Friday, June 29, 2012

Sweet June

(Photo courtesy of my sister)

This month has been glorious, filled with beach days, grilled burgers, oodles of homemade ice cream, dinners out with friends, delicious cheese, cheering for the Red Sox*, swaying to the Beach Boys, fried seafood, a favorite new book, an improved golf swing, welcoming cold press coffee back into our lives, and a very happy first two weeks of summer vacation. 

We are ending this delightful string of fun with a bang - Garrison Keillor and Arlo Guthrie at Tanglewood tomorrow night. Yay!

I hope you have an absolutely wonderful June finale weekend!

*I know some (Peter!) think this blasphemous, but I consider myself to be a duel citizen of Red Sox Nation and Yankee fan-dom. We can still be friends, right?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Roasted Sour Cherry Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate

On Saturday afternoon, giant thunder clouds rolled over us at Crane Beach. We high-tailed it out of there as quickly as we could and popped into Russell Orchards just as the first rain drops started to fall. This is a fantastic store with wine, baked goods and a whole room full of fruits and vegetables. I bought a fluffy bunch of purple kale and some cinnamon bread, and was ready to call it a day when I spotted a pint of sour cherries. 

I know this is strange, but I don't really like cherries. Or much fruit at all. Vegetables and I are best buds, but fruit? Eh. One genius idea popped into my head that made those sour cherries sound down right irresistible, though.

Ice cream. 

Ever since I discovered Jeni's ice cream base, I have been churning out the pints. (Get it?!) My favorite thing about her recipe, aside from the fact that it makes amazing ice cream, is that it doesn't require half a dozen egg yolks. I loathe that about most ice cream bases. So many yolks, so many wasted whites. I know I could freeze them in a baggy or something, but come on.

I give you my not-entirely-invented-but-I-did-successfully-wing-it creation!

Roasted Sour Cherry Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate

You will need: 
One batch of Jeni's Ice Cream Base
35-40 washed and de-stemmed sour cherries
2 tablespoons Amaretto or Bourbon
2 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces dark chocolate, cut into shavings with a sharp knife

Preheat the oven to 450F. Toss the cherries, sugar and alcohol together in any oven-safe dish - I used a pie plate. Roast for 10-15 minutes, stirring every five minutes to make sure the sugar isn't burning. Remove from the oven and let cool, then remove the pits. This is easy once the cherries are all roasted and soft. Roughly chop the cherries and store them along with all the juices from the pie plate in a glass container. Refrigerate until cool (this can be done one day ahead). You might be tempted to skip this roasting part and just put your fab sour cherries into ice cream, but they will get all hard and difficult to eat once they're frozen in the ice cream.

Make your ice cream base and chill that, too. When the cherries and the base are nice and cold (about four hours later), combine them and freeze them in your ice cream maker. My ice cream maker takes about 30 minutes to fully churn - is yours the same? When it's nearly done, add in your chopped shards of dark chocolate and let it spin for a few more minutes. Add chips if you must, but I think shards are superior. They don't get rock hard once frozen.

Place your churned ice cream in a glass container and freeze for at least four hours. Sneak spoonfuls while you wait and start telling everyone you know that you just made the best thing ever.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Sunday Dinner: Smokin' Bones

Throughout the summer, I am sharing a peak at our Sunday dinners. That is when our most pretty, fun cooking takes place, and this is a record of all that good stuff. I hope you enjoy! 

Eeks! This was a good one, you guys.

I gave Peter a smoker for Christmas, and with the exception of one crazy winter afternoon spent lovingly tending ribs, it languished in our basement. Until Sunday!

On Saturday night, Peter covered a rack of ribs with a dry rub recipe from this book (a must-buy if you have a smoker!). On Sunday around noon, he fired up the smoker and waited for it to come up to 225 degrees. Then those ribs hit the grill! We live in an apartment, and I was worried about filling up the neighborhood (and our landlords apartment above us) with a strong, smoky scent for hours on end. But after the initial lighting of the charcoal, it was pretty contained. 

