31 January 2012

Lemon Nut Bars

Silent Bob is at it again ... rattling the cover of the empty cookie jar. I always have to chuckle at such a transparent plea for a sweet treat, but I suppose he knows I'll smile and catch his twinkling eye as he passes through the kitchen on his way out the back door. By the time he gets back in from a session down in the woodlot, the kitchen will smell sweet and lemony ... and it will be time for tea.

27 January 2012

Ryder and Topalian's Edible Communities !

Tracy Ryder and Carole Topalian may be able to make a killer salad or fresh local fish fillet or free-range beef roast, but what they have done even better is to take the idea of regional foods and food communities and meld the technology of communication and advertisement on the Internet to create Edible Communities a publishing company that sells franchises and editorial support to regional entrepreneurs who want to publish regional magazines that support and advertise for local farmers and artisan food projects, local community gardens, and all things that support the locavore movement. Pretty clever, huh? So, a project that started with Edible Ojai blossomed to 64 regional magazines and counting. Not only do they produce hardcopy of these local foodie magazines so that copies can be distributed at farmer's markets, restaurants and through Chambers of Commerce, but they support on-line editions that are freely accessed and archived ... now, THAT'S game-changing!

26 January 2012

Hungarian Csirke Paprikas

What is that under all that orange, you ask? Thick slices of chicken breast that have a warm bath of sweet red peppers, a hefty amount of sweet paprika, soft onions, and plum tomatoes in a chicken and sour cream sauce .... this is Csirke Paprikas - Hungarian Paprika Chicken.

This is a meal for a cold, raw night - a meal to be eaten by candlelight - a meal that calls for a nice crisp white wine ... its soft and silky sauce is perfect with buttered egg noodles. An easy roasted vegetable side or a simple plate of salad greens completes this meal. This is comfort food.

22 January 2012

Another Beautiful Cake ... and Ham Salad!

I'm going to a party this weekend and I'm taking a big bowl of this ham salad and a beautiful little cake!

21 January 2012

Sichuan Green Beans

Green beans are one of my favorite green veggies ... so when I see them in the market and they are in perfect shape, I buy them. I know. I'm bad. They're NOT in season here in New England, but damn! They looked so good and I've missed them so much since late August! Cut me some slack!

20 January 2012

Donna Hay's Sticky Chinese Chicken

Until this week, I'd never heard of Donna Hay. Doing a bit of research, though, gave me a kazillion 'hits' to touch base on ...  from Donna Hay's General Store to the Donna Hay magazine, to numerous news and blog posts on Donna and her bright, crisp, stylish presentation of everything from pasta to potholders! She is, apparently, a media sensation Down Under ... cut from the same bolt as Martha Stewart, perhaps? Her background is squarely in the area of food styling and editing, as she spent her young professional life as food editor at marie clare. Since her early success and exposure, she has been savvy enough to develop a brand and market it to the max. Nothing wrong with that! This past year she stepped into the world of television when she began her fast, fresh, simple. lifestyle show. With an accompanying cookbook release, her star continues to rise.

I am making a fast, fresh, and simple batch of chicken legs today. While Donna's recipe is at its most basic, I did little things to enhance the spices and assure that the meat would absorb as much flavour as possible before I popped it into the oven. I also doubled the amount of sauce so that the legs were almost covered as they marinated.

18 January 2012

The Orchard - A Memoir and Apple Turnovers

Today's post is about a good read and a classic pastry treat ... 

16 January 2012

White Bean and Sausage Soup with Kale

I call these frost feathers and they are especially beautiful this morning! Every window in the upper story of the grey cottage is decked out with different patterns. The temperature was -8°F … that’s -22°C for those who use the Celsius measurements.

13 January 2012

50 Woman Game-Changers - Barbara Tropp

Barbara Tropp is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest interpreters of Asian cuisine that America has ever seen. Her two cookbooks are incredible references - the first The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking - Techniques and Recipes has been an invaluable tool for me, as I have learned about Chinese cuisine. The second The China Moon Cookbook has challenged me to find ingredients and dedicate myself to the recipes that I've chosen to make ... there are usually multiple steps, interesting ingredients, and new techniques for me to play at. 

Ms. Tropp lead a whirlwind professional life as a restauranteur, a culinary teacher, a cookbook author, a contributing writer for news and food media, an advocate for young women chefs. Her death in 2001 of ovarian cancer came after a lengthy battle with the disease and was a real loss to food culture. Had she beat the 'wolf at the door', I'm sure she would have continued creating interesting fusion foods that incorporated classic techniques, new food trends, and the freshest and best ingredients. She'd have continued teaching young and upcoming chefs the tricks of her trade and sponsoring young women chefs as they made their way up through the professional culinary ranks. She was a remarkable woman with real talent.

                                                        Credit: SF Chronicle photo

That's all I'm going to say about her ... other than the fact that I have never had a better springroll than at her San Francisco restaurant, China Moon.

11 January 2012

Red Letter Random Recipe Day ... and Another Beautiful Cake

I'd fleetingly thought of trying to make fewer cakes in the new year, but then I saw this cake  ... and I knew that I might as well resolve to shoot myself in the foot or eat fewer potato chips. It and the alternatives just won't happen. Instead, I started rifling through the spice cupboard to track down the mace and other spices that go into this fluffy concoction.

09 January 2012

Pasta Fix ... Curried Farfalle with Smoked Salmon and Peas

Well, hey now! Don't know about you, but I am smack dab in the middle of the January funk. This year, I think it's worse than usual because we have no snow and no chittering birds by the feeder. Really, no snow. That means that the yard and forest look grey ... and blah ... and depressing. The birds are all still out in the meadows feeding on seeds and such and not flitting around our backyard feeders making us smile. No sliding, no brushing soft white stuff off the walkways, no twinkling sunrises, nothin'. This is not a good thing for a part of the US that relies on winter ski tourism ... talk about economic disaster. I'm shouting out to all who are the prayin' kind ... it's time to send up some prayers for a return to more winter-like weather for New Hampshire and the Northeastern US. In the meantime, I'm in a funk ... and I'm eating pasta.

07 January 2012

Palmiers ... Two Ways

SB and I went to a holiday dinner party recently. It was our task to bring some nibbles for having with before dinner drinks.

I was on a mission to use up all the bits of ingredients that we've had in the fridge during the Christmas season, so out came the Parmesan and pesto. Sooo easy. In fact, I am recommending that you always keep a packet of puff pastry sheets in your freezer for those occasions when you need a nice appetizer or a bit of something to nibble with a glass of wine if you get spur-of-the-moment guests. These can be made FAST.

06 January 2012

50 Woman Game-Changers ... and Betty Fussell's Risi e Bisi

When I got out of college, I didn't want to read anything that was required ever again. I didn't want to read anything at all, in fact, for a good while. When I finally settled down to a job and an apartment, I didn't have a lot of disposable cash for outside entertainment. No more partying on my parent's dollar ... no more eating out. So, I stayed in and I started reading again. I joined a book club, but I only read what I wanted ... and one of the first freebie cookbooks that I got when I joined the book club was Betty Fussell's Eating In.

It's a neat and narrow little paperback, designed to fit nicely in your purse or the top drawer of your desk at work ... perfect for referring to when you want to shop for something good on the way home from work. Most of the recipes are pretty basic and easy to accomplish with fresh basic meats and vegetables. Plus, good old Betty gives advice on what to serve with the dish and what wine to sip alongside. It was pretty perfect inspiration for this girl!