Rhubarb Scones

Yes dad, of course I am interested in boys!!

I knew I would hear her speak those words to me sooner or later. Last week, Juliette turned 15 years old and we went out for a family celebration, having dinner at Bann, a Korean BBQ restaurant in midtown, where we celebrate all birthdays.  Sitting across from Juliette at dinner, wondering how in the world this girl has grown up right before my eyes, she asks why she was sent to an all girls school. I replied to her that it really was her fault. She looked at me astonished and curious at the same time, "Ugh, really?, how is that?"

I had been a proponent of an all-girls education for a long time and especially now that I had two daughters. One evening at dinner, while Juliette was in preschool, I asked how her day was and she said "you know dad, something very interesting happened today.  The boys were playing and building in the blocks area and the girls were standing around very curious about what they were building and asking lots of questions.  When it was our time to play in the block area there wasn't a boy around.  They didn't care at all.  Why is that?"

This really got me thinking about how distracting boys could be in school. I really believed in the notion that some girls, not all, didn't do as well in school for fear of doing better than the boys and that teachers taught differently to girls in a coed environment. I wanted my girls to build the type of confidence, that I felt they could only get in an all-girls school, which I believe has worked.  Both my girls are confident students, feel free to express themselves and their thoughts and are great participators in class.  Juliette has been finding great success in math and science and they are her favorite subjects.

She did not want to discuss the pros and cons of a single sex education and I knew where the conversation was headed.  Juliette, besides attending an all-girls K-12 school and yes, they have socials with the boys schools, chose a sport where there are relatively no boys.  She spends every weekend in PA riding or at horse shows. Summers are spent the same way, except it's every day. She doesn't go to camp, so , yeah I get it.  She wants boys to be around and she want to be around boys. I asked if she wanted to go to a coed school and thankfully she said no, but that she wished boys could go to Chapin.

I am sure that in no time there will be boys calling (not really sure that happens anymore), texting,  snapchatting and knocking down her door. I hope that she realizes that I was once a teen boy and just maybe I can give her some perspective of what they are thinking. If not, that she knows that I would be happy just to listen and not say a word.

And I know what you are thinking, all photos have been teenager approved.

Fourth times a charm

When the city gets hit with a record snowstorm, just shy of 3 feet, you get to spend all day trying to bake the most delicious rhubarb scones.  Hopefully, you will have a better go at it than I did on my first three tries. In the end, it came down to using my hands to mix all the ingredients instead of a Cuisinart, which when chopping the rhubarb caused the dough to be too wet. The secret is out, cut the rhubarb into small pieces and mix in by hand.


Rhubarb Scones

(Makes 12)

  • 2 - 3 stalks rhubarb depending on size
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup vanilla sugar (see below)
  • 2/3--3/4 cup creme frâiche
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. slice rhubarb stalks into 1/4 inch pieces and cover with 3 tablespoons vanilla sugar.
  3. In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and baking powder together.
  4. Add the butter to dry ingredients and using your hands, mix together until butter is the size of small peas.
  5. Add 1/4 cup vanilla sugar.
  6. Add chopped rhubarb (note: mix by hand, using a cuisinart will only release the juices from the rhubarb and render the dough too wet).
  7. Add the creme frâiche a little bit at a time until a soft dough forms.
  8. Transfer to a well floured surface and divide dough in half. Flatten into 6-inch disks and cut each circle into 6 triangular scones. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. 
  9. Arrange on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until golden-brown on top.

Vanilla Sugar

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 2 cups sugar
  1. Split vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out vanilla seeds with the back of the knife.
  2. Combine vanilla seeds with sugar and mix thoroughly.
  3. Bury split vanilla beans in sugar and place in sealed container.
  4. let stand for two days. Will stay indefinitely.

Potato Latke with Fried Egg

Tuesdays Toast

I know that Hannukah has passed and each year I promise myself that I will make potato latkes again before the holiday arrives next year.  These shallow-fried potato and onion pancakes are traditionally eaten savory with sour cream or sweet with apple sauce. With a fried egg on top I am sure to make these again and again throughout the year.


Potato Latke with Fried Egg

(makes about 2 dozen)

Potato Latke

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled.
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or matzo meal
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Vegetable oil
  • chives
  1. Grate potatoes and onions together using the grating attachment of your food processor.
  2. * MOST IMPORTANT PART* Transfer potato and onion mixture to a dish towel or cheese cloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Return to bowl.
  3. Add eggs, flour, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly until incorporated.
  4. To shallow-fry the latkes, pour enough vegetable oil in large skillet to reach 1/4 inch up the sides. Heat oil on high.
  5. Working in batches, take a baseball size amount of latke mixture and place in hot oil. Flatten with back of spatula. Cook until crispy about 3-5 minutes then flip and continue to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  6. Place on paper towels to dry.

Fried Egg

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  1. Heat pan over medium/high heat. Add butter and swirl around pan to cover.
  2. Lower heat to medium and crack egg in pan.
  3. Cook egg until whites are set and yolk is still runny.

Place one fried egg on a latke and sprinkle with chives.

 

Dutch Baby

I'll try it but I won't like it

You know you are on to something when you make a breakfast your children have never had and they ask if I can make it again the next morning.  Earlier that morning when asked what was for breakfast and I said, "Dutch baby" their first reaction was to repeatedly ask the same question 10 times, hoping the answer would change and finally relenting to a chorus of"okay, I will try it but I won't like it".

They liked it, loved it and asked for it later that day as an afternoon snack and the next day for lunch.  I did learn a long time ago not to push food on them just because I find it delicious.  Yup, beef tongue was a major fail. I know we have different tastes and I encourage individuality in everything they do but do they really think I would serve them something that was awful or I didn't think they would like. I guess they do but this time it was a success and a self high five to me.

I was first introduced to a Dutch baby many years ago, when I first started spending weekends in Bucks County, PA. The name comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch, originally Deitsch, who settled in Pennsylvania from Germany in the late 17th Century thru the 18th Century. We had neighbors who were descendants of the original settlers and were still living in the same 250 year old stone farm house built by one their ancestors, who introduced us to this breakfast dish. It is a cross between a pancake and a soufflè and is delicious with powdered sugar, syrup or your favorite jam.  There are also some very delicious savory recipes if you wanted to have a Dutch baby for lunch or dinner.


Dutch baby

(serves 2)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  A little less than a 1/2 cup of flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and heat the pan in the oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
  4. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt (this can also be done in a blender). Add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and melted butter. Whisk until smooth and frothy,  if using a blender approximately 30 to 45 seconds.
  5. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and immediately pour the batter into the center. Bake for 20 minutes, do not open the oven while baking. The Dutch baby will puff up in the center and the edges will be dark and crispy.
  6. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Also delicious with syrup or your favorite jams.

Delicata Squash with Thyme and Ginger

Tuesday's Toast

You cannot go to your local farmers market these days without tripping over a squash or three.  There are many varieties from which to choose but delicata squash, with it's rich sweet potato like flavor and creamy texture, was an easy choice.  Delicata squash is easy to cook, the skin is edible so no peeling is necessary and a little olive oil is all you really need. I added some thyme and young ginger from my kitchen garden.


Delicata Squash with Thyme and Ginger

  • 1 Delicata Squash
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated young ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of seal salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut squash into 1/2 inch thick slices. Remove seeds.
  3. Place squash rings into shallow baking dish.
  4. Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped thyme, grated ginger and salt and pepper.
  5. Roast in oven for 25 minutes or until tender and slightly caramelized.

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on toast. Place 1 or 2 squash rings on each piece and add a pinch of sea salt and thyme.



