Sunday, December 18

Sweet Potato and Celery Root Hash

In October Roy took me to a cooking class at the Chopping Block to celebrate my birthday.  It was a grilling class and we got lucky with a beautiful fall evening.  The kind of weather that practically begs you to hang out on a patio with a few beers and some good friends. 

At the Chopping Block for a grilling class in October

We had such a good time that we signed up for another class in November with friends.  The menu sounded amazing and I was pretty sure I'd regret it if I missed it.  We would be making Gruyere fondue with apples and bread, spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette, soy glazed salmon, sweet potato and celery root hash and pumpkin donuts with chocolate dipping sauce.  The meal did not disappoint and we had a ton of fun with Hannah and Rick.  Surprisingly, the boys did most of the cooking! 

Roy showing off his new-found seasoning skills

The entire meal was delicious but one of my favorite items was the sweet potato and celery root hash.  The celery root gives the hash a nice lightness and the sweet potatoes caramelize beautifully.  The red onion and bell pepper add some color and texture and the herbs add another layer of unexpected flavor.  Rick and Hannah liked it so much they made it the next week for Thanksgiving and I've been anxiously awaiting a chance to make it at home too. 


I finally had the opportunity to break out this recipe right before the holidays.  By far, the hardest part of this dish is facing your fears and buying celery root.  Once you do that, it's really easy to own it with your chefs knife!

Celery root with the top sliced off

Once you get rid of the outer layer, you slice and dice this like you would a potato. 


A few tips... use the largest skillet you have.  There's a lot that goes into this and you want to give all the delicious ingredients enough room to be arranged in a single layer.  That will ensure everything caramelizes well.  And on the topic of carmalizing... make sure you give the veggies enough time to really caramelize before you stir or toss them.  That was one of the "lessons" we learned in the class.  You don't want to over stir or toss your veggies.  Another lesson was about seasoning.  You should season your food with salt each time you add ingredients, so that layers of flavor can build.  So basic but it was news to me!! 


Roy doesn't love sweet potatoes so I compromised and used one sweet and one russet potato when I made this at home.  In class we used two sweet potatoes, so keep that in mind and make the version that you prefer. 

I also had a hard time getting the celery root to cook when I made this at home, so next time I'll probably add it a few minutes before I had the potatoes. 

This is DELICIOUS and although it's a fall/winter dish, I think it would be great anytime of year. Enjoy!


Sweet Potato and Celery Root Hash
serves 4; 35 mins (active)

2 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into a half inch dice
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into a half inch dice
1 medium-sized celery root, peeled and cut into a half inch dice
1/2 red onion, small dice
1/2 red pepper, small dice
1 Tbsp chives, minced
2 Tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the olive or grapeseed oil.  Saute the potatoes and celery root, tossing occasionally, until caramelized and softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the onions and peppers and continue to cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.

Mix in the chives and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, December 11

Yukon Gold Potatoes: Jacques Pepin Style

Last weekend Roy and I celebrated our 7th anniversary.  Given how busy the last 6 weeks have been, we decided to lay low and spend time together at home.  We've done this the past few years actually, and just use it as an excuse to make a nice steak dinner and drink some wine. 


Roy and I met when Virginia Tech played the University of Miami @Miami in December of 2004.  By winning that game, VT won their first ACC Championship and went on to play Auburn in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.  The Hokies got beat by Auburn, but they're always #1 in our hearts (hence that creepy #1 hanging out over my should from the guy I cropped out of the photo).

Anyway, back to the cooking... this year I switched it up and broke out a recipe that I had tried two years ago to so-so reviews.  You basically cook potatoes in chicken broth to make them super flavorful, lightly crack them open, and then brown them on the top and bottom.  Sounds delicious, right? 

Although it was less so-so the first time, I was convinced the error was all mine.  I started by shrinking the size of the potatoes.  I think I used full size yukon gold potatoes originally.  This time I picked out baby gold potatoes that were much smaller in an effort to accelerate cooking time. 

Cooking the potatoes in chicken stock

I also spent a lot of time waiting for the chicken stock to evaporate when I made this two years ago.  As in... the rest of the meal was cold by the time I was done.  So this time I let 75% of the stock evaporate per the recipe, and then I poured the rest of it out.  The result?  All the flavor and a dinner served on time. 

