How It All Started

Bob Phillips

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Berry Clafoutis

The recipes in the New York Times Cooking Pages often have names that tell the main ingredients (e.g. Roasted Salmon with Miso Cream; Uncooked Tomato and Mint Sauce with Poached Eggs). Clafoutis, however, was a mystery to me. Since I have harvested a lot of berries (both blueberries and blackberries) from my yard this summer I was on the lookout for berry recipes so I investigated this Julia Child egg-based dessert. 

This was rather easy to make. The eggs, milk, and 1/3 c. of sugar were blended together. A small amount was put in a pie plate and then heated on the stovetop until it began to harden. I imagine this step wasn't absolutely necessary. Berries and more sugar were added, then the rest of the egg batter. It was all placed in the oven at 350 and baked until ready. Mine took longer than the 50 minutes called for in the recipe. I find this is often the case when I bake. The final touch as a sprinkling of powdered sugar, which really does enhance the flavors.

This was a not-too-sweet treat, with a definite egg-y flavor.

Chicken Salad

A few weeks ago while James was in Brazil (and I was on my own) I thawed, poached, and shredded two chicken breasts. Although I only needed one breast to prepare Chilaquiles, I cooked both simply because they came in a package of two. Once the superfluous breast was shredded I put it in the freezer to use later.

Often in the summer I like to have cool salads for meals, so last week I took the prepared chicken out of the freezer, thawed it and made a chicken salad. I decided not to follow any recipe and let the ingredients I had on had be my guide. 

The chicken was mixed with two dollops of  sour cream, about 1/4 c. chopped red onion, and some salt, pepper, and dried basil. At this point I gave it a taste test and determined that it was a bit "onion forward"  so I found some prepared cranberry sauce in the refrigerator and added about two tablespoons. The sweet/tart flavor softened the harsh onion for a lovely flavor combination. We made sandwiches with the salad and had some roasted potatoes on the side.

Sunday, July 30, 2023


Yes, croutons. We had never thought about making our own. In fact, Pamela does not even eat croutons, but she knows I like them. A lot.

So when I returned from a trip, she surprised me with some croutons she had made while I was gone. She had stumbled across Homemade Croutons in the Air Fryer, and decided to make some, even though she would not be eating them. Part of the attraction (aside being nice to me) is the opportunity to use up some bread that might otherwise go to waste. Which is the whole point of croutons, I suppose.

She had made the croutons in our relatively new electric stove, which has an air-fryer setting. It might be for that reason that the timing needed a little adjustment. The recipe calls for 4 minutes at 400F, then some stirring, and then another 2 minutes. Pam extended that second step to 3 minutes. The result was tasty but a little soft. 

Today we decided to try again, with Old Bay in addition to the seasonings the recipe calls for (we met in Maryland, after all). 

This time we extended the second step to 4 minutes -- a total of 8 minutes cooking. We also simply left the basket in the oven to cool and dry. We were out of the house for a couple hours and on our return, I ate some right of the basket. THEY WERE PERFECT. Even better (for me): the oily, salty mess of crumbs on the tray under the basket. Yum!

We will definitely be repeating this recipe, and experimenting with the seasonings. I imagine that users with their own air fryers might need to experiment with the timing just a bit.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Cod Almondine Meunière

Faithful readers of this blog might recall that it was in the spring of 2016 that I learned the word meunière, courtesy of a Vincent Price scallops recipe. (Less faithful readers be assured that this is neither a typo nor a hallucination. Go read that post and come back a happier gormand.) Today's dinner took the meunière to a whole 'nother level for us.

Following my recent Amazon adventures, we have had a bit of a staycation, which of course includes finding some food we can enjoy together. As we started to make menu plans, Pam mentioned several NYT recipes she had been saving. Many involved asparagus, but the season for that is both intense and very brief around here. So she scrolled down to Roasted White Fish With Lemony Almondine. I love all things lemon, and we keep slivered almonds in our fridges just because we so often find good uses for them. Note: as far as I can tell "almondine" does not differ in any meaningful way from "with almonds."

