28 June 2011

Another Beautiful Cake ...

Finally! The sun has returned to New Hampshire and I grabbed the opportunity to pick strawberries with a lovely friend of mine. Bev and I picked enough berries for strawberry jam and a beautiful cake that my blogging friend, Devaki recently posted! Bev planned to try making this cake too, but she also wanted to 'gift' her son and daughter-in-law with a basket of fresh berries.

On the way home, I spied this 'swamp' bordered with wild mountain laurel and what looked like an ancient beaver lodge. The water was so still that you could see the pollen from the laurel and pines floating atop the surface. Talk about a room with a view! Lucky beavers! I wonder if they're still around or if the traffic from the road has sent them further into the swamp ... this lodge is certainly past its prime, but deeper in the swamp, who knows what quiet stillness and fresh branches and saplings would yield. Probably a nice little place in the woods ... kind of like our little grey cottage.

This cake is destined for a potluck affair that SB and I are headed for down New York way. We will be seeing old college pals and catching up after 25 years of life, children, careers, and general chaos. What fun! A flying trip, but one that can't be missed for all the tea ... here's to spontaneous junkets!

27 June 2011

Green Beans ... Very Special.

'Green Beans'  is the recipe title. In the text, it says this preparation is 'very special'; this, from a collection of  'colonial recipes' published years ago by The Old Farmer's Almanac.  Well, I've had the booklet for years and have finally gotten around to making this version of summer green beans. It has been chilly and damp and stormy and depressing for the past week, here in New England.  It's a good thing that I have new-born kittens to cheer me or I'd surely have crabbed at Silent Bob and the dogs, bitched at my children for not even giving one surly comment about why I don't bake more often those cute cookies I posted yesterday, sent a nasty letter to Boston Red Sox management about John Lackey and his 'lack thereof', and gone to ground (or bed) with a good book, a pot of herbal tea (or something stronger) and a hot water bottle.

25 June 2011

Apple Cream Pennies ...

Do you remember Mrs. Fields cookie shops in your local mall? Remember her chocolate chip cookies warm from the glass case? I forget how much one cookie cost, but it was worth every penny! Well, this cookie recipe comes from the same cookie goddess. She published a cookie cook book in the early 90's that made our household very happy cookie monsters. In it was this wonderful light sandwich with a spicy creamy filling of cream cheese and apple butter and a chewy soft outer cookie shell. Totally killer!

24 June 2011

Boston Baked Beans !

For me, this is the ultimate one-pot meal. I think of all those beanpots over the years simmering away in the coals by the fire, on the warming rack of the wood-fired cookstove, and now, in ovens all across New England (and beyond!). It's a recipe as old as this country ... beans, molasses, pork, and onions ... basics back in the day. The dish is so entrenched in New England's culture that countless church's host Saturday Night Bean Suppers to raise funds for their coffers, an annual 'Beanpot Tournament' has become part of the Boston collegiate hockey scene, restaurants have made their reputation on this staple of New England diet (Boston's Durgin Park, being one of them) and beanpots have become collector items in antique stores and on the Web ...

23 June 2011

The Land of the Bean and the Cod ... and Fannie Farmer

Boston Brown Bread

Fannie Merritt Farmer's preface to The Boston Cooking School Cook Book
courtesy of Michigan State University's website

'Back in the day' is one of my favorite expressions when talking about old times, favorite memories from childhood, or past practices, rules, and traditions that are pretty much written in the stone slabs of New England granite. Living here in the heart of New England, there are a few dinners that have stood the test of time ... they're cheap, can be made ahead of serving time, keep well for a day or two or three, fill the belly with nutritious and locally produced foods and meats and fit the criteria for those things 'written in stone' -

21 June 2011

Orecchiette and Peas ...

Pasta and I have an easy relationship ... we're always there for each other. We bond over all sorts of occasions. Don't feel like cooking? No problem. Just boil some water and make a plate of linguine fini and herbs. Need an easy salad for a picnic ... use that light tangy rotini and crispy veg in vinaigrette salad! Feeling blue? Tortellini with four gooey cheeses wil drag you out of that funk! Feeling sniffles and chills?  Need a warm soup fix? Make that chicken noodle soup! I always say that I am the 'queen of pasta' ... just put it on my gravestone, folks!

20 June 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart ...

Check out the vintage towel that is a map of New England ... those berries are right over our little area of New Hampshire!

Today, I made a tart of rhubarb and strawberries from our backyard patch ... I thought it would be easy to find a treatment for rhubarb that I would go crazy over, but no. I had to look around at several different recipes before I decided to take some ingredients from one and more of certain ingredients from another. I borrowed ideas from Martha Stewart's  tiny tart recipe and also from Better Homes & Garden's classic strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe. A classic pie pastry and more fresh sliced berries atop made for a pretty tart.

17 June 2011

Random Recipe #5 - Marsala Burgers

This month, Dom's challenge was all about grabbing the latest cook book received or bought and doing a 'random open up' - well, Brenda over at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen gifted me a copy of  rachael ray's look + cook in a recent give-away drawing and I have been having fun testing some of the recipes.

