Sunday, October 11, 2015

One... Two... Three

You've probably noticed (I hope!) that my blog posts went from a slow trickle over the summer, to a full-on-screeching halt. No, I didn't suddenly lose my taste for sugar. Yes, my oven still works. Yes, I had a fridge full of beautiful summer-time produce beckoning, or possibly taunting, me each and every day to be made into something tasty... But, I just couldn't. All-day morning sickness does put a damper on things, especially my appetite.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Favorite Burger

As my kids get older, I've noticed that our summers have changed. Where there were once lazy afternoons spent running through sprinklers, these days seem jam-packed, and are gone in a flash. Summer camp, play-dates, family vacations, outings to a farm (or the local dairy, or berry picking... you get the idea). Our days completely fill up, and leave little time and energy for complex meals at night.

This is why I love firing up the grill! It's easy-peasy to set aside a piece of protein to marinate, and add a vegetable on the side, especially now that local produce is at it's finest. Bonus: my husband likes to tie on an apron and work the fire, so I can sit back and enjoy a cocktail while he cooks up the main dish!

This burger recipe is in our regular dinner rotation during the summer months. I know some cooks really enjoy mixing different types of ground meats, adding a fancy accouterments or two to make the perfect burger, but I'm old-school for this kind of dinner; 100% ground beef is the way I roll. Add in a few herbs & spices, an egg, and some Worcestershire Sauce, and you have a grilled burger that is perfection in its simplicity.

Top it with lettuce, tomato, pickles, & onions for a classic take, or, with a few slices of avocado, heirloom tomato, purple onion, and cheese. However you eat it, this is the burger recipe to grill this summer!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cherry-Lime Rickey

There is a well-known Mark Twain quote about the mercurial nature of New England weather: If you don't like the weather in New England...wait a few minutes. This year, I think you could easily extrapolate it to our change of seasons. After a particularly brutal (and ridiculously snowy) winter, followed by a short, blustery, non-spring, we woke up one morning and...KABLAM! Summer had arrived! Flower blossoms bursting, heat, humidity; the change was so fast, there was barely a day between woolen sweaters and summer shorts.

The upcoming summertime heat calls for lots of cool treats. Generally speaking, we are a popsicle-and-chilled-watermelon sort of family, but on really hot days, I start to crave a drink of my childhood. During the hottest part of the summer, my Mum would take my siblings and me on walks to the nearest Brigham's Ice Cream Parlor (a Boston staple) to beat the heat with hot fudge sundaes (whipped cream for the kids, and marshmallow for her) and raspberry lime rickeys. Stealing sweetly tart sips between bites of fudge, those sticky afternoons have stayed with me.

Now that cherry season is in full swing, I thought a variation of that classic drink recipe would be just as refreshing as the original. Sweet cherries & homemade cherry syrup are stirred together with bright lime juice and club soda. Easy, simple, and non-alcoholic, it's perfect for sipping on the porch while enjoying a sunny day.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Elderflower Champagne Cocktail (French 77)

Getting out of town has turned into such a rare pleasure these days. Gone are the seat-of-the-pants trips 'up North', or the chance to throw a change of clothes into an overnight bag and take the road less traveled. Now, everything takes planning, synchronizing of calendars, and (in our case), finding babysitters.

But it can be done...and we finally did get around to it. My husband is terrible at keeping secrets, so I knew where we were going (New York City), but not where we were staying, nor what we would be doing. So, bags packed, and a quick dash-out-the-door style wave good-bye to the kids, and we were off! Just us and the open road...and the terrible traffic passing through southern Connecticut.

As we pulled into the city, I was astonished to learn that we were staying at the beautiful art-deco gem, the Waldorf-Astoria. My husband knows me well. Marble, crystal, and an air of the exotic gin-fueled dreams of the 1930s permeated the rooms. I was in love.

We had a wonderful 24 hours eating, drinking, and catching up with a dear friend. Drinks and appetizers in the room started the night (as well as ended it. Decadent chocolate cake & champagne at midnight.), as well as a show, and a lovely dinner at the Lambs Club. Swanky is putting it mildly! We enjoyed ourselves immensely, and amongst the highlights was a lovely take on a champagne cocktail, served with a twist of lemon.

Effervescent, slightly sweet, and very fragrant, the combination of elderflower liquor and champagne with a bit of lemon was simple, but delicious. With only three ingredients and a choice of optional garnish, this is an homage to the restaurant's version of a French 77.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lemon & White Chocolate Truffles

If it is not clear by now, I will just go ahead and announce that I have an epic sweet tooth. Sugar, butter, and chocolate bring out the best in me! I grew up in a house where baking was a daily thing. For every holiday, play date, or snowy day, there was a coffee cake or pastry ready to eat.

However, candy making was never our milieu. Double boilers, candy thermometers, and the seemingly complex 'give & take' between sugar and heat always seemed so intimidating to me.

Nevertheless, one day I tried making a caramel sauce... and it didn't turn out half bad! Confidence bolstered, I tried making some molded chocolates, to the delight of my (then) one year old son. Emboldened, I next decided to break out the ganache and roll out some dark truffles.

As an afterthought, for the lemon-loving members of my family, I made these lovely Lemon & White Chocolate Truffles... Of all the desserts on the table, those tart little bites of sunshine stole the show! Sweet white chocolate with lemony punch and creamy texture, these candies are encased in a thin - but crunchy - deep dark chocolate shell. They are the perfect one bite dessert for any chocolate lover!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Jicama

In the same way that fans get excited over a new movie, or for the premiere of a beloved TV drama (Game of Thrones, anyone?), I get excited for a new farm-share season. I'm a food geek like that. Opening a box stuffed to the brim with fresh veggies, leafy greens, and a bounty of fruit, makes my fingers itch for kitchen tools.

Unfortunately, we aren't quite there yet. The good news is that we can cheat a little! The first greenhouse beauties are coming into the local markets, and even in early April, we can still get some pretty good produce to lighten up the menu.

This recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Jicama is flavorful, easy, and super-healthy...really everything a spring dish should be! Bibb lettuce acts as a crunchy green cup for tender ground chicken flavored with soy, rice wine vinegar, and jalapeño peppers. The unexpected crisp bite of jicama makes a great textural counterpoint to the softer chicken & mushrooms, and is also a fantastic healthy alternative to the hard to find (at least in my area) traditional fresh water chestnuts. No canned stuff for us - it's springtime, baby!