Green Tea “Matcha” Madeleines

Madeleines with TeaThese Green Tea “Matcha” Madeleines are the result of a kitchen mishap.  Yesterday was warm, spring seemed like it might finally be ready to make an appearance, and I wanted nothing more than to whip up some ice cream and enjoy it without having to eat it under a blanket for warmth.  Weeks ago, on a whim, I’d picked up some culinary grade Matcha green tea powder from the store and with all the other ingredients for ice cream on hand it seemed I was well on my way to enjoying a fresh batch of green tea ice cream.  Then things went wrong.

Continue reading

Tom Yum Goong: Thai Hot & Sour Soup with Shrimp

Tom Yum Goong Close-upI have always loved the folk story about stone soup.  Hungry travelers arrive at a town whose inhabitants all turn down their requests for food.  In response, the resourceful travelers build a fire and set a pot filled with water and a stone upon it.  The townspeople, curious to see what the travelers are doing, venture out of their homes to ask what they are making with only a stone and water.

DSC_0460

The travelers wax poetic about the deliciousness of stone soup and then hint at how much better it is with just a little carrot, some potato, and, if there were any to spare, a stalk of celery.  The stingy townspeople are lured into parting with small quantities of ingredients and eventually, through everyone in the town contributing something small, a delicious soup is made that feeds a village.

Continue reading

Shrimp Jambalaya

Shrimp Jambalaya

Today is Fat Tuesday and while I’m not meandering down Bourbon Street with a daiquiri in hand, I am enjoying a bowl of shrimp jambalaya here in icy North Carolina.  I’ve always loved the food of New Orleans.  Decadent and bold in flavor, it’s casual and raucous and best enjoyed without rush and with good company.

Prepped Ingredients 2

This year, for New Year’s, instead of welcoming in 2015 with steaks, lobster or indulgent caviar, we spread our table with newspaper and invited friends to join us for a dinner of New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp.  We all sat around, fingers and mouths greasy and glistening from butter, peeling shrimp by hand and sopping up the buttery sauce with wedges of bread.  It was one of the best New Year’s I can remember for its simple emphasis on good food and friends.

Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Truffles

Ready for GiftingThrough my business, FOOD LOVE, I’ve taught several Valentine’s day cooking lessons.  The phone call typically comes from the guy in the relationship.  He shares with me how his girlfriend or wife loves to cook, how she is always lamenting that she wants to be more creative in the kitchen, and how she has mentioned more than once that she wants classes.

I’m always a bit apprehensive about these calls.  They seem to fall in that dangerous gift category of blenders or vacuum cleaners.  Gifts that are practical, but not exactly romantic.  I can easily imagine how the conversation progresses once the gift is unwrapped.   Are the floors not clean enough for you, dear? Do I NEED cooking lessons?  I get anxious just thinking about it.

Continue reading

Orange-Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

Almost Done

It used to not even be a question.  When it came to meat, I’d always choose pork shoulder over the pork tenderloin or a chicken thigh or leg over a boneless, skinless chicken breast.  Then I started to brine these leaner cuts and the decision became a lot more complicated.


Brining refers to soaking meat in a salt water mixture for a set amount of time to yield a more flavorful and juicy cooked product.  Sugar is often added to the mix as well as aromatics such as herbs and garlic and flavored liquids like tea, cider or beer.  As far as culinary techniques go, it’s fairly simple: you make your brine, add the meat, and refrigerate before cooking as directed in your recipe.   It’s straightforward, but there are two ways things can go off track for the cook.

Continue reading

A Simple Salad and its Complexities

A Simple SaladWhen I started writing this post, I thought that there wouldn’t be much to say about this simple salad.  After all, it’s lettuce, an easy vinaigrette, croutons and Parmesan shavings, but then I started jotting down what I wanted to share and I realized that even the most simple salad has a lot going on behind the scenes.

Bibb Lettuce

What a makes a salad extraordinary?  High quality ingredients are a good start and here is a list of ten tips, tricks, and tools for making your simple salad great.  Happy cooking!

Continue reading

Sweet Potato & Country Ham Ravioli with a Brown Butter & Sage Sauce

Sweet Potato and Country Ham RavioliHave you ever imagined something only to find that reality doesn’t add up?  That’s how it has been with this sweet potato ravioli recipe.  I’ve wanted to nail it for years.  I’ve tested it with ricotta cheese, added cinnamon then omitted it, altered the amount of Parmesan, and tweaked the pasta recipe over and over and over again.  Each time, before I begin to make it, my mouth is salivating over just how good it’s going to be, and that first bite, every time, is just OK.  It’s terribly disappointing.

Continue reading