Farmers Market at University of Rhode Island’s East Farm

While cruising around Rhode Island a couple of weekends ago, we stumbled upon a great farmer’s market at East Farm, a part of the University of Rhode.

If you are in the area, check it out:

URI East Farm
RT 108
Kingston, RI

Delicious local goat cheese.  So fresh!  Sampled some of the horseradish goat cheese which was spicy but not over the top.  Also bought a pesto variety – big party hit!

My compliments to the goat

Fresh Oysters from Matunuck Oyster Bar & Farm.

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Stuffed Potato Skins Frittata

Brunch is one of those meals that many people go out for because let’s face it, weekends are for relaxing.  Who would want to spend precious time preparing breakfast?

But in all honestly I love breakfast and when done correctly, I love do it at home brunch.  Especially with the holidays coming and houseguests likely to be invading your home, it is great to have some simple yet satisfying brunch tricks up your sleeve.

I spent this past weekend up in Rhode Island and relaxation was definitely my priority.  After a fabulous night complete with delicious dinner and lots of great wine by the fireplace, I rolled myself out of bed Sunday morning and realized it would be a perfect time to create this Stuffed Potato Skins Frittata which I was planning to enter into a Delish.com recipe contest.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t submit my recipe because there were problems with the site and of course I was very annoyed because this dish is definitely a winner!

This spin on a frittata takes a tailgating & football classic and turns it into something a little more breakfast appropriate.  And the added bonus – it’s so simple it leaves you plenty of time to continue relaxing.

Stuffed Potato Skins Frittata

Printable Version
5 medium thick slices bacon, cubed (half inch)
5 baby red potatoes, diced (half inch)
6 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons scallions, sliced (green stems only)
1 teaspoon chives, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
Chives, chopped for garnish (optional)
Sour cream, to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).  In a 10 inch ovenproof non-stick skillet over medium-high heat begin to cook the bacon.  Brown the bacon for 3-4 minutes until crispy.  Remove bacon from pan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the diced potatoes.  Cook the potatoes 7 minutes until lightly browned.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk gently for 15 seconds so that the yolks break.  Continue to whisk and pour in milk.  Once the milk and egg is combined thoroughly, add the sour cream.  Whisk together until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the cheese, scallions and chives to the egg mixture and fold in to combine.

Remove potatoes from pan and place on the plate with the bacon.  Drain bacon fat from the pan and wipe clean if there are any burnt pieces.  Place the pan over medium-low heat and melt the butter.

Once the butter is melted, add the bacon and potatoes.  Cook 1 minute and make sure they are evenly distributed on the bottom of the pan.  Pour in egg mixture.  Let cook for 2 minutes.  Once the bottom begins to set, pull the edge of the side in front of you up and tilt the pan towards you allowing the egg mixture to fill in the gap.  Let cook another 5 minutes until sides are firm and middle is slightly set. Place pan in oven and let cook for 10 minutes

Remove the pan from the oven and run a knife around the edges, releasing the frittata from the pan.  Place on a serving plate either by removing with two spatulas or placing plate over the skillet and turning over.

Garnish with extra chives and serve with sour cream.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Venison Burgers with Caramelized Onions on Sourdough Bread

One of the highlights of our summer vacation at the cabin were the fabulous meals that were cooked up every night.  Of course, given the environment most of the meals were grilled and throughout the week we enjoyed grilled vegetables, potatoes, BBQ chicken and grilled salmon.  All of our meals were simple yet delicious and each night we thought we had outdone the previous dinner.

Towards the end of the week our friends began to arrive for the weekend and the dinners became more varied with a little of this and a little of that since everyone wanted to make something for the occasion.

One of our friends had recently been on a hunting trip and wanted to share some of the wonderful venison he had brought home.  It was absolutely wonderful.  Much gamier yet leaner than beef, the grilled venison steak just tasted so…natural.  It was organic without the $5 packaging.  I was extremely excited when he was nice enough to send us home with some of the extra ground venison that he had.

