Nosh News: Still Working on Those Leftovers Edition

Lucky Peach Issue 2: The Sweet Spot features rot, apricots, flippant fruit stickers and, um, Anthony Bourdain.

Are you still too stuffed from your Thanksgiving feast, and the leftovers that followed, to begin thinking about what you’re going to bake for all those festivities coming up in December? If so, I’ll make it easy — you can’t go wrong with cupcakes. For a selection of recipes that will work for whichever holidays you’ll be celebrating this season, check out these posts by some of the best bakers in the blogosphere: Cupcake Rehab’s favorite Christmas cupcakes, Bake & Destroy’s Vegan Sweet Potato Cupcakes, Modern Domestic’s Hanukkah Cupcakes and the Gluten-Free Goddess’ Frosted Orange Crème Cupcakes.

McSweeney’s released the second issue of its quarterly journal of food and writing, Lucky Peach, this month. This is not your typical food magazine. Inside the Sweet Spot issue, you’ll find a lengthy Michael Ames piece about rot, Adam Leith Gollner’s story of his search for the world’s sweetest apricots, and several recipes from ultra-trendy dessert purveyor Momofuko Milk Bar, including a Burnt Miso Butterscotch Topping that looks kind of awesome. (New York chef David Chang, king of the Momofuku restaurant empire, partnered with McSweeney’s to create the magazine). Oh yeah, and everyone’s favorite celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, contributes a piece about a conspiracy involving the movie “Road House.” (Where isn’t Bourdain popping up these days?) Best of all, there’s a sheet of 45 fruit stickers with slogans and illustrations that would make Miss Chiquita Banana blush.

Audrey Robbins, owner of Pan-Handlers Kitchen Supply, just announced that she’s selling the Lake Ella shop and her online business. If you’re interested, call John Kraft of Murphy Business Brokers at 222-2001. Fans of Pan-Handlers’ cooking classes, fret not: Chef Bec Kelly will be taking over on Dec. 1, and you can still find all the information you need about upcoming events at the Pan-Handlers Kitchen website.

Farm Fresh: Learning to Love Beets

We’re sharing our favorite veggie-centric recipes featuring the produce that’s in season right now in north Florida, and available at local farmers markets, produce stands and Community Supported Agriculture programs.

A freshly picked beet from Full Earth Farm.

When the Professor and I signed up a year ago for the Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program offered by Full Earth Farm, I knew that we would encounter some vegetables we’d never cooked with before.

Through recipe research, great recommendations from friends and the folks at Full Earth Farm, and some random experimentation, we’ve conquered kale, collards, garlic scapes and other vegetables that once were foreign to us.

But one vegetable confounded me: Beets.

Before joining the CSA, I best knew beets in their commercially pickled form, which to my tongue taste overwhelmingly sweet, with an unpleasant metallic tinge. Thus, I despised them. So when freshly picked beets turned up in our CSA share last fall, I eyed them warily. Then I tried them raw in a salad, and roasted with other root vegetables. And I still didn’t like them much.

Well, it’s beet season again. This year, though, I’m actually eager to see those crimson orbs in our CSA share, thanks to a brand-new recipe created by Katie Harris of Full Earth Farm. We gave Katie’s recipe a test run last weekend with our first share of beets, and I can’t wait to make it again.

Here’s the recipe that taught me, at long last, to love beets:

Fun Mash
A Katie Harris original recipe
This is basically pink mashed potatoes. The amounts of each ingredient are up to you and your liking. It’s flexible and you won’t mess it up!

Ingredients
Onions
Garlic
Oil
Salt
Pepper
Butter
5 potatoes
4 beets (roots only; save the greens for another recipe)
Sour cream and/or milk

Directions
In a large pot, boil enough water to cover beets and potatoes. While that’s getting hot, quarter the beets and potatoes. Once the water is boiling, toss them in. While they are cooking, sauté the onions and garlic in oil until they are as done as you want them. Once the beets and potatoes are soft, drain most of the water off, but leave a little. Mash with a potato masher and add butter, milk/sour cream, sautéed onions and garlic, salt and pepper. Mash well and serve warm.

Doesn’t this scoop of Fun Mash look like raspberry sorbet?

