Grilled Ramp Butter

Grilled Ramp Butter on buckwheat cherry bread

While Grilled Ramp Butter, isn’t actually a meal in and of itself, and it’s really simple, just two ingredients: grilled ramps processed with salted cultured butter, I think it’s the ultimate in decadent Spring condiments. This delicious butter is amazing on grainy toast with a poached egg, a slice of fancy cheese, a little ham, or, it’s the base for my amazing duck tartines. Keep this Grilled Ramp Butter in the fridge for a week or so and you’ll find it dangerously disappears. A tablespoon will slip into the spring peas you make as a side for dinner, a teaspoon will be on a late afternoon piece of toast with a sliver of good parm. A dallop will land in a cup of store-bought soup. This Grilled Ramp Butter is a special spring treat that helps make ramps season (one of my all-time favorite seasons) last just a little longer. Because, of course, if you haven’t eaten it all too quickly, Grilled Ramp Butter could also be squirreled away in the freezer. … Continue reading

Salmon Burgers with Curry Mayo

Salmon Burgers with Curry Mayo

For my English Polo Picnic, I picked dishes that are easy to make ahead for room temperature consumption and are both elegant and easily portable, like these Salmon Burgers with Curry Mayo. I bought pre-formed Salmon Burgers to keep things easy and then just doctored up premade mayo and mango chutney for a very flavorful and unexpected picnic sandwich. I grilled them at home on a grill pan and then just packed them up in foil and served them room temperature at the party. If you’re going to grill them far ahead, you should definitely refrigerate them until you’re ready to go and then just let the Salmon Burgers with Curry Mayo come up to room temperature as the party starts. These Salmon Burgers with Curry Mayo are really flavorful and a fun departure from standard grill fair. If you can’t find pre-formed patties, they’re not too bad to make yourself, but anytime I find good shortcuts, I like to share them, especially when I’m making several recipes at once, like these Salmon Burgers with Curry Mayo as part of a party menu that needs to be transported off-site. And when you add little touches of your own, like I … Continue reading

St. Brie LT

St Brie LT cut on the bias

Considering I grew up in a household that prized St. André cheese and fresh from the garden tomato and lettuce BTSs (otherwise know as Summer BLTs) above pretty much all other things epicurean, it was surprising to me when my friend Susan turned me on to the St. Brie L.T., and not the other way around. I mean, I don’t even like mayo and often have experimented with other condiments to sub in for mayo. Perhaps it’s because I settled upon avocado so long ago that I stopped my quest before I set upon adding the brie necessary to make a St. Brie L.T.? I’m not sure. Regardless, I’m happy to share it with you now, even if the addition of brie can’t be attributed to my genius. The name though: St. Brie L.T., that’s all mine. After all, you’ve probably figured out I like a good food pun, and this one has it all, a reference to the ingredients, a play on the traditional name, and the elevation of the perfect sandwich (with bacon!) to divine status… St. Brie LT covers all my food naming preferences. And even if bacon isn’t your thing, vegetarians, this one’s for you. Between … Continue reading

Blue Ridge Mountain Benedicts

Blue Ridge Mountain Benedicts for dinner

This Spring, one of our mini adventures was a weekend trip to Charlottesville, VA. It’s a gorgeous town, situated at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains for which my Blue Ridge Mountain Benedicts are named. It’s a tiny town, but it’s packed with art, music and great food. We had lots of awesome meals, but the one I knew I had to recreate, and I dare say best, was a breakfast sandwich from the Bluegrass Café. It was a sweet little breakfast place that’s so good at what it does that it can afford to yell, “No Substitutions” at you. That said, if you’re famous for made from scratch biscuits and you’re located in the South, you should serve your breakfast sandwich on that, and not a store bought English muffin. Since there were “No Substitutions,” I ate it as recommended, but was wishing I had a biscuit all the while. So, when last Sunday night turned into a little party to toast, and well-wish, and “Bon Voyage!” some dear friends moving to California… I had a hankering of what to make: Blue Ridge Mountain Benedicts. And then they sealed the deal. “We’ll bring bubbles” they said. “All we … Continue reading

