Burrata Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Pistachio Pesto

Image

“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!

Continue reading

Macy’s New York Flower Show 2017

Image

There is a flowering miracle on 34th Street. The annual Macy’s Flower Show opened on March 26th with this year’s fun Carnival theme.  From the blooming windows along Herald Square to the jaw dropping interior displays, the store is abloom with tens of thousands of flowers.  There is a full size, working carousel!  Each seat of the ferris wheel showcases a spectacular floral arrangement.  Bumper cars overflowing with blooms appear in store isles. This enchanting show runs for 2 weeks until April 9th and is free.  If you can’t make it into the store during business hours, take in the spectacular store windows, as magical as the famous holiday ones.   Macy’s hosts flower shows this year in 3 locations:  NYC, San Francisco and Chicago.  Hélas, the Philadelphia store was not selected this year.  Join me at the carnival!

Continue reading

Easter Centerpiece with Supermarket Flowers

Image

“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.

All the plants chosen are in pots which will extend the duration of the composition. The daffodils and hyacinths with their lush foliage and unopened flowers lend a sense of anticipation to the arrangement with the promise of spring.  Whimsy, color and the Easter theme is brought in with the pastel eggs nestled around the plants and a beloved gardening bunny figurine in the center. The potted begonias add immediate color and will continue to flower for many weeks.  Simply deadhead when needed.

Branches of pussy willow and curly willow add height and dimension to the arrangement.

This arrangement was easy and quick to create. Here’s how:

I lined a large footed container with plastic and scrunched newspaper in the bottom so the height of the plants would be level with the edge of the container.  I then played around with the plants until I liked the arrangement:  tall daffodils in the middle flanked by 2 pots of purple hyacinths and a pot of begonias in front of the daffodils.  In the soil of the daffodils I secured the trio of pussy willow branches and the curved branch of willow.  I then scattered Easter eggs all over the top to conceal the soil and newspaper and bring in some color and texture. The eggs were heaped high above the top of the container bringing a feeling of fun and exuberance. The finishing touch was the carved wooden bunny in the center and the plaid organza ribbon in complementary pastel shades tied around the container.  The arrangement rests  on a colorful runner with more iconic Easter imagery.  I can easily water the plants by directing the water around the Easter eggs.

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  Doug Larson

Happy Spring!

Rustic Asparagus-Mushroom Galette

Image

On asparagus:  “Europeans of the Renaissance swore by it as an aphodisiac, and the church banned it from the nunneries.”

Barbara Kingsolver

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!

Continue reading

Thai Spiralized Zucchini Salad

Image

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.

 

Continue reading

Spiced Rice Pudding with Orange Caramel

Image


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.

Continue reading

Philadelphia Flower Show 2017

Image

The 188th Philadelphia Flower Show opens to the public today and runs to March 19th.  This year’s theme is “Holland: Flowering the World”, celebrating the beauty of the Dutch landscape, the beloved Dutch contributions to the botanical world and highlights the country’s technological advances in green energy, starting with windmills. The show is spectacular.  Set on 10 indoor acres, it is the largest indoor flower show in the world.  Proceeds from the show support the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society urban tree planting programs and City Harvest which grows and supplies food to the underprivileged.

Starting with a rainbow of more than 30 thousand tulips and other bulbs running in carpets, the entrance display recreates the iconic bridges and winding canals of Amsterdam and Delft.  Some bridges are covered in Delft tile with lighting changing from day to night.  Throughout the week of the show every bulb will be replaced with fresh ones, ensuring that no matter when you come, the show will be at prime viewing enjoyment.

Continue reading