online poker


say it with me now, “om nom nom”

Subscribe to Omnomicon

Archive for the ‘new england (culinarily speaking)’ Category

I don’t have much to say about the Daffodil Cake other than it appeared in my What’s Cooking in Massachusetts! 4H cookbook, and a quick Google is telling me that it is an Eastery-Springy-type of cake. So I guess I just missed Easter, which is fine because something in me still resists holiday seasonality. My guess is I still haven’t outgrown that jaded teenager phase, where family stuff is stupid and cheesey.


In line with the Spring theme we accidentally have going here, this cake is EXTREMELY light—for cake. It’s similar to an angel food cake, except that you are not left with an inordinate amount of unemployed egg yolks. In this cake, the egg yolks are used to make a second batter, this one all yellow, naturally, and the result is a little two-toned cake that is not as cool a surprise as say, a rainbow cake, but still pretty neat! It can be served in a manner similar to angel food cake, and in that vein would be quite delicious with some strawberries and whipped cream!

Egg yolks that are busily not going to waste.

I made this bad lawrence twice in an attempt to fix major problems from the first go at it. I cite as evidence:

Exhibit 1.

You can see how including that particular photo might counter any culinary abilities y’all might have thought I had. The good news is that I only had to try this one more time to get much more satisfying results, and I identified my major issues here. The first:

Daffodil cake.

Let me just say up front that is not meant to be a dick joke.

The terminology in the original recipe says “beat until stiff.” Now I’m going to venture that, in this case anyway, stiff does not imply stiff peaks, because the first time around it took me damn near 45 minutes with a handmixer to attain stiff peaks, which even then were passable at best. And then my cake exploded out of my pan and burnt to the bottom of my oven in a smelly mess (see above).

The other big hint that something was wrong was when I tried to remove the cake from the pan and then had to kind of grope it out with my fingers. It was embarrassing.


Perhaps in 1962, they had nonstick tube pans they don’t make like they used to, but my nonstick bundt could not handle that baby, and as you can see, this time around I was plenty generous with my cooking spray. That cake might be soggy coming out of the pan, but it’s coming out of that pan on its own, goddammit!

Here’s a rare Omnomicon action shot.

Two tone!

And the bottom was the most delicious part of this. If you aren’t big on presentation, I recommend eating the entire crust off the bottom, because the cake is moist and fluffy and once you flip it onto the bottom and leave it that way for a few hours, the delicious crunchy almost-meringuey texture becomes the texture of just . . . regular cake. Not as magical at all.

Nice bottom.

Interestingly, though you pour the yolk mixture on TOP of the whites mixture (which would logically put it on the bottom of the cake once flipped out of the pan), the yolk mix is denser and therefore sinks to the bottom of the pan. In this particular piece, it looks like a funky ying yang.

Cake Shui.

But when I overbeat the white mixture, the yolk stayed right where one would expect it to—to the top of the pan and bottom of the cake. I have to assume this is due to the increased firmness in a longer beat time for the white.

Daffodil cake.

So then I took some literal shots with a daffodil, which really don’t complement the visage of the cake very well, but I bought those flowers and by golly they’re gonna be in my pictures!

Daffodil cake.

The best way to describe the plush airiness of these, however, is with this shot, wherein I tore a piece of cake in half. Verily, I rent it asunder for the visceral pleasure of it.

Daffodil cake.

And then one more picture of daffodils. Just so I can get my money’s worth.

Just daffodils. No cake.

Daffodil Cake
adapted from a 60s era 4H fundraiser book: What’s Cooking? In Massachusetts

6 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c cake flour
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325o.Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt, and beat until the mixture can hold a little bit of shape, but not until stiff peaks form (it should take you about 5 minutes to reach this consistency with a mixer on medium). Briefly beat in vanilla. Sift sugar and flour four times (seems like overkill to me, but just to be safe I went ahead and did it), then fold into egg white mixture. Pour into well-greased tube or bundt pan and set aside.

Now it’s time for the egg yolks!

6 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 c boiling water

Put about 2 c water on the stove to boil. You’ll want to measure your boiling water after it’s come to a boil instead of before (what with evaporation and what have you). Beat egg yolks 3 minutes, add salt and vanilla, then gradually beat in sugar. Sift the flour and baking powder four times (again, it couldn’t hurt) and add alternately with hot water. Pour atop the white mixture in the pan.

Bake 50 minutes, let cool completely (at least an hour) before removing from pan.

Serve by itself for a cottony delicious treat, or with fruit and the whipped topping of your choice for a more full-blown sort of dessert.

Fun variation:
So some versions of the daffodil cake include a lemon icing, and this one in particular calls for either vanilla or lemon extract in the yellow batter. My awesome idea is to dye the white part with lemon extract and the yellow mixture with vanilla. It will taste the same, and 90% of people won’t notice which is which, but it’ll be really funny for that one person with the particularly sharp tastebuds.

Daffodil cake.

nutrition summary (for 1 of 8 servings): 260 calories, 4g fat, 0g fiber; 5 weight watchers points


fail: spent grain cake

Posted by aleta under recipe fail, vintage recipes

I have enjoyed some luck with used book stores and cook books that were sold to housewives for a fundraiser 40 years back. People share treasured family recipes that often turn out great (or are at least interesting enough to try to modify). However, for the record, I’d like to advise all of you against spending $5 on this ditto-machined little avocado number.