This random recipe is perfect for the season ... nothing like grilling burgers on a Friday night! We're ushering in summertime with these Marsala Burgers from page 192 of the cook book. Simple, easy and really tasty! Brenda would love it that I opened the book to this recipe, as she is the queen of sandwiches and burgers ... 'tis fitting.

15 June 2011

An Homage to Alice Waters ...

Alice Waters opened a can of worms when she began advocating for schoolyard gardens and a curriculum that incorporated food science, growth, cooking, and nutrition in schools nationwide. Our nation's rate of obesity has grown dramatically since WWII; we are a product of too many processed foods, too much time in front of the television and computers, and too little time out in the world moving around and gaining an understanding of all it takes to raise and supply the nation with food. Consequently, this trend is being reflected in our children's increased obesity and onset of diabetes in all age demographics. Alice Waters set out to propose one solution ...

13 June 2011

Tuscan Peasant Bread with Olives

The first of the herbs are coming in from the garden and yesterday I bought new onions and garlic at the farmer's market in Temple, NH ... today all I could think about was a fresh vegetable fry-up over some penne pasta and a good loaf of bread for slopping up the juices and some olive oil ... I can taste it already!

I bought The Bread Bible awhile ago and have been itching to try a few new bread recipes, so I got out my clay bread baker and made this Tuscan Bread ... I put green and black olives into the dough and plan to have a small dish of olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper for knoshing with it.

12 June 2011

Harvest Bars ... and a Story

I went through a phase when the kids were all in high school when I tried to get them to eat more fruits and nuts. It seemed that they were forever wanting junk food and, while I love a good potato chip, I realized that good carbs and fats were locked in other treats that were just as satisfying as chips and chocolate bars. I discovered this fruit bar recipe on the back of one of those bags of dried fruit and began making these bars as treats for sleep-overs, sports team half-time breaks, bake sales, and the family cookie jar.

Sigh ... they last a lot longer these days when I make them.

10 June 2011

Snickerdoodle Muffins

Sometimes you just need a sunny porch, a good sweet muffin, and a cuppa Joe. What more can I say? Norm, a Facebook friend, posted a link to a recipe for Snickerdoodle muffins the other day. I happened to read it mid-morning... just about coffeebreak time ... the rest is history.

08 June 2011

Carrot and Chickpea Tagine with Greek Yogurt and Caraway Rice

It's such a sunny hot day ... sunny and hot, just like this gorgeous plate of leftover Carrot and Chickpea Tagine that comes from sunny northern Africa!

What a mixed -up, but wonderful dinner we had last evening! This Morrocan tagine paired really well with my favorite take on steamed rice (a favorite from an Indian restaurant we frequented in North Carolina). Dollops of Greek yogurt cooled the heat of the spicy hot and sweet tagine. We also broiled chicken wings that were treated with lemon juice, olive oil and a lemon-pepper spice rub. A cold bottle of  LaBelle's Seyval Blanc gave a light fruity something to sip ... sometimes it all comes together in such a pleasant way!

07 June 2011

Warm Potato Salad

I've made this salad three times now and I feel that I have finally got it the way I like it ... you need to make it and make it your own. So here you go ... so simple, so good, so perfect with any roasted ham or fish fry or grilled chicken (put some tarragon in the dressing for the salad sitting beside chicken!) or steaks. My,my,my!

I make this salad 'by guess and by gosh', as my Mom would say. I eyeball how many potatoes I need for the number of folks eating and then play with the amount of dressing to toss in. I'll give you servings for four ... how's that?

05 June 2011

All That's Left Are the Crumbs ...

Our little church joined forces with a local artisans group this weekend to host a craft fair and community potluck supper in celebration of  springtime. It was a fun event that brought different people together. Some people baked cakes for a benefit cake auction, some baked them for a small cake contest, some brought their wares to sell at the craft fair, but everyone contributed in some way to a nice evening of dinner and chatter. The cake auction raised a small amount of money to seed the efforts of our local 250th celebration that will be coming up in 2012. A fun day, all around!

So ... I made a Coconut Carrot Cake with the requisite cream cheese frosting to contribute to the cake auction, as I am not the competitive type. I left the cake contest to far better bakers than I!

03 June 2011

Talk About A Hasty Lunch! Some Fun On The L Train


Happy Friday, all! These guys make prep and serving an art, what a hoot!

01 June 2011

Pulled Pork in Spicy Red Sauce with Cole Slaw

There's nothing like a big old sloppy, gooey pulled pork sandwich with an ice cold beer!

A while back, I came across a post that had a simple way of treating a pork shoulder to a massage with some great Tex-Mex spices, a long slow bath in a bubbling broth spiked with chilis, cilantro, onions, and garlic and then a pull session with a finish in some picante tomato sauce. Golly! What could be better, I thought?

Take the pulled pork and the picante sauce and make enchiladas! Yes ... it was stellar! Pam @ For the Love of Cooking graciously gave me permission to use her recipe in a recipe share. I've made this recipe twice since first seeing it. It is in my personal cook book at this point. It's that good ... and it's totally adaptable to so many other applications!