First Farmer’s Market Meal Post!

full plate compositionToday marks the first big Farmer’s Market of the Cedar Rapids season!  We love going to these every year to see all the different crafts, locally produced wines and cheeses as well as the locally sourced produce.  These larger-scale markets are held every first and third Saturdays of the month for the summer months and into early Fall.  We decided to try something fun every first and third Saturday, we wanted to make a farmer’s market meal using only produce that we bought at the market and what we had stocked in our kitchen at home.  It was a fun and challenging experiment, and one we are eager to share with you!

After walking around the market for the better part of the morning (and gorging ourselves on a Greek gyro) we returned home with our produce and a package of elk steaks.  Having pretty much forgotten everything that we even bought, we set out to brainstorm a good and cohesive meal to scrape together.  Ethan likened the experience to being a hunter-gatherer.  While that’s probably not even close to accurate, we still had to forage through almost 250 booths to find exactly what we ended up with.

So, when we got home, we had:

  • turnips (from Sweet Earth Farms)
  • shallots (from Givens Gardens)
  • young gouda (from Frisian Farms)
  • new red potatoes (from J.T.’s Garden)
  • elk steaks (from Antler Ridge Elk Farms)
raw ingredients

Look at the beautiful colors!

raw elk steaks

Needless to say, we were at somewhat of a loss as to what to do with it all.  However, after a little bit of thought, we came up with something that enjoyed and are sure you will as well.  We prepared Elk Steaks with a Red Wine Mustard Sauce, Turnip Latkes and Smashed New Potatoes with Young Gouda Cheese.  While we will give you instructions for these exact recipes, you can easily sub in different ingredients if you don’t have these readily available (I don’t personally know anyone that keeps elk steaks on hand just in case…).  For instance, beef can sub in for elk, potatoes can sub in for turnips (really any root vegetable would do), parmesan or a similar cow’s milk cheese could sub for gouda and so on.

final plate

Ingredients

Smashed New Potatoes with Young Gouda Cheese

  • about 1 lb new baby red potatoes
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/4 lb young gouda cheese
  • 3 T sour cream (we used french onion sour cream)
  • splash of milk
  • S&P

Turnip Latkes

  • two or three medium turnips (we used about five smaller ones)
  • two smaller (one medium) shallot
  • kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T flour
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Elk Steaks with Red Wine Mustard Sauce

  • 4 1/4 lb elk steaks
  • 2 smaller (1 medium) shallot
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 3 T butter, cut into pieces

Directions

Smashed New Potatoes with Young Gouda Cheese

  1. Wash and cut potatoes into a uniform size.  Into the boiling water they go until they’re fork tender.  Strain and transfer to a serving bowl.
    raw potatoes
  2. Add butter, finely shred gouda (removing from rind) and add the sour cream and a splash of milk.
    cooked potatoes and gouda
  3. Smash up to desired consistency, adding milk as needed.  The heat of the potatoes should melt the cheese right in.
  4. Add in S&P, stir and serve.

    finished potatoes

    Finished potatoes, they look so yummy! And the color of the skins is so pretty.

Turnip Latkes

  1. Wash and prep the turnips (cut off the root end and the greens).  Grate the turnip coarsely.  Chop shallots and add to grated turnip.  Add salt liberally and mix with your hands, making sure to incorporate the salt well.  Allow to sit for about a half hour – this gives the salt time to pull the moisture out of the turnips.
    raw turnips
  2. After they have rested, squeeze all excess water out of the turnip mixture.  They have a lot of water in them, so squeeze hard!  Dump the remaning water from the bowl and place turnip mixture back into it.

    grated turnips

    Squeezing out the grated turnips!

  3. Crack the egg in and add the flour.  Crack black pepper over the mixture to taste and mix well.  This is your latke batter.

    latke batter

    Finished latke batter.

  4. Heat the olive oil (just enough to reach about halfway up each latke) on medium high heat until a small tester of batter starts sizzling immediately.
  5. Divide the latke batter into three or four portions and drop into the oil.  We did ours one at a time, but if you wanted to use a larger pan and more oil, you could easily cook all of them at once.

    frying latke

    Good luck in there!

