travelogue: live long and prosper (foodie friday)

The house cocktail at the Bonnet House in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida was a Rangpur Lime Cocktail. Owner Evelyn Bartlett claimed it was good for long life. She wasn’t joking! Read “Evelyn Bartlett, Patron of Art And Ornament, Dies at 109.”

Any takers for a cocktail evening?

Travelogue, February 2019.

Foodie Friday: A New Favorite!

If you’re a foodie great or small, you know Lidia Bastianich — her warm and friendly face welcoming you into the kitchen of her Emmy award-winning public television show Lidia’s Kitchen. Tutti a tavola a mangiare! She’s also a best‐selling cookbook author and owner of several restaurants and retail shops.

(As a matter of fact, this month, I’ll be visiting Lidia’s Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in New York City.)

In the same vein as cooking goddess Ina Garten, Lidia presents recipes — and the stories that go with them — in a no-nonsense atmosphere, with familiar ingredients combined to make what you imagine could be a new favorite!

Such was the case recently. Picture me, holed up on a hotel room on Cape Cod, weathering a wicked nor’easter’ churning up the coast. Wine, pâté, a nice sharp cheddar, and nothing but an afternoon of PBS cooking shows on the To Do list. Heaven (in an odd duck sort of way).

In an episode titled “Heartwarming Favorites,” Lidia cooks up a rice and lentil soup, roasted olives with orange and rosemary, and ricotta …wait, what? Roasted olives with orange and rosemary?

That’s what I thought too. So I made a note in my journal, and when I got home and back to internet access (like I said, it was heaven)…I searched out these “heartwarming favorites.” To my delight, a recipe for Roasted Olives with Orange and Rosemary showed right up on Lidia’s website, and it was promptly added to our Thanksgiving menu — with much anticipation.

They did not disappoint.

The combination of earthy olives with the fresh citrus of orange is a surprise. Add in the distinct flavors of rosemary, thyme, garlic, and fennel with the overlay of roasting magic? This recipe is divine!

Not to mention the fact that olives are good for you!

According to the food blog The Nibbler: “Olives are a very healthy fruit. Some people avoid them because of their ‘high fat content.’ But that’s the same incredibly heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat that we’re encouraged to consume via olive oil. Monounsaturated fats have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Olives have a trifecta of healthy components that work in synergy. In addition to the monounsaturated fats, olives are rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin E – which neutralizes damaging free radicals – along with polyphenols and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. As a bonus, olives are also rich in copper and iron, and are an excellent source of fiber.”

So there.

Lidia suggests serving the olives hot, but they refrigerate well for several days, so this is a tasty treat to make and savor! And share, for sure!

Enjoy!


Notes: 1) Fresh green olives work best for this recipe. In a pinch, jarred olives will work too, but the added salt in jar brines changes the delicate flavors. 2) Fennel powder can be made simply by pulverizing some fennel seeds—easy! 3) I let them cook slightly longer than 30 minutes, watching for the telltale caramelized signs of roasted magic!

The Time Has Come, the Walrus Said, to Talk of Many Things

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The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done —
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun!”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead —
There were no birds to fly.

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And so it was that Matt and I headed out on a beautiful morning, with the canopy of a bright, blue sky and the sun at our backs. There were, actually, plenty of birds overhead — good omens of crows and hawks to guide our way.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
“If this were only cleared away,”
They said, “it would be grand!”

“If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,
“That they could get it clear?”
“I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

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We were off to visit my dear friends Frank and Judith, “for coffee” we’d said. For introductions and conversations, too. And oysters, a gift from Matt.

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head —
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more —
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

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With big smiles and generous hugs, the four of us headed straight to the kitchen for a lesson in shucking, and preparations for a feast that included these fresh ocean jewels and a sinful assortment of French pastries. Très délicieux!

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed —
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

“But not on us!” the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
“After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!”
“The night is fine,” the Walrus said.
“Do you admire the view?

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The view was fine — out through large windows to snowy woods on a winter day, then across the table to the warm, smiling faces of our hosts. The conversation was equally delicious — sharing first encounters with oysters, with new homes, with new loves. Laughter boiling over.

“It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf —
I’ve had to ask you twice!”

“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

oysters4

Indeed, we ate every one — oysters and pastries alike! The time had come then to take our leave. But not before posing for a group photo and promising to meet again soon. We waved good-bye out windows, and agreed it had been just like visiting family. Yes, what a pleasant run!


“The Walrus and the Carpenter,” by Lewis Carroll from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

Forest Fellow

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A 100-Word Story

I saw an elf bent over, studying the bark of a tree just up the path. “What are you looking at?” I asked, feeling curiouser and curiouser. “Mushrooms,” he told me, “these.” Then he bowed and plucked a bouquet from the log at my feet. Edible, he explained with a smile, so I asked “What are you making?” and he replied “Oyster mushrooms with a sherry cream sauce.” Mouths watering, we talked a bit about wild woods and food fare before we parted ways. Darn, I keep thinking, I forgot to drop my shoe. How will he ever find me?


WORDS + IMAGE: ©2014, Jen Payne

Setting a Place for Adventure

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By definition, an adventure is “an exciting or dangerous experience, an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.” But I prefer the less foreboding interpretation: “an exciting or remarkable experience.”

With that in mind, I will tell you that one of my recent exploits involved many of the things one might expect to find on an adventure: exotic foods, beautiful scenery, interesting conversation, and a joyful sense of having been someplace new and exciting with good companions.

The place? Western Massachusetts. The adventure? A get-together with my friends Judith and Frank for dim sum…and then some!

(You might remember Judith and Frank from previous culinary adventures: Conversations and Confections, Ode to Artichokes and Friendship. Judith is a blogger, too, at Touch2Touch and A View from the Woods. )

When they heard I’d never had dim sum, they were quick to insist it be included on the iterinary, so off to Oriental Flavor in Amherst we went!

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Plate after steaming plate arrived at our table — crystal shrimp dumplings, crispy shrimp balls, pork shu mai, steamed tofu crepes — while we enjoyed a lively conversation about languages, food styles, trying new things and chicken feet.

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Thankfully, it was time for dessert! And we happily devoured two delicate egg tarts, and a pair of delicious omochi sticky rice balls filled with lotus paste and fried with seasame seeds.

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A ride through beautiful late-spring farmlands on a phenomenal Kodachrome day found us at Flayvors of Cook Farm in Hadley for three scoops of farm fresh ice cream. Chocolate Almond Chip! Black Raspberry Chip! Hadley Grass! What’s Hadley Grass ice cream? A sweet, pale-green concoction made from local, profusely-growing asparagus.

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Then it was back to Judith and Frank’s for continued conversations about good books and good writing, good food and good friends.

In her book You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote: “And the purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. You can do that only if you have curiosity, an unquenchable spirit of adventure.”

It was with both curiosity and a spirit of adventure that we ended our day by attempting our first-ever group selfie—here, for your enjoyment!

(To read more about our day, please see Judith’s post “To Touch the Heart.”)

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Foodie Friday: Hearty Soup

spanishsoup

I think it was snowstorm #17 this winter that had me craving a nice, hearty soup. When I happened to catch a Food Network show about soup and saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it!

So glad I did — it was exactly what the doctor would have ordered if she was prescribing a cure for Winter Blues and Cabin Fever.

I modified the recipe everso slightly, adding a cup of white wine to the mix (of course). I also found I wanted the meatballs to have a little more flavor, so I’d probably increase the paprika and herbs next time around.

Enjoy!

Spanish Meatballs with Beans and Greens
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

Meatballs:
2 slices stale white bread crust trimmed
1/2 cup milk, to soften bread
12 ounces ground beef
12 ounces ground pork
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons grated onion
1 round tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
Handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
Olive oil cooking spray

Greens and Beans:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red chile pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Spanish onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 large bundle flat lacinato kale or other dark greens such as escarole, stemmed and chopped or thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
4 to 5 cups of chicken stock
One 15- to 18-ounce can garbanzo beans
Crusty bread, to pass

Directions

For the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Soak the bread in milk to soften in a small dish.

Place the beef and pork in a mixing bowl. Squeeze out the milk from the bread and crumble into small bits as you add to bowl. Sprinkle the meats with salt and pepper, and add the onions, paprika, garlic, egg, cilantro and parsley. Mix thoroughly. Roll into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and arrange on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil spray and bake until crispy on the outside, about 20 minutes.

For the greens and beans: Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chiles and onions. Season with salt and pepper, and stir for five minutes. Wilt the greens. Add the wine and stir the pot to deglaze, then add the stock, water and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the meatballs. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and serve with some good, crusty bread.

Foodie Friday: Brussels Sprouts

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Hi. My name is Jen, and I am addicted to brussels sprouts.

This should come as no surprise; I get re-addicted every winter. But this year is different. This year, I’ve discovered a new recipe that is SO GOOD, I am now alternating between grocery stores so no one suspects the depths of my dependency.

(It’s bad. I’m thinking of wearing disguises.)

The recipe is called HASHED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH LEMON ZEST, and the result is a creamy bowlful of lemony, garlicky, tender shreds of this often-maligned little cabbage.

Skip the food processor. Slicing the brussels spouts by hand is a lovely, end-of-day meditation. I’ve used poppy seeds exclusively in my efforts, but I’d love to know if you try mustard or cumin seeds in yours! That the recipe “serves 8 – 12” is a misnomer — in my kitchen anyhow.

Enjoy!

HASHED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH LEMON ZEST

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 to 3 pounds brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, or poppy seeds
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
Salt and pepper to taste

Place lemon juice in a large bowl. Cut bottoms off sprouts, and discard. Working in batches, use a food processor fitted with the slicing blade to cut sprouts into thin slices. (If cutting by hand, halve sprouts lengthwise, and thinly slice them crosswise. The slices toward the stem end should be thinner, to help pieces cook evenly.) As you work, transfer slices into bowl with lemon juice. When all sprouts are sliced, toss them in juice and use your fingers to separate leaves.

When ready to serve, heat oil and butter over high heat in a skillet large enough to hold all sprouts. When very hot, add sprouts, garlic and seeds, and cook, stirring often, until sprouts are wilted and lightly cooked, but still bright green and crisp, about 4 minutes. Some leaves may brown slightly.

Add wine and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Turn off heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and more lemon juice if desired. Stir in the lemon zest, reserving a little for top of dish. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining zest and serve.

YIELD 8 to 12 servings

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Recipe found on the New York Times website, as adapted from “The Union Square Cafe Cookbook,” by Michael Romano and Danny Meyer. Click here to watch the video.


Foodie Friday: Pasta Bolognese

pastabolognese

One of the (few) drawbacks of being single is that you tend to stick to a selection of meals built for one. Combined with an assortment of local take-out menus, that repertoire of easy meals goes a long way.

But for us foodies at heart, there is always the Wish List of recipes we can’t wait to make for friends or special occasions. One of mine has been Ina Garten’s Weeknight Bolognese.

I am an ardent fan of Ina Garten — her show, her menus, her style. I swear by her recipes! They’re my go-to source if I want to know how to cook anything as yummily as possible. And this bolognese recipe is no exception.

Plan to spend about a half hour on prep and another 30-45 minutes on cook time. I added the tomato paste with the wine and let it cook together a bit before adding the tomatoes — for an extra layer of flavor. I skipped the heavy cream and didn’t miss it, but don’t skimp on the pasta or parmesan, this is a five-star recipe that deserves the best ingredients. I prefer fettuccine, so feel free to experiment!

Ingredients
2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra to cook the pasta
1 pound lean ground sirloin
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Directions
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Yum!

• • •

Weekend Bolognese recipe ©Ina Garten.