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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

It’s that time of year again when our garden produces more basil than we know what to do with!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also got one of these from my parents for my birthday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter PESTO. versatile, freezeable, and an easy way to break in a new food processor!

Here are two easy recipes:

Classic Basil Pesto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

In blender or food processor, pulse basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper. Gradually add oil to form a smooth, thick consistency. Stir in cheese at the end and give the mixer another spin or two to achieve desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper (or oil, or cheese) to taste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pea Pesto

I have to admit, I made this recipe after reading that it was one of the dishes Giada de Laurentiis was serving to William and Kate (sorry, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) during their recent trip to California. It was really easy and a good alternative to traditional basil pesto (especially as a base layer for paninis!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 10-ounce package of frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Directions

In a food processor or blender, pulse together the peas, garlic, parmesan cheese and salt. With the machine running, slowly add in the olive oil until it is well combined, which takes about one to two minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread on thick slices of baguette or ciabatta and top with sliced tomatoes.

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Our garden is in full bloom!

We planted earlier this year (late April, early May) and we added some fun, new fruits and vegetables. As a result, we are already harvesting! Here is what we are growing this summer:

Tomato Plants

Lettuce

Strawberries

Broccoli

Onions

 

Yellow Squash and Zucchini

Not pictured are Cucumbers, Eggplant, Rosemary, Oregano and Basil

What surprised me the most were the strawberries! We already picked about 3-4 pints worth of fruit and they tasted delicious. Apparently, we’ll get one more harvest in July. Also the lettuce! While you do have to wash it very well, I am shocked by how much has grown and how good it tastes.

We also harvested our first yellow squash and zucchini the other night:

We cut them up and made a simple and tasty pasta dish. We sautéed two cloves of garlic and half an onion in olive oil for a few minutes. Then added squash and zucchini along with one can of diced tomatoes, one tablespoon of tomato paste, chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Simmer until veggies are soft (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile bring water to boil and cook pasta until al dente (we used pappardelle). Seve with fresh basil and a generous amount of parmesan cheese!     

 

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We recently took a trip to St. Lucia and had the most amazing time! St. Lucia is a gorgeous island in the West Indies that is surrounded by rainforest and has a very strong Creole culture.

Of course, food played a very important role on our trip and we happily discover many new and local St. Lucian things!

 Here are some highlights:

Mango trees were everywhere! We enjoyed fresh mango, along with many other local fruits at breakfast each morning. One of our favorite discoveries was passion fruit:

Banana trees covered the island. I learned that St. Lucia exports its bananas to the U.K., whereas the U.S. gets all of its bananas from South America.  St. Lucian bananas are actually smaller and slightly sweeter than “American” bananas. I had an American banana in my bag (shhh… don’t tell customs!) and we did a taste test between the two. I actually like the St. Lucian banana better!

We also had about 10 different types of fish while we were there (yes, we counted!).

King fish with shrimp and real pieces of sugar cane.

Barracuda! It was delicious- and so were all of the wonderful Creole sauces and spices they served with everything.

Salt fish- a favorite during happy hour at the beach bar!

We went to a local “fish fry” one night in a small fishing village. The streets were lined with booths where people sold grilled fish and other local dishes.

Red snapper and mahi mahi.

Grilled mackerel (Tony was brave enough to try- his description=”fish french fry”!…)

Grilled bread fruit- a fruit that tasted more like a potato that I loved and had many times during our stay!

The local fisherman casting their nets off our beach at the resort.

Fresh “catch of the day”- barracuda! (he was taking it up to our resort’s restaurant to see if they wanted to buy it!). The fishermen would also go diving with snorkels and spearfish off our beach! Tony followed them around like a puppy dog. Here’s a catch of red snapper and Carribean lobster:

One of the things we were looking forward to having in St. Lucia was Carribean lobster, which we remember from our trip to Aruba years ago. Unfortunately we found out it was not lobster season while were there so we didn’t get to have any. There is apparently a $5,000 fine per lobster caught during the off-season. Quite a risk these fisherman were taking!

So…. upon our return home we decided to treat ourselves to a lobster dinner! It was actually Maine lobster (which we both agree is better than Carribean lobster anyway).  It helped ease the vacation blues as we looked back through our pictures and wished we were still there!

Soooo delicious with drawn butter and corn and the cob!

Reason #2,554 why I love my husband:

Tony: “So I think… oh, sorry you’re enjoying your last bite aren’t you?”

Jeannette: nods her head while chewing and smiling with her eyes closed.

Tony: “Ok, I’ll wait until you’re done.”   

He understands the importance of savoring the last bite!  🙂

It was an amazing vacation!

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Au Revoir Gourmet!

The country’s oldest food magazine is going out of business. Publisher, Conde Nast announced this week that it is shutting down Gourmet magazine after 68 years! According to Conde Nast’s CEO, it will continue to provide online and television content, but will cease monthly publication.


With nearly daily media reports of various print magazines getting the ax you would think I wouldn’t be surprised. Yet, for some reason this one really struck a cord. What does it say about our country, the economy, and society that one of America’s most venerable publications is no longer relevant?


