30 December 2014

Food Trends for 2015 ... Personal Prognostications

That business over cocktails the other evening got me thinking about the food trends that will be coming our way in 2015. It seems that every year restaurant chefs, food writers, and bloggers catch on to a few select spices, vegetables, meats, fruits, or techniques that become a fad. So I got to wondering what some trends for 2015 might be ...

1. Fritters - Both sweet and savory make wonderful little desserts, tea time bites, and platforms for all sorts of savory sauces or delicate meat and/or vegetable accompaniments. I was recently looking at one of  Diana Henry's cook books and when I saw her recipe for ricotta fritters, I thought them perfect for a food trend jumping off point.

2. Ramen Noodle Bowls - The possibilities are endless for additions to a bowl of noodles. Making a cheap bowl of pasta healthy and tasty is surely a challenge that the foodie world should embrace ... right? Besides, getting interest in more ramen stands and food trucks would be a public service, so a food trend is def called for here.

2. Escarole - This leafy green has much to offer in main dish presentations and salad and vegetable side dish recipes. Let's go, chefs! Serve up the escarole!

4. Honey - Using honey as a small sweetener and as a main ingredient is just the right thing to do. If we're ever to turn around the plight of the honey bee, it will be directly tied to the market force of 'supply and demand' so we need to use more honey. Period. Time to trend!

5. Rabbit Meat - It's lean and healthy. It's a meat source that small producers can humanely raise without shoving corn and junk into the little creatures. Certain species of rabbit and hare are smaller and more realistic in portion per piece. In a time when, meat consumption is becoming less a daily thing and more considered, rabbit's time has come.

6. Sandwich Cookies - Now that cup cakes are off the trendy list of sweet treats for the urban hipster coffee crawl, I'm thinking that a good sandwich cookie could be the next big thing. I recently saw a recipe for oatmeal cookies with a creamy filling that made me think that the world could use at least a hundred more creative ways to knosh two cookies at a time! Sandwich cookies! Yes!

7. Tempura - There must be a zillion ways to prepare and spice a tempura batter. I'm thinking tempura veggies, tempura fruits as embellishments for main dishes, tempura meats and seafood bites.
The tempura technique is ripe for experimentation. It's a food trend just waiting to happen!

8. Grains - Getting good grains that are not full of chemical residue is a pretty important thing, so I'm hoping that smaller organic grain producers get their due in 2015. A trend is called for ...

9. Airline Food 'Alternative Caterers' - Small packs prepared right in the terminal for folks to grab on the go before they hit security and pack away for consumption on the planes (that refuse to step up to the foodie challenge) could make for happier travelers. Just saying ... there's a foodie opp here, if only someone would develop the idea! Or ... has it already been developed. It's been so long since I've been able to AFFORD to travel !!!!! I may just be out of the airline terminal loop.

10. ..... hmmm.

I could probably go on for a bit, but I'm wondering what followers and creepy blog stalkers might think ... feel free to let me know in comment section. What will be the next big foodie thing in 2015?

29 December 2014

Let Them Eat Kale - The Cook Book's Minestrone with Quinoa Soup

Nom, nom ... with added chicken meatballs. 

Okay, so this New Hampshire hick is settling in for the winter months with her stash of Christmas cook books and her every present bouquet of  ... kale. Yup. Kale. It's what's for dinner during the winter up here in the wilds of New England - green, cheap, plentiful, healthy, and ever present, mounded up in the produce section at the local markets.

16 December 2014

One Sick Mama, Risotto, and the Tree ...

Well, I could make one more cookie cutter Christmas. I'm good at that ... making cookies, pulling all the same stuff out of the closet and sorting through it meticulously. This year, though, things are a bit different. The kids will be making Christmas Eve dinner. We are attending a different church. I am sick with a horrid cold and don't feel great. I need comfort food, a slow approach to all the decorating and hub-bub. I have been doing a series of home made gifts that I really want to concentrate on and damn the commercial end of things. Thank goodness, I got most of the foodie gifts made before I turned into Typhoid Mary ... now I can sit around on my ass and stitch the rest of the presents ... and hopefully, ditch this sickness!

09 December 2014

An Aside ...

This week the elves have been busy! There is so much baking, sewing, and puttering with design here in the grey cottage!  I've been experimenting with a spelt flour crust - something that will hold up to very wet fillings like quiches or gravy-based meat pies.