Leftover Crab Dip Melts

Leftover Crab Dip Melts with avacado

If decided to try out my Chesapeake Bay Crab Party menu and you have some leftover crab dip, then you’re going to be really happy the day after the party, because using up the leftovers with these Leftover Crab Dip Melts might be even better than the dip itself. But I’m not really sure, so you should probably judge for yourself. Since it’s still RAMPS season around Philly, I’ve been using them on everything. I know it’s a little cliché to be obsessed with ramps and it might make you feel like you’re in an episode of Portlandia, but the excitement seasonal cooks have for fresh ramps is well-placed. They’re so good! And one of my favorite ways to eat them is sautéed or grilled and added to a sandwich. Here, I’m using them for the base and the onion element in my Leftover Crab Dip Melts. If it’s not ramps season or you don’t live in an area where you can get your hands on them, grilled scallions or leeks can get you a similar effect. Either way, this easy brunch, lunch or dinner of Leftover Crab Dip Melts is going to put a smile on everyone’s face. The … Continue reading

Monte Cristo Sandwich

Monte Cristo and maple syrup

Need further incentive to make a ham for Easter Brunch? For me it’s all in the name of the Monte Cristo Sandwich and other Hamitarian Week recipes. Gotta love leftovers… For Hamitarian Week, I’m starting off with the Monte Cristo Sandwich, because just thinking about this sandwich inspires me to buy the giant ham in the first place. In fact, I’m famous for buying both ham and the necessary sourdough bread on the same day, so the bread will be just the right amount of stale for my Monte Cristo leftover ham sandwich. It’s possible that my eye is on the real prize from the outset, the Monte Cristo Sandwich, and everyone who has ever made french toast knows that slightly stale bread absorbs just the right amount of egg to make the french toast rich and tender. In fact, that’s how french toast came about in the first place; the whole point is to save good bread before it goes from stale to bad. And what could possibly be better than putting a breakfast sandwich on this absolutely perfect French Toast? The salty ham and turkey, the melty cheese, the slightly tangy, but custard rich bread and a thick … Continue reading

Ginger Snap Eggnog Ice Cream Sandwich

ginger snap eggnog icecream sandwich

Part of keeping my house well-stocked with things like the ingredients for Ginger Snap Eggnog Ice Cream Sandwich is about my serious love for house guests. I can invite people over at the last second with confidence knowing there will be the makings of a delicious meal somewhere in the depths of my pantry. Last weekend, it was Ginger Snap Eggnog Ice Cream Sandwiches. If you haven’t had Jeni’s ice cream, well, be on the lookout, because this stuff is seriously good. This year for her holiday flavors, she made Middle West Whiskey Eggnog. I just found the last of it in the freezer over the weekend. And fortunately, I also had a few gingersnap cookies lying around as well. Needless to say, this Ginger Snap Eggnog Ice Cream Sandwich made for one of the easiest and best desserts ever to be made at the very last minute. The guests were impressed and it took me no time at all. Ginger Snaps Eggnog Ice cream Let the ice cream soften for a minute or two. Scoop a generous ball onto a cookie. Top with another cookie. Voila! You can have guests assemble their own, or make them ahead and store them … Continue reading

Ladies Lunching Chicken Salad

Ladies Lunching Chicken Salad in croissants

There’s something about this particular chicken salad that says “ladies lunching” to me, hence the name, Ladies Lunching Chicken Salad. Perhaps because it’s so pretty, and just a touch sweet? Maybe, but more likely it’s the mere fact that it’s so good it warrants the purchase of fresh croissants and an invitation to the most important ladies in your life. I usually break out the china and the silver iced tea spoons and make fancy lavender lemonade too. It’s warrants a special salad, perhaps like my Crunchy Blueberry Avocado Salad and a pretty dessert along with your very best table decorations. Because the Ladies Lunching Chicken Salad is so easy, you’ll have some extra time to spend on the little details, and why not? After all, my best girlfriends are the ones in my life most likely to notice the little things, and to appreciate the effort I put into celebrating out friendship. But you don’t need to wait for company to make this Ladies Lunching Chicken Salad. It’s also great for a weeknight dinner or a Sunday meal for one because the leftovers will make for wonderful sandwiches to take to work all week long. And it doesn’t take … Continue reading

