Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pole Green Is Poppin'!

I moved to the Richmond area about 5 or so years ago. Pole Green was the first farm stand my husband introduced me to (he had already lived here abt. 15 years) and I've been in love with it ever since. If you're on the west end of the city like us, it's a fair trip, but so worth it!

I totally forgot my camera today and I'm kicking myself. The produce was busting at the seams. I've been out here plenty and have yet to see the bounty of goodness like I saw today. The tomatoes were in red, ripe, mountainous piles, almost spilling onto the floor along w/some especially verdant green tomatoes. Purple and white eggplant, juicy peaches, Hanover blackberries/potatoes/tomatoes, new(red) potatoes, giant cucumbers, melons galore, peppers.........just a tumult of ridiculous goodness.

I rounded the corner in an overwhelmed daze from all the choices and ran smack into a Montana Gold bakery stand. I picked up some of their garlic knot rolls that we're going to have our hamburgers on tonite. They also had cookies, quick breads, challah rolls and granola. (there may have been some more choices that I didn't see). It was a nice surprise!

I walked out of there w/a big pepper, 2 huge cukes, 3 tomatoes, sack of potatoes, 6 ears of corn, blackberries, 2 small jars of McCutcheon's jam and the bread, all for the low, low price of (literally) 19.99!

If you haven't been, I highly recommend a nice little jaunt out to the country. Some fresh air and locally grown produce will do you good! Just off the Pole Green exit (295). They only take cash or check (ATM in the stand).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mark Bittman's 101 Simple Salads

I think overall, salads get a pretty bad rap for being "boring" or "too healthy." Pish Posh!

They are an excellent vehicle with which to utilize all of the fresh produce rolling out during the summer months. Personally, I enjoy new ideas and creative suggestions for salads. They mean I have the chance to lay back a little, have a low maintenance meal that's high in quality as well as keep any extra heat out of my house. Great article in the NYT's from Mark Bittman w/101 ideas for simple salads here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Tasty Turkey Meatball

Watching "Chopped" on the Food Network last week, I heard the winner refer to the ground turkey in his basket as an "inferior product." And in fact, all of the chefs ended up with a dry final product once their first round dishes were complete. If you don't count the guy who added a stick of butter to his pound of turkey in order to make turkey "galettes." (whatever you're thinking right now, I was thinking the same thing...LOL!) I would also like to mention that this particular episode ticked me off b/c the show gave the chefs CELERY in their dessert ingredients. Really? WTH? But, I digress.........

Back to the subject at hand-- I'm not normally a ground turkey eater. Chicken is my poultry of choice. But, when I tripped across some turkey on sale recently, the Chopped challenge flashed in my mind and I thought I would take it on myself.

This budget turkey find had been languishing in the freezer for a little while, until I received the most recent Gourmet mag. It had a recipe for chicken meatballs that I decided to riff off of-- instead of Italian bread, I used whole grain (skim milk), instead of pancetta I used regular hard wood smoked bacon and of course instead of chicken I used turkey.

It was nice to have all these simple ingredients on hand to make such a tasty dish! I served these with a stripped down, single-note tomato sauce since all of the flavor is in the meat and I wouldn't want to upstage or overwhelm it. Nothing earth shatteringly creative, but then again, most of the tastiest things aren't! ;) Moist, juicy & delicious....take that, Chopped!

Tasty Turkey Meatball
Serves 4

3 oz. bacon (3 strips), cut into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Pinch salt & pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3 slices (1 cup) whole grain bread, torn into pieces
1/3 c. milk
1 egg, beaten in separate bowl
1 lb. ground turkey
3 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine bread and milk, let sit for a few minutes, until bread has completely absorbed the milk.

Cook bacon, onion, S&P and garlic over medium heat in 1 Tbsp of olive oil until onion is soft and translucent (approx 5 minutes). Let cool for a minute or so (I put it in a bowl and stuck it in the freezer b/c I am impatient!)

Combine poultry, bread, egg, bacon/onion mixture and parsley loosely with finger tips. Form into 12 meatballs, placed on a sheet pan coated w/non-stick spray.

Combine tomato paste and remaining 1 tbsp of oil. With fingertips & the help of a small spoon, lightly rub paste mixture over the tops of the meatballs. Distribute evenly.

Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes until cooked through!

Chicken Stuffed With Goat

A recent vacation meal left me craving stuffed chicken breasts when I got home. They are def. one of my favorite things to make and eat. So, I went rummaging around the fridge for leftover junk to cram in my poultry. I came up with garlic, which I roasted. I also added some chives that were limping along in my back porch herb garden in order to put them out of their misery. Then, combined these two ingredients w/leftover goat cheese and cracked pepper, much to my mouth's delight!

Sear one side of stuffed chicken breast in the pan, flip, finish it off in the oven. Quick, easy week night meal, not to mention tummy pleasing! To make things even simpler, I would recommend stuffing the chicken ahead of time and stowing it in the fridge. That way, when you get home from work, you just have to throw it on/in the stove!

Chicken Breasts Stuffed w/Goat Cheese, Roasted Garlic, Chive & Cracked Pepper
Serves 2

3-4 oz. fresh, plain goat cheese
6-8 garlic cloves
2-3 Tbsp fresh chopped chives
1/2 - 1 tspn fresh cracked tellicherry peppercorns
2 thick chicken breasts
Olive oil

* To roast the garlic, place cloves (whole, w. skin) in foil. Sprinkle w/salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Roast @ 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Garlic should be soft and the skins translucent. Snip end of clove and squeeze garlic out!

Leave oven heated at 400.

Combine first 4 ingredients.

Heat skillet w/2 Tbsp olive oil over med-high heat.

Cut a slit in the middle of the thickest part/side of the chicken breasts. Being careful not to cut through to the other side. Distribute 1/2 of cheese mixture into each breast. Seal w/toothpicks.

Pan sear one side of chicken for approx. 3-4 minutes (lightly golden brown). Flip chicken and place whole pan in oven. Let poultry cook for approx. 15-30 minutes (or until 165 degrees). Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.