02.24.2017 Pork Loin Roast

Sunday Dinner

Most Sundays, especially in the winter and spring, I get a hankering for a roast. Recently, I decided to really shake it up and not have that roast be a chicken, mostly because I just couldn’t face another chicken dinner. So, I landed on the brilliant idea of roast a pork loin. Loin cuts are large enough for leftovers and pretty low fuss. 

With that brainstorm, I pulled out my trusty Epicurious app and settled on a recipe for herb-roasted pork loin with a pan sauce. The pork is slathered in a mustard garlic paste before it goes in the oven and cooked on a bed of herbs. The result is tender, herb-infused meat. While the pork can proudly stand on its own, the pan sauce kicks it up into a whole new dimension. It is really worth the effort. 

I added a hodgepodge of chopped veggies to the pan. Before I threw them in, I lightly coated them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. They roast up with the pan juices.  I used pretty dense, hearty winter veggies, which stood up to the full roasting cycle. If yours are more 'tender' throw them in during the last half hour of cooking. Scoop them up with a slotted spoon and leave as much of the pan juices in for the sauce. All very yum.

This is also great dish for company and holidays.

Herb-Roasted Pork Loin
Serves 8

1 (4-to 4 1/2-pound) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
6 rosemary sprigs, divided
8 large thyme sprigs, divided
8 sage sprigs, divided
8 savory sprigs (optional), divided
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (4 to 5)
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/3 cup dry vermouth
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Pat pork dry and season with 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Straddle a flameproof roasting pan over 2 burners, then heat 1-tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown pork on all sides and then transfer to a large plate.

Put a metal rack in pan and arrange half of herbs down middle of rack. Stir together shallots, garlic, mustard, and 1 tablespoon oil and smear over top and sides of roast, then put roast, fat side up, on top of herbs. Roast 1 hour. 

Toss remaining herbs with remaining teaspoon oil and arrange on top of roast. Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer registers 140 to 145°F, 5 to 15 minutes more (temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees as it rests). Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 15 to 25 minutes. Discard herbs. 

Pan Sauce

Remove rack from pan. Straddle pan across 2 burners on medium heat. Add vermouth and mustard and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half. Add broth and simmer 3 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-cup measure. If you have more than 1 1/2 cups, boil to reduce; if less, add water.

Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Whisk in vermouth mixture and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Serve pork with sauce.

Epicurious, Maggie Ruggiero

Gourmet, April 2009

02.12.2017 Painkiller Cocktail

Ode to a Caribbean Safari

Recently, a friend asked me what my next post would be about and I told her that I really didn’t know.  Beyond lacking time, I’ve also found myself lacking inspiration. Then she gamily suggested ‘Why don’t you post a cocktail recipe?’ Well, that tickled a chord - it’s the dead of winter, a nor’easter is barreling down on us and, let’s faces it, no matter where you have been these last few months it has been a bit… trying.  What could be better than kicking off your shoes and taking a Caribbean safari….in a glass?

Our friends had just returned from a wonderous trip in the Virgin Islands. They were regaling us with a story about having been ‘over-served’ during a snorkeling trip and the exciting adventures that ensued.  The evil culprit in the story turned out to be a drink called the ‘Painkiller.’ As soon as we heard the word ‘Painkiller’ we held up our hands and said – say no more!  I know Painkillers. Painkillers are a drink to be respected and most people find out the hard way.

Many years ago, we were introduced to this sultry, silky little vixen of a drink during a vacation in the British Virgin Islands. While waiting at the bar for our dinner table, we quickly swilled down three Painkillers. Once we were seated - Cushing couldn’t find the buffet table and I repeatedly walked into the restaurant kitchen looking for the bathroom.

More recently, our friends went on a snorkeling trip that somehow managed to involve Painkillers. The end result was they misplaced their snorkel gear. They then spent the better part of the next day trying to reconstruct the extremely fuzzy previous day’s activities and track down the wayward gear. Their quest was not successful but they did manage to crash a wedding reception and made it into several wedding photos in the process.

This drink is ubiquitous in the Virgin Islands. It is a rum cocktail now trademarked by Pusser's Rum Ltd. The original Painkiller was created in the 1970s, by Daphne Henderson at the Soggy Dollar Bar at White Bay on the tiny island of Jost Van Dyke. And, coincidentally, that is just where our friends spent much of the afternoon having Painkillers during their snorkeling adventure. Case closed.

