salad with warm bacon & mushroom vinaigrette

warm mushroom salad with bacon vinaigrette, blue cheese & poached egg

  All that talk of forgoing mushrooms and bacon for love…and here I give you a salad with warm mushroom bacon vinaigrette? Let me explain myself. I’m a hot-blooded, human girl. I have needs.  Bacon and mushroom needs. Creamy red leaf lettuce tossed with shallots, warm cremini mushrooms, sherry vinegar, bacon, and fresh herbs, sprinkled with Amish blue cheese, and topped with a poached egg: this salad was my afternoon tryst, my little something on the side.   I ate it slowly sitting cross-legged at the dining room table to the sounds of Leonard Cohen’s dulcet voice and my fork clinking on the plate. Nothing but pale smudges of egg yolk and the odd pepper flake remained. I’m not sorry, and I’d do it again. This salad is intuitive. When asked to describe my cooking style I often refer to it as equal parts grandma and grand-mére, and this is a reflection of that, mixing elements from the French classic “friseé aux lardons” and the trailer park tradition from the American south, a wedge of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing and bacon (both personal favorites).  This combination of ingredients requires no epiphany. It’s not a subtle arrangement and wants for nothing in regards to flavor. It’s salty, tart, smokey, earthy, creamy, crisp, fresh, herbacious, umami…. shall I go on? It’s a meal in and of itself, and with a hunk of crusty bread it would be a hearty meal. Hmm. Which just made me realize this salad would make a fantastic sandwich. Crusty bread, crisp lettuce, bacon,

blueberry tart dining room table

Lavender Ricotta & Blueberry Tart

I love a strange bird. He dislikes bacon, strawberries, popsicles, hollandaise, whip cream, stone fruits, pears, apples, and mushrooms. He also dislikes blue jeans, the internet, and suntans preferring instead tailored slacks, Romantic poetry, and pallor. Not wanting to misrepresent him or engage in hyperbole, I asked, “So, do you really hate all stone fruits?” Silence. “You know peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums…fruit with a pit, a stone.” “Oh. Yeah, I’ve heard that term before. My grandmother uses that kind of talk… and yes, I hate all of the things you just mentioned.” “And I’m not misrepresenting you when I say you dislike blue jeans, the internet, and suntans?” “No. I hate all of those things too. This is good, that you’re writing this. The internet should know that I exist. That I’m out there. And that I threaten to destroy it.” “Hahaha,” I thought. “He hates all the things!” Alas, he wouldn’t get the joke. So, Internet, you stand warned. For all his aversions, he loves kale, eggs in any form, stinging nettles, sweet potatoes, pungent cheeses, and blueberries. He very much likes blueberries, regarding them as the superlative berry. I, however, disagree. I don’t dislike blueberries per se, but I’ve always found them to be a bit of a bore. I’m a raspberry sort of girl, yet I turn down the corner of every blueberry recipe I read. This collection of blueberry tarts, pies, galettes, ice creams, muffins, scones, preserves, and cakes dwarfs my collection of raspberry recipes because, you see, they are

hollandaise poached eggs

eggs benedict from scratch: buttermilk english muffins, blender hollandaise & link41 bacon

    First, a clarification. When I say from scratch, I do not mean Michael Ruhlman’s definition of “from scratch”. I did not cure my own Canadian bacon; I didn’t even use Canadian bacon. And I certainly didn’t raise my own chickens or pig. I used chewy American bacon, cured just down the road on Main St. by Link 41. So, while not home cured, it’s hometown cured at least. But I did make homemade buttermilk English muffins and hollandaise from scratch. Now that my conscience is clear, I think I’ll wax historo-poetic about eggs.   The origins of eggs Benedict are disputed, both how they came into the world and how they came into my life. As to how they came into my life, I can’t quite remember. I do know that I spent up until my twenties insisting on my eggs over-well. It’s pitiful but true. But, once suspicious of egg yolks, I now love them as much as summer tomatoes, and they are an object of obsession and affection. I have almost three dozen eggs in my refrigerator at this very moment. Those fragile ellipses have seemingly endless incarnations, possessed of mage like powers to shape-shift. Yet, they are humble and ubiquitous, taken for granted.    Whether I’m cracking a speckled quail egg, a marmoreal duck egg, or a fresh chicken egg with dirt still clinging to its shell there is always something mythic about the egg; they wear their metaphor on their sleeve. Eggs Benedict is the sort of treatment I think

film camera hungarian shortbread

tuesdays with dorie: hungarian shortbread

with apricot & scotch bonnet filling “Hungarian Shortbread” from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking With Julia (pp 327-328): these homely, rustic bars were my first Tuesdays With Dorie project, hosted by Lynette of 1smallkitchen and Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler. I have followed Tuesday’s With Dorie for some time now, and I’m very excited to be baking along. I love how it pushes you to try recipes you might not have picked yourself. I believe in learning the rules before you break them, and normally I would have baked the recipe as it appeared before adapting it, but as I got the email saying I was in about a day or two ago, I had short notice, so I adapted a bit liberally. I didn’t have time to make the rhubarb jam the book calls for. Besides, rhubarb isn’t available at the market yet. That said, I did what I always do and mixed seemingly disparate ingredients and ended up with a shortbread epiphany. I had duck eggs on hand, so I used duck egg yolks, which are richer than chicken egg yolks. I was also out of sugar (how this happened, I do not know) save some homemade vanilla sugar, so I used that. As for the jam I found a jar of Bon Maman apricot preserves and a jar of TNG scotch bonnet pepper jelly in the door of my refrigerator, so I mixed them together resulting in a sweet, tart, spicy filling that was just

strawberry jalapeno ice cream side

jalapeño strawberry ice cream

    In addition to his unnerving aversion to bacon, my partner also dislikes strawberries. And popsicles (???). That, however, does not stop me from buying bacon almost weekly & fresh strawberries whenever I can procure them, and if I had the notion to make popsicles (honey-lavender-yogurt popsicles anyone?), I’d go right ahead. And eat them all myself. Luckily, I am newly enamored of making ice cream. Not popsicles. His mean distaste for strawberries leaves me with a bit of a problem when it comes to the fresh strawberries I’ve been buying each week since they came into season. After a winter waiting for fresh berries to bake with, I buy them compulsively. I made a goat cheese and strawberry tart. He picked them off. I made a dark chocolate ganache and strawberry galette–he wouldn’t eat it. Almost ready to admit defeat (secretly I believe that I’m such a genius I can make anyone like anything…), I thought maybe he would eat them if they were puréed, that maybe it was a texture thing. I can see how a finicky eater might regard them as, well, slimy. So, in a last ditch attempt to get him to happily ingest strawberries, I decided on ice cream with a strawberry purée swirl.   It’s not really in my nature to just make straight up strawberry ice cream. Le yawn. Addicted to counterintuitive flavor combinations that just work, it’s surprising to me that I actually hadn’t made ice cream before this week. It is a perfect


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