How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Boxing Day Shrimp

According to the New York Times cooking page "buttery potted dishes are...popular throughout Britain". We had never heard of this sort of dish, but were certainly game to try it. It was my first attempt at clarifying butter, which I don't think was entirely successful. I don't have any kind of a strainer in the lesser-equipped beach house kitchen, so I had to make do with just spoon. We also don't have any ramekins (at either house), so instead of individual pots we made one big pot, and simply scooped out the shrimp from it and divided it onto our individual plates. As far as the ingredients go, we mostly followed what was written, but skipped the anchovies and celery seed, and just substituted some other spices for flavoring. This was relatively simple, and the leftovers are even easier. Since this is a chilled dish we only had to take the pot out of the refrigerator and make some toast when we wanted to enjoy this again the next day.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Right Muffins

Our much-anticipated-annual-Christmas-Eve-lobster dinner with friends was made even better this year by the discovery of this savory recipe from the Granny's Muffin House cookbook.

Dinner was scheduled at 4:00, but we arrived at noon to help with cookie baking, and to pick up the crustaceans at the local fish monger. The recipe specifically says to "serve these hot, while the cheese is still meltin'" so I brought all the ingredients in individual containers, and mixed them up at around 3:30 to put in the oven. These are more like biscuits than muffins, and turned out to be a most excellent complement to the lobster. Head nodding and smiling commenced all around the table as first bites of these were taken. 

Just as surely as we will now always listen to George Michael sing "Last Christmas" on Christmas day, Cheddar Onion Muffins will now and forever be a part of our Christmas Eve celebration.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Going Dutch

When planning for a recent dinner at Whaling House, Pam cracked open the Vincent Price cooking tome, and found a simple Flemish recipe for steak -- Hollandsche Biefstuk (Dutch Beefsteak) -- and sauce. Really, it was gravy, but this is a very classy book...

Neither steak nor sauce photographs well,
so I am including this nice image of Mr. Price,
from the cover of his tv cookbook.
I began by tenderizing the steak with a heavy spoon. The recipe includes an admonishment to do this, since the steak will be cooking quickly. I then mixed 2T wine vinegar, 1t salt, and 1/2t pepper. I rubbed this mixture onto both sides of the steaks and let them rest on a plate for a half hour.

I then melted 1/4 cup of butter in an indispensable cast-iron skillet, and sautéed the steak for 4-1/2 minutes on each side. Actually, that is the timing specified by Mr. Price. Why the timing is so precise when the temperature is not specified at all, I'm not certain. Still, it seemed to bring the steaks to a good, medium doneness. The directions advise "moving it around while it cooks" which I just learned is what distinguishes sautéeing (as in "jump") from frying.

Keeping the burner on, I then set the steaks aside in on a warm plate, and added 1/2 cup chopped shallots to the butter remaining in the pan. I stirred these until browned and then spooned them onto the steaks. I then stirred into the butter (it is getting a workout here) 1t potato flour, 1C beef stock, and 1/2C beer. Actually, I used wheat flour and because we had no beef stock I used about 1/2 cup chicken stock, a bit of Worcestershire, and 1C beer. I stirred this until blended and a little bubbly, and then added 1/2t fresh thyme, 1t sugar, 2T fresh parsley (Vincent loved his parsley), and a bit of salt and pepper.

Vincent asks us to put the sauce in a gravy boat (thus revealing what this really is -- steak and gravy), but I used a little pitcher instead. Meanwhile, Pam had mashed a couple of potatoes (they are not just for Thanksgiving any more).

At this point, I will step back to the shopping for this dish. Careful readers of this blog might notice an increase in our use of beef about a year ago. This has been concomitant with our purchase of a Big Green Egg grill and with the availability of organic, grass-fed beef, mainly from a local farmer's market. We have often bought such a steak and then looked for a way to prepare it. This time, I went to the grocery store in search of a particular cut -- sirloin -- and settled for the most similar cut -- rib eye (I know, this is not so similar, but it was about the right thickness). All of the grass-fed beef available was in thick chunks that I did not think would be suitable. So I bought a couple of right-sized slices of ordinary steak.

Results: delicious gravy for the steak and potatoes, but not very inspiring flavor in the steak itself. Given the carbon and water footprint of steak, I want to have it only when it is going to be extraordinary. So I will make this dish again, but only with a more sustainable and delicious beef. And if I can figure out a way to grill rather than sautée, I will do that, too!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

¡Ay, Patrón!

The title of this post refers to one of its least prevalent ingredients in this evening's preparation of champandongo, which I have also called Aztec Lasagna. See that post from earlier in the year for the geographic and literary background of this dish, along with a link to the basic recipe.

Since we have now made it several times, this post will focus only on the small departures from previous efforts. The first change was in the roasting of the peppers. We are fortunate enough to have two kitchens -- one in a place we find most weekends. The smaller "galley" at Whaling House has the essentials but not the frills, and it is where we are re-learning how to cook with an electric stove, just a few years after I had gotten comfortable roasting peppers directly on the burner of our gas stove.
Not a great photo, but at least I managed not to melt my phone!
Our alternative approach has been to buy roasted pepperrs (imagine!) or to roast peppers in the Cloverfield kitchen (yes, it is named for our former dog) before coming to Fairhaven. Friends recently told me of another way -- oven roasting. I did so this evening, and got the peppers both charred and gooey at the same time. I used one dark-red, long bell pepper and one jalapeño. The result was especially good for use in a sauce, as they were quite soft after I sweated them in a covered bowl. The only difficulty relative to roasting over fire was that the outer, charred skin was difficult to separate.

The other departure from our April endeavor was quite tiny -- when I was nearly done with the mole (mol-AY) sauce, I added just a splash of coffee-infused Patrón tequila. Thus this dish from a story in Coahuila (northern Mexico) used an ancient sauce from Puebla (central Mexico) and two ingredients from Oaxaca (southern Mexico). The other ingredient was the chocolate, brought recently from a friend who had visited Oaxaca last summer with our daughter.
How much coffee-infused tequila? Just a splash or three.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sauce in the Sauce; Fish on the Fish

A few years ago, my university created an office to coordinate our science outreach programs, and of course we needed a catchy name. As a coordinator of our EarthView program, I was actually part of the committee that settled on an acronym within an acronym -- CASE is short for the Center for the Advancement of STEM Education, and STEM in turn is short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. So CASE is an acronym that is built not just of words, but of words plus another acronym.

I was reminded of this kind of word-building when I made a teriyaki sauce described by Blue Jean Chef Meredith Laurence, for a grilled salmon recipe on page 182 of Comfortable in the Kitchen -- the source of a chicken recipe I posted just yesterday.

As instructed, I started the coals in our Big Green Egg and then prepared the glaze while they heated. The glaze ingredients are:

4T soy sauce (See? Sauce within a sauce.)
1/4 C orange juice
3T honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t fresh ginger root, minced
pinch hot red pepper flakes

I brought this to a boil, whisked, and simmered until thickened. That easy.

We actually had all of these ingredients on hand in our weekend kitchen -- that is how much we are all about the well-prepared pantry -- so my shopping had been only at the fishmonger. Still, I made one substitution. I used Worcestershire instead of soy sauce,  Hence the fish-on-the-fish: Worcestershire includes anchovies.

