Monday, September 8, 2014

Wild Plum Jelly

Wild Plum Jelly
While I had nothing to do with the makings of the wild plum jelly, I had hands-on experience with the gathering of the plums themselves. Our first foray was mom, Brynnly and I going out in the golf cart with bucket and sheet in hand. With mom's expert direction, Brynnly and I would spread the sheet under the heavily plum-laden branches, shake the branches, and then, with a great amount of luck, watch as the plums fell onto the sheet. Must admit that worked not as well as we had hoped. However, in the end, we gathered enough wild plums that jelly-making was a sure thing! Plus, we had a lot of laughs, so it was all just really really wonderful!

Wild Plum Jam:

wild plums - as many as you can gather
water to just cover plums
sugar - 3/4 cup for every 8 oz. plum sauce
cheese cloth
jelly jars w/the lids

Place picked-over (remove blemished plums, leaves, stems, etc.) plums in a large pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, until plums begin to split and have cooked down.
Line a strainer with cheese cloth and pour in the cooked plums. (Be careful! HOT!) Let the plums drain over night. Next morning, measure how much plum juice you have and put back into a pot. Bring to a boil and for every 1 cup of plum juice, add 3/4 cup sugar. Cook mixture until it begins to thicken. (When you dip a spoon into the mixture, two beads of juice should form into one bead and then very slowly drip off - it's a touchy-feely kind of thing, not an exact science.) In the meantime, place the jelly jars upside down into another pot of boiling water, along with the lids, and boil for about 5 - 10 minutes until they are sterilized. Remove from the water with tongs.
Ladle the plum juice/jelly into the jars and put the lids on. Let cool and distribute to those friend who are worthy of sharing in your hard labor!

'till we feast again!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Italian Flat Beans

Italian Flat Beans - a gift to the culinary world

Daughter Brynnly and I found a delicious supply of Italian flat beans, and, of course scooped them up! This is one of my favorite veggies and are simply divine just sautéed and flavored with salt and pepper. So....

For this, you need: 

Italian flat beans, cut on the diagonal
olive oil (extra virgin)
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

Wash the beans and then cut them on the diagonal (cut one end like this \, then rotate and cut again on the \. Keep doing this till you have 1 - 1 1/2 pieces).

In a skillet that you've placed a steamer basket in, bring water to boil and add the beans. Steam until just tender. Drain the water, place beans in the skillet and season to taste with olive oil, salt and pepper. You can get fancy and add other herbs to taste, but in my estimation, simple is the best. Serve!

'till we feast again!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chanterelle Madness!

A small number of the enormous amount of chanterelles in the woods around my parents' home

Every summer I've had the good fortune of being able to return to my Missouri home. Usually it's quite hot, humid, and by this time in July, very very dry. This year? Not so much. I've never seen a greener Missourahhh. It's obvious from the lush green foliage, the many wildflowers, and even the green lawns that rain has been a fairly constant part of this summer of 2014. This has also made for a bumper year for chanterelles. Mom and I first spotted an area of them last week, and then yesterday, after my brother Bill had mown paths through the woods for mom's golf cart, we found the motherlode of chanterelle patches. As far as you could see, there were chanterelles and more chanterelles! Enough that we simply picked what we needed for our meal and left the rest for another day. (Truth be told, we left the rest so mom could show off her chanterelle bed to our cousin, who has his own meager patch on his farm).

Below are two of the ways we've thoroughly enjoyed these wonderful mushrooms:

Grilled Beef Tenderloin Steaks w/Chanterelle Sauce

steaks of your choice, smeared with grape seed oil, then seasoned w/salt and pepper and either char-grilled or pan sautéed after the sauce is made

butter, about 1/2 stick
grape seed oil (if needed during the sauté)
1/2 or so lb. chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and chopped/pulled into smallish pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup or so dry reisling wine
1 tablespoon or so red wine vinegar
1 cup or so half & half cream
2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste

Heat the butter in a large skillet and sauté the onions and garlic until they are translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they have released their juices and are turning a deeper golden brown. Add the reisling and red wine vinegar and cook down until all alcohol has evaporated and most of the liquid is gone. Don't bother to measure the wine. A cup is good...2 cups? Good as well. Add the cream and stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Add the pepper, stir in. Taste and add salt to your taste. Keep warm and spoon over grilled steaks. Delicious! 


