‘A Taste of the Hocking Hills’
LOGAN, Ohio — Combining the outdoors and cooking has made a dream come true for Matt Rapposelli. The fact that his mother, Nelda Rapposelli, considered cooking a passion, he grew up in a home that centered around the love of food with its smells and tastes.
Originally from Cleveland, he moved to the Hocking College area and received a degree in recreation and wildlife. Upon graduation, he was a park naturalist at the National Park Service in Washington State.
Rapposelli didn’t feel the drawing power into that career like he did for food, so he left the Park Service to pursue a degree at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. Since then, he has worked in restaurants in Cincinnati, Columbus and Athens.
But, he made his last stop in southeastern Ohio— the place he loves as much as his mother did for its wild landscape and food. He is known for developing dining experiences, such as the award-winning Big Chimney Baking Co. and Lake Hope Lodge, and worked at the Hocking Hills Lodge.
The father of two daughters currently is executive chef of Kindred Spirits, the restaurant for the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls, Logan, Ohio, and author of his first cookbook, “A Taste of the Hocking Hills.”
The 100-page hardback, published by Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, features 29 recipes presented by seasons— spring, summer, fall, winter and spring again.
It also features breathtaking full-page photographs of the Appalachian region, as well as photos of some of the dishes he prepares and serves on the menu for the four seasons of the year. The book sells for $24.95 and is available by contacting the publisher, 740-593-1154 and at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.
Recipes from the hardback:
STREUSEL-TOPPED BERRY COBBLER
5 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries)
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca flour
Combine ingredients in mixing bowl and toss together, blending well. Pour into greased 8-by 8-inch pan.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all streusel ingredients in food processor and pulse until crumbly, or cut ingredients together in bowl with fork. Top filling with streusel; bake at 350 degrees 45-60 minutes. The cobbler is done when filling is bubbling in center of pan. Let cool; serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 strips raw bacon, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 cup potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup clam juice
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups chopped canned clams with reserved juice
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Place large pot over medium heat, add olive oil and bacon; cook until bacon just starts to get some color. Add celery, onion and potatoes; cook until celery starts to soften. Add garlic; cook 1 minute; then add flour and incorporate thoroughly.
Add clam juice, milk and heavy cream; stir thoroughly while bringing soup to gentle boil for 3 minutes. Add thyme and stir. Stir in clams with reserved juice, bring back to a simmer and serve.
PAN-SEARED CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC ROSEMARY TOMATOES
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 strip bacon, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
4 cups Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat saute pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When hot, sear chicken breasts on both sides until internal temperature is 160 degrees and each side is a golden caramelized color. Make sure not to crowd pan or else temperature will drop and chicken will not develop the color. Remove chicken to plate to rest. Reduce heat to medium, add bacon; cook until just brown. Add onion and garlic; cook until translucent. Add tomatoes and rosemary; heat just until tomatoes are warm. You want them to retain their body and not be cooked to mushy consistency. Finish with balsamic vinegar; season to taste. Top seared breasts with tomatoes and serve.
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
8 large, whole button or cremini mushrooms
4 Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
4 green onions, roots trimmed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
Cut tip and stem off zucchini and yellow squash. Slice each squash lengthwise into 1/4-inch slabs. Slicing them this way keeps them from vanishing into fiery inferno between grill grates. Place all remaining vegetables, zucchini and squash in large bowl or shallow roasting pan. You want enough room to be able to work marinade into all vegetables. Add oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, kosher salt and pepper. With hands, lovingly massage seasonings and oil into all the vegetables, making sure they are evenly coated Cook vegetables on really hot grill, preferable over charcoal, until tender and have nice grilled look. Just a headsup: green onions take only a minute or so.
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups buttermilk
4 large eggs
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons melted butter
Whisk all dry ingredients together. Add eggs and buttermilk; whisk batter until just comes together It should look a bit dry yet. Add melted butter; blend until evenly moistened. Cook in very lightly buttered pan over medium heat until you see small bubbles across surface, then flip and cook until center sets. There is no need to add any more butter after the first pancake; this will help get that beautiful golden color across surface.
Any ingredients may also be added. After you pour the batter into the pan, sprinkle berries, granola, chocolate chips, bacon or sausage across top and continue to cook as usual.