Thursday, September 16, 2010

At Home with Hippocrene

It is now officially fall--the kids are back in school, the days are getting shorter, and, like creatures preparing for hibernation, we start to crave heavier fare. The supermarket displays of watermelon and fresh berries are replaced by apples, pumpkins, and a variety of squash. I decided to pick a hearty, but simple dinner that would be a good transition from summertime barbecues and fish tacos. It didn't take long for me to select Judith Pierce Rosenberg's recipe for Swedish Meatballs from A Swedish Kitchen.

Perhaps this is because my previous experiences with Sweden's national dish have taken place at IKEA, their unofficial ambassador to the world, usually getting items before school starts. The trip for a new bookcase or chair is always made better by a meal of meatballs in thin gravy with red potatoes and lingonberry preserves. And of course, you can stop by the market on the way out and get the gravy mix, frozen meatballs, a jar of preserves, and perhaps a box or two of gingersnaps. But with this recipe that would be a terrible waste! However, hopefully you have a jar of those preserves lingering in the back of the fridge. If not, Rosenberg recommends substituting whole-berry cranberry sauce or red currant preserves. When forced to do without, I  prefer the latter.

Swedish Meatballs (Kottbullar)
(from A Swedish Kitchen page 141)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

At Home with Hippocrene

Both previous editions can be seen here.

After work one day I went to the farmer's market in Rockefeller Center (that will unfortunately be ending soon!) and tried to get some ideas for dinner. There were several different farms and businesses there, selling everything from homemade soaps and pies to fresh herbs and produce. After wandering around I eventually came up with spaghetti after spotting fresh basil and fried chicken with corn on the cob, and some tomatoes and cucumber for salads. One seller had okra, and after passing by a few times, I helped myself to a bag and started filling it up. I'd never made okra before but sometimes you just have to go for it!

So I hunted through the indexes of our cookbook library, trying to decide what kind of okra dish would be my guinea pig.  Previously we've enjoyed main entrees from the Philippines and India, so I wanted to try an altogether different cuisine. I discovered that okra is sometimes called "bride's fingers" in Afghan Food and Cookery, and that Greeks call them bamia in Regional Greek Cooking, but so do the Jewish-Iraqi (Mama Nazima's Jewish-Iraqi Cuisine).But I thought this simple preparation from Cooking with Cajun Women would go well with the fried chicken dinner I'd begun to fantasize about. They're in season from July to November, or until the first frost, so enjoy them while you can!