Fourteen Hundred & Ninety-two & Pasta with Pesto, Roasted Grape Tomatoes & Corn

As kids, we learned all about Christopher Columbus and his perilous voyage in 1492. Queen Isabella, along with the Niña, the Pinta and Santa María are entrenched in our psyches. Looking back, I might be tempted to think there was a little hanky-panky going on. The benevolent Izzy got a lot of coverage but there was next to no mention of King Ferdinand. That said; there was no mention of hanky-panky either. Then again, you can only share so much with second graders.

Anyway, throughout elementary school we cut galleons out of construction paper and studied maps of Columbus’ journey. As interesting as galleons and maps are, the best part was the day off from school. Why, we’d barely been back six weeks and already a mini vacation. A parade wound its way down Washington Street. My sister and her Girl Scout troupe marched in it one year. I must admit, I preferred jumping in a giant pile of leaves to standing in the cold watching Brenda and her friends parade by.

Come to think of it, it was also a good day to eat birthday cake.You see, my sister was born on Columbus Day. No, not the second Monday of October, that’s the let’s-have-a-long-weekend holiday and not the real thing. Brenda’s birthday was on the actual day Chris discovered America. Well, the actual day plus more than a few hundred years. Of course, CC thought he was in Asia. Columbus had the brilliant idea that the quickest route from Europe to Asia was a short sail west across the Atlantic. He didn’t figure on a bunch of islands, a couple of continents and another ocean standing between him and Japan.

Anyway, when I was in kindergarten, maybe first grade, Brenda tried to convince me that the holiday commemorated her birthday. I knew it wasn’t true but that didn’t stop me from having a double twinge of doubt and jealousy. I’ll also admit to feeling more than my fair share of vindication when the parade and the rest of the hoopla was moved to the second Monday of October.

All these years later and living in New Hampshire, the Columbus Day weekend is a reminder that cold weather is coming soon. Forget parades, it’s time to get my act together. Along with a quest for perfect pumpkin, I’d better take a stab at all those summer-is-over chores. (Is it okay if I just kind of start to think about taking a stab at them?)

Unless you are a weed-whacking aficionado, it’s not a fun list. There is a certain sadness to putting the kayak away, especially when I barely had a chance to use it. Perhaps if I wait another week or two, I’ll find the time for one last paddle. The same goes for the Adirondack chairs. Is it possible that a few hours will suddenly free up? It would be nice to sit in the sun with a good book. Thankfully I have (or hope I have) a few more weeks before the snow tires must go on the Mini.

Truth be told, I’d rather take a long walk and check out the foliage than clean out the garage. True or not, I’ve been assured that the brilliant reds and golds are just a few short days away. People come from miles to see our foliage. Shouldn’t we take some time to revel in the glorious color?

Speaking of color, my red kitchen is getting closer and closer to completion. The big stuff is done – floors, cabinets, countertops and appliances. All that’s left is a list of gnarly little odds and ends. Well, except for a second coat of paint for the walls and trim, that one’s neither odd nor little.

Anyone know a good painter? Bon appétit!

Pasta with Pesto, Roasted Grape Tomatoes & Corn
This dish combines pasta and pesto from Columbus’ native Genoa with tomatoes and corn from the new world. If you like, add a few roasted shrimp. After all, Genoa is a seaport. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Pinch or to taste red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
16 ounces gemelli, cellentari or your favorite short twisted pasta
About 1 cup (1-2 ears) fresh corn kernels
Pesto alla Genovese
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Coat a large skillet with equal parts olive oil and vinegar, add the tomatoes, season with pepper flakes, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. Add the onion, toss to combine and continue roasting for another 10 minutes. Add the garlic, toss and roast for a final 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and begin to brown.

While the tomatoes roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

Reserving a little pasta water, drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the tomatoes, corn and about 1/4 cup pasta water and toss to combine. If the pasta seems dry, add a little more pasta water. Cover and simmer on low for 1 minute.

