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.


Sesame Noodles & Ginger Sauce

July 14th, 2011 / comments 3

adirondack chair l Sesame Noodles & Ginger Sauce

Watercolor painting by Carol Egbert

Saturday, white puffy clouds danced across the cobalt blue sky, the grass was freshly mowed and my Kindle was giving me that ‘come hither’ look. It was a day to make one of my favorite (nearly) no-cook, (almost) zero effort dinners. This dinner has four steps:

  • Determine menu
  • See what’s in the pantry and fridge
  • Go to market for what isn’t
  • Pull dinner together

Charles and I decided to split the tasks. I decided we would have roasted chicken with pink ginger sauce, sesame noodles and a nectarine salad. I found soy sauce, cayenne pepper, vinegar, canola oil, garlic, honey, sesame seeds and sesame oil in the pantry and mayonnaise, sour cream, catsup and pickled ginger in the fridge. Charles went to the market to get a rotisserie cooked chicken, a box of pasta, scallions, fresh ginger and some nectarines. I got lost in my book and snoozed a bit.

When I woke up, I put a large pot of water on the stove over medium heat. In less than half an hour after Charles returned from the market, we sat down to an Asian inspired summer dinner. Here’s how we did it:

… read more

Traveling In Trapani & Pesto

March 30th, 2011 / Comments 0

It’s been a week of travel, discoveries, Vermont connections and, of course, food. More on the Vermont connections in my next post. On Saturday, we traveled by bus across the mountainous center of Sicily to Trapani. Military jets, headed for Libya, flew over my head as I explored the salt museum.

Windmill salt pans1 Traveling In Trapani & Pesto

Windmills Power Pumps Sea Water into Salt Pans

I saw saltpans along the shore of the Mediterranean where harvesting sea salt has been a tradition since the 8th century BCE when the Phoenicians established Motya, a small island off the coast a few miles south of Trapani.

salt tiles Traveling In Trapani & Pesto

Tiles Ready to Cover Harvested Sea Salt

Sea salt obtained from solar evaporation contains a variety of minerals that make it more soluble, more easily absorbed by food and add flavor – all good reasons to use it.

We visited Erice, a medieval village often in the clouds near Trapani.

erice street 01 Traveling In Trapani & Pesto

Every street in Erice is paved with with stones set in this pattern.

crest Traveling In Trapani & Pesto

Crest on a Wall in Erice

erice old and new Traveling In Trapani & Pesto

Old and New in Erice.

On Tuesday, we visited the fish market. It bustled with cooks choosing tuna, swordfish, squid, octopus, cuttlefish, mackerel or smaller, unfamiliar fish. Rather than ordering pasta or couscous with seafood for dinner that evening, I ordered pasta with Trapani style pesto. I hadn’t expected the pesto to be red but it was delicious. Donna, the cook, invited us into her kitchen and with Charles as the translator, she shared her recipe and explained that she used a food processor but a mortar and pestle was more traditional. Here’s how she did it: … read more

Breakfast & Dinner Sicilian Style

March 9th, 2011 / comments 4

Our trip to Ortigia was long and uneventful. We flew from Boston to Philadelphia and then on to Rome where we connected to our flight to Catania, Sicily. In Catania, Charles and I shared a simple ham and tomato panini while we waited for the bus that took us to Siracusa and Ortigia. Our apartment was just as we had left it and the Ionian Sea crashing against the sea wall provided the lullaby for a late afternoon nap. We walked to Zsa’s, a trattoria on Via Roma, and shared a mixed salad and pasta alla Norma for dinner.

apt 01 sunrise1 Breakfast & Dinner Sicilian Style

My first two meals in Sicily, reminded me that a few simple ingredients carefully combined often result in a sublime meal. Pasta alla Norma, a Sicilian classic, is inspired by Mt. Etna. The chunks of eggplant suggest lava and the creamy white, ricotta salata cheese sprinkled on top represents the snow that I saw as the plane circled the still active volcano just before we landed.

Thursday morning, we set off to reconnect with the vendors at the market. With so many tourists passing through the market each year, I wondered if my return would be noticed. I needn’t have worried; we were warmly welcomed with hugs and smiles, bits of cheese, samples of olives and chunks of bread. The bustle of the shoppers, the raucous calls of the fish vendors and the bright colors of the fruits and vegetables energized the market. Inspired by the meals we had eaten since our arrival and by the limited resources in my Sicilian kitchen, I’ve decided to try to live, cook and eat simply for the next eight weeks.

fruit parfait1 Breakfast & Dinner Sicilian Style

We would begin with a market breakfast. I chose three pale yellow pears touched with pink blush, red strawberries in a bright blue container, three blood oranges with garnet red splotched flesh and three lemons still sporting green leaves. After we had found a loaf of crusty bread, a jar of orange blossom honey and fresh ricotta and yogurt we headed home for a late morning treat. Here’s how I made it:

 Creamy Ricotta with Fruit

I used a fork to combine a half a cup of ricotta with two tablespoons of vanilla yogurt and a teaspoon of honey. When the cheese mixture was smooth, I made fruit parfaits by alternating the ricotta mixture with layers of diced pear, blood orange and strawberries. Combined with the sunshine, a chunk of bread dripping with honey, the roar of the crashing surf and the warm Mediterranean breeze, breakfast was simply perfect.

Download and print creamy ricotta & fruit recipe with an ingredients list here.

Friday we spent the day deciphering bus routes, schedules and tickets so that we could get to the Super Mercato to buy a small toaster oven to go with our very simple, three burner cook top, the small fridge, and the non-existent electric mixer, toaster, blender and food processor. At the end of a long, wet, rainy afternoon we unpacked the oven and walked to the closest pizzeria for dinner.

Saturday, with a clear head and a lovely sunny day, I was ready to make dinner. Vegetables, cheese, fresh tomato paste made with sundried tomatoes and olive oil, all from the open air market, was all I needed to make pasta primavera. Here’s how I did it: … read more

Pasta with Raisins, Pine Nuts & Cinnamon

February 17th, 2011 / comments 5

I buy both cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon in small quantities. Cinnamon sticks can be ground in a small electric coffee mill reserved for spice grinding or pulverized in a mortar and pestle. It is a familiar flavor in breakfast breads, cookies and all things apple – sauce, pies and crumbles and it adds flavor to savory dishes as well. It is used in Middle Eastern recipes for chicken or lamb and is a component of Indian garam masala. Tomato slices sprinkled with cinnamon sugar are an Amish relish and in Sicily it is used to flavor octopus, gelato and pasta.

V poppy bowl Pasta with Raisins, Pine Nuts & Cinnamon

When my friend Veronica, the potter who made the pasta bowls we eat from, served me pasta with pine nuts and raisins she told me that a pinch of cinnamon was the crucial ingredient. It was the first meal we had in the pasta bowls she gave to us.  Here’s how I made it: … read more

Pasta with Creamy Leek Sauce

November 10th, 2010 / Comments 1

I found a container of tomato sauce in the freezer and I had enough leeks left to make Charles favorite vegetarian pasta for dinner.

leeks c egbert Pasta with Creamy Leek SauceI made a second sauce with three small leeks, cream and rosemary. It transformed the leftover tomato sauce and linguini into an elegant dinner. Here’s how I did it:

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