29 April 2013

IHCC - Ottolenghi's Asparagus with Polenta

Here is a star side dish for you ! My new friend Yotam has kindly shared his recipe for Asparagus with Polenta in The Guardian. Everything about this dish is pleasing to me at this time of the year - the bright colors of the polenta and asparagus, the lemon zest brightness that's added as a hint in the polenta and a flash of citrus to the garnish, the nutty crunch that comes with each bite.  It's Spring on a plate for me.

27 April 2013

Strawberry Custard Pie ...

Spring is here when the strawberries start tempting you, as you pass through the produce department at the supermarket. Am I right? They're not perfect, but they are just so darn promising of warmer days. I can't wait to get down on hands and knees to creep along the rows of berries, filling a colander and contemplating strawberry shortcake, stopping to brush the dirt off a particularly beautiful berry and pop it in my mouth to sample the juiciness. Berries and cream, berry smoothies, strawberry ice cream, spinach salad with strawberries and balsamic vinaigrette, strawberry jam ... is it any wonder that I always fall for the first berries that come in from 'where ever'? I'm a strawberry junkie.

Today I made strawberry custard pie.

26 April 2013

IHCC - Ugly Food From A Lovely Lady

This week's I Heart Cooking Club is a potluck affair - I decided to look around at the other chefs that the club has concentrated on over time ... and ... oh, look! Giada de Laurentiis! How can a woman who looks that good eat the killer recipes that she comes up with and remain looking that good? She must take nano-bites and eat salad the rest of the time! Take this recipe for baked potatoes with sausage and arugula.

23 April 2013

Random Recipes - Cathy Rothwell's Teryaki Sirloin Tips

It's that Random Recipe time of month again! Every month, our cyber friend Dom gives us a new way to find a recipe from one of our cook books that we might not have seen, might have passed over, might have been afraid to tackle, might have ...

This month, Dom has challenged us to use his random number generator thingamabob to come up with a random number that corresponds to one of the books on our cookbook shelves; we are to open that particular book, make the recipe, and then "eat and of course, enjoy" ! My number is 128. Well, counting the books on the shelf brought me to the first of two of our family cookbooks - these binders hold recipes that I have diligently saved over the years from family, friends, magazine articles, newspaper slips, labels, etc. They're the one's that I have tried and loved and made the commitment to preserve. I have slowly transcribed them to word files, printed them out, placed them in waterproof plastic page liners and placed them in the huge binder/cookbook - they're there for all time! Anyway, flipping to a random page, I came to my friend Cathy's recipe for sirloin tips - her shiny, sweet, tangy, juicy steak bites.

This recipe is all about the simple marinade. I always soak the tips all day - for flavouring and tenderizing purposes. Then, I make slivers of onions and green peppers and give them a fast stir fry in the wok while I use a grill pan to sear these tips (or if the weather is nice, I grill them) to a perfect medium-rare. It's simple, but so wonderful! Sometimes, we have the tips with steamed jasmine rice and an Asian vegetable side dish, but at other times we have them with roasted spears of sweet potato and a simple salad. However you make them, I hope you enjoy them!

Cathy Rothwell’s Teriyaki Sirloin Tips

One day before you want to grill these, make the marinade and place the tips in a zip-lock bag. Seal and massage the tip with the marinade. Store the bag in a bowl in the fridge and give the meat a toss and a squeeze every now and then during the day.

Grill to medium-rare for the best and most tender chew, brushing the steaks with some of the marinade while they cook.  Sprinkle on the scallions and sesame seeds and serve hot from the grill.


½ c. soy sauce
¼ c. brown sugar
½ c. orange juice
1 large clove garlic minced
1 tsp. black pepper

1 – 2 lbs. sirloin tips or steak of your choice


scallions, sliced into thin coins
sesame seeds, toasted

Accompaniments: Green pepper and sweet onion strips stir fried in peanut oil, black pepper and ginger root and garlic aromatics.

Note: If you choose to use a steak for this marinade, don’t forget to poke it all over with a meat fork to let the marinade really work its way into the slab of meat.

