Wednesday, January 10, 2024

January Spring :-(

 After an unseasonably mild holiday season, we finally got snow this past weekend - enough that I finally had a nice x-c ski on Monday. So much for winter, for now at least. After a day of heavy rain the snow is all but gone and the temperature today was in the fiftys. Spent most of the day taking care of downed branches and trees that had been damaged by the heavy snow. When cutting up the branches of the top of a small tree that had broken off in the storm, I noticed something very disconcerting: tiny buds - tiny buds on January 10th in Massachusetts. Not a good sign! The rule of thumb used to be one could bring forsythia into the house in mid February, put it in warm water and after several days it would bloom. The buds on my forsythia are already tender. What is happening to the fruit trees? Hoping that 2024 won't be even hotter than 2023.*

*"BRUSSELS, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Last year was the planet's hottest on record by a substantial margin and likely the world's warmest in the last 100,000 years, the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said on Tuesday."

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Fish with Mango-Avocado

This dish came together this winter when salmon, avocadoes and mangos were all on special.  For the salmon at least, this is an easy variation of Plantation Fish. Since we were in Colorado at the time and I usually had a fresh batch of flour tortillas, I served the pieces of fish on a tortilla.  Very well received at a couple of dinner gatherings.

Back East, I did a similar thing (without tortillas) with fresh cod/haddock. Instead of the Salmon Rub I used Cilantro Pesto and it was equally tasty. 

Both recipes serve 2 - with a very generous amount of  "salad," scale accordingly.


2/3 pound salmon filet

Drizzle filet with: 

1 T fresh lime juice 

Then sprinkle with:

~1 t Salmon Rub (more or less to taste - I sprinkle on until filet is lightly but completely covered)

~1/4 t cumin (sprinkle lightly over the filet)

Let sit for at least an hour.

Meanwhile make the "salad" by mixing:

1 mango, peeled and cut in chunks

1 avocado, peeled and cut in chunks

1T fresh lime juice

Cook fish in a slow (325 degree F) oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until temperature reaches 120 degrees (should be custard-like at this temperature) or 130 degrees F max. Alternatively grill over a low fire.

Just before fish is ready, mix into the "salad":

~1/3 c cilantro leaves, very coarsley chopped.

Place fish on a warmed tortilla (optional) and top with the "salad".


2/3 pound cod or haddock filet

Coat with:

1 oz.  Coriander Sauce (Cilantro Pesto)

Return to refrigerator if not cooking immediately.

Make "salad" as above. Cook fish in 350 degree F oven or grill until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork - time will depend on thickness of filet. 

Serve with "salad" and additional cilantro pesto (optional - I usually don't).

Avocado TIp - Keep It Greener!

 About a year ago I read somewhere that cutting an avocado with a ceramic knife rather than a stainless steel one would minimize the browing effect. If I remembered the exact source, I would give due credit,  but there is currently lots of support for this on the internet. After many avocadoes, I've decided that unlike the tightly wrap, rub with lemon juice, keep the pit in theories - this really works!                                

Freshly cut avocado.

Same avocado 28 hours later after being lightly covered and stored in a closed container.  I know,  I should have done a control comparison using a stainless steel knife, but knowing how well the ceramic knife works, I didn't want to trash an avocado.

Avocado cut for lunch then stored wrapped as shown above. Opened the following morning (19 hours later) and cut for avocodo toast.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Almond Macaroons

This year I was very careful to halve the nuts and sugar to make half of a recipe of Almond Paste to use for my Cranberry Stollen. Then I got to the egg, and, whoops, in went the whole egg white. Rather than waste what was in the food processor bowl, I added more nuts and sugar to make a full recipe of Almond Paste.  I figured I'd find a use for the extra paste after Christmas.  The first thought that came to mind was macaroons. I found a couple of recipes on-line that looked promising.    Actually not recipes, photos of ingredients and cookies but no quantities or baking temperatures or times. Minimal help. Then  I went to my trusty New York Times Cookbook (1950-1960 recipes from the NYT). Typical of that era, the recipe contained lots of sugar and correspondingly called for "3 egg whites, approximately" - "Use only enough egg white to make a soft 'dough' that will hold its shape when dropped from a spoon." Interestingly, one of the on-line recipes that gave only the quantity of egg whites warned, " Two large egg whites should weigh 60 grams. Using more or less will change the texture and spreading of the cookie. For best results measure the egg whites."  I reduced the sugar from one cup to one-quarter cup and used a small egg white (25 g).  I did not use any vanilla or almond extract as called for in some recipes I reviewed. I was delighted with the results (crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside),  as were two of my"testers".  The third "tester" weighed in at "pretty good!" but no comment for improvement other than probably making Nut Puffs instead.  The macaroons, however, have minimal sugar and no egg yolks or butter!

