Monthly Archives: June 2013


I scream you scream we all scream for ???

Rhubarb berry ice cream, anyone?

It’s summer, it’s hot, and I am going to eat ice cream. The store-bought stuff is fine, but have you tried reading the labels lately? Poly-what? Hydrolyzed who? I flunked organic chemistry in college, so I really can’t decipher what I’m eating. And forget about the reduced fat or reduced sugar varieties — UGH. So if I’m going to eat ice cream, why not make it out of ingredients I can pronounce and seasonal flavors that really tickle my palate?

As a child, we had one of those old-fashioned Ice+salt wooden-crock hand-crank ice cream makers. Us kids would beg and beg and beg for ice cream, my parents would say no we never crank long enough, we would promise to crank and please oh please and finally, yes, my parents would give in. Each of us kids (there were three of us) would crank for about 2 minutes, plead total exhaustion, and then my poor dad would be stuck cranking that thing for 45 minutes by himself. The ice cream was wonderful, but it was understandably about a once-a-year treat.

As a young adult, I bought one of those small units where you freeze a special bowl and then make ice cream in it. I could never get my freezer cold enough, so the ice cream never really froze fast enough or hard enough, so it was a bit of a disappointment. Fast forward to my **ahem** later adult years, and I decide to acquire one of those ice+salt machines, but an ELECTRIC one. They run about $40. My first one died after just a few batches but my current one seems to be going strong.


So my latest ice cream confection truly is blogworthy. I started by making a compote of rhubarb and mixed berries at my brick house mid-week (it was very tasty on its own and would have been awesome over waffles, french toast, or vanilla ice cream). I refrigerated it for a couple of days before transporting it to the beach house on a Friday night. That Saturday, I combined the compote with the ice cream base and froze me up some ice cream.

Rhubarb and Mixed Berry Compote

1 cup chopped rhubarb
2 cups berries (I used a frozen cherry, blackberry, black raspberry, blueberry mix)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 hunk peeled ginger, about 3/4 inch, cut into several thin rounds (COUNT HOW MANY)
1/4 cup water

Combine all in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Turn heat down and simmer gently for 5 – 10 minutes until the rhubarb is tender but not mushy and the liquid has turned syrupy. If you taste the rhubarb it should have absorbed some of the sugar but still retain some tartness. Let cool to room temperature. Fish out the ginger rounds (that’s why you have to count them). Refrigerate several hours before using to make ice cream.


Ice Cream Base
Adapted from Sweet Cream Base #1, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book
3 extra-large eggs
Yolk of 1 extra-large egg
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk


Whisk the eggs in a HUGE bowl until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, whisking like crazy. Add the cream gradually, whisking gently to combine. Add the milk gradually, whisking gently to combine. Add the refrigerated compote, stirring gently to combine.

Freeze according to your manufacturers instructions. These quantities are appropriate for a 4 quart ice cream maker.


I was a little short on ice and too lazy to drive back down to the liquor store to buy more, so my ice cream did NOT thicken/freeze in the ice cream machine as much as I would have liked. No worries — I just scooped it into a couple of large plastic containers, leaving headroom, and froze the covered containers in my VERY cold home freezer. Even if it had thickened to the consistency of soft-serve, which is about what I get out of my machine, I still would have had to harden it off in the freezer. It’s just part of the process.


I served the ice cream with fresh NJ blueberries.


I made this ice cream a few weeks ago, using fresh strawberries rather than the mixed frozen berries in the compote. I also added some uncooked fresh strawberries to the base. It was delicious, but not nearly as colorful. Also — the uncooked strawberries tend to get a little hard when they freeze, but the cooked ones had soaked up some sugar and remained softer after freezing. I’m now sold on the idea of pre-cooking the fruit with sugar for ice cream.


Another Tuesday Night Wine Candidate

My friend Beverly, over at One Week Closer, took my comment about not having much luck with the under $5 wines as a challenge, and gave me a bottle of Rene Barbier Mediterranean White to try. At a price point of $4.99, I was a **bit** skeptical, but she was spot on! It’s a nice crisp white, not too sweet, not too dry, and seems pretty versatile. I ate it with delivery pizza, but I could definitely pair it with cheese and fruit as a summer party starter. I think Bev pegged it when she described it as a Houswives Wine (she shares my guilty pleasure for the Bravo RH series).

Beverly got this at a local liquor store and I think I’ve seen it at Trader Joe’s, so it should be readily available at mass retailers.