Smokey Eggplant, Parsley on Craft Ale Toast

Tuesday's Toast

IMG_3339.JPG

Hmmm, how to write this without alienating eggplant lovers?  I am not the biggest fan of eggplant but I am a huge fan of Gabrielle Hamilton, owner/chef at Prune on the lower east side of NYC. To listen to her describe this smokey eggplant dish and to watch her make it on the only food show I watch, The Mind of a Chef, I had to give it a chance. It was crazy delicious and I promise you, your kitchen will smell amazing. I paired it with Orwashers Bakery's Craft Ale bread, a malty, crusty loaf with complex flavors. This is adapted from Gabrielle's appearance on season 4, episode 1 and watch The Mind of a Chef on PBS, it is not so much a food show as a food journey.


Smokey Eggplant

makes 1 quart (serves 6)

  • 1 1/2 lbs standard purple eggplant
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, microplaned
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • liquid from charred and steamed eggplants
  1. Place eggplants directly on the burners of your stove with flame set to high.  Allow skin to char completely, occasionally and carefully rotating eggplant using kitchen tongs so not tear or split the skin. This will happen naturally as the flesh inside cooks and begins to bubble.  When completely blackened, approximately 15 minutes, maybe longer depending on stoves BTUs, remove eggplants and place in a large stainless steel bowl.
  2. Cover bowl tightly with saran wrap and allow eggplants to steam until cool. 
  3. Remove eggplants from bowl saving the smoky brown liquid and set aside
  4. Cut eggplants in half from stem to base and with a large spoon remove the flesh from the charred skin and place in a clean bowl.  Make sure that all the blackened pieces of skin are removed and discarded.
  5. Strain the brown liquid through a fine mesh sieve, removing any remaining charred pieces of skin, over the eggplant flesh.
  6. In the bowl, cut the larger chunkier pieces of eggplant flesh with a knife. keeping the overall consistency on the chunky side.
  7. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and salt. Gently combine making sure not to over stir. Best served at room temperature.
  8. To plate, lightly drizzle olive oil on toast and place a spoonful of smokey eggplant on top.

Challah French Toast

Happy Birthday Lila!!

IMG_3265.JPG

Lila turned twelve this week which I still can't believe. Yikes!!  With being twelve comes lots of fun new adventures and besides all the physical and emotional changes that will come at her like a freight train she does now get to sit in the front seat of the car.  Negotiations for turns to sit in the front started well over a year ago and spanned several weekends. Finally stepping in as moderator they agreed to one month in the front seat for every year of age difference or three months.  To which, Juliette, this past weekend, said " you know Lila, it's really not that great. You can't watch movies, dad can see how much time you are spending on your phone and you have to engage him in conversation".

At least I will look forward to the next three months.

Roomnesia

I recently read an article about keeping track of new words and how and when they enter the mainstream lexicon.  As everyone has experienced that time you walk into a room and forget what you need or why you are there. Now there is a word for that, roomnesia. This could be my favorite new word and I thought how it related to my kids. How they can walk into a certain room and when I mean a certain room I am referring to the bathroom and their brains just turn off.  I refer to it as bathroomnesia!

My kids are smart, they do well in school, they can remember the words to every Nikki Minaj song, so I find myself perplexed by their bathroomnesia. They know how a light switch works, I have seen them turn lights on, they don't use the bathroom in the dark. So what happens when they enter the room? They seem to forget how to turn the lights off. Maybe it's a one off thing but no.  They can't remember how to hang up a towel or how to close the medicine cabinet and my favorite is how to change the roll of toilet paper.  They know how to take the towel off the shelf, they know how to open the medicine cabinet and they know how to use the toilet paper. Maybe the toilet paper holder is not techie enough and unless Apple makes an app for that it will never get changed. 

I know I am not alone on this and parents have been trying to tackle these issues for generations.  I have tried gentle reminders and not so gentle reminders, humorous reminders and post it notes on the mirror, all to no avail.  This weekend I decided to think like a teenager and stoop to their level.  I thought it was genius, what better way to get their attention than digital parenting. I grabbed my Iphone and started videotaping a series of how-to instructional videos.  How to turn the lights on and OFF, How to open and CLOSE the cabinet doors, you get the idea.  I would have snapchatted (is that even a word? sp?) the videos to them if I knew how but texted them instead.  Their attention I most certainly got but whether it remedies their bathroomnesia is still to be determined.

Birthday girl gets to call it

The birthday girl gets to call the breakfast and on this Sunday Lila asked for challah french toast and I was happy to oblige. I usually add 1 egg for each slice of bread and an extra yolk for added richness.  I let the challah sit in the egg mixture for at least ten minutes on each side and sometimes refrigerated overnight. I love the added flavor of vanilla and lately been a little obsessed with orange blossom water, whose flavor and aroma reminds me of sunshine and blue skies.


Challah French Toast

  • Six 3/4 inch slices of Challah
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Orange Blossom Water
  • unsalted butter for cooking
  • powdered sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  1. In a medium bowl mix together the eggs, egg yolk, milk or cream, vanilla extract and orange blossom water.
  2. Place challah slices in a shallow baking dish. Pour 1/2 the egg mixture over slices and let sit for 10 minutes. Turn over slices and pour remaining egg mixture into baking dish. Let sit for 10 minutes or until egg mixture is soaked up by the bread.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet. Place two slices in skillet and cook until bottom is golden brown, about two minutes. Turn and again cook until bottom is golden brown, 2 minutes.  Repeat with remaining challah slices.
  4. Serve warm with either powdered sugar or warm maple syrup.

White Bean Purèe with Sage

Tuesday's Toast

My kitchen garden is overgrown with beautiful tall stalks of sage and for some reason I continue to overlook it for the basil, dill and other herbs. I love the flavor and more so I love the the color sage. It is an American historical color that I used extensively when I renovated a 200 year old Bucks County stone farmhouse many years ago. I promised myself this weekend that I would put the sage to work. The white bean purèe is a perfect side dish for dinner and then the next morning with breakfast. I had mine on miche toast from She Wolf Bakery

White Bean Purèe

  • 1 cup dried white beans such as cannellini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup drained white bean cooking liquid
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Fried Sage Leaves

  • 6 - 8 sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • flour
  1. Rinse dried beans and remove any debris. Soak beans in cold water over night.
  2. The next day, bring water and beans to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, add bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 hours until beans are soft. Add additional water if necessary to keep beans from drying out.
  3. Let beans cool in liquid. Remove bay leaf and drain beans reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
  4. Place beans in food processor, add the reserved liquid, chopped sage, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Purèe until creamy adding additional olive oil or reserved liquid to get desired consistency. This can also be done with a potato masher for a thicker more rustic purèe.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
  6. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet
  7. lightly cover sage leaves with flour
  8. Add sage leaves to oil and cook for about 30 seconds until leaves are dark green. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels

Brush toast with olive oil, spoon on white bean purèe and top with fried sage leaf

Oeufs En Cocotte

Mood Indigo

Are dads allowed to be cranky and in a bad mood?

You ain't been blue, no, no, no
You ain't never been blue
Till you've had that mood indigo
That feeling goes stealing right down to my shoes
While I just sit here and sigh
Go along blues     ------ Nina Simone

I have seen the entire range of bad moods in which my daughters find themselves. I have seen the full range of reactions to those moods. The crying, door slamming, yelling, stomping, silent treatment, the "get out of my room I don't want to talk to you right now" and of course the phone hang up. I have tried to teach them to be expressive and emotive and that it is okay to be cranky but to be aware of how that mood affects those around them. I have learned the hard way to let them be in the moment, to experience the mood, to let them ride the wave from crest to shore. I have learned to stay calm and to be available to them if needed. Sometimes they want to talk and other times they don't. I don't take their decisions personally and am okay with either as long as they know that I am available, always.

