Friday, November 30, 2012


  Scampi is one of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh shrimp.  A bit of olive oil, garlic, lemon, herbs, a splash of white wine and a good sizzle and it's done.  But this weekend I decided to empty out my refrigerator drawers and make a nice alternative to my traditional scampi as well as clean out the frig.  You know how those many zip lock bags can pile up with half a zucchini or just a few tomatoes in them?  Use any vegetables you have on's all good.

 Scampi with Vegetables

  • 2 TBLS unsalted butter 
  • 3 TBLS olive oil  
  • 6  garlic cloves , smashed & minced
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tsps fresh oregano, basil, savory & parsley
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine 
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2  cup of mixed vegetables - I used zucchini, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and  3 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 pound of large shrimp
  • 1# linguine

Cook and drain linguine as directed on package, reserving a half cup of pasta water.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil and butter in large skillet, and saute garlic and lemon zest about 30 seconds. Add vegetables, herbs and wine; cook and stir over medium heat until just tender.
Add the shrimp and cook until shrimp turns pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add two ladles of pasta water and cook just a few minutes longer. Squeeze the juice of your lemon over the entire dish and season generously with ground pepper. I omit any sea salt, as I find shrimp salty enough on it's own. Spoon over pasta and toss well. Pass the wine and  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Glazed Carrots

 Every year, as Thanksgiving approaches and the holiday season picks up speed, it seems as if there's even less time to get things done.  Menu's and shopping lists.  Right about now you're probably deep into holiday planning and just beginning to wonder how you'll get it all done.  You want to make sure everything's just right, right? The perfect dinner, desserts and even the perfect playlist on your iPod.  Some things on your list you could probably skip, while others you wish you could fast forward through so you could have more time for the good stuff.

Unfortunately, there's no personal shopper, no executive chef.  No set designer to trim the house.  The truth is, none of us is Martha (not even Martha, I imagine) and in the real world we could all use a little help.  So stick with the things that really matter... family, friends and thankfulness and instead make the most of your time this season, and  slow down for the holidays. KISS you know what I mean? 
I just love all the traditional dishes on Thanksgiving and so along with the star of our table -- Tom, he'll be accompanied by breadcrumb and winter vegetable stuffing, Italian mashed potatoes, creamed onions, acorn squash, glazed carrots,  cranberry orange relish, giblet gravy, a pasta dish, and then there's pumpkin pie for dessert!  And this year, I am also thankful that much of what will go onto our table we grew in our own garden.  As much as I do enjoy a turkey dinner, what I really love even more is when the fella's around the house get to do clean-up detail and wash all those dishes afterwards...and then around 8 o'clock the leftover turkey sandwiches get served! :) 
          Wishing  you all safe travel, and a very fruitful and special Thanksgiving Day.

Glazed Carrots with Cranberries
 adapted from Cook's Illustrated
1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced
½ tsp sea salt
3 TBLS brown sugar
½ cup vegetable broth
2 TBLS butter
3/4 cup dried cranberries
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
ground black pepper
 Bring carrots, salt, 1 tablespoon sugar and  broth to boil, covered, in 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are almost tender when poked with tip of paring knife, about 5-8 minutes. 

Uncover, increase heat to high, and simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 1 to 2 minutes. 
 Add butter and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to skillet; toss carrots to coat. Add dried cranberries and cook, stirring frequently, until carrots are completely tender and glaze is light gold.

Remove from heat and  add lemon juice; toss to coat. Transfer carrots to serving dish, scraping glaze from pan. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, lemon zest and season to taste with salt and pepper - serve warm. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thyme for winter

With the herbs nearly all  harvested now its time to make sure our winter medicine cabinet has all it needs. Thyme honey is one of the important parts of our medicine cabinet. It is used for colds, influenza and sore throats. Thyme has strong antiseptic properties including activity against viruses, insects, bacteria and fungus. Traditionally, thyme was used to treat bronchitis but I find it to be useful in our house for treating winter illnesses such as colds such as the one I am fighting  now.

One nice way to use thyme is as honey and its very easy to make. You can still pick thyme now, it should withstand a mild frost just fine. Cut stems short and put them in a glass mason jar. Cover the thyme with wildflower honey. Put the jar in a pan of water to slightly heat the honey while pushing the thyme down and adding more thyme. Once the honey is fluid, put the lid on the jar and store the honey with the thyme still in it until needed. You can use this honey to add to tea or use it straight for a sore throat.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Minestrone with Lentils

A warming dish to start off the cool Fall season, Minestrone with Lentils is my kind of chicken soup for the soul... flavorful, comforting, perfect for vegetarians, hearty enough to make a full meal that will warm up both your kitchen and stomach and just plain good.

