Open Monday through Saturday 7:00 am to 9:00 pm • Sunday 8:00 am to 9:00 pm

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thank you...

...for another great year! Michael and I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, prosperous, exciting, loving, silly, creative, inspired, peaceful .... well, just all of the good things a year can be.

We will see you on Monday, January 4, 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

Panino Special
The Sicilian, grilled panino with turkey, pepperoni, pizza sauce, and melty cheese.

Soups
Chicken Chili Stew Creamy Mushroom (vegetarian)
...............

An unexpected consequence of opening the cafe is that people quite cooking for me. It's sad, really, but I seldom get a box of homemade cookies and dinner invitations are almost always offered with qualifications. So how excited was I to get my first homemade baklava for the holidays?! It's doubly special since it came from an employee. Ren rocks the baklava!

















Speaking of employees, have you seen our latest?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Monday

Panino Special
The Sicilian, grilled panino with turkey, pepperoni, pizza sauce, and melty cheese.

Soups:
Chicken Chili Stew
Creamy Mushroom (vegetarian)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

SNOW DAY!

While I'm enjoying the snow from my living room, the intrepid staff of Carma's Cafe is whipping up hot drinks, Chicken Chili Stew and all manner sweet things. Prop your sleds outside and come in to warm up!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Better late than never....

I'm making a really hearty Chicken Chili Stew that smells crazy good. We also have Curried Cauliflower Pistachio Soup. We also have The Rowhouse Sandwich - sundried tomato/basil cream cheese, sprouts, cucumber, red onion, Swiss cheese on toasted ciabatta.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday Specials

Harvest Split Pea Soup (vegan)
Pumpkin Black Bean Soup (vegan)

The panini specials are The Greenhouse - hummus, guacamole, havarti, cucumber & sprouts, Turkey Guacamole - turkey, guacamole, havarti & tomato

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday Specials

Tomato Basil Soup (vegetarian)
Harvest Split Pea Soup (vegan)

The panini specials are The Greenhouse - hummus, guacamole, havarti, cucumber & sprouts, Turkey Guacamole - turkey, guacamole, havarti & tomato and Curried Parmesan Tuna Salad.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Specials

Tortilla Soup
Cauliflower Pepperjack Soup.

The panini specials are BBQ Chicken Breast & Provolone & Curried Parmesan Tuna Salad.

Peppermint Mocha Lattes and Peppermint Hot Cocoa.

........

Well for anyone that hasn't heard I "fixed" our panini machine over the weekend. Sparks flew, a 220v breaker was destroyed, several frantic phone calls were made and even the professionals could not resuscitate it. So we've cobbled together a series of home machine until the new one arrives. Thanks for your patience if things seem a bit slower and try one of the no-grill sandwich specials.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hello......ello...ello...ello...ello...ello

Where are you?! This place is Dead City and I just made a killer Cauliflower Pepperjack Soup. The panini special is The Sicilian - turkey, pepperoni, provolone and a sauce made with pickled Italian vegetables.

We also are rolling out Peppermint Mocha Lattes and Peppermint Hot Cocoa.

We've got just the stuff to warm you up, 'cause baby it's cold outside!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Warm memories

Panini Roast Turkey Stuffed Panini - all homemade, with cranberry sauce, sausage dressing, and gravy.
The Sicilian Panino - turkey, pepperoni, provolone and a sauce made with pickled Italian vegetables.

Soups
Gypsy Soup -- a sweet potato stew with lots of veggies and north african spicing (not spicy). (vegan)

Borscht (vegetarian)
..........................

Nothing evokes comfort food cravings and memories like the bitter cold blast of winter. I suppose folks from more temperate climates have more subtle triggers, but for me the fourth of July is potato salad and country ham biscuits; falling leaves mean apple butter and pumpkins; winter is bean soup, macaroni and cheese and gravy (on anything - biscuits, potatoes, rice, toast....); and Christmas is brandy-soaked fruit cake and sparking Christmas cookies made with fresh lemon zest.

A hearty cassoulet with crusty bread, a snifter of nice cognac, a fondue or racqlette with friends - all these I would share with you today (preferably by a fireplace), but the food memories that touch my primordial foodie brain are not so swanky. So on this frigid December day I share with you recipes from my childhood. In the left-hand cabinet behind the kitchen table, Granny Duff kept a Tupperware® container of each of these mixes. Go to the store and get the stuff together soon. On the next snow day stop by the cafe for a hearty breakfast of oatmeal with granola, hit Wyman Park for some sledding then go home to dry off and warm up with some Russian Tea and Hot Chocolate (maybe stir some of the hot chocolate mix into a mug of coffee oe heck, splash some cheap brandy in the Russian Tea!).

Russian Tea
3 c. instant tea
3 c. Tang
1 1/2 c. pre-sweetened lemonade
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. cloves
3 tsp. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients well and store in an airtight container. Stir 2 teaspoons of mix into one cup of hot water. A stand mug will take a heaping tablespoon. Note: all of the powdered drinks are available sugar-free and the sugar may be replace with Splenda®.

Hot Chocolate
2 lb Nestle Quick
8 qt box powdered milk
1/2 c. powdered sugar
6 oz Cremora

Mix all ingredients (I like to sift these together) and store in an airtight container. Combine 3-4 tablespoons of mix and hot water in a mug. This also makes cold chocolate milk, just add cold water or milk and stir well.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday Specials

Roast Turkey Stuffed Panini, all homemade, with cranberry sauce, sausage dressing, and gravy.

Gypsy Soup -- a sweet potato stew with lots of veggies and north african spicing (not spicy). (vegan)

Roast Butternut Soup (vegetarian)

Borscht (vegetarian) later today

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanksgiving All Over Again

In a panini we stuff sausage dressing, roasted turkey breast (yes real turkey), homemade cranberry sauce, with a nice big side of homemade gravy.

Gypsy Soup -- a sweet potato stew with lots of veggies and north african spicing (not spicy). (vegan)

Roast Butternut Soup (vegetarian)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday Specials

PANINI
Spicy Jack w/ Turkey, caramelized red onions, habanero jack cheese, and zebra sauce
Turkey Guacamole w/ tomato and havarti
The Greenhouse, cucumber, hummus, sprouts, and guacamole on health bread

SOUPS
16-Bean (vegan)
Potato Leek (vegetarian)
Roasted Butternut (vegetarian)(later in the day)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Specials

PANINI
Turkey Guacamole w/ tomato and havarti
The Greenhouse, cucumber, hummus, sprouts, and guacamole on health bread
Pork Loin w/ cranberry chutney

SOUPS
16-Bean (vegan)
Potato Leek (vegetarian)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saturday Specials

Panini Special
Roasted Pork Loin with Cranberry Chutney
The Sicilian Panino -
turkey, pepperoni, provolone and a sauce made with pickled Italian vegetables.

Soups
African Peanut
(vegetarian)
16 Bean Soup (vegan)

ETA: And THE holiday shopping event of the season is today! Don't miss the Charm City Craft Mafia's Holiday Heap at St John's Church on St Paul and 27th.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tasty Thursday Treats

Panini Special
Roasted Pork Loin with Cranberry Chutney
The Blue Ribbon
- turkey, farmer's bacon, tomato & herb bleu cheese aoli

Soups
French Chicken and Red Wine Stew (Coq Au Vin)
African Peanut
(vegetarian)

...and Kasey made Gingerbread Butterscotch Scones.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Riddle me this.....