To make our own version of Fun Mash, we used eight small red potatoes instead of five big ones. The potatoes and beets took about 30 to 35 minutes to get soft. When we mashed them, we added plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, along with a splash of half ’n’ half instead of milk. Since we put chile peppers into just about everything we cook around here, we threw in a couple of tablespoons of our latest adaptation of Rick Bayless’ Adobo de Chile Ancho.

A note about Adobo de Chile Ancho: This seasoning paste, which is one of Bayless’ workhorse Essential Recipes from his cookbook “Rick Bayless’ Mexican Kitchen,” adds earthy, spicy flavor to all sorts of dishes, including marinades, beans, chili, enchilada sauce and scrambled eggs. This time, we made the adobo with a mix of guajillo and ancho chiles, and used some juicy roasted tomatoes instead of broth.

When the Fun Mash was ready to eat, I cast aside my usual skepticism about any recipe containing beets when I got a glimpse of its color: a gorgeous fuchsia. The scoop of Fun Mash on my plate looked just like a dollop of raspberry sorbet.

As good as this dish looked, it tasted even better. The red potatoes, along with the Greek yogurt, butter and Adobo de Chile Ancho, tempered the sweet beets into something much more savory to my tastebuds. And the beets, in turn, gave the dish a depth of flavor that’s usually lacking in traditional mashed potatoes. I loved the bit of unexpected crunch from the sautéed garlic and onion, too.

We’ve got more beets coming our way this CSA season, so I’ll have the opportunity to continue experimenting with this versatile recipe. Next time, we’re going to add some diced jalapeños to the garlic and onion before we sauté. Thanks for the great recipe, Katie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Once upon a time, I was fortunate enough to work in an office that held a create-a-turkey competition each Thanksgiving.

However you choose to celebrate today — by cooking an autumnal feast, dining out at a restaurant, tossing an Amy’s Southern Dinner into the microwave or painstakingly constructing a turkey out of produce — we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday!

Farm Fresh: Keeping it Simple

We’re sharing our favorite veggie-centric recipes featuring the produce that’s in season right now in north Florida, and available at local farmers markets, produce stands and Community Supported Agriculture programs.

Thanksgiving week = crazy busy. With that being said, my cooking and veggie-centric recipe was kept simple. I picked up two ears of corn at Earth Fare for only 89 cents each! Fresh corn can be made into many things, but in my “keep it simple” state, I threw the corn on the grill. After about 15 minutes the corn was done, I put some butter and salt on it, and it was the perfect side dish!

Grilled corn

P.S. Since I was using the grill, I grilled two pieces of free-range chicken breast – also purchased at Earth Fare. I like getting my chicken from Earth Fare because they disclose the farm it came from as part of their 100 mile radius commitment, which means they are committed to purchasing from farmers within 100 miles of the store and will not label anything “local” unless it came from within 100 miles of the store location. I marinated the chicken in soy sauce, garlic and honey for one hour prior to grilling … it was delicious!!

Five Favorites: Songs Inspired by Food

Forget Kelis – Sleater-Kinney serves up a sonic milkshake that’s a lot more tantalizing.

1. “Know Your Chicken,” Cibo Matto. Beneath this song’s irresistibly catchy chorus lies a sinister tale of kitchen betrayal. The members of Cibo Matto (which means “crazy food” in Italian) are so obsessed with edibles that they’ve also penned songs about birthday cake, artichokes, beef jerky and white pepper ice cream.

2. “Java Jive,” The Ink Spots. My grandparents loved this playful R&B song from the ’40s. They used to sing it to me as a lullaby, thus planting the seeds of my lifelong caffeine addiction.

3. “Milkshake n’ Honey,” Sleater-Kinney. A sly, rueful number about the pleasures and pitfalls of indulging your appetites on the road, from a band that’s better known for its uncompromising feminist anthems.

4. “Devil’s Pie,” D’Angelo. The ingredients for this dubious delicacy include “Materialistic greed and lust, jealousy, envious/Bread and dough, cheddar cheese, flash and stash, cash and cream.” D’Angelo has such a luscious voice, though, that he almost makes a big slice sound appealing.

