Month: May 2014

Blueberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Crisp

Blueberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Crisp

IMG_5815Is there anything more lusciously sumptuous than baked sweet and sour fruit with something crunchy on top and a scoop of ice cream upon which to dream?  Maybe you’d say crème brûlée or, if you were a chocolate hound, tender creamy, richly suffocating brownies. (Not that I don’t love either one.)  But I’m not sure you’d be right. Fruit is real stuff compared to egged sweet cream or flour and melted chocolate.  What’s better — or more real — than rhubarb?  Blueberries?

Aside:  Sliced rhubarb, uncooked, as well as blueberries, freeze very well.  Pack tightly in well-sealed containers and freeze for 10-12 months. You can have rhubarb crisp or blueberry pie for Fourth of July or Thanksgiving–even Christmas.

Before the recipe, here’s a little photo story….

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  A chop of the rhubarb, a mix with blueberries, a little sugar and…a rest to drain off the liquids…  (above)

IMG_5799Into a buttered casserole awaiting its topping as a dog waits for supper…(above) Continue reading “Blueberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Crisp”

Grilled Tuna with Rice Salad and Shared Spicy+Garlicky Vinaigrette for Memorial Day

Grilled Tuna with Rice Salad and Shared Spicy+Garlicky Vinaigrette for Memorial Day

IMG_5766While it would be lovely if posts like this appeared out of whole cloth on the day needed, unfortunately I have to work ahead.  Cook ahead.  Shop ahead.  Think ahead.  Write ahead.  However you want to look at it; I rarely think of it as work–maybe you’d like to know that.  I happened to make this meal on a day when the wind whipped up like “The Wizard of Oz” and the hail beat down on our house, deck, cars, and garden with a vengeance typically saved for sledge hammering a wall you need to come down.  The fury and noise were enough to send the dogs and me scurrying down into the basement leaving flowers and pots and cars outdoors without further thought.  Dave, just home from a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, blithely stayed upstairs.

Here’s the eastern deck afterward:
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Miss Gab’s been sick —we think an awful reaction to her Leptospirosis vaccine–but we’re still unsure.  She’s getting MUCH better, but the deck full of hail and leaves was a shock to us all–Miss Gab included.  Within an hour, however, the sun came out, Dave grilled the tuna for the meal on the gas grill, and we ate on the deck! Continue reading “Grilled Tuna with Rice Salad and Shared Spicy+Garlicky Vinaigrette for Memorial Day”

Green Beans and Feta with Hot Tomato-Garlic Vinaigrette

Green Beans and Feta with Hot Tomato-Garlic Vinaigrette

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It really truly is my sister Helen who loves green beans any shape, any form.  (I keep saying this.) Crisp and salady or granny style with tiny new potatoes and lots of sliced onions with black pepper; she’ll eat them however you cook them.  But the older I get, more I find myself grabbing a big bagful and running home to cook them.   My very favorite prep might be my addictive lemon green beans; I make them for meals and for counter snacks:

Continue reading “Green Beans and Feta with Hot Tomato-Garlic Vinaigrette”

Almost a Spanish Omelet with a Walnut, Mozzarella + Kalamata Salad

Almost a Spanish Omelet with a Walnut, Mozzarella + Kalamata Salad

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You’re gonna need a bigger boat…

On one more freezing May night after a day of jury duty, I opened the fridge expecting to find a few leftovers for supper, but there were none to be had.  Somehow we’d eaten them all.  I had my mouth all ready for pizza, homemade pizza at that, and found zip, 0, nada.  I already had a nice little red opened to air, JAWS was on tv, Dave had called checking in from D.C., and I thought I had nothing to do but heat an oven.  Instead I had to make something for dinner.

If there’s nothing made and there’s no time, there’s nothing better than an omelet of whatever variety and a glass of wine.  Unless you’re too exhausted even for that, in which case you should have a cheese sandwich and go to bed.

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(Above:  a favorite book of mine)

I began with a 9-inch non-stick pan and good splash of olive oil well-seasoned with salt and pepper.  In went a handful of cherry tomatoes, a nice chop of onions (about a 1/4 cup), and somewhat more of a beautiful red bell pepper I cut up with dispatch.  There was no rhyme or reason to these ingredients, other than they were in the refrigerator and I knew they’d be good in eggs.  I wasn’t thinking Spanish omelet (aka Tortilla) until I saw a big bag of small red potatoes sitting hopefully on the floor in the mudroom; I grabbed a couple.

