Showing posts from 2013

Sure, pumpkins are a fruit.

Who says fruits are just for sweets? This year's bumper crop has me searching for new ways to use the big orange berries (yup, they're berries). While poking around our local Williams Sonoma store last week, I came across a jar of pumpkin braising sauce ... I have pumpkins, lotsa pumpkins. I read the ingredients and decided to give my own adaptation a try.

I used a rosemary pear conserve canned last year (and a concoction I hadn't quite figured out what to do with) instead of applesauce but I am quite sure applesauce will yield just as yummy a result. Bake your pumpkin and prepare your potatoes ahead of time (nuke the potatoes for five or warm them in the oven for twenty minutes or so before suppertime). Prep time of about about twenty minutes is all you need and then relax while the slow cooker makes magic.

3 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, grated or…


It wouldn’t be June without juicy, fresh strawberries. JP and I hopped in the car. Destination: our favorite pick your own berry farm. As usual, I did most of the picking while JP did his share of hilarious complaining about the hard work plucking gems from their stems.

Then there is the strawberry supervisor side of him. “Not that one. It’s not red enough!”

An hour later we were headed home with six pounds of berries. Some to eat fresh, some to freeze for later and some to macerate for tonight's dessert. Macerating fruit is the equivalent to marinating meats and veggies. A simple recipe is all you need for fabulous!

Fresh, ripe berries lightly soaked in a bit of honey and your favorite liqueur (I used strawberry grappa this time) add a layer of flavor that does more than enhance good berries, it adds life to berries that aren't ripe enough or are a bit past their prime. Even a sprinkle of sugar and a drizzle of lemon juice will transform a ho-hum quart of strawberries into…

Ready, set, patio dining!

Here in New England we love surf and turf. Add to that it's finally grilling season and let the games begin! 

Steaks, burgers, BBQ ribs and chicken ... the list is long and mouth watering. Paired up with steamers or better yet, lobster, and we East Coast huggers are in heaven. But how to turn the usual summer menu into something special can be something of a challenge.

Starting courses are a great way to set up the taste buds for a juicy main attraction.  Last night, we hosted our first backyard dinner party. And of course, surf and turf was on the menu. Check out our appetizer course, an attempted replication of a small plate Farmer Paul and I enjoyed more than 20 years ago at a bistro in Quebec City.

It took us several tries over as many years to come up with a version that tickled our taste buds as much as the memory of that original dish. It's still not quite right, but this recipe is so good and so easy that we stopped experimenting. Follow up with a chopped salad and t…

Waste a Good Ham Bone? Never!

My father was one of so many siblings, I can’t even name them all for fear I will forget somebody.  I have close to fifty cousins, spread all over the country now but when I was growing up we all packed into my grandparents’ home on Sundays and holidays. My dad’s family was loud, raucous and fun.

There was a steady stream of one or more ma tante, mon uncle and a cousin or three visiting at the modest bungalow on Providence Street in Chicopee. A big pot of something simmering on the stove top always at the ready. A favorite of mine was Mémère’s soupe aux pois, a creamy yellow pea soup she made anytime she served ham to the holiday hordes of children and grandchildren.

This year at our house, Farmer Paul glazed the perfect Easter ham. That ham bone was way too inviting not to cook up a crockpot of Mémère’s creamy soup. This is one of several recipes my grandmother used to make her pea soup.  Like most good cooks, she liked to mix it up - even when she made an old favorite.

Next time y…

Lemony good artichoke hearts!

Just the word lemon causes my taste buds to perk up. There are all kinds of lemons... Lisbon lemons are small and seedless. Eureka lemons are the most common. Meyer lemons are a sweeter variety and have a hint of orange flavor. There are even pink lemons and thanks to a good friend with a yard full of tropical fruit trees, I've been lucky enough to try one!  
Lemons are the most common flavor enhancer after salt and pepper. Lemons yield more juice at room temp than a lemon that is cold. However, since lemons are susceptible to mold it’s best to store them in the refrigerator crisper drawers. To maximize your juicing, leave your lemon out for a couple of hours before juicing. Roll the room-temperature lemon on the counter and apply light pressure with your hand as you roll it. Then cut and squeeze.
The zest is also an amazing flavor enhancer. But for today’s recipe all you need is the juice. So if you're jonesing for a lemony rich appetizer or super tasty vegetarian dinner? Loo…

Cream vs. Tomato = Sox vs. Yankees?

There’s only one real chowda according to old New Englanders. New England clam chowder is cream-based, and traditionally thickened with oyster crackers. Modern chowder uses flour or cornstarch as a thickener and most restaurants serve oyster crackers as a garnish. No tomatoes allowed. Here's a little known fact: in 1939 a bill that made putting tomatoes in clam chowder illegal was introduced in the Maine legislature. 
While cream or milk based clam chowders have been around since the mid-18th century, no mention of any tomato based chowder has been found that predates the late 1890s. Rumor has it that the addition of tomatoes in place of milk originated within the Portugese immigrant community in Rhode Island, where tomato-based stews were already a traditional part of Portuguese cuisine. 
Everyone knows about the Yankees-Red Sox feud, for over 100 years known an one of the fiercest rivalries in sports and often a subject of heated conversations. So it should come as no surprise tha…

No time to bake from scratch?

Too busy to bake? Think again. 
These little gems will rock your taste buds. Go ahead, volunteer to donate a bake sale item; bring a treat for your book club; make the best picnic brownies ever; or just be the coolest mom in the neighborhood. All it takes is three ingredients and 25 minutes. That's it. Done.

Today was World Nutella Day. 
NUTELLA BROWNIE BITES 1 small jar (1 cup) Nutella  10 tablespoons flour 2 eggs. 
Mix it up and divide batter evenly into 10 lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes. Chopped hazelnuts baked on top optional. 
Absolutely fabulous.

Baking Sweet Memories

My dad came home after serving as a Marine in the Korean conflict and took a job as a tire builder in the same factory as his own father and several of his brothers. It was a good job but it seemed as if he spent a lot of time either on strike or laid off. French fries and pies was how my parents stretched our food budgets during those lean days. 
As a child, I never felt as if we were missing a thing at the dinner table because of my father’s pies. While my father wasn't a baking aficionado, he knew how to make a mean pie crust and a darned good lemon filling.  

Dad passed away more than twenty years ago. My favorite color has always been yellow. I think it might have something to do with the sweet memories of baking lemon pie with him! 
ROGER’S LEMON MERINGUE PIE  Pie Filling 1 cup white sugar 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons cornstarch 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups water 2 large lemons, juiced and zested (reserve 1/4 teaspoon for meringue) 2 tablespoons butter 4 egg yolks, beat…