Showing posts from 2012

Holyoke Holiday Irish Soda Bread

2013 is only a day away and already the calender is crowding up with things to do, places to be, and people to see. 
January will see me hooting and hollering as we celebrate the second term inauguration of President Barack Obama. 
February will be a frenzy of activity between Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day prior to the winter doldrums setting in and I get serious about using that time to plan this year's work projects.  
Before you know it, March and St. Patrick's Day will be here. And anyone who lives in western Massachusetts knows what that means...the Holyoke St. Patrick's Day parade!
Here's a challenge for my friends of irish ancestry: If you can manage to convince me there's better St. Patrick's Day parade than the Holyoke St. Patrick's Day Parade, I will bake and overnight my version of Irish soda bread to your door in plenty of time to accompany your traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner. 
Or better yet, come to Massac…

Ethiopian Kapusta?

Cooking fabulous cabbage dishes crosses just about every cultural divide. From continent to continent, cabbage is a cross-cultural culinary staple. It’s inexpensive and with a few added ingredients, you can whip up delicious and healthy main entrees, sides, and even dessert. If you’re daring, Hungarian Sweet Cabbage Strudel makes for an interesting sweet treat.  
Cabbage is an economical vegetable; easy to find in any supermarket and it gives you a big nutritional bang for your buck. Cabbage possesses phytochemicals including sulforaphane, which studies suggest help protect against cancer-causing free radicals, and indoles, which help metabolize estrogens. Packed with vitamins K and C, it’s also an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate, manganese and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Farmer Paul’s cabbages are early this year. Our entire garden has had an accelerated harvest because of the heat. There’s only so many golumpki I’m willing to roll in an evening and with two kinds of cab…

Simple food at it's best!

This panfried smashed potatoes recipe is my interpretation of the flattened lemon oregano potatoes served at Oleana in Cambridge. Chef Ana Sortun’s cookbook, Spice, is sold at the restaurant but alas has no flattened potato recipe. So here’s my version, and of course, me being me I added my own twist. Crunchy potato skin, spicy oregano, flavor-boosting parsley, freshly cracked black pepper, course ground sea salt and a squeeze of lime…every ingredient plays a big part in the flavor department.  By the way, I loved the restaurant and the food was amazing. Thanks to my pal Amy for introducing me to Oleana's magical garden patio dining experience. I am not at all sorry about buying the cookbook. There are lots of great Arabic influenced dishes worth trying. Judging from the looks of our backyard garden, the eggplant souffle recipe on page 265 will come in handy by the middle of next week!   PANFRIED SMASHED POTATOES 1 1/2 pounds skin on whole baby white or gold potatoes  1/4 cup extra-vi…

One potato, two potato, three potato, yum!

The history of food has always fascinated me amd the wide variety of recipes from countries spread around the globe using basically the same main ingredient. Potato salad is a universal party food and different versions are served at different temperatures. Most potato salads are served at room temperature or chilled, though a popular German recipe is served warm.

In the United States we like our potato salad refrigerated in advance and served chilled. Mayonnaise is a favorite ingredient. Brazilian potato salad is called batata calabresa, named after a spicy ingredient, the pimenta-calabresa -- a South American chili pepper.  Bulgarian potato salad is made with potatoes, leeks or onions, oil, salt and black pepper. Slovakian potato salad is part of the traditional Christmas meal as a side dish to fish. It contains potatoes, carrots, green peas, pickled cucumbers, celery, yogurt, eggs and onions.  German potato salad is generally prepared with vinegar and oil, rather than mayonnaise, and ba…

Berry Berry Good Streusel Ginger Muffins!

It all started with an impulse purchase of a Southern Living Almost Homemade magazine. Pictured on the cover was Lemonade Pie and the promise of the recipe on page 77 was too irresistable.

Up to now, I balked at the temptation to create an “almost homemade” recipe of my own and hate to admit giving in. Once you try my Berry Streusel Ginger Muffins I think you’ll agree, there might be something to this lazy cooking style rage. No berries on hand? No problem. Substitute dried cranberries instead of fresh raspberries in the recipe. If you are a ginger fan, these are the best muffins ever.

