‘Tis the Season For Some Seasonal Savories

9 December 2012 § 2 Comments

…yes already.

Now this is controversial but I’ve never met an egg nog I’ve liked. I’m willing to be converted but I really don’t think it will happen.

So putting the egg nog aside here are some seasonal savory recipes that will go well with a glass of wine or two: Rosemary cheese twists and pistachio parmesan biscuits. The recipes are in my What’s for Dinner? column on Barista Kids.


They pistachio biscuits are incredibly addictive: full of buttery, nuttery goodness (okay nuttery is not a word but it should be.) The cheese straws are really easy, thanks to pre-made puff pastry. Normally I’m all about making my own, but December is just too busy for puff pastry.


If you are in full holiday entertaining mode, then I have some recipes from last year worth checking out:- sweet potato latkes, lemon star cookies, spiced gingerbread cookies and coconut florentines.

Sweet potato latkes with cinnamon pear sauce

12 December 2011 § 3 Comments

This recipe makes a change to latkes with applesauce. You can find the recipe in my What’s for Dinner? column on Barista Kids.

In case you are for some unfathomable reason opposed to fried food, there is a recipe for baked latkes there too. They were surprisingly good.

Brie and chive biscuits

30 November 2011 § 6 Comments

These Brie and chive biscuits are so worth sharing. Kimberli of The Mackay Way introduced me to them at our last cooking session, and I thank her for that! Profusely. They are buttery, cheesy and completely addictive.

Straight out of the oven they just melt in your mouth, the rich and creamy texture offset by the cheekiness of the chives. I have made them since the Mackay Way Cookathon, I did say they are addictive didn’t I? « Read the rest of this entry »

Halloween Squash Souffle

13 October 2011 § 10 Comments

Earlier this summer I randomly met the talented Kimberli Mackay. She is a milliner, cook, gardener and has a really informative blog called The Mackay Way, quite the renaissance gal. I love that there are so many interesting people in our town.

Last week we managed to get together for an Ottolenghi-inspired cookathon that involved making three dishes. These included a spooktacular soufflé, from the book, Plenty, accompanied by plenty of chopping, cooking, talking and, of course, eating in my kitchen.

Kimberli chopping herbs

I’ve had Yotam Ottolenghi‘s book Plenty for a while but have not got around to trying much from it. The book is beautifully shot and is full of tempting vegetable dishes. The recipes are predominantly middle Eastern combined with Mediterranean flavors – spicy, bold and fresh – guaranteed to whip your taste buds into a frenzy. He likes “noisy” flavors, such as lemon and chilli, which are right up my alley. So we meddled, muddled and adapted Yotam’s recipes to suit what we had available in the fridge and the garden.

As it is mid-October we just had to try the Halloween soufflé (read on for the recipe). I felt braver trying a soufflé with company as they can be daunting. I will have to make sure Kimberli is over next time I cook soufflés.

Not so scary Halloween souffles

We also made farro and roasted pepper salad. Farro is the Italian name for an old wheat variety similar to spelt or emmer. It has a delicious nutty flavor that supports the strong flavors of the oregano, paprika, oregano, feta, spring onions and garlic in this robust salad. « Read the rest of this entry »

Buckwheat blinis

8 September 2011 § 2 Comments

What with the hurricane and earthquake the north-east feels a bit apocalyptic. If Doomsday is on its way then why not crack into the good stuff? Particularly when my dear husband, King Marv (or Korol Marv as they would say in the USSR) brought back some caviar and vodka from his recent trip to Moscow.

This is not something I normally eat. This stuff was good though – slightly crunchy and tangy, almost nutty, a little salty. And no nasty fish aftertaste.

« Read the rest of this entry »

More turkey, and cranberry, goat cheese and pistachio crackers

28 November 2010 § 3 Comments

This year we had not one, but two Thanksgivings, it just happened that way. Our first one was a delicious meal at the Peekamoose, Big Indian on Thursday – organic, Heritage turkey. It is owned and run by the extremely talented Chef Devin and Marybeth Mills. They pride themselves on serving delicious food and supporting local growers to use the freshest ingredients available in their seasonal menu. They also have a loyal and lovely staff. As expected their Thanksgiving meal was very tasty and $5 was donated for every meal to a local food bank.