Recipe for a successful guild year.

I think that’s supposed to be Julia Child contact-papered to the cover there. Also, there were foil stars, one can only assume for extra pizazz, and a recipe for something awful titled Deviled Eggs Supreme that calls for cream of celery soup.

The guild year poem.

Here’s where the trouble started.

Where the bad idea began.

I thought for sure I could coax this cake into being an acceptable vehicle for the several pounds of spent grain in my freezer.

I call this one "Spent grain in pyrex" for lofty artistic reasons you aren't likely to grasp.

For the uninitiated, that there is a byproduct of brewing beer, and since it seems like everyone we know is a homebrewer, it’s plentiful and free around here. Spent grain is an all-natural high-fiber cereal, neutral in flavour, but similar in texture to cooked rice or oatmeal. You see why it might just work. Once upon a time I posted a recipe for spent grain cookies, but harvette did a much better job of the recipe by excluding peanut butter.

I took a picture of oatmeal too.


I have no good reason for sharing that other than it is a particularly nice picture of oatmeal, wouldn’t you agree? So anyway, I made two cakes tonight, one oatmeal, one with spent grain.

Brown sugar--always gorgeous.

More cakemaking.

. . . and while they didn’t look too bad . . .

Failed oatmeal springform.

Bundt grain fail.

They were best served like this . . .

Spent grain fail.

. . . directly into the trash can. This cake was way too sweet, never ever (ever) finished cooking, was super dense, and lacked any kind of complexity to its flavour, even after I bastardized the recipe (swapping shortening for butter, more flour, maple syrup, etc etc). Yuck. After just a couple bites I suddenly wanted to eat nothing but vegetables for the rest of my life.

So apologies to the faithful who check up on Thursday mornings, I have no recipe to share today because this one is too awful and people might actually expect to be able to eat it afterward, which um, isn’t really a realistic option. I am, however, just putting the finishing touches on an article with a really bad working title like Omnomicon: Special Edition: how to buy spices. I would like to get that post up tomorrow with not only that how-to, but also a recipe to test out all your new spices. Why? Because I would hate to disappoint anyone. I . . . I love you man!

fish chowder: a milky dish made with fish!

This weekend exemplified the yang and yin of Spring around here. Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny, “drive with the window open and wear flip-flops” kinda day; on Sunday a fog rolled on the pond all day, heavy and thick even at mid-day. Both days were beautiful in their own way, and even though I know we’ll get snow one last time, I sighed with delighted relief every one of those 48 hours.

And how convenient is it that Sunday was the perfect day for fish chowder? I used Haddock because it’s cheap, standard, and what 18th-century fisherman’s wife would put in her chowder, but any white fish (or combination of fancy fishes) would work. Salmon would work marvelously, yum!


I used salt pork, but please, don’t worry about the gross unhealthiness of this because there’s not much to begin with and it’s spread among 8 servings. Really. It’s mostly for flavour. Bacon would work just as well.

Salt pork.

The bulk of fish chowder is vegetables, assuming you count potatoes, which I only sometimes do. Also, the only other vegetable is onion.

Fish chowder.

What’s going on here (and you can’t really see, sorry bout that) is that we made a fish broth with some of the fish, poured that into the pan with the veggies, then steamed the fish chunks atop the potatoes and onions, which are submerged in fish broth. It’s a neat way to steam fish and cook potato at the same time.

Steaming the fish!

Eventually we need to move the chunky stuff to a pot, though if your skillet can handle the milk on top of this stuff, you can save yourself a pot by keep your chowder in there too.

Edible, but not done.

Fish is so low cal that it’s kind of a shame to serve it in a creamy soup, which defeats the purpose, right? But instead of loading up on cream, which is admittedly delicious in a chowder, I used a combination of low fat condensed and regular milk. The result is something creamier than using milk without adding any fat (which accounts for the bulk of calories in cream). I’m assuming it’s because there are more milk solids into the same amount of liquid, but my knowledge of food chemistry is slim, so I’m basing this on logic alone.

But in the end who cares? It’s a hearty and comforting way to watch the fog rolling around on the water.

Fish chowder.



New England Fish Chowder
adapted from a recipe by Margaret Woodworth D’Arcy of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of New Hampshire . . . I’m not even kidding, I found this in the Society’s 1968 Cook Book

1.5 oz salt pork, diced
1 lb potatoes (about 2 medium), chopped into 1/2″ cubes
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1.5 lb haddock, about 2 fish or 4 fillets, cut into 1″ chunks
2 c water
1.5 c milk
12 oz evaporated milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp finely diced parsley, optional but quite effective

Place 1/2 lb fish (about 1 fillet) in a pot with 2 c cold water. Bring to boil and boil 10 minutes.

Once that gets going, fry up the salt pork over medium heat to extract all the fatness. Once the bits are crispy and brown, remove them and replace with diced potato and onion. Cook 5 minutes over medium-high, stirring frequently. By now the fish broth is done, so add it (and the fish if you like) to the potato and onion, then spread the cubed fish atop the veggies. Allow to steam (i.e. don’t stir) for 10 minutes, continuing on medium-high.

