Spinach and pine nut soup

March 19, 2013 § 20 Comments

spinach pine nut soup 1

I wasn’t kidding about the soups (I even made another one today for lunch.  This one, in fact, but with kale instead of cabbage).  And, as you can see, I definitely wasn’t kidding about the spinach and pine nut soup.  Actually, I used the soup and my desire to make it as an excuse to have an impromptu St. Patrick’s/St. Urho‘s day dinner for a few friends.  Clearly there is nothing very Irish (or Finnish for that matter) about spinach and pine nuts, but check out how green that soup is!  I decided that with a side of soda bread and some good Irish butter and cheddar it would suit us just fine.

And it did.  It’s actually quite a wonderful soup.  No wonder I used to make it as a starter for dinner parties all the time!  Come to think of it, I think I first served this soup (or a version of it) at the first serious dinner party I ever hosted.  That was back in the day, back during my sophomore year of college, if I remember correctly.

toasted pine nuts

Courtesy of my first year of college, I developed such an aversion to the food at the school’s dining hall, I convinced the school to let me not be on a meal plan at all, and I started cooking for myself in the tiny – and usually disgusting with other students’ crusty leftover midnight macaroni and cheese pots and half eaten bags of microwave popcorn – dorm kitchen down at the end of the hallway.

That was pretty much my start of cooking seriously for myself, though in this context “serious” meant a lot of chicken breasts with steamed broccoli interspersed with granola or Special K bars for dinner.  (The Special K bar dinner was the saddest.)  I also discovered how very lonely it can be to sit and eat dinner in silence by yourself every single night.  I suppose that must have contributed to my passion for sharing meals, and I started devising ways to coax others to dine with me. « Read the rest of this entry »

Honey Bee latte

September 25, 2012 § 26 Comments


My mother, it appears, is on a mission to get Joel – and me as well, really – thoroughly acquainted with the many wonderful places, resources, and activities available in our new stomping grounds.  We are accepting this mission with enthusiasm.  Two thumbs up for exploring the area!  Especially when it means, as it did this last weekend, going on a tour of some local farmer’s markets, farms, and the charming little town of Bayfield, Wisconsin.

My mom picked us up early Saturday morning in her zippy silver Honda.  It wasn’t exactly still dark, but it was early for most people’s version of a Saturday morning, and there was a frigid nip in the air.  We donned hats, and mittens, and puffy coats and piled into the car with Squid in tow.  We met up with a couple of friends at the bottom of the hill (have I mentioned Duluth is built on a hill? – like San Francisco in extra-miniature), and off we went! « Read the rest of this entry »

Homemade ricotta (and a honeyed grape compote)

August 15, 2011 § 15 Comments

If you are of the ilk of people who spend a considerable (some may say disproportionate – I say proper) amount of time thinking, preparing, and reading about food (My people!  Hello!), or if you are an Italian nonna, then making your own ricotta cheese may be old news to you.  Old news, but then hey, you have no excuse for not having some sitting freshly made in your refrigerator right now, now do you?

If it is not old news to you, well then my friend, do I have some news for you!!!  Run, don’t walk, gather the ingredients, and make some.  Now!  Well, read this first.  I give you permission. 🙂

I will make no secret of my love for ricotta.  It is a profound adoration, really.  It’s nearly as passionate as my love for whipped cream (and it may be slightly healthier). I know it’s a fairly commonplace activity to imagine what clouds taste like – come on!  don’t even try to tell me I’m the only one who thinks about that – and while most dream up clouds of marshmallows or cotton candy, I think they taste like ricotta.  Smooth and airy, billowing in your mouth and then melting into a pool of cream on your tongue…

I would just eat it with a spoon.  I do just eat it with a spoon.  Though, generally only when no one is looking.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Hakurei turnip puree

June 13, 2011 § 19 Comments

So, for the duration of the Massachusetts growing season, I’m thinking about doing one post every week or so about cooking with some of the less common of the vegetables we receive in our CSA.  I’m thinking about calling it: “What the f$*# do I do with…?”

It seemed like such a great idea.  Actually maybe it still is a great idea, but my confidence in it is somewhat shaken.

Why?  Because, in our very first share this year, which I picked up last Thursday (in an impressively dramatic thunderstorm – quarter-sized hail anyone?) the first challenge I was confronted with was one I don’t think I can actually surmount.  Turnips.

I love vegetables.  Love them.  A lot.  There are very, very few vegetables I can think of that I don’t really like. The sum total that I can think of off the top of my head are: okra and turnips.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Norwegian pancakes (pannekaker)

December 13, 2010 § 22 Comments

If you are thoroughly swamped and trying to make your way through 5.42 quadrillion deadlines before you take a winter holiday, say ‘aye.’  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Me too.  I have skads and skads of work, and find myself needing to take little breaks to doodle pictures of chickens and meditating monkeys in order to let my brain turn over and rev up again (this is actually fairly standard practice among a subset of the population who, um, finds drawing chickens and monkeys cathartic).  But, now it’s time to take another little respite.  Come with me if you would, on a little walk down memory lane…

This memory has to do with food, of course.  One of the very, very best foods of my childhood, pannekaker.  Norwegian pancakes are thin, almost crepe like (but more delicious 🙂 ), and like crepes you can put nearly anything you’d like in them.  In Norway they are a dinner food, and while I’m sure my brothers and I would have been quite happy to have them every single night, the time we most dependably ate them was on a very specific special occasion.  When my parents would go out in the summer to visit with friends (and, let me tell you, in Norway a visit with friends can turn into a fest that lasts until 4am!) my uncle would come to watch us and cook us dinner.  He would make us eggy, tender, buttery pannekaker, that we would smear generously with fresh blueberry or raspberry jam.  We accompanied the pancakes with tomato noodle soup that came out of a packet (Scandinavians have the dubious distinction of packing an extremely odd and wide ranging assortment of foods in a packet, from cabbage, to rose hip soup, to mashed kohlrabi, to sour cream porridge.  It sets you up really well if you want to go on a camping trip though!)  The pancake tomato soup combination was an odd one – at least we didn’t actually mix the two together – but we adored it.  It was, after all, undeniably delicious. « Read the rest of this entry »

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