Apr 01

A New Baked Pasta and Cheese

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I had a hankering for macaroni and cheese…but I don’t really keep pasta in the house…but I wondered. Why can’t I used a fresh wide pasta, like a parpardelle? 

This is what I did

1 diced red or green bell pepper1 diced medium onion

1/2 cup chopped pepperoni (optional of course–all these veggies are optional…can use any…more…less…go for it)

2 cloves garlic minced

2T olive oil

1 1/2 cup heavy cream (you could use milk, but why)

4 oz, or 1/2 brick cream cheese

2-3 cups shredded cheese. (I used gruyere and sharp cheddar)

Salt and pepper to taste

A few grates of freshly grated nutmeg…or about 1/2 tsp

3T butter

1 cup bread crumbs (panko, flavored…your choice)
Pasta

Of course you can use dry pasta of your choice. I would say a box1 lb of any pasta of your choice. but don’t cook it all the way…keep it a bit under cooked because it’ll cook more in the oven) I used home made pappardelle (a wonderfully wide noodle and I kept them on the thicker side when I rolled them) based on:

1 1/2 cup flour

3 eggs

2T olive oil

1 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients and knead for 10-12 minutes. Rest covered for 1/2 hour during which time you can make the cheese sauce. Then cut the ball of dough in quarters and roll out each quarter to the thickness of your choice. Flour and stack the sheets of pasta roll up the short way and cut 1 1/2 -2″ wide noodle. Boil water and add the noodles and stir so they don’t stick together. Cook for 30 seconds (really just 30 seconds). Drain the noodles and add them to the cheese/vegetable mixture and stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over a medium high flame. Add the peppers and onions and salt and sautéed for a few minutes. Add the garlic and pepperoni and sauté a bit longer until the vegetables are soft, and the pepperoni crispy, but be careful not to burn the garlic or pepperoni. This will thicken over time. It looks loose, but no worries. 

Add the cream or milk, the creamed cheese, and the cheeses and lower the heat to medium…mix until the cheeses melt. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and mix into the cheese sauce. 

In a sauté pan, melt the butter over a medium high flame. When melted, add the bread crumbs and toss or stir constantly until they are light-golden brown. 

Spray a 9×9 (or 8×8 or any baking or casserole dish you like) with cooking spray. Pour in the cheese pasta mixture into the baking dish or casserole. Sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for 15-30 minutes until it’s bubbly and nicely golden brown. 

Mar 31

Dr Mr. Trump

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Just gonna put this out there

Remember when you said you had a secret plan to defeat Isis? And then you said that you’d ask your generals for the plan within 30 days?

Remember when you said you wouldn’t take the presidential salary?

Remember when you said that you would repeal Obamacare on day one and then said oh I never said that?

Remember when you told everyone that you were going to build a wall along the southern border and make Mexico pay for it?
Then you told everyone that you’re going to have congress pay it?

Remember when you called Hillary Clinton a liar?

Mar 20

My Soda Bread

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Due to lots of chorus activities around St. Patrick’s Day, I completely forgot to make my Soda bread. I love soda bread. I love its simplicity and plainness. No wonder it is such a good companion for tea. But.  And no apologies to those vocal defenders of soda bread. Yes I know you got your recipe from your Irish ancestors and I know how dear you hold the simplicity of your soda bread. But I firmly believe that a basic soda bread can be a canvass for other flavors. My research has found that a daily soda bread is a simple dish…no butter, no sugar, no eggs…often, no raisins. But on festive occasions and feast days, the humble soda bread was “dressed up” and additives like butter, dried fruit, even nuts were added. Here is mine. I added a pinch of sugar, rubbed in some butter to help the bread keep for more than a day, and I added some toasted pecans. A brush of an egg yoke wash and a sprinkling of flaked sea salt before baking pushes this over the top. 

If I have offended your delicate sensibilities of what soda bread “should” be, please save your energy and hold as tightly to your narrow definitions. I’ve waged bigger battles over other firmly held food beliefs (sugar in corn bread, etc). This is my soda bread. Don’t like it? Don’t make it. 

