Tag Archives: recipe

Lemon Ricotta Gnudi

28 Jul

 

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This pasta was a joy to make, and really freaking simple. Two of my favorite qualities in a dish. Plus, now that fresh vegetables are so much more readily accessible here in the Northeast (yay summer!), it’s easy to get creative with your pairings.

If you’re curious, gnudi are sort of like gnocchi, and I’m not positive of the true difference (which I feel my Italian ancestors would be deeply disappointed by). My understanding is that gnocchi are traditionally potato-based while gnudi are traditionally ricotta-based. Maybe? Maybe.

These guys are made-up mainly of ricotta, flour, bread crumb and egg. They are delicious, fluffy little pillows of flavor once complete. Just take a look at all these gnudi pics! (Sorry, I couldn’t not put that in this post.)

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This recipe uses fava beans in the supporting role. This legume isn’t one that I use often – or ever – but I’m glad I introduced my kitchen to it for this recipe. If you don’t like the fava bean option, it’s cool. We can still be friends. Peas, edamame, lima beans – whatever you fancy – will work just as well.

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The gnudi dough mixture also contains some lemon zest and basil. They blend in nicely, and compliment the flavors well. You can also, as always, add in some of your favorite herbs from your herb garden. (Check out my Radio Flyer Herb Garden for some ideas!)

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Once the gnudi dough has been shaped and floured, they will need to be chilled for a bit. At least an hour – or if you’re unlike me and plan things ahead, up to 24 hours before you’re ready to indulge.

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Once you drop these into boiling water, let them sit there until they float to the top. When that occurs, let them cook for about two minutes more. Scoop the cooked gnudi out and combine them with the butter/fava bean mixture (in the recipe below…). Eat up, and enjoy!

To make, click to the right to expand ingredients and recipe.  Continue reading

50 Shades of Grey (Goose) Dirty Martini.

25 Jul

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In celebration of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer, People.com chose a few cocktail recipes they thought would fit nicely with the release, with one of my own being featured. I created this recipe for an Eat Boutique post that I did, and am sharing it here again. 

Given the circumstances, I think I will be referring to this one as the Fifty Shades of Grey (Goose) dirty martini from here on in.

 

Martini

 

Extra Dirty Martini
Makes 1

2½ shots vodka
½ shot dry vermouth
5 tsp. olive brine

In a cocktail shaker, mix ingredients together over a generous amount of ice. Shake and pour mixture into a chilled martini glass, garnish with a few olives.

 

Martini

Turkish Pickled Ramps

23 Jul

While cleaning out my fridge, I found this jar of pickled ramps that I prepared at the end of April (when ramps were in season…). While it may not be pertinent to the summer harvest, I still enjoyed making these photos and the shoot that accompanied it, and am sharing them here.


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For ingredients and instructions on how to make these addictive pickled ramps, head on over to my piece at EatBoutique.com.

Grilled Oysters.

21 Jul

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While I enjoy oysters all year-round, there’s something about summer in New England that gets me craving these bivalves on a far too regular basis. Not that I’m complaining, as this is the place to have those kinds of cravings. There are many varieties to choose from, should I ever become bored with one. My favorites span from Nova Scotia to Cape Cod, with many subtle and not so subtle differences between each location.

The traditional method of consuming oysters – raw with some lemon, cocktail sauce and/or horseradish – gets me every time. I love it.

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However, I’ve branched out a bit and have had some exciting combinations lately – including shaved pickled ginger ice and red wine mignonette. I could also devour an entire batch of fried oysters in under thirty seconds if it weren’t for forcing myself not to do so. I had yet, however, been in the good fortune to indulge on a grilled oyster. That’s where this recipe, my backyard and the delightfully simple process for making grilled oysters at home come together.

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I collected the ingredients and created this recipe to share over at EatBoutique.com. If you’re curious as to how to make these delicious crowd pleasers, follow the link to find out how!

 

Ginger Cornmeal Biscotti

3 Mar

Cornmeal and ginger biscotti

You’ve got your coffee…but what about a little something to go along with it on this Monday? I’m opting for some of these tasty biscotti that I conjured up a few weeks ago.

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The main ingredients are candied ginger chunks, cornmeal and chocolate. I show you how to make your own candied ginger here.) There’s also orange zest, almonds and anise seed. It’s a pretty flavorful treat that is super easy to make. Bring some with you for catching up with a friend or to your office to share with coworkers. The mix of flavors within will leave your cohorts in awe of your supreme baking abilities (which you may or may not have…but let’s just let them think you do either way).

