14 December 2016

Apple Sticky Buns for St Lucia Day !!!

This little Santa Lucia doll sits on the table by our Christmas tree every year ... she's a sweet reminder of SB's Swedish roots and a reminder to me that come Santa Lucia Day (December 13th), it's time to make a special batch of breakfast rolls, coffeecake, or cinnamon buns to have with our morning coffee or tea!

01 December 2016

Mom Flynn's Squash Casserole

Soft egg and mayonnaise custard surrounds chunks of zucchini, yellow summer squash, and Vidalia onions. Sprinkle in a bit of dried basil and you have a wonderful side dish for a roasted chicken or a pork tenderloin roast. This recipe comes to me via my sister, Donna. She made this for us with squash from her garden back in the early fall when I visited her.  She told me that she inherited the recipe from her mother-in-law,  Mom Flynn. It's simple and so sublime.

25 October 2016

Salted Caramel "Apple Charlotte"

One day, I'll make a true Warm Apple Charlotte, but until that time, this will have to suffice. And there's no real problem with this 'dumbed down' version of a very old recipe. The first Apple Charlotte recipe that's on the books comes from an English cookbook that appeared in 1796. This factoid comes courtesy of my CIA Baking at Home Cookbook. That being said, today's dessert comes from the Old Farmer's Almanac Readers' Best Recipes cookbook that I won a couple weeks ago when I entered an apple pie baking contest.

19 October 2016

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

The end of the gardening season is upon us, but we still have a few treats to marvel over. Brussels sprouts are some of the last of the vegetables out there in the grey cottage's patch of Earth.

17 October 2016

Pumpkin and Sage Mac and Cheese

Can there EVER be too many takes on macaroni and cheese? I say, 'NO !"

05 October 2016

Seckel Pear and Cranberry Pan Dowdy

It's that time of year for all those soupy, sweet fruit crisps, slumps, buckles, and pan dowdies. This past week, SB and I harvested wild cranberries that grow in a boggy area near our home. SB put his muck boots on and I picked from the edge of the road along an old turnpike near the house. We came away with enough berries for me to make a few loaves of cranberry nut bread or some cranberry sauce or this dessert!

12 September 2016

Chicken and Potato Gnocchi Soup

I snipped and hung the bittersweet to dry this weekend.

06 September 2016

Jazzed Beans and Rice

I loved the light on those red kidney beans when I dumped them in with the jasmine rice. What can I say? Added spices and diced vegetables to the mix and we had us a big old bowl of spicy red beans and rice the other evening. Our neighbors made shrimp tacos, margaritas, and a hot cheesy salsa dip to start things out. And then? We whiled the evening away on their deck sipping drinks and Coronas and knoshing the best Tex-Mex meal ! There is NOTHING like having good neighbors ... just sayin'.

15 August 2016

Turkey and Corn Meatballs with a Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

These were so freakin' good, but they were work! Of course, I made them on the hottest day of the summer and refused to use the oven or a fry pan for anything more than frying the meatballs, so I had to stand over the grill on the terrace rather than heat the house more than necessary. I had to have these little bites, though. The recipe comes from a Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook - his first one.

You know how Ottolenghi has a million ingredients and a bunch of nit-picky steps? Yeah. You gotta follow them to get the little tweeks of flavour that YO is known for. If you don't want to step up to the plate, then tell some of your foodie friends and maybe they'll make these little guys for you. If, however, you buy into the idea fiddling with blackened corn and its smoky flavour, roasted red peppers, sliced and diced garlic and herbs, some chili spice in there and a nice roasty sauce of red peppers and herbs, then have at it!

12 August 2016

Asian Pickle

The cucumbers have arrived! SB brings three or four in every day and plunks them down on the counter ... a challenge is implied there. Can I stay ahead of them? Well, this year, yes! I donate some to the local food pantry as part of this little church challenge to spread the seasonal wealth to those who need good local food for free. The rest I use to make salads and these easy pickles.

10 August 2016

Corsican Chicken

I had to look at a map to really get a good understanding of exactly where Corsica is located after I read about the description of this chicken recipe. It comes from a slow-cooker cook book that I have called The French Slow Cooker. It turns out that Corsica is a pretty large island in the Mediterranean Sea that is southeast of Nice, France and west of the Italian coast (and Rome). It has a long history of conquest by everyone from the Romans to the Brits to the Germans, to the French. Nowadays, it is an official part of France ... and the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. So there.