1/2 lb whole wheat flour (or about 1 3/4 cup)

1/2 lb all purpose flour (white)

1 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cup butter milk (or half buttermilk/half cream)

4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold,  cut in small cubes

3/4 cup raisins soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, then drained)

1/2 cup coarsly chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450 and make sure a rack in in the middle of the oven. 

Mix the flours, baking soda, salt and sugar until well combined. Rub in the butter until no large chunks remain. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together. Mid way through give it a feel with your hands…you’ll feel if it needs more buttermilk…you will also see lots of flour in the bottom of the bowl. You want to work this dough as little as possible so you have a tender bread.  On a piece of parchment paper, form into a ball. Brush with a beaten egg yolk mixed with a Tablespoon of milk, sprinkle with sea salt. Cut your traditional cross in the dough, and Darina Allen (the Julia Child of Ireland) pierces each of the four quadrants with the knife, to “release the fairies”.

Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 425 and bake until the bread is gold n brown and sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom. 

Try, if you can (I often cannot) to let the bread cool. Of course slather with butter and enjoy

Jun 20

Bunnies and Flowers

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The mystery of the black and white bunny is solved! And flowers are blooming. 

Bunny love #colorblind


Here she is with her wild bunny friend munching on grass in the back yard. Until last night we thought she was just a loose domestic bunny. Turns out she is out neighbor’s pet! A free-range domestic bunny, she said. The rabbit (whose name I forget) goes out each morning and comes home every day. Since she hasn’t eaten flowers or anything so she is welcome to visit…her little grey friend too. 

I never noticed any Philodendron flower with this subtle shading before…just the top petal! Maybe I didn’t look close enough. But it’s quite pretty. 

Philedendron White with yellow


And then this amazingly rich orange-red day lily. And the fragrance. 

Day Lily


That’s it from here. We will leave it without any ugly commentary of other happenings. Let’s hope we get to work intact, though. 

Jun 18

Really? Again?

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It’s just in my nature to obsess— to try and try and try, tweaking here and there, until I feel I’ve reached perfection. These are not perfection. But I was wondering how the end biscuit would be if I cut them out AND baked them in my cast iron drop biscuit pan

Not drop biscuits in a drop biscuit pan


The results are really good. Flakey and tender. Just not that explosive height that I like. So future experiment are certain. 

THEN I had an idea. Why not make and egg and biscuit sandwich (admittedly stolen from Carole who made some recently). But how to make the egg the same size as the biscuit? Cook it in the same pan, silly-while it’s still hot from the oven. 

Egg biscuit!


Now that’s perfect! (IMHO)

Jun 11

Yes, I know it’s a little redundant posting about biscuits over and over. But what you need to understand is I’m trying to perfect my biscuit recipe. And… I might be there.In thinking about this I think I’ve decided I’m going to start my cookbook. I’be done this for so many things (repeat and repeat a recipe)—with my banana bread bread recipe, my Mac and cheese, my riff’s off of my Babcia’s recipes, old recipes no one else has written down in standard format—it’s time to write them all down. 
This will take a long time, but it’ll be a great background project. Going through old Facebook posts will be great, too…great reminders of what I’ve worked on…And the first recipe is, Biscuit Perfection.

Jun 09

Forgot to share this picture of our new friend who lives in between the slats between the garage side door and screen door. I think I found the species on line —Bold Jumper—s/he’s about the size of my thumb. Best for him/her if there is no jumping in my direction. Just saying. 

our own Charlotte…or Charles


Finding the right time (in between storms) to cut the grass has been a challenge. I’m going to give it a go tonight.

We still are working with the landscaper who seeded the lawn…we’ve got a lovely carpet of weeds out there. I’m not naming name, but if it isn’t fixed soon, I’m going all out social media assault on their asses. 

our very own “Field of Weeds”


Garden is coming along. Eggplant has 2 or 3 tiny eggplants on them. (They came like that from the nursery…but they didn’t fall off. So, I get credit for that, right?) Tomato plants are just about to bloom, and bloom big time. Lettuce is firm and perky. And none of it has fallen prey to critters. Although I did have a dream that the ground hog tunneled over to the beds. 

eggplanttini


The boys have settled in. They are loving the yard, and we’re just cuddling on each other the other day.