Add a dollop or two of Pesto alla Genovese to the pasta and toss to combine. Transfer the pasta to a deep platter or individual shallow bowls. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Pesto alla Genovese
Makes about 1 cup

4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup plus more to cover extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Put half of the basil, the pine nuts, garlic and salt in a food processor and pulse to chop and combine. Add the remaining basil and 1/3 cup olive oil and process until smooth. Add the cheeses and pulse to combine.

Transfer to a small bowl or jar, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to combine the flavors.

Pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of leftover pesto, cover and store in the refrigerator.

You might like to make a big batch and store in small containers in the freezer. Making pesto is a lot more fun than weed-whacking.

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One Year Ago – Cardamom Plum Tort
Two Years Ago – Easy Microwave Popcorn
Three Years Ago – Bruschetta with Fresh Tomatoes, Goat Cheese & Pesto Oil
Four Years Ago – Lemon Pasta & Shrimp with Olives & Capers
Five Years Ago – Roasted Sausages with Caramelized Onions, Broccoli Rabe & Polenta
Six Years Ago – Lobster Mac & Cheese
Seven Years Ago – Sausage, Kale & Potato Soup
Eight Years Ago – Soupe au Pistou
Nine Years Ago – Mulled Cider

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

How will you celebrate the long weekend? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

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Labor Day Weekend Special

Well, here it is – the last hurrah of summer. School has already started – just in time for a long weekend. Some of the summer people will be back to close up the cottage. Locals will see the rhythm of their days and weeks accelerate. So for one last weekend, take it easy. Spend some time on the lake and get together with friends for a cookout. By the way, it looks like Saturday will the best day of the weekend.

Here are a few ideas for a tasty, end of summer cookout:

Is there anything better than a fresh, local tomato? How about Tomatoes with Burrata Salad and Grilled Bread ? I can’t get enough of this one. Throughout the summer, it has been my go-to supper whenever I’m home late from yoga or a meeting. Want something a bit less messy? Then try my Crostini with Cucumber, Radish & Feta. Alternatively, think of Provence and try my Pissaladière .

What about a salad? Since the grill is already going, I suggest you go for my Grilled Romaine Salad or Grilled Zucchini & Feta Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette .

On to the main course. How fancy would you like to be? You can go high end with a delicious Grilled Steak with Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze . Serve the steak with my Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn .

If you’ve got a big crowd, you can’t miss with my Grilled Lamb with Fresh Mint. Serve it with Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn or take your dinner in a different direction and try my Szechuan Noodle Salad on the side.

If you are thinking ultra-casual, then you can’t miss with my Southwest Turkey Burgers or Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Charred Corn, Tomatoes & Salsa Verde . Serve either with Jicama Slaw .

Finish up the evening with sweet blueberries. I can suggest two wonderful blueberry desserts – Blueberry-Ginger Cobbler and Blueberry Bread Pudding .

As for me? I won’t be doing a lot of cooking this weekend. As I sit here tapping the last of my kitchen is being torn away. All of my dishes are piled on and under the dining room table. The old stove and dishwasher are in the driveway. Thank goodness for the grill, hotplate, microwave and salads.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

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

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.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Celebrate Bastille Day Weekend Special

On July 14, 1789, anti-monarchist forces stormed the infamous Bastille Prison in Paris. Ruled by an excessive king and self-indulgent queen, France was in deep economic and political crisis. The storming of the Bastille began the revolution and the pursuit of liberty, equality and fraternity for the French people.

Zut alors! Let’s celebrate! Drink champagne and make some of your favorite French dishes. Here are some of mine:

For nibbling … first you should know that the French don’t do heavy apps like Americans. Try my Tapenade with crisp crackers or veggies. Even easier, set out a bowls of my Spicy Olives.Then again, a batch of Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam sounds good. Don’t forget the nuts … my Roasted Almonds or Rosemary Cashews will be perfect.

Next, move to the table. Remember, the French love a long and leisurely dinner. Why not start with a few Roasted Shrimp with Tarragon Aioli. Want something a bit lighter? How about Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction?

