30 December 2019

Stormy Day Dinner

It's all about a warm pot of baked beans today, but these aren't the usual New England style baked beans. These have a bit of a spicy twist. Perfect with a pan of cheesy jalapeño cornbread. This dinner took the chill out of our first ice and sleet storm of the season.

25 November 2019

NYT's Blonde Puttanesca

Thanksgiving week calls for easy meals that allow time for the baking and shopping and food storage that is required to put on a huge feast. That being said, we are traveling for the Thanksgiving weekend and are loath to have much in the fridge when we take off for a few days. Soooo ...

21 October 2019

Make This Dish ! - Chicken Thighs with Carrots, Fennel, and Orange Sauce

There is so much going on in this dish. I absolutely loved it. Beautiful pearl couscous is a backdrop to a sauce that is bursting with broth and orange juice enhanced by cumin and paprika. Nicely crisped chicken thighs are gently braised in this sauce with sliced carrots and fennel, black olives, and golden sultana raisins. There's sweetness, saltiness, the nasal herb fragrance and flavour of the fennel, and those spices ... oh, yeah and chicken and carrots! The final touch is slivered scallion greens and fennel fronds. The colors are gorgeous, the textures are a beautiful blend. This is a stellar dish.

17 October 2019

Crack Sauce - The Ultimate Dipping Sauce for Grill Season

This sauce has become a favorite in our family. It's spicy hot while being cool in temperature. When the beer can chickens come off the grill, or a smoked turkey comes out of the smoker, or a spicy walnut encrusted pork tenderloin comes out of the oven, a bowl of this dipping sauce sits ready. It's so delicious that it's addictive, hence the name. It's perfect for dragging bites through before gobbling!

I'm sure it has another name, but what can I say? To our family, it's crack sauce. It keeps in the fridge for about a week. Then, it tends to separate. I've shaken it back up and marveled that the pepper spiciness gets stronger. Wahoo!


Crack Sauce

Makes about two cups of dipping sauce. 


3 jalapēnos, stemmed, small chop
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 generous cup cilantro leaves and stems
1/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. fresh lime juice 
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Place the ingredients in a blender and whiz to a smooth green flecked sauce.

NOTES: Perfect dipping sauce for roasted turkey, chicken, grilled fish, or roasted pork tenderloin. Excellent on sandwiches instead of plain mayo. If you want less spicy heat, remove some of the veins and seeds from the jalapēno peppers. 

09 September 2019

Bribery Pasta by Michael Anthony

Dinner the other evening was green from start to finish, and to boot, gluten free. Now, you don't have to go that route if you love your traditional semolina pastas. I have been trying to limit my glutens a bit, as I have a skin condition that seems irritated by too many glutens (as well as other baddies) in my diet. SO! I tried out Barilla Pasta's chick pea pasta. I have to say that we loved its nutty flavour. I cooked it al dente so it never got mushy, which can happen real fast with other GF pasta products.

Anyway, the real star of this dish is all the fresh green veg in the slice and dice. Just look! Broccoli, Swiss chard, green onions and their slivered green tops, plus onions and garlic. There is far more veg in this dish than there is pasta.

30 August 2019

Summertime Shakshuka - Conquering the Tomato Patch !

Sooo. Last evening, I kiddingly posted to my FB account the alarm, "Tomatoes ! They're coming out of the woodwork ! Help !!!"  After a day of canning three quarts of salsa, there were still some ripe tomatoes to be used.

23 August 2019

Yotam's Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad

This salad made for an interesting lunch today ! Soft, salty, roasted cauliflower meets cool, crunchy celery, browned and roasted hazelnuts, and chopped cranberries (as I didn't have pomegranate seeds). All this tossed with just the hint of a sweet, sour, and slightly spiced vinaigrette. There are so many interesting flavors in this salad. Roasted cauliflower and nut salads are out there a lot these days, but this one is distinctly different. Look at the list of ingredients and you'll see why. It's all in the dressing.

