As you plan for Labor Day weekend, the last holiday of the summer season, think about creating an Ohio menu using our state's food products and classic recipes.
An Ohio menu can be a tasting menu or family-type dinner. Or you can spread the Ohio foods over the three-day weekend.
Last Thursday, Katzinger's Delicatessan in Columbus held a tasting event called Katzinger's Tastes Ohio. It featured local farmstead cheese from Integration Acres in Albany (smoked goat cheese and chevre), Oakvale Farms in London (gouda), Lake Erie Creamery in Cleveland with Caerphilly - an aged raw goat cheese based on a Welsh cheese, and Canal Junction of Defiance (cow's milk blue cheese).
Following the cheese course, an appetizer of a Napoleon made with local heirloom tomatoes was served. Slices of mozzarella made in-house and pesto were between the tomato slices.
Using local Ohio bison from a farm just 30 minutes from Columbus, Wendy Hunsinger, Katzinger's retail manager, made Ohio bison sliders dressed with Buckeye Mustard. The sliders were served with fingerling feta potato salad.
For dessert a chilled paw paw fresh chevre semifreddo was served. Pawpaw is an indigenous fruit whose season runs late August through September. It is sold fresh at farmers markets in Columbus. Ms. Hunsinger calls it a cross between a mango and a banana. You can use it for quick breads, cookies, cakes, chutney and jam.
Columbus also is the site of Ohio Wyandotte wines and Elevator craft beers, which complemented the meal. At the Elevator restaurant the "food is beer-specific," according to Ms. Hunsinger.
Just imagine what you could do with a northwest Ohio menu.
For an appetizer tray, think about a farmstead cheese from Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, which is sold at the Perrysburg Farmers' Market on Thursday evenings and the Toledo Farmers' Market on Saturdays. It is also sold at Kazmaier's and Sautter's Five Star Markets.
Serve the cheese with crudites from the garden.
You may use the herbs and vegetables from your garden for other recipes.
Last Tuesday, I was at the Maumee Valley Slow Food dinner, where many members brought dishes made with produce from their gardens. Local tomatoes, peaches, cucumbers, and corn are in good supply. One of the members brought up the question of how to use fresh sage other than in bread stuffing for turkey or chicken.
Savory "No Rise" Yeast Rolls are one way to use fresh sage. "I really liked the texture of these," said Angela Benko, who tested the recipe for The Blade. "The texture is like a muffin and soft. It's perfect for a stew."
Or serve the rolls with Nectarine Pork Medallions, a recipe that is made in the oven with nectarines, although you could use peaches. When Mrs. Benko tested this recipe, she liked the idea of using curry as a seasoning.
The pork is served with Old-Fashioned Green Beans with Bacon, which has very good flavor.
Those three recipes are the basics. Round out the menu with your favorites: if starch is your preference, add noodles or rice, or better yet, corn-on-the-cob, which is in season.
An heirloom tomato salad can be drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and sprinkled with shredded fresh parmesan. Or make a fresh cucumber salad.
At the Maumee Valley Slow Food dinner, there were a variety of Ohio desserts.
Cindy Nensel baked a peach gallette (a round flat cake made of flaky-pastry dough topped with fruit - the edge of the dough is folded over the fruit loosely all around the edge leaving the galette uncovered in the center). Italian crostata (like the gallette) is a free-form tart baked on a cookie sheet although some recipes use a tart pan.
Her daughter Amelia Contreras made an herbal ice cream using a type of basil, lemon balm, and mint. Instead of sugar, she used honey in the recipe. The herbal ice cream was served with cubes of honeydew for a very refreshing combination.
Daniel Ragland and Carol Click baked a mulberry and elderberry tart using the deluxe butter pie or pastry dough from the Joy of Cooking.
All of these desserts are a reminder that this is the best time of the year to make a fresh Ohio raspberry tart or an apple pie.
Later in the week, I couldn't resist making a peach pie using local peaches. You can even freeze peach pie filling or the unbaked peach pies.
Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor.
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