Flipping the browned potatoes after popping them

These potatoes were the perfect accompaniment to dinner!  It turns out that baby potatoes were the secret.  They cook more quickly and hold the flavor really well.  My very unscientific, uneducated guess is that it was hard for the flavor to really penetrate the larger potatoes and so some bites were good, and some were bland.  All better now! 

Popping or cracking the potatoes is something of an art.  You don't want to smash them, you just want to press on them lightly until they crack open a bit.  It will create a flattish surface on the top and bottom that is begging to be browned and made crispy. You can use a glass, a ladle, a spoon or my preferred tool - a shot glass.  Just be gentle, you'll get the hang of it after the first few.

This was a big hit the second time around and is the perfect way to spice up a regular dinner at home. 



Yukon Gold Potatoes: Jacques Pepin Style
30 mins, serves 6-8

3 lbs baby yukon gold potatoes
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Place potatoes in a deep skillet and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cover potatoes half way with chicken stock, about 3 cups, add the butter and cover skillet with lid.  Cook the potatoes over medium high heat in the stock until almost tender, about 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes.

Remove the lid and allow the stock to evaporate, about another 5-10 minutes.  Once the stock has evaporated pop each potato using a ladle or large spoon, creating a small crack in each, but do not smash.

Allow the potatoes to brown on each side and reseason with salt and pepper if desired.  Remove potatoes to serving platter and garnish with parsley.

Sugar Cookies + How to Soften Butter

This weekend Roy made a request for sugar cookies. And not only did he want to eat them, he wanted to bake them from scratch and then decorate them. Decoded this meant Roy wanted to eat some cookie dough.


My immediate reaction was to freak out.  I don't typically bake from scratch and I thought for sure I wouldn't have all the ingredients necessary.  One Internet search later, I was looking at Alton Brown's recipe with 684 positive reviews.  And shockingly, I HAD all the ingredients.  I felt immediately more grown up and mature. Then again the "ingredients" constituted flour, butter, sugar, an egg and baking powder.  Knock that maturity marker down a notch or two.

I helped Roy locate all the ingredients because we would have been there for hours if he had to find the baking powder on his own.  But after setting everything out, I tried to sit quietly and watch while he enjoyed the creative process.  For the record, after he enjoyed the creative process, he got to enjoy the clean up process.  We're equal opportunity in this household.  :)

Unfortunately, we had places to go that evening and couldn't wait for the butter to soften naturally.  I know enough not to microwave butter if you're using it for baking, unless the recipe specifically calls for it.  Another Internet search later and I was testing out this little tip...

To soften butter for baking, place a stick or half a stick between two sheets of wax paper and roll out with a rolling pin.  A recipe that calls for "softened butter" isn't calling for butter at a specific temperature necessarily, it's just calling for butter that is pliable and moldable.  Something that will work well when creamed with sugar.   That being said, you're going to have a hard time rolling out a stick of just-out-of-the-fridge cold butter.  You should let it warm up for a few minutes before breaking out your rolling pin.


Softened butter in hand, Roy finished the dough which we refrigerated overnight (technically the recipe only requires 2 hours of chill time but like I said, we had places to go and all).

One thing that I found unusual about this recipe was that it called for you to sprinkle powdered sugar on your baking surface.  Has this always been the way you make sugar cookies?!?  I just assumed it would be flour since that's what you usually use in baking.  Once I tried the cookies I completely understood the powdered sugar.  It gives the cookies just a smidgen of extra sweetness, it's perfect.



The 684 people who reviewed this recipe weren't wrong.  These cookies are good!  I'll be hanging on to the recipe and trying them with a bit of lemon extract and lemon icing come spring.  You could always try a bit of almond extract too if you prefer that flavor.

These turned out just like sugar cookies should, a little bit crispy around the edges and softer in the middle.  They're melt in your mouth good without icing (thanks to that little bit of powdered sugar) but they're not so sweet that the addition of icing makes them overwhelming. 




Alton Brown's Sugar Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies, 15 mins prep, 2 hours inactive

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg, vanilla extract and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time.

Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Penne with Parmesan Cream and Prosciutto

Ohhhh fellow eaters, I've been waiting a long time to share this one.  It's another cold-weather beauty that is a go-to for whenever I have company.  It's easy, quick and will stop conversation cold as the guests at your dinner table dig into the magic that happens when you combine pasta, Parmesan, cream and prosciutto.