21 June 2016

Apple Cake with Maple Frosting

Our berries have been stolen by chipmunks ... the little beggars have plucked any with even a bit of color and I am left with apples in my fridge. Instead of fresh biscuits and strawberries, I have been reduced to making an apple cake ... ah well. It's a pretty cake loaded with small diced apple bits and golden raisins soaked and puffed to perfection. The last of the maple syrup was added to butter and cream cheese to make a frothy bowl of frosting and voila! Another beautiful cake ...

Let those little thieves have the berries for the time being. We have apple cake with maple frosting !

This is a dense and very moist cake that is reminiscent of carrot cake. It has a big soft crumb and super moist chunks of fruit that are spread throughout the cake. It's a good keeper of a cake in that it stays terrific for a couple days ... sorry no photos of cut pieces, as it went to the little white church for fellowship time  ... it's a very good cake. Trust me.

Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting
an Ottolenghi recipe

Cake Ingredients:

4 tbsp. water
1/2 c. golden raisins
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c.olive oil
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, small dice (1/2 inch)
zest f one lemon
2 egg whites, whipped to soft peaks

Maple Frosting Ingredients:

7 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
a scant 1/2 c. Muscovado sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
8 oz. cream cheese, softened 

Making the Cake:

1. Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease an 8-inch spring form pan and line it with parchment paper.
2. Place the water and golden raisins in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and turn off the heat. Let the raisins soak until cool.
3. Sift together in a small bowl the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
4. Beat the olive oil, sugar and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well.
5. Turn in the diced apples, raisins and any residual fluid, and lemon zest. Mix well.
6. Turn in the dry mix and stir to a thick batter.
7. Turn in the egg white meringue in two additions, gently turning in until incorporated.
8. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours. A cake tester should come clean.
9. Cool the cake for five minutes and then release the outer band of the spring form pan. Let the cake, then, cool completely.
10. Use a serrated knife to slice the cake into two even layers.
11. Whip the frosting ingredients in a deep bowl until perfectly smooth and frothy.
12. Place half the frosting on the bottom layer. Top with the second layer and frost the top of the second layer.
13. Chill the cake before serving to set the frosting.

18 June 2016

Chicken with Olives and Capers

Boneless chicken thighs with green and black olives, capers, tomato chunks, and a white wine and chicken broth sauce. Need I say more ?

06 June 2016

Green Herb Quiche and Cucumber Dill Salad

Tonight's supper is a fresh green affair!

14 May 2016

Orange Creamsicle Bundt Cake

I'm off to deliver a beautiful fresh citrus treat to the little church for a fund-raising dinner that will be held this evening ... but first, I must blog this cake! It's an orange yogurt cake - made with three small containers of whipped orange creme yogurt. It also has a healthy amount of orange zest and orange juice in the batter, a froth of egg white meringue turned in to fluff the batter up, and tons of sugar and butter - not to mention all those egg yolks! Of course, this makes for a bright yellow cake that has a crumb like a pound cake.

11 May 2016

Spring Green Vegetables

Last week's rain and grey have given way to this week's bright sunshine and the greening of the back yard! There are violets and wild strawberry blossoms, soft velvety grey pussytoes, and yes, the first dandelions blossoming out back! And the grass has greened up !

09 May 2016

Asparagus Frittata

Asparagus Frittata made for an easy and really pretty pillow of eggs and vegetables for my Mother's Day brunch. Sprout Sara came out of Boston for the afternoon, bearing a beautiful Austrian Rose wine and beauty products for her Mom. After cups of hot coffee and chatter over making frittata and crusty toast, we sat for a late breakfast and chatted it up. So relaxing! Thanks Sara for making my day!

06 May 2016

Lentil and Roasted Tomato Soup

The past few days have been grey and misty. We've actually burnt more wood in the past couple weeks than we did for the entire month of April. The damp, raw chill has put me off a bit. I haven't walked as much as I'd like. The soil isn't warming up, as it should so that we can get to planting. Everything seems to be in a state of suspension, while we wait and wait for Spring to show her colors. Even our daffodils have been cheated this year! The first blooms were snapped off or flattened by that snow storm we had a few weeks ago. The stalwart buds that came after the melt have been slow to develop and less showy without their neighboring blooms.

We are in need of color!

05 May 2016

Go Red Sox !!! A Boston Cream Pie for the Boys of Summer

Like all self-respecting Boston Red Sox fans, I keep my hopes for the team under wraps at the beginning of the season. It's always an education to watch the team get their playing style together during the first few home stands and their bull pen sorted out as the season develops.  I love seeing who the new boys are and where they have come from, agonize over the aches and pains of the 'old guard', and root for my personal faves ( Hello, Pedroia ! Hello, Big Papi! Hello JBJ ! Hello Mookie!) The start of this season has been such a pleasant surprise that I decided to celebrate it with a real Boston treat.

