Monthly Archives: September 2009

Skills Set I: The Roasted Chicken

Photo: SassyRadish/Flickr

Photo: SassyRadish/Flickr

I started cooking somewhat late….in college.  Ok let me be honest– a few years after college.  Let’s just say my skills set is a bit weak.  I also know I’m not the only one…many folks ask me for more instructional posts and  for this reason, I want to dedicate some time on PRK to the basic and not-so-basic skills of cooking and baking like julienne-ing vegetables, braiding bread, and today: attempting to understand the chicken.

For some of you, roasting a chicken might be old hat.  For many of us, it’s an unspoken embarrassment: WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE’RE DOING.

I’ve scoured the blogosphere for some fantastic instructions and I came across a great post from fellow Boston Blogger, Helen Rennie. Beyond Salmon goes there and breaks down these monumental walls of cooking fear into tiny, itty, bitty pieces.  Let’s start with that chicken and see where it takes us.

Tell US: What do you want to learn?  We’ll make it happen.

Tuesday Tidbits

The sun is out here in Boston.   All these rays make me want to hit a farmer’s market to make a fantastic dinner this evening.

Now for added inspiration.

To Start:

Just a little something to wake-up the palate.  I love these Tomato millefeuilles from La Tartine Gourmande

Main Course:

There is some bite in the air so perhaps something warm and comfortining for our main course?  Eat Boutique has a great breadcrumb pasta I’m excited to try.

New Discovery for Dessert:

I’m a big fan of Berryline’s frozen yogurt in Harvard and Porter Squares and randomly picked up a gallon of something similar at Trader Joe’s. Eat! Travel. Eat! does a great review. While the Trader Joe version has a different consistency, it is still a perfect way to finish a meal.   Light, tart, and refreshing.  I’ll top it with some fresh kiwi and voila!

Happy Tuesday to all.

Dessert Tables: The New Cake?

Photo: Amy Atlas Events

Photo: Amy Atlas Events

Two summers ago, I attended the Parisian wedding of a close college friend.  The champagne was delicious, the food divine but what ultimately blew me away was the Viennese Table, the dramatic dessert destination provided at the end of the evening.  WOW.   And in Paris?  You can only imagine my racing heartbeat.

Lately, I’ve seen, what I’ll call, “the American version.”   Some infused with typical candies (see below) and some more modern (above), I think the American dessert table is a more flexible version.

Photo: Amy Atlas Events

Photo: Amy Atlas Events

Amy Atlas of Amy Atlas Events is the consummate dessert table designer.  Her photos could elicit serious salivation from even the most staunch health food addict.

Take a look…..and make sure some form of sweetness is nearby.

In Rome, At Home

Well, I’m off to Rome this afternoon for five days of no sight-seeing!! Just strolling, eating, visiting friends and, well, strolling and eating some more. Pasta all’amatriciana, spinaci in padella, pizza bianca, it’s all good. And I’ll try to catch on video that older fellow from the Testaccio market who deftly peels raw artichokes, one after the next.  No mean feat! A presto, allora.  Until next week…

In the interim, here’s to happy eating at home.

Green Beans from Cooking the Seasons.

Restaurant Week in Salem.

Cupcakes, if you’re feeling decadent.

Back to School, Back to the Garden

Photo:  Cornell University Library/Flickr

Photo: Cornell University Library/Flickr

Above, where we’ve come from. Below, a taste of where we’re headed. And check out the egg video.

CitySprouts, Sprouting Right Here in Cambridge
The CitySprouts program has now expanded to all 12 public K-8 schools in Cambridge; it’s actually part of the curriculum. There is a School Garden Celebration on October 3.

Harvest Time in Denver Public Schools
“The yearly crop is divided between classroom activities and Youth Farmers Markets held at the schools,” thanks to Denver UrbanGardens (DUG), Slow Food Denver and some committed volunteers.

A Salad Bar in Each School?
Yes, if the United Fresh Produce Association has its way. It’s “look[ing] to build on kids’ love of fruits and vegetables with a salad bar in more than 100,000 schools across the United States.”
(Kids’ love of…what??)

Photo: John Loo/Flickr

Photo: John Loo/Flickr

Jazz Up Those Boiled Eggs for Your Little School-Goers
All hands on deck. A video on using egg molds.

Treasures from My Mother's Attic

Photo: Patricia Kauffman

Photo: Patricia Kauffman

Patricia Kauffman, WBUR

August 16, 2009

After two days spent with Susan, a close friend, at my childhood home in Falmouth. 
Foodies are often attracted to vintage cookbooks, many of them found at yard sales.  Here’s the story of one such recently unearthed treasure.

