Monthly Archives: June 2014


Garlic what?

It’s always fun to find something new and fleeting at the farm stand. So when I came across garlic scapes last week — I grabbed a bagful. A garlic scape is the flower stalk of the garlic bulb. They are harvested so that the garlic plant focuses on bulb growth, not reproduction :). They are tender and garlicky but the flavor is not as strong as the bulb. And here in the Mid-Atlantic, they are an early June treat (a little late this year I think) — so you gotta get ’em when you see ’em!

I’ve never used them before, but the nice lady at the farmstand suggested making pesto with them. So I googled around and found an approachable recipe over on Dorie Greenspan’s blog. But of COURSE I didn’t have the nuts she used, so I had to experiment a little. Oh my goodness — this stuff is GOOD. I ate it with a spoon. I smeared it on crackers. I smeared it on crackers with the olive cheese. I made a shrimp “scampi” with it. I made a pomegranate molasses vinaigrette with it.

SAMSUNGGarlic Scape and Pistachio Pesto
Adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan

10 garlic scapes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan (I used the bagged stuff)
1/4 cup roasted, salted pistachios
About 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Whir the scapes, Parmesan, pistachios, and half of the olive oil in the food processor until well blended and finely ground. Add a grind or two of black pepper. Slowly add the remainder of the oil — watching the texture closely — you might not need all of it. If it’s a little too thick — add a little more oil. I used my mini food-processor, so I ended up with a fairly “rustic” texture (pictured below, left). A couple of days later, I doubled the recipe in my full-size food processor and ended up with a much finer texture (pictured below, right). Both were scrumptious.


If you don’t eat it all immediately, store in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed on the surface. Should be fine for a couple of days, but any longer than that, you need to freeze it.


A summertime beer recommendation …

Beer really isn’t my go-to adult beverage. Don’t get me wrong, if I’m out with friends and that’s the happy hour special — I’ll drink it. Or if I’m down on the hot sandy beach and someone offers me one — I am grateful. But I wouldn’t think to plan a meal around it, like I did for this trio of Old Vines Zin, nor would I generally think to take a six-pack as a hostess gift. But I usually have some around for my beer-drinking friends.

I prefer milder beers — not too bitter and hoppy. I also like a hint of fruit in there. So I was pleased to find the Sam Adams Porch Rocker on the grocery store shelves again this summer. It’s a seasonal release, so you won’t find it year-round. A medium-bodied lager with just a hint of lemon, it’s refreshing but still a beer. It paired quite nicely with last night’s buffalo shrimp, in fact, I think I may have to try poaching some shrimp in it one day! It also is a great accompaniment to our barbecued ribs.

Standard caveat: This is a personal recommendation. The Samuel Adams brewery folks don’t know I exist and have provided neither product nor compensation for this endorsement. In fact, they’ll probably sue me if this ever gets in a search engine.


My CSA is simply smashing!!

These two cocktails came right out of my CSA box — blackberries AND blueberries! So maybe I’m a little obsessed with smashes right now, but the fresh local and semi-local produce is simply glorious. And there’s only so many quick breads and muffins that I could (should?) consume in a week! You’ll notice my smashes all follow similar proportions — smooshable fruit, a small amount of sugar (both for sweetness and to help break down the fruit), some citrus for acidity and balance, 3 or 4 tablespoons of liquor/liqueur, and something fizzy to top off. I might throw in some herbs to add some depth. Use my recipes as broad guidelines — mix up your fruit and liquors!

I made this first smash to accompany some pork enchiladas. I wanted something margarita-inspired, but still use some of the insanely juicy blackberries from my box. Hard blackberries won’t work here — you gotta be able to smash them without destroying your glass (I did that once). As for the second, I found an unopened bottle of Pama liqueur in the back of the likker cabinet. Pama is made from pomegranates and is both sweet and tart, as well as being a beautiful red (we drink with our eyes first, right?). I thought it might mix well with the botanical notes in the gin – and I was right.

Blackberry-Tequila Smash
Serves 1
3 or 4 sweet juicy blackberries
1 – 2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons silver tequila
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
2 – 3 ounces ginger ale

Put the blackberries, sugar, and lime juice into the bottom of a sturdy wide-mouth tumbler (“Old Fashioned” glass). Muddle these together, making sure to smash the berries well. Add the tequila and orange liqueur and stir to combine. Add the ice and top off with ginger ale.


Blueberry-Pama Smash
Serves 1
1 tablespoon ripe juicy blueberries
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons gin
1 tablespoon Pama liqueur
2 – 3 ounces lemon-lime seltzer

Put the blueberries, sugar, and lime juice into the bottom of a sturdy wide-mouth tumbler (“Old Fashioned” glass). Muddle these together, making sure to smash the berries well. Add the gin and Pama liqueur and stir to combine. Add the ice and top off with seltzer.



Pennsylvania Eating …

So this past weekend was a little getaway for me, much to the CGP’s dismay. I truly relish solo travel on occasion. It’s nice to get up when I want (usually much earlier than him), eat when I want (again — different biological timetables), and see/do things that would bore him silly. So when I had a weekend where a friend’s college graduation party coincided with a WordCamp, and the CGP was in the trenches at work, well, I was ALL over it!