Grilled Havarti Dill Cheese and Tomato on Pumpernickle Rye

"regular" grilled cheese a.k.a. tomato and havarti dill on rye stacked

If I offer you a grilled cheese, chances are good that a Grilled Havarti Dill Cheese and Tomato on Pumpernickle Rye is what will wind up on your plate. I just call it, “Regular” Grilled Cheese. This fact has caused plenty of teasing over the years, and I have a book of grilled cheese recipes to prove it- courtesy of some of my favorite dinner guests. Apparently, regular grilled cheese is supposed to involve white bread and velveeta. How was I to know? This particular sandwich, Grilled Havarti Dill Cheese and Tomato on Pumpernickle Rye, is one that dates back to my childhood- it’s what my mom made. In rural Wisconsin in the winter, amazing produce is scarce, so it’s important to have recipes on hand that enhance mediocre tomatoes and rely on dried rather than fresh basil. With a tiny bit of planning this sandwich is no more difficult to make than the white bread velveeta version and it’s downright gourmet. A little tip in how to plan ahead? When you’re finished with the marinade, don’t throw it out, just save it in the fridge for the next time the urge for grilled cheese strikes. The tomatoes can marinate for quite … Continue reading

Mushroom Sliders

mushrooms sliders open

It’s hard to believe that it’s already Super Bowl time, but it is, and this year, I’m expanding on last year’s menu with these Mushroom Sliders. Super Bowl Parties tend to be meat and more meat, with a side of junk food. Of course, there’s plenty of that at my Super Bowl Party, but it’s also nice to provide a veggie option for guests. These Mushroom Sliders are so good, you’ll have to make enough for the omnivores too. Since I already made the brioche for the pulled pork, it’s nice to pick another sandwich that guests can serve themselves. This way I’m watching the commercials and not waiting on my friends. I pile a plate high with all the components and set it next to the crockpot of pulled pork and basket of fresh brioche rolls. This way people can eat when they like. Or they can just snack on the other treats on the menu. Either way, these Mushroom Sliders will disappear so make sure you get one before the party gets started. And don’t wait for the Super Bowl to make these Mushroom Sliders; they’re great during BBQ season, too. … Continue reading

Fava Bean and Orange Bruschetta

fava bean bruschetta closeup

Bruschetta is a great make ahead appetizer and this Fava Bean and Orange Bruschetta is both gorgeous and unexpected. With frozen vegetables and plentiful citrus fruits, it’s festive and seasonal. Fava Bean and Orange Bruschetta is also fairly healthy, which is a great way to ring in the New Year. 1 cup fava beans, shelled and peeled or frozen lima beans (if you found fresh, 1 pound is about 1/3 cup shelled and peeled) 1 cup orange segments (a mix of blood and navel are gorgeous visually) 1 cup micro-greens or watercress, mache, etc. 2 teaspoons olive oil 1 teaspoon white balsamic, champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar pea spread: 2 cups fresh or frozen peas (defrosted) 1 to 2 garlic cloves ¼ cup tahini ¼ cup olive oil ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 loaf baguette, sliced thin and toasted In a food processor or blender, combine the pea spread ingredients. Reserve. Slice and toast the baguette. A cookie sheet under the broiler is a great way to do this. Shell the fava beans. Bring water to a boil and blanch the beans for 30 seconds. Remove to an ice bath. Now you can pop the … Continue reading

Happy Birthday Eggs Benedict

eggs benedict closeup

I wouldn’t do it often, especially for myself, but there’s no better way to say “I love you” and “Happy Birthday” than brunch. And brunch doesn’t get much better than Eggs Benedict. So today, instead of cake, I made myself what I really wanted: Happy Birthday Eggs Benedict. And I even made some spinach to go with it. Don’t think of it as a vehicle for Hollandaise, no, think of it as vitamins and minerals. You should do what you really want on your birthday too, and make Happy Birthday Eggs Benedict. English Muffins poached eggs (1 for each muffin half) sliced ham (twice as thick as lunch meat) Hollandaise sauce sautéed spinach with salt and pepper cayenne pepper or paprika for garnish Plan of attack: 9am The English muffin dough needs a while to rise. Start by making the dough. 9:30am While it’s rising, poach all the eggs and place them in an ice bath in the refrigerator. Sauté the spinach and leave it covered on the stove. Only add salt and pepper as you’re going to use the spinach to soak up the extra yolk and Hollandaise. 10am Make the Hollandaise. Keep covered on the stove, but turn … Continue reading