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Crockpot Chorizo

1 c. leftover beef ragu
1 c. canned tomato sauce
1 T. tomato paste
2 onions
1/2 each of green, red and yellow pepper
4 Chorizo links

Put ragu, tomato sauce and tomato paste together in crockpot. Stir until well blended.
Rough cut onions and peppers. Add to crockpot. 
Add chorizo and stir until they are covered with sauce. 
Let cook for 4-6 hours until chorizo is very tender.

Serve with smashed potatoes (boil potatoes and smash with potato masher. Add salt, pepper and butter to taste, and anything else you like with potatoes) and a spinach salad.


Charcoal grilling

This Spring/Summer, I am going to master the charcoal grill. It's done. I've declared it so.

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Comfort Food

Set water to boil and add one round of salt (open salt and pour around the perimeter of the pot)
Select type of pasta to be cooked
Grate aged parmesan cheese to lightly cover dinner plate
When pasta is al dente, drain and pour back into pot
Add butter and crushed red pepper taste
Stir, cover, and let sit without heat
Write cooking journal
Plate over grated cheese and start to watch Water for Chocolate on Netflix Instant Streaming

Bon Appetit!

Picadinho & Farofa

Almost midnight. The kitchen is cleaned up. Madelines and ice cream ready to be eaten as the final course. Dare I make coffee at this hour? It would go so well with writing this journal entry… tough call.

I was planning to spend this entire day in Atlantic City, watching college basketball, walking along the boardwalk, and having dinner at a steak house. Over coffee in our kitchen at 9am, my husband, my brother and I convinced ourselves that a day together in Phoenixville would be a far better option. So here we stayed. I spent the morning cleaning and reorganizing the kitchen. I pulled The Brazilian Kitchen (Leticia Moreinoa Schwartz, 2010) from the shelf and chose Brazilian Beef Ragu (Picadinho) with Farofa (Toasted manioc flour with eggs and scallions) for dinner.

11:30am: The three of us head put for standard Saturday errands with the main goal of finding manioc flour. Stops were Target, Elevation Burger for lunch, Wegman’s, Acme, corner Mexican bodega, and finally the Brazilian butcher, and that is where we found the manioc flour. Right here in my own home town, just four blocks from where we live. It was a spectacular moment!

So we come home, and the boys do some chores while I sit and rest. An afternoon repose is always a good thing. At 6pm, it was time to start dinner preparations. The kitchen consisted of me, the sous chef, and the photographer. This was a meal to be documented. And actually, we took turns with all three roles.

The ragu recipe called for veal stock, which we could not find at Wegman’s, so we opted for beef stock (not to be substituted for beef broth, as I learned via Google). The 1.5 oz of ¼-inch pieces of pancetta was revised to 2 oz of thinly sliced pancetta cut in ¼” strips. A 2lb chuck roast was found on our freezer (courtesy of the quarter cow we purchased from Forks Farm), and used for the 2 lb beef shoulder. Other than that, we followed the recipe perfectly. The key is in the mise en place and the second and third set of hands. That, and a playlist to provide inspired conversation. Tonight was The Beatles. We hopped around on several different i-Phones-Pods, and a few albums, settling in with Revolver. I’ll save that commentary for a music blog I will not be writing. Suffice to say, we all agreed it’s an underrated and overlooked fantastic album. And your bird can sing….

So the ragu was simmering nicely and smelling wonderful, as we began the farofa. OMG. Anxiety. First there was the pressure of finding this flour, and now I had to cook this crazy Brazilian side dish with toasted flour, eggs and scallions. ACK!! It was fun to make, but the result was not so great. I think I overcooked it, but it wasn’t so much a burnt taste as just an unpleasant taste. Hmm. Worth another try, for sure.

Dinner was served at the table with bowls of beef, manioc, and salad; a baguette, and a small ewer of the ragu juice. Plates were licked clean. The meat was tender and delicious. The baguette is gone from lapping up all the juicy goodness. The leftover manioc went in the trash. After clean-up, I made Madelines, but now it is after midnight, and here I sit writing instead of eating. The kitchen smells good, though.

