olive oil

Croatia Through Wine and Food

by Anne Maxfield on March 9, 2015

Accidental Locavore Croatian WinesThere’s always a tipping point, isn’t there? The Accidental Locavore is hoping this was it—a dinner celebrating the food and wines of Croatia at Delmonico’s—that would finally get us to pull the trigger and visit a country that has been on our list for ages.

You may wonder why Delmonico’s, one of those New York/Wall Street institutions, but it makes perfect sense when you learn that the owners hailed from that part of the world. It was a boisterous group (too many cases of cabin fever?), invited to explore the incredible variety of Croatian cuisine with a seven-course dinner with wines (and the winemakers).

Accidental Locavore Croatian CharcuterieWhen we sat down, there was a beautiful platter of charcuterie—meats, cheeses and olives. One of the many outstanding sausages on the plate was Kulen, which is also the first Croatian food product with protected origin. It’s got a wonderful, slightly coarse texture and a little bit of spice from hot paprika. I could have eaten nothing but that and gone home happy, but I paced myself and even restrained from popping a few extra slices in my pocket. According to the Croatian Eno-Gastronomy magazine we were given, “the sausage is always accompanied by excellent wines,” and the first of several white wines, a Grasevina Galić, certainly fit the bill.

Accidental Locavore Croatian MusselsDistracting us from the charcuterie was a lovely bowl of mussels cooked in white wine with roast garlic, lemon, butter and herbs – delicious! Where the first wine was closer to a Riesling, this one was a Chardonnay from Vina Laguna.

Accidental Locavore Croatian PastaNext up, one of my favorite dishes of the evening – fuži, a homemade pasta (think of a diamond shape rolled into a tube) with wild mushrooms, truffles and Parmesan. Earthy with the mushrooms and truffles, it was just a wonderful simple pasta and if I had known Croatia had truffles (both black and white), we might have gone there long ago. With the pasta – a Malvazij from Kozlovic Winery, which we were fortunate to be given a bottle of. According to the label, “it is the perfect wine to serve with truffle pasta,” and it was!

I don’t know if it was just because I was so in love with the fuži, but the lemon sole that was the following course was my least favorite of the evening. Hard to do something that delicate for a large group, but it did show off the Istrian olive oil nicely. The wine, a Pošip from Stina Vineyards, has a stunning label (check it out here on their site) and went well with the fish.

Accidental Locavore Croatian PrawnsSwitching to red wines, the first one was a Plavac from Miloš and it was paired with what they referred to as scampi (but we probably consider it a prawn) in a buzara sauce. The scampi was sweet and tender and the sauce had tomatoes, garlic and breadcrumbs, which went well with the prawns and stood up to the red wine.

Accidental Locavore Croatian LambYes, we’re still eating…. Last on the savory side was a huge broiled lamb chop with potatoes and a few carefully plated green beans. It was a fabulous piece of Croatian lamb, perfectly cooked and just delicious. Unfortunately, by this point most of us were pretty full, but we managed to do justice to a great piece of meat. There were a couple of reds that they poured with the lamb, a Dingač Bura and a red from Kozlovic, their Santa Lucia. Maybe I’d just had enough (ok, more than enough) by then, but both of the reds had a nose like anchovies which made them a little tough to enjoy.

Finally, on to dessert – a warm apple strudel with ice cream. It was just the right bite of something sweet to end on, and the dessert wine (yes, we’re still drinking), Bibich Ambra, had strong notes of butterscotch, making it a perfect match to the apples.

And have we booked a trip? Not yet, and now that I have all the great information from the Croatian National Tourist Board , there are so many places that look amazing it may take us some time to narrow down where and what we want to see. Or, we may just do what we usually do and simply hit the road and see where it takes us.

 

 

 

Share

{ 0 comments }

Chicken Roasted With Bread and Lemon

by Anne Maxfield on February 19, 2015

Accidental Locavore Lemons and BreadEvery now and then the Accidental Locavore needs an undemanding dinner idea. This one with chicken, lemons, bread and caper berries looked interesting. The fact that you just tossed everything on a cookie sheet and popped it in the oven made it even more appealing. Serves 4:

  • 1/2 pound sourdough bread, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup drained caperberries
  • 2 lemons, washed and quartered lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 chicken thighs (with skin and bones)

