Friday, December 30, 2011

easy peasy pasta with ham and peas

christmas is over...the kids have gone back to jobs and school...the house is pretty much trashed with christmas clutter and bailey is depressed.  i needed a quick dinner to use up some of the mad surplus in the fridge and soothe the soul.  i made this with left over ham. it is warm, creamy and satisfying.  it takes about 15-20 was the perfect recipe for the day!
yummy creamy and screaming hot
recipe after the jump

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas cookies; lemon brown sugar christmas doggies and such

the cookie recipe is already posted with the easter shapes on the blog....kelsey works her magic with the royal icing.......they are too beautiful to eat.....but trust me they taste really good.
bailey, butch and sport
martha's lemon brown sugar christmas doggies, ponies, hamsters (talbot) fa, la, la, la, la.............


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas cookies ginger cocoa crisps

ginger cocoa crisps

20 years ago brit got off the school bus with a baggie of cookies and an illustrated recipe.  she was really excited to tell me how they had made cookies in class and colored a picture of the finished cookie on the recipe.  she wanted to show me how to make we made them together that year...and every year at Christmas......sappy and sentimental...yes but these are some awesome cookies!!!! *and perfect for little hands to help with...... chocolaty with just the right kick of ginger.
recipe after the jump

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas cookies lillian's almond cookies

this is one of the christmas cookies i remember watching my norwegian mother in law lillian bake....the recipe is hers.   it is simple but wonderfully delicious.  it took a little trial and error on my part since my copy of the recipe was kind of cryptic....i have made some mistakes.....any way this version works.   when i bring mixed platters of cookies to work or to friends inevitably these are the cookies that people ask about.  i have done some research and this combination of ingredients is rare among the various norwegian traditional cookies you can find.  they are crisp...buttery...nutty....goodness and fairly easy!
recipe after the jump
lillian's almond cookies

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving favorites part 2 ciabatta stuffing

stuffing is one of the stars of the thanksgiving meal....i make my own ..... i don't put it in the bird and i don't grind up any of the giblets and sneak them in either......for many years i bought the bag of pepperidge farm seasoned stuffing and added all of my own veggies...then i  saw enough chefs on tv put so many different things in stuffing that i decided why not branch out...i love really good why not start out with great bread?   Giada De Laurentis made a stuffing with ciabatta bread that sounded really good to me...but I don't like chestnuts and parmesan cheese just doesn't say thanksgiving to me.  so i started with some of the basics in Giada's recipe and made some changes, ...replacing the chestnuts with apples. losing the parm and adding bacon..

kelsey made this beautiful pumpkin for the table decoration
 (hand carved and lit with battery operated lights. 
 recipe after the jump

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving favorites: Parker House Rolls

thanksgiving has been one of my favorite holidays for as far back as i can remember and that is pretty far.   tilly always cooked for thanksgiving...she had a big ritual...(thinking back i don't know how she was able to afford all of the fruits and nuts and the turkey, pies and trimmings)...i remember how she worked in the kitchen for the whole week... i thought it was was the highlight of the year for me to sleep over at gramma's the night before thanksgiving and participate in the process.  there was the grinding of all the disgusting turkey parts with the metal meat grinder bolted to the counter...the peeling of the mini onions....fascinating.   tilly's kitchen was tiny, so we always had thanksgiving on a big folding table in the living room...i  helped set the table and carried out the appetizers and all of the dishes as tilly got them ready to go.  she used cut glass bowls for the cranberry sauce, gherkin pickles and olives....   i cook at home every thanksgiving that i possibly can.  karen makes a few dishes and brit and kelsey also participate ...finding new recipes...making new traditions and keeping some of tilly's.....  those cut glass dishes are on the table every year.. 
tilly in the kitchen on thanksgiving
Parker house rolls recipe after the jump

