Sputnik, Clafoutis, and watermelon salad….that’s what been happening in my world!
July 16, 2012

Softshell crabs Linwoods style on creamed corn bed, with béarnaise sauce….

Ok,….I ate this weekend at a restaurant I haven’t been to in several years. Not for any particular reason, but Linwoods just isn’t on my beaten path…and I just haven’t thought about it. How sad for me…had the most amazing meal there Saturday evening…my first soft shell crabs of the year, served on a creamed corn puddle, with pickled green beans.

Watermelon salad…love the composition of it, hated to mess it
up, but I did!!

And a watermelon salad with feta cheese and little scoops of cucumber sorbet on the top. So pretty…so delicious.

It’s a French classic….for a reason.

But you can’t always eat out, and I had a big bowl of fresh cherries from Whole Foods at half price that needed a home….so I made a cherry clafoutis(pronounced kla-foo-tee’). The recipe I use is from an old French cookbook I’ve had for probably 25 years, but there are plenty of other versions around….one of which I will provide below. But it’s a delicious eggy dessert that can accommodate almost any fruit…I added blueberries to the one above. And dead easy. This recipe from Williams-Sonoma is pretty close to mine…

Saved from the trash….now to be recycled. Sigh.

OK, I know some consider me a recycling freak…and maybe that’s true, because I spend part of my time here at work saving bottles and cans from the trash bins, and walking them over to the recycling bins. You know who you are, people.

I know, I know…what was I thinking???

And this Sputnik looking light fixture I won at an auction two years ago at Center Stage…it’s been sitting in their development office ever since. I went down last week, to finally take it home(and do what with it I still don’t know)….but I forgotten how big the damn thing really is. Probably 40-50 inches in diameter. So there I was on a super hot day, struggling with this thing on Calvert Street, trying to get it in the car without damaging it. Guess where it is now? That’s right, back in the development office. I’m coming up with plan B.

Lardo….and no, it’s not the name of a mean movie….
January 9, 2012

My lardo, brought from New York Il Buco....

I present for your humble culinary consideration….lardo. Yep…lardo, and it’s NOT the name of a mean movie. Lardo is pig fat(Tuscany’s answer to fatback)…which has been cured with rosemary and salt and  other spices. I first heard about lardoback  in December, on Tasting Table I think….but it may surprise you to know that lardo has been made as early as Roman times. I knew I had to have some….

sometimes it comes in slabs....

At La Quercia Artisan Cured Meats, they call lardo,  Iowa white spread….theirs is made from proscuitto fat, cured with  sea salt, clove, nutmeg, white and black pepper, rosemary, bay leaf, and coriander. But this stuff is not as easy to find as you would think. (La Quercia now has it back in stock)…

But wait...there's no lardo!!

I ordered a package from the famous Murray’s cheese shop, called Hoggy Heaven right before Christmas, purely because it came with a package of La Quercia lardo(along with proscuittos and mortedella from LaQuercia)….but Murray’s replaced the lardo with pate! When I called, really disappointed, they said, “Oh, sorry we’re out of lardo.” Great.

Then I read about a place called Il Buco Alimentari in nyc….which makes their own lardo….placed a pleading phone call to the lovely Jennifer, begging her to bring some down for Christmas. And she did just that….amazing girl.

Pass the lardo, please...yes I said lardo...

Some people use lardo as a spread, instead of butter on potatoes or bread(think meat butter) or pasta….and it is delish this way.

Eggs in lardo....were lovely...

But you can also cook with it. I made scrambled eggs this weekend cooked in lardo…and it gave a subtle, herbal, pig quality to the eggs that was really quite lovely.

One thing I love about LaQuercia is the way their producers raise their pigs…

Pigs living in their natural enviornment....

The pigs are fed no hormones or animal by-products and have access to outdoors and their natural rooting behaviors…kudoes to the farmers.

 

 

Hot Stuff…. Is Sriacha the new king of condiments??
October 7, 2011

The condiment for 2011.....red chili sauce...

Ok, let me just say that I have seen Sriacha sauce sitting on the tables of many Thai restaurants(though it’s actually made in California at Huy Fong Foods), and never tried it.  It just looked….so RED…so incendiary….so….dangerous??? Oh, the shame of that cowardice….and the time lost.