By the way, I haven’t tried Lemonade Pie yet. But on page 15 -- OMG! There’s a heavenly recipe for Blackberry Mojito Punch. The issue is on sale until July 13, 2012.

One 14 ounce boxed gingerbread mix
1 cup orange or apple juice
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or margarine
2 tablespoons biscuit mix
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons raw …

The Perfect Grilled Burger Every Time!

Nobody needs convincing that a juicy grilled cheeseburger is summer’s favorite All American party meal.  One juicy bite will have them belting out America the Beautiful on this Memorial Day weekend. But anyone who thinks crafting a classic burger is as easy as slapping down ground meat on a grill has another thing coming. 
My spouse AKA Farmer Paul is grill master around our house. Read on for his ten top tips for making perfect burgers and start this year’s backyard cook-out season with a surefire success. 1. Buy Good Meat Ground sirloin steak or rib-eye with a meat-to-fat ratio between 75-25 and 80-20 makes the best tasting burger ever. Never assume the leanest meat is the best. It'll be as dry as cardboard by the time you're done grilling it! 2. Chill the Meat First Before you even form the patties, put the meat in the fridge for a half hour or so.  Getting it colder helps it stay fresh while you work it into The Perfect Patty. Wash your hands thoroughly and rinse those squeaky…

Mom's Day at home!

I've done my share of being treated to brunch at a crowded eatery, standing in a long line waiting for a table with the sounds of my family's grumbling stomachs all in the name of a Mother's Day treat. Restaurants are just too damned busy on Mother’s Day and I love to cook. 

Best deal of the century is that I cook, we all eat and they clean up while I sip a second cup of tea and post this recipe, adapted from last month's issue of Food Network Magazine.  

Mom's Day Brunch Puff 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed 4 tablespoons chevre (goat cheese crumbles) 2 tablespoons grated swiss cheese 4 eggs 3 strips crispy crumbled bacon 2 crisp steamed asparagus spears cut into one inch pieces Fresh ground sea salt and course ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut the pastry sheet into four equal squares. Scrunch the corners to form 4 rounds. Place on parchment lined sheet and prick entire pastry dough with a fork. Bake in oven a…

Classic Crepes Suzette with a Twist!

I have never attempted Crepes Suzette but today was Crepes Suzette Day.  Quiet Sundays are good days to try something new, there's no real pressure to succeed. I set out the simple ingredients I needed to recreate the storied and delicate classic French dessert. The usual flambe is fueled by Grand Marnier or the equivalent orange liqueur.

Roadblock number one: no orange liqueur in the cupboard. There was, however, a brand spanking new bottle of Limoncello.

Second problem: Don't know about you, but I'm too nervous to go starting anything on fire in my kitchen, I leave that sort of thing to the professionals. Since I'd already tossed classic out the window with the Limoncello twist, I decided to create my own non-flaming version of the sauce.

Third issue: No vanilla extract but I did have almond extract. Another ad-lib. The results were astonishing!

1 cup flour
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1 pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon unsalt…

Strawberries with Panache, I mean Ganache!

Chocolate ganache sounds awfully intimidating. It's really just heated heavy cream poured over solid chocolate and with a pat of sweet butter melted in for richness.

You can use your favorite chocolate: milk, dark or white but keep in mind, better quality chocolate equals better quality ganache. I’m fond of Guittard.  There are many good brands available. Buy the best you can afford – it’s worth it!

Once you’ve tried these ganache filled beauties you’ll be hooked. Typical chocolate dipped strawberries just won't cut it anymore!

2/3 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate
1 tablespoon sweet unsalted butter
2 teaspoons Frangelica or other hazelnut flavored liqueur
24 large strawberries
3 tablespoons ground hazelnuts

Chop the chocolate and place it in a stainless steel or pyrex bowl. Heat the cream until just simmering. Pour it over the chocolate in the bowl. Let sit for a minute. Using a rubber/silicon spatula, combine the cream an…