Buckwheat Cakes – West Virginia

For the past 74 years, Preston County has been holding its Annual Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood, West Virginia. During the later years of the Depression, buckwheat was grown in the county as an

Buckwheat cakes - West Virginia

insurance crop because its growing season was short and the quality was good.

Buckwheat is actually not a cereal grain but rather a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. High in fiber and gluten free, buckwheat is also rich in flavonoids, and a good source of magnesium.

Buckwheat cakes have a delicate nut-like flavor and are darker than regular pancakes. This simplified version of buckwheat cakes makes a delicious breakfast, or brinner (breakfast for dinner) if you are so inclined.

This year the Preston County Buckwheat Festival takes place September 29-October 2, 2016.

Buckwheat Cakes

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 25 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or sub GF flour of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (two flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda). In a smaller bowl, mix together the buttermilk, egg and vanilla until combined. Add buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. The batter may have some lumps. If the batter is too thick, add a bit more buttermilk.

With a skillet heated over medium-high heat, add a bit of vegetable oil to the pan. Swirl so the oil coats the bottom of pan. Pour ¼ cup pancake batter into pan. Cook until bubbles form on top, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook 1-2 minutes more. Continue until all batter is used, adding more vegetable oil when necessary.

Chicken Vesuvio – Illinois

We’ve lived in the Chicago area for almost 20 years and have come across some delicious versions of Chicken Vesuvio. Harry Caray’s makes a mean version that they assert dates back to the 1920s, as does the venerable Gene & Georgetti. Although some people argue

Chicken Vesuvio

that Chicken Vesuvio has its roots in New York, New Jersey or even southern Italy, we are swayed by the claim that this dish was invented at Vesuvio Restaurant which was located on Wacker Drive in the 1930s. That, and the fact that we never heard of this dish until we moved here.

The components of Chicken Vesuvio are pretty straightforward. Bone-in chicken pieces are pan seared. Potatoes are added, usually with a generous amount of garlic. Oregano (or some other herb, sometimes rosemary) is sprinkled throughout the dish, and a white wine sauce melds all the flavors together. Sometimes additional vegetables are added, like mushroom (like we did) or artichokes. The dish is finished in the oven and peas are added at the last moment. Where ever it came from, no one can argue that this dish is delicious at every bite.

Hurry to get your tickets for Chicago Gourmet 2016, September 24-25, 2016. This premier food festival has an impressive array of celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations and tastings.

Chicken Vesuvio

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hr. 15 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
    • 3 potatoes, quartered and then sliced 1/4 inch thick
    • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • 3 pounds chicken pieces, bone in
    • 8-10 baby portabella mushrooms, quartered
    • 3/4 cup white wine
    • 3/4 cup chicken stock
    • 2-3 teaspoons oregano
    • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

In a large, oven proof pan, heat ¼ cup of the cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add potatoes and garlic and cook until browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add ¼ cup olive oil to pan. Working in batches if necessary, add chicken pieces. Cook skin side down until browned. Turn skin side up, then add mushrooms. Cook 3-4 minutes or until mushrooms are browned. Return potatoes to the pan. Add stock, wine and oregano. Cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Place pan in oven to finish, about 40 minutes. Add the frozen peas during the last five minutes of baking.

Persimmon Muffins with Sugared Pecan Topping – Indiana

If you’ve never had a persimmon you’ve been missing out. Their flavor is often described as a cross between a guava, an apricot and an avocado. Southeastern Indiana has an abundance of wild

Persimmon Muffins with Sugared Pecan Topping - Indiana

persimmon trees and if you are lucky enough to live nearby, the delicate fruit will be showing up in farmers markets and farm stands in the next few weeks. Nutritionally, persimmons are a great source of dietary fiber, as well as vitamin A and vitamin C. We did a little experimenting and used our family zucchini bread recipe but replaced the zucck with persimmons. It worked beautifully and the pecan topping lends a bit of crunchy sweetness.

Mitchell, Indiana, hosts a Persimmon Festival each year with arts and crafts, a persimmon pudding contest, entertainment and the crowning of Persimmon Festival Queen.

Persimmon Muffins with Sugared Pecan Topping

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Time: 40 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For Muffins:

  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 -3 very ripe persimmons
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 Instructions

To make topping, in a small mixing bowl combine melted butter, flour, sugar, pecans and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and ground ginger). Whisk a bit until fully mixed. Set aside.

