You Know Summer Is Over When … & Baked Haddock with Fresh Tomatoes & Herbs

Dogs_Morning_MistThe official start to autumn is still a week away but … let’s face it, summer’s over. It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. True or not, the changes seem to take place overnight. There are lots of clues that summer is over. Some are subtle but too many hit you over the head like a sledgehammer.

In case you were wondering, or in denial, here are ten signs that summer is over …

1. Sunlight doesn’t pour through the skylight at 5 a.m. and it’s dark by dinnertime. It won’t be long before you need a flashlight on your morning walk. Maybe you already do.

2. The first trees turn a bold and brilliant red. Foliage will not be at its peak for at least a month but a few turn early. Unfortunately, early color could mean the tree is in trouble. The culprit could be stress from road salt, invading critters or storm damage.

3. It may be sixty-five degrees, even seventy or eighty, at noontime but you need socks and a sweater, maybe a scarf, in the morning and again in the evening. No matter how hard you fight it, you are forced to turn the heat on when you first wake up. You’re not alone. You smell wood smoke on your early morning jaunts and greet other walkers with some variation of, “gosh, it’s nippy!”

4. Mountains of Halloween candy are piled high on supermarket shelves. At least one or two, maybe more, new horror movies hit the silver screen. The weekend-long Elm Street Nightmare marathons will come later.

5. Back-to-school ads have left the airwaves. Instead of backpacks and notebooks, politicians now vie for our attention. Some are trying to keep their jobs while others strive for new ones.

6. The farmers’ market shuts down and the circus comes to town. By circus, I mean Barnum and Bailey not the democrats and republicans.

7. You’re feeling a bit frantic about all those summer projects you haven’t finished (or started). In my case, it was the porch trim. The project had only been in the pipeline for five years. I was bursting with pride; it was finally complete! Except, wouldn’t you know it, the porch and garden furniture looked dowdy beside the bright, new trim. Proud to say, that’s done now too. Phew!

8. You get a cold. At first, you think it might be hay fever but those achy muscles tell you it’s not. A nice cup of tea, an aspirin, a blanket and a book (read nap) on the couch clear it up in no time.

9. The farm stand is loaded up with apples and pumpkins. Good thing, since you crave something, anything but especially muffins, with apples or pumpkin. Don’t forget to add a dash of spice.

10. With cooler evenings you’re happy to take the cooking back inside. Even if you’re not quite ready to break out the soup kettle, it’s comforting to turn the oven on.

Enjoy the sunny days and cool evenings of late summer! (I dare you to call it early fall.) Bon appétit!

Baked Haddock with Fresh Tomatoes & Herbs
Take advantage of the late summer harvest and bake up some delicious haddock (or scrod or cod*) with beautiful, fresh tomatoes and herbs. Enjoy! haddock_tomatoes_herbs
Serves 4

Olive oil
About 1 1/4 pounds haddock filets*
2 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
3-4 thin slices of red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, divided
Dash or to taste hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly oil a 9×13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Put the fish in the dish in a single layer.

Put the tomatoes, onion, capers and about half the herbs in a bowl, season with hot sauce, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add the mayonnaise and stir to combine. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the fish and spread in an even layer.

Put the breadcrumbs and remaining herbs in a bowl and toss to combine. Drizzle the breadcrumbs with a little olive oil and toss again. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the tomatoes and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through, moist and flaky.

* This recipe also works great with scrod or cod.

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One Year Ago – Pumpkin-Ginger Muffins
Two Years Ago – Roast Pork with Apples & Onions
Three Years Ago – Lemon Roasted Salmon with Beurre Blanc
Four Years Ago – Wild Mushroom Soup
Five Years Ago – Rustic Apple Tart
Six Years Ago – Oktoberfest Sausages & Sauerkraut

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your favorite sign (or least favorite) that summer is over? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

Kids in the Kitchen Weekend Special

Cathalina_CamSince Saturday is Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day, it’s a good weekend to spends some time in the kitchen with your favorite kids. Spread the fun throughout the neighborhood. Invite friends over, kids included, and make it a potluck.

So, how to start? If you’ve got kids at the party, you can’t go wrong with some chips, Salsa and Guacamole. If you want to be a little fancier and in season, try my Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa

How about the rest of the menu?

