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

Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme New Fashioned

Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme New Fashioned on ice

I love Ranier cherries but I’ve had to wait a long “thyme” to finally enjoy this Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” cocktail. The idea for my Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” came to me sometime last fall. Oh the torture of having to wait for Rainier cherry season to get to finally make one. I have to say, this Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” was absolutely worth the wait. Considering it’s made with Scotch, it’s still a very light and refreshing cocktail. It’s woodsy and herbaceous without being overwhelming. It’s quite perfect for the early summer late spring season during which it’s easiest to find Rainier cherries. Hint, this is no coincidence. The scotch you select will have a big impact on the flavor of the drink. I recommend that first and foremost, pick one you like. It seems obvious, but sometimes when reading a recipe it’s easy to forget the most important part of cooking and eating: your taste buds rule! I chose a medium/light peatiness so as not to overwhelm the cherries. Thyme is strong though, and it holds its own with the peat in my Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” cocktail. … Continue reading

Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Asparagus on the grill

Even a little drizzle couldn’t keep us from celebrating Midsommar’s in style with fresh from the Wisconsin garden Grilled Asparagus. So tender, so tasty, so easy, and so perfect with the Cedar Plank Salmon, and Vasterbottenpaj (Swedish Quiche). My friends Dave and Katie were on grill duty with me and we put on extra hoodies and grabbed a few extra Spotted Cow beers and were good to grill. I like to keep things really simple when grilling vegetables. I simply rub them in a little olive oil and course sea salt- there’s something about the course stuff that really ramps up the flavor on the grill- and just give them a few minutes. I still like them quite crisp with a hint of char from the grill. They’re so good and full of the local, slow-spring, slow-grow flavor that’s so special in Northern climates. Then we piled the Grilled Asparagus on a beautiful blue and gold plate worthy of the tender stalks and served them at room temperature when our entire Midsommar’s Feast was ready for consumption. Needless to say, there weren’t any leftover Grilled Asparagus for breakfast, but if you have some, then count on a delicious omelet.  … Continue reading

Spicy Mint and Dill Quick Pickled Beans and Carrots

Spicy Mint and Dill Quick Pickled Beans and Carrots canned

Summer calls for lots of quick and light snacks like my Spicy Mint and Dill Quick Pickled Beans and Carrots. And a Big Southern Supper especially needs hors d’oeuvres that won’t overwhelm your guests, but rather whet their appetites. These unexpected Spicy Mint and Dill Quick Pickled Beans and Carrots accomplish just that. After all, you want to make sure everyone is not only up for truly enjoying the decadence of Seriously Good Extra Crispy Fried Chicken, but that they have room for the gorgeous Fresh Strawberry Pie with Rhubarb Curd. These Spicy Mint and Dill Quick Pickled Beans are just the dish to get things started and added bonus? They’re cheap and easy to make too. I’m pretty sure this brine would be great with golden beets and watermelon radishes too, so let your creative juices flow after you try my Spicy Mint and Dill Quick Pickled Beans and Carrots. … Continue reading

Father’s Day Rosemary Rhubarb Upsidedown Cake

Father's Day Rosemary Rhubarb Upsidedown Cake with icecream

It’s tradition in my family to make a rhubarb pie for Father’s Day but this year I’m changing things up with my Father’s Day Rosemary Rhubarb Upsidedown Cake. Usually the timing of Father’s Day is perfect for the first rhubarb harvest (in Door Country, Wisconsin), which is probably how the tradition started. It doesn’t hurt that rhubarb is my dad’s very favorite, and the man is a dessert connoisseur. My mother has sweetly agreed to make this Father’s Day Rosemary Rhubarb Upsidedown Cake since I won’t be in Wisconsin myself this father’s day. Talk about a good recipe test, right? When I sent it to her, she had lots of questions about the recipe. The first had to do with the fact that this recipe features three kinds of flour, but I promise you, just like I did her, it’s for good reason. The all purpose offers loft, the almond sweetness and moistness, and the corn meal brings a slightly crunchy texture. The corn meal also offers a slightly savory note that is a wonderful partner to the savory rosemary caramel and creates a sort of rustic feel that is perfect in my Father’s Day Rosemary Rhubarb Upsidedown Cake. Because while … Continue reading

Leftover Crab Dip Crêpes

Leftover Crab Dip Crepes for brunch

Here’s one more nice and easy leftover crab dip idea: make savory Leftover Crab Dip Crêpes and serve with the leftover Snappy Green Salad. They work really well with any salad. But I definitely recommend something simple with a citrus dressing. Lemon or lime complements the citrus in the crab dip perfectly. Added bonus, these Leftover Crab Dip Crêpes are perfect for brunch, a ladies luncheon, or even a weeknight meal for guests. The presentation is very elegant despite its simplicity. And you know I’m a total sucker for that combination. I would have company for dinner almost every night, if given the opportunity, and that requires lots of dinner dishes that “wow” without being too time intensive. Recreating and reinventing leftovers is a huge part of how I do this. It also makes eating up leftovers a lot more fun, whether you have company over or not. You don’t even have to admit to your guests that they’re eating leftovers with you. Of course these Leftover Crab Dip Crêpes would be delicious even if you filled traditional Swedish Pancakes or crêpes with the crab dip, just nix the sugar. But I must say, the almond flour, coconut milk and turmeric … 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

