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...

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.