Saturday, June 18, 2011


So....   it's been a while and I've neglected the blog for quite some time......   The garden is starting to produce and we're getting really excited.  We've had lots of lettuces which are always a delight and taste so much different that what you find at the grocery store.  Here is our first harvest of carrots, Cosmic Purple and Tonda Di Parigi.  They are both roasting in the oven right now.....

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cinnamon Chip Scones - Daily Breakfast

It seems that rituals define us as humans.  They are all over the place in our daily life.  There is a very strict morning ritual here in our house that consists of two things.  First and foremost is coffee!!  Strong, Strong, Strong double lattes.  We use a Nespresso Citiz machine and it's the easiest thing in the world, especially considering how excellent the coffee is.  Second are Cinnamon Chip Scones!  Cinnamon chips are only a seasonal grocery item where we live so we have to order them by the case.  Kind of ridiculous, but so worth it.  They are the most requested recipe from visitors to the house.

We use a recipe from Sunny, in Valencia CA.  We do not know her, but we do know her recipe.  Here is a link to the recipe:


How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in mixing bowl. Cut in butter slowly, mixing well.
  • In a seperate bowl, combine egg yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk. Add to dry ingredients, mixing completely. Stir in cinnamon chips.
  • On a floured surface, pat out dough (with hands) to rounded mound 1/2" thick. Cut into 6 scones, place on ungreased cooking sheet or in a cast iron scone pan.
  • Brush egg white over scones and sprinkle cinnamon sugar, to taste, over scones. Bake 18-20 minutes.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Lemon Tree Dance

I love when the days start to get warmer.  Daffodils start poking up through the ground, I can play outside when I'm not swamped with school work, etc. 

We have two pet lemon trees.  I call them pets because they are the recipients of a great deal of attention from us.  When the weather is nice they go outside for some fresh air.  Usually this means that it's still too cold at night for them to stay out, so back in they come.  Thus the lemon tree dance, back and fourth, in and out, repeat, repeat.

The Lemon trees in their happy spot, outside on the patio, next to the topiary, and the boxwood,  and my favorite thing, the grill.

Sesame Chicken, a lighter version

Since I found my new soy sauce, I had to try it in something......  Sesame chicken sounded really tasty and it's super easy.

Make some white rice, sticky rice is what we like in this house.  We make it in our Zojirushi rice maker.  It's perfect every time.  

Mix two egg whites and 1/4 cup of cornstarch together until smooth.  cube up three chicken breasts or 6 thighs.  Season with salt and pepper and add to egg/starch mixture.  Make a sauce that consists of 2T of sesame seeds, 3T of honey, 2T of soy sauce, and a clove of minced garlic.  Set this aside.  Prepare some broccoli for the steamer and have it ready to go. 

When the rice is almost done saute the chicken in two batches.  The egg white mix will make all the chicken pieces stick together a little bit, so just separate them as you cook them.  A nonstick pan is best for this.  Turn the broccoli on so it starts to steam.  Brown the second batch of chicken and then return the first batch back to the pan.  Thinly slice 4 scallions and add to the chicken.  Also add the sauce that we made earlier. Allow the sauce to simmer for a minute and its done.  Put some rice on a plate then top with the chicken and the broccoli.

This is a great dish because it is not so heavy.  The flavors are simple, fresh, and clean. 

New Find - Real Soy Sauce

I found this Kishibori Shoyu at my favorite store, Sur La Table.  This is real soy sauce!!  Fermented for 2 years in 100 year old cedar casks.  Wow!  Rich and complex, yet not salty.  Everything is in Chinese so I can't tell you anything more about it.....  other than to get some.......
I really enjoy the pristine white paper the soya comes in. 

These are the "instructions/directions" that come with it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

it's Ten o'clock... I just got home from work.... I'm hungry.... Lamb chops are in the fridge

it's Ten o'clock...  I just got home from work.... I'm hungry....  Lamb chops are in the fridge.  I picked up some truffle oil at the store before coming home.  I cut some red potatoes into little fries and tossed them in olive oil and pepper and roasted them at 400 for 30 minutes.  Lamb chops, really they are like miniature porter house steaks, trimmed, coated in olive oil and herbs de provence.  Fresh broccoli in the steamer ready to go.  I grilled the lamb and while it was resting I steamed the broccoli and pulled the fries out of the oven and tossed with truffle oil and truffle salt.  The lamb was perfect.  Flavorful, rich, and just the right amount of lambiness.......  The truffle fries are my secret indulgence.  Steamed broccoli, unadulterated........  sometimes you need some simple to compliment the not so simple.  Once again, simple prevails and is delicious.  Always is.......

Thursday night effort.....

Roasted root vegetables....  Sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, onions, and celery......  toss in olive oil and pepper and a touch of salt roast at 400 for an hour or so, toss the veggies 1/2 way through.  I really enjoy the parsnips, they give an apple pie spice, cinnamon-ish flavor to everything.  If you have not tried them you really should.  They look like white carrots......

On top of the veggies, Grilled Pork Chops with Dean and Deluca's pork rub and a mustard sauce.  The Dean and Deluca spice rub is to die for.  I bought a collection of rubs from D and D a few months back.  They always turn the mundane to the extraordinary.  Sure they are sixty bucks but you'll spend that on dinner at a decent restaurant.  You do get 9 spice rubs in the tin, really you should but them....  So I pan fried the pork chops.  While they were resting I made a sauce in the same pan.  The brown bits that look like burnt on scrub work are actually called Fond.  It's a french word.  I add a touch of white wine to the pan and stir.  This loosens the fond from the bottom of the pan.  Add 1 tablespoon spicy mustard.  I'm really partial to Lusty Monk Mustard made in Asheville NC.  It's got kick, you know you're alive when you use their mustard.  It's really fantastic.  Add about a cup of chicken stock, and simmer away until reduced by 1/2.  Add a tablespoon of butter and pour over the pork chops.  YUM YUM all around.

Cinnamon, pecan, streusel coffe cake

From Martha, this month.  Odd recipe, has almost as much flour in the streusel topping as it does in the cake itself.  The two kind of become one.  It's tasty non the less.....

Chicken Tagine with citrus rice

Monday night effort.......  Chicken tagine with tomatoes, orange, carrots, celery, and green olives.  Served with red citrus rice.  This was a recipe that I found on the Wall Street Journal site.  It's divine, one of the better tagine recipes that I've made lately. 

Quiche Lorraine and Co. - from Julia Child

Mom and dad came to brunch the weekend before last.  I was working the night before and had lots to do for class the next day.  So quiche sounded good and easy.  I used one of those awful refrigerator pie crusts, which I would not do again.  It's definitely worth the time and effort to make your own pie shell.  Anyway, It turned out perfect.  Quiche Lorraine is usually bacon only in the quiche.  I added cheese.

a nice green salad is perfect with the quiche.  I made a vinaigrette with Italian olive oil, champagne vinegar, and a touch of honey.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentines day dinner

Every year for V Day we stay in.  Ignore the crowds, the PDA, and the overpriced not worth it meals.  This year was no different.  We had a bottle of 2006 Childress Vineyards Meritage that we wanted to open and Fillet was a good pairing.

The french green beans look so boring here.  They really were quite tasty.  Tossed with some white pepper and our best olive oil in the house.  Potatoes were roasted with herbs de Provence and some olive oil as well.  The steaks were the show stopper for this meal. I went to three different grocery stores to get what I wanted and then had to have them cut.  Why is it so hard to buy a decent piece of meat.  Fleur de sel, pepper, and olive oil is all I put on the steaks.  I do this a few hours before cooking so they have a chance to absorb some of the flavor.  These guys were about 3 inches thick so I grilled them on screaching hot for 6 minutes per side for a perfect medium rare.  I took them off when they registered about 114 internally with my Rosle thermometer.

Lasagna with Swiss Chard, Sausage, and Lemon

Sunday night dinner this past weekend.  Compliments of Martha again.  She has been having lots of really tasty recipes lately.  During the summers they correspond nicely with the garden and what is coming from it. 
yes that is a lemon slice on top, not a tomato.  You boil the lemon slices first and that removes any bitterness with the pith.  It's a great compliment to the swiss chard and cuts the richness of of the sausage.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tonight's Dinner, brought to you by the letters A and P

Tonight dinner started late, I got in from the studio at 9, dinner was on the table about 10 after 10.  That's even late for me!!!  Asparagus with white pepper and olive oil, mashed potatoes with cream, buttermilk, and butter; and grilled pork chops with Dean and Deluca Pork rub.  So fast, So easy, So yummy.

Here it is on the table.  I had to do a table shot because we are working with rituals and dining in studio right now; not just eating.  Dinner is a ritual here, nightly.

and the post dinner view.

Monday, February 7, 2011

BBQ pork shoulder, the stages.

The weekend that we made the Brusnwick stew we also cooked a pork shoulder.  This translates to good old southern bbq, Lexington style.  For those of you non bbq people, this means vinegar based rather than katsup based.  This is a slow process, usually about 8 hours.  Start the grill and keep it low, about 275 to 300 degrees.  I usually have to prop the grill open just a bit to maintain this temp while my grill is on low.  I mix up a brew of vinegar, red pepper flakes, and some sugar, bring this to a boil and let it cool.  This is the bbq sauce.  I pepper the ham and put it on the grill.  There is no need to salt it since they come full of salt from the store.  Turn the shoulder ever 30 minutes and baste with the sauce.  You know when it's done because the tongs tend to shred the meat when you start to turn it the last time.

The meat goes through a huge transformation during the day.  After you take the mean off the grill let it rest for about 30-45 minutes then pull it apart with a fork and eat up!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Corned Ham, and Cheddar cheese

RG cooked a corned ham.  This thing was huge, a whopping 20 pounds or so.  So what is a corned ham?  It's a hog leg, just like a regular ham, only it's not smoked, it corned.  Kind of like corned beef, but not as salty.  The result is a very mild and light ham.  It's really quite delicious. 

Since there are only two of us and ten times as much ham, we had to figure out what to do with it.  Risotto with butternut squash, ham, and cheese was just the ticket.  It's now one of our favorites.  It's an exercise in simplicity at it's best.

Coq au Vin with polenta

Our Friend Christine's mother, Pat, was in town for a few days. Of course dinner was in order.

I made the coq au vin with bone in chicken thighs this time. I think I will make it this way in the future as well. Chicken breasts are too difficult to eat with the bone in, in a graceful way! We also served it with polenta rather than potatoes or noodles and this was a winner as well. I added butter and cream and pecorino romano, a sheep's milk cheese. The polenta was fantastic and a great addition fo the coq au vin.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Brunswick Stew - the old fashioned way

I think it was about a year ago, RG was given a 10 gallon cast iron wash pot.  We call it a wash pot because that is what they were most commonly used for, heating water for the laundry.  Technically; I think they are called a kettle or cauldron.  RG tells me stories about growing up. Always telling me about the one that must have been 100 gallons in the "old place" back home in the basement.  They used it for laundry.  RG used to play in it with his cousins when he was little.   I think they could run around inside of it.  It was that big!

We had been in West Jefferson with a friend looking at an old house that he was re-doing for a client.  When we went into the basement there was a wash pot was in the middle of the floor.  RG immediately went over to check it out.  Once we got back to Greensboro the search began for one to add to our collection of goods here at the house.  Well, lo and behold, on a birthday not long after, RG received as a gift the very wash pot that we saw in the basement of that house.   With the new pot, Brunswick stew is in order to be made.  We've been talking about it ever since they year before the new washpot was received.  This is an all day ordeal, we're not just making a pot of soup.  We're making 10 gallons, outside in the cold.  The original recipe is for 20 gallons and is follows:

20 Gallon Stew

6 gallons Tomatos
40 Pounds Meat (we use chicken, beef, and pork)
15 pounds potatoes
7 pounds onions
6 1/2 quarts of beans (we use green eye and lima)
5 quarts corn )cut off the cob)
1 small cabbage
3 sticks butter
salt and pepper

The only directions on the original recipe state to cook the beans and potatoes first.  So this slightly relies on passing the actual directions down from generation to generation.

RG setting up the pot.  On two levels of bricks, mainly to protect the patio floor.

The pot all set up.  10 gallon cast iron pot over an Alpha Burner.  This burner is great it goes so low that it will just simmer or so high that it will boil 10 gallons of water in about a minute.   We got this on amazon.

Here is the beginning.  We have about two gallons of homemade chicken stock in here with the lima beans and the green eyes peas.  Both types of beans are from RG's aunts garden. 

7 pounds of onions, sliced in the Cuisinart food processor.  Browning first, before they get to go to the big pot.

Lunch, we have to eat!!!  Beef and snow pea stir fry.  YUM.

The head of Cabbage.  The way the leaves curl up is always so pretty.  

We are cutting up potatoes and shredding meat that we cooked last night to add to the pot.  We will update you during the day as the brew goes together.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's all about the Jam, Habanero Apricot Jam that is

With all the Habaneros from the garden we made loads and load and loads of jam.  Seriously, I thought I was working in a Jam factory and would die.  I do enjoy having the jam around now, it's always perfect to sit out when people come over.  We put it on Cheddar cheese or Goat cheese for a little twist.

My favorite desert - Chocolate Souffle

This is my always go to desert to impress people and it's so easy I want to hit myself every time I make it.

I'll dig up the recipe and post it.  It's a really good one because you can make the souffle and hold it in teh fridge for 1/2 a day before you need to bake it.  They also freeze very well and can go from freezer to oven and turn out perfect.  I always use Valrhona chocolate, 61% for these.  They are so rich and light at the same time.  I also use their cocoa powder, it's sinful.  You can find their chocolate here: or in local stores like Sur La Table and other kitchen stores and better grocery stores.

How fabulous does that look???!!!

It's cold and I'm missing summer

At the very end of this past summer it was time to pull up the tomato plants.  However;  we still had green tomatoes on them.  We eat a lot of Caprese salads during the summer, you know, tomato basil and mozzarella with a drizzle of really good balsamic and olive oil.  

Since we live in the south, Fried Green Tomatoes came to mind.  So we created a fried green tomato Caprese salad.  No need for the olive oil drizzle, just some balsamic will do here.  We used O & Co  Cherry Balsamic, which is to die for.  Everything they do is fantastic and well worth what you pay for it.  You can see all they offer here: