Friday, September 21, 2012

SOS for Yummy Turnip Recipes

Why can't I make a turnip (left) taste as good as a beet (right)?
At Wickham Farms, where I work, I regularly talk to our CSA members to get feedback about their experience with the program. A comment I hear often is that members enjoy getting lots of different veggies, because it has expanded their culinary repertoires.

That has been my experience with CSA programs as well -- because of my CSA memberships, I’ve come to enjoy beets, leeks, kale, various winter squash and Daikon radishes, which I hadn't cooked in the past. (In the past, I belonged to the Porter Farms CSA.)

The trick, of course, is knowing how to cook these items, and it’s part of my job to help our CSA members in this area. Each week, I cook a recipe that incorporates our CSA veggies for sampling. I favor recipes that are uncomplicated and incorporate unusual items. This week, for example, the recipe was a cole slaw that included Daikon radishes and kohlrabi.

I have just one Achilles heel in this position -- turnips. I just haven’t found that special recipe that’s made me say “yum.” Last week, I tried this recipe for roasted root vegetables with an apple cider glaze. I used beets and turnips, and the beets turned out great, but the turnips just didn’t do it for me.

I thought I’d turn to my friends in cyberspace for help. Do you have any tips for cooking turnips? What’s your favorite turnip recipe?

This also was published in my blog on Flavors of Rochester.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Leaf & Bean is more than tea & coffee.

Although its name emphasizes beverages, Leaf & Bean Coffee Co. also serves some good eats.

My friend and I recently paid a visit to the Chili establishment, and we were lucky enough to hit it on a day when seafood bisque was the soup of the day. The flavorful bisque was just the right consistency – not too thick – and had plenty of nice chunks of seafood. I also enjoyed the chicken salad, which had the tasty additions of cranberries and walnuts.

It’s nearly impossible to pass up the beautiful array of baked goods – cookies, cupcakes, cakes, pastries and more – without succumbing to sweet temptation. We decided on a couple of cupcakes. My friend enjoyed her Oreo cupcake. I asked a staff member if the carrot cake contained raisins, because I don’t care for raisins in baked goods. She said no, but I had a hunch that she didn’t know. Grrr… I was right. After I picked out the raisins, the cake was moist and delicious, and the cream cheese frosting was the perfect balance between sweet and tangy.

I was told the baked goods are not made in-house, but are baked by a local bakery. They are definitely a cut above those served at most coffee shop chains.

Leaf & Bean is tucked into a strip mall in Chili, but would fit right into the Park Avenue strip. The d├ęcor is eclectic, the seating comfortable and the music retro 90s (at least it was when I was there). It's an enjoyable place for a meal or even a cup of Joe.

Note: this post also appears in my blog on the Flavors of Rochester website. Leaf & Bean Coffee on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A Favorite Food Destination - Cleveland

My family recently spent some time in one of our favorite cities to visit -- Cleveland. Yes, Cleveland! The city has much to offer people who enjoy food. Here are a few of our recommendations.

Market House at the West Side Market
The West Side Market has an open-air building with vendors selling reasonably priced produce, but the highlight is the market’s grand indoor market house. A yellow brick building built in 1912, it is home to more than 100 diverse vendors. Go hungry! For breakfast, I chose a freshly made crepe with Nutella and bananas; my husband found a pastry called a snugal; and a son picked a cannoli. We wised up this time and took a cooler so that we could bring back some unusual meat items – homemade buffalo chicken sausage, fresh Polish sausage (my husband’s favorite) and lamb gyro meat. I also made a stop at Urban Herbs, which sells hard-to-find spices and grains.

Across the street from the market, the Penzey’s Spices store is a fun place to shop. Their products are displayed in jars so you can give everything a whiff. We went home with cinnamon and extra-hot red pepper flakes in bulk bags, which provide a significant savings over buying spices at the grocery store. We also succumbed to the lure of mint hot chocolate mix.

Lola Bistro is located on East 4th Street,
a brick paved street lined with restaurants.
Michael Symon, best known as an Iron Chef on the Food Network, owns several restaurants in Cleveland. My older son and I are fans of his flagship restaurant -- Lola Bistro. The portions are smallish and the prices are high, but meals we’ve had there are among the best we’ve eaten. Next time we go, I’ll try to reserve a seat at the chef’s table, where you can watch the kitchen in action. I’d also like to try one of Symon’s less pricey restaurants, Lolita in particular.

Cleveland is less than a five-hour drive away – our family highly recommends the city for both food and fun!
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