This was a great night. It’s a whole lot of fun to center the evening’s activity in the kitchen. To listen to good music, talk about whatever you want to, and feel the love all around. Ingest it for tonight, and pay it forward tomorrow.






















My dear friend Angela and I get together a few times a year for a weeknight shopping and dinner excursion. Some years we see each other more than others, and we always lament that we don't see each other more often. Seems to be the case as one gets older, unfortunately. We usually meet at the King of Prussia Mall and have dinner at one of the few options in that immediate vicinity. Tonight we ventured into new territory. We were meeting for dinner only, no shopping, so we had limitless options in the range between Philadelphia and King of Prussia. We opted for Sorrento's in Lafayette Hill.

Sorrento's has a great reputation and has been around forever. I've been there once, and Angela never, so it was a good choice. We met at 7:00, and there were some open tables, so we were seated right away. We chose the small antipasto for our appetizer, dressed it ourselves with the oil and vinegar on the table. Hot bread was served, and it was light in the center, crispy on the outside. Angela had the Chicken Sorrento served with mushrooms, spinach and a side of angel hair pasta. I had the Veal Piccata (one of my most favorite sauces) served with spinach and a side of angel hair. The chicken Sorrento was topped with cheese, and I can't recall what else. Angela needed a doggy bag. I did not. The Piccata was really delicious. We finished the meal with coffee and Tiramisu, which was also delicious and had a wonderfully light texture. 

It was a lovely meal, and I will definitely go back. The dining room is small and cozy, comfortable and casual. Service was good. We called one of our two servers over at one point because we were missing a fork, and she came right over and said, "What's wrong?," in a worried tone. I loved that.  

Very authentic Italian with reasonable prices - entrees in the $15-$25 range. Not sure if they take reservations. BYOB.

Sorrento's Italian Restaurant
449 Ridge Pike
Lafayette Hill, PA 19444
610-828-8093




Time to Cook

Why, when I am feeling blue, do I not remember that the kitchen is the place to be? Unfortunately for me, and for Chris and the cats, I have been feeling blue for far longer than is good for me. I love my kitchen. I like the size, the way it opens up to the dining room and the living room. I like the very minor renovations we've done, namely a ceramic tile floor, a dishwasher, and a built-in island designed around a pair of old windows. I like the funky, affordable things we've done - trash-picked a shelving unit and tiled the top; used an old ladder for a pot rack; built small shelves above and beside the stove. I like the laptop sitting on the island, the Fiestaware in the cupboards, and the dried spices from our CSA filling the spice cabinet. 

I also like to cook in my favorite apron and with music blaring loudly. 

So all that being said, I need to spend some time in my kitchen again. Food is love. It's as simple as that.

Last night we had pork tenderloin served with rice and a salad. I rubbed the pork with an off-the-cuff mixture of brown sugar, salt, soy sauce and Chinese chili paste. It's very similar to a crockpot recipe I've posted here, but honestly, I wasn't feeling too creative last night. I let it marinate for 12-plus hours. And the salad was topped with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and black pepper.





I am also making bean soup from a Lysander's soup mix bag of beans, but I've tweaked the recipe on the bag, and I am NOT using the flavor packet.I can make my own flavor, thank you very much - some tomatoes, onion, and homemade ham stock. 

Potato Soup

3 cups diced potatoes
2 cups chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups milk
4 tsp flour
salt, pepper, dried margoram and summer savory taste

Put potatoes, carrots, onion, celery and chicken stock in large pot. Let simmer until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper.
Mix milk and flour.
Add to pot and stir until it thickens.
Add salt, pepper, margoram and summer savory to taste.

Costa Rica Foods

Chris and I had the most amazing trip to Costa Rica last week, at the invitation of the absolute best colleague in the whole world!! Every minute of the trip was spectacular, but in this forum, I will focus on the food! Fresh and local seafood, beef and fruits abound in Guancaste! Costa Rica hopes to have a neutral carbon footprint by 2021, and they are over 60% there (as told to us by Soilly, Tour Guide Extraordinaire). Delicious and memorable meals!!
 