Minestrone with Lentils

 3 TBLS Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
 2 stalks celery, chopped
3 small zucchini, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 cup red wine
3 cups chopped tomatoes
2 plum tomatoes, diced
 4 cups vegetable broth
 3 cups water
 2 cups lentils
 3/4 cup orzo
 1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 TBLS fresh summer savory. minced
1 bay leaf
sea salt and ground pepper -- to taste
 parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high flame.
Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute until the onion is transculent, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the wine and chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Then add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through but not falling apart, but if some do that's okay--they'll just thicken the soup a bit more.
Adjust seasoning, sprinkle a generous amount of grated cheese and serve with a garden and plenty of crusty bread. Enjoy!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sweet Potato Pierogi

Last week during this dismal rain we've been having here lately, I decided to try something new..for me at least. A dear friend brought me some Polish kielbasa after returning back from a family trip to New Jersey. We had eaten these earlier this summer at a cookout at their place, that were grilled. I have to admit, it was the best kielbasa I've ever tasted. To have them bring us some back from their trip was such a nice treat! So to thank our friends, and they being Polish/German descent I decided to try making pierogies. I found an old Gourmet magazine recipe seemed just perfect for my first pierogi making experience. The dough was so easy to work with and as I was waiting for my second filling to cool down I posted this photo of what I was doing on my FB page...and asked my friends 'what am I making'?
Their answers went anywhere from "dumplings" to "pumpkin ravioli" to "kreplach" and I'd have to admit, from the photo--all great guesses. And as you can see I just had to put my own twist on my filling. Instead of the usual pierogi of a potato cheese filling, I decided to use some just harvested sweet potatoes with carmelized onions instead.
The result was so delicious, that I ended up making three trays of these yummy dumplings-- one for our friends, some for us and the rest went into the freezer just for those times when I don't have time to prepare a big meal, as perogies keep very well uncooked and frozen. I'd never eaten anything but store bought frozen pierogies before this little experiment, but I can now say making my own is the only way we'll ever eat them again. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato Pierogies 
  For the dough: 

 2 cups all purpose flour - plus a bit more for kneading
1 egg
1/8 cup sour cream
3 TBLS olive oil
1/2 cup water

 For the sweet potato filling:

 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & diced - I used Beauregards
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 medium onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced fine
1/4 tsp ground pepper
 a pinch five spice powder
1 tsp milk
Optional: 1 TBLS melted butter infused with: a sprig of fresh rosemary a sprig of fresh sage

 First make the dough.

Put flour in a large bowl, making a well in the center. Add water, egg, oil, sour cream and salt to the well and carefully beat with a fork, working from the center, then gradually drawing in the flour mixing until a soft, dense dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for twenty minutes. Transfer the dough a lightly floured surface and knead dusting with flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes... (the dough will be soft). Cover the dough with an inverted bowl and let rest 30 minutes.

 Make your filling now.

Bring the diced sweet potatoes to a gentle boil, cooking until just fork tender. While the potatoes cook, heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet on low heat, adding the sliced onions and garlic, cooking until lightly browned. Add the seasonings and cook another two minutes; then remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Reserve half of the caramelized onions for serving time. When the sweet potatoes are ready, drain and add them to the skillet of onions. Add a teaspoon of milk, mashing potatoes completely until relatively smooth. Set this mixture aside while you roll out the dough.

 Bring a 6 quart pot of salted water to a light boil.

 Halve the dough and roll out 1 half, wrapping the remainder in plastic wrap. Roll on a lightly dusted surface to 1/4 inch thick, then cut out your rounds of dough with a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter or glass of the approximate same size. Make heaping teaspoon size balls of cooled sweet potato mixture and center on the dough rounds. Brush the dough around the centered sweet potato ball with egg wash. Now holding the round in the palm of your hand, fold the round in half, enclosing the filling, crimping the edges with your fingers. You can then fork crimp to ensure an even better seal.

