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Friday, July 24, 2015

Easy Peachy

I've always been a bigger fan of nectarines than of peaches.  The reason why is very simple.  The fuzz.  I just have never really liked fuzz on my fruit.  What can I say?  We all have our food things.   But I am also evolved enough to know a good recipe, or at least an interesting recipe, when I see one.

I was paging through the new issue of  Fine Cooking recently and happened on a whole article dedicated to sweet and savory peach recipes.  Intriguing.

As luck would have it, I had received a couple of nice looking, albeit fuzzy, peaches in my CSA basket.  I pretty much figured that I'd let them ripen up and then Ted, who is a fuzz fan, would eat them.  Easy peasy.  I didn't give those peaches another though.  After all, I'm a nectarine girl.

When I saw this recipe for Braised Chicken Thighs with Savory Marinated Peaches, two things came immediately to mind: dinner, and has Ted already eaten the peaches?  Lucky for me, the peaches were still unspoken for, and lucky for both Ted and I, dinner was served!

Recipe:  Braised Chicken Thighs with Savory Marinated Peaches
Fine Cooking, July, 2015


1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
1 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into thin strips
3 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 8)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium leek, white and light green part only, thinly sliced (1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
3 cups Sherry Vinegar and Rosemary Marinated Peaches, drained, marinade reserved (see below)
3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
2 Tbs. drained capers
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. fresh tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and set aside. if the pan is dry, add a little more oil.

Season the chicken lightly on all sides with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the chicken on both sides, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Turn the heat down to medium low. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. fat from the pot and then add the leek and garlic. cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the reserved marinade and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid thickens, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, season lightly with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Arrange the chicken in the pot skin side up, return to a boil, and transfer the pot to the oven to braise, uncovered, until the chicken cooks through, about 25 minutes.

Take the pot out of the oven. Turn the broiler on high. Transfer the chicken, skin side up, to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

Simmer the sauce in the pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the capers and peaches; cook until heated through. Stir in the butter until it melts, then stir in 1 Tbs. of the tarragon and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, broil the chicken until the skin is crisp, about 3 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pot or transfer it to a large platter and spoon the sauce over it. garnish with the prosciutto and the remaining tarragon leaves, and serve.

Recipe:  Sherry Vinegar and Rosemary Marinated Peaches
Fine Cooking, July, 2015


3 medium ripe peaches, pitted and sliced, diced, or cut into wedges
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-1/2 Tbs. spiced dark rum (optional)
2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch granulated sugar


Gently combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and let marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to 24 hours. After marinating, you can refrigerate the peaches for up to 1 day.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Mix 'n Match

Tabbouleh salad is one of my favorite summer salads.  It is crisp and fresh, and the lemon juice and mint add a nice little twist of flavor.  Tabbouleh is a great side dish, but can it stand alone?

Therein lies the question. Can tabbouleh salad be reworked so that it becomes more than a Meatless Monday side dish?

The answer is a resounding yes!  YES!

My version of  tabbouleh salad as a main dish is honed from combining all my favorite ingredients into one mega delicious summer salad.

Let's go.

Recipe:  Main Course Tabbouleh Salad
Loosely adapted from Ina Garten


1 1/2 cups boiling chicken stock, homemade if you have it
1 cup bulgur wheat
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (2 bunches)
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and medium-diced
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
8 ounces diced feta cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a heat-proof bowl, pour the boiling chicken stock over the bulgur wheat. Add the lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the bulgur to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Place the chicken breast on a baking sheet and rub it with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the chicken meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into medium dice and add to the tabbouleh. Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, olives, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Season, to taste, and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. The flavors will improve as it sits.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Peachy Keen

I'm baaaaack. Yes. It's true.  I'm back and I'm blogging.

It's summer and  the living is easy.  The produce is delicious.  The fruit is as sweet as candy, and as a result I'm all about the fruit dessert.

I've got my CSA going again this summer, and last week's bounty included a couple of delectable peaches.  Sweet, juicy, and ripe -- and quick to spoil.  What better than a crisp to use up the last of the peaches before it's too late?

I knew you'd agree.
Crisp topping, peaches, and raspberries. What could be better?
This is one of my favorite Ina Garten summertime recipes.  It's easy and fairly quick -- if you don't count the whole skinning the peaches thing -- and guaranteed to be a real homer.  Scoop a little vanilla ice cream on top and you've got yourself a grand slam!

Recipe:  Peach Raspberry Crisp
Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, 1999


4 to 5 pounds firm, ripe peaches (10 to 12 large peaches)
1 orange, zested
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pint raspberries
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place them in cold water. Peel the peaches and slice them into thick wedges and place them into a large bowl. Add the orange zest, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the raspberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid, add 1 more tablespoon of flour. Pour the peaches into the baking dish and gently smooth the top.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the peaches and raspberries. Bake for 1 hour, until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator and reheat in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until warm.