The weeks began to pass by and back in the city we transitioned into fall .  In all of the chaos of moving and working long hours, we almost forgot about our special package of venison in the back of the freezer.  But how could something so wonderful be forgotten?  We decided that it was time to enjoy the full flavors of the venison and reminisce over the seemingly long gone summer.

First we used the venison to make a simple ragu served over pasta.  Although a certain unnamed someone thought making a sauce would drown out the rich, meaty flavor of the meat it actually did the exact opposite.  The simple combination of tomatoes, onion & red wine actually created the perfect backdrop for such a bold meaty flavor.

After the success of the sauce, I thought that we might as well try pairing another bold flavor with the venison and see how it would stand up.  That is where the idea for these blue cheese burgers came from.  The blue cheese centers really help the meat stay moist, as it is leaner than most beef it can dry out quickly.  Sourdough “buns” also provide a great crunch to match with the creamy, luscious burgers.

Obviously this recipe can made with regular ground beef but I beg you…give venison a try!

Blue Cheese Stuffed Venison Burgers with Caramelized Onions on Sourdough Buns

(makes 4 burgers)

Printable Version

1 1/2  lb. ground venison
6 oz Cashel Blue Cheese*
Salt
Pepper
2 cups sliced yellow onions
8 thick slices sourdough bread
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Once butter is melted, add sliced onions and season with 1 1/2 tsp salt.  Saute for about 15 minutes, occasionally stirring, until onions are golden & caramelized.

Lightly season venison with salt and pepper.  Begin forming half of a burger patty (about 3 oz.) into a circle in the palm of your hand.  Form a small well in the center and place about 1.5 oz. of blue cheese in center.  Take another 3 oz. of venison and place on top sealing edges together.

Place large skillet over medium-high heat.  Once pan is heated, add burgers**.  Cook 3 minutes each side and place in 350°F oven for 5 minutes or until cooked to your liking.  Keep in mind venison can dry out quickly and is best when cooked medium rare.

Brush olive oil onto bread slices.  Place in broiler for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.  Slice garlic in half and rub over bread.

Place burger on buns and top with onions.  Serve and enjoy!

venisonburgersApologies for the poor pictures – still trying to get camera set up after the move!

Our burgers were served with a side of sweet potato fries and a chipotle dip (plain greek yogurt, diced chipotle, hot sauce).

* Cashel Blue Cheese is a fantastic blue cheese from Ireland.  I chose it for this recipe because it is creamier than some other blue cheeses and it has earthy notes which mimic that of the venison.  Feel free to use your favorite blue cheese!

** These can also be made on a grill pan or on the outside grill

Tastes like Summer

Pond

I hope everyone had a wonderful (and tasty) July 4th! Thankfully, the weather in the Northeast turned out to be fabulous and finally it felt like summer.

It was another weekend spent in RI and most of it was jam packed with stuff to do so here is a quick recap (some non-food points thrown into the mix):

Friday was a mix of hanging around the house in the morning and then enjoying ourselves out on the boat in the afternoon.  Later that night we cooked up what we caught while out on the water and had a great clam bake!

Rose BushCan’t wait to see how this looks when the trellis goes up behind it

CatInstead of helping, the cat just jumped into the basket for a nap

clamsThese made for a wonderful dinner especially when paired with some fresh corn & Butternuts Pork Slap Beer

Saturday morning was gorgeous so I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood and wound up at the local farm’s market (go figure!).  Carpenter’s Farm in Matunuk, RI is a great spot off the main road down to the beach.  Definitely a foodie paradise!  Along with fresh produce and fruit, they have plenty of homemade goods which are all natural and made on the premises.  There is a small counter in back where I watched them make a few of their pies.  I must have spent 20 minutes just walking around the tiny store examining all they had to offer: homemade fruit breads, jams, local honey, specialty salsas and condiments.  In the end, however, I only walked away with some plums and cherries which everyone munched on throughout the weekend.