 Take your finished pierogies and drop gently 4 or 5 at a time into the pot of boiling water, stirring a couple of times to keep them from settling on the bottom or sticking together. Once the pierogi float to the top of your pot, they are done. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the boiling water, transferring them to a plate to drain. Now they are ready to eat, or you can go one step more and melt 1 TBLS of butter in a skillet and infuse this butter with a sprig of fresh rosemary and sage for just a minute or so. Then remove the herbs and lightly pan fry the pierogies over medium heat until lightly browned and crisp. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve hot with reserved caramelized onions. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Garbanzo Bean Salad

What a wonderful summer for the garden. Pure abundance in most crops. Cauliflower was disappointing. Beautiful plants, but small heads.The Sweet Potato plants are still growing and winding their way around the garden-- my new trial crop this year. I just love their golden sweetness.

Squash, cukes, peppers and tomatoes..clearly overabundant, but one of the best tomato seasons we've had here. Sweet corn was enjoyed for the last time last night. I've been very busy with farmers market and canning every available moment I can squeeze in.

Now with the cooler nights and continued warm days we've been harvesting some of the root crops, turnips, beets and heirloom carrots, and as my schedule is still a bit hectic salads are readily made in my kitchen. Healthy, light and refreshing after a long day and even better--there's plenty more to get us right through late Autumn in the garden.

Last night I made veal scaloppini and instead of making risotto as a side, we had this yummy bean salad made with heirloom carrots, onions and fresh herbs from the garden.

Garbanzo Bean Salad

1 TBLS lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1/4 tsp cumin powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup colorful heirloom carrots, shredded
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 TBLS cilantro, minced
1 TBLS fresh oregano, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, ginger, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and olice oil. Toss together the carrots, garbanzo beans, onion, cilantro,oregano and dressing in a large bowl and season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Spicy Grilled Corn

One of the best things about summer is sweet fresh corn.I never buy corn during the rest of the year because if it isn’t summer, it isn’t time for corn on the cob.
Here’s one way I like to celebrate the bounty of sweet summer corn--a definite crowd pleaser at summer gatherings.

Spicy Grilled Corn

1 TBLS butter
2 TBLS olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 large garlic cloves, minced fine
2 TBLS Hot Pepper Jelly
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
6 medium ears sweet corn, husks removed

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the honey, garlic, Hot Pepper Jelly, and seasonings until blended; heat through. Brush over each ear of shucked corn.

Coat grill rack with cooking spray. Grill the corn --covered lightly in foil (but not wrapped), over medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until the corn is tender, turning and basting occasionally. Serve corn with any remaining butter mixture on the side. If you are grilling salmon or swordfish this sauce makes a super addition as well. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blueberry Shortcakes

Like blueberries? Why not try them in a blueberry shortcake with cornmeal biscuits and fresh whipped cream. Yesterday was blueberry picking day for me--26 pounds of the biggest juicy berries I've ever picked. Of course once I got my buckets home and rinsed them all and packed them away I was really tuckered.. but not too tuckered to prepare my fave dessert of the season.

With the essence of lime and the subtle crunch of the cornmeal, these shortcakes are really easy to love ♥

Blueberry Shortcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 TBLS baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 TBLS finely grated lime zest
1 cup heavy cream
2 TBLS fresh lime juice

Lime Sugar

1 1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest
2 1/2 TBLS sugar

Blueberry Filling

6 cups fresh blueberries, divided
3 TBLS sugar
5 TBLS water
1 TBLS fresh lime juice

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare the lime sugar by mixing the sugar and lime zest in a small bowl and set aside.

For the shortcakes: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a food processor pulse flour mixture together with the cut butter pieces and lime zest until the mixture is crumbly.

Combine the heavy cream and lime juice in a measuring cup. It may curdle, but that's okay. Slowly drizzle the cream mixture into the processor over the crumbled flour mixture. Pulse a few more times until the dough is moist and starts to form clumps. Pour dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press and roll the dough over about 5 or 6 times until it comes together smoothly. Now pat the dough mixture into a square approximately 8 inches square and 3/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 3 columns, then across into 4 rows--yielding 12 cakes. Using a spatula, transfer the cakes to your baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart. Sprinkle lime sugar on top of each cake and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

While the shortcakes bake, make the blueberry filling. In a medium saucepan, heat 3 cups of the blueberries, sugar and water over medium heat. Cook gently, stirring often--mashing some of the blueberries with a fork until the berries are softened and juice has thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Cool five minutes--then stir in the remaining 3 cups blueberries.