For the full recipe and some more photos, head over to my recipe at Eat Boutique.

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Winter Treats: Make your own Candied Ginger

16 Feb

CGleadTurns out, making candied ginger is really easy. And much cheaper to make on your own as opposed to buying a small package in the store.  Plus, once you make your own, you’ll have a long lasting supply of candied ginger that you can access at home, at the office, in the car…wherever!

I was never a hardcore fan of the store bought variety. I actually don’t think I’ve ever purchased a package of my own. But there was a quality about the flavor and the small, sugary slivers that I did enjoy. So that is what lead me to making my own.

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The process is pretty simple. If you can boil water, you can make these candied ginger treats!

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Ingredients:

  • Ginger Root (As much or as little as you’d like to make)
  • Sugar
  • Water

To make:

  1. Peel the outside layer of the ginger root off using the concave side of a spoon
  2. Slice ginger root into thin rounds
  3. Bring equal parts water and sugar to boil and add in the sliced ginger root. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes
  4. Strain ginger from liquid. 
  5. Place sliced ginger on baking rack and let dry for at least 5 hours
  6. Toss ginger slices in a bowl with sugar
  7. Enjoy

Extra-Dirty Martini.

20 Jan

MartiniOr would that be a Filthy Martini? Either way, I enjoy these. 

There was a period of time, somewhere around my early-to-mid twenties, when I would only drink dirty martinis. My affinity for this libation arose after a friend of mine introduced me to a properly made “extra dirty” martini. I will forever be thankful to him for making my acquaintance with this cocktail and the olives that accompany it.

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Martini

Whenever I travel to northern New England, I always make time to stop in to my favorite place for drinks and comfort food. Located in Eaton Center, NH, this pub is a little nook tucked away at the back of an 1880s boarding school – now turned into an inn at Crystal Lake. 

MartiniThis place will always – always – have the best dirty martini I have come across in my travels. The gathering room is called the Palmer House Pub. It is where the locals gather while the tourists and leaf peepers/skiers dine in the attached restaurant….Finding a bartender who can make this with the correct proportions of vodka to vermouth to olive brine is not as common as I would like it to be. There is one place, however, that I can always count on.

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Martini

To read on, follow the link for the full post at EatBoutique.com

Strawberry, Leek & Goat Cheese Quesadilla.

28 Aug

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I sometimes forget how a few simple ingredients can come together to make a dish that truly stands out. This is one of those recipes, and I would like to thank Sara Forte for bringing this to my attention in her cookbook of delights, The Sprouted Kitchen – a tastier take on whole foods.

I try and utilize fresh ingredients which haven’t traveled too far as often as I can. This recipe called for fresh strawberries, and there are plenty of berries around this time of year. Another main component of this unusual (amazing!) take on a quesadilla is goat cheese, which is another locally produced item that is fairly easy to find. Pair those with leeks, mozzarella and brown rice tortillas, and you’ve got the makings of a memorable treat.

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Leeks and strawberries and goat cheese? Yes, they do work together. Each of these ingredients has its own distinct flavor characteristic which manage to meld together in such a way that you are left wondering why you haven’t ever put these together all at once before. (It may also lead to run-on sentences.) I’ve had similar flavor combinations in the past and called on those examples to tell myself that this would be amazing. It was, and much more than I was hoping for. Are you feeling reassured yet?

For more, head over to the rest of my post at EatBoutique.com

Clementine (Orange…) Pistachio Muffins.

10 Jun

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I was lucky enough to get a copy of Jennifer Perillo’s new cookbook Homemade with Love, featuring recipes from her blog In Jennie’s Kitchen. I chose to write up a review of one of the many difficult to choose from recipes, but ended up going with the delicious Clementine and Pistachio Muffin recipe. Not only was it fun to make, it was a joy to photograph. Here’s part of my post from Eat Boutique:

As soon as I unwrapped Homemade with Love, the newly released cookbook from Jennifer Perillo, I knew this was going to become one of my favorite cookbooks. Yes, I was absolutely judging this book by its cover, and I happened to be completely correct about it.

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Reading Jennifer’s story of how she came to her current place in life, the lines between cookbook and the start of a really great novel became slightly intertwined. I was not familiar with Jennifer’s blog or her story, but know now that I will be a reoccurring visitor to In Jennie’s Kitchen.