A puree of fresh red jalapenos, vinegar, garlic powder, sugar and salt….I now use Sriacha constantly. In Maine, I made(more like made up) something I saw on Joseph Leonard’s menu(my son’s fav restaurant in the west village)….roasted brussel sprouts Sriacha. So I humbly offer my own version. Wash, trim and half your sprouts….and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Oh, my beloved Kitchen Aid roasting sheet....

Toss them with olive oil and salt….and spread out cut side down on a roasting pan. Ok, they don’t all have to be cut side down, but it pleases my sense of order…you know it is. Flip over about 15 minutes in and give them another 10 or so in the oven, until they look like this.

All nice and golden....lovely...

Sriacha time!! Squeeze it on…you can always add more later, if you like really hot stuff….

Toss them to coat evenly, and serve to delighted eaters!

Love the bits of red chili sauce on the green.....so pretty

Even if you think you don’t like brussel sprouts(and I kinda always avoided them, as I had only experienced the oversteamed, drippy, dreary variety-ugh)….these will be a revelation. Seriously. They’re that good.

It’s Friday people! SO put some Sriacha on something this weekend….(a recipe follows for Sriacha Wings….my Friday gift to you-oh, and mayo mixed with Sriacha makes a nice dipping sauce)….be nice, don’t throw rocks, maybe buy a pumpkin…and come home safe, ’cause we miss you!

Buffalo Chicken Wings with Sriacha
  • 2 1/2 lbs. chicken wings (12 to 15 wings)
  • 1/4 cup (more if desired) Huy Fong Foods
    Sriracha Chili Sauce
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. of Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
  1. Split wings at each joint and discard tips.  Pat dry.
  2. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and bake at 425 degrees for 1 hour;
    turning halfway through cooking time.
  3. Combine butter, Huy Fong Foods Sriracha
    Chili Sauce
    , salt, and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Dip wings in hot sauce mixture to coat completely. Dive it!

Roads less traveled by: Maine food and a so long….
July 29, 2011

OK, is there any scene more Maine than this??

This was at a little restaurant in Naples called Merced's....

And I will admit to overdosing, if there is such a thing…and I don’t think there is…on LOBSTER. Seriously, we ate it at every dinner(even made lobster tacos one night), and more than a few lunches.

One of my fave meals: lobstah, corn, slaw, and Callie's Biscuits....

We were very good customers of the Lobster Pound Restaurant, where they boil up lobsters in big tanks out back, and you haul them away in a sack.

Another way to eat lobstah....the classic lobster roll...tho the bread should be toasted...

And I told you we did heavy duty cooking….it’s our favorite way to eat…at home.

My son and the lovely Jennifer...sous chefs extraordinaire!

Grab the lobsters, whip up some side dishes…have a cool drink(glug, glug, glug) on the dock at sunset…..and then dive in(to the food or the water, take your pick). Heaven.

Where's my glass of wine???

And I mentioned that I had a great recipe for you to try….and I wasn’t foolin’….

Crunchy peanut slaw.....so great for summer....

Here’s the recipe from Apartment Therapy…..and it was perfect with lobster(or fish or steak or whatever)….the only variations we made….we couldn’t find cilantro, so we did without it…I added a little cider vinegar for a bit more zing, and Jennifer sliced a little avocado on top. But it was so fresh and so cool….loved the peanuts in it.

Here's your Friday moment of zen....

And I want to add how much I will miss Marianne Banister here at the station, as will many of you. She and I were buds…sisters even(we were both in the same sorority at college-what’s up Chi O?)and we have both lived the times and troubles of teenaged girls together. She is another road right now, which I hope leads her to wonderful things. Even when your life changes, and even when you don’t want that change…good things can come from it. I’ve had that happen to me, and I’m sure many of you have as well. But MB…we miss you, I miss you..lots.  And I hope all of you find a pretty winding road this weekend….and decide to travel it…and find out where it leads. And cook something cool and crunchy. And come home safe…’cause we miss you.

Maine-line living….Donna’s back from the pine tree state…
July 27, 2011

Took this looking up from my Adirondack chair......