In a food processor bowl fitted with a steel blade combine:

1/2 pound almond paste, cut in small chunks

1/4 c sugar

White from a small egg (25 grams)

Pulse until well blended. Remove from bowl and shape into small balls about 20 g each.  Place on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F/300 degrees F convection oven for approximately 20 minutes. Makes about a dozen cookies. Scale accordingly.


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Almond Paste


At the height of the pandemic I could not get almond paste for my Christmas 2020 Cranberry Stollen at the curb-side delivery stores I shopped, so I made my own. So easy! I have been  doing it since.
(photos are for half recipe)

In a food processor bowl fitted with a steel blade combine:

1 1/2 whole blanched almonds

1/2 c powdered sugar

Mix until the nuts are very finely ground (but not almond butter!), stopping periodically to scrape the sides of the bowl.

Then add:

1 c powdered sugar

Pulse until the sugar and nut-sugar mixture are blended.

Then add:

l large egg white

1/2 t almond extract

Process until the mixture forms a clump. break up clump and mix once more until another clump forms. Remove mixture from bowl and form 2 logs, approximately 8 ounces each.


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Maple Mustard Salmon

Although I am still partial to Salmon Rub on fresh salmon, this sauce has become a favorite to top frozen salmon. Its inspiration is a recipe I saw in The New York Times, but I have deleted the mayo and added lime juice. This recipe serves two, scale accordingly.


1 T maple syrup

1 T Dijon grainy mustard

1 T lime juice

                                                      6 cilantro stems, chopped very finely*

Coat with the above mixture and marinate for about an hour:

2 ~6 ounce  piece of salmon

Cook in a slow (325 degree F) oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until temperature reaches 120 degrees (should be custard-like at this temperature) or 130 degrees F max. Alternatively  grill over a low fire.

Serve garnished with fresh cilantro leaves.

. *If I don't have any fresh cilantro I use 1 loosely packed T of frozen cilantro mixed into the marinade.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Carrot Cupcakes

I was having a party for Tokio's birthday and asked Chris, in jest, if Tokio, who loves carrots, would like a carrot cake. Chris replied, independently looking at the Smitten Kitchen recipe I was considering, she (he!) would love one! The recipe that follows is loosely based on this recipe. The SK recipe calls for 3 cups of grated carrots but does not specify loose or packed. Unpacked a cup weights approximately 3.9 ounces, packed, 4.9. I give weights for carrots along with flour and sugar.
Per SK suggestion, I did grate the carrots by hand. Planning on having hummus and carrots as an hors d'oeuvre, I saved my knuckles and one end of the carrot to use for carrot sticks.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them. Whisk in a small bowl until well blended: 
      10.5 oz flour
      2 t baking soda
      1/2 t salt (I omit)
      2 t ground cinnamon
      1 t ground ginger

Whisk in a large bowl until well blended: 
       15 oz sugar
       1 1/4 c canola oil
       4 eggs, 1 at a time breaking into a small dish first.

Add flour mixture to the wet mixture and whisk until well blended
Add and mix until well blended: 
        12.5 oz grated carrots
        1 c coarsely chopped walnuts 
        1 c raisins.
Distribute batter among the 24 cups. Bake for 14 - 18 minutes or until a small metal skewer inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
SK does a piped frosting that puts a lot of frosting on each cupcake. I planned on a more modest amount of less sweet frosting and modified the recipe accordingly. Because I cut down on the sugar but not the maple syrup or butter the frosting is not as firm and would probably not lend itself to piping. If you like things on the sweet side you may want to increase the sugar up to 1 1/2 c per the SK proportions. No raw eggs, so taste and adjust accordingly!

 Mix together in a stand mixer or a food processor (my choice):
    12 oz cream cheese, softened 
    6 T unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 c confectioners sugar
    3 T maple syrup

When blended smooth, frost the cooled cupcakes .If desired, decorate with carrot shapes or grated carrots. (If I make some cupcakes with raisins and some without. I put a carrot decoration on top on the ones with raisins.)