June’s Best Bites – and Happy Fourth of July!

I was a busy bee in late May and June, cramming in several lunches and dinners out, plus some cooking at home, before the worst of summer’s heat puts me in relative “lockdown” at home – I have a real problem, since I was a pre-teen, with East coast heat and humidity in the summer, as in fainting and other unpleasantness. So you won’t find me at outdoor fairs or festivals, and only infrequently at the farmers market.

But I did get to the Montgomery Friends Farmers Market last weekend, and was delighted to stock up on Fulper Farms String Cheese and, from vonThun’s stand, the first blueberries of the season (from south of here, of course). They even had tomatoes, could those really have been from their farm so early? I didn’t ask; but they smelled good, so I bought a big one, which I will enjoy later today. Perhaps my biggest find though, was the plate of fantastic spicy jerk pork you see below, from Little Island Jamaican Cuisine – they have a restaurant in Hillsborough, stay tuned for more on that eventually.

Another interesting find at the Market was those big balls of mixed grains, etc. below from The Farmer and the Chickpea. Very interesting, but the nice man at that counter sorely needed some printed materials to go along with those, as just looking at them, one is at a loss (plus there was no signage for the table at all). He did tell me that folks break it up and make patties, which they can then bake or fry for veggie burgers. That table also had some totally indulgent looking chocolate bread pudding, and the taste I had of that was delicious.

I bought some nice rhubarb somewhere else recently, and made a quick ginger-rhubarb relish that I’m enjoying, some on roasted chicken thighs, some on vanilla ice cream, it has lots of uses. I don’t usually have fresh ginger on hand, but ordered some of this online, and it’s come in handy, I just put in a couple tablespoonfuls to about a pound of rhubarb (I like lots of ginger, others might prefer less).

I also placed my first order with FreshDirect, and have especially enjoyed the Pat LaFrieda ground beef blend, the “Sides in a Snap” cauliflower with capers (why don’t I think of doing that myself?!), and I ADORED the malt ice cream from il Laboratorio del Gelato – so much so that I promptly ordered plain malt powder from Amazon, and also enjoyed reading a recent rundown of malt shakes and ice cream in NYC in the New York Times (great minds think alike).

You can see the FreshDirect cauliflower next to some lasagna I threw together with pantry items/staples one evening, which included a big jar of Michael’s tomato sauce (the marinara), which is excellent. I am not sure where I found it, but don’t ignore these “local” brands in big jars, they are often superior to any national big-name brand. It’s available at several places in our area, according to their store locator page. I did like FreshDirect’s carrot cake, but it had no walnuts in it, which I missed.

Besides that great malt ice cream, I’m also hooked on Jeni’s Splendid ice creams from Whole Foods, even at $9.99 a pint (yikes). The Brambleberry Crisp is packed with berries and crispy oat topping chunks. Oh my. They just opened a pop-up store in NYC, and she’s touring the country to promote her new dessert book.

Still on the topic of desserts, I couldn’t resist making these Cheesecake Cookie Cups, the last three photos. A total cave-in to mass market food, it’s from a Nestle site. The base is made of refrigerated cookie dough; I subbed Ultimate Chocolate Chocolate Chip for regular chocolate chip dough. You pre-bake that, then pour a plain cheesecake batter over that and bake. Then you put cherries on top – at least I didn’t use the yucky cherry pie filling from the store, but made my own with canned tart cherries, cornstarch, and a little sugar. What can I say, it was delicious, and kids love it!

My gluten-free friend and I went for a second lunch at Wildflour in Lawrenceville, especially successful was her smoked salmon plate, and their adorable lemon tart. The crust on that was a real success, although more lemon flavor in the filling would be welcome. I took home a trio of delicious Brazilian Cheese Puffs too, can hardly believe they are G-F! This café-bakery is a wonderful addition to the dining options in this area, and I hope they continue to do as well as they seem to.

The hot dog, from Mrs. Green’s in Princeton Junction is Applegate’s beef/pork dog, and very good. I might add they have a great ice cream selection in the freezer case, including many good dairy-free options. I finally found First Field’s relish at Lucy’s Market, just the other day, so now I have that too. I already love their ketchup for burgers.

Do you notice the Blue Plate Mayonnaise below? I watched it win a ratings contest on America’s Test Kitchen, so I ordered up some from amazon.com, since it’s only sold in the south. Delicious, made with egg yolks. A good store-bought may for sure, and inspiring me to making potato salad, and also mixing it with Sriracha to slather on my LaFrieda burgers. Blue Plate also ranked high in Serious Eats testing.

The three tacos below are the Tacos al Pastor from Taste of Mexico in the Princeton Shopping Center, my favorite dish there. They also have the branch on Nassau Street in back of Cox’s Market. My friend ate every bite of her chicken with mole sauce that day, too, and the guacamole was also good.

There are other treats below, some spicy Korean chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s, a lovely Milanese chicken from Lucy’s (note the garlic bread they’ve started offering, it’s classic, kids of all ages will love it), chicken ravioli with my own arugula-mint pesto, and do you see the platter of lobster, clams etc.? Stay turned for the August Packet Magazine for more on having your own backyard lobster/clam bake or boil this summer.

The “Miss Shirley” sandwich below is from Main Street Euro-American Bistro, and it is fantastic with fried green tomatoes, bacon, cheddar and more on pumpernickel. It was on the June menu, and is also on the July menu. Also on the July menu is a dish I’ve been hankering for since I sampled my friend’s on a review dinner last year, the Cajun Chicken and Shrimp over grits with Andouille sausage and Tasso ham gravy. Heavenly – be sure to leave some for me!

(Click on any photo below to start slideshow.)




2 thoughts on “June’s Best Bites – and Happy Fourth of July!

  1. Wow, Faith, good post. I definitely need to get myself to Hillsborough. Mexican, Polish and now Jamaican–oh my!!

    • Thank you, all of a sudden I have lots of good ethnic options that are not too far away! (Although winter darkness tends to keep me closer to home. )

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