Mushroom and chevre frittata and scenes from a Saturday

April 15, 2012 § 16 Comments

Yesterday we traveled up along Massachusetts’ North Shore brimming with purpose.  Brimming also with coffee because that is a central element of a Saturday morning in this household.  We were on our way to visit Turkey Shore Distillery, to learn more about the distilling process and to pick the owner’s brain of everything he knows.

But first came a requisite stop along the beach for a walk and a picnic.  We wiggled our toes in the sand, waded brashly into the water (followed by an expeditious exit back onto the shore), and enthusiastically dug holes.  Well, some of us dug holes.  Some of us stayed on the sidelines and cheered.

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Okonomiyaki with garlic scapes

June 30, 2011 § 8 Comments

Not that long ago, I would have only understood 50% of the words in that title.  (In case you’re wondering, yes they would have been ‘with’ and ‘garlic’.)  But, you know how it goes, we grow, we change, we join vegetable CSAs and then we discover the wonder of garlic scapes.

Garlic scapes are the shoot and bud of the garlic plant (the regular garlic that we eat is  the bulb), and they look basically just like that, lovely curling shaded green stems ending in a graceful teardrop shape.

Except, unlike your average stem, garlic scapes grow in a roller coaster of a loop, making them eminently wearable as jangly bracelets, if, you know, you’re trying to make a fashion statement.

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Cajun Shrimp

March 26, 2011 § 13 Comments

photo credit: Sarah Shatz

You absolutely must try this recipe!  Seriously, you must.  In fact, you should make it tonight.  It’s one of my favorites.  I don’t make it that often – it’s a little decadent, that is, the quantity of butter is not exactly tiny (though, when it comes down to it, it’s probably still lighter than a cream sauce) – but whenever  I do make it, I’m delighted afresh by how scrumptious it is!  It has all the makings of a perfect weeknight supper, or an impressive meal for a date.  It’s easy, fast, and tastes far more delicious than anything this simple has any right to.

Plus, if you make it with shrimp with their shells still on, which you definitely should because it will give you both little shrimpies that are more tender and succulent and a more flavorful sauce, then you will get to have the fabulously messy tactile experience of peeling saucy shrimp (saucy in both senses of the word), and of licking every last drop of sauce off of your fingers as you eat them.  Then, you must follow this by dunking sturdy pieces of warm, crusty French bread into the sauce and mopping up every bit.

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Chipotle egg scramble

February 22, 2011 § 4 Comments

Life is a great teacher, and in my time thus far one of the things I’ve learned is there are some things you just don’t mess with.  A mother bear with a cub, for example (and no, I didn’t learn that from Sarah Palin, it’s something you are indoctrinated with almost immediately upon moving to northern Minnesota).  Or an irritated red squirrel (important life lesson: even adorable animals have teeth).  Or Texas (I don’t actually know that one from experience, it’s just the word on the street).  Or someone who has just woken up.  I learned that last one by virtue of having a best friend while growing up who was a very determined late-sleeper.  On weekends, come 1 or 2 in the afternoon her mother would start trying to wake her.  After a half hour or so she would give up and call for reinforcements – that would be me.  Now, in order to survive the charge of the (day)light brigade and live to be the alarm clock another day, I quickly learned a technique of whispering sweet wake-up songs in her ear and/or sitting on her head and then jumping back and doing my best to be very supportive but hands off while the newly awoken volcano girl crankily adjusted to the general idea of being up.

Now, hand in hand with the understanding that you don’t mess with someone who has just woken up is the knowledge that you don’t mess with someone’s breakfast.  Many of us simply don’t have the emotional coping mechanisms to deal with that.  I’ve grown a lot more adventurous over the past few years, but I used to eat the same breakfast every. single. day.  And so, I imagine that if, tomorrow morning come 6am, I tell you all “make these amazing chipotle pepper scrambled eggs for breakfast!!!!” about half of you will look at me with red loathing in your eyes while saying something like, “schnnerrrrummp blerrggh.”  Which, in early morning speak, means “just give me my granola and yogurt and coffee NOW!  Before I shove those eggs up your nose.”  I’m hoping that the other half of you will be like, “booyah!  Bring it on!  I like a breakfast with a little heat.”  But, to the first half of you I say, it’s okay.  Deep breaths.  It’s going to be alright.  You can just make these eggs for lunch or dinner instead!  But either way, you really should make them. « Read the rest of this entry »

Pasta a la puttanesca (Thank you Mr. Bittman!)

February 4, 2011 § 5 Comments

I, and I’m sure many others, was quite saddened when I read in the New York Times that the food column “The Minimalist” was drawing to a close. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, during its long tenure in the NYT, I never really read “The Minimalist,” except when someone forwarded me an article specifically. When this happened, it was usually accompanied by the subject line, “This looks like something you would make…” And, usually it did. Over the last few years, in fact, I developed this almost eerie sense of being followed by Mr. Bittman. I would make slow rise pizza dough, and then a couple weeks later his column would be about slow rise pizza dough. I would learn to make sushi from a friend and start making it with all sorts of random ingredients, and days later “The Minimalist” would broach the subject of sushi adaptability. I would get really into grilling bread and the next thing I knew, Bittman would recommend grilling bread…

Hey! Was he copying me?! Er, well, except that he’s the one who’s a NYT columnist, followed by thousands of readers, and I’m just me, hardly in a position to be starting food trends (yet – haha ;)).  Sorry vanity, but that theory just doesn’t add up.  Then finally, when I read his goodbye to “The Minimalist” I understood.  It’s simply that I have a very similar attitude toward cooking as Mr. Bittman does, a sense that, sure a little technique here and a little technique there is useful, but a lot of making good food does not require anything futsy or overly specialized, and many techniques and ingredients are eminently interchangeable.  Cooking is something a person should actually feel like they can do, not an inaccessible (though enticing) spectacle.  So, thank you Mr. Bittman for being the bearer of this message to so many people for so many years.  But really, even more than that, thank you for your pasta recipe.  Seriously, thank you!!

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