It’s labor day, and we are devouring corn and tomatoes in these beautiful late summer days like they're going out of style. Truthfully, I have a bit of an obsession with sweet corn, and have been known to personally eat 6 cobs in a meal. It’s officially September now, and as the season changes, so too does our cooking. Instead of boiling or grilling our corn, we are firing up my Grandmother's trusty skillet for our delicious and simple Summer Corn Sauté with Herbs, a dish that will have you coming back for seconds. The sweetness of fresh corn is highlighted by the rich and nutty background of butter, onions, cumin, and garlic, garnished with heaps of herbs and tomatoes. I have learned my lesson making this dish over the years, just go ahead and double it the first time, it’s the best way to avoid complaints!Read More
Check out our Grilled Spelt Flatbread with Tapenade & Tomato featured in Pittsburgh Magazine this week! We just love Brazen Kitchen's Leah Lizarondo and her irreverent take on seasonal vegetarian cooking.
This tender and chewy flatbread uses local spelt to up the nutty whole grain flavor. We are addicted to this no-knead spelt flatbread, and find it has a taste and texture reminiscent of Indian naan and whole wheat pita. On a warm summers evening, we like to throw this easy flatbread on the grill, spread generously with briny tapenade, and top with juicy ripe tomatoes. This spunky tapenade, packed with garlic, tarragon, and green olives, pairs beautifully with the sweetness of August tomatoes. For us, this dish epitomizes summer: fresh produce, bright flavors, and smoky char.Read More
Our friends Beth and Justin, both creative cooks and passionate gardeners, made our day when they dropped off some beautiful carrots, freshly dug from their garden. While hardcore carnivores may lay claim to nose-to-tail cooking, we think that this veggie based dish gives the concept a run for its money, as it uses all parts of the carrot plant: root-to-leaf cooking in its colorful prime. Carrot Ribbon Salad with Carrot Top Pesto is adapted from vegetable whiz Diane Morgan’s Roots cookbook. In this dish, the carrots are first mellowed with a quick hot water bath to soften their texture and bite. Carrot top pesto, with its subtle parsley-like flavor, is a lovely match, accented with dollops of creamy goat cheese. Find a source for fresh vibrant carrots with tops and make this beautiful dish.Read More
Food has the power to connect us to people and places around the world. In 2007, Rebecca and I spent three months traveling through South East Asia together. Leaving Cambodia on the back of moto-bikes, we arrived for the night, hot and dusty, in a small village in rural Vietnam. After dropping off our packs, we sat down on the rickety plastic stools of the town's only food stand, famished. Without asking what we wanted, two pungent bowls of Phở Gà, Vietnam's famous chicken noodle soup, were plunked down in front of us. We were hooked! As we made our way north over the next several weeks, we enjoyed many local variations of Phở: from the dark, rich, and beefy to bright and spicy with shrimp. Our favorite Phở, on which our recipe is based, was eaten from steaming bowls one early morning overlooking Hạ Long Bay. This version used chicken that had been marinated and grilled, rather than boiled in the soup, giving it a crispy texture and sweet charred flavor.
