Oh, to be asparagus: One of the most vilified vegetables of the bunch. Next to broccoli and Brussel sprouts, asparagus continues to be one of the most misunderstood and underutilized greens in the garden……but not for long.
We’re taking it back to the top, gang.
There’s a game I like to play every summer evening when walking our dog: What’s on my neighbor’s menu.
It’s an adventure in olfactory exploration. One house has the charred and robust smell of slow smoked brisket, and another the garlicy aroma of vegetable kabobs. Perhaps there is the yeasty scent of grilled pizza and then the unmistakable smell of beer can chicken. Potatoes, corn, hot dogs, burgers – you name it. I can sniff it out with my nose.
Summertime is quite literally a magical time: It is a time of rebirth, awakening, and reemergence. We are well out of our winter stupor, let go of our soups and our casseroles, and make way for fresh, crisp, vibrant foods that rise like a phoenix during the sunny summer days. It is the time of Farmer’s Markets and vegetable stands on the side of the road. It is the season of grass-fed beef, copper river salmon if you’re in the pacific northwest, or lobster if you’re on the east coast. It is the time to unleash all of the amazing ingredients that hid quietly and unassumingly during the winter months.
I love grilling for so many reasons. The cleanup is easy, the act is social, and there is something beautiful about cooking a meal with the wind blowing through your hair and the sun upon your face. Beyond that, grilling is a method of cooking that releases subtleties in flavor that simply sautéing, baking, or frying just cannot compete with.
If you want to maximize your spring and summer culinary game, just follow these easy steps:
- Talk to the farmer or butcher Some of the best meals start with the following phrase: “What would you recommend today?” Farmers and butchers are more artist than grocer. These are the people that know their produce and meats. They can tell you not only what is best in the bunch, but how best to prepare it.
- Get spicy Or herby. Whatever you choose, choose fresh. Use old coffee cans to grow your own herb garden and simple pick and choose your spices and herbs straight from the plant.
- Let your meat rest This is good advice anytime you are cooking meat, but it is crucial when grilling. The super heat of the grill can char and beautify a piece of meat, but without the proper rest time, your grilled meat will be an utter disappointment.
And if you’re looking for inspiration, I encourage you to walk through your neighborhood and follow your nose: You never know what inspiration you might find.
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I originally posted this 3 years ago and I decided to post it again, as it’s very special to me.
So, here you go! Enjoy.
This Easter was the first “Real” big Easter celebration for my little guy.
The last 3 year’s were nice but this year there was a build up in expectations. It was more than just a candy overload holiday. There was a deeper meaning behind it to him.
It was very special.
This year he went to church more often and had been reading more about the holidays and their importance to us as a family.
But, being more vocal, he also let us know about all the cool Easter treats that he wanted and didn’t let a day go by without telling us how nutritious and healthy jelly beans are for growing boys.
2 Peas in a Pod.
He also knows the importance of friendship, building close bonds and finding the dudes that share his love of animals, are sensitive, can handle the stress of multiple egg hunts and love sweets as much as he does.
After hours of rummaging through grass for brightly colored plastic eggs, getting your hopes built up that you are going to be “That” kid who finds the golden egg that carries an extra sticker or peanut butter cup, the kid wanted some real food and drink.
Not just cheap jelly beans.
Not just rock hard Jolly Ranchers.
Not just petrified taffy that was probably manufactured when Men at Work were being played on the radio.
Real food was about to be on the menu.
But………. not for the kid on the left.
He was in a chocolate state of mind and was boycotting anything that wasn’t multicolored or in the shape of a rabbit or chick.
Me: “Pal, I need inspiration! I blog about food. I get motivated, create a dish and take pictures. I can’t do that with candy.”
My Son: “You’re so smart Daddy. I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
So, what does any self-respecting parent do?
I went to mass…but was late. Very late. In fact they were closing up, so I just sat for a minute, said a prayer and meditated. And then all of a sudden I came up with a few things.
Nothing too significant. They were mostly just images of sweets. Sweets that I wasn’t going to bake and then all of a sudden it hit me.
