Hot Soup, Cold Night


By the end of this week, the nighttime temps here in the higher elevations will be down in the 20’s and I’ll be happy to be making this soup again. Butternut squash and apple soup, topped with a little creme fraiche is an easy and satisfying winter supper when paired with some toasted bread like cranberry walnut and a little green salad, simply dressed.


Roast off some cubed butternut squash and a little yellow onion or shallot ( milder in taste). Peel and cut 2 small apples and add to the squash after roasting. Put it all in a saucepan with some bay, some fresh thyme, cinnamon and nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cover the veggies and apples with veggie or chicken broth ( richer tasting) and boil till very soft.


Use a stick blender or regular blender to smooth it out. You can add a little cream if you want. Remember if using a regular bar blender , add the hot liquid in very small amounts to blend. Maybe about 12 oz at most, then repeat as necessary. The risk of burns is high!

Garnish and serve!

Just another Meatless Monday…

Uses up a good amount if your summer garden bounty. I started by blind baking a pie crust for about 10 minutes and then layered summer squash and zucchini slices in overlapping layers. Because the veggies will shrink up, better to have the slices tightly packed.

I whisked an egg and a couple of teaspoons each of cream and creme fraiche together and then pored it evenly under the veggies. 

I topped the tarte with a little shredded mozzarella and put the whole zucchini as it were back into a 425 oven for 30 minutes.

Let the tarte sit for ten minutes before you slice. Add a green salad and you have a simple summer supper and/or a meatless Monday option!

Presto! New Dough!

IMG_5148Laminated dough that is the base for croissants and pain chocolat can be pokey at best and tortuous at worst. Mix, knead, chill, fold, chill, roll, fold, chill….you get the picture. I found a recipe for a creme fraiche tarte by Naomi Pomeroy ( whose wedding chicken I still have to make.  So called because it’s so good she served it at her own wedding!) on the Panna App.It’s the second time it has appeared on my Facebook feed from Panna, so I figured the pastry universe was trying to tell me something.


It was quick and easy for a dough, surprisingly so. And although not as buttery as a true Parisian bakery, for a short dough, it was terrific and perfect for the application. I made half the recipe.  Start with flour, baking powder and very cold butter cut into cubes. Pulse in the food processor with dough blade until cornmeal type consistency is achieved.


Add four ounces of creme fraiche and pulse again until the dough just comes together. It will be kind of “shaggy” as they say.  Lightly flour a surface and drop the dough out onto it.  Work the dough very slightly until its smooth and elastic, about 4 or 5 turns kneading. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.


Roll and fold per the recipe until you get the requisite strips of pastry.  Leave uncovered and freeze for 15 minutes.


Bake in a 425° oven for 20 minutes until brown and puffy. Remove from oven, prick with a fork and bake for 10 more minutes.


Meanwhile, back at the cheese crib, slice your brie….


If you’re using Naomi’s half dried tomatoes or my tomato confit ( recipe later this week) get them to room temperature.


Add the tomatoes and cheese in the order you prefer. I did not pay attention here and put cheese on top of tomatoes. Like all art, I think it’s personal…


Back in the oven to melt the cheese for about 5 minutes…


I cut one strip into 4 pieces and served over simply dressed greens and grilled asparagus. I froze the second strip for later in the week.

Now here’s the thing that I’m excited by. Short time investment for dough, big yield for possibilities of toppings…I’m thinking mushrooms in a cream sauce, or maybe Italian cold cuts, shredded and dressed with capers and olive oil, or even lemon curd and fresh cream. I mean, you could use puff pastry from your grocers freezer but why? Be brave!

My friend, Creme Fraiche

Early in the spring I shared with you a recipe for frenchified chicken that I am very happy with and have made occasionally until the long hot summer kicked in. Then one of my cooking heroines, The Barefoot Contessa, came up with this recipe for  fish that is just nifty, fast and tastes delicious.

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of red snapper. I grew up in New England and cleave to North Atlantic cold water, oily fish like mackerel and swordfish and sturdy fish like salmon and cod. So because I’m the cook, I can change the fish. One of my fave types of fish is barramundi, a sustainable type of sea bass from the Pacific, and I used it to make this recipe. Start out with putting salt and pepper on the filets, both sides.

Next, mix Dijon and grainy mustards, capers, creme fraiche, and salt and pepper. Coat the fish with the sauce and bake in a 425 degree oven. I only used half the amounts called for in the recipe, because I was only making two pieces of fish. I still had some sauce left over, very good on potatoes. 

Unfortunately I did not do a good job of photographing the finished item on a plate, you’ll have to settle for right out of the oven. I served with asparagus and some boiled baby red bliss potatoes. Totally satisfying despite my barramundi anxiety after the Hubs’ recent revelation that he found barramundi “lacking”. Hmmmmm.


Just when you think you can’t do anything different with roast chicken, along comes a new recipe via blogger and cook Mimi Thorisson, she of Manger fame.

The recipe uses garlic and shallots, parsley and creme fraiche along with a little salt and pepper to both marinate and moisturize the chicken. The creme fraiche takes on the same role as buttermilk in fried chicken, keeping the meat moist and flavorful. Mix the creme fraiche, shallots, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper in a bowl and then coat the whole bird inside and out.

  Roast in a 375 oven till cooked through and juices run clear. Remove the bird to a platter and deglaze the roasting pan with white wine. Add a little flour and whisk into the best sauce your young life will have tasted in a while. The Hubs said that the sauce inspires “Viking eating habits” ….

Hey, it worked!

A long time ago, my friend J and I were doing a catering gig. He came up with the idea to build the salad in a ring mold to make it a little different. Anyway, good idea, but hard to do for 100+ plates with limited skilled hands. However, if you only have to do four for Easter dinner, it’s a snap!


I wanted to recreate a carrot cake in my salad for Easter. I know, call me crazy. Not too hard if you take individual components like raisins and pineapple which I used in their original form. I roasted some teeny tiny Peter Rabbit sized carrots with some honey and candied some walnuts in a pan with butter, brown sugar and apple pie spice.


I mixed up a dressing of orange juice, ginger, salt and pepper, apple cider vinegar, and creme fraiche to mimic the whole cream cheese frosting of a cake and then I started building. Bibb lettuce (it is a salad after all), then canned chunk pineapple, then the carrots, then ricotta salata cheese that I shaved with a vegetable peeler, then walnuts and raisins.

Then you kinda smush the ingredients down in the mold for a couple of seconds, to give the ingredients time to bond. The key is not to have to move the salad to a plate. Build it where you need it!

I pooled the dressing around the stack and am happy to report it was an all round success!


Here’s my sister’s molded ice cream bird nest dessert. Shredded phyllo wreath with jellied leaves, vanilla and Irish Cream ice cream, an topped with malted chocolate eggs! 

We had the wrap on culinary molds this holiday!


Smooth and Smokey


Continuing the trend for sweet or savory summer dishes requiring minimal prep and still be satisfying, I hereby present a twist on bagels and lox.

I used inexpensive, cold smoked salmon on pumpernickel bread. I spread the bread with a half and half mix of creme fraiche and cream cheese with dried dill added. Add the salmon and top with some quick pickled cucumber slices.


I will sheepishly admit that I copied this recipe from a new recipe at work!