At this point, if you think your pan can’t comfortably handle an additional 3 cups of liquid, transfer the fish & veggies to a bigger pot. Add milk, condensed milk, salt & pepper. Bring to *almost* a boil (don’t let it bubble up big!) then reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer about an hour.

Immediately before serving, stir in the butter, then ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley and additional pepper. The official word is that chowder is better the next day. I, however, suspect that old wives tale was created by a Mom Conspiracy way of getting us to look forward to leftovers.



nutrition summary (using 1% milk, fat free evaporated milk): 245 calories, 7g fat, 1g fiber; 5 weight watchers points

Now I’m going to tell you: my mother’s whoopie pie recipe is SO GOOD that I will often tell people that I don’t like whoopie pies at all, because I have yet to find another recipe that I actually like. Other people’s whoopie pies are too cakey, or too cookie-like, or (as is usually the case) the filling is pure frosting, which is WAY too sweet and totally the wrong texture altogether. My mom’s whoopie pies were famous in our circles, and she generously provided them whenever demanded, particularly when visiting my Uncle and Aunt in Maine for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I ate more whoopie pies in my childhood than cupcakes, brownies or cookies combined; they were a true and strong family tradition.

Antonia, a faithful reader, pointed to a NYTimes article about the Whoopie Pie and well hey, I’m not usually up to snuff on anything topical, and since I have an authentic family recipe on hand, I am suddenly compelled to showcase my (rather specialized) expertise!

A proper whoopie pie is not merely some cloying abomination of sugar and fat. No no, it is delicate in its way, the sweetness ever-present and yet subdued. Please do not compare them to a Devil Dog or Moon Pie. Please do not make them with cake mix and tub frosting. A whoopie pie is a very specific delicacy and there are rules.

The proper texture.

A proper whoopie pie “cookie” is a medium-brown shade, fairly dry (not all oily and moist like a Little Debbie’s snack), but still somewhat densely cakelike, maybe a vein or two where the scoop let go of the batter. They crack ever so slightly, but sometimes they don’t and maybe that has something to do with the barometric pressure. I dunno, they still taste right and seem to have the right texture, so aesthetics aside, it’s fine either way.

Okay, so maybe the filling is an abomination of fat and sugar.

The proper whoopie pie filling is made with Crisco (which, apparently, no longer contains trans fats), butter, whole milk, sugar, a tiny smidge of flour and a regular portion of vanilla. Did you notice that it has no Fluff in it? That’s because Fluff is for fluffernutters, not whoopie pies. You will also notice that the filling is not a frosting, but a creme. While eating, one will lose all the filling out the sides and must open the pie, collect up the creme that has splooshed out back onto the bottom piece, then recreate the sandwich, only to do it all again in the next bite or two. This is the proper way to eat a whoopie pie.

This process presented many lovely photo ops. Let’s take a look!

Where the chocolate comes in.

This one reminds me of a dusty construction site.

Cocoa construction site.

Ungreased cookie sheet...

The cookies can be removed from the cookie sheet almost immediately, but you really need to use a metal spatula and carefully scrap them off. I like the texture underneath, it gets a little crispy as it cools and it is so so satisfying to snack on the odd unmatched whoopie pie cookie before they’re frosted.

The underside.

The creme takes a convenient 10 minutes to make, which you can most likely complete between the time the first batch of cookies goes into and comes out of the oven. I’ve found it nearly impossible to make the creme without an electric mixer (stand or hand, your choice), and sometimes it takes longer than others. For the first several minutes of mixing, your creme will look like this: kinda gross.


And then you’ll hear a cherub giggle, and an angel wing will brush against your shoulder as suddenly the creme whips up into this glorious appearance. The texture is extremely creamy, but still looks like this.

As if by magic.

After a little assembly . . .
Mom's perfect whoopie pies.

Since I started making my own food, I’ve lived on these for days at a time. Not particularly healthy nor affluent days, but certainly enjoyable ones.

Well of COURSE I ate some as I went along.



Mom’s Famous Whoopie Pies
makes about 14 after batter & cookie sampling
brought to you by very fortunate family ties.

Blend Add
1/4 c Crisco 2 c flour
1 c milk 1/4 c + 1 tbsp cocoa
1 c sugar 1.5 tsp baking soda
1 egg 1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla  

Drop by the small tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet—a tablespoon-sized bakery scoop works best. Bake exactly 8 minutes at 375o, see if a toothpick comes out clean, and if it doesn’t, bake another 2 minutes (10 total). Upon extraction from the oven, remove from pan immediately to wire rack to cool.


And now the creme filling (reminder: it’s not frosting, guys)

1/2 c margarine or butter (room temp is best)
1/2 c Crisco (my mother is insistent that this MUST be Crisco and CANNOT be generic shortening, nor substituted in any way . . . but if you do get it to work with a substitution, please let me know!)
1 c sugar
1 tbsp  flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c warm whole milk (20 seconds in the microwave should do it)

Beat with a mixer (stand or hand, your choice) for-freakin-ever. It will start out just like, well, lumps of Crisco floating in milk, then bits will get smaller and smaller, then it’ll slosh around for a little bit, and, much like the butter making process, you’ll be wondering if this will ever become anything or if you maybe messed it up somehow. Suddenly, about five minutes later, your mix will look weird for a second, and within moments your slushy mess will turn into a glorious white creme, smooth and perfect in a way rarely seen outside the confines of uber-processed food with chemicals you can’t pronounce that are not even available to the consumer in their pure form.



