Shashlik with Tajik Non

 

I first tasted shashlik in Dushanbe, Tajikistan during a senior year study tour of the former Soviet Union. We ate at an outdoor café in the cool of the evening. The skewers of lamb cooked slowly over smoldering charcoal on a long, narrow grill called a mangal. The grill resembled an elongated metal shoebox on stilts. The lamb did not come in direct contact with a metal grill as on American barbecues, but was essentially spit roasted. The skewered lamb was served on flatbread embedded with shallots, and then sprinkled with thinly sliced scallions. The non served a plate as it was flat in the center and puffed around the edges. The beverage of choice was vodka served by the bottle. It had a foil cap you peeled off and discarded. The idea of drinking less than a bottle never occurred to anyone, a cap therefore was superfluous. Continue reading

Foolish Blueberry Cake

My blueberry bushes produced a bumper crop this year, so I’ve had lots of berries to enjoy and to freeze for the long winter ahead. The picking season is winding down so I wanted to try something that combines 3 different desserts: lemon cake, blueberry pie, and blueberry fool. Fool is a whimsical name for a dessert that combines cooked sweetened blueberries and whipped cream, and is served in bowls or parfait glasses. For this dessert, blueberry fool is sandwiched between layers of lemony cake, and blueberry pie filling provides a richly colored, luscious topping.

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Tomato, Corn, and Goat Cheese Soup

Some of the greatest cheeses in the world are made in Vermont. At last count, Vermont is home to more than 40 cheese makers making 150 varieties. That adds up to more cheese makers per capita than any state. It’s not hard to see why I often think of adding cheese to what I’m cooking. The earthy flavors of goat cheese is a natural companion to fresh garden vegetables. In this colorful soup I used fresh goat cheese (chèvre) from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery in Websterville, Vermont. It is equally good slathered on sourdough bread, as well as melting quickly and easily into the body of soups and sauces. Continue reading

Summer Potato Salad with Fresh Peas and Cheddar Cheese

The nut like texture of raw garden peas and spunky, tender mustard greens turns this ordinary dish into a refreshing seasonal offering. In northern Vermont, Farmers Markets have these ingredients available by mid-July, probably sooner where you live. There’s nothing like eating delicate vegetables when they are at their peak of flavor. This combination of flavors and textures makes me grateful to live in Vermont. This is true taste of place. Continue reading

Eggplant & Summer Squash Lasagna with Roasted Red Peppers and Black Olives

When the weather is hot we all want something that can be put together without much effort, but takes advantage of the season’s best ingredients. This recipe use some of the garden’s bounty; if you are a gardener that means, what am I going to do with all these vegetables? They’re taking over. Layered like a lasagna, but containing no pasta, it is light to suit the seasonal heat, yet still rich with fresh cheese and a sharply flavored topping. This one-dish meal pairs well with a toasty loaf of garlic bread and some mixed greens.

Try a crisp, Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity, citrus quality, and herbal tones will compliment the garlic and roasted red peppers. American Amber Ale has just the right sweetness and spice to work with the vegetables and cheeses. Continue reading

Grilled Pork Chops with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Smoked Mozzarella, Served with Mushroom Risotto and Brocollini

Grilled Pork Chops with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Smoked Mozzarella howtofood

Oven roasting concentrates the flavor of fresh garden tomatoes and gives them a caramelized flavor. They need a concentrated flavor to play off the earthy zing of Maplebrook Farm cherry-wood smoked mozzarella. When you unwrap this remarkable cheese you’ll smell what I’m talking about before you even taste it. The pork chops are soaked in a brine before grilling to make them retain juices, and to absorb the flavors of garlic, brown sugar and summer savory. The mushroom risotto flows onto the plate and the pork chops are served on top and is both sauce for the meat and starch for the meal. Crisp brocollini provides a textural counterpart to the other elements. Serve with Viognier or an oaky Chardonnay, if you prefer beer try a frosty, well-hopped IPA. Continue reading

Raspberry Blintzes Stuffed with Ricotta and Lemon

Blintzes are another of the great foods originating in Eastern Europe. A blintze is a thin, unleavened pancake, similar to a crêpe, but more somewhat more substantial. Some sources refer to the pancake, before it is filled, as bletlach, and blintz after it has been filled. A blintz (or bletlach) differs from pancakes of a similar name, blini, which use yeast as an aerating agent. Blini can be made from almost any grain, though they are more often made with buckwheat flour. In North America, blintzes have come to be associated with Jewish fare, particularly around the holidays. Continue reading

Peach Tart with Butterscotch Pecan Crust

I love to cook it because I get to stick my hands in food, play with it, and make something I want to eat. Even after a long day, the tactile nature of chopping, mixing, and stirring, while smelling and tasting along the way puts my mind at ease—good inexpensive therapy. This delicious tart combines the classic combination of peaches, pecans, and butterscotch. Even if you have had no luck making pastry for pies, give this crust a try. You don’t roll it out, it’s like modeling play dough. It’s fun to make, the results are amazing, and it’s easy. Continue reading