This recipe originally appeared in Gourmet magazine and it definitely has some gourmet flavors!  For starters, cream makes everything better.  It's a fact of life.  Like the sun rising in the east.  Combining it with Parmesan gives it a creamy but subtle richness.  And the prosciutto pushes it over the edge with a bit of salty smokiness. 

Penne with Parm. cream and prosciutto is a great way to feed a crowd.  With only 4 ingredients, you can easily get out of the grocery store for under $10 (depending on the kind of Parmesan you choose) with enough to serve 6-8 people.  Add on salad and some bread and you're looking at $16-20.


This is as good on the first night as it is on the second, third and fourth night, if the leftovers last that long.  It's the kind of meal that warms your belly and will let your guests know that they are loved. 



Penne with Parmesan Cream and Prosciutto
From Gourmet Magazine
15 mins active, 40 mins total, serves 6

2 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3 oz)
1 lb penne
2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Cook pasta in a 6-to-8-quart pot of boiling salted water, until al dente, then drain in a colander.  While pasta cooks, bring cream, 1 1/2 cups cheese, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon salt just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Return pasta to pot, then stir in Parmesan cream and prosciutto, tossing to coat.  Transfer mixture to a 2-quart shallow flameproof gratin or baking dish (about 11 by 8 by 2 inches; not glass) and bake 15 minutes.

Stir pasta well to coat evenly with sauce, then sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese.  Turn on broiler and broil pasta 4 to 5 inches from heat until top is lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

Thursday, December 8

Maple Glazed Chicken with Apples, Shallots and Sage

Mmm... yummy cold-weather comfort food!  Last Sunday was a Domesticated Diva Day in these parts.  Roy, Foster and I made the 4 block pilgrimage to a nearby church to pick out a Christmas tree and I found time to cook, setting my sites on some pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips and cranberries and a new recipe for Maple Glazed Chicken. 

Despite the fact that this domesticated diva lost all control of time management Sunday, the maple glazed chicken, which has apples, shallots and sage in it, was the perfect way to end the day!  (Unfortunately my issues with time management meant I wasn't getting dinner finished until after 8pm so this post is low on photographs, sorry).


I was nervous about this recipe.  It called for chicken thighs and while I eat a lot of chicken, I've never cooked with chicken thighs.  And dark meat isn't the Royfriend's favorite so I was planning a last minute reveal on what dinner was.  Last minute as in... not pointing out that what we were eating until he was sitting at the table with the food on his plate.  I was also worried the maple syrup would be overpowering and the apples would get mushy, especially when I had to double the cooking time to get the chicken fully cooked. 

I was so worried I was giving Roy the "you can have a PB&J or scrambled eggs if you don't like it" speech right up until I put the first bite in my mouth.

Turned out I was worried for nothing.  This recipe is delicious!  The maple syrup meets it's match in the apple cider vinegar and creates a sauce that is well balanced and very flavorful.  If you could give fall a flavor, it would be this sauce.

Despite my concerns, the apples stayed crunchy!  Paired with the shallots, they offered some nice texture to go with the chicken.  I did pull the apples out of the pan when it became obvious that I was going to have to extend my cooking time.  That probably helped them keep their form.  I threw them back in at the very end to make sure they were heated through. 

This got 3 out of 3 stars, I will definitely be making it again!  If not with chicken thighs, than as a marinade for boneless, skinless chicken breasts with the apples and shallots on the side.  I'd hesitate to make the dish as directed below with boneless, skinless chicken breasts in place of the chicken thighs since one of the reviews implied that it alters the final dish pretty substantially. 


Maple Glazed Chicken with Apples, Shallots and Sage
From Food Network Magazine
15 mins prep + 15 mins hands on time

2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, cut into large chunks OR chicken thighs
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 apples (1 red, 1 green), cored and cut into wedges
8 medium shallots, quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup fresh sage, torn
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Pat the chicken dry and season all over with salt. Heat a large heavy skillet over high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken skin-side down and cook, undisturbed, until the skin is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes.

Turn the chicken and add the apples, shallots and sage to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium high and cook until the chicken is browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and continue to cook the apples and shallots, stirring, until golden, about 2 more minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Mix the chicken broth, maple syrup, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add the mixture to the skillet with the apples and shallots and boil until reduced by about three-quarters, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet, turning to coat, until cooked through, about 2 more minutes.