Friday, October 7, 2011

zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese and fried in olive oil

we visited the food market in florence.....taking in the beautiful sights...fruits, veggies, cheeses, meat, fish, fresh pasta  all of it insanely gorgeous with no yucky smells.  we went into the city for the day by we were limited to what we could carry around.  yes like idiots we bought a melon...but damn it was worth awesome melon.  we saw the zucchini blossoms and knew we had to try to get them back to the village to stuff and fry.  the lovely older woman that ran the fruit shop spoke quickly in italian...we knew enough not to touch anything...we pointed and gestured with our hands how many we wanted.  she carefully selected them and wrapped them safely for us......lots of grazie, grazie

beautiful blossoms
recipe after the jump

Monday, September 26, 2011

September in Tuscany

my happy place

we survived the hurricane in the northeast and got power back just in time to jump in the car and head to the airport  for a fortnight of sun, wine and pasta in Italia. (forgetting all the misery of broken trees and dangling wires)  the weather was summer!  sunny and warm everyday ....the sweet aroma of ripe figs and grapes waiting for the harvest.
lazy.... long mornings of sleeping in, sipping coffee and lounging by the pool....a quick shower then off to the city or a wonderful hill town for some exploring (just as the Giotto tour buses head out of town)  and enjoy a wonderful dinner.  Have been back home for a full week but if I close my eyes I can still smell those figs and conjure up the feeling of that sunshine...hear the squeaky tractor and the rooster that has no idea what time it is............

Join the adventure after the jump:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

new orleans barbecue shrimp

one year, a good friend of mine had a summer barbecue and made a phenomenal spicy lime shrimp recipe (from gourmet magazine) on the barbecue. it was the first time brit had ever had shrimp - and she must have eaten about three dozen of them. we tried a few summers later to duplicate the recipe from memory. the results were disastrous (so much lime juice it was kind of ceviche.....) and i haven't made cooked shrimp since.

but after recalling this story and laughing, brit remembers this amazing shrimp she had on a trip to new orleans - and we decide to give it another go. we stop at the local fish market and pick up a bag of 30 per pound shrimp. we get them home and search for the right recipe. new orleans barbecue shrimp, peel and eat, with creole seasoning, and pounds and pounds of butter sounds like right one. first - how to prepare the shrimp. we consult thomas keller, but still end up having to watch "de-veining shrimp for dummies" on youtube in order to be sure we get it right. after that project is complete (gross out) - we start making the sauce for the shrimp, and realize we have to make our own creole seasoning. (note to readers: do not inhale!)
this is a fantastic recipe! will make it again for sure!
more after the jump

Sunday, August 7, 2011

the best rigatoni and meatballs ever

i have a morning husband brings me a cup of coffee in bed, monday thru friday...i scoot up against the headboard and turn on the tv and watch molto mario every morning....the crazy operatic voice screeches as the music plays...mario inspires me every day.  i don't write any of it down .... picking up ideas and techniques.  one saturday morning, flipping through the channels tyler florence is traveling to italy for meatball inspiration....his first stop is a gorgeous house outside of naples where an italian grandma demonstrates her secret meatballs.....i watch the entire segment.....mesmerized (i know i am a nerd).....i make a mental note to put this recipe on my list....i don't watch the rest of the show...i don't care what tyler does in his ultimate version.  i am making the italian lady's i get some really nice fresh ground pork and beef at the butcher and do some searching to find that recipe polpette napoletane.....(note: the food network picture of the meatballs looks like some kind of asian deep fried thing....ignore it) this is the first time making it so i follow every step with every ingredient i can find....i can not get buffalo mozzarella so as mario says get the best of what you can get locally so i buy some fresh mozzarella made in new haven.  
yep chunks of fresh mozzarella inside! ahhh
recipe after the jump

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

peach blueberry cobbler

it's high summer .....i love it...the weather has been great in new england ....the local produce at the markets is lovely.  lars has a friend at work that has sent us tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, spinach, peppers and basil.....thank you sue!!!!  last saturday i picked up locally grown corn, musk melons, blueberries, peaches...all yummy! early in blueberry season i loves the blueberry buckle but as soon as the peaches are ripe its all about the combo cobbler.....peaches and blueberries just scream cobbler to me. i cut this recipe out of a Real Simple issue 3 years ago...i made minimal modifications ( mainly replacing half the blueberries with peaches)..this is easy and it is delicious warm with hagen dazs vanilla ice cream and a spritz of whipped cream.
 blueberries and peaches from scotts
my recipe after the jump

