Wednesday, June 30, 2010

watermelon with mint and feta

last summer, i shared this recipe
but i love it so much, 
and summer is here in full swing

 this is my not so gentle nudge
and strong recommendation
that you should pack this
for your next picnic
watermelon, mint and feta salad
(printable recipe)
1/2 small dulcinea watermelon
4 oz feta cheese
6-8 mint leaves
olive oil
rice wine vinegar
cut your seedless watermelon into small pieces(i  like to cut it into brunoise, but that isn't necessary). cut your feta into small pieces as well.  chiffonade your mint leaves. gently toss all in a bowl and let sit for a bit in the fridge.  drain off some of the watermelon juice.  make a dressing of rice wine vinegar and olive oil...i use about 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar but do this to your taste.  lightly toss the dressing into the salad and let chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Roasted Pork and Figs

this is a bit more labor intensive than i usually present
but because i am currently in texas,
and my friend's mom is pulling figs off her tree already
i thought this would be a treat

you can use a pork loin, tenderloin or even pork chops 

Roasted Pork and Figs
pork loin or chops
 rind of 1 lemon (pith removed)
2 garlic cloves-peeled
2 sprigs fresh thyme
kosher salt
black pepper
fig balsamic vinegar (or just balsamic if you can't find fig vinegar)
fruity white wine
olive oil
10 or so fresh figs--quartered
(you can also use dried figs that you have re-constituted by soaking in hot water)

in a small food processor, grind together the garlic, thyme and lemon peel, until it becomes a paste.  add salt and pepper, to your taste, and rub on the meat.  place in a shallow pan or a ziploc bag.  pour a bit of the vinegar over (just to lightly coat--a few tablespoons), add a bit of olive oil.  make sure the rub stays on the meat.  Let sit a few hours or overnight.  use a oven safe skillet over medium heat.  brown your meat in a bit of olive oil, but do not let cook through.  when you have browned the meat, add about half of an inch of white wine to the pan.  toss about three-quarters of the figs into the pan. if you have fig vinegar, shake a bit more onto the meat, (if you are using plain balsamic, do not add additional as it will become over powering). place in oven to finish cooking--it should be about 30 minutes. your meat thermometer should read 160. you can take the meat out at about 155 and let it rest for about 15 minutes, it should come up to temperature while resting with the "carry-over" cooking.  i like to baste the meat with the juices periodically to glaze the meat. when you remove the meat from the oven, toss in the remaining figs. you can also toss in a few fresh thyme leaves as well. add additional salt and pepper to taste. i like to reduce the juices over the stove to make a nice glaze, but you can just pour the juices over each serving.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


i suffer greatly from 
i was born with it
i will die with it
it is a part of me 
of which 
i am proud
hubster and i
are just about smack dab
in the middle of a 3 week road trip
a road trip that has moved us from the
kitch of alien lamposts in roswell
to the
swamp of rural louisianna
a mississippi cabin
main street of music city
 it has simply been

one of the great rewards of
is regional cuisine
and we have been willing participants
in the culinary treasure hunt
i share with you a few photos
of what we have uncovered

envy at your leisure
pecan smoked pork loin in texas
amazing guacamole fixed river-side in san antonio
red beans and rice in new orleans
the pride of calhoun city--caramel cake
swett's in nashville--smothered southern goodness

wanderlust---get in your car and get you some!

I am participating in alphabe-thursday
over at
you should go check it out
and see what all the fun is about
this week
sponsored by the letter W

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Asparagus Tart

 I guess this would really pass more as a quiche 
than a tart
but because it really is not deep
and isn't terribly eggy
i prefer to term it a tart
call it what you want
but no matter the name
it is good
asparagus tart
(printable recipe)
butter pie crust or puff pastry
roasted garlic cloves
1 bunch asparagus--cleaned and ends trimmed
3 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chevre
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt
if using a pie crust, line the tart pan and blind bake until it is still blond in color. if using a puff pastry crust, line the tart pan and do not blind bake.  once tart is prepared, smear the bottom with the roasted garlic (to prepare garlic, place whole cloves with skin on in foil and bake at 400 until they are softened and like a paste).  meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, pepper, half and half, parmesan, chevre, black pepper, and salt.  pour  into prepared crust.  carefully place the asparagus in a line down the middle of the tart.  bake in a 350 oven until the tart is completely cooked through and is beginning to brown. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Homemade Vanilla

this is so easy
you may never buy vanilla extract again
not only is it great for your own cooking and baking
it makes a great gift
bundle up a jar of freshly made vanilla with a punnet of strawberries and bottle of cream
and give it to the nice lady next door
perhaps she will treat you back
with freshly made strawberry shortcake