The result is a nutty flavoured crunchy crust, not at all like the typical, flaky, light white flour pie crust, but rustic enough that I think it would work with meat pies. The floppy crust looked cool, but it got far too crunchy hanging out in that hot oven. Next time, I'll trim it right up. The ham and spinach quiche was very tasty, though. Just loaded with stringy caramelized onions and plenty of Jarlsberg cheese.

Sigh ...

Making another batch of Christmas cookies was positively therapeutic. There's something about rolling warm cookies in sugar that makes me feel like a kid. Looking at them all lined up in the Christmas cookie tin made my afternoon complete!

German Sandkeks , the traditional shortbread cookie that always graces the cookie tins at the grey cottage! perfect with a glass of milk or better yet, a hot cup of tea!

Finally, the apricots that were left over from my chutney-making session got soaked with some prunes and turned into a sweet gooey sauce with Asian flair. After thickening up in the oven, it was poured over pork scallopine that had been pan-seared and rested to a perfect pink center. Fast and easy dinner for this Christmas elf!

Are you managing to get your Christmas projects done while juggling regular chores or is your house going to smithereens like mine? I'm cooking, but cleaning and laundry have gone by the boards for a few days. Might be time to do a major sweep ... or maybe I should wait until the tree gets dragged though and set up. Yeah ... I should wait.

Okay! Glad we got that settled! 

06 December 2014

Gifting Homemade Moroccan Spiced Apricot Chutney - IHCC

Apricots, tomatoes, apples, golden sultanas, purple onion, citrus juices, ginger, cayenne pepper, and honey ... simmer and stir and you will have a spicy slurry of gold ... a worthy gift for foodie friends

01 December 2014

A Baker's Dozen Foodie Finds for Christmas 2014


Thanksgiving comes and goes ... and while we relish holding on to the memories and Thanksgiving Day leftovers for a few days, there's no denying that Christmas preparations kick into high gear within days of the carving of the turkey and the brief pause to reflect on our blessings! That being said, here is a fun selection of gifts that you just might find fun for giving to the favorite foodie in your life. Wrapping things up in creative fashion is always part of the fun too ... check out Charm Bracelet Diva's website for a fun Christmas post on wrapping and decorating!

I had such fun scoping the Internet for some of these ... and of course, you KNOW that most of them fit my interests. I'm only hoping that my taste reflects just a bit what others in the blogging world think is fun and worthwhile...

23 November 2014

Magic Cookie Bars - Hello Cookie Season!

This weekend brought a host of holiday fairs to the Monadnock region of New Hampshire. Our little church was one of the many churches that rolled out the baked goods and homemade gifts. Every household does its part to contribute to the long bake table at the church fair. These chewy, sweet cookies bars were bagged up and offered along with a loaf of cranberry nut bread and a big round boule of herbed bread. I baked all day on Friday!

18 November 2014

Another Meatball Soup ...

Yesterday was such a lousy, rainy day! It was a day for spending under a blanket on the couch with hand sewing or a good book or a willing partner. But no. I had to schlep wood for woodboxes and deliver some food to a friend who is ill, return overdue books to the library and schlep grocery bags from the store to the car to the house. By the end of the day, my toes were wet because my clogs have sprung a leak. My hands were clammy and chilled and my hair was damp from the trips between car and errand locations. And the rain and bluster just kept blustering. UGH!

11 November 2014

We Should Cocoa - Spicy Chili Chocolate Cookies

This batch of cookies will last a nanosecond, once Silent Bob gets winds of their smell. They're full of dark chocolate and cayenne pepper and they deliver a hot kick when you've swallowed a bite - that warm chili-spice heat that stays with you until you swallow some milk.

10 November 2014

An Aside ...

No flying geese here ... little red birds flying around the garden of kitchy 70's calico patches. I've worked up a quilt for a friend who gifted me these patches from her deceased sister's closet. I decided to use her sister's blocks to make a memory quilt for Tracy and will give it (back) to her at Christmas. She will have a nice reminder of her sister.

Little Bee enjoyed sniffing at the birds. He is turning into quite the mischief maker. Has to be right in the middle of all activity. I am learning to shuffle my feet around the kitchen so I don't tread on his little feet and tail.

