Pickled Cherries

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I’m in a pickle. I’m in a jam. Okay, lots of jam and one pickle so far. For the last year or so I have been discovering the amazing fruit of the Willamette Valley—and not only the Pinot Noir grapes! Inspired by my friend Madge, I’ve studied cookbooks by Ball, Eugenia Bone, Marisa McClellan, and Rachel Saunders. And Salem, Oregon is called the Cherry City. I’m in deep. Continue reading

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Smoking Bishop

This Christmas season I brought a new/old tradition to Salem–Smoking Bishop, a Victorian Wassail which is something like a hot Sangria punch.

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At St. John’s in Hingham, we enjoyed it after our service of Lessons and Carols, but this year I served it at an open house with a bit of a literary bent. Smoking Bishop is mentioned in the last page of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas CarolContinue reading

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Spatchcocked Chicken

Do I need to say who Jacques Pepin is? The real French chef who brought sparkle to Julia Child’s later cooking shows, who became a PBS star in his own right? Probably not. But I will share a lovely photo of them together just so you are sure who I mean.

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It was his recipe for quick roasted chicken that broke my habit of buying grocery rotisserie chicken (disappointing as they often were). Mostly what you need is a cast-iron skillet, a chicken, and some basics you are likely to have around the kitchen to make a great roast chicken. Oh, and some heavy duty kitchen shears.

What the Food & Wine recipe linked above doesn’t mention is that the name for the splitting and roasting technique is “Spatchcock” (apparently you can do this with a turkey. Maybe I’ll try that). Splitting the chicken by clipping out the backbone makes for quicker cooking, and at the high heat it is brown and juicy. Clipping the joints makes for easier carving and faster cooking of the legs. After some stovetop prep, all it takes is 30 minutes in the oven. Continue reading

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Perfect bread rolls

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The reason I maintain this blog is to share wonderful recipes and the stories that go with them (and so I don’t lose them!) These recipes are a great souvenir, along with some delicious rolls, of a terrific party that happened yesterday in Madge’s kitchen as part of the preparation for Thanksgiving feasts. Peggy (pictured on the right) makes these amazing rolls with, among other ingredients, mashed potatoes. Nancy (hiding behind the Meyer Lemons) and I had front row seats! The basic dinner roll is superb, and then there are two over-the-top variations: sticky buns and orange buns. I brought home a tray of dinner rolls and one of orange buns (the latter evaporated at my house, two thirds were gone before I woke up this morning!) The dough recipe was Peggy’s mother’s, and watching her beautiful, gentle hands shaping the dough I could see the sign of generations of women in her family bringing care and skill to cooking and nurture. Continue reading

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English Trifle: Do Not Trifle with Simon Majumdar!

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This Trifle is the Real Deal

When you watch those competitive cooking shows, do you get nervous? Just imagine the pressure on the wannabe celebrity chefs! And after they just about kill themselves to get the dish out, those judges tear them apart!  Now, imagine one of those scary judges was coming to your house! Yup, that happened to me. Continue reading

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Brandied Bing Cherry Dessert

Brandied Bing Cherry Dessert from Winston Hall

Sometimes the weirdest-sounding recipes yield the best food, and this one is a perfect example.  The provenance for this dessert is the recipe file of well-known steel magnolia–and pillar of the Hingham Historical Society–Mrs. Winston Hall. Winston has a long history herself, at nearly 100 years of age, and has long been as sassy as the brandy-soaked cherries in her recipe. My friend Vicki Starr persuaded her to share the recipe, and first served the dish to me.  I was suspicious (I haven’t eaten jello voluntarily in decades), and then awestruck (how much brandy is in this?) and then finally yearned for a copy of it myself. Here it is: Continue reading

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Pecan Caramel Spice Cake

Miss Kay has a good grip on the oven!

Miss Kay has a good grip on the oven!

Dateline: Lake Logan, North Carolina———

I am on the road at a conference where they are keeping me busy and feeding me well. The very first night a dessert was served which had me prowling around the kitchen and begging for the recipe–I have never had anything like it and it was love at first bite. I soon discovered that it is an authentic local family recipe from Miss Kay’s grandmother. Miss Kay is the source of much good cooking at this conference center, and she graciously shared this recipe. She confided that some people call it Plum Cake, “but they are really prunes!” We shared a giggle at the funny associations people can have about innocent dried fruit.  This is a very moist cake, due to the two-step process of baking the cake and then piercing it and soaking it in a syrup. The flavor is rich and layered. For an extra treat, you might want to serve it with a small dollop of whipped cream.  If you love carrot cake and gingerbread, this will be right up your alley! Continue reading

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