Standard caveat: This is a personal recommendation. These folks don’t know I exist and have provided neither product nor compensation for this endorsement. In fact, they’ll probably sue me if this ever gets in a search engine.

[photo credit: P. Sue Kullen]

Food Porn: Standing Rib Roast

[photo credit: P. Sue Kullen]

So a couple of weekends ago, we made plans to have dinner up on the cliff at a friend’s house. While our cottage has cute peek-a-boo views, the cottages along the cliff have AMAZING 180 degree views of the Chesapeake Bay. So we bribed our way up there by saying we’d cook a hunk of meat if they’d provide a starch and a dessert. Having sampled my husband and my grilling efforts in the past, well, it wasn’t a hard sell — they knew they were in for a treat.

So off I go to Nick’s, my butcher of choice down at the beach. Standing Rib Roast was On Sale. OMG, we love standing rib roast. And everyone we’ve ever served it to now LOVES standing rib roast, too. It’s a beautiful cut of meat — the ribeye steak still on the bone. What’s not to love? So the meat guy and I have a discussion. A whole section is 7 ribs, but that’s too big for my V-rack. He can cut 2, 3, 4, or 5 ribs, or sell me the whole 7. He wants to know how many people I’m serving, I say four, but I want leftovers. He thinks 3 ribs is sufficient — HA!! I hold my hands up in the air, approximately the width of my V-rack, and we decide that’s 5 ribs. So off I march with a 12 pound rib roast. Now I know this will feed 10 – 12 people, easy (okay, 8 if they are Big Eaters), but I really don’t know how many people are coming to dinner, and I really DO want leftovers, because remember, we LOVE standing rib roast. And I won’t have to cook Sun, Mon, or Tues because I’ll keep serving my main carnivore the leftovers.

Once we get home, Keith fires up the grill. We are aiming for a nice gentle indirect 350F. Inside, I let the roast rest outside the fridge for about 30 minutes, then rub with extra virgin olive oil followed by a generous dose of spice rub (kosher salt, black pepper, dried rosemary, dried thyme, and dried garlic, ground to a fairly fine powder in a coffee grinder). I place this monster in the V-rack, bones down, fat side up:


Keith has configured our Big Green Egg for indirect grilling with a plate setter. We put the meat on, shut the lid, and begin our clock-watching. As Keith likes to say, “If you’re Lookin’, you ain’t Cookin’!” So we won’t crack the lid until the 90 minute mark. By now, I know I’m serving at least seven, so this beast doesn’t seem quite so gratuitous after all!

We pop the lid at the 90 minute mark and take the internal temp with my $5 meat thermometer from the grocery store. It doesn’t even register the lowest temp at 130F! No worries — it’s early by my calculations, so we shut the lid and continue drinking the strawberry mojitos I’d mixed to keep us occupied. At the 2 hour mark we check again — barely registering! I’m getting a little nervous, since we’re now 1/2 hour late to the appointed dinner hour, and I still have to grill the romaine lettuce, and oh no we are done with the mojitos. On the other hand, I know that internal temps can JUMP considerably in a short period of time right at the end, so I’m not panicked. About 15 minutes later we check again, and it’s the magic 140F to 145F we were aiming for! I know that sounds pretty rare, but there will be a significant amount of carryover cooking as this beauty rests for 20 or 30 minutes, so we’ll have more done sections at the ends and a mmmm mmmm rare at the center of the roast. Trust me — that’s when you need to pull this.

So we pull it, put the V-rack and all on a cookie sheet, tent with aluminum foil, and he hauls this hunk-o-beef up the hill (he’s an amateur strongman don’t worry about him). I quickly cut the romaine hearts down the center, drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper, and place cut side down on the still hot grill (Keith had kindly removed the plate setter so I’m set up for direct grilling). Keep on the grill long enough for marks, flip over, and char the other side. You don’t want to wilt the entire head — just get some color and carmelization. I pull these, tent with foil, and race up the hill.

What a feast! We had potato salad (sour cream!), red cabbage slaw (vinegar not mayo!!), sesame green beans, and roasted beets to accompany the roasted beef and balsamic-drizzled romaine. Our host pulls out a bottle of pinot noir saying we ought to drink red, but this was her only bottle. Keith excitedly asks “Michelle Michelle remember that wine?!?”, reminding me of three bottles of wine I’d been saving for a night of fine food and friends — THIS was the night!

