• New Potatoes With Brown Butter and Herbs

    New Potatoes With Brown Butter and Herbs

    Sorry Idaho, Long Island in New York has the best potatoes in the world (unless the potatoes are grown in your garden, those are always the best). And, it turns out, Long Island also gives us one of the best potato recipes in the world, new potatoes with brown butter and herbs. This recipe is one of the best “easy” recipes for any vegetable you can get.

    But before we get to the recipe, let us explain the deal on potatoes from Long Island. Long Island, as we know it, formed about 21,000 years ago during the last major ice age and is what geologists would call a glacial moraine. Basically, as the ice crept down over New England it scraped up all the good topsoil and pushed it into a big mound in front of the glaciers. When the glaciers receded, the mound of topsoil was left, and we get Long Island.

    And Long Island is made of some of the best soil on Earth. And to top it off, Long Island is surrounded by water, with moderate temperatures. Suddenly, New York gets some of the best farm land on the planet. Conversely, the reason New England got stuck with cranberries and dairy-farming is because New York got all their good soil. The pattern of New York taking New England’s best continued 20,900 years later with the Yankee’s purchase of Babe Ruth from The Red Sox…but we digress…

    Long Island’s soil is a mixture of sand, gravel, silt, clay and topsoil that ends up being a great fit for agriculture. What the soil and moderate summer temperatures get you is very productive land and very flavorful crops. And potatoes are a perfect fit for the land and climate. Long Island potatoes simply taste more “potatoey” than any we have tried- except the ones we dig up and eat from our garden. Generally we think Long Island potatoes are the best. To be fair, Idaho has great soil for potatoes, but the soil comes from ancient volcanic activity. So maybe “different” could be a better adjective. But Long Island potatoes (or almost any “legal” crop) cannot compete against real estate development. So while Long Island has great produce, sadly, it might not with us much longer. Continue reading

  • Nothing But Roses

    Backyard rose

    We are a shameless parents, and we admit it. We love our boys. Our eldest just hit his first home run. The team’s first of the year. He hit it when his parents and grandparents were at the game. I am very happy for him. They won the game. It was a good day. Nothing but roses. Here are some to share.

    Climbing rose, one of our favorites

    With a good day in mind, we give you some roses. There are tough days, too. We should savor the good ones.

    Another climbing rose

    Rose with morning dew

  • Weekly Cocktail #11: The Maiden’s Prayer

    The Maiden's Prayer Cocktail

    Yes the name is….”interesting”, perhaps suggestive, but also a curse. We will get to that. Meanwhile our goal this week was to post a great, but perhaps lesser-known, drink made from very common ingredients. It’s fun to buy things like Maraschino, Chartreuse and Cocchi Americano and learn about obscure cocktails, but sometimes it is good to have a few recipes that you can make anytime, anywhere. We think the Maiden’s Prayer fits the bill.

    And you can probably make the Maiden’s Prayer now, or after a quick trip to the market. The ingredients are dry gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and orange juice. That’s all. (You might want to add some orange or lemon bitters, if you have them…but there we go, getting all “cocktailian”). But the Maiden’s Prayer is a very, very tasty drink. Light, balanced and refreshing, with some depth from the gin. After trying it, Carolyn and I were both surprised the Maiden’s Prayer isn’t a more popular cocktail. The Maiden’s Prayer is certainly a cocktail you could serve to a group and leave everyone happy. And if you have a friend who says “I don’t like gin”, this cocktail might change their mind, the gin blends in quite smoothly. So why don’t we see this drink more?

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  • Rapini Fritto Misto

    Rapini Fritto Misto

    Carolyn and I are suckers for cookbooks and cooking magazines (and cooking shows and cooking websites). Frankly, we have way too many, but we never stop, we can’t help it. We may be Food Porn Addicts. We probably need to seek treatment. But, as it is, we keep buying.

