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Spring Harvest: Ramp Pesto!

Spring Harvest: Ramp Pesto!

Spring Ramps

We were hiking through some beautiful, soaked fields (as is typical of New England springs) on a gorgeous warm and sunny evening. The sun was setting as our sextet, comprised of mothers and babies in carriers, trekked onward over small streams and through the dappled sunlight of the forest we came upon the beds of beautiful, vividly green ramps.

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Time Out: Winter Fruit Salad

Time Out: Winter Fruit Salad

I have put myself in a quick timeout (NQGBebe is napping!)  to let you in on how to make a delicious winter fruit salad! I have never really been fond of fruit salad. Browned bananas, canned peaches and fruit cocktail come to mind. That was before this recipe came across my radar screen. Bosc pears, tart apple, figs, apricots, raspberries marry up and settle in a warmly, spiced syrup made with a vanilla bean, star anise pods, lemon peel…oh, please! All the delicious flavors in one giant bowl. Join me as I walk you through the easy steps!
IMG_9617

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Raw Summer Squash Salad

Raw Summer Squash Salad

Raw Summer Squash Salad
I would like to share a simple, easy summer salad recipe with you today. This is a no cook recipe which makes it a snap to prepare when the weather is hot and humid outside. The fresh squash pairs nicely with the fresh herbs. There is a tiny kick from the red pepper flakes along with a bit of crunch from a sprinkle of sunflower seeds. Those pieces of parmesan on top add a  bit of decadence. A summer salad done right! Happy weekend, friends!

Raw Summer Squash Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 - 4 summer squash, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 - 3 T. olive oil
  • 2-3 t. lemon juice
  • sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 C. of chopped fresh herbs, chopped - I used basil and mint
  • Handful of sunflower seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Few shavings of good parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice the squash into rounds. I used my food processor disc for this!
  2. Add the squash rounds to a medium sized bowl.
  3. Add to this the olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, sunflower seeds, and freshly chopped herbs and toss to combine. Grate a few shavings of parmesan cheese over the top.
  4. Let this stand for 10 minutes to let the flavors meld together then serve!
  5. This is best eaten the same day it is made.
http://www.notquitegourmet.com/2014/07/19/raw-summer-squash-salad/

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Side Salads: Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing & Apple, Fennel, & Celery Slaw

Side Salads: Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing & Apple, Fennel, & Celery Slaw

We recently had a dinner party in our new home. Though it was not the first round of guests we have hosted, it was the first time we had more than one person at a time. You can imagine my mind was hard at work creating a menu for six that would be simple to put together. I love to host people for parties. Remember the summer party where everyone could grill up their own pizza? Or the winter bourbon bash? Such fun!
Winter in Williamstown We are in the middle of winter and the weather has been positively wild. Snow storms that send us snowshoeing in 17* weather, quickly turns toward 40 degree days with the sun shining makes me feel like there is hope…spring will come soon! My menu leaned towards a taste of summer in the midst of the sleet, freezing rain and ice outside the front door. I am going to split this menu into two posts. Today I will share the salad sides and the next post will be the main star – pulled pork! Come on…let’s go! 

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Creamy Cashew Spread

Creamy Cashew Spread

“If you’re gonna to go, go now
don’t want to see your shadow moving by
blowing like a storm across the sky
passing like the echoes from your eyes
at the breaking of the morning

So, if you’re gonna to go, go quick
turn your face from the wind
you’re never going to see this one again 
given your body and smile is awakened in the morning…”
Raina Rose, “If You’re Gonna to Go”

Thoughts swirl inside my mind like the leaves outside dancing around the yard in dizzying circles. Raina Rose is quietly playing softly through the speakers that sit upon my desk. Her voice simply soars stopping me in my tracks as I try to think. As her voice soars alongside the accompanying instruments, the melodies and harmonies are rising up and down, intertwining seamlessly together. Talent, inspiration, and joy flow out from the speakers as I press ‘repeat’ and shuffle through all of my new albums. Beautiful.

The late nights chatting of all things important with my amazing Mom as we sip wine while catching the world series on the television. We are in her softly lit living room, the stove is churning out warmth and cheer, as her home just wraps its walls around you and gives you a great big hug. I also realize I am starting to really enjoy watching baseball. Strange.

The cat welcomes me back home and meows a few new sounds as I set down my bags. I wonder if there are books on interpreting cat meows? Moving along to cashew spread.

I first tried this while on my first vacation with my newly expanded family. My mother in law made this spread and I have been dreaming of it ever since. It is simple. It uses this newly acquired gadget in the kitchen…

…so many thanks!!!

I spread it on some cracked pepper crackers along with some roasted apple cranberry chutney.


I hear you can also use it as a dairy free alternative to ricotta as well. Next time I will try a few different spice combinations. Toasted and freshly ground spices seem like a good idea.  What about as a base for a sauce with tomatoes? Who knows, but lets just make up a batch now. Please and thank you.

Cashew Cheese Spread

Ingredients

  • Recipe from Bold Vegan
  • 1 Cup raw cashews
  • 3 Cups water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • few cracks of black pepper
  • 1/4 Cup water

Instructions

  1. Note: You need at least one hour of soaking time before this is ready to assemble
  2. In a small bowl add the cashews and water and allow to soak for at least an hour.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor add the soaked cashews, a splash of the cashew water, lemon juice, salt, pepper and start to pulse. Slowly add the 1/4 cup of water and process for 2-4 minutes until smooth. Store this mixture in the fridge for at least an hour to set up a bit. Enjoy!
http://www.notquitegourmet.com/2013/10/29/cashew-cheese-spread/

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Roasted Apple & Cranberry Chutney

Roasted Apple & Cranberry Chutney

There are days in which I have been feeling quiet. The quiet that finds you feeling rooted in the present instead of feeling anxious over the future. This good-for-you quiet is the type of quiet that just finds you looking a bit closer at the things in the everyday…as if it had not existed until that very moment. Yes, it has been a good day….a quiet day.

In these times of quiet it is often encouraged to have a snack. I decided that for this day I would make a roasted fruit chutney. It seemed like a good idea in this brain of mine that seems to all of a sudden be brimming with a flood of food pairings and flavor ideas. I used to timidly try the ideas out a few here or a few there over the span of months.

Then I began to wonder why? Why not take an idea and run with it? As I was cruising along this road of realization I finally was able to stop. And when I stopped, really stopped instead of the faux stopping I had previously mastered….

I could create.

It felt good. Oh, that spread? It is a cashew spread…I will share that with you soon!

I had a nice day today. How was your day?

Roasted Apple & Cranberry Chutney

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 medium sized apple, sliced, I used Macoun
  • 2 cups grapes, halved if large
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of: cinnamon, allspice, cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 4 slices of red onion
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup pure maple syrup
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350* and line a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
  2. Combine the cranberries, grapes and the apples on the lined baking sheet. Add the cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and toss to combine. Roast the fruit, stirring occasionally, for about 25-30 minutes until softened and all bubbly. (Note: I did not halve my grapes, but I used a potato masher on them and it worked like a charm for this next step).
  3. In a pot on the stovetop, over medium heat combine the roasted fruit with the onion slices, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the chutney simmer until the liquid is reduced down and the mixture is thickened, about 15-20 minutes. This chutney will last in the fridge for up to two weeks.
http://www.notquitegourmet.com/2013/10/23/roasted-apple-cranberry-chutney/

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