What I Ate Last Summer

 We’re finally getting a chill in the air and its time for me to sadly realize that SUMMER? Is over. I didn’t have nearly enough margaritas, ice cream cones or beach time; but I don’t think I ever will as those are my favorite summertime things.
 
As I start digging my boots out of the closet, here’s a recap of some the summer fun I’ve been eating having. The last time I checked in on summer ramblings was for June and July...so let’s see what happened the rest of the summer.

Get yourself a margarita and an ice cream cone…there’s alot to digest….

As always, let’s start with a cocktail. 

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That would be a beautiful Pimm’s Cup enjoyed at the Rookwood. I love their hand-crafted cocktails. This one was particularly amazing, as it had fresh rhubarb muddled in it. Just put me in a giant hat and point me towards the garden party, I’m ready.
 
From the refined to the down-home, my dear friend Pony and Her Lil Pony came to visit me in July. While here, we visited with her in-laws, who live a few counties away in Kentucky. They made a lunchtime feast of danggood Southern eating.
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Homemade macaroni salad, seriously good fried chicken (which was from Remke Biggs, who knew?), hashbrown casserole, homemade pulled pork and Southern style green beans. This feast made me want to roll my windows and cruise (name that song).
 
Not all my lunches are cheese and pork-soaked (although they’d be a helluva lot better if they were. Jason’s deli is new to me; but not a new restaurant. A deli and restaurant with an emphasis on “healthy food”, I stopped in with a friend for lunch one afternoon. 
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That would be their salmon sandwich on toasted multigrain bread with a side of steamed vegetables. Super light, fresh and filling. I was expecting a smoked salmon…but this was so so much better. Thank you, Jason, whoever you are. Best part? They offer free vanilla soft-serve ice cream cones with your order. Hooray for summer and ice cream!
 
Keeping with the seafood theme; this mysterious vat of unattractive was probably the best thing I ate all summer. 
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New Orleans Barbequed Prawns & Grits  from The Precinct. Seriously. Amazing. The shrimp was fresh and I loved their BBQ sauce, which was tangy, not overly sweet. The rich, creamy grits were the perfect “soak-up” for the  sauce. Delightful.
 
Amazing dinners can happen anywhere; as did this beautiful, light meal my friend PJ made for us. Deciding to have a girls dinner; she prepared a beautiful fresh salad with craisins, chicken and ribbons of freshly shaved Parmesan cheese alongside a yellow tomato soup. Food always tastes better when someone else makes it. Truth. 

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Food also better when someone delivers it; like this beautiful package of coconut macaroons. Coconut makes everything better. This is not up for debate.
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What is summertime without a State Fair? I tagged along with a few friends to the Indiana State fair.
Giant Corn Dogs? Tractor Supplies? Yes please. (warning: gratuitous kabob picture ahead).
 
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Why yes, that is me gnawing on a delicious, roasted Indiana-raised lamb kabob.  Did I mention I’m not a vegetarian? I just wanted to be clear. IMG_6678
Part of the fun of going to the State Fair was watching the Moto track racing. Boys and Girls on fast-as-hell motorcycles go zipping around a track. It was awesome to watch. IMG_6680
No fair is complete without SOMETHING DEEP-FRIED. Can I get Amen to that? Although we contemplated DEEP FRIED BUTTER – yes that’s a thing – we went a more tasty route.  IMG_6696
Deep-fried cookie dough balls, anyone? One was enough. My taste buds and arteries were full. IMG_0106
Not to be deterred, another friend got a deep-fried Twinkie and declared it “freaking awesome”. IMG_0096
Back in Ohio and back fitting into my jeans…lunch one afternoon was a luscious Chicken Banh Mi from Pho  Thang Long. I always love their Vietnamese pho so much, I can’t order anything else. However, I took the plunge and ordered their banh mi and I wasn’t disappointed. Deliciously marinated chicken with thinly sliced jalapeños, cilantro, cucumber and carrots all on a soft, chewy french baguette. WANT. NOW. IMG_6651
To help stop your drooling, take a sip of this beautiful cocktail.  IMG_6713
 
Found at A Tavola, one of my favorite restaurants in our OTR dining scene, I asked the lovely bartender to make me something “bubbly”. I got this gorgeous concoction with champagne, vodka, citrus and other deliciousness, happy.
 
Not quite as mind-altering as the above-cocktail; but this blender full of love is definitely mood-altering. Feeling the need for a healthy breakfast one morning – I loaded up my blender with everything in my fridge and hit the “Blend Until Awesome” button.IMG_6697
That would banana, raspberries, blueberries, flax meal, two big handful of spinach with about 1.5 cups of Almond-Coconut milk in there, plus ice. Makes a whole blenderful for a couple of people or for breakfast plus a snack later. Palmolive, optional.
 
A whole blenderful of smoothie is great when you’ve got houseguests, like I did! I was lucky enough to have my family come visit me for Cincinnati Oktoberfest! IMG_6839
We drank beers, ate soft pretzels with bier cheese, climbed a carnie-style rope ladder game and talked some guy out of his hat. Oktoberfest 2013 – a success!
 
Success was also these AMAZING almonds I found. photo-1
 
I adore both flavors. The coconut is a perfect sweet for after-lunch and the Soy & Wasabi so satisfying when you need something savory. Try them? (No Blue Diamond shill here, I just like ’em!) 
 
Finally, I leave you with a recipe…I know, SHOCKING for a food blog!

This would be a Kale Pesto and Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Flatbread. Before you run screaming from your computer in terror know that A) pesto can be made from any green and it tastes exactly like….pesto B) when brussels sprouts are caramelized, they become savory, little bites of love that operate as a vehicle for caramelized butter.
Sold yet?
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Kale Pesto and Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Flatbread
1 lb pizza dough or make your own (plus AP flour for the cutting board)
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 bag of Trader Joe’s shaved brussels sprouts (or thinly slice 1 lb of cleaned and de-stemmed fresh sprouts)
1/4 c. white wine or vegetable broth
1c. (or 2 c.) shredded fontina, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses (or a mix of all three)
Sea Salt, Black Pepper
1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed (optional)
1 c. Homemade Kale & Almond Pesto, recipe below

Pre-heat oven to 450.
In a deep skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add brussels sprouts and toss to coat. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and black pepper. Reduce heat, and cover with a lid to let the sprouts cook down for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the sprouts start to stick, deglaze the pan by adding wine or vegetable broth, being sure to bring up all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking with the lid off until the sprouts are tender but not mush and all the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off heat and set aside.Flour your hands and bread board. Roll dough out as thin as possible without ripping (about 1/2″ thickness). Gently transfer to a silpat or lightly greased baking sheet. Cover the entire pizza with the kale pesto. Generously slather on the brussels sprouts. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. (I like the greens to shine here; but add more cheese if you prefer).Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes (keep an eye on it; as it will burn quickly). Dress with fresh lemon juice and black pepper. Serves 4.

Kale & Almond Pesto
1/2 bag of chopped kale (or 1 large bunch of fresh kale, de-stemmed and chopped roughly)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 c. almonds
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2-3 tbs olive oil (more to taste) 

Add the first four ingredients to your food processor, whir until it forms a paste. Scrape down the sides, and pulse gently, streaming in the olive oil. (I prefer a dry pesto, just enough oil to hold it together but you can add more if you prefer). Serves 1 pizza with leftovers – perfect in breakfast scrambled eggs or a quick bruschetta

A pretty delicious summer overall; I can’t wait to see what the Fall menu is!

 

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