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 30, 2017

Scallops and Broccoli

Our adult kid Harvey has become quite good at finding gifts for us that connect to our interests, such as rare nautical prints that are at once unfamiliar and immediately fitting for our home. They came through again this Christmas, with the Bruce Beck's 1989 Official Fulton Fish Market Cookbook.
This is our kind of cookbook -- rich in cultural context, in this case relating to the New York institution whose name appears on this cookbook and no other. The book also has sea-creature illustrations that relate to Harvey's own interest in animal-related illustration art.

With the famous scallops of New Bedford just a few blocks away, we decided -- as readers of this space know we often do -- to look for a new way to prepare these buttery mollusks. We have tried many variations on creme sauces, so I decided to try something a bit different. I found one of those recipes for which assembling the ingredient list gets the cook most of the way through the cooking process.
Click to enlarge
Since I was determined to serve this with Malbec and we did not have any white cooking wine open, I decided to substitute ginger brandy for the wine (this was whisked together with the salt and sugar in a small bowl). For the chili oil, of course, I used chipotle-infused olive oil from our friends at Lebherz

I do not exactly avoid broccoli recipes, but I tend to find something else when broccoli presents itself. Since the rest of the family was ready to embrace this healthy option, however, I did, too. I blanched the broccoli as instructed, meaning I put it in boiling water for just under a minute and then drained it and plunged it into cold water. I then left it in a colander until the rest was ready. The broccoli emerged crisp but not too crunchy -- just right for me!

I then heated plenty of salted water, to which I added the linguini once I had everything else prepared. I had never trimmed scallops in the way described here, but I will from now on. I then sauteed the scallops in oil for just a minute, then the broccoli for another couple before adding wine mixture. I then drained the linguine and tossed it with the scallop mixture; we did not add soy sauce at the table as suggested, and we did not miss it.

This was delicious, and on the light side since it had no cheese or butter. It was scrumptious as leftovers.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Honey Ginger Pie

I always like to try a new dessert recipe for Thanksgiving. This year I made Honey Ginger Pie from the Teeny's Tour of Pie cookbook. This custard-filled tart was a definite hit among the foodie friends with whom we shared our holiday meal.

I first made the Buttery All-Purpose Crust as directed by Teeny:

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 3/4 c. cold unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
  • 1/4 c. vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 c. cold vodka (I took mine straight from the freezer)
  • 6 T. cold water

I sifted the dry ingredients together, then added the butter and shortening and cut everything together with a pastry cutter. The liquid ingredients were added next, a little bit at a time. Everything was mixed with a rubber spatula and formed into a ball. The ball was divided into two, and each was pressed into a disc. I placed one disc in the freezer for later use, the other I refrigerated for one hour, then rolled out and placed in a greased pie pan and baked at 350 for about 25 minutes.

The filling also took a bit of work. Ingredients include:

  • 2 c. whole milk (divided)
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 t. freshly grated peeled ginger (Teeny recommends a microplane, and I followed this advice and can assure you that Teeny is absolutely right about this)
  • 3 T. butter

First I whisked together the 1 3/4 c. milk and the honey until the honey was dissolved (this did not take long). Next I whisked the remaining milk with the cornstarch and yolks until smooth. This then went into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and honey. Everything was cooked over a medium heat while whisking constantly, this continues even after it starts to boil (when constant whisking and scraping becomes even more important to prevent scorching). The mixture boiled until thick, but still pourable and removed from the heat. The grated ginger and butter were stirred in, and then the mixture was poured into the pre-baked pie crust. The pie was then covered with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming, and placed in the refrigerator to set. Teeny says it needs at least two hours. I had made this the night before, so it was nicely set and easy to cut after our meal on Thursday.

Teeny also admonishes bakers (and eaters) not to "skimp on the whipped cream". Right again, Teeny!

Sweet Potato & Refried Bean Tacos

I made this dish a few weeks ago, and as I was getting ready to blog about the divine pie I made for Thanksgiving, I remembered that I never posted about this fabulous meal. The recipe has two parts - one for the filling, and the other for the poblano salsa. I dutifully asked James to procure the poblano, tomatoes, and lime but unfortunately assumed onion and garlic were already on hand, only to discover I was wrong. Further complicating the problem was the less than stellar set up I had for roasting the pepper. We usually roast them directly on the flame of our gas stove, but we were at our beach house which has the inferior electric stove top. I attempted to roast the pepper by placing it in an indispensable cast-iron skillet on top of one of the burners and turning it several times, but it didn't work very well. I ultimately decided to simply add the diced tomatoes and diced (semi) roasted pepper to a jar of prepared lime salsa - not an ideal solution, but a solution nonetheless.

The sweet potatoes were roasted in the oven at 425 for half and hour after drizzling with olive oil, chili powder, salt, and pepper. The roasted sweet potatoes were simply served on warmed tortilla shells with a helping of refried beans and topped with salsa and cilantro. We also added some sour cream. A very delicious and hearty vegetarian meal despite the problems with making the salsa.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Homebody Pork Chops

Having settled in for an early weekend, I was looking forward to grilling some locally-raised pork chops from Crescent Ridge, and hoping to do so without getting dressed up enough to go to the grocery.

During my first scan of recipes on Big Green Egg (yes, I was too lazy to get the printed cookbook from the shelf -- it's been a long week), I noticed something involving sriracha. I did not think we had any, and was beginning to consider recipes that would involve a run to Stop & Shop.

I did eventually check the fridge, however, and found that we had almost everything on the list for Sriracha Pork Chops. We had no bouillon or broth, so I used extra lime juice and sriracha. We had parsley (for scallops I prepared last week), which I substituted for the called-for cilantro. Last week I could not find fresh ginger at said Stop & Shop (I know, right?), so we have a little tub of partly-dried ginger. It seems to be working well, though I'll get the real stuff next time I see it.
In progress; in the foreground are small potatoes that had been roasting with olive oil, Old Bay, and a little water to prevent scorching (based on prior experience). I left them uncovered for the last 10 minutes or so.
NOTE: no measuring cups or spoons were involved in this recipe. It's marinade, not a cake.

ALSO NOTE: I do not play ziplock bags (called reclosable bags in the recipe for copyright reasons) for marinade. I just used a plate. I wrote this line prior to cooking, and now I am rethinking it. I do not like to waste plastic bags, but a tight bowl would have been a better option than a plate. I do not think the marinade did as much tenderizing as it could have. 

