Goat Cheese Polenta with Mushrooms

november 29, 2018

goat cheese polenta with mushrooms

Here’s one for Meatless Monday. Satisfying in a creamy, hearty, chewy way, this goat cheese polenta with wild mushrooms will feed four as a starter course and two as an entree. I’ve been making polenta with parmesan cheese for eons, and for some reason never thought to try goat cheese. What was I thinking? Even those who have not joined the goat cheese fan club will appreciate the slightly tangy and very creamy addition of chèvre to this dish. Continue reading

celery root mashed potatoes

Celery Root Mashed Potatoes

november 15, 2018

celery root mashed potatoes

Sure, the Thanksgiving holiday usually has turkey as the centerpiece of a bountiful spread, but it’s really all about the sides, right? Ask folks what they like to see at the table and they rarely mention turkey—they rhapsodize about the sweet potatoes, the green beans, the pies and yes, the mashed potatoes which are destined to cradle all that silky turkey gravy. Continue reading

smoky tequila cider cocktail

Smoky Tequila Cider Cocktail

november 2, 2018

smoky tequila cider cocktail

 

A well-crafted cocktail (or mocktail) is a refreshing start to dinner. You can’t go wrong by following the seasons and employing ingredients that speak to whatever nature is serving up, so local apple cider is the star of this fall beverage.

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garlic roasted peppers

Garlic Roasted Peppers

october 18, 2018

garlic roasted peppers

I’m finally getting around to reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in which food choice and overabundance are believed to have engendered paralysis in today’s kitchens. With so many options in our crowded market aisles, we sputter at decision time. What to have for dinner? We have good intentions. Colorful vegetables are purchased at grocery stores with the operative plan being to cook them up on the weekend and enjoy them all week. Excitement turns to dismay when we see these same vegetables staring at us reproachfully from the way back of the shelf four days later, unchopped and uncooked. We are time-challenged and over scheduled. Continue reading

caramelized apple mini cakes

Caramelized Apple Mini Cakes

october 4, 2018

caramelized apple mini cakes

Some years back I purchased a couple extra large muffin tins. They have been used exactly once. Instead of donating them to my local thrift shop, I decided to put them to proper use and make little cakes with gorgeous and fragrant local apples. These cakes are the perfect size for a single indulgence and easy to prep and bake. My guess is that they freeze well, but these treats never got to that stage. They do, however, age well at room temperature for a couple days and become more moist and dense on day two—so there was some restraint on my part. Having tasters helped, because six mini cakes is such a burden to consume all by myself! Continue reading

autumn fruit salad

Autumn Fruit Salad

september 20, 2018

autumn fruit salad

A visit to my local roadside stand tells me the seasons are beginning to change. Sure, there are still tomatoes and cucumbers and squash, but now we see the first autumn apples and crisp Asian pears. Soon there will be fragrant apple cider and pumpkins of every color and stripe. I love combining local produce to bridge the seasons, as with this spring’s Asparagus and Shiitake Stir Fry, marrying the tender spears of spring asparagus with the last of winter’s butternut squash.  Continue reading

Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Apricots

september 5, 2018

herbed goat cheese stuffed apricots

Knowing apricots were in season, and feeling certain I had seen them at markets, I began to dream of ways to serve them as a one-bite appetizer, preferably with a cheesy filling. But my local markets only carried red apricots, which resemble tiny plums and have the aroma and flesh of the standard golden apricot. And so, red apricots became my friend.

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Eggplant Dip with Harissa Aioli

august 22, 2018

eggplant dip with harissa aioli

Eggplant has been looking and tasting good at the roadside stands this summer. Roasting brings out the slight sweetness of the vegetable and reduces the astringency of eggplant, which has the unfortunate honor of being in the top three of least liked veggies when I tally my client preferences. The others are brussels sprouts and lima beans, but I always figure that someday folks will have their epiphany and decide these are loved and enjoyed after all. One can always hope.

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Blackberry Butter Pecan Ice Cream

august 10, 2018

blackberry butter pecan ice cream

 

Foraging is in my blood. Growing up, my mom and I would tromp through woods in search of sassafras roots to make homemade root beer. Ancient, gnarly pear and apple trees yielded enough fruit for pies and for sharing with the local orphanage. My mother knew how to pick poke salad greens and cook them in a pot, but my city sensibilities have all but removed that earthy knowledge and now I buy my greens from markets. I do know a thing or two about wild blackberries, however, and when spring erupted with dozens of wild blackberry brambles in my yard, I figured my youthful foraging would be put to good use. Visions of blackberry cobbler like Mom made, topped with homemade vanilla ice cream, clouded my good judgment. Half the plants grew fruitless and the other half produced stumpy little bitter bobs that resembled blackberries in color only. This yard experiment failed. The brambles multiplied like rabbits and bedeviled my poor arms as I fitfully yanked and pulled. Next spring my plan is to dig and pull early before they win.

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Pork Chops with Peach Corn Salsa

july 25, 2018

pork chops with peach corn salsa

One of my tasters for this dish was raised on a farm with real food. She swears these pork chops from Harlow Ridge Farm taste like the pure, unadulterated meat she enjoyed in her youth. I also have a memory of farm raised meats and chicken which had a richer taste and texture than today’s supermarket offerings. Family-owned Harlow Ridge Farm in nearby Hanover County, Virginia, has pasture raised Berkshire and Tamworth pigs as well as beef and poultry. They sell directly from the farm, at local farmer’s markets and at several small grocers. Some of Richmond’s finest dining establishments feature their meats.  Continue reading