Author Archives: Lindsay

A Great Way to Start a New Year…We’re Engaged!

On 12/31/12, my Paul asked me to marry him…I said yes…then tackled him in the snow.

We’ve been dating for just over three years and have talked bout marriage, so I sort of knew it was coming, but I was still surprised!

He asked me in the Pittsfield State Park in Pittsfield Mass. There were two feet of snow on the ground – nearly untouched. A bright sun providing just enough warmth to make it comfortable. And I was in a terrible mood (until I knew what was happening). Paul made me get out of the car “to take a picture” and I grudgingly shuffled my way out and over to his side, where he did a strange hopping dance and said he was nervous and asked if I was too…then I figured it out, but was still really confused!

 

That was one of those moments that you wait for your whole life and when it happens, you almost can’t enjoy it because you don’t know it’s happening!

 

Even trying to remember a week later to write this I feel like a little kid playing make believe. But I also know how lucky I am to have found my Prince Charming.

 

Moving forward:

 

We have the date, August 31st, 2013, at my grandparents house upstate. The goal is to make it the best wedding ever for a very modest budget.  I’m a crazy DIYer so I could never submit power to a planner! So far we are moving right along. I have me pinterest boards all set up with attire, vendors, DIY decoration ideas, and more. Found the caterer I (I mean we) want. Am looking into having the wine sponsored. and have my crazy awesome giant binder to keep me organized!

Not to mentioned my awesome bridal party, who are already on top of the game!

With any luck we’ll have a bright sunny day, but either way Paul and I will be starting our lives together with wonderful people, food, and a lot of love :)

Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pine Nuts. Oh and Amazing Cheesy Garlic Crostini…I tried to be healthy…

Health! I need some veggies! Health! Not just any veggies! Health! I need some greens! Heeeeealth! (to the tune of the Beatles’ “Help”)

This is a dangerous time of year for me with food. The weather is crisp and cozy and my belly long for warmth and comfort – mainly hearty slow cooked cheese wonderfulness. So for the past few days…ok weeks…I have been very indulgent and neglecting the hearty warmth of good fall vegetables. It was time for salad.

“But I don’t like salad” said my inner chubette. My response to the inner daemon, “you will like this one”

Daemon = satisfied…

Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pine Nuts with Lemon Vinaigrette:

3 cups Kale – washed, dried and roughly chopped

2 cups Butternut Squash – cut into ½” pieces (about half a medium squash)

4 tbsp’s Herb and Garlic Infused Olive Oil (see Below)

salt

Pepper

1/3 cup of Pine Nuts

Toss the squash with the olive oil and dump onto a cookie sheet with, you guessed it, parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then bake in a 395’ oven for about 45 minutes, or until the pieces are browned around the edges and a fork goes through easily.

Toast the Pine Nuts either in a dry pan on the stove over medium heat, or in a toaster oven on a tin foil sheet for no more than 2 minutes. As soon as you smell them they are done! Any longer and they will burn. All you want is a little bit of brown color – better to under do it than over.

Grab a platter or a salad bowl. Place the chopped kale on the bottom, then the roasted squash, then the pine nuts, then, if you’re feeling fancy, shave or grate some fresh Parmesan over the top. Serve with your jar/bowl of Lemon Vinaigrette (see below) and let people dress as they see fit and some crispy cheesy garlic crostini!

Lemon Vinaigrette:

4ish tbsp’s lemon juice (one lemons worth)

½ tbsp Dijon mustard

¼ cup olive oil

Whisk the mustard into the lemon juice, then, while continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Or do the easy, cheating version and place all ingredients into a jar with a good lid, close it up and shake the heck out of it – it doesn’t emulsify the way the pro’s like it, but you can just shake the jar again if it separates!

Cheesy Garlic Crostini:

1 Sourdough baguette or your favorite Crostini bread – cut into ¼” slices at an angle

6-8 cloves of garlic – cut into thin slices

Grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

about ¼ cup of Herb and Garlic infused Olive Oil (see below)

Pour the olive oil into a wide shallow dish/bowl/plate, dip each slice of bread into the oil, coating each side, then place onto a baking sheet. Place a few slices of sliced garlic onto each piece of bread – add more if you’re a garlicoholic like me! Then cover each slice with a generous amount of Parmesan and sprinkle with a bit of the fresh thyme leaves.  Bake in a 395’ F oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese starts to brown just a little bit.

Herb and Garlic infused Olive Oil:

1 cup olive oil

6 garlic cloves – minced

a handful of fresh thyme stalks

Place a pan on the stove over very low heat. Add everything. Let it heat together slowly for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and make sure the garlic doesn’t stick to the bottom – don’t let it simmer or boil, just warm it very slowly.

Turn the heat off and let it cool for a few minutes – just so you can safely transfer it without burning yourself or blowing up a jar. Remove the thyme stalks and pour into a jar (glass is better) with an airtight lid.

Use for sautéing, salad dressing, GF bread dipping, or whatever else tickles your fancy!

For some reason I have a hard time accepting that healthy food can also be incredibly delicious and satisfying. This salad, however, has helped me do away with that backwards thinking and is spawning some new recipe ideas for a less gluttonous future.

Behold the power of Kale.

Enjoy!

 

Jalapeno Popper Braised Chicken with Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes.

It probably wont surprise you to learn that I’m not an avid sports fan. Can’t think of a time when I have ever, on my own, sought out to watch a “match” of any sport. I do however highly enjoy the camaraderie that surrounds a good game. It is a lot of fun to watch a football game with fanatics. I even find myself guffawing or shrieking with glee at moments that would otherwise escape my attention, if not for the excitement in the room. That spirit of fellowship and cheer is what makes it all worth while, oh and the food. You just can’t watch a game without some sort of indulgent treat.

I’m not sure if the beginnings of crisp autumn air, or the random bit of football news that have been floating into my ears lately, but I’ve been craving football food. Specifically jalapeno poppers. These little babies keep popping (pun intended) up all over pinterest, but have verred away from the traditional breaded and fried to a sophisticated stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon then grilled – and they are delicious this way. However, after eating ten of these or so I started regretting my choice of only poppers for dinner. So I thought, “hey, why not turn this into a full meal?” – and that’s where the chicken and mashed potatoes come in.

Now because I was cooking for my grandparents and not just me and Paul I made things a lot more mild and subbed a good portion of jalapenos for poblano chilis. It was really delicious, but if you want a more authentic popper flavor and a nice spicy dish use more/all jalapenos – I will be doing so next time around.

Jalapeno Popper Chicken with Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes: 

6 chicken thighs

salt

pepper

olive oil – a few tbsp’s per batch

 

12oz bacon – cut into smallish pieces (use scissors…trust me)

12 garlic cloves – roughly chopped

2 medium white onions – roughly chopped

2 poblano chilis – deseeded then roughly chopped

2 fresh jalapenos – remove seeds and white membrane then roughly chop

10oz frozen blackberries

½ cup chicken stock (or 6 chicken stock ice cubes)

1 ½ cups dry white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio)

 

You want to start with a heavy Dutch oven on the stove over med-high heat with a few tbsp’s of olive oil. Generously salt and pepper the oil. When it is hot – it should pop when you carefully flick a drop of water into it – add the chicken thighs, skin side down, in a single layer – I did three at a time, so two batches.

Don’t move them, don’t touch them, don’t get impatient and try to peek, don’t worry about burning. Just let them cook for 4 minutes.  You will be able to see the skin cooking around the outside edge of the chicken, once this starts to look cooked and not mushy it’s time to flip. Carefully, slowly pry each chicken thigh off the bottom – if there is a any resistance release it and let it keep going for a minute or two. This is a little tricky to describe, but the chicken will let you know when it’s done…you’ll get the hang of it. Flip each piece and cook on the other side for 5 minutes, then remove to a bowl/plate with a rim and set aside.

Next fry up the bacon until it’s just crispy and pour off ¾ of the grease. Add the onions and garlic and let them cook down a few minutes until they start to sweat. Now add the peppers and let them sweat for about five minutes – they will cook through in the oven so the exact time here doesn’t really matter.

Now pour in the blackberries and stir.

Time to add the chicken back into the pot. Place the chicken on top of the veggies in an even layer. Pour over the wine and the chicken stock (or place your stock cubes on top).

Cover the pot and put it in the oven at 385’ F for 50 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 35 minutes.

Ready to go into the oven 

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes:

8 red potatoes – quartered to help them cook faster (I leave the skin on because I’m lazy, but it’s up to you if you want to peel them!)

4oz cream cheese

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup chicken stock

salt to taste

 

Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough water to cover an inch above the taters.  Place over med-high heat on the stove. Let it boil and check to see if the potatoes are tender after 20 minutes – you should be able to easily stick a fork into a piece and very easily slide it off the fork.

Once the potatoes are cooked through drain them and transfer back in the pot or into a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken stock and the cream cheese and mix it in with a potato masher or an electric mixer. Once that is all melted together add the sour cream and salt – start with about a tbsp of salt then add more to taste…I love super salt mashed potatoes.

