11.29.2010

I've been MIA...but here are some scones!

So I am not sure how many people actually read this, but if you do, you may have noticed I've been MIA (again). I am (again) applying to graduate school this year, and the void the blog filled in my life is now filled with going through the mind-numbing application process (did I say "again?") I have still been cooking away, perhaps more than ever. Good food is fueling me through all these applications and essays.

So while I work on my future, I will leave you with this recipe from Smitten Kitchen: Cranberry-Lemon Scones. I don't have a picture of my own of how they turned out, but they were simply divine. We got some nice, fresh cranberries from our CSA and I thought it was time to make a warm, buttery baked something. I froze most of the batch of scones already cut out, and it has become a morning routine to get the coffee brewing and pop some scones in the oven before my shower, so that I emerge from the steam to the scent of fresh roast and homey scones. I recommend it.


meyer-lemon-and-fresh-cranberry-scones.jpg

Meyer Lemon Fresh Cranberry Scones (Taken directly from Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons; preferably Meyer)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons additional if using fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarse, or 1 1/4 cups dried cranberries, if you insist
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

Accompaniment: creme fraiche or whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a vegetable peeler remove the zest from lemons and chop fine, reserving lemons for another use.
In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture. If using dried fruit, add to flour mixture.

In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

On a well-floured surface with floured hands pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden.

Serve scones warm with creme fraiche or whipped cream.

10.17.2010

Creamy Tomato Soup

At the end of the summer, there was an influx of farmshare tomatoes. I am not the biggest raw tomato fan (unless they are JUST picked from the garden, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and chopped basil, and layered with fresh mozzarella), so I knew I wanted to cook something with these guys. Usually when I am craving tomato soup, I use this Martha Stewart recipe that uses canned tomatoes. This time with enough tomatoes for a fresh soup, I consulted the goddess Barefoot Contessa. Here, I use her very simple and incredibly delicious recipe for cream of fresh tomato soup. Perfect for those chilly early autumn nights!
Lots of fresh chopped tomato





Cream adds richness and depth










Everything simmering with my homemade veggie stock


































Ingredients
                3 tbs good olive oil
                2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped and1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
                1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
                4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
                1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
                1 tablespoon tomato paste
                1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
                3 cups vegetable stock
                1 tablespoon kosher salt
                2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
                3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Blend the soup in a blender or food processor until thoroughly combined. Return  the soup to the pot and put low heat. Slowly whisk in cream. Serve with grated cheese if desired.

Served with buttery, crispy toast. Yum!



10.11.2010

Eggplant and Tomato Pizzas

Martha Stewart really is one of my favorite food personalities. I think she always focuses on the ingredients and doesn't usually make a recipe so fussy that the star ingredient doesn't shine through. This recipe is one such example.

A good friend of mine was stopping in unexpectedly for dinner, and I didn't have much time to prepare. I had a couple of eggplants and tomatoes from the end of the summer share to use up, and I decided to adapt Martha's Grilled Portobello Pizza recipe for the eggplants and tomatoes. For Valentine's Day this year, Devin got me a stovetop double grill pan, and I am always looking for a chance to use it. Grilling veggies in place of pizza crust is a great way to health-ify pizza without sacrificing flavor!

Veggies grilling away

Ingredients
                12 cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 1/2 pound)
                4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
                2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                1 tablespoon Roasted Garlic
                Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
                1 eggplant and 2 tomatoes, sliced into ½ slices
                About ½ of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I’ve found that vegetable peelers work great for this)
                4 very thin slices prosciutto (about 1 ounce)
                4 tablespoons Rough-Cut Basil Pesto

Directions
1.             Prepare a stove-top griddle or outdoor grill.
2.            Combine the tomatoes, thyme, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, the roasted garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl and toss. Set aside.
3.            Brush the top and bottom of each eggplant and tomato slice with the remaining oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill until the veggies are tender, about 4 minutes per side for the eggplant and 2 per side for the tomatoes.
4.            After grilling, arrange an equal amount of the tomato mixture each veggie slice. Top each with a shaving of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
5.            Arrange 1/2 slice of prosciutto on each “pizza” and spread 1 tablespoon of the pesto on top of each prosciutto slice.
6.            Enjoy!
Super quick and healthy dinner

10.04.2010

French courtesy of Devin

Devin surprised me the other day by planning a menu, going grocery shopping and making dinner for me--all by himself! People who know me well know that while I do enjoy some assistance in the kitchen from time to time, for the most part I prefer to do thing by myself. I find cooking to be a sort of therapy--it is methodical and relaxing. You can put on some soothing music, sip a glass of wine, and generally just unwind. 