My friend, Susan did a nice job of the free-hand machine quilting on the leaf border ... The central lattice stitching was an easy way to secure the central quilt blocks. So ... on to the next project! Think I'll bake some cookies first, though!

05 November 2014

Golden Winter Soup with Turkey Croquettes - Virtual Supper Club

Virtual Supper Club's 'Thyme for Turkey' Holiday Preview !

How did it get to be November??? This year has flown by and here come the 'big two' holidays ... again! For our family, Thanksgiving and Christmas really are the biggies. We make it a point to get together in one spot, make way too much food, joke around and play Scrabble or Bananagrams, try to get some decent family photos, drink good wine and beers, and catch up on all the news. Occasionally, there are forays to the movies or an afternoon out at the antique stores or shops, an evening out at the local pub/inn, short hikes to walk off the big meals, playing in the back yard with the dogs, and hauling wood in for the fires. Ah, family life in a rural backwater!

01 November 2014

Harissa Ravioli and a Red Japanese Maple

... there is nothing like a good bowl of veg and pasta ...

29 October 2014

Thyme Oregano and Citrus Roasted Poussin - IHCC

There is such satisfaction in taking a beautifully roasted chicken from the oven! Maybe that's why it's the classic Sunday afternoon meal. Just a thought ...

27 October 2014

Fast Supper for a Busy Night - Reuben Bake

So ... my friend Deni posted a link to a Taste of Home magazine recipe for a quick baked sandwich take on the classic Reuben. Get this. Two rolls of refrigerated crescent roll dough, corned beef, a bag of briny sauerkraut, a package of Swiss cheese, a slather of mayo/ketchup and sweet relish, and caraway seeds to herb up the top crust. You spread one package of crescent roll dough in the bottom of the pan and bake it for about ten minutes. Then, you layer in the Reuben makings - half the cheese, corned beef, well-drained sauerkraut mixed with the dressing, the rest of the cheese, the second roll of crescent roll dough, and an egg wash with the caraway seed sprinkled on top. Bake, slice, and gobble with a cold beer ...... totally satisfying when you have to eat and run ! I was wishing that I'd thought to fix some baked sweet potato fries to go with the sandwich, but that just might have been overkill - right?

I halved the recipe's filling ingredients, but kept the use of both rolls of crescent roll dough. I crammed everything into a 9-inch square pan and SB and I each had two squares. There was still enough for lunch for SB the next day. That was perfect, as SB was out hunting in the morning and wanted a warm 'something' for his lunch when he came in from the back woods.

Sometimes, quick fix meals really hit the spot, don't they? Check out how easy this is! The one thing I will say about the Taste of Home recipes is that you have to watch the ingredients lists ... there can often be processed foods included in ingredients lists. They're there as time-savers. That's all well and good, but the minute processed foods get into the mix, one has to watch out for the salt, sugar, and processed filler ingredients. That being said, these recipes are good for making an easy meal once in a while ... enough said. The link below takes you to the recipe I used for the Reuben Bake ... enjoy!

25 October 2014

IHCC Potluck - Indian Beef with Peas

Sometimes the universe offers up a grand set of coincidences. Do you believe that?  I do, and here's a little coincidence that brought together three of my favorite cooks and cook book authors.

10 October 2014

Hot and Sweet Roasted Mediterranean Veg ... IHCC

For the next six months, the I Heart Cooking Club will be concentrating efforts and investigations on Diana Henry, an Irish food writer and cook with a wonderfully eclectic body of work. For this first week of celebration, we were to choose any old recipe that struck the fancy.

Well, the options were wide open, as Diana Henry has put out cook books on preserved goods, simple home cooking, healthy foods that seem far more decadent than they are, gastropub fare that makes it to the finest of pub menus, deadly baked goods, etc, etc, but ...

07 October 2014

Pumpkin-Pecan Cookies with Rummed Up Icing

Jenna, my neighbor, recently asked for a plate of pumpkin cookies when we were yakking about the next baking projects we were planning. Since this is her Homecoming Week at school, I figured I'd treat her and her family to a plate of these to top off an easy dinner. There's always a lot of running around when kids are in their teens. Both Jenna and her brother are members of the high school band, so this week is very busy for them as Spirit Rally, the Homecoming Parade, and the football game loom large.

06 October 2014

A Thin Little Tart ...

