Currently Crushing

Not much to do at this time of year except wait for the Patriots to go to Houston and try to keep from going stir crazy . A few items of note for the month of January…

Sherlock (series 4)If you haven’t watched PBS’s “Sherlock” this year, what are you waiting for? As my aunt would say..”it got dark”. Yes siree, dark it is. Some truly heartbreaking performances this season. But there are some fun aspects of it also. Although broadcast is finished, you can stream on PBS.org or probably find on netflix. If you haven’t watched previous seasons, time for a binge!

v_s1_preview_official-trailer_posterOnly one episode in and already addicted to the new series from PBS about the young Queen Victoria. PBS clearly knows that there is a void in our lives left by the culmination of Downton Abbey, so they are loading us up. Sorry to say the evil villain is named “Conroy”….where were his people from? Not Rosmuc, that’s for sure!

Mercy Street is also back for season II on January 22.

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Once upon a time I thought pre washed and bagged salad was the best thing for busy cooks since the spoon, however the rise of cauliflower as a carb substitute and NOW that you can buy it pre chopped…Well, shut my mouth as they say! In your grocers produce section along with pre cleaned beans and aforementioned salads. Over the weekend, I spun this for a few seconds in the Cuisinart and then boiled it in salted water like pasta. At the end a couple of tablespoons of instant polenta, and some butter and shredded cheese. All the goodness of polenta without all the carbs!

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Those of you who know me, also know that I gave up pretty much all dairy and definitely all milk once I got out of being in a unit every day and took my act on the road. I always felt like “Bloaty”, the 8th dwarf that no one talked about. And I used to love that 8th continent milk brand and then when that went away, I used to buy the Costco Organic milk. So this Fairlife stuff comes along and I think, “well, I’ll give it a try”, just to make sure I’m not missing anything. Let me tell you, it’s delicious! The chocolate tastes like a frappe as we say in Boston. Rich and thick, not watered down tasting. I keep it in the house for a little midday treat or sometimes for dessert after dinner. Also delish with a little Bailey’s liqeur mixed in…on the rocks!

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Hands down the best lotion I have ever used in my young life.Not sure if its new or old, but Eucerin Skin Calming lotion for dry skin is keeping me from clawing my skin off this winter. The Hubs found it for me. Don’t worry, the menthol doesn’t make it smell medicinal. You can get it in 3 bottle packages from Amazon. LOVE IT!

ih-beauty2016-10And I know that I rep for this beautiful women and her line of extraordinary and luxurious accessories, but India Hicks also sells a small line of scent and beauty and her Extraordinary Oil is my new go to fave morning and nite for moisture and illumination. Honestly, I wear it under my sunscreen. It’s delicious, with a fabulous light scent.Get it here!

 

We’re cooking…

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Along with the aforementioned Onion Pie and curried lentil soup, I also turned out a huge pot of marinara sauce and made homemade meatballs and served them on cauliflower polenta with ricotta on Saturday nite.

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On Sunday, I wanted to have something snackie for dinner like nachos. After all, the Pats were in the conference championship game for the AFC and the game started right when I normally would be working on dinner. I was thinking of doing nachos, but then transferred the flavor profile to soup and made a killer chicken tortilla soup, using roasted chicken from Costco, taco seasoning and canned beans. And I sped everything along in the pressure cooker. Dead simple. I picked the chicken and added the shredded chicken  to some sliced onions and chopped garlic that I had heated in the pressure cooker with the garlic seasoning and additional smoked paprika, chili and coriander. Add a can of rinsed white beans, a large can of diced tomatoes, 4 cups of chicken broth and cook for 90 minutes. Once the cooker de pressurizes , you will have a lovely rich soup. You can add additional levels of spice after cooking if you want. I cut some corn tortillas in strips and dropped them in boiling oil for a couple of minutes to crisp them up, sliced up an avocado that I luckily got at a perfect 10 seconds of ripeness. Some shredded cheese, a little sour cream or crema and a sliced jalapeño, very fresh. The Hubs loved this and seeing as the Super Bowl is in two weeks, time to start menu planning now….img_7065img_6679img_6505

 

Don’t you love the name?

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Honestly, I think the name is worthy of a Bond girl. She was probably a friend of Eleanor Lavish, the character from E.M. Forster’s “Room with a View”. Evidently, according to Wikipedia, she did more than just cook. She’s listed as a culinary anthropologist, but also was in movies and was published and was a commentator for NPR. She’s kind of a big deal I think.

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Anyway, I saw this recipe for her onion pie on the NYTimes site and of course, had to give it a try for Meatless Monday. I cooked a whole bunch over the weekend. Made curried lentil soup, and then tossed this together pretty easily. That is until the tip of my finger came off on the mandoline. Let’s put it like this… I had to throw out the first crust that I blind baked.