However, I had been having a particularly tough week, and I think Devin could just sense that I needed some taking care of. He generally sticks to baking, but I was thrilled at this amazing menu he put together. It was just the thing to pick me up after a hard week.

Just yum.
Dessert!
The next morning for breakfast he indulged me yet again by using leftovers from the previous night to prepare a decadent breakfast of poached eggs with asparagus and hollandaise sauce with grilled mashed potatoes. 


9.29.2010

Pumpkin Party Potluck

This Sunday, Devin and I are hosting a pumpkin party potluck. I decided to have this sometime last month when the first chill of fall was in the air, and I decided rather than lament autumn's coming, to celebrate it. With the help of our friends, here is the plan for the event:

Beverages
Pumpkin martini
Pumpkin beer

Menu
Pumpkin soup
Fall harvest salad with pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin ravioli with hazelnuts and sage brown butter
Pumpkin bread
Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin cookies
Pumpkin chocolate chip squares

Activities
Pumpkin carving
Pumpkin seed roasting

I am dying to do this for the beers (see below), via Martha Stewart...pictures and a recap to come!

Best beer cooler ever!

9.28.2010

Best-Ever Stuffed Peppers

Let me just start by saying, PLEASE MAKE THIS. It is so delicious that I've made it every week since I first tried it. And the best part is you can make a double batch of the filling and freeze it--then all you have to do for dinner is thaw (the night before in the fridge), add filling to the peppers, and shred cheese. It is the ultimate easy dinner.

Onto the peppers...

At the end of the summer Enterprise Farm (the provider of our CSA) began to unload bell peppers on us. I love peppers--in salads, omelets, stirfries, you name it. But there was a slight chill in the air, some dry polenta in the cupboard, and several ears of corn in the fridge. Goey, warm, stuffed peppers sounded like the perfect semi-healthy comfort food I was craving. I googled "bell peppers, polenta and corn" and of course my dear friend Martha had an idea!

I adapted Martha Stewart's polenta and corn stuffed peppers. I love that Martha, but some of her recipes are surprisingly bland. Here is my adaptation of her recipe:

Ingredients

• 4 tablespoons butter
• 1 onion (or 4 shallots) and 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1 tsp smoked paprika
• 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
• Coarse salt and ground pepper
• 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
• 3-4 ears corns sliced off the cob
• 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
• 4 bell peppers, halved lengthwise through stem, ribs and seeds removed

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high. Cook onion or shallots and garlic, stirring often, until lightly browned, 5 minutes. Add spices and combine. Add 3 cups water, 1 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil.
3. Whisking constantly, gradually add cornmeal, whisking until incorporated before adding more. Reduce to a simmer; cook, whisking frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in corn, remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and half the cheese until melted.
4. Place peppers in a large baking dish; fill with polenta mixture. Add about a 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with foil; bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle with remaining cheese.
5. Return to oven; bake, uncovered, until cheese is golden and peppers are very tender, about 30 minutes more. Garnish with a sprinkling of smoked paprika. Serve immediately.



Ingredients (notice the chopped red pepper--I used that as a garnish but decided it didn't look good)

Farmshare peppers!

Melty, cheesy, pepper goodness.

9.22.2010

Tomatillo Guacamole

We got tomatillos in our share earlier this summer. I had actually never had one before, and I had to look them up to see what they were and what to do with them.


Wikipedia told me: The tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) is a plant of the tomato family, related to the cape gooseberry, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos, referred to as green tomato (Spanish: tomate verde) in Mexico, are a staple in Mexican cuisine. Tomatillos are grown throughout the Western Hemisphere."


Sounded like I should put it in some kind of salsa or guacamole, and I figured my usual mix of veggie, spices, herbs and oil should do the trick.  I served it with blue corn tortilla chips, and the resulting recipe was tart, tangy, and had a delightful mix of textures. A must-try if you have tomatillos on hand for some reason.