These are very, very tasty little drinks. They will transport you to a sandy beach with calypso music drifting through the soft, warm breeze. They have a tropical fruit base with coconut overtones. But, be forewarned, they can pack a punch. Because they don’t taste like there is any liquor in them, you can be seduced into drinking more than is prudent. 

Pusser’s Rum isn’t always easy to find, so click here to see if there is a store near you that carries the rum. If you can’t find Pusser’s Rum, you could try Gosling’s Black Seal or your favorite Jamaican rum.

The Painkiller Cocktail
Serves 1
2-4 oz. of Pusser's Rum
4 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. cream of coconut
1 oz. orange juice
Grated fresh nutmeg

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add first four ingredients and stir. Pour into cocktail glasses and top with generous amount of grated nutmeg.

12.22.2016 Peace

“Let us love the world to peace.” 
» Eileen Elias Freeman

Peace and joy this holiday season. 
May it be merry & bright. 

10.24.2016 Popovers with Honey Butter

Heffalumps and Honey

"Very good honey this, I don't know when I've tasted better" A.A. Milne, 'Winnie the Pooh'

We are awash in honey! Our bees delivered the goods and we have gobs of thick golden nectar. I’m so thrilled, to quote a old colleague of mine – “I’m standing here beside myself!” Now, of course, the quandary - what to do with all the loot?

One of my ever-so-favorite ways to consume the stuff is folded into some sweet creamy butter and slathered on a warm popover. Given our proximity to the holidays, I thought sharing a popover and honey butter recipes might be apropos.

We served these popovers one Christmas and they were easy and delicious. I highly recommend buying popover tins; muffin tins just won’t do the trick. And, be sure to let the popover mixture come to room temperature. 

Teatime Perfect Popovers
6 popovers

2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400° F for 20 minutes. 

Place 1 piece of butter in the bottom of each cup of a six-cup popover tin. 

Place the popover pan on a baking sheet.

In a smaller bowl, lightly whisk the eggs until they change color. Whisk in the milk.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt until well blended. Gently whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until only small lumps are left, and set aside.

Place the popover tin and baking sheet in the oven for 4 minutes.

At 3 minutes, give the batter a light whisk.

Using an oven mitt, remove the hot tin from the oven and immediately divide the batter among the prepared cups. Return the popover tin to the oven as quickly as possible.

Bake for 25 minutes without opening the oven door. The popovers will be puffy, with crisp brown crusts and hollow, moist interiors. 

Serve immediately with honey butter!

Epicurious, January 2009

Sara Perry, The Tea Deck: 50 Ways To Prepare, Serve, And Enjoy

Honey Butter

1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey

Pinch of salt

In a small bowl, combine butter and honey.

If you want to serve as to serve a sliceable stick, transfer the butter mixture to a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape it into a log by rolling it up in the plastic wrap, then twist the ends to seal. Place in the refrigerator to harden, at least 30 minutes.

09.29.2016 Avocado Toast


Well, we're just back from a trip to Chicago. This is one of the ubiquitous steel bridges that entwine the city.  I love beautiful architecture and food and Chicago has an abundance of both - so I was a very happy camper.  Most people map out what sights they want to see on their vacations, not me, I mapped out what restaurants we wanted reservations at -  I called it our  'i-dinner-ary'. 

Oddly, the thing I fell in love with during one of our many memorable meals was the incredibly simple avocado toast. It was on several of our menus in Chicago and after googling it I found that it is quite the popular dish. Yet I somehow had never stumbled across this delectable little sandwich. There isn't much to it, you simply smash a ripe avocado onto a piece of toast. But, because it is so simple, it can easily be fancified. Serve it with an egg or a cup of soup and you have a full meal. I've dubbed it the little black dress of sandwiches. 

In my exhaustive study of the dish it has become clear to me that the most important ingredient is the toast. I would steer clear of the Wonder breads of the world and head right for a hearty artisanal. Slice it thick and be sure not to over toast the bread. You want the toast to be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Then slather on your ingredients with abandon. 

Avocado Toast with Radishes
Serves 2

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced
1 radish thinly sliced
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, toasted
Salt & pepper
2 slices artisanal bread

Mash the diced avocado in a small bowl. Add the cilantro, lime juice and salt & pepper to taste.

Toast the bread until golden brown. 

Spread avocado mixture on toast slices. Sprinkle with the sliced radishes & pumpkin seeds.

09.21.2016 Caramelized Onion with Pasta and Lentils

Prince Spaghetti Day

Fallen Sequoia in Yosemite Park

Here is an easy weekday pasta recipe that my friend Sarah shared a few years ago. We've been making it ever since. The stars of this dish are the caramelized onions. Cook the onions as long as you can, they just keep getting sweeter. For a nice counterpoint, serve alongside a green salad with mandarin oranges and mint. 