Completing the no-going-out-required program: brunch was berry waffles, which I can almost always make with ingredients on hand, and Pam noticed we have small potatoes that I can roast with some Old Bay once I heat up the Egg for the porkchops.

Plus, it is a cliché, but last weekend I visited Bolton Orchard and made some ... wait for it ... apple sauce! Pam had recently found an old-school apple corer at a yard sale.
Although the peeling apparatus does not work well, the coring and slicing are fantastic, and made short work of a half-peck of apples. I had put them in the slow-cooker for a few hours last weekend. We enjoyed some hot then, and the rest cold this week.
The end result was scrumptious and -- unlike much of what I have cooked lately -- fairly photogenic. The combination of flavors, textures, and temperatures was just right, and of course it all went very well with Malbec.
Pork Chops & Apple Sauce! (Plus potatoes and Malbec)
Having a Brady Bunch scholar in the house means that my weak imitation of Humphrey Bogart's "pork chops and applesauce" line (though he never said it and I could not remember that he was the guy we all think said it) led quickly to the definitive use of the line by Peter Brady.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Burned Toast Soup

Two weeks ago one of James' colleagues brought him some bread from her brother's bakery - a loaf of sourdough and a loaf of rye. We used most of it to make some sandwiches, but as we were getting down to the tiny pieces and the heels, this recipe showed up on my Facebook feed. Since it called for bacon (which we already had on hand) and sourdough bread it seemed like a good thing to try. It is not difficult to make, although it calls for several rounds of "letting it stand", so it does take more time than one might expect. I also make a small mess with the immersion blender. The soup splattered out of the pot, and onto my clothes, as well as the stove top and kitchen walls. We used both the last bits of the sourdough and the rye, and the flavor of the rye was quite detectable. It was a good recipe for using up the last few pieces of bacon and the bread that was beginning to go stale, but I wouldn't make it again otherwise.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Walnut-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Sauteed Greens

This recipe came from a relatively recent acquisition - Best Simple Suppers for Two. This recipe was a winner on several levels. It was indeed easy to prepare, and I simplified it further by using my cast iron skillet so that I could transfer the sauteed chicken directly into the oven without use of the baking rack the recipe calls for. This really was a tasty meal - one to keep in my bag of tricks for a delicious meal in under 30 minutes.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

I made this side dish from Deborah Madison so long ago I can't even remember what our main dish was, but I do know it was not a nueva receta. I think we must have gotten the sweet potato from the last Fairhaven Farmer's Market of the 2017 season. I do remember adding some "pumpkin spice" to this recipe by sprinking on some cinnamon and ground cloves. Madison never lets us down.

Pumpkin Blondies

I picked up The Pumpkin Cookbook about a decade ago at a going-out-of-business sale for an independent bookstore - one I had not heard of before getting the flier for said sale. This cookbook is not for those who are wondering what to do with that can of pumpkin you bought as soon as the leaves starting changing color. Everything in this book calls for an actual pumpkin. I imagine that a person might be able to get away with canned pumpkin for any of the recipes that call for pureeing the pumpkin flesh once it's been separated from the shell and cooked, but such was not the case for pumpkin blondies, which calls for whole chunks of pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Quesadillas de Rajas

I'm leaving the photo for this dinner to the professionals, in this case Fred Thompson, who took most of the photos in this lushly illustrated cookbook.
Our quesadillas tasted great, but did not look quite like this.
I was about to start this post with a few street-food memories, but discovered that I have already told most of those tales when we first purchased Latin American Street Food, in a post I titled Calle to Mesa.

Wanting a quick dinner and knowing that we had plenty of tortillas on hand, I picked two books from the shelf -- the old standby Well-filled Tortilla and this newer volume. We have already mined the Well-filled volume for most of its easy dishes, so I opened Street Food first. Its index listings for "tortilla" pointed mostly to detailed articles on the tortilla itself; it was the "quesadilla" listing that took me to Poblano and Cheese Quesadillas, a title that seems a bit redundant, but that had my attention because I love Pueblo and its namesake chile.

This was simple to prepare. I did some kitchen math to modify the ingredient list, which is indicated for serving 8:

4 roasted poblano peppers, peeled, seeded, deveined, and sliced into strips
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
12 ounces Muenster cheese, thinly sliced (ours was thick; still worked great)
8 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
vegetable oil
Mexican crema (optional)

Gutierrez begins with a nice description of quesadillas in general and the role of poblanos in particular. She writes that the poblano is "not too spice, although some can be hotter than others." One of the most memorable things I read in preparing for our 1989 visit to Puebla is that the poblano can vary tremendously from mild to hot. When visiting a local student's home for dinner, his mother reminded us of this, and I assured her I would be fine, as I really liked hot food. Of course, I drew the extremely hot one, and could only eat the filling! Modern agriculture has rendered the poblano much more uniform and less interesting.
From a previous post: I've done this exact thing before,
and I have essentially stopped buying roasted peppers.
Alas, I knew that our local grocery was only about 25-percent likely to have poblanos on any given day, so I compromised by buying a red bell pepper and a jalepeño, promising myself I'll go to another store before I retry this dish. I brought them home and roasted both directly on the front burner of our stove, turning frequently with our indispensible kitchen tongs. Once thoroughly charred, I placed them in a tightly-covered bowl; a plastic bag also works. After ten minutes, the peppers were ready to be peeled (most of the charry outer bits removed), cored,  and sliced.

While the peppers were sweating (in the covered bowl), I started assembling the quesadillas -- on one half of each large tortilla (we had the 12-inch kind, so only needed one each), I placed several slices of Muenster, then liberally covered them with peppers, and topped with goat cheese and scallions. I then folded them, brushed on olive oil, and placed on the cast-iron griddle. I had the heat a bit too high -- medium heat would have allowed for more even browning, rather than charring!

Still, our results were quite good, and we topped with sour cream instead of Mexican crema for two reasons: we had the sour cream on hand (from our regional dairy cooperative) and I knew our local grocery would not have it.

It was only on reading the recipe page more carefully that I learned Gutierrez makes several salsa recommendations, including a tomatillo salsa that I could have made with ingredients on hand. Something to remember the next time I make these scrumptious quesadillas!