Preheat oven to 400°. On a large baking sheet, toss the bread, shallots, caperberries and lemons in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush the chicken thighs with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken on the bread and roast for about 40 minutes until the thighs reach 160 with an instant-read thermometer. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Chicken Thighs With BreadMy verdict: I thought these were great, but Frank wasn’t as enthusiastic. Could be because I took the roasted lemon quarters and squeezed it over the chicken and he didn’t. Could be because he’s not a caperberry fan. Could be _____. If you’re like Frank and not a fan of caperberries (or don’t have them taking up room in the fridge), you could use capers (I would sprinkle them in about 10 minutes before the chicken was done or else they might end up singed), or a nice mix of olives. One of the things I liked was that the bread under the chicken was soft, like stuffing, where the rest of the bread was crunchy. We managed to get a great loaf of Peasant French bread from Berkshire Mountain Bakery at the Millerton Farmers’ Market, which added to the taste. This is a recipe that you could easily play with to suit your taste, and the contents of your fridge. I used chicken thighs, the original recipe from Food and Wine called for whole legs, but Frank is not a leg man (where poultry is concerned). If you use whole legs or breasts, just increase the cooking time accordingly. A technical note – my baking sheets are the classic aluminum ones, which reacted with the lemon. Next time I’ll probably toss everything in a bowl with the olive oil and line the pan with parchment, it’ll be easier cleanup, too.

Accidental Locavore Chicken With Lemon and BreadMade this a second time and threw some broccoli in the mix. Tossed everything in a bowl and then on a parchment-lined pan. Again delicious! This time I didn’t use the convection setting on the oven and the skin of the chicken wasn’t as crispy, so if you have a convection setting, use it.

 

 

Share

{ 0 comments }

Silky Smooth Baba Ghanoush

by Anne Maxfield on September 18, 2014

Accidental Locavore Baba GanoushThe Accidental Locavore picked up a couple of beautiful eggplants from our CSA recently, with the intention of blackening them on the grill and then…

Looking through some eggplant recipes, I was intrigued by one claiming to be the best Baba Ghanoush ever, so I gave it a test. Interestingly, you’ll need a salad spinner for this. This made about 2 cups and you have to look at the notes to see if it was the best ever.

 

  • 2 medium Italian eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon, plus more as desired
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt

Grill the eggplants right on hot coals if using charcoal, or, if on a gas grill, put them right on top of the burners (on high heat) for 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred all over and tender. Remove from the grill and wrap in aluminum foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Unwrap the foil and carefully slit the eggplants lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh with a big spoon and place in the colander part of the salad spinner. Pick out any stray bits of skin.

Make sure the eggplant is evenly distributed in the spinner. Spin carefully until all excess moisture is removed.

Put the remaining eggplant in the work bowl of a food processor with the garlic, lemon juice and tahini. Process until smooth. With the processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. When the olive oil is well incorporated, stop and taste. Add additional lemon juice and salt as needed.

Serve drizzled with more olive oil and warm pita bread and enjoy!

My verdict: This was certainly the smoothest, silkiest baba ghanoush I’ve ever had. Running it through the salad spinner got rid of all the seeds and a lot of the moisture – definitely worth doing! Flavor-wise it’s delicious, although not as smoky as I would have thought, but that might have been because I was lazy and just tossed the eggplants on the gas grill and didn’t do charcoal. If you don’t have a grill, you can do them on a baking sheet under a broiler. My husband would have liked a little spice to mix into it, maybe some harissa on top, but I thought the garlic gave it enough heat. What do you think?

 

Share

{ 0 comments }

Grilled Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

by Anne Maxfield on August 14, 2014

Accidental Locavore Pork Chops and PotatoesMaybe it’s my New England upbringing, but the Accidental Locavore loves vinegar on fries and potato chips! If you took a look at some of my recipe files, or Pinterest “Things to Try” board, you’d find a bunch of recipes for salt and vinegar potatoes-none of them road tested until recently. I had a bunch of potatoes from my CSA and a couple of nice pork chops from Second Chance Farm, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Serves 2.

  • 1 pound potatoes, cut lengthwise in ¼” thick slices
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt (more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Put potatoes and vinegar in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let them cool in the vinegar for 30 minutes. Drain. In a bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill them until nicely browned, about 3-5 minutes per side. Sprinkle with more salt to taste, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Grilled PotatoesMy verdict: Should have tried these a long time ago! Delicious, nice and tangy. If you’re not a vinegar fan, use half vinegar and half water, or a mix of white vinegar and malt vinegar. Even if you cooked the potatoes in water, then tossed them in the oil and grilled them, they’d be great! Of course, it helps to have good potatoes, fresh from the farm. I used a mix of purple and white (small russets) just for fun. If you don’t have a grill, a grill pan or broiler would work as well. It probably would have been a good idea to use the veggie pan on the grill, but I wanted to give them as much grilled surface as possible and there were only a couple of slices that fell into the fire. I may try this on my guests this weekend, but I’ll let the potatoes sit under a roasting chicken. What do you think?

 

 

Share

{ 3 comments }