But what happens when I am experiencing the blues? I still have to stay engaged, cook, clean and drive them to activities, play games or help with homework. I still have to be there for them, be their dad. As a single parent it is sometimes hard to do it alone. This past Friday I found myself in that mood.  A confluence of events over the few previous days all came to a head Friday morning. I was cranky!! Knowing that I had to pick the girls up from school later in the day, sit through possible traffic (as my girls can attest, I don't do well in traffic) as we headed to PA for the weekend, I knew that this mood would still be lingering.  I didn't have yoga or cycling to turn my mood around. I decided to send them a group text, a heads up and that it wasn't anything they did and to please bare with me as I rode this wave. 

I immediately got a call from their mother, with whom I have a good relationship, asking if I was okay and can she help with anything. She said the girls were worried about me and they called to let her know. When I was first going through my divorce, I was once told that kids need to feel safe and not to feel worried about their parents. That everything was going to be okay. Should I not have sent that text? I did not think it would cause them worry. As they are now older I want them to know that parents have the same feelings they have and that it is perfectly fine. 

Spending the weekends with my kids is by far the best elixir for when I am feeling down. The drive out went as usual, a bit of traffic, a rundown of the school day and a lot of pop music but I did find myself a bit more on the quiet side. The girls brought up the text from earlier in the day, said they were glad I sent it but it did make them worried. They asked if I was doing better to which I replied, yes. I was still feeling off on Saturday morning and after a full on day of horseback riding lessons for them, cooking and gardening for me and crepes for lunch, Lila wanted to do something fun. Lila's stepdad, who has had an off-road ATV for many years and has built some very elaborate trails on his property, recently bought some youth off- road go karts for all their kids.  Lila wanted to show me how well she can drive and off we went down to their house.  I don't know where this soon to be 12 year old learned the term drifting or how to do it but there we were drifting into turns at 20mph (don't be alarmed by the photos below, helmets are worn at all times except for the occasional safe photo). My phone fell out of my pocket in one of the fields and as Lila was putting the go-kart away and as I was walking the field retracing the route, the sky turned black and it started to rain. I showed up back at the house soaked but with the phone. The girls told me they again called their mom because they were worried and weren't sure what to do. My first reaction, as I stood there dripping on the kitchen floor was to get upset that they didn't think that I knew what to do in this situation. They in turn got upset and It didn't help when I said I needed to walk outside to gather myself.  There was crying, yelling, front door slamming and me standing outside in the rain trying to calm myself. How could I walk out while they were upset, I was asked through tears. I felt terribly, never wanting to discourage them from calling either of their parents for any reason. I breathed deeply and then the wave came crashing down and gently washed ashore. I apologized, they apologized, we talked, we hugged and we had some tea.

New Beginnings

School started this past week and thankfully with out a hitch. We now have a ninth grader and a sixth grader in the family and a whole lot of fun ahead for both of them. I have been fortunate enough to be able to take the girls to school every year on their first day. Each year taking a photograph chronicling their journey and with graduation I plan to present them with a first day of school photo book.

Not sure why Rocky Balboa had so much trouble catching that chicken

The chickens have been laying eggs faster than I can use them. Sunday morning we had oeufs en cocotte which are baked eggs or eggs in a ramekin and cooked in a water bath. This is another one of those breakfast dishes where you can use whatever was leftover from the dinner the night before or whatever you might have on hand in the kitchen. It is that easy and versatile. I prepared ours three ways, one with dill, one with smoked salmon and dill and one with zucchini flowers. Oefs en cocotte are traditionally served on a napkin.


Oeufs En Cocotte

Serves 4

  • 4 Ramekins
  • 4 Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Place enough water in a large saute pan to go 1/2 way up sides of ramekins and bring to a boil creating a water bath
  2. Liberally butter the sides and bottom of the ramekin
  3. salt and pepper to taste
  4. Place one egg in ramekin (If using two eggs in one ramekin increase cooking time by a few minutes)
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of cream
  6. Place ramekins in water bath in saute pan and cook covered for 3-4 minutes until eggs are just set.
  7. Remove ramekins from water bath and let cool for about a minute before serving

Dill

  • Chopped dill
  1. Sprinkle chopped dill on bottom and sides of buttered ramekins
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste
  3. Add egg and top with a little cream
  4. Cook in saute pan as above
  5. Top with additional dill to taste

Smoked Salmon and Dill

  • 4 slices smoke salmon
  • chopped dill
  • cream cheese (optional)
  1. Sprinkle chopped dill on bottom and sides of buttered ramekins
  2. Salt and pepper to taste
  3. Option to add a dollop of cream cheese
  4. Add 1 slice of smoked salmon
  5. Add egg and top with a little cream
  6. cook in saute pan as above
  7. Top with additional dill to taste

Zucchini Flowers

  • 4 zucchini flowers, cut lengthwise into strips
  1. Sprinkle chopped zucchini flowers on bottom and sides of buttered ramekin
  2. Salt and pepper to taste
  3. Add egg and top with a little cream
  4. Cook in saute pan as above
  5. Top with additional chopped zucchini flowers

Applesauce with Honey and Challah Toast

Tuesday's Toast

Today is the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and it is customary to celebrate with apples and honey. This sweet combination stems from an age-old Jewish tradition of eating sweet foods to express our hope for a sweet year ahead.  This weekend I made Applesauce and sweetened it with honey. I filled two large jars and was lucky enough to have one jar left for this mornings toast. Yes, it is that delicious. You can use any combination of apples you like as long as they are sweet. I used Macintosh and Honey Crisp because that is what my local orchard had. Skin on or off is personal preference as is desired texture, chunky or smooth. I kept skin on, my kids prefer it with out, and made it fairly chunky. I added a little bit of honey to the toasted challah and topped it with the applesauce. Happy New Year!!


Applesauce with Honey

Makes 6 cups

  • 2 1/2 lbs Macintosh apples. I also added a few Honey Crisp for sweetness and color
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup honey
  1. Clean, core (skin off is optional) and quarter apples. Cut each quarter in half.
  2. Add water to cover bottom of large saucepan. You can always add water as needed.
  3. Add the apples and cinnamon stick. Cook covered over medium heat. When apples start to bubble lower heat to simmer. Cooking time is about 20 -25 minutes.
  4. Stir occasionally and when apples reach desired texture, remove cinnamon sticks and add the honey to desired sweetness.
  5. Mash with potato masher or whisk until desired consistency. Use a Cuisinart if you prefer completely smooth.
  6. Add to jars and enjoy.

Radish Butter Toast

Tuesday's Toast

Inspiration came from one of my favorite NYC restaurants, Prune, on the Lower East Side.  Often when waiting for one of the few tables in this tiny restaurant I enjoy one of their signature cocktails and snack on radishes with sweet butter and kosher salt. So simple and delicious. I even serve them when I have friends over for drinks. The peppery radish flavor combined with sweet and salty will wake up any piece of morning toast.


Radish Butter Toast

  • 1 bunch radishes, cleaned, root ends removed and finely chopped
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted sweet butter, softened
  • Kosher salt or quality flake salt
  1. Place radishes in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Wrap in a dish towel, cheese cloth or paper towel and wring out excess liquid.
  3. Cream the finely chopped radishes and butter together until smooth and well mixed.
  4. Spread on toast and sprinkle with kosher salt or a quality flake salt to taste.