Each sip of flavorful broth reminds us also of the people and culture that created it. Phở is an aromatic and visual dish, one that we like to serve in our Vietnamese blue petal bowls made in the Kinh family workshop in the famous pottery village of Bat Trang, Vietnam. By partnering with a local non-profit and Ten Thousand Villages, women potters are able to make a living for their families, continue a rich cultural tradition, and gain access to tools, education, training, interest-free loans, and literacy classes. We buy many of our dishes and gifts from Ten Thousand Villages each year, and appreciate their commitment to ethical partnerships with local artisans around the world.Read More
The first time I made dill pickles was for 250 guests at a friend’s wedding in Germany. It was a few days before the wedding when the groom’s mother, Ana, casually announced that we would be making pickles today. I was set to work sterilizing large buckets to house the heaps of cukes. The call went out to friends and relatives for their gardens' bounty, and pretty soon fresh garden cucumbers and big pungent bunches of dill started arriving at her home. Three days later at the wedding, those cucumbers had transformed into delicious dill pickles. I was in awe!Read More
Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Spread is the result of a food fight, one which resulted in this delicious hybrid dish somewhere between Baba Ganoush and Hummus. Our food disagreement started with a vague plan for a Mediterranean inspired meal, but quickly morphed into a debate about the true king of dips. On the one hand, the dusky sweet flavors of Baba Ganoush appealed to Paul, whereas I had a strong inclination towards classic hummus, a creamy chickpea puree, perked up with garlic and lemon. In the end, we were pretty pleased with our compromise dish, Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Spread, a transcendent dip with an eggplant and chickpea base, infused with roasted garlic and onions, and the smoky spiciness of charred jalapeno.Read More
Panna Cottas are a custard made with cream and gelatin. Panna cottas are deceptively easy and one of our favorite dishes to make for guests throughout the year using different flavorings and variations. Basil Yogurt Panna Cotta with Blueberries is our summer version, one we have made a little tangy with the addition of Greek yogurt and lemon. We originally created this basil Panna cotta as a dessert to bring to a dinner at our friends' house who loves all things Italian and basil. We loved it and have been making it ever since!
If you are in the Pittsburgh area, come down to the Pittsburgh Public Market this Saturday (August 16) between 12-2 pm try a free sample of our Basil Yogurt Panna Cotta with Blueberries and say hi!Read More
It is peach season in Western Pennsylvania, and nothing shouts summer like Smoked Wings with Rye Whiskey Peach Sauce. These wings are slow roasted to tender perfection with a rich pecan smoke flavor and finished on the grill to crisp the skin. Oak-aged spirits pair beautifully with peaches (see our Salted Rum Caramel with Grilled Peaches & Ice Cream), and we find that Wigle's Aged Rye Whiskey is the perfect foil to sweet summer peaches and smokey wings. This Carolina inspired barbecue sauce is quick, easy, and versatile -- delicious on everything from these wings to ribs to burgers.Read More
Salted Rum Caramel with Grilled Peaches & Ice Cream is my kind of summer dessert! Rebecca's sister and I share a deep love of homemade rum-spiked caramel. Many a night has been spent together eating gobs of the stuff poured over everything from bananas to apples to ice cream...or, when no one is looking eating it by the spoonful straight from the pan. In preparation for family dinner tonight (a weekly tradition), I decided to go all out with a new version I've been making with a local rum-style spirit made from buckwheat honey (Wigle Whisky's amazingly delicious Aged Landlocked). The caramel is rich, smooth, and sumptuous with a salty rum finish. The grilled peaches melt in your mouth with the unexpected smoky taste of summer grilling. While the caramel sauce might sound intimidating, you can go as slow as you like over a lower flame. Once you master the technique of dry caramel, you can try other crowd favorites like our Caramel Corn.Read More
I hate leftovers. To me, there is nothing worse than a soggy day-old salad or a mealy reheated potato. Ok, fine, maybe not ALL leftovers are terrible. In fact, Paul and I eat them almost everyday as frozen workday lunches. Out of necessity, I've created a number of go-to dishes that are not only delicious the first time around, but real leftover wins. Soba noodles, a buckwheat pasta (often gluten free), have a number of things going for them in the leftover department: they cook in 4 minutes, have a great nutty taste, are good for you, and they freeze like champions.
