Monday, February 18, 2013

Winter Storms

Last year we had no winter at all to speak of and this year we seem to be in the throws of a schizophrenic one here.  I know many people like less winter but I grew up when younger in the Berkshires where 2 feet of snow is a fairly regular occurrence so I want cold, snowy storms.  Especially here on the ocean where we get next to no snow. 

Yesterday we had a rare day of beauty but the real winner was the weekend prior when we had what every forecaster in America was calling a blizzard.  Don't get me wrong it was a great storm but I remember the Blizzard of 1978 as all New Englanders do (I was in Worcester by that point in my journey where it was ugly) and this storm did not compare to that one (or the storm of 2003 for that matter).  I went out during the New Moon High Tide to get shots of the Coastal Flooding and it was really awesome to see the fury of Mother Nature (tip: If the State Police have the road closed don't walk past them and go right up to the sea wall unless you want to get dinged in the head by rocks, shells, etc. We see it every storm). 

Here are a few shots including one where you can see the flooding coming up towards our house:




Since then the temps have gone up and down - 40* two days after the storm and today we have a high of 27*.  Crazy weather that makes people like me nuts and is seriously hampering my cooking in the kitchen.  I am hoping to get a beef stew together this afternoon - something that will cook itself so Statguy can eat. 

For all you winter haters here's a picture of what's to come soon:










Monday, February 13, 2012

Wondering Outloud

What happened to George Michael?  Such a voice, talent - seems like he hasn't put any new music out in a while and today I find myself listening to his music over and over again. 

This lack of winter is getting to me, deep in my soul.  I need cold weather, snow and a period of hibernation.  This year I am getting constant spring with warmer days and an inability to relax.  Not sleeping well at night, hot all the time and exhaustion brings with it depression. 

Cooking most days is a solace.  Easy dishes make me happiest and I spend my days lately making soups, pies, breads.  I don't care much about the news, spending more time reading cooking blogs, books, recipes.  Today I am too depressed for even that activity.

Is this what happens as we get older? We realize how futile our existence is, how little we mean in the grand scheme of things and we wish we had paid more attention when we were younger to our dreams? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to Shop For Free Giveaway

Like free snacks?  Want to get 10 Nabisco coupons $3.00 off of 3 coupons?  Head over to howtoshopforfree.net to enter the giveaway and while you are there join the forums for great information on using coupons to get food for free. 

This website changed the way I shop and has made our lives better in so many ways.  I have been able to pay it forward to kids and food banks just by using what I learned here. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rainy Days, Diet Changes and Illness

It's been awhile between postings.  I don't have much of an excuse except that I have had some major stuff going on in my life so haven't really been online.  I am, however, spending my days in the kitchen - more now than ever.  

Statguy had to make a radical diet change and being the supportive person I am I started it with him.  I am having problems from the new changes and soon will have to go back to my regular food but I wanted to get him up and running on his new eating plan.  

Prior to all this I made a beautiful sour cream sponge cake.  Here's a pic:
 And then there was the banana coconut loaf that I thought sounded bizarre but was the best banana bread I have ever eaten.  Seriously.  

 Since then it's been a whole lot of vegetable dishes and new things some good, some great.  This morning I made a batch of waffles with an outrageous blueberry sauce.  Just what I really needed on a dark, rainy day.  

Change is hard but necessary.  For me change has to include cake - luckily there is a flourless chocolate cake that scratches that itch for me.  

But I will always miss these...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Saturday Night and Dinner at Sel De La Terre

A beautiful spring evening this past Saturday and I was out for dinner with Statguy.  Even though the Red Sox were at Fenway I was still able to make it to Copley Square in about 40 minutes and therefore I was able to take a moment to enjoy the Tulips outside of Trinity Church.  

After seeing these glorious flowers I headed to The Westin to meet Statguy.  We had reservations to dine at Sel De La Terre using a Groupon that we had purchased and I know that we were both looking forward to the evening.  

We arrived about 15 minutes early for our reservation and after some tense moments with the hostess we were sat at a wonderful table with a great server named Ashley.  The menu has a nice selection and we spent some time picking our entrees, making plans to share everything with each other.  


We started out with two Arnold Palmers - that lovely concoction of half iced tea and half lemonade.  Boston is woefully remiss in not offering iced tea year round and finding an Arnold Palmer here is not easy.  Since neither of us were  drinking this evening these made us very happy as they were perfectly balanced, not too sweet and a good size.  

Our appetizer course began with the Duck Liver Mousse which was served on a board with pressed baguette slices, house made pickles, pickled onions and a spoonful of jam.  Here is a picture of my piece of baguette with the mousse, along side is a cucumber pickle and a piece of citrus.


  
After this we shared a house made burrata which came with a nice drizzle of honey on top and a crostini. I was unable to get a picture of it before Statguy began eating it so here is half of it...


We were pleasantly surprised when our server brought out the warm rolls.  Usually the bread is not the highlight of the meal but these rolls had a spectacular chewy texture and were served just out of the oven with a whipped honey butter that made them one of the best parts of the meal.  
Our entrees were next to arrive and I will be honest that at this point I was pretty much done with eating, full from the pate, burrata and rolls so I ate next to nothing of these next two dishes.  I was saving myself for dessert which I had no intention of skipping. 