Vanilla Extract
(printable recipe)
2 cups vodka or brandy
6-8 vanilla beans
split the vanilla beans and place in a glass jar or ceramic crock.  pour in vodka and ensure the pods are fully immersed.  hide in a cool dark place for about 8 weeks
easy as pie
mmm pie
watch this space
for pie
I am participating in alphabe-thursday
over at

you should go check it out
and see what all the fun is about
this week
sponsored by the letter V

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Pasta with Chicken, Sundried Tomatoes, and Broccoli Rabe

we eat pasta once a week

and it seems it happens on tuesdays more often than not
i can't help it
it is so versatile
a nation of italians endorse it
and so shall i

Linguine with Chicken, Sundried Tomatoes, and Broccoli Rabe
(printable recipe)
olive oil
2 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions
1 bunch broccoli rabe--stem ends removed
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil--sliced--reserving the oil
cooked chicken breast (i pan fry thinly pounded chicken breasts in a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper)...trader joes sells a flavorful caesar chicken that would work nicely in a pinch.
1 lb linguine--cooked in salted water
1/4 cup white wine, chicken broth or pasta water
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs unsalted butter
salt to taste

shaved or grated parmesan cheese
pour a thin layer of olive oil to coat the bottom of a large frying pan.  toss in whole garlic cloves and cook until toasted brown.  remove the garlic and throw away.  toss in the onions and the broccoli rabe and cook until the broccoli begins to brighten and soften.  add the sundried tomatoes, the tomato oil and the chicken. when you see that the broccoli and onion are beginning to look like they might be over-cooking, toss in the wine or other liquid.  cook to reduce and make a bit of a sauce.  drop the cooked pasta in and toss to coat.  add the knob of butter and the pepper. taste for salt.  stir in a little parmesan cheese, but save the heavier hand for serving.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

i have this thing about gelato
i might have mentioned before
that i spent a year in florence during college
and at the end of the year
a group of friends and i
celebrated with a gelato walk
each of us picked our favorite place
and favorite flavor
let's just say
the freshsman 10
has nothing on
the florence 20
and starting on that day
25 or so years ago
i began to notice
subtle differences
in frozen treats
recently, while in bologna
i tasted the featured gelato at a place called grom
salted caramel
and it blew me away
so amazing
and today
i made an attempt to duplicate it
as an ice cream
which was good
but maybe a tad bit too salty
unless you are just going to have a taste
then it is just perfect
but you can't eat a lot of it (maybe that is good?)
if you then add a bit of melted chocolate and some roasted almonds
the salt is perfect
and you can over-indulge
which is what ice cream is all about
Salted Caramel Ice Cream
(printable recipe)
2 cups milk (i used 2%)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 Tbs unsalted butter
generous 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup half and half (you can use cream if you prefer)
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
add to make turtle ice cream:
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips--melted (optional)
1/2 cup roasted almonds (optional)
whisk egg yolks and sea salt in a bowl, set aside.  in a saucepan, cook sugar until it becomes caramel in color.  be careful to swirl so all bits are melted, but do not over-stir. watch the sugar closely, as it can go from perfect to burned in an instant.  remove from heat and drop in butter and milk.  mixture might seize, but if it does, put it on a gentle heat until it becomes liquid.  add the half and half and bring to a simmer.  temper the eggs with the hot milk mixture and pour back into the saucepan. cook over low heat until the cream becomes thickened to a nappe. be careful not to overcook.  pour through a sieve into a bowl and chill until ready to use.  the ice cream custard should be fully chilled before putting into the machine.  churn according to manufacturer's instructions.  when the ice cream is almost done, pour chocolate by spoonfuls into machine (if using). it will create frozen pieces and strands of chocolate in the ice cream. mix in almonds just before transferring to freezer container.

 this ice cream remains soft even after freezing--which makes it easy to sneak a bite while passing through the kitchen. if you don't want to be tempted...i suggest you buy a freezer and put it in the neighbor's basement. store your salted caramel ice cream there.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cherry Upside Down Cake

i love cherries
i love how they look
and i love
how they taste
and usually this time of year
i am canning jam
i don't feel like bowing over a hot stove