Chanterelle Pasta Salad

1/2 bag bow tie/farfalle pasta, cooked according to package directions
grape seed oil, amount as needed
1/2 lb. or so chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and chopped/pulled into smallish pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
handful of fresh parsley, chopped 
handful of fresh summer savory, chopped
zest and juice of a large lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Fresh dill would be delicious in this as well. Actually any fresh herbs would work.

Heat grape seed oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and chanterelles and sauté until mushrooms release their moisture and are beginning to turn a deeper golden brown. Combine the cooked and still warm pasta and chanterelles in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the fresh herbs, zest of a lemon and the juice from half of the lemon. Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir to combine well. Add more grape seed oil and/or lemon juice, salt and pepper until it tastes good to you. Serve at room temperature. (Barilla makes a mini farfalle - that would be the ideal size for this salad.) Wonderful!


'till we feast again!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


The beginnings of jambayala...YUM!

On March 29, 2014 we threw an engagement party for our Miss Mary Shaw and her betrothed. It was a Mardi Gras-themed party and I was tasked with making a NOLA jambalaya. 
Around 20 years ago, George and I were at a party and the hosts served jambalaya. It was just delicious so I asked for the recipe, which they happily shared. Surprisingly, I never made the recipe until this engagement party. I used the original recipe as a starting point and then ended up doing my own thing - a throw-n-go type of thing for sure!  
Below is what I did, but, as it was for me with the original recipe, it's just a starting point - just throw and go! Delicious results will be in your future! (Below makes about 3 - 4 gallons - reduce for your needs.)

olive oil
2.5 lb. package Costco (Sausages by ~AMYLU~) gluten-free Andouille sausage 
6 lb. (approximate) package Costco boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 large onions, chopped
2 large yellow peppers, chopped
2 large green peppers, chopped
4 large red peppers, chopped
6 garlic cloves, coarsely minced
4 to 5 -14.5 oz.cans petite or regular diced tomatoes 
4 to 5++ 32 oz. boxes chicken stock (I used Whole Foods 365 organic brand)
parsley, chopped
Frank’s RedHot sauce (I used 1/2 of a 12 oz. bottle)
~Cajun Seasonings~ by Penzey’s (Hand-mixed from: paprika, salt, celery, sugar, garlic, black pepper, onion, oregano, red pepper, caraway, dill, turmeric, cumin, bay, mace, cardamom, basil, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme.
2 1/2 C. basmati rice 
3 lbs. fresh shrimp (bay scallops could be used as well)

Cut the sausage into 1/4” slices. Cut the chicken into chunks. Remove the tail from the shrimp and cut them in half.  
In a large skillet heat enough olive oil to smear the bottom of the skillet. Place sausage sliced in the skillet in a single layer and sauté until brown. Turn slices over and sauté until that side is brown. Do this in batches and throw done slices in a very large soup pot. (Mine is a 3-gallon All Clad soup pot that I absolutely adore (Thanks Kimmy!) Add the onions, peppers and garlic to the skillet (with more olive oil if necessary) and sauté until done. Do this in batches if necessary as you want the veggies to brown and not steam. When done, add veggies to the soup pot. 
Generously sprinkle the chicken with the Cajun seasonings and sauté in the skillet, adding more olive oil if needed. Do this in batches. When done, add chicken to the big pot. 
Add 4 of the 32 oz. boxes to the soup pot and also the rice. Bring pot to a boil and then simmer until the rice is done. Skim fat off if necessary. 
At this point, you can hold the jambalaya until 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve it. 
Add the shrimp about 15 minutes before you are eating, heat the soup, add more broth if it is too thick and serve. 

Crusty bread is a perfect side. Delicious!


'till we feast again!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala-la-la! by annbumbly
Chicken Marsala with Crumbled Crisp Pancetta

Above is one of our more delicious Sunday Family Dinner meals. Chicken Marsala with a secret ingredient added to it. No, those aren't diced tomatoes on top of the dish, it's oven crisped then crumbled pancetta. Talk about taking a delicious dish and making it absolutely awesome! Major yum factor going on here!

