Moving to Meadballs.com

I’ve moved again. My mother used to hate it when I would call her and tell her I was moving again. She would have to write a new address card in her Rolodex and make sure to throw out the old one. I used to do it about every 18 months after college. That’s a lot of Rolodex cards. She couldn’t hate moving as much as I did, what with all the change of address cards, movers, utilities, etc., but sometimes a girl just has to move on.

For those of you who follow this blog, it started as an e-newsletter via GoErie.com. When the company that owned the Erie Times-News, and GoErie, was sold, I continued it for awhile after I left my job there. But when they didn’t want to pay for it anymore, I decided to continue on my own. So I kept the name and set up shop as Make It Erie on WordPress.com. Some of you followed and signed up for my e-mail and some of you just followed me on Facebook or Twitter. In the next couple of days, if it hasn’t happened already, the transfer of your e-mail subscription should go to the new site.

But the time had come to move to a different hosting service, and that meant rethinking the name of the column. I chose Meadballs.com because it reflects that this is a family, food and travel blog. Make It Erie, while useful, seemed to limit the posting to just about Erie. While Erie will be front and center, it won’t be a defining parameter.

I don’t like to be fenced in. Just ask Mom (and my ex).

Things are both simpler and more difficult moving around in the digital age. There’s still baggage to move from one place to another. Instead of moving vans, it is file export and import, URL transfer, a plug ins to add. Long way of saying, I think I’ve moved all the boxes from the WordPress.com site to Meadballs.com (a WordPress.org site, sort of like moving across town instead of across states). Ideally, the e-mail list will have migrated as well.

It’s not perfect yet. Think of the site like a new home with a lot of boxes to unpack. I will be unpacking for awhile, so it may look different from one visit to the next (at least I hope it does).

What’s in it for you? Ideally a cleaner site. A better recipe format. Eventually, I’ll be able to add video.

But first, let’s just try this post and a recipe for Zoodles with Pesto, Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes.

Zoodles with Chicken, Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Zoodles, zucchini noodles, are a great way to use up those summer zucchini and squash. They aren’t going to fool anyone, but with the addition of some zesty summer ingredients such as pesto and grilled chicken, they will disappear off plates. This recipe was inspired by Living, Loving Paleo
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5-7 minutes
Passive Time 10-15 minutes
Servings
people
INGREDIENTS
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Using either a manual or electric spiralizer, transform your squash into noodles. Cut into several sections, otherwise they are too long to eat.
  2. Lay the noodles onto a plate or baking dish lined with paper towels or, better yet, a linen dish cloth. Sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes to draw the moisture out. Then roll up in the paper towels or linen towel and press out extra moisture.
  3. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil and additional salt, if desired. Saute for a minute or two until no longer raw. Add pesto, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Saute for about 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through. Remove from heat.
  4. Arrange on plates. Top with toasted pine nuts and basil leaves to serve.
RECIPE NOTES

This recipe is inspired by Living Loving Paleo

SHARE THIS RECIPE
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Market Monday: Exploring a Virginia Farmer’s Market

It was so hot this weekend visiting the Virginia Meads that even the chocolate nor the doughnut sellers decided not to go the farmer’s market in Falls Church this weekend. There are 50 vendors at the market during the height of the season, so there were plenty of other vendors did show up, giving us plenty to choose from among the tomatoes, peaches, berries, cheeses, baked goods, organic meat producers and flowers that braved the 90-degree temps at 9 a.m.

imageWe arrived when it was a few degrees cooler at, oh 86 degrees a little before 8 a.m. By the time we left, it was too hot to even consider making any more decisions.
The stories of most of the vendors are fascinating. There’s the baker from Paris, Bonaparte Breads, of Savage, Maryland, who had exquisite pastries. The pane au chocolate were perfect, but she had selections that included multi-berry tarts, a blueberry and peach tart, quiche, almond croissant and lots of beads. I think standing in the sun for this alone was worth it.