Will stay fresh refrigerated in an airtight container for several days. Remove 15 minutes before use to allow butter to soften.


Crêpes with Fig Honey Jam

And stop calling it a jog bra

Does everyone find this as annoying as I do?  When I call one of my kids on their cell phone and then ask to speak with the other the conversation tends to go like this.  Can't you call her on her phone?  Is she not in the room with you, I ask.  She is, she is sitting right next to me but I am watching Grey's on mine. Aaaargh!!!  Drives me nuts.

I consider myself to be forward thinking, I am not stuck in the past, maybe a little bit, or too nostalgic. I have come to embrace today's digital world to the fullest. I no longer have a land line and only use my cell phone. I am blogging and use the more mainstream social media. I don't use many of the social sharing apps that my kids use and truthfully don't quite understand the need for the constant sharing and updating but I have come to accommodate that it is a part of their lives and here to stay.  I try to educate myself with most of these apps so I can continue to help raise my kids as good digital citizens. I talk with them about Snapchat (the older one has it),  Yik Yak (I hope they never use it), we discuss online dating sites such as Tinder (no comment) and texting in general. 

So, here I am,  open-minded and have learned to tolerate their choices in music and clothes. While I may go on ad nauseam about how great my music still is, I have to confess, that rolling down the car windows, singing the latest T Swift song at the top of our lungs with my kids is kinda fun.  Unlike my father, who refused to give up his rotary dial phone, thought Elvis was a hooligan and still calls AAA for maps and directions when he is going on a road trip.  I try to stay one step ahead or at least toeing the line with my kids. I get the lol's, the omg's, the fomo and bae and have promised to never use them, which I am pretty happy to oblige.  But, much to Juliette and Lila's embarrassment and constant heckling there are parts of me that are stuck in the 70's and 80's and always will. Most notably a part of my vocabulary.

Lila, my youngest was super excited for the mail to be delivered this weekend. She and her mom had ordered her first bras and she was awaiting delivery . After constantly checking the tracking number, it finally said it was delivered.  A bright pink sports bra for her to wear while riding. She could not have been more adorable with her excitement to try it on and her hint of embarrassment as she paraded around the house to show me. I told her it was the cutest jog bra I had ever seen. As I kept referring to it as a jog bra there was a chorus of moans and groans and stop calling it that, its a sports bra.  Part of me keeps saying jog bra to irk them but truthfully I cant seem to call it anything else. This is usually followed up with a chorus of "and stop calling it long underwear!" It is long underwear, I respond. Usually followed with an EEEWWWW!!, stop calling it that.  How about base layers, I ask.  No, just call it Under Armour. That doesn't make sense, I respond, that is a company that makes all kinds of athletic clothing.  This generally goes on and on for a while, with all of us knowing that I will always call it long underwear, unless of course it is for cycling, then I call it a base layer.

What we all can agree on is how scrumptious crêpes are for breakfast.  While we may not agree with what deliciousness to fill them, we definitely agree that a day that starts off with one is going to be a great day. Crêpes seem to play a big part in our food conversation.  Often after a morning of riding I will take them for crêpes to the Stockton Market, a wonderful indoor food market, open on weekends, with local purveyors and artisans, just across the Delaware River in NJ. We spend the winter months talking and salivating about the crêpes down in Wellington, FL at the Winter Equestrian Festival, where the girls spend their winter vacation riding, showing and eating crêpes every afternoon. They always go for the Nutella crêpe and occasionally maple cream. In Wellington I never pass on the sauteed apples and at the Stockton Market, truth be told, I pass on the crêpe and head straight for More Than Q BBQ for their brisket sandwich.

Insert the proud papa paragraph and weekend daddy-ism, for which I have Ace Greenberg to thank and with whom I worked for many years.  One of his many sayings was "the more you give, the more you get", and I can still hear him saying it with his gruff no nonsense trading floor voice.  I believe wholeheartedly in that mantra, words so simple and right to the point.  It has served me well in my life and I have tried to pass that on to Juliette and Lila.  I usually say it related to their sharing with each other and not charity but you have to start somewhere.  This past Saturday, Juliette volunteered at Special Equestrians in Warrington, PA. She was very nervous when I dropped her off to start her three hour shift. She had been to a volunteer orientation earlier in the summer but didn't really know what to expect.  I arrived later that afternoon to find her leading a student around on a horse in the indoor ring. She was smiling, as was the young man sitting a top the horse. As we drove home, she told me how much she enjoyed the experience, how she felt a personal connection to the students and how she was able to help others enjoy a sport for which she is so passionate and in which she has been very fortunate. I nodded, gave her a pat on the leg and smiled as we drove off into the sunset.

Sunday morning we had crêpes for breakfast. I use Julia Child's master recipe and as I stated before , why mess with perfection. The girls enjoyed theirs with Nutella and I had mine with a homemade fig honey jam. If any crêpes remain, and they rarely do, place a barely damp kitchen towel over them and leave out to be enjoyed all day long. Bon Appetit!!


Crêpes with Fig Honey Jam

makes about ten 8 inch crêpes

Crêpes

  • 1cup flour
  • 2/3 cup cold milk
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
  1. Add milk and water to flour in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour batter through a sieve to remove any lumps.
  2. Add the eggs, salt and 3 tablespoons melted butter and whisk until well incorporated and smooth.  This can also be done in a blender. Let rest for 10 minutes or longer in the refrigerator if not using immediately.
  3. Heat a crêpe pan or medium sized saute pan over medium heat. Brush with additional melted butter.
  4. Pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter into the center of the pan and then tilt the pan in all directions to cover the bottom evenly. Cook about 1 minute, or until browned on the bottom. Turn and cook briefly on the other side.
  5. Cool on a rack or plate, placing each new one on top of the last, as you continue to cook the rest.
  6. Eat immediately or place in an air tight container and refrigerate for up to two days.

Fig Honey Jam

  • 2 pounds figs, stems removed and cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  1. Cut figs into quarters, or roughly chop and place in large saute pan with water, honey and sugar. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Place pan over medium high heat and bring liquid to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Stir often and watch so honey and sugar do not burn. The figs will start to breakdown but you can also mash them occasionally with a potato masher or a whisk. 
  3. Add lemon juice and zest and cook for an additional 5 minutes until liquid is gone.
  4. remove from heat and allow to cool before placing in jar.
  5. Refrigerate when cool. lasts about 3 weeks.

Mushroom and Artichoke Duxelle

Tuesday's Toast

This past weekend I had some friends over for dinner and served artichoke bottoms stuffed with mushrooms as a first course. The artichoke bottom is layered with a mushroom and artichoke duxelle, topped with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, baked and served with a beurre battu.  I had some of the duxelle leftover and was able to enjoy it this morning on wine bread miche toast. Have a beautiful Tuesday!!

Below is the recipe for the duxelle itself. If you want the full recipe just send me a message and I would be happy to share.

Mushroom and Artichoke Duxelle

  • 4 large artichokes or 2 artichokes and use 1 bottom in the duxelle
  • 1 pound mushrooms, stems removed, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Cut stems from artichokes and trim leaves with scissors. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook artichokes until just tender, approximately 30 minutes. Drain well and when artichokes are cool enough to handle remove all the leaves and place in a bowl. Using a teaspoon, scrape the edible portion or meat from each leaf and place in a bowl.
  2. Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add chopped mushrooms and cook over medium heat until most liquid is gone, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add finely chopped shallots and flour and cook, stirring to incorporate for an additional 1 minute.
  4. Add the cream and the artichoke meat, scraped from the leaves.
  5. Stir in the egg yolk, parsley and optional bread crumbs.  Mix well to combine thoroughly and season will salt and pepper to taste.

