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...

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!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

And Now a Pie

Tonight's dinner was a two-step, leftover invention. A fortnight ago, I had made Chipotle Orange Roast Chicken, which was a sweet-hot, wonderful thing. And despite three decades of Latin and Southwest cooking, it was the first time I had purchased a can of peppers in adobo sauce.

One can; three meals
Even that small can had been more than I needed, so I put the rest in a glass jar in the fridge (this is a much better way to store things than are plastic containers). A week later, I made simple burritos with the rest of the sauce. I boiled some boneless chicken thighs and shredded them with two forks as I cooked them in oil with garlic and onion. I then added a adobo sauce and a small can of tomato paste (to moderate the intense flavor of the chilis) and a bit of water. This made a lovely filling for burritos. I could have included some rice for balance, but it was quite good as it was.

What does this have to do with pie? We -- and especially Pam -- have been intrigued by the Indian flatbread naan of late, and decided that our weekend meals would be small pies made with these breads, a package of which we had purchased at Costco. Pam heated the oven, put two naan breads on a cookie sheet, and divided the leftover burrito filling between them. She topped each with shredded pepper-jack cheese from Cabot (our regional farmer-owned dairy cooperative). This made two delicious and filling pies, which we topped with Cabot sour cream.

The pies paired perfectly with a Merlot made from Long Island grapes and vinted across the Acushnet River from us at Travessia in downtown New Bedford.

Not-ordinary Turkey Burgers

A few years ago, we discovered that mixing in a shredded apple greatly improves the texture of turkey burgers, which can often be a bit dry and crumbly. So I was intrigued by the recipe for Turkey & Spinach Burgers in our Big Green Egg Cookbook. I was even more intrigued by the inclusion of a tomato-based pesto.

Lazy blogger alert: I went to a bit of trouble to photograph the ingredients lists, rather than type them. The basic list is:
I followed this pretty carefully, except that I used one bag of spinach, which might have been 10 ounces, and one pound of ground turkey. I've never seen white and dark ground turkey sold separately. I don't measure salt and pepper, but I'm pretty sure I used a lot less salt than called for. I mixed these, along with the garlic, in a bowl and then formed them into four patties.

I started by lighting the grill, because that takes a while, and then I wilted the spinach. To do this, I rinsed it and then placed it in a large pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Stirring occasionally, the full pot of spinach was quickly reduced to something like a cupful. I used "regular" spinach; next time I will use baby spinach so that it is more leafy and lest stemmish.
I blended the mayo and mustard in a small serving bowl, as this is a topping for the table.

I then started the pesto. so that it would be ready before I began grilling.
The recipe calls for draining the tomatoes, reserving 1/4 cup of oil, and then adding back another 1/4 of oil. I simply used the whole jar (8.5 ounces) and added oil until it looked right. The recipe calls for using a food processor, which we do not have. In such cases, we always use knives or our blender; in this case, the blender did not work very well. Next time I will chop and mix these ingredients in a bowl before smoothing them in a blender.

I cooked the burgers on a cooking stone -- rather than directly on the grill, because I always end up with 1/3 of the burger stuck in the grill. The stone works great -- I just need to be sure it is quite hot when I am ready to put something on it. In this case, of course, it was the patties. I think I grilled them at 450-500 for about 8 minutes on one side, 4 on the other, then another minute or so with swiss cheese on top. I seem to have gotten the doneness right, which for me remains mostly a matter of luck.

I took set the burgers aside on a plate and then brushed the pesto onto each half of the wheat buns (I used large kaiser rolls -- highly recommended for this messy meal), set them on the grill, and closed the egg.

I then went inside to finish up my mac-and-cheese comfort-food side dish. This led to my only real error -- for buns directly on the grill, two minutes was much too much, and they were a bit charred by the time I retrieved them.

The end result, though: absolutely delicious turkey burgers with several vegetable groups well represented!

NOTE: The cookbook is essential for Big Green Egg owners who want to get the most interesting results from their grills; some of its best recipes can also be found on the recipe section of the manufacturer's web site.

Friday, May 5, 2017

You can never have enough strawberry and basil

James' birthday was yesterday, so naturally we celebrated on the day before yesterday. When I asked him what kind of cake he would like he asked if I'd saved any recipes online lately. It just so happened that I had noticed a recipe from the Christian Science Monitor for a Strawberry Basil Chiffon cake with Strawberry Basil Sauce a week or so ago and since we both so love strawberries and basil (although had never thought to try them together) it seemed the time was right to try this recipe out.

