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Monday, May 23, 2011

Time Off for Good Behavior

I am very excited.  The stars have aligned and Ted and I are actually going on a vacation.  Alone.  Together.  No children.  It's not that I don't love my kids but this is the best news I've had in a while.

Charlie is still away at school and Kate is going on a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia with two history teachers from her school.  This means that either Ted and I can stay at home and enjoy the quiet or we can go away and enjoy the quiet and the change of scene.  We voted for the change of scene.

So, we are off to Scotland.  I haven't been there in 30 years and Ted's never been.  This is somewhat amazing to me given his love of single malt scotch. Nonetheless, while there will be no golf involved in this trip, I suspect there will in fact be a fair amount of scotch drinking for Ted.

The upshot of all this is that I will be taking a brief break from the blog starting tomorrow because I will be on vacation and I WILL NOT BE COOKING! While I love to cook, I am thrilled to let the chefs at fancy hotels and restaurants do the dirty work for a change.

I'm sure I'll have lots to tell when I return.  I do not plan to eat any haggis but I do plan to search out some other local specialities, both food and sweater related!  So, stay tuned and I'll be back to blogging on  Tuesday, June 7th.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

It's almost summer and that means that it's time for Ted to have far more Pirates tickets than anyone has a right to.  Yes, it's baseball season.

I grew up in a baseball loving household.  I think my father always felt a little cheated because he had three daughters and no sons.  It's not that girls can't and don't like baseball, because we all did, but he never had the son to toss the ball around with.  Nonetheless, we all accompanied my dad quite regularly to see the Dodgers play.  In fact, I have very fond memories not only of my own childhood at Dodger Stadium, but also of Charlie and Kate's.

Ted loves baseball like no one I have ever seen, except for maybe Charlie.  In fact, Charlie loves baseball so much that when he had to write his college application essay he wrote about the feelings he has when sitting in a ballpark.  It still brings tears to my eyes.  The crack of the bat, the green of the grass, the smell of the hotdogs...  You have the idea.

I like baseball but I do not share my husband's and son's true love of the sport.  A couple of games every season is just fine for me.  This is not the case with Ted and Charlie where more is more and the more the better.  Kate is neutral on the whole thing.  She'll go if there's an extra ticket (which there almost always is) and if she has nothing better to do.

But there is one thing I love about baseball.  I love the condiments.  Yes, you heard me right.  I love condiments.  For me, the hotdog and bun are merely the vehicle on which the condiments rest.  By the time I'm done "dressing" my dog there is no evidence of a dog being in the bun.  The sloppier the condiments are, the better.  If they're not dripping out of and off of the bun I know I didn't put enough on.

So, here's what I like.  Lots of mustard.  If they have deli mustard in addition to the classic American, I go for both.  Onions.  Relish. Sauerkraut, if they have it.  You may note the absence of ketchup.  Let me make this clear.  Ketchup is a hamburger condiment and does not make an appearance on any hotdog I am going to eat.

So, there you have it.  The perfect hotdog.  It's funny though.  I rarely make hotdogs at home, as yummy as they are.  But if I did make hotdogs at home I would serve them with this, my favorite cole slaw of all time.  In fact, I'll bet it would be good as a condiment.

Recipe:  Bobby Flay's Creamy Cole Slaw


  • 1 head green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 large carrots, finely shredded
  • 3/4 cup best-quality mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons grated Spanish onion
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


Combine the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture. Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Smokin' Hot Hash

I am sick of cooking and let me tell you something.  This is a big problem for a person who writes a food blog.  Not just big, it's a huge problem.  So, like updating my spring wardrobe, it appears that my dinner repertoire needs a bit of a sprucing up too.

I have pored over cookbooks that I never use and have come up with some nice things to make in the coming weeks.  Today in The New York Times, Melissa Clark had a nice sounding recipe for an artichoke dish.  If I can just overcome my fear of cooking artichokes, that sounds like something to try too.  I'm looking beyond the tried and tried again recipes and getting creative.  I feel the spark coming back, even as we speak.

Sometimes the good ideas present themselves on a silver platter.  Or in the case of this recipe, on the Food Network.  As much as I love Ina Garten and her Barefoot Contessa cooking show, I am convinced that there are about 15 episodes and they just show them over and over.  But yesterday Ina made something I'd never seen her make before: Basil Chicken Hash.  And what's more, it looked really good.