... a thin little fruit tart that matches the thin little cardamom-dusted almond slices that deck its top ...

04 October 2014

Oh, Nigel - Rib Ragout with Pappardelle

Mmmm! See all those little bits of carrot and mushroom? They're swimming in a nice sauce with leeks and celery too. They're soaking into those wide pasta noodles and keeping those baby back ribs all moist and delicious.

02 October 2014

Apple-Cranberry Streusel Pie

My pie obsession continues to grow, as I find more tempting filling recipes for a couple of pie crusts. But wait, sometimes it's just as tasty to plop a filling into a pie shell and top the whole mess with a crunchy streusel!

... meet Apple-Cranberry Streusel Pie ...

01 October 2014

Virtual Supper Club's Homage to Wine Country

When you think about wine country, images of France, California, Australia, Germany, or Italy may come to mind. For me, it's always Italy that comes to mind first. I love Italian cuisine and this meal is one of my all time Fall favorites. I play with the concept of saltimbocca and a side of delicious seasonal polenta for this month's Virtual Supper Club theme. Jerry has asked the club members to dish up a tribute to wine country and we have all done our best! While I am having this polenta with pork saltimbocca, Jerry has made a gorgeous Roasted Breast of Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce. I think my pumpkin sage polenta will complement ! Let's see what else is on the menu!

25 September 2014

Beef and Bacon Pie - Classic Pub Food

The rant is nothing new here. Sit me down with a good bottle of beer and a good plate of pub food and I am in heaven. Well folks, here you go with another in my list of great recipes for pub fare.

24 September 2014

Random Recipes - Crusty White Bread

... a return to Random Recipes brings me to an artisan bread worthy of a good soup ...

22 September 2014

Triple Apple Cake

Look at this sticky, sweet/tart cake ! I was originally thinking that it should be served warm with a  big gob of vanilla ice cream along side, but ...

06 September 2014

An Aside ...

The quilting obsession is humming right along, thank-you. This is the latest completed project - 'Contrary Wife' quilt pattern, made into a fifty inch square lap quilt with a zigzag 'prairie points' edging.  I'm loving the blue, gold, and white palette ... and can't decide if I want to convert this to a wall hanging for my living room or use it as a couch quilt.

05 September 2014

Late Summer Breakfast

Broiled Peaches and Blackberries with Mascarpone Cheese

27 August 2014

Chive-y Cheddar Bread

I know what you're thinking ..."What the heck is she doing baking bread during the hottest week of the summer?"  It was six o'clock in the cool of the morning when I got the idea ... no, urge.

23 August 2014

Katherine Hepburn's Brownies and a Nice Little Story

Awhile back, I was poking around on the Internet looking for different brownie recipes when I came across one for 'Katherine Hepburn's Brownies'. Hmmm. What would they be like, I asked myself. Following the link, I found it tracked back to a New York Times food column with a basic cocoa and butter based recipe for an 8 x 8 inch pan-sized batch of chocolate bliss. A super moist and densely sweet dark brownie that's made with very little flour.

Just my kind of chocolate treat. Served with a dollop of ice cream, I could be in cocoa heaven ... so I'm making another batch of these brownies for a homecoming picnic that we're having at the house this weekend.

20 August 2014

An Aside ...

SB and I have retreated to the northern end of Vermont for a week of bicycling, sunning, and exploring ...

Like Champlain and his trusty native guide, my nose points toward the Lake and the sandy beach ... a perfect place to sit with my book and my hand sewing. Although, the view is a bit distracting and lends itself to daydreaming ...

15 August 2014

Canning Season !!!

Yesterday was a cool, breezy, 'preview of autumn' day! The tomatoes were mounded on the kitchen island and the makings for salsa were waiting in the fridge ... all I needed to do was get into 'slice and dice' mode.

11 August 2014

Summer Berry Crumble ... and A Story

Picking berries has always been one of the best of summertime pleasures. I remember long summer days when my ten year old friends and I would run the woods that bordered our neighborhood housing development. We'd ram back and forth along the pounded down paths playing hide and seek, having honeysuckle berry and acorn fights, and spending long hours building woodland forts, climbing trees, and looking for the next place to attempt the best ever Swiss Family Robinson tree fort. When banana bikes became the rage, we'd ride the paths and build 'jumps'. I was the builder and sometimes borrower of a friend's bike, as my family could never afford the latest craze. I never had my own bike until I was twelve, and then it was a traditional Schwinn. But who cared when I had a raft of friends with the latest, a thirty acre woodland to play in, and plentiful summertime berries ?!?