I coated both sides of the salmon filet with a bit of vegetable oil, but rather than place it directly on the grill, I put it on a grilling stone (mentioned in previous posts). I put it skin-side-up at first, and then turned it, and drizzled the above sauce on it.  Near the end of cooking, I drizzled the rest of the sauce on it.

I believe I should have put the stone on earlier in the cooking process. Because it had been cold before I brought it inside to scrub, it was still slow to heat. The results were still good -- the fish was almost succulent. But a few more minutes of heating before I put the fish on would have given it a better sear.

We enjoyed this with some simple buttered noodles and a Fat Bastard 2014 Syrah -- perfect pairing all around.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Comfortable Crusty Chicken

Some while ago, my mother gave us a copy of Comfortable in the Kitchen (which we are) by Meredith Laurence, also known as the Blue Jean Chef. When I noticed it on our shelf I did not remember having used it, so in the spirit of this blog, The author is known as an educator both of real chefs on both coasts and of ordinary home cooks in various venues, especially television.

I decided to look through it first in choosing a Thursday--night dinner. (Careful readers of this blog might know that Thursday night usually features seafood from Kyler's Catch, but my Thursday-night rowing is on hiatus, so I needed to find landlubber fare.

As I flipped through the pages, the title Parmesan Crusted Chicken with White Wine Cream Sauce jumped off the page. I quickly compared a couple other titles and this seemed to be the strike the right balance between how hungry we were (somewhat) and how hard I was willing to work (somewhat).

Being in that lazy mood, I did not really plan side dishes. Pam had noticed some peas in the freezer, which I steamed just as the main dish was nearly complete.

And in the grocery I noticed fresh cranberries, so I got about a pound of them. I put them in a cast-iron saucepan with about a half cup each of whiskey, water, and brown sugar -- I boiled and stirred this throughout the preparation of the chicken, taking it off the heat just near the end so it could cool slightly.

Since I had to go "foraging" for most of these ingredients anyway, I did not make any substitutions. Also, per usual practice, I did not trouble myself too much with measurements.

1/4 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a dash more in the sauce
freshly ground black pepper (I did not notice the "freshly" part until just now)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used three, and cut each in half)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 shallot, finely chopped (I used one small one)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped (but they are already tiny!)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used light)

This recipe is basically a slightly up-scale version of my usual fried chicken. I began by heating the oil in the pan. Then I coated the chicken lightly with flour, dunked it in the egg, dredged it in a blend of Parm and Panko, and placed it directly into the pan to cook -- about six minutes per side. I had put a wire cookie rack onto a cookie sheet so that the chicken could rest on the rack in a 200F oven while I prepared the sauce. I like this idea -- it prevents the coating from coming off entirely as it would if resting on a platter.

To make the sauce, I drained most of the oil from the pan and then used the remainder to sautee the shallot, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf for just a minute or two. I then added the wine, cooked for another couple of minutes to reduce, and then simmered with the cream for 2-3 minutes more. I added pepper and removed the bay leaf.

I divided the chicken between our two plates, adding some peas and cranberries to each. A good, lazy meal. Since white wine was in the sauce, we enjoyed a nice oaky Chardonnay with this meal, a break from our usual winter warmer of Malbec.

Verdict: A delicious meal we will be repeating.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

photo from

James and I bought a rather large bag of sweet potatoes a few weeks ago, and have been using them in various recipes (both old favorites and new temptations). I noticed that we had several cans of black beans in the cupboard so I started looking for a sweet potato and black bean soup recipe. I thought I would be able to count on good ol' Deborah Madison for this one, and was surprised to discover that her great big vegetarian cookbook in fact does not include such a recipe. My next stop was the New York Times Cooking pages. Once again, I was disappointed. So I next turned to where I hit the jackpot with this hearty chili.  The ingredient list is rather long, but I am now such a foodie that I had everything in my own pantry (or at least a reasonable facsimile of everything). This isn't especially difficult to prepare, but it does take some time. The sweet potatoes have to be peeled, diced, and roasted. Additionally, the cooking time for the chili is close to an hour.  I made a few minor changes to the ingredients. The recipe calls for coating the sweet potatoes along with a chipotle pepper in olive oil. Since I keep a big bottle of chipotle- infused olive oil in my pantry I just used that to coat the sweet potatoes. (If you are in need of such a bottle I got mine at Lebherz Oil and Vinegar Emporium - they deliver!). In lieu of water I used the coffee that was left in our carafe from our morning brew. And, instead of of the teaspoon each of cocoa powder and sugar called for I used two small pieces of Mexican chocolate which turned out to be exactly the right thing to do. Topped with fresh cilantro and sour cream this was rich in colors, flavors, and textures.We both quite enjoyed this meal, and it paired perfectly with a bottle our own Barolo wine. In fact, I don't think we've ever had anything that so perfectly complemented the Barolo. There is no doubt that we will be making this one again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Verde .... Es Verdad

(Green ... It's True)

In presenting geography programs with our giant EarthView programs throughout the year, our outreach team gets around. In addition to meeting about 10,000 students per year (that's not a typo), we have the pleasure of visiting schools in several dozen communities around Massachusetts. Sometimes we manage to get a long enough lunch break to do a bit of exploring, and this is something that we geographers never get tired of.

We like new places, of course, and also returning to places around the state (and Rhode Island) that have become favorites. One of these is Ward's Berry Farm in Sharon. This is not far from home, but we generally only get to it when visiting the Sharon Middle School. In addition to a great lunch counter, we enjoy browsing the shop for special sauces, jams and the like. This time, we had a very generous lunch break early in June, so a couple of us explored the plant offerings.

I bought a couple of plants, and one of our students bought me a couple more! (Have I mentioned we have great students at BSU?) These included tomatillos, which we had last had at our Bridgewater home in 2011. Given the scrumptious, eat-it-with-a-spoon salsa I made back then, it is strange that I had not tried another crop in five years.

This time, I planted the tomatillos behind at our Fairhaven house. (I also planted the nopal cactus in the sunny front yard; stay tuned to see if it hangs on through the winter.)

Being an absent-minded professor, I failed to notice the tomatillos as they grew in the midst of some other plants, until I saw something unusual a few weeks ago, took a second look, and realized that they were ready to harvest. Actually, some were ready, but I panicked a bit and harvested all of them. Later I realized many were pretty small and perhaps not as ripe as they could be.

Still, I collected these and then another, larger batch. Some I simply blended with cilantro as part of our Thanksgiving-weekend chalupa* fest, and it made a good, if incredibly simple salsa verde.

(Chalupa -- basically a hard-shell taco, but built on top of a flat taco shell, like a little tower of deliciousness.)

After making the "fake" salsa verde, I still had a lot of tomatillos left (more than shown above), so I decided to make it for real. I was surprised to find that cooking was involved. I did a quick search on All Recipes, and followed the tomatillo salsa verde recipe as posted, except that I paid little attention to measurements and I probably over-blended it.

The result was very tasty but a bit thin. We have kept it in a glass jar (much better than plastic for this sort of thing), and have used it on quesadillas, chips, and similar dishes for several days now.

I like the suggestion of reader Sara Zavesky, who suggests roasting some of the ingredients. I hope to try this next year!