Zucchini Soba Noodles with Grilled Vegetables is one of our summer staples. This lightning-fast vegetarian main helpfully works through some of our zucchini back-log, by incorporating zucchini ribbons with unusual vinaigrette of mustard, soy sauce and lemon juice. Add some grilled summer squash and red onions and this dish is done in 10 minutes.Read More
We are heading to the Shore this weekend for some salty breezes, great people watching, and time with friends! Beat the heat with these 9 Recipes for Hot Summer Nights!Read More
Yesterday was our 6th Wedding Anniversary: a day of serious highs, and gastronomical lows. After a wonderful weekend spent at a family reunion in gorgeous Colorado, our luck ran out on our return journey home. Mechanical failure on our plane resulted in a "temporary" hold on the tarmac, which turned into an overnight wait in the Denver airport. In the wee hours of the morning, huddled by the gate and desperate for good news, hunger pangs finally overtook us. Some scrounging in our bags resulted in a disappointing assortment of stale lifesavers, minty gum, complimentary water and unsatisfying little packets of peanuts. By the time we made it back to Pittsburgh, we were hallucinating food, specifically steak. We satiated our droopy and famished selves with a belated (and large) anniversary grilled steak with chimichurri sauce. What a revival!
Chimichurri sauce, if you are not familiar with it, is a powerhouse parsley and garlic studded condiment of Argentine origins typically served as an accompaniment to steak. We were originally introduced to Chimichurri sauce by my sisters' fiance, who makes a mean Chimichurri. Whenever he serves it to us we generally douse everything in sight with the flavorful sauce. We are pretty sure our version is not authentic (garlic scapes, really?), but we do assure you it is addictive. The sauce is both versatile and forgiving. Our recipe is adapted from Serious Eats.Read More
Watermelon Feta salad is cool, sweet and salty. This is the salad we have been eating almost daily in this heat wave! Paul was initially somewhat hesitant to embrace this funky salad, but after 4 bowl in one evening, I think we would both agree, watermelon and feta are surprisingly good friends in this delicious salad. In these dog days of summer, this crisp quick salad is only five minutes away.Read More
While my future husband was happily scarfing fry bread tacos in Colorado, I was sweating my 7th grade Home Economics class further north in Canada. To set the scene of my distress, it was the last month of the class and I had just managed to fail my sewing test; a wobbly threaded testament to my poor hand-eye coordination and impatience. My home budgeting project took a financial downturn when my teacher noted that my incorrect math had rendered my fictitious future self seriously overdrawn and facing financial ruin. Next up was the nutrition segment of the class. And it was cook or die. Knowing I had some serious ground to make up, I marshaled my resources and consulted with my Mother. With her menu guidance, I plotted a path to home ec redemption with a meal I hoped would awe my teacher and pass the class. Since my cooking expertise to that point had been largely limited to toast, it was a painful two-day introduction to cooking resulting in an jumbled menu of chilled cucumber soup, shepherd's pie, and dark chocolate mousse. I don't remember the meal being particularly yummy to my picky teenage palate, but the chilled cucumber soup had my teacher in raptures and won my respite from the shame of failing home ec.
Chilled cucumber avocado soup is my grown up rendition of that home ec redemption soup. In this summery soup, the avocado and yogurt provide a silky texture to highlight the light vegetal qualities of cucumber. This soup is a refreshing dish and can be ready in a flash for a starter or a light meal on its own.Read More
During my early adolescents, my family lived on a farm in rural Southwestern Colorado, just outside the small town of Dove Creek. Food trucks selling Navajo Fry Bread, either savory as tacos or sweet with honey and butter, were a fixture at all community events. The food of the Southwest blends the culinary cultures of its peoples: Native American, Mexican, and European-heritage. This dynamic cultural mixing has produced bold flavored dishes that can be made on a shoestring budget. My favorite dish from this tradition is Sonoran Beef Fry Bread Tacos. The delicate crispy fry bread, topped with rich spicy meat and tangy fresh salsa is a winning combination. We've made it for Thanksgiving gatherings and informal evenings with friends, and it has been a crowd favorite every time. This dish requires some planning ahead for the meat to reach perfection. The Fry Bread will require suspending deep-frying phobias. When fried properly (maintaining high cooking temperature throughout), you will be rewarded with an addictive light and crispy flat bread without any greasiness. Our take on this Southwest classic is inspired by Fernando and Marlene Divina's outstanding cookbook Foods of the Americas.Read More
