In which I do a week in review…sort of…

I have quite a bit to say about the last couple of weeks, so I shall provide a quick rundown, both in food and life:

First, I have made several things recently, both from the Great Recipe Rescue of Aught Ten and otherwise, which, for whatever reason, don’t really merit their own blog post, but I think I would like to share them with you anyway.

For instance, Sticky Rice with Mango.


This was something I was introduced to at work. During one of my late nights at the office with my comrades in arms, we ordered Thai food, and my friend Mark ordered this for dessert. He let me try it and I swooned. I immediately ran out and bought a giant bag of glutinous rice and a can of coconut milk, but since I thought it was going to be difficult and since the rice requires a significant soaking before it is cooked (24 hours is preferable) I hadn’t gotten around to making this until recently. I am very sorry I waited. It does require a fair amount of soaking time, but other than that, this really couldn’t be easier. So easy, I never bothered posting about it. If you want to make it, search for a recipe online, get yourself some glutinous rice and have at it. Apparently, it is traditionally cooked in a pot and basket like this, but I don’t have one of those (I will someday though, because I am sort of in love with it) so my cooking vessel looked like this:

a large pot, a strainer, and some cheesecloth. Homemade sticky rice basket.

Worked just fine…be creative, you’ll figure something out.

Also? I made this butter cake. This was from the recipe rescue. It was tasty, but I thought it odd that they suggested serving it on its own, since it is essentially one layer of a yellow layer cake, but a bit more delicate, so it would difficult to use as a layer cake. I served it with strawberries and whipped cream and it was really good, but really, just a cake.

butter cake avec fraises

I also made these crackers one night when my family came over for dinner. They are like Cheez-Its for adults, but way better, because I don’t really like Cheez-Its (fake orange cheese in a snack that I don’t like? What?) They are really great, and easy and a crowd pleaser. And consist of ingredients that I pretty much always have on hand. I am quite sure they will be made over and over and over again.

Dignified snack food

And now? For my first life observation? The LOST finale. I can’t help it. I have been a fan since the beginning. It might be the only show I have ever watched every single episode IN ORDER. I was hooked from the start. And the further I get from the finale on Sunday night, the more I actually like it. Here’s why. I wanted Jack and Kate to be together. I have always wanted Jack and Kate to be together. I am a romantic, and they are supposed to be together in my romantic world. I know there are those that disagree, but just because two people (looking at you Kate and Sawyer) hook up one time in a sex cage, it doesn’t mean they are destined to spend eternity together. (I can’t believe I just typed that sentence in a forum Grammie reads…blame the LOST writers.) I mean it wasn’t flawless, poor Sayid. I understand that the idea is that the time these people spent on the island was the most important time in their lives, and therefore the throw away relationship between Sayid and Shannon comes to represent that in the finale. Fine. But instead of spending eternity with the love of his life, Sayid has to suffer through infinity with the single most annoying character in the series? No fair. At least she was looking fantastic, I guess. Those are my thoughts. I liked the throw down on the cliffs, I hated the hokey Christian Shephard speech, even though it technically defined the whole final season, and I am curious…the sideways world? It was purgatory for all the characters even though they died at different times? Did they all have to be ready to move forward together before any of them did? Was that just Jack’s sideways world? I don’t think so. Confusing. Also, apparently the MIB’s name in the scripts was Samuel. My research told me that. Word. That is simplistic. I have more thoughts, but I know there are not all that many LOST fans amongst my faithful readership, so I will move on.

Back to the food.

There was a roasted tomato risotto that I made with the slow roasted tomatoes I have been making quite a bit of lately.

Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes

I used the leftovers for more fried stuff with cheese. And it was good.

And there was a chicken curry. First I had to make curry powder:

one of my new favorite things.

And then I made my chicken curry. It is a recipe from, and I think it is the one that my Florida friend Megan made for me one night when I was down there, when I took a deep breath and steeled myself to eat some curry that I wasn’t entirely sure I would love, and I cleaned my plate.

Curried chicken, with accoutrements

And there were more tarts…and look at the pans I used! Huzzah! I made these for the Kentucky Derby, and three of us did a number on them.

spicy shrimp with leeks, fig jam with gorgonzola and coppa, ricotta and roasted tomato, ricotta and olive with orange zest, sweet onions with gorgonzola, olives and rosemary to name a few

And there were these little guys:

frik and frak

I made ramp MAYONNAISE to go with it. Mayonnaise. All by myself. With a wooden spoon. It was fun. And there WILL be a post about it. Because it was that fun.

ramp mayo. by hand.