I don't think this is a strictly "new" recipe because I am sure we've made them before, but since there is no blog post about it, and I made a few innovations in the recipe I used I include it here.

Chilaquiles are a spicy Mexican dish (sometimes used as a hangover cure).  I based mine on this recipe from the New York Times cooking pages. Rather than using canned tomatoes I used a bit of tomato sauce I had left over from another recipe, and then cut up two whole tomatoes. I put them in a blender with a bit of jalapeño pepper, chopped garlic, and chopped onion. When it looked like gazpacho I poured it into a skillet to heat. While the salsa heated I poached two chicken breasts. Once the chicken was poached I shredded it and placed it in the skillet with the salsa, then crushed up some tostada shells we had left from a post-Thanksgiving Chalupa dinner and added them to the mix as well. Once everything was heated together they were served with shredded cheese and sour cream.

This is a good recipe for using up any kind of tortilla chips or shells that are starting to stale, or for the crumbs at the bottom of the bag.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Vermouth No Gin

Click to enlarge
When planning for this evening's dinner, Pam suggested I turn to W.I.N.O.S. (Women in Need of Sanity) Cook With Wine, which she had picked up when she joined me for a conference in Quebec recently. This fun, out-of-print title is no longer available from the W.I.N.O.S. web site, and Amazon offers it only through a third-party seller, at a price that I think is a bit higher than what Pam paid at a small, independent bookshop in Sherbrooke.

The extreme whimsy of Jesseph's work -- from the title to the smiley face next to all of the wines listed as ingredients -- belies the quality of the work. The recipe I chose (above) is well-written (except for the lime-lemon confusion), succinct, and easy to prepare.

I chose the Vermouth Chicken Scallopine because we still had part of a bottle of vermouth in the fridge, with no gin nor any interest in martinis. At first glance, we thought this recipe might be an excuse (always welcome) to pick up scallops from the world-renowned scallopers in our neighborhood, but in this case the word simply means "thin slice" in Italian.

I followed the recipe as written, except that I was able to skip the malletting because the chicken I purchased was already thin -- either sliced or smashed, I am not sure which. Because the chicken breasts were already prepared and were thin enough to cook quickly, this dish took only about 20 minutes to prepare. Anticipating that it would be quick, I had put some diced potatoes and sweet potatoes -- tossed with olive oil and seasoned with Old Bay and other spices -- in the oven about a half hour ahead. The combination was quite pleasing, and as Pam noted, the presentation was quite nice.
We enjoyed these dishes with a Pinot Noir, rather than a vermouth-based drink.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thanksgiving Pot-Luck Contribution

This year we spent Thanksgiving with some friends at the Second Annual First Parish Thanksgiving Dinner. About a dozen people chipped in and shared a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the Unitarian Universalist church in Bridgewater.
James and I spent the morning preparing Wild Rice Stuffing from the New York Times cooking page. Mostly we followed the recipe as presented, with two small changes. The proportions of wild rice to brown rice were reversed, and we used hazelnuts instead of pecans (only because I didn't put pecans on the list for James to buy because I thought we already had some, only to find out they were hazelnuts).  The dish was sweet and savory -- and the leftovers were divine.

Good food, sparkling conversation, and a warm setting made this a lovely holiday. Also, we brought the biggest bottle of wine ever!
The empty bottle of homemade Barolo wine we brought to the dinner.
Shown here with a regular-sized wine bottle for scale.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Double Deglazed Stew

Pam and I met in French class, so it is appropriate that this evening's meal includes a bit of a language lesson. Autumn has been warm and slow in arriving, with leaves lingering longer than we ever remember them doing. But finally in the past week or two our thoughts have turned to autumnal favorites, and one of those is beef stew -- known in the Hayes family as WETS, which is STEW backwards.
The healthiest part of this dinner, and the only part that really would photograph well.
Pam found a NY Times stew recipe and jotted down the major ingredients for me. I was intrigued by one in particular -- cognac. And oddly enough, we were out of cognac, so I went off to a newly-expanded package store (packie) in our town to fetch some. It was a greater challenge than I expected, but I did find some. Good news for this dinner, and good news in general.

I followed the recipe more or less as written, though readers of this blog know that some exceptions are certainly following. The first of these was that I did not begin with salt pork; I used an equivalent amount of butter and a little salt instead, cooking the onions and shallots in butter, and transferring them to a bowl. I then added the lightly-floured cubes of beef (store-bought organic -- our farmers-market source for local beef is gone for the season) in two rounds.

While the aromatics and beef rested in the bowl, I broke out the cognac for deglazing, and in that moment realized what it is -- the use of any cool liquid in a hot pan to break up the bits that are stuck -- in a sugary glaze -- to the bottom. This is the beginning of many sauces, and as someone who loves the charred bits stuck to any pan, a very welcome step. Using a bit of cognac made it even more satisfying! From The Reluctant Gourmet, we learn that those bits on the bottom are called fond -- not because I am fond of them, but because this is the French word for bottom, like fundamental, foundation, and so on.

So this stew -- like other French beef stews we have made -- is as much a vehicle for sauce as anything. The use of cognac in deglazing was just the start. The Dijon made the sauce rich and flavorful, without a mustardish edge. I was curious about the second suggested mustard -- Pommery. A substitution post on Chow Hound taught me two things: 1) any whole-grain mustard would do in a pinch (we did not have any, and I was not going out again); and 2) this specific recipe is a popular use of Pommery mustard.

The final touch was a red wine, and regular readers will not be surprised to see that I used a small amount of Malbec, reserving the rest for a brilliant pairing. Together with some freshly-baked biscuits, we enjoyed this stew immensely. Our cognac should last until the next time we prepare it, and we have time to pick up that grainy mustard!

Oh right: the double deglazing! I almost neglected to explain the title. Our weekend galley has an electric stove, which I am trying very hard to learn how to use. My initial simmer on medium instead of low started scorching the stew before I knew what was happening. I moved the pan off the heat, scooped most of the contents into the large bowl that was on hand, and put it back on the heat with another splash of cognac. The back of the spoon liberated a second round of fond, perhaps making this even better than it would have been.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Lime Butternut Squash Soup

Another tasty recipe from the Civilized Caveman. I was surprised by how much flavor this five-ingredient soup had, The lime was more prominent than I expected. The preparation was rather simple. I had to peel and cut the squash which took some effort, and the steaming took some time so I used that time to make our favorite cornbread to accompany the soup. Once the squash was steamed I drained the water and added the rest of the ingredients and used my immersion blender to blend it right in the same pot. It was super creamy, and very thick. James and I also added some fresh nutmeg to it, because it is butternut squash after all!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Paleo Potatoes

We are still not quite sure what the Paleo diet is all about, but a friend recently recommended a recipe from a paleo web site (let that sink in) that looked delicious. And we are happy to report that it is!

Cooking Caveman, Professional Husband, and blogger George posted this simple and delicious preparation for sweet potatoes. He opens his article with some general advice about sweet potatoes, which is to bake them. I would take his suggestion a step further -- rather than baking them on a foil-lined tray, I coat them with oil and then wrap them in foil for baking. In either case, I like his suggestion to bake a bunch of them at a time so that they are always handy for various kinds of cooking.

