Two days ago we came back from a weekend trip to Pennsylvania for a wedding, and – just like that – it’s summer. We’ve eaten every meal since on the porch, and one of our first tasks when we returned was to exchange our long-faulty propane tank and fire up the grill for our standby summer dinner menu – a mess of grilled vegetables, some sort of starch (in this case, a quinoa pilaf), cheese (we do live in Wisconsin, after all), and white wine (Trader Joe’s new boxed sauvignon blanc is actually quite fantastic).
But lately I’ve had that itch – the one that drives me to pick out random things at the grocery store and try something entirely new – and this time it was (among other things) a small round head of radicchio that called out to me. I planned a slaw at first, but a quick perusing of cookbooks during Aldo’s pre-dinner nap led me to grill it in wedges. I made a quick vinaigrette (more on that later) and tossed it all with some fresh mozzarella and herbs, and it was an excellent part of what can otherwise be a fairly standard meal. Read more
Hello there, all the way from over here in Maternity Leave Land! I left my job at REAP just over a week ago now, leaving myself a few weeks (maybe – turns out babies come on their own schedule) to rest, to avoid much of our August heat and humidity, and to make final baby preparations. I’ve been joking about how I might not get dressed on a daily basis, but that isn’t actually much of a joke – you try finding suitable clean clothes to wear day after day when you’re 8.5+ months pregnant. It’s exhausting enough to require a nap.
In any case – the really exciting part of this whole maternity leave business is that when it’s all done, Bowen Appétit will be my main gig. I’m not going back to REAP after babe arrives, and I’m very excited that in the fall I’ll be able to focus more on offering more and a bigger variety of classes in new locations. I’ll be scheduling quite a few private parties and classes over the holiday season (for those folks who like planning ahead, feel free to get in touch now!), and as with last year I’ll be offering gift certificates for private classes and class registrations. If you have any thoughts or ideas, definitely get in touch. And make sure you’re signed up for our monthly email newsletter (also on leave until the fall) to be the first to hear about classes and other fun announcements.
That said, I have a pretty great summery recipe for you today, one that was part of my celebration dinner last week on the night of my last day of work. I make a lot of fresh corn salads in the summer, though usually I throw in whatever haphazard mix of vegetables, herbs, and other things I can find roaming around the fridge. In this case I had a pretty specific vision, the result of which is the beauty below:
We’re getting into the thick of farmers’ market season, at least here in Wisconsin, and folks have started asking me about my strategies for shopping there and what to do with all the fresh produce. I always try to have a few things in mind beyond a simple “throw it on the grill,” and being a little inventive with potato salad-type creations is a nice way to feature interesting produce. “Potato salad” can mean just about anything and be as simple or complex as you like – you can add bacon, sausage, smoked or tinned fish, boiled or soft-cooked eggs, pickled items, fresh tomatoes or corn, creamy or vinegar-based dressings. It’s a nice base to think about using up items languishing in the back of your refrigerator or that you picked up at the market but don’t know what to do with. Read more
The start of spring comes with its own set of significant yearly milestones – the last bit of snow melting, the first 60+ degree day, the first walk without gloves, the first drive home with the windows open, the first dinner on the grill. And here in Wisconsin, there’s a particularly joyous spring milestone to mark the start of spring harvest – wild ramps. I wrote a bit about ramps last spring to a somewhat puzzled response from folks living elsewhere, but there’s somewhat of an introduction to them in that post should you need a bit of background. The best way to describe them is as tiny little wild leeks, with a sweet, onion-garlic sort of flavor. Like spring, really.
If you’re a culinary sort living in Wisconsin, you probably don’t need any introduction. You know why one of my favorite farm stands went through 1,200 bunches of ramps on the first day of the outdoor Capitol Square farmers’ market, and why we had to try a few grocery stores before finding one that still had them in stock. You know why all the restaurants in town scramble to get together their ramp specials, and how canning aficionados dust off their equipment to get some pickling done within ramps’ painfully short little harvest season.
I wanted to work ramps into our dinner plans this week, but we weren’t sure we’d be able to get our hands on any in this first harvest week, so I planned a side dish that would be good enough without them – tiny little spãtzle dumplings (a classic go-to side in our house) together with some lemony sauteed mushrooms. A perfect base for a bunch of ramps, or not. Read more
Don’t fault me for two sweet potato recipes in a row. When you’re trying to focus on local ingredients during the winter in the Midwest (and when – shhh – I’m not the biggest potato enthusiast), sweet potatoes are going to show up fairly often. And I’m not too upset about that, at least at this point (ask me again in March).
A few weeks back I described this recipe to someone as my “it” recipe this season – when people have asked me for recipe recommendations lately, this is always at the top of my list. When we met up with some friends at a lake house earlier in the fall, I made this. When we had a “friendsgiving” in Brett’s program, I brought this. When we made our own little repeat Thanksgiving dinner so we could have leftovers (you know what I’m talking about), I made this.
Sweet potato gratin with goat cheese, Thai chilies, toasted pepitas, and cilantro. Beat that.