So, this morning in an enthusiastic flurry of activity, I zipped over to the grocery store to pick up my ingredients.  I know it's hard to believe but I didn't have one potato in this house nor did I have chicken breasts on deck in the freezer.  I told you that I've been in a bit of a cooking lull.  Now do you believe me?  Who doesn't have potatoes in their house?

The recipe was easy enough although it used just about every pot and pan I had.  The chicken had to be cooked in the oven, and two pans were required for the actual cooking of the hash.  Messy but worth it.  Apparently Truman Capote made this hash for his Black and White Ball.  If it's good enough for Truman and his guests, it's certainly good enough for me.  Now all I needed were the masks and maybe a "tablescape"!

Recipe:  Basil Chicken Hash
(Ina Garten)


2 whole (4 split) chicken breasts, bone in and skin on
16 basil leaves
Olive oil
Kosher salt
2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and large diced
2 red onions, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 mined scallions, white and green parts
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet.  Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving one side attached.  Place 4 basil leaves under the skin of each breast.  Pull the skin over as much of the meat as possible so the chicken won't dry out.  With your hands, rub each piece with olive oil and sprinkle very generously with salt and pepper.  Bake the chicken for 35 - 40 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned and the chicken is just cooked through.  Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones.  Cut the chicken in large dice and set aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large saute pan.  Add the potatoes and onions, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through.

In a separate saute pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add the red peppers, garlic, thyme, paprika, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the edges of the peppers are seared.

Add the chicken and the pepper mixture to the potatoes and heat through.  Add the scallions and the parsley, toss together and place on a serving platter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: A New Feature

 Not only do we have a chic new blog design, we have a new feature:  These Are a Few of My Favorite Things.   It's so much more interesting and exciting that it sounds.  Just trust me.

Every once in a while I come across something so great that I don't know how I did without it before.  Maybe it's a pot.  Or a gadget, although I am pretty streamlined when it comes to gadgets so if I mention it, you'll know it's worth considering.  Or maybe it's something as simple as baking molds.

Speaking of which...  I have started using these amazing little paper baking molds.  I had seen them used in bakeries and had always wondered what the deal was.  Were they better than other cupcake papers or was it just an aesthetic thing?  Well, I finally got to find out first hand.

A few weeks ago I was browsing in Sur la Table.  Back in the baking section with all the cute colored baking cups was a shelf with piles of these fabulous Italian paper baking molds.  Eureka!  There they were in all shapes and sizes.  It was almost as exciting as a shoe sale at Bergdorfs.  There were small ones for muffins, loaf pans big and small, star shaped pans, and large panettone molds.  And the best part was that this was a purchase for which I would not have to make any excuses.

I bought a couple of different sizes and shapes and brought them home.  For a while I just looked at them.  They were so pretty.  But then I got excited and started baking.  I put my Blueberry Sunshine Muffins in them.  I made mini pound cakes in the small loaf pans.  I was a baking machine.

Here's what's really nice about these molds.  The ones I used for muffins are deep.  This is really nice if you're adding a topping like coconut or streusel.  The topping won't end up all over your muffin tin rather than all over your muffin.  The molds are all flat bottomed and have rigid sides so they don't require a muffin pan.  Just place any shape on a baking sheet and pop them into the oven.

Now, here's the best part.  Everything comes out of the oven looking so beautiful and elegant.  When you remove the paper mold the muffins look less like muffins and more like little individual cakes which I think is very chic.   Wrapped in cellophane, you have a lovely little gift for someone who appreciates the finer things.

So, while I know that paper baking molds aren't going to change the world or revolutionize the baking industry, they will make everything you bake look ready for its close up and that's worth something, isn't it?

Check out paper baking molds at Sur La Table . 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Barb and Berries

Charlie is not coming home this summer and I am sad.  It's good because he has landed himself a gig working for a professor at school, and he's actually getting paid.  (Those of you with college aged children will rejoice along with me because we have all been waiting patiently for our children to make some money of their own.)  Nonetheless, I'm sad because I'm selfish and I would like to have him around at least a little bit.  I am going to have to settle for just a couple of weeks in August before he leaves for his term abroad in Berlin.

