Archive | Summer 2007 Recipes


lavenderThe Story: LAVENDER

Edible Iowa River Valley contributor Genie Gratto first arrived in Iowa in September, 2005 with a self-proclaimed black thumb. Now, nearly two years later, her thumb is green, her garden is full and she is blogging about both at The Inadvertent Gardener.

When she’s not blogging, you might catch her sipping this libation. Genie first learned about it at an early summer dinner, where her friends served a delicious cocktail of simple syrup infused with lemon balm and cut with sparkling water. It inspired her to try my own version at home, this time infused with blossoms from the lavender plant she successfully over wintered in an experimental act of gardening. The resulting drink is floral but not overpoweringly so, and incredibly refreshing. Looking to up the ante? Add a shot of vodka to each glass and stir.

The Recipe


1. c. sugar (if you’re not of the sugar persuasion, substitute Splenda for a lovely, no-cal treat)
2 c. water
1 TBSP dried lavender and 2 TBSP fresh lavender, or 2 TBSP dried lavender, or 4 TBSP fresh
lavender (depending on what you have on hand)
One bottle unflavored sparkling water

  1. Stir the sugar
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kohlrabiThe Story: KOHLRABI

Sometimes a CSA basket or a table at market can be filled with mystifying offerings. Some vendors offer recipes to help you through. But kohlrabi is often viewed as a stumper by many shoppers.

Kohlrabi, or “cabbage turnip” in German, looks like a root vegetable, but isn’t. Instead it’s part of the cabbage family. The larger the kohlrabi, the tougher, so seek out small ones which can be grated raw and used in a slaw or eaten in a salad. Kohlrabi is popular in Eastern Europe and Asia, as well as central Michigan, where, according to Wikipedia, Livingston County, Michigan has proclaimed itself the Kohlrabi Capitol of the World.

This recipe is adapted from an old Shepherd’s Seeds cookbook and can be served anytime of day.

The Recipe


4 kohlrabi
1 medium onion
1 or 2 cloves of garlic or more to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices bacon, pig or turkey, cooked and crumbled (optional)
salt to taste
1/4 cup sour cream

Cook the bacon and set aside. Cut off the tough outside of the kohlrabi and dice. Dice up the onion and. Sauté the vegetables in butter for 5 to 7 minutes … Read More

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onionsThe Story: ONIONS

When the summer heat breaks, Criss Roberts, feature editor for the Burlington Hawkeye and Edible Iowa River Valley Contributing Editor, is a picnic regular. Her house has a deck overlooking the Mississippi River and the corner table, shaded by a giant hackberry tree, is often surrounded by friends.

It’s almost always too hot to cook when summer is at its prime, so dinner is a buffet of items yanked from the refrigerator – olives and sausage, cheeses and bread – things that are specifically in the refrigerator because they compliment the stock-piled wine.

On those rare occasions when she turns on the oven on, it’s time to make an Iowa-fied version of an Alsatian tart. The original version came from Liz Clark, a culinary legend of Southeast Iowa who now runs a cooking school in Navoo, IL. Criss has made some adjustments to account for what’s in her fridge and what’s on her mind. For instance, sometimes the Gruyere cheese has gone missing, which means she needs substitute with Swiss (never quite the same, she reports). Since her husband’s family are hog farmers, they usually go even heavier on the bacon. And although she prefers Crisco for … Read More

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eggplantThe Story: EGGPLANT

As Folklife Director for the Iowa Arts Council (IAC) and contributing writer for Edible Iowa River Valley, Riki Saltzman has tasted the best of Iowa. One of her IAC projects is a directory of foods authentic to Iowa and its heritage.

“These are the foods that we seek out to eat locally when we visit a particular place, purchase as souvenirs or gifts, or hunt down in specialty shops. Food is not just about sustenance,” Saltzman said.

Food, for her, has a story and the story behind her version of Eggplant Parmesan begins at home. “Basically, I cobbled together the recipe. My mother used to make eggplant Parmesan the traditional way — hers, anyway, and she’s Eastern European Jewish, but we always ate Italian/Sicilian food,” she said. That would mean draining, breading and then frying the eggplant before layering it with spaghetti sauce, ground lamb and either Provolone or mozzarella before topping it with Parmesan to bake.

But Saltzman wanted something easier, something vegetarian and something she could whip up quickly for that last minute call to a potluck.

“This recipe is great with pasta, a salad, and a loaf of crusty bread! Also, it can … Read More

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tomatoesThe story: TOMATO BASIL PIE

Fort Madison’s Martha Wolf, along with partner Sue Saunders, began selling baked goods off coffee tables in Sue’s basement back in 1992. From there, they opened the Ivy Bake Shoppe a bakery and cafe in downtown Fort Madison. The cafe became a national fixture when reporters covering the Iowa presidential caucuses eight years ago came in for a snack. Wolf and Saunders have since branched out to West Burlington, where they have a second Ivy in the Shottenkirk Superstore, and Wolf has recently published her first cookbook, “The Ivy Bake Shoppe Cookbook”.

But, some of Wolf’s favorite recipes have just walked in the shop. Such is the story of her summer favorite, Tomato Basil Pie, when a regular customer gladly shared her family’s recipe with the Ivy.

“This is a wonderful pie,” Wolf says, “However it is made more wonderful at The Ivy, because we only make it seasonally with fresh basil and home-grown tomatoes.”

