Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Engagement Photos!

For those of you still checking this website (is there anyone aliiiiiiive out there?? – Titanic)…

I wanted to shamelessly post our cute engagement photos, which we took at the end of July–better late than never, right?  Click the link below to see all the Duxbury goodness (and if you hit the ‘like’ button on the bottom of the page, we get a few free prints thrown in!)

http://blog.larakimmerer.com/2012/08/mary-harold-engaged.html

 

Can’t wait to see everyone in 3 short weeks!

Things that are stuffed:

Me, after a weekend spent eating my way through Portland, Maine.  H and I got a lot of quizzical looks when we announced we were headed there for a weekend away, but for real, the place is a goldmine of adorable shops and to DIE for food.   It’s so New Englandy and charming that not even a freak October snowstorm could hinder our enjoyment.  Portland, Maine: who knew? Well–a lot of people, as it turns out.  We waited for an hour for a table at Fore Street ( http://www.forestreet.biz/) on Saturday night. It was worth it.

My closet, after a whirlwind side-trip to the L.L Bean flagship store and surrounding outlets in Freeport, ME.  I have four words for you: Fleece-Lined Flannel Shirt.  Yes, such a magical thing does exist.  And is now in my possession.  Relatedly–things that are no longer stuffed:  my wallet.  Ouch.

My brain, full of wedding-related things. Which is partially why I so rarely post these days.  And also why H generally wants to duct-tape my mouth shut on a daily basis.

The acorn squash that has been sitting on my counter for a week.  Last night I finally got around to doing something with said squash, and after some internet browsing I decided I was going to use the box of Israeli couscous that I had bought on a “let’s buy exotic items!” whim at the grocery store and make myself a Stuffed Squash.  Moroccan Style (and by that i mean, with curry powder).

Moroccan Style Stuffed Acorn Squash

Don't worry--Soon, I'll have an iPhone 4S to take better pictures with

You’ll Need:

  • 1 big Acorn Squash
  • 1 cup of Israeli Couscous or “Pearled” Couscous
  • Approximately 1.5-1.75 cups of stock or water (I used beef stock, whatever you have on-hand)
  • 1 package of Sage Sausage, casing removed
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 Carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 handful of sliced almonds (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Curry Powder (or more/less depending on your taste)

To Do:

  • Preheat oven to 425. Cut squash in half, scooping out the seeds/stringy part.  Slice off a small part of the outside of the squash so it will sit flat and bowl-like.
  • Sprinkle inside of squash with EVOO and a little bit of brown sugar
  • Bake, face-down, for 30 minutes, until just slightly soft (you’ll be putting it back into the oven for a second time, so it doesn’t need to be totally done)
  • While squash is baking, prepare the couscous: combine water/stock and couscous in a pot and bring to a simmer, then cook 8 minutes, or until soft.  If it starts to get sticky, add some EVOO and stir.
  • While couscous is cooking, cook sausage in a large pan, breaking up into small pieces.  When done, remove sausage and set aside.  Drain excess grease.
  • In the same pan, saute onions and garlic with some EVOO until soft
  • Add carrots, apple, and curry powder, stirring to mix evenly
  • When carrots & apples  have softened a bit (you might need to cover the pan for a couple of minutes), add sausage and couscous back to pan, stirring to combine and adding more curry powder, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Throw in a handful of almonds for some crunch. Remove stuffing from heat.
  • Remove squash from oven and let cool a little, then flip over and fill with stuffing (I filled it to overflowing, and still had leftover stuffing…which is quite tasty on it’s own, btw).
  • Return stuffed squash to oven and cook an additional 5-7 minutes, until sizzling.
  • Remove from oven, let cool, feast!

 

 

Fall Feasting

Alliteration, yay!  I know it’s been awhile (I think I say that every post and I’m sure that’s obnoxious, sorry), but I”ve been busy busy busy.  Actually, this weekend is the first weekend in September that I’ve been home, with absolutely nothing on the agenda.

That, combined with the incoming cooler weather (THANK JESUS), has put me into fall food mode, big time.  Faced with an abundance of happy root veggies in my CSA delivery this week, I did what any slightly insane home cook would do. I made soup. And while I know a pot of soup might not be a ‘feast’ to some people, this orange, velvety, creamy and healthy (mostly!) concoction hit the spot.