Ingredients
Tomatillo guac!

9.20.2010

Quick Whole Wheat Molasses Bread

We had a standmixer and molasses just hanging around waiting to be used. I found Mark Bittman's lovely recipe in my encyclopedic cookbook. All I can say is plop this guy in the oven and bake. Once it cools, slice, toast and slather on the Nutella!





























finished product with delicious nutella!

9.17.2010

Goodbye, Summer...

I’m flipping out excited. After a bad history with faithless laptops, I finally decided I needed something more serious. Something sleek and reliable, something that didn’t have viruses, something I could really trust. Enter: MACBOOKPRO!!! Yeah, I got the iPhone, I’m an app-aholic, and now this. Whatever.

I justified this purchase in several ways.

• My current computer is a piece of sh*t. Literally, my friends mock it. It can barely open Word let alone a YouTube video. I require a machine that works. Because of the issue of my current model barely working, I’ve taken over my fiancé’s machine as often as he will tolerate. He has returned to school, so this is no longer possible.
• I am applying to grad school (again.) I need a workhorse of a machine for applications and essays.
• Hopefully grad school—if I get in, I need a working machine, duh! (This is the major one)
• Netflix—is that shallow? Sorry.
• Wedding planning (ditto to above)
• Photograph storage and sorting
• Music storage
• Being part of normal society

So why is all of this relevant here? Because I now have a real, true, working computer, and I plan to blog a lot more.

Until I can really sit down and get the new machine up to date with all my recent food endeavors, I leave you with a shot of a recent meal made. We visited with some friends on the lake in Meredith, NH and had a fantastically wonderful surf and turf meal. It was a lovely way to spend Labor Day weekend, and the ideal meal to say farewell to summer.

Lobster, grilled eggplant and corn!

The spread
The Gents

The girls, enjoying Arabella and Mike's amazing Stoli Doli




















9.08.2010

Basil Pesto - Summer Staple

Nothing beats basil pesto, especially when it is made fresh in the summer with lots of extra virgin olive oil and tons of garlic. I use it on pastas, as a spread on sandwiches, as a base for pizza, to add something extra to omelets...the list is endless! And the recipe is simple:

In a food processor combine a cup and a half fresh basil leaves and 4 to 5 large garlic cloves and 3 TBSP of a hard, sharp cheese such as Parmesan. With the processor on, drizzle in olive oil until the pesto reaches the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if you like, to brighten the flavor. You can also pulse in toasted pine nuts, but I never seem to have them on hand.

The great thing about this simple spread is that it freezes well, so if you need to use up some basil on its way out, this is the way to go!

Fresh pesto, ready to be popped in the freezer for future use.

9.01.2010

Blast from the past! Turkey Burgers on the Trinity Quad

Last year I found a teeny tiny Weber grill, never used and in its original packing at a yard sale for 5 bucks. A steal! Though that little guy hasn't seen the light of day since last summer, it was a trouper last summer. One of my favorite summer memories from last year was an amazing afternoon at my alma matter, Trinity College, with fellow alum (and now betrothed) Devin.

We took some lean, ground turkey meat, mixed it up with some delicious spices, fresh chopped herbs, onions and bell peppers, and formed them into little patties...complete with an extra sharp cheddar cheese center, of course!

We headed over to Trinity with blanket, cards, frisbee, grill and the rest of the burger fixings and let those little patties grill to perfection. We topped the burgers with grilled red onions and red peppers, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and of course more cheese. Served with Cape Cod chips and lemonade...what could be better?

The grill master at work!
The lovely mini burgers in all of their juicy glory

8.25.2010

Eggplant Stacks with Mozzarella and Basil Pesto

I've never been a huge eggplant fan. It's not that I have had much of a chance to try any...I guess I just never really considered cooking with them. That is, until our CSA started putting them in our share. I've done a few things now that I have loved with eggplants, and now I seek them out: roasted eggplant spread with tahini, eggplant parms, and now this concoction.

I love that eggplants have a hearty, meaty feeling to them that makes them a good vegetarian main dish. Start with one large eggplant and slice into 3/4 inch disks like so:















Coat each disk in flour, dredge in 2 beaten eggs, and dip in a bread crumb mixture. Lay on parchment paper.