Thursday, July 28, 2011

pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw and barbecue sauce

i love pulled pork sandwiches!  tilly's brother herbie introduced me to these sandwiches at an early age.  we  might be  yankees but we have cousins in virginia...and every time herbie visited them he had to go to bill's barbecue in richmond and load up.  he would buy enough to fill a cooler and bring it all home in quart containers.  then back in tilly's kitchen he would assemble those sandwiches.  it had to be a soft hamburger type roll...then the pulled pork...then some barbecue sauce (he would also add hot sauce) and then a dollop of coleslaw....then dive in.....needless to say it was gone as soon as he got it home.  i decided to try to make the pulled pork sandwich with the cole slaw and the barbecue sauce...all homemade.  now i don't have a fancy smoker...unlike herbie...who got a little crazy and tried to build a cinder block oven in tilly's back yard.
tilly, buddy (my grandfather) and herbie, they all look so cute

i started by having a talk with the butcher...he got me set up with a 2.5 pound pork butt with the bone in.  i decided to do some research...this is actually my second try on this....i did not like the dry rub i used last by michael chiarello....was too spicy for my taste.  in the end mostl of my recipes here are adapted from bobby flay.
a slider size version yummiliscious
recipe after the jump

Saturday, July 23, 2011

visiting the Farmer's Market at Ashlawn Farm, Lyme CT

i woke up early on saturday morning and decided to visit the farmer's market at ashlawn farm in lyme.  it was a beautiful clear sunny hot day and the market was busy!  i parked my car in the hay field with about 40 other cars already there.  the air was buzzing with people catching up with one another, kids, dogs and beautiful scenery.  it almost felt like an old time market day (only with air-conditioned cars and lattes), kind of like the markets you still see in italy. (and they have air conditioned cars and espresso)  what a nice way to start a summer weekend.
things are just getting started on saturday morning at ashlawn in lyme ct
more after the jump

Sunday, July 17, 2011

tuscan lemon chicken

in italy they create things on the grill with steak, chicken and pork that are just fantastic.  i have tried to replicate it, lots of different ways.....researching different cook books and online resources.   relatively few ingredients, put together simply ....(olive oil, salt, pepper, sometimes lemon or garlic) the results are mind boggling.  how can it taste so good?  some of it has to be the quality of the meat and the way the olives are grown and pressed,  the dirt...all of it!  when i go to italy i feel good....i was born to eat simple italian food.  (duh, i feel good because i am on vacation!!!! i know)   i saw ina garten make the tuscan lemon chicken on looked really had that italian simplicity...bumped up a bit. ( also this recipe is in the barefoot contessa back to basics cookbook)
it's ok to make extra you will want the leftovers for lunch the next day
 i have made this recipe lots of times...mostly i use it as a guideline....and mess with the usual.  the most troubling aspects of the recipe are finding a chicken the right size and doing that cutting to make the whole chicken flat...but after several disasters that included some pretty raw chicken that had to go back on the grill, i have totally given up on the whole chicken thing.  (these disasters were mostly trying to use a supermarket chicken...which are too big because they are really for roasting...the worst disaster was the time i bought an over stuffer roaster...what was i thinking?? my  attempts to split the chicken were so ridiculous, that brit and i laughed so hard we cried) now i ask the butcher to split the whole breasts in half and buy as many as i need.  this works very well as long as they are not huge.

recipe after the jump

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ina garten's raisin pecan oatmeal cookies

i have made lots of  cookies over the years...mostly around the holidays.  my cookie mentor was not tilly though, it was my mother in law lillian.  she was born in norway and immigrated to this country in her late 20's/ early 30's.  she brought  to america, her pastry skills and a sense of duty to make the required cookies for christmas....regardless of time or money or the difficulty finding the perfect ingredients.... not to mention the fact that all of her recipes from home were metric.   lillian made all of the different kinds every year with potato flour, ground almonds ..things i had never seen before....and the finished products had to look perfect or she would throw them in the trash.....watching this process as a young bride was a shocker for me, since i had never actually seen anyone bake scratch cookies outside of home-ec class ......the thought of throwing out perfectly good cookies because the edge was a tiny bit brown, defied imagination.  ( i grabbed them before they hit the trash)  .....i am beginning to think the artistic perfection streak might have been passed on to my daughter kelsey, who will literally spend 6 hours creating gorgeous sugar cookies, that happen to taste good.  me, on the other hand....i am a different kind of cookie baker....i like cookies that don't require much decorating but taste really good!  so i do have a couple of lillian's recipe's that i will share around the holidays....but mostly i stick to the basics that taste good.  this recipe for oatmeal cookies is from ina garten's back to basics cookbook and it makes some seriously yummy cookies.
these are best enjoyed light brown and crunchy
recipe after the jump