Costa Rican Imperial cerveza and Doritos (??) on the bus from the airport

 
Afternoon room service coffee con leche

 
Local fruits on the Jungle Cruise

 
Lunch at the hacienda after the cruise - local cheese, black beans, salad with cucumbers and tomatoes, plantains, vegetable hash, sauteed chicken in a delicious brown sauce, tamarindo juice

 
Carpaccio at Faisanela

 
Prosciutto con asparagi at Faisanela

 
Dessert at Faisanela

 
Coco del Mar - I can't even remember all the seafood on this plate!

 
Sea Bass with Risotto

 
Mary's fresh lobster tail extravaganza

 
Breakfast buffet - bacon, sausages, black beans & rice, hash browns, spinach, fruit, bloody marys, oj

 
My most favorite color combination

 
Lunch buffet  - seafood cerviche, local cheeses, braised black beans, seafood

 
Lunch buffet continued - fried cauliflower, cold cuts, saffron rice

 
Farewell Fiesta Feast - filet with jumbo prawns, polenta and asparagus

 
Creme brulee

CSA Week 4

I love Fridays. First, it's a good clean-up day at the office. Even if I stay up late on Bad Habit Thursday Nites, I can usually get through a Friday in a good mood. After work, it's off to Muay Thai class by 5:30, then an immediate jaunt to meet C at the Farm at 7. He is indulging me this year. Last season, we got home from work and went to the Farm at 5:30. This year, he's agreed to meet me there at 7 so I can take my Friday class. It's not as much fun as driving there together and singing our Farm song or listening to Bluegrass, but I do like pulling into the parking lot and seeing him waiting for me, with the Farm basket and a big ol' Friday smile :-)

Tonight was the first week for pick-your-own items ("u-pic"). Strawberries, sugar snap peas and snow peas were ripe on the vine, only one quart of each this early in the season. We opted out of the strawberries since my stepmother in Lancaster is getting me two quarts tomorrow, but we picked a quart of each of the peas. C tackled one row, and I took the other. And we played Marco Polo to find each other when we were done. I do believe C ate as many sugar snap peas as he picked. They are delicious picked from the twirly vines and eaten under the evening sun.

Our picked crops this week were kohlrabi (my nemesis!), turnips, zucchini, dill, lettuce, broccoli and spinach. On the free table, we selected kale, endive, mustard greens and chard. This time of year is all about the green leafy veggies. Green, green, green. The fields are green; the bounty is green; the seedlings are green. It feels like summer, but it is still spring, and everything is opening up and growing. 

It takes about an hour to wash everything and put it away. And this is how I will be spending Friday nights from now until November. Although, that hour will morph into full weekends when the tomatoes and berries and beets and carrots and watermelon and cantaloupe and zucchini and everything else starts entering the picture in full force. 

Two weeks ago, a friend of ours suggested a stir fry recipe for all of our greens. Start with oil and crispified garlic and onions or scallions (what deliciousness doesn't start with this?), and throw in any greens (except lettuce, I'm guessing) until they wilt. DELICIOUS! Simple. Easy. So tonight I chopped the chard, kale and spinach  and put them in labeled plastic bags. The lettuce is also washed and chopped and ready to grab by the handful for a quick salad. We will be eating well this week. Lots o' green with every meal.











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Lettuce and Spinach and Greens, oh my!

And so it begins… our first pick-up of the 2011 season at the Kimberton CSA. We made it through the late fall and early winter on grocery store produce, but we tried to stay seasonal. Not easy.

Today, however, we were super excited to go to the farm and start the spring and summer on the right foot with local, seasonal, biodynamic produce. There was green everywhere! All of it was freshly harvested this morning. Overflowing bins of lettuce, spinach, spring mix, kale, mizzuna, bok choy, and more. We filled the market basket and three bags with our share. It is truly amazing how flavorful this stuff is. Yum yum yum.

The farm sold all of their chickens last year to Frog Hollow, so of course we had to go there afterwards for a dozen eggs. I’m sure that will be a regular stop on Fridays after the produce pick-up.

I have been really happy lately with the change in the seasons, warm weather, spending time outside. But today it really feels like spring, and like summer is just around the corner. C and I had so much fun at the CSA last year. Today we are rejuvenated and excited about what we’re going to eat this week. Absolutely my favorite time of year!!!


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