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Really the only wonky item is peanut oil, but there’s not that much used and it is easy to find. Saute up the onions, mix with salt and pepper, add to blind baked crust and then pour eggs and cream over it. Bake and be done.

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I plan on reheating in a 300°  oven and serving with a simple salad and some red wine. The perfect dinner for a rainy, snowy and damp winter nite. Qualifies for meatless Monday, too!

Identity Crisis

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Ah, they only look like muffins! In real life they are scones…well sort of. At least that’s how it started.

I had used a box mix last year for apricot scones and although I have to tell you they were very good, I just didn’t think the box was worth $8 when I have all the ingredients in my pantry, including apricots and can put them together for less than a quarter of the price. So, anyway….

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Cold butter, cut up small and flour equals a short dough that is very versatile for scones etc.

Add milk and melted butter and apricots and at the very end, I thought, why not try to cream this out a little, so I added about a tablespoon of mascarpone cheese, the cream cheese of Italy.  The dough was a little wetter than anticipated so instead of being able to roll it and then use a biscuit cutter, I would up using a muffin tin to bake. End result, scones disguised as muffins. Or muffins disguised as scones…You’ll have to decide!

Just Another Meatless Monday

Inspiration and instructions from Lidia Bastianich…

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I binge watched a Saturday afternoon full of Lidia Bastianich cooking shows on PBS a couple of weeks ago and as evidenced by the success of the poached egg, Lidia makes it look so easy. One of the episodes was about the Italian love for bitter greens like mustard greens, chicory, radicchio and escarole.

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Nothing that starts out with garlic will end badly, so I knew this recipe for Escarole soup would be terrific. I started with some garlic and olive oil in large heatproof pot ( my le Creuset, medium size).

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I added canned white beans instead of using dried ones that have been soaked. Saves time and really doesn’t change the end result. I added 2 quarts of water, bay leaves, more olive oil and left it to simmer for about 30 minutes. (If using soaked beans the time is longer by 1.5 hours)

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Once the beans have cooked down, turn the heat down and add 4 cups of shredded/torn escarole and simmer again for about half an hour.

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Meanwhile, heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and toast some dried hot pepper flakes in the oil.

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Add about a cup of the soup from the larger pot to the hot oil and pepper. It WILL sizzle, so be cautious.

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Add the contents of the skillet to the soup pot and stir well. Season to taste and serve! Mangia!

Simple Supper

Remember this post from last year about poached eggs on salad? I cheated and sort of stewed the eggs in Pyrex dishes, submerged like the Seaview from “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”. As you can see from above picture, I’ve gotten much better with the poaching. All it took was 10 minutes with an episode of Lidia Bastianich from last Saturday. Same boiling water in same skillet however the 2017 version is a tablespoon of white vinegar and sliding the eggs from Pyrex into the simmering water. Two minutes on the clock and et voila! Perfection. Simple greens tossed with green onion slices, a little bacon and the end of the batch of citrus dressing.


Accompanied by a little pate, cornichons, apricot jam and a few slices of baguette! Oh, and wine! 

Accidental crafter….

Decluttering again in the attic and found these two plastic ornaments, never used. They were sitting on the kitchen counter, next to some corks I had saved when I had the Eureka! idea to put the corks in the clear globes! Now I have to get more globes. I have enough corks to mulch the backyard! Great way to display special corks you might be saving from weddings, anniversaries, vacations etc. I suggest bringing a cork to the craft store to be on the safe side. This time of year, you might be able to still score 1/2 price globes! 

Baby steps…

For a baby New Year. I read with interest about a woman who is removing one item a day from her home for the first 40 days of the year. It’s only day 2 and the Hubs has already gone to the Goodwill with at least 40 items including 2 Christmas trees. Meanwhile, I filled a box today while cleaning the hutch after Christmas.


I love decluttering! 

And while peaking at the Cotton Bowl (On, Wisconsin!) I cleaned and sorted my kitchen flatware drawer. I inherited silver flatware from both Violet, my mother in law, and my Nana and it has been in the silver chest for too long, only being used for parties and holidays. Christmas Eve, when I was setting the table, I made the decision to move to using the silver everyday! What am I saving it for?


There are two patterns, simple and evocative of the times they were purchased in. The forties for Violet, married to an Army officer and stationed in France after WWII. Later, it probably went to Sao Paolo in Brazil with her and the Hubs and his dad when the Hubs was a boy. When she passed I found the pieces rolled up in plastic bags and stored under the sink so it would be ‘overlooked’ by anyone who might be burglarizing the house. My Nana’s is lighter in weight and smaller in size, so I think maybe bought before the war when effects of the Depression were still lingering and spare money went to family in Ireland. But there’s a 2nd set of teaspoons from Nana that are totally different. Both sets, no matter the provenance feel much warmer in the hand than the stainless. I’ve stored the stainless for access if needed, but honestly, we are all worth the good stuff.