Burgers are a delicious idea for a family party. Let your kids help mix up a batch of Turkey Burgers and Greek Salsa. Alternatively, beef lovers may prefer a Not Your Ordinary Burgers with goat cheese and sun-dried tomato aioli. What to serve with the burgers? How about a fabulous spud salad? Try my Potato Salad Niçoise or New Potato Salad Dijon. For something green, add a Caesar Salad. Or take advantage of the first apples of the season with a Crunchy Salad with Apples & Grapes.

For a chocolaty finish … How about my Triple Threat Brownies or Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes.

Have a great weekend with the kids and bon appétit!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day & Turkey Burgers with Greek Salsa

Charlotte_baking_February_10 - CopyWith homework, soccer, music and dance classes and who knows what else, September is a busy time for kids – and the parents who cart them around! Now, kids face an additional challenge. September 13th is National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day . This unofficial national holiday encourages children across the country to prepare a meal for their families.

It’s not a bad idea. Lots of kids like to cook. For those that don’t, well, a little encouragement couldn’t hurt. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, children can benefit from active involvement in meal planning, preparation and clean-up. Cooking with your kids will help them learn important life skills as well as build self-esteem and foster healthy eating habits.

Start with a trip to the farmers’ market. The kids can help you shop for beautiful produce, fresh eggs and meat. You might even find some local apples for a pie or crisp. Back in the kitchen, children can help in many ways.

Although each child is different, with adult supervision:

Children five years and under can generally:
Read simple recipes
Scrub or rinse fruits and vegetables
Tear greens, break and snap the ends off green beans or asparagus and husk corn
Measure and pour some ingredients
Mash and hand mix
Shake and spread
Use a cookie or biscuit cutter
Roll out dough
Set the table

As they get older, children can do all of the above plus:
Read more complicated recipes
Crack and separate eggs
Grate cheese
Cut soft vegetables, fruits and cheeses with a plastic or dinner knife

Older children can do all of the above plus:
Use the electric mixer
Stir food on the stove
Use and read a candy thermometer
Operate a can opener or food processor

Cooking with kids is also good for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. It teaches patience and provides a wonderful bonding experience for you and the kids. When you cook together, you can share more than family recipes. It’s a great opportunity to introduce your children to the cooks and stories behind those recipes.

Get out the aprons and step stool and have fun with your kids in the kitchen! Bon appétit!

Turkey Burgers with Greek Salsa
Even if the kids are taking over the kitchen, it’s too early to put away the grill. Mom or Dad can flip the burgers on the grill while the kids set the table for dinner on the porch. Enjoy! Turkey_Burger_Greek_Salsa_03
Serves 4

2-3 tablespoons minced red onion or shallot
1 small carrot, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash or to taste hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 – 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
2 tablespoons sour cream
Olive oil
Greek Salsa (recipe follows)
Small pita breads or tortillas

Put the onion, carrot and garlic in a large bowl, season with hot sauce, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Add the turkey and sour cream to the vegetables and gently mix until combined. Impeccably clean hands are great tools for this task. Don’t overwork the turkey or the burgers will be tough. Divide the meat into four pieces and form burgers.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium hot. Brush both sides of the burgers with a little olive oil.

Place the turkey burgers on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes. Flip and continue grilling until cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Place the pita on the grill and, turning once, cook for 1 minute or less.

Pop each turkey burger into a warm pita, top with a dollop of Greek Salsa and serve.

Greek Salsa
Take advantage of local tomatoes before it’s too late. For fun, introduce your children to some interesting heirloom tomatoes. They will love the variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
About 2 ounces feta, crumbled
About 1/4 cup Kalamata or black oil cured olives, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Put the tomato, cucumber, scallion, garlic, feta, olives and herbs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil and toss again.

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One Year Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Two Years Ago – Curried Green Bean Pickles
Three Years Ago – Grilled Ratatouille Stacks
Four Years Ago – Apple Crisp
Five Years Ago – Ravioli with Sage Pesto
Six Years Ago – Brie & Sun-dried Tomato Omelet

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do the children in your house like to cook? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

I Love September Weekend Special

Pleasant_Lake_SneakersI love September. These last few days have been picture perfect. A little hot for September and a little humid but still beautiful. It’s the perfect weather for a refreshing morning walk and a relaxing hour or two on the beach in the evening.

