Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Foxhollow Farm Sliders

What's not to love about food in mini-form?  Variety abounds when you can indulge in not one but two or more of a shrunken version of the classic burger.  Z and I had a delicious time tasting different toppings and accompaniments, a few of which I highlight in this month's Foxhollow Farm recipe.  A blend of Foxhollow's ground beef and ground chuck offers a clean and rich base and creates the perfect platform to showcase a plethora of flavors.  My immediate thought was pimento cheese.  It is one of my all-time favorite burger toppings and it's addictive power speaks for itself.  Bacon is also a sure-thing when it comes to burger accompaniments and I decided to push it over the edge with the addition of a fried egg, avocado and sriracha.  Our final slider is a celebration of caprese season.  A quick whirl of the food processor brings together a vibrant green pesto and slices of mozzarella gently melt into the warmth of the freshly grilled burger.  A bright red tomato is the shining star on this balanced and seasonal burger.  With grilling season well underway, now is the ideal time to hand-craft your own sliders.  There's really just one rule: always use good beef!  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Foodie-Girl's Top Five Travel Planning Tips

Z & Me in Rovinj, Croatia

Travel; some call it a bug, others count it as a hobby and for the truly afflicted it is an obsession.  A simple dip outside the confines of our small world can illicit whispers from across the earth, promises of discovery, enlightenment and adventure becoming louder and more demanding as your experiences grow.  This is a state I've found myself in often over the past ten years, ever since Z and I left college and took a hard look at where we were and where we hoped to go.  When we married in 2008 we set off on a dream trip to Tuscany and spent two weeks getting lost in the hills and grapevines of this magical place, spoiled rotten by a local friend who made sure our experience was never anything less than exceptional.  We returned home with a serious travel hangover, the wistfulness for our Tuscan paradise almost painful.  We daydreamed out loud about returning to Italy, or Europe, or anywhere, for that matter.  It started innocently - "we should go to France next year" - and we'd smile and allow our minds to wander for a bit.  But we kept saying it.  And the mini-mental vacations took a deeper root.  Soon "we should" became "we are" and we found ourselves up late one evening wringing our hands as we pressed 'purchase' on flights to Paris and the South of France.  That was when we jumped off the cliff.  We were 'supposed' to go on a honeymoon.  We weren't 'supposed' to take a trip to France just because.  But I've found that just because can be the very best reason of all.

Six years and over a dozen adventures later we've refined our own version of the art of travel planning, an element of the travel processes that I enjoy immensely.  We were naive heading to France and we definitely had some missteps.  Here I outline my top five travel planning tips and share tricks that we have found to be helpful and balanced - allowing us to plan without over planning, to be confident but still maintain a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants air.  And I hope they will help turn your "we should's" into "we are's".

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Foxhollow Farm Spaghetti with Meatballs

Given my love for pasta, I felt a personal obligation to have a recipe for spaghetti with meatballs in my repertoire.  I never have a shortage of Foxhollow Farm ground beef, chuck or sirloin in my freezer and it takes almost no time at all to blend this grass-fed goodness with a sweet and savory aromatic mix of carrots, shallots, garlic and oregano.  Worcestershire sauce from Bourbon Barrel Foods and balsamic vinegar are added to the mix to enhance the natural flavors of the beef and breadcrumbs soaked in whole milk promise for a perfectly succulent and tender final product.  Make it a trifecta and pair with my recipe for fresh pasta and my go-to, easy-as-pie marinara sauce and you will have a locally grown meal that is as wholesome as it is impressive.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Four Roses Bourbon-Mustard BBQ Sauce

I am not sure why I have a penchant for mustard-based barbecue sauce but there is something about the tangy, bold nature of a sauce with a mustard backbone that acts as a defibrillator for my palate.   When I was posed with the challenge of creating a barbecue sauce utilizing Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, I knew I would be bypassing the ketchup and reaching instead for the jar of yellow mustard in my fridge.  This was my first time dipping my toe in the world of barbecue and seeing as I live in a condo and do not have a grill, I wasn't quite sure where to begin.  Chef Levon Wallace of Proof on Main offered me loads of expert advice and the result was a beautifully roasted, impossibly juicy chicken bathed in a spicy and bright mustard sauce, one that took me three tries to finally get right.  In keeping with what I've found in most recipes, creating the sauce was all about layering flavors and the Four Roses Small Batch gave me a fantastic profile with which to work.  This bourbon blend brings strong notes of spice which are quickly quelled by a light sweetness and pleasant viscosity.  Brought to a boil with shallots, garlic and jalapeño, any bite from the alcohol is removed, the base flavors remaining and enhanced, pacifying the abrasive nature of the mustard and brightening the notes given by the cumin and red pepper flakes.  Local Kentucky sorghum and brown sugar, a near must for any barbecue sauce, match the natural sweetness of the bourbon nose-to-nose, finishing out a beautifully flavored, bourbon inspired sauce.  At Levon's advice, I had brined the chicken overnight to ensure the oven didn't take away any of the natural juices.  After roasting for a bit until almost cooked through, the sauce is drenched over the chicken and baked on for the last few minutes of cooking time, sealing in the flavor and finishing off some of the best chicken I've ever cooked at home.  I tip my hat to those who have spent years perfecting the craft of barbecue.  It is a complicated and delicious culinary road to travel and I look forward to exploring the path, my bottle of bourbon in hand.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake á la Johnny Iuzzini

