End of the Summer Cooking on WMUR Cook’s Corner

Erin_WMUR_02It’s the end of the summer and I’m back on Cook’s Corner this morning! To catch me, just tune into New Hampshire’s ABC affiliate WMUR/Channel 9. I’ll be whipping up my tasty Spicy Refrigerator Pickles. Make some this weekend … and serve them next week at your Labor Day Weekend cookout.

Want some more ideas to stretch summer’s bounty into fall? We’re down to the final days of blueberry picking. Head to your local pick-your-own and then freeze your berries to enjoy throughout the fall and winter.

BasilMy herbs are ready for harvest, how about you? I’ve been making pesto. Try my Lemony Pesto or my delicious Sage Pesto. Then again, with cool nights, you might want to try some of my Roasted Tomato Soup. Make a big batch, it freezes beautifully.

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

© Susan W. Nye, 2015

Summer Rain & Spicy Refrigerator Pickles

rainy_dayAfter a string of oppressively hot and humid days, we’re almost happy for summer showers. The garden needs a long, cool drink. And let’s not mention the tempers that started to fray during the steamy heatwave. That said, within a few hours we start to feel housebound and, invariable ask, “Okay, what now?”

When we were kids, a rainy summer day on the Cape meant a trip to the Five and Dime for new paper dolls or sticker books. If the timing was right, we had lunch at the drugstore soda fountain as well. Who wouldn’t want a chocolate milkshake after a morning spent in a damp beach house?

Anyway, I don’t know who invented sticker books. As far as I can figure, they have gone the way of the dinosaur, corded telephone and VCR. Wait a minute; let me amend that to the original sticker books. Unlike today’s stickers that peel off a nice, clean waxy backing, the original stickers came printed on sheets of gluey paper. You cut the stickers out, licked the back and stuck them on paper, the refrigerator or your little sister. Except for the little sister part (since I was she), the result were beee-oooo-teeee-ful pictures. At least my mother always told us they were beautiful.

The only trouble was, within an hour of leaving the store, sometimes sooner, the gluey pages were stuck one onto the other. Humidity will do that. It took what seemed like hours to painstakingly separate the pages. Even worse, more than one favorite sticker was torn in the process.

I suppose Mom was happy because it took us at least twice as long to create half as many beee-oooo-teeee-ful pictures. Well, I suppose she was happy until the tears started to flow because the sticky pages refused to separate. That’s aside from the awful smell, not to mention taste, of stinker glue. Perhaps that’s why they have gone the way of the dinosaur. A couple of nauseous children in a damp beach house on a rainy summer day is definitely not a good thing.

It was enough to send us outside. Barefoot and in bathing suits, out we’d go to splash in the puddles, squeal at yucky worms and dance in the rain. Nothing says happiness like a four year old freed from the confines of a damp beach house and a gluey wad of stickers.

If you find yourself at loose ends on a rainy summer day and are not in the mood for a sticker party, here are a few ideas:

First and foremost, relax. If you are starting to wonder, why you built the screened porch; now you know. Take the weather as a hint to spend the day doing little if anything. You bought that wicker furniture for sprawling, so sprawl and read a book, work a jigsaw puzzle or decorate some flip-flops.

Next, make pickles. Yes, there is such a thing as too much sitting. You’ll know it when your bum starts to go numb. Get off that cute little sofa, grab your umbrella and cruise around town for spices, cucumbers, herbs and Mason jars. While you’re at it, show off your new flip-flops. Once you have everything together, it won’t take long to put up a batch of pickles. Then you can get back to your puzzle … unless …

… Unless, you decide to put on your bathing suit, your beee-oooo-teeee-ful new flip-flops and go out and dance in the rain. Sounds like a great idea to me. Feel free to jump in a few puddles while you are at it.

No matter what the weather, enjoy the summer while you can. Bon appétit!

Spicy_Refrigerator_Pickles_04Spicy Refrigerator Pickles
Make up a batch today in time for your Labor Day Weekend cookouts! Feel free to throw a few radishes or carrot sticks in with the cukes. Enjoy!
Makes 2 quarts

2 pounds small pickling cucumbers
1 medium red onion, cut in half length-wise and then in thin wedges
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 bunch dill, stems included
1-2 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs thyme
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons dill seeds
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water

Pack the cucumbers, onion, garlic and herbs in a 2-quart or two 1-quart mason jars.

