Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer fruits for great skin

According to a new book called "Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles," eating certain fruits now in season can help protect your skin from the damaging effects of the strong summer sun.
Yes, use your sunscreen, but check out what author Allison Tannis says about cherries, nectarines and watermelon.

Eat a daily handful and you may enjoy fresher, less puffy skin. It's all thanks to the inflammation-fighting anthocyanins and melatonin in cherries, writes Tannis. Melatonin may boost UV protection and cell growth as well -- two great ways to keep wrinkles at bay. Tart cherries tend to be highest in melatonin.

These smooth-skinned sisters of the peach provide a mini-spa's worth of nutrients that may help correct sun damage from the inside out, according to Tannis. They offer skin goodies like lycopene, lutein, niacin, copper, and vitamins A, C, and E. The A, C, and E trio also works to control inflammation and free radical damage in both the watery and the fatty layers of skin.

Nibbling on watermelon wedges has the power to refresh your face as much as your palate, thanks to the high water and lycopene content. Lycopene helps protect and preserve connections between skin cells so skin is tighter, smoother, and better able to retain moisture.

Update on Jean-Robert's new restaurant

We've all been waiting eagerly for the opening of Chef de Cavel's next Cincinnati restaurant.
My husband ran into Jean-Robert last weekend at Findlay Market and asked him how things are coming along at Jean-Robert's Table (713 Vine St.).
Chef says that the "relaxed French" eatery should open between mid-July and the beginning of August.
That's soon, and exciting!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Easy (& cheaper) way to eat more wild salmon

It's wild salmon season, but the stuff is expensive ($20 or more per pound) and hard to find. However, most nutritionists believe that it's so much healthier to get your fish oil and beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids from wild vs. farmed salmon.
The good news is that most canned salmon is from wild fish. Try these easy to prepare salmon cakes from canned, wild salmon -- I think you'll love them, and your kids should, too!

RECIPE: Easy Salmon Cakes (adapted from Eating Well magazine)
(4 servings)

2 T olive oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 T chopped fresh parsley
One 15-ounce can salmon, drained and patted to remove excess moisture and flaked with a fork (remove any skin or bones)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 T Dijon mustard
1 3/4 cup bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
For serving:
Creamy dill sauce (recipe below)
Lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray
Heat half the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute the onion and celery for about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the parsley and remove from heat.
Place salmon in a medium bowl; mix in egg and mustard, then add the cooked veggies, breadcrumbs and pepper. (You do not need salt because the salmon and mustard already are salted.) By hand, shape the mixture into 8 patties.
Bake the salmon cakes until they are golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. While the salmon is baking, make the sauce.

Creamy Dill Sauce:
Mix together 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayo, 1/4 cup plain yogurt, and one tablespoon each lemon juice, chopped dill and diced scallion.

Serve the salmon cakes with lemon wedges and the dill sauce.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Something different for your grill

I love to grill certain lettuces -- especially radicchio, and grilled romaine lettuce has become somewhat common on restaurant menus.
As is true with many vegetables, grilling lettuces downplays some of their bitterness and can bring out sweet flavors. This works really well with the red-colored radicchio.
For dressing, I tried a somewhat lightened version of blue cheese. Truly, the only way you can make that dressing really light is to use just a small amount of it on your salad!
Another variation on the topping for your grilled lettuces would be to omit the cheese and add lemon juice and a little honey, which would further offset any bitterness in the vegetables. Throw a few cherry or grape tomatoes on your salad if you want more variety in the flavors.
I personally like grilled radicc so much that I don't care about much else on my plate.

Recipe: Grilled Radicchio and Romaine Salad
Serves 4
1 large head radicchio, cut in half, limp outer leaves removed
1 head romaine lettuce, any limp outer leaves removed
Olive oil
For the dressing:
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup light or nonfat sour cream
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese OR 2 T lemon juice, 1 T honey and a dash of salt

Brush or spray lettuces with olive oil and place on a preheated, medium-hot grill. Turn every couple of minutes, allowing lettuce to char only slightly. Cooking time will vary depending on how hot your grill is, but it should take no more than 10 minutes to cook the lettuce on all sides. Remove to a platter and let cool for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
Cut the radicchio halves in half again, and cut the romaine into four pieces. Put one piece of each lettuce onto four salad plates.
Drizzle with half the dressing and serve, passing additional dressing at table.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bean Haus -- the Heartbeat of Findlay Market