i am baking cake
 a cake that is a bit hearty, rather than delicate
that tastes as if it came from the old world
as if it were made by my grandmother
 who pulled from the larder
a little bit of this
and a little bit of that
for a summer treat
to please
her welcomed guests
Cherry Upside Down Cake
(printable recipe)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 Tbs cherry herring liqueur (optional)
about a pound of pitted cherries--halved
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup almond meal
4 Tbs corn meal
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter--room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs--room temperature
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream-room temperature
spray or butter an 8" round cake pan.  i like to use one that is 3" high.  in a saucepan, place the sugar and cook over low heat until it is caramel in color.  you will have to be careful, only stir to make sure the sugar melts evenly.  once the sugar is liquid and caramel in color, remove from heat and drop in the butter and the cherry herring.  stir until butter is melted completely.  pour into the bottom of the cake pan.  place the cherries cut side down in concentric circles to line the bottom of the pan.
whisk the flour, almond meal, corn meal, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the 1 cup butter with the granulated and brown sugars until light and fluffy.  beat in the eggs, one at a time, stopping to scrape down sides.  beat until the mixture looks like buttercream frosting.  add the almond and vanilla extracts.  put the beater on low and alternately add the dry ingredients with the sour cream--beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  pour on top of sugar/cherry layer.  bake on a sheet pan in a 350 oven until a cake tester comes out clean.  it should take about 50 minutes.

or..if you are feeling a bit delicate
you can make little cakies
scoop the batter into small tartlet pans
pop a pitted cherry on top 
and pour the caramel sauce on top
bake for about 15 minutes
serve upside down

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Simple Pork Ribs

I do like to keep things simple
when I cook
most times
and tonight
i am following my own advice
these ribs are so easy
and so tasty
and the best part
you can plop them in the oven
and run errands 
or pick up the kids
or sit on the deck
enjoying a cocktail
while your dinner
practically cooks itself

Dry Rub Pork Ribs
(printable recipe)
1 rack of meaty pork ribs
2 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs black pepper
2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbs brown sugar
mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight jar.  
Preheat the oven to 300.  Clean and dry the ribs.  Rub with spices thoroughly covering the meat.  You will want to let the rub sit on the meat for at least an hour before popping in the oven.  You can also rub the meat before you go to bed, or when you wake in the morning, and let it sit in the fridge until you are ready to pop into the oven.  The ribs will cook for about 3 hours on a sheet pan. Cook until the meat is falling off the bone.  These are good on their own, but really good with a nice bbq sauce.  Pick one up at the store to make your life easy.

and the next day
pack a sandwich 
like this
for the ones you love

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Toffee Apples

remember the days when...
you could eat an entire toffee apple
and dessert?
and nary a care about the calories 
your teeth?
stop remembering
those days are gone
long gone....

i love caramelized sugar and i think apples and pears 
are the perfect fodder for it
but toffee'd fruit isn't as popular as it used to be
now there is much more gilding
all cuddled around an apple
the size of my head
and it can be had
for a mere $30
what is up with that?

i'm going back to the basics with this recipe
i suggest using very small apples
which are easier to find in the fall 
than in the summer
because they are really cute
and are more apt to be fully eaten
than a full size apple
which is simply 
more practical

unless you are a pig farmer
in which case
you have use for
half-eaten apples on a stick

Toffee Apples
8 small crunchy apples
popsicle sticks or sturdy skewers
2 cups granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 generous Tbs honey
1/2 cup water
place the sugar, salt, honey and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  cook over medium heat, careful not to over-stir or agitate. once mixture comes to a full boil, pop in a candy thermometer.  continue to cook until thermometer reaches 290.  remove from heat, candy will continue to cook , so make sure you remove fully from the heat. wait a moment for the toffee to thicken up just a smidge (it will give you better coverage on the apple) dip the apples one by one, tipping the pot as necessary to fully coat.  place each apple on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper and let cool. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Balsamic Roast Chicken

do you know about donna hay?
i don't know her personally
but i am pretty sure i love her
she has the most rockin' magazine
a darling shoppe
amazing cookbooks
she's better than martha
i said it
i mean it
she makes me want to be an aussie
as a matter of fact
i have this deep pining for australia
although i have never been there
and i am almost sure
that it is her fault

this recipe is one of hers
that i stole and added almost nothing to
to make it mine
we love it around here
and it freezes really well
so make a double batch
and have a quick meal at the ready
when you don't have enough time to cook

Balsamic Roast Chicken
(printable recipe)
4 pieces sliced eggplant (about 1/4" thick slices)
4 chicken breasts
1 large tin whole tomatoes
3 Tbs capers (drained but not rinsed)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil
3 whole cloves, garlic
3 Tbs brown sugar
6-8 whole basil leaves
salt and pepper

place the eggplant slices in the bottom of a lightly oiled casserole dish (use the 1Tbs).  place a well seasoned chicken breast on top.  If you are using bone-in chicken, you may do well to brown one side first in a skillet.  Squeeze the tomatoes over the whole thing, letting the juices get all over.  Place any leftover juices in the bowl with the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Toss in the garlic cloves and scatter the capers.  Bake in a 350 oven until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is good and caramelly.  Remove from oven and top with basil leaves.


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