Mix until all the lumps are gone, if they are two thick add some regular milk and mix again. Keep adjusting until you are satisfied!

I like to think of this meal as gourmet comfort food, it looks classy, but it’s got the fixings of superbowl party or a summer BBQ. You could say this is a meal that describes me pretty well…sort of like a mullet…I like a bit of sophistication, but when it comes down to it, I really am just a down and dirty country girl (mud dirty, not harlot dirty)…

Hope you Enjoy!

Fresh Eggs from the Backyard Chickens, and Lemony Pasta Goodness.

For the past two weeks I have been living with my grandkin in New Lebanon, NY – about three hours north of the city.

You may remember my previous rants about want to get out of the city, well I’ve finally made a move to make this goal a reality.  I have not permanently left my Brooklyn roots, but I will be staying up here for the majority of my time – three week on one week off kind of deal.

So far it’s been…

…great! I have driven the lawn mower – which as my Grandpa said, makes you feel like a fighter pilot or Luke Skywalker taking out his first TIE Fighter! I have been tending to the chickens each morning and putting them to roost at night. I have been walking the dog without a leash and letting him roam free in the fields. And of course I’ve been cooking. A lot of eggs.

I have become so spoiled by walking across the yard and plucking a fresh egg from a nest for breakfast. If you have the opportunity to buy really, truly fresh farm eggs, under a week old do it!

Grandma and her chickens – there are 11 in all, nine big ladies and two little Silkies

The shells are all different shades of white, brown, and blue! The yolks are the most gorgeous color of bright orange, you can practically see the nutrients – especially when you compare them to the supermarket eggs most of us grew up with. I had no idea what I was missing! The word for really fresh eggs is luscious. They will add richness to any dish or indulge in a perfect fried egg with a creamy runny yolk…and bacon, always bacon (I know that was random, guess I’m getting hungry…again)

 

Now rather than giving you recipes for regular egg dishes, i.e. breakfast, I decided to make something a little fancier. It’s a cross between garlic and oil spaghetti and spaghetti carbonara plus lemon.

I call it “Lemon, Garlic and Oil Carbonara”:

1lb gluten free spaghetti – quinoa pasta is my preference!

6 cloves of garlic – roughly chopped

3 tbsp’s olive oil

1 tsp coarse salt

zest from three lemons – about four tbsp’s

juice from three lemons – about ¼-½ cup

20 turns of fresh cracked black pepper

1/3 cup chicken stock (veggie is fine)

¼ cup water

2 eggs – the fresher the better!
Sautee the garlic in olive oil and salt over low heat until it’s soft, but not browned. Add the lemon zest and let it sizzle for a minute. Next add the lemon juice, pepper, stock and water stir over low heat then allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

Toss in the cooked pasta (cooked to your liking according to the package) and let the flavors meld together as you mix it in over the heat. Turn the heat off after two or three minutes.

Crack the two eggs over the hot pasta and toss to cover each bit – the heat will cook the eggs through so you don’t need to worry about salmonella. If you’re really worried, just leave off the egg and add a little bit of butter to make it creamy and rich.

Serve with grated Parmesan and another few turns of black pepper and some red pepper flakes if you like things hot.

Yum. Easy. Yum.


Disclaimer: the pasta photos are a little…crappy. I waited just a few minutes too long and lost the good light, but the pasta itself looked beautiful and was full of flavor. You’ll have to make it to see what it should look like! Here are more chickens instead.

It’s really quite wonderful here :)

 

ENJOY!

 

Matzo Ball Soup….I cheated in my gluten eating, but it was with good reason…

Last week sucked. I had the worst tickly, annoying sore throat that just sucked enough life out of me to make me want to curl into a ball and wrap myself in a giant comforter, but not quite sick enough to actually justify doing this. So i decided to make some soup instead and warm myself from the inside.

It has been said by many a Jewish grandmother (probably other cultures of grandmothers also…) that a good chicken broth will heal anything that ails you. I don’t know why, but I definitely believe this to be true. I had a Jewish Great Grandmother who I remember being an excellent cook… which apparently was my childish ignorance as according to my Grandmother my Great Grandmother was a vastly mediocre cook.

Either way, I was channeling the food of my Great Grandmother when I started making matzo ball soup. Now keeping in mind I was half in the land of the dead, I didn’t remotely bother to go gluten free with this recipe, so I apologize to my gluten-free readers. The good news is that this soup is 85% about the stock, which is gluten free! So for those of you who don’t cheat even when you’re feeling crappy, go as far as the stock and make a nice chicken and gluten-free noodle soup. Or just drink the warm broth. It really does do wonders.

 

Jewish Grandmother Chicken Stock:

One giant pot filled ¾ with cold water – I used my lobster pot

Three chicken carcasses

Two packages of stock vegetables – cut each into large chunky pieces – leave the herbs whole, and no need to peel anything (they sell these pre-packed at some grocery store)

–4 celery stocks, 2 carrots, 2 onions, 2 parsnips, 1 turnip, a handful of parsley and dill (per pack)

¼ cup kosher salt +more at the end to taste

fresh dill for garnish

 

Place the water filled pot on the stove over high heat and add the chicken carcasses. Let it simmer for an hour, then add the 1/4 cup salt and the chunky veggies and herbs. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 3 more hours, stirring occasionally – making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Remove the cover after three hours, stir again, taste and add salt if needed, then let it cook for another hour uncovered – this will let the broth reduce and concentrate the flavors. Once you are satisfied with the flavor/need to eat soup and refuse to wait any longer scoop out the veggies and chicken carcass with a large slotted spoon. I saved the carrots, cut them up and returned them to the soup for eating, but the other stuff I chucked into the bin.

Just before the stock was complete I store one cup of stock and added it to a pasta pot along with water too cook some egg noodles. I shredded the meat from a rotisserie chicken (one of my carcasses also). Then to complete the matzo ball soup I bought a box of matzo meal…and followed the instructions on the back. Lack luster, I know, but again , I was a zombie!

For each bowl I scooped the ingredients in separately, so a bunch of noodles, then some chicken, then some carrot, then a few matzo balls, then the wonderful, healing broth, then some dill for garnish and extra flavor punch.

And whatever you don’t use right away will freeze beautifully, and makes a great stock for any recipe that calls for it!

I think my Great Grandmother would have been proud of this one!

I am healed now :) and this is the kind of soup that makes me want to get sick again soon…you know what I mean.

 

ENJOY!

 

 

BBQ Sauce number 1. A Very Good Place to Start

 

As mentioned on Facebook (you should follow me on Facebook. Look over there ——>) I have been craving BBQ sauce lately. A really good, complex, thick, rich BBQ sauce. So I tried to make my own… semi-successfully.

I’ve never attempted BBQ sauce before, so I started by scouring the internet for other peoples’ recipes and was quickly overwhelmed by the vast differences from one sauce to the next – all of which claim to be the best in the world. To the point where I feel like maybe I am committing a crime by admit

ting the sauce I made, while quite tasty, was not the best sauce in the world.

After being so overwhelmed by the plethora of flavor options and what not, I decided to limit myself to what I had available in my kitchen and pantry. Which knocked off things like liquid smoke, mesquite powder, and molasses. I think this is also where I limited the chances of creating the exact flavor I was going for, but I didn’t spend any money on an experiment either – woohoo!

Here’s what I ended up with for my first ever BBQ sauce:

 

Tangy BBQ Sauce:

Wrap these in cheesecloth and set aside:

6 Cloves of garlic – whole

¼ of an onion

a handful of fresh lemon thyme

2 heaping tbsp’s dried hibiscus flowers (hibiscus tea leaves are also fine)

5 matchstick peppers – whole

1” knob of ginger – leave the skin on

 

2 tbsp’s bacon grease

2 6oz cans of tomato paste

½ stick unsalted butter

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup dark brown sugar – loosely packed

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp hickory smoked salt (just use regular salt if you can’t find it – I couldn’t taste it anyway)
2 tsp’s brown mustard seed

2.5 cups of water

 

In a medium sauce pot melt the butter with the tomato paste and bacon grease. Add the vinegar and bring to a simmer.

Next add the brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, and mustard seed. Stir until the sugar dissolves then add the water. Stir the pot to incorporate the water then drop in the tied off cheesecloth.

Let the sauce cook over low-medium heat for at least and hour, stirring regularly to make sure nothing is sticking or burning. The color will become a rich dark red as the sugars cook and the flavor develop the longer it goes.  There’s no real way to under or overcook the sauce (other than horribly burnt) it’s really just a matter of taste…and hunger level. I let it cook for a total of two hours.

 

The result is a tangy, sweet sauce that lends itself very well to pork in particular, but serve over your favorite meat, burgers, veggies, or however you like BBQ Sauce. I had some leftover pulled pork, so I globbed it on top of that. It’s definitely something I would make again, it just didn’t satisfy the exact craving I have had since our travels through some of the BBQ hotspots across the country.