Sunday, July 10, 2011

grilled barbecue chicken with caramelized onion

lots of leftovers in the fridge after the 4th of july spread.......i didn't want to just serve up cold or reheated straight up i decided to dig around in the fridge and  to see what was in there.....hmm  there was some pizza dough, home made barbecue sauce leftover and leftover grilled chicken breast that was marinated in 16 spices and i had some nice looking vidalia onions and a block of cheddar.  i have made foccaccia on  the grill so why not use the same technique and make a full blown pizza.  grilling dough on the gas grill can be either awesome or total failure.  the key is getting just the right amount of olive oil on the dough after it is rolled out but before it goes on the hot grill.  and the next critical point is having the grill hot enough and not turning the dough over the first time until it is nicely brown.

mine is a crazy shape but who cares

recipe after the jump

Saturday, July 9, 2011

fourth of july "thanksgiving" picnic favorites with pickles and panzanella

happy weekend after the fourth, everyone! i had company all week and cooked up a storm......brit and i sat in the kitchen and sampled the cracked chocolate earth batter and laughed ....she said it felt like thanksgiving in july.....that is exactly what a summer holiday picnic should and food  (and thanks up there for the awesome weather!!!)......a plethora of all the picnic favorites.....i made pickles for the first time ever (easy and so much fun and they were yummy!) from smitten kitchen, and potato salad and beans, grilled 16 spice chicken breast with bobby flay inspired barbecue sauce,  cracked chocolate earth,  and ina garten's greek panzanella salad.
brit's nyc version in progress

panzanella and pickles recipe details and pics after the jump

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

strawberry madness.....shortcake, strawberry rhubarb jam, compote....

karen got me a groupon coupon gift.....a big discount on pick your own strawberries at scotts in east lyme.  having missed the saturday hours we had to go on father's day......kelsey and i picked about 10 lbs of berries in just over an hour and a half....and we both lamented the muscle pain for 2 days.
what to do with all those strawberries.....

we started slow....kelsey made the requested strawberry shortcake for father's day using a martha stewart recipe.  this was light and flakey and absolutely delish! looked gorgeous too.
like most things kelsey makes.....a work of art

that was just the warm up...i made a strawberry rhubarb compote from a strawberry slump recipe....very, very yummy........ have had it with greek yogurt for breakfast all week.

......and the next day i started making jam.
recipe after the jump

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

strawberry rhubarb crisp

tilly used to grow rhubarb in her garden.....all along the stone wall there was mint and rhubarb growing like crazy and trying to take over.  when i was little i would pick stalks of bright red rhubarb and try to eat used to make my grandfather laugh.   my sister and i would get a bowl of sugar and dip the ends of the rhubarb into the sugar and munch away.  every summer tilly would make strawberry rhubarb was so good.  years later when tilly was in her 70's and 80's she would pick me a bunch of her rhubarb and bring it over to my house as a i have to hunt the farmers market or get karen to grab me a bunch from whole foods in west hartford.   britany and i tried some different rhubarb and strawberry combo recipes last summer....some ...not so looked very pretty but it did not set, it  kind of turned into a pink blob....not so good but we laughed a lot!!!! ( and of course we tried to eat tasted pretty good but what a mess).  last month's food network magazine had an ina garten recipe for strawberry rhubarb crisp.....that sounded amazing.....all the strawberry rhubarb yumminess and no fussing with pie crust.  i made it memorial day weekend with britany, emily, and kelsey.  (we cooked all weekend......had a blast)....oh and the crisp was wonderful........(also awesome to dollop on top of greek yogurt for breakfast)
beautiful red and green
crunchy bubbly goodness

recipe after the jump

Friday, June 17, 2011

foodie adventure "magic kingdom"

our family....the four of us have some travel rituals.....we have often returned to the same places many times to spend our vacation together.  one of those places is walt disney world.  i've lost count of how many times we've been ....but every time....(even with kids in their 20's ) it is a super fun vacation.  we have our favorite rides (yo ho yo ho......a pirates life for me).....and of course there are a few favorite treats.  one must do every visit is to wander over to the dole pineapple soft serve stand in adventureland and order one of those pineapple floats for each of us.    on a hot day a pineapple juice parfait with soft serve pineapple sorbet....ahhhhhhhh.   (secret discovery...they also have these in hawaii at the dole pineapple plantation on o'ahu.)

frosty fruity goodness
hipsta-matic.......ok now i am ready to ride space mountain!
  i can try this at home....why not.  i have an ice cream machine...... i bought a ripe pineapple and some dole pineapple juice and set about trying to find a good recipe for pineapple sorbet. ......