Thank you Sarah!

Caramelized On
ion with Pasta and Lentils
Serves 2-3

2 large onions, cut in half and sliced
6-7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup large green or brown lentils
4 ounces dry tagliatelle nests
Salt and black pepper
Large handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley

Sauté the onions in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over low heat, about 15 to 20 minutes stirring often. (They should be at least a blondish brown color.) Cook with the lid on for 5 minutes, then turn heat to medium low. Remove lid and cook another 10 to 15 minutes. (The onions should be a rich brown and soft but not mushy.)

While the onions cook, rinse the lentils and boil them in plenty of water until they are only just tender - about 15 to 20 minutes. Some lentils take longer. You should watch them.Once the lentils are tender mix them into the cooked onions. Salt & pepper.

Drop the tagliatelle nests into a separate pot of boiling water. (Alternatively, break the nests into pieces by crushing them in your hand before dropping them in the water.)

Add salt, stir and boil vigorously until the pasta is cooked al dente. Drain and toss gently with the remaining olive oil, the onion lentil mixture, a little salt and pepper and the parsley.

Adapted from 'New York Times Cooking'
Mark Bittman

09.06.2016 Nana O’Neill’s Apple Pie

Cool and Crisp

Fall is rocketing into New England like precisely timed fireworks. Labor Day marshaled in cooler weather and a blustery tropical storm with winds and threats of rain. More importantly, the fall fruits have also landed in the markets and farm stands with seeming military precision. Apples epitomize fall; crisp and red like the vibrant foliage marching southward to storm New England from the northern territories.

To herald in the season, I've been saving a lovely story and treasured apple pie recipe my dear friend Barbara shared with me a while ago. Barbara's grandmother, Esther, lived with their family until she died at the tender age of 88. "She used to sew clothes for me, and continued making pies well into her 80’s, when my mother then took up the pie making...She was witty and opinionated and strong-willed and warm..." Barbara's mom, Irene, wisely recorded her mother's recipes so they would be carried forward.

Here is Barbara's story and grandmother's recipe. Esther sounds like she could have easily commanded an army but with a generous heart and a gentle touch. Thank you Barbara, Irene and Esther!

Esther Brophy O'Neill

Esther Brophy O’Neill came to this country from Newfoundland in 1910 on the ferry, with five of her seven children and all the possessions that would fit in two trunks and a barrel. Her son Stanley and her husband Patrick had emigrated one year prior and had secured jobs in the textile mills in Woonsocket, RI, far inland for island people. Esther was determined that her sons would not be fishermen like their ancestors, a cruel job in the frigid North Atlantic seas that left men drowned or arthritic from the pounding cold.

Esther was a capable woman. In Newfoundland, she sheared sheep, spun the wool, and knitted sweaters and long johns. In Woonsocket, she was renowned for her industry: neighbors would bring her a bolt of cloth and she would make clothes for their children. Never knowing an idle minute, she would say in her rich brogue, “Give me a button-hole and I will make you a shirt.” Despite her large family’s precarious economic position as new immigrants, her Newfoundland relatives regularly gathered on the docks of Renews to open boxes of care packages of food items and clothes that ‘Auntie Es’ had somehow managed to send them.

Her youngest daughter Irene, the only one born in the U.S., described her mother as a prolific cook, making stews and pies for the myriad of relatives, neighbors (and hobos in the ‘30s) that would show up at her door. Irene faithfully restored the floured kitchen after Esther’s flurry of pie-making, wiping flour and dough from counters and cupboard knobs. She later recorded Esther’s simple but delicious apple pie recipe and delighted her own children with its simple deliciousness.

Nana O’Neill’s Apple Pie
Makes two 9" pies

Double Crust Pastry

4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cup Crisco or 3 sticks butter
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons sugar
Milk to brush on top crust

Soften the butter and cut rapidly into the remaining ingredients until the dough clings to itself. Knead into four equal balls. Put the balls in the refrigerator while making filling.

Apple Filling

7 medium apples
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Crisco or butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Core and peel the apples. Cut into thin slices. Mix apples with the remaining filling ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Roll out the four pie crusts. Fit a crust into the bottom of each pie plate, fill the plates with the filling.

Place the crust tops over the filling, pinch the edges. Make at least 6 symmetrical cuts into the top of each of the two big pies.

Baste crusts with a little milk.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until apples are tender and crusts are golden brown.