This will stay for several days refrigerated in an airtight container or can be frozen for later use.

Heirloom Tomato on Sourdough Toast

Tuesday's Toast

It is a burst of everything that is beautiful about an August morning in your mouth.  You cannot get a more flavorful tomato taste than a just picked heirloom, still warm from the early morning sun.

  • Heirloom tomato, sliced thick or to preference
  • Sourdough bread
  • Sea salt flake
  • olive oil

Toast bread and brush with olive oil. place tomato slice on top, sprinkle with a little more olive oil and sea salt.


Eggs Benedict with Fried Green Tomatoes

Definitely a daddy thing to love

What a crazy two weeks!! Back from Vermont and trying to catch up on life. I was in NYC suffering from the squelching heat and humidity while Juliette and Lila were away, and I was missing them terribly.  They spent the first week in PA with their mom and for the second week, Juliette in the Dominican Republic on a community service trip and Lila down in Kentucky at National Pony Finals.

On the day of Juliette's departure I took her for lunch and then on a 40 minute venture downtown to the lower east side, with her wondering where in the world is he taking me, for the most delicious salted caramel root beer float at Van Leeuwens Ice Cream. It is the first time Juliette will be traveling with out a parent or an adult that she knows and in a foreign country to boot. She is traveling with a very close friend from school but I think I was more nervous for her than she was. From the one brief conversation I have had with her while on the trip it seems the other kids immediately assumed she and her friend where snobby upper east siders. I told her that they have been watching too much Gossip Girl and once they get to know her their assumptions will change.  I know the overall experience will be great for her whether she has fun on the trip or not. Bunk beds, cold water showers and some mild stereotyping never hurt anyone, especially 14 year old upper east siders.  Even growing up in NYC, with parents who try to expose them to as much diversity as possible, we still tend to be cocooned by our environment.  

Lila, on the other hand, spent the week with her trainer Patty at National Pony Finals. This was her first time away with Patty alone and not having her sister around.  An experience she was looking forward to having. As I am writing this there was an article published in the New York Times about parents not feeling the need to attend every single game, event or meet in which their children participate.  I could not agree more and happy that Lila can have the time with her trainer alone. I did get to nervously watch her show on a live feed and found myself obsessively refreshing the scoring after each rider to see how she placed. Yes, like an insane person.  With 132 riders in her division, she placed 4th in the under saddle class and 25th in the model, sitting 7th overall heading into day 2.  She placed 15th the next day in the over fences class and finished 8th over all. Woo Hoo!!!, with lots of virtual high fives and yes, I am still beaming writing this.

 

With Juliette still away, Lila and I were able to spend the weekend together in PA. I had to bribe her, with Nutella crepes, to go to the local farmers market that weekend and had to endure her eye rolling as I stopped by the roadside farm stands that are dotted along our local roads in Bucks County. Many of these are still by the honor system where you leave your money in a box and take change if needed. Juliette and Lila never cease to find the humor in it and refer to me as earthy or hipster. They make fun of my yoga, my hipster eye glasses, how I love the rain and my early morning walks and they do this in a way only your children can. They say things like "definitely a daddy thing to love", when I text them pictures of beautiful clouds or huge trees. If they only knew me back in the day when I worked in finance and I lived and dressed the part. In the late 80's and early 90's I wore blue shirts with white collars and cuffs. Practically all my shirts were french cuff with english spread collar and yes, I even had shoes with tassels. Don't even get me started on ties, where on my trading floor, guys would often turn your tie around to see who made it, Hermes, of course.  At night I went to charity events and client dinners. Today, I still enjoy wearing suits but they are less banker and OK, maybe a little hipster, and only wear a tie when necessary. I even go with out socks sometimes in the summer.

My perspectives have changed since my kids were born and my divorce. I have discovered that there is no beauty without strangeness, thank you Karl Lagerfeld or was it Edgar Allen Poe,  and less is definitely more. Charles Warner once wrote 'Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough". I do try to teach these values to the girls with some varying degree of success.  I just hope that they learn to appreciate the beauty in everything. This weekend it was about the beauty found in unripe tomatoes.

 

Tomato season is upon us

August has arrived and the locally grown tomatoes are everywhere. The varieties can be endless, each having their own flavor and texture. A weekend lunch or dinner in August will always have some sort of heirloom tomato salad. For this weekends breakfast I was yearning for the piquant flavors of fried green tomatoes. Green tomatoes are unripe red tomatoes and can sometimes be hard to find at markets in the early season, with the strong summer sun they tend to ripen on the vine quickly. Late in the season when the sun isn't strong enough and the daylight hours start to wane and can no longer ripen whats left growing do green tomatoes become more popular.  This weekend one of our favorite local markets allowed Lila and me to go out into the field to pick some hard green tomatoes. This breakfast dish was inspired by a fried green tomato BLT I had about year ago at Root and Bone, a delicious fried chicken joint on the Lower East Side of NY. This is my version of eggs benedict with fried green tomatoes. I use a traditional southern style recipe with cornmeal and a buttermilk wash for the tomatoes and a thick cut piece of bacon instead of Canadian ham. The fat from the bacon can be used to fry the tomatoes and there is no need for the english muffin. The Hollandaise sauce recipe is Julia Childs and enough thanks can never be given for her inspiration.

Eggs Benedict with Fried Green Tomatoes

Serves 4

  • 2 large green tomatoes, cored and thickly sliced
  • 1 cup cornmeal flour
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg for buttermilk wash
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs for poaching
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Fried Green Tomatoes

  1. Cut bacon in half to approximate length of each tomato slice and in a large saute pan fry over low/medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and let drain on paper towel. Set the skillet with rendered bacon fat to the side for use later.
  2. Beat the egg and buttermilk together.
  3. Season cornmeal flour with salt and pepper and place in a wide dish. ( I have also used a large plastic bag for this placing several tomatoes in at a time and shaking bag to evenly coat.)
  4. Dip each tomato one at a time in buttermilk wash and then dredge in the seasoned cornmeal. Set each coated tomato aside.
  5. Add  vegetable oil to bacon fat in large skillet and place over medium/high heat. The tomatoes will be low fried so only add enough  vegetable oil to bacon fat to cover half way up tomato.
  6. Work in batches so oil stays hot and pan is not crowded. Fry for 3 minutes, flip tomatoes over and fry for additional 2 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Drain tomatoes on paper towels.

Poached Egg

  1. Bring water to a steady simmer in a large skillet. If it starts to boil lower temperature.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Stir water to create a gentle whirlpool. This will help the egg whites to wrap around yolk and create that desired tear drop form.
  3. Crack egg into a ramekin, not necessary but does make it easier to pour into skillet. Add eggs one at a time to skillet. The size of your pan will determine how many you can poach at a time. I generally poach four at a time.
  4. With a slotted spoon gently cover each egg with water from skillet until tops are white.  Then gently agitate the the water near each egg to keep them from sticking to bottom.
  5. Cook for 3 minutes. remove each egg with slotted spoon and gently dip in a bowl of water. This helps remove any lingering vinegar flavor and place on a paper towel. This will soak up any excess water and keep the tomato from getting soggy. Teenage taste buds are acutely aware to the taste of vinegar on their eggs.

Hollandaise Sauce

makes 1 cup

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • salt and white pepper
  1. Melt butter in small saucepan and set aside.
  2. Whisk egg yolks vigorously for one minute until thick and pale yellow in color.
  3. Whisk in lemon juice to egg mixture and whisk for additional 30 seconds.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter and place saucepan over low heat. I use a double boiler over simmering water, whisk until it starts to thicken and cover your whisk. I will occasionally remove top part of saucepan from heat to ensure the yolks do not curdle.
  5. Immediately remove from heat  and add remaining cold butter one tablespoon at a time. This will cool the egg yolks and stop the cooking.
  6. By driblets, beat in the melted butter to make a thick sauce.
  7. Season with salt and white pepper to taste and add additional lemon juice if needed.