  6. Cook each side for about 5-7 minutes until browned around the edges.  When both sides are done, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and drain off excess oil.  Serve.
    finished latke

Elk Steak with Red Wine Mustard Sauce

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat a pan over high heat until it is ready for searing.  Take your steaks and sear each side quickly, allowing some fat to render off (though with a very lean meat like elk, you won’t have much).

    raw elk steaks

    Oops, already seen this picture!

  2. Once the meat is seared, place into the oven on a broiler pan and roast for 10 minutes.  Since they are smaller portions, it shouldn’t take long.  After they roast for 10 minutes, turn on the broiler to give them a little color.  Once they’re to your desired doneness, take out from oven.
    cooked steaks
  3. Meanwhile, make the mustard sauce.  Add a little olive oil if needed and cook the shallots in the searing pan over low heat for about five minutes.  They should be translucent when they are done.
  4. Add the broth and wine and kick the heat up to high.  Once the mixture starts boiling, scrape up any fond and allow the sauce to reduce to half the volume.
    sauce reducing
  5. Reduce heat to medium, whisk in the mustard and the balsamic and cook until the sauce reaches your desired consistency–it should at least coat the back of a dinner spoon.
  6. When done, remove the pan from the heat, transfer to a serving bowl and whisk in the butter until melted.  This should further thicken and enrich the sauce.  Serve.
    sauce being whisked

When we plated ours, we placed the steak on top of one of the latkes and served the potatoes on the side.  But you could easily stack all of them together to create a one-plate meal.  That way, there’s less dishes to do (and we all fucking love that!).  We would suggest the latke, followed by the potatoes, followed by the steak and the sauce to top it all off.  The sauce is really the flavor-bringer to the steaks.  If you don’t want to do the sauce, we would obviously have you dress the steaks in some other way–even just a dry S&P rub with a couple other seasoning and some garlic spears would be fine.

plated potatoesplated steak

Our locally sourced, organic meal was delicious!  We encourage all of you to try to make a locally sourced meal as well.  You support the local economy and it’s really eco-friendly!  Plus, you know all your ingredients are going to be at least semi-fresh.  And it’s a good way to meet new people and it’s always good to see from where your food is coming.  The journey from the farm to your table is at least cut in half.  So get out to your local farmer’s market, meet the people raising your meat, picking your vegetables and crafting your wine.  Plus, all the arts are crafts are so cute!

Happy chomping!

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Teaser! White Wedding cake with raspberry la confiture and white chocolate American buttercream!

20120601-101942.jpg

Here is a little teaser for an upcoming post! Ashley made this beautiful cake for Ethan’s going away at work. So sad but so delicious!

The Sweeter Side of Summer

Since summer is about to start (despite the cool temps outside right now–not that we’re complaining!), we figured it would be an appropriate time to post a delicious summer cupcake recipe!  The cake we concocted was super light and the frosting was creamy, sweet and smooth.  Together, they were a match truly made for the beach.  The delicate lemon balanced out the elegant almond (and the candied almond crunch on top lent itself nicely to the texture) making these little bits of heaven perfect for an afternoon tea or a trip to the local beach–not that we have many of those around here.

We call them Summer Sandollar Cupcakes because when you arrange the almonds on top of the white frosting, it looks just like a fucking sandollar! Okay, we bite, we know it’s lame, but it’s the best name we could think of.  And we know all the Pinterest fanboys will LOVE that name. We could go on and on about how good these are, but we’ll just let you see for yourself.  Recipe following.

Finished Product

Don’t they look so light and fluffy?

Three Final Cupcakes

Ingredients

Candied Almonds

  • 2/3 C sliced almonds
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C light brown sugar

Lemon Sponge Cupcakes

  • 1 C butter, softened
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • about 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 3 C cake flour (use real cake flour, substitues won’t work quite right)
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 C buttermilk, room temperature

Almond Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 1/2 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 tsp real almond extract
  • 1 T milk

Directions

  1. Candied almonds up first!  This is super easy.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the water and vanilla extract in a small bowl or shallow pan.  In another bowl, put the brown sugar.  Coat the almonds in the vanilla mixture, soak for several minutes.  Transfer, after draining, to the brown sugar bowl and coat all evenly.  Place in a small pan and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the nuts are golden brown and fragrant.
    Raw Almonds

    Ready to go in the oven!

