30 September 2010

Celeste's Sunflower-Oatmeal Bread

First slices in the toaster already!

I have found another bread that I will be working to perfect over time ... this bread is so delicious that last evening Silent Bob and I had it toasted with butter and honey for our dessert. Perhaps you think this weird, but you must understand that I have never been known as a good baker of breads. I have only three or four breads that I consider truly good when they come out of my oven. When I find a new bread that meets Silent Bob's standard, I snap to attention.

28 September 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pepitas

Good basic vegetable dishes  ... we need to be eating more of them. As the colder seasons begin creeping closer,  I'm dusting off the recipes for soups and stews, and chilis, and roasted meats, and oven-prepared vegetables. This squash dish went so well with the chicken mole I made last week.  You might choose to have it with a simple roasted chicken or a crusty pork roast, or a simple spinach salad. There's always room for another basic veg recipe... enjoy.

Let me say that this recipe would work with any hard winter squash ... butternut, hubbard, patty pan, acorn, et. al. Let me also say that this recipe came to me originally as 'Roasted Sweet Potatoes'. I have added the toasted pepitas to bring a Mexican flavor to the dish ... and it works nicely. You might like toasted walnuts or sunflower seeds, or pecans.

So simple and so good for you ... this squash has nothing added in the way of sugar. The roasting process brings out the natural sugars in the squash and the herbs and nuts complement them in a really good way. This is a good recipe for a night when you have a couple other higher maintenance dishes going, because you can prep everything way ahead and just toss the squash on the roasting pan and into the oven  and forget it for the set roasting time. Toss with the toasted seeds just before serving the rest of the meal and that's it.

26 September 2010

Two Words ...

White ... Green

Green ... White

White ... Green

Tarragon ... Onion

White Wine

Chicken Tarragon

25 September 2010

There Is No Free Lunch ...

Ebay ... I log on thinking that I'm going to find a Copco open searing, saute, stir-fry, casserole type pan. I'm looking for a piece that I can sear meat in, add a sauce, and finish it in the oven. I'm looking for a piece in which I can do some major wok work and serve right from the final stir-fry. I'm looking for a paella pan. I'm looking to get a bargain.

And I do! I find that one piece that I think would showcase that cacciatore or braised spare ribs or paella or stir-fried rice perfectly.  No one is bidding on it when I find it, so I throw my hat into the ring and key in a 'maximum bid'  that is ridiculously low for the quality and condition of the piece.  A little voice in the back of my mind tells me, "Walk away from the auction, Susan." I may not know much about history or biology, or philosophy, or the French I took,  but I do know pottery and cookware. This pan is a beautiful piece and there are no others like it on the website. It will surely draw attention.

24 September 2010

Mole Sauce ...

I have been wanting to make a mole sauce since I saw the movie Chocolat and watched the mole feast that Vianne prepares for Armande's diabetic 'swan song'.  The romance of that feast and the joy that everyone attending had, when sharing the turkey mole that Vianne prepared, was such a wonderful piece of moviemaking. I can only think of a couple other movies in which gathering at the table is as visually gorgeous and cinematically perfect ... Like Water For Chocolate and Babette's Feast being the two in my mind's eye. But, I digress.

22 September 2010

Good Book Alert #3 - Saturday Beans & Sunday Suppers

Edie Clark has been a contributing writer and editor at Yankee Magazine for almost twenty-five years. In addition, she writes fiction, has published four books of memoirs, teaches writing and journalism at Frankin Pierce College, is an active lecturer, and keeps her own blog. I discovered Edie Clark, the memoirist, when I picked up a copy of her book, The View From Mary's Farm last winter. It chronicled her purchase, renovation of, and subsequent life at a small hill farm in the lovely New England village of Harrisville, New Hampshire. I loved her humor and the sense of history that she honored when she brought the house and fields back to use. I cheered for her as she weathered that first hard New England winter in her partially restored farmhouse and chuckled at the foibles of her new neighbors. It was a terrific read!

Last week, when I dashed into the local public library to return some books and pick out some new ones, her book, Saturday Beans & Sunday Suppers,  jumped off the shelf at me.  Little did I know that I would open the first essay and find a recipe for a fish chowder that mirrored one I was making for a blog entry I was preparing that very day.  I'm telling you, my mother once said that there is no such thing as a coincidence. All things are part of the larger design; one made by forces larger than we.  Mom's world view came wafting around me and sent a little shiver and a feeling of  'whaddayaknow!'  through me, as I curled up and read on through Clark's essay titled  'Aunt Peg's Chowder'.   .

21 September 2010

Looking at Kitchens and Remembering ...

We work in our kitchens. We store our foods in our kitchens. We often eat our meals in our kitchens.We make a bazillion memories in our kitchens and  we ALWAYS seem to end up in our kitchens whenever we throw a party.  I think it's safe to say that the kitchen is the hub of any house or apartment. I've had eight kitchens over the course of my 50+ years. Each one has its share of memories linked to it; each one can be conjured in my mind's eye if I close my eyes and concentrate on the space. When I think about it, each kitchen's design played a major role in my decision to live in that apartment or buy that house. And speaking of design ... this post has a few links ... right click and open them in a separate page and you will be able to listen and explore the post at the same time. I'm just sayin', if you were wondering.

19 September 2010

Last Gasp of Summer ... A Tex-Mex Party! Arriba! Arriba!

Every year, Silent Bob and his brothers and sisters host a get-together camp out, just before the first Fall rains and frost warnings. One last summer party,  it's always 'themed' and we all (well, not ALL!) pull out the stops,  come in the goofiest costumes and bring plenty of libations to last well into the night. There's always a big campfire and plenty of jokes, family stories, and general blab to keep everyone gathered until the smoke gets to the eyes or the libations cause total drowsiness. Everyone plans and makes the yummiest foods, so you can be assured that no one goes to their sleeping bags hungry. This year it's all about Tex- Mex food, costuming, and drinks. No doubt there will be sombreros and tequila aplenty this afternoon when we all pull in to Mary and Bill's country place to pitch the tents, make the fire circle and lay out food buffet.