Remove stems from the persimmons then slice into eighths. Remove any seeds. Working in 2 batches, place persimmon sections in the bowl of a Foley food mill. Process until 1 cup of pulp is extracted and only the skin remains.

To the pulp add sugar, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla. Stir until fully incorporated. Add dry ingredients and stir just until batter is mixed, being careful not to overmix.

Add batter into lined muffin tins, filling about three quarters full. Distribute pecan topping equally over all muffins. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

New Mexico Green Chile Breakfast Skillet

We’ve talked before about how the chile pepper is the official state vegetable of New Mexico. The Aztecs cultivated these peppers centuries ago but Spanish settlers brought the chile pepper to the region from Mexico.

New Mexico Green Chile Breakfast Skillet

Green chile sauce is usually made with Hatch peppers which are grown in the Hatch Valley. If you can’t find fresh Hatch peppers, don’t fret. We subbed in Anaheim peppers, but poblano or even cubanelle peppers will also work. This sauce tops a savory breakfast skillet that is bursting with flavor. If you are vegan or vegetarian, use soy chorizo and /or leave out the eggs.

Hatch, New Mexico, is the self-proclaimed chile capital of the world and hosts a Chile Festival September 3-4, 2016.

New Mexico Green Chili Breakfast Skillet

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 50 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For Green Chile Sauce:

  • 2-3 green peppers (Hatch preferred, but we used Anaheim)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt

For Breakfast Skillet:

  • 2 -3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound baby potatoes, cubed
  • 6 ounces chorizo
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 -3 eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
  • Half an avocado, diced
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Instructions

To make green chili sauce: Cut peppers in half. Flatten peppers with the heel of your hand. Roast under the broiler on a baking tray lined with foil, about 10 minutes until the skin is blistered brown. Remove from the oven and once cool enough to handle, place in a paper bag. Fold down the top of the bag and let sit for about 10 minutes. Remove peppers from bag. Remove stems, skin and seeds. Chop the peppers to ¼ inch dice. Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Saute garlic and onion until onion is translucent. Blend in flour. Add water gradually, whisking to break up any clumps. Add peppers. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Set aside (Can be made a day ahead).

To make breakfast skillet: In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add oil. Once heated, add diced potatoes. Cook until potatoes are browned, about 15 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add chopped tomato. Cook for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes are bubbling. Add chorizo to skillet. Cook until heated through, breaking up any clumps. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add diced potatoes back to skillet, then chorizo/tomato mixture. Make a well in the mixture and crack eggs into each well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover skillet and cook eggs until yolk just begins to firm up, approximately 10 minutes. Uncover, top with cheese, avocado and green chili sauce. Season with hot sauce if desired.

Feeling Punchy: Picon Punch – Nevada

Picon Punch is an old libation with a long history in the Silver State. We’ve talked before about how the Basque people — those from a region in Europe about the size of Rhode Island that includes both

Picon Punch

Spain and France — immigrated to Nevada and other parts of the west during the mid-nineteenth century. Many of them were sheepherders and they set up boardinghouses across the state as way-stations for themselves. The boardinghouses that remain are now restaurants and the Picon Punch is a product of those establishments. Some lament the drink used to be better when Amer Picon was available in the United States (alas, it is only available France) so we used Torani Amer which is a common substitution. Having no frame of reference for what used-to-be, we enjoyed the caramel, orange and brandy flavors of this cocktail.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas features a 13-mile scenic loop, as well as opportunities for hiking, biking and rock climbing.

Picon Punch

  • Servings: 1 drink
  • Time: 5 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 ½ ounces Torani Amer
  • 1/2 ounce grenadine
  • 1/2 ounce brandy
  • Crushed ice
  • 1-2 ounces club soda
  • Lemon twist

Instructions

Mix Torani Amer, grenadine, and brandy in a cocktail shaker. Add crushed ice to glass. Pour brandy mixture over ice. Top with club soda and a lemon twist.

Tomato Pie with Basil and Feta – Alabama

Summer, summer, summer. Ice cream cones, lazy days at the pool, catching fireflies at dusk. And tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. If you garden, this might be about the time you start wondering what to do

Tomato Pie with Bail and Feta

with your surplus of the red juicy orb. Tomato Pie is just the ticket. This very southern dish dates back to the 1830s. We gussied up the traditional version to include sautéed onions, garlic, basil and feta cheese which plays so nicely with tomatoes. One thing we dared not mess with is the mayo/cheese topping which bakes into a layer of gooey goodness. Serve with a green salad and maybe some grilled chicken sausages and you’ve got yourself a darn good meal.