The Throw 'n Go:

Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless and pounded to an even thickness
eggs seasoned with salt and pepper
flour (or gluten-free bread crumbs) seasoned well with thyme, salt and fresh-ground pepper
olive oil
1 large box (or 2 small boxes) sliced mushrooms
2 - 3 tablespoons flour
3/4 of a bottle of marsala wine
1 cup or so chicken stock
pancetta rounds
parsley, chopped

Heat oven to 400. Place pancetta rounds on a parchment covered cookie sheet, put in oven and bake until pancetta is very crispy. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn. Take out of oven and set aside.
Heat about 1/2" mixture of half oil and butter in a large (preferably) cast iron skillet over medium high. Dip chicken in the egg mixture and then the seasoned flour and place in the skillet. Do this in batches so the chicken pieces aren't crowded. (Be careful of the skillet temp as you don't want the delicious brown bits to burn and blacken.) As they are done, put them on an oven-proof platter and lightly cover with foil.
When all the chicken is done, add the mushrooms to the skillet, and more butter if necessary. Saute until the mushrooms have given up most of their moisture and are beginning to lightly brown. Add the flour at this point and cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring constantly. Add the marsala and chicken stock and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has reduced by about half. Taste sauce to check for seasonings.
Pour sauce over the chicken, crumble the pancetta over the top and then top all with the parsley.

We served our Chicken Marsala with buttered egg noodles, baby peas and a green salad.

'till we feast again!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hot 'n Sweet 'n Spicy Walnut Goodness

Hot 'n Sweet Walnuts by annbumbly
Hot 'n Sweet 'n Spicy Walnuts
We met for our Gourmet Group recently and this time our theme was '50's and '60's Gourmet magazine recipes. My contributions were part of the appetizer round and were the above spiced walnuts and strawberry daiquiris. (Got off pretty easy this time around!) The daiquiris were the frozen mix bought at the grocery store along with a fine bottle of Bacardi. They were good, but soooo sweet, we couldn't manage more than one each. The walnuts were simply sublime. Wish I could take credit for inventing the recipe, but I can't. As usual I've now tweaked it a bit (no cloves - didn't have any) and the original recipe suggested that the cayenne was optional. How silly is that? Cayenne is never optional as far as I'm concerned!
The T'nG:
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. walnuts
6 T. butter, melted
1/2 C. confectioner’s sugar (less to taste
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon, (more to taste)
1/4 t. ground ginger, (more to taste)
1/4 t. ground allspice, (more to taste)
1/8 t. ground cloves, (more to taste)
1/8 t. cayenne pepper – (I always use a bit more - we like 'em kickin')
sea salt – optional 
Preheat oven to 325º.  In a bowl, stir the walnuts and butter until combined.  Add sugar and stir to coat evenly.  Bake on cookie sheet 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Put nuts back in your bowl and toss well with all seasonings.  Put back on the cookie sheet and bake for another 15 minutes – be careful not to brown too much.  Let cool in oven.  When completely cooled, place in airtight container until ready to serve.  4 cups.  From:  The Norwalk Hour; edited a bit by moi.
The rest of our Gourmet magazines meal
Of course I didn't think to take a photo of our meal until after we'd eaten and it was suggested that a photo should be shot of all the food, along with all the magazines. Everything looks served from, because it was. (There wasn't a whole duck side left, so we just plopped what remained down on the potatoes.)

We started our meal with the sweet 'n spicy nuts, on the far right. Stephanie, also on appetizers, made two "pates", one a cooked shrimp pate that was delicious, and the second, a chicken liver pate that, somewhere along the way, went horribly wrong. Steph followed the recipe to a "t" as she'd never made it before. It looked like, well, let's not go into that. I tasted it and it actually was tasty, just the looks of it...O dear!  That lovely veggie dish was the ratatouille Julie made. She's an excellent cook that I don't think has ever followed any recipe to a "t". Doesn't matter. Everything that comes from her kitchen is delicious! Next to that is our nearly finished escalloped potatoes and lying in the middle is the very last piece of grilled duck. Suzanne made the potatoes and Brian barbequed the duck. Excellent! Last but certainly not least was our dessert  - a Rum Custard made by Patty. It was one of the most delicious desserts I've ever had - a sentiment shared by all of us. Thankfully Patty has the recipe and, for your enjoyment, here it is:

The T'nG: 

for 10 -  12 servings:

4 C. heavy cream
1 C. sugar
12 egg yolks
3 T. white rum

Preheat the oven to 325º. In a double boiler, cook the heavy cream and sugar together until the sugar is incorporated. In the meantime, beat the egg yolks and slowly add them to the cream mixture. Add the rum and stir until all is combined. Prepare your bain-marie (hot water in a rimmed pan that's just deep enough to come up to the edge of the custard - remember the containers will make the water rise and you don't want it to spill into the containers.) When custard is smooth, pour into individual ramekins and place in the bain-marie bath. Bake in the oven until custard is set, around 20 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and just before serving (warm or room temp - both are excellent) sprinkle the top with cracked pistachio nuts. DELICIOUS!

