"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

a summer tomato, spinach ricotta tart. . .

IMG_1427It’s Sunday and I wanted to use the farm fresh spinach I bought last week which I cleaned and stemmed this morning. Instead of combining with ricotta cheese to stuff in giant pasta shells, I thought I’d make a tart with puff pastry crust, spinach, ricotta and sliced tomatoes on top. I was inspired by this recipe from Food52.

First, I minced two cloves of garlic, chopped up a shallot and scraped them into some melting unsalted butter. To the skillet, I added a few handfuls of fresh spinach and cooked it down, sprinkling a little nutmeg at the end. After it cooled, I chopped it more finely and mixed the drained spinach with fresh ricotta.

In the meantime, I had prepared the puff pastry by spraying a pan with Pam, pressing down the defrosted puff pastry and pricking it with a fork so that it would brown in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

When the tart was cool, I spread it with the spinach ricotta mixture and sliced a large tomato into crescents instead of round slices. I decorated the top of the spinach with the tomatoes, sprinkled the top with coarse pepper.

We had a couple of servings after the tart was baked and cooled a bit. It was tasty and a good first try with this recipe.

P.S.  This tart was SO tasty when eaten cold for lunch the next day! Much better than the night before when the ricotta was too soft from the heat.






cream of cucumber soup recipe. . .

IMG_1392IMG_1386One our favorite soups, summer and winter, is cream of cucumber soup. I’ve been experimenting with the recipe for the easiest preparation and which tastes the best.

My traditional way to prepare the soup was to buy 4-5 large regular cucumbers, peel them and seed them all before slicing them up to make the soup. This process was a lot of work, especially seeding the cucumbers, yielding less than a desired amount of cucumber pulp.

Last week, I used 9 Persian cucumbers that I had picked up (buy 1 pack get 1 free) and made the soup without peeling them. Cooked with shallots and chicken broth, adding cream at the end, the soup was tasty, but even after I ran it through a food mill, there were still specks of green peel in the soup.

Today, I bought two of the largest ENGLISH cucumbers I could find, peeled them in a jiffy, and sliced them up for the soup. They’re cooking now in a pot with a large chopped shallot, 3 Tb. unsalted butter and a stock made with water to cover the cucumbers and a Knorr chicken gelatin broth packet. They cook for about a half an hour until soft and then cool.

Once cooled, I use an immersion blender (so handy!) to puree the soup. I taste for seasoning and usually don’t add any salt because the chicken broth provides enough in the stock. Right before serving, I pour in some cream – light or heavy, depending on the thickness of the soup base.

Hope this will be the best version for the recipe – not too much prep, no skins in the soup, and a delicious quick soup for any time of the year!

lemon cream cheese refrigerator pie!

IMG_1339IMG_1341If you like the taste of cream cheese, you’ll love this old classic, lemon cream cheese refrigerator pie. Before serving, I plan to place fresh fruit on top of the pieces I’m going to cut: tonight it’s going to be raspberries, and tomorrow, it will be white nectarines!

I baked the store-bought graham cracker crust for about 10 min. at 375 degrees after removing the plastic protector. In the meantime, I let two 8 ounce packages of cream cheese to come to room temp and opened a can of Eagle condensed milk. Also squeezed fresh lemons to yield 1/2 cup of juice.

When I first began beating the filling mixture with a portable mixer, the cream cheese turned into tiny lumps – so I switched over to an immersion blender and with a few swigs of it, the filling became velvety smooth.

When the crust had cooled, I transferred the filling into it and smoothed it out to the edges of the crust. And behold!, I discovered that I could re-use the plastic crust protector into a lid to crimp around the pie and set in the refrigerator to chill for a couple of hours before serving it. Looking forward to having this light, refreshing pie to add fresh fruit to – for a few nights this week!

cool as a cucumber soup. . .


Inspired by Melissa Clark’s recipes,I’ve begun making cold soups in the blender. I’ve made a cream of cucumber soup that required cooking the cucumbers before blending, but this recipe just purees the soup from scratch.

I did peel the cucumbers and seed them before adding to the blender. Also added an avocado, red onion, half a clove of chopped garlic, small container of plain yogurt, a splash of buttermilk and juice of one lime. Four large ice cubes added at the end and whirred around to cool the soup. Luscious and refreshing!


15 minute gazpacho soup for lunch today! . . .


15 minute Gazpacho soup for lunch today – along with tuna sandwiches.

In a blender, I combined 2 cans of diced petite tomatoes, 2 chopped celery stalks, a third of a green pepper, red onion, half a minced garlic, worcestershire sauce, cumin (1/2 tsp) salt, pepper and juice of a fresh lime. Whizzed it together, tasted it for seasoning, then added 6 large ice cubes and ran the blender again. Stored in the fridge until ready to serve with a sprig of fresh cilantro from the herb garden.


homemade margherita pizza for lunch!

