Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On Reading and Recipes 2011

I’m happy to report that on both the reading and writing front, the year has started out swimmingly. For the past two years, Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant has been staring at me from my bookshelf. At long last, I took her off the shelf and had my way with her. I don’t  believe it is her best work, but I did enjoy the story enough to be interested in finishing the book within two days. The characters were fascinating; the interactions and family dynamics riveting; the plot dynamic,  but the ending was definitely phoned in. Still, all in all I gave it 3.5 stars out of 4.

The recipe --- Farro with Roasted Asparagus was a result of a New Year’s resolution to try new and a more varied menu. It was delicious, healthy, and easy to make. I found the recipe on the Fine Cooking website.  I’m including the recipe here so that I’ll  never – ever – ever – forget. If you try it, I’m sure you’ll never – ever - ever want to forget either. I wish I had a great picture to post, but the Farro was gone before I could whip the camera out.

Roasted Broccoli and Farro Salad with Feta

Kosher salt
3/4 cup farro (either pearled or whole-grain)
1 lb. broccoli
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar; more as needed

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 2 quarts of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil the farro in the water until tender, 20 to 30 minutes for pearled and 45 to 60 minutes for whole grain. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, remove the broccoli crown from the stem and cut into bitesize florets. Peel and halve the stem lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccoli florets and stems with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Roast until tender and browned in spots, about 20 minutes.
Add the broccoli, feta, scallions, red pepper flakes, and parsley to the farro. Sprinkle with the vinegar and 1 tsp. salt and toss. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and toss. Season to taste with more vinegar and salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy 2010… Wait a Second… it’s February?

So we had a great new year, toasted the old year, welcomed the new and went to bed giggling and sleepy dreaming of a better 2010. One thing led to another and  bada bing bada boom next thing I knew it was February. So far this year has been wonderful, and I’m hoping it will continue. This year’s resolutions have kept us on a great creative track,
culinary-ly and creatively. We have continued our Sunday dinners with a twist – we are trying to use all of our cookbooks/magazines at least once. Those that have not been used by the end of the year will be donated. Since I love each one of my books, and I’d rather rip my nails out then give one away, we have been diligent in using as many books as possible since the beginning of the year. As a result, we’ve been having the most marvelous dinners.

weebcokOther resolutions include: filling my moleskin with illustrations, working on my knitting and sewing, selling stuff at the etsy shop – and of course writing in my blog more often.

Monday, November 16, 2009

And So It Begins….

Can you hear the gobble, gobble in the distance? Yes fellow foodies -- it’s almost here – Thanksgiving that is -- and this year we’re hosting. The research has begun and the menu almost finalized. Some dishes being bandied around are Barefoot Contessa’s stuffed mushrooms, Cooks Illustrated stuffed turkey breast, creamy parsnip soup, spicy jalapeno carrots, rustic bread, roasted root vegetable gratin, green bean with bread crumbs and parmesan,  mashed potatoes, apple tart, cranberry-white chocolate cookies, and Fine Cooking peach pie. We’re still finalizing the menu and some eliminations, substitutions and subtractions will need to be made. This Wednesday is “M” day and the menu will then be finalized but for now we’re having fun planning. Can’t wait to see you there!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gone, Gone, Gone I’ve Been Gone So Long…

Yes it’s true, I’ve been gone a long time from blog-land but in my defense there’s been soo many thing going on that it’s been hard to document them all.

So let me give you a visual taste of what’s been going on.


chicago  churros dinner door
fishy greenmkt icecream  logo tomato 
naan obscenetree pumpkin puppy museum 

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Death of an Oven

It is with a lump in my throat and a deep pain in my wallet that I tell you my friends… that  our  Thermador oven  is morte, defunct, past-tense, kaput. This Sunday after making a delicious  (and I mean delicious) Ratatouille- Tomato Tart for our dinner with the  s’laws, our oven baked its last bake. Sure she had been sick on and off, but I never knew that she was  that sick… she looked so good and shiny. Since that terrible moment we’ve been looking for a replacement and after much deliberation we found the lucky oven… the Kitchenaid Architect Series Microwave/Oven combination plus warming drawer. In two weeks the nice folks at ABT will be delivering  and installing our new baby -- in the meantime we’ll be doing a bunch of grilling, stove top cooking and dreaming.

Here is the new one… can’t wait to see the new one in the kitchen.




P.S. During my research for a new oven -- I found out that our late, great  Thermador model was hated by most of its owners –because they require the most repairs – never again will I be fooled by looks over  functionality (I think).

