Monthly Archives: October 2010

Israeli couscous fall salad…to go!

On our flight home from Utah, we found ourselves chatting with a cowboy from Idaho. He was clad with hat, boots, and Wrangler jeans. He told us stories about getting thrown from horses, and how he had broke his leg 3 times getting thrown from said horses.  He also told us about his farm here in Simsbury, CT where he has worked for 20 years. Then somewhere in the jetway he says, “Each place has its purpose, and for me, Connecticut’s purpose is to make me realize how much I miss home”.  This couldn’t have been a more timely comment, as we prepare to move our family “home”, back west.

There are a few things that I will miss in Connecticut, our beautiful friends being the first and foremost. However, a close second would be the fall.  There is nothing like peak in New England; crisp, dry air, brilliant leaves, blue skies, and the harvest.  The flavors of fall are warm and comfortable. This salad to me is quintessential fall. We took this salad with us on a beautiful fall drive and ate it out of mason jars as we overlooked a valley of yellow and red.

Israeli couscous fall salad…to go!

1 cup Israeli couscous

1 ¼ cup vegetable broth

1 tbs fresh sage, minced

½ tbs butter

1 small delicata squash

1 tbs olive oil

aged sharp cheddar, small cubes

dried cranberries

pecans, toasted and chopped

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut squash in half, lengthwise, and rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place in oven and cook for approx 20 minutes, or until fork tender.  Leave skin on and cube. While squash is cooking, prepare couscous per package instructions, substituting broth for water if you would like, for added flavor.  Once fully hydrated, add in butter, sage, salt, pepper, and stir until completely mixed.  Set aside and cool.  Toast pecans.  Cube cheese.  Then in a mason jar, layer salad.  Perfect for fall picnics or to take to work.  This recipe serves about two people.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!



Hasselback potatoes…do it…

This is the better (Swedish) alternative to baked potatoes.  Plus it makes for a dramatic presentation and your guests will think you are super fancy, when really they are  as easy to make as a boiled egg. However, some may argue that boiling an egg is a  true talent in itself.  Hasselback potatoes originated in Stockholm, Sweden in the Hasselbacken Hotel restaurant.

Hasselback potatoes…

Any potatoes you like (leave the skin on for extra crunch)

Equal parts butter and olive oil


Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and pepper

Traditionally they are also served with breadcrumbs on top.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Make slices across the potatoes the short way, about ¼ inch thick (or thinner if you have the knife skills).  Careful not to cut all the way through the potato.  Thinly slice garlic clove and place inside sliced potato.  Melt butter and whisk with olive oil. Roll the potatoes in the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven on a baking sheet, and bake approx 40-45 minutes, or until tender.  With 10 minutes left of baking time, top (and stuff) with Parmesan cheese.

You can spice up the butter any way you like, it is delicious with rosemary. Potatoes can be served with a dollop of crème fraiche or any other accoutrement, the possibilities are endless.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!

Vegetable Biryani…

Usually when I partake in Indian cuisine, I like to hurt.  I mean sweaty, nose-running heat that is perfectly balanced with cool raita and washed down with a Taj Mahal or a crisp Chenin Blanc. It is always an experience, and usually takes us a couple hours to get through an Indian dinner…and many cold Taj Mahals.   The spices are so aromatic and unique, and I remember my excitement when I discovered that coriander WAS cilantro, and the powdered stuff was the ground seeds of the plant. It was one of those “stars align” moments for me.  I have yet to go to India, the closest I have come was reading Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. If you haven’t read it, you must. The descriptions of the people, streets, and food engage all the senses. A true journey through the back streets of Bombay, you can just smell the food and see the color. It was the inspiration to try my hand at Indian cuisine.

With this recipe, I focused on balancing the seasonings vs. hurting the consumer. I am however, including a recipe for a mint chutney that packs a few on the Scoville Scale.

Vegetable Biryani…

2 cups basmati rice (dry)

1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces

1 bunch organic carrots, peeled and cut on bias ( 5-6 small carrots)

2 cups frozen peas

¼ yellow onion, diced

4-6 tbs oil (vegetable/olive)

1 cup cashews, toasted

1 cup golden raisins

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 ½ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

¼ tsp chili powder

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

Prepare rice per package instructions and sent aside. Prepare all vegetables by cutting and peeling.  Toast cashews and set aside.  Heat 4 tbs of oil in a large pan or wok. Add cauliflower, carrots, frozen peas, and onion.  Stir until coated with oil and cook until softened, but still crunchy.  Approx 10-15 minutes.  Add raisins and spices.  Add another tsp or two of finishing oil and mix so that spices spread evenly throughout the dish.  Remove from heat.  Serve over rice topped  with toasted cashews and freshly chopped cilantro.

Also served nicely with raita and mint chutney.

Mint chutney:

1 ½ cups fresh cilantro

½ cup fresh mint

½ -1 tbs of red pepper flakes (depends on how hot you want it)

1 large clove garlic

¾ cup plain yogurt

1-2 tbs oil

salt to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender.


1 cup plain yogurt

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cubed

1 large clove garlic

juice of ½-1 lemon

1 tsp cumin

salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and serve

I have also served this dish cool, over a few crisp butter lettuce leaves, makes for a nice entrée salad.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!

Eat Local Challenge: installment number four: fresh figs and chevre crostini with blackberry compote…

Let them eat…blackberry compote!

Eat Local Challenge: installment number four: fresh figs and chevre crostini with blackberry compote…

4-6 figs: golden acre farms, Harwinton, CT: 14.09 miles

1 basket blackberries: Roses Berry Farm: 16.63 mi

1 4oz log chevre: Beltane farm: 41.11 mi

2 tsp rosemary: own garden

4 tbs honey: Andrew’s Local Honey/Silvermine Apiary: 64 miles

local loaf: Hungry Ghost Bread; 90 miles

pinch of kosher salt

Preheat broiler. Heat honey on stovetop over low heat. Add 1 tsp minced rosemary, and a pinch of salt. Cut figs in half, baste with honey mixture and place in broiler until caramelized.  To the rest of the honey mixture, add basket of blackberries and cook over low heat until berries fall apart.  Toast bread and spread generously with chevre. Top with figs and blackberry compote.  Garnish with the rest of the rosemary.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!