Now for the main course. I can’t think of anything better for a Bastille Day dinner than Filet de Perche. (I don’t know about you but perch is hard to find where I live. A few weeks ago, I made this recipe with haddock filets and it was delicious.) Serve the fish with steamed new potatoes or rice and Roasted Asparagus with Walnuts.

Unless you are in the mood for a roast chicken dinner. Typically French, throw a chicken in the oven and roast it to golden perfection. Add a dollop of Smashed or Mashed Potatoes. Don’t forget the Roasted Asparagus with Walnuts.

Now it’s time for the salad. (Yes, the French eat their salads after the main course.) Keep it simple (and very French) with beautiful baby greens tossed a little Classic Vinaigrette. Serve the salad with a few of your favorite cheeses and warm baguette.

For dessert … lets go with something warm and custard-y. Think French toast and give my Blueberry Bread Pudding a try. (In France, French toast is called pain perdu.) On the other hand, Blueberry Clafouti is creamy delicious and very French.

Tous à la Bastille! Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

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

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.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Happy Father’s Day Weekend Special

Okay Daddy-o, it’s time for a little celebration. We’ll be fêting my dad with a little lunch on Sunday. What about you? Most dads will take casual over fancy any day. Casual doesn’t mean ordinary. Make your celebration special with a delicious cookout.

I’m still a bit up in the air when comes to my menu. I’m debating between stocking up on some artisanal sausages. What could be easier? Or throwing some burgers on the grill. Still pretty darned easy! With goat cheese and sundried tomato aioli, my Not Your Ordinary Burger is simply spectacular. My sister is bringing a salad. However, you might like to try my Insalata Caprese . The first tomatoes are in at our local farm stand! Dad might also like a spoonful of Grilled Potato Salad.

For dessert, I’m leaning toward Strawberry Tort.

However, if you’re thinking of dinner rather than lunch, you’ll still want to start with an appetizer or two. How about Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus and Rosemary Cashews?

Next, you’ll want to try my Insalata Caprese.

For the main course, your dad will love my Grilled Steak with Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic & Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze. Throw a few asparagus spears and red potatoes on the grill and you’ve got dinner!

Dessert … you still can’t go wrong with Strawberry Tort.

Happy Father’s Day! Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

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

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.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Let Dad Have His Day & Grilled Steak with Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze

Our poor dads, like the famous comic, they get no respect. Think back just a few short weeks to all the hoopla and folderol over Mother’s Day. Did you know that mom is almost fifty percent more likely to receive a card on her day than dad on his. As for gifts, the odds are even worse. Sorry buddy.

Maybe we should blame it on the retailers. After all, from flowers and chocolates to clothing and jewelry, Mother’s Day gets all the hype and even better deals. If they’re lucky, Dad’s Day may receive some vague recognition. The craft beers give a little shout out to dads but that’s about it.

It’s not that we don’t love you but, at least for daughters, moms are so much easier when it comes to buying gifts. I always figured if I thought a sweater was fabulous that my mom would agree. The same goes for a new handbag, perfume or earrings. But … huge, exasperated sigh … that’s hardly the case with Dad.

To make matters worse, the gift guides aren’t exactly fountains of wisdom. Shouldn’t someone tell the gift gurus that there aren’t a whole lot of men pining for a world’s best dad mug? And there’s hardly a line around the block waiting for bourbon-flavored marshmallows or teeny, tiny leather notebooks. But, hey what about the latest and greatest (?) – a grill so portable it fits in a briefcase. At home and on the road, don’t all dads live to grill? Unfortunately, I seriously doubt you’ll find grills on the list of FAA approved carry-ons.

What to do?