I followed his recipe for Stuffed Sweet Potatoes pretty much as written; I'll describe a few caveats here.

First, I will point out that the URL for this recipe is in his "pork" directory because a little bit of bacon is involved. Although the bacon definitely contributed to the flavor of this dish, a vegan version would certainly be satisfying as well.

Second, I paid little attention to quantities. I used only two sweet potatoes, so I should have halved all of the other ingredients. Instead, I simply worked in units known as "whatever is most convenient." So I stayed with the 4 strips of bacon called for, but one entire bell pepper, a small onion, and an apple, rather than fractions of each. Pam remembered that we still had one bag of frozen mixed greens from the summer, so I used these instead of spinach, which would have been more tender.

Third, rather than the oven, I used our Big  Green Egg both to roast the sweet potatoes and to cook the bacon. Once I got the Egg to 400F, I put the wrapped sweet potatoes in it, along with a grilling stone we recently purchased at Vermont Country Store (in Vermont -- not available online). At about 30 minutes, I opened up the Egg long enough to put the bacon on the stone (four strips was about all that would fit). At that temperature, it took about 10 minutes for the bacon (thick sliced) to cook crisply. I then cooled it and cut it into small pieces.

The rest was easy -- I happily followed blogger George's instruction to use an indispensable cast-iron skillet to cook up the onion, pepper, apple, dried cranberry, bacon, and greens. I used unsweetened dried cranberries. During the meal I realized that this time of year in Massachusetts, I could have just used fresh cranberries.

I had left the sweet potatoes in a bit over an hour at this point, which was just fine -- the softer the better. I sliced them in half, fluffed the centers a bit, and spooned the stuffing (more of a topping) onto them.
Further evidence that food photography is best left to the professionals (as on Blogger George's site). But this was so lovely in real life that I had to capture it. 
This dish scores quite well on the nutritious-delicious-easy-cheap trade-off matrix. Good on all of these counts, and surprisingly flavorful for a dish with no sauces or spices. Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that we paired it with a Malbec, nor that we heartily endorse this pairing!


Since I was careless with proportions, we had plenty of the topping leftover. I was kind of hoping for this result, even tough I did not have a clear idea what to do with it. We decided that it would work well as part of a lunchtime quesadilla during the week. Mmmm.


Geography note: As we understand it, the paleo diet is limited to things that people would have in the Paleolithic Era, which extended from the onset of human use of stone tools 2.6 million years ago through the end of the Pleistocene (Ice Age) 10,000 years ago. During this period, humans were found either in the "Old World" or the "New World" (eastern and western hemispheres) but with no communication between the two. Sufficient connections to create recipes with ingredients from both hemisphere did not come about until the Columbian Exchange that followed the incursion of Columbus onto various islands in and around the Caribbean in 1492. The ingredient list for this recipe is transatlantic, so its deliciousness would have to await Columbus -- and really the Internet.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cream of Tomato Soup

One of the things I like about fall is that it is such a great time to have soup. I found this recipe in Deborah Madison's New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. 
I followed the recipe mostly as written. I skipped the optional tomato paste, and used my immersion blender rather than pouring the soup back and forth between the pot and my regular blender. The soup was flavorful and perfect for a chilly evening. I served it with some crusty yogurt bread that I made in my bread machine.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Pasta with (not) Porcini Mushroom Sauce

The recipe, of course, is really called Pasta with Porcini Mushroom Sauce and comes from our old favorite The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. When I sent James to the store with the shopping list though he could not find the dried porcini mushroom the recipe called for. Using 21st century technology he was able to use his phone to find out what would be a good substitute and so brought home shitake 'shrooms instead, which according to this website have a more meaty, yet less mushroom-y flavor than the porcini.

In addition to the dried mushrooms the recipe also calls for 2 cups fresh mushrooms, 1 cup chopped onions, 2T olive oil, 1t marjoram, 1t sage, 1T flour, 3/4 c red wine, 1T soy sauce, and grated Parmesan cheese.

The dried mushrooms had to be reconstituted with boiling water. I let them soak while I prepared the rest.

The onions were sauteed first, and then the fresh mushrooms and spices were added. The shitake mushrooms were strained with a coffee filter and added to the skillet. The liquids (including the reserved liquid from the shitakes) were added along with the flour, and cooking continued until the sauce thickened. The sauce was placed on top of cooked spaghetti and then topped with the grated cheese.

This simple dish is flavorful and filling.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sicilian Seafood Stew

This one comes from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home a vegetarian cookbook that includes some fish recipes, too. This recipe has scallops and shrimp, and is rife with vegetables as well. Most of the recipes in this book are intended to be cooked in 30 minutes or less. This one is an exception. The cooking time is a bit over half an hour, and the prep time adds about 15-20 minutes more. It is quite tasty though, and makes for dandy leftovers. Normally we would opt for a white wine with seafood, and indeed had thought ahead and chilled a bottle of Chardonnay intending to have it with the meal, but I'd forgotten that the recipe calls for red wine to be added to the stew, and we learned some time ago that when cooking with wine the same wine that's added to the dish should be also served, so we saved the Chardonnay to have with our roast chicken the next day and paired the stew with the Malbec I used. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cooking with Wine

This post is a two-fer. This week I found two recipes from two different recipe books that called for wine, and prepared them over two days. One was from a cookbook called Cooking Seafood and Poultry with Wine, so I was certainly not surprised by the use of the ingredient. 

The recipe actually calls for Vermouth. I knew we had a bottle of such at our beach house, and since that is where we generally prepare any kind of seafood, this recipe for Salmon Steaks seemed like a good one to try. We bought a pound of fresh, wild-caught salmon from our favorite fish-monger Kyler's Catch in New Bedford, Massachusetts  and assembled the rest of the ingredients. Then I read the instructions, which said to marinade for four hours. It was already six o'clock p.m. and we were not going to wait until after ten to eat, so I made an adjustment and put all the ingredients into a pan making the following variations - I used scallions instead of chives, and also added lime juice, and a few red pepper flakes. Once the liquid was simmering I added the salmon, turned down the heat and covered the pan for about 12 minutes (turning once about half-way through). The fish was perfectly cooked, and the flavors were all evident. I've learned a lot about cooking since I started this blog. The most important thing I've learned is that just about any recipe can be adapted to just about any situation.

The other wine recipe came from an old favorite cookbook - The Well-Filled Tortilla. This may very well be my favorite cookbook. We prepare many of our favorite recipes from it, and still find new ones to try even after two decades of use. I don't know how we never noticed the "Good and Plenty Wine-Simmered Vegetables" before. This was easy, and relatively quick and made for perhaps the best veggie wrap I've ever had. The recipe calls for a dry white wine, so I used a Sauvignon Blanc. I used about 1/2 cup to start and added 2 chopped potatoes, a small chopped yellow squash, one chopped tomato, one sliced jalapeno, and a half of a chopped onion. The recipe also called for frozen lima beans, in lieu of which I put in a small amount of mystery beans from a CSA that I found in the freezer labeled simply "Beans 8/14" in my own handwriting. They were fine and I was glad to finally use them. I also added a bit of dry oregano and some garlic salt. Once everything was in the pan, I splashed a bit more wine in and simmered for about 20 minutes. When the potatoes were soft I declared it done and warmed two tortillas on the stove top. We filled the tortillas with the vegetables and added some fresh cilantro and sour cream. Quite delicious and easily made vegan by skipping the sour cream.

