Hello Lillie
September 28, 2007, 12:46 am
Filed under: bento, box, lunch, yum
Hello Donuri
Originally uploaded by Tea Priestess

The Bento Box revolution has begun. This is one culinary art form that I knew nothing about before doing research for the blog. I thought bento boxes were just sushi to go. Flickr is filled with so many great examples of these imaginative packed lunches. Here are some groups to be inspired by…click on the names to visit these fun galleries.


Bento Boxes

Obento, My Bento!


going bananas!
September 25, 2007, 9:51 pm
Filed under: banana, snack
Kopali Dried Organic Bananas

These dense nuggets of banana goodness are the perfect snack. They were handing out samples at Whole Foods and both Lillie and Sadie couldn’t get enough of them. The entire produce section smelled like a monkey’s pocket.

Unlike a crispy banana chip, these moist and chewy pieces have a powerful and intensely concentrated banana flavor. They almost tasted caramelized and reminded my taste buds of banana bread. We wolfed down the whole bag – I think next time we should try cooking with them. Maybe some chocolate chip banana cookies or a new twist on bananas foster.

Martin the monkey says “banana bites are good!”

The story behind Kopali and their organic offerings is a good one.

Here is the quote from the website: “Made from 100% organic dried bananas grown on living soil free of harmful chemicals, under the shade of fruit and rainforest trees. By enjoying this healthy and delicious snack, you support indigenous and Afro-Caribbean organic farmers and help them care for the ecosystems that support all life on our planet.”

Saving the world, one banana nugget at a time.

They have a banana vinegar that sounds too odd not to try. It is described as “exotic, sweet and tangy.” More on that later…

Bill Cosby wants his sweater back…

What do monkeys like to eat?

Lillie: (silence)

Me: What does Martin the monkey eat for breakfast?

Lillie: Yellow!

Me: (silence)

Lillie: Yellow banana food!

Me: On a plate?

Lillie: Nooooooo. In his hand!

Country Bears Benedict
September 23, 2007, 8:12 pm
Filed under: biscuit, breakfast, brunch, egg, ham, recipe
Herbed biscuits topped with maple ham,
poached eggs, and a key lime hollandaise

Lillie’s favorite blue fork

Brunch is served!

The best meal of the week is, without question, Brunch! Its a required start to any lazy day set aside to relax and decompress. A fritatta, some fresh fruit and a spicy bloody mary – what else is there in life? I’ll tell you what else…..a good benedict.

This recipe was inspired by the “country benedict” found on the menu at Stephen Anthony’s Restaurant and Sausage Co. in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Victoria and I spent many a brunch there sampling the homemade maple sausage and benedicts. Unlike a traditional benedict that uses English muffins and Canadian Bacon as a base, this southern-fried variation relies on a hearty biscuit and a sweet and smokey slab of REAL ham.

After trying to eat “right” all week, it is time to throw caution to the wind and indulge a little, for crying out loud.

Grab the washboard and fetch me my fiddle – its time to “rustle up” some Country Bears Benedict.

that’s not my daddy!

Country Bears Benedict
serves 4

4 biscuits
8 poached eggs
sliced maple ham
1 tablespoon white or white wine vinegar
hollandaise sauce

I cheated a little – generally I make my own but these herbed biscuits from Whole Foods caught my eye and begged to come home with me. Just a little crispy on the outside and light and fluffy in the middle. The fresh herbs baked throughout complimented the flavors of the benedict perfectly.

Here is an easy biscuit recipe to get you to the next step: www.recipezaar.com/135930

Hollandaise sauce is a decadent but integral part of the Benedict. Use sparingly.

Key Lime Hollandaise

1/2 cup butter
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon key lime juice
1/2 tablespoon key lime zest
pinch of salt
splash of hot sauce (Tapatio or Tabasco Chipotle)
2 tablespoons hot water

Heat butter in a small saucepan until it starts to bubble. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks with lime juice, salt, and hot sauce. Very slowly mix in butter, then water. Return mixture to saucepan and whisk over very low heat until hollandaise is slightly thickened. Sprinkle zest over the top. Serve immediately or let stand over warm water for up to 30 minutes.

Before poaching the eggs, prep each plate with a sliced biscuit. I popped these in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm them up a little.

The next layer is the maple ham. Warm in a skillet or microwave and place a generous portion on each slice of the biscuit.

Step 3 is to poach the eggs. I have a few tricks. The first is to add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the boiling water. This helps the eggs keep their shape. The next trick is to use teacups to transfer the eggs to the large skillet of boiling water – 2 eggs per cup, up to 8 eggs cooking at the same time. Slowly tilt the eggs onto the surface of the water, gently guiding all the eggs into the pan and the same time. Be careful! That steam is hot!

Cover and turn the heat off. Let them sit for 3 minutes for medium-firm yolks. 2 minutes longer if you want them cooked all the way through. Remove each perfectly poached egg with a slotted spoon and gently place one on top of each side of the sliced biscuit.

All that is left is a little drizzle of hollandaise. Give it a good whisk before spooning onto the poached eggs.