Fry breaded disks in a hot pan with a half inch of olive oil, about 3-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. With a large eggplant, you will need to do this in batches.  While the eggplant was browning, I mixed together a quick hand-crushed pesto--chopped basil leaves, chopped garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. I layered the eggplant stacks like so: eggplant, pesto, mozzarella, tomato, eggplant, pesto, mozzarella. I broiled each stack in the over until the cheese browned. I topped it with a single basil leaf and served it will the potato gratin. A simple, refreshing and pretty summer meal.

Dinner!

Easy-Peasy Potato Gratin

I finally had to face it. Potatoes were taking over our kitchen. Red, russet, white and waxy. We'd been receiving a few every week in the farmshare, but I just hadn't had the heart to turn the oven on. You see, our old apartment was on the third floor. The kitchen had a minuscule window that barely opened. The ceiling fan made feeble attempts to cool things off. It just wasn't an appealing thought: sweating over the stove to make mashed potatoes just to sit down, continue sweating, and eat them. No thanks.

Cue: new apartment! Big windows! Nice, new kitchen! FIRST FLOOR BREEZE! The potatoes no longer seemed like a threat, but an opportunity. I love me a good bowl of mashed potatoes, but I wanted to do something else. Like I always do when I want to steer away from my favorite recipes, I consulted Mark Bittman's brilliant book, How to Cook Everything. It's not kidding. I could spend hours with that thing. I found a sublimely simple recipe for a potato gratin. Here is my adapted version:

Ingredients
Potatoes: 4-5 large, any kind you like (I used several kinds)
About a cup of good cheese. I used Jarlsburg.
Whatever dried herbs you like. I used rosemary and a fines herbes blend.
Warmed cream or milk (or combination), enough to come 3/4 of the way up to the top potato layer.
Salt and pepper.

Directions
Preheat over to 375 degrees. Scrub potatoes and thinly slice. I use a mandoline to get uniform slices. In a 9 x 13 in. oven-safe pan, place down one layer of potatoes, overlapping slightly. Lightly salt and pepper this layer. Sprinkle a handful of grated cheese over the layer and then gently sprinkle on spices. Repeat the layering of potatoes, salt and pepper, cheese and herbs until everything has been put in place. Gently pour the warmed cream or milk into the side of the pan until it barely reaches 3/4 of the way up to the top potato layer. Bake approximately 45 minutes until top is lightly browned and a knife can easily pierce the potatoes. Enjoy!

Ingredients
First layer of potatoes, cheese, herbs and salt and pepper.
Browned cheesy, creamy, potato-y goodness!

8.17.2010

The Jam Plan (Albino Currants)

For those of you who are Friends fans, you will appreciate the title. For those of you who aren’t, well…moving on!

A couple of weeks ago we got some albino currants in our CSA. I’ve never cooked with fresh currants before, so I decided to try my hand at a jam. We had some delicious lemon-rosemary bread, so I decided to tailor the recipe to go with those flavors. I trolled around on the internet trying to find something I liked, but I didn’t. So I just tossed some things together and waited patiently for the results:

Rosemary Currant Jam
Ingredients
1 pint of currants, picked over and rinsed
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp crushed, dried rosemary
2 tbsp (or more to taste) sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
Water

Ingredients
.














Directions
Using a potato masher, pulverize the currants. Put currants in a small pot and cover with water. Add herbs and 1 tbsp of the sugar. Bring to a dull boil and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste for sweetness, and add more sugar if needed. In a small bowl, whisk about a tablespoon of water with the cornstarch until smooth, and add mixture to the currants to thicken. Continue to simmer for 10 more minutes. Add water or more cornstarch to get the consistency you like. Chill and serve with toast or over yogurt.


Finished product! Breakfast.

8.10.2010

Blast from the past! Parnsip Purée and Sweet Potato Chips

In the fall, our farmshare (Enterprise Produce) provides a plethora of autumnal storage crops, including parsnips and sweet potatoes. Parsnips, which look sort of like albino carrots (and are a relative of the carrot) actually have a greater nutritional content than carrots. Sweet potatoes are also a powerhouse for fiber and vitamins…though in this incarnation maybe not so much.