Today as I was walking around the grocery store buying food for just the three of us I spotted some beautiful fresh rhubarb.  Charlie loves strawberry rhubarb crisp.  I used to make it for him whenever rhubarb was in season.  Normally I would have gotten all excited to whip up a crisp for dessert and then surprise him with it.  But he's not around.  Boo hoo.

But you know what?  We can have strawberry rhubarb crisp anyway so I bought that rhubarb and made the crisp.  It was really good.  And while I still miss Charlie, at least I enjoyed dessert.

Recipe:  Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
(Ina Garten)


4 cups fresh rhubarb, 1-inch diced
4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved, if large
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup quick cooking oats (not instant)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced


Preheat the oven to 350F.

For the fruit, toss the rhubarb, strawberries, 3/4 cup sugar, and the orange zest together in a large bowl.  In a measuring cup, dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice and then mix it into the fruit.  Pour the mixture into an 8x11 inch baking dish and place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper to catch drips.

For the topping, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, the remaining sugar, the brown sugar, salt, and oatmeal.  With the mixer on low speed, add the butter and mix until the dry ingredients are moist and the mixture is in crumbles.  Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering it completely, and bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the toping is golden brown.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Butterfly Me to the Moon

We have talked a lot about roast chicken in the past.  There are a million ways to make it and assuming you can get it cooked properly, it's always a crowd pleaser.

Every once in a while I am struck with a way to make something old new again.  Now, you may say why fix what's not broken but I'm all about pushing the envelope, sort of.  (For those of you who are counting, that was three cliches in two sentences.)  What I'm really about is coming up with new and delicious ways to prepare the same old chicken dinner.

The other day I was having a little visit with Mark the Butcher.  He had some nice looking whole chickens.  Just as Mark was about to wrap one up for me I was struck with inspiration.  I have often had him butterfly chickens to cook on the grill but why not cook one in the oven.  I'll bet it would cook faster and more evenly.  Mark sprung into action and in no time I was on my way home with my chicken sans backbone.

I was excited.  Let's face it, there's not much going on around here so a new methodology for cooking chicken could qualify as exciting in my life.  Things might be a little more interesting over at your house, but around here this chicken was a big deal.  For me.

Research was necessary to make this work.  I could just season the chicken up like I would any other chicken or I could go wild and try something new.  A little Food Network research yielded an Alton Brown seasoning paste recipe which I quickly whipped up.  The next step was the cooking process.  Alton suggested broiling the chicken but I had visions of undercooked chicken and a house filled with smoke.  No, I needed another way.

I am embarrassed to tell you who had the best instructions for oven cooking a butterflied chicken.  Sandra Lee.  Yes, Sandra Lee, queen of Semi Homemade,  America's Bake Sale, and Andrew Cuomo's constant companion.  I am sure that Sandy's recipes are tasty, but that whole "semi-homemade" thing is a little scary for me.  Honestly, how hard is it to chop an onion and could frozen onions actually taste as good as fresh?  And I'm not even going to get into the whole "tablescape" thing.

But I digress.  Sandy had a great methodology for cooking this butterflied bird to perfection.  It required a fair amount of attention because the chicken had to be turned over three times, but what the hell, I had time.   I have to tell you, the chicken was delicious, perfectly cooked, and pretty to look at too.  And because I think a roast chicken needs a little au jus, I improvised and deglazed the roasting pan with a little white wine and chicken stock to finish it off.

So, while I may have foregone the themed tablescape in favor of my standard place mats and cloth napkins, Sandra Lee rocks, at least in the case of how to oven roast a butterflied chicken.

Recipe:  Oven Roasted Butterflied Chicken
(Adapted from Alton Brown and Sandra Lee)


1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 lemon, zested
Extra virgin olive oil
1 3-to-4 pound whole chicken, butterflied
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon all purpose flour


Preheat oven to 425.  Position rack in the center of the oven.

Crack the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle until coarsely ground.  Add garlic and salt and work well.  Add lemon zest and work just until you can smell the lemon.  Add just enough oil to form a paste.