From July through early October — if the growing season goes well — the Ivy bakes this sell-out. “And then people have to learn patience, and enjoy the winter and spring seasonal foods before the Tomato Basil Pie returns,” Wolf … Read More

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green beansThe Story: GREEN BEANS

Burlington-based chef Peter Harman wants everyone to enjoy the good life. Luxury, he says, is accessible to anyone and the most accessible of those is good food.

“I may not be able to drive the best car available, that’s out of my price range, but I can have the best steak,” he said.

“That’s accessible luxury.”

It’s a way of dining that Harman advocates at his Burlington restaurant, Martini’s Grille, and the recently opened Graze in Iowa City. Don’t even need to go out to enjoy Harman’s little luxuries. He launched the free Food Guru video cookbook and podcast on his Web site ( where he shares most of his signature dishes as well as cooking techniques on more than 100 videos. His audience has grown worldwide, thanks to a podcast link on iTunes where his Food Guru 90-Second Cooking School regularly makes the favorites list. This green bean recipe is also available in video form at .

The Recipe


1 pound fresh green beans
vegetable oil for frying
1 cup Dim Sum & Den Sum Sauce (below)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Dim Sum & Den Sum Sauce

1 tablespoon … Read More

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summer greensThe Story: SUMMER GREENS

Adin Wheat’s route to the kitchen was as organic as the food he favors.

“I was 13 years old when food captivated me,” said Wheat who was as a dishwasher in New Hampshire then, and moved up the line, eventually working with master chef Hiroshi Hayashi. Now he is the chef at Cafe Dodici on Washington’s town square, and specializes in Italian cuisine.

“Hayashi taught me skills with the knife, and a philosophy of food and life, clean living and spirituality. From there I chose jobs from the east to the west that could teach me the skills necessary to succeed in this profession” reflects Wheat. “In a simple twist of fate I’m now in Washington, having fun with my cooking, enjoying life, living my dream: Eat well, love well, be well.”

The Thursday farmers’ market outside his kitchen door is a trip to the mystical for Wheat.

“A truck pulled up, the bed brimming with fresh produce. Soon our town square was bustling with frantic farmers ready to set out their hard-won wares. I waited like a kid waiting for cookies to cool, strolling through the stands, weaving through the rows. What to get? What … Read More

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cherriesThe Story: CHERRIES

Veronica Green offers a buffet of baked goods at her Muscatine shop, Green’s Tea and Coffee. Some of the best, she finds, are created in moments of desperation, such as the beloved rustic apple-cherry tart.

“Our baker, Carol Birkhofer – or “Bakerhofer” as we lovingly call her – came up with this recipe because one day, after having already started an apple tart, she realized that she did not have enough apples. She looked around, thought about it, and added cherries,” Green said ” We find that our best invented desserts (and most of our menu items) are born of necessity and spontaneous creativity. Well, that and
sheer luck!”

Birkhofer and Green call the tart rustic because the crust has a hand-crafted look.: “It’s not made to look flawless,” Green said “Its elegance is found in the taste of fresh fruits and labor put into the dough. As my mother, Kathleen, puts it, ‘it looks like it is made with loving hands at home.’ “

The Recipe


**Cook’s note**
To time this right, prepare the fruits first and then the dough. While the dough is in the fridge, the fruits will still be baking … Read More

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shallotsThe Story: SHALLOTS

Jocelyn Engman, and her husband, Tim, came back to her family’s rural Washington County home from Chicago to farm with her father, Bill McCracken, and her sister, Alisha. Early advocates of community supported agriculture, they provide subscription shares as Choice Earth CSA.

Each week, as soon as the garden begins producing, the Engmans show up at the Washington Farmers’ Market with the bushels of their garden’s bounty. Since they specialize in heirloom organics, some of that bounty can sometimes be a mystery to consumers. Engman often tucks a sheet of recipes in each box to help her customers along.

“The best recipes I get are usually by word of mouth from friends or CSA members who grew up cooking in other countries and move around in their kitchen and even their garden in a way that’s completely different from my approach to what I’m cooking or what I’m growing,” Engman said.

One of those recipes is a shallot dressing she borrowed from fellow farmer Valerie Gamble, who runs Abundance CSA in Fairfield.

“She’s originally from France, and when she was giving me this recipe she told me that in France people never buy salad dressing. They make … Read More

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turnipThe Story: TURNIP GREENS

Before Kim Zesiger opened Redhead restaurant in Solon two years ago, she lived in Chicago for over a decade. But, by heritage and history, Kim is a southern gal through and through, having grown up in the heart of Tennessee. “I learned to cook from the matriarchs in my family.” She says. “I’m talking my grandmothers and great-aunts.”

Greens are one of Kim’s favorites, and during season, can often be found on the menu at Redhead. “The trick about greens is to cook them forever.” She advises. She’s been known to get the greens going over a low simmer, and forget about them until over five hours later. It turns out that slow and steady certainly win the greens race.

Kim’s preferred greens are the oft overlooked, yet flavorful, leafy tops of turnips. At Redhead, Kim sources as much as she can from local farms, and one of her regular haunts is Kroul Farm in Mt Vernon. When she found out they were feeding turnip greens to their chickens, she quickly got them to save the savory selection for her. “I told them turnip greens were my favorite and I would take their entire crop.” Needless … Read More

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