Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Herb Omlettes

herb omelettes from Plenty

 I have always had a love affair with cookbooks. I love to sit and read the recipes, drool over the photos and imagine the end product and how it will taste after I fidget with it.

After waiting for what seemed to be an eternity, my copy of Plenty  arrived last week. I quickly set to work scouring, reading and taking in all the lovely photos of what I had hoped would be delicious vegetarian recipes. After all, this book has gotten a lot of press. It was sold out for a while and I wanted to see if it would lived up to my now lofty expectations.

Ok- first the good news: after only a week of experimenting and making several of the dishes in this book, I can already declare that I have a favorite and I have even made it three times already! A definite winner in my book for sure.

This is the best omelette I have ever made hands down. I believe the appeal lies in the whisper thin and herb packed "wrapper".  I made the filling according to the recipe, which was Swiss chard, potato and saffron. Yum. Not too heavy and packed with "good for you" ingredients (click on the link above to get the recipe).  I did substitute goat milk yogurt for the creme fraîche that he calls for.  I used a combination of fresh parsley, dill, chives and tarragon for the herbs, but any combo you like will due just fine. I imagine all kinds of other fillings you could create with this. Imagination is limitless.

The not so great news (at least for me) is that there are a lot of recipes which include wheat and dairy-  that is tough because I try to eliminate both of these ingredients in my cooking mainly for the fact that I am highly sensitive to these food allergens.

But, still and all, with some creativity, I know I will be able to "tweak" those pesky ingredients into something I can eat without fear. Take for instance his recipe for "Socca" which translates into a kind of variation on pissaladière ( a Provençal type pizza).  And this is gluten free! Made with garbanzo bean flour. This is my second runner up and will be a great meal all summer long. It was so good in fact, that I ate it before I could take a pic of it! I look forward to making this again when the local tomatoes appear- maybe add some summer squash to it as well?

Socca by Ottolenghi, photo via tastespotting.com

I will spend this summer trying more of these wonderful recipes and putting my own personal spin on them. I highly recommend you try getting a copy. Your stomach will thank you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Memories

photo via cup of joe. source unknown

Lately I have been daydreaming of summers past, winding my way back to the place we spent long summer days by the lake. Bringing an arsenal of summer reading and climbing into a row boat with a couple of those books. Rowing out as far in the lake as was possible to still be able to drop the anchor and not drift off, and lazily lounge in the warmth of the sun devouring book after book.....this is what a 10 year old in 1968 thought was "the life". Even then I knew it would never last...

My Dad was obsessed with two things at that time: sailing and his movie camera. Sadly we don't seem to have any still pictures of those times at Sacandaga Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. But the memories are sharp as a tack in my mind's eye. Sometimes I will watch some of those old home movies which have since have been transferred to VHS.

For several summers of my early years, my family would pack into our station wagon ( 5 kids and grandma) and take that scenic route north on the interstate to spent some time on the lake with several other families- each year, it seemed there were more and more kids! Guess the parents were busy over the winter as sometimes there would be a pregnant Mom or two in the group.

But the best part about all the kids was that there was always someone to play with and explore with. We found wild raspberry bushes one year and picked so many our fingers were stained for days. I learned how to fish with my brothers and the other boys (but didn't much like it- putting the worm on the hook was the deal breaker!)

a cabin much like the one we stayed in. photo source unknown

Dinners of hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad and watermelon.....cold lemonade and sandwiches on the beach....roasting marshmallows around a campfire and making s'mores....this was summer.

how I picture my dream cabin.photo via architectural digest 2003

These days I want to go back there....to that special time when life was so simple. Driving into the town of Northville, getting soft-serve ice cream- watching my little sister try to eat her cone while it dripped relentlessy down her arm....me with my standard blackberry ice cream with marshmallow syrup....I don't recall the name of that place but I dare say it's gone now.....We watched the men land on the moon for the first time ever in July of 1969. I was 11 years old. It was magical.

our cabin was on a hill and we had to walk down it to get to the lake, most often in our bare feet. (this photo is similar to my memory of it.) source unknown

I am grateful for those days and know that my siblings are too. It' s a place we will all have in our hearts forever.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The darling of all geraniums

Thanks to a good friend of mine who is an avid gardener and extremely knowledgeable of all things flora, I have loaded my balcony baskets this season with something she recommended: Ivy Geraniums (pelargonium peltatum). During her visit last year, she and I looked high and low at several garden centers and it was almost impossible to find any. Guess we were late to the party as most places were sold out. We did find one finally and I brought it home. It didn't impress me that much- maybe because it was just one lonely little guy and these plants seem to like some buddies around.

Luckily, this year I was able to score these beauties en masse at Adam and Sons over in Humbolt Park. This is a gem of a garden center, by the way. The folks there are friendly, helpful and have some really great plants to boot-all at extremely reasonable prices!

Why do I think they are "darling"? Probably because they are, in my eyes, much more interesting than their more common cousins. Dark green leaves and delicate flower heads with fantastic color? These could be a few of the reasons. I chose the palest of pink but there's a burst of dark pink in the center and that really impressed me. Nature is sometimes so generous when it comes to beauty. The best part is that they trail or cascade, if you will, and have flowers that will bloom all summer long.

So, now I feel like summer is really here- got my flowers, herbs and tomatoes rockin' out on the balcony. A welcome respite from the urban world I live in. It makes me smile every time I look at all of them. And to think...I was not a fan of geraniums before this beauty was introduced to me. Thanks, Mary!