2011 Top Ten List & Free Prints

December 26th, 2011 / comments 9

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.

bread cracker kindle listing cover 190x305 2011 Top Ten List & Free Prints

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.

tree winter c egbert 2011 Top Ten List & Free Prints

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.
tree spring c egbert 2011 Top Ten List & Free Prints

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.

tree summer c egbert 2011 Top Ten List & Free Prints

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.

tree fall c egbert 2011 Top Ten List & Free Prints

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.


Carota – Carrot in Italy #3 – Roasted Carrot Appetizer & Competition

March 19th, 2010 / comments 10

We had been invited to a gathering on Sunday afternoon and I roasted the last of the carrots as a base for a hearty carrot spread I took to share.

carrot on blue c egbert Carota   Carrot in Italy #3   Roasted Carrot Appetizer & CompetitionI haven’t figured out what to call it but it was delicious. Here’s how I did it: … read more

Swordfish – Ortigia Market Dinner

March 2nd, 2010 / comments 14

veg patchwork 0rtigia 01 Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner Most mornings I walk to the open-air market with no idea of what I will buy. The fresh vegetable stalls are piled high with white and purple cauliflower, broccoli, plum tomatoes still attached to vines, fluted heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, fennel, potatoes, carrots, onions and eggplant all carefully arranged to form a patchwork of colors.

There are leafy greens that I can’t identify near the familiar bunches of parsley, mint and basil. I bought a few small potatoes, one zucchini, and bunches of parsley and mint from the vendor who waited patiently as I figured out the correct combination of coins to pay him.

oranges ortigia Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner

The fruit stalls are filled with citrus – blood oranges, mandarins, ordinary lemons and two-fisted, lumpy Sicilian lemons. One stall had five small containers of wild strawberries. They were three times as expensive as the more familiar cultivated ones but I couldn’t resist the extravagance.

The fish section of the market is the most lively.

fish vendor sicily 041 Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner

The loud calls of men selling fish and seafood fill the air with promises and banter that I don’t understand.

fish vendor 02 sicily1 Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner

The metal tables are filled with squid, cuttlefish, three kinds of shrimp, cockles, mussels, sea urchin, octopus, fish filets, mustard-yellow dotted eels, small pink fish, and silver striped black striped fish. A large piece of fish ready to be sliced into steaks sat beside the up-ended head of the swordfish it came from. I decided on swordfish for dinner because it would be the simplest to cook. I used my fingers to indicate that I wanted a one-inch thick steak. I’ll deal with boning, skinning, filleting and cleaning the less familiar fish another day.

The vendors who sell ripe and green, brine and oil cured olives, also sell heads of garlic, and capers and anchovies preserved in salt.

tomato paste ortigia Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner

A spatula that looks like a putty knife sat on a large platter next to a mound of tomato paste made from sun dried tomatoes. I bought an herb blend marked Herba Tipico Siciliano and a small quantity of salted capers to experiment with.

The smoky smell of peppers and onions roasting on a small charcoal grill at the end of the lane perfumed the air. This was the only stall where a woman was working. Her husband was in charge of roasting and negotiating sales and her role was limited to wrapping a pepper after I had paid for it.

The cheese man tempts every passer-by with a sample. He reaches across the cheese case to offer samples of smoked mozzarella or provolone on the tip of his huge knife. When I pointed at the creamy cheese studded with red peppers, he used that same knife to create an instant sandwich with the cheese, bits of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and a crust of ciabatta bread. His smile was at least as sweet as the cannoli I bought from him for our dessert.

chocolate vendor ortigia Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner

My heavy market bag made it easy to resist stopping at the stalls with almonds and walnuts, blocks of almond paste, dates, dried fruit and chocolate bars from Modica that are seasoned with black pepper, ginger, orange or chili. I considered menu possibilities as I walked home until I was distracted by a young girl trying to perfect her skating technique in the Piazza Doumo. By the time I finished unpacking the groceries, I had decided to marinate the swordfish and then bake it. Parsley would flavor a mixture of vegetables, and the wild strawberries would top the already perfect canolli. Dinner was meraviglioso! Here’s how I did it: … read more

On-the-Road Picnic & Vegetarian Sandwiches

February 9th, 2010 / comments 4

The car is packed, the fridge is empty, our on-the-road picnic is ready and Rosie is in the closet. Like most golden retrievers, she loves people and parties, swimming and fetching sticks, she is easy going and intuitive so when she saw the suitcases she headed for the closet.

Rosie 01 On the Road Picnic & Vegetarian SandwichesRosie knows that we are going on a trip. She hates the car. We will have to push, pull, cajole and ultimately lift her into the car where she will tremble and cower until we arrive in Virginia where she will have a holiday with her brother, our son Noah, and his family until we return in April.

Although Rosie refuses all food during a road trip, we don’t. The interstate highways are certainly engineering marvels but when it comes to food, other than the enormous array of salty, deep fried, processed, corn syrup sweetened, preservative laden and packaged foods there is NOTHING to eat. So I have packed an on-the-road picnic.

The picnic will start with a mid-mourning snack of apple slices smeared with peanut butter and topped with a generous grind of flax seeds. For lunch we will have veggie sandwiches, inspired by a room-service meal that I had when Charles and I were traveling in India. For three weeks, we had eaten nothing but traditional Indian food and had spent every minute soaking up the sites, smells, history and charm of India. The morning we checked into the very Victorian, Taj Hotel across the road from the Gate of India in Mumbai, I realized that my in-box was filled to overflowing. I needed to step back from the wonders of India for twenty-four hours, so I closed the pink chintz drapes, crawled into bed and pretended that I was at home in Vermont.

V Carrot 01a c egbert1 On the Road Picnic & Vegetarian Sandwiches

After hibernating for seven hours, I was hungry but unwilling to leave my nest. The room service menu was filled with curries and so was I. Luckily, there was a child’s menu that offered a ‘Mild Vegetarian Sandwich’. Described as English vegetables on toasted brown bread, it sounded perfect and it was. Here’s how I made it for our on-the-road picnic: … read more

Roasted Vegetables – Cinderella in the Kitchen

November 25th, 2009 / Comments 1

I was alone, sitting near the wood stove, feeling like Cinderella, but rather than wishing for a prince with a glass slipper, I was wishing for dinner.

J Castle rect Roasted Vegetables   Cinderella in the Kitchen

I wanted comfort food that celebrated autumn, a dinner with complex flavors and one that was low in calories. Since the pumpkin carriage was out of service, dinner had to be created without a trip to the market. Wishing wasn’t working. I needed to think.

A baked potato dinner was a possibility. Preparation would be simple – washed and baked, the potato would be ready to top with yogurt. It was a low calorie meal but not wonderful. I wanted a dinner that looked as if my fairy godmother had been hard at work.

I considered macaroni and cheese but that required too much preparation, too many pots and I didn’t have a magic spell that would make it delicious AND low in calories. Microwaved popcorn and a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich came to mind. But, even the mice in the kitchen expect more for dinner than that.

It was getting late and I was hungry. I looked for inspiration in the refrigerator and found carrots, turnips, a small butternut squash, half a cauliflower, a couple of parsnips and a handful of washed lettuce.  If a single pumpkin could be magically transformed into a carriage, surely this collection of vegetables could be transformed into dinner.

cornucopia c egbert Roasted Vegetables   Cinderella in the Kitchen

The clock chimed seven and a wizard idea occurred to me. I could roast the vegetables with potatoes, onions and garlic, season them with olive oil, butter, dried rosemary, salt and pepper and dine like a princess in less than an hour.  Here’s how I did it:

… read more

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