    When we buy a cookbook, unless it is a familiar author, we are making a leap of faith. You would be surprised how many bad, and we mean bad, cookbooks are out there. But with the magazines, we start to see some predictable patterns. We know that Cook’s Illustrated will give some good tips but often adds useless steps to make their recipe seem “new and improved”, or just because they seem to all have OCD (and need to keep selling cookbooks with the same recipes rehashed ;-) ). Saveur recipes are good, but can be inconsistent and need to be thoroughly reviewed before we try them.  And our friends at Sunset magazine have good, solid recipes but the dishes are almost always under-seasoned, at least to our tastes.

    And this leads us to today’s recipe for Rapini Fritto Misto. The recipe is adapted from a Sunset recipe, and guess what? We added more seasoning. But it is a fun, tasty dish and since it involves frying, everyone likes it. Rapini, also known as Broccoli Rabe, is a relative of broccoli. The rapini is basically a thinner, leafier version of broccoli, with smaller “florets”. We think rapini is a bit more flavorful and easier to cook than regular broccoli and buy it at the farmers market when we can- normally fall and spring. Usually we sauté the rapini with a little bacon or pancetta, garlic, red chile flake, salt and a few splashes of wine. But we wanted to try something new, and deep-frying is always a popular way to make almost anything.

    So let’s talk a bit about deep-frying, there are many reasons some cooks prefer to not deep fry at home. It can be messy. It does involve some danger of burns and fire. You need to use some specific tools. If done improperly the food will taste bad and be greasy. And, honestly, we do not deep fry all that often. But it is fun, and deep-frying is a technique that can be very useful for the home cook. (Just wait until we give you Carolyn’s recipe for home-made jelly doughnuts, yum). Continue reading

  • Maple Syrup Scones

    Maple Syrup Scone with lime curd and clotted cream

    Most weekends, and some weekdays, Carolyn will bake fresh muffins, scones or coffeecake for the boys and I (yes, she is perfect and we are very grateful). Carolyn has dozen of good recipes, but recently has been working with recipes from “Breakfast, Lunch, Tea” a cookbook from the Rose Bakery in Paris. The cookbook is very well-designed, with stylish photos and is turning out to be a very good resource for baking and some savory dishes. It is a good cookbook and worth a look.

    One of the best things we have tried from the cookbook so far is a simple recipe for Maple Syrup Scones. Scones are a great treat for breakfast and can be made that morning- so they are a good pastry to have in your toolkit. This is a simple recipe, but the addition of the maple syrup adds wonderful flavor and aroma that just screams “breakfast time”. I won’t lie, it is a joy to wake up to the smell of Carolyn baking tasty treats.

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  • Posole Rojo: Cooking With Maricela

    Posole from putneyfarm.com

    Posole Rojo

    Mexican food at Putney Farm today, which we absolutely love.  But we have a special treat- a recipe from an expert. In this case the expert is our good friend Maricela. Maricela hails from Michoacan in Mexico but is now a citizen of the US and matriarch of a third-generation family of wonderful kids and grandkids. To say we are all close would be an understatement. We are blessed to have them as part of our family.

    Posole and garnishes from putneyfarm.comMaricela is a fantastic cook and does some catering, but mostly cooks for family and friends. We are lucky enough to get the occasional treat from Maricela like tamales, enchiladas and “all-day mole” (because it takes all day to make), and the food is incredible. Deep, complex, flavors and textures that few other cuisines can match. And “real” Mexican food is often lighter and more complex than many people might think.  Such is the case with today’s dish, Posole Rojo (also spelled pozole).

    Posole is a light stew of chiles, hominy (corn treated in lye, don’t worry it’s fine- we use the same stuff for grits) and pork that’s served with a vast array of garnishes. It is the perfect “weekend” soup and will please almost any crowd. The dish is also much lighter and “brothier” than you might think- it is actually a pretty healthy dish.  But don’t let that stop you, it tastes great. We are big posole fans and Maricela was kind enough to cook with us, share her recipe and help us make this batch. As a home cook, it does not get any better and cooking with a real expert, and Maricela gave us a great lesson and some key tips to making a super-tasty posole. Continue reading