We rediscovered the vintage General Electric Kitchen Institute cookbook – more like a pamphlet – stuffed with well organized recipes and cooking themes.  I found the book in the attic among musty bags and boxes, falling chunks of puffy insulation and dust.  Other treasures, too. 

Susan and I were reviewing the recently unearthed stash.  The cookbook, a 1940’s accompaniment to a shiny new GE range which I must have picked up at some flea market, yard sale or other trawling adventure, held the promise of a succession of delicious meals for friends, families and special occasions.  

 Thumbing through pages and looking for something with the ubiquitous Fluff, we laughed.  The book was designed to give the kitchen goddesses of the day the confidence to serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and hors d’oeuvres.   Entries included stuffed eggs in gelatin mayonnaise, chicken, giblet and egg sandwiches, butterscotch pie. At the back were blank pages for personal favorites.  In my copy, old yellowed newspaper clippings were taped into place with a few handwritten notes slipped in.  Then I found it: one piece of lined notebook paper with a sharp crease from its aged half-fold.

The handwriting was loopy; the recipe had no name. We were sitting right there looking at the page together and it was her handwriting. I knew instantly it was Susan’s writing.  She denied it!  I insisted. 

I couldn’t recall with certainty when I acquired the cookbook.  Did I know Susan then?  Had I received the recipe from her at a later date?  What I did know was that I was staring at Susan’s loose, pretty writing.  It was confident. too.  I tore the paper at its sharp crease, keeping the loopy scrawl to myself and handing the blank half to my friend, with a pen.   

“I just want you to write three words: ‘3 cups milk’ and the number ‘2.’” 

The number ‘2’ appeared several times in the recipe: 2 eggs, ½ teaspoon salt, 425 degrees.  I had to ask.  If I added that to the test, I would have plenty of loops to go on.  I admitted to my little deceit. The comparison convinced me I was right, but Susan was not swayed.

I asked one last question.   “If you were writing a recipe that used brown sugar, how would you write that?”

“B. Sugar.”

 Bingo.  Susan’s pumpkin pie recipe.  Case closed.


Photo: Patricia Kauffman

Photo: Patricia Kauffman

Patricia Kauffman, a fellow foodie, works at WBUR.

Serving Ourselves Farm

The Farm at Long Island Shelter

The Farm at Long Island Shelter

Happy post-Labor Day weekend, everyone. Here’s a fundraiser for a local organization you might want to know about, as posted by one of PRK’s fans, EcoFoodie. Proceeds from dinner on September 10th at the Ashmont Grill in Dorchester will benefit The Farm at Long Island Shelter–the Long Island here in Boston Harbor, that is, not New York. Right in our midst, this organic farm produces and serves fresh produce for homeless individuals and also provides them a comprehensive education as part of their Serving Ourselves Job Training Program.  Ashmont Grill owner-chef Chris Douglass partners with the Farm. Tickets for the Sept 10th event can be ordered online.

Bringing Brazil To The Vineyard

I spent Labor Day weekend on Martha’s Vineyard.  It was just perfect…beautiful weather, fantastic food, and many great walks.  Later in the week, I’ll re-cap some of my favorite haunts but for now I wanted to share an article from Edible Vineyard, a great magazine I happily perused while lying on the beach.

It’s amazing what food can do to the emotional self.  Soothe. Irritate. Transport. Remember.  My mother is from El Salvador and almost every day, she eats a typical Salvadoran lunch.  Casamiento, the Spanish word for marriage is the typical dish of rice and beans.  She also loves curtido, a Salvadoran cole slaw that is often paired with the filled, flat tortilla called the pupusa. For my mother, it reminds her of a tropical homeland while for me, I am reminded of my mother’s kitchen in Texas.  Same food, quite different associations.

This article is about taioba, a Brazilian green brought to the U.S. by UMass Amherst professor Frank Mangan.  The Brazilian community is strong and vibrant on Martha’s Vineyard….and now Brazilian Vineyarders can introduce the rest of us to some of their indigenous fruits and vegetables.

Take a look HERE.

Season Shifting Sangria

Jennifer Adams, Palate-to-Pen

Although a slew of days may speak otherwise, summer has not bowed out, yet. Autumn, however, is poking her eager head out from behind the curtain. Sneaking huffs of chilly breezes and winks of earlier evening breaks at an audience wading in denial.

