July 28, 2013

Farro & Goat Cheese Salad with Dried Cranberries

My house is getting boxed up in only two weeks, which means using up everything in my kitchen!  Farro and dried cranberries in the cupboard led me to Life Ambrosia's recipe, which was perfect because I also had parsley in my garden and goat cheese in the fridge.

At first glance the recipe seemed kind of bland, but I'm so happy I made it because the ingredients work so well together!  Oh and on a side note, I completely forgot to add the olive oil when I first made this and I still thought it was delicious.

There are a couple Trader Joe's items I recommend to make this salad come together quickly.  One is 10-minute farro which cuts the cook time considerably.  The other is their crumbled goat cheese.
Am I the only one who hates trying to crumble goat cheese?  It's so soft that it ends up just smearing between my fingers.  Buying the crumbled version costs a bit more per ounce, but I think it's worth it ($2.49 for 4oz crumbled or 5oz log).
Farro & Goat Cheese Salad with Dried Cranberries

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 2 cups farro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 8 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • Cook farro according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  • While farro is cooling, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, rosemary and garlic.
  • Once farro has cooled, toss with cranberries, parsley and goat cheese. When you are ready to serve the salad, stir in the dressing. Refrigerate leftovers.
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July 21, 2013

Nectarine & Vanilla Biscuits

I love all the fresh fruits of summer and a particular favorite is nectarines.  Today I tried out a Babble.com recipe for fresh peach vanilla biscuits and was amazed at the flaky, delicious result.

Picking up a 4-pound box of nectarines from Trader Joe's this weekend is what led me to google for nectarine recipes.  From what I've heard, peaches and nectarines are nearly interchangeable, so I searched for both types of recipes.

These biscuits are quite easy to make.  You can use a biscuit cutter if you prefer standard round biscuits, but I made them in a scone-like shape, which was easier.

First I floured my pastry mat (flour in a extra spice jar is perfect for dusting work surfaces), then patted out the dough, brushed it with milk and cut it into 8 sections with my nylon knife.

Place the biscuits on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (I still love my Silpat!) and bake for 18-20 minutes.

I really hate to say this, but this biscuit recipe is even better than my grandma's biscuit recipe.  I couldn't believe how flaky each biscuit was!  I recommend them for breakfast or with tea for an afternoon snack. 

Nectarine & Vanilla Biscuits

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18-20 minutes

Ingredients (8 large biscuits)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk (plus extra for brushing on top)
  • 1 nectarine (or peach), unpeeled and cut into 1/4" chunks
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or a silicone baking mat).
  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter. Pulse until well combined and crumbly, with bits of butter no larger than a pea.
  • Move mixture from food processor into a large bowl. Add vanilla to milk, then add to bowl. Stir a few strokes, then add the nectarine chunks (or peaches) and stir just until you have a soft dough. You'll likely need to use your hands to finish combining the dough.
  • On a floured surface, pat the dough out to about 3/4" in a 10-inch circle. Brush the dough with milk, then cut into 8 wedges. Place on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden.
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July 18, 2013

Garden Update: Ark of Taste

Have you heard of the Ark of Taste?  It's an international catalog of heritage foods in danger of extinction which is maintained by the global Slow Food movement according to Wikipedia.

One of those foods is the Amish Paste Tomato, which is an Ark of Taste plant I purchased from Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast this year.  As many of you know, I dislike tomatoes but I still love growing them :)

This is what my Ark of Taste set looked like when I picked it up on June 1st.  The set included Amish Paste Tomatoes, Deer Tongue Lettuce, Aunt Ruby's German Green Tomatoes, Sheepnose Pimiento, Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries and Beaver Dam Peppers.

Check out the growth so far on my ground cherries!   It was my CSA that introduced me to ground cherries, which are small tomatoes with a high pectin count.  Now I'm just waiting for the husks to turn brown which will indicate the fruits have ripened.

Here's a look at everything growing behind my garage.  I also have quite a few herbs on my patio including rosemary, chives, oregano, basil and more parsley.
Did you know there's a Beaver Dam Pepper contest this year?  Just use the following hashtags to participate - #BeaverDamPepper #pepperazzi.  The photo below shows the progress of my peppers so far.
For those in the Milwaukee area, the following restaurants will be offering menu specials as part of the Beaver Dam Pepper Celebration on September 21 - Bavette La Boucherie, HinterlandJuniper 61, La Merenda, Meritage and Sanford.

Also, Slow Food WiSE will be showcasing the Beaver Dam Pepper in cooking demos at South Shore Market (Sept 7), Fondy Market (Sept 14) and Glorioso's Italian Market (Sept 21).  I only wish I was still going to be in Milwaukee in September!

July 07, 2013

Gnocchi with Broccoli & Chive Blossom Goat Cheese

Cooking for one can be kind of annoying but on the bright side, I can eat gnocchi with broccoli for dinner and not hear "where's the protein?" from Chris :)

I bought frozen gnocchi at Glorioso's quite awhile ago and in my attempt to empty the freezer before my move to Florida next month, I found a Cooking Light recipe for browned butter gnocchi with broccoli from the January/February 2013 issue.