St. Joseph’s Pastry.
The light poured on me like a celestial spotlight directing me to the bakery for these delicious, cannoli cream filled puffs of love.
Ok, it didn’t happen like that at all….I’m just grasping at straws here. It’s Easter. Cut me some slack.
St. Joseph’s pastry is essentially a larger version of a zeppole filled with cannoli cream.
Sounds horrible, right? Good…so go away and leave them for me.
He, ( St. Joe) is the patron saint of the family, and is celebrated at the Spring equinox and his day is a feast of bread.
Bread..pastry, it’s all in the same family so it’s celebrated. Who am I to argue with this logic?
At the end of the day I did end up having some delicious treats as well as a wonderful dinner, of “real” food, with my family.
Halibut, roasted cauliflower, antipasto, etc. More details on that coming up shortly.
I hope you and your family had a wonderful day and if it was anything like mine…make an appointment with the dentist for next week.
Only kidding. Keep the feelings and memories in your heart.
“This is the time to remember, cause it will not last forever. These are the days to hold on to cause we won’t although we’ll want to.” Billy Joel.
Psst…show me some love.
and on Instagram @ thefooduluv
Irish Soda Bread.
You can buy it from so many places.
The supermarket, the bakery, heck, even your 24 hour convenience store may sell it,but it never is as good as when you bake it yourself.
It’s simple, inexpensive and trust me. You make it one time you will be hooked.
Not familiar with Irish Soda Bread?
The sugary top? The raisins? The “X” on top?
Many Irish soda bread recipes tell you that you need to make an “X” slashed into the top prior to baking.
According to history, there are a few reasons for this. Because Ireland is a primarily Catholic country, it may be in respect of the symbol of the cross and a blessing of the bread and giving thanks. It may also be to ward off the devil and to protect the household or most likely there is a more practical reason, like it allows the bread to stretch and expand as it rises. I also think that when you slash a cross into it you can easily divide the bread into breakable chunks.
I hope you enjoy making this as much as I do!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Let me know what you think and don’t forget to share the love!
and on Instagram @ thefooduluv
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 5 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and set on the set. Whisk together just 4 cups of flour (saving 1/2 cup), the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl.
- Fold the butter into the flour, sprinkle in the raisins and by using your fingers, massage the butter into the mixture until it looks like grainy oatmeal. Now gently mix in the raisins.
- Make a well in the middle of the dough, add buttermilk, egg, knead into dough: Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add a beaten egg and buttermilk and mix in manually with a spoon until dough is too stiff to stir.
- Coat your hands with some flour, then knead dough in the bowl until it forms a, not so perfect, soft ball. Keep in mind that if the dough is too sticky or gummy add a little more flour to it.
- Bring your dough to a lightly floured counter top, cutting board or clean surface for you to shape it into an almost round loaf.
- Mold the dough just until the flour is moist and the dough barely stays together.
- Transfer your dough to a large, lightly greased baking sheet or cast iron skillet.
- Take a serrated knife and make a cross or X mark on the top of dough about an inch and a half deep. Essentially scoring the dough will help heat get into the center of the dough while cooking.
- Into the oven it goes and bakes until the bread is nice and golden and the bottom of the loaf sounds almost hollow when tapped. This should take about 35-45 minutes. When it's time, the bread is golden brown stick a toothpick into it and if it comes out clean, your bread is ready.
- Let it cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the skillet or pan. Eat !!!!
- Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Check it after half an hour. If it is browning too fast, you can place a piece of foil on top of it.
- Tasty tip: Brush the loaf with butter half an hour into the baking process.
- You can also use currants instead of raisins if you like.
Well, It’s the 1st week of October and I am told that the first day of Autumn was almost 2 weeks ago.
I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now. It’s 80 degrees currently!
How could that happen?
It seems as if it was just a few days ago that I was starting to turn the air conditioners on, lather up my little boy with so much sunscreen he looked like a ghost and laughing with friends while having beers in the backyard until well past 9pm.
It’s not 90 degrees any more and it’s dark around 6, but I haven’t seen any other indicators that cold weather is on it’s way.