The best thing about this meal is that I really don't love ribs. But I love these ribs. Lightly smokey, lightly spicy, and amazingly tender.

Sunday Summer Dinner: Smoked Ribs
  • Dry-rubbed smoked ribs
  • Kale, broccoli and carrot slaw (like this one)
  • Cheesy feta pasta bake with radish greens and ramp pesto
  • Roasted sour cherry and dark chocolate ice cream (more on this to come!!!)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Loving Lately

It's been hard to miss the amazing amounts of press surrounding "How Should a Person Be?" On top of all that delightful buzz, I can't wait to read it because my sweet friend KK is working on the book's publicity (and is obviously doing a marvelous job). It's officially been added to the summer reading list! (I'm already a bit jealous of the author because she has such a dreamy day job - interviews editor at The Believer. I KNOW.)

I'm turning into one of those people who is afraid of chemicals and such (boring, I know, unless you happen to feel the same). I've decided to buy more natural make up as my current supply needs replacing. Right now I'm looking for a new mascara, and this one looks the most promising. If you have a natural mascara that you like, please share! A certain chemical-fearing someone would love to know.

Lastly, a recommendation for your Netflix feed. It is intense and amazing. And just look at the star! Come over the devil's side with me.

What are you loving lately?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Sunday Dinner: Pasta Primavera

Throughout the summer, I am sharing a peak at our Sunday dinners. That is when our most pretty, fun cooking takes place, and this is a record of all that good stuff. I hope you enjoy!

My mom and I went to a Farmer's Market in the Berkshires over the weekend. In the parking lot, we tried to talk ourselves down: "It will probably be mostly plants..." and "There might some early lettuce - we'll just have to see." 

Instead, it was an embarrassment of farm-fresh riches. We went a little nuts! Sugar snap peas, broccoli, cucumber, ramps, radishes, lettuce, goat cheese and two kinds of mushrooms all came home with us. To make use of that amazing bounty, we had pasta primavera for dinner on Sunday night. 

Sunday Summer Dinner: Farmer's Market Pasta Primavera
  • Baby lettuce salad with sliced radishes and cucumber
  • Pasta Primavera (I basically use the method in this recipe to make the vegetables and sauce)
  • Coffee ice cream 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Haven Bakery

This post on a weekend in the Berkshires was the first travel post I wrote on Fresh Basil, and I've often thought it was time to update it with some current favorites. Haven Bakery in Lenox would certainly be included.

It's got a light, airy, almost California-esque vibe. You look over their fantastic menu, stand in line to order at the counter, and wait for instructions on where to sit. The water and coffee are self-serve. You'll wait about 20 minutes for your food to come, but it is most definitely worth it. Family favorites include the grilled polenta, blueberry pancakes, and steel cut oats - winners all around.

Friday, June 15, 2012

An Evening at Home

I love those day-in-the-life posts that sometimes gain momentum on the blogs. But my day between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. looks pretty much like you would imagine - I sit in front of my computer, and occasionally get to chat with co-workers about fun projects. I like my job a lot, but it's not much to look at :) Evenings make up my favorite hours of day. Reading, cocktails, dinner (and some laundry - there's always laundry, yes?).

Here's my living room on a normal night. Floppy couch cushions, shoes, a library book, and Peter's lap top perched on the arm rest so he can see up-to-the-minute fantasy baseball stats (or something equally lame entertaining).

This pretty thing above is gin and soda with muddled cucumber, basil and lime juice. We had these slightly more fancy drinks because, yay, it's Thursday! My favorite sort of occassions.

We're heading to the Berkshires this afternoon, so I did laundry last night and packed while I was folding. Do you ever do that? Multitasking at its best. Though you do end up wearing the same things that you wore the week before, ha!