my recipe after the jump

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

16 ish spice rub pork ribs with barbecue sauce

one of my favorite things to order at bobby flay's mesa grill is 16 spice is so good.  i like a lot of what bobby flay makes but can't handle the level of spicy.....the 16 spice is mild compared to some things you could try on that menu.  i was really excited when i saw bobby make the 16 spice chicken with bourbon barbecue sauce on the throw down looked easy to do and the folks that tasted it were raving...well of course it was bobby!  i printed the recipe and i have made my version of the 16 spice rub and the barbecue sauce minus the bourbon and chilis about 10 times....i have used it on chicken, pork loin, pork chops....all delicious.  i made a trip to the butcher in essex the day before memorial day weekend to stock up for some guests....oh and to celebrate....because hallelujah the stove is hooked up and working!!!!  (love it, love it, love thing i have ever bought....... really! i have been cooking like a mad woman for 10 days with no time to stop and write down any of it....too much fun cooking ) i know i am crazy...i admit it.
 it arrives but only the electric oven is operational for 2 weeks

 finally cooking with gas..... and not on the deck but in the kitchen

 so back to the butcher.....he had these gorgeous piles of ribs he was sorting and rolling each one into a neat i struck up a conversation with him about how i might cook these, since i don't have a smoker...and he gave me some advice on cooking them slowly in the oven wrapped in foil.  i got them home and looked around for some inspiration....i had a container of the 16 spice ( my version) rub and decided why not.  i dried them and added the rub on both sides and put them back in fridge for 2 hours while i made the barbecue sauce.  i preheated the oven to 250 and double wrapped the ribs in foil and cooked them for 2 1/2 hours.  i took them out of the oven and opened up the foil wrap basted them on top and bottom with the barbecue sauce and put them on the gas grill on the foil for a half hour on low.  these were so good they did not last long enough to get a picture of them...sorry about that.
my version of the rub recipe and the barbecue sauce after the jump.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

rita's blueberry buckle

twenty years ago i dragged the girls and my two sisters to a work picnic.....back when i worked as a head nurse for our local community hospital.  it was a grey of the surgeon's invited the group of us out for a ride on his sail boat.....what an was his customary way he shouted orders.....only these were sailing orders....not a one of us had a clue what he was talking about ......we could not stop was a great day...lots of smiles and good food.  one of the staff brought an absolutely amazing blueberry buckle.....we begged for the recipe...which she was nice enough to share.  (i still have the battered and stained recipe card she hand wrote)  for the last 20 years i have been making this recipe every blue berry season...i have made one change...i make it with buttermilk instead of milk.  thank you rita for this recipe! and thanks to wild bill for the wonderful sail boat ride.

love in the oven
recipe after the jump

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

birthday girls brunch: pancetta and vidalia onion quiche and baked french toast

the new stove arrived on saturday morning...thank god! i love it, i love it, i love it !!!! can not believe i waited this long to get a really good quality stove. it has dual fuel (gas burners on top and electric convection oven) ....and ok the gas has been installed at the house but the gas company has not hooked up the gas to the stove yet.... so ironic as it may seem i have an oven but no burners.....crazy....and to add insult to injury it will be 2 weeks before they can get someone out to complete the hook up.......  but who cares...has been so long since i have had an oven i am working at using it anyway i can. breakfast.....brit brought home a challah for french here we go baked french toast and pancetta, onion quiche.....wooo hoooo!!! this is the brit and kelsey birthday brunch celebration. (they are born on the same day 3 years apart.... a story for another day) britany did the internet research to find a recipe that did not require an over night soak since it was now already sunday morning.   the baked french toast recipe is inspired by ree drummond the pioneer woman.

oven baked french toast warm and yummy goodness
pancetta and vidalia onion quiche puffy cheesey yummy
recipes after the jump

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tilly's Birthday french toast celebration

today would be tilly's 91st birthday.   tilly who made me every birthday cake since i was born ......about 27 years ago it dawned on me that no one ever made a cake for tilly's birthday so that year i made her a cheesecake for her birthday with cherries on top.  she was so surprised!....  and of course she told me it was the best thing she ever tasted.  to celebrate tilly today i would love to make a cake in tilly's honor....but still sadly no oven.....instead i will celebrate tilly by making the first thing she taught me to cook....yes the french toast!  this is not the original recipe....i made some changes....and since lemon meringue pie was one of tilly's specialties i may have added some lemony goodness .......

