Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Hundred Mile Dinner for the
Incurable Epicureans in St. Louis

A menu for the Incurable Epicureans in St. Louis, featuring recipes calling for seasonal vegetables and fruits and local Missouri products.

Hundred Mile Radius of St. Louis

Why A Hundred Mile Dinner?

For Regular Readers

You'll be wondering what's up, why I'm deviating from the standard recipe column. Here's the scoop.

In late May, the Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture recipes that follow will be cooked by a supper club called the Incurable Epicureans (IE), a food-loving subset of the Missouri Mushroom Society. Each year, the group cooks four theme-focused dinners for 40 to 50 people.

Over the last 12 - 15 years, the Incurable Epicureans have focused dinners on the work of chefs and food luminaries such as Julia Child, James Beard, MFK Fisher, Alice Waters and most recently, Marcella Hazan. (A Veggie Venture readers might remember Marcella Hazan's recipe for Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi with Creamy Tomato Sauce, including its bad-bad musical pun.) They have explored food traditions from many countries, from Native Americans, even Medieval times.

I am so honored for IE to feature recipes from my collection. Linda Rolby (the IE coordinator) and I decided to call it the "Hundred Mile Dinner" -- and to challenge the group to source its food from a hundred-mile radius.

Long-time readers know that my ideas about the importance and definition of "what's local" are unconventional, so with any luck, our attempts to source local Missouri ingredients should provoke fascinating table conversation.

Perhaps you might be inspired to host your own Hundred Mile Dinner? The growing season is the right time of year for one, it could be fun to try with a few like-minded friends.


What's the Meaning of "Local", Anyway?

For Incurable Epicureans

Thank you for trying recipes from my collection for our "Hundred Mile Dinner". The idea is to locally source -- as best we can -- as many as possible of the ingredients. Since 2005, the parlance in the food world is to talk about the Hundred Mile Diet, eating only foods sourced from within a hundred miles. For St. Louisans, that means no further than from Cape Girardeau, Fort Leonard Wood and Columbia on the Missouri side, and from Quincy, Springfield and Marion on the Illinois side. (Looking for a map? Here's a rough map of the boundaries 100 miles from St. Louis. No coffee or spices in that radius, I’m afraid.)

It's a great time of year to find local foods. The menu features asparagus three times and strawberries and rhubarb twice -- tis the season! There's a rice dish and a black walnut cake -- that's because rice and black walnuts are both grown in Missouri. So think about the ingredients in the recipes you decide to make and whether it's possible to find a local source.

But what does "local" mean, anyway?

Locally Grown, Locally Raised

In St. Louis, we are lucky that our city is home to numerous organizations that sell local produce, meat and other foods. These are the obvious places to look for "local" foods.

Local Harvest Grocery
Sappington Farmers Market (the farmer-owned co-op/grocery)
20+ CSAs
40 farmers markets

But these organizations are small. They have limited distribution. Most sell only during the growing season and even then, often the local foods cost more than the supermarket counterpart. I read recently that even if CSAs and farmers markets were to continue to grow at current high growth rates for ten years, their combined sales would still only represent 5% of the food market.

This isn't to say that innovative start-ups, CSAs and farmers markets aren't important. But it IS to say that to affect massive change in our food production and distribution systems, their contributions are tiny drops in the bucket.

Local Ownership Matters

Less obvious, perhaps, is that St. Louis is also home to grocery chains whose names rarely come up when discussing "local" food. You know these, of course:

Schnucks
Dierbergs
Straub's, to a lesser extent due to limited locations

All three are family-owned locally based businesses, despite their large size and market dominance. These are local companies. I believe that having two large large and locally owned grocery chains competing locally is why the St. Louis trade area has such good stores. Did you know that St. Louis has the shortest wait time in the checkout lane? (Source: Gigabiting, scroll down for graph.)

And yes, they sell some local food too. Straub's sells Missouri food products on its website and the Clayton store hosts the Clayton Farmers Market. Both Schnucks and Dierbergs feature local produce (tomatoes, corn, peppers, peaches, apples) during the growing season.