Assemble the shortcakes. Split the biscuits in half horizontally using a serrated knife. On the bottom of each biscuit, spoon about 1/3 cup of the fruit and juices, add a dollop of freshly made whipped cream, and then just cover with the top half of the biscuit and dig in. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pesto Pasta

Boy, hasn't it been a hot week? One thing in my garden that simply loves the warmth and sunshine is my basil patch. This morning I harvested two baskets full! I knew I wouldn't want to do much indoor cooking, so I made a really quick pasta salad this morn before I headed off to the beach for the day.

A summertime staple around our house is basil pesto. It makes such a nice dressing for grilled summer veggies or in my favorite morning crepe with spinach, ham and provolone..or on an easy appetizer with roasted tomatoes. But today most of what I made went into a pasta salad with a handful of olives and roasted red peppers. Yumma!

Basil Pesto Pasta

For the Pesto

3 cups fresh basil leaves (packed into measuring cup)
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pistacchio nuts
3/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

For pasta salad:

1 # pasta of choice
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
1/4 cup black olives, chopped

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain & cool completely.

For the Pesto

Wash basil leaves if needed and spin dry or dry with paper towels. Put basil leaves and sliced garlic into food processor that's been fitted with the steel blade and process until basil and garlic is finely chopped. Drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube as you process.

Add pistacchio nuts, cheese, and lemon juice to the chopped basil mixture and process 1-2 minutes more, until the pesto is mostly pureed and well mixed.

Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and pulse a few times more.

If you aren't planning to use the pesto right away, store it in the refrigerator in a covered glass jar, where it will keep for more than a week.

For pasta salad, add 2 cups of Basil Pesto to cooled pasta along with 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers and 1/4 cup chopped black olives. Toss all together until completely blended. Chill covered at least two hours in refrigerator before serving.

Toss some chops onto the grill and pour yourself an ice cold herbal tea and pass the Pesto pasta around the table. Stay cool! Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hooray! It's Squash Season

Yes, I really am jumping for joy! I just love this time of year and picking the first of what appears to be a long squash season. In the garden this year, we have summer squash, cousa squash,pattypans, zucchini straights and rounds again and then for Autumn winter squash, hubbard delicata and acorn..but that's a long way off, thank goodness. You can find many squash dishes here, on our recipe page.

Last night I harvested the first of our summer squash and zucchini. Gave them all a bath and sliced them up. Into a saute pan they went along with some shallots, onions, fresh chard and one lone red pepper itching to be used up in the frig, along with a drizzle of olive oil--a sprinkling of fresh thyme, savory and lemon verbena large dollop of Casco Bay's Herb & Garlic Butter. And for good measure I tossed in 4 TBLS of homemade limoncello at the end of the cook. I was a happy camper :) The chops were grilling up nicely--the rice pilaf nearly done. A just picked fresh garden salad on the side and dinner was done. Don't you just love summer?

The owners of Casco Bay Butter Co are new vendors at my Kennebunk Farmers Market this year, and bring to the table a fabulous selection, as well as abundant samples of all natural artisan butters made from cream sourced right here in Maine. A couple of weeks ago I tried the Maple butter.. gosh it was scrumptious over pancakes and this week the owners gifted us with their garlic & herb butter. Just wonderful!

The end result-- First of the season limoncello squash! You just know it won't be the last of the squash posts :)Have a great grilling weekend. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Strawberry Bounty

I looked over the table at Chase Farm filled with pints of gorgeous berries and just took in the aroma. The delicate perfume just made me pause. Without even realizing it, I bent over the fruits and said, "Hello!" I think I was overcome with sensory pleasure.

The woman next to me smiled and leaned in to me.."Sometimes I want to say 'hello' too. They're just so beautiful. Feeling both silly and sweet, I realized that I had connected with another culinary kindred spirit.

With our recent mix of sun and rain, fresh pick strawberries are at their peak this week, so with baskets in tow off to the strawberry fields I went to begin my picking week. After three trips so far, I have nearly 40 pounds of this much loved Spring bounty presently in my new freezer and I'm loving it! U-pick farms are overflowing locally with berries, so be sure to get out their and pick some for yourself! Or surely any farmers market nearby will be offering-- in addition to gazillions of garlic scapes this week, trays of fresh picked strawberries.

Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy them or check out our recipe page for more ideas:

1) The CLASSIC: Cut up a pint of freshly washed fruit and toss with 1/8 cup of granulated sugar and the juice of one lemon. Stir to combine, cover with wrap and chill for two hours. Serve over vanilla bean ice cream.