06 August 2014

Summer on the Terrace ... Virtual Supper Club's August BBQ

Come sit on the terrace, won't you? I've got a couple Paradise Cocktails poured and the grill pan is getting hot. SB and I are getting ready for a fast and furious weekend of activity, but this evening is meant to be an easy affair. I've got some Hendrick's gin, some peach brandy, some stellar Mineola oranges and plenty of ice. Let's have a cool cocktail and enjoy the greenery while the scallops soak up the peppery spices. I've got a beautiful start to the latest Virtual Supper Club's BBQ themed dinner, so get ready because this month's menu is a perfect late summer treat!

02 August 2014

Ottolenghi's Za'tar Roasted Chicken

There's something about the smell of a roasting chicken that I equate with the ultimate of cozy down home comfort. Take this latest Ottolenghi discovery, though, and it makes one feel like you're languishing somewhere on the beach near a Middle Eastern villa. I imagine the smells from this roasting bird wafting across the sands and enticing me back for a dinner on the terrace. The spices and colors are transformed to a crisp, za'atar dusted crust on the chicken. The onions and lemons are transformed to a soft tangy slurry that drapes well over your fork when you stab a slice of chicken and drag it through some of the accompanying green tahini sauce. Sigh ... Ottolenghi's recipes rarely disappoint and this one was utter bliss last evening, as SB and I dined on the cool back porch of our little grey cottage. No Mediterranean villa for us, alas, but the flavours? Oh yes,they were transporting !

31 July 2014

Zucchini Blueberry Bread

The dog days of summer are upon us here in New Hampshire. Pete the Smart Corgi flops in the sun most mornings while I get the baking done before the heat builds. This morning I dealt with the first big onslaught of zucchini and the huge amount of blueberries that SB picked up on Gap Mountain. The local paper printed a recipe for a zucchini blueberry quick bread that is lightened up a bit. The batter has plain yogurt, one egg and egg whites, and less oil than my other recipe. The bread is treated with a lemon glaze while it's still warm, which creates a densely sweet slice.

22 July 2014

Creamy Polenta with Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

We're getting really beautiful broccoli from the garden right now! The other day, we picked a head that was as large as a bridal bouquet ... so lovely with nice tight florets and brilliant green stems with that lovely velvety look. Golly, I love the summertime produce!

21 July 2014

An Aside ...

I went to lunch with a friend last week at Pickity Place over in Mason, New Hampshire. After lunch, Diane and I meandered around the lovely herb gardens and saw a bird bath perched in the middle of a small raised flower bed. It had flowers floating in it ... so lovely. Well, I don't have a big ceramic bird bath, but I have a pretty pottery bowl and the hollyhocks are blooming alongside the wild daisies. My verbena is a pretty pink this year, too.

If only the Japanese beetles would leave the verbena alone! I have become a mercenary when it comes to Japanese beetles ...I make twice daily patrols of the flower beds, flicking sex-starved gnawing beetles into 'the can of death'. I have a young friend that lives in Brooklyn. She and her husband lament the passing pedestrian children that pick her flowers and wreak havoc on her little green space. I know how she feels, as the beetles are never ending at this time of year. A pest's a pest, I guess.

20 July 2014

Hurray For Berry Season!

So ... I bought this mega-muffin pan a while back to satisfy the muffin maniac in the grey cottage. And this past weekend, I made muffins from the first of the wild blueberries that SB brought down off of Gap Mountain. A worthy muffin recipe with a BIG pay off. These muffins are double the size of a conventional muffin/cupcake tin offering. Not that we're gluttons for a good muffin or anything .......

09 July 2014

Seared Chicken Breasts with Honey & Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes

A simple and very tasty way to deal with a couple chicken breasts ... dinner can be ready in half an hour.
We had ours with a huge mound of steamed Swiss chard and a side of orzo with mushrooms and zucchini. The vegetables for the orzo side were prepared in the pan in which I seared the chicken, so the flavours from the chicken melded with the vegetables nicely. This was a nice summertime meal ... full of vegetables and a soft, sweet and very moist chicken.