Ironically, it's the very size of these companies that prevents them from selling more local food. When Schnucks looks for suppliers of local produce, it needs enough for more than 100 stores, Dierbergs enough for 23 stores. Ironically, this means that it's easier for Whole Foods' two locations in St. Louis to sell local produce than it is for Schnucks or Dierbergs. Can Schnucks and Dierbergs do better? Maybe, especially if we actively lobby / encourage them to figure out workable ways.

But the message is, when it comes to food in St. Louis, local ownership needs to count too. Dollars spent at Schnucks, Dierbergs and Straubs stay in St. Louis, they're not shipped to California (Trader Joe's) or Texas (Whole Foods). If we want to affect the food supply in St. Louis in a big way -- in rivers the size of the Missouri and the Mississippi not drop by drop into a small bucket -- we have to court the demand side from the big grocery players, not just the supply side from individual farmers and growers.

So, Incurable Epicureans, work toward local ingredients for our Hundred Mile Dinner. But please, don't stress. You might not find a local ingredient or you might find the local choice more costly than prudent -- and that's okay. It's the thinking that's the goal here.

Without further ado, here's the menu, I hope you love the choices!


HUNDRED MILE DINNER MENU

Starters

#1 CRACKER BREAD
~ Lavosh (Armenian Cracker Bread) ~
OR
~ Quick Crisp Flatbread ~

TRIO of SPREADS
#2 ~ Beet Pesto ~
#3 ~ Asparagus Tapenade ~
#4 ~ Mushroom Spread ~
(recipe of cook's choice)

#5 MINI TARTS
~ Asparagus Custard Tart ~
(suggestion: mini tarts baked in mini muffin tins)


Main Dishes

~ Roast Pig ~
(roasted onsite in a China box)
with condiments
Homemade Finnish Mustard
Chimichurri
Homemade Zucchini Relish

#6 ~ Rhubarb Chutney ~
(to accompany the pork)

#7 ~ Finnish Meatballs ~
(suggestion: mini meatballs)

#8 ~ Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding ~
(vegetarian)

Sweets

#14 ~ Mexican Fruit Salad with Summer Fruits ~
(suggestion: with Cinnamon Sugar Cookies, optional)

#15 ~ Black Walnut Chocolate Cake ~
(suggestion: serve with Buttered Pecan Ice Cream,
especially the Maple Ice Cream version, optional)

#16 ~ Chocolate Cream Puffs Stuffed with Strawberries ~

#17 ~ Rhubarb Upside Down Cake ~

#18 ~ Finnish Fruit Tart ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Never miss a recipe! If you like these recipes, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!





© Copyright 2011 Kitchen Parade



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mini Egg Salad Sandwiches
with Rhodes Multi-Grain Rolls

It's a rare day for me to buy, let alone heartily recommend, a commercial food product. But since discovering these small multi-grain rolls from Rhodes, I'm hooked! Look for them in the freezer section, yes, they're Bake and Serve rolls! (Please know, this is NOT a sponsored post.)

Mini Egg Salad Sandwiches with Rhodes Multi-Grain Rolls

It was a lucky break, checking the frozen seafood section for lobster tails. Nope, no lobster tails, no hoped-for affordable lobster.

But right next door was a shelf of Rhodes frozen breads. My mother used to swear by Rhodes frozen bread loaves – a coup given that Mom was one of the world’s best bread bakers.

What caught my eye, however, was a tray of nine small multi-grain rolls. I walked through my mental gauntlet.

Price? Check. The price was right, $2.29, just $.25 a roll.

Ingredient list? Check. It starts off with stone-ground whole wheat flour and unbleached white flour. Sugar is the fourth ingredient (and the rolls do have a certain sweetness), but that’s followed by sunflower seeds, flax seeds and millet.