As soon as the whoopie cookies are cool, match each whoopie with its closest brother in size—even if yours didn’t all come out the same size, evenly matched whoopies will look much much nicer. Spread some filling on the flat side of one, then place the second on top. Repeat. This does not need to be done immediately before serving, as the filling tends to maintain its consistency surprisingly well, and some (like my mom) would argue that a day-old whoopie pie is even better than fresh. I like them all.

No need to refrigerate, sealed plastic or plastic wrap will keep them fresh.

. . . and that’s it. Congratulations! You just made the best whoopie pies known to man.



Not like it’s diet food or anything, but these are not quite as totally terrible as I thought they’d be!
Nutrition Summary (for 1 whoopie pie of yield 15): 330 calories, 17g fat, 1g fiber; 8 Weight Watchers Points

Hey guys, real quick: Omnomicon now has a Facebook page and is also twittering about on Twitter. I’m not quite sure why, but I thought being better socially-networked might be to the benefit of the site. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled recipes.

The first time I had Chicken Cordon Bleu, I was somewhere around 10 years old and my Memere had taken me out for my birthday. I probably ordered mozzarella sticks as an appetizer, because that was my thing, when extremely Quebecois-accented Memere recommended Chicken Bleu, I think mostly as an educational ploy to teach me more French. “O, da Chicken Cordon Bleu! Do you know what dat means? Blue Ribbon Chicken! Huh?! Huh?! Ha!”

Chicken Cordon Bleu doesn’t seem to have a whole lot in the way of history, but according to the nominal amount of research I did on the subject, what we call Chicken Bleu is wholly American and apparently started getting mentioned in newspapers as an airline food around 1960.

Whatever, it’s really frickin good.

Chicken Bleu is simple, cheap, easy and amazingly satisfying without sitting in your stomach like a lump of lead for the following several hours. After a year of being extremely food-conscious, I was surprised to find that I still absolutely love this dish. I wouldn’t call it subtly-flavoured, but it does taste far more sophisticated than the concept would sound.

The formula is simple: swiss, ham, chicken, treat it kind of like a turducken. Most recipes call for breast, but I thought the boneless skinless thigh meat would be a bit more flavourful and tender. You are, as always, free to use your discretion on the matter.

Ham. Swiss. Chicken.

I just used the cheap deli ham and Swiss because um, it works just fine and there’s no reason to spend a lot of money on fancy ham, if such a thing even exists. That said, I do prefer better deli supplies when I’m eating it cold.

Keep on rollin on.

I used toothpicks like safety pins to keep this thing together and “mend” any holes I made in the meat while I was pounding it out. But I have to point out that you really don’t want to use the coloured ones you see here because they will stain your meat, which in addition to being kind of a culinary faux pas is just grossly unappetizing.

Meat purse.

Next up: flour, egg wash, breadcrumbs.

Assembly line.

Twenty-five minutes is the *perfect* amount of time to bake this—the chicken is cooked but tender and the cheese is melty without being scorching. Also, because of the toothpicks, these come out looking like you fried alive something vicious.

Ovenfresh chicken bleu.

Was Memere right or what? Yum!
Chicken cordon bleu.

Chicken Cordon Bleu
4 servings

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs or 1/2 breasts (chicken breasts are HUGE these days!)
4 slices deli ham (or prosciutto or capicola)
4 slices deli Swiss cheese (or provolone or mozzarella)
1 egg
1/4 c water
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c seasoned bread crumbs
Several plain toothpicks

If your chicken breast is a little thick, you’ll want to butterfly it and tenderize with a mallet. You can try to do the same if you’re going the chicken thigh route, but it’s not likely to help you very much, so you might as well save yourself the frustration.

Cut the Swiss cheese into eight rectangles and stack. Slice the ham in half lengthwise, stack both pieces, then roll around the stack of cheese. Now create a little “meat purse” out of your chicken around the ham and cheese, and tack it up with toothpicks. Remember, no colours here unless you want polka dot chickens! The chicken will be cooked leaky-side up so that the cheese has less of an opportunity of gushing out of your creation all over the pan.

Set up three bowls for breading the chicken. The first holds flour for dusting the chicken balls; the second will have a beaten egg and 1/4 c water whisked together for an egg wash. The last will have some seasoned bread crumbs. Dip the chickens in the flour, the egg wash, then the bread crumbs. Place, toothpick side up, on lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake 25 minutes exactly in a 350o oven. Serve with rice pilaf.
Nutrition Summary: 260 calories, 0g fiber, 13.5g fat; 5.5 Weight Watchers Points




I thought this might be a good opportunity to try out making rice pilaf from scratch. I really like the stuff from the box, and it’s what most restaurants serve for rice pilaf too. Theirs tastes so much “better,” though, because they use twice the butter called for on the box, and while that sounds like complete conspiracy theory conjecture, I did learn it at the restaurant where I waitressed that one time, and have noticed it everywhere I’ve eaten pilaf since.