Friday, May 15, 2015

It's What I Do

I know it's been awhile.  I'll admit it.

I've been cooking.  I just haven't been blogging.  And I have an excuse.  I just haven't been in the mood.  There's just been a lot going on -- nothing bad -- but a lot going on nonetheless.  So let me bring you up to date.

Charlie applied to law school.  Let me tell you, that's one long process.  Between the LSAT, the applications, my constant need to manage (and his constant need to tell me to lay off), and finally the acceptance letters, I feel like it's been about a year.  And it's been close.  The good news is that he's all set and will be off and running come fall.  All good news.  You may ask why I was so busy with Charlie's law school odyssey.  After all, he's an adult and he was the one applying to law school.  Well, the simple answer is that I wasn't.  I was just distracted by it.  Charlie had it all well in hand and barely conferred with us on important issues, let alone the minutiae, yet for some reason I felt compelled to obsess about it almost daily.

I'm a mother.  That's what I do.

Kate is... Kate.  Always lots going on in her life and somehow that translates to lots going on in my life.  I would like for there to be less of Kate's life going on in my own, and we are working on that.  She too has it well in hand, yet I obsess.

I'm a mother.  That's what I do.

The simple truth is that my kids have been distracting me of late.  To be fair, Ted has been distracted by them as well, but he's better at compartmentalizing than I am.  I'm working on that.

So, in an effort to move forward and not be so obsessive about things over which I have no control, I have made a commitment to start blogging again.  It's summer and all those delicious summer fruits and veggies will make this easy.  I hope.

Today's recipe from my fav Smitten Kitchen is something that, to be honest, wouldn't generally interest me.  I haven't jumped on the kale bandwagon with the same vigor as many others, but I guess the presence of bread and melted cheese somehow made the kale sound a whole lot more enticing.  In any case, this is a delicious one pan meal, quick and easy, and guaranteed to ease whatever you happen to be obsessing about.

Recipe:  Mushrooms and Greens with Toast
Adapted just a little from Tara O’Brady’s Seven Spoons Cookbook

Serves 4


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and torn into bite size pieces (see suggestions above)
2 thick slices bread from a large, crusty loaf (I’d use 4 from a smaller loaf)
2 cloves garlic or 1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, or more to taste (I used 2)
1 fresh red chile, stemmed, seeded and minced or red pepper flakes, to taste
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces chopped fresh greens (kale, chard, spinach or nettles)
8 ounces of a good melting cheese, thickly sliced (Chèvre, mozzarella, burrata, taleggio or fontina)


Melt 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil together in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. One fully hot, add mushrooms to pan and cook, stirring regularly, until they’ve released their water and started to turn golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill or toast your bread.

One the mushrooms have a nice color on them, add the garlic or shallots and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Drizzle with vinegar, most of the chile or chile flakes, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the greens; pretty much any kind aside from baby spinach will benefit from about 5 to 8 minutes cooking time, just until collapsed. If you’re me, you’ll add 1 more tablespoon vinegar for brightness at this point. Stir in remaining tablespoon butter and adjust seasonings to taste. Rip bread into irregular croutons and push them into the sauteed vegetables. Lay pieces of cheese atop everything. Turn the heat down to medium low, place a lid on the pan and let the cheese melt, which will take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the pan and the kind of cheese you used.

Sprinkle with remaining chile, “hand out forks, then bring the the pan to the table.”

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Nuts for Nuts

I'll admit it.  Ted and I enjoy a little cocktail on occasion.  And if you're going to enjoy a little cocktail, you'll need a little nibble to go with it.  This recipe for Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts is the perfect accompaniment, not only for cocktail hour, but at any hour.

Feel free to use any combination of nuts you like.  Ina went for a fairly traditional mix, as did I, but I'm not all that creative.  Really, anything goes.  Anyway you do it, the cocktails will taste even better with a handful or two of these little gems.

Recipe:  Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts
Ina Garten


Vegetable oil
3 cups whole roasted unsalted cashews (14 ounces)
2 cups whole walnut halves (7 ounces)
2 cups whole pecan halves (7 ounces)
1/2 cup whole almonds (3 ounces)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder
4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
Kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a sheet pan generously with vegetable oil. Combine the cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice and chipotle powder on the sheet pan; toss to coat. Add 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt and toss again.

Spread the nuts in one layer. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring twice with a large metal spatula, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 more teaspoons of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of rosemary. Toss well and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking as they cool. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to a week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Stew

Generally speaking, I think of stew as a winter dish.  It's comforting, stick-to-the-ribs kind of fare, perfect for cold blustery evenings.  In fact, usually around this time of the year, I retire my dutch oven in favor of my grill pan and give up on the whole stew thing.