Homemade with Love could double as an owner’s manual for the self-sufficient kitchen. Providing both a list of must have pantry items, as well as recipes for easy-to-make basics – you’ll be off to making truly homemade meals and treats right away….

 

To read more about my experience with this amazing recipe, as well as recipe for it, I urge you to go to read the rest of my post here. And also, be sure to check out Jennie’s blog if you have not done so already!

Homemade Caraway Seed Mustard.

6 Jun

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Maybe it just occurs in my kitchen, but I’ve noticed a small collection of condiments rapidly taking hold over the shelves on my  fridge door. Horseradish, chutney, peanut sauce, relish, and mustard – just to name a few of the residents. Looking more closely within the mustard neighborhood, I decided it might be time to try creating my own mustard. It’s really quite a simple process, and the customization opportunities are only limited by what you can come up with in your head.

I searched through my spice rack to see if any inspiration would develop, and then I came upon the caraway seeds. I added the seeds to a traditional mustard recipe and what developed was a spicy mustard with a rye bread familiarity. This would be perfect for both creating a filling reuben or for something more simple, such as dipping fresh baked pretzels.

Giving the flavors a day to settle in gave this mustard a completely different vibe. It went from a subtle tangy kick to an all out spicy attack on my taste buds, which I must say I enjoyed wholeheartedly. The level of heat you prefer can be negotiated. If you want a spread that is less spicy, do not grind the mustard seed too finely. The more you grind the seed, the spicier your mustard will become…

For my recipe, head over to Eat Boutique!

Simple Spaghetti Squash

18 Mar

spagsquash-4Since my garden has an aversion to allowing squash plants to thrive, spaghetti squash, luckily, is easy to obtain throughout the fall and winter in the produce section. There are countless ways to use the meat of this squash – bakes, au gratins, pancakes, etc. – however, the purest way to enjoy it is to simply slice it in half and bake.

Once you scoop out the seeds, place in the oven and cook for about an hour. In the meantime, you can chop up some of your favorite herbs, combine them with butter and have them ready and waiting when the squash is out of the oven.

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The presentation is always lovely and is another added perk of this squash variety. Plate it with some fresh baked corn muffins and roasted Brussels sprouts for a healthy and filling meal. If you know other ways to utilize spaghetti squash in a recipe, please share in the comments below.

Click here for the recipe on my post at Eat Boutique!

Valentine’s Day Granita.

13 Feb

I was asked to come up with a Valentine’s Day dessert recipe with honey as the star ingredient for my friends over at True Food Movement. I chose to make this refreshing granita to close out the most love-filled day of the year with a sweet and cleansing frozen treat. The recipe uses honey and a sparkling rosé Labrusco….yum!

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The recipe is featured in True Food Movement’s first e-cookbook Honey for my HunnyIt puts some of the best recipes using honey together in one place, and I suggest you go on over and take a look.

What are you doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Making anything special??

Anise Sugar & Thyme Cornbread

1 Feb

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Cornbread is always a pleasing and filling addition to any meal it accompanies. This cornbread is no different. It’s filled with fresh thyme and sweet anise sugar – adding a unique element to an already tasty side. 

I came up with this recipe while working on my latest post for Eat Boutique. If you want to make this to warm you up in the middle of winter, head over to read about my Cast Iron Skillet Herbed Cornbread.

Hot Spiked Cherry Spiced Apple Cider

29 Dec

GTT-4I love a hot winter weather drink of the adult persuasion. Cold and/or snowy nights are the best for snuggling up with with a steamy mug of something – hot  chocolate, coffee, tea, etc. Now, I don’t have anything against those guys, they are great for early mornings and tame nights. What I’m talking about specifically here is a drink that holds its own whether you are sitting on your couch watching The Walking Dead or hanging with friends and taking a to-go drink to walk through the falling snow.

THIS drink. It is THAT drink.

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Normally, I’ll take a well-made  hot toddy to get my through a cold night or chilled Saturday afternoon. But this cupful of steamy cocktail fun is just a little more edgier than its counterparts are. It adds a bit more color into an otherwise subdued category of winter refreshment.

I first had a rendition of this in Provincetown at the beginning of December after coming in from the freezing rain while walking the streets shopping for Christmas gifts. Chilled to the bone from the winds blowing off the Atlantic, I was looking for something to heat me from the inside out.