Per serving: Calories 553; Fat 24 g (Saturated 6 g); Cholesterol 119 mg; Sodium 373 mg; Carbohydrate 44 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 42 g

Monday, December 5

Pumpkin Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Cranberries

Well that was quite a break!  Sorry foodie peeps.  I went away for Thanksgiving with every intent to come back renergized and ready to start cranking through some new recipes for the blog.  And then I threw all that energy into work to tackle a few projects that despite my best efforts continue to dance around my periphery and taunt me.  And the blog was neglected yet one more week.

I finally had time to make something besides spaghetti and turkey tacos on Sunday and I caved in to some holiday cookie cravings.  This is potentially the easiest cookie recipe ever.  The only thing that may be easier is break-and-bake cookies and I guarantee you won't find any break-and-bake flavors as unique as these!  (Or as gorgeous, look at the tops of these, it's like a work of art!)


Recipe credit for this one goes to the sister (Caitlin) of one of my BFF's (Clara).  This trio of sisters is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to anything Irish, shopping, reading, and now food.  I met Clara right before she came to Virginia Tech and since then we've bonded over Hokie football games, a shared love of reading, and a mutual group of friends that are the first to blame for the slightly inapprorpiate sense of humor we now have.

Clara, Ali and Caitlin at Martha's Vineyard

The base for this cookie is spice cake mix and pumpkin puree.  No butter, no eggs, no oil, no messy electric mixer.  The result is that these end up with a texture very similar to cake.  They're moist and light and delicious.  And they're even better with the addition of chocolate chips and dried cranberries which give the cookies texture and a bit of sweetness without pushing it over the top.


Seriously, have you ever heard of pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips and cranberries?!?   In a world full of snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, those amazing peanut butter cookies with Hershey's kisses, and oatmeal rasin cookies.... these are a refreshing change.  Give them a shot if you want to switch things up at your office potluck or neighborhood cookie swap!



Pumpkin Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Cranberries
Makes 24+

1 box spice cake mix
15 oz can of pumkin puree
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
Handful of dried cranberries

Combine cake mix, pumpkin puree, chocolate chips and dried cranberries in a large bowl until cake mix is completely integrated with wet pumpkin puree.  Do not add oil, water or eggs.

Drop onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 14 minutes at 375 degrees.  Cool on a baking rack.

I suspect these are good with chopped walnuts if that's your thing!

Monday, November 21


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for several reasons, the least of which being that it's a holiday geared around food and family and it celebrates the "attitude of gratitude" mentality. 

I also like that unlike Christmas, it has a late start time :)  Growing up my younger brother was ALWAYS awake and ready to open presents at 5:30 AM.  His internal clock for opening presents mirrors that of Foster's for dinner being served precisely at 5:00:01 PM thankyouverymuch.


Even as he got older, sleeping in meant that he wouldn't come storming into my room until 7 AM.  Most people eat a bit later in the day on Thanksgiving so you can take your time... sleep in a bit, grab some coffee, and then get the bird in the oven.  [says the girl who has only cooked a turkey once in her life, and even then, got booted from the project around lunchtime]

Preparing the turkey the one year I was allowed to touch it.  And contrary to this photo, I am not suffering from a teenage pregnancy nor the freshman 15. Just a really bad camera angle.

I haven't had time to make much of a Thanksgiving fuss on the blog because I have literally been traveling and working my butt off since Halloween with just a few stops at home to do laundry and repack the suitcase.  I certainly can't complain because part of it was for vacation and I got to see friends and family along the way.  But despite my efforts to write and preload some posts, the blog still ended up abandoned and without the pomp and circumstance that a holiday which is focused on food, like Thanksgiving, deserves. 

The few times I have been home and around to cook I've whipped up delectable dishes like hot dogs and mac n' cheese or turkey tacos.  Although delightful, not exactly blog material... :) 

For me this year, Thanksgiving will be about the same things that I've always loved... food, family and grateful introspection.  But it will also be about setting the reset button.  Ok, or continuing the reset I started in Iceland.  Hey, work hard, play hard! 

I've found that knowing when to step back and walk away from things like email, a to-do list and fretting over Christmas shopping is empowering.  Learning how to indulge in a long walk chasing squirrels at the park or lingering over brunch with friends or spending the day with a good book pays dividends. And it refreshes me to be much more effective when I eventually do tackle whatever it is I've got on my plate.