Alright, I think that’s that. A little week(s) in review if you will. I still have lots of other fun things to talk about though, so don’t worry, I haven’t totally cleaned out my photo files.

And now, to end on a serious note, because I have some great recent food memories from that part of the world…there are MILLIONS of gallons of oil in Gulf and no one seems to be doing anything about it. WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?? I am not sure if I care at this point whose fault it is. There is plenty of time for finger-pointing and punishment after someone fixes it, but it has been over a month, and for some reason, we can not get the oil to stop? And now it is being relegated to second page news. Time to step up. FIX IT.

PS: Umm, this might be awesome, could you imagine if it malfunctioned like the soda machines sometimes do and spit out two?

In which that’s how I feel about that…

hated it!

I must get something off my chest. Please bear with me.


To: Lady Gaga

From: Me

Re: I’m trying, really.

Dear Gags,

May I call you that? Gags? Thank you. We must speak, and quick. I’m trying, really, truly trying. I learned to love you begrudgingly. I had to get past Just Dance, which has never been my favorite, and you burst onto the scene opting to forego pants, which, in my opinion, is mostly unforgivable. But then something shocking happened. I started to pay attention and I realized you actually have talent. And you started reeling me in with Poker Face, and I was hooked. But then there was this. I assure you, I never thought I would be in the position of telling anyone what is right or wrong in the face of royalty, but I promise you, that was wrong. And I was angry, and I decided I had no time for you or your shenanigans. But damn you Gags! You performed with Sir Elton at the Grammies, and it was awesome, and then Bad Romance got me again. So you win. Gaga: 2, Me: 0. So perhaps you are a genius, but still, that doesn’t mean I will sit quietly by and abide by this. It can’t go on. It makes me tired. You have TALENT! Make that your schtick! Stop with the outfits! You look ridiculous! It makes me want to poke myself in the eyes! And use lots of exclamation points! And that is unforgivable!

That is all, please go back to making delightful music, and perhaps invest in some pantsuits, at least when you are not performing.




Many apologies for that brief interlude, it has nothing to do with food aside from the fact I was thinking about Lady Gaga while eating dinner and perusing the interwebs the other night, and I had to use this, my only public forum, to get that off my chest, because that’s how I feel about that.

And now on to better things. I know I have been MIA, but I have an excuse. This happened.

playing with fondant

Because this happened:

congratulations pretty girl...

That is the littlest. She is now a college grad. I think she is having very mixed feelings about it. But it was a lovely day and we had a little shindig for her afterwards and there was a vanilla cake with nutella filling at the graduate’s request. So I got to play with fondant again. And I get a couple more opportunities to play in the next couple of weeks. Fun will abound. I will keep you posted.

But until then, I would like to discuss this amazing ginger fried rice with you. I feel almost as strongly about it as I feel about Lady Gaga, but my emotions are not mixed, they are unequivocally positive. Overwhelmingly positive even.


This is a recipe I discovered on Smitten Kitchen. It is a Mark Bittman adaptation of a Jean-Georges recipe, and it is remarkable in its simplicity and deliciousness. You use leftover rice. I like (and the recipe calls for) jasmine, but it is a great use for any leftover rice you have on hand. Like all fried rice recipes, you need leftover rice for this. Freshly made rice will end up too mushy.

There are only a couple of other steps to this, and the whole thing comes together quickly. It differs from standard fried rice because it is much simpler, has much cleaner flavors, seems lighter, and in this recipe the ginger and garlic are actually garnishes.

ginger bits

They get fried to little brown crispy bits at the beginning (or ahead of time, if you make extra the first time you make this, they last awhile, and you can cut down further on the steps for next time….super quick!) and then sprinkled over the rice studded with leeks and sprinkled with soy sauce and sesame oil, and served with a fried egg. You can even get fancy like I did and mold the rice in a ramekin, which looks very cool and professional. Take a look.


This really couldn’t be easier. You fry the ginger and garlic, remove them from the pan, add a bit more oil and soften the leeks for about 10 minutes. You then add the rice to the pan to warm through and get a little crispy, as you fry and egg (or as many as you need) in a small pan, then voila! You just plate everything and dinner is served. I used one of my larger ramekins and thought there could have been a bit more egg to rice ratio, so I think I will stick with the smaller six-ounce ramekins as molds in the future, but putting it together couldn’t have been easier. I rubbed the inside of the ramekin with just a little bit of oil, and packed the rice/leeks combo in so it was fairly tight quarters in there.


I covered the ramekin with a plate, and turned the rice over onto the plate, it slid right out and kept its shape. Then I sprinkled the rice with the soy sauce and sesame oil, topped with the fried egg, and sprinkled the whole thing with the browned garlic and ginger bits.

quick perfection

This really was so easy and good. And I will be making it again and again and again. And I recommend you do as well. It is an easier, and seemingly lighter, version of more traditional fried rice. Which I also love, but I think I love this one more. (You can see just how much I love this in the very top photo. My plate has looked like that both times I have made this.) It is easy to scale down for one, and makes a really great quick dinner.

Ginger Fried Rice (serves 4, technically, but like I said, I prefer the ratio of a 6-ounce ramekin to one egg, so this might serve six if I was serving it-and then they might want more because that is not enough to fill one person, but adjust at your leisure)

From Mark Bittman in the New York Times, inspired by Deb’s rendition on Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup peanut oil (I used canola and it was just fine, but peanut would be very good.)

2 tbl minced garlic

2 tbl minced ginger


2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried (I use one good-sized leek when I make this for one.)

4 cups day-old cooked rice, preferably jasmine, at room temperature

4 large eggs

2 tsp sesame oil

4 tsp soy sauce

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly. (Can be done ahead, feel free to make extras to cut down on this time for the next time you make this. Just store them in an airtight container or plastic bag.)

Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons oil and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.

Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through and starting to get crispy. Season to taste with salt.

In a nonstick skillet, fry eggs in remaining oil, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.

Divide rice among four dishes. Top each with an egg and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.

My new favorite vegetable accompaniment – Ginger Miso Salad Dressing …

This is going to be a quick post on a salad dressing that I have discovered and that I am now obsessing over. This recipe recovery thing has been going fantastically well. I have made a couple of things that I am not raving about, some shrimp and scallion pancakes were only okay, and some black beans weren’t particularly good at all, but most everything I have made has been fantastic. This ginger-miso dressing is one of those things.

my new favorite snack…

This is what I think that strange orange dressing that you get on salads with your sushi lunch should be. I have always found that dressing a little odd and lacking. This is the opposite. It is creamy from the mayonnaise, and gingery, and seriously miso-y. And it couldn’t be easier. Everything just goes in a blender and is ready in moments, though I have to say, the flavor has just gotten more intense as it has hung out in the fridge. I have been eating carrot sticks dipped in this dressing pretty much non stop. I have a salad that I make a lot with radishes, avocados and butter lettuce and this would be awesome on it. It definitely should be eaten with hearty lettuces, or those with a significant flavor of their own, like watercress, and it would be great with shrimp. It would probably also make a great marinade. But right now I can’t stop eating it just with carrot sticks.

Ginger Miso Dressing (makes about 1/2 cup)

Adapted from Food & Wine, May 2007

1 tbl minced fresh ginger

1 tbl minced shallot

2 tbls rice vinegar

2 tbls mayonnaise

1 tbl low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbls white miso

1/3 cup vegetable oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a blender, puree the ginger, shallot, vinegar, mayo, soy sauce and miso. With the blender running, add the vegetable oil and blend until smooth. Season with salt (try it first, you shouldn’t need much if any) and pepper.

In which I just knew…

Sometimes I can tell everything about a dish by the name alone. And so it was with this Raspberry Brown Butter Tart. I could picture instantly what it would look like, I could imagine what it would taste like, and I knew instantly I would love it. LOVE IT. How right I was.

oh my

The crust is shortbready and sweet, with a hint of vanilla. It gets really crisp. The filling is also quite sweet. It’s like a brown butter custard. It is nutty and eggy and awesome. It would probably be too sweet on its own, except the raspberries cut the sweetness perfectly. It is perfection. I am not even sure there is anything else to say about it. Amazing.

On this Mother’s Day, because I am pretty sure she would love it too, even without any chocolate, this one is for Mom, aka Mommy, Mary, MP, Mary Pat, Ma Dukes or big Mare the Perm Goddess (that one courtesy of my brother, oh how lucky moms of boys are.) I am not sure how she is not permanently exhausted from getting the four of us to adulthood. There were some serious personalities in our house growing up. But somehow she smiled and laughed way more than she yelled, she encouraged all our weirdness and supported all our whims. We got to grow into ourselves and figure out who we were knowing there was someone who thought we were pretty awesome no matter what. We didn’t always deserve it, but she was unwavering, and I know none of us have said thank you enough. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, and thanks.

ready to bake

Raspberry Brown Butter Tart

Bon Appetit, June 2009

For the crust:

7 tbls unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup plus 1 tbl all purpose flour

Pinch of salt

For the filling:

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced

2 6 oz. containers fresh raspberries

For crust:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto sides and bottom of pan.