Hot apple cider with cherry flavored rum. I saw it on the menu and initially passed on it, ordering the regular spiked cider. My husband on the other hand ordered the cherry cider thing. When the drinks arrived I had a sip of his, and insisted we swap drinks right then and there. He did not fight me, as for some reason he was not as in love with it as I was.

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It tasted like melted down Luden’s cherry cough drops poured into hot spiced apple cider. It was warm and soothing – a liquid winter candy clearly made by unicorns and elves who live in the woods high-up in the mountains of, most likely, Vermont. (Yes, that is the description I am going with.)

When trying to reconstruct this at home, I thought best to add in some other flavors as well. A pinch of cardamom, a cinnamon stick, whole cloves and a few drops of orange bitters. (I’m still debating on whether or not to include actual Luden’s cough drops.) You could also put in one of these homemade bourbon soaked cherries.

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This is a sweet, but not overpowering mixture that hits many of the right notes. Your tastebuds are likely to agree.

Warning: These go down fast, tasting like candy and all. Use that knowledge as you see fit. Continue reading

Cranberry-Orange Anise Pecan Christmas Cake

24 Dec

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Sometimes you have an idea in your head of what you are going to bake. You have the recipe in front of you. There are pictures. It’s all quite simple to follow, really. And then…your simple change of making a bundt cake instead of two loaves throws a wrench into the ENTIRE recipe…because you’ve poured the batter into the cake pan and it’s already baking. That’s when you (I) realized that the crumble top that gets BAKED on TOP of the cake cannot happen now. Time to reassess.

It’s also the afternoon of Christmas Eve…and this is a dessert for, oh, three hours from now.

So, first thing that pops in to my head is a simple icing for the top. I then took the pecans I had remaining and toasted them with brown sugar and, get this, toasted anise spice sugar! It’s perfect for my Italian family, who are all obsessed with anything anise flavored. Continue reading

Chestnut Stuffed Mushrooms (and holiday gift ideas!)

11 Dec

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My most recent post for Eat Boutique focuses on using chestnuts as the main ingredient in a filling and seasonally mouth-watering stuffed mushroom. 

Over the past few weeks the air in New England has been changing. It’s a familiar feel that brings an open-arm embrace to sweaters and hooded sweatshirts while at the same time an outstretched grasp hoping to cling to a few more days of warm weather. Fireplaces begin to smoke and the scent of burning wood while working out in the yard brings about a certain hunger. Thoughts of consuming recipes composed of  heartier elements than most that I have eaten over the past few months begin to invade my cravings.

The seasonal changes of fall bring about the recollection of roasting chestnuts in the fireplace while growing up. The uniquely brown nuts marked with an “X” pattern would line the outer tiles of the fireplace hearth, slowly roasting until their aroma filled the room. My family would eat them together as soon as they were cool enough to peel, but we had never used them in a recipe.

Chestnut-5Recently, while consulting with my hunger, I sensed that these hard-shelled delights might work well in a stuffed mushroom. I combined the fresh chestnuts with local leeks and hand-picked apples from a local orchard, then added some Manchego cheese to round out the flavors…

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To read more and to get the recipe, head on over to Eat Boutique! While you’re there, check out the gift boxes and individual items in the shop! I had the chance to sample (and purchase!) many of the items available at the Eat Boutique Holiday Market in Boston this past Sunday. The items and packages you will find easily make perfect gifts for someone on your list (or treat yourself!). 

My favorites include the Mexican Chocolate Almonds from Q’s Nuts (made right in my neighborhood!), Donovan’s Cellar Ginger Spiced Beets and for someone special, the Joy the Baker Gift Box which comes with Sweet Brook Farm Maple Syrup,  Sweet Revolution Caramels and a 14-oz bag of Marge Granola – oh, and a signed copy of Joy Wilson‘s cook book!

A new endeavor…

22 Oct

I am excited to announce that my first post writing and photographing for Eat Boutique, an online magazine and market,  is up! I truly admire the aesthetics and ideas behind what they have accomplished, and I am honored to be a part of it, in whatever small way I am able.  I urge you to go check out eveything they have put together over the past several years.

Below is an excerpt from my first contribution on how to make a delicious and filling veggie taco (Hint: Fried Green Tomatoes).