Reasonable calories? Check.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE (How many calories in Rhodes Multi-Grain Rolls? How many Weight Watchers points in Rhodes Multi-Grain Rolls?) Per Roll: 80 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 95mg Sodium; 12g Carb; 1g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 3g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points 1.5, PointsPlus 2


Convenience? Triple Check. Just throw the tray of still-frozen rolls into a hot oven. Twenty minutes later? Done. Hot rolls for dinner.

Taste? Could frozen rolls taste good? I have to say, I think the taste and texture are excellent. There’s that slightly nutty edge that comes with whole-grain bread.

Sold! I’ve bought the rolls three times now and plan to keep a tray or two in the freezer all the time. They were a huge hit at my book club last week, stuffed with egg salad for three-bite but still-hearty sandwiches.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

MINI EGG SALAD SANDWICHES with
RHODES MULTI-GRAIN ROLLS

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 9 small but substantial sandwiches
  • 1 tray Rhodes Multi-Grain Rolls or another small roll
    EGG SALAD
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs (how to make Perfect Hard-Cooked Eggs every time)
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sweet relish, liquid drained off
  • 1 teaspoon good mustard
  • 2 tablespoons grated Swiss or mozzarella cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry

ROLLS Bake the rolls according to package instructions. Let cool, then slice in half and separate the individual rolls.

EGG SALAD Meanwhile, with a fork, mash the egg salad ingredients.

SANDWICHES Spread a spoonful of the egg salad mixture onto the bottom half of a roll, top with lettuce, then close with the top half of the roll.

ALANNA’s TIPS These sandwiches can be made ahead of time. Just cover and refrigerate. I was surprised that even two days later, the leftover sandwiches were still quite fresh. So long as the sandwiches can be kept chilled, they’d be great for picnics, road trips, etc. For planning purposes, allow about one cooked egg for two people.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Sandwich: 110 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 48mg Cholesterol; 143mg Sodium; 13g Carb; 1g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 5g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points 2.5, PointsPlus 3
DISCLOSURE This is NOT a sponsored post. Rhodes has no idea who I am and I’ve never had any contact with the company. My Disclosure Promise

Rhodes Multi-Grain Rolls


Rhodes Multi-Grain Rolls

Aren't they pretty? I love how you can actually see the sunflower seeds and flax seeds!

More Convenience Food Recommendations
Sure, we COULD make everything. But chances are, none of us do. What convenience foods would you recommend to other Kitchen Parade readers? Leave a comment, tell us what you love and why!


This Week, Years Past

Tender Pork Tenderloin Lime Chicken Moroccan Chicken Sole with Mushrooms & Onions Mango Chicken Salad Mango Lassi Red Quinoa Salad Your Way

This Week, Elsewhere

Lobster Risotto from Trattoria Marcella
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Bourbon-Glazed Roasted Carrots
How to Eat More Vegetables, Tip #10 (Take a Chemistry Lesson)
A Veggie Venture


Lots of Cooked Eggs on Hand? Here's How to Use Them Up!

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Deviled Eggs with Tomato & Herb Relish Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing Spinach Soup with Perfect Hard-Cooked Eggs

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)





© Copyright 2011 Kitchen Parade



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rainbow Chicken

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times featured recipes with the "new idea" of oven-to-table suppers where we skip the step of browning the meat. Instead, the uncooked meat is combined with vegetables and then baked in the oven. New idea? No way. Good cooks have kept recipes like this in their repertoires forever. Here's my favorite -- chicken and a pile of rainbow-colored vegetables, tossed in a spice rub and brightened with lemon slices. It's so simple and spring-like. It's my new go-to chicken supper!

Rainbow Chicken


UPDATE Careful readers are noticing that there's red cabbage in the photograph but none in the ingredient list. That's because I did make Rainbow Chicken with red cabbage one night but it wasn't the favorite I thought it would be. I've used several combinations of vegetables, the ingredient list shows my favorite.


“I think it’s your detergent,” declared my sister at Christmas, pulling barely clean dishes from the dishwasher and apparently unimpressed by the bargain box I’d picked up at the dollar store along with a few stocking stuffers.

She was right, though: the dinner plates were rough with food grime, the silverware was slightly sticky, and the drinking glasses were covered with a powdery film.