Put the salt, sugar, mustard seeds, dill seeds and peppercorns in saucepan. Add the vinegar and water and, stirring until the sugar dissolves, bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Ladle the pickling liquid and spices into the jar(s) with the vegetables and herbs and cool to room temperature. Cover the jar(s) tightly and refrigerate for one week before serving.

The pickles should keep in the refrigerator for about 3 months.

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One Year Ago – Double Trouble Chocolate-Oragne Cupcakes
Two Years Ago – Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese Salad
Three Years Ago – Blueberry Soup with Mascarpone Cream
Four Years Ago – Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa
Five Years Ago – Crostini with Goat Cheese
Six Years Ago – Corn & Chicken Chowder
Seven Years Ago – Joe Nye’s Perfect Lobster

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

What is your favorite way to spend a rainy summer day? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

It’s a Partly Rainy Summer Weekend Special

rainy_day_pleasant_lakeIs the heat and humidity over? We’ve just enjoyed (!?) a string of hot, steamy days. Early this morning, the weather took a turn. A gentle but insistent rain began to fall around six o’clock. Saturday promises to clear. However, throughout the weekend expect to be mired and muddled in some combination of gently rains, thundershowers, cloudy skies and a few hints of sun. Sounds like a perfect time to stake out a spot on a covered porch and relax with a book, a little music and a nap. Sounds pretty good after a hectic week!

Whether you invite friends over or keep it in the family, what will you have for dinner this partly rainy weekend? Here are a few ideas:

After a relaxing snooze, what’s for dinner? How about some pasta? It’s a bit cooler so why not. Keep it fresh and light with my delicious Grilled Shrimp with Pasta & Fresh Tomato Sauce. Alternatively, you could toss your pasta with my Lemony Basil Pesto. Yum! Or try a different kind of pesto with my Ravioli & Sage Pesto.

How about dessert? The local blueberry season won’t last forever. Get a few pints and whip up an old-fashioned Bluebree Grunt a go

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What are you planning for the 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, 2015

Language Lessons & Bluebree Grunt

picking_blueberriesMy niece left New Hampshire for sunny California about the time she turned twenty. Although she lives on the other coast, Gillian has never forgotten her New England roots. We are more than delighted that she makes a pilgrimage East every summer.

Of course, she brings her two boys with her. Why they put up with us, I don’t know. Since we feel duty-bound to educate the boys on all things New England, it is a good thing they do. Yes, you can take the boys out of New England, heck these two weren’t even born here, but you can’t take New England out of the boys. Not if their grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles have anything to do about it.

A critical part of their education is learning to speak New England. And by New England, we really mean they need to develop an understanding of the melodious pronunciation and dulcet tones of their great grandmother.

My mother grew up in Massachusetts, on the south shore just outside of Boston. Within the family, her accent has always been the most pronounced. Dad also grew up on the south shore but learned to modify his accent when business took him to such far-flung places as New Haven and Chicago. It’s hard to make a sale if your customer doesn’t understand a word you’re saying.

First and most important, our Californians have learned that they are not boys but boh-eys. Or perhaps, I should say, “The Boh-eys”. As babies they were cunnin’. When they grew older, they learned that they were the best in the whole orchestra. In both cases, Mom was and is absolutely right.

Every summah we use their visit as just one more excuse to fill up on lobsta and foolish idears. As California natives, The Boh-eys don’t drop and add Rs willy-nilly like their New England family. Even if they don’t adopt this quirk, they should know this kind of thing.

Not just a language lesson, lobsta is a part of New England culcha and their great grandfatha’s love of all things nautical. A lobster feast gives Dad an excuse to share sailing stories with the boys and anyone else willing to listen.

Most years, Gillian times their arrival with the staht of the kohn season. You know, those things with the husks and yellow kernels. If they want tomahtoes, they have to go elsewhere but local tomatoes are abundant on my table.

