Tag Archives: Strawberries

A Sweetheart for Me and a Simple Jam Tart for You

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Simple Jam Tart

I looked over at my husband a few evenings ago as we sat in our usual places after dinner in front of the television — he in his chair, ever present laptop casting a blue white glow on his handsome mug, and I pressed into a corner of the sofa, pillows wedged beneath me, iPad screen black and lacking my attention.  I’m not sure what urged me to bring it up, but I told him to not worry about Valentine’s Day, to not bother with running to the store for a card or flowers — that I didn’t need a day created to sell cards to remind me he loves me.  And then I had to confess I’d forgotten I had already purchased a card for him last week and watched him fake a pout and I laughed over the whole thing.  We’ve celebrated “us” quite a bit in the last couple of months and I’m currently planning our trip to Paris and Germany for later this spring, so Valentine’s Day seems to have been lost in the shuffle.

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“Pasteria” with Balsamic Strawberries and Basil

I love ricotta, but I’ve never had truly fresh ricotta, so I decided to make my own.  It requires very little time, no special equipment, and few ingredients, so I was able to prepare it one evening, then drain it over night for use the next day.  I had no idea what I might make with it once it was finished, but that’s the story of my life right now.  How bad could it be to simply nibble on fresh ricotta sprinkled with sea salt and perhaps a drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil?  Of course, sprinkling it over a nice salad could be fabulous as well.  Perfectly simple, right?

Simple seems never to be in my repertoire.

With less than a week until Easter and no real plans for a holiday meal in the works, I decided to look for dessert recipes that included ricotta and almost immediately found quite a few for a traditional Easter Pie, or in some cases, Pasteria.  It’s like a cheesecake, but it’s made with ricotta and grain.  Although the grain is most often wheat, some recipes use rice.  Others are made with a crust and latticed top — but some are completely without either — and leave it to me to make one in the least traditional way possible, lacking crust, wheat, and candied fruit.

This small dessert is perfect for spring, or when berries are at their best.

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Bittman Salad 13: Strawberries and Tomatoes

Bittman Salad No.

I’m pleased to say that I’m on a roll with Mark Bittman’s “101 Simple Salads for the Season” and surprisingly ahead of my original plan.  My twelve-page print out from the New York Times, as many of my other cookbooks, is beginning to look respectfully used.  With four recipes completed in five days, and a fifth on the menu for tonight’s dinner,  there are bits of this and that splashed on the sheets, paper edges are beginning to curl, and my notes are scrawled on the salads I’ve tried so far.  Clearly, I love this project.

Since we’re clearly in the time of plenty with respect to ingredients, I seem to be following the recipes in the Vegan category primarily.  My fridge is packed with fresh veggies all vying for my attention, so they’re getting it.  Hence, my second salad, No. 13 which was to have been a red salad.

Clearly, I chose a different route.  There will be red, however.  Wait for it…

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A Pavlova for Tartelette

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Some of you may know that I was asked to do a guest post for Tartelette.    You know, The Tartelette?

Yes.  I know.

Of course I had a few moments of the puffy ego syndrome after an initial self-indulgent happy dance before I snapped out of it and began to fret about what to make.  Ohhhhhh, the sweet agony of making this particular decision.  I’m a meat and veggie type of person, comfortable with trying a bit of this and a bit of that.  I have a fondness for salad and greens, and a little addiction for the perfect muffin.  But making something special that would look like it belonged up front and center on Tartelette’s site?

Well.  You have no idea the fuss I made over this.  You’d have thought the Queen of England was coming to dinner.  Seriously.  But I had so much fun.  Far more fun than I’d have had if I’d needed to choose a little black dress for an event as swanky as that.

I don’t do little black dresses.  Ever.

But I learned quite a bit making A Pavola for Tartelette — or Helen, who is quite the amazing person if you’re fortunate enough to know her.

I hope you take some time to visit her, read my post,  and decide what you think of my Pavlova — definitely more of a tutu than a little black dress if you ask me.

And no, I don’t do tutus, either.  It just might conjure images of dancing hippos instead of ballerinas.

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Two Berry Muffin Bliss and a Story

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It’s still not quite 10am here, so grab a cup of coffee and a muffin.  If you’re lucky, you have one that’s as delicious as mine.  But I’ll get to that later…

I finally decided to change my photo in the sidebar.  I started to think that maybe people didn’t get it — that it was never meant to be something serious considering the sarcastic human I am. 

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When I started blogging, I didn’t begin in Foodland.  I actually just needed to write, so started a blog that has nothing to do with food. *Can you even imagine?*  A good friend and I had made a commitment to begin a diet and exercise program, though, so it seemed like a separate blog (this one) would be perfect to discuss truly scintillating topics such as, "How to make tasty egg white omelets," or "Know your hamburger:  the hidden nutrients in America’s favorite sandwich."  Well, not quite, but almost.

It was actually quite a challenge to write here because I was trying to do something that didn’t feel like me. Not the cooking — the writing.  I was used to just letting my opinions fly, and this didn’t quite seem the place to do that since most of them have nothing to do with food.  Well, fifty percent, anyway.  Clearly, I’ve warmed up to the concept since then and have no trouble whatsoever being a complete smart ass when the occasion calls for it, or the weather is just right.

But what about the old photo?  It came about as the result of a post I did last year on having my hair cut after nearly a year had gone by.  It had gotten long and shaggy, and my roots were seriously in need of attention.  After years of having my hair done routinely every seven weeks ( I know.  High maintenance.), I had begun experimenting with dying my own hair, so not only was it long, it was lots of different shades — grey included.  Finally, I had my hair done, and being the snark I am, decided to dig up some old celeb photos, and mimic them.  I am quite easily entertained.  I guess you had to be there…

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So why did one of them end up here? *like this is news?*  That’s the semi-practical aspect of the whole thing.  I wanted a small photo that I could use as an avatar here and there, and it was easy to cut the least corny one from the four — or two, since I’m not Shelly Long, and could never come close to being Grace Kelly.  Plus, my crazy sister used to call her oldest daughter "Betty," even though her daughter’s name isn’t anything like Betty.  As in, "Come on, Betty.  We’re going to be late to softball practice…"  Yes, my sister also has a snark streak a mile wide.  And then we all know about my childhood obsession with Betty Crocker, right?  And how I have that old cookbook my mother received as a blushing bride in the mid-Fifties?  It just seemed too perfect to have that corny photo of me on this blog in much the same way that a ficititious Betty Crocker’s face appeared on a cookbook all those years.

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Make sense?  Great!  Now watch it change.  Frequently.  In the meantime, how about a muffin?

I just happened to find Susan’s Dos Berries Muffins at A Slice of Sueshe while making my rounds last week. I found Susan at Ben’s What’s Cooking? because she, unlike the complete slacker that I am, submitted them to Ben’s bi-weekly I love baking event.  They looked so amazing, I was crazed compelled to make a special trip to the store to get berries so I could make them the next morning.  Although I chose blackberries and raspberries for mine because they were on sale, and used Greek yogurt (0% fat) instead of sour cream because my sour cream was (is always) moldy, I think the general idea is that two berries are better than one.  So true.  And the recipe?  Mmmm…totally qualifies as excellent because of my all important "not too sweet" factor.

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My son and I enjoyed them warm from the oven with berries still steaming.  They’re outstanding plain so you can enjoy the fresh tartness of the berries, or with butter slathered under a drizzle of honey on the second one, because we each had to sample two.

Pure bliss, and many thanks to Susan for the great recipe!  This one is going to the top of my ever expanding muffin list.   

Do you have a muffin recipe you think I’d enjoy?  Let me know!

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