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Nana’s Potato Salad

16 May

I have been busy lately, leading me to neglect this little blog of mine.  Even though it has been a few weeks since our return to Philadelphia from Cayman, I still have a carry-on that I haven’t unpacked.  My little lady has been a whirlwind, coloring and singing and running and swinging and dancing through each day.  I can barely keep up with her.  She is reaching higher, talking faster and getting stronger every single minute.  I found a new tooth today – a big molar, it looked so grown up in her little mouth.  In and amongst all of these changes is another pretty big one:  I will be baking a few days a week at a wonderful little place around the corner from our home, literally 3 minutes from door to door.  I am nervous and excited and I start tomorrow.

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Trout with Stewed Tomatoes, Fennel and Leeks

15 Mar

I went to Reading Terminal Market yesterday.  That place gets me every time.  So much food inspiration in one place.  I picked up bags of fruit and vegetables, a few sausages and some seafood.   I love having a fridge full of things to cook.   Dinner on the days I have a full fridge tend to have a little more oomph.  This is one of those meals.  Martin called it fancy and it did feel a little fancy, never mind that it was 4 pm on a Thursday or that Isabella was climbing all over us as we ate.

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Grapefruit, Cucumber and Avocado Salad

25 Jan

Is it just me or has the citrus been especially delicious this year?  I must have eaten 39 lbs of clementines over the holidays and in the past three weeks I have bought two eight pound bags of Ruby Red grapefruits.  I bought the first bag on a whim.  They were priced very well and I have always like the idea of eating a grapefruit for breakfast in the morning.

It all started the very first week of January. I was coming down from the candy and cream fest of the holidays by  drinking a lot of  green tea and munching on raw pumpkin seeds, add grapefruit to the mix and I figured couldn’t possibly be any healthier.  I reasoned that if they were a disappointment I could make sorbet out of them, sorbet is ice cream’s slightly healthier cousin after all.

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Lamb Kefta, Cucumber, Tomato & Feta Salad and Tzatziki

20 Jan

I got a meat grinder for Christmas and now I wander back and forth in front of the meat counter at the store, looking for things to grind up.  This week it was lamb.  It took all of my will power not to title this post: “Lamb Kefta: Made with House Ground Lamb”.  That would be ridiculous.  True, but ridiculous.

This meal comes together quickly, with minimal time at the stove.  Much of it can be made ahead and gets better when refrigerated for a little.   We are lucky to have a great little Middle Eastern Cafe/Grocery in our neighborhood and we picked up hummus and pita there.

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Brussels Sprouts, Apple and Radish Salad

6 Jan

I know I say this a lot, but I think that this is my new favorite salad.   An intriguing blend of bitter, spicy and tart.  It is hearty and refreshing.   Add some feta and  roasted chicken and you have a filling and the healthiest of lunches.  You can dress the salad and refrigerate for a little while, the ingredients will marry, transforming into a slaw of sorts.  A slaw that would add some interest to a plate of barbecue ribs.  An acidic and crunchy topping for a pulled pork sandwich, a burger or a piece of roasted salmon .  Or, you could eat it just as it is and you would be very happy.

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Roasted Beet and Potato Salad with Peas

5 Jan

I wrote lovingly of pink potato salad a few months ago.  It is a dish that transports me home with the very sight of it.  Nothing has changed my relationship with beets.  I look at them and then pass them over for something a little milder, a little faster, a little less messy.   But today I needed lunch and I wanted something nice.  Something pretty. So I grabbed two potatoes and peeled them.  I placed the potatoes and beets in a cast iron pan coated them in olive oil, seasoned them with salt and pepper, set the oven to 400º and put the vegetables in.  At least they were cooking.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to make, but I had an hour to decide.  Beet and potato soup came to mind.  But then I deep cleaned the kitchen and the last thing I wanted to do was to put beets in a blender.  I could just see the deep fuchsia liquid escaping from the blender  and staining the walls and my clothes, forcing me to deep clean all over again. An hour passed and the vegetables came out of the oven.  I let them cool, standing by the stove, watching them, waiting for an idea.  I thought about putting them back in the fridge and making a sandwich but that would put me right back where I started.  And I still wanted something nice for lunch.

So I peeled the beets and sat there thinking about that pink potato salad.  It is what I really wanted, it is what motivated me to take the beets out of the fridge in the first place.  I set out to make a lighter version.  A quick dig in the freezer revealed peas, I steamed them and put them in a bowl, I added olive oil and red wine vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper.  A little mustard contributed acidity and a  some finely diced jalapeño provided heat to cut through the starchiness of the potatoes.  I plated the beets and potatoes and poured the peas and warm vinaigrette over it all. I seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Making my way to the table, I stepped over a sock monkey, Bert and Ernie “napping” in a makeshift bed, a box of crayons and a sippy cup.  I sat down, put a cloth napkin on my lap and took a bite.  It was perfect, exactly what I needed.  Earthy and comforting, substantial and light all at once.  I took another bite, the flavors reminded me of home, exactly as I had hoped.   Isabella came running over from her play kitchen with a wooden banana, onion and slice of cheese balanced on a plate.  She fed me her creation and asked for a bite of mine.  “Pretty good Mama, pretty good,”  she said as she went back to playing.

Spicy Marinated Butternut Squash

1 Dec

My dear friends Drea and Erik made all of the vegetables for our Thanksgiving dinner last week. In addition to raw brussels sprouts with pecorino and green beans with pancetta and pine nuts they whipped up this gem of a salad.  Instantly I became obsessed with it.  OBSESSED, I tell you!  I ate the leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner on the day after thanksgiving.  It was fantastic cold, standing in front of the fridge at 7 am.  It was INCREDIBLE layered in between turkey and stuffing on the obligatory day-after-thanksgiving-turkey-sandwich and it rounded out my plate of turkey,mashed potatoes and gravy on Friday evening.  Martin and I’s dinner conversation that night went something like this:

Me:  “Mmmmm … I love this butternut squash.”

Him: “I know, it is really good.”

Me: “No, I mean, I really, really love it.”

Him: “I get it.”

Me:  “I don’t know if you do.  I think I want to eat it at every meal.”

Him: “You already have.”

Take another bite and repeat conversation.

As if it wasn’t enough to eat it four times in less than 36 hours, I made myself  some for lunch today.  I adapted the recipe to what I had around the house, thyme instead of mint, pickled shallots instead of raw, red onion.   I omitted the dried oregano. It hits every note: spicy, sweet, sharp, floral, salty. It is glorious.   In fact, think I am going to have some right now.

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