2) The ITALIAN Kiss: Hull a pint of strawberries and toss with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven until the fruits are soft, but not mushy. Serve as a compote with fresh whipped cream, over ice cream or as a fabulous glaze for grilled meats.

3) The SALAD Maker: Slice berries over your next green salad and serve with a mustardy vinaigrette made from 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 TBLS dijon mustard and 3/4 cup maple syrup. The berries mix beautifully with a peppery blend of greens like arugula, mizuna and spring mix.

4) No strawberry season would be official without making strawberry rhubarb pie around our house.

5) Nor the absence of at least one strawberry trifle, tiramisu or parfaits.

6) And surely at least two quarts of Strawberry Ice Cream is usually in order. :)

7) More Vintage Garden Jellies of course need to be made.. this week it was Strawberry Balsamic Fig with a hint of fresh basil being stirred in my pots.

8) And finally the CHOCOLATE Dipped Strawberry: Melt white or dark chocolate in 30 second intervals in your microwave until smooth. Dip in the fresh picked fruit and set it on waxed paper to firm and harden. Eat as-is or set atop your favorite cake to make an elegant decoration.

It's a gorgeous Sunday out there--grab your baskets and go pick some strawberries!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Florentine Lasagne

Spinach growing in the garden is a welcome sign of Spring and with our mild winter it was one of the first of my spring seeds that went into the garden but this week I harvested what was left of a super growing season, and I'll be planting more being grown as a fall crop too.

So with my crazy season this time of year and a few rainy days I made spinach lasagne for a change. Farmers markets and gardening are keeping me hopping so I'm not spending much time in the kitchen these days, so when I do, I try to prepare time saving meals. I've always wanted to try oven ready lasagne noodles and I have to admit, they were very good and for time-pressed cooks just pretty darn good. By no means will they replace a thick tray of oven baked traditional lasagne, but a great time saver. Be sure the final layer of marinara sauce covers the edges of the noodles to prevent them from getting hard.

Lasagne Florentine

1 1/2 lbs fresh spinach, rinsed well & roughly cut
2 TBLS olive oil
16 oz ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
1 egg
6 TBLS Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp each of: dried basil and oregano
ground black pepper
3 cups marina's so much better or use your favorite brand
9 no-boil lasagne noodles

In a medium skillet,add olive oil and saute garlic until just lightly brown. Add the rinsed fresh spinach, tossing until just wilted. Drain any excess liquid from the cooked spinach and set aside.

In a large bowl combine ricotta, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella, egg, 4 TBLS parmesan, the herbs and ground pepper. Stir in the cooked spinach.

In the bottom of a 9x9 square baking dish spread a ladle of marinara sauce. Top with three lasagne noodles, half the ricotta/spinach mixture--then 1/2 cup or so of marinara sauce. Top with three more noodles, repeating the layering finishing off with your top of lasagne noodles. Generously spread the remaining marinara sauce over the noodles spreading to the edge of your casserole. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until bubbly and the noodles are tender--about 4 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing, and then serve. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Bread

I'm not much of a dessert eater, but I do love making dessert breads. Not quite a cake and definitely not a bread…who could ask for more? Anyone that follows this blog knows by now that I just love anything with lemons in it. You may even try to make it with different berries next time.. I chose blueberries this time, but last week it was rhubarb The lemony taste in the bread plus the moist base make it really tasty enough on its own, but when my freezer passed away this week I had six pounds of frozen blueberries that needed to be used clearly a blueberry theme of menu was on my agenda this week!

We had Tuscan Blueberry Port chicken and lots of blueberry Merlot jam was made which my farmers market customers scooped right up, along with the blueberry muffins. For a friend's birthday this week I made her a lemon blueberry tort that I'll definitely be making again this summer once blueberry picking time rolls around again, and finally this bread I made last night just for me. I'm going to miss my blueberry stash but so thankful none of them had to be tossed out. Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Lemon Blueberry Bread with Lemon Glaze

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
1 cup sour cream
zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries


1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp whipping cream
1 tsp lemon extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
In medium bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla, sour cream, lemon peel and juice. Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder. Fold in 3/4 cup of the blueberries. Spoon batter into pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup blueberries on top. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely.