Statguy ordered the Roast Chicken that was served with a Lemon Taleggio Risotto, Pinenuts, and Grilled Asparagus.  It had a lovely jus over the chicken as well.  I tried the risotto and while it had an intense lemon flavor when it was combined with the jus it was phenomenal.  
I ordered as my entree a starter called Pat's Clams.  I mainly ordered this for Statguy because he loves seafood and I knew that I would not be able to eat an entree.  The dish consisted of fresh littleneck clams, mussels, grilled baby octopus and chorizo in a saffron broth and served with a crouton on top.  It was a very nice portion and smelled fantastic.  


After all this food you would think that we'd be passing on dessert but no chance that is going to happen.  I have a sweet tooth that is legendary so we took some time to make sure we chose wisely, involved our wonderful server in the decision and chose her two favorite desserts.  I decided to have the Warm Chocolate Fondant Cake with homemade toasted marshmallow and graham cracker ice cream and Statguy went with the Milk Chocolate Brown Butter Ice Cream topped with a salted caramel sauce, chantilly cream and pecan crumbles.  Both were amazing.  



 A good cup of coffee - Sel De La Terre did not disappoint.  It was fresh, hot and served with a good quality cream.  Perfect.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fog Filled Days and Baking

It's been fogged in on the coast for days - for me that means migraines and a general malaise of spirit that doesn't lend itself to the kitchen normally.  Yesterday DH (Statguy) was home and I needed to feed him something other than a bag of chips so I spent the day reading recipes and creating some of the best food I've had in a long time.  

I started by creating a Bacon and Cheese Souffle.  I found this recipe in a glorious cookbook called The Illustrated Good Housekeeping Cookbook given to me by my best girlfriend after I remarked to her that I couldn't find a decent gingerbread recipe.  This book has her favorite recipe which is truly a wonderful gingerbread but gingerbread wasn't what I wanted to make for breakfast so the Bacon and Cheese Souffle was chosen.  I made this choice based on the fact that I am a serious lover of souffles and happen to have dozens of eggs on hand due to a fantastic sale price, the ease of the recipe as written and a need to conquer my fear of making a souffle.  

I started making the base of the recipe on the stove which came together easily and consisted of butter, flour, evaporated milk, salt, pepper.  This thickened beautifully and I added the egg yolks after tempering them and cooking more, adding shredded cheddar.  The egg whites whipped up to nice stiff peaks and the bacon smelled great (I used a thick cut applewood smoked bacon free of nitrites from Whole Foods - expensive but great to eat).  I knew this dish was going to be a winner.  I carefully folded cheese mixture into whites, tossed bacon through and put in souffle dish.  Into the oven for 30 minutes and sadly it didn't not puff up into a glorious hat of perfection - it did rise but not to the heights that I expected and my only conclusion is that my souffle dish was much larger than the one called for causing the souffle to spread and not rise.  It tasted wonderful - glorious comfort food. 

In the afternoon after we had digested the egg/bacon/cheese manna I wandered into the kitchen to make some clam chowder - not as daunting a task as it seems to be and I love the recipe from Jasper White's book called 50 Chowders.  It's perfection in a pot and made a fantastic afternoon meal.  And I followed this up by whipping up Buttermilk Scones which I topped with Devonshire Clotted Cream and Crofters Organic Strawberry Jam - my version of heaven on earth. 

Dinner was late and relatively easy.  Roasted Chicken Breasts, Scalloped Potatoes and Zucchini cooked with onions, garlic, oregano and San Marzano Tomatoes.  I cooked the chicken at a seriously high temperature - 450* so the skin was crisp and perfectly golden.  A food processor, copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking for the Scalloped Potato (or Gratin Dauphinois if you prefer) recipe and that was together and in the oven in no time.  The zucchini is a side dish I grew up on - I am pretty sure Mom used a can of stewed tomatoes in hers - it's quick and easy. 

You would think that by this point I would finished with cooking for the day, stuffed and unable to move but this was one of those days where my soul cried out for something comforting, reminiscent of childhood and chocolate.  For that there can only be one recipe - Mom's Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake.  
This is the cake that my mom made for every birthday, usually topped with a fudge frosting that is a royal pain to make (30 minutes of stirring and corn syrup - no thank you) and for which I was just not up to last night so I made Ina Garten's Chocolate Frosting from her recipe for Beatty's Chocolate Cake.  

The cake recipe is as follows:

Melt together:
2 oz unsweetened chocolate - I used Callebaut
1/2 stick of butter (1/4 c)

then add:
1/2 cup of boiling water
Let cool and then add:
1 c sugar
1 egg, beaten

Mix together:
1 c plus 2 T flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

1/4 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Add the flour and milk/vanilla to the chocolate egg mixture, mix until just combined - do not overmix this batter or you will get a tough cake.  Put in an 8x8 square pan which you have buttered and floured or lined with buttered parchment paper.  Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.  Cool completely and then frost with your frosting of choice.  

 Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Love

I have a new cappuccino maker -it's a Bialetti Mukka Express.




As you can see it's sleek, it's stylish, it's fueling my days into a caffeine high.  I love this little pot - so easy to use - maybe too easy to use. 

Here's a typical day - I get up, measure the water and coffee and put the Mukka on the stove, make breakfast.  In about 4 minutes I hear that comforting pop and whoosh of the Mukka which lets me know that the coffee is mixing with the steamed milk and I go to pour into cup to enjoy.  A few hours pass and I find myself making another cup.  If I had decaffeinated espresso I would be doing this in the afternoon and evening too.

I wonder if there is a 12 step program for Mukka Cappuccino addiction?