenmarket. If you remember, I made her Warm Olives, inspired by Becky's post at Day Street Pages. Bex had read the article about Alice in the NY Times (because she actually reads the Times and I just wait until she emails me something interesting). And so I was very excited when a note about her appearance in New Haven landed in my inbox.

She was brought to New Haven by the Yale Sustainable Food Project, which also has a booth at the Cityseed Market that I stop by at every week. She spoke at Battel Chapel, a place that has horrible lighting and is built in the New England church tradition--so we sat in pews as Alice stood at the podium, the sheep of her "eat local, eat seasonal" flock.

She was pretty much preaching to the choir, but I think the amazing thing was that there is a large enough group of people to fill most of the chapel. I didn't necessarily gather any new information, although it was wonderful to hear details about the Edible Schoolyard. Once she quoted John Dewey and said she was a Montessori teacher, the whole concept of "gardening and cooking as curriculum" made perfect sense--and it also made sense why I liked her.

One of the questions during the Q&A was "How do I learn how to cook?" Alice jokingly said, "Buy my book," but used the question to explain why a place like the Edible Schoolyard is so important. I wonder, though, what is an older person to do, someone who really feels like a kitchen is an alien world? I thought of an eating and cooking club--and then, of course, I thought of hosting one. How wonderful would it be to bring 5 or 6 people who truly want to learn into a kitchen...and teach them?

A once-monthly meet-up at the market, picking up fresh food, then off to a kitchen (mine or someone's) and a fantastic afternoon of cooking, with plenty of red or white wine to carry us to a huge supper. Sigh. I think Alice would approve. Anyone up for a November meal?
posted by Rose @ 10:31 AM   0 comments
Goat Cheese Risotto
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
So this weekend's foray into new recipes served up some outstanding dishes. In my effort to find a recipe for risotto with goat cheese, all I kept coming up with were risottos with little wimpy slices of goat cheese on top. Lame. I wanted to melt the cheese into the risotto, so I gave it a go with my basic risotto recipe, with a few minor changes. This received rave reviews (from my neighbors) and I really enjoyed it--the slight tangy flavor of the goat cheese elevated this basic risotto to loveliness. Oh, I got the goat cheese from Beltane Farm at the Cityseed Farmers Market.


2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped (or minced)
1 cup of arborio rice
A little olive oil
4 cups of heated chicken stock
1 package of chevre (the soft stuff) goat cheese (probably 4-6 ounces)
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1. Melt the butter in a medium pot. Drop in the onions and cook slow and low, as if you were making French onion soup. This normally takes about 30 minutes, with a little stirring here and there. You want the onions to go golden and soft slowly. There will be bits that caramelize. That's okay.
2. Raise the heat a little and throw in the garlic. Let that cook a minute or two, then add the rice. Pour a little olive oil on the rice and stir, until it gets shiny. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add about two cups of chicken stock and stir. Lower the heat. Pay attention to it! I'm not of the "stir risotto constantly" school of thought, but you do need to stir it fairly often.
4. When the liquid comes to the "shoulders" of the rice (an expression I heard Mario Batali use on Molto Mario), add another cup of stock. Repeat. If the risotto is still not tender after you've used up your stock, you can always add water. I find that overdoing the stock overdoes the flavor of the stock in your risotto.
5. Once the risotto is creamy and cooked to taste, cut up the goat cheese and stir the risotto until it melts. Add a few tablespoons of fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Don't put in too much Parmesan, because the real star is the goat cheese. Now taste and add a little salt and pepper accordingly. Eat warm and gooey.

This serves about four people. Also, feel free to cook up cut up bits of sausage, pancetta, prosciutto, bacon or ham in Step 2, when you crank up the heat and add the garlic. That's one of my favorite ways to eat risotto, with a little meat. On the other end, you can use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and make a completely vegetarian meal.
posted by Rose @ 6:56 AM   2 comments
Exploring CT Resources
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Although September is over, which was the official Eat Local Challenge month, I am still really interested in keeping it up. Of course, the challenge is that winter is coming, so I have to figure out how to preserve things and new recipes for foods that I've never cooked before. And I've been looking at restaurants that buy local (Chez Panisse style). In this research mode, I've found some good resources. I've already extolled the virtues of the Cityseed Farmers Markets (here and here), but I've found a few other helpful things in my quest to eat locally:

Zinc, a restaurant on Chapel Street in New Haven, has a market fresh menu on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Anyone want to save up a little money and go with me to see what this tastes like?

Cityseed has a Connecticut Crop Calendar of what is in season when, which is helpful for planning what I'll be cooking. has a whole slew of video recipes for seasonal eating. You can search them by season, too.

Not that I know where Wilton, CT is, but the restaurant The Schoolhouse at Cannondale is apparently really into local ingredients in their menu items.

