Category Archives: salads

Grown in Ohio Potluck

Last Sunday’s Grown in Ohio potluck for the Goodale Park Music Series was a big success. Three tables were packed with food showcasing the bounty of the Ohio harvest. From colorful beets to delicious peach desserts it was a tempting spread.

Hungrywoolf was the host blog and I wanted to focus on fruits and vegetables that were at the peak of their season. I owe a big thank you to Wayward Seed Farm for generously donating some of their wonderful produce for the event. This is especially generous given the challenging season that they and many farmers have faced this year. Wayward Seed provided the corn, zucchini, cantaloupes and peaches and I was pleased to be able to share their beautiful produce with so many people.

I used the corn and zucchini to make a big summery salad that screamed ‘grown in Ohio’ and supplemented the Wayward Seed produce with a few extra ingredients from Somerset Farm Herbs and Rhoads’ Farm (at the North Market Farmers’ Market).

The salad ingredients were:
corn (uncooked)
green beans (blanched)
sungold and cherry tomatoes
Zucchini and baby summer squash – chopped
Basil

The dressing was olive oil, more basil, chive blossom vinegar and salt.

There was so much good food to try (including salty caramel brownies, peach salsa and a gorgeous ratatouille) but my highlight was probably the peach pancake topped with fresh peaches and cooked to order under a shady tree. Thanks to Alex, Jill and Lauren for organizing the potlucks and to everyone who brought delicious food to share.

Here are some more photos from last weekend. But don’t worry if you missed last weekend’s fun, there are still two more concerts and potlucks in the series. This weekend is also the North Market Farmer’s festival so it’s another great chance to celebrate in our wonderful local produce.

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Filed under Ohio, salads, special events, Vegetarian

Cooking with Basi Italia’s John Dornback

I will admit that I have a big soft-spot for John Dornback, the talented chef and owner of Basi Italia. Johnny was the chef for our last two Slow Food open air dinners and as well as cooking up delicious food in far from ideal circumstances (a folding table in a windy field), his enthusiasm helped to make each event both relaxed and fun. When I lost my job last year, I went to Basi for a commiseration dinner with a friend and Johnny insisted that both my dinner – and a strong drink were on the house. It was an act of kindness that made the world seem a much brighter place.

Basi, is a tiny Italian restaurant hidden in an alley in Victorian Village. Once you find it, you are rewarded with great food, a cosy atmosphere and in the summer one of the best patios in Columbus. From the first Monday in June you can enjoy the patio at lunchtime too.

Johnny was a last minute stand in for the North Market cooking class last week, but as we sat down to a class of bubbly and a beautiful  plate of hors d’oeuvres you would never have guessed that he had only been given 24 hours notice.

We started by learning a dish that is one of of Basi’s most popular. The zucchini appetizer is so beloved that I don’t think they will ever be allowed to take it off the menu. It is a simple dish with but its one of those simple dishes that really works. Whenever people talk about Basi they invariably mention the zucchini appetizer.

If you want to try replicating it at home, here’s what you need: matchsticks of zucchini (these are cut by hand at the restaurant), sliced almonds, lemon juice (ideally meyer lemon juice when, and if you can find it), olive oil, salt, parmesan and fresh flat leaf parsley. The secrets are to use plenty of olive oil and to toast the almonds in the olive oil to flavor the oil before you add the zucchini. Once you get some color on the almonds, you add the zucchini to the pan and keep tossing it in the oil. You are just trying to warm the zucchini and not saute it, so it really doesn’t need much time. Probably the biggest pitfall is overcooking the zucchini. Salt to taste, toss in lots of chopped parsley and serve with parmesan. Johnny used sheets of thinly sliced parmesan but shavings would work fine too. The zucchini appetizer was well paired with a New Zealand blended white.

The main course was a salad, although the word salad seems insufficient to describe it. Steak, roasted corn, roasted vidalia onions, jicama, avocado, gorgonzola, green godess dressing, romaine, roasted cherry tomatoes and roasted fingerling potatoes. Lots of flavors but they were surprisingly harmonious on the plate. The roasted ingredients can be prepared ahead and then reheated just before you assemble the salad. The heat of the roasted ingredients wilts the lettuce and the jicama adds some crunch to the salad. Because there was oil on the roasted ingredients the dressing, made with pureed roasted shallots, cider vinegar, poppy seeds and honey, was almost oil free.