5. “Beer for Breakfast,” The Replacements. Of what else would you partake when you wake up to ashtray floors, dirty clothes and filthy jokes?

Also worth mentioning: “Beans and Cornbread,” Louis Jordan; “Candyfloss,” Wilco; Caramelo,” Julius Melendez; “Yes! We Have No Bananas,” Louis Prima; “Chocolate Cake,” Crowded House.

Best Bites: Almost Time for Turkey (and Tofurkey) Edition

Our weekly picks for the most enticing foodcentric events in the Tallahassee area.

In the movie “Mermaids,” Rachel Flax (played by Cher, left) served her daughters hors d’oeuvres for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Goodwood Museum and Gardens kicks off a new fall tradition this weekend with its 1st Annual Oyster Roast. Dine on all things oyster, including a raw bar, po’ boys and, of course, roasted oysters, accompanied by muffalettas, Brunswick stew, bread pudding and other dishes. The feast is set for 7-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at the museum, 1600 Miccosukee Rd. in Midtown. Cost is $30 per person. To RSVP, email ccampbell@goodwoodmuseum.org or call 877-4202 ext. 232.

Tallahassee’s vegan community will host another inaugural autumn event, the 1st Annual Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck. The gathering will be held at 6–9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19 at Bread and Roses Food Cooperative, 915-2 Railroad Ave. in All Saints. Bring a vegan dish (no meat, fowl, dairy, eggs, gelatin or honey ingredients) to share and your own plate, cup and utensils. Admission is free. For more information, email veganTLH@yahoo.com or call Jason at (215) 850-9152.

For some of us, hors d’oeuvres make an appetizing start to a meal. Others prefer the hors d’oeuvres to be the meal, a la Cher’s entrée-averse character in “Mermaids.” Whichever way you slice it, you can learn how to up your appetizer game at Pan-Handlers Kitchen’s Hors D’oeuvres class, 6:30-8 p.m.  Monday, Nov. 21 at the Pan-Handlers Kitchen cottage, 1635 N. Monroe St. in Lake Ella. Local chef Bec Kelly will teach participants how to make savory shrimp cheesecake bites, bacon-wrapped dates, hummus tapenade and other elegant starters. Cost is $35 per student, with a 10 percent discount if two people sign up together. To register or find out more, visit the Pan-Handlers Kitchen website or email rob@panhandlerskitchen.com.

Road Food: Sluggo’s in Pensacola, Fla.

Cajun carrot cakes with soy remoulade at Sluggo’s in Pensacola, Fla.

Since I perpetually find myself en route from Point A to Point B, I’m always on the lookout for great places to stop for a bite to eat while I’m on the road. As a persnickety consumer of meat, the top spots on my list tend to have a knack for meatless dishes.

There’s Soccer Taco, a sports-themed Mexican bar and grill in Knoxville, Tenn., that serves a near-perfect plate of veggie fajitas. Kavarna Coffeehouse in Green Bay, Wis., which I can always count on for a spot-on latte and a top-notch walnut burger. And Good Dog in Chattanooga, Tenn., where I can get a vegan Chicago-style hot dog that’s truly better than the real thing.

On a recent drive from Tallahassee to New Orleans with The Professor, I discovered my new favorite place for road food, thanks to a suggestion from a very cool vegan couple we know. Sluggo’s, a café in downtown Pensacola that doubles as an all-ages music venue, possesses that rough-and-tumble, punk-kids-threw-this-together vibe that never fails to charm me, but the dishes we ordered revealed just how much thought has gone into the all-vegetarian menu.

We plowed through a notably hearty vegan chili with cornbread, sides of collard greens and mashed potatoes topped with the best mushroom gravy I’ve ever eaten, and a plate of excellent pot stickers with three sauces. Then we turned our attention to the dish I still can’t stop thinking about, something I’d never encountered before.

The grilled Cajun carrot cakes were sprinkled with candied pecans and accompanied by a soy remoulade, which all together on my fork created the ideal balance of spicy, sweet and creamy. I need to figure out how to recreate that unforgettable dish in my own kitchen, or just concoct an excuse to drive through Pensacola again soon.

Just the facts
Sluggo’s
101 S. Jefferson St., Pensacola, Fla.
(850) 791-6501