Flaming Flapjacks!

To be honest, the flapjacks themselves were never on fire. But flames were involved in their preparation.

Readers of this blog will know that pancakes are important in Casa Hayes-Boh. We have written about several pancake variations over the years, all based on my version of the Deborah Madison pancake recipe that has appeared on my web site since long before this blog (or any blog, for that matter).

On Friday mornings during the academic year, I am usually out of the house quite early for Project EarthView, leaving time only for the traditional Hayes-Boh weekday breakfast (one local egg, English muffin, yogurt, exquisite coffee), if that. But I have a very rare free Friday morning (because of a special program I'm doing in the afternoon), I decided to do pancakes, and to do something special with them.

So I prepared the batter as usual (using a bit of half-and-half in lieu of yogurt, and then added some apples. Simply slicing up the apples works fine, but lately I have enjoyed cooking the apples first. And by "cooking" I mean chopping them up, frying them in a bit of butter and cinnamon. When they have just started to crisp a bit, I pour whiskey or rum (in this case, Scotch) into the pan and lighti a match -- amateur flambe! Having only two hands, I did not manage to get a good photo of this, but there is a bit of orange flame visible in the left side of the pan.

I am not sure if the flame makes any difference, but the whiskey flavor certainly does!

In this case, I had more batter than we had appetite, so I carefully stored the batter in a glass jar for a weekend treat.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Said Chowder

Herewith, the recipe for the chowder I made from ingredients left over from Pam's excellent clams-and-linguine dish the night before. Somehow the 2 pounds of clams recommended at Kylers ended up being more than 3, which was more than plenty for the excellent pasta Pam prepared.

We had plenty of broth (wine, EVOO, onion, garlic) and plenty of clams remaining. So I consulted the basic chowder recipe on AllRecipes. We decided not to purchase bacon for this, but did begin by sauteing a small, finely-chopped onion in a bit of bacon fat reserved from recent cooking. Although there were already onions in the broth Pam had prepared, this allowed for some newly caramelized flavor to begin the dish.

Once the onion was slightly browned, I added Pam's broth, instead of the water called for here, and some diced red-skin potatoes. While this was cooking, I removed the clams from their shells and trimmed them. When the potatoes were tender, I added about a pint of half-and-half, the clams, and the butter.

As this was gently heating, I whisked a tablespoon of flour into a small dish of water, and added it for thickening. Clam chowder comes in two kinds -- Manhattan (red) and New England (white). And the New England kind comes in two sub-kinds -- authentic (thin) and delicious (thick). I actually enjoy the authentic stuff when expertly made, but for my own purposes, the thick stuff was perfect. I did not, however, overdo it -- this was still a chowder, not a solid object!

Final verdict: this turned out quite well -- wine, bacon, butter and cream each playing a key role, I suppose, and we will be back to Kylers for more clams soon.

Zucchini Lime Drizzle Cake

I saved this recipe on Facebook over the summer during the prolific zucchini season. I had shredded and frozen some zucchini from the farmer's market in August and I bought the limes several weeks ago. I had hoped to make the cake last week, but we ended up making a not-entirely-unexpected trip to Virginia for the James' grandmother's funeral. I'm sure Grandma would have laughed at the fact that there is a rather unappetizing ad in the middle of the instructions!

I enjoyed baking this simple cake, and tasting the batter. It is a good thing I did, because I hardly got to eat any of the cake at all! I got to eat two pieces and James had one before Perry the Min Pin got into it! Talk about a bad dog! 

Any way, I used a bit less sugar than the recipe calls for (1/2 cup instead of 2/3). It turned out quite tart, and only a little sweet, which is how I prefer baked goods. Apparently it is how Perry likes it too.

Spaghetti with White Wine Clam Sauce

I declare that this Baby Boomer has officially entered the 21st century. This photo taken of page 165 of the 365 Ways to Cook Pasta cookbook (this may well be the first cookbook we bought after we were married) was not only used to share on this blog, but also was sent to James via Messenger so that I could first get his opinion on whether he would like to try it, and also so that we would have a shopping list. 

Our first stop, of course, was Kyler's Catch for the clams. This would be our first foray into preparing clams ourselves, although as New Englander's we've enjoyed them many times before. It has been almost six years since I started this "nueva receta" project, and one thing I can reflect on now is that I have become fearless about trying new foods, cooking techniques, and flavors.

The knowledgeable young woman at Kyler's counter suggested two pounds of clams for two people, and provided us with some tips for soaking and steaming them as well. Next we stopped at the grocery store for the linguine, and parsley. We had everything else we needed at the house.

I followed the recipe mostly as written, except I only used half a pound of pasta since there was only two of us. The clams were super simple to steam, and it was very clear when they had "popped".  It turns out that two pounds of clams is really a lot. we only used about half of what I steamed to top the pasta. And, as is obvious from the picture below it completely covered the pasta. The dish was tasty, but we still had plenty of clams left over. Stay tuned for James' post for homemade clam chowder!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Not so much a recipe as a suggestion - Salmon with Habañero Mango Jelly

While enjoying our breakfast earlier this week we had some English muffins with habañero mango jelly and James read off the label

A medium hot jam delicious served with a variety of cheeses, livens up a sandwich or your favorite grilled fish or fowl

So when we picked up our weekly order of fish at Kyler's Catch I decided to follow the advice. We had a pound of wild salmon which I divided into two pieces and cooked on the stove top with bacon fat in our indispensable cast-iron skillet. It does appear that I am getting better at using the electric stove. I started the fillets on high heat, but turned it down to medium and covered the pan after the first few minutes. I cooked them on one side for about 10 minutes total, and then turned them over, and turned the heat to low. The cooked side was nicely browned and I spread about a tablespoon of jelly on top of each fillet, and continued to cook (covered) until they were no longer pink inside, perhaps five more minutes.

The label didn't lie. This was good. We paired it with a Malbec and had mashed potatoes as a side dish, along with the delicious bread we always pick up at Kylers.

It seems we have officially become regulars at Kylers. The lovely cashier asked after me last week when James went in without me, and likewise asked about him when I went in this week without him.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Favorite Biscuit Variation

It seems that we've mentioned Deborah Madison's Buttermilk Biscuits on several posts, but have been remiss in providing the recipe. This is likely because we've been enjoying these for so long they are hardly "new" to us. However, this week we did a few variations on the recipe, making it new again.

The recipe, as described in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, calls for
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of buttermilk

First, I will point out that we almost never use buttermilk, but substitute plain yogurt instead. Earlier this week when preparing to make these I realized we had only regular milk (no buttermilk, no yogurt). We learned a trick once of making a buttermilk substitute in 10 minutes by adding some vinegar to plain milk. Alas, we had no vinegar either. (Our larder was indeed spare as we had diligently eaten virtually everything in both our houses before taking an eight-day road trip to drop our daughter at college in the mid-west).