I’ll have to try again soon!

 

For now, ENJOY!

Moving to the Beet Fries. Golden and Crispy and Salty and Sweet and Roasted.

My house was full of men this weekend. Paul’s band (Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun), minus one member, was mixing in my living room on Sunday. My job, provide a backup vocal track for a few small sections and, the obvious, provide the food!

Me being me, I couldn’t submit to the ease of putting out a bag of chips, so they got a healthier, much prettier alternative. Golden Beet Fries (amongst other tasty treats, but this is the focus for todays post…)

You can make any veggie in “fry” form and convince people to eat things they are normally reluctant to try – at least two of these guys claimed to hate beets until they had these…That was me patting myself on the back :)

Basically you want to take a good sized vegetable, peel it, and cut into long, thin, uniform strips… or a thick julienne to get fancy.

Toss the cut veg with enough olive oil just to coat and dump onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or sheets). Spinkle with a good amount of salt and pepper and pop in the over at 350′ F for about a half an hour. Watch them to make sure they don’t burn, and flip if things start to brown to much on one side…some of mine are a little extra crispy…that’s what I get for being too lazy to check the oven. Now you know why I’m not a great baker!

 

You’re not going to fool anyone into thinking they are eating regular french fries, but, again, add the word ‘fries’ to any veggie and somehow people are more willing to indulge…the mind is a tricky thing.

ENJOY!

Breakfast Fried Rice

 

Whenever we order Chinese  I get really excited. Not just because that little chubby kid is coming out of me and I get to indulge in greasy chicken and broccoli and crispy fried dumplings, but also because there is always a ridiculous amount of rice left over! Usually brown rice (you’ve got to be a little healthy when indulging, right?)

 

The beauty of leftover, plain brown rice is that there is an endless slew of possibilities to create a wonderful dish with the initial step taken care of already!

 

This time I used the rice for breakfast. I had sausage, eggs, peas, corn, and leftover rice. Which equals breakfast fried rice!

 

 

 

Breakfast Fried Rice:

 

½ an onion – roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves – roughly chopped

 

1 cup ground pork sausage – I used jimmy deans signature recipe, but breakfast would be good too!

 

2 cups cooked leftover brown rice

1/3 cup peas

1/3 cup corn

4 eggs – whisked

Olive oil

 

 

Start with a large heavy pot – if you have a wok now is the time to use it! Turn the heat on high and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Toss in the onions and garlic and let them cook until transparent – stir consistently or they will burn.

 

Next add the sausage meat and cook it through until it’s just starting to brown and get crispy, break it apart with a wooden spoon as it cooks.

 

Now add the brown rice, stir to combine. After about two minutes the rice will be warmed through and starting to fry a bit – add more oil if it is sticking too much.

 

Add in the corn and peas and stir in – if frozen give them a few extra minutes to cook through.

 

Once the peas and corn are cooked through (taste test it!) slowly pour oven the egg, stir to incorporate and let it cook for about 4 more minutes or until the egg is obviously cooked in (it will seem to disappear, but will coat rice so that it almost looks curdled)

 

At this point the texture is up to you! I didn’t let it fry too much longer as I was super hungry, but it you want crispier, add a bit more oil, let it keep cooking and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan!

 

 

Enjoy!

 

Minnesota, Homemade Pizzas – made by little helpers. An experiment with Heritage Wheat Flour.

 

We’ve made it back to Brooklyn. Successful, but now the city lacks that adventurous vibe we grew to love on the road. Not to mention the first thing we see upon our arrival into Manhattan was 45 minutes of traffic leading up to the Brooklyn Bridge.  At one point Paul turns to me and says “You haven’t cursed this much for the entire trip”…and I wasn’t even driving.

 

Perhaps needless to say, but I am back on my kick of desperately craving a change of pace from city life and the abundant consumerism that is NYC. I want adventure. In the great wide somewhere….wait that’s Belle (from Beauty and the Beast a la Disney). What I really want is simplicity, purity, and, of course, fresh good food. I want to know how our ancestors survived without supermarkets. I want to be able to live off the land. I want to be the one friends and family gather around for survival after the apocalypse hits!

 

I am only a little bit kidding.

 

I do truly believe it’s important to bridge ourselves away from the convenience of city life and learn to fend for ourselves, at least a little bit, and at least so that we don’t just blindly follow and eat whats put in front of us.

 

Of course this sounds very familiar at this point. I know I may simply be falling into the organic, back to the earth food trend that is moving around the country, but it doesn’t change my drive.  In fact it makes me more curious and adamant about the idea!

 

It was great to see places embracing farmers markets and local products, and non-hybrid crops. When you think about the last, say, ten years and how food trends have changed, and how we buy ad eat food has changed, it almost feels as though we are all part of a crazy science experiment!  Instead of searching for good cheese, we settle for the system shock that comes with the wrong choice.  It really made me wonder about the “allergy trends” as well. Granted I have a terrible memory, but I don’t remember ever hearing the words celiac, or gluten-free, or lactose intolerant or a lot of other intolerances that people seem to have developed (including myself) over the last few years. Suddenly these words and ailments are everywhere!

 

There has to be a connection to all of the genetically modified foods we eat. This is a concept that I had been questioning for a while. Then at the Mill City Farmers Market in Minnesota I found a heritage wheat flour company – wasn’t looking for it, but happily meandered over to question the owners. Their flours are all made with non modified wheat, similar to heirloom veggies – no mutations, no splicing, no combining. Just pure mother earth made wheat.

 

So I bought a bag of pizza flour (which the woman at the booth said is the exact same thing as their all purpose flour, but they label it as such for people who refuse to believe that all purpose will work for pizza). That night Paul, Kelly (my sister), and I made pizza with Paul’s three nieces (all under 7).

 

 

 

This was the best pizza I have ever made – maybe even ever had!

 

Pizza is an indulgence for me in general. When the little fat kid in me comes up and will only be satisfied by a perfect slice of New York pizza, the adult in me caves and deals with the consequences later. This time, using the heritage flour to make our dough, there were no consequences – and I mean none! It was almost jarring to eat an abundance of pizza and not feel the pain afterwords.

 

I just ordered more flour from the Sunrise Flour Mill (I used the “Pizza or All Purpose Flour” for the pizzas)

 

 

When cooking with kids it’s best to keep things simple and colorful. I followed the pizza dough instructions on the bag (3cups flour, tsp yeast, 1cup tepid water; knead for 6 minutes until smooth, and a pinch of salt, knead for 2 more minute, cover and let double in size;)

 

 

At the farmers market I also picked up a bunch of veggies – zucchini, patty pan squash, potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, kale – and some fresh cheese. I sliced everything very very thin and made seperate bowls of colorful veggies for the girls to stick their hands into and layer whatever they wanted onto the pizzas. I used a really simple and delicious tomato sauce from a jar – look for something with very basic ingredients, the fewer the better. Also sliced some leftover italian sausage.

 

 

I found it easiest to give each girl a cookie sheet and a ball of dough – they needed some help getting it thin, but had fun dictating different shapes. Then layer sauce, cheese and veggies – let them go crazy!

 

 

Bake at 395′ F for about 15 minutes or until the crust is brown and the veggies are softened.


 

Then for dessert…dessert pizzas! Spread some Nuetella and layer fresh peach slices, bake as above.

 

 

For the record, I am not a doctor or nutritionist or in any position to guide anyone to try this product if you have severe allergies. I would however recommend trying this flour to anyone who is mildly gluten INTOLERANT – best case, like me you’ve found a solution, worst case, you have discomfort like any other day you cheat a bit.

 

(again if you’re allergic and could have a sever reaction to gluten, maybe talk to a professional first)

 

I hope you enjoy reading my crazy tangents followed by generally useful info! More to come soon.

 

ENJOY!

 

Hamilton, Montana: Happenstance setting, French meets Asian short ribs. The Adventure Continues!

The pot that inspired this meal.

 

We are back on the road, heading slowly towards the Brooklyn home-base.  It has been an amazing adventure thus far and the wedding last Saturday was absolutely beautiful.

 

I write this post while sitting on a couch in a perfectly breezy living room of an 1880’s farmhouse in the gorgeous landscape of the Bitterroot Valley, Montana. A place we are able to stay in purely by happenstance.

 

Over the course of the week before Shane and Mike’s wedding we met a lot of their friends and family and told everyone about our trip and our tentative plans for the ride home. One of Mike’s aunts perked up when I mentioned plans to camp in Missoula, MT and immediately offered us the use of her house, an hour south of Missoula.

 

We are now surrounded by mountains, there are horses in the yard, our dog refuses to come inside because he’s far too excited, this afternoon we went swimming in an alpine lake – Lake Como!

 

The theme of our trip has become “rebirth”. I know that may sound cheesy, but it’s very fitting for us right now. You know that feeling you get just before something in your life changes dramatically for the better? Well Paul and my “times they are a’changin” senses tingling. There is a kind of magic in the air. The calm before a beautiful and much needed storm – in a very good way.