So this Thanksgiving I'm going to forgo the normal guilt trip that I'd give my type-A self and leave the to-do lists where they lay.  I'm going to pick up with that reset button where I left off in Iceland and let life pay out some of those natural dividends you get from food prepared with love, time with friends and a little bit of R&R. 

I'll be back and recharged to tackle work, life, and my folder full of new recipes when the real world starts again on Monday the 28th.  I hope everyone finds time to do the same and that hitting the reset button is as good for you as I know it's going to be for me.

Be thankful.

The Eater

Sunday, November 20

Pumpkin Cake

I promised you pumpkin.  Now I shall give you pumpkin.  In the form of a delicious, moist and flavorful cake with sweet cream cheese frosting.  If you were undecided on what to serve for dessert at Thanksgiving, I highly recommend you give this a try.  It's a nice alternative for people who like pumpkin, but not the texture of pumpkin pie.

The Royfriend's sister gets all the credit for this recipe.  A few years back I celebrated my birthday with an all day football and beer extravaganza that started at the VT bar in Chicago, progressed onto my favorite Cubs haunt and then wound thru Lincoln Park.  It was a great day with lots of friends and a Hokie win to boot!  Christine surprised me by bringing this cake to the bar. 

First of all... homemade cake at my favorite bar that typically just serves beer and hot dogs?  Yes please!!  Add in pumpkin and cream cheese?  We were all smitten.  The good folks at Murphy's Bleachers handed us a way-too-big knife along with some plates and let us have our cake and eat it too.


The cake was immediately elevated to rockstar status and has been making appearances at Roy's family gatherings and holidays ever since.  Including Thanksgiving and my birthday earlier this fall, although thankfully, Christine made it a single layer cake due to the unusual parade of baked goods that had been through my house.


Unfortunately I don't have any pictures that portray how mouthwatering this cake is because I ran out of time to make it myself this fall.  I'll try to snap some when Christine makes it this week for Thanksgiving.  But take my word for it, this is worth your time! 

Technically it's a "from scratch" cake but it's about as easy as making things from scratch gets.  No mixer or beating of eggs and butter is required.  The actual cake appears dense but is very moist and lighter than you'd imagine.  It's similar to carrot cake in that the pumpkin flavoring is present, but not overpowering.  You'll see that the recipe includes decorating the frosted cake with pecans but that's optional.  I also have it on good authority that this makes a delicious start to your day as a cousin of the breakfast bread ;)



2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups pumpkin puree or cooked mashed pumpkin
Cream Cheese frosting (see below)
Pecans (optional)

Combine sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl; stir into oil mixture, beating well. Stir in pumpkin puree.

Pour batter into two greased and floured 9-inch round layer cake pans. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes. Turn out onto racks to cool. Frost pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting:  Combine 1/4 cup butter, 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature, 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl; beat well until smooth. Makes enough for 2-layer pumpkin cake.

Monday, November 14

Hæ vinátta!

That's Icelandic for "hi friends".  Surprise!  I was in Iceland last week.

Live like a Viking!

And then I landed and had to go into 3 days of business meetings a mere 8 hours later.  So work plus exhaustion from the action-packed trip equals a neglected blog.  I've got a couple more work-related things happening this week so it will likely be this weekend before I get a new recipe posted (spoiler alert - I'm thinking pumpkin spice cake). 

To tide you over... I bring you a recap of the best meal I have ever eaten.  In my life. 

Roy and I happened on this place, the Seafood Cellar (or Sjávarkjallarinn, as the locals call it), after a recommendation from our hotel in Rekyjavik, Iceland.  The guy said it was his personal favorite and that you could order things by the plate, like a normal restaurant, or go with a multiple-course tasting menu if you felt like being adventurous and checking "best meal ever" off your bucket list. 

What can I say, we were in vaca mode and interested in trying as many Icelandic things as possible.  So we selected a five course tasting menu and then added the paired wines cause what the hell, you only live once. 



Of my life.

(No offense Mom, your home cooked meals are easily the runners up in this battle).

It was a 4 hour experience that Roy and I will never, ever forget.  We spent our time enjoying the wine and each plate as it came to the table.  Then we discussed our faves and reranked the courses as we progressed through the evening.  And since I don't have a new recipe to post here, I'm including photos and descriptions of the dishes. 