For dinner, Peter made a marinade for tuna steaks with ginger, garlic, sesame oil and probably some other awesome stuff. I made rice with green beans, topped the tuna with some pickles red onions (an amazing addition, if I do say so myself), and threw together a salad. We finally watched the Mad Men finale (kind of a downer, am I right?!). After we had to watch an episode of the Larry Sanders Show with coffee ice cream to cheer up :)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Perhaps there's a gin cocktail in your future. Because yay, it's Friday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Sunday Dinner: Steak with Ramp Pesto and Crispy Shallots

Throughout the summer, I am sharing a peak at our Sunday dinners. That is when our most pretty, fun cooking takes place, and this is a record of all that good stuff. I hope you enjoy!

I am making a serious effort to be better about buying organic produce and meat. My thrifty nature fights against it, but lately I've been making great strides. It's not that much more, and for taste and health purposes, I can usually be convinced that it's worth it. 

This beauty is an organic, grass-fed blade steak - have you had it before? The butcher told me it is the same part of the animal that flank steak comes from, but cut across the grain instead of with. It was fantastic! 

At the store, I saw a curly bundle of ramps for the first time this spring, and had to scoop them up. This pesto had olive oil, yogurt, a big squeeze of lemon juice, lemon zest, and a healthy dose of salt and pepper. I boiled up some new potatoes and tossed them in the pesto, too. The big finale with crispy shallots on top of the steaks. Why are those little guys so good? Onion ring good, if you ask me. 

Summer Sunday Dinner - Lightened-up Steak House Fare 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

I feel a bit like Guy Fieri by declaring this to be the Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich, but there is really no way around it. It is the ultimate.

My father-in-law made a giant batch of these over Easter weekend, and we re-created it in the Berkshires with my family. Everyone who has ever tried one becomes a convert!

The Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich
Feeds 6 hungry people

You will need:
6 English muffins, crumpets or bagels, sliced and toasted
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 ripe avocado
1/3 lb capicola (sweet or hot)
1/3 lb sliced provolone cheese
12 slices cooked bacon
Dozen eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 325 F. Combine ricotta and avocado with a fork until creamy and smooth. Spread that mixture onto of your bread base. Break the slices of bacon in half and stack onto top of the avocado mixture. Place a slice of capicola and provolone on top, and repeat adding the avocado mixture, bacon, capicola and provolone. Place all the sandwiches on a cooking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is all melty and fantastic.

While the sandwiches are baking, poach a dozen eggs (use two to three shallow pans so they are all done at the same time). Place a poached egg on top of each sandwich (or not, if you're like me and don't like them - see second picture!). Enjoy your ultimate breakfast sandwich experience!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summer Manifesto

* Host a smoked meat party * Find a great natural sunscreen (and wear it all the time) * Work my way through my summer reading list * Go to the beach once a month * Re-stock the bar for fun summer drinks * See fireworks as often as possible * Celebrate our second anniversary * Invent an ice cream flavor * Go to the drive-in *

I got this brilliant idea from Elise (one of my favorite bloggers!). What do you want to do this summer?!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mount Greylock

Something strange is happening to me. I'm sort of becoming a hiker! Over Memorial Day weekend, Peter and I went to Mount Greylock in the Berkshires.

I thought we were going to climb right up to the top, but then I found out that takes about four hours each way and involves all these annoying extras like hearty snacks, water and a change of socks. I'm still only sort of a hiker - that was a bit too much.

So we wussed out and drove to the top, then did a lovely three mile loop on a trail toward the bottom of the mountain.

At the very top, from the tower pictured below, you can see four states! Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New York. Neat, right? 

Hope you had a wonderful weekend, and happy Monday!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Early Reader

This cute little guy is Peter and his grandpa on vacation in Hawaii! We actually visited this beach when we went to the Big Island on our honeymoon. Last weekend in Connecticut, I snapped a picture of the photo at my mother-in-law's house. I'm so happy to have it!

Cheers to a June weekend filled with water, sand and a good book! I'm reading this at the moment and can hardly tear myself away. (Though you were perhaps expecting a link to this, weren't you?! ;)
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