My grandmother descended from a long line of Connecticut Yankees and married the son of Italian immigrants. The Italian food she cooked was amazing. I remember this one soup she made with tomatoes and thyme, which I liked to eat with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. I don’t think she put sausage or tortellini in it, but I wanted to use up my tortellini from last week, and sausage seems to be the classic accompaniment in this kind of soup.
I used the rind from an old piece of parmigiano reggiano I had been keeping in the freezer. If you don’t have one, that’s completely fine, but the next time you buy parmesan cheese, remember to chop off the rind and keep it in a zip top bag in the freezer. It’ll keep for at least a year.
I found these cherry tomatoes this week. Aren’t they beautiful? They look like mini heirloom tomatoes. While I was trying to think of what I could do with these, I noticed I still had some nectarines, and remembered a cold soup recipe in an old Martha Stewart Living magazine (June 1999—it was the issue that came out a month or two after I got married, and the first issue I ever bought. I have probably made more recipes from that issue than any other magazine in my life!). The soup was made with heirloom tomatoes and peaches. Perfect! I tossed in the nectarines and some cucumbers that were lying around, et voila! Tomato Cucumber Salad with Orange Vinaigrette and Nectarines! It was better than I expected. Hope you all enjoy it!
Frangipane is an almond pastry cream. Do I need to say more? (You had me at almond and cream!) You can get these tarts at patisseries all over France. The Sundance resort in Provo, Utah also sells something like them at their deli, and I get one every time my family visits for the day.
I would definitely recommend an all butter puff pastry. It’s a bit hard to find though. You might try a Whole Foods, which is where I found the Dufour Pastry Kitchens Brand. You can click here to try and locate it in your area. This recipe makes a little more frangipane than you need, so just freeze what’s left. I’m sure you’ll find some use for it! You could pipe it into the centers of baked apples. Mmmm . . . that would be good.
I stir this sugar into my herbal tea. The last I used it I was drinking Vanilla Hazelnut herbal Dessert Tea by Celestial Seasonings. Little black flecks of vanilla bean swam into every sip. It was lovely.
This sugar is also fantastic to use for the top of crème brûlée.
I stored mine in a Fido jar I found at World Market.
Thank you to everyone who has already entered the contest! (But don’t worry, if you haven’t entered yet, you still have time!) I scouted around Williams Sonoma today and found this small bundle of kitchen tools.
The first item is the Oxo Good Grips potato peeler. I’ve had mine for close to ten years and it still hasn’t worn out. It’s great and worth every extra penny. I just got my first citrus reamer a few weeks ago, and love it, especially when I only need to juice one or two lemons or limes. My favorite is the Microplane. You can find it in lots of kitchen stores, but the ones they sell at Williams Sonoma have a protective sleeve and rubber pads on the end to prevent slipping—two great safety features. I use it for zesting citrus fruits, grinding fresh nutmeg, and grating fresh ginger. The red spoonula (sorry, that link no longer has the spoonulas—only spatulas) is a favorite. I use it for spooning dry ingredients into batter when I use the mixer, or for cooking in nonstick pans, or whatever else.
If you haven’t entered yet, get cooking, and post a comment to tell me about it. Best of luck!
So this recipe is—well, it’s not really a recipe. It’s more of an idea. Back in June, before I started this blog, I was wondering how to expand my children’s minds, open them up to new ideas. I thought food was a good place to start because it is the one subject on which my children are most opinionated. Most nights I don’t have the burning inclination to try a new recipe, so I wondered what my children would think if I plated something differently than normal—I’m not talking happy faces made from pancakes—I wondered if they would welcome dishes that looked like they came from a restaurant instead of a cafeteria. In my first attempt, I thought I’d just reverse the normal order of how I would normally serve something. Instead of putting the sauce on top of the pasta, I put the pasta on the sauce. Simple.
My son loved it. When he saw it, he put his napkin on his lap, ready to use his best manners for a nice dinner. My daughter, who for some unknown reason hates pasta, was not fooled. She acted as she normally does when pasta is served, and had to be excused.
Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out. I’ll continue to experiment with plating design for my family. It makes them feel important.
I grew up in a small section of an historic town in New England. Most of the houses dated from the eighteen hundreds and earlier (Okay, everyone in Europe, stop laughing. I know you don’t think that’s very old.). In the center of our neighborhood, we had a general store which all the kids fondly called the “little store.” It carried all kinds of penny candy, soda, and ice cream. My mom is still amazed with what I was able to buy there with a quarter—attributing it to some sort of genius in thrifty shopping. Next door to the Little Store was our post office. No one in our area had mail delivered—everyone had a p.o. box. Part of everyone’s daily ritual was to stop by the post office, pick up their mail, and say hi to Mrs. Ryan and Joe. It made our neighborhood special. I miss it.
On the down side of my upbringing in the midst of idyllic Americana, we had to go to the post office to send mail, too. We had to buy our stamps there, and if the window was closed, we had to come back another time. For us kids, that meant another twenty minute walk. Usually the need for sugar hit us at times other than scheduled window hours, and stamp-less, unsent mail would travel home in sticky hands.
I tell you this very long story to explain my deeply rooted non-talent of writing and sending mail, particularly thank you notes. I believe in thank you notes. I buy them. I have filled out hundreds of them. But many, I am VERY sorry to say, never get sent. Since I am trying to raise my kids to be polite, I am working hard to change. I posted these thank you notes from Papyrus as penance. Aren’t they pretty? They have decorated envelopes, which are hard to find. And I bought them in good faith that I will be better in the future.
My husband lived in Buffalo, New York before we were married, so he’s a bit of a snob when it comes to wings. Over the years, he has tried to raise me to his standards. Though I still don’t have the same discriminating palate he has, I thought this chicken burger would be a fun, lower fat way to enjoy the flavor of Buffalo Wings.
I know it’s a little soon to start a new contest, but thanks to my friend Becky, a lot of you are new to the site. It hardly seems fair that you would all have to wait around for a long time before the next contest starts, don’t you think?
So, here’s the lowdown. I want everyone to have fun cooking this week (I’m sure I’ll do a manners themed contest some time and another one with books in the future, but this week it will be cooking.). If you try one of my recipes, put a comment on this post, and tell me how it went. If you loved it, tell me! If something goes wrong with it or you hate it, let me know! I want to hear. I’ll pick randomly from all of your comments. And don’t worry, if you already tried something and told me about it, like Julie and Sonja and many others, then you’re already entered!
As for the prize, hmm . . . I think I’ll scout around Williams Sonoma and make up a little bundle of a few of my favorite kitchen tools. I’ll definitely toss in a Microplane, the one tool I could no longer do without. Once I’ve put them all together, I’ll post a picture so you’ll know what you’re aiming for.
So, there you have it. I can’t wait to hear from you. Good luck, and happy cooking!
That’s about enough sugar to be going on with, wouldn’t you say? I think I gained five pounds this week.
I made this right after eating all those lime bars to take me off my sugar high. It’s really easy to make. (I think I should have put a spoon somewhere in the picture—-that might have looked nicer.)