Not for nothing do they call Maine the pine tree state….it’s green, blue skis, cool breezes(for the most part)….and if you’re on a mini-vaca….totally relaxing.

Valley of ferns....took this pic on a walk one day...

And right down the road from where we were, a guy had some truly free range chickens(video here)….proving there can be a thing as too much freedom…a fox had three of them a couple of nights before. Ouch.

The view from shore...the house is just steps away from the water....

$5 farmer's market bouquet...I added the ribbon...

Yep, we were pretty rural....also seen on a walk...

 

And these(also just down the road a ways)...became the picture below....

Who doesn't love deviled eggs with a little sea salt...Maldon of course.

We did some serious lobster eating…and some serious cooking…with a couple of recipes you must try…more on that Friday!!!! (By the way, I just discovered this is my 775th post!! Who knew I’d keep blogging for that long?)

Cheese, creamed, salmoned, and pimentoed(is that a word?)
July 20, 2011

Start with cream cheese, smoked salmon trimmings, and some chives...

You may have seen(and bought) the cute little expensive balls of salmon cream cheese…so pretty, and quite delicious, but around $10 for small ball…yikes. So I’ve learned to make my own…you can too.

Put the trimmings into a food processor, or chop them very fine by hand....

I use the smoke salmon trimmings you can find at Whole Foods….it’s the leftover bits but since you’re gonna grind it up anywhere, who cares? Process until it is in small bits….no one likes a huge stringy chunk of smoked salmon hanging from their teeth, unless you’re Sean Connery. (Seriously, on a film junket one time, I was standing by him at the snack table, and it happened, but he didn’t give a rip. And why should he? He’s Sean freakin’ Connery.)

Keep mixing, it's not there yet....

Mix it all up by hand with some Tabasco to get it a little kick, and you’re all set. Everyone will think you’re a genius.

And I made super eggplant dip, inspired by one I had over fourth of July….mine was a little different, but still really good….take a look at the video. I love it.

Pimento cheese...so easy a monkey can do it!

And I also made  huge batch of pimento cheese….I’ve always loved it as you know, but it has become quite trendy…as you can see from articles like this one in the Wall Street Journal…although the writer says  Moms of yesteryear made pimento cheese from processed cheese….excuse me, my Mom never did that…it was always real cheddar. And they talk about chefs roasting their own red peppers…and I’ve tried that, but honestly, I missed the taste of the pimentos…which is different. Whatever. This recipe also adds sugar, which I don’t care for…and cream cheese…a little unnecessary, but not too terrible. Other than that, go for it…it’s great on crackers, sandwiches, burgers, in pasta…and just a spoonful out of the frig.

Potter, Romesco, and Graffiato….making plans for the weekend….
July 15, 2011

OK, there are several things I want to accomplish this weekend….first:

Harry, Hermione, and Ron....it looks serious this time....

That’s right…see the latest…and the last..installment in the Harry Potter series. My daughter heaved a huge, aggrieved sigh when she heard this, saying, “that’s not gonna happen“. No support at all…and I know the hubby is a lost cause on this one. Still, it could happen(ever heard of passive-aggressive?).

Two…. cook something killer this weekend. The Contenders:

How could these ingredients combined NOT be delicious??

Creamy Grits with corn, goat cheese and roasted tomatoes….this recipe came in my inbox this morning from The Kitchen…here it is. While I did resent the line within the article saying, “Gone are the trashy Southern stereotypes of yesteryear“. Excuse me?  I have made allowances for the writer, and intend to put this on the table, maybe Sunday. Oh, and while the recipe calls for milk and water, I’d finish it off with some cream or half and half, if you really want creamy grits. And the idea of roasting halved cherry tomatoes for an hour at 400 degrees, seems like asking for cinders…I would at least check them at 30 minutes. OK?

The other contender:

Ever had Romesco Sauce? Me either....

Grilled Skirt steak with Romesco Sauce-here’s a recipe from Simply Recipes…. the marinated steak would be pretty darn fine by itself but the sauce which comes from the Catalan region of Spain,  sounds really intriguing…

Love the color of the sauce....

It’s made with grilled red peppers or pimentos(some recipes add a tomato), toasted bread, almonds,  garlic and other stuff(liked smoked Spanish paprika, one of my fave new spices), sautéed and all thrown in to the food processor. Interesting. Have any of you ever made it?