Bishop's Orchards has a farm market and is only in Guilford, which isn't that far.

Seasonal Eating is a blog focusing on...okay, that should be obvious.

That's about it...for now.
posted by Rose @ 8:46 PM   0 comments
From the Formica Top: Cheat Day Luncheon
Thursday, October 04, 2007
From the Formica Top #3
What's going on around my kitchen lately

Cheat Day Luncheon
So, I completely disrupt my healthy eating once a week and take advantage of that day to make things that are both new and a bit gourmet. After last week's cheat at the oh-so-not-sophisticated Texas Roadhouse (I was going to write a review, but no one that likes good, unique food would even think of eating at a franchise where the goal is to appeal to the lowest common denominator, so it would be silly to say I didn't really like it), I think I deserve something amazing.

And so I have assembled a late luncheon menu that I am so excited about that I've started wearing a bib to catch all the drool.

A Food Network Newsletter that included a link to recipes for farm produce led me to Everyday Italian Giada DiLaurentis' recipe for Butternut Squash Tortellini in Brown Butter Sauce.

A mostly intact container of chevre goat cheese from Beltane Farm (purchased at last week's Wooster Park market which I wrote about recently here) and my current obsession with cheesy risotto (uhm, there's some simmering now) inspired me to look for a recipe for goat cheese risotto. I got a quite a few recipes from my Googling, but decided on doing it myself, because none of them looked appetizing. I'll let you know how it goes. Plus write notes so I can actually tell you what I did. Seriously...beets in risotto?

Serious Eats' current obsession with grilled cheese sandwiches and the 1/3 of a pound of Pleasant Cow cheese has me twisting new recipes in my head. What about a little of that local honey, lightly spread, on those fantastic sourdough boules from the Farmers Market, with the cheese, grilled with butter (for sure!).

Such an earthy meal deserves a good cup of chai.

Anyone want to come to a late lunch on Saturday?
posted by Rose @ 8:32 PM   0 comments
I have been fairly reluctant to share this recipe, if only because people, in general are fairly secretive with their chili recipes (as well as cookie, lasagna and other common recipes). I've also thought about entering this recipe in some sort of contest, because it's been fine-tuned and is actually very good. So, beware--if I find out you've used my recipe for personal gain, the chili monster will come and find you! Yes, that's a joke, but I'm kinda serious.

The trick to this chili is really the fresh ingredients. P-shaw on the canned tomatoes, although in the winter they are a fair substitute. Hot peppers are best from a garden, not a grocery store. If any of my recipes needed to be made locally, this is it. It makes a significant difference. This is also better the next day--so if you're trying to wow a crowd, make this the night before and let it sit. The flavors really punch up and intensify.

Ingredients (bear with me, this list is long)

*3 sweet onions, diced
*6 medium to large tomatoes
Olive oil
*Fresh cilantro
*4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
Goya Recaito
2 packs of Goya Sazon
*1.5 pounds of ground beef
2 cups of dry pink beans, soaked overnight in water
1 can of enchilada sauce
Red pepper flake
1/2 can of tomato paste
Black pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Goya Adobo
Ground cumin
1-2 bay leaves
Frank's Red Hot
1/2 light colored beer (Corona, Bud Light and Coors Light have all been used)
1 hot pepper

1. Boil a pot of water. Score the tomatoes, then drop them in the boiling water for about 5 minutes, until you see the peels start to come up. Drain in a strainer and run cool water on them. They're really hot at this point, so let them cool while you do the next steps.
2. In a large pot, drop a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions. Let them get nice and brown and soft. This could take up to 15 minutes. Be patient with them! You want them to almost melt in the chili.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of Goya Recaito, about 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro and the garlic. Stir.
4. Add the ground beef and let it get nice and browned up, sprinkling Adobo on it and chopping it up with your spatula so you don't get huge hunks.
5. Okay, now that the tomatoes have had a few minutes to cool down, cube them up and add them (I have seriously hurt my hands by chopping them hot, so be warned). Stir.
6. Add the beans. You could use two cans of pink beans instead, but the soaked dry beans made a different the last time I made this. I use pink beans because those are the beans I grew up with in a Puerto Rican household--plus, red kidney beans are way too huge and pinto beans don't have quite the same texture and consistency I look for. Pour in the can of enchilada sauce (about a cup or so). Choose the desired heat on this: mild, medium or hot. I prefer to control the heat with other ingredients, so I use a mild version.
7. Now, time to spice it up! Add the Sazon packets (disclaimer: these do contain MSG, so I'm working on replacing this in my cooking with ground annatto and coriander, but can't seem to find them, so if you can, use that instead). Add a good sprinkling of black pepper, red pepper flake to taste, dash of Worcestershire sauce, a generous amount of paprika, a good teaspoon or two of ground cumin and chili powder, the bay leaf (or leaves), three good shakes of Frank's Red Hot and the 1/2 can of tomato paste. Stir.
8. Taste it! Make sure the flavors meld. Need more smokiness? Add more cumin. Need more heat? Add more red pepper flake or Frank's Red Hot (or my new favorite, white pepper). Too thick? Add a little beef stock. Let this simmer for a good half hour, until it's reduced a bit.
9. It's beer time! Pour in half a bottled beer (yellow, lighter beers are best) slowly, because it does fizz up. Stir. It will stink to high heaven, but it will make it taste good. Trust me. Add the hot pepper you have, pricking it first (the type you use--or whether you use it at all--will vary depending on the amount of heat you want).
10. Let it be. Seriously. Add some beef stock if it gets too thick. It's best served the next day, really, but I'd be crazy to say that always happens in my house. Chili brings people from everywhere in the complex, straight to the door.

