Monday, June 28, 2010

Finger Lakes Foodie Fun: F. Oliver's Oil & Vinegar Shoppe

I am fortunate to have fellow personal chef/foodie friends that live in Upstate New York, and I was even more fortunate when this weekend I was invited to spend some time with them and stay at one's charming house on Lake Seneca.

First we met for lunch at the New York Wine and Culinary Center.  They have a beautiful stadium style classroom, a full class kitchen (a corporate group was busy at work on a team-building class), a gift shop, library, beautiful gardens on the grounds, and a restaurant with a nice outdoor deck with lake views.

I had a delicious local asparagus BLT with a refreshing apple-fennel slaw.  And of course I sampled a little of the local wine.

After a laughter filled lunch, and a foie gras citrus currant cheesecake - none of really got any hint of foie gras, we headed to a charming local shoppe in Canandaigua which features flavor infused oils and vinegars, F. Olivers.

I of course, am no stranger of the flavored oil and vinegar stores.  The Olive Tap, in Medina, has allowed me to stock up and discover new flavors.  I have also purchased some at The Olive and The Grape at West Side Market, but I have to say theirs are not my favorites.

My friend Mary Beth received a gift certificate for F. Olivers for her birthday and was eager to visit and sample some flavors.  The store is set up with stainless steel containers with taps, called fustis, which allow the customers to pour samples into small cups, and to combine flavors.

I went crazy for the Creamy Coconut Balsamic Vinegar with the Persian Lime Olive Oil.  My friend Laura loved the Walnut Oil with Fig Balsamic.

The proprietor, Penelope Pankow, has a background in marketing and merchandising, and it's evident in the artistic design of the labels and mouthwatering names of the products.

She does ship the products, so don't let the lack of access to a retail shop deter you.  She also hosts group and in-home tastings.

As we tasted our way through the offerings, inspiration struck frequently.  The flavors really do give even the simplest of cooks an instant arsenal of flavor for everyday meals.

So if you are in the Finger Lakes region, please be sure to stop by and visit Penelope and her staff at F. Olivers.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chipotle Lime Beef Enchiladas

I put a Martha Stewart recipe for beef enchiladas on my spring/summer menu.  And when a client ordered it, I looked at the recipe and wasn't in love.  So I created this version, which if I do say so myself, is a 'good thing'.

Chipotle Lime Beef Enchiladas (4 servings of 2 each)

1 T. Roasted Onion and Cilantro Oil (Olive Tap)
1 cup of diced onion
2 t. Penzeys Chili 9000, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds of beef ground round
1 can fat-free refried beans
1 large can green enchilada sauce
1 lime, zest and juice
2 chipotles in adobe, plus spoonful of sauce (save the rest in a glass jar in fridge)
1 small can fire roasted diced green chiles
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
1 package of high fiber, whole wheat flour tortillas.
2 c. package shredded Mexican cheese blend

Heat oil in large non-stick skillet.  Saute onion til it starts to soften.  Sprinkle with 1 t. of Chili 9000, stir to mix, and grate in the garlic with a microplane.  Saute til fragrant, then add ground beef and crumble.  Cook until beef is browned.

Add second teaspoon of Chili 9000, then the can of refried beans, the green chiles, the chipotles and sauce, stir to combine and heat through.  Remove from heat, stir in lime zest, juice, and cilantro.

Spoon some of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Spread a few spoonfuls of the sauce on the tortilla, then add about a 1/4 c of filling in the bottom third of each, then roll and place in dish.  Top with remaining sauce, then cheese.

Cover with foil and bake in preheated 350 degree oven about 30 minutes, until cheese melts and enchiladas are heated through.

Serve with some sour cream to cool them off a bit.

*To package some for the freezer, put 2 in a foil container, cool, cover with press 'n seal and board lid.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fun In the Kitchen: Pasta-bilities and Chilling & Grilling Classes

There's been a lot of smiles and 'mmmmmmms' in the Dine-In Diva kitchen as two classes this weekend cooked their way through specially selected menus. 

