After this last winter here in the Boston area, summer can’t come fast enough! However we have had some pretty decent spring weather (maybe a little too hot for me, but then again a true ‘New Englander’ is really never satisfied with the current weather!)
As spring/summer comes so does my favorite comfort food…. Watermelon!
Yep Watermelon. I mean I love carb-loading on stews, mac-n-cheese, and warm bread from the oven as much as the next person. But truly watermelon is a comfort food for me. Growing up my mother would always serve this to us if we were feeling bad. “Easy to digest” she would say. Admittedly it was the perfect first food after a bout with a stomach flu, a tooth pulling or even a fight with my brother. Somehow its refreshing sweet flesh always made everything better.
My father and I would sneakily compete to see who could get to the much-desired ‘heart’ of the watermelon first. The ‘heart’ is the best part – sweet and seed free. He would wander out to the fridge at night looking for the perfect TV snack only to discover that I had already carved out the best part!
To this day, my late night snack of choice is some watermelon!
A recent business trip to Montreal had me both shivering with cold and eating a yummy classic.
“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 curdsare 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 Dufourand 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.
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.
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!)
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….
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!
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 :) )
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!
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.
Toasted bread and sliced tomato always makes the difference. A slice of salty Parmesan cheese would be nice here too!
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.
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.
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 hereand here!