 

With “rebirth” in mind we decided to let things unfold before us and follow the path that presented itself.  It’s an amazing feeling to trust that the Universe will provide for you. I know I sound very cosmic! But I feel very fulfilled at the moment, and again we ended up here in Hamilton, MT by trusting the Universe, so we must be doing something right :)

 

 

 

French Meets Asian Short Ribs:

 

Ten short ribs

 

1 tbsp unsalted butter

2 strips of crispy bacon – roughly chopped

2 tsp’s Anaheim pepper (or any red chili pepper) – deseeded and minced

2 tbps’s garlic – minced

1 tbsp fresh ginger – minced

 

1 ½ heaping tsp Dijon mustard

 

½ a large yellow onion (about a cup chopped)

4 tbsp’s fresh tarragon – roughly chopped

2 cups baby yellow potatoes

 

2 + cups of dry white wine

2 + cups of water – not hot

 

Over a high flame, heat two tbsp’s of olive oil in a med-large dutch oven sprinkle the oil with a generous amount of coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper. Once the pan is very hot place the short ribs in a single layer and brown for 3 minutes on every side (do this in batches if your pan isn’t large enough for one layer all at once.)

 

Remove the browned meat to a bowl and set aside.

 

We start with the Asian ingredients. Turn the heat down to medium and add the butter, two more tbsp’s of olive oil and a little more salt and pepper. Once melted add in the chopped bacon, chili pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir to combine and scrape the bottom a bit. Allow these to cook for about 8 minutes or until they become soft and melty – if the garlic starts to brown too quickly turn the flame down… you don’t want burnt garlic, bleegch.

 

Now it’s time to add the French influence. Add the mustard and let it melt into the pot, stirring it in.  Next add the onions and tarragon, again stir to combine. Let the onion cook until it starts to sweat about four minutes (this should be over medium heat again if you needed to adjust for the garlic before, bring it back to medium now).

 

Next add the potatoes.  Let these little babies cook and brown a bit for about 8 minutes – stir occasionally.

 

More French influence! Now it’s time to deglaze the pan (add liquid to shock the bottom into releasing all of the brown goodness).  Add a ½ cup of the white wine and scrape the bottom all around, add more wine if you need more to get everything free.  Once you are satisfied with the scraping, arrange the potatoes into a single layer – or close enough to a single layer.

 

Meat time.

 

Arrange the short ribs on top of the potatoes, again in a single layer, a little overlapping is ok, but as close to a single layer as possible.

 

Pour over enough wine to come halfway up the meat, then pour over enough water to just cover the meat – I left some stubborn pieces poking up out of the liquid.

 

Cover the pot, stick it in an oven at 375’ F for two hours, then uncover the pot and cook for another hour

 

 

The beauty of this dish is that, though there are a ton of strong flavors, you taste meat when you take a bite of meat, and you taste potato when you take a bite of potato. Everything melts together in beautiful harmony, but never looses its integrity.

 

 

More cosmic Lindsay from Montana coming soon. Then on to Yellowstone, the Badlands, and Minnesotta.

ENJOY!

On the Road to Seattle. Food. Fun. Campfires. Tenting. Sightseeing. Happiness.

At 8 o’clock on Monday morning Paul and I loaded up the car, buckled the dog into the back seat, and hit the road. Our first layover was Richmond, IN – a quick 11 hour drive from Brooklyn.

As a self-proclaimed adventurous and frugal person I insisted on camping anywhere along the way that we don’t have a free place to stay. The only reason I say this with a hint of negativity is that I forgot that driving 11 plus hours (we had to stop often for the dog) means we get there in the dark.

i.e. we set up camp in the dark.

i.e. not so great lighting for setting up a tent, or building a fire, or taking good photos…

But Paul and I work well in “survival” situations and managed to get the tent set up and a nice fire going before ten pm…pretty good if you ask me!

 

For our road-food commencement dinner I cooked the first of our chicken packets. You remember those frozen olive oil and fresh herb filled ice cube trays? Well once they were frozen I assembled packets with chicken and other tasty freezable foods.

 

 

Here’s a photo of chicken with peaches and a garlic basil olive oil cube…

 

I placed the tightly folded packets on a grill surface over a roaring fire. Then as my impatience grew I placed the packets directly onto the coals for a another few minutes. The only issue with cooking this way is that it’s basically impossible to tell when it’s done. So the solution is to guess, then open the packets very carefully (there is a lot of steam involved) and check whether the chicken is cooked through. All together these took about 12 minutes – 8 on the grill and 4 on the coals.

 

Here’s a not-so-great shot of the cooked chicken – this is the tomato, garlic and basil cube.

So the verdict for freezing herbs in olive oil is definitely a big thumbs up! They may not stay frozen on the road very well, but the flavor is there even when it’s melty. Not to mention how great it has been to have a really fast meal to throw on the fire after a long day of driving and sight-seeing.

 

The next morning we drank in the surrounding beauty, packed up the car and headed to find some grub to eat on the road.

When I booked this leg of the trip, I knew nothing about Richmond, IN. Now after being there, I still know nothing of the history, but I have discovered that the old district is really charming.  You can sense the hard work that went into and took place in the buildings. A lifestyle and working-style long forgotten, but maintains a sense of pride and strength. The few people we spoke to were funny, friendly, and talkative. A skill that is lost in New York. Don’t get me wrong, people talk CONSTANTLY in NY, but the people in Richmond spoke truly , rather than of self-indulgence.

 

 

Our breakfast quest led us to a little cafe called Paulee in old Richmond, where we split a surprisingly tasty Sausage and Egg Biscuit – maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I expected greasy and convenient as opposed to the well seasoned, not at all greasy little sandwich that we had!

And onward we go to Kansas City and beyond!

ENJOY!

Getting Ready to Camp! Recipes for the Road.

What do you pack for a month-long road trip across the country? If you’re anything like me, the answer is food. I’ve spent the last few weeks scouring for inspiration. I’ve come across recipes from the simple find a stick and spearing a hotdog onto it to the complex need to bring your whole kitchen camping with you. I’ll settle for something in the middle.

 

Because we are going to be on the road for so long (we’re heading to my best friends wedding in Seattle!) I’m thinking frozen sauces, soups  and prepped accouterment is the way to go – basically my thought is that I’ll have the flavoring ready to go and we’ll pick up the meat on the road, with the exception of the first few days worth.

 

One tidbit I picked up was, of course, on Pinterest. I’m beyond obsessed with Pinterest! Use the link on the top left to check out my boards – they are numerous and vast!  But back to the tidbit. a fellow Pinner claims if you freeze fresh herbs in olive oil they will stay good and won’t become waterlogged the way they would if you freeze them alone or with water.

 

I am VERY excited about this concept! What could be better than foil chicken with an oil-ice cube with fresh rosemary? all the work is done and the flavors will melt and cook right in!

 

 

Today I prepped my trays with many different kinds of herbs, some chopped tomato, and some freshly roasted garlic (yum – see bellow), poured over the olive oil, covered with plastic wrap (incase they spill and so that the flavor doesn’t permeate into my freezer) and froze those little bad boys up!

 

Rosemary and Roasted Garlic

 

 

Tomatoes, Basil and Roasted Garlic

 

 

Thai Basil, Roasted Garlic and Lime Zest

 

 

All with the Olive Oil Poured over

 

I wait patiently now. The next step will be to assemble some pre-packed foil packets with chicken and shrimp, freeze those and load the cooler at the last possible second before we head out on the road!

 

Roasted Garlic:

Place 6 whole heads of garlic in a loaf pan and bake in the oven at 335’ F for about an hour or until a sharp knife will poke through with ease.

 

Allow the heads to cool until you can stand to touch them with bare hands. Cut the bottom off a head then squeeze the softened garlic, from both ends, into a bowl, be careful not to add any skins to the bowl, repeat with each head. Smash it with a fork to get a creamy consistency.

 

This is a kitchen staple! Use it in pretty much anything, mix it mayo for a sandwich, use it in stir-fry, spread it on bread with a little butter and parsley for a quick garlic bread…you get the idea!

 

Chocolate Cranberry Coconut Granola…Almost a Kitchen Fail.

 

You can’t win’um all folks.

 

This week I wanted to make a batch of granola – something I’ve done many times with consistant success.

 

This week did not want me to make a batch of granola. Timing was off, I didn’t have the ingredients I like to use, and it was a thousand degrees and humid. But I was feeling headstrong and stubborn, so I persisted. The record for me versus the anti-granola-making-energy is a tie leaning towards the anti-granola-making-energy…and easily arguable that that stupid energy won.

 

Normally I use a slew of nuts and seeds and coco nibs and thick luscious liquid to bind everything together, but this time I didn’t have enough of the nuts and my liquid element wasn’t thick enough for everything to come together. I also attribute a lot of the issue to the fact that there was 80% humidity that day. Looking back I realize it was a loosing battle to try and remove the moisture from food when the air quality wants nothing but to surround said food in a bubble of water.