As I was cleaning some leafs off of my bbq last night I really took a step back to look around and think about what a great year I’ve had so far.
In addition to the great times with family and friends, the fresh caught seafood, weekly trips to the farmer’s markets and visits to the wineries really made it memorable so far.
I was going to go to my favorite farm stand on Saturday morning, but I’m just not in the mood to get stuck in “Apple Traffic.”
You know what I mean… the traffic that just covers the local roadways with weekenders going out to pick apples and sample homemade donuts and cider.
Well, I have to make this a short post as I need to get some pictures on Instagram, send out some tweets and go into the attic and pull out my crockpot, a few sweaters then settle down and blog about a couple seasonal Oktoberfest beers that I love.
Summer may be “officially” over but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the outdoors, supporting local farms and farm stands, wineries, breweries and start cooking with some awesome root veggies.
Hey, I love the Fall. Bring on apples, root veggies and slow cooked dinners!
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This year, Heaven on earth could be found by way of Little Italy, NYC from September 13th to the 23rd on Mulberry Street, between Canal and Houston Streets.
The 11 day festival includes live music, entertainment, carnival attractions, vendors, the procession with the statue of San Gennaro and so many delicious treats that you will need to renew that gym membership very shortly.
It’s hard to believe that 17 years ago life changed…for everyone.
I’m not going to lie, it’s a hard day for me and for many.
Today I reflect, go to church, pray, spend time with the ones I love and let them know how much I really do appreciate, need and love them.
Sorry for the non-foodie chat… It’s just one of those days.
Usually through reflecting and memories I think about food and I’m sure today will be no different.
Check back tonight if you’re hungry for comfort food… Because again, it’s one of those days.
Enjoy your day and thank you very much for following me on my food journey.
I wish you peace.
It must be getting cooler out because I’m actually cooking inside the house and giving the charcoal and propane a much needed rest..for now.
For decades, Italian grandmother’s have been arguing with other grandmother’s or “Nonna’s” about their recipe for sauce and meatballs being the best.
January 11th is National Hot Toddy Day!
What does this mean for you?
You have a legit excuse to go out and have a drink! That’s a good enough reason for me!
The job of the Hot Toddy is to warm you up and cure what ails you.
Scratchy throat? Yup, Hot Toddy.
Can’t sleep? Yup, Hot Toddy.
Fever? Yup, Hot Toddy.
Need to chill out? Yup, Yup, Hot Toddy.
Now do you get it?
I have fond memories of being a kid with a fever and having my mom make me one of these every time.
I guess they worked because the only thing I ever remember was waking up the next morning feeling pretty darn good and now being an adult who really loves Irish whiskey.
Hey Mom, thanks for the drinking problem.
Anyway, drink responsibly and enjoy a hot toddy by the fire, with a loved one on the couch or ask for one at your favorite pub.
Happy National Hot Toddy Day!
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Twitter: FoodULuv and NYFoodCritic
and on Instagram #thefooduluv
- 1-Enough boiling water to fill a mug.
- 2- 3 Cloves.
- 3- Lemon Twist.
- 4- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar.
- 5- 2 ounces of Irish Whisky or Bourbon.
- 6- 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
- Choose a clear mug (if possible) and fill it with boiling water. (to heat the mug)
- Put the cloves into the lemon and place it aside.
- Empty the mug and fill about halfway with fresh boiling water.
- Add the sugar and stir it to dissolve.
- Add the clove filled lemon twist and stir some more.
- Add the whiskey, lemon juice and stir some more.
- DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE.
- ** Add some honey if you have a sore throat.** Perfect!
Day 3: Bagels. A New York Foodie’s Christmas Wish List. (AKA, The 12 Days Leading up to a Foodie’s Christmas)
Happy Monday December 18th everyone!
New Yorker’s are always on the go.
Even when we are relaxed with no particular place to go, we are in a rush.
One of the most portable foods and one of the most deliciously simple noshes are NYC bagels.
For me, there are 2 choices. Plain or everything.
All or none.
I like being a minimalist and I like being extravagant with my food, it all depends upon my mood.