I really liked the simplicity of this dish, easy to prepare and delicious!  Since my protein policeman is 1,500 miles away, I paired my carb-filled main dish with bread :)  When I returned from Miami last week I found that my chives had blossomed, so I turned to The Kitchn for advice on what to do with chive blossoms.

They recommended creating a goat cheese spread, which I really liked on both bread and crackers.  I simply mixed goat cheese with a few chives and blossoms in a small bowl and quickly had the spread ready.  I liked it with the gnocchi dish, but I also think it'd make an attractive appetizer for a party.

July 04, 2013

Strawberry-Mango Passion Salad with Greek Yogurt Dressing

I had the best salad when visiting Miami last week, which I was anxious to recreate at home after returning to Wisconsin.  It was my last trip before the final move in early September when I'll be reunited with my husband and cats!


This salad is so perfect for summer with a combination of mixed greens, strawberries, mango, dried cranberries and walnuts. The salad dressing I made is based on a Taste of Home recipe with just two ingredients - vanilla Greek yogurt and strawberries.

This past visit was my second time ever visiting Miami and it was nice to spend some time as a tourist, as opposed to last time when I unloaded a moving truck and visited exciting places like the DMV.

The beach near our new apartment is gorgeous and this time of year it's not too crowded because June has the least desirable weather (humid and rainy) for tourists.  I bought two cheap beach chairs and an umbrella at Target which were perfect for relaxing on the beach.

We chose our apartment based on the water views.  Miami is very densely populated, in fact it ranks third after New York City and Los Angeles, so we love the tranquility of our corner unit with views of the bay on two sides.

I took the photo below through our living room window early in the morning when the water was still.  The only water activity I've seen from our windows is a stand-up paddleboarder.  Speaking of which, I just read an article about SUP yoga which looks awesome.

Here's an angled view from our living room window.  I will be working remotely in Miami for the same Wisconsin company I currently work for and the view from "my office" is about to dramatically improve!

My mom and step-dad planned a trip to coincide with my visit which was really nice because they love the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, visiting frequently, so they know the area well.  My mom showed me her favorite stretch of beach and we walked for several miles, while my step-dad went deep sea fishing.

They also introduced us to some of their favorite restaurants.  Below is a photo of us in front of Carini's, an Italian restaurant in Hallandale Beach.  Chris loved Paquito's, a Mexican restaurant in Aventura, while I loved a restaurant with a strange name, Something Different.

Something Different advertises serving "Argentinian & International Cuisine."  In fact, Chris agreed to have lunch there with me because Argentina has such high meat consumption, he assumed the menu would be friendly to his meat-loving ways.  However, it's actually a vegetarian-friendly restaurant, which is one of the reasons I love it :)

My mom ordered the passion salad on our first visit, while I got a vegetarian crepe.  I liked my crepe a lot but a few bites of her salad convinced me that I needed to dine there again during my brief visit.  I think the version I made at home today tastes just as great, but I still plan to dine at Something Different on a regular basis.


July 02, 2013

Farewell Party - Food Blogger Style

I feel fortunate to have met so many wonderful food bloggers in the Milwaukee area over the past couple years.  It's hard to imagine that I'll meet a similar group of ladies in Miami.  This past weekend, Inger hosted a fun farewell party for me.

Her backyard was perfect for the party and having just flown in from Miami that morning, I really loved being outside in the cooler Wisconsin weather. 

Food blogger get-togethers are often potlucks, as you can imagine, and as someone else said this was our best spread yet.

The grill was used for a couple items, including stuffed portabellas made by Erica and kabobs made by Inger.  I appreciated that Inger made a vegetarian version with tempeh. 

Summer is perfect for salads.  Molly brought an orzo salad, while Lisa brought a quinoa salad.

The dessert options were fantastic.  Abby's mini double chocolate almond cakes had everyone amazed.  No one would have guessed they were vegan.  Alysha made homemade blackberry ice cream and Molly made an apricot nectar cake.

We sipped sangria made by Inger while chatting the afternoon away and that's just one of many recipes that I'm not-so-patiently waiting for.  Here's hoping they're posted soon :)

Inger had a great idea for a going-away gift, each blogger signed an apron for me.  Several of us commented that it had been ages since we'd last used puffy paint, such a fun idea!  My new kitchen in Miami is comically small but I still can't wait to rock this new apron!

I also left with other thoughtful gifts, including one with a Trader Joe's theme and a collection of great local products.  I like most ciders I try, but Newton's Folly from Vermont is one of my favorites.

I was excited to find treat bake shop goodies, Becky's caramels and savory salt from The Scrumptious Pantry in another gift bag.  I was introduced to treat candied pecans at a Milwaukee blogger book club event last year and was immediately hooked.

I sought out Becky's caramels after hearing Lori rave about them and have bought many, many since then.  The Scrumptious Pantry products came into my world the most recently after attending a cooking class at Glorioso's.  Really love the quality of Lee's products!
I also love that Lisa saved two recent copies of the Food section from our local paper.  This particular issue contained a great summer side dish article written by Alysha that she interviewed me for, as well as the recipe for marizpan cookies that I requested from Field to Fork.