 

With that said. This recipe may be great on another day – add more maple syrup, nuts and chocolate and you’ll have a winner.


 

SIDENOTE: you can tell based on my enthusiasm that I wrote out the recipe before the granola came out of the oven…

 

Chocolate Cranberry Coconut Granola:

1 cup pure cranberry juice – unsweetened

½ cup pure maple syrup – not the fake stuff

½ cup coconut oil

 

4 cups rolled oats – not quick oats

2 cups unsalted raw sunflower seeds

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

½ cup crushed almonds

 

1 ¼ cups shredded coconut – not sweetened

 

In a sauce pan over med-high heat bring the juice, syrup and oil to a soft boil. Meanwhile in a really large mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients, excluding the shredded coconut, toss a bit to combine and set aside.

 

Once the sauce is boiling add in the coconut and stir to combine. It will look a little strange – sort of foamy and, quite honestly, a little gross. Let it cook for just a minute, then turn off the stove and pour the mixture over the ingredients in your big bowl. Carefully mix to combine (I have basically thrown granola all over my kitchen trying to mix too hastily).

 

Divide the mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheets or into coconut-oil-greased cupcake tins.

 

If you go for the cookie sheet press the granola into a thin even layer.

 

If you go the cupcake tin direction press the granola down so that it comes up about ¾ of the way up the tin, again make sure it’s even.

 

Bake in the oven at 225’ F for about a half an hour or until it’s nice and golden. Don’t forget to check regularly after the 15 minutes mark as it can go from raw-looking to dragon-fire charred in a matter of seconds.

 

A little trick I’ve picked up with granola is that if you want cereal consistency, break the granola up right away, but if you want clusters or bars let the tray dry COMPLETELY – this is especially necessary for the cupcake tin version. It’s tedious, annoying, and I often don’t have the patience for this, but there is something extra tasty about clustered granola – plus it’s better for travel!

 

 

All-in-all the taste is mostly there it just never got crispy darn it!

 

May you have better luck and more pleasant weather!

 

ENJOY!

A “Top Chef” Challenge – Balsamic Steak with Onion and Garlic Relish & Coco Rosemary Potatoes

 

If you are among my regular followers you know that I have recruited the boyfriend, Paul, to challenge my culinary creativity. If you aren’t one of my regulars you should be! But basically he shops for whatever ingredients he wants and I come up with the dishes, and I’m allowed whatever is in the fridge and pantry too.

 

This past Saturday, on his way back to Brooklyn after band rehearsal, Paul stopped at Fairway Market to shop. Keep in mind I didn’t put any limits or restrictions on what to buy. He had an entire store full of beautiful and unique ingredients….and he brings me steak, russet potatoes, an onion, and blue cheese. A beautiful steak, fresh veggies and good blue cheese but still! Where is the creative challenge?!

 

So me being me – and having put it into my head that I would have a strange combination ingredients to work with – I went to my pantry to pull out the first thing I saw. Unsweetened coco powder. Not that strange, but not something you would expect to find with steak and potatoes either.

 

I started with the onion. Rather than making traditional caramelized onions I decided to caramelize them along with a ton of garlic in balsamic vinegar. The result was a delicious tart, tangy, sweet steak topper – or really anything topper :)

 

 

Then I moved on to the potatoes. Here is where I incorporated the coco powder. I wanted the coco to add depth, and richness – something that could stand up to the balsamic in the steak and the relish. So I decided to make a sort of scalloped potato with rosemary and coco with just a hint of honey. Of course I didn’t have any cream so it wasn’t quite as creamy as I would have liked. It was good, but definitely could and will be improved.

 

 

Moving on to the meat. I have mentioned before that I am a purest when it comes to steak. Unless it’s a cheap cut, there is no need to over season. Just some salt and pepper is all you need. In this case, keeping with the creative spirit, I veered from my meat formula just a little bit and decided to add a balsamic glaze right at the end of the cooking process. this gives the meat an amazing sugary crust on the outside and enhances the built-in flavor of the meat without overpowering it.

 

 

Balsamic Onions and garlic Relish:

1 sweet onion – ¼ inch slices

12 garlic cloves – roughly chopped

½ cup balsamic vinegar

salt

pepper

 

Place all into a baking dish and stir. Bake uncovered in a 350’ F oven for about 30 minutes – stirring occasionally – until the onions are well wilted and the vinegar is a thick black sauce. Because of the sugar content it will go from perfect to burnt caramel very quickly, so make sure it doesn’t burn!

 

 

Rosemary Coco potatoes:

2 tbsp coco powder – unsweetened

2 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp fresh rosemary – minced

1 tsp honey

1 tsp salt

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

2 russet potatoes – sliced very thin

2 tbsp cold water

extra olive oil to thin

 

In a mixing bowl whisk together the coco powder with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the rosemary, honey and salt, whisk again. Add in the yogurt. While whisking slowly drizzle in a ¼ cup of olive oil then the water. Toss the potato slices into the mixture stir to make sure every piece is coated. Then pour it into a pie dish and place a fresh spring of rosemary ontop. Cover with tin foil and bake in a 375’ F oven for 35 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 15 minutes or until the top is extra crispy.

 

 

 

Beautiful Balsamic Sirloin – Medium Rare:

2 lb sirloin steak

salt

pepper

 

Balsamic Glaze:

 

½ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

 

Heat a griddle pan on high for ten minutes. Generously salt and pepper each side of the steak. Place the steak in the center of the pan and press it down with a weight. Cook it for 8 minutes on the first side flip and cook for ten minutes. Brush a good amount of glaze onto the side you can see then flip it again for two minutes, glaze the other side and cook in the glaze on that side for another two minutes.

 

Transfer the steak to a board and let it set for at least ten minutes before cutting in.  Serve with the onion-garlic relish (see above) and crumbled blue cheese.

 

 

I don’t know if this meal (mostly the potatoes) would have one me Top Chef, but I wouldn’t have been eliminated in an early round! Next time we play this game I think Paul will come up with a bigger challenge for me so stay tuned!

 

ENJOY!

 

Poached Sole, Coconut Braised Brussels Sprouts, and Roasted Chipotle Corn

 

I want to stay home from school today. Oh right, I’m not in school anymore…I want to stay home from adult life today…

Do you know that feeling, when you just don’t feel like doing anything? except for maybe sinking into the couch with a bowl of chili, or mashed potatoes (I’m not entirely sure why those are my examples, but it makes sense to me). These are those moments that define us as grown beings. To quote Albus Dumbledore “must make the choice between what is right and what is easy”.

 

My compromise is that I am writing my next blog entry from my couch – still working, but in indulgent comfort…and there’s a caesar salad pizza on the way – lazy food with salad built-in (that’s healthier right?)

 

This posts meal is a good example of compromise. Low energy used to make it and a high quality, would-be-impressive-if-I-had-the-energy-to-entertain meal.

 

I present you with Olive oil Poached Sole, Coconut Braised Brussels Sprouts, and Roasted Chipotle Corn (thank goodness I wrote out the recipe already or I may have given up on posting today!)

 

 

 

Chipotle Roasted Corn:

1 package of frozen corn – thawed to room temperature

a couple of squirts of chipotle sauce – I used GOYA here, but have also used the Tabasco brand

olive oil

 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment and spread the corn in one layer. Give it about ten squirts/shakes of sauce – if you don’t like spicy use less. Then drizzle with olive oil and stick in the oven at 350’ F for about 20 minutes or until the pieces around the edges are really starting to brown – not burnt, just well browned.

 

 

 

Coconut braised Brussels Sprouts:

 

1 & ½ cups shredded Brussels Sprouts

¼ cup olive oil

1 tbsp lime zest

1 tbsp coarse salt

about a cup of coconut water – my fav is vita coco

 

Line a walled cookie sheet with parchment and spread the sprouts in one layer. Pour over the olive oil, zest and salt.  Mix it up a bit then flatten everything out again. Slowly pour over the coconut water until the sprouts are just about covered – obviously making sure not spill over the walls of the pan. Carefully transfer to the oven and braise at 350’ F for half an hour or until well browned – the sugar from the coconut water will basically caramelize so it can burn easily, just keep an eye on it.

 

 

 

 

Poached Sole:

4 cups water

2 cups olive oil

1 head of garlic – cut in half around the belly

2 steaks of sole – about a pound

 

Combine the water, oil and garlic in a deep but not too wide saucepan. Bring to a low boil and turn the heat to medium. Whisk the contents to combine  (…this may be pointless since it is oil and water and it will separate again). Gently place the fish in the pot and let it cook for about ten minutes until the fish is just firm – at random intervals I would carefully whisk the liquids again so that the oil gets into the fish.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to strive for perfection, but this doesn’t have to mean nothing gets accomplished. You know, I think I might actually do a little exercise and cleaning next…by that I mean walk the dog around the block and load the dishwasher. It’s a baby steps kind of day.