To assemble place one fried green tomato in the center of the plate. Top with two pieces of bacon and then the poached egg. Spoon the Hollandaise sauce over the top of the poached egg.  Enjoy every bite.

Apricot Breakfast Crisp with Maple Syrup

Vermont Summer Festival

I spent the past week in Manchester, Vermont with Juliette, Lila and our cat Bastion, a blue point Birman.  They were showing in the Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show having arrived the week earlier with their mom.  This is our sixth year going and is our favorite show. Vermont is the most aptly named state and there is something special that I feel when we cross the NY/VT border and the lush green mountains suddenly appear.  Its why we spend the whole year talking about going back the following summer. The air is delicious and cool and the blue sky is dotted with the most amazing clouds. Rain storms sneak in each day from over the mountains and are gone as quickly as they came. We were even visited by a hummingbird who was drinking from the flowers hanging in front of our stalls.

We stayed in a beautiful old house right outside of town , sharing it with another family from the barn. When not at the show the kids filled their days with shopping at the outlets, swimming at the local marble quarry and Ben and Jerry's ice cream (of course). One day we even drove twenty miles to the Chocolate Barn in Shaftsbury because we were told they had the best homemade ice cream. I filled my days with cycling, yoga, visiting the farmers markets and some day hikes along the Appalachian Trail.  Ending each day with reading in front of the outdoor stone fire pit and with which all the kids used to make s'mores.

I will write about cycling often. It is my sanctuary and I love the places that it has taken me and the experiences that the sport has given me. It is truly the perfect speed to see the world.

The week was filled with deliciousness, laughter and loads of hugs that was until I had to take Juliette shopping for her community service trip to the Dominican Republic next week.  The packing list was a veritable list of what every 14 year old girl wants to wear, NOT!! Hiking boots and strappy sandals, yikes!! By the time we got to the recommended length of the shorts, to the knees, all bets were off.  I of course chose the wrong time to go shopping, which I believe would have been any time, but off we went to The Mountain Goat, a great store for all your hiking needs, and I could feel the unhappy glare the entire drive.  Once there she refused to even look at the sandals probably thinking it would be social suicide to be caught wearing them and focused her energy on the boots.  What I found most interesting was the sweet innocent smiles and pleasantries she was giving the salesperson followed with the look of evil toward me. Too lighten the mood I thought I would have her try on the bermuda type shorts recommended she wear on the trip. She did not quite find it as funny as I did.  Its definitely a nurture vs nature question but they wake up one morning and insist on wearing their shorts, well, short. In the end it all worked out, even the strappy sandals and a fair compromise on the shorts. Which means she can wear whichever shorts she wants. 

At the end of the week on the drive home, I asked the girls for their best and worst of the week. It's a fun game we sometimes play and guess what was Juliette's worst. Yup, shopping at the Mountain Goat.

I can't leave out the embarrassing Dad moment of the week.  If you are into horse back riding you are into monogramming. The only horse related clothing item I own is a Helly Hanson rain jacket, which every one wears and gets monogrammed with their names on the collar.  I have been talking about getting my name on the collar for a long time and finally did it. 

How could we be in Vermont and not have maple syrup with every breakfast. 

Juliette and Lila were either showing late morning or afternoon, which gave us plenty of time for breakfast at the house. We had cornmeal buttermilk pancakes with Vermont blueberries and omelettes made with farmstand eggs and delicious vegetables from the local farmers markets. But the one dish I made early in the week, which we enjoyed all week long, was an apricot breakfast crisp with maple syrup and topped with greek yogurt. With each day the apricots became sweeter and sweeter, losing their original tartness. This is easy to make and best made the night before, refrigerated and eaten either at room temperature or reheated in the oven. If you can't find apricots, this can be made with any stone fruit.

Juliette and Lila had some really beautiful trips. Juliette won her under saddle class, won other great ribbons and got her lead changes.  Lila, was reserve champion for the week, won the pony hunter classic and several other classes.  I got to smile all week long. 


Apricot Breakfast Crisp with Maple Syrup

serves 6

Fruit

  • 1 pound fresh apricots
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 pinch nutmeg

Crisp Topping

  • 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut each apricot into quarters discarding the pit. this can be done with your hands and gives the crisp a more homemade look.
  3. In a medium bowl toss apricots, sugar, flour and nutmeg together. Place in a baking dish and set aside.
  4. Combine melted butter, sugar and maple syrup in a bowl.
  5. Add the oats, stir well and then add the flour and salt. Continue to stir until large clumps start to form.
  6. Cover fruit with topping in baking dish and cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Refrigerate overnight and serve at room temperature.

Spoon Apricot crisp into a bowl, top with 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt and drizzle with maple syrup.

Recipe is easily doubled for a whole week of deliciousness.

Poached Egg with Roasted Corn and Bacon Hash

Knee High by the 4th of July!!

July 4th weekend was spent at the Brandywine Valley Summer Series II Horse Show at The Devon Showgrounds. Juliette and Lila went down earlier in the week with their trainer Patty Miller. They slept over Patty's house the night before and were up at 3:15 AM to help load the horses and drive to the show.  I drove down on Friday. to spend the weekend with them.  At the end of the day I asked Patty, what time we had to be at the show in the morning. I knew what the answer would be but I was hoping for a late morning.  She answered 7AM, with a smile. We were staying at a hotel just down the road from the show and the girls had their own room and I just hoped they would get to bed at a reasonable time. If you are not familiar with horse show timing, here is a helpful hint, there is none. Unlike most other sports, where the game has a specific start time and you can usually calculate a reasonable end time, horse shows can be endless. They bring a new meaning to hurry up and wait. Lila was showing around 10 AM and Juliette not until late in the afternoon. J and L have a certain amount of pride in waking up at these ridiculous hours when it comes to anything horse related.  I on the other hand do not....but when I am old and incontinent, you can be sure I will remind them of my sacrifices.

There is plenty of downtime and while I may be found reading, working or napping, the kids are constantly busy. Most of it is taking care of the ponies and horses but there is plenty of time to have fun. They have made lots of horse show friends from all over the east coast and when not following Patty around or helping at the stables they are alongside the ring cheering them on.

Juliette and Lila never tire from jumping, horses or themselves, especially Lila, who is always creating courses in the house jumping over pillows, books and bags.  Luckily the Devon Showgrounds had set up some mini jumps for the kids.  Where Lila spent a good part of each day. This was also July 4th and every one had to show their patriotic spirit. Lila who still wears braids when showing wore red, white and blue bows. The horses are no exception and their manes were braided with red, white and blue yarn and the tails with pom poms. 

Lila had a great first day of showing with a first, second and a third. Sunday was a different story. On the first trip, Iparty was spooked by two large dogs outside the ring while heading into the last jump. Lila jumped beautifully but this set the tone for her other trips.  She still held on for Champion but was very disappointed with her riding. We spent some time talking about the positives from each trip, finding the right distances to the jumps and her lead changes. The talk and a promise of an ice cream milk shake got her spirits back in check.

