Entries tagged with “Food”.


BELVI fancy having an old-school English garden party some day.  I would have a tent, little café tables, teas and treats, and Pressés from Belvoir Fruit Farms.  Belvoir Fruit Farms makes specialty drinks, basically enhanced spring water, but something well beyond what you may think of as flavored water or juice.

About The Cordials, Pressés and Fruit Crushes of Belvoir Fruit Farms: “We make naturally delicious Cordials, Pressés and Fruit Crushes at our home in the gorgeous Lincolnshire countryside. Mary Manners, the wife of our founder Lord John Manners, started making cordials in her kitchen in the Seventies by infusing the elderflowers and pressing the fruit grown on the farm. Since then, Belvoir has carried on the same infusing, pressing and cooking of fresh flowers, fruits and spices, which are then blended with local spring water to make our delicious drinks. We never compromise on quality, and choose only the best ingredients. Everything that goes into our drinks is real and natural with nothing artificial at all.”

As someone who does not enjoy wine with dinner, I think the products of Belvoir Fruit Farms may be a nice alternative for a dinner party – and would make a nice hostess gift.  Now only if I can find a local distributor.

See all the Cordials, Pressés and Fruit Crushes of Belvoir Fruit Farms here.

MNCWIt was a very cold and snowy weekend up here in the hills of New Hampshire, and to top it off, I had some trouble with the furnace/boiler at the old family homestead.  Between visits from the heating guy, and periodic trips down to the basement to do a few things needed to get the boiler through a few days before repairs and replacements could be made – I was in desperate pursuit of a diversion. 

While puttering around I came across my new Cuisinart Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole, which I just had to have but had not yet used.  When I saw this baby I knew I found just what I needed to enjoy the weekend. 

I love this piece of cookware – the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 7 Quart Round Covered Casserole – it is pretty to look at and when you feel it’s weight you know it is just perfect to prepare a stovetop meal. 

About the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 7 Quart Round Covered Casserole: “Cast iron improves its solid reputation with Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron cookware! Home chefs can explore different cooking methods – from searing or grilling in the pans to slow braising or simmering in the casseroles. With incredible heat retention and even heat distribution, these versatile pieces yield great results whether it’s on the stove or in the broiler or oven. They also can go from oven to table and double as elegant serving pieces!”

I purchased the 7 Quart Round Covered Casserole in red and it looks great.

So back to my weekend meal.  I wanted to cook a complete meal in my new cookware, so I went to the freezer to see what I had on hand.  I discovered I had a nice 5 pound whole young chicken and knew it would be perfect.  I defrosted the chicken using the cold water replacement method and I was good to go.  I had some potatoes on hand and a few other things and I went to work.

I will cut to the chase – my meal came out perfect – so I am going to share with you exactly what I did.  Here goes…

LOST COWBOY’S PERFECT STOVETOP CHICKEN DINNER

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken – 5 pounds
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 1 large red onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Spices to taste (I used sea salt, dried basil, and rosemary)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  • Prepare chicken – remove giblet package, rinse, pat dry, put aside.
  • Wash and peel potatoes, cut potatoes in quarters, set aside.
  • Cut ends off onion, remove outer skin, place onion inside the chicken’s large cavity (seriously, this is the key).
  • Heat small amount of olive oil in the pot on medium/high heat.
  • Once oil is hot, place chicken in pot breast side down, sear the breast until light brown then turn breast with tongs so breast side is up.  The idea is to just brown the chicken a little on the outside.
  • Arrange the potatoes around the chicken breast in pot.
  • Pour chicken broth over exposed breast.
  • Sprinkle garlic and desired spices over chicken.
  • Cover pot tightly, keep on medium high approximately 15 minutes, reduce to medium and continue cooking for approximately 45 minutes.
  • If desired, when cooking is complete, remove cover and place pot under the broiler for a few minutes to brown (this makes for a prettier presentation).
  • Remove chicken and potatoes from pot, arrange on platter and serve.

I served this with some broiled asparagus, so I cheated on the one pot meal thing, but it was a nice side dish.  I saved the liquid in pot to use as a starter stock for soup, which can be made right in the same pot.

