My dad has a green thumb, and so does Ben’s dad. The fall is the best time to go home to visit the parents in Iowa and score fresh, organic, home grown with love produce which can be anything from peppers, tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, to apples. My parents are will grown enough vegetables that will last them through the winter by storing potatoes and onions in a cool dry spot, and freezing chopped peppers that will be ready to go for one of my dad’s homemade pizzas- which you can’t beat. One of our last visits we brought home what seemed like a bushel and a big peck of Yukon potatoes, so we put them to work in pot with some leeks, some sausage, and some other ingredients and came up with a winner that I can guarantee will warm your belly and make your taste buds dance in the cold months to come.
Taking simple ingredients and turning them into unique treats is the goal of any cook. With a sweet potato, there are so many different ways to prepare this modest vegetable- baked, candied, mashed, pied, casseroled, pureed, roasted. I feel one of the best way to enjoy sweet potatoes is when they are cut into wedges and fried into a crispy wonderful finger food. The sweetness of this simple rustic treat pairs nicely with this easy to make dipping sauce.
Cooking is a simple yet complex process. The final dish is so much more then the sum of its ingredient. The use of the correct seasoning or the appropriate herbs can make a dish taste complete. Cooking throughout the country has opened my eyes to the beautiful subtleties each place carries. Baking a cake or soufflé in Denver is slightly different than in Portland, or in the midwest where I reside now. Moisture and humidity are factors that one naturally adapts to. Ovens and cookware are not created equally. This can change a recipe as well. One should view a recipe as a guideline or a set of parameters that can be followed, but can always be adapted to fit one’s taste or convenience of their pantry. This is when you begin to “make a dish your own” and when the fun really begins. For this dish we are cooking potato gnocchi. This is a classic dish that can be made relatively quickly, and will bring a real wow factor to a dinner party or a Tuesday night. It is a small list of simple ingredients that everyone has fof hand. Combined with patience and a little technique it is a wonderful thing.
It’s hard to believe that fall is already upon us. Football season has officially started- thanks Chiefs for giving Kansas City a “W”. We’ve been able to turn off our a/c on occasion. Oliver’s shedding has reduced significantly. Friends are lighting up their fire pits. The Halloween paraphernalia is hitting the store shelves. The new fall prime-time television season is about to start which means new premieres and the final season of The Office with the beloved Steve Carrell. Just as life changes with the season, so does the local produce. One of our family favorites that gets worked into our fall/winter food rotation are our Acorn Squash Potatoes. It’s quick, easy, tasty, and good for you. Not only that, but it’s the type of dish that will turn squash skeptics into fans of this affordable and healthy produce. It’s packed with nutrients, and when cooked well, gives a sweet, earthy flavor that is wonderfully rich. This squash potato combination is great because you can dress it up or dress it down. We had it for dinner last night with chicken sandwiches, and we don’t have a holiday dinner without it. Hope you enjoy.
I have to tell you that I will on occasion crave something that I have never tasted before- it’s strange, but it has happened two times (that I’m aware of). Generally this is a condition that I’ve heard of while having a having a bun in the oven- not the case here- just a random unsolicited food craving. The first craving was for shepherd’s pie- nothing too unusual about this. I like meat. I like potatoes, carrots, onions, and peas, so this wasn’t a too farfetched foodie desire. Ben on the other hand was a bit skeptical- nothing against the components of the dish, but as he put it, he’d had “a bad experience.” I imagine his experience was similar to the first time that I “experienced” vodka- not good- not good for three days, and understood his noncommittal interest in the suggestion for dinner. I take great satisfaction in turning one’s taste buds around, and that’s exactly what I did to Ben with this tasty, wholesome meat pie.
One of the best things to do in the city on the weekends is to hit up the farmers’ market. Hands down it is the best place to pick up fresh produce brought to the city from local farmers with their fresh harvests consisting of peaches and cream corn, heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, peaches, watermelon, fresh baked breads and cookies. It is a place of inspiration with the historic background of the River Market itself, the cityscape, the live entertainment, and the stimulation of all five senses- no sixth sense at work here. We took off for the market on a mission- to showcase the goodies that can be gotten from the venders that travel from far and wide. The finds inspired a hearty meal that all meataterians can appreciate with a spin on the traditional meat and potato dish- bison strips with au gratin potatoes, grilled asparagus, and fresh tomato soup.
“local buffalo provided by” KC Buffalo Co
The Four Foodies are landlocked- over 1,200+ miles to the nearest coast going east or west. So, it was an amazing gift that was given to us by our neighbors, Sarah, Bill & Townes, just passed through our fence- filets of halibut. Not just any halibut- this halibut was the product of a fishing trip that Sarah’s father, Dan Darling, had made on a two week trip to Alaska late in late June- early July with his brother-in-law and two other gents. Mrs. Pam Darling provided me with some of the details of the trip that make this dish so special. Dan and his 3 comrades planned this dream trip (I say dream, b/c I dream of doing this with the Foodies) to go fishing in Alaska. From my understanding, this was a serious fishing trip with true professionals that knew the sweet spots to get the goods. Each day the men would venture out on the Pacific Ocean on a fully equipped boat for a two-hour trip (one way) before dropping their lines. Over the course of three days, these four men caught a total of four hundred pounds of fish including lingcod (a gnarly looking fish by the way), rockfish (equally fugly but I’m sure tasty), and the coveted halibut. When they made their way back to land, a crew would be waiting to immediately process the fish which involves cleaning, filleting, flash freezing, weighing and packaging the catch to be shipped back to the lower 48. And so, a generous small portion of halibut was passed to the Foodies. We did our best to prepare it in a way that would maintain its integrity skipping the battering, deep fat frying, hush puppy, crunchity extravaganza, and it went like this.