Okay — side note — I was married once before. As part of the amicable division of assets, we had to split our modest “wine collection”. I’ve long since consumed most of what I got, but I had 3 bottles of Dry Creek Vineyard wine hanging around, waiting for the right occasion. I had ’94, ’95, and ’97 Old Vines Zinfandel. These weren’t high-end wines, but I had visited the vineyard in person, and probably carried one of these bottles back on a plane (back when you could), so they held great sentimental value. And I REALLY wanted to drink them all at one time, so I could compare them.

So we drank the wines in a row with this feast of a meal. I was a little worried — because I don’t have proper storage facilities — but the wines had held. The ’94 was amazing. The ’95 was very similar to the ’94, but just a touch more delicious! The ’97 was lovely, but didn’t quite compare to the ’94 and ’95. It is such a treat when a meal and the wine complement each other so well. And the view — OMG — the view! A night to treasure.

Which is why I have so few photos — we weren’t thinking about blogging or Facebook. We were enjoying the company, the food, the wine, the view, the weather … truly a confluence of all the reasons we cook for loved ones.

I do have one more quick photo, the leftovers we had back at the brick house:




So the current joke at our house is whether or not something is “Blogworthy” (for those of you of a certain age, you might recall Elaine of the TV show “Seinfeld” using the term “Spongeworthy”). It started out innocently enough, when I announced on a Friday that I intended to cook something “Blogworthy” over the weekend. So when my husband ate his yogurt, he asked if it was “Blogworthy.” When he poured a glass of ginger ale, he asked if it was “Blogworthy.” And so on. That didn’t last long, FORTUNATELY, but now it’s our little joke about whether a dish or a meal is merely ordinary or something extraordinary and worth sharing with others (he is very supportive of my blogging and he’s even getting a little more patient about the picture taking).

So at our little beach cottage, my husband has planted a few old-fashioned fruit-bearing bushes that begin to bear fruit right about NOW. We have Gooseberries, Currants (both red and black), and a Service Berry (my Mom calls it Sarvis Berry — both are correct). These are nice to eat out of hand but what he REALLY loves is a not-too-sweet bread chock-full of the fruits of his labor. So he tasked me to make him some Blogworthy Bread with our current crop of Service Berries.

This recipe is the same basic recipe I’ve posted recently, but I took more of a dump approach with the ingredients — it’s a VERY forgiving recipe. My husband ate at least half of this bread over the course of two days. Me and a couple of friends had some with some leftover home-made strawberry rhubarb ice cream. We all pronounced this bread BLOGWORTHY.

Service Berry Breakfast Bread

SAMSUNG2 cups Service Berries (aka Sarvis Berries)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare an 11 x 7 x 2 inches baking pan by spraying liberally with baking spray.

Rinse your berries and pick over for stems, leaves, and small bugs. Drain well. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of the flour over the berries and gently shake them around to coat lightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, and buttermilk until well combined. Dump in the dry ingredients and mix by hand until incorporated. I started with the whisk and ended with a rubber spatula.

Gently fold in the berries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.


Bake the loaf at 375F for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan and cook another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or with only a few crumbs).

Allow to cool to warm before cutting — this is a VERY moist bread and if you cut into it too soon, it will be gummy. Store tightly covered at room temperature, not that it’s going to last very long!



You could substitute fresh blueberries for the service berries.


Quick Crab Fix

I love me some crab. Especially our beloved local Maryland Blue Crab. Hardshell, softshell, crab cakes, crab balls, lump, backfin, soup, bisque, chowder … you name it, I’ll eat it. Picking crabs is a lovely way to spend a hot summer afternoon, sitting at a picnic table covered in paper bags, cold beverages at hand, but it is HARD work and that crab fights back! Sometimes you just want to take it easy and get your crab fix without the nicks and cuts, right?

This weekend, my local market had some imported crab on sale. I grabbed a tub with the idea that I was going to make a hot crab dip, an idea that got discarded as soon as I got my sailing invitation! [It was a perfect day for sailing and I am grateful for my friends with sailboats!] Instead, I grabbed a few items from the fridge and pantry and threw together a crab dip that came together quickly and went down just as fast.

Spicy Cold Crab Dip
Serves 4 as an appetizer

SAMSUNG1 small container (5 – 6 oz) plain greek yogurt (I used nonfat)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used “light”)
1 tablespoon bottled key lime juice (I use “Nellie and Joe’s”)
1 – 2 teaspoons of diced hot cherry peppers, to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (medium), to taste
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
8 oz crab, carefully picked over
3/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese (I used a bagged “Mexican” 4-cheese blend)

Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, lime juice, cherry peppers, chili powder, a pinch or two of salt, and cracked pepper in a bowl. Taste for seasoning — you are looking for a little zing not a slap in the face, but you may find you need a tad more hot peppers or chili powder. Add more salt SPARINGLY, since the cheese and crab will be somewhat salty themselves.