In small bowl, mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle glaze over loaf and allow to set before slicing. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Warm Cannellini Bean Dip

I just love dips. So last weekend I made this warm bean dip made with creamy cannellini beans, roasted tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and pesto. I say warm because at the last minute I decided to toss in some hot chili flakes as well. What a great surprise of flavors popped onto our taste buds with every bite. The white Italian kidney bean has a potato like texture and very creamy. Roasting the tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and olive oil brought out a sweetness from those little grape tomatoes. I roasted extras to make some tomato risotto later in the week. The basil pesto was made fresh from far too many basil plants I've grown for this seasons garden. Hey, you can never have too much basil right? The flavors of the pesto give the dip a mild fresh summer flare.

Use this dip as an appetizer served on crusty breads, crackers, or cut up vegetables. If you have any leftover, try using it as a spread for wraps or Italian subs.. just yummy!

Warm Cannellini Bean Dip

2 cans cannellini beans and drained
1 container grape tomatoes cut in half
3 TBLS basil pesto
3 shallots, minced
3 TBLS sesame tahini
juice of 1 squeezed lime
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half, and place on baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over tomatoes and roast for about 8-10 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow to cool.

In a food processor add beans, tomatoes, pesto, shallots, tahini, lime juice, red pepper flakes, sea salt and begin to process. Slowly drizzle olive oil in, to make a smooth blend. Serve with crackers or crusty bread slices and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

One Pan Cilantro Cod Stew

We are major fish eaters around our house and really lucky to live here in Maine, where there's no shortage of the freshest fish and shellfish you can find. Of course it doesn't hurt to have a good friend that supplies me with much of my obsession either :)

Our friend Paul fishes pretty much daily in season, and on a day just like this one we went out for cod. It was one of those gorgeous fishing days, when you just knew you'd be pulling them in left and right, and that we did. Seldom is my freezer not stocked with cod, haddock, cusp, mackeral or bass. So as I am trying to get this freezer emptied for the new season I pulled out my last package of cod to prepare a dish I've been making for years. I make this dish often through the summer months when the tomatoes are ripe and just picked off their vine and cod that's just been reeled in. For this dish you only need a skillet, spatula, knife and a cutting board and a short list of ingredients. My kind of meal.

Simple flavors put together can create a surprising taste. Ripened tomatoes bring out the sweetness of fresh fish in this one-skillet stew. Simple yet delicious, which blend well together. You can increase or decrease each ingredient to your own liking--there's no right or wrong way to make it and this recipe may easily be halved.

One Pan Cilantro Cod Stew

2 TBLS olive oil, divided
2 lb cod fillets
sea salt to taste
1 1/2 cup diced onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro or more to taste
ground black pepper

Heat 1 TBLS of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fish filets sprinkled with salt. Cook for two minutes, then turn the fish and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until just cooked through. Transfer the filets and browned pieces to a warm plate. (It's okay if fillets break into smaller pieces).

Heat the remaining 1 TBLS of olive oil in the same skillet, adding the onions and garlic and cook, stirring until the onions begin to soften, about two minutes. Add the tomatoes and water and stir well. Lower the heat and simmer until the tomatoes begin to reduce into a sauce, about 6-8 minutes. Return the filets, including any accumulated juices to the skillet. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro and cover skillet. Simmer for two minutes or until the cilantro has slightly wilted.
Sprinkle the stew with ground pepper and serve immediately over rice or with crusty artisan bread. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower and Figs

Looking for a new Easter side dish to serve your family? I'll have to admit, I really enjoy cauliflower, prepared in any manner..and paired with fresh figs..oh my, just simply delicious!
I have made this dish several times, typically using dates and it is really so good and healthy too!. But after making some fig jam this week I had some figs left over that needed to be used up, and one lone Meyer lemon so I thought, why not? And guess was fantastic! Give it a try, you will love it. I served it along with sliced grilled chicken breast with a drizzle of hollandaise and a tossed salad.

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon & Figs

1 head cauliflower
5-6 fresh figs
2 garlic cloves, smashed & minced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 TBLS fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp fresh ground pepper, plus more for serving
pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp dried summer savory

1 lemon, sliced--I used a Meyer lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove and discard the outer leaves and thick stem from cauliflower. Divide the head and then quarter it. Then, with each quarter cut the cauliflower into smaller 1/4 inch slices/pieces. Rinse the figs and remove the stem and cut into bite sized pieces.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper and mix well. Add to this the sliced cauliflower, figs and lemon slices--tossing all to coat it. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet or large oven proof casserole in a shallow layer and sprinkle on the savory.