    Candied Almonds

  2. While those are cooking, you can make the cake batter.  Grease and flour (this is so important, we didn’t think we had to the first time, and that was a fucking mistake…) two 12-count cupcake pans.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter gradually adding sugar until light and fluffy–about five minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition.
    Creaming the ButterBatter with Egg
  4. Add lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla, beating just until blended.  The batter should be smooth, but will separate out if left to stand.  This is normal, nothing to worry about if it happens.
    Citrus Reamer
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients–the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Add to butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Beat at low speed until just incorporated after each addition.

    Finished Batter

    Finished Batter!

  7. Spoon the batter into the cupcake pans (if they seem a little full, that’s fine as the cake doesn’t rise too much while baking).  Bake in the 350 degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool on a rack or in the pan.  Turn out and you’re ready to frost once they’re completely cool.
    Spooning the BatterOven Ready

    Just out of the oven

    Just out of the oven!

  8. Speaking of frosting, you can make that while the cupcakes are baking!  Sift the confectioner’s sugar over the cream cheese a cup at a time, beating between each addition to incorporate the sugar into the cream cheese.  After all the sugar has been added, add the almond extract and milk and mix well.  BUT, be careful not to overmix, as this will cause the frosting to become too loose.
    Ingredients for Frosting

    Making the Frosting

    Making the frosting — look at Ethan’s cool retro hand mixer!

  9. Frost the cupcakes with the frosting, and arrange five almond slices on top in a concentric pattern to form the sandollar.
    Final ProductFinal Product
  10. Enjoy the compliments and the delicious cake.

We originally had really high hopes for these cupcakes–we wanted to turn them out and trim them to make miniature little layer cakes.  But the cream cheese frosting wasn’t stiff enough, and the cakes turned out a little too crumbly to hold their shape just right.  Perhaps it was too hot in the kitchen, but we found that this alternative was just as tasty and a lot less of a pain in the ass. 🙂 So, if any of you decide that you want to try the layer cake (we think a buttercream might hold up better), and you have a good pic, we’d be happy to feature it sometime.  Happy summer and happy chomping!

First Post!

Hello internet, Ethan and Ashley here (also affectionately known as Eth and Lola) to present to you our first post on the blog.

Here we have a recipe for Spicy Chicken Scampi.  We’ll be honest, it’s not really a true scampi, but it did taste damn good (even if it doesn’t look the most appealing… but don’t let that stop you).  We decided to start this blog because, though we work together now, that is coming to an end this week–as Ethan moves on in preparation for law school.  We thought this would be a fun way to stay close once we no longer worked together.  And, as Italian families know, there is no better way to stick together than a good hearty pasta dish.  And what kind of pasta is more hearty than a buttery, fatty, cholesterol-laden scampi (with a fabulous mouth feel we might add)?  None, that’s what.  So we decided to make our first entry a unique take on chicken scampi.

Without further ado, we present to you our Spicy Chicken Scampi!

Ingredients

  • 2 heads fresh garlic, 2 cloves reserved and minced
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano flakes
  • 1/4 tsp thyme leaf
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3/4 C dry white wine
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C milk, hot
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • some sort of cheese for stuffing (we used Grasslands Onion Cheese)
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 red onion
  • thin lemon slices
  • 1/2 lb capellini pasta, cooked al dente
  • olive oil and S&P

Instructions

  1. First things first, we need some roasted garlic.  We need to roast both heads of garlic but reserve two cloves for the scampi sauce.  If y’all know how to do this, go ahead and skip this first step.  Otherwise, it’s super easy to roast garlic, and always well worth the time.  To begin, pull as much of the papery outer layers of the two garlic heads as you can.  Separate two good-sized cloves from the head, mince them, and then slice off the top of the remainder of the heads and discard.  Then form a cup with tin foil and drizze olive oil on top of the heads, making sure to work the oil into the exposed cloves and over all of the papery body of the garlic.  Wrap up and place center-rack in a 450 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  It’s worth it, and actually faster than a lot of other roasting recipes.
    Garlic HeadRaw Garlic Heads

    Roasted Garlic

    Yummy! Can’t you almost smell it?