Anyway, one cold autumn evening last year I looked into the pantry. All I saw were a bunch of boring root veggies and potatoes, and I felt despair coming on.

Until I recalled seeing a recipe for parsnip purée over at Jane Spice.

Jane is known for adding flair and flavor to the seemingly most boring veggies, creating dishes with lots of interest and color. I adapted her recipe to make a warming, nourishing and spicy soup.

For the sweet potatoes, I decided to take a stab at my recently purchased mandoline slicer. If you don’t have one, go out and get one. Now. It will change your life. We fried up some crispy sweet potato chips in some neutral oil, tossed with sea salt and black pepper, and plated with the soup to add some crunch!
























Parsnip Purée (adapted from Jane Spice)

¾ pound parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 large zucchini chopped
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 quart vegetable stock (I make my own…I will write a post about that at some point. Easy, economical and incredibly useful.)
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp chili powder
1 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and soften for three minutes. Add the garlic and the spices and stir over at high heat until combined before adding the parsnips, zucchini and stock. Season to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer until the parsnips are soft, then liquidize to a smooth consistency (I used a blender. An immersion blender or carefully utilized food processor could work too).

8.08.2010

Settling In

Well, here we are! We are in our new place (thanks to the moving help of some amazing friends) partially unpacked and surrounded by a sea of boxes. I have pretty much unpacked the kitchen (of course!), because that was the first thing I needed to get back to a feeling or normalcy. I've missed cooking in the past couple of weeks as we have prepared for the move. It's been a lot of pizza and Groupon meals, which has been lovely, but I am ready to get cooking again.

We received albino currants in last week's share, and I decided to put some currant jelly on the stove while I unpacked. I've never made jelly before, but I decided to throw some ingredients together and see what happens. I will post results later this week. In the meantime, a shot of the lovely little currants:

Albino Currants

8.03.2010

Decadence, Paris Style

Sometimes the most enjoyable meals are the least preparation heavy.

In the spring of 2006 I studied abroad in Paris with two of my best friends in the world, Niki and Katie. We lived in a lovely (ha) little apartment for several months, during which we enjoyed countless types of cheese and many a bottle of champagne. Our time in Paris was incredibly enriching in many ways, and food always seemed to be a focal point. It was a pretty decadent semester.

Recently Katie and Niki came over to enjoy a girls’ night. To relive old times, I whipped up a favorite drink of ours from Paris, Kir Royales. The kir royale is an adaptation of the traditional kir (white wine with crème de cassis), a common aperitif. It is pink and bubbly and delicious. Along with some tasty local cheeses from the Kick*ss Dairy Bar, I made some yummy dipping oil for our bread. Enjoy!

Kir royales
Ingredients
Champagne
Crème de cassis

Directions
Fill a champagne flute or goblet with champagne. Add about 2 tsp of crème the cassis, or enough to turn champagne pale pink.

Parmesan-garlic oil
Ingredients
1 c. good olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. grated parmesan (or other hard cheese—asiago would work well too!)
1 tbsp fresh, chopped herbs (whatever you have on hand)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Mix together in a small bowl. Serve with sliced French bread and a array of cheeses. Enjoy the decadence.


The lovely ladies, Katie and Niki (Nous devons retourner!)

8.01.2010

The Big Move

Devin and I moved in together last summer. I had worked for over two years at the New Britain Museum of American Art in CT and was ready for a change of scenery. He had just been accepted to the Kennedy School and was making the move from the 'burbs closer to school. After a little over a year of dating from 2 hours away (and racking up thousands of miles on our cars, not to mention thousands of minutes on our cell phone bill!), we decided to take the plunge and make the move together. We ended up living with a friend for a year, but now that was are headed down the aisle, we decided it was time for it to be just the two of us (well...and George and Grif, our two cats.)

So we are making the move today...we are staying in our same neighborhood, the bustling Davis Sq. in Somerville. We love it because we are so close to my work and Devin's school without feeling cramped and crowded in the city. Our new place has a little porch and backyard, is about a block away from our cupcake store/CSA pick-up, and has a big kitchen. What more could we want?

Over the next few days, we will be cleaning, painting, and slowly setting up our new home. And then I'll be back in the kitchen!