OK, I am not a good recipe writer, but this is exactly step-by-step what I did the other night.  I always encourage experimentation, and I think this basic recipe can be adapted in many ways to suit your tastes.

Anyway, I love my new cookware and can’t wait to break it out again.

mal1While preparing my recent post on my desire to return to Buenos Aires, I was reminded of two “finds” that can help me enjoy a little bit of Argentina at home any time: Malbec wines and Dulce de leche.

My friend Lynda is a wine lover and turned me on to Malbec wines before my last trip to Argentina.  As a result, I made it my mission to track down some local Malbecs while I was in Buenos Aires to bring back for Lynda, as a gift for watching after my cats while I was away.

One of the wines I brought back (complete with a hassle clearing customs while changing planes at JFK) was Don Miguel Gascon Malbec.  Lynda was thrilled and reported that is was a very nice wine.  The good news is that Don Miguel Gascon is available for sale in the United States.  However, I have to believe the bottle I brought back with me from Argentina was at least a little better.

Meanwhile, another fine Malbec from Argentina readily available in the U.S. for a reasonable price is Layer Cake Malbec.  I have often purchased Layer Cake wines in various varieties for host/hostess gifts and they have always been well received.

The other treat from Argentina is Dulce de Leche, a “sweet milk” spread or sauce that is a staple in the region and can be enjoyed as is or used on bread like peanut butter or used to spice up recipes, like a Dulce de Leche cheesecake.

On my last trip I brought back several jars of Dulce de Leche from Havanna, a Argentine purveyor of sweets.  I gave many jars as gifts and kept a few – I have one jar left which I plan on breaking out soon.  Perhaps I will make my now famous Dulce de Leche brownies.  Just use your favorite brownie recipe or mix as directed and just before baking, swirl in a few spoons of Dulce de Leche. The result is a delicious moist treat.

Dulce de Leche can be purchased in the U.S. in various forms, and I am told can be made from scratch.  But again, I have to believe the stuff I bought locally in Argentina is special.

In any case, for a little taste of Argentina any time, I endorse malbec wines and Dulce de Leche.

MD1It may be the dead of winter and we are all in a post-holiday funk, but one way to spice things up is to have a good old fashioned New England clambake.  It may seem like an impossible feat, but the folks at Maine Lobster Direct can help make it possible.

About Maine Lobster Direct: “Maine Lobster Direct is a family-owned business located on historic Union Wharf in the heart of Portland Maine’s working waterfront. We are among the oldest internet-based suppliers of fresh Maine lobster and seafood, shipping to all parts of the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. We also ship to Canada. As a premier provider of high-quality Maine lobster, we understand the necessity of offering only the finest quality seafood to our customers. As a result, Maine Lobster Direct has built enduring relationships with the local fishing community ensuring access to the freshest Maine lobster and seafood available. Maine Lobster Direct is also known for its wide variety of complete dinner packages. The popular CanBake, DownEast Feast, and NorEast Feast are just a few of the unique products that have contributed to our success.”

Maine Lobster Direct offers several packages that can help you make a special seafood dinner in the dead of winter.

I don’t care for seafood, but I am going  to try the kelp noodles – “Kelp Noodles, harvested from the cold clear water of the North Atlantic are cooked, then flash frozen. Ready to eat on your favorite salad or heat and serve. Fresh frozen healthy vegetables, from the sea!”

Check out Maine Lobster Direct here.

pd1Christmas gets all the attention when it comes to food and treats.  However, New Year’s offers an opportunity to keep the celebrations and treats coming.

For example, check out the treats on display at New York’s Payard bakery with the New Year’s holiday in mind.

I like the look and sound of the New Year’s Eve White Cake, described as a “berry cheesecake with orange walnut pound cake, berry gelee, cheesecake and cheesecake mousse.”

If you happen to be in New York City, you are in luck – you can order your treats online and have them delivered or ready to pick up.  For the rest of us, we will just have to be inspired to create some New Year’s treats of our own.

Check out Payard’s New Year’s themed treats here.