Snappy Green Salad: beyond leafy greens

Snappy Green Salad beyond leafy greens

My Snappy Green Salad: beyond leafy greens was perfect for our Summer Kick-Off, Chesapeake Bay Adventure. The old-fashioned fun of board and yard games made me nostalgic for all things Summer, and the Snappy Green Salad fit the theme perfectly by requiring a little bean snapping. Both bean snapping and corn husking are romantically nostalgic tasks from my childhood that take me to July in Wisconsin- long summer nights- watching the diamonds on the water, and helping mom make dinner. This time, I was in charge, and I got to hand off the corn-husking and bean snapping to my trusty sous-chefs. They were reclined in their Adirondack chairs and sipping Racer 5, so they didn’t mind a lick. Just like I never did as a child. And if no one was watching, I tended to eat the inevitably extra ear of corn raw, sweet as it was in the summertime. I noticed my sous-chefs keeping the tradition alive by enjoying raw green beans when they thought no one was the wiser. Aside from the nostalgic tasks associated with my Snappy Green Salad: beyond leafy greens I can vouch for its simple deliciousness. I love salads to have lots of stuff … Continue reading

Rhubarb Mint Juleps

rhubarb mint julep with crushed ice

Rhubarb Mint Juleps are just the ticket to take advantage of the fresh rhubarb that’s in abundance during the spring as well as take cocktail hour to the next level at the Kentucky Derby Party. I have to admit, there’s absolutely nothing traditional about this combination, and rhubarb is not a southern thing at all, so the combo might seem a bit odd, but I am a combination of a Southerner and a Northerner and I reserve the right to mix and match as I so choose. And I love rhubarb in the spring and think it pairs really well with bourbon because rhubarb is really tart, so it pairs well with things that taste naturally sweet. Mint juleps are all about the sweet, so rhubarb provides a nice balance. Note: I came upon a new technique that makes these rhubarb juleps even better, so if you looked at this recipe, or printed it prior to 4/22/15, take another look. It all came about when I was making my Fresh Strawberry Pie with Rhubarb Curd. I made too much of the rhubarb puree and began whisking it into cocktails. Turns out that rhubarb puree preserved the flavor of rhubarb WAY … Continue reading

Millinery Lesson: Pink Roses Derby Hat

Millinery Lesson Pink Roses Derby Hat finished

As a seasoned Kentucky Derby and Derby Party goer, over the years I’ve had need for a lot of hats. I bought my first real hat from Linda Campisano in Evanston, IL and I still love it. However, real hats are really expensive. And they’re big, with big hat boxes that require lots of storage. So more recently, I’ve taken to making my own Derby Hat. Sort of. It tends to start with my favorite black sun hat (and a mint julep!). And lots of wire. Because at the end of the Derby, I want to be able to remove all my flowers and glitz and glamor and return my black sun hat to its original condition. When it comes to Derby Hats, it helps to start with your dress in terms of millinery design, because it will help you pick colors and a theme. Of course, you can match the dress to the hat, but since I had the objective of not buying a new dress, I picked out a dress I bought at the end of the summer that hasn’t seen much wear. It’s pink and black, so, my hat is too. I knew my mom had some … Continue reading

Spring Pussy Willow Wreathe

pussy willow wreathe

I’ve got one more Spring decoration idea for you. When I bought pussy willows for my Easter Decorations, they were about four feet long, and I cut them down to fit into my small centerpieces. That left me with lots of extra branches. I took eight branches of about equal length and formed a rectangle by alternating which branch overlapped (like a lattice). Then I used wire to secure the joints. Finally, I added a ribbon and a length of artificial red dogwood flowers. Finally, I hung it on the door. Fortunately, Marc knocked into the wreathe and it slipped down to a corner. The diamond hanging configuration looked way better than the rectangle. Funny how that works sometimes. Below you can see a closeup of the corner when I fastened the ribbon and the flowers. Gorgeous and inexpensive. I think the whole wreathe was less than $8. … Continue reading

Easter Egg Beet and Citrus Salad

Easter Egg Beet and Citrus Salad

Salads are way more fun to eat if you put lots of goodies on them, and this Easter Egg Beet and Citrus Salad is no exception. I always make lots extra of all the good stuff and then keep it on hand all week, to encourage me to eat my greens. The beautiful jewel colored beets, rhubarb and orange segments hide in the greens like tiny dyed eggs, ready for us to find just in time for Easter Brunch. The cheese adds just a little cream to break up the acid and the pea leaves and mint are both seasonal and give the Easter Egg Beet and Citrus Salad something a little extra and unexpected in terms of texture and flavor. They’re so much more fun than just plain greens, but when I can’t find them, I use a mix of baby spinach and baby salad mix. I always try to make a salad that is so good it can hold its own against other strong and perhaps richer dishes. And this salad definitely did that. In fact, it was the only dish I made that was completely gone by the end of the meal. I was glad I roasted … Continue reading