 

ENJOY!

Braised Halibut with Leeks, Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives. AND a Summer Risotto

 

Paul, Albus and I spent the week in New Lebanon, NY with my grandparents.  Complete with fields to run through, gardens to tend, a pond to swim in, and plenty to cook and eat!  Did I mention that it was a million degrees out this week.  Normally I am an anti-air conditioner kind-of person – Rise above the elements! as my grandpa says – but it’s just too damn hot and I was very, very, very grateful for the artificial relief of cold blasting into my face!

 

This is not the kind of weather for a heavy meal (it’s probably not the kind of weather to turn the oven on either, but I caved on that one and turned the AC up…my morals go right out the window when there is sweat in my eyes)

 

When I want something that’s satisfying yet light I go for a nice flaky white fish. This time I grabbed Halibut and cooked it up with leeks, tomatoes and Kalamata olives. As a side I made a quick summer Risotto.

 

 

You may guffaw when I say this, but I don’t think Risotto is as difficult as the stereotype would have you believe. Tedious, yes. but not difficult. and when you add fresh basil, lemon zest, a ton of garlic, and baby peas it makes a perfect summer side dish.

 

Summer Risotto:

12 cloves of garlic – roughly chopped

½ a large shallot (about 2 tbspn) – thinly sliced

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp olive oil

1 ½ cups of arborrio rice – wide short grain white rice

 

17 oz coconut water

4+ cups of fish stock – may need more or less, it varies evey time

 

1/8 cup lemon juice

2 tbspn lemon zest

4 tbspn fresh basil – finely chopped

salt and pepper

 

Start by cooking the shallots and garlic with the olive oil and butter, and a heaping tsp of salt and pepper, over medium heat in a large heavy bottom stock pot/dutch oven. While these cook, heat the stock and the coconut water in a sauce pan on the stove over medium heat, bring to a simmer and then turn it to low. Once the veggies are sweaty (soft and translucent) add the rice.

 

 

Stir the rice in and allow it toast for a few minutes – this helps release the starch which creates the creamy texture later.

 

 

Now it’s time to begin adding your stock – which should never be cold, room temp is ok, but simmering is better.  Add ONLY A CUP of stock to the rice – this is clutch for risotto, if you dump all the liquid in at once it will never become creamy, just a mushy mess. Stir and cover the pot, check it after a few minutes. Once the liquid is absorbed stir the rice again and add another cup of stock, stir and cover.

 

 

This is what I mean by easy but tedious. Keep going like this until the rice is cooked through – I taste it after the third cup of stock is absorbed.

 

 

You should see the rice starting to become creamy at this point. When the rice is just undercooked uncover the pot, add a final cup of stock and stir continuously until the liquid is absorbed. It should now be especially creamy.

 

 

Now is also the time to add the last three ingredients and more salt and pepper if it needs it.

 

 

The Beauty of being a chef/cook is that you get to taste everything, including the wine. This is what I do while waiting for the stock to absorb in between stirrings…

 

 

Then on to the fish…well really the fish was in the oven first so that it all finishes at the same time…so, then on to the fish recipe!

 

 

Braised Halibut with Leeks, Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives in a white wine fish broth:

½ cup of pittied Kalamata Olives – roughly chopped

¼ cup of roughly chopped basil – I just threw in two handfulls

12 cloves of garlic – roughly minced

1 giant leek – cut into small, half-moon pieces and rinsed very well!

3 cups of cherry tomatoes

¼ cup olive oil

1+ lb of Halibut – cut into six pieces (add more fish if you’re serving more people)

salt

pepper

½ cup dry white wine

1 – 2 cups of fish stock

 

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a roasting pan, toss to combine then flatten out evenly. Press the fish pieces down into the veggies so that the sides are covered, but the top is still exposed – don’t make the fish touch each other, each piece should be surrounded by veg.

 

 

Generously sprinkle the whole thing with salt and pepper, pour over the wine followed by enough fish stock to barley cover the conents – you want enough broth so that you can see it on the surface, but not covering everything.

 

Cover the dish with tin foil and bake  at 375’ F for 40 minutes, then uncover, raise the temp to 405’F and bake for another 15 minutes. The broth will keep the fish from drying out while the veggies have the chance to brown.  Serve over rice, and be sure to spoon some of the broth over the top!

 


Alas the dog will be very depressed when we head back to Brooklyn tomorrow…me too if truth be told. Especially this time of year, I find the city is too crowded and really just too grandiose for me.  Maybe I’m just falling for the “back-to-the-land” trend of my generation or perhaps I really was a pioneer woman in another life, either way over the past few years I am moving steadily towards packing up and moving out of NY to start a farm

 

 

and my boys seem to like country living too (sickeningly cute isn’t it? This just makes me happy).

 

Maybe soon this will turn into a fresh from the farm blog, but for now I will content myself with fresh ingredients from summer farmers markets and meandering through Prospect Park :)

 

ENJOY!

Fourth of July Picnic and James Taylor at Tanglewood.

The past few years have brought on uneventful fourth of Julys. To be perfectly honest I don’t really remember what we did…other than eat mass amounts of some sort of meat. Though again it’s more a hazy fog of burgers, pork, and hot dogs than a specific tantalizing bite. This year was a little different.

 

There was very little meat to speak of – just a few slices of ham and prosciutto. Otherwise, Paul and I had a very relaxing fourth at Tanglewood in the Berkshires, sitting on a red, white and blue sheet, eating a random spread of foodage, and listening to the so-close-yet-very-far-away songs of James Taylor. Neither of us are particular fans of James Taylor, but my grandma gave us the tickets and the picnicking part sounded like a great way to spend an evening.
So I hastily packed our cooler with a few essentials – forks, a steak knife, a spoon, napkins, two empty Tupperware containers, and water. and we headed for the market.

 

 

There we picked up tomatoes, avocado, shallots, lemon, tortilla chips, prosciutto, ham, provolone, greek yogurt, bread (I know it’s not gluten-free this time), watermelon, basil, fresh mozzarella, and wine! I also snagged a few packets of salt and pepper – they usually have these in markets that have ready to foods. much easier than packing my shakers, and they’re free!With our strange assortment of edibles we drove on to the concert, parked on a crazy steep hill, found that everybody else had been there at least three hours before we arrived, and found a patch of grass behind two buildings to spread out, enjoy the view, and listen to the music from a far away stage. Oh and people watching! It was great.

 

 

Picnic blanket Guacamole:

1 avocado

1 shallot – cut into thin slices don’t worry about even slices if you’re in a park

½ a lemons juice

A handful of cherry tomatoes – cut in half

Two little packets of salt (about a tsp)

Two little packets of pepper (about a tsp)

 

Place all into a tuperware and shake until destroyed (in a good way)

Eat with tortilla chips or on a sandwich or just bread…or with a spoon.

 

Cut.

 

Combine.

 

Shake.

Eat.

 

A couple things to take note of from my “packing list” I forgot a cutting surface, so I ended up using the top of my Tupperware. I forgot plates, or any sort of eating surface, so we just did without. and I forgot cups, so I ended up sawing the top off of one of our water bottles after chugging the water and we drank our wine from the butt of the water bottle. I only travel and eat with class.

 

 

 

Quick awesome all-purpose dip/spread:

 

1 small container of greek yogurt

½ a lemons juice

1 little packet of salt (about ½ a tsp)

1 little packet of pepper (about ½ a tsp)

about 6 leaves of fresh basil – torn into strips/small pieces

 

combine all in a tuperware and shake until combined.

 

 

 

Park Pork Sandwich:

Crusty Bread

Provalone cheese slices

Black forest ham – nitrate free!

Prosciuto

awesome all-purpose dip/spread (see above)

Basil leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caprese Bites:

Fresh Mozzarella – any size is fine, if big, cut to bite sized pieces (in water is better here)

Bunch of fresh basil

Cherry tomatoes

Water – to rinse things that need it

 

Stack and eat.

 

 

 

Watermelon Salad:

pre-cut watermelon

Fresh Basil – torn into pieces

 

Open the container of cut watermelon. Sprinkle over the basil….yeah, that’s it.

 

 

 

Next time I might sprinkle just a little bit of salt on the watermelon to bring out more of the flavors. I am a big fan of salty-sweets. Otherwise this turned into a very memorable picnic! Of course you don’t have to make all of this in the park. I just enjoyed the challenge/didn’t plan ahead properly, but everything we made was very easy to put together and tasted fresher in the great outdoors!

 


It was a good day :)

 

ENJOY!

 

Doughnuts! Maple Bacon, Coffee Coffee, and Lemon Poppy Seed!