Bake crust until golden, about 18 minutes (crust will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:

Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Cook butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often, about 6 minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

Arrange raspberries, pointed side up and close together in concentric circles, in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over berries. Place tart on rimmed baking sheet. Bake tart until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool tart completely in pan on rack.

Remove tart pan sides. Cut into wedges and serve.

Note: when you press the crust into the pan, it first seems that it can’t possibly be enough. Stick with it. If you make sure it is evenly distributed, it will be enough.


Scallion Cheddar Quickbreads…

scallion and cheddar bread-y things that are not muffins...

Here’s another one from the Great Recipe Rescue of Aught Ten. They are delicious, they are savory, they are perfect for most any meal, they would be great with chili or pulled pork or barbeque, they are great with butter on them, but shock of all shocks, are even better on their own, but they ARE NOT muffins, even if Food & Wine tried to tell me they are.

These actually start out like a tart dough

early on

Essentially you cut butter into flour and salt, except that the flour also has cayenne and baking powder in the mix. (The cayenne pepper, by the way, is a delightful addition.) Then you add cheese, minced scallions and milk, and stir it until you have a dough that is very biscuit dough-like. Cake and muffin batter is wet and can be poured. This, not so much. This was a dough. The recipe suggested mini muffin tins, but I was immediately averse to that idea, for reasons I can not put my finger on, so I did a regular muffin tin, and ended up with a dozen.

ready for baking...

I baked them for about 25 minutes and they were golden and savory and looked like drop biscuits. They are dense but not at all heavy, and they are moist. They didn’t rise above the top of the muffin tin, so they end up pretty small, just a couple of bites of delight. They should be eaten warm. I ate two almost immediately. I froze most of the rest of them, but kept one out for the next day. It was not good room temperature, it was chewy and heavy. I did defrost and reheat one, and it was delightful, so feel free to make them and freeze them, but definitely reheat. These little nuggets need to be eaten warm. Make these next time you are eating chili or pretty much anything on the grill. And call them quick breads. Thank you.

White Cheddar and Scallion Quick Breads (makes 12)

Food & Wine, October 2006

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

4 tbl cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup very finely chopped scallion greens

3 oz. extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbls cold milk

Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin (or two 12-cup mini muffin tins if you choose.)

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne. Using two knives, a pastry blender or your fingers, work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with some small pieces of butter still visible. Add the scallions, cheese and milk and stir with a wooden spoon just until the dough comes together.

Scoop the dough into the prepared muffin tins. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. (Can be frozen and reheated, still serve warm.)

savory delight

In which I am not sure I am going to be able to make this decision…

Oh gosh, I unearthed some serious gems during my recipe tear out purge. I am on a tear this week. Despite the summer temperatures that are heating up the kitchen and softening butter in seconds, I am pretty pumped for some cooking. And between experiments I will be re-washing all the dishes that I washed during the water boil order, since going through the cabinets has alerted me that a lack of running water makes washing dishes inefficient. I am so glad that’s over.

Simon Hopkinson's roasted chicken

This chicken project is not working out exactly the way I hoped. Every single one I have tried has been pretty good. I am not sure I will be able to pick a clear winner. There is not that much difference in the crispiness of the skin and the meat is all great and tastes mildly of whatever I stuff the cavity with. This one was delightfully lemony. What I am discovering? Roast a chicken. Anyway you can. They are easy, they make the house smell good, they impress company, and they generally provide lots of leftovers. What’s not to love? For this one, which is a Simon Hopkinson recipe that I found in Saveur, I rubbed the chicken with a half a stick of butter, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and stuffed it with tarragon and lemon. Pardon my French, but that is a bum load of butter. I think it may have been unnecessary. Look.

butter much?

I am not sure what the point was. Amazingly? The Joel Robuchon recipe (that I never discussed for lack of pictures) asked for a WHOLE STICK of butter on one chicken. I was flabbergasted. Anywho, this was good, but not one half stick of butter better than any of the others, so perhaps I’ll try a brine next time.