Our second Thanksgiving was on Friday with friends, who ironically could not come on Thursday due to restaurant work commitments. Yes, that photo really is King Marv about to carve the beast, he did a good job! We troughed our way through a free-range turkey from Vacchiano farms, roasted vegetables, gratin dauphinois (with added sweet potatoes to make it more American), the best sage stuffing ever (the simplest I have ever made – will post recipe before Thanksgiving next year if I remember) as after my two Thanksgiving dinners am a bit over it all, and I’m sure no-one is looking for this recipe right now.

All I have left is a carcass that I will do something with tomorrow and some cranberry jelly. If you have any cranberry left, try these delicious little crackers. With Christmas just around the corner they would be delicious accompaniments to Holiday cocktails.


Some cranberry jelly


Goats cheese

Toasted and chopped pistachios

Toast pistachios for about 5-8 minutes in the over at 350°F turning once. Let cool. Spread cranberry on crackers, crumble goats cheese and sprinkle pistachios. Serve with cocktails.

If you want to make these crackers for the Holidays and need a cranberry jelly recipe – this is the one I used, really fast and simple.

Cranberry Jelly/ Sauce


2 cups fresh cranberries

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons maple syrup

4 tablespoons sugar

Glug of Bourbon (I used King Marv’s Hudson Bourbon…oops! But any will do)

Put all ingredients in pan and gently bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Stir and taste – add more sugar if needed. Cook for about 10 minutes until cranberries soften. Then mush through a sieve to get soft consistency. If you prefer more of a texture you can mush with a fork.




Aubergine or eggplant?

19 October 2010 § 4 Comments

The Walnut Street NJ Transit parking lot in Montclair is transformed into a vibrant market place.  The drop in temperature meant it was quieter than the busy summer months, The Ladies™ were a tad disappointed to see the Animal Rescue People were not there with their cats and dogs for adoption (not consumption, now that would add a new meaning to live produce!) Their disappointment was soon overcome with their treat of a honey stick from the Tassot Apiaries stand. At 25 cents a piece, it was money well spent, buying me all of seven minutes of quiet browsing time.

Most of the vendors were out in full force, all the regulars were there – Tree-licious Orchards had a huge variety of apples – Mollie’s Delicious, Jona Gold, Fuji, Mutsu, Empire to name a few. Vacchiano Farms had an impressive display of fresh produce. John’s Organics had a huge choice of greens. We bought some fresh mozzarella, to enjoy with the last of my home-grown tomatoes and basil, as well a chicken to roast on Sunday.

Hunger started to set in with The Ladies™, so we grabbed a few things for lunch – some Polish kielbasy sausage from Stefan and Sons, fresh bread from the Montclair Bread Company, followed with some fresh figs.

I also bought some beautiful, shiny eggplants. The very talented British chef and writer, Nigel Slater – and I bet you thought I was going to say Jamie Oliver – thinks they are the sexiest of all vegetables (although as members of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes and potatoes they are botanically fruit.)  I don’t really have a point of view on the sexiness of vegetables, although that said, I do think aubergine sounds much sexier than eggplant. I can understand why Europeans thought they were inedible until the 15th century, before that they were prized as ornaments.

Here’s the roasted aubergine dip I made…or I should say roasted eggplant dip, from Nigel Slater’s Tender Vol 1 – A Cook and his Vegetable Patch.


1 large or 2 smaller eggplants

3 garlic cloves

5 tablespoons olive oil

Cumin seeds – toast in a pan

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper

A handful of mint

Roast the eggplant and garlic cloves (whole unpeeled) in the oven at 400°F for about 45 mins. One of my garlic cloves exploded – this has NEVER happened before – so use the blade of a cook’s knife to squash slightly to avoid explosions.

When cool enough to handle, half the eggplant and scrape out the middle. This picture of the roasted eggplant should have a health warning, it is pretty offensive:

Mash eggplant with the roasted garlic with a fork or in a food processor. I used a hand processor as I did not want it too runny. Then add olive oil gradually, lemon juice, cumin, mint and season. Enjoy with crackers or fresh bread. Not sure if The Ladies™ will like this, but I’m looking forward to it tonight with a glass of wine.


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