“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Sometimes going with the flow yields the most unexpectedly delicious discovery. After attending an art show with friends recently, we decided to get some dinner on the way home. We headed to the small town of Media in Pennsylvania and stumbled on a gastropub with the fun name Brick and Brew. The pub was pulsing with great energy, in a hip, yet casual setting. A burrata salad caught my eye on the menu. Beautifully presented, I was blown away by how good this salad was. A whole burrata nestled in a crown of heirloom tomatoes topped with a terrific pesto so good I wanted to lick the plate, this was one of the best salads I had ever enjoyed. I asked how the pesto had been made and the chef parted with the recipe so I could try to make it at home.
Brick and Brew’s inspiration burrata salad
Two days later, I couldn’t stop thinking about this salad so we headed back to the restaurant and I ordered it again! This time I wanted to know where to get the lavender honey. House made, like everything else in this restaurant, I was told. The burrata pairing with tomatoes is nothing new. It was the combination of a drizzle of lavender honey and the pistachio pesto that made this dish a winner. You can buy ready-made lavender honey or infuse regular honey with lavender. I used all heirloom cherry tomatoes but use what you can find. You’ll have plenty of pesto left over for more salads or to use in pasta or bruchetta. The salad is really quick and easy to throw together once you have the pesto and honey ready to go. Make sure to scoop up some of the lavender honey with every bite of cheese. It totally makes this salad sing!
“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.” S. D. Gordon
Today I’m sharing an easy make-ahead Easter centerpiece that captures the magic of spring. I will show you how ordinary pots of supermarket flowers are elevated in a beautiful arrangement that gives you a big bang for the buck. I especially love how this arrangement captures the sense of emergence of new life into a new season.
On asparagus: “Europeans of the Renaissance swore by it as an aphodisiac, and the church banned it from the nunneries.”
Spring is in the air and tender asparagus abundant. My cooking is at its creative best when improvising in the kitchen. With some leftover pastry dough I combined fresh asparagus, mushrooms and shallots to create this tasty little rustic tart, literally, thrown together in the spur of the moment. It was so good, I just had to share it with you!
The most success I have had with spiralized salads is using zucchini. My spiralizer is a hand held el cheapo version and does best with soft vegetables. Good thing we love zucchini! This version introduces Thai ingredients to the spiralized zucchini for fresh, bold flavor. It was so good, we fought each other for every last bit of it.
After unseasonal spring-like weather, winter is back with a vengeance. The nesting spirit set in just as a recipe for a very interesting rice pudding from Millie’s Kitchen landed in my inbox and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. When life throws you an ice storm, make rice pudding!
This luscious rice pudding fragranced with warming spices is topped with orange segments in a salted caramel syrup. I really liked that this rice pudding recipe got extra creamy with the addition of a surprise ingredient, evaporated milk, and only had 1/4 cup of brown sugar in it. Allspice as well as the traditional cinnamon spiced it up nicely and gave the pudding a rich depth of color. I added some vanilla bean to mine. I cut down the prep time of the original recipe by segmenting seedless Tangelo oranges instead of the more time consuming supreming. I substituted the rum for pomegranate molasses and simplified the cooking method. The caramel got a gorgeous mahogany color and lovely bittersweet notes. Instead of the original recipe’s candied almonds, I simply toasted sliced almonds to finish the dish. I found the pudding and its caramel sweet enough without adding sugared almonds and liked saving a step. I can’t rave enough about this jazzed up rice pudding and hope you give it a try too. Weathering a storm never tasted or looked so good.
I grew up French. We spoke only French at home and I attended all French schools. Yet where ever I find myself in the world, people always comment, “Oh, you’re French Canadian, not really French.” It is a curious distinction since I feel I am simply, French. At a recent French conversation lunch, the hostess placed a beautiful casserole of something bubbling under a blanket of luscious béchamel on the table. As I wondered what this enticingly aromic dish might be, the group erupted in cheers that we were having “un gratin d’endives”. It was a dish familiar to everyone but me, driving home that my French culture was perhaps a bit different after all. Oh la la, was I happy to get an introduction to this dish!
Baked endives, wrapped in a slice of ham are smothered in a cheesy béchamel for a family style main dish served in many French and other European homes. It is quite easy to make, especially once the endives are cooked. Because the endives hold water when cooking, it is imperitive to really squeeze all the water out of them. This is easiest done if they are cooked the day before and left to drain overnight wrapped in a paper towel, in a colander. The rest of the dish consists of just making a classic béchamel. Add a green salad, and you have a wonderful comforting French family style meal.
Merci, Christine, for introducing me to this lovely dish.