“Being a carnivore married to a vegetarian can sometimes be a challenging adventure. Over the past ten years I have been enlisted as a vegetarian-by-default at many a meal. During this time, however, I have grown to appreciate plant-based foods in ways that still surprise me. Using vegetables in unexpected places to fill the void in a meatless marriage has become a skill I am still honing, but there are those moments when a vegetable dish leaves me completely satiated.

Vegetarian tacos have been a recurring presence in my kitchen and typically involve a frozen meat substitute defrosted and flavored with a taco seasoning packet – and a lot of cheese. This dish, however, has none of the previously mentioned vegetarian taco curses. Using the leftover green tomatoes gathered from my garden right before the first frost settled in, I refocused the vegetarian taco into an exciting, fresh and multi-layered delight.”

Click here to read the rest of this post and to view images of how beautiful this dish is….

Peanut Sauce Blue Cheese Burger & Friend.

24 Sep

I was craving a bunch of things to eat this evening when I got in from work. I decided to put them all onto burgers and combine the goodness into some seriously flavorful bites. 

I found my favorite peanut sauce at the store the other day and have been dying to put it on something, anything, since I picked it up. I also wanted cheese. I haven’t had any since Saturday. This is a huge deal. 

Instead of dipping the cheese into the peanut sauce and satisfying my desires while at the same time ignoring thousands of years of evolution, I thought it might be nice to be civilized and eat a proper meal. Hence my burger idea. 

I mixed the meat with some garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and grilled. Then took two routes.

Burger One: Apple (fresh picked at the orchard yesterday!) and Brie.

Burger Two: Blue Cheese (Bleu d’Auvergne), Onion, Peanut Sauce. 

I started out eating the peanut sauce burger first. Then switched to the brie and apple. There was some intense flavor action going on between the two as they fought for dominance over my tastebuds. They kind of complimented each other though. And I am happily satiated because of it.  

Fresh Fried Eggplant Slices

8 Aug

So I was very excited to find that the first thing ripe and ready to eat from my garden was an eggplant. I had never grown an eggplant before, and it seems to require little attention and maintenance to get to the eating stage.

I cut this little gem off from the stem with much excitement. While I have plenty of recipes in my mind that I am going to utilize eggplant for, having just one small eggplant limits the extent to which I can carry through on those ideas at the moment. 

So, with it being the middle of a lazy Saturday afternoon, I glanced around my kitchen and decided I had the ingredients for frying up some eggplant slices. First thing I did was cut the eggplant into about 1/4 ” slices and pressed them while I got everything together.

The Italian in me knows that the best way to prepare eggplant like this is to salt the slices and press out the excess moisture – and if you listen to my mom who listened to her mom who listened to her mom, it’s best to prepare ahead of time and leave overnight if you can.  But, in real life, when I just want to eat fresh food by frying it up in oil, twenty minutes will totally suffice.

Once the eggplant is pressed, coat with fresh breadcrumbs (or, if you’re like me, use the can you found in the back of the pantry shelf that was probably opened three years ago and is 3/4 empty…either way works.) Then…fry it up!

Drain the eggplant as it comes out of the pan and set it aside while you cook up the rest. Plate and serve with a fresh tomato sauce (or, again, follow the path of the breadcrumbs…) and eat it all in under five minutes while sitting on the couch catching up with your DVR. Or, you know, you can serve it to friends/family in a civilized manner if that’s your thing.

To Make:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Eggplant sliced into 1/4″ pieces (or more than one, depending on how many servings you’d like)
  • Oil (enough for frying, heated in skillet/pan)
  • Breadcrumbs (1 cup)
  • Pasta Sauce (or other dippy yumminess)
  • 1-2 eggs heated

Recipe:

Dip eggplant into eggs and then coat on both sides with breadcrumbs. Place into hot oil and cook until browned on each side. Place cooked eggplant on paper towels to drain excess oil off. Repeat process until all all cooked. 

Plate and serve with sauce.

Fast And Easy Falafel Lentil Loaf.

9 Jul

Yeah, this recipe does have a lot of letter “L’s” in it. Rest assured, they will all stand for “love” once  you taste this dish. This has been a staple dinner recipe in my home for quite a while, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s simple to make.
  2. It’s inexpensive.
  3. There are always leftovers to enjoy the next day.
  4. It’s healthy.
  5. It’s filling.

The ingredients are most likely things you’ll have around your kitchen anyway. I always check to make sure I have the basic components (canned lentils, jarred roasted red peppers, falafel mix) in the pantry at all times.