The ingredient list calls for seven egg yolks and seven egg whites, which both go into the batter, but the whites have to be whipped first. The recipe says to use a stand up mixer to whip them, but we own no such device. We usually just whip things by hand, but I decided to see if I could get peaks to form by using the immersion blender. Fail. They got very frothy, but never got stiff. I used them anyway, but the cake was probably not as light as it was meant to be. It was, however, still moist and delicious. I used just a bit less sugar than called for as I always want to be able to detect all the other flavors. The result was good. The cake was not too sweet and the flavor of the strawberries and basil were distinct. While the cake was a bit tricky, the sauce was super simple, and only took about 10 minutes. We served the sauce warm over the cake, along with some vanilla ice cream. The moist cake and warm sauce contrasted well with cool and smooth ice cream.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tea & Crumpets!

In addition to my coffee classes, I enjoy teaching a one-credit colloquium on tea and climate change each semester. It started as a one-semester idea, but the BSU Honors students keep hearing about it and asking that it be offered again. And I so much enjoy working with these delightful, curious students that I keep agreeing to do so.

This semester I invited the students over for an informal gathering at Casa Hayes-Boh on Reading Day. Since I serve tea in class every time, I needed to do something different to make this occasion a little fancy, so I decided on crumpets ... not really knowing what they are. Crumpet is of course the elf name adopted by David Sedaris in The SantaLand Diaries, but that was not helping me as a cook!

Thanks to the Interwebs, I learned that they are something like a pancake and something like and English muffin. I also learned that they are best served fresh off the griddle, and I was fortunate to find a simple crumpet recipe on AllRecipes. (I'm ashamed to admit that I did not even check with Deborah Madison first!)

Because I had never even had a crumpet and would therefore not know how to correct any errors midstream, I followed the recipe to the letter. I even measured the temperature of the water and milk before stirring them into the flour mixture. As with all yeast-leavened recipes, this one calls for storing the dough in a warm place. Our house does not have any warm places between September and May, so I set the oven to 170F and then turned it off, simply to provide warm storage. It seemed to work very well.

Once the batter had risen -- though it was a bit thinner than I anticipated -- I gave it a good stir and then put it in the fridge until the tea was brewing. Next time I will go ahead and start the crumpets before the tea, because keeping them on a rack in a warm oven does seem to be just fine.

I did stray from the recipe in one way -- I had no crumpet rings! I thought that a reasonable substitute would be easy to find in our local grocery, but I was mistaken. So I ordered some online -- and experience my first failure of Amazon Prime. I guess I deserved that for no planning ahead and finding a local shop. So the cookie and biscuit tools I found made for some cute, if slightly untidy, cakes.

Thank goodness for our indispensable cast-iron griddle! 
The result? Scrumptious, spongy little cakes, perfect with local Trappist jams, no butter. Having neither our own cow nor a clue, I was not able to offer clotted cream.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Chipotle Orange Roast Chicken

This roasted chicken was among my most popular recent photos, and it did not disappoint in real life. It was, in fact, among the most delicious chicken roasts I have done. And it was quite simple, thanks to our increasingly favored recipe source, Meredith (Blue Jean Chef) Laurence's Comfortable in the Kitchen. We have cited this book quite a few times since my mother gave it to us, and it is among the first cook books to be added to my virtual Goodreads bookshelf.

As the author notes in the margin above this recipe, this chicken gets very dark on the outside because of the spice rub. Inside -- as she also noted -- it is especially moist.

The rub is made by mincing 2 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (even our rather pedestrian local grocery has this in a can) and mashing it (including some of the sauce) together with 1 tablespoon each of orange zest, ground cumin, brown sugar, and salt. I had somehow forgotten the cumin -- hard to believe, since this is a favorite spice in our house -- when I heard it named on a cooking show that was playing on the radio while I cooked. So I added it to the rub just in time.

The recipe calls for beer, wine, water, or broth to be placed in the roasting pan. Since I was using our upright roaster, I filled the center well with some of our recently-brewed pale ale. This is the main reason we use this funky roaster, and it was Step One in making this an exceptionally moist bird.

Step Two was the Blue Jean Chef's genius suggestion to cut the orange (from which I got the zest) in half and put it inside the chicken. It was a big orange, so I quartered it and put it in the chicken.