Tomato Pie with Basil and Feta

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a museum and cultural center that highlights the role of the city in the civil rights movement beginning in the 1950s.

Tomato Pie with Basil and Feta

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 50 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For crust:

  • 1¼ cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • ½ cup cold water

For filling:

  • 1 ½ lbs. tomatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pepper
  • Basil, diced
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup mayonnaise

Instructions

For crust: Place all ingredients except water in food processor and blend until fine crumbs are formed. Add water a little at a time until the dough is moist and forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to use (can be made a day ahead). Roll out onto floured surface, adding a bit of flour at a time if the dough is too sticky. Gently lift into a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp edge. Set aside.

For filling: Slice tomatoes thinly and place in colander. Sprinkle with salt. Set aside for approximately 10 minutes.

In the meantime, cook onion over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Add minced garlic and continue cooking until onion is just beginning to brown and garlic is fragrant.

With a paper towel, blot tomatoes until most of liquid is removed. Combine cheeses. Reserve ¾ cup for topping. Mix this ¾ cup cheese with ½ cup of mayonnaise. Set aside.

Put one third of the cheese in the bottom of the pie plate. Sprinkle with one third of the onion mixture, then one third of the tomatoes. Season tomatoes with pepper. Finish with a sprinkling of basil. Repeat this step two more times so that there are three layers. Cover top of pie with the mayo/cheese mixture. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Let pie set 10 minutes before serving or serve at room temperature.

Beat the Heat: Huckleberry Lemon Ginger Yogurt Pops – Montana

Montana is huckleberry central and late July to August is prime huckleberry season. We’ve talked before about how huckleberries are so venerated in the state that the legislature passed a law  in 2007 that made it illegal to label a product huckleberry if it contains any other fruit. A close cousin to the blueberry, this delectable fruit grows best between elevations of 3,500 and 7,000 feet, in forests with about 50 percent tree cover.

Huckleberry Lemon Ginger Yogurt Pops - MT

We decided with this hot weather that we had to make frozen yogurt pops and came up with this winning flavor combination. Don’t worry if you can’t find huckleberries, just sub in blueberries, the flavor is very similar. This recipe yields about 2 cups of batter, enough for 6 small pops, or 4 large.

Glacier National Park is one of the jewels in the country’s park system. With over 1,500 square miles, 700 lakes, and 175 mountains, the park is replete with fishing, boating, hiking and camping opportunities.

Huckleberry Lemon Ginger Yogurt Pops

  • Servings: 6 small pops
  • Time: 45 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 heaping cup huckleberries
  • Zest from one lemon
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt 

Instructions

In a small pan, combine sugar and water. Heat over medium until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, add ginger. Set aside until cool, then refrigerate. In the meantime, in the bowl of a food processor, process huckleberries until smooth. Place huckleberry puree in a sieve over a medium bowl. With a rubber spatula, press puree through the sieve, so that seeds and skin are left behind. Add lemon zest and lemon juice to the puree. When simple syrup is cold, remove from refrigerator, discarding ginger slices. Add simple syrup to puree, then add yogurt. Pour mixture into molds. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until hard.

Smoked Salmon and Potato Salad Wraps – Alaska

As mentioned last week, we recently spent a fabulous two weeks in Scandinavia. We ate our way through Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Boy, did we eat.

The Danish enjoy their smørrebrød, which are open faced sandwiches,  usually on buttered rye bread or a hearty brown bread.

Smørrebrød from Denmark
Smørrebrød from Denmark

As you can see, the Danish have elevated the presentation so that this becomes so much more than just a boring old sandwich.

The Swedish love their lingonberries. We of course had to have meatballs with lingonberries, a very traditional dish. We loved the

Swedish Meatballs with Lingonberries
Swedish Meatballs with Lingonberries

contrast between the creamy sauce on the meatballs and the tart zing of the lingonberries, which taste similar to cranberries. We’ve also talked before about Norwegian lefse, a soft potato crepe, and we saw that on many menus.

But one item that all of these countries had in common was their love for smoked salmon. We saw it on breakfast buffets, on smørrebrød at lunch, and even on dinner menus, like in this wrap.

Smoked salmon and potato salad wrap

We first encountered this simple yet delicious combination on a train of all places, and knew we had to recreate it with Alaskan smoked salmon. Salmon is a good-for-you protein, loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which may aid in heart health, reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of stroke. Look for wild caught salmon rather than farm raised salmon which may contain contaminants.