Heaven forbid you show up at the beach empty handed at cocktail time. No, not just a bottle of wine or a jug of martinis. You’ll need a tasty treat to nibble. Why not give my Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam and/or my Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Crostini a try?

And how about the rest of the menu?

The evenings are turning cool … the local corn is more than wonderful and it’s a great time for lobster. Put them together for a warm and cozy Lobster-Corn Chowder. If lobster is not your thing, my Chicken & Corn Chowder is a little less fancy but still delicious. Add a salad; something simple like Caesar … but still special with Crunchy Parmesan Croutons or even simpler … how about beautiful heirloom tomatoes. Just slice them up and serve them with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

For a sweet finish … find some late season raspberries and serve them with my Ginger Crème BrûléePanna Cotta or Pot de Crème. Delicious!

Have a wonderful weekend and bon appétit!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. 

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

Back-to-the-Next-Adventure & Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam

Pleasant_Lake_Geese_01It’s that time of year. Yellow school buses are again on the road. Back-to-school ads are flooding the media. A few days ago, I met a woman and her five children. I don’t know about the kids (they were too busy running around to stop and chat) but their mom was more than ready for school to start.

I get it. More than New Year’s Day, even more than the first day of spring, September just feels like a new beginning; the first days of a new adventure. It doesn’t matter that the harvest is at its peak, the geese are flying south and the leaves are starting to turn. The fall holds tremendous promise for a fresh start. I guess nineteen first days of school with new teachers, notebooks, pens and pencils, calculators and penny loafers, then hiking boots and finally Nikes will do that to you. To top it off, for another fifteen years, I worked at a company whose fiscal year began in the fall.

So, what are your thoughts for a new adventure this fall and beyond? Will you plot, plan and train for a trek through the Himalayas and climb Mount Everest? Maybe you’ll start a new business or learn to knit. Big or small, re-invention or fine-tuning, it’s all good.

Not sure where to go or what to do for your next adventure? Take your time. Chances are pretty good that you won’t sit down one fine afternoon and get it all together in time for dinner. Don’t expect some brilliant epiphany. Whether it’s a new job, discovering your next passion or picking up a hobby, figuring things out can take a while.

More often than not, it will take longer than you think to contemplate, percolate and incubate your idea. And then, you still need to come up with a plan. Don’t worry if you make more than a few false starts, hit more than one dead end and get snarled up in some twists and turns. There is no one perfect answer. What works for me could very well be the worst possible choices for you. Get clear on who you are, what’s important and where you want to be. After all, many adventures and life choices look wonderful from afar.

There is a certain romance to living in a foreign country, running your own business or learning to weave. Until you move to an exotic island and realize you are hopeless with languages and desperately miss football. Not to mention the change of seasons. Or maybe you start that business and soon discover that you hate selling. Or your new loom takes up the entire living room. Oh, and let’s not discuss the fortune in chiropractor bills and physical therapy when your back rebels.

Take the time and care to look behind the curtain. You’ll never know everything there is to know about your new adventure but ask questions. Lots of questions. And then some more. So you adore the work of Georgia O’Keefe or Paul Gaugin? Well, you might want to experiment a bit before quitting your job and moving to New Mexico or Tahiti to paint. Especially if you’ve never held a paintbrush.books_02

Same goes for … writing a novel, running a bed and breakfast, buying a bookstore, hanging out your shingle as the next Sam Spade or becoming a wedding planner. Play around with your idea before you invest everything you own in a new way of life or passion. Or not; because, regardless of what your kindergarten teacher told you, it’s okay to color outside the lines.

Have a wonderful fall, a grand adventure and bon appétit!

Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Looking for a new appetizer? Take advantage of all the wonderful local tomatoes with these savory cookies and jam. Enjoy!
Makes about 3 dozen

Parm_Shortbread_Tomato_Jam_031 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
About 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon or to taste cayenne pepper
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Tomato Jam (recipe follows)

Put the flour, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and cayenne pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine.

Add the butter and pulse until the dough starts to come together in a ball. Remove the dough from the food processor and divide in half. Roll each half into a log about 1 1/2-inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Slice each log into 1/3-inch rounds. Arrange the shortbread rounds about 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Turning the pan midway through baking, bake the shortbread until the tops are dry and bottoms are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, transfer to a rack and cool completely. Serve with a dab of Tomato Jam.

