There's bay scallops and there's Cape Cod or Nantucket bay scallops. You can get great quantities of Chinese farmed bay scallops for an economical price, but their flavor is decidedly ho-hum. The local ones are sweet and wonderful and every bit worth the price, even if you get just a quarter-pound to put over rice or pasta. This recipe works well for that, or as a decadent appetizer.
This is Lorna's favorite salmon, very plain and simple. You can have it on the table in 20 minutes!
This old chestnut used to be enormously popular, and many homes had their own special Tom and Jerry bowls and mugs to bring out at Christmastime.
A Tom and Jerry bowl? Where does the bowl come in?
This is a complicated hot drink, requiring preparation and equipment, but it's worth it. You start by boiling a kettle of water and warming some glasses. Then you have to whip up some egg whites, and the yolks with sugar and spices, then you mix that part together in your Tom and Jerry bowl and put a spoonful into each warm glass, and then you can add the brandy and the rum (both), and finally the hot water and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Well, that's a lot, but most of it is in mixing up the Tom and Jerry batter, which you can do ahead of time and have it ready and waiting in your Tom and Jerry bowl for when your guests arrive. You can see that this would be a lot of work to make a single drink, and no more work to mix it up for six people or a whole party.
This is another of those fine forgotten libations from before the Civil War that deserves to be revisited, especially during the holidays. I think I have counted a half-dozen sangarees mentioned in the short stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne!
You can make a whiskey or rum or gin sangaree just by substituting the base spirit, but I think that brandy or cognac go best with the port.
A sangaree is just some spirit sweetened with a little sugar and mixed 2:1 with port. It has no lemon or lime juice and no bitters, so it's on the sweet side, but it's a fine treat after Thanksgiving dinner or at Christmastime!
On Sunday, 12 March 2023, our friends Bryan and Bridget joined us for a Tour of France Dinner. I called it a Tour of France because it has seven courses, each highlighting a different region of France. The regions of France have long histories of developing their own foodways and intense attention to terroir, thus I also served wines from the same regions as the food in each course. This meant that I served a lot of wine! We were sensible and tasted each of the eight wines but we did not drink all of any of them. (Well, maybe we finished just a few of them!)
In July of 2023, Lorna and I sailed to England on the world's last ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2, and then we explored England and Scotland for 8 days. This was another "bucket-list" trip for me; I had wanted to experience a transatlantic sea crossing for a really long time, and Lorna and I were 30 years overdue to show each other our favorite parts of Scotland. That's all explained in the following pages.
The trip was really three different parts: the elegant ship, rural England coming and going, and Scotland in the middle, over these days:
On 27 August 2023, we had a traditional Russian feast with our friends John, Christina, Lance, and Lynda. What made it traditional? I actually read about how Russians eat this sort of dinner, so I served it that way rather than forcing Russian recipes into a western formal dinner format like I had done before.
Zakuski and Vodkas
Russians drink a lot of vodka at their dinners, instead of or in addition to the wine that we usually serve in Western dinners. Here are four simple varieties that I have made. In each case you put the flavoring into a one-pint mason jar of vodka and let it sit 24 hours at room temperature, then store it in the freezer.
You might wonder why I have put a pear-and-honey recipe with the condiments instead of with sweets, but this recipe is a sort of sweet pickle that you serve with grilled meats or hearty fish dishes. The sweetness of the honey and the pears is balanced by the tart cider vinegar in which it marinates for a week.
I needed a cake to finish a paella dinner, so I searched for something Spanish. I found a whole class of citrus and olive oil cakes (Spanish cooking doesn't use a lot of butter), so I picked this easy Coca de Llanda version from Valencia.
Cotechino in Camicia means "Cotechino in a shirt" because in this recipe the unctuous cotechino sausage is wrapped in a shirt of lean chicken!
Camillo Benso, the Count of Cavour was a hugely important 19th century Sardinian and Piedmontese politician and patriot who also is known for his favorite dishes of traditional Piedmontese cuisine. Like many Piedmontese dishes, this one uses butter where recipes from more southerly states would use olive oil, and it uses the Grana Padano cheese of Piemonte and Lombardia where other dishes would use Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Here's one way to use the black kale that comes in your CSA share. It's a simple recipe that's good with sausages.
You cut the kale into thin shreds and cook it with fusilli or a similar textured pasta that can "catch" the kale shreds. You need a second pan to make a simple sauce of olive oil flavored with garlic and chili to add some zing, and then some grated Pecorino cheese to finish it.
The Brasato al Barolo is a rightly celebrated main dish of Italy's Piedmont region, traditionally made using the local Barolo wine. That can become very expensive in this country, but driving through the Piedmont I was astonished to see €10 bottles of Barolo on endcap displays in highway rest areas! The best Barolos can fetch $1,000 and more; that's not what you braise a chuck roast in!
I was surprised when I first saw this. It's so simple, with no hard-to-get ingredients, that I would expect to see it on menus and at picnics and other al fresco dining opportunities. It seemed at first counterintuitive, but Tartar Sauce used to be used for many things beside fried fish, and this is just one simple example.
This is best in late spring and early summer when you can get fresh local asparagus. There are plenty of brands of commercial tartar sauce available on store shelves, or you can make your own.