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, May 14, 2024

A Birthday Celebration

James turned 61 last week - a cause for celebration! He always likes to have a cake made with lemon so I found a recipe for Lemon Ginger Bundt Cake online. I think our baking powder may be past its prime because the cake didn't rise as much as I would expect. It was still good. No one complained.

For the birthday dinner I prepared Creamy Fish with Mushrooms and Bacon from the New York Times cooking pages. We picked up some Halibut from our favorite fishmonger Kyler's Catch in New Bedford. I substituted sour cream for the heavy cream but otherwise followed the recipe. The meal was served with Kyler's fresh baguette (a must whenever we go). It was enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Maple-Baked Salmon

A most appetizing dish (mine looks even better than the NYT photo!) pictured here with Greek Lemon Potatoes

Living as close as we do to the Atlantic Ocean, seafood is a perennial favorite of ours. Living in New England also makes us big fans of maple syrup. What choice did I have than to make this? From the New York Times Cooking pages Maple-Baked Salmon was a crowd-pleaser (the crowd in this case being me and James). We also are big fans of cilantro (which I know for some is a non-starter). We loved all the flavors and will definitely make again.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Marry Me Chicken

Although James has already married me, this dish looked tempting enough to make him realize he would marry me all over again. It worked.

Something for everyone

Pasta with Bacon, Cheese, Lemon, and Pine Nuts is described in the New York Times Cooking pages as "a modular meal". With pasta as a base and a variety of garnishes to pass around, diners can add as much or as little of each ingredient as they like. I used fettuccini as the pasta which turned out to be a good choice. Toasted pine nuts, cooked bacon, chopped fresh mint, red pepper flakes, grated Parmesan, and lemon zest were placed on the table in their own vessels so each of us could take as much as we wanted. Both James and I used all the "add-ons" but we were each able to decide how much of each according to our own tastes. Note that my labels include both "bacon" and "vegetarian" which illustrate the versatility of this recipe.

A very good and satisfying meal. We will likely try it again in the summer.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Fancy Comfort Food - Chicken with "a tangle" of noodles

One-Pot Creamy Chicken and Noodles comes from From the New York Times Cooking Pages. It is rather simple, and really is prepared all in one pot, however, it does take two hours. I started by putting some lemon-infused olive oil into our indispensable cast-iron cook pot, placed the whole chicken in, and then dotted with butter. The chicken was seasoned with salt, and lemon pepper (inside and out), and a bit of Paremesan rind was also put inside the cavity. A bunch of garlic cloves (still in their sheathes) were added to the pot as well. This baked in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes. Then pot was removed to the stovetop, garlic cloves were crushed, and 5 cups of water added and brought to a simmer. Meanwhile the oven temp was lowered to 400. The chicken was placed back in the oven and baked for another hour, whereupon it was again removed to the stovetop so more water, and egg noodles could be added. The noodles and chicken boiled until the noodles were softened and then fresh rosemary was added to the pot. After five minutes several tablespoons of sour cream were added. 

We brought this most appetizing pot to the table with fanfare. I don't believe it would have been possible to have prepared a more tender chicken. We both had seconds, and are looking forward to enjoying the leftovers today for lunch!

Monday, March 4, 2024

Lobstah Mac

Brazenly stolen logo in lieu of a photo of this meal, another that tasted
far better than it looked.

 As we enjoyed this meal (spoiler alert -- this was fantastic), our son asked why I had decided to make it. I did not have a specific inspiration, but it seemed like a special meal that I could pull together with modest effort -- fancy comfort food, if you will.

It was expensive, of course, but I kept reminding myself of the cost and portion size if three of this were to have this in a sit-down restaurant. My only hesitation was that I have tried non-from-a-box mac & cheese before with fairly poor results. A prudent chef would try some plain mac & cheese before involving an expensive add-in, but I decided to trust my instincts. And the internet.

Searching for mac & cheese recipes, I found several options, including one that referenced the plethora of existing options, almost apologizing for adding to the pile. I checked a few different recipes as I prepared this, but that humble poster was my main inspiration. Here is how it played out:

  1. Procured lobster from the incomparable Kyler's Catch. I got 2/3 of a pound of mostly tail meat with some claw mixed in for $40. I cut this into 1/2-inch chunks. I told the dog she was not getting any at these prices, but she talked me out of the rubbery tips of a couple claw pieces. She did not seem to be insulted by receiving the less desirable cuts.
  2. I heated the oven to 325F and lightly oiled a lasagna pan.
  3. I shredded a close to one pound of three cheeses: Monterrey jack, Colby, and sharp cheddar. 
  4. I cooked one pound of penne, al dente. A little less cooking is fine -- overcooking is to be avoided. I tossed the pasta with a bit of olive oil and let it rest in the colander while I prepared the sauce.
  5. To economize just a bit on dishes, I returned the pasta pot to the stove and using the very lowest heat, melted one stick of butter.
  6. Once the butter was melted, I gradually mixed in 1/2 cup of flour. I would normally have used a whisk, but this worked very well with a silicone spatula -- the real hero of this operation.
  7. Again keeping the heat very low, I mixed the butter and flour until it was thick and bubbly. I then slowly poured in about 2 cups of milk. Most recipes call for a combination of half-and-half and whole milk. I found that 2% worked fine. Setting some milk aside on the counter early would have been a good move, because this had to heat from a relatively low temperature. 
  8. It was only a few minutes, though, before I had a nice, thick sauce. I added black pepper and dry basil. With lobster as with scallops, I like minimal seasonings. But this would be the time to add Old Bay or any other desired spices.
  9. I then stirred in about 3/4 of the shredded cheese, with heat still very low. I adjusted it by adding just a bit of milk until the consistency seemed right in my completely amateur opinion.
  10. I then stirred in the reserved pasta until coated thoroughly. 
  11. I folded in the lobster gently and then transferred the entire contents to the casserole dish. I sprinkled the remaining cheese evenly over the whole dish. 
  12. I baked for 25 minutes and rested it in a warm area for 10 more.
  13. While the lobstah-mac rested, I cooked some peas for nutritional balance.
This was both delicious and filling -- a great platform for Tabasco and accompaniment to some nice white wines. And I should not have worrried so much about portions. This made dinner for three, and we are about to sit down to lunch with the rest. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Turmeric-Black Pepper Chicken with Asparagus


A search for what to do with some leftover asparagus led me to this recipe from the New York Times Cooking pages. Everything was cooked in my indispensable cast-iron skillet.

After cutting chicken breasts into small pieces and tossing with a mixture of flour, turmeric and salt I cooked them with some oil for three minutes on each side. Chopped asparagus was added and then a mixture of water, honey, and pepper. Lastly some rice vinegar was added.

A relatively quick, easy, delicious, and nutritious weeknight dinner.