I'm going this weekend!!

Going to try Graffiato this weekend with friends in D.C….remember Mike Isabella from Top Chef last season? He was the runner-up(should have won in my opinion, but whatever)…

An Italian, tatooed cutie.....Mike Isabella

Looks like a cool place..casual… Italian of course, lots of small plates, five kinds of cured hams, some amazing looking pastas and pizza(roasted potato gnocchi with braised pork shank anyone?)….and a wine list that doesn’t feel like you have a gun stuck in your ribs…if you know what I mean. I’ll report back Monday.

And I hope all of you do something fun, cook something delicious, don’t throw rocks, and come home safe….’cause we miss you!

Eat chi-chi-chia…turning oatmeal into a super meal!
February 3, 2011

So cute...so tasty???

Yes, that chia…the wonder-pet-turned-1980s-phenomenon….Remember the commercial that we saw over and over and over and over…..for those of you too young to remember…here you go!

This is the new look for Chia....

But what you may not know about chia, which was once a staple for Native Americans in the southwest and the Aztecs long ago,  is that it’s the latest superfood-read more here…chock full of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. If you were to put a spoonful of chia seeds in a glass of water, and left it for 15 minutes…you’d find the seeds had become almost a gelatin substance…the reaction is the result of the soluble fiber in chia. Supposedly, that gel creates a barrier in the tummy between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, so it slows the converting of carbs into sugar…all good! How do I use chia? 

I love these oats, and there's a quick cook method...

 On Sunday night I make a big pot of “steel cut” oatmeal( the quick way is throw a cup of oats in 4 cups of boiling water and just let it sit overnight)…put in a good helping of chia seeds, and the next morning…you have a wonderful breakfast that could last all week…depending on how many people are eating it.

Blueberries..always....

You could even put the chia-oatmeal in a loaf pan and then cut slices in the mornings, and heat it in the microwave, add some honey or artificial sweetener, some blueberries and some walnuts(also good for omega 3s)….

Love love love the walnuts...

and you have a super-quick, fiber-filled, antioxidant and omega-3 rich delicious breakfast. Don’t even tell me you don’t have time for that. Oh, and you can add chia seeds to almost anything… a salad, soup, a stew, baked goods, smoothies or soaked in fruit juice(chia fresca in Mexico)..you name it. And as for where to get them, I get mine at Whole Foods, but they’re also available online, usually around $6.99 a pound.

So you say you could use a laugh….
January 20, 2011

Funny, ascerbic....ode to Baltimore

Then wow, do I have the show for you! Second City does Baltimore is now at Center Stage, and it is one of the cleverest, funniest, and most biting things I’ve seen in a while. You know Second City, right? It’s a comedy troupe from Chicago that has birthed some of the great comedians of our time…John Belushi, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey to name a few.

What do they do? Here’s how they put it…”The Second City has always served as a bit of a tonic for times of difficulty and upheaval. It’s our job to laugh at what scares us, to make the unfunny funny, and to provide audiences with a chance to let go for a couple hours and just laugh.”

And that’s exactly what I did. Crime, Ruxton, West Baltimore, Bob Irsay, the demise of the Sunpaper, mayors and governors..nothing is off limits….and some fabulous improv….all first rate. If you live in or around Baltimore…it’s a must see. It’s here through February 20th….if you miss it, you’re the loser.

Toffee Brownie time....

OK, brownie questions. Margie asked, “ I have followed up on so many things you write about on your blog.  I am dying to try the brownies but am having a hard time finding the Hershey’s Symphony bar.  Any suggestions on where I can find it.”

Yes Margie, I do. I picked mine up at the Superfresh on 41st Street. But here’s the thing…you may be looking in the baking chocolate section. No findee. Go to the candy bar aisle….I would think you can Symphony in any major grocery chain. 

And Trish asked about breaking them up. While you can, my friend just puts them on the batter whole. Whatever you like, and to give credit where credit is due, I know think my friend stole the recipe(borrowed it maybe?) from the Food Channel’s Paula Deen. Maybe it was the other way around, I don’t know. But Paula also makes these Toffee Brownies.  And they’re worth every calorie.