Panini Special
The Blue Ribbon - turkey, farmer's bacon, tomato & herb bleu cheese aoli

Soups
Creamy Tomato Basil (vegetarian)
Pumpkin Black Bean (vegan)

.... how can the drive to Natural Bridge take five hours and the drive back take nine when there is no traffic? Well this answer is Carma and Michael did the "stop, shop and stroll" all the way home. There is a great book fair just outside of Harrisonburg that is held six times a year, one of which is always Thanksgiving weekend so this has become a bit of a ritual. This year in addition to many cookbooks I also got some DYI construction references and a biography of Colette by Judith Thurman. We staggered out of there under the extreme weight of our purchases.

My youngest brother is getting married next September so some time was spent scouting locations for his rehearsal dinner (and I think it's going to be crazy outrageous fun, but the details will have to wait). And finally, we had a sweet little dinner at Johnny Appleseed in New Market, Virginia.

There was much food and fun on this trip so make sure to check back.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday Specials

Panino Special
Tuna Curry Parmesan

Soup Specials
Pumpkin Black Bean
Creamy Tomato Basil

Monday, November 30, 2009

Welcome Back

Panino Special
Tuna Curry Parmesan

Soup Specials
Pumpkin Black Bean
Creamy Tomato Basil

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You're at the top of my list!

Cafe will be closing early on Wednesday and remain closed until Monday.

Things are slowing down for the holiday weekend and Michael and I are heading into the mountains of southwestern Virginia to visit my family. For the past five years, you have been at the top of my "what I'm thankful for" list. As the economy struggles, business close and we all reel at the cost of health care and gas prices, Carma's Cafe is experiencing growth! My father always said grace was like grits in South Caroline - you get it even if you don't ask for it. This year I am particularly aware of my good fortune and the people who have made it so - my best friend and business partner, several generations of fun and enthusiastic employees, our customers who have become more like friends and family and the generous divine spark that moves the fates and brought it all together - it's so much more than just a cafe.

Be safe and have a wonderful, festive, outrageous Thanksgiving!


Cranberry Salad
1 bag fresh cranberries, pulsed in a food processor
2 finely chopped red apples, unpeeled
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 1/2 cups seedless green grapes, halved
1/2 cup raisins (I like golden)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 (8 oz) cartons vanilla yogurt


Mix all ingredients except yogurt and chill. Just before serving stir in the yogurt. Kids love it!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Specials

Minestrone alla Milanese (vegan)
Creamy Mushroom Soup (vegetarian)


Spicy Jack Panini

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Specials

Cherry Crisp French Toast
Orange Date Scones

Minestrone alla Milanese (vegan)
French Lentil Soup

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Specials

SOUPS:

Romanesco Parmesan -- a creamy soup with Romanesco style cauliflower, potatoes, and parmesan. (not vegetarian)

French Lentil (vegan).

PANINO:

Spicy Jack -- turkey caramelized onions spicy habanero jac cheese and zebra sauce.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Specials

SOUPS:

Romanesco Parmesan -- a creamy soup with Romanesco style cauliflower, potatoes, and parmesan. (not vegetarian)

African Peanut, a sweet potato soup with curry and vegetables and of course some peanut (vegetarian).

PANINO:

Roasted local apples with brie and pecans.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CSA season ends


Today's Soups are Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (vegetarian) and African Peanut Soup (vegetarian). I'm also making a soup with the Romanesco Broccoli I got from the CSA this week. They call it Cosmic Cauliflower for obvious reasons.

We still have some of the Weenie Panini (which got very nice review from customers) and really, is one day enough to properly celebrate such a great guy?

Yesterday was our last pick up of CSA from One Straw Farm. Mostly, it has been a positive experience. Usually I shop for ingredients with a more-or-less specific purpose in mind - to make soup or to grill for example. I found myself approaching the CSA pick-up each Tuesday with a completely different paradigm. Typically I would pick one main vegetable - often one that I had little or no experience preparing, then go about doing a bit of research online. This approach has made me a better and more adventurous cook. Dishes I probably would have never tried turned out fantastic like the roasted chard salad.

There are a lot of farms that offer CSA (believe it or not, there is a wool CSA in New England that raises fleece for fiber artists). Look around and see if there isn't one you'd like to join.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another birthday!

Happy birthday, Michael!

To mark this special occasion I'm making a cafe variation of one of his favorite foods - the hot dog. Yep, today's sandwich special is The Weenie Panini - roasted 100% beef hot dogs, homemade chili and cheddar cheese stuffed inside a ciabatta sub roll.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (vegetarian)
African Peanut Soup
(vegetarian)
Sweet Potato Dahl Soup (vegetarian)

By unspoken consent, Michael and I aren't specific about how long we've been friends, but suffice it to say it has been a long time. Early on I was regaled stories of the mythical Teo's hot dogs of his youth. These mini dogs are served on buns from a local bakery and are eaten 3-4 at a time. "With the works" means onions, mustard and their signature chili heaped on mini red hot dogs nestled in a soft steamed bun. Paired with the locally brewed Genesee beer and a bag of chips, it sounds like a real treat and the kind of place visitors are unlikely to patronize unless taken there by a local. Bring cash.

I've never been to Teo's but a pilgrimage to Pittsfield, Massachusetts to try these weenies seems inevitable.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Specials

African Peanut Soup (vegetarian)
Sweet Potato Dahl Soup (vegetarian)

Pesto Caprese Panini - pesto, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, provolone and mozzarella grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A very November day....

....cold, wet and rainy.

Back by popular demand,
The Nutter Butter! - peanut butter, bananas and either bacon or granola grilled on a ciabatta sub roll. I must confess, this is strictly a "give the people what they want" special.

The Blue Ribbon

turkey, bacon from Springfield Farms, tomato, and Ren's herb-blue cheese aioli.

Soup:
Sweet Potato Dahl - sweet potatoes, apples and yellow split peas seasoned with cardamom, garam masala, cayenne and corriander. Both sweet and spicy. (vegetarian)
Pumpkin Black Bean (vegan)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday

Panino Special:

The Blue Ribbon
turkey, bacon from Springfield Farms, tomato, and Ren's herb-blue cheese aioli.

Soup:

Pumpkin Black Bean (vegetarian)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Specials

Potato Leek Soup
Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

The Torpedo is back! - spicy Italian sausage, provolone and pepperinade sauce stuffed in a ciabatta sub roll.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Specials

Smoked Sausage & White Bean Soup

Gypsy Soup
- a sweet potato and tomato based vegetable soup that is one of our most popular soups.

The Spicy Jack Panini -turkey, grilled red onion, zebra sauce (a horseradish mayo spread) and a very spicy jack cheese grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Cafe!

Smoked Sausage & White Bean Soup

Gypsy Soup
- a sweet potato and tomato based vegetable soup that is one of our most popular soups.

The Greenhouse Panini - hummus, guacamole, havarti cheese, sprouts, cucumbers on health bread.

The Turkey Quacamole Panini - turkey, guacamole, havarti cheese, and tomato on a ciabatta sub roll.

Today is the cafe's fifth birthday! On November 9, 2004 Michael and I hung out the specials board and unlocked the door. It was exciting and terrifying in equal measure. For the first several weeks I barely poked my head outside of the kitchen and carefully scrutinized every dish as it was brought into the sink.
More often than not, the only thing left on the plate was an olive pit!