04 May 2016

DH's Slaw and Stories

Here's a cabbage and apple slaw without all that mayo. Diana Henry presents it as a great healthy side dish in her cook book called A Change of Appetite - Where Healthy Meets Delicious. This crisp and crunchy side nestled up to potato salad and a slow-cooked beef brisket dressed with Bourbon-Peach BBQ Sauce last evening. More on that beef brisket in another post.

28 April 2016

Sautéed Chard Arancini

This time of year, the cusp of the new growing season, is always a time that I go hog wild over the fresh greens, the first shoots of asparagus, the new crisp radishes that are showing up, bundles of fresh herbs. It's intoxicating to see these fresh Spring greens after all that orange of squash, white taters, and turnips, and the colors of winter vegetables! This week, when I saw bundles of fresh chard, it was too much for me to resist. I snapped up two bunches - one fresh green chard and the other red rainbow chard. The other evening we had wilted greens, wild rice with asparagus bites and roasted game hens and now, today, this small plate lunch of sautéed chard arancini.  This is a fussy fun dish to make. What a great way to putter around with my morning!

24 April 2016

Beef Fillet Crostini with Arugula Pesto - Couch Potato Treat

So. We're hanging on the couch watching Red Sox baseball, sipping wine and eating the easiest, but most expensive open face sammies we've ever had. I'm not crabbin', though! These are wicked good!

20 April 2016

Michael Anthony's Pepper Stew

If you were to serve this pepper stew with a bowl of rice, it could be a main  course. We opted to have it along side baked chicken breasts that were stuffed with cheese and ham. So it served as a vegetable side dish. Either way, it was delicious!

13 April 2016

Mamushka's Cabbage Rolls

Steamy and packed with a little torpedo of rice and meat, these Holubtsi (read Cabbage Rolls) were a bowl of sweet and savory. Cabbage rolls don't look like much, but they are these wonderful little wrapped packets of wonderful comfort. They involve a concentrated bit of flurried preparation in the kitchen and then ... they get popped in the oven to smell up the place with the best homey aroma! Served piping hot with a cold dollop of dilled sour cream, you will be wishing you had an old kerchiefed Mamushka living with you to tweek your cheek, pour you a nip of vodka, slap a loaf of crusty bread down and holler for you to get to the table.

07 April 2016

Curtis Stone's Rigatoni Simply Dressed

This is the second dish that I've made using Curtis Stone's 2009 cook book called relaxed cooking with curtis stone. I'm liking his style. There's not a lot of fuss and flash to his food.

04 April 2016

Three Bean Chili and a Snow Day ...

Here's a basic chili recipe to pass on to your friends (or kids) who are just learning to cook. It's an easy recipe for kids to cook (with supervision, of course) and it was perfect for a warm up the house project today. This weather would be fun and exciting if it were not April 4th ... but it IS April 4th and this snow has crushed all the crocus and the first daffodils and frozen the little wood hyacinths solid. And that's all I will say on this snow day ... except that the chili is darn good for lunch! I had mine with oyster crackers to crunch with each bite. Gnashing of teeth here ... 

30 March 2016

The Weirdest Salad I Ever Loved ...

Up til just a few years ago, you couldn't pay me to put a Brussels sprout in my mouth. No offense to my Mom, but she'd ruined the little cabbage for me. Her one and only method of preparation was to boil the heck out of the poor things until they resembled khaki bits of Army fatigues and serve them plain as can be with a pat of margarine and some salt and pepper. She also always bought the biggest (and thus more bitter) sprouts she could get. Why, I'll never know. Consequently, this little vegetable made it real fast to my shortlist of BLECCH!

It was SB who turned my attitude around. Oh, and Yotam Ottolenghi. SB showed me how to roast Brussels sprouts. YO showed me how to dress them up all pretty and sweet.

29 March 2016

Indian Lamb Curry

Yesterday's Easter lamb roast got lush treatment today! An intense curry powder preparation made its way through the grinder and waited to be melded with onions, garlic, and ginger. The lamb roast was cut into chunks and braised slowly in a broth of oil, chicken stock, tomatoes, and all those onions and aromatics! The house smells divine! We'll have to air it out for two days to get the curry aroma to dissipate! Right now, though, it's heavenly!

28 March 2016

An Aside ...

I got my steamer out the other day.

I cut little rounds out of these square won ton noodle wraps.

I lined the steamer trays with lettuce leaves.

And then, I made pork dumplings.

Yup. A tray for me and a tray for SB. We had an Asian feeding frenzy.