Turns out that making your own pilaf is pretty easy (it’s mostly just getting the ratio of rice to orzo correct), but way more time consuming and you can just add whatever seasonings you would put in your own version to the box stuff. I’ve included the recipe as a bonus for those interested.

Chicken cordon bleu.

Rice Pilaf

2.5 c water
1 c long grain rice (brown or white, your choice)
1 tbsp chicken base (from what I can tell this is pretty much the only flavouring in boxed pilaf)
1 tbsp butter
saffron (pictured, or whatever other spices you want in your pilaf)
1/4 c orzo

Bring the water to a boil in a deep pan. Doing it this way instead of in a pot makes your pilaf less likely to turn out mushy. Once boiling, add chicken base, butter and seasonings, and stir until fully dissolved. Add the rice, give a stir, then put a lid on the pan. Check the rice for doneness at 20 minutes, 30 minutes and 35 minutes, but it should take about 40-45 minutes overall.

Once you’ve got the rice going, make the 1/4 c orzo according to the box instructions.

Once the rice is tender and fluffy and done, stir in the orzo. Enjoy!

Nutrition Summary: 225 calories, 1g fiber, 8g fat; 4.5 Weight Watchers Points

Every winter when I feel like I’m particularly broke and miserable and I just want it to end, I head to the local fishmonger and blow a bunch of money on a lobster that is completely out of season. This entire practice is just so indicative of someone who is a complete New Englander, what with our long snowy winters and delicious lobsters.

Lobsters aren’t seasonal per se, but they are much cheaper between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. The truth is, however, that hard shell lobsters are most easily found in the Spring. There is lots of information all over the internet as to why this is, but all you need to know is that a hard shell lobster feels firm when you squeeze slightly and makes for less chewy meat. Armed with this information, I figured that making these in early March isn’t the worst time.

The only fresh lobsters are live lobsters, and the best ones are spritely and healthy with an ardent will to break as you steam them alive. So let’s meet the couple we’re having for dinner, bwahaha. And yes, I mean that in a creepy Vincent Price sort of way.

This is Roberta.

Roberta, (aka Bobster)

We nicknamed her Bobster.

This is Shelly, for obvious reasons.


They became great friends when they were roommates in that tank.

Best buds.

Alright ladies, get comfortable in that strainer.


We don’t boil lobsters around here, we steam them, because boiling a huge pot of water takes for-freakin-ever, and steaming results in a less water-logged shell. Just an inch of water in a huge pot does the trick. Then steam for awhile depending on the pounds of lobster—for two 1.25 lb lobsters this amounts to about 12 minutes. You’ll need an unnaturally large pot.

Big pot.Top the pot.

And look! One of the prettiest colours in New England.


As with all delicacies, there is a catch. If you aren’t disgusted by the spiderlike appearance of these ocean bottom dwellers, you probably still understand that disassembling a lobster can be quite the undertaking without a good plan of attack, but it’s actually easier than it would seem with some handy instructions. First, twist off both claws.

Claw twist
Ta da!

Now twist off the tail.

What a twist!
Ignore the gross part.

Tail meat is a cinch, you just pull off the flippers at the end of the tail and insert your finger there to push out the meat from the top. This picture doesn’t illustrate it very well, but that’s the deal.


The claws are the real tough part here. They require a lobster cracker and I use a pair of kitchen scissors (ones I don’t mind putting in the dishwasher after the fact) to help myself out.

Action shot!

Lobster meat is much more lovely away from all that mess, and after being rinsed in room-temperature water.

Red meat.


Every time I’ve had lobster at home I’ve pulled it apart and tossed the meat into a bowl of melted butter as I went. By the time I was done the corn on the cob had cooled and soon my chin was dripping with butter as I sighed satisfied with eyes closed and a crustacean appendage entering my mouth. I understand that this scenario is only appealing to people who have experienced it, and I apologize for grossing out everyone else.

This time around I thought I’d actually *make* something with my lobster and treat it like the delicacy it is. Turns out that a particularly delicious use is Lobster Newburg, which is essentially a sherry-cream sauce that elegantly replaces the traditional serving suggestion of “float all this shit in bowl of melted butter.”

Here we go.

The beginnings of the newburg part.

Before the cream is added, we coat our lobster bits with spices and butter.

Buttering with paprika.

Finally, the cream part comes into play and we serve the Lobster Newburg with arugula, which has a peppery taste that complements the sauce SO WELL. In fact, I ate this a lot like a salad. But the traditional garnish is watercress and baby spinach would work as well.

Lobster newburg. Done.

Lobster Newburg

The meat from 2 x 1-1.5 lb lobsters, rinsed with lukewarm water (about 6 oz)
1 c light cream, half and half, or fat free half and half
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c dry sherry
3 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp ground black or white pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
Arugula for garnish and eating (my highest preference, but watercress is more traditional and even baby spinach makes a nice substitute)

To steam the lobsters
Fill your largest pot with about an inch of water and bring to a boil. Using either a rack that fits in over the water line or a steaming basket, place the lobsters in the pot, tail down first, and lid immediately. Continue to boil over high heat for 12-15 minutes.