Disclaimer: there was so much winging it happening as I made this.  I literally was digging through my fridge for things to use up.  Thankfully, the results were top-notch.  Not to toot my own horn or anything (TOOT).

Butternut Squash (& Friends) Soup

You’ll Need (serves 4)

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/2 a medium onion, sliced
  • 2-3 small sweet potatoes (I had CSA sweet potatoes, which are extra-small. I used 4.)
  • 4 carrots
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, cut into slices
  • Veggie/Chicken Stock, or water
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Sour Cream (optional, but you should know by now that Dairy is NEVER optional for me)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
  • 2 pats of butter

To Do:

  • Peel sweet potatoes and carrots and half the squash, scooping out the seeds
  • On a baking sheet, toss slices of apple, onion, potatoes, carrots, and garlic clove (you can leave the skin on) together with S&P and a healthy drizzle of EVOO
  • On the same sheet place halved squash face down, with pats of butter under each half
  • Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 35 minutes, or until veggies are soft & carmelized.
  • Scoop out squash and cut veggies into smaller chunks,  dump into a soup pot (squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin before adding)
  • Over low heat, add stock or water until veggies are almost covered
  • Using an immersion blender (if you don’t own one, go buy one, right now. They are cheap and AMAZING.) whizz veggies and stock together until all chunks are gone & soupiness is achieved.
  • Continue adding stock/water and whizzing until you get your preferred soup consistency.
  • Add a shake of Cayenne pepper (how much is up to you, but the heat balances out the sweetness of this soup)
  • Add two spoonfuls of sour cream (or more! No judgement here)
  • Whiz once more for good measure, ladle into bowl, eat with crusty bread

I unfortunately didn’t remember to take photographic evidence of this soup, but it  is such a pretty autumny orange color. Imagine the beta-carotene in this puppy!  Off the charts.

Also, let me once again say: IMMERSION BLENDER. Here, this is the one I have. It comes in lots of pretty colors.

Cuisinart SmartStick Immersion Blender

Party food is one of my great joys in life.  Call it what you will: hors d’oeuvres, finger food, cocktail nibbles, appetizers…whatever you call it, it’s tasty.

When I first decided I was going to try my hand at being good at cooking, making my own party food wasn’t really on my radar.  But H fancies himself a host extraordinaire,  and soon enough I found myself in situations that required me feeding guests.  It was then that it dawned on me: I didn’t need to tolerate the store-bought onion dip with a weird chemical aftertaste.  I could make my own hors d’oeuvres. And boy, did I ever.

Some people (sane people) might argue that making all your own appetizers is a huge waste of time.  Yes, maybe I was scrambling around my kitchen last night frantically putting things together 5 minutes before my book-club ladies arrived, but you know what?  I think it’s worth the extra effort.  I know I’m in the minority in thinking that way, but I don’t care.  You can taste the love, people. You can.

One party food in particular that I am obsessed with is dips.  Scratch that: my love for dipping things in other things goes way beyond the realm of party food.  In any situation, if there is something dip-able that I can consume, I am infinitely happy.  Hey, I never said I was a complicated girl.

I made 3 dips (well, one could be considered a “spread”) last night. They were all equally delicious, but I must say, the Onion Dip is legitimately like crack.  In a good way.

 

Tomatillo & Avocado Dip

You’ll Need:

3-4 medium-sized tomatillos (note: I got tomatillos in my CSA last week.  They are the tomato-y looking things (but green) that have a papery skin which you have to remove before cooking. Trust that I would NEVER have bought these things on my own.  But they are very delicious).

1/2 an onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 small jalapeno, seeds removed (or keep some seeds for extra heat)

1 avocado

1 lime

1 small handful of cilantro

To Do:

1. In a pan over medium heat, throw chopped up onion, garlic, jalapeno, and the whole tomatillos together with a drizzle of EVOO

2.  Saute for approximately 10 minutes, or until the tomatillos have softened (but not burst)

3. Put sautéed veggies into a food processor, pulse once or twice–you want to keep it pretty chunky

4. Add avocado, the juice of the lime, and the cilantro to the food processor, pulse a few more times until you achieve desired consistency (I like my dip with a little body to it).