26 March 2016

A Quiet Saturday Morning and Hot Cross Buns

All week long, I've tried to make these traditional rolls ... it's just been one thing after another and tangled schedules that have kept me from the kitchen work table and oven. But ... this morning ... it was an enforced quiet that made me stop. Stop. SB left early on for a men's breakfast at our little church. The dogs napped in the sun and I found myself smack dab between the darkness of Good Friday and the joy of Easter Sunday.

It was time to make the batch of hot cross buns ... a spicier batch than I've made in the past ... big ones. Buns large enough for a cup of tea or coffee. Buns that won't disappear in a couple bites.

24 March 2016

Nigel Slater's Chicken, Olives, and Lemons

Tucked in under all those olives, onions, lemon and saffron are the juiciest chicken thighs ! They spent the day in a spicy marinade paste that consists of a boatload of smashed garlic, cumin seeds, smoked paprika, turmeric, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil. Oh boy! Can't you just smell the kitchen while these cook?

21 March 2016

Spicy Pimento Macaroni & Cheese !

Ask any of my old friends, ask any of my family members and they will have to nod in agreement when I tell you that I LOVE macaroni & cheese. I LOVE IT! Like so many of us, it's been the comfort food choice for years. When I'm strapped to find a dinner menu I want to make, I fall back on a mac&cheese casserole. When it's midnight and I'm having the 'drank booze have the munchie blues', I whip up a pan of stove top mac&cheese. When my kids were young and worshiped the ' Kraft blue box' mac&cheese, I indulged them. Over the years, I've gotten a neat list of good macaroni & cheese recipes that have everything from lobster to cauliflower to bacon added to zing the casserole up a bit!

29 February 2016

Salted Caramel Cashew Pie

Sometimes you just need to have a good piece of pie. If said pie is easy to make and can be stashed away in the ice box for a time to perfect itself AND stay out of sight until the dinner party, all the better. It makes that moment when you pull it out of the icebox and look at all that beauty ALL the better.

So here it is ... in all its glory ... Salted Caramel Cashew Pie. 

14 February 2016

Apple Roses For My Sweetheart ...

It's St. Valentine's Day! I know this is a day for romanticism, but I am a pretty pragmatic gal. A man's got to eat, so he might as well eat stuff that he likes. Finding a sweet and romantic dessert that plays well with the day's lovey-dovey theme is pretty perfect. To boot, this recipe has been floating around the social media scene for the past few weeks and I've been curious to see just have 'easy and tasty' this website's recipes really are. So here we go ... I called up Tip Hero and followed their minimal directions to make these pretty little Apple Roses.

28 January 2016

Vegetable Lasagna

Not the best photos, but my, oh my, this was really delicious ... meatless, but with cheese and plenty of hearty vegetables and good spice.

Vegetable Lasagna

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:

1- 14.5 oz can of tomato sauce
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 c. vegetable broth or water
1/4 c. dry white wine
2 tbsp. Thai chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram leaves, crumbled
1 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, cut to ribbons

Combine the above ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir frequently to blend flavours. Cover, remove from the heat after 20 minutes simmering and set aside.

26 January 2016

Two Words ...

Crumbly Crust

Pressed Firmly

Boozy Bath

21 January 2016

Shirred Eggs with Potato Puree

A few years ago, I did a melancholy post that revolved around my forced retirement from teaching. It involved the economic downturn, the slashing of teaching budgets, my age and reduced chances of getting hired to a teaching position in New Hampshire's slow economy and the angst at 'letting it go' and embracing a new chapter of life.

Reading Ruth Reichl's memoir/cook book, My Kitchen Year, gave me much the same feeling that I had as I posted that earlier post here at The Spice Garden.

18 January 2016

Bourboned Cherry and Walnut Rugelach

The last of the holiday parties rolled around last Saturday evening, so off we went through fog and over slick, rain-misted roads to gather at Cathy and Harold's house for one last Bacchanalian food fest! My goodness, what a lot of wonderful tidbits! Cathy always asks that folks share a savory or sweet platter of small bites. There were little shrimp skewered with pineapple and grapes, salty mixed nuts that were perfectly roasted, tiny egg rolls with dipping sauce, spicy kielbasa bites on skewers, hummus and veggie spears, warm meatballs and sauce, decadent brownies, copious Christmas cookies in all their spangled glory, small cheesecake bites, and these perfectly golden and sugar glazed rugelach.

10 January 2016

Semolina Gnocchi ... A Perfect Pasta Palette

So ... the last time I made gnocchi I made small spinach and ricotta gnocchi. They were small, loose cheesy pasta dumplings the size of a walnut. These semolina gnocchi are each quarter cup sized pillows that are fluffy and light. Infinitely easier to make, this gnocchi recipe is a keeper.