If you don’t have a rack or steam basket, you can put the lobster right in the water, but keep an eye on those claws and make sure they don’t get black, which means they’re overcooked (yes, one of my lobsters in the picture was overcooked, it was the one on the bottom).

To make the newburg part
Heat the half and half in pan over medium heat, making sure not to scald it. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with salt and sherry. Add the egged-sherry to the half and half, whisk, and cook over low heat until thickened enough to coat a spoon. This should take 6-8 minutes.

In another saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and add paprika and pepper. Add lobster meat to coat, then pour the cream/sherry mixture and heat thoroughly.

Serve with arugula, watercress or baby spinach. Melt into a puddle of satisfaction.

Hola! Como esta? Bueno!

My Spanish isn’t what it never used to be, but guess who has two thumbs and just celebrated a 25th birthday.

->this gal<-, that’s who!

I received so many wonderful gifts from my closest pals, and I include among them the gift of everyone’s presence at my karaoke bash, which is all I really wanted anyway. But SOME people (yes, I am talking about you, Erin) are apparently way the hell too cool and just had to go out and make my birthday extra-special—and I guess I can’t complain because you guys,




Absurdly awesome birthday gift.Absurdly awesome birthday gift.

Are you frickin kidding?! Totally adorable, funky, completely vintage and all mine. So I prefer family items because what’s vintage really without a good story, right? OH WELL HEY IT CAME WITH ONE OF THOSE TOO.

Absurdly awesome birthday gift.

This lovely oven proof cassarole [sic] was a Christmas gift from Billy to his Nana Mary Nicotera in 1971. Nana cherished it and never used it except to display on the kitchen counter. A lovely family heirloom which could be used as a cookie jar.

Billy purchased it at a fine quality gift shop in Marblehead. Unfortunately the ID card of the manufacturer went astray but it is of fine quality.
Bea Cannata
Billy’s mom 4/15/78

I can’t even believe that I have come to own a 40-year-old piece that may or may not have ever been used, but if it has, it certainly doesn’t show. So until I find a suitable cherry-popping recipe, I will cherish it and admire the class it brings to my kitchen counter.

Thank you, Erin, for sharing the most fantastic taste of anyone I know.

So this is completely unrelated to my birthday, other than I made it the morning of receiving The Great Gift. Finnish pancakes! There’s not too much in the way of ingredients, but they all pull their weight in a crescendo of souffle-like tastiness.

finnish pancakes

Man, that ingredient set is as white as Rhode Island.

In the mix.

I love the egg yolk peeking out from under there. Hello, little egg yolk!

What makes pancakes Finnish is, apparently, that they are pancaked in the oven rather than the stove top. This is a great way to serve a large number of people piping hot pancakes all at once.

PSA: Finnish pancakes are baked, not pan-fried.

Nice edges, *catcall*

Serving suggestions (2).


Sugar high.

Serve with love.

Finnish Pancakes
Courtesy of Massachusetts Poultry Association, Inc.
Buy lots of eggs!!!

4 tbsp butter, melted
4 eggs
2 c milk
1/2 c flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450o, and pour the melted butter into a 9″x16″ baking pan.

Beat eggs until foamy but not whippy, until well-blended. Beat with milk, flour, sugar and salt. Pour into pan with butter and bake 20-23 minutes.

Serve any way you like! Serving suggestions pictured include powdered sugar & cinnamon and real Massachusetts maple syrup.



nutrition summary: (for 1 of 8 servings, made with fat free egg substitute & skim milk) 115 calories, 6g fat, <1g fiber; 3 weight watchers points

I decided that our household was long overdue for a good old fashioned surf and turf. Well I guess *kind of*. Our meal was old fashioned in that there was shrimp and there was steak, but I came upon a neat idea in this old 4-H fundraiser cookbook I found in a second hand store.

Heya good lookin.

The problem with vintage recipes is that they’re always bland and more often than not, they’re unapologetically gross as well. The shrimp bake recipe, upon inspection, is not a gross one (create a roux, add some milk, sprinkle some sparse spices in there, pair shrimp with macaroni), but it was . . . lacking. So I did a little magic in terms of additions and here’s what I came up with.

First, we make a roux. While the word is definitely a fancy-pants French one, it’s actually quite simple: melt some butter, pop in a bit o’ flour, whisk until nice and golden and yummy-smelling. For something so very simple, butter and flour smells awfully nice simmering on your stove.

Melty buttery.Roux step two! Flour.
Golden flour.
Don’t mind that scald mark, it was there to begin with. Ugh. My stupid dirty pans strike again!

The original recipe called for milk alone, but since I had buttermilk leftover from making butter, I substituted buttermilk for half of the milk. This added a zingy tang to the flavour, that coupled with a little bit of mustard powder, quite well imitates the cheese flavour in macaroni and cheese, without actually incorporating any cheese. I don’t know that the butter and flour method is exactly healthier, it’s just an interesting coincidence, probably heightened by the fact that basically macaroni + creaminess is always associated in my mind with mac n cheese (or “mackin’ cheese,” if you’re pimp enough).

