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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Makin’ Whoopie…Pies!

Were whoopie pies an integral part of your childhood? These classic chocolate cake sandwiches layered with a marshmallow filling are a sweet indulgence especially loved in the Northeast. According to Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell, authors of the new Whoopie Pies, these enticing confections have been popular from Maine to Pennsylvania for decades. The authors, life-long fans of this truly American confection, have assembled a delectable collection of recipes that go far beyond the original version.

Their book is divided into two sections –“cakes” and “creamy fillings.” Examples of their enticing combos include luscious vanilla with rich dark chocolate butter cream filling; banana with salty peanut butter filling; and oatmeal with maple filling.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ottolenghi in London- Sublime Food in England’s Capital

Interior of Ottolenghi
Some of you may remember that I featured the gorgeous vegetarian cookbook, Plenty written by Jotam Ottolenghi, on my website a few months back. The author is also the owner of four glorious take-out food shops in London. One of these stores also functions as a restaurant. Like the others, it is named for its founder.

Imagine then where I wanted to eat when my husband and I had the chance to go to London for several days this week. As soon as our plans were set, I Skyped to make a reservation at the Islington eatery. Although the book features strictly vegetable fare, the menu includes meats as well.

This shop cum restaurant was awash in white. The walls, outside and inside, most of the chairs, the tables, the dishes are a pristine hue. And, after sampling the vibrantly colored and richly textured foods, it was clear that this crisp whiteness served as a canvas for the chef’s artistic creations.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Corned Beef and Cabbage- A New Way for St. Patrick's Day

Whether or not you have Irish genes like I do (I’m Scotch Irish on both sides!) you might be trying to figure out what to serve on St Patrick’s Day. This year the holiday falls on a Saturday, making it perfect for an extra special celebration. And, I have just the recipe to begin or anchor a fête.

Corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes--that popular trinity redolent of Irish cooking-- each have starring roles in this recipe from Sunday Soup.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Whatever the Weather--Serve Soup!

For most of this winter, the weather here in New England has been unpredictable. Unlike last year when we had two feet of the white stuff covering the ground and huge icicles hanging from our roofs, the snowplows have laid dormant in 2012. And the temperatures have fluctuated wildly—yes, there have been plenty of days with below freezing temps, but we’ve also seen the thermometer climb into the fifties a record number of times.  

This fluctuating weather pattern has put me in a quandary about what to wear. I pull out all my heavy gear to stave off the cold, and search madly for a light jacket or sweater that’s been packed away when it warms up.

But even more of a challenge is what to cook. I try to plan hearty dishes for chilly nights, but look for something less filling for those miraculously balmy days. One dish I have served throughout the winter--whatever the weather--is a vibrantly scented thick tomato soup topped with dollops of airy mascarpone whipped cream.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Golden Rules for Entertaining!

Harriet, Ron, Tina, Philippe, and moi at the Paris table
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been in a whirl of entertaining frenzy. In January while my husband and I were in Paris, we hosted three dinners (you may remember that I wrote about several of those occasions on this blog), and invited others over for appetizers and wine. Then, right after we returned to our small New England town in February, we planned a Friday night supper for a group of good friends. During the weeks that followed we had three sets of overnight guests, all of whom happened to arrive in time for dinner. Oh, and this past Sunday (just a few hours before the Oscars), I welcomed my book club members for appetizers, desserts, and a lively discussion of the month’s literary selection.

You’d think I’d be tired of having people at my table at this point, but the truth is, none of these social get-togethers was stressful because I followed my two golden rules when
entertaining—keep it simple and make it ahead!