This coffee mecca and bakery at the center of Findlay Market's main house is something I tend to take for granted. A steady stream of folks stops there in the AM for the good coffee, and there's always a line at the pastry case. I buy the coffee but usually skip breakfast pastries -- either because I've already had breakfast before hitting the market or I tend to frequent other vendors for scones or (rarely) croissants.
This week, though, I paid more attention to Bean Haus.
Its central location and constant bustle make it seem like the beating heart of Findlay Market. As I sat at a nearby table sipping coffee and observing the scene, I noticed trays of fresh baked goods emerging from a back room. It turns out that all the bread, sweets and other baked items are made fresh from scratch on the premises!
Above is a close-up shot of their just-made savory pastry -- I didn't catch the ingredient list but obviously it looks terrific.
If you're a marketgoer, you're probably way ahead of me about Bean Haus. If you only go occasionally, be sure to stop by next time you're there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dangerous food/drug interactions

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy, informative article detailing extensive scientific research into how many foods that we think of as healthy -- from black tea (my drink of choice after water, alas) to grapefruit, cranberries and salmon -- may be either diluting or magnifying the effects of commonly prescribed medicines.

Here's a link to the article; highlights include:

--Some foods block the body's ability to absorb certain medications, making the drugs significantly less effective;
--Other foods enhance the absorption of some drugs, leading to possible overdoses;
--Beer, wine, nuts, black pepper and widely used herbal supplements are among the foods mentioned in the article for their interactions with specific drugs, along with the others listed above;
--In general, serious interactions seem likely only if large quantities of the suspect foods are ingested, but that is not always the case.

I'm not sure whether we should be alarmed by this kind of research, but it's probably a good idea to keep following the scientific studies as they are completed. Most of these interactions have not been definitively researched, but studies are ongoing.

There's a very cool graphic with the WSJ story called "Bad Pairings," which I've copied above. To get the real thing, however, go to the article.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

July 4th Recipe: No-Cook Side Dish

This salad combines sweet corn, crunchy bread cubes and salty ham, all pulled together by a creamy dressing. It's light enough to be healthy, but also satisfying and filling.
You could almost make this a main course but I like it as a side with grilled fish, chicken or veggies. I also like to use frisee for my greens, but other lettuces or tender spinach works fine, too.
This recipe serves 8, but you can easily cut it in half for a small group, or double it if you're having a big cookout.
You can adjust the amount of ham -- add more, if you want a meatier, higher-protein salad.

Recipe: Ham and Corn Salad
(Serves 8)

For the dressing
2/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
4 T white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:
12 cups mixed salad greens, or frisee, or a combination
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 cups fresh corn kernels, from 2 ears of corn*
2 cups toasted croutons, preferably from whole-grain bread
1 cup diced ham
*After stripping off the husks and silk, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cob. Break clumps of corn kernels apart with a fork if desired.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, paprika, salt and pepper.
Add the remaining ingredients and toss well to coat.

At the Market

Our local growing season is hitting its stride. Yesterday many farmers and other vendors braved the horrid heat and humidity to offer their goodies at the Northside Farmers Market, which runs 4-7 Pm every Wednesday until at least September.
The baby squash, most with their blossoms still attached, were tender and quite lovely simply sauteed in a little olive oil with onion and garlic.
One or two vendors had several varieties of tomatoes, and local peaches also made an appearance. I didn't see corn yet, but perhaps some will show up on Saturday at Findlay Market.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Recipes for a July 4th bash

Here's to our midsummer holiday -- Happy Birthday America!
For the next week, I'll be posting some of my favorite recipes for an Independence Day celebration.
Meanwhile, check out the luscious ideas at Epicurious, including the foods pictured above.
Click here for a link.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Last night in Boston

Au revoir to our June vacation.
I need to get home and back into my better health habits, not to mention looking after my mom & our gardens.
On our final day in Boston, George did a lot of sightseeing around town, whereas I was lazy & didn't leave the Copley Square area. I hit all the shops and had lunch at Legal Seafoods, then back to the hotel room at 3 PM to read and relax.

We went out to the Atlantic Fish Company on Boyston Street for dinner, stopping first (and afterward) at the lovely Oak Bar in the classy Fairmont Hotel. The top photo is frozen peppermint pie with an oreo crust from AFC -- obviously, a healthy foodie's guilty pleasure. Got to cut that out starting tomorrow & lose the pounds that are hanging on my belly right now.