Gently pick and finger through the crab, extracting all the shell and cartilage you find, without breaking it up too much. Gently fold the crab and the cheese into the yogurt mixture. Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve cold with a sturdy dipper, like tortilla chips or pita chips. IF there’s any leftover (HA!), eat it within a day.


[photo credit: Steve Kullen]


Fresh crab is highly perishable. Keep it refrigerated until you are actually using it.

I used an imported crab labelled “lump” that my market sold at a “backfin” price. Don’t use the $20/lb+ lump in this dip — save that for crabcakes!

I made a variation the day before with NO salt and Old Bay instead of chili powder — also a home run! I went with chili powder rather than Old Bay this time because one of my guests is gastro-sensitive to some unknown component of Old Bay. Honestly — I think I liked the chili powder better :)


7/25 update: Over the Fourth, I made a double batch that (surprisingly) wasn’t consumed within a couple of days, so I froze the leftovers. Early this week, I pulled it out of the freezer to partially thaw, threw it in a shallow baking dish (prepare with baking spray first!), and then threw THAT into a 350F oven until hot and bubbly (stir occasionally to ensure heated through). Throw a couple of handfuls of cheese on top, back in the oven to melt thoroughly, and TA DA — hot crab dip!


Sending Healing Thoughts to Elliott

My friend’s dog Elliott is a big ole terrier mix with a ferocious bark and a huge kissy tongue. I was sad to learn she’s been diagnosed with Lyme disease and is in the veterinary hospital with kidney failure. I can sympathize, because my own dogs have been very ill, and you just feel so helpless, just as when any loved one is hospitalized. So where does my heart turn? To the oven, of course.

I know Elliott won’t be able to eat these doggie treats, because kidney issues require a strict diet. But I hope that in making these for the healthy dogs in my life I can send some good health karma in her direction.

Get well soon, Elliott!!

Zesty Doggie Bagels, adapted from recipes in Dog Bites! Canine Cuisine by Rick and Martha Reynolds

SAMSUNG2/3 cup chicken stock, warmed
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 package yeast
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the countertop
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large egg
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup

Warm the chicken stock in the microwave. It should be about as hot as REALLY hot tap water. Stir the honey into the stock until it is dissolved. It will cool slightly but you still want it warmer than body temperature. You are aiming for 110F if you are compelled to measure it.

Combine the whole wheat flour and yeast in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Start the mixer and add the stock/honey mixture slowly. Beat on low to medium speed for 3 minutes. Slow the mixer and gradually add half of the unbleached all-purpose flour until incorporated.

Stop the mixer and swap the paddle attachment for the dough hook. With the mixer on low, gradually add the last of the unbleached all-purpose flour. The dough will look a little shaggy — add 1/4 teaspoon of oil and watch to see if it comes together (add another 1/4 teaspoon if needed). With the mixer on low, knead for 3 – 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and follows the hook around in a large ball. Remove the hook, reshape the dough into a smooth ball, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

Lightly dust your countertop with flour. Flatten down your ball, sprinkling with a little flour to make it easier to work with. Divide the dough into 24 equal hunks. Take a hunk and shape it into a smooth ball with your hands. Poke a finger up through the center and pull it gently until the hole is about 1″ wide. Alternatively, put it over your index finger and circle your finger around in the air like a lasso until the bagel stretches out. Don’t be too picky — rising will even out the bumps!

Place the shaped bagels on the parchment paper. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest 8 minutes.

While the bagels are resting, make the glaze. Beat the egg with a fork until a little frothy. Add the worcestershire sauce and ketchup and mix until smooth.

Remove the kitchen towel and GENTLY brush the glaze on the bagels. Bake in the 375F oven for 10 minutes. Remove, glaze again, and bake for another 10 minutes (make sure you rotate the pan for the second visit to the oven). Turn off the oven. Open the oven and shake the pan to make sure none of the bagels are stuck to the paper. Crack the oven slightly and allow the bagels to cool in the oven.

Because there are no preservatives in these bagel, I would keep them at room temperature, in an airtight container or storage bag, for only 1 to 3 days. Refrigerate or freeze for longer periods.





Is it bread? Is it cake?