For desseht, it’s anything with bluebrees. Blueberry pie is not just Dad’s favorite dessert; it is a wonderful excuse for him to share stories about his fatha. After he retired, my Grampa Nye helped make ends meet with a variety of odd jobs. Picking blueberries was among his favorites. A blueberry dessert invariably leads my brother to mutter something about a coupla yads a bluebree grunt.

Grampa Nye may have measured dessert by the yard but he knew the difference between pie, cake and grunt. I’m not sure if my brother even knows that grunt is an old New England dessert made with fruit and dumplings. However, he finds the word hysterically funny and uses it for pretty much anything with blueberries. You say crostata, he says grunt.

I hope that your summah is filled with fun and family from neah and fah. Bon appétit!

Bluebree Grunt
With primitive kitchens and new ingredients, New England’s earliest settlers improvised and invented new desserts like Indian Pudding and Blueberry Grunt. Enjoy! blueberries_02
Serves 6

6 cups blueberries, stemmed and washed
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup half & half or whole milk

Put the blueberries in a skillet, add the water, brown sugar, lemon juice, spices and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Bring the fruit to a gentle boil over low heat.

While the blueberries are heating, put the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Transfer to a large bowl.

Put the sour cream in a bowl and whisk in the half & half until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the flour and butter mixture and stir to combine.

Drop spoonfuls of dough over the bubbling blueberry mixture. Cover and cook over low heat until the dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Serve the dumplings with spoonfuls of blueberries. Grampa Nye would recommend adding a scoop of ice cream. That way if someone doesn’t like the grunt, he or she can enjoy the ice cream.

Alternatively, you might prefer a more modern, baked version:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Put the blueberries, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice, spices and a pinch of salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Transfer to the baking dish.

Drop spoonfuls of dough over the blueberries and bake at 375 degrees until bubbling and golden, 45-60 minutes.

Again, serve with ice cream and no one, least of all my brother, will know the difference.

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One Year Ago – Almond Macarons with Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache
Two Years Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Three Years Ago – Filet de Sole Meunière
Four Years Ago – Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp
Five Years Ago – Spicy Grilled Chicken
Six Years Ago – Corn & Tomato Salad
Seven Years Ago – Summer Rolls

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

Do you speak New England? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

The Corn Is as High as … Summer Weekend Special

corn_field_07We’ve been going a little crazy with the corn and tomatoes. We can’t help it. Living in New Hampshire, the growing season and harvest are short. The local corn is just too delicious to show any restraint same goes with the tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and you name it, we love it.

So how will you take advantage of the summer bounty? Here are a few ideas:

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How to start? Corn sounds good to me! My Corn Cakes are a perfect start to your local feast. Make them in one or two bites-size for a tasty appetizer. Want a little variety? Add a batch of my Zucchini Pancake with Tapenade.

Now what’s for dinner? I suggest that you get out the grill and cook up some chicken with my Hint of Asia Barbecue Marinade and Sauce. Add a few Asian inspired dishes like my Spicy Cucumber & Radish Salad and Asian Noodle Salad.

Clafouti_01So what next? What about dessert? If you are thinking decadent, you can’t beat my Chocolate Orange Tart. Can’t get enough blueberries and prefer something fruity? Give my Blueberry Clafouti a try!

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What are you planning for the 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, 2015

Summer Bucket List & Corncakes

adirondack_chair_bookLabor Day is late this year. The way I see it, we have an extra week of summer. Good thing; it’s been a busy time and I could use an extra week. The retail giants are already trying to lure us out of the sunshine and into their stores with the back-to-school and back-to-work ads. Don’t be fooled or tempted to waste even a minute inside. Forget the latest gadget or backpack, better to spend your precious time on a summer adventure. In case you haven’t noticed, the coolest kids always go back to real life with sand in their hair and a mile-wide smile.

Before the air turns crisp, cold even, take another crack at your summer bucket list. Here are a few ideas to motivate you:

1. Summer is the perfect time for a road trip. Get your playlist together, pack your bag and go. Or skip the bag; a day trip is okay too.

2. You might need to make that two road trips. You’ll want to visit the ocean. Watch the waves, walk the beach and body surf. Afterwards, find a great clam shack. Ever since I returned to New England, fried clams have been on my must-do, once-a-summer list.

3. Eat corn every night. And tomatoes. There is nothing like fresh, local vegetables.

4. Except maybe homemade ice cream. Give it a try, any flavor will do. While you’re at it, make a decadent sauce to go with it. Chocolate sounds good.

5. Spend an entire day with a book; the one that you’ve been dying to read. If it’s already out at the library, treat yourself. You deserve it and the bookstore will thank you.

6. Enjoy music live and in person. Whether you take a road trip to the big city for a star-studded concert or spend an evening at your local bandstand, it’s all good. While you are at it, dance like no one is watching.

7. Spend an entire week technology-free. No cheating; love the ones you’re with.

8. Proclaim your favorite summer of 2015 song. If you have too many favorites to name just one, create a summer of 2015 playlist. You’ll need for your road trip(s).

9. Climb a mountain, maybe two.kayak_02

10. Go paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing.

11. Have an all-out, no holds barred water fight. Squirt guns, water balloons, it’s all fair game.

12. Spend the next brilliant day on safari. Hike or stroll through some of your favorite places with a camera and capture the flora and fauna.

13. Do a good deed for someone you love or a neighbor or even a stranger. Being nice never gets old.

14. Go skinny-dipping. If you are shy, don’t wait too long. The full moon is at the end of the month.

15. Grab a second glass of wine or a mug of tea, pull up a lawn chair and star gaze. Bring a friend, tell tall tales and count shooting stars until the wee hours. If it gets chilly, feel free to build a campfire, roast marshmallows and make s’mores.

Don’t forget the sunscreen, have fun and bon appétit!

Corncakes
The season is short so you’ll want to enjoy corn every which way. Make larger corncakes and serve them as a side dish or make small ones for a tasty hors d’oeuvre. Enjoy!
Serves 8Corncakes_01

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
4 cups (4-6 ears) fresh corn kernels
2-3 scallions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Olive oil
Garnish: sour cream plus grilled corn kernels, small wedges of cherry tomato, finely chopped bell pepper and/or chives

Put the flour, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, rosemary, thyme, smoked paprika, baking powder and pepper in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the eggs and sour cream in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Add the corn, scallions and garlic and stir until just combined.

Heat a little olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop spoonfuls (a small ice cream scoop works well) of corncake batter into the pan, gently flatten and fry until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

Top with small dollops of sour cream, sprinkle with grilled corn kernels, tomato, bell pepper and/or chives and serve.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Cheese Quesadillas with Fresh Tomato Salsa
Two Year Ago – Summer Salad with Green Beans, Blueberries & Goat Cheese
Three Years Ago – Shrimp Salad Niçoise
Four Years Ago – Insalata Caprese
Five Years Ago – Mojito Melons
Six Years Ago – Grilled Antipasto
Seven Years Ago – Nana Nye’s Fish Chowder
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s on your summer bucket list. Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

We Love Summer Weekend Special

on_the_raft_with_the_setting_sunWe all love summer. Sure we complain about the heat and humidity. Well, at least I do. However, now that we are into August, the nights are cool and the air is starting to dry out. It’s a perfect time for active days and relaxing nights.

Stay cool and hydrated with a tasty Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca. Enjoy one after a hike, tennis game or bike ride, before or with dinner.

When it comes to dinner, here are a few ideas for a great get-together.

How to start? With my niece and her boys in town we’ve been having great family dinners this week. With teenagers around, there is nothing better than salsa and/or guacamole to start. Last night, I threw together a delicious Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa. Very tasty. If your family is nuts like mine, then you will need to try Roasted Almonds and/ or Rosemary Cashews.

Now what’s for dinner? How about lobster!?! It’s a favorite special feast at my house. Try my dad’s recipe, aptly named Joe Nye’s Perfect Lobster. Keep the rest of the dinner simple and delicious with Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction and a great ear of steamed corn. Of course if your family is anything like the Nyes, you need to get some chips to go with that lobster.

Hmmm, and for dessert? Chill out with my Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard. Even easier and chillier, chop up some peaches, sprinkle with raspberries and add a scoop of my favorite Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What are you planning for the 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, 2015