So five years later I'm happy to report that customers come back smiling and plates still come back empty. And we are experiencing another "growth spurt". In the spring of 2010 Carma's Cafe will open a "grab & go" location on St. Paul Street, just around the corner (and in the same building) from our current location. And while we don't gain any additional indoor seating, we will get additional outdoor seating, and shift the take-out traffic to the new location which should help with the congestion.

Before the first paint brush was lifted or the first tile laid, Michael and I sat outside on a crisp spring day looking down into the windows and imagining our customers. And you know what? It was you! All ages, all ethnicities, all levels of education; college professor sitting next to a 20-something spoken word artist; three generations having breakfast during family weekend at Hopkins. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the outpouring of love and appreciation that you brought in with you. It's a little awe inspiring, very humbling and very much felt.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Welcome to the parents

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones
Cinnamon Raisin French Toast Casserole
Asparagus, Spinach and Sweet Pepper Strata with Swiss Cheese

Turkey Wrap
with farmer's bacon, avocados, fresh avocado & bleu cheese dressing and mixed greens.

Soups:
Smoked Sausage & White Bean Soup
Roasted Butternut Squash
(vegetarian)
Cuban Black Bean


Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Specials

Zucchini Avocado Panino
smokey marinated grilled zucchini with fresh avocado dressing, roasted red peppers, farm fresh spinach greens, and provolone

Soups:
Roasted Butternut Squash (vegetarian)
Cuban Black Bean (vegan)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Zucchini Avocado Panino
smokey marinated grilled zucchini with fresh avocado dressing, roasted red peppers, farm fresh spinach greens, and provolone

Soups:

Cuban Black Bean (vegan)
Broccoli Cheddar Chowder (vegetarian)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday

Spicy Jack Panino
turkey, caramelized red onions, habanero jack cheese, zebra sauce

Spicy Jeremy Panino
hummus, caramelized red onions, habanero jack cheese, zebra sauce

SOUPS:

Jalapeno Corn Chowder
Creamy Mushroom
both vegetarian

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday

Lots of breakfast baked goods including scones and ginger muffins with gran marnier frosting.

and a Tuscan Black Bean Strata

Soups:

Borscht - vegan
Creamy Mushroom - vegetarian

Panini:
The Torpedo is back! Italian sausage and pepperonata stuffed in a ciabatta sub roll.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Specials

Soups:
Borscht - vegan
Cauliflower Potato Curry - vegetarian
Harvest Split Pea- vegan

Panini:
The Torpedo is back! Italian sausage and pepperonata stuffed in a ciabatta sub roll.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Specials

Soups:
Harvest Split Pea (vegan)
Cauliflower Potato Curry - vegetarian

Panini:
Curried Parmesan Tuna Salad

There are also Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones and Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Specials

Soups:
Cauliflower Potato Curry (inspired by Alu Gobi Masala, my favorite Indian dish)
Potato Leek - both are vegetarian

Panini:
Green Gobbler - turkey, guacamole, havarti, red onion and mesclun on a toasted ciabatta sub roll

Spicy Jack - turkey, grilled red onions, very spicy jack cheese and zebra sauce (horseradish mayo spread) grilled on a ciabatta sub roll

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Specials

Spicy Jack Panino --
Turkey, Caramelized Red Onions, Habanero Jack Cheese, and Zebra Sauce

Soups:

Morrocon Chick Pea
Tomato Basil (while it lasts)
Potato Leek

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Specials

Soups:
Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup
Creamy Tomato Basil (vegetarian

Panini:
Pesto Caprese

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Sophie!

Breakfast Special: French Toast Jumble - french toast casserole made with cinnamon raisin, blueberry & egg bagels, a layer of raspberry cream filling, and a handfull of blueberries and chocolate chips. Oh yea, sometimes it's great to be a grown-up.

We also have Spicy Sausage & Cheddar Scones.

Today's Soups are Mulligatawny - an anglo-indian chicken soup and Creamy Tomato Basil.

Happy Birthday to Miss Sophie who is having a "Geology Rocks!" birthday party today. I find it encouraging there is a little girl who chose geology as her party theme and I was delighted to make her a pile of geodes cake.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fabulous Fall Friday

Soup: Creamy Tomato Basil (vegetarian), the Anglo-Indian chicken soup Mulligatawny and Potage (poe-tazh)- a thick French vegetable soup (ours is vegetarian, traditionally there might be scrapes of all sorts of meat).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Going international! Japanese greens and French soup

Sandwich Special: Curried Parmesan Tuna Salad with Mizuna (a spiky Japanese green)

Soup: Potage (poe-tazh)- a thick French vegetable soup (ours is vegetarian, traditionally there might be scrapes of all sorts of meat). This is the first time I've had this soup and it is delicious! It's also loaded with some of the more unusual root vegetables - celeriac and jerusalem artichokes to name a couple.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Specials

Spicy Jack Panini - turkey, grilled red onions, spicy jack cheese and zebra sauce.
Tortilla Soup and Cauliflower Pistachio Soup, both of which are vegetarian.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Manic Monday

Spicy Jack Panini - turkey, grilled red onions, spicy jack cheese and zebra sauce.
Tortilla Soup and Cauliflower Pistachio Soup, both of which are vegetarian.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A comfort food kind of day.....

Breakfast Special:
Sausage Gravy on Cracked Pepper Scones
(okay, so it's really just biscuits & gravy, but it's really, really good biscuits and gravy!)

And Chocolate Chocolate Chip Scones

Veggie Grill Panino with hummus, red onions, grilled zucchini and eggplants, and swiss cheese.

BBQ Chicken served up in toasted ciabatta with ooey gooey mozzarella. Tangy !

SOUPS:
Cauliflower Pistachio (vegetarian)
Seems to be everyone's favorite this year Pumpkin Black Bean (vegan).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Friday Friday

Veggie Grill Panino with hummus, red onions, grilled zucchini and eggplants, and swiss cheese.

BBQ Chicken served up in toasted ciabatta with ooey gooey mozzarella. Tangy !

SOUPS:

Seems to be everyone's favorite this year Pumpkin Black Bean (vegan).

Split Pea (also vegan).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rainy Thursday Specials

Soups:
Autumn Chowder
Split Pea Soup (vegan)

Panini:
Nutter Butter - peanut butter, banana & bacon
BBQ Chicken with Gooey Mozzarella

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Specials

"Stuffed" Pork Loin Panini with Gravy - pork loin on a toasted roll with gravy - yum!
The Rowhouse sundried-tomato-basil cream cheese, crunchy sprouts, cucumbers, sliced red onion, swiss cheese all on a toasted ciabatta sub roll

Autumn Chowder with potatoes, corn, squash, bacon and cheddar cheese
Creamy Mushroom Soup
Tomato Fennel Soup

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lights. Camera. Action!

We have a couple really nice specials today including Homemade Mac & Cheese served with a Green Salad, a "Stuffed" Pork Loin Panini with Gravy and The Rowhouse sundried-tomato-basil cream cheese, crunchy sprouts, cucumbers, sliced red onion, swiss cheese all on a toasted ciabatta sub roll. There is also a tray of Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones - which are fast becoming a signature pastry for the Cafe.

....................