tilly and 2 of her sisters (from right to left tilly, rose, a friend, helen )
challah french toast with lemon curd and fresh blueberries
recipe after the jump

Thursday, May 5, 2011

bucatini with spinach and chicken in lemon butter sauce

thursday night....just the two of us eating at 9 pm because we both had after work stuff to do.  its late we are starving.  i take 5 minutes and look for something to do with pasta, lemon, left over chicken and some fresh spinach.  mario batali has a recipe for  lemon sauce over pasta....i have made giada's lemon chicken penne with cream many times but that has a lot of steps and is a bit spicy...i decide to wing it.  i have some bucatini which is some crazy pasta .....looks like regular spaghetti but it has a hole in the middle.....when you slurp it up it makes noise like sucking through a cooks up almost like udon noodles.  it came out really nice...creamy light and lemony good.  you can tell by now i love lemon! and best of all we were eating in 15 minutes...and it wasn't take out.
my first plate...yes there were two! yummmmmmm

recipe follows the jump

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

fresh lemon mousse

a homemade dessert is like a can be a personal signature.....  a little message that says "i care enough about you to make you something special." i learned that from tilly. if she made you a special dessert it was because she loved you and wanted to make you smile. it felt like a hug! ..... i love to make dessert when guests are coming over, or even for a business meeting where people might be traveling from far off cities.  there is nothing like opening up a box of homemade frosted chocolate cupcakes for a group stuck in a 4 hour meeting....really gets the creative juices flowing.  my favorite traveling desserts are cookies and cupcakes....but with no oven i had to get more creative.  (new stove with oven on order....ETA 2 weeks...YAY) if you ever need to make a beautiful dessert ( and maybe you don't have access to a working oven) you might try this wonderful recipe from ina garten (it's in my favorite book back to basics).
light and and little bit tart
full recipe and step by step pictures after the jump

Monday, April 25, 2011

pork loin roast on the grill for easter of my favorite holidays as a child.  my aunt ethel and my grandmother tilly would make sure i had  a wonderful easter basket full of surprises.  one year tilly bought me big girl patent leather shoes with gold buckles that i actually remember wearing to bed because i could not bear to take them off.   ethel used to do easter baskets like martha......before martha was martha.  yellow and lavender crepe paper wrapped around a wicker basket filled with wondrous goodies.
easter at tilly's 1961 ish (ok that is a scary looking bunny)

 ( tilly kicked it into high gear for every holiday.)  i know now, that she and grandpa had a very modest income...but somehow she put on feast after feast for everyone that showed up.  for easter there was some candy for sure, a ham with candied sweet potatoes and usually a wonderful lemon meringue pie or maybe a cake shaped like a bunny covered in colored kind of sad, but good at the same time to have such wonderful traditions to carry on with my girls....yes the bunny still makes a yearly visit to my house, but these days he brings  grown up goodies like make up and pastel spatulas from le creuset, martha stewart cook books and maybe some swarovski crystal earbuds.
kelsey's blown decorated eggs

  ****  flash forward to 2011 no tilly, no ethel  and no oven....nix the ham.....nada to the rib roast,   no way to do roast i thought i would be smart and do a marinated pork tenderloin on the an idiot i asked for a pork loin not a tenderloin and came away from the butcher with a 4 pound roast  and  NO OVEN.  so i decided to marinate with salt, pepper, olive oil and rosemary...put it in a bag, pop it in the fridge and then do some research on what techniques might work to get the roast done on the the grill.  brit found a web link with some directions....i used my own marinade but tried this technique complete with the roasting rack and smokey bags (i happened to have some weber flavor wood chips)...have to say it worked out pretty well.
recipe after the jump

Sunday, April 24, 2011

ny strip steak with spring risotto and tomato blue cheese salad

ok so it is week two with no oven.......have to be creative with what to make for saturday dinner (this works for dinner on the weekend or during the week)....gotta get to a menu that works all on the stove top or gas what to do, what to do?  brit and kelsey are both home for easter lots of cooking and easter egg crafts are on the agenda.  first a trip to the butcher....picked up some beautiful ny strip steaks (among other things) then on to the grocery store to check out the choices.  brit and i had done some research with the ina cookbooks and decided on some dishes that would work together and be oven free.  brit picked out some nice leeks, a variety of herbs, blue cheese, fennel.....a nice wheat ciabatta bread....back home and start prepping.
oven free blue plate special

we took the steaks out and seasoned with salt and pepper and left at room temp while we got to the risotto. the spring green risotto is from ina garten's back to basics cookbook (this one is my favorites of all of her cookbook ......i have made many of these recipes multiple times. ) i have made this recipe about 5 times...i always leave out the white wine and add the parmesan on the individual plates.