08 August 2019

Hokumpoke Haluski

Whoa ! Summertime ! Our heat broke after some thunderstorms passed through ! Hurray! The crickets and katydids are starting to chirp throughout the days and the scree of the locust has been competing in the afternoons. Fall is on the way. That said, the gardens are really beginning to give up their harvest at a quickening pace! Summer's not over yet, but this Hokumpoke Haluski heralds the cooler days of autumn.

Hokumpoke Farm had small heads of cabbage in the CSA bag last week, so it got used in this nod to Polish food culture ... ever had Haluski with Ham ? It's such a simple, yet rich and peppery comfort food ! You MUST try it! 

01 August 2019

Gazpacho - Cool Relief From the Heat

Another healthy way to use the garden's bounty! This is Ina Garten's recipe with a bit of a more traditional adapting. The gazpacho is very smooth, has the addition of a piece of artisan loaf that has had the crust removed and a wee bit of cumin as well as that Kosher salt and black pepper. The garnishes resemble a pico de gallo atop the bowl of soup ... cold crisp and the perfect start to a meal with a glass of cold Pinot Grigio on the side and tortilla crisps with guacamole.

31 July 2019

Pickling Brine and Your Garden Bounty ...

Today, it's clear to me that the garden produce will be coming fast and furious for the next four to six weeks. In defense, I'm calling up my Sprout Sara's pickling brine that she uses to 'quick pickle' red onions.

I have the first of the zucchini and some beautiful Vidalia onions that all all the rage on the end bins in the produce departments right now.  So, with our grilled steak and fresh steamed green beans, we'll have some pickled zucchini and onions this evening.

I'll probably be setting aside some green beans and adding them to the pickling broth in the days to come. I was thinking that salad radishes might be interesting too.

28 July 2019

Kale Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Roasted Butternut Squash

Thoroughly 'massaged' kale ribbons, fresh Pink Lady apple chunked and soaked in lemon juice, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, roasted cubes of butternut squash, a small handful of Feta cheese  and there you have last night's dinner.

15 July 2019

Hokumpoke Creamy Corn Pasta with Peas and Basil

This past week I made my way over to Hancock, New Hampshire to a start-up CSA called Hokumpoke Farm. Isn't that an awesome name ? First of all, it's just plain fun to say and second it is not a name to be forgotten, so it's easy to toot it to my friends. Anyway, I was drawn there because Colleen had the brilliant idea to market the CSA to more folks by offering a weekly opt in/opt out share program. Now, SB and I have our own vegetable garden, but we also are pretty basic in what we grow. My herbs are sketchy this year, we never grow leeks or kohlrabi or fennel or heirloom tomatoes or cabbage ... and guess what? Hokumpoke Farm does! You can guess what weeks I'll be trotting over to pick up a bag of produce!

11 July 2019

White Beans with Italian Sausage and Escarole

A good stew is a thing of beauty. This particular stew is healthy, relatively low in calories, filling, and a small enough batch that it doesn't grow 'old' on the palate. The recipe makes enough for two hungry souls with a bit left over for lunch in the next day or so. A good meal that doesn't overstay its welcome!

05 July 2019

Ina Garten's Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pasta

 Fourth of July picnic fare was all dolled up yesterday with pulled pork, burgers, hotdogs, pimento cheese and crackers, boozy coconut pineapple chunks, chips, pickles, and this pasta salad. Thank you, Ina Garten for giving me a wonderful base recipe! I used gemelli pasta instead of rotini because I like its 'bite'. I also added the pepperoni, sweet yellow peppers, and sweet white onions. You can add whatever you have in your produce drawer - perhaps red and green peppers ? In addition, I omitted the Parmesan cheese and halved the mozzarella measure, because I felt there was enough cheese in the recipe. Here's the base recipe ! Have at it !

02 July 2019

Stewed Summertime Veg - Pisto

Summertime vegetables are starting to come into the supermarkets and soon they'll be mounded up at the local farmer's markets too! That makes this tapas dish perfect for using the best of the best fresh veg! I love the color and flavour that a bit of smoked paprika gives this particular pan of Pisto. 

26 June 2019

Pimento Cheese and a Good Book !

Nothing smacks of Down South snackin' like a bowl of pimento cheese and a sleeve of crackers !
I thought I had posted this basic recipe in the past on The Spice Garden, but when I went looking for the recipe today in the labels, it was nowhere to be found. Hmmmmm.