Eat them quick before they get cold! You do the dishes, I’ll be in the hammock.

Lillie contemplates her next bite

Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar
September 22, 2007, 11:49 pm
Filed under: french fry, oven fries, potato, recipe, side, starch, sweet potato
Lillie tested. Lillie approved.

Here is an easy way to get your fry fix without the guilt. These delicious sweet potato fries are jam-packed with the “good carbs” and a ridiculous amount of beta-carotene. Check back soon for a recipe for Gordon Biersch inspired Garlic Oven Fries.

garnet sweet potatoes are in season

2-3 large sweet potatoes

Kosher salt

Garlic powder

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into fry-shaped wedges. In large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with olive oil. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and garlic powder. Roast in the oven for about 40-50 minutes, turning once or twice. I usually use a spatula to flip and move them around – you want to expose all the sides of the fry to maximize crispness. Keep in mind, the fries towards the outside will cook faster. The last 10 minutes are crucial – keep an eye on them. Taste a few to see if they are ready – go ahead, its ok. There is a fine line between crispy and burnt. Once you make them a few times, you will get into a rhythm. When they are done, throw them in a bowl and toss with an additional pinch of Kosher salt. Eat them immediately. Serve with your favorite colored mayo, ketchup or a ramekin of blackberry balsamic vinegar to dip in.

Click here for the Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar recipe

Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar
September 22, 2007, 11:10 pm
Filed under: balsamic, condiment, dressing, infused, recipe, vinegar

This robust vinegar can be used just about anywhere – use it on grilled fish or mix with herbs, minced shallot and some olive oil for a fresh vinaigrette.

2 cups aged balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blackberries

Bring vinegar and berries to a boil, reduce to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool. Strain into small bowl, using the back of a serving spoon to push all the berry goodness and vinegar out of the fruit pulp. The vinegar should reduce a little, giving it more of a syrupy consistency.

Cover and chill until ready to use. Put it on everything. Will keep for at least a month in the fridge.

White Mayonnaise
September 19, 2007, 12:36 am
Filed under: adventure, condiment, mayonnaise, recipe, sauce

Lunchtime during the week must include at least one visit to the best sub shop this side of the Mississippi – Jersey Mike’s. I mean, come on, they slice the meat right in front of you as your order your sandwich! Does it get any better than that?! Its true, their delectable “fresh” subs are amazing but the same can not be said about their sanitary-gloved employees. During the latest visit, our attentive “sandwich artist” asked Drew if he wanted some “white mayonnaise” on his giant bacon and pepperoni sandwich. It caught us off guard.

White mayonnaise, you say? What other colors of mayonnaise do you have behind that counter? Yellow mustard maybe. Red ketchup? Now you are pushing it. White mayonnaise? You’re just talking crazy talk.

The truth is, like most people, I love mayonnaise.

Maybe not as much as this guy…

or these guys…

…but its fair to say its a very important part of my life. Although we generally reach for the Hellman’s Canola Mayo for sandwiches and salads (potato, chicken, k-rab), occasionally there is a need for something a little fresher. The truth is that mayonnaise is relatively easy to make – its simply a cold emulsion of vegetable oil, egg yolks and your choice of an acid. Once you have a mayonnaise base you can literally flavor it with any ingredient – from chipotle to garlic and fresh herbs. Remind me to have a mayo contest – that would be fun.

Here is a simple mayonnaise base to get you started:

White Mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice

pinch of Kosher Salt (to taste)

1/3 cup of olive or avocado oil

2 egg yolks

Add the Dijon mustard to the egg yolks and beat with a whisk until slightly thickened, then slowly drizzle the oil into the egg mix. If it gets too thick, add a little vinegar or lemon juice to thin out the mix. Once all the oil is added, whisk in the remaining acid. The consistency should be that of, well, mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in the fridge up to one week.

Spice up your mayo! Use your imagination, for crying out loud…

Yellow Mayonnaise (Lemon)
increase lemon juice to 2 tbsp and add 1 teaspoon freshly microplaned lemon peel

Mayonnaise (Garlic and Herb)
1/4 cup chopped fresh soft herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon, etc.) and three cloves of roasted garlic

Orange Mayonnaise (Chipotle)
1 finely chopped chipotle chile in adobo, 1 teaspoon adobo sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Brown Mayonnaise (Ginger-Sesame)
add one finely chopped scallion, 1 tsp minced fresh ginger, 1/4 tsp toasted sesame or peanut oil and a splash of low sodium soy sauce

five years ago today
September 14, 2007, 5:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
September 14th, 2002

Victoria and I were married on the first day of harvest in 2002 at the Westport Rivers Winery. It was a perfect day. I nervously sang my vows under a vine-covered trellis, Todd Halstead performed the ceremony and Chef Kerry knocked our socks off with a 5-course wine paring reception. If you would like to try a bottle of the sparkling wine made with the grapes harvested on our wedding day, click here and select the 2002 Brut Cuvee from the sparkling wines collection. It was just recently released after aging for about 5 years using the champenoise method. You won’t regret it. Sweetest grapes ever.