This morning we took the dog (Albus Dumbledog) to Prospect Park. It was  absolutely beautiful walking near the big lake then latter Albus run free amongst the other doggins as they frolic and chase tennis balls…and then jumped into the lake. Ah the simple pleasures of dog life. I wish I got the same joy out of slobbering on tennis balls, but I alas my palette is more complex. I crave much more involved flavors…like doughnuts (good segway, right?). Today I made doughnuts, mostly just because I wanted doughnuts. Gluten-free doughnuts.

 

 

As an avid Pinterest-er and viewer of food-porn I have stubbled across the lazy-mans homemade doughnut a few times – i.e. grands biscuits. Though I couldn’t bring myself to try that version, I was inspired by the concept of biscuit + frying = doughnut. So I grabbed a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Biscuit/baking flour mix. I have to say this was an amazingly successful experiment!

 

Doughnuts:

2 eggs plus one yolk – whisked until foamy

3 tbsp butter – whipped

½ cup sugar

1 24oz bag of bob’s Red Mill gluten free biscuit/baking flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tbsp tapioca flour

pinch of salt

1 1/3 cup buttermilk

 

 

Fill a deep pot with 5 inches of corn oil, and heat on med-high.

 

Combine eggs sugar and butter. Sift flours, powder, soda and salt then combine with the egg mixture. Slowly add the buttermilk with the mixer on. Mix just until combined.

 

 

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and roll out to an inch thick. If you have biscuit cutters here’s your chance to use them. If, like me, you do not have biscuit cutters it’s time to get creative! I used a juice cup for the big circle, then cut a plastic bottle in half and used the open spout to cut out the center doughnut hole (see the photo).

 

 

 

 

 


Try to get the most out of the first rolling – the second gets a little denser.  This recipe made about 2-dozen doughnuts and after a certain point I decided to just tear off pieces and make a bunch of doughnut holes.

 

Test the oil to make sure it’s hot enough with a small piece of dough – it should bubble and sizzle when you drop it in and rise to the top very quickly. Carefully drop in your doughnuts three at a time (depending on your pot size, just don’t crowd them or the oil will loose too much heat). Flip when the edges are noticeably golden – about a minute. Flip again after a minute, then remove after ten seconds.

 

 

Dip in glaze then sprinkle with decorative items.

 

 

Doughnut toppings:

To make a glaze combine equal parts liquid and sugar – if it seems to thin add more sugar. Adjust as you need to.

 

Maple Bacon:

Maple Syrup

Confectioners Sugar

Sprinkle crispy bacon

 

 

Coffee Coffee:

Manhattan Special coffee soda

Confectioners sugar

Sprinkle with ground espresso

 

 

Lemon Poppy Seed:

Lemon juice

Confectioners Sugar

Sprinkle glazed doughnut with peppy seeds

  

 

Lavender Sugar:

Dried lavender flowers

Granulated sugar

 

 

Cinnamon Sugar:

Cinnamon

Granulated sugar

 

 

I was a little impatient with my glazing – it will stay on better if you give the doughnuts a chance to cool down first…I didn’t wait because I couldn’t. Either way these are my kind of doughnuts, they’re crispy yet soft and not too sweet. The perfect fit for my whim of a craving.

 

ENJOY!

 

 

A better BLT

How do make the perfect indulgent sandwich a little lighter? Use portabella mushrooms instead of bread!

 

 

This open-face sandwich – though maybe not exactly healthy – is a lot lighter than your standard BLT. There’s no bread and instead of gloppy mayo I whipped up some goat cheese goodness (with bacon and horseradish).

 

 

A better BLT:

2 portabella mushrooms
2 handfuls of Arugula
4 slices of tomato
5-1,000,000 slices of bacon – cooked to your liking (I like just before super crispy)
4 tbsp goat cheese spread (see below)

 

Goat Cheese Spread:
½ goat cheese
2 slices of extra crispy bacon – crumbled
2 tbsp horseradish
Milk to thin

 

Brush the portabellas with olive oil and grill them – on a griddle or grill or use a frying pan pressing down with a weight – flipping after about 6 minutes. Cook until just cooked through – stick a knife through the thickest part, if it goes in easily without much pressure it’s ready!

 

 

Assembly:

Take your cooked portabella and spread it with 2 tablespoons of the goat cheese awesomeness. Place 2 tomato slices, then bacon, then a handful of Arugula. Eat and feel good knowing that your BLT is a little bit healthier. Then eat doughnuts.

 

 

 

 

ENJOY!

Grandma Aurora’s Pecan Pie Muffins (made Gluten-free)

Today is one of those chilly, breezy days where everything smells fresh and familiar. As though everything you see is a memory of something wonderful, long forgotten. It’s the kind of day that makes me think of my childhood and my favorite things to do as a kid. One of which was cooking with my Grandmother. This past christmas she and my Grandfather gave me a recipe box that they made from crab bushel wood (they live on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia).  The box is filled with my grandmothers recipes. It’s really an adult treasure chest.

 

 

Going with the sentiment of the day I decided to whip out the recipe box and choose something to whip up. I chose my Grandma’s Pecan Pie Muffins. They are chewy, crunchy, buttery, nutty goodness. They aren’t too similar to regular muffins – they aren’t as dense, there is no “top of the muffin” and they don’t really rise that much. BUT they are freaking amazing and, for me, a perfect way to travel back to my grandma’s kitchen

 

 

Grandma Aurora’s Pecan Pie Muffins (made Gluten-free): 

1 cup chopped raw pecans

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill All-purpose)

1 heaping tsp baking powder

sprinkle of salt

2 large eggs

½ cup (1 stick) melted butter

splash of Grand Marnier  (or other orange liquor, or vanilla extract, or experiment, or leave it out)

 

 

Combine the flour and sugar, add in the nuts and salt. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until foamy/bubbly, then slowly drizzle in the melted butter whisking continuously (if you dump it all in at once you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Ew.)

 

Pour the egg mixture over the flour/nut mixture and stir to combine. Splash in your Grand Marnier and mix it in.

 

This is a very runny batter so don’t be scared if it looks different than other muffin batters…the emphasis is really on “Pie”.

 

Pour into a greased or paper lined muffin pan filling each section about ¾ full.  These muffins don’t rise that much (even the non-gluten free version stays pretty low).

 

Cook in a 350’ F oven for 10-15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and perfectly crunchy looking.

 

This batch makes twelve muffins.

 

 

 

 
 

 

One of my favorite things about my Grandmother is how she always remembers good stories and little details about everybody. For example, she always has honey out for me in the morning to go with my coffee even though I’m the only only one who drinks it that way. She also gives the absolute best presents and somehow makes them even more special than the inherit specialness (yes that’s a word). On my recipe box she added a reminder of a very funny afternoon I spent with them down in Virginia.

 

We were eating lunch on their front porch under a giant umbrella when we noticed a tree frog perched high up on the shaft. We had been hearing this frog for a while, but couldn’t figure out where he was, so we were all very excited when we finally discovered him hiding in the umbrella. He seemed perfectly content to just hang out while we were eating and we went about preparing our lunch – wraps. I had a wrap layer on my palm to which I had just applied some mayo – I like more mayo than I should – and was reaching for the mustard…and that’s when Mr. Frog decided he didn’t want to be on the umbrella anymore, so he jumped down, landed on my chest and I smashed my mayo loaded wrap into my own face!

 

The frog hopped off of me and onto a tree branch before I even knew what happened, and of course the next ten mayo-covered minutes were spent in hysterics over the ridiculousness of the whole scene!

 

On top of my recipe box my Grandmother painted that green frog. Every time I see it I am both a smiling fool and have a strong desire to wash my face.

 

 

I really need to get back down to Virginia.

 

 

ENJOY!

Parlez-Vous Francais?…yea me neither…yet

So Paul and I have been making strives to better ourselves, e.g. restarting the blog, Paul quitting a full-time job to work on other projects, cleaning, you get the idea.

 

 

One thing that I have always regretted is not being able to fluently speak another language – what’s worse is that if I had truly begun to learn a language, with any amount of dedication, when I first realized the thought to do so I would have been fluent in multiple languages by now! Alas, I am a procrastinator. Mais il y’a fini maintenant (“but that ends now” – that’s probably way off)

 

 

We are going to start french lessons, AND we are going to promote the “immersion” side of learning by hosting dinner parties at which all participants will only speak french.

 

 

I want to go back to France and speak to people with confidence. Oh, and eat lots of amazing food.

 

 

Chocolate Ganache Rhubarb Tart

Farmers markets are a great source for inspiration. I tend to go with a vaguely formulated recipe in my head and end up with a colorful basket of randomness and an even more vague idea of what to make. Somehow on the walk home I manage to muster a game plan and this weekend produced a decadent rhubarb tart with chocolate ganache and an oat and walnut crust (garnished with fresh mint leaves).

