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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

family style chili

chili is something tilly made often......and it was damn good.  she didn't have a recipe....she knew what she was wasn't a fancy meal just warm and hearty.  my dad  ronnie was also a pretty good everyday cook....i say every day because he was the cook in our mom...not so much.  dad made a very good version of tilly's chili....but she would never tell him exactly what she put in hers.....she was his mother in law....and there was a fair amount of cooking competition between them.....and not a lot of secret sharing.  this picture was taken one summer when the shipyard unions were on strike....both dad and grandpa were on picket can see the sign behind my dad.  this is the kind of day that tilly would make a batch of chili for all of us.  this picture  looks just like the goofy 60's photos on greeting cards at the drug store....and this is my makes me smile!!!! this is my recipe which i suppose is a compilation of how i remember their chili tasting with some twists of my own.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (really good hamburger from the butcher)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you like spicy)
1/3 cup mild chunky salsa
1/2 large can of san marzano whole tomatoes hand crushed
2 small cans of b&m baked red kidney beans
kosher salt and black pepper

recipe continues after the jump

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

creamy corn chowder

this is a great dinner for a damp and stormy evening.  i modified this recipe from ina garten's recipe where she adds a lot of cheddar cheese....i don't like cheese in my chowder so i made some changes and reduced the amounts because ina's would feed a crowd.  this batch would feed four hungry people.    it is hearty and delicious.

4 ounces bacon chopped
1/8 cup good olive oil
2 large yellow onions chopped
1/4 stick of butter
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/8 teaspoon of turmeric
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups of diced white potatoes
2 bags frozen corn (i use trader joe's white corn)
1 cup half and half (add more if you want it creamier)
handfull of fresh parsley chopped

recipe continues after the jump

Sunday, April 3, 2011

dark chocolate croissants

i promised that i was going to try the chocolate croissant recipe that anne thornton did on april 2 on desserts first.  i had another sheet of puff pastry in the freezer so while i was making breakfast anyway i decided to print off the recipe and give it a try.  i changed a few things.....i used ghirardelli premium 60% cacao baking chocolate cut into pieces ......i halved the recipe and i did not bother with the almonds. 

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

  • Flour, for dusting, if needed

  • 2 oz ghirardelli premium 60% cacao baking chocolate cut into pieces

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • Sugar, for sprinkling

  • follow all of the directions in the linked recipe....this was  pretty easy....i did my best to get the triangles right but what the hell.....i ended up with more than anne did...who cares....they were delicious!!!!
    yummy dark chocolate croissant

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    easy cheese danish

    i love cheese danish.  this is a great breakfast on the weekend with a nice hot cup of coffee.  they are really super easy to make....... especially since we are using defrosted puff pastry dough from the grocery store.   i think this is a fun project to make with your kids!  thank you ina garten for giving us so many ideas to create fantastic savory, sweet and delicious things to make with puff pastry.  this recipe is from ina's barefoot contessa at home book.  i make only 4 at a time and i changed the cheese filling. 

    defrost one sheet of puff pastry dough
    3 oz cream cheese
    1oz mascarpone cheese
    1/6 cup of sugar
    1 egg yolk
    1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
    1/2 tablespoon of lemon zest
    1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for the egg wash

    recipe continues after the jump