5. Salt & Pepper to taste. Stick in fridge until your guests arrive.

Serve with tortilla chips.  Also super yummy as a sandwich spread.

Carmelized Onion Dip

You’ll Need:

2 large white onions

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Butter (approx. 3 tablespoons)

1 1/2 cups of Sour Cream

1/4 cup of mayonnaise (I eyeballed this and used 2 heaping big-spoonfulls)

2 tablespoons of cream cheese

1 pinch of Cayenne pepper

Salt & Pepper

To Do:

*Note–you can make this dip 2 ways, either in the slow-cooker, or on the stop top. The slow-cooker method is more hands-off, but if you don’t have one, the pan method works great too–just takes more hands-on time.

For the Slow-Cooker version:

1. Chop onions

2. Add onions, a hearty drizzle of EVOO, and butter to slow-cooker. Sprinkle with salt.

3. Cook on “low” setting for 8 hours (do it in the morning and it will be ready when you get home from work), or the “high” setting for 4 hours.

4. Onions will be done when they are deep brown. That’s called carmelization!

5. Drain excess liquid from onions.

6. In a bowl, combine onions, sour-cream, mayo, and cream cheese.  Stir well to combine.  *Note: you can adjust the ratio of sour cream, mayo, and cream-cheese to your liking.  I know some people are weird about mayo.

7. Add pinch of Cayenne, and salt & pepper to taste.

8. Store in fridge until guests arrive, serve with potato chips, try not to lick bowl.

For the Stove-top Version:

1. Chop onions

2. In a large pan, combine onions, butter, and EVOO.  Sprinkle with salt.

3. Saute until onions are a deep-brown, stirring constantly and adding a splash of water if the onions start to burn (this will take some time, at least 30 minutes if not more)

4. Combine onions, sour cream, mayo, and cream-cheese.

5. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, to taste

6. Store in fridge until guests arrive, serve with chips, try not to lick bowl.

White Bean Spread with Lemon & Thyme

You’ll Need:

2 cans of white beans (often labeled “Cannellini beans” or “White Northern Beans”

1 bunch of fresh Thyme

1 large lemon

2 cloves of garlic, minced

To Do:

1. Drain liquid from beans and rinse with water

2. In a pot, saute garlic in EVOO until barely golden

3. Dump beans into the same pot, adding a little water

4. Cook beans over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, until soft

5. Remove beans from pot into a bowl, draining some water if necessary.

6. Add Thyme (just how much is up to you.  I added approx. 2 tablespoons, tasting as I went)

7. Using a fork or a potato masher, mash up beans into a “spreadable” consistency.

8. Squeeze lemon into bean mixture, stir to combine.  Drizzle with EVOO (optional)

9. Leave at room temperature until guests arrive.  Serve with a sliced baguette.

*this is also awesome on sandwiches.

Prosciutto & Fontina Pinwheels

(*Not a dip. Still awesome.)

You’ll Need:

1/4 a pound of Prosciutto

Fontina Cheese

1 Package Puff Pastry

Pepper

Dijon Mustard

To Do:

1. Thaw out puff pastry.  There are usually 2 sheets per package.  When dough is pliable but still cold, lay out 1 sheet on parchment paper.

2. Spread a small amount of Dijon Mustard onto pastry, then sprinkle with Pepper (you don’t need salt here–the prosciutto is salty enough on its own)

3. Layer prosciutto slices over pastry

4. Grate fontina cheese, using enough to cover prosciutto evenly (exactly how much is up to you)

5. Roll up pasty (I rolled from the side, not the bottom), using a bit of warm water to seal the seam.

6. Store roll in fridge until you need it–it’s easier to slice the colder it is

7. Slice roll into “pinwheels,” lay out on parchment paper on a cookie sheet

8. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until golden brown

9. Repeat with 2nd sheet of pastry, if needed. Each sheet makes approximately 10 -12 pinwheels.

Now who wants to come over for some snacks?

One of my favorite things about Summer, other than the sunshine and the beach and the seafood and the vacations and the cocktails, is tomatoes.  In our latest CSA haul we got 4.5 pounds of gorgeous orangey-red toms, and I couldn’t get one in my tummy fast enough. Sliced up, slapped on toasted fancy bread with some mayo, salt, and pepper: heaven.