7.30.2010

Blast from the past! Summer Lobster Dinner

Last summer after I moved from CT to MA, I only worked part-time for the month of August. This meant I had a lot of time to play on my hands, and that playing took place mainly in the kitchen. I have to admit, I kind of loved pretending to be a housewife for the month, enjoying preparing meals at a leisurely pace. This particular meal was a locavore's delight (at least as far as the produce was concerned.) The herbs (chives and basil) came from Devin's parents' garden. The potatoes, tomatoes and corn came from Ward's Berry Farm, where I also handpicked the blueberries for the pie (nerd alert!) The peaches in the pie came from our backyard at the time. Nothing says summer to me like lobster, white wine, corn on the cob and pie. Sigh.

August, 2009, Mansfield, MA

Menu:
  • Steamed lobster with drawn butter (my favorite way to steam is in salted water with peppercorns and white wine)
  • Chardonnay
  • Fresh, local corn with butter
  • Roasted fingerling potatoes with garlic oil and chives
  • Heirloom tomato salad with olive oil, cracked pepper, fleur de sel and chopped basil
  • Blueberry-peach pie

7.29.2010

Our Wedding!

This blog is called Weddings, Wine and Weltanschauung, and yet, I have only talked about food. I assure you, often times as I cook I am also enjoying a glass of wine (and sometimes splashing some in the pan for good measure). I guess weltanschauung is represented by anything I’ve said here thus far, as food happens to be part of my outlook on life.

That leaves weddings.



Devin proposed to me on my 25th birthday. Proposal story can be found here. We have set the date of June 4, 2011 in Hartford, CT for our wedding. We met in 2003 at Trinity College our freshman year, became good friends, and didn’t start dating until after graduation! Though I grew up in Philadelphia and Devin in Mansfield, MA, Hartford seemed to be the perfect place to tie the knot. Our core group of friends lives in and around New England and Hartford is common ground for us both. Being a small city, it is easy for out of towners to get from the airport into downtown Hartford easily. Also, hotels are within a few blocks of our reception site. Win for everyone!

While we have been engaged for 4 months, we still have a LOT to do. Like figure out where to get married, for example. However, we DO know where we want to have our reception. We spent a whole day in the greater Hartford area scoping out venue sites, and eventually decided on The Old Sate House, designed by the same architect who designed the Boston State House, Charles Bullfinch. Besides picking the location, the only other big check off the list is the dress.

The wedding is a one-day affair, but the blogs and websites out there make you feel as if you are planning the most important day of your life. I am so beyond excited to marry my best friend, but I am more excited for our lives together and what the future will bring than our wedding reception. It is just. one. day. I am going to try to make sure that I keep that in mind as we plan—for the sake of our sanity, budget, and everyone who has to bear with us as we plan.

With that, I present to you pictures from the reception venue (all images from photographers Robert and Kathleen:


Façade


Foyer


Main room (where dining and/or dancing will take place)


Exterior shot

7.28.2010

Blast from the past! Moving in together.

Because I am a nerd, I have always been fond of photographing meals. I guess I like the colors and textures in food, and it is fun to look back on meals we've made. I found some old food photographs on Facebook. Every now and then I will post a food "blast from the past." Let's start with a lovely summer meal out on the porch!

Summer, 2009, Mansfield, MA

This is pretty poor quality photograph, but the lackadaisical nature of the meal is conveyed. I believe this was a meal celebrating moving in together. Last summer before moving into our place in Somerville, Devin and I lived in his old apartment in Mansfield for one month. The suburbs provided a HUGE deck and yard, something we enjoyed immensely during those 30 days at the "Men's Warehouse." (Don't ask). There is nothing quite like dining al fresco with a crisp glass of champagne and good company. It is fun to think back on all the meals we have made together or for one another in this past year of living together. I look forward to many more :)

Menu
  • Herbed goat cheese baked over toasted baguette slices drizzled with rosemary honey
  • Pan-seared sea scallops with a lemon-wine reduction
  • Simple lemon vinaigrette dressing over baby greens
  • Veuve Clicquot to celebrate!

7.26.2010

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie - The Recipe!

From the pastry chef himself:

"Long before I took my first job baking pastries, dessert has been my favorite part of a meal, and anybody who has dined with us knows that that last portion of a dinner party is usually my responsibility. So when rhubarb and strawberries found their way into the kitchen, pie seemed like an appropriate next step.