I too am among the reluctant to witness her presence. Feet are clad in unwavering sandals. Sweaters drape my office chair instead of my shoulders during the morning commute. Lattes are iced, even though they are pumpkin spiced.

Soon, I may no longer shrug a cold shoulder her way. Labor Day weekend has arrived. Within weeks, summer will exit stage left. I refuse to waste precious moments grumbling about a summer spent hidden from an onslaught of rain. A favorable forecast awaits. Finally.

I ransacked recipes to find a beverage with which to properly toast both a farewell and a welcome back to these two seasons. In Tyler Florence’s Tyler’s Ultimate cookbook, I stumbled upon a recipe that’s both flavored with autumn’s spiced musings and playfully cool for summer’s final spell. Sangria Granita. I am spellbound.

I don’t trust my beloved sangria in the hands of just anyone. The ever-dependable Tyler Florence, however, is my go-to-Chef for favorite comfort foods adorned with a pinch of panache. This recipe warms with whiffs of spice and nose-tingling citrus tang while simmering.

After a freeze, ruby red wine crystals glisten a variety of gorgeous hues.

For the base wine, I pour an organic Malbec, whose tasting notes are posted on my blog, Palate-to-Pen. Its dark berry and mulling spiced flavors are a stellar pair for the granita mixture.

As I find the crimson freckles of sweet pluots irresistible, I opt for them instead of peaches.

I also am smitten by smooth, slim New Zealand kiwifruit with their fuzzy, pinched pouts and vibrant yellow flesh.

For a sweeter taste and quicker dissolve, I sprinkle superfine caster sugar over the fruit instead of granulated sugar. I also toss the fruit in Triple Sec instead of Cointreau, simply because that’s what is on our shelf.

As a fanciful jar of Moroccan Mace, nutmeg’s sheath, rests unopened beside the cinnamon and cloves, this recipe proves a clever debut.

Each bite of Sangria Granita glides for a brisk yet bountiful taste before softly melting a pool of spiced wine about the fruit I choose to grace each spoonful. This recipe for sangria-turned-granita knocks my sandals off (remember, no socks, just yet…).

Sangria Granita with Cold Spiked Fruit
adapted from Tyler Florence’s Tyler’s Ultimate cookbook
Serves 6 to 8

Sangria Granita

1 bottle 750 ml red wine (Yellow+Blue 2008 Malbec – a liter pak spares a glass for sipping while cooking…)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Triple Sec
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 peels of Moroccan Mace
juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange, reserve squeezed halves

Cold Spiked Fruit

2 pluots, pitted and sliced
2 New Zealand kiwifruit, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup Triple Sec
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Fresh mint for garnish, optional

For the granita, combine the wine, sugar, Triple Sec and spices in a large saucepan. Whisk in the juices. Add the squeezed halves. Warm the mixture over a medium heat for 5 minutes. As the wine simmers, dissolve the pinked sugar with a stir of the whisk. The orange and lemon halves nod like Hungry Hippos and citrus flecks scatter like dandelion snow across the surface.

Remove from heat and carefully strain the mixture into a large bowl. Set on a towel in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes. Retrieve the cooled mixture from the fridge and pour into a shallow lasagna pan. Rest pan in the freezer overnight.

The next morning, remove the pan from the freezer. Glide a chopstick around the edge of the pan, separating the frozen kaleidoscope of wine from the pan’s edge. Work your way toward the middle, scraping until all of the ice is separated and aerated. Return the pan to the freezer for 3 to 4 more hours.

Two hours before the you remove the mixture from the freezer, in a large bowl, toss together the pluots, kiwifruit, blueberries and strawberries. Pour the Triple Sec and Caster sugar over the fruit and toss to coat evenly. Secure a sheet of saran wrap over the bowl and place in the freezer. Remove both the mixture and the fruit from the freezer after two hours.

To serve, place the frozen fruit “ice cubes” in the bottom of a glass and top with spoonfuls of granita. You may also garnish with fresh mint.

Thursday Tidbits

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Did you know that last weekend was designated as Canning Across America time?  I didn’t. 


BUT if you missed the canning fest, check out a local event held AND documented by Linsey from Cake and Commerce

I know I’m looking forward to some solid hours with my new book this Labor Day weekend.  What to go with my favorite tea? Check out these yummy looking kosher madeleines from Zahavah at KosherCamembert.  And speaking of kosher….while I’m not sure whether this follows the laws of kashrut, it’s still Jewish.  Sarah from Two Blue Lemons takes on a Martha Stewart recipe for apple honey challah….  The best part: she lets us know how it all turned out.