*Local ingredient

My variations: Sometimes I don't have enchilada sauce, so I don't use it. Sometimes I have fresh bell pepper around, so I'll add them in Step 3, diced medium. Variate to your hearts content. The key factors I look for in chili is one that will hit your tongue in a few places--a little sweet, some hot and a good base. Smokiness is nice, too.
posted by Rose @ 6:27 AM   0 comments
From the Formica Top: Mabon Dinner
Monday, October 01, 2007
From the Formica Top #2
What's been going on around my kitchen lately

Mabon Dinner

Last Sunday, September 23, I hosted a Mabon Supper to celebrate, in my pagan way, the first day of fall. I ended up with 12 dinner guests. I cooked for two days, which may sound like complaining, but is really the exact opposite. I couldn't wait to get through my work week to start cooking! I chopped, boiled, roasted and baked--and loved every second of it.

The whole idea about Mabon is that we are celebrating the bounty of the harvest (yes, I know that traditionally people celebrate this in November as Thanksgiving, but there is so much great produce right now!). I decided, in my attempt to eat local, that I would make as much of my meal from local foods as possible and share them with my friends, so that they would be introduced to a lot of the foods out there. Doing dinner this way both honored the Eat Local Challenge and the spirit of the holiday, which was to appreciate the earth's generosity, most importantly, the local earth's bounty.

I wanted organic, local chicken, but that didn't come through in time (but I will be going to Cedar Meadow Farm this Sunday to pick some up, so keep your eyes peeled for that post), so I went with roasters from the grocery store. Many of the dishes contained mostly local ingredients (I couldn't track down butter and didn't have the time to make stock--that would have added another day to the two-day marathon). Here is my menu, and a glimpse of the decorating scheme:

Mabon Supper Menu

Spinach Artichoke Dip - See my recipe
Warm Olives - An Alice Waters recipe, taken from Becky's blog, who took it from the New York Times
Deviled Eggs - Prepared by my neighbor, Fran, from local eggs
Pleasant Cow Cheese - From Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm

Butternut Squash Soup - See my recipe
Roasted Chicken - See my recipe
Good Bread Stuffing - See my recipe
String Bean Bake - See my recipe
Salad - With ingredients from the local farmers market, including a delicious mix of greens from Starlight Gardens, sweet and tart Sun Gold tomatoes from Northfordy Farm, red onion and yellow peppers

Oreo Pie - Janeen made this after a minor disaster with her pumpkin pie (no eggnog and lots of stress)

Goodie Bags
I couldn't send my guests home empty-handed, so they each received:
Pumpkin Whoopie Pie - A fall twist on the standard whoopie pie, from Rachael Ray Magazine's October 2007 issue, these are amazingly moist (and who doesn't love cream cheese filling?); see the recipe
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies - I used the Nestle Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as a base, then added 12 oz of white chocolate chips and 1 cup of Macadamia nuts instead of the chocolate chips and walnuts
Sample Size Voda Soap - I purchased sample packs ($5 for 5 little bars of assorted soaps) from Debbie of Voda Soap at the farmers market and added one to each bag

I added some red wine to the mix and we had a fantastic time. I was so pleased that even my non-Pagan friends had a great time, everyone loved the food (even Janeen's 14-month-old daughter!) and we ushered in this season all together. Some photos (none of food, I know, but it was dark by dinner; we were too hungry to do it, too):

Centerpiece for one of two tables; the "Happy Fall" pumpkin Janeen painted for the occasion

Dinner guests Evelyn and Anjanine; the vegetarian: Jesse (looking crazy)

For more photos, check out my Mabon Supper Photo Album
posted by Rose @ 6:38 AM   0 comments
String Bean Bake
This is so easy and so yummy. I made this for my Mabon dinner, after I realized a vegetarian was coming and I wanted to make sure he was full. The string beans came from my neighbor's daughter's garden and the onions from the local market. It's a great way to dress up string beans without doing the same old casserole.