It’s really great on those nights when reality hits. Those times you barely got yourself home from work and somehow forgot that you still need food before the evening is through. (It’s also really great on those nights when you plan ahead for it, too.)

Basically, you throw the seven ingredients in a bowl. Form that mixture into a loaf and put it in the oven. Wait a short while and dinner is served! It’s not hard. It’s super easy food for times when life is hard/annoying/too fast. 

How To Make:

(serves up to 4)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 ounces falafel mix
  • 1 can lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of chopped baby spinach
  • 1 12-ounce(ish) jar roasted red peppers, cut to 1/2″ pieces. Reserve 2 Tbs. of liquid from jar.
  • 2 eggs
Recipe:
 
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, including the 2 tbs of liquid from pepper jar. Mix well.
 
Form into a loaf on baking sheet with aluminum foil or other non-stick layer.
 
Bake in preheated oven set at 375° for 35-40 minutes. 
 
Eat on its own, or combine with a fresh vegetable or other side dish. This also goes really great with this easy to make peanut sauce recipe!


Make a Gooseberry Smoothie.

7 Jul

For some reason, this past week has seen me and smoothies having a serious love affair. I’ve been loading them with strawberries and kale and raspberries and blueberries and anything else I could find fresh. When the produce available at my local grocery store wasn’t cutting it, I ventured on over to my local farmers’ market. There were plenty of vegetables and fruit to choose from. Looking around, I was drawn in by the large, oddly shaped gooseberries. They look like a grape, but at the same time, not at all. 

I remember tasting one last year and enjoying it, but didn’t buy any at the time. They are often used for baking and are featured in pies and other desserts. They are also used to make beverages such as wine and tea. And smoothies.

 

Now, I wasn’t quite sure what to combine with the gooseberries, but something told me mango. So I did that. And some fresh blueberries. And honey. I added in some frozen peach slices as well for temperature control (I also used some frozen vanilla yogurt for this). A splash of vanilla flavored almond milk to round out the liquid portion and…

It was pretty darn refreshing! And apparently also very energizing, as after having one I went on a six mile walk. For real. 

Recipe…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of whole gooseberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 3 frozen peach slices
  • 1/2 mango, cut up
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen vanilla yogurt
  • 2 Tbs raw honey

To make:

Add all of the ingredients into a blender. Turn the blender on. Mix into a smoothie. Drink. (I know. It’s incredibly hard to make.)

Will make about 2 cups worth of liquid smoothie goodness.

Avocado, Corn & Asparagus Salad

3 Jul

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to spend the day on Cape Cod with my pal Molly and our beaus. The day consisted of walking to the beach, swimming in the pool, laying in the sun and eating food. Lovely summer food. 

I stole a recipe from that day and you’re about to read about it below. It was a fresh and brightly flavored succotash/salad. Local picked corn, purple asparagus, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, lime and herbs. Simple. And simply delicious. It is a perfect dish to bring to any Fourth of July cookout.

I couldn’t find any purple asparagus when I made this for a family gathering, but I think I was the only one who cared about this. I put the corn, peppers and asparagus on the grill. While those were cooking I picked fresh herbs from the herb garden and cut up the avocado and cherry tomatoes.  Once everything was ready I combined all together to make a filling side dish. Continue reading

Cheesy Bacon Jalapeno Grits, Deviled Egg Style.

25 Jun

This weekend one of my best friends (Shari!) and I took part in the Boston Bacon Takedown. Twenty home cooks creating dishes all using bacon fifteen pounds of free bacon. Last year the two of us were so impressed by all of the entrants, we decided that the following year we would give it a go. And we kept our word.

We decided to go the savory route instead of the sweet route. Last year the sweets just were a little too much, and there was an overload of maple accompaniments which after two or three recipes using the same groundwork became just a bit too much to enjoy. And we were blown away by last year’s winner who made an asian inspired taco that was insane.

Our entry? Cheesy bacon jalapeño grits, served deviled egg style. Topped with bacon, of course. The concept came to me and I thought it was a pretty safe bet. After boiling and peeling FOURTEEN DOZEN eggs, I was having second thoughts. At this point, however, my thumb was barely intact from being impaled by egg shell and it was too late to turn back.