21 April 2013

A New Twist on Hawaiian Pizza

This weekend's pizza was totally interesting ! Take a traditional tomato-based pizza and turn it on its ear! Hawaiian pizza has always seemed really exotic and kind of weird to me, but my brother-in-law raves about it! Whenever the guys have their poker parties at the family farm, Dan likes to order a Hawaiian number to split with the rest of the guys. So I've slowly come around to the idea of trying a pie decked out with ham and pineapple.

20 April 2013

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

The crock pot that I bought several months ago has gotten incredible use over the winter, and now Spring is back and busy times come with yard and garden work. I haven't gone and put that slow cooker away for the summer, though! It will be kept just as busy as during the wintertime!  Case in point, today's dinner and tomorrow's leftovers ... pulled pork.

19 April 2013

IHCC - Royal Potato Salad

Oh, what a warm green mess this is and oh, how utterly delicious! I found myself humming Mellow Yellow as I peeled eggs last evening while making Yotam Ottolenghi's Royal Potato Salad.  Whirling the basil, parsley, Parmesan and pine nuts in the blender made me giddy with the luscious shade of green that resulted. I switched over to trying to remember the Seuss text to 'Green Eggs and Ham'. Whenever, I plopped warm potatoes and eggs, pesto, and peas together and added some mint and tossed, I could tell by the texture, color, and scent that we had a winner here!

16 April 2013

Moroccan Crab Cakes ???? Yup, Apparently!

Matthew Kenney has sucked me in  ... again! Perhaps it's the gorgeously photographed food in his cookbook or maybe it's just the interesting combinations of ingredients. Whatever, I saw this recipe for Moroccan Spiced Crab Cakes and knew that I had to make them. I have found myself daydreaming about placing them on a nice bed of greens and serving them with a super chilled crisp white wine ... it's supposed to be a warm sunny day here. The back porch will warm right up with the sun hitting it ... it may even feel like a warm summer afternoon out there ... these crab cakes should be a great way to celebrate the return of the sunshine and warmth!

13 April 2013

Honey and Chocolate - A Sweet Combination!

Image by Brad Smith 

I recently was looking around the Web for a chocolate/honey combination recipe for this month's We Should Cocoa challenge and found this interesting article about honeybees and honey production. It explains how we, as consumers, can support local honeybees and beekeepers. I know the article is published by a British agricultural site, but the tips and information given are good for any and all, world-wide. Our bee populations are in trouble and the more we do to support local beekeepers, organic farming methods, and safe recycling methods, the more robust our local bee populations will be. Just a thought ...

Our neighbors have begun caring for bee colonies. Last year, they had two active hives and we noticed the increase in honeybees in our flower and vegetable gardens. They are so welcome!  I can't wait to see how their hives wintered and have started looking for the first bees to show up. This past week, I noticed the pussywillows beginning to put out their catkins and our crocus are finally beginning to blossom. The bees will be buzzing soon enough! Can't wait for warmer weather and the beginning of gardening season!

As for this recipe, I was intrigued to use honey in a chocolate 'block' recipe because I have several loved ones who are trying to cut processed sugar out of their diets, but still wish for sweet treats sometimes. The thought of being able to pass on an acceptable way of having a chocolate treat or glass of hot cocoa would be a nice kick. So here, I go! I am starting by making a small amount of this chocolate and will use it in another recipe ... this is an easy recipe, but it required more honey for my taste buds. I got it from Shannon over at Nourishing Days.  Her recipe creates very close to 120 grams of a soft chocolate paste.

12 April 2013

IHCC - Ottolenghi's Chard, Squash, and Chickpea Sauté

I wish I could say that  I was completely in love with this particular recipe ... which is a shame, as the freshness of the chard was terrific! And had I followed my instincts instead of the recipe, I might have been raving right now, instead of delivering a 'meh' review of Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe for a warm sauté of chard, winter squash, and chick peas. It all 'went South' when I added the yogurt dressing over all that fresh and beautiful chard, squash, and chickpeas - far too much tartness for my taste.

I think I want to make this again and have the dressing on the side, as a dipper for an accompanying flat bread. I really think that a warm bread alongside this vegetable dish would make for a perfect meatless meal - much more authentic than having it sit beside a medium rare steak, as I did this evening.!