However, I was not about to let the lack of necessary ingredients stop me from having my biscuits. I used a substitute for the substitute -a meta-substitute- lemon juice did the same job of curdling the milk as vinegar. I also whisked in a dollop of sour cream. My next problem was that we were quite low on flour, and I discovered we were short by about 1/3 cup. I considered making a smaller batch of biscuits, but then I remembered that James improved on our waffle recipe earlier this year by putting in some corn meal in place of flour (see the entry here) and so I decided to try the same with the biscuits. I sifted the flour and corn meal in with the rest of the dry ingredients, then cut the butter into it with a pastry cutter. The sour milk/cream mix was added to the dry ingredients and mixed. James took over from there.

I believe this is the second time we have used the Big Green Egg for biscuits. Thanks to the innovations Pam describes above, these were delicious! But thanks to my still-limited skills with the kamado-style grill, they were not beautiful. They look lovely in this photograph, taken a few minutes before they were done --
-- but they did not look quite so lovely as I scraped them from the baking stone. I had heated the grill to 500F, but had put the stone in for only a few minutes when I added the dough. I should have let it heat more thoroughly. The result was rather hot knuckles and a fair bit of batter left on the stone. By the time it cooled thoroughly, those remnants were quite charred, and the stone is soaking for a couple days as I write this.

The good news, though, is that the delicious biscuit tops had all the advantages of muffin tops.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

French Toast Variation

Today's post is a recipe of my own creation.

Most weekdays James and I have the same breakfast: one egg, an English muffin, a container of yogurt, and a glass of orange juice (every once in a while we take a walk on the wild side and mix it up with a smoothie in lieu of the yogurt and juice). On the weekends we are more likely to have something that takes more time to make (and eat).Today, being Sunday of a three-day weekend, we had a little bit of leisure this morning to make something special. Pancakes and waffles were out since I'd used the last of the flour making biscuits two days before (stay tuned for recipe) and since we'd been traveling recently, and had not yet fully restocked the pantry we did not have a lot of ingredients. I found half a loaf of whole wheat bread in the freezer though, and we did have some eggs, so I decided to make French Toast (and to experiment a bit with ingredients) so I made some additions to the egg/milk batter. I started by adding ground cinnamon and nutmeg (but that was really not new), and I had also noticed that I had a small container of "pumpkin spice" vinegar in the cupboard, so I added a dash of that as well. I also put in a dollop of sour cream and whisked everything well, then soaked the bread slices. I am still adjusting to using the electric stove at our beach house, but I seem to be doing better. I cooked these on a medium high heat for what appears to have been an appropriate amount of time (but I couldn't say now what that was) as the French Toast came out neither burnt, nor soggy. It also had a a nice little puffiness to it. Topped with maple syrup it was a tasty treat for the first cool morning of the season.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Burgers with avocado and tomato salsa

This is an adaptation of a recipe from our Big Green Egg Cookbook (and web site) We made a few adjustments, mostly because we forgot some ingredients.

This was a collaboration meal. Pam made the salsa and James made and grilled the burgers. 

Our first challenge was finding an avocado. We looked for a long time in the produce section of our grocery store before we found the perhaps two dozen that were there. About half of those were hard as rocks, the other half felt like mush. We selected the least squishy among the mushy bin.

Once we had the avocado Pam chopped it, along with a fresh tomato from our local farmer's market, half an onion, and three slices of crisp bacon. To this mix she added a dollop of mayonnaise, juice from half a lemon, a bit of pepper and garlic salt. Pam also added some chopped fresh cilantro even though the recipe didn't call for it because, really, what is salsa without cilantro?! Once everything was thoroughly mixed, she covered it and placed in the refrigerator to chill.

James, meanwhile, fired up the Big Green Egg (from which we got the recipe), inserting the cast-iron grill recommended for such uses. He used ground turkey that was on hand, mixing it with some Trader Joe's garlic seasoning and a little olive oil that happened to be in the mixing bowl. Something to bind the burgers together would have been helpful. Despite getting the grill to reasonably high heat and spraying it with cooking spray, the burgers sagged in the gaps, and had to be extracted, more than flipped, when they were done. Some delicious charred scraps were snapped up by the chef; others fell into the coals.

The overall result, though, was delicious, and we agree with the #BigGreenEgg web site that this is a perfect burger recipe!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Apple of My Egg

Our Egg, actually....

This is the brief story of a nice desert we prepared on the Big Green Egg. We need once again to promise not to make this blog all about the Egg, while posting yet another item about our use of it.

This time, it was for dessert with friends. We decided to try the manufacturer's recipe for smoked apples, which begins with hollowing out each apple and filling it with a sweet mix of raisins, sugar, and spices. We could not figure out how an apple corer would be of any use -- I simply used a paring knife and a small spoon to turn each apple into a bit of a cup.
I decided to forego the recommended half marshmallow capping each of these, and simply put this entire pan in the Egg, once it had reached 325F. The recipe calls for 60-75 minutes at this temperature; I think I went closer to 90, with no ill effect.

The result looks like a mess, but with all that sweetness, nobody even noticed. Especially since I did follow the recommendation to serve these with vanilla ice cream.
All six of us tucked into our apples with abandon -- the mostly gooey sweetness contrasting with the occasional crusty bit that had gone beyond caramelized. Even our daughter who usually eschews raisins enjoyed every bite!
I have no idea how much the success of this dish was owing to the smoke flavor, nor how similar would have been the results from a conventional oven. But we had a nicely cooked dessert in a small kitchen in late summer, with all the heat being outside in the Egg. So we will do it this way again!

Smoking Ratatouille

This post is not exactly a nueva receta, but rather a small adjustment in a vieja receta. (That is, a modified old recipe, not a new one.)
This lid is much more photogenic than the food itself.
A friend who saw this online assumed I was smoking something else.
 Nope -- just the vegetables!
I have written about the importance of ratatouille in my 2011 Ratatatatouille post (as if the word itself were not difficult enough to spell), which links to the only recipe I have used for it -- Weapons-grade Ratatouille

I saw the first eggplant of summer at the farmers market last week, and even though tomatoes are still on the pricey side (the price will plummet at the end of the season), they are fresh, ripe, and local, so we bought a ton of them, and let them get even a bit riper as we waited for a good ratatouille-making day.

Which was yesterday. The recipe calls for hours of stove-top simmering plus a bit of oven roasting. This has always been a bit of a problem for ratatouille, since the best season for getting the vegetables is the worst season for heating up the kitchen.

This year we were lucky: Big Green Egg to the rescue! It allowed me to do the roasting outside, although the roasting pan wreaked a bit of havoc with the temperature control for which the Egg is most famous. I was caught off-guard, because I used the same baking sheet to roast these vegetables that I had used to smoke apples just a few days ago, and I had not had any problems with the apples.

The difference seems to have been with the temperature I was trying to maintain. For the apples, I was able to maintain the egg at 325 for over an hour, even though the pan was blocking most of the internal airflow. For the vegetables, I had gotten the egg to 500, but when I put the vegetables in, the temperature dropped to about 310 and would not go back up. I thought maybe the potatoes I was baking were part of the problem, but apparently they were not, and there actually was no problem. The vegetables seemed to be roasting just fine -- getting crisper than they should have at 310 -- and when I removed the pan, the temperature immediately went to 450. In other words, the temperature in the bottom half of the Egg had been just fine. Once I removed the pan, the Egg was back to normal, and worked very well for the local, coffee-rubbed steak I made for dinner!