So Friday afternoon, I made the uglier-than-expected trek from Annandale up to Pottstown, PA. Pottstown is a small town of 22K residents about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia. My dear friends Paul and Hillary live there — and Paul is the aforementioned graduate. That evening we headed out for Hibachi Teppanyaki at Fujiyama Japanese Steakhouse. I’m a huge fan of the Japanese Steahouse experience — I love the interaction, the variety of food, and the flavors I can never quite reproduce at home. This one was pretty much in line with others I’ve been to, so I’m happy to give a shout-out to a local business!

SAMSUNGSaturday day was all about WordCamp. So what is a WordCamp? WordCamps are conferences for users of WordPress, one of the most widely used softwares for building websites. Yes, I use WordPress for this blog (there’s a parenthetical reference in the footer somewhere), but you can also develop full-on e-commerce websites as well. I’ve heard the stat that over 20% of all Internet websites were built with WordPress. WordCamps generally have something for EVERY WordPress user, from the most casual to hard-core developers. Last fall I went to WordCamp Baltimore 2013 and most recently, WordCamp Philly 2014. My friend Bev did a great write-up of our day at WordCamp on her blog, oneweekcloser.

Sometimes lunch is provided at WordCamps. This one did not, so Bev and I just took a short walk around the corner from the University of the Arts venue and stumbled into Giorgio On Pine, a sweet little Italian cafe. She and I each had the sausage and polenta appetizer, not realizing it was practically an entree! Beautifully grilled sweet Italian sausage served alongside grilled and slightly-charred polenta cakes. These were dressed with a mild vinaigrette and served atop fresh baby spinach that wilted ever so slightly from the heat. We then split the calamari appetizer (previously ordered and too late to cancel) and to our surprise, because I guess we didn’t read the menu carefully, it was a mixture of calamari AND shrimp, and rather than breaded and fried, it was gently poached and then tossed with cannellini beans in a light dressing, served over arugula. What a surprise restaurant find — just a non-descript little restaurant on the corner of a couple of one-way streets in downtown Philly.

SAMSUNGSaturday night was Paul’s college graduation celebration at the SunnyBrook Ballroom in Pottstown. The other guest of honor was a pit-roasted pig. We had a grand time with that guest — I even got to bring some home for the CGP. SunnyBrook was built before WWII and is one of the few remaining dance halls of that era. We partied outside in the pavilion to 80s music and a keg we didn’t quite empty. We are all very proud of our new graduate. We hit SunnyBrook again on Sunday morning for brunch. A small brunch, in terms of items offered, but all very tasty and the service amazingly friendly.

Before I left town for good, I had to hit Corropolese Bakery and Deli in Douglassville for some Tomato Pie (I actually bought a cooler and ice at the Pottstown Wal-Mart so I could transport it home). Tomato Pie isn’t really pizza but it isn’t really pie. Imagine a lightly-cooked foccacia with a 1/4″ layer of the thickest tomato puree imaginable. And the barest sprinkle of parmesan cheese. I bet it’s divine warm — but I’ve only had it room temperature (after transport from PA) or straight-out-of-the-fridge cold the next day for breakfast. It’s crazy crazy crazy good. The tomato puree is addictive. It’s thinner than tomato paste. Thicker than sauce. REALLY intense tomato flavor. Sweet, but not too sweet. Again — just crazy crazy good. Yes, I ate TWO slices in the parking lot before heading out. No Shame.




Strawberries for sippin’ …

Sorry to have missed a week … at work, we are in the midst of the frantic run-up right before a major release, so last week was just weird, schedule-wise. I think I did some cooking in there — but nothing blogworthy. And then I went out of town for the weekend. But I know I owe you a seasonal cocktail!

Here in the mid-Atlantic, strawberries are ON. I’ve made some strawberry-rhubarb jam (delish if loose), a strawberry rhubarb pie (to die for), and just ate them out-of-hand. Then there was a raucous evening down at the beach shack with multiple pitchers of strawberry daiquiris (that recipe needs some refinement not that anyone complained). In a more civilized moment, I did prepare this oh-so-simple smash. Note — no added sugar. Between the juicy vine-ripened strawberries at their peak, the strawberry rum, and the ginger ale — none was needed.

SAMSUNGStrawberry Smash
Serves 1

2 diced strawberries
3 – 4 mint leaves
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon strawberry rum
3 tablespoons silver rum
3 – 4 ounces ginger ale (1/3 cup to 1/2 cup)

Put the strawberries, mint, and lime juice into the bottom of a sturdy wide-mouth tumbler (“Old Fashioned” glass). Muddle these together, making sure to smash the strawberries well. Add the rums and stir to combine. Add the ice and top off with ginger ale. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a strawberry if so inclined.


 Just for fun, this is what my tiny little kitchen looks like while pulling cocktails AND a meal together. This is the only workspace in that kitchen!