Milk and Honey, a lovely little grocery on Baltimore Ave. in West Philly, sells local produce and foods and specialty food items, alongside olives (I’m obsessed with the Sicilian Green), international cheeses and deli meats. The also offer ice cream, pastries, prepared food, and a full breakfast and lunch menu. On a recent sunny Saturday afternoon, I found Clark Park overfull with a flea market, LARPers, a rock band, a drum circle, the dog bowl, and the children’s playground, so I took my novel to Milk and Honey and grabbed an outdoor seat. And a delicious panini. Milk and Honey offers numerous vegetarian paninis, but the one pictured above is called the Spruce Hill – buttery multigrain bread, gouda, pickled onions, greens, and pesto. It was perfectly crisped and the cheese oozed out onto the plate. I paired it with a refreshing, low-sugar cucumber soda, and a handfull of those Sicilian olives I couldn’t wait to take home, and had a wonderful late-afternoon lunch.
A last-minute minute potluck dinner party, I’m hosting, and I find that I do not have the phyllo dough in the freezer that I thought I had. Nevermind, I decided to make a risotto instead. But the aborio box only has a cup of rice in it! A quick ingredient search on epicurious.com (squash, onions, kale) turned up
this recipe, classy enough for a dinner party but easy enough that I could still put it together and have it come out of the oven, hot a beautiful, by 8pm. And it tasted just as good as it looked. Instead of the Fontina I substituted some gargonzola I had languishing in the freezer – to great success and sharper flavor.
I’ve been enjoying recipes in Heidi Swanson’s “Simply Natural Cooking.” While I don’t usually follow recipes to a T, a new cookbook always offers new inspiration, and Heidi’s recipes aren’t so complicated that they can’t be made for a weekday evening dinner. I also love her focus on vegetarian superfoods, grains, and vegetables! Above is the salad. I soaked the beans overnight and made the salad quickly the next day. Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans with Greens delivered on their promise to be crispy fried on the outside and creamy inside. I used kale in the recipe because I had it, but you could substitute any dark leafy green and the recipe would work just as well.
I first got a bag of these beautiful hot cherry peppers at a stand in New Jersey, and then they started showing up in my CSA. I love peppers, but what to do with them all? I found this great recipe from Martha Stewart (I know, I know). These little peppers are especially great cold and sliced with goat cheese or on sandwiches- I might even try to pickle the next batch already sliced.
In all honesty, I never meant to eat at Kite and Key. After a Sunday trip to the Art Museum, I stopped by Bishop’s Collar, but was disappointed by their lack of vegetarian options. I biked over to the Fairmount Sabrina’s Cafe, but they were closed for Labor Day weekend. Unable to pedal any longer without sustenance, I walked over to the open windows of Kite and Key and discovered this crazy, insane, veggie burger. Two deep fried patties of shredded vegetables, swiss cheese, sprouts and horseradish mayo in the center, a brioche bun and a stack of fries (I always opt out of the house chips). I shouldn’t have eaten it all, but I did. And it was delicious. Fattening, for sure, but delicious.
People often don’t believe me when I sing the praises of grilled lettuce, but Kite and Key’s grilled Caesar proves it. So simple – just half a head of romaine on a the grill, topped with shavings of quality parmesan. If you don’t eat fish, be sure to skip the sardine-laced dressing on the side.
Sadly, almost all of my herbs got eaten by squirrels, killed by the heat wave, poisoned by black walnuts, or crushed by construction materials. This past week I decided that instead of harvesting my own, I’d order some lemon balm from the Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA and still have plenty of winter tea. Lemon Balm can be dried like most herbs from your garden – easily. The fastest method is to lay the herbs on a cookie sheet and place them in your oven. Just a little heat – 100 degrees – can try the herbs in an hour or two, or if you have a gas oven with a pilot light you can leave them in there overnight and wake up to dried herbs in the morning. I usually remove leaves before drying, but with some tough leaves, like rosemary, it is easier to dry them on the stalk and then remove them later.
Some people prefer to hang their herbs by their stalks. These bunches, hanging over a kitchen sink, in front of a window, or in a dry attic look and smell lovely, though they can take a bit longer to dry. If left undisturbed, they may hang intact for months, but watch out – they can also get dusty!
Local 44 has just (finally!) revealed a new brunch menu, Memphis Taproom/Ressurentction Alehouse owners have finally brought us the vegetarian and vegan options to rival MTR (Don’t even get me started on the fried pickles). I stopped in on brunch opening weekend, and had a hard time making a decisions. Eventually, I went with the fried mushrooms, coated in a buttermilk batter and with a side of poppy seed buttermilk dressing. Fried to perfection- but white mushrooms just don’t quite have enough flavor for me and the sauce with a little bland, so I dipped them in hot sauce.
This vegan Rueben, however, deserves a return visit. Thinly sliced seitan, saurkraut (a bit more would be nice) and special sauce on rye bread, it was just the right amount of savory and greasy, especially with a side of fries. I’ll be back again for this one.