Step Into Fall Blinis and Late Summer Salad

•September 21, 2012 • 1 Comment

Late summer’s tomatoes are particularly sweet, and going to the farmers market this time of year brings tomatoes in every which color and hue – green zebras, Italian hearts, sun golds and bright yellow fully fleshed out tomatoes.  They pair particularly well with bitter dandelion greens, and just to add more summer (in late September, one can never have too much summer), I thinly, and safely, sliced a yellow squash on my mandolin.  The thin slices of squash were treated to a bit of salt to bring out the water, a squeeze, and a gentle saute.  Whisking together a bit of red miso, mirin, rice vinegar, sesame oil and pepper, I dressed the greens lightly before adding in the tomatoes (and their accompanying sweet juice) and the sauteed squash.

Before that little foray into summer, I had started on the blini batter, and not realizing the recipe called for yeast and 2.5 – 3 hours of letting the yeast do its thang, I gave it as much time as possible before lightly frying the blinis.  Skipping the sour cream, and not being able to properly hand whisk the egg white into stiff peaks, did not result in the most light and fluffy blinis known to man, but the crust was lovely, and let’s be honest, the blinis were just a vehicle for my prized birthday treat of Russian caviar!  Ta-da!  Exploding like riots inside my mouth, the salmon roe had all the salty goodness of the sea, and by the 5th or 6th blini I had stopped using the blini as a vehicle, and just started using a spoon.  What a treat!

Wholewheat Blinis with Caviar

Supper Club: Queen Jubilee Edition

•June 10, 2012 • 2 Comments

The threat of rain and a very special, newly arrived VIP chased us indoors to a make-shift picnic on the living room floor but still retained all the celebration in the name of the Queen’s Jubilee.


Dandelion greens, lemon, and almond salad

Cheese & chutney sandwiches in adorable brown paper bags

Mushy pea fritters with a light and only slightly tangy yogurt sauce

Strawberries from the farmers market with freshly whipped cream drizzled with quince sauce

Lemon Jelly

Scones from England and jam

Chicken Liver Mousse with Thyme Riesling Gelee (the last jar!)

Pre-dinner snacks and candies from China courtesy of Leah’s recent trip

White wine and Chinese liquor aka rubbing alcohol

The Queen herself

Sunday Test Kitchen: Rhubarb Soda and Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

•June 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Ever since I tried the strawberry rhubarb hand pie from One Girl Cookies in DUMBO, I’ve had a desire to replicate these delicious hand-held treats in my own kitchen.  And since I hadn’t cooked rhubarb before at all, I thought I’d get some at the Grand Army Farmers’ Market and make not only hand pies, but the rhubarb syrup for soda that Tasting Table posted recently.

Spiced Rhubarb Soda Syrup

The soda syrup recipe is a breeze, combining rhubarb, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, peppercorns, cardamom and instead of celery seeds, I added fennel seeds (taking a note out of Saffron and Honey’s modification).  Strain, chill, add to seltzer water and enjoy!  I know I have been!

Tasting Table’s Rhuby Red Soda Syrup

Strawberry-Rhubarb Hand Pies:

Although it seemed a shame to use the ripe in-season strawberries, there were a few that were a little overripe that were perfect for baking.  The recipe from Biscuits and Such called for a little sour cream, and vegetable shortening, but of course, next time I could try lard for the crust.  These turned out beautifully!

A few oozes but perfectly golden crust!

Biscuits and Such’s Recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

Pig Butchering at The Brooklyn Kitchen

•June 1, 2012 • 1 Comment

Ksenia and I ventured to The Brooklyn Kitchen one Wednesday night in May to take a class on pig butchering, but not before stopping in the Kitchen to purchase some Weck jars.  The class started by Sara informing us on where the roughly 7-month old Berkshire pig she was about to break down came from – Farmer Bruce, from Sir William Berkshire farm in Dutchess County, NY.  Throughout the class, she broke down the pig, literally from head to tail, making 3 major cuts on the body, while also cooking up some very tasty Meat Hook made sausage and simply prepared pork sirloin chop from a pig that had been butchered that afternoon.

Sara displays her butchery arsenal.

The Meat Hook’s meat locker

Wrestling the leg joint out of ham

After such displays of meat, I purchased some Boerewors sausage, traditional South African sausage meaning ‘farmers sausage’, and cooked up some supper, along with some spring peas, spinach and scallions.

Add in some roasted peaches, and I can taste summer already.

Chicken Liver Mousse with Riesling-Thyme Gelée

•May 23, 2012 • 2 Comments

I’m a sucker for chicken liver.

Once I have a taste, even just a small teaspoon, I’ll be back for seconds and thirds until a sizable chunk is missing.  Ever since Bon Appetit published a recipe for Chicken Liver Mousse with Thyme and Riesling Gelee in their December 2011 issue, the recipe has lingered at the back of my mind, until I had to give in and not only try my hand at the chicken liver, but also at baking bread for the first time.  Hello Test Kitchen Sunday.

The creation of the chicken liver mousse was, I’m sure as you can imagine, quite un-glamourous involving soaking the livers in milk and pureeing butter into the liver, but the end result was incredibly delicious.  A girl can’t eat all these jars of chicken liver by herself though.

One jar to the office.  One jar for Mother’s Day.  And another jar carefully stowed in the freezer for a not too far in the future picnic.

Bon Appetit Recipe: Chicken Liver Mousse with Riesling-Thyme Gelee

NY Times and Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread Recipe

Chicken liver mousse with thyme and riesling, along with freshly baked bread, made a decadent addition to Mother’s Day brunch and thus was all gobbled down.  Thank goodness my mother likes chicken liver mousse.

Below, the spread: asparagus and leek frittata, ripe cantaloupe, hot cross buns with a liberal helping of coffee and mimosas.

Next time – Weck jars for presentation!  Hurrah for Test Kitchen Sundays!

JBF Dinner: Chez Pascal

•May 3, 2012 • 1 Comment

It was almost warm enough to enjoy the backyard at the James Beard House, and while some took to the outside as respite from having to manhandle your way through the hors d’oeuvres, it wasn’t summery enough for the House to fully set up drinks and appetizers outside.  But spring is blooming, and as the beautiful bouquets in the dining room were any testament, spring is on its way.

Dinner from Chez Pascal, Providence, Rhode Island

The spring bouquets – irresistible!

Terrine of goat cheese, early spring vegetables, and hard boiled eggs

Chicken drumstick stuffed with fava beans and raclette with crispy potato anna

North Atlantic halibut en papillote with ramps, fennel and spoonful of rather tart lemon, parsley and mustard

Slow roasted pork neck roll with a potato and morel gratin and buttered turnips

Lemon souffle pudding with rhubarb soup, strawberry gelee and garnished with tiny ribbons of mint

Not only did we sit in the grownup section but we were luckily not seated with some of the rather verbose dinner guests who have a tendency to force everyone to make toasts at every course.  Hurrah!

March Birthday Boys

•April 15, 2012 • 1 Comment

Celebrating at Hot Bird, old school with Ring Dings and crayon candles and pretending Brandon and James turned 5 and 4, respectively.



James blows out his candles


Candles relight for Brandon






Food tatts courtesy of Tattly