If you've got an adventurous spirit, I HIGHLY recommend trying these things if they ever come your way.  The only thing I didn't love was the goose breast and gizzard.  But everything else, including the lamb heart, was divine. 

Taste from the chef
Marinated shrimp with a lemon, thyme and parsnip puree


Frozen monkfish, celery and barley
Very thin slices of monkfish, barley salad with feta from Eglisstadir and pickled celeriac, barley mayonnaise and herb vinaigrette with vinegar pearls. 
Wine: Montes, Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile


Cheeks of halibut, angelica and potatoes
New Icelandic potatoes and lightly salted cheeks of halibut with leek, angelica and brown butter
Wine: Blanc de Pacs, Pares Balta, Penedes, Spain


Wild Goose, red cabbage and huckleberries
Goose breast and gizzard, fried apple puree, huckleberry jam and sautéed red cabbage with juniper fused goose sauce
Wine: Monte Garbi Ripasso, Tenuta Sant’ Antonio, Veneto, Italy


Blue ling (north Atlantic fish) and mussel sauce
Slow cooked blue ling, salsify, Brussels sprouts, shrimps, small potatoes and creamy mussel sauce from our friend Simon at Breidafjordur Mussels
Wine: Adobe, Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, Chile


Lamb from Oxnadalur and larch mushrooms
Fillet, shank and heart of lamb, potato puree, larch mushroom, kale and carrots with lingon berries and mushrooms glaze
Wine: Piccini Sasso al Poggio, Tuscany, Italy

Roy is thoughtfully pointing out the lamb heart for you

Spruce and Birch flavored ice cream
Palate cleanser


Black Currants from Skorradalur and toast
Toast parfait, black currant sorbet – and jelly, with brown sugar meringue, honey roasted muesli and crème fraiche
Wine: Morande, Late Harvest, Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile


Cheers to new things and a beautiful country!


Sunday, November 6

Potato, Leek and Feta Tart

Bear with me as I'm going to wax poetic about the farmers market one more time this season.  Another reason I love shopping there is because I'm surrounded by experts.  Experts who can tell me what to look for in the produce (ie: this should be firm/soft or XYZ color when ripe) and how to store and cook it.  It's rare to even find a produce guy at my grocery store, much less a selection of 5 people all willing and ready to help me.

Back in early October I got to chatting with a gentleman from Lange Farms about a potato, leek and feta tart.  We talked about the wonderous invention that is premade pie shell crust and he promised to bring the recipe for me next week.  I figured I'd offer this heirloom tomato tart recipe in return.

But then life happened and I missed that week's market and then completely forgot about the tart until last Tuesday, the final day of the 2011 market season.  Unfortunately I had to go into the office early that morning so I sent Roy to handle things.  He found Gerry, passed along my tomato tart recipe and email address and by Wednesday morning I had the potato, leek and feta tart recipe in my inbox. 

I tried this out on Friday night with some salmon and loved it!  The tart is full of flavor but each bite is a little different depending on whether you get more cheese or crust or leek or dill.  The feta and dill keep it fresh and the cheese melted but wasn't so gooey it was impossible to eat.


I was dealing with a smaller pan so my potatoes didn't get mixed in very well (side note: slice your potatoes with a mandolin, SO MUCH EASIER!).  I laid a few on top and tried to stuff the others under the mixture around the edges which ended up working, but put a few holes in the crust.  Next time I will probably make a layer of the potatoes on the bottom of the tart and then integrate the reamining potatoes into the mixture and put it on top.  I'm also toying with the idea of making a cheddar/gratin-y version. 


Thanks to Gerry at Lange Farms for sharing!


Potato, Leek and Feta Tart

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks cut and cleaned white and light green parts; cut into half-moons
2 small zucchini cut into half-moons
Kosher salt and black pepper
½ cup crumbled feta (about 2 oz.)
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 Red Bliss potatoes (8 oz.) thinly sliced
1 store-bought 9 inch piecrust

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, zucchini, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until just tender; 4 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the Feta and dill.  Add the potatoes and toss to combine.

On a piece of parchment paper, roll the piecrust to a 12 inch diameter.  Slide the paper onto a baking sheet.  Spoon the potato mixture onto the piecrust, leave a 2 inch border.  Fold the edge on the piecrust over the edge of the potato mixture. 