In 2016, taco trucks became a political buzzword, as a presidential candidate invoked them in a tirade against immigration. His "nightmare" vision of a taco truck on every corner seemed like a dream to me!

Enjoying fish tacos at a family geography night program.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Gingerberry Waffles!

When our friends (and fellow foodies) Rob & Lisa were visiting Whaling House a couple weeks back, I mentioned that we would be having waffles in the morning. Without hesitation, Rob started channeling this donkey. We've been doing the same ever since. 
The waffles just keep getting better around here, after years of waffle failures. Although I posted the backstory and recent improvements in Whaling House Waffle Surprise (May 2016), I have done further tweaking of the recipe that warrants and update. Please read that post for the full context of this recipe, and then I invite you to proceed as I did this morning.

Preheat oven anywhere in 250-275 F range and put plates or platter on oven rack just before starting.

Dry ingredients -- in a medium bowl whisk or sift:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur if you can get it)
1/2 cup Johnny Cake corn meal from Gray's Grist Mill (I used the generic term "corn meal" last year, though I don't know what happens when lesser corn meals are used. Treat yourself to Gray's if you can get it. I am lucky enough to get mine directly from the mill -- I recommend a visit!)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 t ground ginger (This provided a mild, savory counterpoint to the sweetness of what follows. I did not add enough to compete with the fruit that follows.

Note on sifting: In my 2016 post, I extolled the virtues of sifting, and still aver that it will yield fluffier waffles. Using the Johnnycake meal, whisking leaves just a trace of crunchitty bits that I think gives these waffles character. But for real indulgence, sifting is probably best.)

1 C frozen mixed berries -- Rinse to thaw in a small bowl, sieved and return to the bowl. Mash with a fork and then transfer to a measuring cup of at least 2 cups capacity.

Wet ingredients
2 eggs (we use organic Country Hen)
approx. 1-1/4 cup milk (we use delicious 1% Crescent Ridge)
1/4 C butter (Amish or regular), melted
1 T vanilla

Beat two eggs in a small bowl.
Pour milk into measuring cup over the mashed berries until the combined liquids (and fruit bits) reach 2 cups. Add to eggs.
Add butter and vanilla; blend well.

Mix wet ingredients (with berries) into dry ingredients, scraping sides of bowl until all is wet. Do not over mix.

1 C fresh berries or strawberries, sliced if appropriate, mixed gently into batter

Following waffle-iron manufacturer's directions, heat waffle iron, spray with Pam cooking spray or brush with oil. Spoon spoon batter onto hot griddle, perhaps enough to cover 2/3 of the center of the iron. Technique improves over time.

Top with pure maple syrup -- we get ours from Hanson Farm -- and enjoy with good coffee!
This pairs beautifully with a good cup (or two) of fairly traded, organic coffee.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Spaghetti Carbonara

James and I like to read together, and listen to audio books together when we are in the car. The last time we read a memoir about food Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks her way through Great Books we talked about a lot of recipes we planned on trying from the book, but over a year later we have yet to prepare any. By contrast, we are still in the midst of listening to Guilia Melucci's I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, and have already enjoyed her recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara. The recipe is simple. Ingredients include:

3 slices of cooked bacon
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
1/4 c. freshly grated pecorino, plus a little more for passing
1/4 c. freshly grated parmigiano, plus a little more for passing
Freshly ground pepper
Cooked pasta

I think we only used parmigiano cheese, but otherwise followed the recipe which calls for adding the cooked pasta to a warm bowl with the (uncooked) eggs and cheese and letting the hot pasta cook the eggs. She does realize that some may not like the idea of the undercooked eggs, and suggests that everything can be cooked in a skillet on the stovetop instead. We decided to try it creamy the way Melucci intended. The bacon, salt and pepper are added before serving.

This was easy to prepare and good to eat.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

There's The Rub!

The Big Green Egg combines ancient Chinese design with less ancient Southern U.S. enthusiasm for slow-cooked barbeque*. Careful readers of this blog will notice that we acquired our own Big Green Egg about two years ago, and have made extensive use of it as a glorified Weber-style grill. I mean no disrespect: the difference really is glorious!

Still, we have not tapped the full potential of the Egg until yesterday, when I used it for the first time as its developers in Georgia (USA, not Europe) intended. Good friends were spending part of the weekend at our beach-proximate house, so Pam opened Mary Kay Andrews' Beach House Cookbook for something worthy of the occasion.

She found the perfect recipe, with a title almost as long as the cooking time -- Smoked Pork Butt with Beach House Barbecue Sauce. It calls for applying a rub to a 4-6 pound pork butt or shoulder (notice my restraint with the butt jokes) and cooking it low and slow -- roughly an hour per pound at about 250F. She provides a recipe for a sauce to be prepared near the end of this cooking time.

As we made a grocery list, Pam noticed that the rub would be similar to the chipotle rub we recently purchased at Salem Spice -- a place that every serious cook should visit some time! So I set up the Egg with plenty of charcoal, started the fire and then nearly closed the vent to keep the temperature in the 250-300F range. I rinsed the pork butt, placed it in a small roasting pan and slathered it with olive oil. I then rubbed each side with the marvelous chipotle mixture. I then repeated the rub, with Pam's help sprinkling the powder as I turned the butt, as it is a job for more than two hands.
I placed the pan (without water, as would be required in some smokers) in the Big Green Egg and then simply did my best to keep the temperature in range for the rest of the day. This required very narrow openings in the upper and lower vents, and I probably should have checked the temperature a bit more frequently than I did. Still, I never let it get about 350F nor below 195F, and really kept it near 275F for most of the five-plus hours. The delicious rub meant that we were that house that was whetting appetites throughout the neighborhood. Low and slow.

I was proud that I managed to follow the advice in the Big Green Egg cookbook: monitor the temperature but to not monitor the meat itself. I did not open the Egg for more than five hours. When I did open it, the thermometer read exactly 200F in the center of the thickest part, and no more than 208F elsewhere.

Near the end, I whisked together the following over medium heat for about a half hour:

6 cups ketchup
6 cups apple cider vinegar
10 ounce Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup dry mustard
1 stick unsalted butter
6T black pepper
1/4 cup Tabasco (a lesser hot sauce would also be fine)
3T salt

Actually, I did not do this, as it would have made the better part of a gallon of sauce. So math-team James divided each of these items by 6, making plenty of sauce for our purposes.