 

 

Crust:
1 cup walnuts – soaked for at least 8 hours – well drained
¾ cup whole rolled oats
½ stick unsalted butter – melted

 

Fruit compote:
2 large stalks of fresh rhubarb – cut into small pieces (these will be cooked down so the shape doesn’t really matter)
A handful of strawberries (I used about 5 as that was what was salvageable from the molding package at the back of my fridge…) cut into small pieces
¾ sugar
¼ cup water

 

Chocolate ganache:
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

 

Combine the nuts and oats in a food processor and blend until it begins to clump – similar to pastry dough, this will thin out first then start to form cluster-like blobs. With the food processor on low slowly pour in the melted butter. Keep the mixer on until all of the butter is in plus ten seconds (general number, don’t be scared if it’s not exact)

 

Press the mixture into a 8″ non-greased tart pan (scalloped edges with a disc that pushes out from the bottom). You want it to be about ¼” thick, making sure it is even all the way across and that it gets into all of the edges.

 

Bake in a 375’ F oven for about ten minutes or until the edges are nicely brown and the center is just golden.

 

Let the tart shell cool completely.

 

 

While it’s cooling prepare the fruit compote – I used rhubarb and a few strawberries but really any berries would work for this – just use less sugar for sweeter berries. Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over med-high heat for about ten minutes or until the fruit has broken down and become similar to a thin jam.

 

Now I cheated with my ganache…I used the microwave. Heat the heavy cream in a large microwave safe bowl for 1 min 30 seconds – or don’t be lazy and heat in a double boiling just until scalded – not boiling. Remove from heat/microwave and dump in the chocolate. Stir until combined. If it’s to thin add a few more chocolate chips and stir again.

 

Pour the ganache over the cooled tart shell, making sure it spreads to cover the entire surface and into every edge.

 

Wait about 3-5 minute for the ganache to settle a little, then pour the fruit on top – it’s difficult to push around so make sure you dollop a little into each section. Place the tart in the fridge for an hour and voila!

 

 

Beautiful, easy, gluten-free dessert.

 

 

A tip for unveiling: invert a cake stand and place the tart on the stem, gently pry the sides out and down. This way you don’t need to juggle the tart around – just let the ring fall and take your tart where you will.

 

 

ENJOY!

Grilled Hanger Steak with Herb Butter and Baked Potato Pancakes

 

 

Wednesday was Paul’s birthday! And that means an extra special meal…or week of meals…but to start out we have hanger steak, potato pancakes, and asparagus. This actually came out of nowhere because Paul had to go to rehearsal (check out Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun), but sometimes when you don’t have time to think is when you create the best product. I’m happy to say this was one of those instances. Flying by the seat of my pants, with an hour to create a birthday worthy meal I ended up with the following:

 

Potato Pancake:

 

1 russet potato – shredded using a box grater or food processor

1 sweet onion – shredded using a box grater or food processor

salt

pepper

olive oil

 

Heat the oven to 400’F. In a bowl combine the shredded onion and potato. Dump the veg onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Press to the edges and out until it is very thin – about an 1/8 inch.  Generously drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

 

 

To save myself some dishes I left room for my asparagus.

 

 

Cut the butt end off  one bunch of asparagus and spread on the cookie sheet in as close to one layer as you have room for. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

 

 

Stick the tray in the oven with the potatoes towards the back and the asparagus towards the door. Bake for about 35 minutes – keep an eye on it towards the end so that the asparagus doesn’t burn.  You’re ready to go when the potatoes are golden brown and crispy along the edges.

 

 

 

I doubt these are actually better for you than traditional fried potato pancakes, but they are just as tasty and a lot easier!

 

 

 

Grilled Hanger Steak with Herb Butter:

 

1 good sized hanger steak – not too thick with no visible grizzle

salt

pepper

extremely hot grill or griddle pan

 

There is not a lot involved in making a great steak. One is the obvious, start with good meat. Two is don’t get complicated. When I have a good steak I want to be able to taste the meat not a bunch of seasoning – save the spices for cheaper meats that need the help! Just a good sprinkling of coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper, that’s all you need.

 

Three, cook hot and fast.  Four, meat should be medium rare.

 

This time I used my indoor griddle pan. Put it on the burner over high heat and let it go for at least five minutes – stand back and flick a drop of water on the griddle, if it pops and starts freaking out then it’s ready for your meat.

 

Place the “prettier” side down first and weight it down (bacon press, clean bottom cast iron, foil wrapped brick, etc…). My weight didn’t cover the whole thing so I moved it over after about 4 minutes. Allow the steak to cook for about 8 minutes total – when you flip it there should be a beautiful deep grill marks and the steak should be nicely browned not grey. Once flipped reapply your weight and let it go for another ten minutes (again adjusting your weight halfway through if it doesn’t cover the whole thing)

 

As always, once the meat is cooked so that the bottom develops a nice crust, let it rest for at least five minutes. Slice against the grain so that it stays together, stack on top of a slice of potato pancake, then dollop with a nice amount of Herb Butter.


 

Time to gorge.

 

 

 

I have a very happy man on my hands and more feeding to to this weekend – Sunday is Paul’s BBQ Burger Bar Birthday Bash. More meat to come!

 

ENJOY!

Herb Butter

Butter. Butter. Butter. Butter.

 

I LOVE BUTTER!

 

And when you add greenery to butter it makes it healthy, right?… ok maybe not, but it certainly does make it extra irresistible. Now I’m not the first to create a flavored compound butter, but I will beep my own horn and say that this one is particularly tasty. The combination of herbs lightens the density and the zest brightens everything…you can almost fool yourself into believing it is healthy! Almost.

 

 

 

 

My Herby Butter:

A heaping tbsp of each – roughly chopped

Sage

Marjoram

Thyme

 

Heaping tsp each – roughly chopped:

Mint

Lemon zest

Rosemary

1 stick of unsalted butter – cut into 1” cubes

 

 

Combine all in a food processor (or smush all together with a fork) until the butter is whipped (soft, airy, and spreadable without being too melty)

 

Serve on warm bread sprinkled with coarse salt.

 

 

The herbs are fresh and summery, and the zest gives the unifying flavor that makes all these strong tastes meld together in yummy, buttery, harmony.

ENJOY!

Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Homemade Ricotta and Fresh Herbs

For a very long time now I have wanted to try squash blossoms, but alas the universe had yet to give me the means to do so. I always just miss the last batch at the farmers market, or that happens to be the one dish the restaurant is out of. It’s been frustrating, but somehow I made it through. And this past Sunday one of my dreams came true.

 

Paul and I took the dog to the farmers market to meander through the glory of springs bounty.  We enjoyed a handful of cherries. Stopped for a brief doggy interaction. Picked up a bag of mussel. And then it happened. I turned my head to gaze upon the wonderful wall of greens and lo and behold a sparkle of orangey yellow goodness. My holy grail. A dozen squash blossoms waiting to be plucked from them station, calling out to me.

 

I didn’t have to fight anybody for them, but I would have. And now that I’ve had them I will fight people every weekend if need be! My life feels complete.

 

 

 

Ricotta:

I found this recipe on Bon Appetit. It’s super easy, extra tasty, and confidence boosting – to hear the awe (and sometimes undertones of nauseated hatred) in peoples’ voices when they say “you made your own ricotta?”  make it all worth it.

 

What you will need:

8 cups whole milk

pinch of salt

3 tbsp lemon juice

Cheese cloth

 

Basically if you can make store bought pasta, you can make your own ricotta. The only thing I would add to the recipe is to not squeeze the whey out too much. You’ll see how satisfying it is to keep twisting the cheese cloth so the moisture drops are raining through the mesh and trying to coax more and more out…but it will dry out the ricotta, so stop yourself a little bit.

 

 

Blossom Filling:

1ish cup fresh ricotta

5 large leaves of fresh basil

2 large leaves of fresh purple basil

2-3 leaves of fresh mint

1 med shallot – halved and thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove – minced

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper – about a tsp each

 

In a sauté pan combine the oil, butter, shallot, garlic salt and pepper. Sauté until transparent and just browning. Combine the ricotta and the herbs in a bowl. Pour over the cooked shallot mixture and combine.

 

Prep a shallow, wide mouthed bowl with ½ cup gluten free all purpose flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill) and ½ cup corm meal – stir with a fork to combine.

 

 

Gently open the squash blossoms – I found some were too small to push the mixture through the end so for these I created a seam down one side and opened it carefully. Using either a small spoon or you fingers press a small amount of the cheese mixture into the bottom of the blossoms then fill to your liking, again being very careful not to break the flowers. Once full of cheese mixture, press them closed and place into the flour.

 

Prep a sauté pan (I used the same one that I cooked the shallots in – fewer dishes) with about an inch of olive oil, heat for 5 minutes over med-high heat until it pops when you flick a drop of water in.

 

Lightly coat each blossom with the flour/corn meal mixture and place in the hot oil. Cook on each side for about two minutes or until golden brown.

 

Transfer to a paper-towel covered plate and sprinkle with salt and squeeze over fresh lemon juice.

 

Eat while hot – not so you burn yourself (obviously), but the fresher from the oil the better.

 

 

 

These will change your life.

 

 

ENJOY!