This morning we walked down leafy Commonwealth Avenue to a breakfast place.

Packing, showering and a cab to the airport. Home sweet home, can't wait!! I am so ready to get back, although George would rather stay on vacation all the time. (I'm way too much of a homebody to handle perpetual travel.)

Cape Cod was definitely the best -- Boston, I can tear myself away without too much difficulty.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vacation fun

Here are some photos of us at or near the beaches of Cape Cod.
We left this morning, alas, and are in Boston for a short while before returning home. Our week on Cape Cod was one of our best vacations ever -- way more "toes up" than we usually do.
Saturday we went to the Cape Cod National Seashore -- miles and miles of oceanfront beaches protected from development, much of it open to the public for fun and frolic.

On the way we stopped at a casual seafood restaurant called Moby Dick's that we all loved. I had a perfect crabcake, my husband had a grilled cod sandwich, and our friends had an oyster poor boy. It was all marvelous. Moby Dick's is on Highway 6 in Wellfleet, should you be lucky enough to find yourself on the Cape.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Abba ("father")

Another quite lovely meal on Cape Cod....this at Abba, in Orleans.

We went with friends who drove over from Hartford to spend the weekend -- pals from college days. (Today we head for the seashore)

We had good fish dishes, some unusual Israeli wine -- a cab and a chard -- and a nice lime mousse/rhubarb parfait -- all pictured.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Nantucket Dining

We took a high speed ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket Island yesterday, arriving by 10 am.

First we headed to the fascinating Whaling Museum, and arrived in time for an absorbing presentation -- lecture with video -- about the history of the whaling industry in this part of the world.

Bottom line on that: I'm so glad they stopped hunting and slaughtering whales. Interestingly enough, though, it was mostly about the oil they got from whales, and it was the discovery of crude oil that saved the whales. But that same stuff is now killing the Gulf.

Later, we also took a walking tour of the town of Nantucket.

But this is a foodie blog, so quickly I'll tell about the fine dinner we had at a place right near the ferry wharf. The restaurant is Straight Wharf Restaurant, and we enjoyed every dish.

My husband has been especially lucky in recent days with the dishes he's ordered. At Straight Wharf, he had a white gazpacho (made with almonds, among other ingreds) that he pronounced the best he'd ever had. That was followed by a nice halibut (pictured, below).

My entree was the best I've had this week....diver scallops, perfectly seared for a crunchy exterior, and accompanied by some very wonderful veggies, including fiddlehead ferns and fava beans.

I did sin at the end of the meal, with a delicious panna cotta. As usual on vacation, I must be picking up a couple of pounds and it's starting to feel noticeable. But also as usual, I won't be able to deal with it until we return. Although I'm getting an hour's exercise walk almost every morning, it's not enough to make up for the extra calories -- coming from food, food, more food and booze, too.

Oh well.........that's how it goes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More seafood, not as stellar

We tried the Impudent Oyster in Chatham--still on Cape Cod.

It was not a patch on the terrific Brewster Fish House.

Photos show our entrees -- salmon on top of an arugula salad that had long-stem artichokes (that's what sold me), and a cod and crab dish that just had too much going on.

Service was mediocre, as was the wine list.

If this place was ever any good, its better days seem to have passed.

Today we're heading out to Provincetown to shop and browse galleries, then back to the town of Dennis for dinner at a recommended resto.

Cape Cod is adorable -- very quaint and homey -- and so much cooler than we are used to in June. It's about 70 degrees now and won't get much warmer. That's refreshing!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Brewster Fish House

We found a first-rate dining spot on Cape Cod, which one of our guidebooks touted as "the best on the Cape," according to some of its fans. We're too inexperienced to weigh in on that argument, but this definitely was our best meal of the trip so far.

It's a tiny dining room with a small bar where you can eat, too. No reservations, so the locals advise getting there early or planning for a long wait. We did arrive just after 6:00, had a drink at the bar and waited only a half hour for our table.

In addition to the guidebook, a local wine store geek recommended this place, too, for its wine list as well as its great food.

It's the Brewster Fish House, and we loved everything we tried. Shown is a special salad with local lettuces and carrot swirls, a fabulous tuna carpaccio, baked cod (not surprisingly on Cape Cod, a delicacy to seek out) and a perfect crab cake.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eating out on the road: Find Italian!

