Sunday, August 10, 2014

Provencal Vegetable Tian

Thanks to Nicholas for this delicious summer vegetable recipe. I snapped a picture right before we devoured the last bites, but you'll get the idea.

Provencal Vegetable Tian
Olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, 1/4 inch slice
1 yellow bell pepper, 1/4 inch slice
Herb Sachet (4 sprigs parsley, 4 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leave, tied together)
Kosher Salt
freshly ground black pepper
1.5 tbsp tomato paste
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 Japanese eggplant (or 2 italian eggplant)
4 small (or 3 larger) Roma tomatoes
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 275 F

Heat about 1.5 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil just starts to ripple in the pan, add the onions, peppers, sachet, and salt to taste. Reduce the heat to medium low immediately and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 2 minutes, until it evenly covers the vegetables. Remove the sachet and transfer the mixture to a 12 in round baking dish and spread to an even layer (or any baking dish with a similar volume; I use an oval gratin dish). Slice the zucchini, squash, tomatoes, and eggplant into 1/8 in thick slices (slice the eggplant last as it oxidizes quickly). Layer the vegetables and tomato in an alternating pattern (1 slice each zucchini, squash, eggplant, tomato, and repeat) over the pepper mixture, overlapping each slice all but 1/8-1/4 in, working your way around the circumference of the pan. Once you’ve completed a full circle, use the remaining vegetables to fill in the middle using the same overlapping technique.

Combine the thyme and garlic in a small bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle the mixture over the vegetables, along with salt to taste and about 5 grinds of pepper. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, crimping the edges tightly, and bake for 2.5 hours. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. The vegetables should be completely tender. Remove from the oven and let rest to room temperature. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To finish, preheat the oven to 350 F and bake for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Roasted Rosemary Cashews

Making these is so easy and people do kind of swoon over them, so you're sure to win some points when you serve them. Put a bowl out at your next party and watch 'em disappear. 

They're also a nice addition to lentil or winter squash soup.

Add one package (16 oz, 1 lb or 454g) of raw, whole chestnuts to a bowl. Drizzle them with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the nuts. Add one tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary (pull the leaves off the woody stem before chopping). Add 1-2 teaspoons of good salt.

Mix it all together.

Spread them out on a baking pan.

Roast them in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until they are lightly browned. You'll need to toss them around on the baking pan a few times as the ones on the edges cook faster.

Allow them to cool completely, then pack them up in an airtight container. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I met a very kind and generous person this past summer on a flight home from London, and today I realized why our paths crossed. Andrea reminds me of my late sister, Crystal. She shares the same kind and generous spirit towards humanity. Chrissy was always an advocate for the underdog and truly sympathetic of their plight. Andrea has those same qualities.

Crystal Anne Palanza
30 Nov 1955 - 21 Nov 1981

Yes, I've been known to spark up a conversation inflight, and I've met some very nice people as a result, but the friendship was over when the wheels touched down. We didn't exchange contact information, nor did we become online friends. We shared a few hours of interesting banter then went on our merry way. With Andrea it was different.

When I took my seat we bumped arms. We both smiled and exchanged a few niceties as we settled in for the long flight home. She was heading to Maine for a family wedding, and I was coming back from a business trip. I was pleased to have a nice seat mate. 

As we perused the movie selections, I paused on The NotebookAndrea leaned over and said, "It's great, but you'll need tissues for that one. " I usually forego the tear jerkers, as I think it best not to subject others to bouts of sobbing, but it felt like I was in good hands so I hit play.  Shortly into this touching love story the tears started flowing. As I fumbled through my purse in search of tissues, Andrea placed a packet on my table.  She patted me on the back and gave me a warm smile. Not a word was spoken, but so much was said. I moved on to my next selection, About a Boy, which required a few more tissues and finished up with Pride and Prejudice making it the perfect hat trick! Several times during this emotional movie marathon I caught Andrea's warm smile from the corner of my eye. 