Bentley and Dasher–cuddle pups.

AAAAND, guess who is going to South Africa? Us, with the BGMC in June, 2018. Details to come.


Jun 07

Ever since I posted pictures of the newly planted garden, people have cautioned me to put up a fence against woodland critters. I am certain there is a groundhog who lives in our back yard. 

groundhog digs (get it? a little double meaning)


So I bought some chicken wire (twice…don’t believe the measurement in the package. Because apparently, 25′ may not mean 25’…mine was more like 24’4″. Not enough to to go around my raised beds.) I spread out some cedar mulch to discourage critters from getting into the garden. Maybe some will get in. But hopefully most will stay out. 

Out new fenced-in garden.


Will I be cleverer than the back yard critters? Time will tell. 
Oh. I almost forgot. Right when I got home the skies opened up. And I had to wait to work on the garden. And then this happened. 

Rainbow over Harris House

Jun 05

Blueberry Buckle Take Two

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I love blueberries and hope to have a bunch of blueberry bushes in the back yard…baby steps however. 

I made Alton Brown’s Blueberry Buckle and, although I was gifting it  (Carole was the lucky Guinea pig—a tiny expression of thanks for watching our boys while we had a crazy week at chorus), it wasn’t what I was envisioning. Although it tasted fine, it wasn’t high enough (not being negative, mind you, just wanting it to match the vision vision in my head.) It may have had something to do with the pan. The recipe calls for a 9×9 pan. My closest square pan is 10×10 and I could adjust the recipe, bit …. I do love a square coffee cake. But based on the last version and what probably ends up being the only size pan I don’t have, I tried a spring-form pan. This version is really high. Maybe too high? I don’t know. I’ve got to live with it for a while. 

I also put my personal touches on the recipe adding the juice and zest of a lemon to brighten thins up. 

Going to be perfect with coffee and the French Open. Do you know why it’s called a “buckle,” by the way? I read on-line, it gets its name for how the crumb topping buckles in the oven. 

Blueberry Buckle

Sunday Morning Coffeee with Blueberry Buckle


I have to say the addition of the lemon zest really brightens this recipe

Here’s what I did:

Blueberry Buckle

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg

Zest and juice of one lemon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup milk

5 cups wild or cultivated fresh blueberries

Streusel Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup packed light-brown sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. salt

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature

Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9″ springform baking pan with baking spray (alternatively you can butter and flour your pan), Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn off and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest, beating until fully combined. 

Add reserved flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan and gently smooth out to the edges with an offset spatula. 

Streusel Topping:

In the bowl of a food processor (or you can do this by hand using a pastry cutter or your hands), combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Process until only small pea-sized pieces of butter  remain visible. Using your hands, squeeze together most of the mixture to form large clumps. (The topping can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months. This recipe makes a very generous amount of topping. But I loved it a little over the top! )

Sprinkle streusel topping over cake. Bake until cake tester comes out batter-free, 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool for 15 minutes before serving. Makes 1 9-inch.

Enjoy!

 

Jun 04

We have achieved a major milestone for me at this house—a vegetable garden. At home, I grew up with a garden…even at 8 Grove street, my dad tilled a small patch of ground to make things grow. I have that gene and finally, have the space to make things grow. 

Vegetable Raised Bed 1

Raised Beds

In my raised beds I have: Tomatoes (3 heirloom varieties) , herbs, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, hot peppers (habanero and ghost peppers—really for Michael’s boss), bell peppers, 3 different lettuces, and some mini watermelons.

Gardener’s Socks

I actually did wear sneakers. 

Citronella Plant


The next few pictures show Michael’s talent…crafting some potted plants. 

Potted Plants

Geraniums from the former owners—so nice.

Dinner

And finally, dinner. A wonderful frilled salmon with a garlic/dill olive oil dressing, served over grilled asparagus and brown butter basted potatoes. 

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