I then roasted this in the convection oven, starting at 425 or 450F and then turning it down. This chicken was bigger than the four-pounder called for, so the baking took longer than expected, a bit under 2 hours. As the Chef suggests, I checked it with a thermometer to ensure it had reached 165.

This was every bit as delicious as it looks. We look forward to even better results at some point when we try this in the Big Green Egg.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An easy (and tasty) dessert

Last spring James made a simple rhubarb compote with rhubarb, sugar, and water. We ate about half of what he made on top of some vanilla ice cream, and froze the rest. I noticed it again recently and then happened upon this recipe from the Christian Science Monitor for a fancier compote, so I took last year's creation from the freezer, dumped it into a saucepan and heated it, then added 1/4 t of cardamom, and some grated fresh ginger. We also had about 2 T. of agave nectar left in a squeeze bottle, so I added that as well, and then a dollop of honey to boot. I cooked it all until the original was completely melted, occasionally stirring. To serve, we mixed the new, improved compote in with some vanilla yogurt. The additional flavors mellowed the tartness of the rhubarb, making an especially delectable seasonal treat.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Balsamic Glazed Caprese Chicken

I love Caprese Salad. The taste combination of fresh basil (my favorite herb) with tomatoes and mozzarella is my favorite thing about summer. Although we are a bit out of season for this one, the recipe looked so tempting I didn't want to wait to try it, so we bought the necessary ingredients from the grocery store and were not disappointed in the outcome. The chicken was juicy, and the glaze made from garlic, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar provided a sweet and sour taste. The recipe came from Café Delites and can be found here. We served this with roasted, seasoned potatoes and paired with a Sauvignon Blanc.

Egg & Bean Soup - A not-as-good variation

This recipe comes from our Extending the Table cookbook. It seemed like a good choice as it comes from one of our favorite countries (Nicaragua) and it looked like a simpler version of the Company Egg Dish we made two months ago. Unfortunately it was not up to snuff. Although I put in more/different spices than called for, including our fail-safe (cumin), this turned out rather watery and bland. James didn't even finish his.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sweet Corn Cake Eggs Benedict with Avocado Hollandaise

Huffington Post says there are Only 40 Egg Recipes You Will Ever Need. This complex dish is one of them. There are several pieces that need to come together, but the end result is indeed sublime. The avocado hollandaise was the easiest part and involved simply putting avocado, lemon juice, water, and oil into the blender and mixing until smooth. I put it on high to create a super creamy sauce.

I cooked the bacon while I mixed the ingredients for the corn cakes. There was a bit of time involved as I had to dice onions, peppers, and garlic. I took the advice provided in the online recipe to cook the cakes in the oil from the bacon. I poached the eggs just as the cakes were finishing. The corn cakes were topped with the bacon and egg, and then the sauce was added. As a final touch dried Chipotle pepper was sprinked on the top. This created an eye-pleasing presentation, especially when complemented with a Caprese salad on the side. The meal was an explosion of tastes and textures and was well worth the time spent to prepare it. It paired well with Chardonnay from Westport Rivers Winery.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cedar Scallops

Libraries are important. VERY important. See my Just Read post for some thoughts on libraries and civil rights, courtesy of the remarkable John Lewis. See Pam's "Library" Books Blog for her reviews of scores of books that celebrate or at least mention libraries directly. Pam is a consummate librarian, having served in a bilingual environment as a reference librarian in the McAllen (Texas) Public Library and as an academic librarian at the Maxwell Library at Bridgewater State University. Currently, she is a candidate for election to a third term as a volunteer trustee of the Bridgewater Public Library as well.

So when Pam has a library-related achievement, we need to celebrate. And recently we got news of just such an achievement. Starting in 1997 as a part-time, adjunct librarian, she has been promoted through the ranks of Assistant Librarian, Associate Librarian, and Librarian. The recent news is that she will next be promoted to the highest ranks of librarianship in our system: SENIOR LIBRARIAN. This is based on years of active service in committees, public service, outreach, and scholarship regarding information literacy.

This was a big deal, which called not only for a nice, bubbly wine from Westport Rivers, but also for a special preparation of one of our favorite foods: New Bedford scallops from Kyler's Catch. Wanting to take some time with this, I turned to the Big Green Egg Cookbook, where I found a nice recipe that called for wrapping scallops in cedar papers.

Unfortunately, we could not find such papers -- neither at Kylers nor at our trusty Big Green Egg local supplier in Fairhaven, But Kylers did have cedar planks -- which careful readers will remember I used with salmon last year -- so we decided to improvise.