The funny thing is that even as the chill goes out of the air, I still enjoy a good braised dish.  Enter David Tanis and his St. Patrick's Day inspired Irish Stew.  Made with lamb, it's just perfect for these very early days of spring.  Lamb is lighter than beef and this stew has a decidedly springier vibe.

Be prepared.  This recipe makes an absolute ton of stew so either (1) invite a crowd, (2) cut the recipe
 in half, or (3) plan for lots of leftovers.

Recipe:  Irish Stew
David Tanis, New York Times, March 11, 2015


3 pounds lamb shoulder cut in 2-inch chunks (or use thick shoulder chops)
 Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds onions (about 6 medium), cut in wedges
1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), cut in 3-inch lengths
4 cups chicken, veal or beef broth (or water)
1 large sprig thyme
3 pounds russet potatoes (about 12 small), peeled and halved, or cut in 2-inch thick slices


Pat lamb dry and season well with salt and pepper. Put oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Brown meat on all sides, working in batches.

Set meat aside and add onions and carrots to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook vegetables, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Return meat to pot, add broth and bring to a simmer. Put in thyme sprig and arrange potatoes on top (it’s fine if potatoes are not completely submerged). Season potatoes, cover pot and transfer to oven.
Bake for about 1 hour, until lamb is quite tender when probed with a skewer or paring knife. Remove fat from top of broth. Ladle stew into shallow bowls and serve.

Alternatively, cook stew on stovetop instead of baking; keep covered at a gentle simmer for about 1 hour. For a thicker stew, crush a few of the potatoes from the stew and simmer in broth, or thicken with a slurry of flour and water (about 4 tablespoons flour).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fresh From the Oven

I am a lover of all things baked.  I am particularly fond of breakfast pastries, but let's be honest, muffins, scones, and coffeecakes are generally not the most virtuous way to start out the day.  In fact, usually I try to maintain my careful eating until at least mid-afternoon.  No sense in starting out in the hole.  That's what I always say.  Better to dig the hole around 4:00 p.m.
I was out of currants so I used gold raisins.
Add the cold butter and then the liquids.
Finish off with an egg yolk wash and a sprinkle of turbaned sugar, and then into the oven.
But if there's one thing I can't pass up, it's a fresh from the oven scone.  I am greatly aided by the fact that I live in a city with a paucity of bakeries, at least bakeries worth frequenting.  Things are getting a little better with a couple of new ones opening recently but generally, if I want something baked, I bake it myself.

This brings me to today's recipe for Flour Bakery's Classic Currant Scones.  My friend Mona reminded me of these when we were catching up the other day.  Flour Bakery is the most divine bakery ever.  If you're in Boston anytime soon, you really must stop in to sample some of Joanne Chang's goodies.

These scones are light, airy, rich, and so easy to make.  The key to success is to keep all of the ingredients as cold as possible.   Make sure to cut up your butter and combine the egg, buttermilk, and creme fraiche and then return everything to the refrigerator until the moment you're ready to add each one to the flour mixture.

You can prep these scones and then refrigerate them unbaked until you're ready to bake them off just before serving.  Preheat the oven and then pop the tray into the oven directly from the refrigerator.  The heat from the oven and the cold butter in the scones will cause steam which, in turn, will make the lightest scones ever.

Recipe:  Flour Bakery's Classic Currant Scones
Makes 8 scones

Note:  I actually cut the scones and baked them off that way instead of scoring the dough and cutting afterwards.  They bake much faster, which is key when you're really in the mood for a scone.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Extra Note:  I was out of currants so I used golden raisins.


2 3/4 cups (385 grams) unbleached all-purpose f lour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (80 grams) dried currants
1/2 cup (1 stick, 114 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
1/2 cup (120 grams) cold nonfat buttermilk
1/2 cup (120 grams) cold crème fraîche
1 cold egg
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sanding sugar, pearl sugar, or granulated sugar


Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, and currants on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the butter
is somewhat broken down and grape-size pieces are still visible.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, crème fraîche, and whole egg until thoroughly mixed. On low speed, pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour-butter mixture and beat for 20 to 30 seconds, or just until the dough comes together. There will still be a little loose flour mixture at the bottom of the bowl.

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Gather and lift the dough with your hands and turn it over in the bowl, so that it starts to pick up the loose flour at the bottom. Turn over the dough several times until all of the loose flour is mixed in.

Dump the dough onto a baking sheet and pat it into an 8-inch circle about 1 inch thick. Brush the egg yolk evenly over the entire top of the dough circle. Sprinkle the sanding sugar evenly over the top, then cut the circle into 8 wedges, as if cutting a pizza. (At this point, the unbaked scones can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. Proceed as directed, baking directly from the freezer and adding 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.)

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the entire circle is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, then cut into the prescored wedges (the cuts will be visible but will have baked together) and serve.

The scones taste best on the day they are baked, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300-degree-F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or, you can freeze them, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week; reheat, directly from the freezer, in a 300-degree-F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.