So I had some leftover coconut milk after last week’s pumpkin curry, and I was NOT going to let it waste (it was light coconut milk so I also was concerned about freezing it). I wasn’t in the mood for another savory curry, I wasn’t making ice cream anytime soon, I don’t really do smoothies, I wasn’t planning to fire up the grill (coconut marinated chicken skewers?) …in my mind, when in doubt, go sweet.

I thought about the consistency of coconut milk. It’s really thick, so I was curious how it might substitute for buttermilk. So I went back to this basic muffin/sweet bread recipe I’ve been playing with, and subbed out the buttermilk for equal parts coconut milk. Inspired! This bread is so moist, and a little dense, almost like a pound cake (I do think that’s the buttermilk-to-coconut-milk sub). The coconut flavor is very subtle — but it’s there. I had grabbed mandarin oranges because they were in the pantry — they turned into little pops of juiciness throughout the bread — nice level of sweetness since the bread is only moderately sweet. Overall — a home run!

Mandarin Orange Coconut Bread, adapted from Heather Christo Cooks’ Lemon Blueberry Streusal Muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup mandarin orange sections, drained, juice discarded

Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare 9″ x 5″ x 3″ loaf pan by spraying with baking spray, lining with a parchment sling, and spraying the sling with baking spray (see photo below). NOTE: Do not use a smaller pan — this produces a HIGH loaf even in this large bread loaf pan!

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt (I like to use the whisk from my stand mixer as a hand whisk for this). Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle beater, mix the butter, sugar, eggs, and orange liqueur until well combined.

STOP mixer. Dump in half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until incorporated.
STOP mixer. Add the coconut milk and mix on low until incorporated.
STOP mixer. Add the second half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until incorporated.

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the orange segments by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the loaf at 375F for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan, lower the heat to 350F, and cook another 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or with only a few crumbs).


Allow to cool to at least WARM before slicing! I know you won’t be able to wait until room temperature, but if you slice too soon, it will crumble to bits (good for the dog, not so good for you).



Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery …

So I had almost 1 cup of fresh NJ blueberries leftover from the weekend. Past experience indicates blueberries do NOT make good margaritas, so it seemed I needed to go in a solid direction. I saw a delicious recipe on a blog I follow, but true to form, I didn’t have enough blueberries to make the full recipe (nor a lemon, nor the brown sugar). So I did what I usually do — make a substitution or two.

Generally when I deviate from a recipe, it’s not so much that I feel the need to IMPROVE upon it, but rather, I’m missing one or more ingredients. Sometimes it’s a home run, sometimes just a lame imitation. I think this one is a good solid double. We’ll see what the Culinary Guinea Pig says :)

Since I was a hair light on blueberries, and didn’t have the brown sugar to make the streusel, I looked around for something to amp up the flavor alongside the blueberries — and found the bottom of a bag of crystallized ginger in the top of my pantry. It was the perfect POP of flavor that I was looking for … I hope you agree!

Blueberry Ginger Muffins, adapted from Heather Christo Cooks’ Lemon Blueberry Streusal Muffins

1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 – 3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons bottled lime or lemon juice
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare 10 standard muffin cups with paper liners (have one or two extra liners just in case).

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt (I like to use the whisk from stand mixer as a hand whisk for this). Toss in the ginger pieces and use your fingers to ensure they are separated and lightly coated with flour. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle beater, mix the oil, sugar, egg, and citrus juice until well combined.

STOP mixer. Dump in half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until incorporated.
STOP mixer. Add the buttermilk and mix on low until incorporated.
STOP mixer. Add the second half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until incorporated.

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the blueberries by hand.

Fill the lined muffin cups about 2/3 full of batter. Bake the muffins at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Rotate the pan and cook another 4 to 6 minutes until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or with only a few crumbs).

Makes about 10 muffins.


Om nom nom nom.


What I’m drinking tonite …

I’m the ANTI wine snob. I’m always on the lookout for those priced well-under $10 … I call them Tuesday-night wines. That’s because you don’t think twice about opening them on a Tuesday night (or a Wednesday, or a Thursday, etc). I haven’t had much luck with the under $5 wines — guess I’m just not cheap enough?

My latest find — a fruity Pinot Noir from CA’s The Naked Grape. It’s a medium-bodied wine, not too drying on the tongue (non-astringent? non-tannic?), and pretty versatile, as are most of the pinots I consume. I pay about $7 at the local grocery store. So definitely a Tuesday-night wine (yes, I realize today is Monday).

Standard caveat: This is a personal recommendation. The Naked Grapers don’t know I exist and have provided neither product nor compensation for this endorsement. In fact, they’ll probably sue me if this ever gets in a search engine.