Johnny Iuzzini is to the dessert world what Shawn White is to snowboarding.  He is a master of this decadent craft and firmly solidified his place in the land of pastry after a decade of work at the renowned four star Jean Georges in NYC and countless accolades, including the prestigious James Beard award for Pastry Chef of the Year.  Add a touch of rebellion and a dollop of TV star power courtesy of Top Chef: Just Desserts (Johnny was the head judge) and one would likely feel a bit of nervous enthusiasm if given the chance to meet this rock-star of sweets, wouldn't you say?  This is the state I found myself in when I was presented with the fortunate opportunity to interview Johnny during his recent trip to the Bluegrass for the Kentucky Derby.  Johnny is a member Macy's Culinary Council, an acclaimed who's-who of star Chef's who are committed to sharing their knowledge with the home cook and to demonstrating how you can be a master in your own kitchen.  Macy's Culinary Council is known for their in-store cooking demo's and the stage was set at Macy's of Oxmoor for Johnny Iuzzini (if you have an opportunity to attend an in-store event I HIGHLY encourage you to do so - a full listing of upcoming demos can be found here).  And my goodness he does attract a crowd of admirers!  But before the seats were filled, the biscuits were baked and the strawberries were roasted slow and low, Johnny and I sat for a chat about what drove him to the world of pastry in the first place.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Foxhollow Farm Flat Iron Steak with Ramp Chimichurri

There is no surer sign of spring than when ramps begin to blossom from the dormant forest floor.  This wild edible is a fleeting but vibrant welcome to the season, the first indication that fresh fruits and vegetables are indeed in the not-too-distant future.  You've probably noticed them by now - they are sweeping through the local restaurant scene with a flourish and photos of this beautiful white, purple and green leek are taking over our foodie instagram feeds.  Ramp season is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it phenomenon, one that is celebrated year after year at Foxhollow Farm.  I had the pleasure of going on a ramp hike with Maggie last year, digging up the leeks en masse, breaking to cool off with a bright white wine and veggie sandwiches stuffed with the leafy greens and spicy root ends of the ramps (find details from our hike and my recipe for pasta with ramps and carrot purée here).  

You too can share in this distinctive experience on Wednesday, April 30th.  Foxhollow will be hosting a RampAGE and they are calling on a few good foodies and nature lovers to help them with their harvest.  Simply meet the Foxhollow crew at the Veggie Shed at 1pm dressed in mud proof shoes and ready for a beautiful hike to the ramp fields nestled along Harrod's Creek!  You will be rewarded with your very own bunch of ramps and I can think of no better way to imbibe in this gift from nature than to blend them finely with spicy red pepper flakes, vibrant red wine vinegar and a smooth and soothing olive oil.  Add a healthy serving of parsley and fresh lime juice to the mix and what do you have?  Your very own chimichurri, an Argentinian herb sauce that was created to pair with their beef and is the ideal accompaniment to any Foxhollow steak!  I am a big fan of the flat iron cut, it's lean and tender texture a delicious canvas for the spicy and acidic notes put forth by the ramp chimichurri.  So strap on your hiking boots and head to the countryside.  Welcome spring to the Bluegrass and then cook up your very own homegrown Foxhollow steak with ramp chimichurri.  The dog days are over and farm fresh goodness is back on the menu!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Proof on Main's Bardstown Bellini: Your New Favorite Derby Drink

It is impossible to walk into 21c Museum Hotel and not be inspired.  I have the distinct privilege of calling this my workplace and on my very best days I am treated to the carefully curated delicacies turned out by Levon Wallace and the team at Proof on Main.  Levon's deft hands craft beautifully creative dishes utilizing the very best the Bluegrass has to offer.  This artful and local approach extends to the bar where you will find over 75 bourbons, house-made tonic that you will want to take home by the jug-full, and a seasonal cocktail list that is as playful as it is sophisticated and delicious.  I am a sucker for any drink involving sparkling wine, so the Bardstown Bellini immediately caught my eye when it made it's debut during National Bourbon Heritage Month this past September.  Bourbon + Peach + Prosecco.  What more could you want?  Bourbon and peaches are a natural combination and we all know the Italians got it right when they combined peach purée and Prosecco for the classic Bellini years ago (find my recipe here).  On the surface it all seemed obvious and straightforward; however my first sip of this drink drew curiosity.  What was that essence rounding out the flavors, deepening the intensity and soothing my taste buds all at once?  Small black flecks danced across the top of the glass, seeds of a vanilla bean brought to the surface by the effervesce of the Prosecco.  Vanilla.  Who would have thought?  It is the vanilla that actually makes this drink.  It brings the peaches to life, excites the Prosecco and allows the bourbon to shine in all of it's Kentucky glory.  This cocktail is the perfect alternative to a Mint Julep, taking the edge off and leaving no bite.  The Bardstown Billini will impress bourbon aficionados while turning those bourbon-shy individuals into instant fans of our native spirit.  Your Derby Day drink menu is complete.  Send the thank you card to Proof on Main.  Or better yet, hand-deliver it.  I hear their spring cocktail menu is fantastic…