Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Certainly Smells (and Looks) Sweet

This time of year is absolute heaven. Not too hot, the humidity isn't too heavy, and the sunsets are stunning. Angel Trumpets, Variegated Ginger, Jasmine, Dogwood, Gardenia, and Magnolias are in bloom, once the sun sets, the scents are the strongest - giving us more of an excuse to go for an evening stroll.

Yet Another Sarasota Icon Has Disappeared

For as long as I remember, we've always had a camera shop on Main Street. This shop has seen me through High School classes and various stages of photography. Now there is a a prominent spot on the corner of Main Street that is empty. The front of the shop is missing the familiar sign, but its iconic name, for the time being, still graces the alley way. Some times it is hard to embrace change.

Easter Feast #2 ~ Roasted Marinated Pork and Purple Asparagus

On a recent shopping trip the the Fresh Market, we spotted this gorgeous Purple Asparagus and decided that we had to have it for Easter Dinner. I had seen purple asparagus in photos before, but had never tried it. I would be lying if I said it was easy leaving this alone until Easter day, I was absolutely giddy with anticipation of trying, and wasn't disappointed in the end.When my mom arrived, she came with this lovely Easter Basket. Now I don't care how old I am, each year I never get any less excited about having an Easter basket. This was a particularly lovely basket as the contents were more suited to my age... With the pork finishing up in the oven, my wait for the purple asparagus was coming to an end. I coated in some olive oil and sprinkled with Maldon sale, then cooked on a Medium flame for about 10 minutes. Once the pork came out of the over to rest, I turned the heat up to 400F and finished off the asparagus in the over, about another 5-10 minutes, checking frequently as I didn't want them to burn.

One thing I would like to mention, and I had a sneaking suspicion that this would happen, is that they turn green when cooking. They did retain a bit of the purple, but the majority turned a deep green.
Backing up a bit, the pork was marinated for 8 hours in a mixture of:
  • 1 large tbsp prepared vinaigrette
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • vegetable oil to thin (about 1/4-1/2 cup)
  • few good shape of Tamari sauce
  • 3 clove garlic
  • Herbs de Provence
  • 5 sprigs of Lemon Thyme
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary
  • good pinch each of sale and pepper
  • a splash of lemonade

When ready to cook, I shook access marinade off and roasted at 325F for 35-40 minutes. What a fantastic combination...The pork was moist and flavorful. The asparagus was divine. It had a slightly sweeter taste than regular green asparagus. The smokiness of roasting it was a good compliment to the natural flavor. This would be a good introduction for someone that doesn't think they like asparagus. We also had kohlrabi remoulade and an artichoke/green olive pesto pasta salad. Not your traditional Easter feast, but most enjoyable!

Afterwards we had lovely lemon cupcakes that my mom had made, but sadly my camera had retired for the night, so I can't share them with you.

Easter Feast #1 ~ Grilled London Broil with Grilled Peppers and Mushrooms

The Friday before Easter I was happy to discover a new shipment of Heirloom tomatoes at Fresh Market. This was a bit like winning the lottery for me as I was craving Purple Cherokee tomatoes. This zebra striped tomato is quite possibly the most fashionable tomato I've ever seen. My dad and Kathy were down for Easter weekend. While the guys had a nice morning playing golf, Kathy and I strolled around downtown and had a lovely lunch out (more on that to follow...) then met up for dinner. I had prepared the pasta salad earlier in the day, which turned out to be a good idea as our power went out. (Yet another sign that summer is quickly approaching, this is a common occurrence with PRE) We fired up the BBQ, put a table and some chairs outside, and enjoyed a lovely evening of dining el fresco.
The mushrooms and red peppers had been marinating for about 1/2 hour in Italian vinaigrette. Before cooking the beef, I cooked them for about 10 minutes to give them that nice roasted flavor, then returned them to a bowl to sit while the meat cooked. I cooked the beef 7 minutes per side on a medium heat, then turned off the grill and let sit another 2. After the meat rested for 5 minutes inside on a plate, I cut into thin slices as well as the veggies. Once arranged on the serving plate, I poured the resting juices of both the meat and vegetables over the entire plate. It was now ready to be served. Along with the pasta salad & kohlrabi, we had tomatoes prepared in my favorite way....
To finish up this live meal, we had the most divine berry tart from Whole Foods. Need I say more...

