Spring: Day 67 (Snow In Montreal)

A recent business trip to Montreal had me both shivering with cold and eating a yummy classic.

poutine

“Charlevoix poutine with braised pork & Migneron cheese” to be exact.

If you are unfamiliar with “poutine” I will explain.

In the most basic form it is french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. The gravy is usually a chicken fat gravy. The cheese curds are the chewy, salty little pieces (milk solids) that are the beginnings of a great cheese. (like cheddar) Folks can opt to make Poutine more deluxe by adding meat, other cheeses and exotic garnishes.

This version had shredded, braised pork, an extra cheese called “Migneron de Charlevoix” and some green onion.

That extra cheese is extra special. Its made locally by Maurice Dufour and has helped bring the Quebec province into the artisanal cheese market.

This Poutine version really hit the spot that night considering the temperature was dropping rapidly into the 30’s and, yes I swear there was a few flakes of snow.

Author’s Note:

By the way… take a few minutes out of your day to remember that Memorial Day is more than grilled food and beach fun, it is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to our country. Also a day to honor all who have served, not only in the past, but in the present.

Spring: Day 58 (Brunch On The Porch)

Nicest dining room in New Hampshire!

Nicest dining room in New Hampshire!

When I considered the restaurant brunch options for Mother’s Day in my mom’s hometown I couldn’t think of any place nicer then her porch. Besides I know her likes and dislikes better than any chef and I love to cook!

We had a full day ahead of us, opening up the porch to ready it for summer, changing out storm windows for screens and getting the hoses out in the extensive yard.

So breakfast on Mother’s Day was not going to be an elaborate, leisurely affair but rather a quick, nourishing start to our busy day.

And lucky for everyone her garden chives are already up so I paired that with the “corn and tomatoes on the porch” leftovers from the night before to make tasty omelets!

So fresh and yummy – even if I do say so myself! and of course it’s never really too early for a decadent dessert made with early strawberries, warmed slightly and sweetened with just a touch of honey, served over the best vanilla ice cream! (crumbled chocolate brownies optional!)

dessert

Author’s note:

I actually graduate tomorrow (yippee!) and I am looking forward to new and more frequent blog entries now that I can have my life back! Stay tuned….

Spring: Day 44 (A Cold Month)

A couple of days over 55 Degrees (F) does not define a month.

Especially April in New England. Especially when its the coldest April on record for the region. Average temperature for the month: 48 Degrees (F)

There was snow in my backyard well into April.

So I am just saying – just because New Englanders think its time to break out the grill as soon as it hits 50 – there is still time for warm, comfort food.

Like the Italian stuffed shells I made the other day. (Freezing rain beating the windows while I cooked… Brrrrr)

There is nothing comparable to the comfort of cheese and pasta swimming in red sauce!

There is nothing comparable to the comfort of cheese and pasta swimming in red sauce!

A few little embellishments but really nothing too crazy. Pretty Traditional.

I did break up and saute a couple of Sweet Italian Sausages in a pan, added some frozen peas and a pinch of red pepper flakes before mixing it into (cool it first) the standard “ricotta-egg-parsley-parm cheese” mix. Boil your jumbo shells just to ‘al dente’ and once they have cooled a bit, stuff them with your mixture. Place them in a bath of red sauce (good quality jarred sauce is A-ok here) and bake covered at 375 degrees for about 30 mins. I like to pull mine out and remove the foil top, drizzle with a little EVOO and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan or Asigo and bake about 10 mins longer uncovered to get those crispy edges and the rich gooey cheese goodness.

Makes great leftovers and freezes beautifully.

 

(Leave out the sausage if you must – yes Holly I am talking to you :) )

 

 

 

 

Spring: Day 38 (Finally Grilling)

We thought we would never see it again….

snow

No “stunts” used here (other than me leaning out a first floor window to take the picture) – this is 40″ of snow plus even high snow drifts that reached almost to the roof!

 

But eventually it came back to us…. and finally some decent weather to go along with it so I could get out there and grill up some yummy steak, asparagus and sweet red bell pepper!

grilling

It’s nice to drizzle on a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper before presenting the platter of goodies from the grill!

 

When I grill meat – I grill some MEAT!  I just feel like once I decide to grill I like to make it worth it and do a lot. Plus then you can eat the leftovers in all kinds of yummy ways… like on a sandwich.

sandwich

Toasted bread and sliced tomato always makes the difference. A slice of salty Parmesan cheese would be nice here too!

Author’s Notes:

I used a couple of cuts of steak and marinade simply with Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and garlic. Be sure to let you meat warm up to just about room temperature before putting the meat grill so it will cook evenly.

 

 

 

 

Spring Day 30: (Florida Corn)

Here in New England we have a saying… “knee-high by fourth of July!”

What we are referencing is the corn needs to be about “knee-high” in the fields in order for it to be on schedule for our typical growing season. This means local corn doesn’t really come into the stores until early august. (Maaaaybe late July if we had a warm spring and a farmer willing to take a gamble and plant early)

But if you are willing to contribute to a “carbon-footprint” you can have your “fresh” corn-on-the-cob in May, grown and flown in from Florida.

2015-04-18 08.05.12

Just one of those things that I must have!

(More from me about corn here and here!)

Spring Day 23: (Actual Warm Weather & Quiche)

spring quichePredictions of 60 degrees today in Boston!

Other than snow farms and parking lots, the snow is just about gone. A quick inspection of the yard showed that yes, maybe all the plants survived – although I have my doubts about the Hydrangea. Of course now the spring yard work and clean up must start in earnest and that means busy weekends.

I still think quiche is the best way to use up odds and ends from the fridge and it gives you something that can be available as a snack or meal in between filling the yard waste bags.

This one had asparagus, sweet red bell pepper, spring onions, and  feta cheese of course. A real spring classic. As always I try to use whole milk or better yet “half and half” for a rich, moist quiche. You can see a couple recipes here and here!

Spring: Day 16 (Parsley and Feta)

We finally hit 50 degrees around here and moods are improving everyday! Snow is still lurking in the yard but bare patches outnumber the snow patches and the crocus are making a run at growing!

As I continue to “single-handily” will spring to come sooner with my cooking, I incorporated some fresh parsley into my dish. Poor parsley doesn’t have many admirers. But I think nothing says “fresh” and “bright” like some chopped parsley added in. And not just as a garnish but as a primary player!

Pan seared steak with sauteed potatoes, red/green bell pepper, shallots, feta cheese and lots of fresh parsley!

Pan seared steak with sautéed potatoes, red/green bell pepper, shallots, feta cheese and lots of fresh parsley!

A couple of tips:

I like to add the feta and parsley in after I cook so they retain the fresh, bright green of the parsley and the cold, salty of the feta!

Also its nice to only toss in the shallots in the last-minute or so – the rawness is removed but they are not “cooked” to death!

In general, with exception of the potatoes, I enjoy not overcooking my veggies – no pre-blanching – just throw them in the hot pan and cook till just starting to get tender!

Other posts proclaiming my love for Parsley here and here !!