This afternoon I'll be making dinner for one of my favorite local groups - Wide Angle Youth Media. WAYM is a non-profit organization that creates opportunities for Baltimore's youth to express themselves and tell the stories of their lives through video technology. The organization and participants harnass the power of media and use it to make a difference in the lives of young people and our community. Throughout the year WAYM works through after school programs, community events (including the annual Youth Media Festival) and a youth-run television program. By fostering self confidence and the skills to articulate a message, Wide Angle Youth Media is giving Baltimore's youth a powerful tool to make their voices heard.


Wide Angle Youth Media is also a new neighbor! They have taken one of the commercial spaces at Miller's Court at the corner of 26th and Howard.

If you would like to support this great program, I encourage you to take a look at Wide Angle Youth Media's 2009 Wish List or call Susan Hayman at 410-338-0947.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Notice to Good Patrons of Cafe


Today our soups are Creamy Mushroom and Tomato Fennel.

The Panini Special is Turkey Swiss.

It seems that every year I realize the Maryland Renaissance Festival is going on just a week or two before it closes for the season - in large part because I've tied RenFest to autumn when it actually starts the last week of August. So Maid Katie and I made our way down to Revel Grove (the "16th century" village in Crownsville, MD) on Sunday past and enjoyed much merriment, revelry and food on sticks.

There are only two weekends left until you have to wait almost a year for the opportunity to eat turkey legs, cheesecake on a stick and scotch eggs while watching jousting and women in chain maille lingerie.



Saturday, October 10, 2009

Baltimore Marathon Day

I have made a Spicy Sausage, Black Bean & Corn Strata with Cheddar Cheese and a Broccoli Mushroom Strata with Swiss Cheese. There are also Cinnamon Rolls, Blueberry Muffins, Pumpkin Cranberry Scones and Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones.

Soups:

Tomato Fennel
vegetarian
Potato Leek Soup
vegetarian

Panino:
The Rowhouse
sundried-tomato-basil cream cheese, crunchy sprouts, cucumbers, sliced red onion, swiss cheese all on a toasty ciabatta sub roll

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Specials

Vegetable Barley Soup vegetarian
Potato Leek Soup
vegetarian

Panino:
The Rowhouse
sundried-tomato-basil cream cheese, crunchy sprouts, cucumbers, sliced red onion, swiss cheese all on a toasty ciabatta sub roll

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday

Soups:
Kale & White Bean

Mixed Mushroom & Barley vegan

Kasey is making Potato Leek soup for later today.

Panino:
The Rowhouse
sundried-tomato-basil cream cheese, crunchy sprouts, cucumbers, sliced red onion, swiss cheese all on a toasty ciabatta sub roll

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The cheese really does stand alone!

Soups:
Smoked Beef Sausage, Kale & White Bean
African Peanut vegetarian

Panino:
The Lighthouse is a sweet delight with brie, fresh fig spread, and candied pecans, grilled to gooey perfection.

.............................................














If you find yourself down the Jersey Shore (as the locals say), stop by the Seaside Cheese Company and tell them I sent you. Steve is a gregarious guy who can dish out some of the most elegant cheeses, perfectly describe their character and, in the next breath, tell a "pull my finger" joke.















Cheeses from all over the world including many excellent American cheeses are available to sample. The shop also carries a great selection of crackers, locally baked breads, spreads, patés and olives. They make a small number of sandwiches that are just the thing to satisfy your beach picnic needs.















I love all types of cheese but am not that knowledgeable about them. Steve was great about asking the right questions and suggesting new cheeses to try. Anne on the other hand, has quite a bit of cheese knowledge (you know, being Swiss and all) and she was very impressed with the selection and was delighted to find cheeses she had not seen for sale in the U.S.

Especially, if you are planning an off-season visit consider booking a tasting party. SCC hosts private cheese parties for $30 per person and can accommodate up to 10 guests. You are welcome to bring a selection of wine (stop by Collier's Liquor Store which is just off the downtown area).

I know one thing for certain. The cheese, olive, bread/cracker, pickles and spreads "knosh meal" has become a Cape May tradition for me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday

Soups:

African Peanut vegetarian
Jersey Clam & Corn (while it lasts)

Panini:

Spicy Jack turkey, caramelized red onions, habanero jack cheese, and zebra sauce. FYI vegetarians, this sandwich is also delicious when replacing the turkey with our hummus, and this sandwich has been dubbed the Spicy Jeremy.

The Lighthouse is a sweet delight with brie, fresh fig spread, and candied pecans, grilled to gooey perfection.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Jersey Girl in a New York State of mind

Cape May Clam and Corn Soup (pescaterian) and Pumpkin Black Bean Soup.

Aaron made a delicious Tucson Strata with jalapeno jack cheese, corn, and beans.

Panino Special: The Lighthouse - a flagrant rip-off of a lovely lunch prepared for me by Steve at Seaside Cheese Company. Brie, fig spread and candied pecans grilled to gooey sweet perfection.

Thank you so much for being the driving force behind our success. Michael and I share a passion for food and hospitality, but without the best customers and staff we could wish for it wouldn't amount to a hill of (coffee) beans. The New York Times article has absolutely thrilled the cafe family and extended family. And it is just the beginning of exciting news and changes coming in October.

Aren't I a shameful tease?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday

SOUPS: Gypsy Soup a customer favorite with sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and smoked spansih paprika. Pumpkin Black Bean Soup. Both soups are vegan.

Aaron made a delicious Tuscon Strata with jalapeno jack cheese, corn, and beans.

Panino Special: Basil Pesto Caprese

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Who says it's just for summer?!

Today's Soups:
Potato Soup au Gratin (vegetarian)
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (vegetarian)
Roasted Garlic Red Pepper ABC Soup (vegan)

We also have Pumpkin Cranberry Scones with Walnuts.

I'm running away for a three day weekend in Cape May and started celebrating early by having Moorenko's Red Hot Chocolate Ice Cream for breakfast. It's a locally produced ice cream that is available at Eddies Market in Charles Village. Chocolate ice cream with bittersweet chocolate chunks, hot pepper flakes and cayenne make a tasty, tasty treat. During blueberry season Michael got a pint of their blueberry ice cream made with wild blueberries and it was delicious. They also make sorbets and I am dying to try the Grapefruit Campari.

Some of the other stand-out flavors are Gianduia - chocolate hazelnut; Cherries with the Works - Bordeaux cherries, semi-sweet chocolate flakes, toasted pignolis; Banana; Cotton Candy Gummy Bear; Pistachio White Chocolate; Megajolt - coffee ice cream, made with Italian ingredients and semi-sweet chocolate flakes. Richer, deeper and smoother than regular old coffee ice cream; Lemon Custard; Dried Plum Armagnac; Fresh Ginger; and Lavendar.

If you happen to be in Silver Spring you can stop by their retail location at 8030 Georgia Avenue or buy at pint at Eddies and enjoy it in your pajamas.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A sad yarn

Roots & Shoots with Baba Ganoush - 100% locally grown! A root salad of roasted fingerling potatoes and Austrian turnips (don't ask) with balsamic-wilted chard and rainbow radishes served atop a bed of fresh arugula and pea sprouts served with a side of baba ganoush and pita.

Roasted Garlic Red Pepper ABC Soup (vegan)
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (vegetarian)

Sweet and Sour Pork Loin Sandwich
..............