  2. Melt 3 T of butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan or skillet.  Mix the crushed red pepper, parsley, paprika, oregano, thyme, cardamom and a little S&P in a small dish.  This will be your home-mixed Italian Seasoning and what gives the scampi sauce a nice kick.  When the butter is melted, add the minced garlic and the spice mixture.  Stir to combine, and cook over medium heat for about two minutes.  Add the wine and broth, simmer over medium-low heat.
    Italian Seasoning

    Chicken Broth

    Ethan found this vintage Miller High Life can opener a while back in one of the more unused corners of his kitchen. We think it’s a cool little retro touch and a fun throwback to an era when everything was homemade and ‘from scratch.’

  3. In the meantime, make a small batch of bechamel sauce in a small saucepan.  Begin by melting the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat and adding the 2 T of flour to the butter.  Keep moving in the pan until the flour takes on a nice, sandy color.  Then add the hot milk (it’s important that it’s hot so that the sauce doesn’t clump), whisking briskly the entire time to prevent lumps.  Once the milk has been incorporated, allow to thicken over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add S&P–and I always like to add a little fresh-ground nutmeg as well.
  4. As soon as the bechamel is done, add the entirety to the scampi sauce to thicken.  Make sure it is well incorporated and then continue to simmer the sauce mixture over medium-low for an addition 20-30 minutes.  If the sauce looks like it’s thickening too quickly or it is clumping, simply remove from heat (or add some pasta water later to loosen the sauce).
  5. Next it’s time to prep your chicken thighs!  Make sure they are well-thawed, as you will be stuffing them and working under the skin.  And, as always, ensure you adhere to safer sex–I mean, food handling practices (i.e. wash your filthy hands).  Take a sharp knife, a paring knife will do, and slit up along the thigh bone.  Work your hand into the cavity (hehe) and loosten the flesh from the bone so you can stuff the cheese inside.  Then take a seasoning of choice (I used Penzey’s Mural of Flavor) and rub it up underneath the skin of the thigh.  They should now be ready for searing!
    Preped Chicken Thighs
  6. Sear each side of the thighs for about 5 minutes per side on high heat in a large skillet.  Reduce heat to low, medium-low and cover after searing to help the chicken along in cooking.
    Thighs Searing 1Thighs Searing 2

    Thighs Searing 3

    And don’t they look beautiful when they’re done?

  7. Prep your veggies by thinly slicing all of them.  When they are ready, take the chicken out of the pan, add a little olive oil, crank up the heat and saute the veggies for 7-8 minutes or until not quite tender.  Then add the chicken thighs back in, add in the your roasted garlic and cover the speed the cooking process (ensuring there is ample liquid in the pan so as not to burn shit).  Stir occasionally.
    Veggie Prep 1Veggie Prep 3Saute 1

    Saute 2

    And in the chicken goes!

  8. When the chicken is almost cooked through (think white all the way through but juices still pink or red) add a lemon slice to the top of each thigh.  Keep on until chicken is cooked through and then discard.  Add the scampi sauce and simmer together for about five minutes.  Remove the chicken, toss the sauce, veggies and capellini together, plate and enjoy!
    Lemon Added
  9. Drink the rest of the wine, you deserve it.

It was a wonderful summer dish, full of locally purchased and grown produce.  So sustainable!  And we even found a small artisan bakery not too far away that we bought a crusty french loaf from (heated in the over before, of course).  It was a wonderful evening and wonderful meal shared with wonderful friends.

Pepper

These peppers looked so lovely with the tops cut off, we almost nixed slicing them and made stuffed peppers instead!

Let us know what you  think and happy chomping!