Buttermilking it up.And now some milk.

And now, one by one, we add the flavourful parts. I won’t make you scroll for the next five minutes; here’s the consolidated view. I trust you all, as adults, to understand how to add one ingredient at a time here. [Editor’s aside: Apologies to the kiddos, here’s an explanation: add these ingredients one at a time. Thereyago!]

The spicy little detailsThis is what those onions were for.
And what is a macaroni casserole without macaroni?Shrimp time!

They are, in order: spices (paprika, mustard, salt), onions & garlic (sauteed lightly in butter first), jalapenos (1/2, diced finely, no seeds), corn (from a can, hey I like it that way best), macaroni (cooked), shrimp (explanation below).

Spice fearers, have no fear! There is very little jalapeno here relative to all else, and this dish is definitely not spicy, it just has this mild and comforting warmth to it. Spice lovers may wish to kick it up the proverbial notch by including the entirety of a jalapeno.

Now if you are fluent in italics, you saw the part about the onion and garlic being sauteed, no? Well obviously I did that first. And then in the same pan, while the macaroni was patiently taking in its first few minutes in the mix, I just added my raw, thawed, shelled, drained shrimp to whatever fat was left in the pan and lightly sauteed them. I’m talking like, *a* minutes here. I toyed with the idea of putting the shrimp in raw, since I knew fully cooked shrimp would get very tough after 35 minutes in the oven, but compromised on this consistency.

Lightly sauteing the shrimps.

Following my lead should result in the same delectable results I enjoyed.

Now it’s casserolin’ time! Use a glass or ceramic baking dish with about 64 square inches. In this case, I used an 8×8.

Shrimp and macaroni "Surf Bake"

At some point of the mixing of things, I included a tablespoon of jarred pimientos. It gives the dish a little bit of a Southwestern-looking flair, but didn’t add much taste, and it’s a little deceitful since this isn’t at all Southwestern, so I’ll be leaving them out in the future. The few sprigs of fresh parsley, however, did fresh things to my casserole (it’s okay, the casserole liked it).

Add some breadcrumbs, a little baking time, and voila! Surf and turf. This dish is really really REALLY good, but its unphotogenicness will probably scare some of you away, and Tastespotting probably won’t accept my submission. And I’m okay with that. Because if one, even one of you makes and enjoys this incredible dish, my foodie missionary work is done, and I shall surely dream of angels.

Shrimp and macaroni "Surf Bake"

Shrimp and Macaroni “Surf Bake”
serves 4 as a side

1 c cooked macaroni, just underdone (2 oz pre-cook)
1/2 finely diced onion
4 cloves minced or pressed garlic (less to taste)
4 tbsp flour (1/2 stick total, divided: 1 tbsp for sauteeing onions, 3 tbsp for roux)
3 tbsp butter
1/2 c buttermilk (substituting milk will be a-ok)
1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dry, powdered mustard
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1/2 finely diced jalapeno (seeded, whole jalapeno for the brave)
1/2 c corn (canned, frozen, fresh, you pick! I used canned)
8 oz small shrimp, thawed, raw, shelled, drained
2 tbsp breadcrumbs

First thing’s first: cook your macaroni a minute or two shy of the al dente recommendation on the package. While that’s on, sautee the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp butter. Dice the 1/2 jalapeno, finely chop the parsley, shell the shrimp and cut each in half.

Preheat oven to 375o.

Melt 3 tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over medium/high heat. Add flour, and whisk, continuously, until the mixture is a nice warm tan. If, at any point, this begins to smell like it’s burning, immediately turn down the heat, and you should be fine.

Take the roux off the burner. Add the buttermilk and milk (again, you can just use 1 cup of milk if you forgot the buttermilk) and whisk vigorously until smooth and unlumpy. Add paprika, mustard, salt, parsley, diced jalapeno, corn and mix thoroughly (the burner’s still off right here).

In the same pan you used to saute the onions and garlic, saute the shrimps for just a minute or two, until they have a little bit of colour, but before they’re fully cooked. Add to concoction.

Spread in an 8×8 casserole dish (glass or ceramic) and sprinkle the breadcrumbs atop it all. Bake for about 35 minutes. Serve with turf.

nutrition information for 1/4 batch: 325 calories, 3g fiber, 13g fat; 7 WW points

One time I tried to make fudge. From scratch. I followed my Memere’s advice and selected a dry, beautiful, sunny day (apparently fudge is THAT sensitive to moisture), and I even invested in a candy thermometer. I ended up with a grainy, lumpy, nasty mess. The next day my roommate made fudge in the microwave with a lump of marshmallow Fluff. Of course hers was perfect.

I don’t use the Never Fail recipe, but Five Minute Fudge is another workaround that comes out great every time. I’m not a big fan of chocolate, and I will eat just enough to make sure it came out, so I haven’t tried to do this from scratch. But I did get a marvelous idea last night as I drifted off to sleep.

Have you ever had one of these?

The inspiration.

If you have, you know that it is the best way to eat chocolate. I set out to recreate it in fudge form. It is necessary to chop the almonds in half, but leave the raisins whole. This seems to preserve the consistency the chocolate possesses.