For this very easy strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe, a frozen pie crust works just fine so you don't have to worry about making one, unless you are so inclined. You will need:

• 1 deep-dish frozen pie crust
• 3 ½ cups (about 1 ½ pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in ½-inch thick slices
• 3 ½ cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, sliced
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• ¼ cup light brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca OR ¼ cup cornstarch
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Place the sliced fruit in a large bowl and evenly mix the sugars, lemon juice, salt and cornstarch. Feel free to use the lemon juice liberally (I used half of a lemon), as it really brings out a lot of flavor. At this point you can dot the pie with butter and stick it into the over, OR if you’d like to make lattice topping to give it a great homemade feel, I would certainly encourage it.

If you choose to do the lattice top, a great dough recipe comes from Ina Garten’s apple crostata recipe (another recommended dish). As a note, the dough portion of this recipe will make just enough for two pies, so I halved ingredients for you. For one pie you will need:

• ½ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon granulated or superfine sugar
• A pinch of salt
• ½ stick very cold unsalted butter, diced
• 1 tablespoon cold water

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor, then pulse the butter about 10 times until the mixture clumps to roughly the size of peas. Pulse in the cold water until the dough becomes a solid mass. You can refrigerate this for an hour to make it a little easier to work with, but it does not make too much of a difference. Roll out the dough on a liberally floured surface in order to make ten strips for the lattice. I had never made one before, and this website has very helpful instructions on how to weave the top of the pie.

Once the top is assembled, dot it with butter and place it into a pre-heated oven 400° F for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350° F and bake for another 25-30 minutes. Happy baking! -Devin"
 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

As many of you know, I am not a baker. I do not enjoy baking. I try to avoid baking at all costs. Not because I don't enjoy eating baked goods, but simply because I am more of an improvisational cook than a methodical cook. And baking is all method (unless you are a very skilled baker in which you can safely improvise...enter Devin).

Luckily, my finacé, Devin, is a tremendous baker, no doubt a skill he learned from his mother. That means I get to have my cake (not baked by me, of course) and eat it too...I have my fun with veggies, meat, seafood and wine while Devin whips up batches of luxurious orange-scented chocolate chip cookies or his family's famous strawberry short cake recipe (all of these will be in future posts, I promise).

His most recent creation was so good that he made a second just days later as a hostess gift. May I present with with a true summer dessert, Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie. I will update this post later with recipes, but for now, here are some tasty images!

Fresh fruit ready to be turned into a delicious pie

Mis en place (Devin is learning well)

Ready to eat! Notice the lovely lattice crust.

iPhone4 - What does this mean for my kitchen?

We've finally taken the plunge...we acquired our new iPhone4s last week and I've been playing around non-stop. Home cooks, tell me--what apps should I acquire on my new toy to help me out in the kitchen? So far I have:

  • Zagat guide (not so much for home cooking, but for when I don't feel like cooking at home!)
  • Whole Food recipe finder
  • Foursquare and Urbanspoon (again for eating out...)
Any suggestions for some must-have apps for the home cook?

7.22.2010

Raw Zucchini and Squash Salad

Wow, two zucchini posts in a row. Can you tell it is summertime?

One of my favorite cooking blogs is Apartment Therapy's "The Kitchn." I appreciate that many of their posts focus on seasonal ingredients, which means the latest post often times coincides with whatever we get in our farmshare box. Right now, we have an abundance of yellow squash and zucchini, so this article immediately caught my eye.

Raw Squash Salad, serves 2
3 small zucchinis and/or yellow squash
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh herbs chopped (I used dill)
1 ounce fresh cheese (I used an asiago parmesan mix)

Directions:
  • Trim the ends off the squash and, using a mandoline, cut the squash lengthwise into very thin strips.
  • Place in a large bowl with olive oil and lemon juice, and gently toss to combine. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then add the herbs and gently toss to combine.
  • Transfer to a serving dish(es) and crumble cheese on top. Serve immediately.
This was a perfectly refreshing light lunch. BONUS: No heat from the stove in our sweltering 3rd floor kitchen! We are looking forward to moving to a new (1st floor!) apartment in August for sure.