Wooly Wednesday has been a tradition at the cafe since we first opened almost five years ago. We meet every Wednesday evening from 6-8pm usually at the cafe, but when the weather turns cold and it gets dark out early we move up to the Barnes and Noble. We knit, crochet, kibitz and talk yarn.

The reason for spinning this tale is the sad announcement that, for personal reasons, my friend Andrea is closing Spinster Yarns and Fibers at 4337 Harford Road (below the Red Canoe). This little jewel of a yarn store specializes in eco-friendly textiles. Among the yarns she carries are organic cotton & wool, predator-friendly wool, naturally dyed fibers, and yarn made from hemp, bamboo and soy - all of which are 50% off. She also carries beautiful needles, bags and books, all of which are 40-50% off to clear her inventory.

If you knit or crochet (or have one on your holiday shopping list) this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To the point Tuesday

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Moroccan Lentil Soup

Sweet and Sour Shaved Pork Loin Sandwich

Orange Poppyseed Scones

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The most delicious day of the week!

Are you ready? We have.....

Gingerbread Muffins
Blueberry Muffins
Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones
Sundried Tomato & Parmesan Scones

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast Casserole
Asparagus Mushroom & Swiss Strata

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
and, by early afternoon probably, Lentil Soup.

First time blog readers, this concludes todays post.
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Are you still there?
So I have a confession to make. I have been unfaithful. I dream of this new obsession. Maybe the illicit nature of this love is what makes it so tantalizing.


















I have found a sweet, crunchy, crumbly muffins that makes my morning coffee sing. They call it Dangerous for a reason....

Some Sunday, Gental Reader, head over to the Evergreen on Coldspring and try one of these completely decadent cinnamon-sugar coated beauties. Rumor has it that a baking diva by name of Amanda is responsible, but frankly was afraid a stalker vibe would frighten her so it is unconfirmed.

But if you're out there Amanda, that is one fine damn muffin!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Specials

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Pumpkin Black Bean Soup (vegan)

Spicy Jack Panino - turkey, very spicy jack cheese, grilled onions and zebra sauce.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Specials

Soups to day are Creamy Mushroom Soup (vegetarian) and Minestrone (vegan). Michael is preparing a special sandwich - and sort of a departure for us - a New England-style Halibut Roll made with beautiful fresh, wild caught halibut. We also have Curried Parmesan Tuna Salad. Now if he'd have just made Clam Chowder we would have a fish trifecta.

Baked Ziti with Roasted Summer Vegetables is the farm fresh special made with organic veggies from One Straw Farm.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just the facts

Jalapeno Corn Chowder (vegetarian)
Minestrone (vegan)

Curried Parmesan Tuna Salad
Eggplant Parmesan Panini

Cheddar Dill Scones

Monday, September 21, 2009

An ideal Sunday evening

Today's soup special is Jalapeno Corn Chowder and the last of the Cowboy Chili. We also have Eggplant Parmesan Panini and The Rowhouse Sandwich - sun dried tomato cream cheese, sprouts, cucumber, red onion, lettuce and swiss cheese. Yum! I think that's what I'm having for lunch.

So yesterday, a couple of the women from Carma's drove out to White Hall, Maryland for Music Night at One Straw Farm. We had a great time! The band, Tumblehome, rocked! The air was sweet (well, except for that one time - ewww!), the company top notch and not a bug in sight. We hung out while the band played, children ran about and a few folks tossed around a football. My only regret is it was the last Music Night of the season. Next year, I'll make an effort to attend more often.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What's purple and flies out of here?

WOW! The response to the Eggplant Parmesan Panini was overwhelming and we ran out much too early, so I'm bringing it back today. Fresh eggplant, lightly breaded in seasoned crumb and pan crisped with marinara and mozzarella cheese.

Cowboy Chili
- beef, fresh peppers and tomatoes, anaheim peppers, hominy, black, kidney and white beans, some bittersweet chocolate and espresso, herbs and spices.

Apricot, Pecan & Coconut Scones, Orange Chocolate Chip Scones and Apple Cranberry Muffins are in the pastry case.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Weekend!

Cowboy Chili - beef, fresh peppers and tomatoes, anaheim peppers, hominy, black, kidney and white beans, some bittersweet chocolate and espresso, herbs and spices.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (vegetarian)

Eggplant Parmesan Panini is today's special. Fresh eggplant, lightly breaded in seasoned crumb and pan crisped with marinara and mozzarella cheese.

.......................................

I'm pretty excited that some of the Cafe Familia will be heading out to One Straw Farm Sunday afternoon for a picnic, some music and socializing. No doubt farm pictures will be up next week.

There is a huge country ham in my fridge at home waiting to make an appearance on the menu. Country ham is one of those foods seldom found in restaurants outside of the southern states. In many ways it is the rustic American cousin of prochuttio (Italian) and serrano (Spain) - each being salt-cured and aged. As a child, I remember stopping at shanties along the side of Route 11 and getting a paper plate heavy with ham biscuits and potato salad and eatting it at a picnic table by the road.

Anyway, I could wax poetic all day about the country ham. Instead, I suggest you keep an eye on the blog for ham biscuit day at the cafe, grab a large Sweetea and cop a squat on my picnic table.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A grey and chili Thursday

Cowboy Chili with Cornbread - beef, fresh peppers and tomatoes, anaheim peppers, hominy, black, kidney and white beans, some bittersweet chocolate and espresso, herbs and spices.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (vegetarian)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

By any other name is as sweet

The Spicy Jack Panino - turkey, very spicy jack cheese, grilled red onion and zebra sauce.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup, Gazpacho, and Split Pea are our soups.

Also made a batch of Cherry Almond Scones and .........
.......a Blueberry Buckle!

What, you ask, is a buckle? Essentially, a buckle is fruit-filled coffee cake with streusel topping. I hesitate to use the word coffee cake because so many of us equate "coffee cake" with dry yellow cake, a crunchy top and powdered sugar mess pulled served in an aluminum pan pulled from a cardboard box. Debunking that sad state of affairs will have to wait for another day. Trust me that a real buckle is so tasty your knees will buckle!

It is related to a host of other classic American fruit desserts such as the crisp, betty (or brown betty), cobbler, crumble, grunt, slump and pandowdy (I kid you not), but unlike these other colorfully named creations, the buckle is an almost equal union of cake and fruit.

The recipe for this Blueberry Buckle was taken directly from Cook's Illustrated's 2009 American Classics edition. The folks at Cook's Illustrated are the hosts of America's Test Kitchen, a great PBS series that airs locally on the weekend. These people are the über geeks of all things cooking and kitchen related and, to their credit, operate without advertising or endorsements. So why subscribe to a magazine or pay-site when so many recipes are available free online? Because if they say that xyz produces the best roasted turkey it is because they roasted 100 turkeys 100 different ways. Sometimes playing around in the kitchen is fun and the results are not so important; sometimes you need to make sure it's right the first time. Fifteen years ago, long before brining became a verb every cook knew, I was soaking the Thanksgiving turkey in a pot out on the back porch thanks to my subscription to Cook's Illustrated.

If you have never seen or read the magazine look for it the next time you are in one of the large bookstores or William Sonoma. It is well written, beautifully produced and ever back cover illustration is frameable.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Special

The Spicy Jack Panino - turkey, very spicy jack cheese, grilled red onion and zebra sauce.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup, Gazpacho, and Split Pea are our soup offerings.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rain, rain go away...