Place your butterflied chicken on a plastic cutting board breast side up.  Loosen the skin at the next and the edges of the thighs.  Evenly distribute the garlic mixture under the skin.  Drizzle the skin with olive oil and rub it in, being sure to cover the bird completely.  Season both sides well with salt and pepper.  Arrange the bird in a roasting pan breast side up.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes with the skin side up.  Turn the chicken over and roast for 10 minutes.  Turn the chicken over one more time so that the skin side is up and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken from the roasting pan and tent.  Place the roasting pan on the stove over a medium-high flame.  Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping all the browned bits from the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add the chicken stock and the flour and cook until slightly thickened.

Slice the chicken and serve with the au jus.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blueberry Sunshine

It's spring and it's raining.  In fact, it's been raining with intermittent periods of hot and humid for days.  You've just got love the spring in Pittsburgh.

Despite the rain, there's actually a lot to love about the spring here in the 'burgh.  My tulips were absolutely lovely.  I should have taken a picture of the front of my house that's how beautiful they were.  I always order the really tall ones in yellow.  In the fall my take-a-second-mortgage-out-on-the-house gardening service plants the bulbs in abundance along the walkway up from the street and across the front of the house.  We could be in House Beautiful when the bulbs are at their peak in early May.   Now, since my tulips have come and gone, we have replaced the them with white geraniums which will be beautiful all summer long.  I may have bad days but one thing is for sure.  The front of my house never has a bad day.

It's spring and Pittsburghers have put away their Steelers jerseys and, those who dare, have taken out their Pirates hats.  The absence of Steelers-wear is a sure signal of spring.  Most of the Steeler attention these days is focused on Hines Ward as he sambas his way to the coveted Dancing With the Stars Mirror Ball Trophy.  DWTS fever has taken up where Steeler fever left off.  Let the Terrible Towels wave!

Another thing I love about spring, although it has little to do with Pittsburgh, is that the fruit is finally starting to taste good.  Gone are the bland strawberries of winter shipped in from who knows where.  The raspberries are starting to soften up a little and are actually flavorful.  And the blueberries are starting to have to real blueberry flavor.   We haven't yet hit the height of summertime deliciousness but we're getting there.

Now, while I probably wouldn't get excited about a mixed berry salad quite yet, the blueberries are ready for their spring debut in muffins.  They have just enough flavor and texture to give a real blueberry punch.  And somehow, these muffins feel springy to me.  So, I'm going to get my cup of coffee, sit down and look out my window and enjoy the rain soaked view.

Happy spring, where ever you are.

Recipe: Blueberry Sunshine Muffins


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly grease muffin tins or use paper muffin cups.

In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, with the paddle attachment cream together 4 tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup sugar, zest, and the vanilla.  Add egg and beat to combine.

Into a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  With the mixer running, add half of the flour mixture, the sour cream, and then the remaining flour mixture.   Mix to combine but do not over mix.  Remove bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, leaving room for the streusel mixture.

To make the streusel:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons butter.  Pulse to combine.  Mixture should be lumpy.

Top each muffin with 1 tablespoon of the streusel mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Did Me Wrong

Well, Blogger is finally back up and running.  This is the good news.  The bad news is that since I couldn't write my post for today until just now and Ted's not home to keep me from looking like I've never looked at a grammar book, I am taking a "personal day."

In the meantime, I have to figure out what happened to Wednesday's post.  Apparently the net result of the Blogger problem was that a bunch of content went into the deep dark hole we call cyberspace.  Hum.  This cannot be good.

So, I'll be back on Monday with something witty to say.  Or at least I hope I have something witty to say.

Have a fun weekend.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We Have a New Look!

Do you know how sometimes you run into someone you haven't seen in a long time and they look completely different?  New hair, new makeup, maybe thinner?  They've had a complete makeover.  Well, let me introduce you to the new, improved, extreme blog makeover, You Little Tarte!

That's right.  We've undergone a major makeover.  Gone are the drab colors.  Our new look, as you can see, is bright and cheerful.  I'd love to say it is a better reflection of me, but I'm not always all that bright and cheerful.  It's a reflection of the me I wish I could be more of the time!  The new design also has a nifty little feature that allows you to print with or without images, which I know my friend Vicki will be happy about.  Take a minute to scroll down to to the bottom of the page.  Lots of "housekeeping" stuff is now down there instead of cluttering up the sides.  I love it.  It looks so neat and organized.