Bake tart until the piecrust is golden brown and the potatoes are tender; 50 – 60 minutes.  You can cover with foil if the crust gets too dark.

Wednesday, November 2

Lakedale Granola

In 2008 Roy and I took our first official vacation - aka our first trip together that wasn't to a football game or wedding.  We'd only been dating for 4 years at this point, no big deal.  It was a quick trip to Seattle.  We spent a day driving around a Mt. Rainier that was so socked in with fog we never actually saw the mountain and then spent the majority of our time in the San Juan Islands with a quick stop at the Space Needle and Pike Place Market before heading to the airport.


The highlight was the time we spent on San Juan Island.  In contrast to our experience at Mt. Rainier, the sun came out and the weather was perfect for exploring the town, eating lunch on a rooftop patio with a beer, and wine tasting ($1 a pour on the honor system, amazing!). 

Per some recommendations from a coworker, we stayed at the Lakedale Resort, situated a few miles from town on three lakes.  It was incredible!  A beautiful and welcoming log cabin building puts you instantly at ease, inviting you to sit down and relax like its your own living room and deck.  The staff showed off a well stocked pantry for late night snacking (again, honor system).  The rooms were gorgeous, each with their own fireplace and a view of the lake.  They even offered something called glamping (glamorous camping).  It was amazingly peaceful and relaxing. 


Getting to the point of this post (sorry about all the reminiscing, can you tell I need a vacation??), breakfast the next morning was somewhat magical.  I'm sure part of it was eating outside on a chilly fall morning right next to a lake, which is a pretty good departure from my normal routine.  But I'm convinced that another part of it was this granola. 


It's easily the most flavorful, delicious granola I've ever had.  It's a mix of Special K cereal, rolled oats and a ton of nuts and dried fruit.  All capped off with a mixture of brown sugar, butter and honey (just think about how good THAT will make your house smell, spoiler alert = it's amazing).  The shredded coconut seems like an odd ingredient but gives it a nice sweetness.  I absolutely love eating this over sliced bananas with milk like cereal.  But this is so good you can eat it plain too, or over yogurt if that's your thing. 

What you see below is the hotel's original economy size recipe.  I cut it in half the first time I made it but since then I've been making full sized batches twice a year and polishing them off each time (this only takes about 15 minutes to make, plus an hour or so to let everything dry once you pour the mixture over the dried ingredients).  I usually give a big freezer-sized bag to my Dad when I see him around the holidays and it takes me about 6 weeks to get through the rest of it with Roy nibbling on it as well (although he doesn't eat it every day like I do).  Store it in an airtight container and it will easily last for 2-3 months.

All the dry ingredients, minus the dried fruit

Making the "glue" that holds it all together - brown sugar, honey, butter and corn syrup

Dry ingredients looking golden with the addition of the liquid mixture

Dried ingredients are completely cooled, adding in the dried fruit

If you're concerned at all about how much it's going to cost you to buy the laundry list of ingredients or you're freaking out about something that includes so much protein by way of the nuts plus a bottle of honey and half a stick of butter... remember how many servings its stretched across.  And think about how much you pay for a box of cereal and how fast you go through it.  Basically I'm saying that for me it's been easy to rationalize.  The ingredients cost me about $43.  This time around I used blueberry infused Crasins because they were half the price of dried blueberries.  Feel free to switch it up with the dried fruit and use your favorites!

Homemade granola tricks of the trade

If you do decide to make the economy size version of this, I highly recommend you pick up a Rubbermaid container for the mixing.  Large pasta pots just don't give you enough space to get in there and get everything coated and mixed.  I mix mine in the large container you see in the photos and then store the granola in smaller, more reasonably sized containers.  And when I don't need it for granola, the bin stores kebab skewers and grill tools in the closet.  ("Duh alert": obviously you should clean the container before and after you make granola)

I love this recipe and hope you guys fall in love with it too.  For me, it evokes wonderful memories of vacation and how peaceful and relaxed it all was.  It's the perfect way to start my morning.