Results: Everyone loved this. Our friend Rob, who is the most expert grillmaster I know, was astonished that I had done gotten the slow-smoke method down so perfectly on my first try. And our friend Lisa, expert on all kinds of herbs and spices, pronounced the combination of rub and sauce perfect.

Needless to say, this paired very nicely with Malbec, and also with home-brewed American Pale Ale.

Pam followed this with divine apple enchiladas, which she will be posting soon.

Next time: With results like these, we will definitely have a next time. Instead of the perfectly suitable slaw I bought at the local deli, I will prepare -- probably the night before -- my cilantro-lime slaw.

*Note to New England readers: Barbeque (spellings vary) is a word of Taino (indigenous Puerto Rican) derivation referring to a variety of methods of cooking meats over wood or charcoal fire. It is not, as our university uses the term, a word meaning any food eaten out-of-doors.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Cobbler's Helper

(This post jointly authored by James & Pam.)

Pam notices yard sales as she walks the pooch around Fairhaven, and wisely does not try to make purchases with the dog pulling on her leash. At the end of Saturday's walk, she dropped the dog off and popped back out to revisit some treasures she had noticed. Most notable -- especially for this blog -- was this very old-school apple corer & slicer.

If not quite mint-in-box, certainly excellent-in-box. We were excited to have it, but also completely clueless about its use. Fortunately, we both have 2017 information literacy, which suggests only one solution: YouTube. Searching on the brand name (because there are many contraptions of this sort out there), we quickly found all the information we needed in just three minutes:

I (Pam) of course couldn't wait to use my new (to me) gadget, so on Sunday at the Fairhaven Farmer's Market we bought a half dozen apples and got out our trusty Deborah Madison Cookbook (this is so essential we now keep copies both at home and in our beach house). I found a recipe for a simple cobbler, put the sliced apples in a pie tin, topped them with the dough, and baked at 350 for about half an hour for a lovely dessert.

The set up

First apple placed

The spinning starts...

The cores went into the compost bucket

Before baking

Ready to eat! Delicious!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Scallops in White Wine Sauce

We had a bit of old white wine in our refrigerator, that we neither wanted to drink, nor waste. Thankfully we have two cookbooks specifically for cooking with wine: W.I.N.O.S. (Women in Need of Sanity) and the itty bitty Cooking Poultry and Seafood with Wine by Bruce Carlson (the outside dimensions of this one are about the same as those of an index card).

So, for our almost-regular-fish-on-Thursday dinner we picked up some scallops from our favorite fishmonger in order to make the very first recipe found in Carlson's book which is simply called "Scallops in Sauce".

I made the following deviations from the recipe shown: 
  • I did not use the Dry Sauterne the recipe calls for. I really have no idea what kind of wine it was, other than "white". 
  • I most certainly did not use frozen scallops. We get ours fresh from the boat.
  • Nor did I use canned mushrooms, fresh is always better.
  • I did not have any marjoram at the beach house, so that was omitted.
  • I also skipped the last step of putting the scallops and sauce, sprinkled with bread crumbs in a baking dish under the broiler. This was because everything was quite well cooked by the time James came back from rowing, having been stuck at the New Bedford bridge for 15 minutes. Instead, we simply served the scallops in their sauce over some fettuccine, which turned out to be a fine plan. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Tomato Pie

When I was a kid I liked to watch reruns of Gomer Pyle: USMC. I remember one episode ("The Price of Tomatoes") in which a tomato farmer comes under fire for growing his crop on Camp Henderson property. The issue is resolved with the base agreeing to use much of the farmer's bounty in its mess hall. Sargent Carter (Frank Sutton) is less than thrilled with this arrangement. This is evident as he recites a list to Corporal Boyle (Roy Stuart) of all the tomato-based recipes to which they will now be subjected. The list ends with Carter saying "and get this...tomato pie"!

I understood where Sgt. Carter was coming from. I, myself, used to truly hate tomatoes, even the thought of eating one could make me gag. And I could not for the life of me understand where anyone could even come up with anything so unappetizing as a tomato pie! Who even ever heard of such a thing?

Sometime during my twenties I started liking tomatoes, to the point that they are, in fact, now one of my favorite foods. So, imagine my delight at finding a recipe for the legendary tomato pie in one of our relatively recent acquisitions - The Beach House Cookbook.  

The recipe calls for a prepared pie crust. Bah! It really isn't hard to make a pie crust. I don't know why people insist on buying them. I used this recipe for Buttermilk Pie Crust to make my own. It is important to note that you do not necessarily need buttermilk to make a pie crust. I used this recipe only because we already had some buttermilk on hand. I brushed some habañero mustard onto the crust once it was in the pan and baked for 10 minutes at 350.

For the filling we started with some big, juicy heirloom tomatoes from the Fairhaven (Massachusetts) Farmer's Market. I made thin slices, sprinkled them with garlic salt, and set them on some paper towels while I prepared the rest of the ingredients.

I next mixed 1/2 c. of mayonnaise, 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese, and a few dashes of pepper. I also cooked six slices of thick bacon to perfect crispiness. Finally I mixed 1/2 c. cheddar cheese with 1/2 c. feta (this was a slight deviation from the recipe as written).

Once all the ingredients were ready one layer of tomatoes went onto the bottom of the pie crust with three crumbled bacon slices on top. The mayonnaise/Parmesan mixture went in next, followed by another layer of tomatoes and the rest of the crumbled bacon. The cheddar/feta mixture went on top, and then the final layer of tomatoes. I also sprinkled on some fresh basil leaves. Once this was prepared the pie went into the oven for 30 minutes at 350, then we let it stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. As good as this was when I made it on Monday, the leftovers we had for lunch today (reheated in our indispensable cast iron skillet) were sublime.

(See James' most recent post for another yummy recipe from The Beach House Cookbook).

Mmmm...Tomato Pie

Monday, August 28, 2017

Buttermilk Sriracha Brine

NOTE: This recipe is fairly easy, but not quick. Start at least 8 hours ahead of serving, or even the night before.

The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews is a recent purchase that is rapidly becoming a favorite at our quasi-beach house. A quick search on this blog will show some of the things we have already tried. Andrews finds a nice balance between food that is festive and food that can be prepared without too much fuss. This is just what we wanted yesterday for a dinner with friends we had not seen in a long time and their new baby. (NOTE: We did not try to feed chicken to the baby!)