Not to worry, all the past posts are still available for you to peruse.  And you can use the Google search bar at the top to look up recipes previously posted on the blog.  So much change but you know what they say.  Change is good.

So, like a new pair of shoes, the new design might take a little getting used to.  But before you know it, the new and much improved You Little Tarte will be like an old friend.

So, here's a recipe for a yummy little cocktail, compliments of Ted,  to toast our brand new look.  Cheers.

Recipe:  Champagne Bowler
Makes 2 cocktails


6 or 7 fresh strawberries
2 ounces simple syrup
1 ounce Cognac
8 - 10 ounces chilled brut sparkling wine


Put strawberries and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.  Muddle well with a muddler or wooden spoon.  Fill cocktail shaker half full with ice cubes and add cognac.  Shake well.  Strain into two champagne flutes and fill the flutes with sparkling wine.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy 8,000th

Well today certainly started out well.  When I logged on to You Little Tarte this morning to write today's posting, I saw that we have had exactly 8,000 hits since the blog started back in October.  Now, I'm no expert, but that sounds pretty good to me.

And I have all of you to thank.  Believe me, as much fun as it is to come up with a pithy little posting every day, it's more fun to read your emails and comments.  It reminds me that you're all out there in cyberspace, enjoying You Little Tarte.  Wow!

But I have a favor to ask.  Spread the word and help You Little Tarte grow.  Tell your friends and colleagues about us.  I'm sure not everyone is really that interested in my pantry remodel or Kate and her tennis, but the recipes are good and most are very easy to make.  And if you are interested in my pantry remodel and Kate's tennis, then stay tuned.  Kate will be hitting the court with a vengeance this summer in the ongoing quest to bring up her ranking.  Heady stuff, I know.

I have one more favor to ask.  Comment, comment, comment.  Apparently it's good to gets lots of comments on the blog in the section reserved for that.  So, if you would occasionally just jot a little comment on the blog, I would be very appreciative.  If any of you have blogs, tell me about them and I'll visit you too.  It's a tit for tat situation out here in the blog world.

So now having asked for a bunch of favors from you, I'm going to do all of you a favor and pass along a recipe for a surprisingly light and springlike chicken dish.  We're having it tonight for dinner.  Maybe you will too.  And let me know what you think of it.

Recipe:  Chicken with Rosemary Sauce
(Adapted from Cooking Light)


2 teaspoons olive oil
4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped green onions for garnish (optional)


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.  Add chicken to the pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Add 1/2 cup of green onions, white wine, and rosemary and cook for 30 seconds, scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Stir in chicken stock, and cook an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Add cream, cook 2 minutes.  Garnish with green onions, if desired.  Serve chicken with sauce.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Cake to Make You Feel Good

It's not often that lightening strikes twice but it happened last week.  I am sure that it will come as no surprise that I read a number of food blogs regularly.  I really love Daily Salt (Daily Salt) and I even get an email whenever a new one is posted.  I also enjoy Tasty Kitchen (Tasty Kitchen) which is a spin off from the Pioneer Woman Cooks.  I urge you to take a look at both.

But I digress.  Last week I was catching up on my blog reading and found that both Salt and Tasty Kitchen had a recipe for something called a Lazy Daisy Cake.  With a name that cute I just had to try it.

Apparently the Lazy Daisy Cake came from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook back in the 1940's and then was republished in Marion Cunningham's Lost Recipes.  The name comes from the fact that it's the easiest cake in the world to make.  It takes about 10 minutes to mix up and then it's into the oven.  The really great thing about the Lazy Daisy Cake is that it tastes as though it's much more complicated than it is.  I also like the fact that it can be served either as a dessert or as a coffee cake at brunch.

So I made the cake.  It was as easy as advertised and was absolutely delicious.  The topping, which is a mixture of butter, brown sugar, cream and coconut goes onto the cake after it's been baked.  The whole thing is then popped into the broiler for a minute or two just to lightly brown the topping.

The end result is so satisfying.  My mother was never much of a baker, but if she had been, this recipe would have been right up her alley.  It's comforting and not complicated and surprisingly cheerful.  Just the way a cake should be.