..we have Smoked Salsa Strata in the oven, Banana Coconut Pecan Muffins, Cherry Almond Scones and Candied Ginger Scones. The soup is actually a stew, Mushroom Stew (it's just a bit spicy, too).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rainy Friday















Today's specials, featuring hickory smoked veggies, is a vegan Mushroom Stew, BBQ Chicken Quesadilla with Smoked Salsa and The Hot Italian Panino - with turkey, pepperoni, mozzarella and tomato sauce. We also have some Pumpkin Black Bean Soup and the last of the Gazpacho.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

It must be the stars...

Pumpkin Black Bean and Gazpacho are our soups today. Both are vegan. Fair warning to the Gazpacho fans, the season is almost over - get it while you can!
Pesto Caprese Panini - pesto, roasted red pepper, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, provolone
The Hot Italian (no remarks from the peanut gallery!) turkey, pepperoni, mozzarella and a parmesan tomato sauce.

In the past twenty-four hours, I have lost my wallet, locked myself out of the house and misplaced the key to the cafe. On Friday I drove all the way to Rosedale to get our blender fixed before realizing my purse had been left at the cafe. I've checked my horoscope but found no insight in its blathering about excitement and seeking an adrenaline rush (clearly this is speaking to geminis who do not own a cafe!).

It might be tempting the fates, but I'm going to fire up the smoker to make a grilled salsa and throw on some meat as long as the coals are hot. Aloe vera - check. Fire extinguisher - check. Bandaids - check. Now if the rain will hold off....


Shameless plug:
A you may know, I have a bit of a retail crush on the new Waverly Ace Hardware store. This weekend, to celebrate their grand opening, almost everything in the store will be 20% off on Saturday and Sunday. So if you need a new grill, garden hose, trash can, miscellaneous household do-das, this would be a good time to visit the helpful folks at Waverly Ace Hardware.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Grillin' & Chillin'

What do you call cheesecake layered between two slices of pound cake and grilled? Fried Cheesecake Bites with Triple Berry Coulis and Michael's most recent decent into dessert decadence.

The cafe is also serving the Pest Caprese Panini and vegan Cuban Black Bean Soup with Saffron Rice and hearty Scalloped Potato Soup with Broccoli.

Sorry if you missed the Chocolate Truffle Pie, it was a huge hit and sold out quickly. I'm certain it will make a reappearance.

Yesterday I picked up corn, tomatoes, jalapenos, red onions and purple peppers from our One Straw Farm CSA share. This afternoon I'm firing up the grill and smoking veggies for salsa. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

When it rains....

We have several specials today. The Sicilian Panino is pork loin, pepperoni, provolone and a sauce made with pickled Italian vegetables. We also have a vegan Cuban Black Bean Soup with Saffron Rice and a very hearty Scalloped Potato Soup with Broccoli.

There is also a Chocolate Truffle Pie in the works!

Monday, September 7, 2009

TBA

There are goings on in the kitchen today that involve a pork loin, fresh peaches and potatoes. What is Michael up to? I'll encourage him to update today's post when the special is available.

We also have the Spicy Jack Panini, Gazpacho and Curried Cauliflower Pistachio Soup.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Relax! It's Saturday.

MAX! Have you started checking the blog yet?!

A batch of really tasty Cinnamon Scones are just out of the oven, as are Pumpkin Cranberry Scones, Maximum Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins and Blueberry Muffins.

Grand Marnier French Toast Casserole should be ready by 8:30 or so. Our sandwich special is the Spicy Jack Panini - turkey, very spicy jack cheese, grilled red onions and zebra sauce.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Labor Day Weekend!

And we will be open regular hours on Monday.

Curried Cauliflower Pistachio Soup (vegetarian, Creamy Tomato Basil
Soup (vegetarian) and Gazpacho (vegan) are our soups today. We also have Pumpkin Cranberry Scones in the pastry case and I am hopeful Oatmeal Cookies v.3.0 will be done by this afternoon.

The Roasted Tomato & Pepper Pasta with Capers is from this weeks CSA allotment.

Please forgive the photo - it was taken with my phone, emailed to the cafe, downloaded from the server, uploaded to blogger... If it were an actual photo it would be crinkled and worn around the edges!



Moon & Stars
Watermelon Rind Pickle

5 lb. crisp watermelon rind, one medium melon green outer skin removed, most of pink fruit removed and remaining white rind cut into even pieces about 1/2 x 1 inch (mine was an heirloom variety called Moon & Stars)
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoon alum (sold with spices)

Day One:
Put rind in a large pot and just cover with water and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer until rind can be easily pierced with a fork. Add alum, cover and let stand overnight.

Day Two:
Turn rind into a colander and hold under running cold water to rinse well. Drain. Return rind to kettle and add:
9 cups granulated sugar
1 quart cider vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
Cheesecloth bag containing
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
2 slices candied ginger or ginger root

Mix well. Bring to boiling point only, stir until sugar dissolves. Do not boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand overnight.

Days Three through Eight:
Drain off the syrup into another kettle with the cinnamon sticks and spice bag (leaving only the rind in original kettle). Bring syrup to the boiling point, but do not boil. Pour over the rind. Cover and let stand overnight.

Day Nine:
Heat the rind in the syrup but do not boil. Remove and discard spice bag and cinnamon sticks. Pack pickles into sterilized jars, cover with hot syrup. Seal and process in 180° hot water bath for 30 minutes. Remove jars and place on a folded towel on the counter away from drafts. Leave until completely cool. Check for proper seal and store in a cool dark place. Pickles are best after maturing for 4-6 weeks.

Cool breeze and fresh summer produce...

... it just doesn't get much better than this!

Creamy Tomato Basil
Soup (vegetarian) and Gazpacho (vegan) are soup offerings for today. For all you CTB fanatics, come in sooner rather than later, quantities are limited!

The Turkey Artichoke Parmesan Panini with Sundried Tomato Spread is delightful. Bring a friend to lunch and share the TAP and our Roasted Tomato & Pepper Pasta with Capers. The pasta dish is this weeks CSA allotment.

The Moon & Stars Watermelon Rind Pickle are in the penultimate phase of completion. Today I will do the final heating then process them in jars. The bite (or two) I've already sampled is exactly like I remember Grandma Halterman's - both sharp and very sweet, heavy with cloves and cinnamon. Tomorrow I'll post the recipe and pics.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Safari pics

French Green Lentil with Coconut Milk and Gazpacho (both vegan) are our soups today. We also have the most recent Oatmeal Cookie variation in the pastry case.

Sandwich special is the Pesto Caprese Panini - pesto, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper and provolone grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

If you'd like to check out the Safari Park in Natural Bridge, Virginia, here are a few of my photos.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tipping toward the cooler side

In celebration of this beautiful weather I'm making a pot of hot soup - our French Green Lentil with Coconut Milk Soup which is a customer favorite. The Ham Asparagus and Swiss Panini with Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette is very special.

The pastry case also features Oatmeal Raisin Cookie v2.5, Cheddar Dill and Pumpkin Cranberry Scones.

To all my fiberiffic friends: You can find me about 2:00 pm on the terrace with my knitting. Come join me!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Welcome back!

Sandwich specials are Curried Parmesan Tuna Salad, Fresh Tomato and Basil Panini with Smoked Mozzarella and the Turkey BLT with Basil Mayo.