Johnny gave us a lot of advice on cookings steaks. Most importantly making sure that you bring the meat to room temperature before you try to cook it as this is key to getting a good sear. He used a spice rub (fennel seed, brown sugar, oregano, basil, mild chili and red pepper flakes) which also helped with the sear, and you could hear the ooos and aahs as people tasted it. Johnny used a large piece of sirlion and seared it for four minutes on each side before transferring it to a 450ºF oven fro 5-7 minutes. As well as bringing it to room temperature before you cook the steak, its also important to let it rest before you serve it. Johnny cooked the steak instinctively but also gave advice to those who rely on meat thermometers: Don’t forget that it will keep cooking after you take it out of the oven, so take it out before it reaches the desired temperature.

Dessert was a pineapple brulee with tiny meringues, and a buttermilk sauce. The sauce was made with a simple syrup infused with mint and ginger whisked together with buttermilk. Mint and pineapple is a fantastic combination and it was a light and refreshing summer dessert.

It was a great class, Johnny’s informal style of cooking with a focus on quality ingredients and simple flavors is both accessible and inspiring and his passion for cooking and life is infectious.

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Filed under classes, Columbus, North Market, recipes, salads, Vegetarian

Five minute salad

The hot weather today made me crave something light, fresh and green. Here’s what I came up with from the nearly empty fridge. It was a surprising hit and was deemed ‘blog-able’.

A few handfuls of gorgeous local kale from
1 Fuji apple, thinly sliced
a handful of natural sliced almonds
some shavings of parmesan
a couple of glugs of olive oil
juice of 1/3 of a lemon
freshly ground pepper and sea salt

I bought the kale yesterday from the Greener Grocer and it hails from Green Edge Gardens in Athens. Green Edge is wonderful farm that we toured with Slow Food Columbus back in 2008, as well as a wide variety of greens and micro-greens they also grow lots of mushrooms.

AD plucked a piece of kale from the salad spinner, tasted it and made a face. ‘It’s good for you,’ I said, to which the response was ‘yeah, tastes like it’. He was won over by the finished salad though, licked the plate clean and I am sure he will be asking for it again.

While I heated up a cast iron skillet, I washed, spun and then finely shredded the kale and then washed and sliced the apple. I lightly toasted the almonds until they were fragrant and added them to the salad, I shaved some parmesan from the block that lives in our fridge and dressed and tossed the salad. Voila, a lovely spring salad: sweet apple, a hint of acidity, salty cheese, crunchy almonds and verdant kale. One of the nice things about using kale in a salad is that it doesn’t wilt as easily as lettuce, so leftover salad will keep better.

The salt I used is ‘Fiori & Salt’ an Italian blend of sea salt and dried flowers. It’s so pretty and has a wonderful floral aroma of which I mostly detect chamomile, it is especially good on eggs.

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Possibly the best salad in the world

“I could eat this salad every day” said one of our dinner guests last night, “It’s creamy, sweet, salty, spicy, cool and crunchy all at the same time”. The salad from David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook is called fuji apple salad, kimchi, smoked jowl and maple labne.We discovered this salad back in November and have been raving about it ever since. When I scored a jowl from the makin’ bacon class, I could hardly hide my excitement. I knew exactly what it was destined for. Designed to be a winter salad, it sounds weird but it is a sensational combination. Even if you aren’t a fan of kimchi, you could enjoy this salad.

This recipe is a lot more approachable than pig’s head torchon and some of the other recipes in the Momofuku book. The hardest part of making the salad is assembling the ingredients. One trip to the North Market could supply you with maple syrup, bacon, apples and arugula, leaving just the labne and kimchi.

1 Fuji apple per person
1/8 cup of napa cabbage kimchi per person (pureed)
2:1 ratio of labne / maple syrup ( 1/2 cup of labne should be enough for 4 people)
1/4 lb of bacon per person
1/4 cup of loosely packed arugula per person
A little olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

The apples are peeled and sliced and then marinated in the pureed kimchi. It sounds weird but as Chang says “the heat and funk of the kimchi really bring out the sweetness of the fruit’. You can marinate the apples up to 6 hours ahead, but any longer and the kimchi over powers the apples. We bought the kim chi at Arirang Market on Bethel Road and you can find it at other Asian grocery stores.

The green part of the salad is arugula, lightly tossed in olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. We have substituted other greens and it has not been detrimental.