We used to keep a recipe record of each time we've broken bread together, but, alas, that fell by the wayside (um, thanks to moi). We'll start our 12th year together this coming February! them!

till we feast again!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kuri Squash Deliciousness!

Kuri before baking - such a beautiful veggie!

Kuri after the bake
In September of 2010, daughter Remy went to MO to stay with her grandparents while she finished her last year of college. On so many levels, it was one of the best years the three of them had, and when it came to food, a true match made in heaven! Mom is one of the best cooks out there - just ask any of her family or friends- and Rem isn't far behind. They both love ~good food~ and neither will settle for junk of any kind. 
Shortly after Rem arrived, she and mom went to Columbia's Farmer's Market, (it's huge and one of the finest farmers markets I've ever seen.). There, they discovered a vendor that had a squash mom, let alone Rem, had never heard of. So, of course, they bought one! Coincidentally, one of my mother's favorite food bloggers, David Lebovitz had a post dedicated to kuri and other squash, so in very short order, they both went from knowing nothing about kuri to deciding it was their very favorite of all the winter squashes! 
Fast forward a year and a half and Rem is on the way back to Connecticut. With her kuri squash seeds in hand. And when she accepted a teaching position at Hand-In-Hand for Haiti Foundation's school, Lycee Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (in Pont Leocan, St. Marc, Haiti), yup, the seeds went with her!  In April she gave the seed to the school's gardener to plant, but as she told me, the soil in Haiti is awful so she didn't have much hope they would actually sprout and grow, (though water melon grow in abundance everywhere - about the only thing that does). 
Fast forward again to this September 1st when Remy was back in Haiti after spending the summer here. She told her grandmother she walked by the garden and thought she saw peeks of kuri orange through all the green foliage. A short time later, Rem saw the school's gardener walking toward her with a huge grin on his face carrying the school's first ever kuri harvest to her. A Haitian garden success! 
Mom and Rem used Mr. Levovitz's post as their guide (he pointed out you don't need to remove skin on a kuri, it just sort of melts away during baking and you can't tell any difference between the skin and the flesh) as did I last night. Hands down, this is one of the most delicious squashes I've ever eaten! One word of caution, though. Be very careful when cutting it open and then into the wedges. There is a liklihood you could lose a finger because, before it's baked, the squash is super firm and very unwieldy. I managed to escape unscathed. Which rather surprises me...
If you're curious, go here  or here for more info on kuri squash.

The T'nG:

a kuri squash (Whole Foods has them right now), size based on how many you're feeding
a medium onion (I used a red onion)
4 - 6 garlic cloves
rosemary, fresh (or fresh thyme, or sage)
extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground black pepper (I always use tellicherry peppercorns - love their flavor best!)
sea salt

parchment paper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400º. Cut a bit off the top and bottom of your squash so it sits squarely on your cutting board while you cut it in half. Once cut in half, scoop out the seeds and all the stringy innards. (I didn't scrape all the stringy stuff out enough, and my cut wedges had a layer of greyish stuff that I then had to cut off.) Place the pieces in a ziploc bag. Peel onion and then cut in half from the top to the root. Cut the onion from top to the root in 1/4" or so strips and add to the ziploc bag. Pour in a good amount of your EVOO, seal the bag and toss well to coat all. Divide evenly between 1 or 2 baking sheets that are covered with parchment (parchment is optional - makes clean-up easier). Make sure the wedges are placed as above so they don't touch. That allows them to caramelize and not steam. Be sure the onion is evenly spread if using more than one tray. Add halved garlic cloves to your tray(s). Chop up a handful of rosemary (what I used) and scatter evenly over all. Add your pepper and salt. Put in the oven and roast for 20 - 30 minutes, until the squash is done. Serve. Take your first bite and be transported to that lovely place where food is like a little bite of heaven.

The Remy daughter's T'nG:

"Lately, I have been tossing mine [kuri squash] with olive oil, diced garlic, a diced habenero pepper, a coating of coriander, a touch of cumin and salt to taste, baked at 420 for 30 - 40 minutes. The roomies love it!"


till we feast again!