19 June 2019

Chicken with Broccoli and Cashews

Nothing beats a good fast, stir-fry. In the time you can velvet the meat and steam a pot of rice, you can also slice and dice vegetables and aromatics, mix a thickener and get your wok good and hot. Then, it's all slapdash toward the finish - a gorgeous bowl of chicken with broccoli and cashews.
Here's how I did it.

10 June 2019

Black Bean Salad with Shrimp and Pickled Onions

This salad has such interesting colors, temperatures, and textures. A lime vinaigrette binds things together. Add a piece of crusty bread for mopping up the juices and you have a wonderful summery meal. To boot, the pickled onions can be doubled and used to top sandwiches or grilled meats or fish. They're that tasty and incredibly simple to make.

Start the salad early in the day by making the pickle brine and then briefly cooking the onions in the brine before placing them in a jar and refrigerating them to chill and crisp up. Peel and devein the shrimp and marinate in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the fridge also.

When it's time for dinner, warm the bread. Drain a couple cans (or one large one) of black beans, rinse and set in a warm salad bowl, toss them with the lime vinaigrette, sear the shrimp, crumble the feta, and chop the scallions and cilantro. Simple, fast and perfect for a hot day when you don't want to be in the kitchen for any length of time !

Here's the recipe.

22 May 2019

Sunday Pot Roast

Who doesn't like a simple pot roast ? I ask you.

20 May 2019

Two Words ...

Shiny Brookies !

28 April 2019

Torta de Mele - Tuscan Apple Cake

A perfectly gorgeous apple cake with bits of apple swirled into the whipped batter and a cloche of apple slices swirling about the top of the cake ... dense and moist when it comes from the oven, with the most heavenly aroma of apple and vanilla sugar. It is a treat!

27 April 2019

Five Ingredients ...

This was so fresh and good a salad that I have to just bust it out there at you ! Five ingredients! Perfectly fresh red leaf lettuce, crisp sliced cucumber, black pepper, Ras el hanout, and tzatziki to scoop onto each delicious forkful. For whatever reason, the cinnamon spice of the Ras el hanout and the mint in the tzatziki react with each other and make for a great flavour pop in this salad.

Try it. you'll like it. 

10 April 2019

Curried Cauliflower Soup

I'd like to change the picture of The Spice Garden welcome in the sidebar to a lovely, breezy Spring photo, but alas, winter just continues to hold on tight to this little corner of New Hampshire. Taking a little walk around the back acreage, I've found that the daffodils are only about an inch out of the ground. The crocuses along the side walkway are tiny little needles of green just breaking the surface of the soil and there are three lone snowdrops in bloom along the rock wall. For mid-April, this is sad and sorry. To boot, we got a couple inches of snow last evening and into this morning.  So, I make soup and SB keeps the woodstoves going and we wait ...

08 March 2019

Perfect Creamed Spinach

Spinach is my all-time favorite dark leafy green. I particularly love it this way - softly wilted in a pan of sautéed onions and butter and then tossed with a rich white sauce made with chicken broth, a bit of heavy cream and spiced with a wee bit of nutmeg.  It's heavenly, as is, but if you have pine nuts for the toasting ? Oh my, they are a nice addition to the dish.

Mediterranean Baked Cod with Olives and Tomatoes

One pan meals have caught my attention of late. Coming across this simple pan of vegetables, lemon tang, salty olive bite, and mellow baked cod seemed a winner to me. I leave it to you to judge. Make this meal on an evening when you don't particularly want to cook, but know you should eat something healthy.

20 January 2019

Fig and Walnut Biscotti

The wind is wailing this evening. We've come through the first major snowstorm of the winter. Before this, it's been all rain and slush, a few small spits of snow that accumulated no more than three inches. That's all very anticlimactic for a New Hampshire winter, thank you very much. If it must be cold and grey, let it snow, I say!

That being said, I always like baking up a treat for hot tea when the snows hit. SB does all the shoveling and plowing, so my pay off to him is a sweet treat for his hot cuppa when he comes in to thaw out.