Tuscan Potato Salad is not your average picnic side. The punchy combination of rosemary, roasted red pepper, and Parmesan makes Tuscan Potato Salad a robust and lively dish. This is one of our most requested recipes, particularly for those looking for a healthy and flavorful alternative to mayonnaise-based potato salads. Honestly, we like this potato salad so much that it often serves as a summer dinner all on its own. One thing we have learned in Rebecca's relentless potato obsession, is that a a great potato salad is nothing without outstanding spuds. This salad is built on a foundation of creamy new potatoes and fragrant basil, both of which came in our weekly CSA (farm box) from Penn's Corner Farm Alliance.Read More
Quick Mexican Tomato Salsa is a perfect summer food: fresh, spicy, and casual. While it is easy to be seduced by the beautifully packaged jars of salsa lining the grocery shelves, nothing beats the flavor of homemade. Quick Mexican Tomato Salsa is a breeze to make, and this simple salsa lets the quality of the ingredients come through without the need for gimmicky "new" flavor combinations. It is tomato season, and this is our favorite summer salsa. Quick Mexican Tomato Salsa is adapted from one of Paul's favorite cookbooks: Food of the Americas by Fernando and Marlene Divina.Read More
These Blue Corn Blueberry Griddle Cakes with Lime Butter are a fresh and flavorful take on a breakfast classic and a healthy way to use the ripe blueberries bursting from farm stands and fields. These Griddle Cakes are bursting with blueberry flavor and the subtle earthy sweetness of blue corn. Using a high quality fresh blue cornmeal (we prefer Bob's Red Mill) and a light overnight sourdough technique brings out a gentle nutty sweet corn flavor and a surprisingly crunchy (not gritty) texture. A perfect accompaniment to Blue Corn Blueberry Griddle Cakes is a fresh whipped Lime Butter. The Lime Butter, which is also delicious in its own right, accents the fresh blueberry flavor to take these Blue Corn Blueberry Griddle Cakes to the next level.Read More
Some things in nature just make your jaw drop. For me, Romanesco cauliflower does this every time. Maybe it is memories of my mathematician grandfather explaining the geometric beauty of the perfect fractal florets spiraling into a hundred mirrored pyramids. Maybe it is because Romanesco is quite frankly the weirdest looking vegetable I've ever seen. Or maybe it is that despite its unusual looks, Romanesco is also a great tasting vegetable: a firm textured, sweet and earthy cross between cauliflower and broccoli. If you are lucky enough to get a hold of one of these green fractal beauties, our Grilled Romanesco Cauliflower with Cashews is a salty smoky side that shows off every gorgeous floret. We keep the dish simple to highlight the star ingredient, while adding a little smokey char, gently tossed with lemon, sage, salt and pepper and accompanied with some seasonal vegetables and nuts. A unique and delicious side salad to match this stunning vegetable.Read More
We started our holiday weekend with an early morning visit to a local farm for some berry picking. The blueberry bushes were flush with dusky blue berries. With our crates brimming with berries, we headed to the kitchen to develop a jam recipe that would preserve the subtle sweet flavor of blueberries, without the accompanying cloying sweetness that is common to many berry jams. Our Blueberry Bay Leaf Quick Jam is simple to make, small batch, refrigerator style (not canned) jam that is accessible to first time and seasoned jam makers alike. We made this particular jam with one of my uncles', an avid jam eater and aficionado, in mind. This Blueberry Bay Leaf Quick Jam has a soft and graceful texture, excellent for spreading. Paul added a unique twist to the recipe to further preserve the raw blueberry flavor, he combined the potency of a blueberry jelly base with raw berries, resulting in juicy fresh blueberries suspended in a deep magenta preserve. Blueberry Bay Leaf Quick Jam has just the bare minimum amount of sugar allowing for the very fresh blueberry taste to shine, with a subtle woodsy note of bay leaves and Meyer lemon supporting in the background. While our plan had been to bring my uncle a jar of this Blueberry Bay Leaf Quick Jam during an upcoming visit, I'm afraid that at our current rate of consumption, we will have polished off all the jam within a few short days. It is just that good!Read More