Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places to visit in Pittsburgh, so when my very best friend and college roommate landed her dream job as their internal events coordinator I was thrilled. That is the exact reaction I had when she called me to offer me the opportunity to do a food demonstration at the Phipps Tomato and Garlic Festival. The festival is a celebration for two of western Pennsylvania’s tastiest summer crops, tomatoes and garlic; (which just happen to be two of my favorite ingredients!) Of course I said yes!
After much consideration I decided to go with a simple tomato and bean salsa recipe that is always a big hit with my family. I was also thinking about making a delicious tomato pie recipe that I received (via) Tom’s mom, Diane, but the festival was outside and I was limited on key kitchen supplies (hello, no oven!) so I went with the salsa recipe instead.
The demonstration went great, I had a nice sized audience and everyone seemed to enjoy the tomato bean salsa I whipped up for them. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon filled with family, friends and tomatoes! I don’t think it gets much better than that. I enjoyed meeting fellow tomato and garlic lovers and I also picked up a few items from the farmers market while I was there.
So, how many times in life can you say you’ve had rabbit ravioli in sage brown butter sauce? How about a pumpkin, butternut squash pheasant soup? Not so many…and chances are, unless you have a savvy hunter/woodsman for a dad or boyfriend, you may not find yourself in the kitchen with those two main ingredients anytime soon. But don’t worry, you can substitute the rabbit and pheasant to your liking and still blow the minds of your dinner guests.
Let’s start with the butternut squash, pumpkin and pheasant soup. When I was twelve I went hunting with my dad and a few of his friends. You could guess I was not only the youngest one, but also the only girl (my nail polish matched my blue jacket). The whole day I watched everyone get a pheasant except me. I was bummed out, but my dad encouraged me to keep my hopes and shotgun high. Finally I had one in my crosshairs…boom! I killed a medium size pheasant, which I was extremely proud of until I learned the truth about that poor pheasant. I had only knocked the thing out of the tree and my dad had to do the dirty deed, putting it out of its misery. Regardless, it was quite the experience, one I will never forget.
As I recently read from chef Mario Balotelli, “You can’t just buy game. You’ve got to hunt it, or you’ve got to know someone who went and hunted it. That’s one of the reasons why the flavor is so unique: you may only have it four or five times in a life.” I love that quote because it is so true. Each time I try a new recipe with wild game it’s one I’ve never had before and it’s unique—in a way, it’s an ingredient in itself.
The rabbit ravioli is something that was fabricated by my dad. He found a recipe calling for venison and thought it would be good with some rabbit meat he had in the freezer. He was right! These may be the most decadent and flavorful ravioli I’ve ever tasted. They are meant to be an appetizer but can easily hold their own as a main course. The only problem is that rabbits are small and don’t produce a lot of meat.
This particular batch of ravioli is extra special since my beautiful golden retriever, in fact, did retrieve this rabbit. My dad went on a midday hunt and took Nilla, our dog, along with him. Not only did she retrieve the rabbit, but was so proud of herself. She wouldn’t leave its side the whole walk home.
When they got back, my dad asked if I was interested in learning how to skin and quarter a rabbit. My answer was “Hell yeah, Dad”, so I learned. Once we were done, I texted Tom to inform him of my newly acquired skill and his only response was “I love you.” There’s a tip for you ladies out there: the best way to a mans heart is to learn how to skin a rabbit (while wearing off-white pants…no big deal). The reason I told you this is because the level of engagement involved in this single recipe is just incredible. Every one from my mom to my dog was involved in the final execution of the meal—that’s what I love about cooking wild game. It tells a story, from the hunt to the kitchen and every bite is savored on a whole new level. Enjoy this recipe in your own kitchen and make your own memories (via) Anna Lea.
Click here for Rabbit Ravioli Recipe
Click here for Pheasant Soup Recipe
Greetings and salutations! My name is Anna Lea DeLattre. I am a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades in the kitchen, never afraid to tackle a new recipe. Half of my recipes are made using wild game, fish, and veggies. Once a vegetarian, I’ve slowly worked my way back to the land of protein, thanks in large part to my boyfriend, Tom, who is the main inspiration of my cooking. He likes to eat and I like to cook—we are a perfect pair.
This is my first blog and formal documentation of my cooking. I invite you to come along on the journey. It’s sure to be interesting—classic but unconventional, and always well thought out. I find cooking to be relaxing, and rewarding. Not only can you create your own little masterpiece, you can take a temporary vacation to any destination or culture you fancy. May my recipes bring happiness and excitement to your kitchen (Via) Anna Lea. 🙂
That’s me, and my handsome man, Tom.