That is the beauty of a good tomato: you don’t really need to do anything to it.  Salt, Pepper, Mayo, bread.  The tomato sandwich is simple, but so so freaking good.  It sounds a little weird for those of you who consider a tomato on a sandwich an accessory rather than the main component, but trust me on this one.  Give it a try.

When I was a wee child I actually didn’t like tomatoes.  I was young and stupid then (I also “didn’t like” hot sauce, red wine, or hamburgers. Like I said: stupid), and I think it was more of a textural thing than a taste thing.  Those little gooey globuals of tomato seed seriously grossed me out.  They were too akin to Jellyfish material than I was comfortable with.

Mouth is watering already...

Thankfully I grew out of that phase, and now I get downright gleeful when good summer tomatoes come my way.  But only summer tomatoes.  I cannot tolerate those awful sickly pink, rock hard things that pass for toms in the winter.  Ew.

I am going to eat as many tomato sandwiches as I can in the next few days (once, my sister K., who basically invented the tomato sandwich, ate so many that she got an acid bubble on the inside of her lip.  Disgusting, but worth it). But then I have other things planned: roasted tomato soup (you can find my recipe here!), maybe some sauce, obviously an epic Caprese salad. But like I said: the less you can do to a summer tom, the better.

I’ve been trying to make that my food motto lately: “Do as little as you can.”  Because the food we get in our CSA is so fresh and so good, you really don’t need to do anything to it. A quick toss in a pan with some olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, even eating things straight up raw.  Too much of my veggie haul has gone bad in the past as I’ve pondered what to do with it.  Epiphany time: you don’t have to do anything.  Just eat it.

Now: inspire me.  What are some of your favorite ways to eat tomatoes?

Also something to consider: why does the plural of tomato have an -e in it?  Unnecessary, English language.  Unnecessary.

I particularly love when they look all freaky.

Old Good Things

Small side note: this week someone searched “I don’t want to work today” and got to this site.  This fills me with glee. I’m with you, anonymous internet searcher.  I don’t want to work today either.

Which is why I’m going to talk about The Antique Road Show.

I’m not sure how up on current events you guys are, but I really am (by current events I mean whatever pops up on Google News, People.com, and Gawker.  Don’t ask me about the debt ceiling because you’ll get nothing but a blank stare in response).  And recently, this story has been everywhere: A guy takes some junk he had sitting around his attic to the awesome Antiques Roadshow television program, and it just so happens his junk is worth A MILLION DOLLARS.

You’ve read this, right?  Or seen it?  The junk in question is a collection of 5 rhino horn chinese tea-cups, and the guy is some dude who lives in Oklahoma.  He says he bought the cups in the 1970s “for cheap” and they’ve just been hanging out in his attic since then. When Antiques Roadshow rolled into town, he took them over on a whim.  Which then turned him into a millionaire.  Here’s a picture of the magical cups in question (that crazy looking person is not the owner, but the ‘Asian Art” expert from the show).

I am officially obsessed with this story, on a variety of levels.   First of all, I adore Antique Roadshow.  It’s an awesome show for people who like old things (me), low-budget public access television (also me), and average Americans acting silly on TV (me, duh).

On another level, people who hang on to inordinate amounts of worthless (or maybe not!) crap are very close to my heart.  See, some people in my family has a slight slight problem with not throwing things away.

No no, they aren’t hoarders. How dare you even suggest that.  They don’t belong on that awful TLC show with the seriously mentally ill people who have dead cats mummifying in their homes, oh no.  Sentimental, fine. Nostalgic, sure!  But mentally ill?  Well…no comment?

I kid.  I kid because I love.  Certain family members who will remain unnamed can’t really help themselves.  I’m convinced it’s a gene, passed down from one generation to another. For whatever reason, science has instill in them the DNA code that says “I CAN’T GET RID OF THAT HOW DARE YOU TRY TO THROW IT AWAY WHEN I’M NOT LOOKING PLEASE STOP TOUCHING MY STUFF I’M SAVING THAT FOR (INSERT INSANE REASON HERE).”

I’m now going to start the campaign for “let’s find some valuable stuff amongst your piles of “important items” that we can sell for a huge profit.”  Does anyone know when the Antique Roadshow comes to New York?

