What I Miss & Perfect Pairs

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Yesterday was William’s 29th birthday. Cheers to my boy. His birth was truly one of the best days of my life. Missing him more than I can express I celebrate him in the best way I can. In the garden planting seeds and in the kitchen creating a few recipes inspired by him he continues to be a bright light in my heart. I’m thankful for my hobbies and my passion to want to learn and try new things. Getting through tough times? It’s all about the distraction. Cooking, baking and gardening do it for me. How do you do it?

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I have been practicing my food photography with a new camera and have already received some very exciting feedback from some recipe/food sponsors. Can’t reveal what that is right now, but it sure made me feel good about trying something new and difficult. These days’ recipe contests require quite a bit of work. I miss the old days when all I had to do was create a recipe, write it down and mail it in. Now, in addition to preparing an original recipe, I am required to be a food stylist, food photographer and a creative writer. My poor husband. He knows he is not allowed to eat anything in the house until I have photographed it…on many a day we eat the food cold.

Probably one of the more wonderful things that have been on my plate lately is teaching two really smart and joyful young ladies, ages 11 & 9 how to cook. Sharing what I know about cooking and baking with the younger generation is quite fun and exciting. We are cooking our way around the globe and just finishing up Mexico with a Mango Tres Leches Cake. I think I was channeling my favorite teachers of Mexican cuisine Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Too Hot Tamales. I miss those cooking shows that really taught me and helped build my knowledge in the kitchen.

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Mango Tres Leches “Celebration” Cake is perfect for a birthday or Cinco de Mayo

Are there any famous chefs that you have learned from and would like to meet? Wouldn’t it be great fun to travel  to the 2017 Vegas Uncork’d Expo food & wine event happening next week? Take a look at that celebrity chef schedule. Famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Giada de Laurentiis will be preparing their dishes alongside perfectly paired cocktails. There are a few I would love to learn from, but if I could only pick one my heart still belongs to Mary Sue & Susan as they opened up a whole new world of Mexican cuisine and especially cheeses to me.

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queso fresco on scrambled eggs makes a perfect pair

Speaking of cheese and back in my own kitchen I have been working on some new recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches. After a hard day in the garden cooking up something like a grilled cheese and dining out al fresco on the deck is an easy and delicious way to end the day. Heading into the warmer weather we often enjoy a cool glass of rosé wine with a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s a rustic perfect pairing, but who says wine has to be fancy? Rosé matches quite well with just about any cheese and bread. It’s not as elaborate as some famous celebrity chef dishes, but it works.

Cheers!

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Here is one of my winning cheese sandwiches from yesteryear. The salty bacon and olives with the sweetness of fruit, peppery arugula and luscious burrata pairs perfectly with a glass of Rosé.

Burrata & Bacon Ciabatta, Oh My

3 slices thick cut bacon

¼ cup apricot jam

1 (4-inch) ciabatta roll, toasted

2 tablespoons Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro Homemade Style Basil Pesto

¼ cup arugula leaves

2 Mezzetta Sweet Cherry Peppers, seeded, diced

1-ounce burrata cheese (1/2 of a 2 ounce ball)

1 ripe apricot, sliced

4 pieces Mezzetta Sliced Greek Kalamata Olives, chopped

1-teaspoon balsamic vinegar syrup

Heat oven 400F. Line bottom of broiler pan with foil. Coat both sides of bacon with jam; place on broiler pan rack set over foil-lined bottom. Bake 30 minutes; transfer bacon to a plate. Spread bottom half of roll with pesto. Layer with arugula, cherry peppers, bacon, burrata, apricots and olives. Drizzle with balsamic. Cover with remaining bread slice.

