Home Made Dark and Stormy

It may have been dark and stormy drizzly here in Kennebunkport yesterday, but our spirits were anything but damp. Notnerb, Zus, and I made gnocchi with White Barn Inn Chef, played Farkle (rolling straights), and dined at the lively Old Vines Wine Bar with the Don. Thanks babe for treating us to all of this fun!

But I ran off subject a bit…the Dark and Stormy Cocktail…The story began in Bermuda in 1806, when John Gosling managed to come ashore after three months at sea fighting the Bermuda Triangle. He settled on the island and later began producing rum. He paired his dark rum with ginger beer and the Dark ‘n’ Stormy was born! Visiting ships carried the recipe home with them, spreading it world wide, and right into my kitchen as well. So, here’s how you create this cocktail at home! Simple and Delicious!

5 oz Ginger Beer (I prefer Reeds)
2 oz Dark Rum
2 Lime wedges
Fresh mint

Fill cocktail glass with ice (I prefer crushed).
Squeeze one lime wedge in glass.
Pour in ginger beer.
Top up with rum, so that it floats on top.
Garnish with lime wedge and mint.

Cheesy Pull Apart Bread

This house on “the Forest Hill” was packed with energy and festive events last week. I had the five year olds for Grand and GrandDad Camp, a childhood friend here from Shaker Heights, and the Queen Peggy’s 95th celebration of life! And in the midst of it all, the children managed to create a wonderful bread concoction! It’s play time, so follow the trail below…

16 oz round sourdough bread
Stick of butter
2  t minced garlic
1 1/2 t Italian seasoning (or equal parts of dried basil, parsley, and oregano)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Tbs chopped parsley, divided

Preheat the oven to 375°.
Place the bread on non stick sheet pan.
Cut a grid on the bread by creating vertical cuts, stopping before you hit the bottom crust. Repeat the cuts in a horizontal manner.
Place butter, garlic, seasoning, and half of parsley in small sauce pan.
Heat until butter is melted.
Drizzle butter into crevices of bread.
Gently stuff cheese deep into crevices of bread, and sprinkle of top.
Wrap bread in foil to cover.
Bake 10 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 12 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve.

Bread by Lucy, Parker, and Peg. Sculpture by Jeff Kiefer.

Rosemary Cashews, revisited

©PEGhardee

Monday is here; so let’s think about this! I try to begin each week and each day with a bucket full of patience and energy. But by 4 pm my bucket is running a bit low! To back up a moment, actually 7 years…TheDon and I found ourselves at the Ritz, Amelia Island; and each night the bartenders rotated the one in charge of taking care of the nuts…I know, I know…you’re thinking the human nuts, but this time it was literally nuts. These were a fav and we snagged the recipe. Like they say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”! Bucket empty? Grab a glass of cold iced tea and a palmful of nuts to refill. Try It; You May Just Like It! Have a Happy, Nutty Week!

1 lb unsalted roasted cashews
2 Tbs minced fresh rosemary
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 t light brown sugar
1 Tbs salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º.
Spread cashews on baking pan.
Toast 5 minutes, until warm.
In large bowl, combine all other ingredients.
Stir in cashews and toss to coat.
Return nuts to pan and heat 5 minutes.
Transfer to wax paper to cool until the rosemary mixture dries on the cashews.

Apricot Caprese Toasts

Spreading a little joy to jump start this short week! The combination of flavors in this treat are like every section of the orchestra is playing in harmony and on key. This recipe just may become famous! So drop everything and head to the market straight away; then come home and savor the deliciousness!

4 oz fresh mozzarella
3/4 cup apricot jam
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 t olive oil, divided
2 t white wine vinegar
Italian baguette, sliced
1 small ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
1/2 lemon
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Torn fresh basil*

With fingers, pull mozzarella into shreds.
Combine mozzarella, apricot jam, and tomatoes in small bowl.
Drizzle with 2 t olive oil and vinegar.
Toss to coat.
Spread bread slices with remaining 2 t olive oil, salt and pepper.
Toast bread slices.
Smash and spread avocado on toasted bread.
Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Spoon apricot and tomato mixture over avocado.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top with torn basil.*

May also enjoy for brunch.
Note: This is also delicious on a bed of butter bibb lettuce.
*I was out of fresh basil when I made this, so I substituted fresh mint and it was wonderful!

Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini

It’s still strawberry season, so don’t sit under the apple tree; get yourself to the strawberry fields. Then bring the berries home, race to the kitchen, and make this treat to tickle those taste buds. And the crunch factor of the toast just adds a bonus to the mouth feel. Enjoyed by adults and children of all ages. Just sitting back smiling!

4 slices wheat/seed bread*
4 oz fresh goat cheese
Pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.
On parchment lined baking sheet, toss together strawberries, syrup, olive oil, and salt.
Bake, stirring twice, until berries are slightly shrunken and juices are syrupy, about 30 minutes.
Let cool slightly.
Toast the wheat bread and brush with olive oil.
Spread with fresh goat cheese.
Top with berries.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Enjoy for breakfast.
Or cut into pieces for appetizers.

FYI…a cup of strawberries has more vitamin C than a cup of oranges, and almost as much fiber as brown rice. 
Leftover berries can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Makes 16 appetizers.

*My favorite wheat and seed breads are made by Food for Life, specifically Genesis and Ezekial.


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Everything Bagel Cheese Twists

A word from my kitchen…This is just the perfect little accompaniment for your afternoon tea or appetizer for cocktail hour. In my household, they are loved equally by both children and adults. The children like cheese on all of the twists and bagel spices on only half of the twists. The choice is yours, and it’s always right. The children and I have been making these together for years, because a good recipe never gets old!

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tbs everything bagel seasoning
1/4 cup grated Assiago cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out dough to smooth creases.
Cut puff pastry sheet in half crosswise, (I like using a pizza cutter for ease!) on lightly floured surface.
Then cut each half into 1″ wide strips.
Brush with egg wash.
Sprinkle with bagel seasoning and cheese (The children and I made half with bagel seasoning and half with just cheese).
Roll with rolling pin to set the ingredients into the pastry.
Twist each strip a few times.
Place on baking sheet.
Bake 18 minutes; rotate baking sheet; bake 4 more minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool.

Lemon and Pepper Jelly Shrimp

The great Rocco DiSpirito was on The Drew Barrymore Show a couple of weeks back and I was blown away! Rather than totally freak out when I researched his life as a chef, I decided to Keep Calm, Munch On, Try his Recipe, and Order a Couple of his Books. No recipe hunting for you this weekend good folks; I’m just handing it out to you. Just enough spice to make you happy but not ring the fire alarm! This is so full of ease and joy to prep, that you will be cooking it quite often. Add a simple salad or asparagus (to my version) and you have a totally balanced meal, nutritious, and calorie conscious. This food is pure art; and…we’re off!

This is what you need:
1 lb large, cleaned shrimp
2 Tbs olive oil
1 t coarsely ground black pepper
1 t coarse ground salt
2 Tbs butter
Juice of a lemon
3 to 4 Tbs Pepper Jelly, to taste*
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

*I used Jammit Jams Garlic Pepper Jelly, so I omitted the 2 garlic cloves.

And this is how you do it:
Blot shrimp dry with a paper towel.**
Season with salt and pepper.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat.
Add 2 Tbs olive oil to skillet.
Add shrimp, seasoned side down, and sauté for 2 minutes.
While this is sautéing, season the “upside” of the shrimp.
Flip shrimp over with tongs and cook second side 2 minutes.
Immediately remove shrimp to separate bowl.
In hot skillet, add lemon juice, butter, and pepper jelly.
Stir until jelly is meted and all is combined, about 2 minutes.
Toss shrimp back in skillet and stir to cover with sauce.
Serve over cooked rice.***

**I blot most things dry before placing in a skillet…shrimp, scallops, chicken, beef, and pork fillets. It improves the texture during cooking if the protein is dry when added to the pan. Trust me!
***Rocco’s recipe calls for sautéed broccoli rabe to be served with this shrimp, which really cuts down on the calories. Unfortunately, that’s not one of my favorites, and honestly, I really like a little starch. OOPSIE !! I think we have a winner here; and speaking of winners, Super Bowl LV is in 8 days…who’s going to win?
P to the S. I have a favorite! TB for history, just saying.

Taking it Easy Tuesday

We’ve all been cooking, shopping, wrapping…and all of this while sadly refraining from being with our family and closest friends. Yep; it’s a drag. So I’m giving you a wee little Tuesday pep up to help manage this unfortunate stress. As good as it gets, just got a bit better; no recipe hunting and easy on the cook! So just order delivery service from your local Trader Joe’s, and call it a day. (If your local Trader Joe’s doesn’t offer delivery service, Amazon will do it for you!)

This is my very favorite Fast and Furious supper. Butternut Squash Ravioli and Vodka Tomato Sauce. Cook according to package directions and top with grated Parmesan cheese. Zero to Sixty in 5.2 Package to mouth in 13 minutes!

Grape and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

I mean seriously, have you ever seen the cooking show Naughty and Delicious? There is a wonderful Brit gal that is as charming as the English countryside…for me, that means the city of London… I’ve been watching her for a while now and hoped to bump in to her on my three day layover in London last year! Alas, that didn’t happen. But to satisfy all of us until I do meet her, here’s a great easy on the cook Bruschetta, reminiscent of her.

Dodge those raindrops outside!Appetizer Grape Goat Cheese Bruschetta
1/2 small sourdough loaf, cut into six 1/2″ slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup green seedless grapes, cut in half lengthwise
6 fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup soft goat cheese, room temperature
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400°.
Brush both sides of bread slices with oil.
Toast on middle rack 1 minute.
Turn and cook another minute until bread is crispy on both sides.
Rub each slice of hot bread with cut garlic clove as it comes out of the oven.

Add 3 Tbs oil to skillet over medium heat.
Add red grapes and sauté until warm and softened, about 3 minutes.
Add green grapes and toss just to warm. Remove to a bowl.

Add mint leaves to the hot oil and fry until crisp, 15 to 20 seconds.
Remove to paper towel to drain.

Spread goat cheese over one side of each piece of toast.
Top with mound of warm grapes.
Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Top with a mint leaf.
Zest the lemon generously over each slice.

Caesar Crostini

Hello Hello and Happy “FRInally” to One and All! This is a post to make you, your taste buds, and your tummy smile. I bet you have all of this right at your fingertips. So go create a simple little weekend appetizer guaranteed to delight.

…Not to sound all broken record blah blah but please remember to wash your hands, wear your mask, and put your energy where it will multiply, not where it will be drained. You’re welcome for that little life hack! 😉
Appetizer Caesar Crostini II

French Baguette, sliced 1/2” thick
Olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup Caesar salad dressing, divided
Romaine, chopped
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.
Place baguette slices on parchment lined baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil lightly.
Brush generously with Caesar dressing.
Toast 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Toss lettuce with remaining dressing.
Pile gently on each slice.
Top with shaved Parmesan.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Serve immediately.
Makes 12 thin appetizer slices.

Family Party Time!!!
Appetizer Caesar Crostini I