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How To Cook Fiddleheads.

7 May

Years ago while in college, I worked part time at a local Whole Foods. In that time, I learned a surprising amount about produce. I did not know there were so many edible items that grew from the earth. Fiddleheads, I believe, fit into that grouping.

I have to say, upon first glance, they can look as though someone made a mistake and inadvertently stocked the shelf with an imported species of centipede. That is not the case however. Besides, you want them to look all curled up and tight like they are hiding from you. That’s how you know they are safe to eat. (Once they lose the tight curl, they can make you sick.)

Now that I’ve scared you off from ever making these at home by comparing them to bugs and telling you they will make you ill, let me tell you about how I made them (and ate them!) in my kitchen.

Fiddleheads before cleaning

First, like I stated above, be sure the fiddleheads you are cooking with are tightly curled. Next, you will want to cut off the very tips of what is left of the stem. They tend to brown a little while hanging around at the produce section (think of it as a tan!). Chop it off, it makes for better aesthetics.

Once you’ve cut off the ends, wash the fiddleheads in a bowl of cold water. Get rid of any orange-brown leaves and/or dirt. I’d do this about three times, or until the water you’re draining out doesn’t have a lot of pieces floating around in it. After they are rinsed, you should boil them for about 10 minutes in water.

Add the fiddleheads, garlic, salt and butter in a pan and sauté until done to your liking. Plate, add some lemon on top and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Fiddleheads
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbs. butter
  • salt to taste
  • lemon

To make:

Cut and clean the fiddleheads as mentioned above.

Boil cleaned fiddleheads in a pot of water for about 10 minutes. Next, strain from water and add into pan/skillet with garlic, salt and butter. (I’m sure adding bacon here wouldn’t be a bad idea either…)

Sauté until done. Enjoy with your meal by adding on some fresh squeezed lemon juice!

Brooklyn.

15 Apr

Well, it sure is nice to be back on the internet so soon! Although, honestly, I enjoyed the time away. I’ve been home since Wednesday and today is really the first time I’m using the computer. However, being unable to do much else at this stage of recovery, here I am.

Since I haven’t been able to create any new content in the last two weeks or so, let’s travel back to the Saturday before my surgery. Joey and I took the short Boston to NYC drive through patches of rain and snow to spend the day in Brooklyn. I have a love/hate relationship with New York that has been on-going ever since I can remember.

I like that it has everything you could possibly want to eat/see/smell/taste/listen to/feel. I hate it for all of those reasons as well.

We made the trek primarily to attend the book signing of/ have dinner with the lovely Joy Wilson (aka Joy the Baker). The signing was held at The Brooklyn Kitchen (which, I have to say, is a nice all-purpose space). The room was packed, but the beer was free. And there were cookies. And scones. And brownies. Joy gave a brief talk, answered some questions and then started signing for the 250 or so people in attendance.

After having my book signed and finally giving Joy a huge hug, Joey and I took to the streets. We walked. And walked. And walked. All over Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Popping into shops and stores which caught our eye. We got coffee. It rained a little. I took some pictures. Visited old haunts. We were going to use this time to catch up with some friends, but plans changed at the last minute and we were left to our own devices while waiting for dinner.

Upon the suggestion of a friend, we met up for dinner at Enid’s with Joy, her man-friend and two acquaintances of theirs. My dinner consisted of bourbon and catfish. Enough said. It was a delightful time chatting and eating and a great way to spend some of my last few days before being laid up. The drive back right after was pretty smooth, and I think we were home by 12:15 AM.

Coincidentally, while I was writing this post, Joey was in the kitchen making dinner.  I had to take out the camera and start snapping pics, albeit as uncomfortable as it was to bend and get the right angle on the food. A different take on falafel and looks really delicious!  I’m sure I’ll be sharing it soon…

One small year.

3 Apr

It has been exactly one year since my first post on this blog and I’m completely surprised at how it has gone since then. I really had no idea it would be so food centered. I really thought it was going to be more of a design centered blog. No biggie.

I’ve created some pretty tasty recipes and dozens of photos to accompany them (remember the Bourbon Soaked Cherries or the Cheddar and Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms ?!?). I wholeheartedly enjoy the process of documenting what I’ve made as I’m making it. With that in mind, I think I’ll keep this site going on that same path for the future.

I’ve done interviews with some pretty awesome people about projects they are working on, and even made new friends in the process. (I’m talking about you, Joy Wilson.)