We chatted a bit during the final half hour of the flight and she gave me her Facebook info. She assured me that she didn't normally do that, but she felt a connection. I was happy to connect with her. Through our daily postings we've learned more about each other. She invited me to join a food group and also sent me a private message sharing more about herself and her background. She said she wasn't sure why we were supposed to connect, but her instinct told her it was the right thing to do. I'm so grateful that she did. 

When life places a person in your path that reminds you of someone you've loved and lost, it's time to give thanks. Thank you, Andrea.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cotuit: My haven while the world goes to hell in a...

With the recent publication of the IPCC climate change report it seems like the right time to show my appreciation for this charming little slice of heaven that I call home. Cotuit is nestled on the south side of Cape Cod in the town of Barnstable. 

Mashpee sits to the west and Osterville village to the east. It's south of Route 28, one of the main arteries that transports locals and visitors from the beginning of the Cape out to the elbow, and much of the town is on the ocean or very close to it. It has a rich history which can be found here and here

Cotuit has always attracted an interesting mix of intellectuals, artists, fishermen, boaters and people who cherish the peace and quiet of this off-the-beaten-path location. It's mostly year-round and summer residents during the busy season as there are no major hotels, inns or rental accommodations available for tourists. It's a place where kids ride bikes to their sailing lessons at Ropes Beach and to the only grocery store in town for a snack. We have one local bar/restaurant, The Kettle Ho, a few museums and a lovely library. It really hasn't changed much in the past 30 years.

Sunday I had the privilege of sharing the beauty of this place with a dear friend. Fall is the season that we locals like best and the photos illustrate why. Gorgeous blue skies, warm days and cool nights. We strolled through town to the Cotuit Fresh Market (aka the Coop), then down to the town dock to enjoy our sandwiches while taking in the view. As we watched folks board the launch to get out to their boats, I was awestruck by the charm and beauty of this little town. People are friendly and the pace is gentle which suits me just fine.

 We continued our walk to Loop Beach along Ocean View Avenue.

As we made our way back up to Main Street we got a glimpse of fall color.

As I read through the climate change report, I'll figure out a way to lessen my burden on my village and ultimately the planet. It's the only one we've got, so I hope we can save it. 

Peace out!

Monday, September 30, 2013

An Easy to Swallow Green Smoothie

Okay you've decided to take the plunge and give this green smoothie thing a try, so I'm here to help make the leap just a bit more enjoyable with a recipe that may make it easier to swallow. As greens go kale is milder in flavor, and this combination tastes fruity which might be more palatable for the beginner. The added touch of sweetness from the dates is also a plus. 

Ready, set, go! What have you got to lose?

The New to Green Smoothies Smoothie
Serves 2-3

1 Granny Smith apple (cored)
1 small English cucumber (ends removed)
1 stalk celery (ends trimmed)
2 1/2 inch slices of fresh ginger
1 banana
1 mango (peeled and cut from the pit)
1/2 avocado
1 large leaf of kale
2 dates (pitted)
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
handful of ice

Place all ingredients (I use organic fruits and vegetables) into your blender ( I use the Vitamix). Toss the harder fruits and veggies in first and the greens on top, then the liquids and ice. Begin blending on low speed. As the smoothie comes together switch to high speed and blend until it's smooth and creamy. About 30 seconds.

So what do you think? Yay or nay? 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cape Cod Miso Stew

One of my all time favorite comfort foods is miso soup. Fermented soy products are the healthiest to eat and miso has been an integral part of the Japanese diet for centuries. Our favorites are the mellow white and red soy misos made by Miso Master. I try to weave miso soup into our diet a couple of times a week, but sometimes my best-laid plans go astray, so when we haven't had it for a while I like to add a piece of fish and a few other trimmings which transforms this bowl of soup into a satisfying meal.