Juliette was showing her horse, Prestigious, in the Junior Hunter 3' 3" 15 and Under,  for the first time.  She is a very strong technical rider and a real student of the sport. Preston has been giving her trouble recently getting his lead changes, not listening to her leg cues, something he wasn't doing during the winter indoor season or down in Florida. It has been frustrating for her and today was no different. I was watching from the stands and as I have learned over the years to give them their space while showing. Several years ago when Juliette was on her schools gymnastics team, she asked that I not watch her compete in her first meet because it made her nervous. I went to the meet anyway and watched from outside, through the gym door windows. A story of which I am constantly reminded of to the delight of the other school parents.  

She jumped beautifully but sensing Preston not getting the lead change Juliette was twisting her body to force it.  After this continued on through the second and final day of showing, she was visibly upset and frustrated.  I am appreciative of her relationship with her mom and how they can talk through her feelings and since her mom also rides she brings an insiders perspective.  It was hard to watch her this upset and wish I could have helped more. I sat on the ground next to her giving as much support as I could. I know it means a lot to her to have the silent hugs and the offer of a lifesaver mint. I still wish I could have done more. They worked out a plan to get the help needed and this helped restore her mood.

Sunday late afternoon we drove back to the farm and passed a local farm stand that had some early sweet white summer corn, red spring onions and potatoes. The local butcher, Haring Brothers, was still open and I was able to buy some fresh bacon.  Monday morning, before I headed back to the city and the girls to the barn,  we had poached eggs with roasted corn and bacon hash. Seriously yum! on so many levels. The sizzling bacon smell had Juliette and Lila standing around the stove waiting to eat some. They helped with shucking the corn and slicing the kernels off the cob. The beautifully golden roasted potatoes and the sweet corn, which could be eaten right off the cob raw, made this hash the perfect American dish to help celebrate the end of the Independence Day weekend.  All the flavors and textures are brought to life with the perfectly poached egg on top.  I used a well seasoned cast iron skillet and saved the bacon fat for later use. You can also use any leftover corn roasted from the night before. Just toss in when you add the bacon , off heat, to warm up. Any leftover hash can be eaten later that evening with dinner.


Poached Eggs with Roasted Corn and bacon Hash

(serves 6)

  • 6  fresh eggs
  • 1tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 lb potatoes diced - 3 cups
  • 1 red onion diced - 1 cup
  • 1/2 lb thick cut bacon (at least 1/4 inch) diced
  • teaspoon salt
  • 3 large ears of corn. Kernels cut from the cob - 2 1/2 cups
  • 3 scallions thinly sliced

Hash

  1. Place diced bacon in large skillet and heat to medium.  Let cook, stirring occasionally until browned and crispy about 10 minutes. 
  2. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel. Leave bacon fat in skillet.
  3. Heat bacon fat to medium high. Add diced potatoes to skillet in a single layer and add salt and pepper. Stirring occasionally to brown on all sides, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the onions and let saute until onions are clear.
  5. Spoon off most of the bacon fat leaving about 2 - 3 tablespoons.
  6. Add the corn and mix with the potatoes and onions. Cook until corn starts to brown about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the bacon back to the skillet and cook for an additional minute.
  8. Remove from heat, salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle the scallions over the top.

Poached egg

  1. Bring water to a steady simmer in a large skillet. If it starts to boil lower temperature.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Stir water to create a gentle whirlpool. This will help the egg whites to wrap around yolk and create that desired tear drop form.
  3. Crack egg into a ramekin, not necessary but does make it easier to pour into skillet. Add eggs one at a time to skillet. The size of your pan will determine how many you can poach at a time. I generally poach three at a time.
  4. With a slotted spoon gently cover each egg with water from skillet until tops are white.  Then gently agitate the the water near each egg to keep them from sticking to bottom.
  5. Cook for 3 minutes. remove each egg with slotted spoon and gently dip in a bowl of water. This helps remove any lingering vinegar flavor and place on a paper towel. This will soak up any excess water and keep the hash from getting soggy. Teenage taste buds are acutely aware to the taste of vinegar on their eggs.

Spoon a mound of hash on a plate and press down in the center with the back of the spoon to create a space for the egg. Place poached egg on top, sprinkle with chopped scallion. Salt and pepper to taste.

Lox Eggs and Onions

I love when the laughter is funnier than the joke.

Last week I was listening to NPR while driving in the car and the show was about dad humor. To be more precise, bad dad humor, which might be an oxymoron. Callers would tell stories about bad jokes their dads would tell, a father who was waiting for his kids to go somewhere , would walk into their room with a tape measure extended and ask "How long will you be?" or every time I called to ask my dad to pick me up he would reply "why, have you fallen down again?"

On our drive out to PA this past weekend I was telling Juliette and Lila about the NPR story. They of course found great humor in recounting all of my bad dad jokes, my silly puns and not to mention the classics. I'm hungry, nice to meet you hungry, I'm dad. Or, can you make me a sandwich, yes, poof you're a sandwich.   

For us the very classic how much longer question in every car ride has spawned its own running joke.  In the beginning before I became wise I would answer honestly.  Another hour would be followed by sea of groans and complaints.  Then I realized that they don't really have any true concept of time so I began telling them we would be there in 20 minutes. It didn't matter if we were 2 hours away or 20 minutes away.  At some point they realized my little joke and now they just ask, how much longer? 20 minutes? with a round of laughter.. This led to questions about my childhood and if grandpa had any funny jokes.

I don't really recall my dad having silly dad jokes that I could share with them.  What I did have to share were my fathers Sunday morning breakfasts.  My father liked Kix cereal so of course I did too. Quisp cereal was also a childhood favorite and I get giddy with excitement whenever I catch a rare sighting at the supermarket and buy several boxes at a time, often sharing them with my sister and brother-in-law. Salami and eggs, potato blintzes and bagels were a staple. Growing up on Long Island I can't remember a Sunday where there weren't hot fresh bagels sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be devoured after a little league game or a swim meet. Today when I cycle along Riverside Drive on a Saturday or Sunday morning heading to cross the GW Bridge into New Jersey, you pass right over the Fairway Supermarket at 125th Street and the smell of freshly baked bagels in the air triggers incredible childhood memories. 

My all time favorite childhood breakfast, which my father made, was Lox, Eggs and Onions. Lox was and still is fairly expensive and every so often we would get some from our neighbor Arnie who was a fish distributor.  Lox which is a method of preserving the salmon fillets by either smoking, hot or cold, and salt curing, is derived from the Yiddish word for salmon which is laks, which came from the German lachs.   Today there is either Lox, sometimes referred to as belly lox  which is wet brined with no additional smoking and Nova, the more popular, which is lightly brined and cold smoked.  In NY,  places like Zabars, Barney Greengrass, Sables or Russ & Daughters have the most skilled people cutting razor thin slices of Lox. 

Happy Fathers Day!!

This was the perfect breakfast to share with my kids on this past fathers day.  Cheers to all the bad dad jokes and to all the delicious dad breakfasts.


Lox Eggs and Onions

(serves 4)

  • 8 eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 1/4 lb Lox (Nova preferred) sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 cup spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  1. Whisk eggs in medium sized bowl.
  2. Whisk in 1 tablespoon dill, salt and pepper.
  3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
  4. Add onions and saute until translucent, soft and lightly caramelized. Approx. 5-8 minutes. Longer depending on how caramelized you like your onions.
  5. Add egg mixture, reduce heat to medium and stir until barely set.
  6. Add cream cheese and continue to stir until melted and lightly set.
  7. Remove to a platter, add lox and garnish with remaining dill.  Salt and pepper to taste.

 

Verlet's Apricot Tart

Why wait for dinner to have dessert.

The showing season for Juliette and Lila has finally kicked into gear. School ends the first week of June and then they will be off to PA for the summer, riding every day and traveling to away shows for a week or two at a time. 