I followed this recipe almost to the letter. "Almost" because I used scallions instead of chives and I used proportionally more lemon that kitchen math would indicate, since I bought only 3/4 of a pound of cod for the two of us. The cod was an exceptionally thick cut from our friends at Kyler's (also exceptional quality, of course)  so at the end of the 7-11 minute time frame mentioned in the recipe, it was not quite done. I reduced the oven to 425F and roasted another 5 minutes. 

Otherwise, I did everything as called for. Past experience had told me that a meunière seems simple but things move quickly. So I had prepped EVERYTHING ahead of time in order to concentrate on the timing of the butter browning. When I turned the heat off, I actually moved the indispensable cast-iron skillet to a cool part of the stove as I put the almond slivers in. I paid stirred often until the sauce and the cod were both complete. The result: sort of amazing. 

Pam had prepared a fruit salad earlier in the day, giving it time to meld in the fridge. This included local peaches with cherries and banana tossed with a mango balsamic. The rest of the meal was a baguette from Kyler's and our favorite Grüner Veltliner (link is to the same varietal from the same producer; Löss and Lehm seems to be out of production now.)

Final verdict: we will definitely be having this again, and I will be experimenting with this method of toasting almonds and other nuts.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

 The description of this New York Times recipe begins "Skillet cookies are perfect for lazy nights when everyone wants something sweet but no one wants to work that hard for it." This really was much easier and faster than making a batch of cookies. I will probably never make regular chocolate chip cookies again. I had everything I needed in the pantry, and the cookie baked beautifully in my indispensable cast-iron skillet. Some friends had invited me to dinner and I offered to bring dessert. This was well received, especially when topped with vanilla ice cream - after all it was National Ice Cream Day!

photo from New York Times Cooking Pages

Friday, July 7, 2023

Roasted Chicken Thighs in Blueberry Sauce

It looks like we are going to have a bumper crop from our backyard blueberry bushes this summer. So in addition to some refreshing smoothies, blueberry cobbler, and blueberry salmon we will be looking for some more recipes that use these summer favorites. One such recipe serendipitously showed up on my Facebook feed from the New York Times Cooking Pages. While we regularly prepare chicken breast, or a whole chicken, thighs are something we cook much less often, but Roasted Chicken Thighs with Blueberries is likely to become a favorite.

Using my indispensable cast-iron skillet I cooked the well salted thighs on a medium low heat for 15 minutes, then flipped for another five and then moved them to a plate while I used the rendered fat and a bit of water to sauté four large cloves of thinly sliced garlic. Spices were added, then 3 cups of blueberries, a tablespoon each of mustard and honey. The thighs were placed on top of the berries and then the skillet was placed in the preheated 400 degree oven.

Ready for the oven

The thighs baked for 15 minutes and came out a beautiful golden color surrounded by a deep blue sauce. Served with a green summer salad and paired with Pinot Noir Rosé from Westport Rivers Winery this meal was full of texture and flavor - tender and juicy, sweet and savory. 

On mange!

Monday, July 3, 2023

One-Pot Vegan Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta


This recipe comes from The Ordinary Vegan  webpage. The print out I have is dated June 24, 2015. I found it stuffed between some other things on my cookbook shelf. I have no recollection of how I originally came across this recipe, but when it fell into my hands recently I realized I had everything I needed to make it, so I did. 
Although the recipe calls for linguine, I used some tri-colored bow-tie pasta we bought recently at a fancy-schmancy food store while we were traveling in the mid-west. The preparation was easy and quick. Just about everything went into the pot at the start, even the dry pasta. The pot was covered and the liquid was brought to a boil, then reduced to a simmer. The only real prep work was slicing the onion and garlic cloves. The only thing that went in later was the spinach, which was added after seven minutes of cooking. Since this is a vegan dish it did not call for any cheese, but we like cheese so we added a bit of feta to each of our plates.

This had a very peppery flavor, which we both liked. From start to table was about 25 minutes. Easy, quick, delicious.