As amazing as it might sound, I live a mere hour from Cleveland and its famed Westside Market yet it took me almost six years to make my way to this food mecca. I realize this calls into question my foodie credentials but I am telling you in the interest of full disclosure. For my birthday, my best friend asked me what I wanted to do. In previous years (before baby) I would have opted for a trip to New York or something exciting and time consuming. However on this birthday I would only have the hours from daycare drop off to daycare pick up (and as a nursing mother, even that required some car ride pumping to keep up the milk supply – yes, I have gone from foodie to food supply).
Anyway, we made our way through the produce section to my delight. I was reminded of European markets where there is abundant produce being sold by proprietors who offer you a taste of their wares before lovingly scooping them into a brown bag. Some asparagus which made its way into a risotto (see recipe below), fingerling potatoes which were served alongside a mini meatloaf, cherries (out of a season I know but a weakness of mine!), local honey (another obsession of mine – eating local honey helps with allergies); and a few other bits made their way into my backpack. Next we headed to the main hall where we sampled dishes and loaded up – sugar free fudge from Oooooh…Fudge for my diabetic mother, Cherry pierogies (served alongside a corned beef) from Pierogi Palace, a delicious olive filled manchego from the Cheese Shop, Chocolate dipped Jalapeno for my husband from Cambell’s Popcorn Shop (and a few samples of all their flavored popcorns for me), a warm smoothie called “Earth” made with dirt (no really) from Juice Garden, a crepe for lunch from Crepes De Luxe, an amazing peacan and raisin bread (advertised as containing half a pound of peacans) from Christopher’s Bakery and some premade food from Orale Contemporary Mexican Cuisine and Kim Se Cambodian Cuisine.
I also stopped at The Olive and the Grape to check out their array of vinegars, oils, and gourmet salts. I had read about the gourmet salts and had dabbled in generic sea salts and quarried salts from Wieliczka salt mine in Poland so I was curious to take it a step farther. I figured I would jump in with both feet and try something new so I opted for Cyprus Black Lava flake salt. At $8 for a small jar, I had high hopes. After adding it to a 3 onion soup I made the other day, I was a little disappointed. Perhaps the onion was too overpowering for the subtlties of the salt or perhaps salt – lava or no lava – is basically just salt. I will continue to experiment. Suggestions on things to try with it welcome.
Rice Cooker Asparagus risotto
As a new mother, I can’t be bothered with cooking anything too complex. Here is my lazy version of risotto made start to finish in the rice cooker.
Ingredients: 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup white wine, 3 cups chicken stock, 1/4 cup onions, 3 cups asparagus, 1 cup Arborio rice, salt, pepper and parmesean cheese to taste.
1. Heat rice cooker. 2. melt butter and olive oil in rice cooker (wait til cooker hot) 3. add onions and saute til soft 4. Add wine and chicken stock and let get hot (5 min) 5. add rice and let cook til translucent (5 min). 6. Add asparagus and stir. 7. cook 30 minutes (stir every 7 minutes) or until liquid mostly gone. 8. Stir in parmesean cheese and salt and pepper to taste.