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Philadelphia, PA
Anna teaches, writes and consults about food and agriculture.

16 October 2013

late harvest bean stew

This is the time of year when I am proud to have all ingredients from my very own garden(s) to make a big stew....leeks, onions, garlic, celery, several varieties of carrots, tomatoes, beans, herbs.....everything but the essential rind of Parmigiano Reggiano for creamy depth of flavor to tie the other ingredients together.

28 September 2013

Nutrition at the ready?

I sometimes write articles about topics I am passionate about and other times simply write an article I am hired to write.   This article about feeding a busy family is the later.   That said, I have actually been much better about stocking the house with makings of "mini-meals" for after school pre-activity dining and have assembled quite a few more breakfast parfaits and smoothies than I might have.

click here to read my latest article in the Philadelphia Inquirer

25 September 2013

end of summer (ok, I'm late)

I am still harvesting tomatoes, leeks, eggplants and beans galore from my garden, though these photos were taken a few weeks back.     As the season for these summer delights draws to a close I try not too be too sad.   This is the time of year where each bite of a fresh ripe tomato might be the last one till next year.   This focuses my mind on gratitude.  Sad and grateful. Autumn is tricky that way.    Looking forward to some mid autumn fried green tomatoes to make me feel better..

leeks with basil vinaigrette and tomatoes

cherokee purple tomatoes, goat cheese and basil

grilled eggplant, garden beans, leeks, goat cheese ....yum

10 September 2013

Leeks, Fish, Potatoes & Tomatoes on the Grill

Started salmon and halibut skin side up on top of small partially grilled leeks (tossed in a bit of olive oil and salted and peppered well).   Purple potatoes were sliced very thin and cooked alongside the leeks.  Finished skin side down to crisp skin once fish mostly cooked through.    A few ears of corn directly roasted directly on the coals make this an easy to clean up weekday feast.

09 August 2013

Infusions, tinctures, tonics & elixirs....

The annual rush to preserve the ethereal summer fruit and fresh herbs is on.   My favorite (easiest) method is to pour strong alcohol over...let sit....  drink (decant perhaps?)   maybe a bit of honey or sugar.  151 rum.  vodka,  Everclear (grain alcohol).

Herbs and spices along with barks and roots for bitters and other interesting additions to cocktails.

Blackberry vodka.  Steep blackberries in vodka.  Shake well.  In several days you can drink the vodka and add red wine to remaining blackberries.  Let sit for a few more days.   Sort of sangria like.

Sour cherries, a bit of sugar and brandy.  

Raspberries and vodka.  Raspberries and brandy.  Raspberries and honey and brandy.   All good.

Basil vodka.

Shiso vodka.

Blackberry brandy.

Various bitters - small pieces of wild cherry bark and brandy with cherries.   Small pieces of gentian (a bitter root) a sprig of green fennel seeds,  horehound (quite bitter), lavender....

30 July 2013

Picnic Fare

Make ahead fare, packed carefully,  can transform any outdoor event into a picnic.    I started bringing a lunch of leftovers and sturdy sandwiches to eat at the quirky Booth Memorial Park just off the Merritt Parkway (en route from Philadelphia to Truro, MA).   If we hustle getting out of the house, and traffic cooperates, we get to this spot by lunch time.   A bucolic and beautiful spot on the Housatonic River with a variety of unusual buildings, gardens, chickens, a playground, restrooms and open space.

Green Gazpacho,  Pan Bagnat (aka Pressed Nicoise Sandwich) or Mozzarella and Tomato on Baguette, served with cut up melon and cookies is our go to roadside meal. I pack this all in an insulated bag with a few frozen bottles of water to keep things cold.

Both sandwiches are made on an entire loaf and cut into serving size pieces.  The Nicoise Sandwich -layers of oil packed tuna, olives, onions, hard cooked eggs and peppers, hcan be made the night before and is pressed (see below) for at least an hour before slicing into wedges.

Everyone gets a dishtowel for a napkin, and a bottle of defrosted water. I  am glad to have the extra towels, and insulated bag, all week for beach meals too.   

layered tuna, onions, artichoke hearts, red peppers and hard cooked eggs on a country loaf

pressing the sandwich before slicing

Summer Fruit, part 1. Raspberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

While working on a picnic article for the local paper I realized I hadn't made any hand pies yet this year.  I have enjoyed blueberry buckle,  every kind of local  fruit crisp and lot's of berries and cherries in jars full of vodka or brandy - but no pies of any kind!   I couldn't let July pass by without some homemade pie.

Always eager to streamline a skill, or improve upon a technique,  I realized that if I prepared  hand pies like ravioli I could make dozens of hand pies with little muss or fuss.

I made a basic butter pie crust with one small egg yolk substituting for some of the ice water,  to create slightly more malleable, sturdy but still flakey, crust.   After chilling the dough for an hour I rolled the dough thin into a rectangle.  I trimmed and halved the rectangle, and lightly scored 2 1/2 inch squares on each half of the rectangle.  These lightly marked squares guided the placement of the filling and the alignment of the top half.    I dotted the center of half of the squares with a teaspoon  of gently cooked, slightly drained, lightly sweetened rhubarb with a teaspoon of cornstarch and handful of fresh raspberries stirred in.   Then a quick brush of egg wash on the seam lines just prior to draping the remaining scored dough to cover.  Press to seal and cut.  A fluted ravioli cutter will seal and cuts a decorative edge in one pass, though pressing with your fingers and cutting with a sharp knife works just as well.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar, cut a small x in the top and bake at 375 for just 8-10 minutes.   They pack well for picnics,  for potlucks or beach lunches.  I ate these at home for breakfast with a tall latte.