Recipe:  Lazy Daisy Cake
(Adapted from Marion Cunningham's Lost Recipes and Daily Salt)
Makes one 8-inch square cake

Note:  You can also add about a 1/2 cup of chopped nuts to the topping is you like.


2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded coconut


NOTE:  Once the hot milk has been stirred into the batter, work quickly and pour into the prepared pan. Pop the cake into the oven straight away.  As soon as the baking powder is combined with the hot liquid, it begins to leaven and you will want this to happen in the oven.  (This is not the case with cool or cold liquids.)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter and flour an 8x8 square pan.  Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Beat the vanilla and eggs until slightly thickened.  Slowly add the sugar and beat well.  Add flour mixture to sugar mixture.  Blend until smooth.

Heat the milk and 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan.  When the butter has melted, stir the milk mixture into the batter and mix well.  Batter will be very liquid.

Work quickly and pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven.  Mix the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, cream and coconut together in a small saucepan until it is melted.  Stir until well blended.  Spread over the bot cake and brown lightly under the broiler for a minute or two.  Be careful not to burn.  It only takes a minute too long to ruin the cake!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Pasta

We were in New York over the weekend for Ted's uncle's 80th birthday celebration.  Kate was happy to accompany us because it meant that she could spend Saturday with her camp friend Olivia who lives there.  The girls spent a wonderful day together and I don't think there's a corner of Manhattan that they missed.

Part of their day was spent shopping for Mother's Day presents.  Olivia's mom gave them some gift ideas and the girls hit the town.  I must say that the ideas were inspired and Kate came back to the hotel thrilled with her acquisitions.

One of the goodies that Kate gave me for Mother's Day was a pound of fresh linguine pasta from Little Italy.  Can I just tell you something?  If pasta can be beautiful, this linguine is stunning.  It's just beautiful.  Who knew fresh pasta could look like this?

So, I've decided that I'm going to let the pasta shine and make something simple and truly delicious with it.  I'm going with one of my all time favorites: Linguine with Cacio e Pepe.  For those of you not in the know, that would be pasta with black pepper and cheese.  Simple and elegant and very easy too.

What a great gift.  Thoughtful and delicious.  A winning combination!

Recipe:  Linguine with Cacio e Pepe
(Mario Batali)


Kosher salt
1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butteri
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano


Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add 3 tablespoons of kosher salt.

Meanwhile, set another large pot over medium heat, add the pepper, and toast, stirring until fragrant, about 20 seconds.  Add the oil and the butter and stir occasionally until the butter has melted.  Remove from the heat.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just al dente.  Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Add 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the oil and butter mixture, then add the pasta and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated.  Stir in the cheeses (add a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce) and serve immediately, with additional grated Parmigiano on the side.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kale and Hearty

We have a new favorite snack food around our house.  No, it's not malted milk balls, although who doesn't love those?  No, Kate's new snack du jour is kale chips.  That's right.  She loves kale chips.

When I think of kale I don't immediately think of a snack food.  In fact, I think just the opposite.  So, imagine my surprise when I made a batch of kale chips as a snack for Kate and she gobbled them up in about two minutes flat.  They kind of remind me of potato chips with a nice crunch and salty taste.  Honestly, you would never know you weren't eating some sort of bizarre green potato if I didn't tell you.

I had heard about kale chips in the past but I had never even considered making them.  That is, until all around perfect person and lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow put a recipe for kale chips in her new cookbook, My Father's Daughter.  They sounded vaguely intriguing so I decided to give them a try.  I'm glad I did.

Kale chips are very quick and easy to make.  I hate to sound like one of those "my children only eat organic" mothers, but they're really healthy, being made from kale and all.  And let's face it, nowhere in the universe is a potato chip healthy so these are a much better snack than your standard snack chip.  All in all,  kale chips are a winner.  Toss the kale with a little olive oil,  sprinkle with some sea salt, and throw them in the oven and you have a snack that is sure to please.

And kale is just the beginning.  You can do the same thing with spinach and chard too.  Play with the seasonings.  Try some cumin, chili powder, and garlic.  The world is your oyster.  Follow the same directions and try something new.  You're in charge!