recipes after the jump

Sunday, April 17, 2011

baked beans and potato salad

potato salad

i was invited to brunch at karen's house on sunday.  we like to share the cooking so i set out to make some homemade baked beans and a suitable potato dish.  friday nite i started by soaking the red kidney beans and looking at some recipes.  i have made ina garten's maple baked beans before .....folks at my house found them toooooo mapley and too spicy-gingery.  i have my own secrets that i like to use...but thought it couldn't hurt to get some advice and try something new.  i found a julia child recipe online....and although she mentioned that she did them in a slow cooker......i planned on a long and low bake in the oven all day on saturday and maybe a few more hours on sunday before brunch.  i got out of bed on saturday morning and preheated the oven and set to rinsing the beans and assembling the ingredients.  so far so good.
i put the beans on the stove to boil first then simmer for 40 minutes.  then i drained the beans but reserved the liquid.  i used julia child's recipe as a guide (but added extra molasses as well as some brown sugar)  i added a large red onion (out of yellow onion) peeled and cut into 8 pieces added to the pot of beans with 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 1/2 cup of dark molasses, 1/8 cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger, 6 pepper corns, 1/8 cup of ketchup, 1 bay leaf, 1 chopped clove of garlic and 1 1/2 cups of the bean cooking liquid.  got it all ready to go in the dutch oven and the oven started blinking and electronic error code and turned itself off.    this is not the first time for this always comes back....a few time a change of plans.....we do the beans in the crock pot after all ...and i have to do a stove top potato thing.  ok not so bad.....i get the crock pot going with the beans (i cooked the beans all day on low stirring every few hours, refrigerated them overnite and cooked them 3 more hours on low on sunday don't forget to retrieve the pepper corns and bay leaf).. and make a decision on the potatoes.......potato salad with egg , bacon and green onion......(i made the potato salad on sunday morning)
recipe after the jump
finished beans in the crock pot

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

williamsburg brooklyn flea market

on sunday i got up early and took the train to new york city to meet up with britany for a trip to williamsburg to scope out the flea market.  the first good thing that happened was that i made the 10:56 am train from new haven...the second good thing was it was the brand new metro north what luxury!!!!! i had a wonderful ride the sunday times and had breakfast in comfort.  britany met me at the 6 subway station on bleecker and we headed out to la colombe torrefaction (the name sounds like a bit scary) for a good cup of coffee.  brit had olive oil cake and i had a chocolate walnut cookie.  the olive oil cake had a sort of zucchini bread texture and was very heavy on the nutmeg....the chocolate cookie was the perfect combination of slightly crisp on the the outside with deep fudgey gooey inside.   we split half of the cookie and i saved the rest......the olive oil cake ended up oozing oil all over the style section of the times.   we took the L train to williamsburg and got off at driggs and 7th. and walked toward the water.  i have never been to brooklyn on purpose.....the two other times i have been there were both by mistake....once was a wrong turn and the other a little miscommunication with the gps.  the neighborhood was interesting...kind of urban meets beachy bar vibe..... we found the flea market and had a great time walking from stall to stall and taking in all of the treasures/junk against a kind of eerie foggy back drop of the manhattan skyline.  there was 60's kitchy furniture.....stuff i remembered tilly and my mom having....kind of weird in a fun way.  (my  mom says it's only collectible if you did not own it the first time it was in)
one whole side of the flea market was devoted to food stalls.  there were quirky teams of folks selling all kinds of food....grilled corn on a skewer, huarache, molasses milk, various yummy looking baked goods....some odd looking pickles  and czechoslovakian pies......and so on.   we decided to sample some of the jams, the molasses milk...which was very good.  we ventured into the sunday gravy  special which was a slab of crusty bread with a tomato sauce that appeared to have multiple kinds of meat in a hearty ragu. this tasted really good. the bread was covered with toasted sesame seeds which had a great flavor that was nice with the ragu.
concetta's sunday gravy
 more after the jump