Miso's a living food that's loaded with beneficial microorganisms such as Tetragenococcus halophilus. So the next time you're wondering how to get your daily allowance, come on back and try this recipe. I've even been known to have if for breakfast, sans the fish, which is quite common in the macrobiotic diet, but perhaps if you're new to it you'll stick with lunch or dinner for now.

Cape Cod Miso Stew
Serves 2 as a meal, or 4 as a starter

The Soup:
4 cups of water
3 inch piece of kombu
2 carrots (diced)
2 stalks of celery (diced)
1 cup of diced Kabocha squash
1 tablespoon red miso
2 tablespoons mellow white miso

Add the kombu to the water and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Put the miso paste in a small bowl and add some of the soup broth to it. Mix until it forms a nice creamy paste. Add that paste back to the soup. Let it simmer (not boil) as that will destroy those wonderful microorganisms. Remove the kombu before serving.

The Fish:
3/4 pound of fresh cod
Marinade for fish:
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ume plum vinegar

Cut the fish into two pieces and place in a baking dish or small cast iron skillet. Pour on the marinade and sprinkle with the ginger seasoning. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes before baking, basting with the marinade every few minutes. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until cooked through to your liking.

The Greens:
4 leaves of collard greens (chopped)
1/2 small sweet white onion (cut into crescents)
2 cloves garlic (diced)

Add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a skillet. Add the onions and garlic, cooking until tender. Add the chopped collard greens (use the stems, too) and saute over high heat until the greens are tender.

Assembling the fish stew:
Divide the miso soup into two large soup bowls. Lay the greens in the middle and place a piece of fish on the greens, then pour the juices from the cooked fish over the top. Add a handful of toasted unsalted sunflower seeds. Get ready for a cacophony of tastes and textures that are the ultimate in soothing comfort food.

What's next, perhaps a lobster miso?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Almond Cake for Avalon

I offered to make a cake for Avalon's sixteenth birthday celebration. Our families have been friends since my daughter and Avalon were in kindergarten and they're big fans of my cooking, so naturally I love feeding them. We share a love of all things almond, so an almond cake it would be. 

A cake by David Lebovitz, blogger and baker extraordinaire, came right to the top of my Google search. I made some adjustments to his recipe (to accomodate a bundt pan) by increasing the almond paste, butter and dry ingredients by 50%, the sugar not quite as much, and using the same number of eggs. The result was a moist, delicious and not overly sweet cake. I drizzled an almond glaze over the top and sprinkled it with toasted almonds. We served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and when I tell you this cake was perfection, I'm not exaggerating.

Almond Cake for Avalon
Adapted from David Lebovitz's Almond Cake recipe
Serves 12 slices

12 oz / 310g almond paste
1 and 1/2 cups / 375g sugar
1 and 1/2 cups / 220g flour, plus 1/2 cup / 75g flour
12 ounces / 340g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
6 large eggs, room temperature

Mix the following ingredients in a food processor: sugar, almond paste and 1/2 cup of flour until combined and it looks like sand. Add butter and mix until well blended. Move this to a bowl, add the vanilla and almond extract and beat in the eggs, two at a time, using an electric mixer or whisk.

Add the remaining flour, baking powder and salt to another bowl and mix well. Fold this into the wet batter until combined. Try not to over mix it. Place the batter in a greased and floured bundt pan. I like this swirl pan.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour, or until it's set when pressed in the middle. It will be golden brown on top. If you insert a toothpick it will come out with just a little bit on crumb on it.

Almond Icing
2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tablespoons of butter (softened at room temperature)
1/4 - 1/3 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together. Start with 1/4 cup of milk and add more, if needed, to thin the glaze. Pour over the cooled cake and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Allow icing to set, then dust with powered sugar before serving.

Nothing says happy birthday quite like the fontaine de célébration candles from Paul's in the UK. Let me know if you need one as I usually have a stash on hand. I think they're outlawed in this country which is such a shame.

 Happy sweet sixteen, Avalon. xx