I urge you to give kale/spinach/chard chips a try.   You can be that mother who makes homemade healthy snacks for your kids and then lords it over all the other mommies at the playground.  That is, if you're into the kind of thing.  If not, well, you can eat them all yourself and not feel guilty which is something we all like.

Recipe:  Kale Chips
(Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow)


1 bunch of kale, wash and center stem removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt


Preheat the oven to 300F.

Tear the kale into 1-1/2 inch pieces and place in a large bowl.  Toss the kale with the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Toss to combine.

Transfer the kale to a baking sheet.  Scatter the kale in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes, until the kale is crisp.

Let cool.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More Dirty Little Secrets

(New York Times)
I've now been writing this blog for seven months and to be honest, I can't always remember what I've already written about.  Yes, I have an index but like many things in my life, it doesn't work quite as well as it should.

So, you'll have to excuse me if I've already written lovingly about anchovies.  I love them so much that they're worth the extra shout out anyway.  There, I've said it.  I am an anchovy lover and I am not ashamed to admit it.  For heaven sakes, it's not like I've just announced that my favorite food is ketchup.

So many people shrink away from menu items if they mention even an essence of anchovies.  They order caesar salad sans the anchovies.  All I can say is that you're missing out.  I, on the other hand, get very excited when a recipe includes anchovies.  They're salty and pungent and add the most delicious flavor to everything they touch.  I also love capers for the same reason.  Unfortunately they suffer from the same bad reputation as the much maligned anchovy.

This morning Melissa Clark had a recipe for baby lamb chops with anchovies and capers.  She was certainly singing my song and I made fast work of a trip to see Mark the Butcher.  Mark set me up with some beautiful chops.  I spent the rest of the day looking forward to dinner and I really love it when I'm looking forward to dinner.

So, can I just tell you that this is a winner of a recipe.  It's quick, which is always a bonus on a "school night" and it tastes as though it cooked for hours.  It's so good that I would serve it to guests, although I would have to do some quick talking to avoid the dreaded "A" word.

So, here it is.  My dirty little secret.  I love anchovies.  I feel lighter than air having unburdened myself of this secret.  Anchovy lovers unite!  Tell your friends!  Make this recipe!  You'll be glad you did.

Recipe:  Seared Lamb Chops with Anchovies, Capers and Sage
(Melissa Clark, New York Times, 5/4/11)


6 baby lamb chops (1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 anchovy fillets
3 tablespoons drained capers
15 sage leaves
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Lemon wedges for serving


Rinse the lamb chops and pat them dry.  Season them with salt and pepper and let them rest for 15 minutes.

Over medium-high heat, warm a skillet large enough to hold all the chops in one layer.  Add the oil and when it shimmers, add the anchovies and capers.  Cook, stirring, until the anchovies break down, about 3 minutes.

Arrange the lamb chops in the skillet and fry, without moving them, until brown, about 3 minutes.  Turn them over and toss the sage leaves and the red pepper flakes into the pan.  Cook until the lamb reaches the desired doneness, about 2 minutes for medium-rare.

Arrange the chops on serving plates.  Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute, then spoon the sauce over the top.  Serve with the lemon wedges.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What You See Is What You've Got

Last week I was so busy focusing on the Royal Wedding that I didn't have a chance to tell you about my new pantry.  Given that this little addition to my kitchen will make my life so much easier, you would have thought that I could have skipped a day of "royal coverage".

What can I say, I was on a roll.  Now I'm back in the saddle, as it were, and I'm happy to report that the new pantry is fully operational.  The guys from California Closets came last week and installed six glorious shelves in my now gutted and newly plastered and painted coat closet.  While it's not what I would build if I were starting from scratch and had unlimited space, this pantry is a whole lot better than what I had before, which was pretty much a small cabinet.

All this new space has allowed me to indulge my inner organizer.  I've made all kinds of nice little labels to put on the shelves so everything will remain organized and in place.  I've transfered lots of things like nuts and cereal into plastic containers, and I've even culled out some of the stuff I thought Kate would eat and never did.

One of the funny things to come out of all my organizing is that I come to the conclusion that  I have a canned tomato hoarding problem.  I uncovered at least 10 cans of San Marzano whole tomatoes, a bunch of cans of diced tomatoes, and even a couple of cans of stewed tomatoes.  Stewed tomatoes?  Who eats stewed tomatoes anyway? Needless to say, moving forward canned tomatoes will be on the menu.