Forget some silly gift; celebrate Father’s Day with an apology. Apologize for keeping him awake half the night for the first two years of your life. For throwing up every time you were in the car for more than twenty minutes. For growing out of your sneakers before you even made it home from the shoe store. For that time he had to go down to the police station. For getting a divorce before the caterer had even sent her final invoice. For forgetting to pay back the down payment on your first house. For forgetting his birthday for the last fifteen years. For … for … for …

Next, give him a heartfelt thank you. Thank him for logging miles and miles around the living room when you had colic. For boosting you on his shoulders so you could see the parade. For teaching you to ride a bike, swim, sail, ski and/or drive. For helping you with your college tuition. For giving you an appreciation for the finer things in life … like a perfectly grilled burger or steak, fried clams with the bellies and a martini with olives. For brainwashing you to stay on budget and never, ever pay a penny in interest to the credit card companies. For … for … a whole lot more.

And finally, it’s highly likely that the one thing your dad wants more than anything is to spend time with you. So get out your golf clubs or tennis racket, pull on your hiking boots or dust off your bicycle and enjoy an afternoon together. Share your favorite museum with him or ask him to bring you to his favorite antique car show. Take in a movie or a concert. Buy a great steak and a nice bottle of wine or whiskey and fire up the grill. Listen to his jokes and his stories, no matter how long or how many times you’ve heard them before. You know what your dad likes to do. Make him happy; do it with him.

Happy Father’s Day and bon appétit!

Grilled Steak with Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic & Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze
This Father’s Day (or any day for that matter), dress up dad’s favorite dinner with a tasty glaze and a trio of aromatic veggies. (While you’re add it, add a few Grilled Red Potatoes.) Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil
3- 3 1/2 pounds New York strip steaks, cut about 1 1/2-2 inches thick
1 pound fresh (peeled and trimmed) or frozen pearl onions
8-12 cloves garlic, trimmed and peeled
1 pound whole mushrooms, trimmed

Make the glaze: put the vinegar in small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil the over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from the heat, stir in the mustard, brown sugar, garlic, shallot, rosemary and thyme and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.

Transfer the vinegar to a bowl or jar, add the olive oil and whisk or shake until well combined. Make the glaze in advance or let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Whisk or shake again before using.

Spoon enough glaze onto both sides of each steak to lightly coat and let the beef sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill; the fire should be medium hot.

Put the mushrooms in a bowl, drizzle with enough glaze to lightly coat and toss to combine. Place the mushrooms cup-side up on the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden with nice grill marks. Turn and continue cooking until tender, about 5 minutes.

Put the onions and garlic in a bowl, drizzle with enough glaze to lightly coat and toss to combine. Transfer the onions and garlic to a grill basket and, stirring a few times, grill until tender and caramelized, about 5 minutes.

Place the steaks on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side for rare and 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for about 5 minutes.

To serve: slice the steaks and arrange on a platter or individual plates. Surround the steak with the vegetables and, if you like, drizzle with additional glaze.

Cover and store extra glaze in the refrigerator

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One Year Ago – Grilled Potato Salad
Two Years Ago – Maple-Bourbon Pork Ribs
Three Years Ago – Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce
Four Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Five Years Ago – Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint & Peanuts
Six Years Ago – New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola
Seven Years Ago – Spicy Hoisin Wings
Eight Years Ago – Grilled Steak & Potato Salad

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

What about you? How will you celebrate Father’s Day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Cinco de Mayo & Grilled Shrimp with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol

May 5th, better known as Cinco de Mayo, is this coming Friday. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Celebrated from coast to coast with tequila shots and tacos, it is an excellent excuse for a party. Perhaps you’ve been thinking that it would fun to have a totally authentic Cinco de Mayo celebration. You know, skip the queso dip and Macarena in favor of real Mexican flavors and dance steps. I get it. You want to a party like they do down in sunny Mexico.

Alright then, here’s what you do … nothing. Yup, that’s right. Absolutely nothing.

Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated in Mexico. Widely mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates an early victory in the Franco-Mexican War. The Battle of Puebla took place on May 5, 1862. The resulting victory was more than fifty years after Mexico declared its independence from Spain. In case you’ve forgotten, Mexico was a colony of Spain not France.

So indeed, our enthusiastic celebrations of Cinco de Mayo are somewhat akin to the Swiss celebrating the American victory against the British in the 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh. In case you’re wondering, they don’t. I know where Plattsburgh is but I doubt that too many of my Swiss friends do. I also know where Puebla is. Not because I’m a geography or history whizz but because I looked it up on a map a few minutes ago.