On travels in central Europe, we learned that when the meat-and-sausage based German or Austrian food got to be too much, seek out the neighborhood Italian restaurant to get a dose of healthier cuisine.

Even the most basic Italian places have such things as arugula salads, vegetarian pasta dishes and/or seafood entrees.

Here on Cape Cod, we needed a break from "family style seafood" restaurants, with few or no vegetable sides (cole slaw and French fries don't cut it) and too much fried food.

Sure enough, the local Italian eatery, Agro Dolce, did the trick.

We split a salad with lots of fresh arugula, strawberries and pecans, followed by farfalle with artichokes and mushrooms and a grilled free-range chicken breast over spinach. Along with some delicious Gavi-di-Gavi wine, it was the exact meal we needed.

Back to seafood today, though. We're heading for a restaurant in Harwich Port that specializes in the style of lobster roll that we crave. Instead of the cold lobster salad roll that many places serve, the one we've spotted also offers hot lobster with butter on a toasted roll.

Um, no, that is not the healthy foodie's best hour.....but it's something you can only get in New England so when in know.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lobstah! and other seashore delights

We are in Boston and heading to Cape Cod for a week in Brewster, MA.

Seafood is king up here. Last night we ate at the oldest restaurant in continuing service in the U.S., the Union Oyster House in Boston. We had a drink at the oldest bar in the U.S., the Green Dragon. What do I mean by old? The Green Dragon -- frequented by such Revolutionary War luminaries as John Hancock and Samuel Adams-- opened in 1637, and the Oyster House in 1826.

They were both fun and really beautiful places--and very popular. (We waited quite awhile for a table at the Oyster House)

I'll be posting with photos some of our best meals, and tales of ferry rides to Nantucket, reunion gatherings with college pals, etc.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer wine delights

When the weather turns hot, my thoughts turn to rose wine (among other things!).

It always reminds me of Nice and Provence, in southern France, where some of the world's best roses are produced. It's the perfect type of wine with that seafood-and-veggie based cuisine. A cuisine I love perhaps above all others, by the way.

In any case, pictured above is my favorite go-to rose, made in Argentina by a winery called Crios. They also make my fave torrontes, a fragrant white wine that you should try if you haven't yet. Both of these wines retail for about $15 in the Cincinnati market, and they are widely available nationwide.

Want more summer wine ideas? Check out this article on the Epicurious website, which picks five widely available, inexpensive warm weather quaffers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Strawberry Heaven

Local strawberries are on their way out, but several vendors at our markets still have a few. And the California crop was humongous this year, so we do have a bounty of these berries on hand.

Since they are so widely available, there's no reason to settle for inferior baskets of these sweet treats. Here are some tips about choosing strawberries, from an article we (Mary Ann Barnes and I) wrote last spring for Whole Living Journal:

Strawberries: How to select the best ones

Have you ever been seduced into buying a carton of big, fat, shiny strawberries only to take them home and feel like you’re eating damp cardboard? Experiences like that make us eye those bright red temptresses with a little more skepticism the next time we cross the produce aisle of the grocery. However, there are a few tips to selecting strawberries to assure your family the best taste and nutritional benefit.

The first word of advice is to look for fruit that is not damaged, soft, or have liquids on the bottom. Strawberries do not ripen once picked. Make certain the red coloration extends all the way to a snug green cap of leaves.

Mendelian genetics have been used by local farmers and agribusiness to improve crop production by making produce more resistant to pests and selecting out the specimens that yield the largest volume and quality of fruit. At times, these genetic modifications have come at the expense of taste and nutrition.

Fortunately, the battalions of powerful antioxidants that make strawberries so legendary in nutrition circles are also the source of the wonderful sweet fragrance that awakens our senses. You can find me shamelessly sniffing at each variety proffered at local groceries. If they smell good to the nose, they’ll be even better on the palate.

Also here's a re-post of a favorite spring salad of mine that uses strawberries and another ingredient now at the markets, arugula.

Recipe: Arugula salad with strawberries and walnuts

(Serves 4)


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons walnut oil

3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 cups arugula, rinsed and patted dry

2 cups strawberries, sliced

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

½ cup shaved good quality Parmesan cheese, or more to taste


Combine oils and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk vigorously to blend.

Add salt and pepper to dressing and set aside.