10 April 2013

Black Forest Cookies

In my book, when you put together cherries and dark chocolate, you've got a Black Forest something ... today, it's cookies for me. I have baked up a batch of these tasty cookies as a 'thank-you gift' for Richard, my daughter's employer. You see, Richard holds season tickets to Boston Red Sox games at Fenway Park in Boston. For fans like SB and I, a pair of tickets to see the Sox is just about the finest thing we could ever wish for once the season starts. The only thing finer would be good seats in front of the TV watching them play in  win the 2013 World Series. That seems to be putting the cart before the horse though, as our boys are just seven games into the 2013 season!

Last week, we received a phone call from Sprout Sara. Richard had two tickets for the third game of the Red Sox opening home series. Would we like them? WOULD WE LIKE THEM ?!? There is an entire series of questions involving a bear/woods, Popes/Catholicism, fat babies .... yeah, well. YES! The answer was yes! So, these cookies have been baked with love and gratitude and tomorrow, we head off to Beantown to deliver these cookies to Richard, grab those precious tickets, hug our sweet girl, and head off to see our boys of summer try to beat the Baltimore Orioles. Hopes are high here in the grey cottage! We're whistling "Take Me Out To the Ball Game" and "Sweet Caroline" and getting psyched!

07 April 2013

IHCC -Greetings Ottolenghi ! Thanks for Sunday Night Supper!

Ottolenghi's Sweet and Spicy Beef and Pork Pie

Two weeks ago, what started out as a search for some good Indian recipes turned into the introduction to a new blogging group that concentrates their cooking efforts on researching and cooking one particular chef's work for an extended period of time. The I Heart Cooking Club was finishing up a period of time in which they had concentrated on Madhur Jaffrey's cooking and announced that they would be moving on to the work of Yotam Ottolenghi.

HMM! There has been quite a bit of chatter on-line about Ottolenghi over the last year. Between talk of his restaurants, his interesting take on fresh vegetables and use of spices in new and interesting ways, the cook book called Plenty, and his latest cookbook called  Jerusalem , I was intrigued to see just what all the excitement was about. I went here and after giving it some thought, I decided to join up.

05 April 2013

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Yesterday, I butterflied a little chicken - just enough for SB and I ! Then, I rubbed it all up with lemon zest strips, cayenne pepper, some lemon juice, and olive oil and let it marinate overnight. Today, I made a killer chicken dinner ...

03 April 2013

Deceptively Easy Gourmet - A Ham, Corn and Cheese Soufflé

Flower colors mimic food colors ... what a coincidence! Happy Spring!

It's always fun to roll out a gourmet recipe when guests come to share a meal, but it can be stressful if said recipe is a 'time drain' that takes you away from your guests or has to be worked up at the last minute. I have always been intimidated by the idea of  'The Soufflé' - the idea of a huge puffy mass of eggs dependent on proper folding, the perfect oven environment, and perfect timing when planning the actual serving. All these issues kept me from trying to make a soufflé.

02 April 2013

Sundried Tomato and Garlic Hummus

I remember sitting in a small restaurant in Concord, New Hampshire a while back, blythly knoshing on bread sticks and hummus and thinking that it was the perfect snack. I was having the hummus as a starter with a glass of wine, waiting for my lunch entree to arrive at the table. Thinking back now, I think I'd have been able to make another glass of wine and a side salad a meal with a few more bread sticks and a slightly larger bowl of that gorgeous snack my entire lunch! I got thinking about that hummus yesterday, as I was making the breadsticks for our soupy supper.

So, today, I decided to make my own jazzier version of that hummus recipe and have it for lunch ... voila!

01 April 2013

Garlic-Chive Semolina Bread Sticks

Boy, what a busy day ... Easter's leftover ham and the bone have been transformed into a huge pot of Pasta Fagioli and I have spent the day cleaning the back porch and washing my pottery. Spring cleaning is beginning a little at a time. I stress a little at a time, as I need frequent breaks from the boredom of household drudgery. So ... I moseyed outside to throw the Frisbee and stick for the dogs, discovered the first spears of daffodils poking up by the front of the house, did some more cleaning on the back porch, and I made breadsticks to have with the simmering soup.