It was also an enjoyment to document road trips and vacations. Like that time I fell in love with Maine and the ocean and swimming in a rock quarry and the food and the people and the sleeping nook.

There have even been times where I thought I was crafty and made some things like these:

I’ll be continuing that all in the future, and add more into the mix as well.

With that said, I’ll be out of commission for a bit. I’m going in for heart surgery on Thursday (third times a charm, right?). With that in mind, I’m guessing I won’t be doing too many blog posts in the next two or three weeks. I promise to use the time to think up fun, tasty and aesthetically appealing content. And then I’ll use the remaining time I’m home from work to get all of those ideas posted up on here.

Also, in the next few months, Joey and I will be launching a new site! We have some pretty great ideas (well, at least we think     so) for content. We also have some amazing people on board to contribute, and I can’t wait to get that going for real.

And, since we’re talking openly, I may or may not change the name of this blog. Do we all like the name of this blog? Do I? I have no idea

Anyway, thank you all for reading, friends and strangers alike. You all rock. And I love that you keep coming back for more.

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

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.

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Letterpress Weekend Course: Day 2

26 Feb

Today was the second and final day of my weekend letterpress course. Remember how much in love with it I was yesterday? I still feel that way. And will definitely be investing in one of these machines (albeit most likely a much smaller one) in the not too distant future.

The machine we used today to print our designs was a Chandler and Price machine manufactured in 1902. It uses nothing but the power of your own arms and legs. It’s a workout and a creative design session all in one.

The creative part came to me a little too late however. I had no idea what to make. I was over-thinking it all weekend to the point where my mind could not decide on anything. Business cards? Greeting cards? Coasters? As I was gathering materials this morning, I still had no clue. Joe(y) had suggested I make recipe cards, so that’s what I did, sort of.

I made the design. It was a half-postcard half-recipe card hybrid, apparently. I enjoyed having to put everything in reverse. Where the top is at the bottom and the left is on the right. It fits in with my day job quite well as I view reversed images all day long. My brain easily adjusted to this part.

Next, I set the locked frame into the machine and applied the ink color that I had mixed together.

Once the machine had been set and inked, the actual printing process was quite speedy. I realized I probably should have made my form a bit smaller, and not the exact measurements of the size paper I would be using. I know better than that. I just wasn’t thinking.

In turn, I lost one of the lines I set in the process in order to be sure everything else fit it.

While I am not quite sure what exactly I made today, I love that I made something and understand how it all works now.

I have been wanting to learn this craft for a long time now, and have finally done just that. I’ll most likely be going back for open studio time in the near future, this time with an actual design and project in place.

Saltbox Farm – Concord, Ma

15 Feb

A shoot I helped out on with joe(y). I did some of the styling and whatnot. Great pics! Great food!

Joe And Sometimes (y)

Saltbox Farm is one of those places that somehow manages to capture an amazing essence of New England and distill it down to its truest and purest form. Pastoral fields, chickens running about and a weathered patina that seems to only get better with each passing season.  It’s the kind of place where modern cars somehow seem odd, you would half expect company to arrive via a horse drawn carriage and messages to arrive via telegram.  Owner Chef Ben Elliot’s grandfather built the farm in the 1940’s and modeled it after a 1720’s Saltbox.  Today, Ben carries on the tradition of the farm, using the land to harvest fresh produce, keep livestock and grow his culinary enterprise.  My dear friend, Chef Molly Loveday, has teamed up with Ben at Saltbox; together they not only run the farm but operate a successful catering company and offer private/group culinary classes.  I recently…

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Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Fig Compote on Focaccia.

29 Jan

Today began as one of those relaxing days when you wake up early, have no agenda, and feel like you could lounge around all day or ride your bike or go shopping or, well, pretty much do anything you please. Being winter in New England, options are automatically limited by taking any enjoyment out of outdoor activities.

I started out going for coffee and a bagel at the coffee shop down the street. I’ve been going there since 1999. I love it there. I brought my computer and played around for two hours with logos for a new project I am working on. I headed home around 10 AM, played with the dog and continued to do a lot of nothing. It was great.

Then, hunger started to creep in. Realizing I haven’t done a blog post in a week or two, I decided to combine activities and do something at least mildly productive. For this reason, I bring you today’s sandwich.

Actually, calling it a sandwich is a bit of an undersell. It is a meal compacted into the guise of being a sandwich. It’s my lunch and about half of my dinner. (I plan on eating a lot of cheese & crackers later while watching TV. I have lofty goals.). It is huge. And half of it would have sufficed.