The dressing is a roughly 2:1 ratio of labne and maple syrup (you can adjust it to taste). Labne is a Middle-Eastern strained yoghurt. It is made from cow’s milk and because it is strained it has a consistency somewhere between soft cheese and yoghurt. You can find it at Middle Eastern grocery stores such as Mediterranean Imports on High Street and Mecca Market on Hamilton. Maple syrup is easier to find. Ohio is one of the top 5 maple syrup producing states and The Greener Grocer just got some of this season’s Ohio maple syrup.

The salad is topped with smoked jowl bacon baked in the oven (18 minutes at 350°) and served warm. If you aren’t up for making your own, or can’t find jowl bacon you could substitute thick cut smoky bacon. In Columbus I recommend the bacon from Thurn’s or Bluescreek Farm Meats at the North Market. You can cook the bacon ahead of time and reheat and recrisp it before serving.

Place a dollop of the dressing on each plate (1-2 tablespoons). Top with the apples, arugula, bacon and a couple of turns of black pepper. Serve immediately. This is a good dinner party salad because you can prepare everything in advance and then plate it at the last minute.

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Return to Veganomicon

I tend to go through phases with cookbooks and it had been a while since I had last dallied with Veganomicon. As anyone who read the pig’s head post knows, I am far from being a vegan but this cookbook has some great recipes and I love their quinoa salad, stir fried greens, cauliflower hummus and jicama salad. In my current mode of trying to use up hoarded food I picked up Veganomicon looking for a beet recipe and found a winner.

This beet and parsnip salad was the perfect for brighting up a gray winter day and packing yourself with vitamins. It is made with equal quantities of shredded parsnip and beet – raw, a handful of coarsely chopped fresh mint and a dressing made with pineapple juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and maple syrup. I thought that the dressing in book used too much liquid (2 cups of pineapple juice) so when I make it again I will reduce the amount of juice. The salad ended up sitting in a lot of liquid.

When I went to the grocery store looking for pineapple juice I was amazed to see that the ‘fresh’ version was made from concentrated juice from 5 countries, spread across 3 continents. It didn’t seem worth paying three-times the price of  frozen concentrate, which is what I used. Next time I will buy a can of pineapple in juice, eat the pineapple and use the juice from the can.  The ideal would be juice from a fresh pineapple – just I don’t have a juicer.

I also made Veganomicon’s butternut squash and pumpkin seed rice paper rolls. I have made these before but this time, I improved the recipe by marinating the squash cubes and roasting them with sesame seeds. The marinade was the same as the squash cubes that I made for New Year’s Eve, with soy sauce, sesame oil and honey. The caramelized cubes added more flavor to the rolls and complemented the dipping sauce.

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Cabbage and Kale

My friends Margaux and Tim very kindly offered to share some of their excess Thanksgiving CSA produce. Tim arrived on the doorstep with a huge bag of kale and a napa cabbage as big as a newborn baby. This bag of greens took up a whole shelf in the fridge and we spent over a week having a series of cabbage and kale based meals.

There were at least four varieties of kale in the mix, including lacinato (or dinosaur) kale, Russian kale and curly kale (pictured from left to right). The top picture is of red Russian kale. Kale is a form of cabbage that does not form a head. It is both hardy and nutritious but can be tougher than cabbage so it is often used in soups. The taste varies between varieties but the lacinato kale has a taste reminiscent of savoy cabbage.

We tried roasting the kale but our favorite preparation was inspired by the Slow Food Columbus locavore dinner. Our winning combination was finely chopped kale with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice, salt and ground grains of paradise (similar to pepper but nuttier) with toasted almond slivers and shavings of parmesan cheese. It is a very refreshing, vibrant salad and even though I always think I have made too much, it always disappears.

Napa cabbage is also known as Chinese cabbage. It has a more elongated head, more delicate leaves and is a paler green than regular cabbage. We used the napa cabbage in a stir fry with mushrooms, in a preparation similar to the way that I usually cook bok choi. I also added some thinly sliced cabbage into some noodles which I tossed with a sesame oil, mirin and soy sauce dressing. The most successful use of the napa cabbage was in a bastardized version of okonomiyaki. I used Heidi Swanson’s recipe as a starting point, but after reading the comments, doing some research and assessing what I had in the fridge I created my own version.