Z1One of my astute readers pointed out that part of my post on Friday featured a bunch of restaurants I visited during my recent vacation, but I had mentioned before that I was looking forward to cooking on the trip.  I confess!  My traveling companion, Lynda, and I did not cook in as much as we planned despite a well-appointed (if not “gourmet”) kitchen in our vacation rental.

In a pre-vacation post I mentioned that I had harvested some basil from my container garden and planned to bring it on vacation to use in some new recipes.  Why it may be true that we dined out all around town, I am pleased to note that my basil was used in two of the best meals we had all week.

First, Lynda and I made one our favorite summer treats – the goat cheese, tomato, fresh basil, olive oil on baguette concoction we discovered last year on our Wellfleet trip (see that post here).  This year we visited the same vendor at the farmers’ market in Provincetown to purchase the goat cheese.  We made this meal as a treat for our great friend who took us out on his boat for a private whale watch off the tip of Cape Cod. (Which was awesome by the way!)  The meal was great and my basil made it extra special.  The perfect cap to a great vacation day.

Next, my basil was a key ingredient in the dish Lynda was dying to make while on vacation: a Layered Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Casserole which she found in Food & Wine magazine.

Lynda went to the local market to purchase all the ingredients and we teamed up to prepare the dish.  We followed the recipe pretty much to the letter and the end result was glorious.  It was a delicious meal, almost like a lasagna without any noodles.  It was wonderful right out of the oven and I might say even better warmed over the next day.

Needless-to-say, the Layered Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Casserole was the hit of the week and I like to think it was the basil from my container garden that put it over the top.  In any case, this is a recipe we will be making again with some variations here and there – like different cheeses of toppings.

Find the Layered Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Casserole recipe from Food & Wine magazine here.

www1Well, I am back from a great week of vacation in the wonderful seaside town of Wellfleet on Massachusetts’ glorious Cape Cod.  That is a lot of adjectives to describe the settings, but words can’t do it justice – it was the perfect late summer vacation and I have returned with many things to share with you – which I will be doing in the coming days.

I took a lot of grief for my recent posts lamenting the coming of winter.  However, I feel vindicated, as the weather upon my return to the New Hampshire manse had definitely turned – the past few nights the mercury has dipped into the 30’s!  This has made me appreciate my vacation week all the more – as the weather was as perfect as one could possibly hope for – sunny days and warm temperatures.

I have been visiting Wellfleet with friends every summer for the past ten years.  This year, I shared the week with my good friend Lynda, with whom I share many interests.  Our days were full with visits to the area’s stunning beaches, bike rides, sunsets and enjoying the arts and other attractions the town has to offer.

We discovered new places and revisited old friends, and I am looking forward to sharing our experiences with you this week.

One “old friend” visited would be the Atlantic Spice Company, in nearby North Truro, MA.

About The Atlantic Spice Company: “We are a wholesale company that offers the highest quality culinary herbs and spices, extracts, teas, dehydrated vegetables, nuts, seeds, botanicals and essential oils. Our customers range from individuals who order by the pound, to restaurants, food co-ops, and health food stores, who order in much larger quantities. Atlantic Spice Company also offers a large assortment of bulk potpourri ingredients and fragrance oils to either the home or professional crafter.”

ASP1I love visiting The Atlantic Spice Company each year to see all the great products they offer, especially the loose leaf teas and the vast variety of salts from all over the world.  Lost Cowboy fans know of my fondness for both teas and salts – so you can imagine a place that sells both in bulk is a real treat for me and The Atlantic Spice Company is such a place.

The Atlantic Spice Company’s salt selection is great.  I have purchased many salts from The Atlantic Spice Company in the past and this year I bought some Bolivian Rose Coarse Salt that has a reddish tinge – which will make a nice addition to my next salt pairing dinner.  Yes folks, I have dinners where I pair salts with food – like wine.

Well, the great news is that The Atlantic Spice Company sells their products on their website.  However, if you can manage a trip to outer Cape Cod I promise you it will be well worth it.

See all the products of The Atlantic Spice Company here.

jt1OK, one of the good things about hosting this blog is the kind of group therapy it provides me to help me work out my issues.  One observer recently pointed out that my post about my dread of the approaching winter is not only why I want a comfortable home, but it is why I seem obsessed with canned and preserved food products.

