The snow is lovely, the air is crisp, very crisp and carrots have replaced the fresh, local leafy green vegetables that fill my fridge in the warmer months. The golden glow of the fire in the woodstove matched the warm orange of the carrot soup and carrot falafel that I made last week.
The Moors brought carrots, cousin of both Queen Anne’s lace and parsnips, to Europe from Asia in the 10th century. With more natural sugar than any other vegetable except beets, carrots are rich in carotene, which improves night vision, and are renowned as an anti-wrinkle agent.
According to some food historians, carrots originated in Afghanistan, which was enough of a reason to make falafel with carrots as the primary ingredient. Tahini sauce added a taste of the Middle East to our dinner. Here’s how I did it: … read more
I’m an impulsive cook, often inspired by the contents of my fridge and pantry.
Being a shareholder in the Community Supported Agriculture offered by Fable Farm in Barnard has meant that there has been even more inspiration in my kitchen. This week’s share included cherry tomatoes, squash and onions – the perfect combination for a summer quiche.
Sometimes inspiration in the kitchen isn’t enough. There were only a couple of eggs in the fridge and I didn’t have any cream or Swiss cheese and I had used the last ready-to-bake piecrust for a plum tart earlier in the week. Rather than drive to the grocery store for the missing ingredients, I improvised and made a vegetable tart with what I had. Unfortunately, when I lifted the lid of the ceramic pot that I keep flour in, I saw that I had forgotten to buy flour. … read more
I’m reposting last years list of favorites for a few reasons, first because I’ve been busy working on my first eBook Bread and Crackers that is for sale on Amazon – Here’s the link.
Second because there are free prints in this post that you can download and print as a little gift from my studio to you; and the third because this is still a list of my favorite things.
This is the time of year for lists, not shopping lists, but lists of virtually everything else – lists of the most important world events, top fashion trends of the year, the biggest storms, the sexiest man, the best movies, the most popular celebrities, the most reviled despots, the biggest disasters, the best selling books, and even a list of top time-wasters.
Print Winter Tree
With these lists as inspiration, I’ve compiled my top ten list of food favorites for 2010, and in a nod to Mr. Letterman, they are listed in reverse order of delight. To celebrate the New Year, I’ve created four prints that celebrate the seasons of the year. They can be downloaded and printed by clicking on the links below each image.
#10 Butter Poached Rhubarb – Combining the best of Julia Child, butter, and the best of James Beard, cream, I melted a stick of butter in a skillet, sprinkled in one cup of granulated sugar and cooked it for about five minutes. When the sugar had begun to caramelize and turned a light brown, I added four cups of rhubarb, cut in two inch slices, shook the pan vigorously to coat the rhubarb and cooked it until it was starting to fall apart. I took the pan off the heat, stirred in two tablespoons of dark rum, and transferred the rhubarb to a bowl set in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Topped with List Entry #4, whipped, it made a gorgeous dessert. This would be closer to #1 if fresh rhubarb were available from my garden year round and if this recipe were not loaded with sugar, butter and cream.
#9 Carrots – I’ve been eating lots of carrots this year, in soups, salads, in fritters, cakes and muffins. Organic carrots, scrubbed and slow roasted with salt, pepper and olive oil complement most any meal. Any leftovers can be mashed with a bit of mayo and garlic and spread on toast for lunch or a rustic hors d’oeuvre.
Print Spring Tree
#8 Cappuccino – Alas, this is one thing on my list that I don’t make in my kitchen; but, the adventure of searching for a café and finding a perfect cappuccino with just the right amount of foamy milk on top merits a place on my list.
#7 Recipe Police – When I wrote about the absence of fish in my pot of chowder I boldly proclaimed that the recipe police would not come to my kitchen to give me a ticket. Little did I know that a Recipe Policeman, in the form of a phone call from an anonymous reader, would phone me and issue a warning that I had neglected to add thyme to the pot. I got away with a warning but I have been careful to add thyme to chowder since then.
#6 Pasta with Raisins and Pine Nuts – So simple, so quick, so delicious! While I waited for the pasta water to come to a boil, I sauteed one clove of garlic in a large frying pan with one tablespoon of unsalted butter and one tablespoon of olive oil. When the garlic had softened but not browned, I added a quarter of a cup of pine nuts. When the nuts where toasted, and the pasta was al dente, I drained the pasta, reserved a quarter of a cup of pasta water, added the pasta, generous handfuls of chopped flat leaf parsley and raisins, and a splash of the pasta water to the pan. I topped the pasta with the mere suggestion of ground cinnamon. Finito!
#5 Chickpea Flour – I discovered that I could make a crisp flatbread by baking in a 450º oven a batter of one cup of chickpea flour, one and a half cups of water and a teaspoon of salt in a cast iron skillet with three tablespoons of oil. Seasoned with salt and a bit of curry powder, an ho-hum soup and toast dinner was transformed into a praise-worthy meal.
Print Summer Tree
#4 Heavy Cream – My favorite comes from local dairies and is not ultra-pasteurized. I like it on oatmeal with brown sugar, whipped, with no sugar added, as frosting on deep, dark, moist chocolate cake, and as a cold topper for broiled apricots, (a treat I learned from my dear friend Didi).
#3 The Open Air Market in Ortigia, Sicily – Chatting with Angelo Cappucio about fish for dinner, choosing blood oranges, smelling the smoky roasted artichokes, sampling wild strawberries, olives, salami and chocolate from Modica is the best way to figure out “What’s for dinner?”
#2 Making Cheese in Sicily – Near the top of my list is the morning I spent in the cheese shop in Ortigia, making cheese with Andrea Borderi. I was welcomed into the small kitchen in the back of the shop, wrapped in an apron and put to work. I learned how to cut, ladle and knead curds as we made ricotta and mozzarella. I make a simple breakfast of a bowl of ricotta cheese, topped with a drizzle of Vermont honey and slices of orange when I’m wishing I were in Sicily.
Print Fall Tree
#1 Contact from Friends – I am cheered and delighted when I hear from friends, whether old or new, by email, telephone and even snail mail. It doesn’t matter if the message is lavish praise, a complaint, or a correction – you are there, reading what I write, cooking what I cook, improvising, improving recipes and sharing your discoveries. You bring me joy. Thank you and please stay in touch.
I found concord grapes in the market last weekend and they transported me back to my childhood and Ruby’s grape arbor. Ruby was a gardener and a cook who lived next door.
Concord Grapes Carol Egbert
She showed me how to use small clippers to harvest the bunches of fragrant, purple-black grapes. We sat on her back porch and watched birds feasting on grapes as we separated the ripe grapes from the stems, leaves and spider webs. Ruby always used the grapes we gathered to make enough grape jelly for a winter’s worth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. … read more
Last Sunday, I invited a few friends to a last minute, simple dinner. My plan was to prepare a couple of salads early in the day, spend the afternoon reading, and have a nap. The salads would be served at room temperature with no last minute preparation. I looked forward to an evening of conversation with friends. When I finished the last salad, I realized that I hadn’t made an appetizer. There were no nuts, bread or crackers in the pantry. I needed to improvise. … read more