Then there was Chris’ Marketplace, sellers of the most divine crab cakes. Chris Hoge, chef and owner, has been written up in Saveur, Gourmet and the Washingtonian. A fisherman who has worked the entire East Coast and down into the islands, says his secret was a sauce that accidentally fell into a plate of crab. The resulting seasoning was so perfect that is the reason for his success, he said. He’s got a second business going as well, making sopas from a traditional Mexican corn. He didn’t have any samples this weekend.
My sister-in-law Jenna picked up a bottle of wine from North Gate Vineyard, based in Loudoun County, Virginia. We talked wines, including Presque Isle Vineyards. it is a small world. Owned by Mark and Vicki Fedor, North Gate became a fully licensed Farm Winery in 2007. They produced their first grapes in 2002. An interesting dry wine they suggested was the Rkatsiteli, (you pronounce the “R”), which originated in the Republic of Georgia. A crisp white, it would be delish in the summer.
In addition to the fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers, we appreciated the prepared foods, which solved the dinner problem before I had finished my second cup of coffee. Cold Pantry Foods had a half-dozen types of frozen pizza to buy. The owners, Bob and Carol Vogel, started in business by selling pestos. But pesto is a limited product – so they use the pesto in all of their pizzas, which have a broader appeal.
We finished at a stop at Cavanna Pasta, which had a super array of homemade pastas. If I wasn’t traveling to Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, I probably would have brought a cooler full to take home. We settled on the sausage tortellini and containers of homemade vodka sauce and a ragu.

 

imageAmong the other highlights were Sexy Vegie, out of Baltimore, which offered lots of hummus along with salads. I bought a beet and apple salad, which would have been great topped with some local goat cheese from a nearby vendor (Sexy Vegie is vegan). Alas, I left before I could enjoy it, but I’m hoping to recreate it later this summer.
Finally, I will get to taste the wares of Stachowski Brand Charcuterie, from the D.C. Metro Area, because Jenna bought some lamb sausage to bring to Erie at the end of this week for my father.

 
While hot, this was a great way to get a taste of this region of Virginia and have an easy dinner at the same time. Kudos to the folks in Falls Church.
Erie, are you listening?
With all of the bounty of the region, why is it so hard for Erie County to coordinate this effort. I would think as part of the Health Department war on diabetes and obesity, this could be a worthwhile project.
I am in Philadelphia this week watching the Democratic National Convention and will post more from the other end of our state.
In the meantime, this is one of my favorite summer recipes that was inspired by Martha Stewart.

Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad

3 ears of cooked corn, kernels removed
2 cups sliced grape, cherry or other small tomatoes
2 to 3 tablespoons finely diced red onion or 2 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, seed removed, and diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt
1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)

In a medium bowl, toss tomatoes with lime juice and salt and allow to sit for about 15 minutes to draw out the juices. Add remaining ingredients and serve.

 

Stay cool. Eat local.

 

XOXOXO

Marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

Fresh on Friday: Corn

All spring and into early summer I watch the cornfields around my house as I ride my bike. First, they look like little weeds. Then they start to stretch skyward, reaching my knees and then shoulders. Mason Farms typically has fresh local sweet corn by July Fourth and so the season begins – stretching into September and October depending on the weather. By then, I will be interested in chowders and soups, but when it is 80-plus degrees, not so much.

Growing up, a dozen or so ears would go into a pot of boiling water, turning the kitchen into a steaming mess. Now I microwave it whole, husk on, after chopping off the bottom stalk and about an inch of the ear. Four ears are done in 4 to 8 minutes, depending on your microwave strength (mine takes about 6-7). If you allow it to cool, you can then strip the husk and silk easily off the ear.

I still buy corn by the dozen even though I don’t live in a house with brothers and sisters anymore. Then, a dozen ears would feed our family with no leftovers. Today, I typically have a half dozen leftover. I strip it off the ear and it goes into salads, salsas, breads and dips. I’ll share more recipes as the summer progresses.

But first, my favorite – a fritter/pancake with corn and zucchini. A true fritter, to me, would be round and puffy and totally deep-fried. Mine are more like pancakes cooked with just enough oil in the bottom of the pan to crisp them up, but not deep fry. It’s best made in cast iron skillet.

fritters

 

Zucchini Corn Fritters

2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
Kosher salt
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
4 ears corn, kernels cut off
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
Canola oil for frying

Sprinkle zucchini with salt and let stand for about 15 minutes. Wrap in a kitchen towel and squeeze out excess liquid.