As for the ratatouille, we finished simmering it, mixed the vegetables in, and put it in the fridge, so we are having it cold-only; the perfect summer lunch!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Lilith's Lily Fair Soup and Lemon Potato Salad with Mint

Last week I posted about our summer solstice meal with a recipe from The Wicca Cookbook. One of the recipes I wanted to try was the Lilith's Lily Fair Soup, but I had to wait because our day lilies were not yet blooming. Today I noticed the familiar orange color in the garden and bought the rest of the ingredients I needed.


Preparation was fairly simple, but had to be started several hours in advance so everything would have time to chill. Essentially I made two fruit smoothies, and then poured them carefully into bowls once they were chilled. The first round was made from the mango, melon (we used cantaloupe instead of honeydew) and the orange juice. Once that was blended I put it in a bowl which I placed in the refrigerator to chill. I rinsed the blender and then mixed the raspberries, liquor, and sugar in it. This mix, too went into the refrigerator. I let it chill about two hours, and then poured the mango/melon mix into the bowls. Next, the raspberry mixed was poured slowly to one side to create an eye-pleasing soup. One day lily was cut up and sprinkled on top of the soup, and then one whole lily was placed on top. This soup was beautiful, and delicious. And, for me, it was also a bit nostalgic. First because day lilies were the first edible flower I ever learned about (many years ago during an elementary school field trip), and also because the neon orange and bright pink color combination of the soup reminded me of a treat I used to get from the Good Humor truck!


To complement this summer soup I also made the lemon/mint potato salad from the New York Times. Again, the dish was simple, but I had to start it several hours in advance. We enjoyed some Tuscan bread, purchased from the Fairhaven (Massachusetts) Farmer's Market, and some Cinco Cães wine from the Westport Rivers Winery.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Simple Summer Fish

As we noted recently, our favorite vegetarian cook book -- Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home -- has a fish section. As with everything in this wonderful book, its fish recipes are simple. We are fortunate to have access to fresh, excellent seafood from Kyler's Catch; we like to prepare it in simple ways to bring out the great flavor.

This recipe begins with a simple marinade. I combined these in a shallow, non-metal dish, and spooned the mixture over the fish:

3 T orange juice
juice of one lemon
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed (I minced)
1 T olive oil
dash of Tabasco

While the fish marinaded briefly, I prepared the salsa:

3 ripe tomatoes, diced
4 scallions,
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (can use any chile pepper or 1/4 t cayenne)
2 t grated orange peel
1 orange, sectioned, seeded, each section cut in half
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
dash of salt

I broiled the fish (grilling would be good, too) and then topped with the salsa. Delish!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Strawvacodo Salad

It is summer concert season again, when we return to Westport Rivers -- our favorite local vineyard -- for a weekly picnic with live music and excellent wine. (This season is off to a bit of a rough start, thanks to onerous reinterpretation of puritanical liquor laws. But this is still the place to be for the summer.)

Westport Rivers supports area businesses, so that a raw bar, food truck, or both are usually part of the event. Even if we try some of those items, though, this is a picnic so we always bring some or all of the food we are going to want. Pam turned to Intercourses, the cleverly-named romantic cookbook that we have cited many times on this blog, and found another winner.
Not only is this a case of a book cover that is more photogenic than the actual food; it is also a reminder of just how passionate the authors are about this particular ingredient.
Strawberry and avocado salad brings together two ingredients that each warrant a whole chapter in this book -- buy the book to enjoy all of the rhapsodizing about these two fruits. For now, the basics: chill a dressing and chop a bunch of produce.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar (we used blackberry-ginger balsamic from L.O.V.E., our aptly-named favorite provider of infused oils and vinegars, run by a fellow UMBC alumna)
1-1/2 T sugar
1/4 t hot sauce
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/4 t cinnamon

1 head romaine (we used about half a head of green lettuce -- not iceberg -- making the sensual ingredients all the more prominent)
1 orange, sectioned then halved (the recipe calls for half a can of mandarin oranges, but fresh seemed a better choice)
1/2 cup sliced onion (we used a few scallions)
1/4 cup toasted pecans (toasted them myself in a cast-iron skillet)
1/2 avocado (this made no sense to me -- I used a whole one)

Pam made the dressing; I prepared the produce. We tossed it all in a bowl and took it to the vineyard -- perfectly paired with Cinco Cães, the lovely sunset, and the lyrical stylings of Rebecca Correia.

Happy Solstice

We were a day late with our summer solstice celebration meal from The Wicca Cookbook, but since our wonderful daughter had offered to cook for us on the actual solstice I wasn't about to start worrying about specific dates. 

Of the fifteen recipes included in the cookbook under "Summer Solstice" we selected the vegetable frittata because we had all the ingredients (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) on hand, it was simple, and because our vegetarian daughter was dining with us. This frittata has peppers, sliced potatoes, onions (the recipe says scallions, but we used what we had), basil, and goat cheese (the rest of what was left from last week's Pasta with Grapes), and of course eggs and milk. The recipe as written in the book has a few problems: for instance it begins with a description of how to roast a red pepper by holding it over a flame, wrapping it, letting it sweat, and then rubbing off the skin before slicing. The recipe, however, never mentions when, exactly, one is supposed to add the pepper to the dish. Since I was using frozen, pre-sliced bell peppers I wasn't too concerned though. I figured out to sauteé them as I was finishing with the potatoes. I mixed all the ingredients (except the potatoes and peppers) together in a bowl first, then cooked the potato slices in our indispensable cast-iron skillet until they were tender then I added the peppers and cooked a few more minutes. Once the potatoes and peppers were ready I added the egg mixture and cooked until the eggs just started to set, then put the skillet in a preheated 350 oven for 25 minutes. I impressed myself with how perfectly fluffy this came out. We enjoyed our meal outside with some Malbec.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pasta with Grapes

It's not that we haven't been preparing new recipes of late, it's just that we haven't done a very good job blogging about them. We're finally catching up on our most recent cooking adventures. This recipe comes from the Intercourses cookbook and was quite simple. The recipe calls for pasta spirals. We found a kale, beet, and butternut squash pasta spiral mix at Savas Liquors in Middleboro, Massachusetts which turned out to be a great choice. To the cooked pasta we added some wedges of goat cheese, a handful of seedless grapes, chopped basil (not in the recipe, but it is never wrong to add basil), romaine lettuce (in lieu of watercress), two chopped scallions, zest and juice of one orange, and a bit of olive oil. The cheese melted onto the hot pasta, and blended with the other ingredients to create a sweet, creamy (and rather sensual) dish.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Caribbean Fish in a Packet

It has been over five years since we made Asian Fish in a Packet and questioned why such a recipe was featured in the vegetarian cookbook Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, and we still have no answer. In fact this Moosewood Cookbook includes 13 fish recipes, and we tried another one last night - Caribbean Fish in a Packet (for those wondering if there are other "packet fish" the answer is yes: French, and Greek). The recipe is agnostic about what type of fish to use. It gives no further guidance than "2 5-or 6-ounce firm fish fillets or steaks, or 1 10-ounce fillet cut in half". We did the latter. James selected Mahi Mahi at the fishmonger because he remembered that I will almost always order it in a restaurant when given the opportunity.

In addition to the fish, into our "airtight" foil packs went:
tomato slices
green, red, and yellow bell pepper slices
olive oil
chopped scallions
fresh chopped parsley (recipe called for cilantro, we went with what we had)
fresh lime juice
a few dashes of Tabasco sauce
a sprinkling of garlic salt
a dash of black pepper

The packages baked at 450 for 20 minutes. The fish turned out flaky and flavorful. We served rice on the side. Looking forward to trying the rest of the "vegetarian" fish recipes.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Special Birthday Dinner

or: Dinner from the Dairy Section

The whole recipe is here --
Click to enlarge
For today's post, we include a photo of the entire recipe, because instructions provided by Mr. Price are succinct to the point of being, well, cryptic. (Get it?) Describing the directions would require more words from me than are in the original. That said, I invite the reader to click the image to enlarge it, and to consider my caveats.

I understand the importance of taking care not to overcook seafood, but two minutes was not nearly enough time to cook 1.5 pounds of scallops in a half cup of Vermouth. I covered the pan and cooked for about six minutes.

I followed the rest of the instructions before realizing that I had failed to notice the "very hot oven" comment at the end. So I turned it to 350 and put everything in an oven-safe dish for about 10 minutes. In retrospect, I would shorten the boiling slightly and have that oven at something like 400 for 5 minutes.

Details aside, the important thing to know is that this was delicious! Careful readers of this blog will know that we have are hugely devoted to the New Bedford scallop harvest -- doing our part to support sustainable fisheries and the local economy. Scallops in this sauce are even more delicious -- and decadent -- than scallops wrapped in bacon.
Even better the second day, heated for about 30 minutes at 375.
For technical reasons that only iPad-using bloggers would care about, Pam put the title on this post because it was indeed a special dinner and it was indeed her birthday. The Vincent Price cookbook was my weeks-early birthday present to her, and it was good to use it again on her actual birthday. Even better, our daughter was able to join us. Since she is a vegetarian, I made fettucine alfredo with peas as an entree for her and a side dish for us.

For the dessert was one of Pam's favorites: key-lime pie. Specifically, it was Paula Dean's Frozen Key-Lime pie, which Pam made to celebrate Florida day back in 2010. It was at least as delicious as we remembered it.

Pam gave us both a birthday present by choosing not only the main course, but also the dessert. Cooking is usually no work at all for me, but I sometimes struggle to choose a menu. With the dessert and main course chosen, I chose alfredo as a compatible, but in fact it might be better described as redundant. Hence the subtitle I placed at the top of this post. I thought of it because I found myself buying one each of just about everything in the dairy case to make this meal. Good thing we have plenty of biking, walking, and rowing this weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Rice Pizza

Rice Pizza? What could that be?

Following some nice tortillas Sunday and Asian carry-out on Monday, we found ourselves with a bit of a surplus of rice at Casa Hayes-Boh, and took to the cookbook shelf to see how we might use it. My first inclination was to reprise the Tabasco-enhanced Country Captain Chicken we had enjoyed a couple of weeks ago, but since chicken had been featured in both the Asian dinners and the leftover Asian lunches, Pam suggested pulling the essential Jane Brody's Good Food Book from the shelf.

I found a lot of entries under "rice" in the index, including all kinds of items about rice -- its preparation, nutrition, measurement, and so on. But I also found the intriguing "Rice-Crust Pizza" on page 480 and decided to give it a try, modifying the quantities, mainly by sheer guesswork.

I began by beating one egg and combining it with the cooked rice (we had just a bit more than a cup and a generous pile of shredded mozzarella). I applied olive oil to a glass pie pan and pressed this mixture into it. I then placed the pan in a 450F oven for 30 minutes.

Then I combined tomato sauce (after opening the wrong can, I pureed one can of diced tomatoes and a can of tomato paste to get a thick sauce), dried oregano and basil, and freshly minced garlic. When the crust was somewhat browned, I spread this sauce on generously (having once worked at a pizza place where sauce was rationed, I do not like to skimp!). I then added some sliced mushrooms (and favorite topping would do) and freshly shredded parmesan.
Crisis averted! While it baked a further ten minutes, I set about to open the inevitable Malbec, breaking a corkscrew in the process. We have been cursed with poorly-made corkscrews and can-openers of late, but we are not to let a simple failure get between us and a nice wine pairing. After a miserable attempt with channel lock pliers, I retrieved our spare cork  jack from the car and wrested the cork from the bottle.
Victory is ours!
We then removed the small pizza pie from the oven. Having the cheese IN the crust made for a nice extra bit of crunchity goodness. We'll be doing this again, I'm sure!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Whaling House Waffle Surprise

Spoiler alert: The surprise is simply an improvement in a traditional waffle recipe.
When our artisan friend Dave realized that whaling would be the theme of our weekend getaway, he made us this spiffy whale. Meanwhile, his brother Paul -- who lives nearby -- painted it mint-chocolate-chip, a combo that Pam had always longed for in a house. This photo predates the #whalinghouse solar panels.
When figuring out how to divide equipment between our main kitchen and the galley of our smaller weekend place, Pam wisely suggested that the waffle iron belonged in the weekend kitchen, since that is when we tend to make waffles. 

Just a few years ago we finally got a waffle iron that allows us to make good waffles consistently. Once the electricity had been upgraded, we made the move, and indeed we have waffles a bit more often now.

We keep the weekend larder stocked with all of the Hayes-Boh essentials for baking and basic cookery, but not in large quantities. And so it was this morning that I started preparing the batter before I realized that there was not enough flour for a batch. If nothing else, we are resourceful, so I decided to take a risk on two substitutions: baking powder for baking soda and corn meal for part of the white flour.

The basic recipe from Deborah Madison was thus modified more or less as follows:

2 eggs, beaten (she calls for three, which I think makes waffles that are too eggy)
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups milk (Madison calls for milk or buttermilk; I put about 1/4 cup of plain yogurt, vanilla yogurt, or sour cream in the measuring cup and then fill up the rest of the way. This morning it was sour cream.)
1 Tsp oil
*optional: 1/4 cup mashed blueberries (see below)

1-1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup fine-ground corn meal
2 t baking powder (instead of 1 t powder and 1/2 t baking soda)
1/4 t salt
dash of nutmeg
2 Tsp organic sugar (Madison does not call for this, but I could not see any reason not to include it.)

*optional: 1 cup whole blueberries, rinsed and drained

I mixed the dry and wet ingredients thoroughly in separate bowls and then combined them without overmixing. I let the batter sit and rise slightly while I heated the waffle iron. I then used cooking spray for each round and transferred each waffle to a plate in the warm (250F) oven.

The result was by far the best waffles I have made -- they slide easily off the iron and were a bit extra fluffy and delicious!

Even More Better
UPDATE February 19, 2017

Image result for blueberriesThis morning we had blueberries on hand, which I was going to add in the usual way -- about a cup to the batter just after it was combined. But Pam -- who already gets credit for remembering this post about corn meal -- suggested that I mash some of the blueberries, as she had recently done for Jordan Marsh muffins. So in addition to the cup of whole blueberries, I used a fork to mash about 1/4 cup, and put it in the liquid mix before combining. I just whisked the skins and pulp together into the egg-milk mixture.