Monday, August 17, 2009

33rd Sunday It’s Dinner with the S’laws

What an amazingly delicious Sunday was had today… and the best part… we hardly had any clean-up afterwards. Dinner this time was with my wonderful s’laws.  We packed up our contribution a --Ratatouille Tart and took a little road trip out to Seneca. The food was delicious and of course the company scintillating. When we got there we were greeted by a very wet mother-in-law who had been grilling her heart out in the rain and huge basketfuls of home grown organic vegetables. After suitable drying time we gathered round the table for an extravaganza of amazing veggie dishes including the ratatouille tart, stuffed goat cheese mushrooms, stuffed peppers with polenta and cheese and a delicious salad with turnip. Though all this would have been more than enough to satisfy any gourmand my s’laws  had one more finger-licking dish up their sleeves -- grilled organic pork ribs marinated in MIL and FIL’s home-made barbecue sauce.  The sauce was truly a perfect combination of sweet and spicy. With so much deliciousness all around -- we ate and talked -- laughed and watched the beautiful birds flitting all around the porch.   We got up to stretch and to try to make room for the finale --- a home-made peach pie. MIL and FIL even made the ultimate sacrifice and broke out the last of the Schwann’s triple lemon frozen yogurt.




Not to be too vain… but our contribution was beautiful, yummy … and here’s the kicker ….  low calorie. The recipe came from Ellie Krieger’s book -- The Food  You Crave. The book is truly wonderful. We’ve tried two or three recipes and have marked at least a dozen to try.   I’d seen her show on Food Network and her features in Fine Cooking and was already a fan, but the tart made me a believer. I made some adjustments but here is the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!





Cornmeal-Crusted Roasted Ratatouille Tart
For the crust:
2/3 C yellow cornmeal (medium grind)
1/3 C whole-grain pastry flour
1/4 t salt
2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
3 T water

For the Filling:
2 T plus 1t olive oil
2 shallots diced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small eggplant cut into thin even rounds
1 small zucchini cut into thin even rounds
2 medium ripe tomatoes thinly sliced
1/4 t each salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 C shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/4 C shredded basil
1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 and start the crust. In a food processor combine the cornmeal, flour and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter, oil and pulse until the mixture resembles small pebbles. Add water and pulse until the mixture forms a loose dough. Remove the dough and press into the bottom and sides of a 9” tart plan about 1/8 up the sides of the tart pan. Dock the crust and add aluminum foil plus pie weights or rice. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the weights. Remove the foil and weights and cook for another 10 minutes. Let it cool and start with the filling. Turn up the oven to 400. Wrap a cookie sheet with foil, spray with cooking spray and  place the sliced tomato, zucchini and eggplants. Use 2 T olive oil and brush the veggies and salt and pepper them to taste. Roast for about 15 minutes until the veggies are soft but not brown. Remove the veggies  from the oven and let cool then turn the oven down to 350. In a separate pan add the remaining oil and sauté the shallots and thyme until soft.  Layer the eggplant overlapping as necessary on the cornmeal crust; cover with 1/3 of the mozzarella and some of the shredded basil. Add the zucchini and shallots and top with another third of the mozzarella and the remaining basil. Add the zucchini and the rest of the mozzerella , top with the tomatoes and more basil. Top with the parmesan. Bake until the cheese is melted and the vegetables have further wilted about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes and cut into 8 slices, serve warm. You’re not going to believe it but ,each slice is only 225 calories!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Can Grow Love!


Many people can grow plants but I can do one better… I can grow love, and to prove it I have the pictures. I’m not quite sure how I do it, but I think it has something to do with my dulcet tones and imaginative dialogue. If you’re real good, maybe one day I might teach you to grow love just like me.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lemon Balm Cuppa Review


The tisane recipe was a definite two thumbs up – delicious,  and I have no reservations about recommending the recipe -- but I have a couple of pointers that I’ve learned from experience.

Pointer No. 1:  The water temperature should be very hot but not boiling. Don’t make a giant pot with cold water and bring it to a boil – the resulting grass stew is horrible. Make an individual cup – much tastier!

Pointer No. 2: Rough up the leaves before putting the lemon balm into the cup and adding the hot water. The oils from the lemon balm are released and make for a very fragrant cup.

Pointer No. 3: Don’t forget to rinse the lemon balm leaves before adding to the cup. (The first cup had a friendly little critter that floated to the top and winked right at me.)