My Friday night group, 6 lovely young women, learned how to make an awesome baked goat cheese appetizer, featuring Lucky Penny Creamery Chevre (which converted, yet again, a few more non-goat cheese eaters to goat cheese fans!), a Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette with lettuce they harvested fresh from my garden, then tackled three quick and easy pasta sauces that are perfect for summer.   I made this fresh fruit platter for them to nibble on while they worked.  For most, it was their first experience eating a kumquat.

One of the pasta sauces featured sauteed pancetta, fresh green beans from the farmers market and parmiagno-reggiano - it was a favorite of the class.

Last night's class was a couples class.  One was celebrating their fourth anniversary, and the other couple were celebrating a college graduation.  They did a grilling and chilling menu featuring Chimichurri Sauce over beef strip steaks for the gentleman, and sushi grade tuna for the ladies.

There was also Caprese salad, a shaved zucchini salad with Lucky Penny Feta and fresh mint, and an awesome take on twice baked potatoes - the baked potato filling, with sour cream and gouda, was stuffed into red bell peppers and grilled.


It was a fun weekend, with some great food and eager students.  And the Diva did the dishes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What I Got at the All-Clad Factory Sale June 2010

My first summer sale!  Hot and muggy, but an orderly outdoor line to get in that I waited in about 45 minutes.  Girl Scouts had a snack stand - nabbed a pepperoni roll and a water while waiting.

What I went for was that deep shiny, NOT, non-stick roasting pan.  The non-stick rack was a $12 optional purchase that fits in most of the roasting pans.  The shallow roaster was more expensive, but I went for it.

Some how in my saucepan collecting, the 2 quart shown above, hadn't yet made it home with me.  This time it did - $60.

I was going to get the 9" french skillet in stainless.  In the checkout line they had the duo with an 11" of the new d5 - so I swapped out and got both.  They also had nice marble cheese boards for $5 - got 2.

On a funny note, the clerk that took my credit card at the check-out looked at me and said "Hey, I was on your website this morning".  I told her about 1,000 people a month stop by looking for info on the All-Clad sale.  

Worth the drive, worth the wait.  I want to roast a turkey every day now - LOL.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Brunty Farms CSA: Week One

The only thing better than your own garden, or the farmers market, is your own farmer! Community Supported Agriculture, aka CSAs are becoming more available, and I for one, am a huge fan.

I have been a CSA member now for four seasons.  As a CSA member, you pay your farmer up front, usually in January or February, for your share for the season, which usually runs around 20-22 weeks.  For around $500, you get a share in each week's harvest.

The upfront investment allows your farmer to purchase seeds, plants, and supplies to grow the crops.  In turn, you share in the rewards, and the risks of farming.  If a hail storm comes through and wipes out the peas, well, no peas for you.

There are positive and negative aspects to being a CSA member, and it's not for everyone. This year I am in not one, but two, plus I have my own garden, plus I still go to the farmer's markets.

On the positive side, you have a unique relationship with the producer of your food. Which is why it's important that you get to know your farm, preferably before you become a member.  They are about to become a member of your family.

Not everyone can handle the unknown aspect of what you might receive on a weekly basis, including some unusual things that you may not be familiar with.   It's definitely helped me become more creative, and I try to help my clients and my farmers market demo fans see things a little differently. 

There are some options locally that aggregate products from different farmers into a CSA. I understand why some  prefer that approach,  but I personally feel that it removes you from the unique relationship you'll enjoy from knowing, visiting, and seeing exactly where your food comes from.  Do you have any idea at the supermarket?  Even with 'point of origin' signs?

This year I am excited to be a charter member of Brunty Farms CSA.  In addition to vegetables, fruits and herbs (most of which my sister is taking), we also receive weekly a dozen eggs, 2 chickens per month, a baked good, and flowers.

We also have an optional half pig share.  So yes, all those adorable piggy pics I've posted, well one of them is destined to be on my table soon.  I've visited them since they arrived on the farm in the fall and watched them grow.  And I know that Jeff and Melanie are taking great care of them.

I am looking forward to a great season.  Week one was pretty impressive: Strawberries, basil plant, low fat banana bread, salad mix, Easter egg radishes, dozen eggs, 2 chickens, onion scapes, and a stir-fry mix of baby broccoli and radish sprouts.  Plus a nice newsletter with some recipes.

One week down, 21 to go.  I can't wait.