In a large bowl, combine zucchini, onion, corn, cornmeal, flours, baking powder, cumin, and salt. Combine thoroughly. Whisk together 1/2 cup buttermilk and the eggs. Add to zucchini mixture. If it is too dry, add more buttermilk. You want it holding together, but not runny like pancake batter.

Heat a large skillet, cast iron is great for this, and add enough oil to coat the bottom (you want to see a little shimmer) over medium heat. Scoop corn cakes, four to a batch, into the skillet (about 1/4 cup or an ice cream scoop). Flatten so they are even (of they are runny, add more flour). Cook until browned on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. You may want to rotate carefully about 2 minutes into this so they are evenly browned. Flip and cook until browned on the other side.

Serve with Salsa or the Ancho Sauce.

fritters with salsa

Salsa

1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded, and diced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

In a medium-sized bowl, add tomatoes and toss with salt. Let sit about 5 minutes while you are chopping the rest of your ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients (I only add about 1/2 of the jalapeno, so you I can adjust the heat). Toss. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes before serving so the flavors marry.

This will not refrigerate well.

fritters with ancho

Ancho Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt – just not the nonfat kind)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt
Fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients through salt. Taste and add as much lime juice as you like, starting with about 1 teaspoon. The flavors will develop over time, so allow it to rest about 30 minutes before serving.

Happy summer eating.

XOXOXO

Marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

 

Market Monday: Broccoli and Kale

garden - pardini

In bloom at one of my favorite gardens are zinnia and hydrangea. The sculptures are by Brian Pardini. The garden is by Patty Baldwin. I will share updates of its blooms as the summer goes on.

Throughout this farm market season, I’ll be posting what I’ve found in season at area farm markets and in my CSA basket from Hunter Farms in Fairview.

Greens continue to be strong – my basket included collard greens, kale and lettuce again this week. In the Sisters of Saint Joseph Neighborhood Network community garden on Parade Street, I can tell you that the same veggies are faring well in the square-foot-garden in the city. I harvested the last of the kale out of my garden this week because it has been under attack by the neighborhood infestation of Japanese beetles.

kale

I enjoy kale and particularly like a kale Caesar salad with leftover grilled chicken. The key to a good kale salad is to massage the kale leaves  with the dressing and allow to sit in a baggie or a bowl in the refrigerator for several hours before serving. This helps integrate the dressing into the kale and soften it.

 

My favorite Caesar dressing is

1 egg yolk
1 clove finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 anchovy fillets (don’t worry they get mashed up)
4 tablespoons lemon juice (or more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon sugar or honey
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup neutral oil, like canola
Freshly ground pepper
Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Place egg, garlic, mustard, anchovy, lemon juice, sugar or honey and fish sauce on the cup of an immersion blender or a small blender. Puree until you don’t see any anchovy and all of the ingredients are combined and a pale yellow in color. With motor running, drizzle in the two oils. It will become thick. Taste. You can add a tablespoon or more oil if it is too thick. Mix in ground pepper and hot sauce (optional) to taste.

This makes enough for several salads and will keep well in refrigerator.

For broccoli, typically I just toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it in a 400- to 425-degree oven until it is browned. It is wonderful served alone or with some of that Caesar dressing. I’ve been known to dip the broccoli into the dressing while making dinner … only to find I’m full and there’s no broccoli for dinner.

Oh well.

But not everyone likes their broccoli that way. A big hit at potlucks at my former office is a broccoli salad made with a creamy sweet dressing, cheese, raisins, lots of bacon and sunflower seeds.

broccoli salad

For a recent outdoor lunch in Warren, I followed the recipe from Ocean Spray, only I made a few changes. I cooked the fresh broccoli florets in the microwave for 90 seconds because I’m not a fan of raw broccoli. The quick nuke makes the broccoli bright green and keeps the crunch, and makes it easier to eat (in my opinion). I cut the amount of sugar in half for the dressing and used the low-sugar dried cranberries.

The dressing itself is what I typically use for slaw, so here it is

Creamy Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
Hot sauce, optional, to taste

Mix well. Add to slaw or broccoli salad about an hour before serving. Taste and add salt if needed.

Enjoy summer’s bounty

XOXOXO

Marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

 

 

 

Getaway Includes Local Flavors

 

For years I promised my best friend in Chicago I would come visit. But parenting, work, etc. always seemed to get in the way. Summer and a career change, cleared the runway for a trip to the Windy City for the weekend to visit Claudette.

The 6 a.m. direct flight from Erie to Chicago makes the trip a breeze – especially since we land before traffic becomes a nightmare. A shared ride on Uber (my first) dropped me at my friend’s door about an hour after landing. I packed lightly, except for a bag of frozen pepperoni balls (no longer frozen). Pepperoni balls, apparently, are a very local food, specific to our shores of Lake Erie. Claudette wanted to share the secret to this treat with her friends in Chicago who had opened a pizza place downtown, Robert’s Pizza Company. It gets rave reviews from both Claudette and the local reviewers – be sure to stop in if you are in town.

My trip was timed, in part, to coincide with the Lincoln Park Farmers Market being open. It’s worth a stroll through even if you are staying at a hotel. You can pick up breakfast, flowers, fruit and ideas (lots of vendors ship). We both wanted to try fava beans, which are in season, but a pain to peel. With two friends and time, neither of us minded the process of first shelling the beans, then boiling in salted water for about 1 minute so you can then remove the outer white layer of the bean to reveal a nutty and buttery bright green bean. It’s a lot of work for not a lot of produce. So we weren’t going to waste these beauties by smashing them up into a puree. Instead, we paired them with fresh arugula, some sweet cherry tomatoes tossed with the juice of half a lemon, a drizzle of fresh local honey and some delicious extra-virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

The market did feature spring peas, already shelled, for $6, which seemed a bargain considering we were going to be shelling the favas. So that went on our dinner menu for that night. We were about a month too early for the spring lamb from one of the local vendors, so we wrapped up our shopping trip with fresh summer butter, zucchini flowers, a breakfast sandwich, ramps, and a brown butter something that was so delicious that I am going to have to find a recipe this week. In the meantime … we headed to Whole Foods to round out the meal.

claudette with crabsSince we were likely to be starving soon – breakfast was less than an hour old – we picked up some soft shell crab for a recipe that Claudette had from the New York Times, which you can find here. It involves broiling the crabs (which thankfully have already been cleaned) until crunchy and then placing on a toasted baguette that has been spread with butter seasoned with jalapeno, parsley, garlic and lemon.

Because it was Father’s Day weekend, there were lots of specials. I grabbed two racks of lamb for dinner that night. The farmer’s market didn’t have any because it will be another month, the vendor explained.

The lamb marinated in the juice of 1/2 a lemon, about 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper and some Lake Shore Drive seasoning. I love to buy spices from my various visits, so I bought some from The Spice House . It is a mixture of  salt, shallots, garlic, onion, chives, ground green peppercorns, and scallions. When I was ready to grill, I cut them into individual chops. They only take a couple of minutes to cook.

The zucchini flowers are easy and should be cooked at the last minute. You can make a simple batter, good for fish too and zucchini sticks too, with 1 bottle of beer, 1 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Mix together and dip flowers in. Have about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy pan at 350 degrees and fry flowers for 2 to 3 minutes. The basic recipe is from Epicurious.com. For a lighter batter, try a 50/50 ratio of cake and rice flour and 1 beaten egg white. I wasn’t feeling particularly ambitious since we had a lot of food.

lambchops

If I had been smart, I would have snipped a few mint leaves and sprinkled on the plate. This would have completed the dish because it would have been pretty (we eat with our eyes) and it complements the lamb and the peas.

But it had been a long day exploring the zoo, Restoration Hardware, the lily ponds, cooking and catching up. But it will be a meal I will remember sharing with my friend.

claudette

XOXO

Marnie