I wondered if the water were hot enough, whether the fifteen-year old dishwasher (or a still-older water heater) was about to crash beneath the stress of heavy holiday use.

Turns out, the dishwasher detergent was the problem but it’s affecting brand-name and no-brand products alike. And if you’re not experiencing the problem yet, get ready, you will.

According to NPR (see Dishes Still Dirty? Blame Phosphate-Free Detergent), in 2010, detergent manufacturers quietly removed the phosphates that stripped food and oil from dirty dishes and prevented food bits from re-attaching during the wash process. The action was taken product-wide after seventeen states banned phosphates due to damage to the environment. Rather than supporting separate products for separate markets, rather than continuing the damage to the environment even while still legal in some states, detergent manufacturers switched to no-phosphate detergents across the board.

While I’m glad to know that throwing money at a plumber or new appliances won’t help, I’m still struggling with less than clean dishes, despite more careful rinsing.

Any suggestions?

UPDATE, A POTENTIAL SOLUTION? The May 11, 2011 issue of Consumer Reports says that the "Quantum tablets" from Finish do a "superb" job of cleaning dishes without leaving water spots although at a steep price: thirty cents a load. They say that another Finish product, the gel that's just twelve cents a load, doesn't work.

Any experience with these or other products?

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite chicken recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

QUICK SUPPER:
RAINBOW CHICKEN

Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 1 - 3/4 hours
Serves 4
    SPICE RUB
  • 2 teaspoons sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/4 pound chicken thighs or legs, bone-in, skins off or on
  • 1 potato, skin on, diced small (turnip works too)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled, diced small
  • 1 medium onion, cut into lengths
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into lengths
  • 1 zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 lemon, sliced thin cross-wise (don’t skip)

Preheat oven to 425F.

Mix the spice rub ingredients in a large bowl.

Rinse the chicken pieces under running water, pat dry with paper towels, then drop into the Spice Rub and turn to coat. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in an oven-safe skillet or casserole dish with a lid.

Drop the vegetables into the remaining spice rub (there won’t be a lot, but it’s just enough), give it all a stir and then scatter over the chicken. Top with lemon slices.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes (and up to 20 minutes longer if using a baking dish covered with foil) or until no pink remains in the chicken pieces. Let rest for 5 minutes, serve and savor!

ALANNA’s TIPS After making Rainbow Chicken a half dozen times already in 2011, it’s become my go-to, no-thinking chicken comfort food. I’m partial to the more richly flavored dark meat so pick up packs of inexpensive thighs or legs, then slip off the skins and coat with the Spice Rub. Then I check the fridge for vegetables, chopping up whatever’s on hand. The vegetables in the ingredient list, however, became my favorites. For a whole chicken, cut the chicken into pieces but use twice the Spice Rub. Reserve the back and wings for making Homemade Chicken Stock. Consider making extra for the leftovers reheat beautifully.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Serving (without skin/with skin): 218/244 Calories; 2/6g Tot Fat; 1/2g Sat Fat; 23mg Cholesterol; 384/381mg Sodium; 40g Carb; 8g Fiber; 10g Sugar; 11/10g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points 4/4.5, PointsPlus 5/6
Adapted from a recipe called Peruvian-Style Chicken at Whole Foods. Lots of stars and exclamation points in the reviews for this recipe – I love it too!!!!! ☺

This Week, Years Past

Scandinavian Pea Soup French Eggs Three Easy Vegetables Hot Cross Buns Vanilla Brownies Lemon Asparagus Pasta Homemade Chicken Stock Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing Chocolate Cream Puffs Stuffed with Strawberries & Cream

This Week, Elsewhere

Gooey Butter Bread Pudding from The Basket Case Deli
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Summer Black-Eyed Pea Salad
How to Eat More Vegetables, Tip #9
A Veggie Venture


More Favorite Chicken Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Easy Margarita Chicken Fast Roast Chicken Grilled Balsamic Chicken


Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)





© Copyright 2011 Kitchen Parade