This may be the case, but I do want to point out I am obsessed with only the BEST of preserved products.  Today’s find fits this bill to a tee – June Taylor Jams, a Northern California Based maker of quality marmalades, conserves, syrups and fruit butters.

About June Taylor Jams: “Following traditional methods of preserving, organically grown fruit is hand-cut and stove-top cooked in small batches with the addition of a minimal amount of organic sugar and no commercial pectin. Endeavoring to utilize the entire fruit, we use the seeds and membranes of citrus to make our own pectin for marmalades, and candy the peel. Inspired by traditional pairings, we infuse the flowers and herbs we grow into the fruit to create complex flavors.”

All the June Taylor products sound great.  However, I am particularly intrigued by the Fruit Butters.  June Taylor describe her Fruit Butters as: “silky and delicate in texture, our fruit butter is made from fruit that is cooked, puréed, and then cooked a second time, resulting in a concentrated flavor.”  I am going to try the Pear and Vanilla Butter and be happy I have it when there is a 30 foot snow drift covering my front door.

Find the marmalades, conserves, syrups and fruit butters of June Taylor Jams here.

BSCIf you are reading this on the day it is posted, I will be well into my much anticipated end of summer vacation in the amazing Cape Cod town of Wellfleet, MA.  I Have been spending time in Wellfleet every summer for about ten years now and I always look forward to returning to the things I love about it and finding the new things that always seem to pop up.

I have posted about Wellfleet in the past, and look forward to sharing more things and experiences I “find” on this trip – so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I was thrilled to stumble up Beanstock Coffee, an online purveyor of coffee, with roots in Wellfleet.

About Beanstock Coffee“Beanstock Coffee was born in 1996 as a small coffee shop tucked into the Inn at Duck Creek on Main St. in beautiful Wellfleet, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. There the smells of fresh roasted coffees and scratch baked goodies attracted many of our friends and neighbors. Word quickly spread and Beanstock became a small town hit.”

Beanstock Coffee’s motto is “Coffee is Personal” which means that everyone has their own personal taste when it comes to the brew – and these guys certainly have something for every taste.

It is funny, I love everything about coffee:  I love the look of the beans; I love the grinding process; I love watching it brew; and most of all I love the smell.  But to be honest, I don’t like drinking it.  However, I love making coffee and serving it to my guests.  I especially like to make iced coffee and frozen coffee treats and I am always on the lookout for new blends.  With the pedigree of Beanstock honed in one of my favorite places – they can count on me to be a new customer.

Check out the “personal” coffees of Beanstock Coffee here.

LC-2175This was to be the year I was going to grow my own vegetables all summer and then spend the fall making pickles, chutneys and do my own canning.  My groundhog friend has pretty much put the kibosh on a healthy yield, so I may have to wait on the canning, but we shall see.

Meanwhile, I love that there is no shortage of commercially available canned products, like the kind offered by Lowcountry Produce.  Lowcountry is a “a purveyor of regional Southern delicacies from the coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia.” All of their products are “handmade and hand packed using only all-natural ingredients.”

About Lowcountry Produce: “The seasonal rhythm of family food production and preservation has nearly disappeared, but the memory of those delicious foods of the past still lingers. So about five years ago, Lowcountry Produce decided to collect our own regional and family recipes and produce those special foods to let people have a continuing connection to the way things used to be. Our efforts have been well received, and our customers have been glad to leave the canning and preserving process to us and reap the benefits of our labor by serving foods that are pretty close to what Grandma used to make.”

Lowcountry Produce offers a wide variety of product including pickles, preserves and jellies, salsas, soups, and my favorites – chutneys.  I am going to try the Colonial Chutney, which sounds yummy:  “The main ingredients of this chutney are red tomatoes and peaches. Not spicy, but does have the perfect amount of allspice to keep it interesting! Serve as a condiment with roast pork, wild game, turkey or chicken.”

Find the products of Lowcountry Produce here.

Check out Lowcountry Produce’s blog here – full of recipes and other great ideas.