Regardless of whatever convoluted calculations or interpretations you might try to make, Cinco de Mayo adds up to being a mostly American holiday. I suppose that’s makes sense. After all, we are a nation of immigrants and many of our holidays reflect that. The Chinese New Year celebrates our ties with China. Everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day. Oktoberfest has found its way from Munich to Muncie and several other U.S. cities.

Now the question arises – how to celebrate? Well, you could find one of those 100-foot margarita bars, the kind that serves fruity cocktails in glasses the size of fish bowls. Alternatively, you could expand your horizons and spend the day learning something about Mexico. Listen to Mexican music, study Mexican artists, investigate true Mexican cuisine or get a better understanding of how our two economies can and do work together.

Complete your day with a Mexican-inspired celebration. Skip the taco chain restaurants for a more authentic experience. I’m not sure if you can find real Mexican food this far north but you can always try. Many of us dream that one of those absolutely wonderful Mom and Pop-type Mexican restaurant will miraculously appear close to home. So far, it hasn’t happened but one can always hope.

For now, invite a few friends over and try your hand at some Mexican-inspired dishes. Dinner outside in early May in New Hampshire is probably pushing it but cocktails on the porch might work. Set your table with a brightly colored cloth and flowers and think warm and sunny thoughts.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo y ¡buen apetito!

Oh, and by the way, Mexican Independence Day – it’s on September 16.

Grilled Shrimp with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol
Appetizer or main course, shrimp with spicy peanut sauce will make a delicious addition to your Cinco de Mayo feast. This smooth peanut sauce is also good with chicken. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Olive oil
3/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 onion, chopped
4 or more (to taste) dried arbol (also called bird’s beak) chiles, stemmed
1/2 teaspoon allspice
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2-3/4 cup chicken stock or broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime or to taste

Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion, peanuts and chiles, season with allspice, salt and pepper and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant, 2-3 minutes more.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Let the salsa cool for about 15 minutes, transfer to a blender and process until very smooth. Cool to room temperature, stir in the lime juice and serve.

The salsa can be prepared in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Grilled Shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
About 2 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes (optional)

Put the olive oil in a bowl, add the garlic, lime zest and juice and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

Heat the grill to medium-high. Place the shrimp directly on the grill or thread them onto the soaked skewers. Grill the shrimp, turning once, until just opaque, 2-4 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol.

The shrimp can be grilled in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Puffy Apple Pancake

Two Years Ago – Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa
Three Years Ago – Cheddar-Sage Biscuits
Four Years Ago – Lemon-Lime Squares
Five Years Ago – Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart)
Six Years Ago – Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt
Seven Years Ago – Black & White Brownies
Eight Years Ago – Rhubarb Muffins

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

What about you? How will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo and our southern neighbor on Friday? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Easter Brunch Special

If dinner is more your style, check out my trio of Greek, Italian and French inspired Easter Dinner menus.

Are you one of those people who would rather brunch than lunch or dinner for Easter? Brunch is a good idea if you want to free up the afternoon for a hike, a long bike ride or a nap. Regardless of how you spend the afternoon, I’ve got a great brunch menu for you to enjoy with family and friends.

When it comes to brunch, you can’t go wrong with a cheesy pie. Try my Quiche Lorraine, Spinach Ricotta Pie or Asparagus & Goat Cheese Tart.

Of course you’ll want a big bowl of berries … strawberries, blueberries and blueberries are delicious with a dollop of my Lavender Infused White Chocolate Cream or Creamy Lime Custard.

Next, add a scone or a pound cake or both. I love lemon anytime, especially in the spring. Give my Lemon Scones or Lemon Pound Cake a try.

Top it all off with a delicious cup of espresso or a cappuccino and your favorite cookie. How about Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti or Almond Macarons with Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache or both!

Have a lovely Easter and bon appétit!

What are your plans for Easter? 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, 2017