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

chicken pot pie with puff pastry crust

sometimes i like to stretch myself and try somthing thomas keller's beef stroganoff from the ad hoc at home cookbook ( it took me 2 days) and other nights it is just about putting something satisfying on the table that your family is pretty excited about eating.  what to do with left over baked chicken breast?.....i tried a rachel ray recipe for chicken pot pie and it was not only easy it was very tasty.  i made some changes and as usual i used up what i had in fridge.  this is a delicious and satisfying meal on the table in 40 minutes when made with left over baked chicken.

my recipe after the jump

Saturday, April 9, 2011

italy... the ultimate foodie adventure

one of my favorite kinds of books is the travel adventure....true stories of what people have encountered on the road.  peter mayle's "a year in provence" and "toujours provence" are delightful (the audio version is fabulous)...then came frances mayes "under the tuscan sun".....they got got me hook, line and sinker...i had to go.  first to provence ....dragged the kids when they were in their teens and we flew into marseilles and drove all over provence....loved it.....the people, the landscape, the food....take your breath away. 

in 2004 kelsey signed up to go on a people to people youth ambassador trip to several european was 21 days....a long time to be away.  we decided to meet her half way for a quick visit plus we would get to see some of italy.  i assembled my favorite travel guides....rick steves (indispensable) and the michelin green guide to italy.....karen signed on to join us....lars agreed to spend 10 days with two women and a teenager (britany) and we were on our way.  we did a lot of searching to find an apartment in a village but not too far from the highways so we could get to all of the hill towns of tuscany and of course the "prada" outlet......(yes outlet at the factory in montevarchi) we shopped, we cooked, we ate, we all fell in love.  and crazy or not every summer or fall since 2004 we go to tuscany.  we stay in the same place and add new adventures every year. 

as you might guess i have so many stories of my visits to italy i could write for days. .......last year i decided to keep a diary of what we ate at the restaurants in tuscany and what i cooked at our place which we lovingly call the "willage".  here is the inventory from our 2010 trip:
margherita pizza with artichokes, mushrooms, onions, olives

pici pasta with ragu
linguine con vongole(za za, firenze)
more after the jump...

Friday, April 8, 2011

penne with sausage and peas

two years ago kelsey had a friend, lindsay come to stay the nite....on new years eve.  we decided to make this quick pasta dish for a cozy evening with the girls.... it was such a hit, lindsay decided she wanted  to reheat the leftover pasta for her breakfast.  needless to say i packed up what was left after breakfast for her to take home. 
so if it's late afternoon or early evening and  you have some sausage hanging around....a box of penne a few other basics, you can whip up an awesome dinner in a few short minutes.  it tastes wonderful and it is super easy.  tyler florence calls it "penne with spicy italian sausage, cream, tomatoes, and peas" in his dinner at my place cookbook.  (a great cook book by the way!!!!)  rachel ray calls her version peasant pasta .  here is my twist on it.

you'll need
3-6 links of italian sausage...i like to use Perri's sweet italian sausage ( if you like spicy use hot sausage)
1 pound of dried penne rigate
extra virgin olive oil
1 whole onion chopped (red, yellow, or vidalia will do)
2 garlic cloves chopped
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1 28 oz. can of san marzano tomatoes (hand crushed)
1 sprig of fresh thyme pulled off the stem.
large handful of fresh parsley chopped
1/4 cup of heavy cream or half and half
1 cup of frozen peas (thawed in a cup of warm water then drained)
parmigiano-reggiano to taste

recipe continues after the jump

Thursday, April 7, 2011

cracked chocolate earth

i saw tyler florence make this on tv.  i have never tried to make a flourless chocolate looked so easy to make and fantastically delicious....i had to try it.  the recipe is available on line at the food network website and also in tyler's ultimate cookbook.  i have made a lot of tyler's recipes and they are fairly easy...even though i tweak them a bit they still come out really good.  for this cake i followed the recipe in the cook book as is....then i noted later that the online recipe has a cooks note saying you can use half the butter....i have not tried it that way.  since we liked it a little gooey in the middle i reduced the butter just a bit the second time i made it but not by half......that is the recipe i will quote here.  this is a beautiful cake...wonderful served warm with haagen dazs vanilla ice cream.  the cake below is on a cake plate that tilly had saved from her mom would call it depression glass....i don't really know how old it is but it is special to me.  i keep in my antique oak china cupboard which also belonged to tilly's mom..... along with some other pieces tilly liked to use on thanksgiving.

recipe after the jump