The recipe we chose is for fried chicken, which I have made hundreds of times using an approach that is quite similar to what Andrews describes. But her recipe includes just a couple of departures from my routine that made this so much better!
The first three ingredients make the brine. A milk brine sounds disgusting, and looks even worse, but I set aside my qualms and just rinsed the chicken pieces and covered them with the brine. I used a full quart because I had more than the called-for chicken. Regular readers will know that Tabasco is one of my favorite beverages, but this time I used sriracha. I did not stop at a teaspoon, though: I gave a couple good overhand squirts, turning the brine a rather ugly pink.

The recipe calls for brining in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. I think I had it in for 5 hours before it was time to start preparations. At that time, I blended all of the dry ingredients, using a couple of overhand shakes of Old Bay (one of our guests being from Maryland) instead of a wimpy teaspoon of poultry seasoning.

Using our indispensible kitchen tongs, I removed each piece from the brine, rolled it in the flour-breadcrumb mix, and placed it on a platter. I gratefully rinsed the brine down the drain!

Here Andrews calls for resting the chicken on wire cooling racks over a lined baking sheet. We did not have racks in this kitchen, so the platter sufficed. The racks would prevent the chicken sitting in puddles of brine, but draining each piece carefully prevented this. An interesting step that I had never heard of was simply to let the chicken rest for a half hour after it has been coated, allowing it to reach room temperature before frying. I decided this was worth trying.

Our beach-house kitchen has an electric stove, and the cast-iron skillet we have here is not large enough to have worked well for this much chicken. So I put a serving platter in the oven at 300F, and then heated some olive oil (maybe a half cup) in a wide skillet until it was medium-hot. I put one round of chicken in until it was darkened on the bottom, and turned it over. I covered the chicken during most of the cooking process to promote more even heating, though I removed the cover (very carefully) a few times to let moisture out.
Photo: Ashley Harris
In this way, I cooked the chicken in a total of three rounds, gradually lowering the heat and adding oil as necessary. When our guests arrived, I had just put the last pieces in the oven, where they continued to heat gently while we had appetizers and fancy beverages, perhaps 30-40 minutes. Because the chicken was in pieces of various sizes, including a couple that were quite thick, I think that this time in the warm oven contributed to the success of this dish. It was tender on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and savory throughout. It went well with local corn-on-the-cob, local tomato-cucumber salad, and not-local Malbec.

We concluded that in the future, when choosing between pan-fried and oven-fried, the correct answer is: BOTH!
Corn silks: one per kernel.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Pasta with Mint, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella.

One thing I really like about the New York Times Cooking app is that in most cases the name of the recipe is the recipe (another thing I like is that the app doesn't close on me while I'm in the middle of preparing my meal). This simple summer meal has a few more ingredients than is indicated in the title, but to those of us with a well-stocked kitchen a call for garlic, or Parmesan cheese, means nothing more than to check our supply of staples. I am not also afraid to substitute ingredients. In this case I used walnuts instead of pine nuts.

Since we were able to make use of the mint and basil growing in our yard this tasted especially fresh.

Vanilla-Honey Soft Serve Ice Cream

In 1988 James and I received an electric ice-cream maker as a gift for our first wedding anniversary. Knowing that we would never use it I put it in a pile of things to donate to a rummage sale. James stopped me insisting that we would of course be taking great advantage of such a device as part of our graduate-student lifestyle. I only argued a little bit before I sighed and agreed that we could keep it for five years and if, at such time, we had not used it I could then give it away. During those each of those five years James was steadfast in his belief that this year was the year we would indeed make some ice cream. He was especially sure of this when we moved from Oxford, Ohio to Tucson, Arizona. After all wouldn't we always be wanting a cool creamy treat once we got to the blistering hot desert? When we arrived at year seven of our marriage (and yet another interstate move) I insisted that the ice cream maker had been given more than its fair shot and did not need to make the trip to south Texas with us. Au contraire, James retorted. After all, wouldn't the Rio Grande Valley have even higher temperatures than the Sonoran Desert? and then we would really and truly want that ice cream. Finally At year eight James reluctantly conceded and let go of the ice cream maker. We donated it to a multi-family yard sale. It didn't even make it out to the main event, as one of our friends who was also participating in the yard sale snatched it up immediately upon seeing it. Ultimately we did get to have some ice cream made with the seven-year old gift, as said friend invited us over to make some ice cream with it. That was in 1995.

We have not made ice cream since. Until now.

I saved this recipe from the New York Times last year specifically because the first sentence starts with the words "You don't need an ice cream maker..."

This was rather time consuming and made a hella dishes. I also should have checked to make sure some of my key kitchen utensils were not deep into a dishwashing cycle before I started. I managed even without a whisk, but it surely would have helped. The ice cream did turn out all right though. Once I had the final mixture ready I split it in half. One batch went into ice cube trays as indicated in the recipe, and was frozen then removed and placed in a blender with a bit of milk to make the custard. The other half was put into popsicle molds. We removed the pops and ate them on the porch as is our custom. They were quite tasty.

And I did it all without an ice cream maker.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Turkey Burger Flavor Symphony

Simple Suppers
I am not quite sure how this book leapt from the shelf into my hands recently. As readers of this space know, we already have plenty of cookbooks, and the whole point of this blog is to tackle some of the thousands of untapped treasures already on our shelves. Besides, we are not afraid of complicated recipes.

We are, however, only two diners most of the time, with our child now a grown-up a thousand miles from home. And some evenings, we are not prepared to go full-crêpe just for dinner. So pick it up I did, and we were very pleased with the first result, entitled Turkey Burger Sliders with Spicy Lime Mayonnaise.

I use the word "entitled" to signify the author's intent to create sliders, even though I simply made regular-sized burgers. Either way, this is a delicious variation on turkey burgers, with three parts: the burger, the toppings, and the mayo.

The burger itself includes grated ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. I used a lot of ginger, which added a very nice note to the symphony of flavors here. The mayo included fresh lime juice and sriracha sauce. I used the proportions called for, and ended up with mayo that was both too thin and way too abundant. I could have made a soup with it. Next time I will just add a dash of lime and bit of sriracha to a much smaller dollop of mayo than the 1/2 cup in the recipe.