We carried on with the day and potted some plants for the deck and front of the house.  By noon, we had potted so many that we realized we would need to get some more flowers.  So back to Carpenter’s it was! Along with the wonderful selection of food, Carpenter’s also offers a seemingly endless selection of plants and flowers.  Since I was outside the store & loading the purchases into the car I was not tempted to pick up anything edible….this time.

We headed to the beach to enjoy the sun but since the water was a little too cold we headed up to the pond after an hour or so.  As you can see from the photo at the beginning of my post, this pond is absolutely beautiful.  A calm and relaxing spot which only seems to be in the middle of nowhere.

As we headed back to the house to get ready for the BBQ, we realized that we needed a cucumber for the salad and I realized my third stop of the day at Carpenter’s was in my future.  I knew this third trip was a sign to buy something  & the 6 Pepper Corn Relish was calling my name from the back shelf.

We hurried home and got ready while grilling the clams that were caught by the boy’s on their early morning fishing trip.  With some extra red peppers lying around, it was decided that roasted red peppers would come with us to the cookout.

GrillPerfect summer sight

Unfortunately I have no photos of the food from the cookout that night since my camera was broken but I will say that both the roasted red peppers & the 6 pepper corn relish were out of this world.  Since I am not a fan of ketchup (or mayo),  I topped my burger with relish and some peppers – delicious!!!  The relish was super spicy yet its sweetness cooled it down a touch.

Before leaving our wonderful weekend behind and making the trek back to NYC on Sunday we picked up ice cream at the Vanilla Bean which is right on the beach and serves great homemade ice cream.  Pistachio and  black raspberry ice cream were the perfect way to end a perfect holiday weekend.

Vanilla Bean

Catching Up

Relaxing in Naragansett, RI after a few weeks of craziness

Life has been non-stop these last few weeks and unfortunately most of it had little to do with food.

With a big work deadline looming most of my meals were takeout, consumed at my desk or during a meeting and at random hours of the day.

After my work assignment was over and done with last Friday,  I headed up to Rhode Island again for another fabulous weekend of relaxation which I so badly needed.

A few foodie moments snuck into my schedule lately, however, and here is a quick roundup:

♦ Delicious, cozy meal at Little Owl in the West Village, NYC (full review post to come soon)

♦ A fabulous engagement party for two close friends.  I had great time with all of my friends on a gorgeous day.  And of course the food was delicious! There was a slider “bar” with many different slider varieties including salmon, veggie, chicken and one named for the groom-to-be: Steve’s Sirloin Sliders with Chipotle Mayo.  The assortment of french fries was also incredible!  Both the sweet potato fries & regular fries were good but the Peruvian blue potato fries with truffle oil were out of this world!  Also on the menu were tiny shots of traditional tomato gazpacho and a fennel & onion salad.  Of course for dessert I indulged in a carrot cake cupcake!

yum!

♦ A special someone’s birthday dinner prepared by my gracious RI hosts and enjoyed with great company.  The meal included BBQ ribs & chicken, homemade baked beans (baked for 24 hours!), orzo pasta salad with red onion, grilled asparagus & cherry tomatoes and then a garden fresh strawberry rhubarb pie.

♦ A quiet and delightful birthday lunch picnic before a fun round of tennis (well tennis lesson for me, really).  Lunch was simple deli sandwiches, salt & vinegar Kettle potato chips & of course a Miller High Life to wash it all down.  Such a fabulous day.

View of the tennis courts from our picnic spot

♦ Random recipe ideas which always come to me when I don’t have time to test them! I wrote them all down however, so be on the lookout for them.

And last but not least…

♦ News of Foodbuzz’s first Blogging Festival  in San Francisco!!!! For a few years now I have been wanting to go to S.F. and with this latest development I really think the time has come to make the trip.  Everyone who has been there tells me how much I would love the city and enjoy all of the wonderful food it has to offer.  Can’t wait!