Quick pizza dough: 2 tsp. dry yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t, sugar, 1 T. olive oil, 1 cup+ flour- stir, knead gently, let rise for 1 hr. – pizza sauce, lots of mozzarella, grated parmesan, fresh basil. Preheat oven to 425 and cook for 20 min.+/-. IMG_1239IMG_1243

compound herb butter! . . .


Just finished making Melissa Clark’s recipe for an herb butter (compound) now in the freezer to slice for future use. I microplaned one large clove of garlic – was going to use two but one resulted in a lot of very fine garlic. Spread it over room temp butter and mixed it together along with some shakes of truffle salt. Chopped up fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley leaves. Mixed the green herbs with the garlic butter, put it all on a piece of plastic wrap and formed it into a medium sized roll. Placed the wrapped log of herb butter into the freezer. Voila!

“hot honey shrimp” . . .


It’s the end of May and the weather has turned muggy and hot. So, tonight I thought we’d have a light meal of shrimp and asparagus rice pilaf. For the shrimp, I followed a recipe from the NYTimes by Melissa Clark. After shelling and cleaning the shrimp, I grated a large clove of garlic on the microplane, ditto, some fresh ginger root and zest from a lime. Squeezed half of a lime and added a tablespoon of honey with a sprinkle of crushed red pepper. The recipe called for cayenne pepper but I couldn’t find it. I spooned the marinade over the 8 extra large shrimp that I had prepared. In a bowl, the marinated shrimp rested in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When ready to cook, instead of heating up the oven to 500 degrees which would take about 20 minutes to heat up, I’m going to dot the shrimp with cold butter as noted in the recipe and run them under the broiler for a few minutes until cooked.

In the meantime, I have taken the tough stems off a handful of asparagus – and rinsed them in cold water. I’ll cut them in two inch lengths and saute them in butter with a chopped shallot until fragrant. To this pot, I’ll add about 3/4 cup of raw jasmine rice and stir in the buttery asparagus. To it, I’ll add about 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and simmer with the lid on until the rice is tender. At the very end, I grated about 1/3 cup of fresh parmesan cheese and stirred it in. This may take about 20 minutes and I’ll wait for it to be ready to serve before I broil the shrimp.

Since I have cilantro growing in the herb planter by the kitchen window, I’ll squeeze the other half of the lime on the cooked shrimp and sprinkle some chopped cilantro on top. With it, I’ll make some mayonnaise dip – Hellman’s mayo whisked with fresh lemon juice. Yum!

P.S.  We just enjoyed this dinner and it was very tasty and a great combination! Grating the garlic on a microplane really brought out the taste in the shrimp – and the honey was sweet but not too much – and the crushed red pepper was invisible but also noticeable in a good way! This is definitely a keeper! Plus the asparagus pilaf was a great accompaniment.




navy bean soup . . .


This morning, I took a package of dried navy beans out – used half of it by boiling it and letting it soak for an hour. The other half will be used to make New England baked beans on Monday, Memorial Day, to go with a cookout of hot dogs and hamburgers.

To make the soup, I sauteed together two cloves of garlic, a shallot and a Vidalia onion  – all chopped into small pieces. Added two carrots cut in quarter slice and some celery hearts. To the vegetable roux, I added the drained beans, water to cover and some Knorr chicken broth in gel form. The soup simmered for a couple of hours and after it cooled, I used an immersion blender to puree it. After tasting it, I added a little salt and a half gelatin of chicken broth with about a cup of water since the soup was very thick.  Simmered it for another half hour and added a half cup of whole milk.

Served the bean soup with a large salad of greens, avocado, Navel orange segments and honey walnuts with a ranch dressing with Gravenstein apple balsamic vinegar and olive oil. A half dozen large popovers rounded out the meal. Nice on a Saturday night!



homemade onion soup for lunch! . . .

IMG_1017On a lovely, Spring day, I made onion soup for lunch today. In a deep pot, melt a third of a stick of unsalted butter. Peel and thinly slice two medium Vidalia onions. Stir and saute the onions until soft. Add half a capsule of Knorr beef broth gelatin and add enough filtered water to cover onions. Simmer for a half an hour.

Take some ends of bread from a loaf in the fridge, or from homemade bread. Slice into four pieces, cover with Swiss cheese and grate some parmesan cheese on top. Heat the broiler and toast until golden brown.

In two soup bowls, ladle the hot onion soup and place the grilled cheese bread on top. Yum!