Sunday, July 27, 2008

OLS Week 8?

On the balance its been a pretty bad week food wise. I had three wonderful local meals, two encounters with bad mexican food, and a whole lot of hotel/ road trip food. Let's skip over the bad conference/hotel/gas station food (though I had a great pulled pork sandwich at the Miller's Gas Station at the Coliseum in Hampton VA) and the bad Mexican (though I had a really good Cinnamon/blood orange margarita at Lobo in Park Slope with friends while watching the Yanks beat the pants off of the Red Sox- I love you Joba!) and head right into the local fare.

On Friday we had dinner at Applewood on 11th. It was my third meal and nothing has really lived up to my original meal with Abby around the 4th of July. C. Sharp had Bonito with scales, Peter's steak was alright, and I can't remember what Lorna had but none of us walked away raving. My scallops were alright and the house cured bacon went a long way in making up for the scales. It was good but I'm less enthusiastic about my initial raves. I also find their artwork (the ones of half naked preteens to be really creepy.

As usual, I had great local seafood down in LBI. Those Kelly Boys really know how to make seafood sing and of course the company can't be beat. This year we had a two- level house which meant that the adults could enjoy a raucous good time while the kids watched movies. When this group gets together we are pretty hard core New Jersians and that was clear when everyone showed up with local, Jersey Fresh produce, eggs, milk, etc in their grocery bags and talked about Jon Bon Jovi. I find it amusing that I can't really go out in the sun or on the beach due to propensity for skin cancer but I always fondly remember these trips for the great seafood and wonderful company.

I only cooked one meal this week but it was a local feast: sliced skirt steak salad with mint- blueberry cheesecake. I picked up the majority of the ingredients at the farmers' market (I rode my bike!) on Saturday. The market was booming with a few left over spring fruits and tons of mid-summer veggies and fruits. The apricots, peaches, and plums looked incredible but I ended up picking up blueberries, lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, and a cucumber plus a few apple cider donuts for breakfast.

This difference this week was that I had tons of ingredients for this meal already growing in my garden. I harvested basil, mint, tomatoes, habenero peppers, sage, thyme, parsley, and TWO eggplants this week and have 15 or so tomatoes on the way. The peppers (hot and green) and eggplants are already starting new fruit and the basil and mint are still growing strong. The parsleys are not doing well and the chive plant (which had been infested with red aphids was totally dead when I got home.

Dinner Recipes
I've written about the sliced steak salad before. This time the mint, basil, and hot peppers came from my garden and the beef, peppers, and cucumbers were local. The fish sauce and lime were not local. This salad has become our comfort food and I encourage everyone to try it.

Blueberry- Mint Cheesecake

It is very easy for me to get local soft cheeses so I picked up goat and cream cheese at the market along with blueberries. The mint came from our garden. The butter, milk, eggs, and flour were local (I'm unsure of the walnuts) while the sugars were not local. I adapted this recipe from the August 2008 recipe in Gourmet from my favorite chef, Dan Barber.

1 large handful walnuts (or any nuts probably) pulverized in the mini food processor
1/2 stick butter (soft)
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar

I mixed everything together in a bowl, breaking the butter up like you would do for a pie crust. I put the over on 350F and put 1/4 inch in the bottom of my ramekins. I chose to use ramekins because I wanted to be able to freeze them. I packed it down, put it in the over and took them out when the were toasted and pulling away from the sides.

Blueberries and Mint

2 limes
1 pint blue berries
7-10 mint leaves
1 tbs sugar
The original recipe called for blackberries and lemon but I had blueberries and lime. Still turned out really well! I put everything in a bowl and put it on the side to macerate for 2 hours. I drained them and put the blueberries on top of the cheesecake. The juice went into a rum drink.

Serves 4

12 ozs goat and cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbs flour
splash of milk
2 large eggs

I improvised this one a bit but it turned out really well. Add the cheeses, sugar, and flour in the stand mixer and mix until smooth. Add the milk and one egg at a time, making sure to scrape the bowl. Once the crusted ramekins have cooled, add the filling and bake at 325F in a water bath until the centers just giggle. Top with the drained blueberries.

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