Timing was tricky -- grilling outside while putting together a sauce inside. I soaked the cedar plank a couple hours ahead of time. This is essential unless the cedar is to serve simply as a way of burning the scallops.

Then I started the coals, and after that the sauce. It involved sauteeing shallots, fresh thyme, organge zest and a bay leaf in some butter, then simmering with white wine, and finally adding cream and then reducing. It looks like a fascinating soup is under way, but none of this ended up on our plates. Rather this was sieved and then poured over the scallops (see below).
Meanwhile -- literally running back and forth to the grill -- I planked the scallops. This meant removing the cedar plank from its pan of water, and putting it on the grill for a couple minutes on one side before flipping it and brushing it lightly with oil. I then arranged the scallops on it and grilled for about five minutes on each side -- Big Green Egg lid closed of course -- being very careful with the turning of the scallops.
The result was worthy of such an occasion -- smoky scallops with a savory, complex sauce over fettucine with a nice local bubbly. 

And the best part about Pam's promotion: it is recognition for what she has already achieved: no new obligations attached. Now that was worth celebrating!

Moroccan Braised Chicken Thights

A few nights ago, I realized I would have a bit of time to make a nice mid-week dinner; it seems that this year so far our weeknights have not allowed for a lot of leisurely cooking. Pam found a package of frozen chicken thighs in the freezer, so I asked her to start thawing then, while I committed to finding a new recipe that would make good use of them.

Image -- of a somewhat different dish:
Cooking School of Aspen
I went first to Meredith Laurence's Comfortable in the Kitchen, which regular readers will recognize as a gift from my mother that has proven quite a popular source for this blog. I quickly found a recipe featuring our main ingredient -- Moroccan Braised Chicken Thighs.

Preparation of this dish begins by heating some olive oil in a Dutch oven (or other large pan) over medium high-heat. As I heated the oil, I seasoned the chicken thighs with salt (very little) and pepper (a bit more). I then browned the chicken on all sides, and transferred it to a warm zone on the stove top, using our indispensible cooking tongs.

The recipe calls for pouring off excess fat, but there was none, so I added:

1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diagonal slices

I cooked these a few minutes until tender and then added 2 cloves minced garlic and cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and ground coriander. The book has quantities, but I just applied each liberally. I then deglazed the pan with 6 ounces of beer (always a good thing in a recipe -- cook with half a beer and use the other half as a treat for the chef). I simmered the beer with aromatics and spices for 4-5 minutes and then returned the chicken to the pan.

I then added:
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries (not called for in the recipe, but we are in Massachusetts so we always keep some in the kitchen -- NOT Craisins)
16 dried apricots, quartered
28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock

I omitted the 1/2 cup of pitted green olives called for in the recipe, because it is known the world over that PAM HATES OLIVES.

I simmered, covered for a half hour (should have been 45-60 minutes, but we were getting hungry). I then topped this with some fresh parsley and served it with noodles (instead of the called-for rice).

The result was not very photogenic -- hence the photo boosted from a cooking school above -- but it was delicious!

Scallops with Lemon-Basil Sauce

This one showed up on my Facebook feed over the weekend. Since we were at our beach house and, therefore, near our fishmonger, and because basil is my favorite herb, we decided to try it immediately. The FB post had a video with it that made it look super simple, and the written instructions said the prep time was only 3 minutes (with a cook time of twelve) so it seemed like it would be an easy weekend dish. Overall, I would say it was, although the prep time was longer than indicated, and it made a way bigger mess than it did in the video. There were a lot of dishes to wash afterwards as well. It was quite delicious though, and will be worth making again. It also made for fabulous leftovers. Find the written recipe here. I followed the recipe as presented, except I used fettuccine instead of angel hair pasta.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Irish Soda Bread

It has been over a week since St. Patrick's Day and I am finally catching up on my blogging. We eschewed the not-really-traditional corned beef and cabbage and had some truly inauthentic shamrock-shaped pasta instead (purchased from Costco). As suggested on the package I made some vodka sauce to go on top.

However, so as not to forgo an opportunity to prepare a new recipe I decided to make some Irish Soda bread to go with it. I found a good recipe in my trusty Deborah Madison vegetarian cookbook. The recipe is above. I made two changes to the ingredients as listed. I used wheat germ in place of wheat bran, and I added raisins. The bread was just a bit sweet and made a nice complement to the pasta, and made us feel like we celebrated St. Patrick's Day as we should have.