 

 

Three Citrus Saltfish Tostadas

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When a food product evokes happy childhood memories one can’t help but want to experiment with it. Here I am with Buena Ventura saltfish pollock fillets and wondering why my dad never made his famous bacalao salad during any other time of the year but Christmas and then me following the exact same tradition. Why just serve this delicious fish on just one night? IMG_5483

This is premium pollock fillets sourced from the cold waters of the North Pacific and salted under strict quality conditions. Readily available and easy to prepare why not cook it for a meatless Monday meal, a taco Tuesday or even a “wild-caught” Wednesday. I first tried using the salt fish in a filling for potstickers and egg rolls. The fish certainly holds its own against bold Asian flavors, but I wanted it to shine a bit more brightly rather than being covered up in a wrapper. IMG_9431

A Mexican inspired salt fish tostada it is. A perfect main dish for any night of the week this recipe shines bright with a citrus and spice marinated pollock, crispy corn tortillas and plenty of healthy crunch from fresh vegetables. It will evoke memories of the freshest fish taco you’ve ever eaten, if I do say so myself.

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To prepare salted fish for recipes soak it in fresh cold water in the refrigerator for 8 hours, changing the water three times. For more info & recipes check out www.cfeboston.com.

Three Citrus Salt Fish Tostadas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 (16 oz) package Buena Ventura Salted Pollock Fillets, prepared

2 lemon slices

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced

1 tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

3 grinds fresh black pepper

8 corn tortillas

½ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

1 small red bell pepper, seeded, diced

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh cilantro

½ cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese

Cook fish in a pan of boiling water that contains the two lemon slices for about 2 minutes or until the fish flakes. Transfer fish to paper towels; pat dry. Place fish in a heat proof bowl. Using two forks or your fingers flake fish into bite-size pieces; keep warm. In a small saucepan, over low heat, whisk lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, garlic, honey, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and black pepper just until honey is melted and mixture is warmed through; pour over fish. Toss fish with marinade, cover to keep warm, and let stand for 10 minutes. Fry tortillas in hot olive oil until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle each with a little salt.

To serve, top each tortilla with purple cabbage, red pepper, avocado, green onions, cilantro and cheese. Using a slotted spoon remove fish from marinade and place on top.

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What Not To Say…Add it to the list

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It’s been 2,136 days or 5 years, 10 months, and 3 days since I lost my son. By now I thought I had heard every heartfelt, but misguided thing a person could muster in an attempt to comfort me. Remember this blog post about what not to say?  Well, I was wrong in thinking I had heard it all. Let’s add 1 more to the list of what not to say.

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North Conway 1997

 

Do NOT say to a grieving parent who is now a grandparent: “You must be all better now that you have a grandchild.”  Honestly, I am not trying to be harsh here. I understand if you have never been through the loss of a child that you can’t know how one feels, but common sense should dictate that one child could never replace another. Each child is their own unique joy. Each child has their own unique place in a parent’s/grandparent’s heart. A parent does not ever forget about the lost child by filling the void with another. When I think back on that moment, I am 100% certain I caused great discomfort to the person who was hoping I was better now. Without warning tears and quite possibly rage welled my eyes and the person made a quick exit stage right.

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Thanks for letting me vent today. Now let’s just get comfortable with a steaming hot, nourishing bowl of soup. We just had our first snow, so let’s warm up with a hearty wild rice & chicken version. This recipe packs a bit of smoky spice and chocolate because after all it’s still Valentine’s week. Enjoy.

“Soup puts the heart at ease and calms

down the violence of hunger”

~ Escoffier

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Heart Warming Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 medium orange bell pepper, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh ground back pepper

1 (14 oz) can petite diced tomatoes

1 (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies

4 cups chicken stock

1 cup wild rice, rinsed

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced

¾ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, over moderately high heat until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa, oregano, smoked paprika, red pepper, salt and a few turns of black pepper; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, tomatoes with chilies, chicken stock and wild rice; bring to boil. Add the chicken. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender and puffy, about 40 to 45 minutes. Stir in the corn. Ladle the soup into bowls.

Garnish with fresh herbs, sour cream and crispy tortilla strips, if desired.

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