Finally -- the toppings are brilliant. I used a potato peeler to make very thin slices of cucumber, which went on top of the burger, along with a small pile of cilantro leaves. I think this is the first time I have ever used cilantro without chopping it -- just cut a big handful of it away from the stalks. The recipe calls for chopped red onion as well, but sliced up some scallions we had on hand.

This went very well with a fresh fruit salad Pam made, using an infused blackberry ginger vinegar from our friends at Lebherz and a chilled Sauvignon Blanc.

Note: Laura Arnold includes plenty of vegetarian and seafood meals in this thin volume -- stay tuned to see which of these we try.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Skillet Pasta with Summer Squash, Ricotta, and Basil

A wonderful summer dish this one showed up on my Facebook feed a few weeks ago. I followed this one pretty closely. I think the only thing I did different was cooking the pasta in a separate pan while I sauteed the onions, garlic, and squash. We served this as a side dish with a T-bone steak we cooked on the Big Green Egg. A lovely meal.

Blackberry Fool

I found this recipe (from after I realized that there were blackberries growing on the side of my house, and that I could harvest them by reaching through my bathroom window! I was inspired to search for recipes with blackberry and mint as the ubiquitous herb was growing next to the berry vine. This dessert was super easy to make. I made one modification and chopped the mint to blend with the berries and confectioner's sugar, rather than simply using the mint as a garnish. The hardest part was waiting the 15 minutes for the confectioner's sugar, berries, and  mint to meld!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Potato Salad

I see so many good recipes on my Facebook feed that I sometimes lose sight of the original intent of the "Nueva Receta" project - to make good use of my cookbooks. So I went old school with the bag of red-skinned potatoes I bought last week at the Fairhaven Farmer's Market and found a recipe on my cookbook shelf from Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet. I followed the recipe almost as presented. I didn't have any carrots so I skipped that, and I left the sugar out of the dressing. It just seemed unnecessary. As the recipe indicates this was quick to make. The yogurt made it especially creamy and it had a lot more flavor than what one expects in a potato salad. The caraway seeds really seemed to be the key.

Scallion Chicken

The Fairhaven farmers' market features excellent produces, baked goods, and soap. It also features know-your-farmer local meats. Many of the grill items featured in this blog have come from J.H. Beaulieu Livestock, scarcely a mile from our home and from the market.

Instead of beef, this week we purchased a whole chicken, which is something we often roast in our upright pan. I was preparing to do just that when I came upon this video demonstrating splayed chicken at NYT Cooking.
Chef Melissa Clark is sold on the indispensible cast-iron skillet, arguing that it would be worthwhile to purchase on just for this dish. I agree, but careful readers of this blog will know that we already have several, and use them quite often. Fortunately, we have one exactly like the one shown in the video.

I essentially followed this recipe just as shown. The exceptions are that I quartered two small oranges and stuffed them in the cavity with some whole sage leaves, and that I used scallions instead of ramps. I think the difference is trivial, and we had purchased some nice scallions at the same farmers' market. Win-win. I did not use the garlic or capers.

One caveat: our chicken was apparently a bit bigger than the 3-4 pound range Clark mentions. So it took about 20 minutes longer than she allowed, and I had to turn the oven down to 400 as it started to smoke just a bit. Still, the result was DELICIOUS and the cooking time quite fast for a whole chicken this size.


I hope you have not started cooking this yet, because you need to know about brining if you want to do this as I did. All of the Beaulieu products arrive frozen, so I used brining both to prepare the meat for juicier, more flavorful cooking, and simply to thaw it. Using a large pasta pot, I followed these directions for simple brining from AllRecipes, except that I used Worcester instead of soy sauce and I did not exactly measure any of the ingredients. I believe this contributed to the fantastic flavor f the meal.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Comportable Compote

Yes, I made up that first word for its alliterative value. Rhubarb is in season, which means rhubarb compote is in season. I purchased two big bundles at the Fairhaven farmers' market last weekend, and envisioned hours of stewing them. Looking at food blogger Aimée's Salute Spring! post on Simple Bites, however, I realized that I have been overdoing it.

She provides 10 ways to use rhubarb, all beginning with a compote, and our first use will be the most obvious one: over ice cream. I made enough to freeze some for use later in the year, perhaps revisiting the delicious dessert that Pam created in April of this year.

Aimée provides two basic recipes: I made the first in a Dutch oven. I rinsed then chopped all of the rhubarb we had purchased. I used a measuring cup to estimate (this is neither baking nor rocket science) that we had about 8 cups of the fruit, so I adjusted the orange juice and brown sugar accordingly.

No photos here: rhubarb stew is more tasty than photogenic. Small samples with the tasting spoons have us looking forward to dessert with a friend later today. Now to prepare brandy sauce for our salmon...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Key Lime Pops

I really love key lime pie. I also like to have homemade popsicles in the summer. Imagine my delight when I discovered this recipe in The Beach House Cookbook (which of course I prepared in my beach house). These were sweet and creamy. We skipped adding the food coloring as it wouldn't have made any difference to the taste, and also omitted the last step of dipping them in graham cracker crumbs before eating. I imagine that might have made them seem more like pie, but I don't think popsicles really need to have that texture.

Exceptional Picnic Fare

Summertime is Westport Rivers Sunset Music time. Starting our summer weekends with wine, a picnic and an outdoor concert has been a tradition of ours for almost a decade. For the past two years we've especially enjoyed being able to head straight to our nearby beach house after the show, rather than making the almost-an-hour drive back to Bridgewater. This summer we celebrated our first outdoor concert by inaugurating a recent cookbook acquisition: Mary Kay Andrews The Beach house Cookbook . The ham and havarti sandwiches with peach-mustard spread took a bit of planning ahead due to the half-hour cooking time for the ham, but the sandwiches are not meant to be served warm so they were easily assembled once the ham prep was complete and packed for the picnic. They were quite delicious and perfect summer picnic food. I'm looking forward to making these again.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Chili-Blackberry Tenderloin

Sweet-hot is a combination we like, so when looking for something new to try in The Big Green Egg, I opted for the first recipe I found when opening the eponymous cookbook. It has one of those spoiler-alert titles we sometimes find in cookbooks, really outlining our shopping list: "Chili-Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Blackberry Sauce."