Garden Gnome Bird Feeder at Target

Jane, you will need the entire cargo compartment!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Boniato, or Cuban Sweet Potato

In my weekly quest to try something new from the Farmers' Market, I stumbled upon something I have never tried before: Boniato - or Cuban sweet potato. This is a white fleshed sweet potato. A fellow shopper had mentioned that these were quite rare and we were lucky to have found them, but upon some further research, they apparently grow year round in Florida. The week after I purchased them a colleague of my mom's had brought some in to work from her garden. They must be a next "up and coming" product on the local market.The flesh was not quite a moist as a regular sweet potato, and maybe a bit fluffier once cooked. It wasn't as sweet as a regular sweet potato, but I really liked the light flavor. I cooked them the same as you would cook a regular sweet potato. Once cooked, I mashed with a fork, drizzled with olive oil, then sprinkled with sea salt and basil.

One thing I did discover is that they start to discolor once peeled, so it is best to put into water right away.

James wasn't really impressed, but I look forward to having them again.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Hope you are having a lovely day enjoying the beauty of Spring. We had our first Easter feast yesterday, and are preparing for our second today. The sun is shining, the flowers are in bloom, the butterflies are fluttering, and it truly is beautiful day.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kohlrabi Rémoulade

My challenge to myself every week at the Farmers' Market is to buy a vegetable that I've either never tried or have never used before. These gorgeous kohlrabies caught my eye a few weeks ago and I just had to have them. Now, this was not my first time eating kohlrabi, but I hadn't had them since I was in about the 12th grade, so it was still new enough. While kohlrabi translates to "cabbage turnip" and is related to the cabbage, it actually tastes more like broccoli. There are different varieties ranging from green to purple.I did a search on-line and found many lovely recipes, but as it is getting hot in Florida, I wanted to come up with something cooling, so made Kohlrabi Rémoulade. Not only was it reminiscent to my trip to France a few months back, it also similar to the Celerica Rémoulade I've been making like crazy since they've been in season.

This recipe easy to make, had such a lovely flavor and was very refreshing. I hope you enjoy...

* 2 medium Kohlrabies
* 6 oz mayonnaise -
Dukes or freshly made
* 6 oz Greek Yogurt
* 2 tsp Dijon mustard
* 1 good pinch of Herbes de Provence
* celery salt

~ Combine the mayonnaise, Greek Yogurt, mustard, herbes de Provence, and celery salt (to taste).

~ Peel the kohlrabi. I find it useful to cut into wedges before cleaning. You can use a potato peeler, but as there is a fibrous layer beneath the purple skin that needs to be removed, I used a knife and was able to cut them both off in one go.

~ Next - grate the kohlrabi. A large standing cheese grater works nicely. The bits that were too small to grate didn't go to waste as I just cut them into fine strips, which added a nice texture to the shredded kohlrabi.
~ There is a ton of water in the kohlrabi, so as I was shredding I would squeeze out the water and had a towel in the bowl to absorb the access liquid. You could also line a colander with a towel and allow the water to drain. It is very important to drain as much of the water as possible so that your dish is not too soggy. It seemed like such a waste of nutrients, so I used the kohlrabi water on my herb through.

~ Once completed, mix the kohlrabi and sauce in a bowl. If you find it a little too dry (depending on the size of your kohlrabi) - mix in another tablespoon or so of mayonnaise. Refrigerate over night - it will taste so much better the next day once the flavors have time to meld and penetrate the kohlrabi.
We were both completely impressed with the outcome: it was such a cool, refreshing, easy to make dish that will definitely become a staple in our Florida home. This was James' first exposure to kohlrabi, and he was really impressed.

From a nutritional standpoint, the kohlrabi is high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, thiamin, vitamin B6, and is very high in vitamin C. It is also naturally low in fat, sodium, cholesterol, and calories.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sarasota Polo Club at Lakewood Ranch

The past few weeks have been a complete blur... from the Murder Mystery Night, to the Highland Games, to various work projects that have kept me busy to our car shopping, I've not had very much time to post let alone to sit back and breath. This all changed on Sunday when I took some time out to catch a Polo match with my friend Terri, leaving the guys behind for a girlie day out.

The Sarasota Polo Club at Lakewood Ranch is located at the east end of University Parkway and has been around since 1991. Open to the public every Sunday, for $10 per person you can enjoy the most refined tailgating experience in the area. People in my town take their Polo tailgating very seriously. There are themed menus and contests, we're not talking your average football fare. Terri and I opted for a vegetarian spread of Olives, Goat Cheese, Asian Red Cabbage Salad, Tabbouleh, and Pitas. This kept us going for the first 5 chukkers of action...

... during the sixth, and last chukker, we enjoyed some lovely chilled Pimm's. We weren't toasting victory as our team lost, but it was a very nice day indeed.