I’ve been trying to catch up on some of the happenings in the blog world but would love to hear what you’ve been up to in case I missed it!  Also, let me know your thoughts on Foodbuzz’s Blogging Festival.  Are you happy it is in San Francisco?  Will you be attending and what are you looking forward to the most?

Cheers!

Rhubarb Strawberry Sorbet

goofy

A few weeks ago I was given homegrown rhubarb from some very nice people. Since it was my first time cooking or baking with rhubarb I contemplated what to do with it. The obvious choice, Strawberry Rhubarb pie, came to mind. The more I thought about it though, a pie just wasn’t what this batch of rhubarb was destined to become.

My memorial day plans included visiting my rhubarb suppliers at their gorgeous home in Rhode Island and I wanted to bring a rhubarb treat as a thank you. I began to think of all the things I love about Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. That’s it! What better way to kick off summer than with rhubarb sorbet! Knowing that I would need to balance the tart flavor of rhubarb with a sweet fruit, I turned to its tried and true companion the strawberry.

It seemed like smooth sailing until I came upon a few obstacles in my sorbet making process. First, most recipes for sorbet called for corn syrup – for the most part I despise corn syrup. Why ruin something so fresh and natural from a home garden with an artificial and mass produced product? Second, I didn’t have an ice cream maker. The absence of both of these items could have led to a less than stellar sorbet consistency. After giving it some thought, I decided to use a simple syrup in place of the corn syrup and add some alcohol, specifically the orange-flavored liquor Cointreau, to reduce ice crystals.

Now I was off and running, I made the first batch of sorbet the Sunday before I left for my weekend in Rhode Island. I had to make the sorbet without a blender since I was not in my own home and did not have one available. Personally, I loved the consistency that the pulp added. The sorbet seemed much more natural and homemade with it included.

The following Friday we arrived safely at our destination and prepared for a fun & sun-filled weekend. Saturday morning we helped in the garden and I saw first hand where my rhubarb came from (there’s so much of it!).

cutting rhubarb

The plan was to have company over that night for dinner and sorbet would be the star of desert. Since I had made only 2 pints back in NY, I needed to make some more before everyone arrived and began retrieving more rhubarb (sidenote: the correct way to harvest rhubarb is to pull it from its roots and then cut off the leaf on top)

rhubarb

cutting stemsThe correct way to cut rhubarb

Unfortunately, the second batch of sorbet was not ready until our other BBQ on Sunday night – but everyone at the dinner party had a taste from the first batch and it was a hit! The sorbet was a slightly tart thanks to the combination of rhubarb and lime zest yet perfectly sweet from the strawberries & syrup. Looking ahead, this sorbet will be a great way to preserve rhubarb into the hot summer months when we are all looking for a cold, refreshing treat.

Rhubarb Strawberry Sorbet
(makes about 2 pints)
3 cups rhubarb, sliced (about 5 medium stalks)
1 lb strawberries, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons lime zest
2 tablespoons Cointreau (or other orange flavored liquor)
3/4 cup simple sugar (equal parts sugar & water combined until dissolved)

In a large saucepan combine rhubarb, strawberry, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1 teaspoon lime zest. Simmer over medium-low heat until a fruit is soft and becomes liquid forms, stirring occaisonally, about 20-30 minutes. Let mixture cool until room temperature.

Rhubarb & StrawberryRhubarb & strawberry cooking down

fruit cooling downFruit mixture cooling down

Once cooled, stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 tablespoon lime zest and all of the Cointreau. Begin adding the simple sugar one tablespoon at a time and adjusting to your taste (should be slightly sweeter than you would want the finished sorbet to be).

Place in a shallow tupperware container, cover and place in the freezer. To reduce ice crystals and produce a sorbet with better consistency, stir every hour for the first 4 hours and then freeze overnight. The next day, scrape the sorbet and make fluffy before pushing back down into the tupperware.

sorbet before freezerSorbet in Tupperware before going into the freezer

Before serving, place in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes so that the sorbet can soften. Serve and enjoy!

sorbetPansies are edible 🙂