17 September 2010

Flameware Cooking - A New Discovery

Yup! Here's that pot again!

I don't know a cook who doesn't periodically, step back from the counter, throw up the hands, and mutter about always making the same stuff. Looking around for new techniques and different taste combinations is part of being a creative cook.  That's why it is especially exciting for me when I discover a new product or a new type of cuisine to explore, which is the case with Flameware pottery.

16 September 2010

A Nod to Craig Claiborne ...

Let's talk about reading ... and books. I was always a voracious reader, from the times in my very early years of leafing through the World Book Encyclopedia in my parent's living room and reading a little bit about a lot of things, to the middle years of devouring Nancy Drew mysteries, right up to my high school years spent immersed in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Vonnegut novels, and Ferlinghetti's poetry. Then, I went to college and was handed  'required reading lists'  and textbooks the size of the Inquisition stones used to press people to death. (insert scream here).  Suffice it to say, I spent the first three years after college reading nothing more serious than Rolling Stone, the occasional recipe card, and the Sunday funnies.

15 September 2010

Two Words ...

11 September 2010

Biscuits ...

Biscuits are so very basic ... I can't make a chicken soup or beef stew without throwing together a batch for Silent Bob and I. That's what my mom always did when she made her wintertime batches of beef stew for our family, so I guess a food tradition was born with her big pot of stew and big basket of  'hot from the oven'  biscuits.  There were never any leftovers, once the five Miller kids got through with dinner! Nowadays, though, the leftovers go the next morning with butter and jam (if they're plain) or at lunch with cheese or sliced tomato (if they have been doctored with herbs).

 I once made these biscuits for a lunch that I hosted for some PTSA pals. I had these hot biscuits with a cool chicken salad and big cold glasses of sweetened iced tea. One of the women told a story of her Grammy making the same lunch for her and her sister when they were little girls. She said when she closed her eyes and took a bite it took her back to the shady porch in western Virginia where her Grammy lived. I loved that story ... what a vivid food memory!

It's funny how a basic taste can become so deeply inbedded in your psyche ...  ah, the power of food. Back to the recipe, though...

09 September 2010

Green Goddess Salad Dressing

Here is a winner ... I'm such a 'know nothing' when it comes to salad dressings and so I get all excited and flutter-y when I discover a new way to slather up the greens.

Tonight, we're, once again, eating up the tomatoes. No surprise there ... but I bought this wonderful head of hydroponic Bibb lettuce and pulled our weird volunteer cross between cherry tomatoes and plum tomatoes from the vines. A wedge of the lettuce and slices of tomato created the perfect stage for this Green Goddess Dressing that comes from good old Ina Garten. 

I'm tellin' ya, folks ... think a cross between pesto and aioli mayonaisse. It is heavenly! Make it, eat it up, enjoy it! A word of advice ... divide the recipe if you're cooking for one or two. This dressing has to be fresh ... I don't think storing it more than one day will do anything for the flavors. The garlic will get  too tangy and brash ... an insult to the taste buds. I, myself,  will be working over time to get measurements correct for just enough dressing for two salads so that we can have it and have no leftovers.

Do fresh. It's best!

Green Goddess Salad Dressing
courtesy of Ina Garten's barefoot contessa at home


1 c. Hellman's mayonaisse
1 c. chopped scallions, green and white sections
1 c. fresh basil leaves
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. anchovy paste
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. sour cream

Place all the ingredients except the sour cream in the bowl of a handblender and process until smooth and the dressing has tiny green flecks of color. Add the sour cream and process just until combined. Frefrigerate until ready to dress the salad.

08 September 2010

Marinated and Grilled Lambchops ...

Basic grilling on a hot evening ... a practice that keeps one sane when it seems the heat will never break, the meal must be made, and the cook says, "Let's keep it simple.".

06 September 2010

Artichoke and Red Pepper Bites

Don't you love going to a good cocktail party where the nibbles rival the drinks? I have to say ... having a small little evening thing where you don't have to put on the long dining table and time all the courses is a welcome change.

The thing is you have to have a few (or in our case, several) stellar recipes for finger food. Those little bites of savories, cheeses, warm nibbles, and dips make for satisfied guests and safeguard everyone from too many cocktails and not enough food to soak them up. Hence, I tend to look for and set aside plenty of finger food and appetizer recipes so that I can lay out a 'groaning board' of snacks when we spring for a cocktail party. We've been thinking about having a fun little thing in October, so recipes have been on my mind.

Which leads me to today's post ...

03 September 2010

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad ... Thank-you, Ina!

I'm a fan of The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten's cooking show. She always makes everything look so easy and she's so laid back in her kitchen technique and manner with the camera. Of course, it helps that this lady is an excellent cook and shares the most incredible dishes and desserts with her TV and cookbook fans!

I recently found a recipe for a summer salad that my daughter, Kate had prepared a couple summers ago. At the time, we all 'wow'ed and smacked our lips over Kate's salad, but I never got the recipe from her! When I found it in Ina Garten's cookbook, barefoot contessa at home , I let out a little whoop of joy!  I know you will like it! The freshest of fresh herbs and crunchy cukes and onions give the orzo and shrimp such a nice platform to show off their lemon-y, pepper-y flavors. I'm pairing the salad with some steelhead trout that I'll be grilling and topping with toasted almonds in a butter sauce. The last of the garden's green beans will sit alongside too... dinner is coming up.