I started up the Egg so that it could reach 400F when I was ready. Then I went into the kitchen. I selected two pork tenderloins, brushing each with olive oil and sprinkling with chili powder, salt, and pepper. Honestly, I did not use a brush -- I just drizzled the oil on, and then rolled the tenderloins on a large plate, sprinkling as I turned them. Worked fine.

I set that aside and started working on the sauce. I had considered starting the sauce after I put the pork on the grill, but I decided not to, because the recipe is vague on grilling time, but implies (correctly) that it is fairly quick.

I started the sauce by melting 1/2 cup organic, granulated sugar in -- what else? -- a saucepan. As it started to caramelize, I whisked in 1/2 cup each of L.O.V.E. blackberry-ginger balsamic (the recipe simply calls for balsamic, but we knew how to make this even better) and chicken stock, along with an 8-ounce jar of Al's Blackberry Moonshine Jelly we had bought directly from the jellyman at the Coastal Wine Trail Festival just hours before. (Again, the recipe had simply called for blackberry preserves.) I brought all of this to a low simmer and left it on very low heat, covered, for 15 minutes while I cooked the pork.

With the Egg at 375, I put the tenderloins on the cast-iron grill-top for 5-minutes per "side." This was an occasion when I'm really glad that I follow my friend Rob's advice, using tongs for everything. The tenderloins would have been difficult to manage otherwise, but were very easy to turn this way. I mentioned the vagueness of the cooking time, which is something I am seeing more often in recipes, probably for food-safety reasons. It took 15-20 minutes, I'd say, to reach the desired 145F internal temperature. Having never cooked this kind of meat before, I was grateful to have an excellent thermometer (crazy-expensive but worth it for serious cooks), as I would have probably overcooked it otherwise.

Once the meat was ready to rest for a few minutes before slicing, I finished the sauce, which simply meant removing it from heat and stirring in 2T butter and a bit of salt and pepper. We ended up with a small pitcher of sauce -- way too much and way too thin for the purpose. The directions call for keeping it covered during the simmer and do not call for any kind of thickening ingredients. Next time, I think I'll try reducing it just a bit by cooking it ahead of time, uncovered.

Key words: next time. This was delicious, and I'll either try it again or will turn to one of the many tenderloin recipes on the Big Green Egg web site.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Waffle Hashbrowns

Genius, right? Those two words are probably enough to understand the breakfast miracle we experienced this morning, but I will elaborate just a bit. As I am wont to do.

Regular readers of this blog will know that we are quite fond of latkes, a recipe for which I posted back in 2012. This entry turns our blog into a vlog (web log --> video log), since a short video Pam shared with me a few days ago has all the key information. Just do what the delightful Justin Chapple does.

Source: Food & Wine

My elaboration:

We have a Waring Pro Belgian waffle maker, very similar to the one in the video. I sprayed it with Pam cooking spray, as I always do, because our instructions said we should, and in an earlier life we always had waffle problems. Rather than listening for the waffles, I just used the automatic dial. It runs 0 to 6, and I used 4.5 for the first hashwaffle. It turned out really well, but not as crispy as the video. So I went to 5 and then to 6. Potatoes have so much moisture that I could really have left them on a bit longer.

I used only the ingredients he suggested, though I might add a little minced onion and some herbs next time. I might also drain the potatoes just a bit.

When I make regular waffles, I put the batter in the middle, and it moves to the edges. Of course, that does not work in this case, so feel free to spread the potatoes around the whole iron surface before closing it. Experiment with quantities and doneness -- there are no wrong answers!

Monday, June 5, 2017

How a Marylander Makes Crab Cakes

We love crab cakes, but rarely get to enjoy them. We will only order crab cakes when we are in Maryland because Maryland knows from crab cakes. If you are at a restaurant that is not in Maryland and the menu says "Maryland style crab cakes" do not order them. Real Maryland crab cakes are made with lump crab meat, and lots of it. What is generally served in states Other-than-Maryland (OTM) is some kind of soggy cracker slab with essence of crab.

Phillip's restaurant  makes a frozen prepared crab cake available in some grocery stores that is close enough to what we can get when we dine there that we can sometimes enjoy a taste of Maryland without having to travel there. We have also attempted to make crab cakes ourselves from scratch on a few occasions, but were never satisfied with the results. I decided to give homemade crab cakes another try, though, when I saw this recipe from Old Bay. Old Bay is as much a part of Maryland as are crab cakes themselves. And we recently discovered that our favorite fishmonger carries canned lump crab meat (although it is from China, not Maryland). These are really easy to make. Note that the recipe calls for one pound of lump crab meat, and that this ingredient dominates the others. It constitutes not just simply a plurality, but a clear majority of the ingredients.

The recipe makes four crab cakes and calls for either boiling or frying. I made two at a time. For the first meal I used the frying method, and broiled for the second batch a few days later. I had a definite preference for the broiling, and it was quicker (although neither method takes much time) However, both versions turned out a bit drier than I would have liked. More experimenting is in order.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Birthday leftovers

Some thirty years ago James and I spent our wedding night at a hotel in Columbia, Maryland. The following morning we had breakfast at a restaurant on Main Street in Historic Ellicott City called Side Streets. The restaurant is long gone, but we have a lasting memory of the delicious first meal of our first full day of married life - an Eggs Benedict-esque repast made with crab meat in lieu of ham.

I was inspired by the leftovers of my birthday meal (Oysters à la Gino) to make something similar to our matrimonial breakfast for brunch on Memorial day. All of the oysters got eaten at dinner on Saturday, but there was a fair amount of crab and bacon filling leftover, which James baked in a tiny casserole dish. I spread some of this filling on each of two pieces on Naan bread and broiled for about a minute. Meanwhile I fried two eggs, and then placed one on top of each of the crab/bacon/Naan piles. I added some shredded Parmesan cheese and then broiled again for another minute or so until the cheese melted. Nothing wrong with this meal, except that I wish there were more!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Birthday Feast: Oysters à la Gino

Careful readers of this blog might remember that last year my birthday gift to Pam was a cookbook by Vincent Price, with whom she shares a birthday (decades apart, of course). He traveled the world as a celebrity, and made a habit of going into the kitchen in many of the world's finest restaurants. So we have a new birthday tradition: something from A Treasury of Great Recipes.

As I noted in last year's birthday post, Price was succinct to the point of being cryptic. His recipe for Oysters à la Gino is a perfect example. Parsimonious with the ink, this is more a puzzle than a recipe. I believe this has to do with the sources of the recipes: note cards from some of the world's most accomplished chefs.

