Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dekalb Farmer's Market

We discovered a hidden gem in our community, not ten minutes from our house. Friends have mentioned it, we've heard rumors, but we didn't understand the amazing-ness that lay in wait...

We pulled up to its rather unassuming exterior-- and I was a little skeptical because it looks like a warehouse. The parking lot was packed. We managed to dodge little old ladies and a 30-ish woman wearing a Moutain Hardware jacket and Crocs and snag a parking space relatively close to the door. My heart began to beat faster as we walked through the sliding doors and a blast of cold air hit my face. I was expecting vendor stalls, dark corners, and the smell of old fish. Instead, the sight that met my eyes was enough to make even hardass Anthony Bourdain crack a smile. I think Gordon Ramsey might've actually danced a little jig. It was beautiful.
Glistening produce as far as the eye could see. Row upon row of spices. Aisles full of different types of olive oils and chocolate. Even some produce I have never seen before, like this giant okra:

Or this type of melon (I can't remember its name)

I was amazed to see tamarind pods lying benignly behind the strawberries, as if they were as commonplace as bananas.

It reminded me of the few weeks after my senior year in high school that I spent with my mother in the Dominican Republic. She took me to the house of the woman who served as their maid for a decade. It was a small hut, no larger than my living room, immaculately clean with a worn picture of the Virgin Mary tacked to the wall to offer her protection. In lieu of having anything more to serve us on that sweltering day, she fished out a tray of tamarind ice that she sold to the neighborhood kids for 10 cents a piece. I grasped the sticky melting ice cube in between my thumb and forefinger and tentatively touched my lips to it. The tart and tangy juice of the "tamarindo", mixed with sugar, married to the frosty ice cube in a deliciously refreshing homemade popsicle that melted, sticky and sweet, all over my hands. I was in love.

The produce and bread section stretched for what seemed like a hundred yards. Yucca, sweet potatoes, strawberries, avocados, papaya, mango, collard greens: the list was endless. And we hadn't even seen the other side of the store yet.

I managed to slip a few bargain delicacies into our basket when Sonny wasn't looking (he has the enjoyable task of trying to keep our food budget within our income limits) If it was up to me, I'd spend all my money on kitchen gadgets and cookware and ingredients.  At one point, Sonny grabbed my arm and told me I was getting a little out of hand "Its not necessary to skip everywhere, honey, just walk calmly".

Wow, and then we got to the seafood....


 Tons of live seafood, including these tilapia

and it just continued!!
We were amazed at the extent of the meat department. They even had a bakery, a full cafe, and an extensive wine collection. I didn't even mind that when we went to check out it was cash or debit card only--who cares about earning SkyMiles when there is so much goodness to be had????
I turned to Sonny and said "Ok, I bet our total will be $5" he shook his head nonchalantly, not drawn into my game. I turned back to the clerk with a smile and began tallying our item in my head. $1.99 for that gigantic beautiful pomegranate, $0.81 for that huge bag of bay leaves.....
Our total?
What did we buy? 1 large pomegranate, 1 leafy bunch of kale, 2 Haas avocados, half a pound of ground ginger, sage, and 3 oz bag of bay leaves. Not much, considerably. But of course, I was showing the utmost restraint and control.
However, I make no guarantees for the next time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A quick note on Pasta with Pepper Sauce

We had leftovers from last night. That recipe was DELICIOUS reheated! Almost like yesterday's pizza. Try it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quick Pasta with Pepper Sauce

I made this super easy meal tonight because I was exhausted and needed to use some stuff I had in the freezer and fridge. Ever feel like that?

(Substitute with what you have: Italian sausage, leftover chicken/ham, whitefish or shrimp. This would also be delicious with sliced baby bella mushrooms and snow peas).

For the entree:
8 oz. Spaghetti pasta
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 of large yellow onion
Imitation crab meat
Rotisserie chicken meat, removed from bones and roughly shredded
1 c. frozen peas
2 c. frozen broccoli
Olive Oil
Seasoning Salt (I used Goya Adobo, you can use Lawry's or your favorite.)