Preparations underway.

Then we melt our ingredients. First, three cups of chocolate chips.

It begins.

Now ooze your condensed milk and vanilla extract in there.


Melting . . .

Melting . . .

. . . and in just a few minutes of stirring, you have fudge!

Ready for additions.

Now we make like Cadbury.

Stirring in.

And voila! Lumpy fudge. I like to lightly spray the foil so the fudge releases easily when it comes time.


Hmm . . . now this is the texture we’d expect, but it’s a little . . . unrefined-looking. Fortunately, while the main feature was doing its melting thang, I was also melting some vanilla chips with a little bit of the condensed milk, with more condensed milk than the fudge so that it’ll be more cooperative. And since Halloween’s upcoming, let’s make it a theme.

Meanwhile, in another pot . . .

Oh man, that reminds me of a joke. Why did Snoop Dogg carry an umbrella?

Fo’ drizzle.


Let that chill, harden, and cut with a nice sharp warm knife.

And now, fudge!

Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut Fudge
built on the premise of Nikki’s Five Minute Fudge

1 – 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
3 cups milk chocolate chips (since the Fruit & Nut bar is a very milky chocolate)
1.5 tsp vanilla
Dash salt
1/2 c almonds, chopped in half
1/2 c raisins

Fo’ drizzle (optional):
1/4 c white chocolate chips
1/4 c more sweetened condensed milk

Foiled line an 8×8 pan, and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Melt your milk, your chips and vanilla in a pot on stove top. Remove from heat, stir in nuts and raisins, then pour into foil-lined pan.

If you’re drizzling, let the pan cool on your counter for a few moments while you mix the white chocolate chips with your extra condensed milk. Let cool just a minute, then pour into a plastic bag, cut a hole in the bottom, and drizzle from foil to foil.

Chill 2 to 3 hours. Put your longest non-serated cuttin’ knife in a glass of warm water, wipe dry, then slice. Re-heat your knife via the water whenever the going gets less smooth.

It’s getting chilly, isn’t it, friends? Time to bust out the belly-warming goodness of winter veggies and heavier fare.

This is yet another recipe belonging to the Family Cookbook. My Memere Rita INSISTS that she has the best beef stew recipe. Once my father made the mistake of mentioning “well, Doris [my mother] has a pretty good recipe herself,” my memere was in complete disbelief. No no, her soup was clearly the best, and none would compare.

I’m not sure how long ago this battle raged, but when my mother requested recipes of the Mater Familias, this one was sent, no doubt to prove a point. Now I love my mother dearly, and her beef stew is excellent, so I was a little defensive about the whole situation and didn’t want to like this stew. It contains veggies I’d never used before, but I went outside my comfort zone and, ironically, ended up with a new comfort food.

The broth is sweet owing to these mysterious turnips and parsnips, standard fare in many households, but not the one in which I grew up. I thought the recipe could use a bit more colour, so I threw in some celery. And oh my, if you serve this to a friend with some Tuscan bread, you may very well earn a friend for life.

Here we go! Don’t tell Memere I let the veggies get that close to the meat before it was cooked okay? Thanks dude, I appreciate that.


Now we do the choppy chop.

Chop chop.

First step is to sear the beef. Memere wisely used the oil and butter method, in which you use two tablespoons of each. I try to keep my recipes lower cal wherever possible, but I am a meat LOVER and searing your meat on high in oil and butter is hands-down the best way to do it. For stew, it is no different.

Where's the beef?

At this point, I sauteed the onions and almost broke down and just dug in the way it is. Because there is no more amazing combination in my world than steak and onions.

Onions first.

Now we’re gonna start with our other veggies. Each is added one at a time in league with a cup or two of water. At first I was a little frustrated at the vagueness of this. “One to two cups?! Memere, just tell me how many cups already!” I think the idea is to make sure that all your veggies are at least partly in the water with each addition. Oh, and every time you add something, let it return to a boil before adding the next.


Next carrots.


Now celery.


And turnips.


And parsnips.

And potatoes!

And finally, potatoes.

Now you let this bad larry simmer for a little while and you end up with this little number here.

Warm your bones.

Wrap yourself in a blanket on the couch and enjoy!

Memere Rita’s “Back to My Roots” Beef Stew

2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
1.5 lbs sirloin beef, lean cut, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
4-5 carrots, peeled & sliced
4 ribs celery, sliced (editor’s addition, optional)
1 purple tap turnip, peeled & diced (I googled this term, and I think she means the small turnip. I could only find a large, so I used half of it)
4-5 parsnips, peeled & sliced
4-5 potatoes, peeled & diced

Let oil and butter get HOT on the stove, then sear beef for about two minutes. Reduce heat, add chopped onion and sautee to caramelize.

Now add each vegetable in turn with 1-2 cups hot water (just enough to cover most of the vegetables). After each addition, allow the pot to return to a boil:


After the potatoes, give it a good stir. I wouldn’t recommend stirring it again after it’s simmered, or your veggies will kind of fall apart in a mushy mess. Let simmer, uncovered, 30-50 minutes. Season to taste (and salt is an excellent idea here).

Serves 8 exhausted, growing farm boys. Reheats well.