It includes numbered steps, but it absolutely cannot be completed by following these steps in the order presented. Rather, one must read each step and do some preparation work for it before actually executing them.

The first step I took is in the "Presentation" portion of the recipe. Shuck the oysters and place them in a bed of salt on a platter. I filled the platter with about 1/8 inch of salt -- just enough that the oyster halves could be set in without tipping too much. This was my first-time-ever oyster recipe, and I knew I was underprepared. But I did not know by how much! I consulted YouTube, where a pleasant fellow makes it look easy. It is not, but fortunately the first couple went well, so I knew it was possible. I had gotten through about six when my secret weapon arrived -- our friend Rob who grew up in coastal Connecticut, where these things are taught in kindergarten. He managed to shuck the rest, despite our lack of equipment.

Note to self: no more oysters until Tuesday's Amazon Prime delivery.

Similarly, Béchamel sauce is mentioned in the preamble and in the ingredient list, though it is called for in step #3 of the recipe. I made mine at that stage, which was a mistake. It caused me to rush the rest of the steps, combining everything in one pan when the ghost of Vincent would probably still want me to have 3 or 4 pans on the stove.

Another note: the recipe is for 6 oysters. I made 15, applying very loose math to the rest of the ingredient list. The end result, was fantastic: pleasing to the eye and to the sophisticated palates of the entire birthday party. It paired well with our home-brewed IPA as well as Malbec.


The aforementioned loose math resulted in a lot of extra filling, which I put in a tiny casserole dish with plenty of Old Bay seasoning on top. Stay tuned for Pam's brilliant idea for a use of these leftovers in tomorrow's seaside brunch.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Key Lime Basic

Image: All Recipes
Ours looks just as good!
As I sit down to write a quick post about the simplest of several birthday-weekend cooking adventures, I am surprised to see relatively few earlier posts on key lime pie on this blog. It is one of Pam's favorites, and Key West is among the places I've not been yet that I most want to visit.

Following our household rule on birthday desserts -- birthday person gets whatever they want -- I've taken a few stabs at this pie before. And we have NOT purchased one at the local grocery. This year we agreed on a classic recipe from our mainstay recipe web site. I followed the recipe to the letter, so there is not much to report here. As I write, it is cooling in the fridge, to be enjoyed after a seafood feast in our back garden.


Excuse me?

Yes, this is just a cooking technique. It something people do to chickens, and now I am one of them. We have a bit of a feast planned for Pam's birthday, but I also wanted to do something for her attainment day dinner the evening before. It was there that she found a word new to both of us, in the title of a recipe that is also available on the Big Green Egg web site: spatchcocked chicken.


It turns out that this really is a thing. When Pam read that part of the recipe to me, I was concerned that it might not be as easy to do as the blithe description suggested. So she suggested that I do what has become second-nature for all DIY endeavors, and sure enough, I found spatchcock instructions on YouTube, courtesy of Food Wishes, a project of our go-to web page, All Recipes.

So we got a chicken -- rather a big one, contrary to the suggestion in the video -- and set it in the fridge until it was time to start preparing dinner. It was both good news and bad news that I had not actually read the entire recipe before I started. Bad news because I had to skip most of the directions. Good news because had I read the recipe, I would not have tried this at all, and that would have been a missed opportunity.

In the end, I did a very simple version of the original recipe: cleaned and rinsed the chicken, removed the backbone as shown and cut the chest bone (it's a bit gruesome, I have to admit) so that I could lay the chicken flat on a pan. Then I brushed it with olive oil, rubbed coffee on it, and put it on a 300F grill (Big Green Egg). After 20 minutes, I brushed Stubbs hickory barbecue sauce on one side, flipped it with my handy tongs, and then brushed the other side. After another 20 minutes, the thickest parts of the meat read 165F as they should, but some parts were still below 140. So I did not get quite that even cooking that is promised with this method. For food-safety reasons, I let it grill another 10 minutes or so -- still uneven but safe throughout.
Thankfully, the end result was delicious and moist throughout, though not quite as moist as it will be when I try this again. I will do the overnight brining called for in the original recipe, and will make the rub and sauce described. Still, this was very successful and I am encouraged to try again soon!

Those items wrapped in foil are sweet potatoes. As I often do with Russet potatoes, I put a little oil and salt on them and put them in the Big Green Egg ahead of the meat grilling. In this case, that meant cooking them for far longer than I intended, but there was no harm in that! They were quite hot, soft and delicious -- made even more so with a dab of Amish butter.
This paired very nicely with a Cabernet Sauvignon we had picked up from the clearance table at our local wine store.

Irish Coffee Muffins

In her 2011 Eggnog Muffins post, Pam tells the story of how we came to acquire the fun little Granny's Muffin House cookbook, and of her first use of it. From this we learned that author Susan Ashby is a big fan of baking powder, and that she knows her way around a muffin!
When I asked Pam what she would like for her birthday breakfast, she remembered the book and a recent gift of Trader Joe's coffee flour. Yes, coffee flour! It was given to us by our friends Courtney and Warren, two geography alumni who had traveled to Nicaragua coffeelands with me.
Image: Red Rooster Coffee
As the label indicates, this flour is made from some of the outer parts of the coffee fruit, which readers should note has a higher caffeine concentration than do the seeds we know as coffee beans. These parts are removed as part of the pre-export processing of coffee, and rarely seen or used outside the industry itself. The processed version resembles cocoa and does have a bit of a mocha aroma.

The coffee flour includes some recipes on the label, but also suggests improvising with other recipes. So we decided to modify Granny's recipe for Irish muffins, and we are glad we did. I began by setting the oven to 400F and then sifting together:

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup coffee flour
1 tablespoon (!) baking powder
1//2 cup sugar

After sifting, I used a whisk to blend the dry ingredients more fully. I then used a spatula to mix in -- gently:

1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup coffee liqueur (we could have used Kahlua, but had espresso liqueur on hand)
1/4 cup Irish whiskey (we substituted Canadian, since someone seems to have finished off our Bushmills!)

This was a bit sticky, but I managed to spoon it evenly into 12 muffin cups. I think this is the first time I ever got the quantity right on a muffin recipe! I baked this for 20 minutes while making the rest of breakfast, and served it with Amish butter.

Verdict: delish!