The shortbread can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.

Tomato Jam
Makes about 2 cups

Olive oil
1/2-1 small carrot, very finely chopped
1/2 small onion, very finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
About 2 cups seeded and chopped plum tomatoes or chopped grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil

Heat a little olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, onion and pepper flakes and, stirring frequently, sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.

Meanwhile, put the tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Add the tomatoes and herbs to the pan, season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and, stirring occasionally, simmer until the jam is reduced by about 1/3. Add the vinegar and wine and reduce again until the tomatoes are thick and jam-y.

Let the jam cool to room temperature and stir in the basil. If you prefer a very smooth jam, transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator. Bring the jam to room temperature before serving.

Any extra jam will be delicious on your next burger or serve it with brie or goat cheese on a plain cracker.

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One Year Ago – Chocolate-Orange Tart
Two Years Ago – Chicken Liver Pâté
Three Years Ago – Blueberry Crisp
Four Years Ago – Death by Chocolate Sauce
Five Years Ago – Lemon Cupcakes
Six Years Ago – Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Are you planning an adventure? Or major change? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

Ready for my Close-up with Blueberry Crisp

Sean_McDonaldI’m on WMUR’s Cook’s Corner again today at noon. After a cloudy-rainy Sunday (including a power outage at my house), the sun is shining. It’s not too late for a Labor Day celebration. Blueberry Crisp will put a sweet finish on your cookout. For my trip down to Cook’s Corner, I’ve added a bit of a kick to my old recipe. I’m using fresh ginger and plenty of lemon zest and juice. Enjoy!

blueberriesBlueberry Crisp
We’re at the tail end of the blueberry season in New Hampshire. Take advantage of the last beautiful berries. Visit a pick-your-own farm and bring home plenty for dessert tonight and lots more to freeze for the winter.
Serves 6-8

Butter
2 pints blueberries
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
Crumble Topping (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a 2 quart baking dish or individual ramekins.

Put the blueberries, lemon zest and juice, ginger, sugars, cornstarch and cinnamon in a bowl and toss to combine. Pour the blueberries into the prepared baking dish(es). Evenly sprinkle topping over the blueberries.

Put the crisp on a baking sheet to catch any drips and slide into the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes or until the berries are bubbling and the top is golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

You can also bake the crisp early in the day and warm it up in a 275 degree oven for about 15 minutes before serving.

Crumble Topping
I always double (even triple) the recipe when I make topping. Use some immediately and put the remainder in the freezer for the next time(s). It’s great timesaver when you need a dessert at the last minute.

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Pinch nutmeg
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and spices in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Add the oatmeal and pulse until the topping comes together in little lumps.

Labor Day Weekend Special

corn_field_07Although September is a beautiful month in New Hampshire, Labor Day weekend signals back-to-school and the end of summer. How will you celebrate the long weekend? At the mall buying school supplies? Closing up the cottage? Or a fun day outdoors … hiking? biking? or relaxing with a book? However you spend the day, bring family and friends together for a late summer cookout in the evening.

Need some help with the menu? How about:

For a great start … Local corn is fantastic these days. Make the most of it with Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa and a few chips. Or revel in the glory of local tomatoes with Gazpacho. Add some Spicy Olives and a few Roasted Almonds.

Fire up the grill when you are ready for dinner.. Grill up some Scallops and Swordfish and serve them both with Olive & Caper Salsa. While you’re at it, throw some veggies on the grill. My Grilled Balsamic Vegetables are wonderful.

double_trouble_chocolate_cupcakes_03And for dessert? It’s my mother’s birthday on Friday. She’ll be eighty-five! So cupcakes are definitely in order. I’ll be baking up a batch of Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes. Mom has Alzheimer’s Disease and living in an assisted living facility. I’m looking forward to celebrate wih her and the wonderful staff at Woodcrest. If there is no birthday party at your house … how about some blueberries from your local pick-your-own farm! I’ve been fiddling with my Blueberry Crisp. Instead of ground ginger, I’m adding about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger as well as the grated zest and juice of one lemon. I made it for a family dinner last weekend and may have to do it again in the next day or two. Then again, for a change, I could go with Blueberry Crumb Cake.

Happy birthday to my mom, have a wonderful weekend and bon appétit!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014