The grits portion was a mad science experiment that actually succeeded. We started with 36 cups of liquid, boiled it, and added 72 ounces of grits. Once that thickened up, we added Gruyere cheese. And then we added some cheddar cheese. And then we added some more cheese. From there on in, it was anyone’s guess how this thing was going to turn out. It took about forty minutes for us to tweek it to perfection.

All totaled, we put in about 6 decent sized jalapeños. Somewhere around 8 tablespoons of Sriracha red chili paste. About a cup of lemon juice. Six pounds of bacon cooked and put through a food processor. A few cloves of garlic. Some dijon mustard. Some melted bacon lard.   And of course salt and pepper to taste.

WHAT!?! It worked. It was delicious.

While we didn’t win (first place went to a caramel bacon candy – sweet won this year, who would’ve guessed?!) My favorites this year included the bacon corn dog and the bacon wrapped blue cheese meat balls.

We also came home with a few parting gifts from Le Creuset, which is never ever a bad thing.

Now, does anyone know how to remove the smell of fifteen pounds of cooked bacon from one’s home?

Recipe:

Okay. Let me be real here. I have no idea what quantity of anything was used. All I can say about this is start out with some grits in a pan. Then, add in cheese until it suits your taste. Add in a decent amount of cooked bacon cut up in a food processor (or chopped…). Then, add in pepper/garlic/dijon mustard puree, salt, pepper and sriracha until it starts to taste awesome. Then, add lemon juice! (This was Shari’s tip and it made a HUGE difference. The Greek in me should have known this. The Greek in Shari did.) Finesse until you are blown away. Eat plain or stuff into a hard boiled egg. 

Parsnip & Leek Smash

8 Mar

Parsnips and leeks, you say? Indeed. And with the addition of a little creme fraiche, this turns into a delicious side for any meal.

This is a great substitute for boring mashed potatoes, and though it’s simple to make with just three ingredients, it has a complex flavor that you’ll be craving time and time again. And it’s a pretty healthy dish, too.

Ever since I started adding parsnips into my regular rotation of vegetables, I have not been disappointed. The albino cousin of the carrot doesn’t particularly look like more than just an ordinary root, but it has a nutty flavor that really stands out. I prefer to leave the outer skin of the parsnip on, as it isn’t very thick and adds a nice texture.

These parsnips were given to me at the end of the growing season in late fall and I just now have gotten around to using them. They were grown organically at a local farm and were stored properly for a couple of months, allowing the fresh flavor to last well into winter.

And lest we forget the other main component of this dish, the leek. I find it is another underutilized vegetable with a lot of flavor. It’s related to onion and garlic, and works very well together with the parsnips.

Once the veggies are cut and boiled, put them in a bowl and use a potato masher to smash them all together. Add in the creme fraiche, salt and pepper and plate next to your main dish.

To make:

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized leeks, cut into 1/2″ rings
  • 1 pound parsnips, skin on, cut into 1-2″ chunks
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and add parsnips and leeks. Let cook in boiling water until soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from water and place in a medium sized bowl. Smash up the leek and parsnip together until mashed together. Add in creme fraiche, salt and pepper and mash together some more. (You can make this as smooth/chunky as you want, I prefer it somewhere in between.)

Plate and serve. You could garnish with nutmeg or a small dollop of creme fraiche.

Classic Deviled Eggs.

6 Mar deviled eggs-6

A decade ago, if you were having a party, I was bringing the deviled eggs. And yes, if you’re doing the math, a decade ago I was in my very early twenties.

Now, with that admission out of the way, these things were a freaking hit. People could not stuff enough of them into their mouths. And so, I just kept on making them. And everyone wanted more, time and time again. I even bought a deviled egg platter. What? Yes.

I haven’t made these little oval delights in quite some time and have been in the mood for them, so here we are.

Continue reading

Cheddar & Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms.

29 Nov Cheddar stuffed mushrooms

Years ago, Joey found a recipe for stuffed mushrooms that was similar to this one. Since then, we’ve tweaked and improved on it every time we make them for Christmas, Thanksgiving or any number of special occasions. We’ve been making them using the same recipe for a few years now. And also since then, we can never make enough.

They are pretty simple to make. And they will make your house smell incredible too! You probably have most of the ingredients just sitting around in your kitchen. Trust me, people will DEVOUR these. They will think you are incredible in the kitchen. And they will request these anytime you need to bring an appetizer to any gathering. They might even throw parties just so that they can eat these again. Continue reading

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