What I really want to share with you is one of my favorite vegetable dishes of all time. And it goes a little something like this:

delicious little baby cabbages

If you know me, you are likely aware of my love for miniature versions of big things. Like babies in grown up clothes, for instance. And this little tiny miniature husky that someone in my neighborhood has. I wouldn’t want it to live with me or anything, but I love to see it. There was also this little pony on The Soup this weekend that was amazing. So brussels sprouts are perfect for me. Especially when they are sliced and cooked with bacon and shallots.

bacon, shallot, sprouts, garlic, butter, perfection.

It really couldn’t be easier. The brussels sprouts and shallot are sliced thin, bacon is sauteed until it renders its fat, then the shallots and brussels sprouts are added and sauteed quickly until the sprouts brown and the shallots are soft. Then you add a clove of garlic that’s been minced and a tablespoon or two of butter. It all takes about 10-15 minutes and it is really really good. The sprouts are crunchy, the shallots are soft and the bacon is salty. The butter and garlic tie it all together. Try it. You will rethink brussels sprouts. I promise.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallot (serves 4 as a side dish)

3 slices bacon sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

1 package brussels sprouts, trimmed, outside leaves removed, sliced thin

1 good sized shallot sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbls butter

Cook the bacon in a large frying pan over medium heat until the bacon browns and renders fat. Add the brussel sprouts and shallots and saute, stirring frequently until brussel sprouts are browned and tender and shallots are soft, 6 -8 minutes. Turn the heat to low, add garlic and butter and cook, stirring for about a minute until the butter melts. Serve.

mmmm mmm

In which I talk about my new favorite cake in the whole world…

buttermilk cake with berries

Summer is apparently here in the Hub. It was 71 degrees when I woke up at 7 am Monday morning. That makes for some uncomfortable cooking temperatures around here. To top it off, we are having a bit of a water emergency in these parts. I have been forced to boil all water for dish washing. It’s really really annoying. Let’s hope the powers that be are on top of this.


I don’t like to throw things away. I think I may actually be on the hoarding spectrum. Very high functioning, mind you, but on the spectrum. Luckily, however, my need to have organization in my house and a permanent (tidy) place to keep stuff, means I have become relatively decent at purging. When I realized that it was not practical to move my collection of back issues from the eleventeen food magazines I receive monthly, I thought I would try to consolidate. So I started tearing out every recipe that sounded even remotely interesting, from every magazine I had (after reading thoroughly from cover to cover of course) and painstakingly cutting around the article and accompanying photo and gluing them on to card stock that I then slipped into sheet protectors and put into binders organized by type of food. I just read that sentence and feel perhaps there is something seriously wrong with me. Apparently I do not care for the interwebs which also houses every one of these recipes. As you can imagine, this was time consuming, and while I stayed on top of it long enough to create a minimum of a dozen binders, I have, in recent years, fallen behind. All this is to say I was digging through a box of recipes I had torn out at some point (and purging many of them) and found a recipe for raspberry buttermilk cake from the June 2009 issue of Gourmet. (Deb from Smitten Kitchen, it turns out, also made this in a more timely fashion…)


I have made this three times, and it is just so so good. It comes together in minutes, and bakes in no time at all, and you are encouraged to eat it when it is still warm, so in less than an hour you can go from raw ingredients to a perfect delicious cake. All the ingredients are ones you may have on hand, or are easily acquired. This is easily adaptable, and therefore I am not even going to call it raspberry buttermilk cake, because that sounds so limiting. I have made it with raspberries and blackberries, and I hope to make it with blueberries sooner rather than later. I also added citrus zest because I felt like it. I highly recommend it. A raspberry-orange zest combo was sweet and delicious and perfect for dessert or with tea, and a blackberry-lime version was great with vanilla ice cream, but was tart enough that it would have made a great Sunday morning breakfast treat. What I am saying is that you should make this and quick. You won’t regret it. I might do the same.


Buttermilk Cake with Berries

Adapted from Gourmet, June 2009

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup plus  1 1/2 tbl sugar, divided

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp citrus zest (optional but I wouldn’t leave it out)

1 large egg

1/2 cup well shaken buttermilk

1 cup fresh berries of your choice

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour a 9″ cake pan, or spray with flour cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in vanilla and zest. Add egg and beat well. At low speed, beat in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk and beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until just combined.

Spoon batter into cake pan and scatter berries evenly over the top. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tbl sugar and bake for about 2o minutes until cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack for an additional 10-15 minutes. Invert back onto serving plate and enjoy!

a little bit of heaven...

Update! Apparently our water is back! Though it may be too late for me. My stomach isn’t quite right. Blerg.