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

Tag: ina garten

spinach souffle! . . .


souffle-5I’ll admit that making a spinach souffle sounds daunting. . . but it’s really not when you break up the process into sections. I bought some beautiful fresh spinach yesterday at the market and thought that cooking it down with onions, adding it to a bechamel sauce and then adding eggs for a souffle would be a nice dish to enjoy for supper.

I used Ina Garten’s recipe for the most part. Here are my steps:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees:souffle-1

  1.  SPINACH PREP: Rinse and clean half a bunch of fresh spinach; chop off the stems and coarsely chop the leaves
  2. Melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter, brown half a chopped vidalia onion and add the chopped spinach
  3. Stir gently as it cooks down until everything is soft and cooked through; sprinkle with grated nutmeg (yum!)
  4. Drain it of all the juices, place on a cutting board and chop with a cleaver alternately crosswise until it resembles frozen chopped spinach (just kidding!) You could also use frozen chopped spinach, draining it of all the water, but I like the idea and taste of fresh spinach!souffle-2
  5. CHEESE: Grate half a cup of parmesan cheese. I have a gorgeous chunk of it and grated it on the large holes of a box grater. It will give a nicer lift to the cheese than Ina’s recipe (cheddar and fine parmesan.)
  6. SAUCE: Making the bechamel sauce and incorporating the eggs:   Melt unsalted butter (2 Tablespoons) in a skillet; add 3 tablespoons more or less of flour and incorporate it into the melted butter. Add 1 cup scalded milk into the mixture, slowly incorporating 4 egg yolks one at a time, mixing gently. Add the grated parmesan and the chopped spinach. Combine and let the whole mixture cool.
  7. EGG WHITES: With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. A little at a time, fold the egg whites into the spinach mixture, making sure that it remains light and airy. Butter a souffle dish well and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Lightly fold the mixture into souffle-3the prepared souffle dish.
  8. Make a circle in the top of the souffle with a knife to encourage the souffle to rise more. When you know everyone will be ready to eat in about a half an hour, place the souffle in the oven and turn the heat down to 375 degrees (nothing is more exasperating when the souffle is done and people take 10 minutes to get to the table!)
  9. Bake the souffle for 35-45 minutes until done. Let it rest in the oven after turning off the oven with the door open; move immediately to the table when everyone is ready to eat!souffle-6

This is a truly delectable meal! . . . Bon Appetit!


rosemary roasted cashews . . .


rosemary cashewsIt’s about an hour before the kickoff for the Pats vs. Broncos game in Denver today. Otherwise known as “Brady vs. Manning.” Last night, I had a recurring dream that I had made some Asian dumplings with a special energy powder in them for the Pats. In fact, in the dream, G., my husband, was supposed to bring them to Danny Amendola (I kid you not.) Anyhow, it was a humorous dream to have.

But this afternoon, I was casting around for something to make as a snack for us to eat during the game since it starts mid-afternoon. Lemon pound cake was an idea but had two sticks of butter and two cups of sugar in the recipe even though I have some Meyer lemons in the fridge that would have been perfect to bake these little treats.

I did remember that I had some raw cashews in the pantry – and then came across Ina Garten’s recipe for roasted cashew nuts with fresh rosemary. Since we’re having lamb loin chops for our supper tonight, the fresh rosemary was on hand, and I also liked the idea that the nuts would be roasted first and then coated in a mixture of fresh rosemary, brown sugar, butter, cayenne pepper and salt rather than the old standby of coating them with egg whites which I’ve tried a couple of times with walnuts and which were sticky and unappetizing to deal with.

So, here are the nuts, resting in the still warm oven after being coated with the mixture. It seemed like common sense to put them back into the oven (350 for 8 minutes) to dry out a little and crisp up on their own since they were raw to begin with.

This isn’t Asian dumplings similar to my comical dream last night, but our good wishes are there for the Pats to win today.

Here’s hoping!

Afterword: Well, that was a painful game to watch if you’re a Patriots fan. We enjoyed the nuts but wished the Pats were going to the Super Bowl. In hindsight, this season has been a meaningful one for us in New England given the bad press and hype regarding the NFL’s punishment of Tom Brady. Go Pats!


staff of life . . .

Sometimes I can get roiling around in my head about deep life issues. That’s a sure sign to do something else, like cooking. The other day, I bought an oatmeal scone with maple glaze at a local bakery. It was one of the best things I ever ate. I looked it up online and sure enough there was a 1999 recipe for maple oatmeal scones by Ina Garten. As per usual with some of her recipes, the ingredients were so rich I couldn’t believe it: white flour, wheat flour, instant oats, a POUND of unsalted butter cut up into little bits, buttermilk, FOUR eggs, maple syrup.

Since C. was coming out for dinner and staying overnight, I thought it might be a nice treat to make the scones so we could have them with afternoon tea when she arrived. The recipe was a little tricky because, as with pie crusts, it’s important to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients so that the result is little bits of butter still showing. I did this by carefully pulsing the flours with the cut up butter in my Cuisinart and it was perfect. What was harder to do was to mix the dry and the wet ingredients together because the bowl I was using wasn’t big enough to stir everything together. So, I ended up piling the dough onto a board with pastry paper on it and gently mixing it by hand. As you know, handling dough just toughens it (as in making cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning) so I was careful just to turn it over, pressing it together gently to incorporate the dry with the sticky dough. I rolled the dough out and cut it with my old fluted round cutter and baked them in the oven. I made a maple syrup glaze, using less confectioners sugar and more syrup with a tiny bit of vanilla. Sprinkled the tops with oats as Ina’s recipe suggested.

When they were all done, I wasn’t sure it had been worth all that effort, but C. said later she thought they were one of the best things I’ve ever made (which is saying something since I cook a lot.) G. also gave them out to his family and a friend in need down the street. SHE called afterwards to thank him for the scones because they were “so delicious.” So okay, maybe I’ll make them again. The next time, I’ll use a larger SQUARE fluted cutter that I ordered on Amazon. We’ll have them when we get together over the holidays with fresh fruit salad, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese, greek yogurt pancakes with maple syrup. M. (C.’s sister) had sent us the recipe for the pancakes–and C. and I had them for breakfast on Sunday. They’re slightly tangy, super tender and out of this world!

Last week, I had also seen a recipe in a British magazine at Barnes and Noble for homemade ginger ale. It reminded me of the concept of making tisanes in England with scented geranium, lemon verbena and so on. The recipe required cooking equal proportions of honey, chopped up fresh ginger root and water, a half cup of each into a saucepan. I used more ginger root and sliced it up in very fine slivers. Boil for 15 minutes and then let cool. When ready to serve, use a pretty glass (these sweet hobnail tumblers are from Anthropologie,) fill with ice, spoon 3 tablespoons of the strained ginger syrup and stir together with very fizzy club soda. Top with fresh mint.

Although we were planning to have hot Lapsang Souchang tea with the scones, the afternoon was still pretty balmy so we opted for drinking the iced ginger ale with the scones. A nice combination as it turned out. So I thought I’d share these recipes with you today. Enjoy!