Roast at 400 degrees until the cauliflower is lightly browned and just tender--about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to serving dish and because I love pepper I always grind a bit more pepper over before serving. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Splendid scallops

Scallops may not much to look at, but they'll make you look like a star in the kitchen. Sweet, delicate and just a little bit fancy. So let them be impressed--there's no reason to spill the beans that scallops are really a snap to prepare!

At your fish market you're likely to see three basic types of scallops: sea, bay and calico. The flavor doesn't vary much, they all taste mild, sweet and faintly nutty. The largest type--sea scallop are roughly the size of a squashed marshmallow, and because they are relatively larger, they have a slightly brinier flavor than the other types. Bay scallops are smaller, about the size of green grapes. Many scallop lovers find sea and bay scallops easier to work with than the third type, calicos. These little guys are really quite small, like pencil erasers in size and shape, and because they are so small they can easily overcook and become rubbery. But no matter which type of scallop you decide to try make sure they are firm, fresh and dry. If the scallops are sitting in a puddle of milky white liquid, it may be a sign that they're past their prime in freshness or have been treated so they'll absorb water to increase their weight. Untreated scallops are referred to as 'dry' and a much better choice for cooking.

I make scallops often around here for their versatility, elegance and speed--scallops can be a hurried cook's best friend and this easy recipe is a favorite of mine typically ready to serve in less than a half an hour. The orange juice with the wine brings a brightness to this dish. For the fennel slaw, warm the vegetables just enough to barely soften them..they should retain a bit of a crunch to contrast the silky, tender scallops.

Seared Scallops with Warm Fennel Slaw

1 1/2 lb dry sea scallops
2 TBLS olive oil
2 medium shallots, finely sliced
1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
2 yellow peppers. seeded & cut into thin strips
2 tsp grated orange zest
3 TBLS orange juice
2 tsp dry white wine
2-3 tsp fresh parsley, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

In a large skillet heat 1 TBLS of the olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until they just become softened. Add fennel, peppers and orange zest and continue cooking, stirring frequently until the veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the orange juice, white wine, 2 TBLS minced parsley, sea salt and pepper, stirring to mix all. Remove the slaw from heat and cover in foil to keep it warm. Wipe out the skillet with paper towel and sprinkle scallops with remaining sea salt and ground pepper. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and heat on medium high heat about 45 seconds. Add the scallops, flat side down and cook without disturbing until the scallops are well browned on the bottoms--about 3 minutes. Now flip the scallops over and cook the second side another 2-3 minutes longer ( the exact timing will depend on the size of your scallops). Plate your warmed fennel slaw and arrange scallops on top of the slaw. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve. Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Raspberry Shiraz Tartlettes

Do you enjoy eating tarts and tartlettes? Well I surely do! When I was a youngster, one of my favorite things to do was watch my Mom bake. Ma baked the best pies I've ever had. Her crust was just so light and flaky, it just melted in your mouth.

Of course back in those times her crust was lard based--but if you wanted flakiness that's the way they did it. And with the scraps of leftover dough, she always let us 'help' to make either turnovers or tarts. Her favorite, as well as mine were her lemon curd or raspberry jam tarts. Oddly enough though, she seldom made apple tarts even though this was a pie that she made practically weekly through the cooler months of the year. To this day I can't say that Ma made pies simply to make leftover dough tarts or if she made her dough with the tarts in mind in the first place, she enjoyed them that much. All I remember is how pretty they were, and how good they tasted.

So recently when I had some dough scraps left over from making a raspberry peach galette, Ma's tarts came to mind. If ever there was to be a chance of making some jam tarts this was going to be it. I used raspberry shiraz jam, and limoncello mint as this is what I was testing this week, but you could use any of your favorite fruit preserves you prefer. The limoncello tartlettes seemed to have disappeared around here, so sorry no picture of them. When I baked the tartlettes, I started them at 350 degrees for ten minutes, but saw that they were not browning, so I turned up the heat to 400 and they browned nicely with the jam bubbling hot in another ten minutes. Next time I would try it at 425 degrees for ten minutes or so, as if I were blind baking a pie crust.

I suppose, here would be a good place to let you in on a little secret. I began another blog right before the holidays were upon us, and simply haven't really had the chance to post about it until now.