Lakedale Granola
15 minutes hands on time
1-2 hours to let the mixture dry and set on the dried ingredients
Serves A LOT
6 oz Brown Sugar
12 oz Honey
1 cup Corn Syrup
4 oz Unsalted Butter

1 LB Special "K" Cereal
8 oz (1 cup) Rolled Oats
1 LB + 4 oz Shredded Coconut
12 oz Sliced Almonds – toasted
4 oz Pecans
4 oz Macadamia Nuts
4 oz Cashews

4 oz Currants
8 oz Dried Cranberries
8 oz Dried blueberries or apples
8 oz Golden Raisins

Place sliced almonds on an ungreased baking sheet in a single layer and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally.

In a large container - combine all the dry ingredients except the dried fruit (Special K, rolled oats, shredded coconut, toasted sliced almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts and cashews).

Bring to a boil the first four ingredients, making sure that the sugar crystals are dissolved.  Pour over all the dry ingredients (except the dried fruit).  When cooled completely, mix in the dried fruit.

Ingredients for a Half Batch
3 oz Brown Sugar
6 oz Honey
1/2 cup Corn Syrup
2 oz Unsalted Butter

1/2 LB Special "K" Cereal
4 oz (1/2 cup) Rolled Oats
10 oz Shredded Coconut
16 oz Sliced Almonds – toasted
2 oz Pecans
2 oz Macadamia Nuts
2 oz Cashews

2 oz Currants
4 oz Dried Cranberries
4 oz Dried blueberries or apples
4 oz Golden Raisins

Follow the same steps as above.

Sunday, October 30

Turkey Cutlets in Lemon Butter Sauce

I know I've been posting a lot of baked goods lately.  My apologies to those who are watching their girlish figures and not attempting to put on a winter hibernation coat.  For some reason, I've been completely uninterested in Halloween candy this year opting instead of treats of the baked and frosted variety!

But here is a reprieve for those of you in need of a break from the sweets.  It's one of my favorite, favorite, favorite family recipes.  One of those meals I'd request before going back to college or camp growing up, usually made in combination with my favorite mac & cheese

It's included in the cooking scrapbook my Mom made me when I was a freshman in college.  She made this out of the goodness of her heart since I was still largely uninterested in cooking at the time (take out or Gumby's pizza anyone??).  It's my most treasured gift or family heirloom... the item I grab in addition to Roy and the dog if there is ever a fire.  It's full of recipes and photos from family and friends, including some original recipes in my great grandmothers handwriting.  All our family favorites are in there along with some amusing stories and memories and the number to room service at my favorite hotel as a kid (you know, just in case this cooking thing doesn't work out).


I remember walking into the house as a kid and smelling my Mom making this.  It would make my mouth water pretty much immediately and it was one of those meals where no one was late to the table.  Making this now lets me recreate a little bit of that childhood nostalgia.  Although not without an adult beverage to go with the cooking process ;)


I made this with some roasted purple fingerling potatoes and a side salad that was supposed to include this as as a topping... except that Roy and I ate it all before dinner. Ooops!

This is perfect for all this chilly weather that seems hell bent on sticking around.  I would recommend using a 12" pan though, a 10" pan makes it really hard to get the job done!  I learned that lesson the hard way (and yes Mom, I'm picking up a new 12" pan today).  If you do use a 10" pan, place the cooked cutlets on an ovenproof plate and keep them in a 250 degree oven to stay warm while you cook the others.  Then place them back into the sauce in batches to finish cooking.


I love the lemon butter sauce that you make at the end with all the browned bits that are stuck in the bottom of the pan.  It makes my mouth so happy!!  The inclusion of water at the end might seem odd but you want it to help balance out the flavors.  Let the mixture cook down a bit and it will thicken up.



Turkey Cutlets with Lemon Butter Sauce
serves 6-8 (depends on how many cutlets your package has)

1 - 16 oz package of turkey cutlets
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 eggs
2 Tbsp milk
8 Tbsp butter
1 - 2 Tbsp lemon
1/4 cup water

Beat the eggs and milk in a small bowl.  Put flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.  Bread the cutlets by dipping each cutlet into flour, then eggs, then back into flour.  Make sure they are coated well with flour.

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet (12").  Add cutlets and cook until browned on both sides.  Remove to a platter and set aside. 

Leave the drippings in the pan and add lemon juice, water and remaining butter.  Loosen the browned bits in the pan and mix them into the sauce.  When the butter has melted, put the cutlets back in until they are fully cooked (they'll be tender).  Spoon the juices/gravy over the cutlets and serve.