I'm not even going to get into the pasta situation.  Let's just say that we'll be having lots of pasta with all those tomatoes.

The very best thing about the new pantry is that now I can see exactly what we have.  Maybe it will help when I go to the market so that I don't come home with more tomatoes.  Of course, I also have really good shoe storage in my closet upstairs and knowing what I have doesn't seem top deter me from bringing home yet another pair of black shoes.

I can dream, can't I?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Otherwise Engaged

Last week I was going through some old emails and came across one from my friend Deborah.  She sent me a link to a recipe for "Engagement Chicken".  According to the article, this recipe practically guaranteed that if a girl made it for her boyfriend an engagement ring would be forthcoming in short order.

The same day on the Barefoot Contessa, Ina told the story of her roast chicken.  It seems that whenever any of the girls in her office made her roast chicken for her boyfriend, the next thing you knew they were engaged.  Hum...  I guess a lot of people the world over have roast chicken to thank for their engagements.  It also seems that a lot of people are taking credit for the recipes.

And last week Kelly, who is one of Kate's tennis coaches, became engaged.  I have no idea if she made her fiance David roast chicken in the days or weeks leading up to the engagement but it would certainly be funny if she had.

All this talk of roast chicken and engagements got me to thinking.  I am here to tell you that I never made Ted roast chicken either before we were engaged or for years after we were married.  In fact, it's only in the last couple of years that I have become an avid chicken roaster.  Nonetheless, I can certainly see the appeal of roast chicken to a guy.  It's homey.  And it tastes really good.  You know the old saying, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  Well, here's proof.

So, while Kelly probably doesn't need to bother with Engagement Chicken, some of my readers might like to put this recipe to the test.  Let me know how it goes!

Check out this link for Engagement Chicken.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's A Wrap

Well, Will and Kate's big day has come and gone.  Kate looked stunning in her classic Grace Kellyesque Sarah Barton for Alexander McQueen wedding gown.  Will looked regal in his bespoke military uniform. London looked beautiful and the Queen looked sunny in yellow.  Let's face it, no one does pomp quite like the British.

So here we are, back to real life.  Kate gets the fairy tale and the rest of us get to read about it in magazines.  Bummer, don't you think?  Nonetheless, I thought I would give one last hurrah to British cooking with this recipe for cottage pie.

Apparently cottage pie, which is a lot like shepherd's pie, was one of William's favorite meals as a child.  In fact, I read somewhere that he still enjoys it and Kate makes it for him.  While I don't expect that cottage pie will be served at any state dinners, it is quite tasty and really hits the spot if you're in the mood for comfort food, British style.

The recipe is very easy.  The only trick is to make sure that you simmer the meat mixture long enough so that the gravy thickens and the meat isn't too wet.  The rest is, as they say,  easy-peasy.  I think the chief difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie is the absence of peas in the meat mixture.  To be honest, this suits me just fine because I'm not a big pea fan.

Give this recipe a try.  There are probably millions of variations on cottage pie, but this one is fairly quick to make and requires only one ingredient you may not have around the house already, Kitchen Bouquet.  This can be found in the gravy section of the supermarket.

So long to wedding week and best wishes to Will and Kate.

Recipe:  Cottage Pie
(Darren McGrady)


For the beef base
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet browning and seasoning sauce
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

For the potato topping
2 pounds potatoes, peeled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large sauce pan over high heat, heat the oil and add the onion.  Saute until translucent.  Add the ground beef and saute, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink.  Gradually stir in the flour, thyme, water, Kitchen Bouquet, bouillon cubes, and Worcestershire Sauce.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer the meat 30-45 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the meat and fork tender.  Remove the pan from the stove and transfer the beef to an oven safe casserole dish.

While the meat is simmering, place the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to 1 inch above the potatoes.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain and replace the potatoes in the pot and heat over a low heat to dry them thoroughly.  Mash the potatoes or run them through a potato ricer.

Stir in the nutmeg, cream, egg yolk, butter, salt and pepper.  Then use the mashed potatoes to cover the top of the meat mixture in the casserole dish.  Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with  the cheese.  Bake for 20 -30 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown and the pie has heated through.