Start with a fresh cut focaccia. Add to it some prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, fig compote and avocado. Eat.

All in all it’s a simple mix of ingredients that pleases the senses pretty easily.

I served it up with a side of bread and butter pickles from Saltbox Farm in Concord, Ma. It was a nice pairing. And I love anything I can eat from that place.

To make the sandwich…

  • 3-4 slices prosciutto
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 4 T fig compote
  • 6-8 small balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced in half
  • fresh cut focaccia
  • salt to taste

Build your sandwich like you would any other. It’s going to be thick when it’s all finished. I like to anchor mine with fig compote on both slices of focaccia. If you wish, you can also put this in a panini press, as it is even more delicious warm.

Bourbon Soaked Cherries.

14 Dec

Last weekend while Joe(y) and I were away for the weekend visiting Provincetown, we stopped in for an early dinner and some drinks at one of my favorite places to eat. In addition to ordering dozens of oysters and a Pale Ale for myself, Joe(y) ordered an Old Fashioned. The waitress apologized that they no longer had the bourbon soaked cherries for the Old Fashioneds, and that they only had the regular maraschino cherries.

Wait. Back up. BOURBON SOAKED CHERRIES? Yes.

So. Of course. We then decided it was necessary to make our own. Somehow, there were fresh organic cherries for sale in December where we get our produce. We found a basic recipe online on how to preserve cherries whole in sugar syrup. But we can do better than just bourbon infused cherries. We expanded on the idea by including bourbon, cloves, orange peels and fresh ginger slices.

Yes. I’m totally pitting the cherry with a paper clip half unfolded. And yes. It does work! Joe(y) found that tip online (via Martha Stewart, of course).

Now, we haven’t actually been able to try the finished cherries yet. They need to macerate and absorb the flavors (and alcohol!) for at least a week. However, since we canned them in glass jars the proper way, these delicious cherries should last months in the fridge/pantry.

I snuck a taste of the syrup/bourbon/cherry/awesome concoction and, um, it was pretty freaking delicious. I can only imagine that the finished product is going to taste 5 billion times better. If that’s even possible.

These are going to make great gifts to friends and family for the holidays. It was also a fun way to spend an evening at home with Joe(y). We took turns between photographing and food prep and created something pretty awesome. Enjoy!

To do this, you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of fresh cherries
  • A bottle of your most favorite bourbon and/or whiskey
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • Small to medium piece of ginger root
  • One orange
  • Whole cloves

Wash the cherries in water and then pit via the method above. Prepare the mulling flavors by piercing orange peel with whole cloves. Slice fresh ginger into round chunks, each about a half inch thick. Set aside.

In a pot, bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil. When the sugar dissolves, add in the orange peel, cloves and ginger. Lower hear and let simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the syrup through a strainer to remove cloves, ginger and orange peel.  Return liquid to heat and return to a boil.

Add in one cup of cherries. Leave in for about 2 minutes to allow them to blanch. Remove with a hand strainer and set aside while repeating until all of the cherries have gone through this process.

Save about a cup of the syrup and add to it 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, again allowing the sugar to dissolve. Then, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add in about three cups of bourbon. Mix well. Fill jars with cherries and cover with whiskey/syrup mixture.

Seal. Wait. (Like, at least a few weeks.). Love.

Depending on how properly you can these, they will last for several months if stored properly.

Thinking about… Joy the Baker

13 Jul

So if you’ve read anything of mine over the past few months, you may have noticed I have been a bit preoccupied with the likes of Joy the Baker. Yes, Joy is a baker. And yes, she does it incredibly well.

Just ask Saveur, who named her blog the Best Baking and Dessert Blog of 2011. Also, the London Times granted her website the distinction of being one of the Top Fifty Food Blogs in the World (Yes, in the WORLD.)

Also, she has a highly popular and equally enjoyable podcast available on iTunes, where it debuted in May as the #9 most listened to podcast of the week. Go listen after you check her website and finish reading this interview, but before you make dinner.

I got the chance to sit down and chat (via video internet amazingness) with Joy. The resulting text below is what I have strung together into some semblance of an interview after nearly an hour of pretty awesome banter.

Joy doesn’t really like the woods. Or Ke$ha. She does, as one would expect, like to go out for dinner and cocktails. She likes to put Maker’s in her tea. And I am very much okay with all of it.

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