For the Sauce:
2 oz  cream cheese
2 tblsp butter
1/2 c. finely shredded Jarlsburg cheese ( you can use Swiss, Mozzarella, or your favorite flavorful cheese)
1/3 c. milk
Dash of pepper
Dash of salt
Pinch of nutmeg

In your favorite pasta pot, start boiling water for pasta.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Chop and smash garlic and slice onion. Add to pan. (If the onions are too pungent, add a dash of red wine vinegar to the pan while cooking ). Add spaghetti to boiling water.
Add broccoli to skillet When broccoli begins to turn bright green, add chicken, peas, and imitation crab. Continue stirring occasionally. Season with seasoning salt. 

While the vegetables are cooking, melt butter and cream cheese on low in a small saucepan.
Stirring contstanly with a whisk, add shredded cheese and milk. Whisk until well combined. Add pepper, salt, and nutmeg.

Add pasta to skillet with other ingredients. Mix well. Serve with a few tablespoonfuls of sauce over the pasta in your favorite bowl.
Buen Provecho!

As I said above, you can substitute anything you have already in your fridge. Try using whole wheat pasta and fat free cream cheese and milk (I used soy milk) for a healthier and lighter meal.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Perfect Fall Chili

Fall is the best time for chili. Its hot, hearty, and full of vegetables. Check out this super simple recipe for turkey chili with stuff you already have in your pantry (and you don't have to tell anyone else its turkey, they won't be able to tell the difference!) This recipe serves 6 plus leftovers.

***Disclaimer: Personally, I dont measure when I cook. I "eyeball" spices and measurements and taste as I go (with the exception of raw poultry). Please feel free to play with the measurements because they are not exact. Cooking is fun and experimenting keeps it interesting!
2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. of salt (plus more to taste)
2 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. of hot sauce (more or less, according to your preference)
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1 organic green bell pepper, diced
1 large red onion, diced
1.5 lbs organic ground turkey
1 16oz can of organic red beans
2 16 oz cans of organic dark red kidney beans (reduced sodium)
1 15 oz can organic garbanzo beans
2 16 oz cans of organic white or golden corn
1 28 oz can of organic tomato puree
1 16 oz can of organic crushed tomatoes
2 16 oz cans of organic diced tomatoes
Optional: dash of cooking wine (red or white, play with it! I used a little red)

In large heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil (enough to thickly cover the bottom) and carmelize the onions and bell peppers (add optional wine). Add ground turkey. Add all the spices except the hot sauce and cook thoroughly (ground turkey should NEVER be served pink. Make sure it is completely browned). Add all the beans, corn and tomatoes. Stir thoroughly. Heat to boiling, then simmer covered, for 1 hour.
Serve for with hot cornbread, sour cream, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. ( I prefer Cabot's extra sharp cheddar)

This recipe can also be put in a slow cooker. Pour all the beans, tomatoes, and corn into the cooker. Add the cooked turkey. Stir, cover, and heat on the high setting for at least 2 hours

Friday, July 3, 2009

BBQ'ed Sage Chicken

Handful fresh sage,finely chopped (or use 3-4 tablespoons ground sage)
Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped (or use dried parsley flakes: 4-5 tablespoons)
2-3 tablespoons chili powder
lemon juice
1/3 c raw sugar (use Turbinado or another raw, unprocessed sugar. The granules are rougher and give a better color to the chicken when cooked)
3 cloves of garlic (smashed with side of knife, then chopped.) [Substitute 2 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic]
extra virgin olive oil
6 chicken breasts

Rinse chicken and place in large bowl. Add sage, parsley, salt,sugar, lemon juice, garlic, and chili powder to bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Mix thoroughly with hands until chicken is well covered. Place chicken in plastic zippered bags and refrigerate until ready to use.
Grill on medium heat for 10-15 each piece, until no longer pink inside.

-Sharyl Evans

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hors d'oeuvres

To kick off this blog, I want to add some of my ideas for hors d'oeuvres that I have been running through in my head:

Jarlsburg with crisp green apple slices and proscuitto

Watermelon Feta salad with balsamic glaze (not sure about this one)

Extra Sharp white cheddar or sharp swiss (dont use Asian pears...too juicy) with golden apple slice on crostini with basil pesto.

Fried green plantains (tostones) with savory yogurt sauce (still working on that one...)

Pastelitos with goat chesse, ground bison and golden raisins.

Blood orange salad (hmmm....need to tweek it, I'll put details up later)