Bastardized Okonomiyaki
2 leeks (thinly sliced)
1/3 of a very large napa cabbage (shredded)
1 sweet potato (grated)
2 large eggs (beaten)
6 rashers of bacon (diced and fried) – optional
2 tbsp pickled ginger (finely chopped) – optional
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 cup flour
1 cup water
salt to taste
Furikake – Japanese seasoning mix (to serve)

This was enough to make 3 large pancakes.

In a large bowl  combine the flour, water and fish sauce until you have a smooth batter. Add the beaten eggs and mix well. You can then add the vegetables, and ginger and bacon if you are using them. Mix the vegetables thoroughly into the batter until they are well coated with the mixture. Season. Heat a large skillet to a moderate heat. We used some of the bacon fat to cook the pancake but you could use oil or butter. Spoon some of the vegetable mixture into the pan and press it down with a spatula. Our completely filled the pan.

It looks like coleslaw doesn’t it?! You do not want the pancake to cook too quickly or it will brown without cooking through. It is therefore best to keep the pancake thin.To flip it we slid the pancake out onto a plate, inverted the pan on top and then turned the whole thing over.

We served it in wedges sprinkled with furikake which is a seasoning mix containing seaweed and bonito flakes, sesame seeds, mirin, soy sauce, sugar and salt. I buy it at Tensuke market at Kenny and Old Henderson.

And so we came to the end of our huge bag of greens, but today I went to the North Market farmers market and I stocked up on cabbage from Elizabeth Telling, and Green Mountain potatoes from Wayward Seed Farm so I think I will be making bubble and squeak this week. It was pretty exciting to still be shopping at the farmers market in December, in Ohio! – there were four farmers there braving the cold – it was in the 20s this morning. The offerings were mostly root vegetables (including radishes, turnips, rutabagas, potatoes, sweet potatoes) but also squash, brussels, celery, lettuce, greens and some herbs. Roasted chestnuts were quite a treat too.

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Indochine – finally

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I had an intriguing comment on a recent post, from a reader who offered to share a spreadsheet of  Asian restaurants in Columbus. I love lists and I love Asian food so I didn’t hesitate to respond. We started comparing notes via email and decided to meet to try a restaurant new to both of us. Indochine has been high on my restaurant wish list for months. The signs were all telling me to try it – blog posts, mentions on WOSU, recommendations from friends and finally I did.

Indochine is in east Columbus on South Hamilton Road. It is light and bright with a spacious feel and it is very family friendly, as evidenced by the number of children in their Sunday best. The owners are extremely hospitable, chatting and joking with regulars and very willing to expand on menu items. I have never heard anyone describe a dish with such enthusiasm and pride. We ended up as a party of five adventurous eaters, willing to share and with an eye for the unusual.

The food is a mix of Vietnamese and Laotian with a variety of salads, noodle soups and pho, fried rice and sandwiches. I was curious to try the Laotian style dishes, which share similarities to both Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, as they were new to me.

We started with a Vietnamese classic, a bahn mi sandwich (ba mon) with 3 types of meat including headcheese. Not quite as delicately assembled as the Mi Li variety but with the same characteristic mix of flavors and every bit as fresh and craveable.

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Next were two salads, papaya salad accompanied with pork rinds, which even at ‘2 stars’ was too spicy for most of us to enjoy, and marinated cabbage with shrimp and chicken that was so vibrant and refreshing with its lime, cilantro and chili dressing that it was an instant favorite.

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Next were two beef salads, both Laotian style – Goi thit bo and crying tiger with ginger sauce. The crying tiger didn’t live up to its name: it was the papaya salad that was voted most likely to make someone cry. The Goi thit bo was a successful marriage of flavors, very similar to the Thai style dish yum nuea. The crying tiger was lightly seasoned beef strips to be dipped in ginger sauce.

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One of our favorite dishes was a cold rice noodle salad bun cha gio thit heo nuong (number 22 I believe) with pieces of spring rolls. Presented in a four seasons style, the light dressing comes on the side and you pour it over the ingredients and mix them together.

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We sampled two different types of noodle soups (banh canh), one with chicken and blood pudding  and one special (pictured) that was not on the menu. These steaming hot bowls would be a perfect winter meal.

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If Indochine were more convenient I would definitely be a frequent diner. Unfortunately it is not, but it is certainly good enough to lure me out to the east side and you can’t beat it for warmth of welcome.

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