 

PS: Never seen Antique Roadshow?  Brian Regan has it down pat, below.  Advanced apologies for the terrible quality…it’s worth it though.

Shoot, you guys!  Somehow it’s been a month since I last posted, and I know, that’s kinda unacceptable.  But time has been flying by this summer.  H and I had a looong stretch of traveling (every. freaking. weekend.) and it’s just now settled down.

Why so much traveling? Because we are getting married. Yup!  But you probably knew that.  Did you also know that people really like to oogle engaged folks?  Oogle them and ask LOTS of questions.  Like, lots and lots.  Which is fine, but….exhausting.

I don’t want to turn this into a YAY MARRIAGE blog because honestly, planning a wedding is extremely boring to everyone else other than the bride and groom (actually, maybe everyone else other than the bride alone).  In fact, we’ve recently decided to just not really talk about the wedding for a while.  We have a place (Block Island) a photographer (she is super nice), and a dress (family heirloom, no biggie) and I’m pleased as punch to not be planning  a damn thing for about a month or two.  We still have over a year to go, so there is plenty of time to freak the eff out, which no doubt I will do.  Copiously.

So what else can I talk about?  Food!  I mean, come on.  Duh!

I’ve been really into crepes lately.  Please add that to the list of sentences that I thought I would never actually utter in public.  I’m embarrassed for myself.

But seriously guys: crepes.  In the dead of summer when it’s so hot that the very thought of turning on the oven makes me sweaty, crepes are an easy and non-heatstroke-inducing dinner.  And they are beautifully customizable.  When you don’t have any groceries because your fiance (yup, just used that word) has been away on business for weeks and you need to cook the weird vegetables that you got in your CSA, crepes are the answer.

My go-to crepe recipe is from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything cookbook, AKA my bible.  All you need is milk, flour, and a couple of eggs.  This is stuff that I 90% of the time have in the fridge/cabinet.  You should too.  And if you don’t…for God’s sake, grow up and buy some real food items once in a while.

Basic Crepes:

You’ll Need (for 8-10 Crepes):

  • 1 cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
  • *Note: I cut this in half when I’m eating crepes alone.  Which is more often than not. It’s more than enough.

To Do:

  • Combine ingredients in a bowl, whisking until smooth.
  • Melt a lump (technical term) of butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
  • When butter has melted, pour crepe batter in a swirly circular motion into pan
  • Either tilt& wiggle pan (lift it off the burner)so the crepe batter covers the entire surface thinly, or use the back of a spoon to spread the batter out evenly.  I do the pan tilt, pretty aggressively, since I like a thin crepe.
  • Cook crepe for 2-3 minutes
  • Flip crepe over and cook an additional 1ish minute, until firm.
  • More of a visual learner?  Here is a good picture tutorial of crepe swirling and flipping: http://gourmetfood.about.com/od/cookingtechniques/ss/crepes.htm

I usually cook my filling first (if necessary), then cook one crepe at a time, eating as I go. To roll, place your filling on the bottom third of the crepe, fold the side edges in, then roll it up.  You could make all the crepes and cover them to keep them warm until you are ready for an actual sit-down meal, instead of eating standing up in the kitchen, like I do.  No manners.

Now, here is the best part about Crepes.  You can fill them with whatever you have on hand.  Since I eat these things for dinner I usually go savory. Couple ideas:

  • sautéed vegetables of your choice (recently I did onion, garlic, zucchini, and swiss chard. H devoured it.)
  • Ham & Gruyère (which I would do if I wasn’t too poor to buy Gruyère).
  • Sunny Side Up Egg.  Yes.  This is my favorite: crack an egg on top of the crepe after you’ve flipped it in the pan.  Cover for a few minutes so the egg cooks.  Drizzle with EVOO, salt and pepper. The crepe gets a little extra crispy. I ate it with a knife and fork.  Come to mamma.
  • Of course, I don’t need to tell you to save one (or more! NO judgement here) crepe for dessert and fill that sucker with Nutella.  And maybe a sprinkle of sea-salt.
  • Literally anything else.  Fruit! Chicken! Sausage! Goat Cheese! Whatevvver! This website has lots of fun suggestions: http://www.seriouseats.com/talk/2009/04/savory-crepe-fillings.html

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: