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Did you know today is World Nutella Day? Well, it is. And that’s a thing. A world wide celebration of that delightful combination of chocolate and nuts that people audaciously present as a “breakfast” treat. This always cracks me up. Breakfast! Snort! No question, it is delicious but I give the breakfast angle a suspicious eye. Sugar, chocolate and hazelnuts is a treat, not necessarily a daily part of a healthy breakfast. But that’s just my opinion; to each his own. Now then, as important as World Nutella Day may be, do you also know today is something even better? IT IS INTERNATIONAL CLASH DAY PEOPLE!!! Fire up the iTunes and play the only band that matters for the next 24 hours. While eating nutella. That’s a pretty great way to spend a Friday. You’re welcome.

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I like my chili with some heat. In reading a lot of chili powder labels at the grocery store, I noticed that most contain the following: paprika, cumin, cayenne, oregano, salt and garlic and/or onion powders. Though paprika is legitimately a chile, I don’t think of it as a chili powder chile. Is that a legit statement? Who knows but for me, paprika is in paprikash, Spanish tapas dishes and sprinkled on top of twice baked potatoes. I don’t know that I want it making up the bulk of my go-to chili powder. Where are the actual chilies? I’ve always been fascinated by the bags in Hispanic grocery stores – the ancho, the pasilla, the guajillo chilies. Why aren’t those in most chili powders? They’re rather inexpensive so I can’t imagine it’s a cost issue. The only thing I can come up with is that paprika is rather mild so it appeals to a larger audience. Also, with only one chile, it makes for easy production. It also makes it boring, with no complex layering of flavors. Why make it interesting when you don’t have to? BAH.

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If you were following along last month, then you’re aware I did a little 12 Days of Cookies thing for the holidays. If you weren’t, well, I did a little 12 Days of Cookies thing for the holidays. The second post of the series was Fig Mezzaluna, delicate little pastry moons filled with the most delicious, spiced fig filling. Ever since, I’ve been thinking about that damn filling and coming up with ideas on what else I could make with it. What could I wrap that wondrous concoction in? It would make a fantastic baklava kind of thing, nestled between layers of phyllo and drizzled with honey. It could fill some fantastic thumbprint cookies. My thoughts also turned to Fig Newtons, naturally. I grew up in the 70’s. Of course I’d think of Fig Newtons. How good would that filling be wrapped up in a nutty, whole wheat dough? I swooned to think of it.

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The day before Christmas Eve, my mom and I wandered about Whole Foods picking up miscellaneous things for our holiday dinner. We spent an inordinate amount of time at the cheese counter, discussing cow vs. goat vs. sheep, what types of salamis might be good, and circling the olive bar with a highly critical eye, making sure to buy extra amounts of our particular favorites. When the subject of crackers vs. bread came up, I emphatically stated crackers but was a little bored by the thought. Water crackers, oh joy. We needed to zip this charcuterie platter up! Then while waiting for some sliced proscuitto, I looked down. Raincoast Crisps. Perfect.

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So the mad rush of the holidays is over, presents opened and all cookies delivered. Like many, I bake an ungodly amount during those few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. I go through a crazy amount of butter, 50lb sacks flour and sugar, chocolate in vast quantities and probably every nut and dried fruit Trader Joe’s carries a couple times over. Then, post New Year’s Day, I’m left to deal with the aftermath. Staples such as butter, sugar, and flour, I can easily handle. It’s the little bags of leftover stuff; the half bag of dried cranberries, the handful of walnuts, the ¼ cup of dried blueberries that have a way of hanging around far too long. I’ve come up with a solution for those little bits and bobs. I call it Post Holiday Granola.

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Happy New Year! As we ever so slowly raise our heads from the post holiday scrum, if you’re anything like me, you realize you have a lot of stuff leftover, lying about. A lot of delicious debris from festive meals, appetizer sessions, cocktail parties and food gifts from kind and generous friends. I, for one, do not care for leftovers. Once I eat something, with few exceptions, I am done. I have moved onto the next thing. This dislike of leftovers does not bode well for my refrigerator and is why I often send neat little takeout containers home with my dinner guests. The day after Thanksgiving I was looking at the aftermath of a cheese and charcuterie platter we had mostly demolished, wondering what to do. It wasn’t pretty. I had an idea.

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My mother, sister and I were discussing the Christmas Eve menu a few weeks ago via email and my sister had a request. For pre-dinner appetizers, could we have rumaki? Sure! They’d long been a family favorite and I knew they’d be well received. Take a chicken liver, wrap that around a water chestnut and wrap that in bacon – delicious! I was more than happy to take that one on. There was one problem. As many times as I’ve made them, I’ve never really been happy with how they’ve turned out. They were always gobbled up but I always thought they were just ok. I knew they could be better. So just in time for your New Years Eve festivities, I’ve come up with a better rumaki.

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