Mendenhall Glacier is less than 30 minutes away from Juneau, Alaska. This very accessible glacier is 12 miles long, boasts six hiking trails and is part of Tongass National Forest.

Smoked Salmon and Potato Salad Wraps

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 5 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2-3 ounces smoked salmon
  • 1/3 cup potato salad
  • 1/2 cup arugula
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup diced red pepper (optional)
  • 1 spinach wrap or flour tortilla

Instructions

In the middle of a wrap or tortilla, spread salmon lengthwise, then add potato salad, arugula, cherry tomatoes and diced pepper (if using). Fold in ends, then roll up the wrap. Slice on the diagonal.

Sour Cherry and Rosemary Focaccia – Michigan

Hi folks! We’re back after a fabulous vacation in Scandinavia. The food was terrific! More on that next week. First we have to talk about sour cherries. We’ve talked before about how Michigan is the top producer of sour cherries. The sour cherry season is just a few

Sour Cherry and Rosemary Focaccia - Michigan

short weeks, so you really have to hustle to take advantage of this delicate but delicious fruit. Living close to Michigan, we’ve been indulging for a week now with sour cherries in our morning yogurt, sour cherries on top of salad and this fabulous focaccia recipe topped with sour cherries from Martha Stewart. Don’t be put off by the amount of time it takes, most of that time is hands off when the dough is resting. The finished product is delightfully crisp and chewy, and the sour cherries and dusting of sugar add a hint of sweetness. Don’t fret if you can’t find sour cherries, just use bing cherries instead.

Sour cherry and rosemary focaccia - Michigan

Mackinac Island is located in Lake Huron between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. Bicycles reign supreme on this vehicle-free island where Somewhere in Time was filmed. Golf or horseback ride, tour Fort Mackinac or the Grand Hotel, and don’t pass up the many fudge shops throughout town.

Martha Stewart’s Sour Cherry and Rosemary Focaccia

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 5 hrs.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 cups pitted sour cherries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
  • 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar 

Instructions

Combine flour, water and yeast in bowl of a stand mixer. Mix for 2-3 minutes or until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until tripled, about 2 hours. Add salt, then switch to a dough hook. Beat on low speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds longer. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface (it will be very runny and sticky). Fold dough into thirds as best you can, patting as you go so the dough deflates. Return dough to well floured mixing bowl. Cover and let stand for one hour or until doubled. Repeat folding process. Cover again and let stand for one hour or until doubled.

Take a large baking sheet (preferably 13 x 17) and add 1/3 cup olive oil. Using your fingers, make sure the oil covers the entire baking sheet. Turn dough onto the baking sheet, spreading it out evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes, and continue to press out the dough until it fills the entire baking sheet. Drizzle dough with 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add cherries, then rosemary. Dust with sugar. Bake at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until focaccia is golden brown.

Perfect Pairing: Strawberry Rhubarb Galette – California

Tomorrow is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day! Didn’t know it was a thing, did you? California is the top producer of strawberries in the U.S. with 2.3 billion pounds harvested in 2014. We don’t know

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

why they pair so well but the strawberry’s best friend is rhubarb, in all its celery-like simplicity. We decided instead of pie, we would make a rustic galette which is just a free form pastry, baked without a pie plate. We topped our galette with sliced almonds, another California product. In fact, California is the only state in the country that produces them. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you have an easy dessert that will impress any guest.

Slice of Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

Big Sur is a 90 mile stretch of gorgeous coastline from Carmel to San Simeon. Camping and hiking are the big draws, with several state parks along the route, but you can also shop, grab a bite to eat or climb the Point Sur Lighthouse.

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 60 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 1¼ cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold water

For filling:

  • 1 ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 ½ cup sliced rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Lemon zest from half of lemon
  • Juice from half of lemon
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons milk (can use non-dairy milk)

 Instructions

For crust: Place all ingredients except water in food processor and blend until fine crumbs are formed. Add water a little at a time until the dough is moist and forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to use (can be made a day ahead). Roll out onto floured surface, adding a bit of flour at a time if the dough is too sticky. Lift the dough with a spatula and transfer carefully onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

For filling: In a large bowl, combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add cornstarch. Mound fruit mixture into center of dough. Fold sides of dough in, leaving about a 6 inch diameter in the center. Sprinkle with almonds. Brush milk over the outside of the crust. Place in 350 degree oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or the filing is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.

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