Many of you already know, making seasonal herbal jams and wine jellies made with the freshest of hand picked fruits along with organic herbs right out of our gardens has always been appealing to me. During the summer months, if I'm not in the gardens, then no doubt you'll find me in a local orchard nearby. For years I'd made jars upon jars of old and new family recipes solely for gift giving. But after a while, and so many encouraging words from those gift recipients, we've decided to venture forth and begin seriously offering our scrumptious jams and jellies to the public, and so Vintage Garden Jellies is officially open... though I'm still working on the descriptions and the darn shopping cart.

I started making wine jelly over twenty years ago and really liked the flavor and how well the jellies complimented other foods. I began to share my jelly with family and friends and was encouraged to start selling it. So, as I presently do three farmers markets weekly, I decided to finally give it a go. I applied for my state kitchen license and we are just thrilled to now be able to offer my Nunie's cantucci biscotti, herbal baked goods and confections, wine & herbal jams, giardiniera and other seasonal goodies along with our fine line of herbal dips and seasoning blends and herbal soaps all made from our own organic herb gardens to the open market.

Indeed, wine and herbal jellies are delicious and make a very special gift. We use chardonnay, merlot and cab, limoncello, pinot and a new cordial jelly, with wine I made this past Autumn that hails from the Abruzzo region of Italy called ratafia, yet to come to name a few. Have you tried savory herbal or wine jelly on a cracker with fresh goat cheese or as a basting sauce for poultry or pork?…oh my gosh, it’s so darn good. And so weren't these sweet mini tartlettes. I used a cream cheese dough recipe found here, filling simply little mini muffin tins with the dough. These were so good, I already made another batch of dough..tucked safely away in my freezer... that I've planned for future R&D testing that will need to be done for my jellies. Ha. Who am I kidding, these tartlettes were awesome! I can really get into this R&D stuff :) Roll, shape and bake this dough into tart crusts, sweet turnovers, rugelach, and other sweet or savories. It will keep several days wrapped in the refrigerator, and freezes well. For these mini tartlettes, try several jams at once--use whatever you have in your cupboards--raspberry, strawberry, apricot,blueberry, orange marmalade--think of the endless possibilities and enjoy their many jeweled colors while they last-- which won't be long! Enjoy!

Raspberry Shiraz Tartlettes

Cream Cheese Dough:

8 oz cream cheese, cold
8 oz unsalted butter, cold
2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch salt

Place flour and salt in food processor and process a few seconds, to blend. Chunk butter and cream cheese in pieces over flour, then process, using on-off motion, until dough just forms a ball. Turn out onto floured surface and knead lightly into a smooth mass. After kneading lightly, cut dough in half. Wrap and reserve half for another use (snacking is good.)

Roll remaining half of dough on lightly floured surface to about 1/8″ thick. Using a medium-round cutter – I use a 2″ round – cut circles from dough, re-rolling scraps and cutting circles until done.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place the mini muffin pan onto the sheet pan and gently begin pressing your dough circles into the muffin holes pressing the dough snuggly on bottom and up the wall of your tins. Place about one teaspoon of jam in the center almost to the top. I wasn't sure this would bubble over during the cook, so I used a sheet pan underneath, but this never occurred--the jams just became bubbly, but not oozing over. Repeat with each muffin cup in the same manner, changing jams as desired. Once baked, cool completely, and serve with or without a bit of sifted confectionary sugar. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Darling Clementine Salsa

Do you all have a crate of clementines on your kitchen counter right now? These little darlings are super sweet, a breeze to peel and the perfect size for little hands--and so refreshing after a month of high sugar celebrations.

We've been eating these like candy around here and find them absolutely irrisistable. I spotted this recipe in an old copy of Bon Apetit magazine and tucked it away just for clementine season, and while we have 200 clementines presently in the house, it just seemed like the perfect time, right? You betcha!

This flavorful salsa would also be fabulous over grilled fish or shrimp as well as chicken dishes. I served it simply with spicy tomato sausages. The sweet clementines combined with the pungent basil and the bite of the hot peppers really paired well together. It's light--it's bright and just full of sunshine. After combining all the ingredients, let it all meld for a couple of hours covered on your counter before serving.. if you can wait that long! Enjoy!

Darling Clementine Salsa
adapted from Bon Apetit

4 clementines, peeled, diced (about 1 cup) --I used five.
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered -- I had grape tomatoes on hand.
1/2 cup finely diced red onion -- I used shallots, minced
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 serrano chile, seeded, minced I used 2 jalapenos, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix clementines and next 8 ingredients in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD. Salsa can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.