I remember growing up there were always piles of Gourmet magazines in our house (in a sophisticated, non-hoarder kind of way of course). Eventually my mother started to have them bound in dark blue leather volumes embossed with the signature gold Gourmet script. Decades of volumes now line the bookcase in the study. Will her subscription be canceled now or replaced with a user name and password?

The current demise of print media reminds me of a short story I recently read by Kevin Brockmeier called The Year of Silence. A cleverly written tale of a world where people are all of sudden exposed to small, mysterious bouts of complete silence. These unpredictable moments of silence lead society to crave them and eventually impose a ban on (man-made) noise altogether. Devices are invented and employed to silence all machines, cars, etc. in an effort to achieve that moment of complete silence indefinitely. Ironically, once they succeed and silence dominates, small, inexplicable bouts of noise begin to occur at varying intervals of time. Predictably, people begin to eventually crave the noise, meeting in secret to listen to recordings of car horns, factory whistles, crowds at baseball games. Finally the world comes full circle and the return of man-made noise prevails, leaving many to forget the brief period of time where silence ruled. I can’t help but see the scary parallels between this fictional story and what is happening in real life. Albeit, there was more to the story than my simplistic summary suggests, the same eerie feeling resonates with me when I think about how more and more print publications are going out of business whereas more and more content is being provide solely online.

I realize the hypocrisy of this statement as I sit here and write/type these words on my very own blog. Maybe that is why I don’t “blog” as much as I feel I should? I’m not sure what prompted me to start a blog to being with. I suppose as my old-fashioned recipe binder stared at me from the kitchen shelf bursting with papers and covered in dried crumbs, I liked the simple, organized way my recipes and words were kept in cyberspace. Yet, I don’t get the same satisfaction from typing on a computer as I feel putting pen to paper. It’s the same reason why I prefer to read the real, clumsy newspaper as opposed to the online edition. And don’t even get me started on those Kindle contraptions! The day those replace real books I am going move to the country and live “off the grid.” I suppose the lesson (solution?) is moderation. All of one thing (silence/noise; electronic/print; ice cream/veggies) is never good. I just think we shouldn’t forget the word “multi” in multi-media, lest we find ourselves living in a world where the printing press is obsolete and I am forced to meet in secret to read real books and write with a real pen… although I bet those bound volumes of Gourmet will be worth a bundle on Ebay!

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We picked these pumpkins from a pumpkin patch in Virgina last weekend:


And delicious Roasted Pumpkin Seeds!


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread seeds out on a baking sheet. We seasoned them with half salt (me) and half Old Bay (Tony). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Make sure not over-bake- they burn very easy!

Happy Halloween!!

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Under the Tuscan Sun

Ciao! We are back from an amazing vacation in Italy where we trekked around Rome and ate and drank our way through Tuscany! We started (and ended) our trip in Rome which is still one of my favorite cities.

I love the way the old (really old) blends in with the new and how the frantic pace of the people is balanced by the calm beauty of the statues and fountains. It is truly a city that has it all. One moment you can be dodging mopeds on a busy street only to turn a corner and find yourself strolling down a peaceful cobblestone alley lined with flower boxes. There is so much to do and see in Rome, I am impressed with how much ground we covered in two days!


Yet we still fo
und time to sit in piazzas and drink wine and enjoy gelato by the Trevi Fountain!

Tuscany

Then we headed to Tuscany where we rented a villa with eight of our friends. We stayed at a villa called Podere Pamaio just outside of Arezzo. To say this place was spectacular is an understatement. I literally had butterflies in my stomach as we drove up the gravel path and saw the villa for the first time. The pictures and website did not do it justice.

The villa is what they call Agritourismo – which basically means vacation on a farm- however, not in the “milk the cow and shovel manure” kind of way! The house is located on a vineyard. The owners grow and sell their own grapes and are planning to make their own wine next year. They are currently in the process of building a “cantina” where they will make the wine and open it for tourists for wine tasting. They also grow olives and make their own olive oil which is delicious. The kitchen in the villa was stocked with the olive oil and we used it a lot!

In addition to the beautiful setting, Monica (one of the owners) would bring us fresh fruit and vegetable boxes straight from the garden. I was in heaven!

We actually cooked at the villa two nights using food “from the land.”

As if we weren’t spoiled enough by the spacious house, infinity pool and breathtaking views- Monica also brought us homemade tortes (her specialty) and homemade biscotti!

Why we would ever leave the villa is a good question- but we did manage to get ourselves out and visit a number of Tuscan towns. We had many adventures including amazing meals and wine. So I will share with you some of the culinary highlights:

The Market at Campo di Fiori in Rome:

(zucchini flowers)

(prosciutto)

Fettuccine Tartufo (black truffle sauce)....

my favorite meal of the trip (I think…. )

Zuchinni Flowers
stuffed with ricotta cheese and sweet pea sauce

Pici with Duck Ragu
(a traditional Tuscan pasta)

Crepe with Black Truffles
with a Pecorino cheese sauce (look at all those shaved truffles!!!)

Scampi Risotto

Our Loot
We brought home A LOT of wine and olive oil (including truffle oil!)


It was an amazing trip!

This way our view each night from the Villa….

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Heaven!

Blueberries are one my FAVORITE foods, if not my absolute favorite. So imagine how excited I was to come home and find that Tony had bought TWO POUNDS of these!:

Now all I have to do is figure out the best way to use them!

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