Combine arugula, strawberries and walnuts in a large bowl and add dressing, tossing to coat arugula. Divide into salad bowls or plates, sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Try this instead of potatoes

Looking for a hearty, healthy side dish that's more nutritious and less fattening than potatoes, pasta or rice? Try barley -- it's a whole grain that's quick cooking and easy to pair with other ingredients to accompany fish, poultry or meat. If you add a little protein, such as beans or chicken, it's a meal in itself.

Recipe: Barley and Black Bean Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course over mixed greens

1 cup barley, cooked according to package directions
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced, sauteed in a nonstick pan in a little oil until browned
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large or 2 small zucchini, diced
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut into fourths
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or basil
2 T lime juice
1-2 T olive oil
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper, to taste (if needed)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Adjust seasonings, as needed.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sometimes a body needs peanut butter

When a PB craving comes upon me, a lovely way to satisfy it is to make this sandwich.

Generously spread a couple tablespoons of natural peanut butter on two slices of fresh multigrain or whole wheat bread. (Avoid PB with added salt, and choose smooth or chunky, whichever you prefer.)

Add very thin slices of apple, sliced banana and a drizzle of honey.

Carefully slice the sandwich in half. Be sure to have a vegetable side -- either a small salad or crudites, which I always have on hand. My accompaniment is sugar snap peas and sliced orange bell pepper.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Not your everyday dinner on the grill...

...but we scarfed it up and licked our fingers.

This is the Copper River salmon, grilled with just salt, pepper and garlic powder.

The black blobs on the plate are grilled radicchio -- brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper added after cooking. I'm not crazy about raw radicc but grilling makes it scrumptious.

I also briefly grilled slices of that Blue Oven ciabatta, also brushed with a little but of olive oil.

Because dinner is not complete without something green, we had steamed local broccoli with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. And some delicious French rose.

It was a great meal--healthy, and simple. Summertime!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mayberry "A Grassroots American Eatery"

I learned about Mayberry through their sister establishment at Findlay Market, World Food Bar, which is an interesting gourmet-to-go spot inside the main market building. Both it and the tiny downtown restaurant, Mayberry, are the brainchildren of Owner/Chef Josh Campbell, a native Cincinnatian who went to culinary school in Florida, cooked down there at some impressive restaurants, and moved back to cook for the hometown crowd.

Within the past week, I had lunch at the restaurant (915 Vine Street, next door to Hamburger Mary's) on Friday afternoon then went back for dinner Saturday night.

The place has just three tables, and about 12-14 additional seats at counters around the edge of the room. There's no liquor license, so it's BYO -- something we always appreciate (not paying restaurant markup prices for wine, that is).

The turkey sandwich at Mayberry on my lunch visit was the best doggone sandwich I've had in eons, and my friend adored her massive and deliciously dressed veggie burger, as well.

Above are some shots of the food at dinner. I thought the best-conceived dish was the bottom photo -- mahi with bok choy and a delicious slice of melon -- a winning combo of flavors. Also shown, top to bottom, are pasta with ramps, garlic and a pheasant egg; endive and caramelized onion tart; sea scallops with carrots and mushrooms; and the aforementioned mahi. We liked the tart and the pasta, and while the scallops were nice, we thought the "bacon date jam" that went with them didn't quite come off. Otherwise though, it was all good. Really good.

The dinner menu Monday-Thursday is the same as the lunch menu, but on Friday and Saturday evenings there's a special tapas menu, and that's what we had. The weekend dinner menu changes every week, and you can look on the website to see what they'll be serving.

No reservations, so go early or take your chances on having to wait. Maybe someday they'll move to a larger location -- this one is amazingly cramped. But the food is high quality and not at all expensive, which makes up for all that.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wild Salmon Season Begins

Since I've sworn off farmed salmon -- even the organic version -- the start of wild salmon season is especially welcome.

Today at Findlay Market, Luken's has Copper River salmon for $22 a pound. That's steep, compared to the farmed stuff, but it's so healthy and tastes great.

I am old enough to remember when salmon was a rare treat because it was expensive. That was before salmon farming and the resulting $8 a pound "Atlantic salmon" or other similarly named products.

If you're not convinced that farmed salmon is a health hazard, click here. It's from Dr. Andrew Weil, whom I consider a credible source. Also check out the blog Farmed and Dangerous. And here's a site that goes into detail about what "organic farmed salmon" is.

Meanwhile, wild salmon season only lasts a couple of months, at most. Look for it at Whole Foods, Jungle Jim's, and seafood specialty stores. (Best prices tend to be at Jungle Jim's.)