Another plus? The string beans were free!


*1 lb green and yellow string beans, trimmed
*One medium onion, chopped
Tablespoon of butter
1 cup of vegetable stock
Black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a skillet. Brown the onions until soft.
2. Toss the onions with the string beans. Salt and pepper to taste. Put in a baking dish.
3. Pour the vegetable stock over the onion and bean mix.
4. Bake in a 350 degree oven, covered, for 15-30 minutes, until beans are tender, but still firm. Serve warm.

*Local ingredient
posted by Rose @ 6:32 AM   0 comments
Good Bread Stuffing
This is a completely original recipe. My favorite part of Thanksgiving has always been the stuffing (or dressing, in some places). I've been making stuffing out of the bag or box for years as a quick side dish with chicken or pork. Sometimes I make a variation of Shepherd's Pie by topping chicken with gravy with stuffing and baking it. I've added a zillion things to my stuffings: sausage, prosciutto, bacon, ham. But this recipe is the epitome of my stuffing experiments. I decided that I wasn't going to use anything bagged or boxed (I was doing a pretty fresh dinner here), so I would buy good crusty bread from the market and use that. I made a huge quantity, so feel free to half the recipe, or even quarter it. Remember, I was feeding 12 people. I also took a little of the stuffing before adding the meat to it and added veggie sausage for my vegetarian guest. He both appreciated the gesture and enjoyed the stuffing.

*2 baguettes, cut into cubes
*2 medium onions, chopped
*4 cloves of garlic, chopped
*2 bunches of cutting celery, chopped
4 cups of vegetable stock
*1 pound of kielbasa
Goya Adobo
Ground sage
Ground thyme
Ground black pepper

1. Sprinkle sage and thyme on the baguette cubes, then toast in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.
2. In a large pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Brown the onions, then add in the celery and garlic. Sprinkle a little sage, thyme, black pepper and Adobo on them, then let them cook a little.
3. Pour in the vegetable stock. Let this simmer for a little while (maybe 10 minutes, can go as long as 20 when you forget about it while cooking a thousand other things).
4. Put the toasted baguette cubes in a large bowl (large is very important here). Spoon out the vegetables from the stock into the bowl, then gradually add stock until your bread cubes are softened, but not soggy, stirring to make sure those cubes at the bottom of the bowl are getting adequate treatment. If you have leftover stock, don't worry about it. Let it cool, put it in a container, refrigerate and you'll have something to add to soup later. You might want to add a tablespoon or two of butter at this stage.
5. Cube the kielbasa and grill it up for a few minutes, until brown. Keep it going if you want really crispy stuff. Add the kielbasa to the stuffing.
6. Stir it all together and put in a large baking dish. Pop it into a 350 degree over for 10-15 minutes, making sure not to dry it out. Serve warm.

*Local ingredient

I didn't add gravy to this, but you certainly could. I wish I had! But a lot of guests topped theirs with my Butternut Squash Soup and really liked that.
posted by Rose @ 5:42 AM   0 comments
Spinach Artichoke Dip
I've been making this recipe for the past year and I haven't had anyone hate it yet. Even people who hate artichokes (okay, so I didn't tell them there were artichokes in it, but they didn't spit it back out, either). For Mabon dinner, I carved a big chuck out of a Sourdough Boule from the Cityseed Farmer's Market and cut said chunk into smaller pieces, which were toasted. The hot dip went into the bowl and the bread was consumed--all of it. Everyone was eating the dip fast so that we could destroy the bread bowl. This is also good with crackers, pita chips, tortilla chips, etc. I can't remember where I got the original recipe, but I think it's from Yup, looks like it is (see here).


4 cloves of garlic
1 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (by all means, wilt your own spinach!)
1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (okay, so the can will probably say 16 oz--or something like that--then say 14 oz drained)
1 10 oz container of Alfredo Sauce (oddly enough, they don't really come in this size, but get a bigger one and guesstimate--I recommend the Classico Roasted Garlic Alfredo)
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (fresh is better!)
4 oz of cream cheese

1. In a baking dish (in the original recipe, it says to use a smaller dish for this, which you can, or you can do it in the 8x8 baking dish you're making the dip in), roast garlic cloves (skin on) at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. Let cool! Then squeeze the pasty garlic mush out of the skins.
2. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the dish and stir up. You can do this in a bowl separately, if that's easier.
3. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until the cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

You can change the measurements on the ingredients to taste. Sometimes the dip seems too thick and I add a little milk or cream to thin it out. It's supposed to be fairly thick, but you don't want a concrete block of cheese.
posted by Rose @ 5:26 AM   0 comments
About Me

Name: Starry Rose
Home: New Haven, CT

A writer, cook, book-addict, foodie and pagan

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