So for any of you who may have been out of Charles Village, yesterday was move-in day at JHU. Rolling bins filled with all the necessities were being wheeled up and down streets, gaggles of undergrads were loud and excited to catch up with friends, and between moving vehicles and road work, traffic is moving slowly and parking is a nightmare.

I'm heading out of town this weekend. Going to see my Mama, maybe hit the farmers market in Roanoke, visit with some friends and stop and check out Barren Ridge Vineyards on the way down. The camera is packed so you might want to check the cafes facebook page for some "on the road" photos.

Today is Day 2 of Moon & Stars pickle making, so the pot will be traveling with me as it requires some daily maintenance. I'll be actually posting the recipe when we can the pickles next week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The sweet smell of roasting garlic

Roasted Garbanzo Bean and Garlic with Swiss Chard is making a return appearance. If you were one of the people who missed it the first time around try to make it in today. It is served on a veggie pilaf with toasted baguette.

Sandwich specials will include the Curried Parmesan Tuna Salad, Fresh Tomato and Basil Panini with Smoked Mozzarella and the Turkey BLT with Basil Mayo.

This week at the market I picked up some beautiful bunches of purple basil (also known as opal basil) with no particular purpose in mind and although we have been doing "tomato this and basil that" for a week now, the purple basil just wasn't speaking to me. The ripe red tomatoes and bright green basil nestled up against the white of mozzarella or baguette just seem right.

There are several easy ways to preserve fresh leafy herbs. My favorite is to process them with a bit of olive in the food processor, dollop that out by the tablespoon into ice cube trays and freeze them. Then pop the frozen cubes out of the tray and store in a zip lock bag in the freezer. In January when a little one ounce package of basil costs $4.95 this little bit of summer freshness will cost you all of about 25 cents.

Another very easy solution is flavored vinegar. Just put the herbs in vinegar, let sit for a month or so and voila! flavored vinegar. Toss in fruit or mix herbs for unique flavor combinations. You can vinegar buy the gallon and recycle soy sauce, salad dressing and other glass bottles to package the homemade gourmet vinegar. In the photo below, I have soaked the label off of a bottle of inexpensive white wine vinegar and saved the container for repackaging; put the white wine vinegar, fresh purple basil, several smashed cloves of garlic and a dozen peppercorns in a quart jar; and labeled the jar with the contents (especially helpful if you want to make gift tags or labels say....in December). These make great hostess gifts.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The moon and stars....

Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Panini
Watermelon Limeade

And something from the CSA bounty that involves chard, purple basil and peppers. We'll just have to see....
• • • • •

When I went to pick up our CSA shares this week I overheard Joan talking to another patron about which melons had seeds and which were seedless and an idea sprung fully formed into my head - watermelon rind pickles. The over-engineered, inbreed watermelons of the pale seedless variety have very thin rinds. By the time the green outer skin has been removed there isn't much rind left to preserve. Thinking the seeded melons might be what I was looking for, I asked Joan if the seeded melons had thicker rinds. In two shakes she was up in the back of the One Straw Farm truck bent almost double over a huge bin muttering something about just the thing. She came out with this heirloom beauty - a Moon & Stars Watermelon which she assures me has huge seeds that will make for great spitting.


It takes a full week to make Grandma's Watermelon Rind Pickle and another four weeks until they are ready to be eaten, but the reward is a very tasty, spicy and unique pickle. Panic almost set in when the yellowing recipe card in Grandma's distinct handwriting didn't turn up right away. On the other hand, flipping through my oldest recipe cards brought back some very fond memories. Most people flip through photo albums and get teary-eyed, I end up crying in my recipe box. Anyway, the recipe did turn up and we are going to make some pickles!

I can still feel her soft, Blue Grass scented check pressed to mine and she'd whisper in my ear, "I love you more than anything on this earth; more than the moon and stars."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Still more cherry happenings!

Turkey BLT with Basil Mayo
Lettuce and Tomato on Toasted Ciabatta with Basil Mayo
BLT on Rustic White Toast

Antipasta Strata with sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, roasted red peppers, olives, parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Cherry season is sadly behind us, but I wanted to share another (calorie free) cherry delight. After weeks of following the cherry saga, my buddy Anne made a present of these - out of the blue - no occasion but to celebrate this small tart fruit and our friendship. Hand knitted socks are precious gift and not one that I take lightly. If you are ever on the receiving end of a pair of hand knitted socks you can be assured love is woven into every one of the myriad stitches.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Come sit in our tent and let it rain, let it rain, let it rain

Turkey BLT with Basil Mayo
Lettuce and Tomato on Toasted Ciabatta with Basil Mayo
BLT on Rustic White Toast

Antipasta Strata with mushrooms, artichokes, roasted red peppers, olives, parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Also have Pumpkin Cranberry Scones and Cinnamon Scones.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tomato chemistry

Turkey BLT with Basil Mayo
Lettuce and Tomato on Toasted Ciabatta with Basil Mayo
BLT on Rustic White Toast

Also have Blueberry Marmalade Coffee Cake and Nutmeg Crumb Coffee Cake just out of the oven.

In the next few weeks my personal food goal is to sample every variety of tomato to be found at local farmers markets. So far my favorite has been an orange fleshed slicing tomato that I got from the Kennilworth Market. One of the vendors (whose name I will remember to take down this week) has won my affection by offering many varieties of large tomatoes as well as Roma, cherry and pear tomatoes in every conceivable color and she has fresh shelled lima beans. Did I mention she is directly across from a bread vendor?

A few tid-bits about the selection and care of tomatoes. Use your nose! If you've never grown tomatoes the vine has a unique smell and fresh tomatoes smell like tomato and their vine. The scent will be strongest on the blossom end (the part of the fruit not attached to the vine).

Select firm, heavy fruit with a smooth, tight skin with no bruises and handle them with care. When you get home store the tomatoes on the counter or in a cubbard stem side up and out of direct sun. Do not, under any circumstances, put them in the refigerator!

A compound called Z-3 hexenel is responsible for the flavor and scent of tomatoes. The process that turns linolenic acid to the lip smacking tastiness of Z-3 is inhibited by cold temperatures resulting in mealy tomatoes that have been robbed of flavor.

If by chance in your enthusiasm to celebrate tomato season, you purchase more tomatoes than your family can eat roast them! If you haven't done this before be prepared for one of those head slapping "why didn't I know this" moments.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Farm fresh specials abound


Pork Loin with Fresh Peach Chutney Panini

local BACON, organic LETTUCE and TOMATO
on locally baked, fresh RUSTIC BREAD

Grilled Veggie Pesto Whole Wheat Pasta Salad

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's your favorite way to eat a fresh tomato?

Roasted Pork Loin Sandwich with Fresh Peach Chutney and Swiss Cheese is on the menu today, as well as Watermelon Limeade.

Just a heads up. Today is market day and fresh tomatoes are at the top of my shopping list. Can BLTs be far behind?

Michael was saying just the other day that about one time each year he buys a loaf of squishy white bread and gorges himself on tomato mayonnaise sandwiches.

As far as I'm concerned, there is no bad way to eat a good, fresh, raw tomato. A thick slice of tomato, still warm from the vine on a hot, buttered biscuit with lots of cracked pepper is one of my favorites (and Granny's too). Of course hollowed out and stuffed with cottage cheese, chicken salad or tuna salad is also a classic summer "diet" lunch.