Lila, who rides in the small pony hunter division, qualified for the Devon Horse Show which was this past Memorial Day weekend. It's a year long process to qualify in her division and only the 30 top riders and ponies in the country are invited . We drove down on Thursday and she was competing on Friday and Saturday.  The car ride was filled with talk about the lemon sticks, lemon candy canes stuck into lemons which are sold at the horse show fair and are the perfect pairing of sweet and sour, and of course the derby hunt teams.. The Derby Hunt Teams, where three riders compete as a team, with costumes and theme music and have to jump in sync are a traditional end to junior week at The Devon Horse Show. A time for the riders to take a deep breathe and have some fun.

Friday morning started early with a 6 am schooling in the show ring and the first class starting at 8.  The conformation class is a grueling 45-50 minute test of patience while the riders and ponies are being judged on how well they model.  The ponies legs, head and ears all have to be in a certain position while being judged.  Last year, Lila and IParty had a great model until Party decided she was hungry for a bow and took LIla's right out of her hair in front of the judge.  Redemption was made this year with Lila and IParty jogging to a 9th place finish. She also jogged to another 9th place finish in the over fences class later that morning.

Saturday started the same as the day before with some beautiful riding. A fourth place in the under saddle class and making the Classic cutoff by a half a point. The real excitement and what I believe drove her to ride so well all year, were the pony hunt teams. With all the formality and pressure of the show, the end of the day is a time for the junior riders to have some fun. From the moment we received the invitation to the show the preparation for the hunt teams began.  Finding the other riders to join your team, choosing a theme and getting the costumes ready.  Talk about pressure!!!  Again, teams of three riders jump a course in costume and music. They follow each other over several jumps with the last two jumps side by side, three across, and have to be jumped together.  The crowds around the ring are usually the largest of the day.  The Ghostbusters were ready to roll when one of the riders scratched from the show that day.  We scrambled to find another rider and only meeting her a few minutes before getting into costume. 


11112447_1647769058778627_5538105286045478130_n.jpg

Juliette walked in the ring to hand the judges the traditional basket of bribes filled with wine, chocolate, the Ghostbusters dvd and some other goodies.  The girls had a fantastic trip and took home third place.  I was so proud of Lila and IParty for all the hard work and discipline that went in to the entire show. 

I could not think of a better way to celebrate the next morning than having dessert for breakfast. The Verlet apricot tart is perfection in its simplicity. Verlet is a tea shop in Paris and  this recipe comes from the well worn pages of my copy of Patricia Wells "The Food Lovers Guide to Paris".  It is easy, quick to make and remember to always use fresh apricots. "The Food Lovers Guide to Paris" is a comprehensive guide to all things food in Paris, mixed with wonderful recipes from some of Patricia Wells' favorite restaurants and shops. A must read for any one who is visiting Paris and likes food.


Verlet's Apricot Tart

(serves 8)

Pastry:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground unblanched almonds

Filling:

  • ½ cup crème fraiche or heavy whipping cream
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons full-flavored honey, such as lavender
  • 1 tablespoon superfine flour, such as Wondra (whole-grain pastry flour)
  • About 1 ½ pounds fresh apricots, pitted and halved, (do not peel)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the pastry: In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and the sugar, and using a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to form a soft, cookie-like dough. Transfer the dough to the center of the buttered pan. Using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. The pastry will be quite thin.
  4. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the dough is slightly puffy and set, 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle the ground almonds over the bottom of the crust, to prevent it from becoming soggy.
  5. Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl, combine the crème fraiche (or heavy cream), egg, extracts and honey and whisk to blend. Whisk in the flour. Pour the filling evenly over the pastry. Starting just inside the edge of the pan, neatly overlap the halved apricots, cut side up, at an angle. Arrange in two or three concentric circles, working toward the center. Fill in the center with the remaining apricots.
  6. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake until the filling is firm and the pastry is a deep, golden brown, 55 to 60 minutes. The apricots will shrivel slightly. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Place the tart on a rack to cool.

Eggs In a Basket with Roasted Spring Onions

Spring and her guests.

Spring is my most favorite season. The season that touches all my senses. Cool mornings and afternoons filled with the warmth of the sun on your face. I love waking up early on Spring mornings at the farm in Bucks County to see what surprises the morning has brought. Before the kids get up I often go on short solitary walks around the planted gardens to see the hostas pushing up through the earth, the bearded iris getting ready to bloom and the early blooming hellebores, as well as the early season wildflowers. I also look forward to the early season vegetables to which Spring treats us. Spring onions are one of my favorites and I have never met an allium I did not like either in my garden or on my plate and spring onions are no exception. Spring onions have larger bulbs than scallions and pack a stronger flavor.

This Sunday morning I decided to add roasted spring onions to our morning egg dish of Knothole eggs. Knothole eggs or sometimes referred to as eggs in a basket or hen in a nest is a simple dish with an egg cooked in a hole of a piece of bread. Eggs were the only dish to serve after the game of egg russian roulette played the day before.

Lila had a friend from the city join us for the weekend and on Saturday along with a barn friend and Juliette we went to see Pitch Perfect 2.  Getting my kids to see a movie in an actual theater and not on their laptops is considered a minor parenting triumph in my book.  On the ride home I mentioned that Anna Kendrick was on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon promoting the movie earlier in the week. She was challenged to a game of egg russian roulette and before I could describe the game they each had their phones out searching for the clip. Laughing they asked if they could play the game when we got home.  Since we seem to have an endless supply of eggs from our chickens, I sent the girls to the coop to get 18 eggs.  I boiled 12, kept 6 raw and placed them in random order back in their cartons.  Each girl, one at a time, would choose one egg and break it on their head, the first to break 2 raw eggs lost and it continued until we had a winner.  The nervous laughter, squealing and screaming was priceless and in the end there were only winners and after a shower very shiny silky hair.

Knothole eggs are a morning staple for us and most of the time my kids like them plain. You can add what ever seasonal vegetable is available or from the leftover vegetable from the evening meal the night before.


Eggs In a Basket with Roasted Spring Onions

  • 4 eggs
  • 4  thick slices of bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 bunches spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Roasted Spring Onions

  1.  Fill a large bowl with cold water, then place your spring onions in the water. Swish them around to remove as much dirt as possible, then remove them from the bowl and give them a second rinse under running water to remove any remaining grit. Place the onions on a dry paper towel and pat out as much water as possible.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F
  3. Clean the spring onions by trimming the greens and removing the roots of each stalk.
  4. Place spring onions in a shallow dish and lightly coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender 30-35 minutes.
  5. This can be done in advance since spring onions will be reheated when cooked with the eggs.

Eggs In a Basket

  1. Place a round cookie cutter in center of bread and cut out hole. Save the cut out bread to use for additional toast with breakfast or to add as a hat on top of the eggs.
  2. In a heavy bottomed skillet heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Lower to medium heat and place bread in skillet and let toast for 30 seconds.
  3. Flip bread over and add butter 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary. Crack egg into hole.  I like to place the cookie cutter in the hole before cracking the egg and then removing after a few seconds allowing egg to set. This keeps egg from running under the bread. 
  4. Cook for 3 minutes but do not fully cook egg.
  5. Add sauteed spring onions in the hole on top of the egg.
  6. carefully flip bread over to continue cooking. Again add butter as needed. Honestly, you cannot add too much butter.  Cook for 2 minutes or longer depending on how you like your yolk. Be careful not let the bread burn. I prefer the yolk to be runny which adds tremendous flavor to the bread and onions.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. You can also toast the cut out holes and serve on the side or place back on egg like a hat.