Spanish omelets –or tortillas — are a flawless puffy and crispy combination of thinly sliced or diced potatoes, onions, eggs, and lots and lots of olive oil.  My version would have luscious vegetables,  including the onion, only two small diced red potatoes, asparagus, eggs, and not so very much olive oil. I seasoned it all with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, crushed red pepper, and I’m sure terribly non-traditional  tarragon.  It would feed two of us –my son and me –with a bite or two left for the dogs.  Try this:

Continue reading “Almost a Spanish Omelet with a Walnut, Mozzarella + Kalamata Salad”

Mother’s Day Brunch:  Meatball Fritatta, Sides + Sangria

Mother’s Day Brunch: Meatball Fritatta, Sides + Sangria

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Happy Mother’s Day

to everyone who had or knew a mother!

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Since you forgot to make a reservation — and the restaurants are nasty-full anyway — make brunch at home.  You’ll save your bucks, get more food and brownie points for the bang, and everyone will have a place to put their feet up and yell for more coffee.  Instead of paying eight or ten dollars for a second glass of sangria, you can leave the pitcher on ice on the coffee table where any can help themselves.  Don’t forget to toast a great mother you know.
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This menu lends itself to a potluck approach.  Someone can bring the Sangria and the fresh fruit platter — since they’re buying fruit for sangria anyway.  You, as host, should make the frittata, which can be served hot, warm, or cold, and the blueberry-lemon topping for the ice cream. The non-cook can pick up a great loaf of bread. And WHY NOT? some wonderful butter.  The guy who loves to cook should make the green bean salad.  And that’s it except for setting the table and, if you don’t want to do that, make a buffet, then let folks help themselves and sit wherever.  Make sure you’ve got enough coffee because that’s all some people will want. Whatever you do, enjoy the day.  Here’s the menu, followed by the recipes you’ll need:
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MENU —  Serves 6 – 8

  • Sangria and Platter of Fresh Fruit  Best to begin on the sangria the night ahead, though it can be done early morning. 
  • Meatball Frittata Make your own meatballs beforehand/buy some great ones–either way, it’s a perfect way to eat eggs!
  • Baguette — Sliced French bread with lots of butter.  It’s a holiday, right?*
  • Green Bean, Fennel, and Mushroom Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette — Not your grandma’s green beans.
  • Vanilla Ice Cream with Blueberry-Lemon Sauce   Store-bought ice cream and your sauce — which can be made ahead
  • Coffee or tea 
  • *Don’t want bread?  Try my Blueberry-Cranberry Muffins recipe — makes 12.
Tender is the word.  Gentle is the method.  Don’t over-mix or over bake.  Butter?  Yes.

 SYRAH SANGRIA

serves 6  —  doubles easily Continue reading “Mother’s Day Brunch: Meatball Fritatta, Sides + Sangria”

Ina Fridays — Soups, Salads and Sides — Provençal Vegetable Soup

Ina Fridays — Soups, Salads and Sides — Provençal Vegetable Soup

IMG_5657The first Friday of every month, I blog INA FRIDAYS (all Ina Garten recipes) with a great group of writing cooks who just happen to be big Ina fans.  Scroll down nearly to the bottom to check out the list of blogs participating, then read up and cook some Ina with us this weekend. ♥♥♥

If there is any food more desirous than a simple, full vegetable soup, I don’t know what it is.  (Perhaps a garlicky roast chicken.  Or the most moussey of chocolate mousses.  A big warm loaf fresh from the oven maybe.  But I’m not sure.)  And I’m not talking about the long-simmering vegetable-beef we make mid-winter to use up the last of the pot roasts and carrots.  I mean the lithesome brothy pot-full of just vegetables: onions, leeks, fennel, carrots, potatoes, garlic, green beans, asparagus.  Perhaps a pistou.  But not necessarily.  Maybe some lovely bread, but there are days when only the rind of the cheese in the soup is enough.

(below:  our grandson Rhyan with a whiff of the rolls he helped make to go with the soup.  Recipe here.)

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Continue reading “Ina Fridays — Soups, Salads and Sides — Provençal Vegetable Soup”