A fresh baguette, tomato slices, a chiffonade of basil with Mr. Mastellone's fresh mozzarella and a bit of best quality olive oil makes a first rate, dead sexy picnic (it is called the apple of love or
pomme d'amour). And although the Mastellones have retired, I believe the cheese is still made fresh daily. The "new" owners are the fine people of DiPasquale's, another venerable Baltimore family-owned grocer.

I'd like to encourage you to tuck a salt shaker in your pocket when heading to the farmers market this week. Park your rear end on a curb and sit there eatting your tomato out-of-hand just like an apple. If you are really fortunate, there might be just a hint of garden dust still clinging to the fruit.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Food/Fiber Find

Specials

Spicy Jack Panino -- turkey, grilled red onions, spicy colby jack cheese, and tiger sauce. Make it vegetarian by replacing the turkey with hummus. Yummo.

Gazpacho.

Every now and then I run across a place so unexpected it makes me giddy. Really. The initial urge is to jump up and down clapping my hands and giggling. That's some visual isn't it? Anyway, Anne and I were off an a yarn safari Saturday afternoon when, in the middle of the suburban serengeti, we found a wonderful cafe!

Nora Cafe is located at 8450 Baltimore Nation Pike in a strip mall that has seen better days, but my jaw dropped when we walked through the door. This European-style restaurant has an extensive menu, an amazing pastry case and is a delightful environment to enjoy the company of a friend, do a bit of knitting or haul out the laptop to get some work done.

We both had salads that were large and fresh. The grilled chicken on my Caesar salad was well seasoned and moist. We split a very large linzer cookie (and I had a very respectable macciato) that was that much sweeter because of the charming baker that took so much pride in his product.



If you are a knitter or crocheter, Large Marge's Yarn Shop is in the adjoining plaza and is worth the trip. She has a nice selection of yarn, some of which I haven't seen at other stores in the area. The shop is huge which makes it appear a bit sparse until you realize what a nice assortment of colors in every weight of yarn is in stock, plus some of the more boutique yarns. In the back of the store is a knitter's family room complete with couches and arm chairs where the shop holds movie night.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday goodies

We have fresh from the oven....

Peach Poppyseed Muffins
Vanilla Nutmeg Coffeecake
Strawberry Coffeecake (made with homemade strawberry balsamic preserves!)
Spicy Southwestern Strata - salsa, onions, green peppers and 3 Alarm Colby Jack Cheese

As long as we are spicing things up, today's panini special is the Turkey Jack.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday's Specials

Kasey put together her wonderful guacamole which we will offer in two different sandwiches.

The Greenhouse with guacamole, cucumber slices, alfalfa sprouts, and havarti cheese served on toasted health bread.

The Turkey Guacamole with, well, turkey and guacamole, along with tomato slices and havarti served on fresh baked ciabiatta.

A personal favorite small plate special offering today is Swedish Potato Salad.

We also have Ratatouille Provencal made from farm fresh ingredients from One Straw Farm.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

To Market To Market ....

It's Wednesday which means we've just come back from the farmer's market.

Today's special plate is Ratatouille.

We have a small plate special of organic marinated peaches.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Let's Cool Off

Come in for some free watermelon.

Definately try the Spiced Chai Iced Tea (sweetener optional), very refreshing.

We're combining the Watermelon with Arugula and Feta Cheese and drizzling with balsamic vinaigrette for a nice light salad.

Today's special sandwich is Curried Tuna Parmesan.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Some special sides today:

Swedish Potato Salad made from delicious new potatoes from One Straw Farm.

I'm also cooking up a batch of vegetarian baked beans.

BBQ Chicken panino with a tangy homemade sauce, melty mozzarella, arugula, and caramelized onions.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tangy and Gooey

BBQ Chicken panino with a tangy homemade sauce, melty mozzarella, arugula, and caramelized onions.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ratatouille

I just poked my head in at the Cafe and it looks like Ratatouille was made from the CSA shares this week. Served with fresh baguette and shaved parmesan, it looks delicious!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Specials

Today's specials are Garlic Soup with Mushrooms (vegan unless you take the sour cream and chive option), Pesto Caprese Panini, and Spinach Swiss Strata. There is also Chocolate Chocolate Coffeecake and Ginger Pumpkin Muffins (my new favorite thing in the whole world. They taste just like Williamsburg smells).

I'm taking a bit of R&R this week and won't be around the Cafe much. Of course, if the weather's nice and a soft breeze is blowing, you might find me and my knitting (or a book) on the terrace pretending to be a customer. Have a good week!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hello August!

In an unusual turn of events, I'm not at the Cafe this morning but there are several Saturday morning treats including Grand Marnier French Toast Casserole, Spinach Swiss Strata and Maple Oatmeal with Nuts & Fruit. Kasey will probably make a special batch of muffins or coffee cake but you'll just have to stop by to see what she pulls out of the oven!

I own an embarrassing number of cookbooks. Like some people pick up mystery or romance novels, I pick up cookbooks. They run the gamut from the Christ Episcopal Church ECW Cookbook to the CIA's New Professional Chef. Every $4.95 publishers overrun demands at least a cursory glance; and clearly there are those volumns any serious cook couldn't do without. Crockpot cooking, preserving, brewing, every ethnicity you can imagine, fondue, ferminting, animal food/treats, candy, cocktails and wild game barely scratch the surface of subject matter covered. I even buy cookbooks just because I like their formatting! In the broaser catagory of how-to books (which cookbooks are a sub-set) I have a book about how to write a cookbook.

The dirty truth is among the hundreds of cookbooks I own (yes, I admit it) there are five or six that are really indespensible. The 1975 Joy of Cooking (don't get me started on the "new" Joy. If you don't have an old copy, try to get your hands on the 75th anniversary edition); The Silver Palate Cookbook; a little cookbook Michael's mother Kitty gave us called Afternoon Delights (the only cookbook that, without exception, every recipe has turned out perfectly); Rose's Christmas Cookies; and my handwritten cookbook that includes Mom's Bottled Hell, Granny's Angel Biscuits, Grandma's Scarlette O'Hara Salad and my own tried and true recipes come immediately to mind.

There is a new addition to the library, Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & more by Carole Walter, that promises to be one of those go-to cookbooks. It is both academic and user-friendly, an unusual combination in my experience. From the quick muffins, breads and coffee cakes to recipes that require some forethought like brioche or stollen, each recipe features an At A Glance box which outlines what pans are needed as well as prep time, rising time, oven temp, baking time and a difficulty rating. Walter gives meticulous directions that do not make assumptions about the cook. So if you are an aspiring baker this cookbook offers education as well as a fabulous range of recipes for breakfast, brunch, and dessert treats.

More and more, a quick Google search turns up needed information but doesn't replace the time spent flipping pages, looking at beautiful pictures, gleaning inspiration and making plans for when strawberries are back in season or remembering to take advantage of the low turkey prices around Thanksgiving (there is the great smoked, stuffed turkey breast recipe in a William Sonoma grilling cookbook).

Like an armchair adventurer reads sci-fi and mystery novels, like the gardener reads seed catalogs in February, collecting cookbooks speaks to the creative, curious, thrill seeking and nurturing aspects of my personality. It also suggests some tendencies toward OCD.....