Category: ice cream


Throughout the year I create variations on tonight’s menu, something I call a “tuna noodle toss.” It always includes tuna and pasta but those are the only “rules.” Sometimes I use fresh grilled tuna, sometimes good-quality canned; often the pasta is dried, and on other occasions (such as tonight), it’s freshly-made. This is another one of those meals where I simply pull out the ingredients I have on hand and start to think about combinations of flavors that might work well together: tiny French green beans…tomatoes…peppers. After the pasta is made, which can be done in advance, this is easy and quick to pull together. It’s almost like a warm or room temperature pasta salad and to my mind is a one-dish meal.

Yesterday I made a blueberry-lemon pound cake which turned out quite well, so that will be dessert.

Grilled onions and peppers, tossed with tuna, blanched haricots verts, chopped fresh tomatoes, housemade dill tagliatelle, and lemon vinaigrette
Yeast roll

Blueberry-lemon pound cake with vanilla ice cream

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Sometimes old favorites such as standard meat-and-potatoes fare simply need a brightening…a fresh approach…a swift kick in the pants. And it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here, the meatloaf gets a new treatment which the addition of orzo pasta, fresh tomatoes, and black olives as components of the loaf. Green beans are accented with fresh dill. Creamed corn gets a flavor boost from the addition of chili powder, cumin, and diced onions and red peppers. And leftover mashed potatoes are transformed into crispy oven-fried cakes. Just a few simple changes helps elevate the ordinary and/or expected into something altogether different.

The potatoes are probably not the potato “pancakes” with which you might be familiar. Most recipes call for mashed potatoes mixed with flour and eggs that are pan-fried in oil. In this case, cold mashed potatoes are simply formed into patties, dipped in egg white, and dredged in seasoned bread crumbs. Place these in the fridge for a few minutes to set the breading, then place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and “fry” in a hot oven, turning halfway through the cooking. The result is a wonderfully crispy exterior with a creamy interior not unlike tater tots. Do not try to accomplish this in a skillet on top of the stove folks. It won’t work!

I have some golden rules about corn that I will share in an upcoming post but for now, suffice it to say the first of those is to use the freshest ears you can possibly lay your hands on.

Meatloaf of ground beef mixed with cooked orzo, fresh tomatoes, black olives, onions, red peppers and fresh basil
Romano beans glazed with butter and fresh dill
Spicy creamed corn
Oven-fried potato cakes
Yeast roll

Housemade blueberry ice cream and sugar cookies

The main course for this menu is an adaptation of a James Beard dish presented in his book Beard on Pasta.* I have often remembered his introduction to the recipe: “I first had this at a dreary hotel in Genoa that was tolerable only because the kitchen knew how to do a few brilliant dishes. The tiny waxy new potatoes bathed in basil kept me there long after the beds and plumbing should have driven me away.”

The recipe originally intrigued me because it involved the combination of two starchy ingredients, pasta and potatoes, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the two worked quite well together. But as is my usual practice, I have made changes to suit my own tastes. I like pesto as a “hint” in cooking, but I’m not overly fond of the sauce bathing a dish. And it’s rare that I have enough basil on hand to create it in the traditional way. So my rendition involves what I call deconstructed pesto. The pasta and potatoes are tossed with just enough extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic to achieve a light coating and then the dish is garnished with toasted pine nuts, a light chiffonade of basil leaves, and some grated Parmigiano Reggiano. I have omitted the cream that Beard calls for in the dish, preferring instead to dress the salad with a creamy buttermilk dressing.

Housemade fettuccine with roasted new potato wedges and deconstructed pesto
Salad of baby lettuces from the garden with green beans and buttermilk dressing
Yeast roll Chez Edouard

Housemade peach ice cream with pecan crisps

*Beard, James. Beard on Pasta. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1983.

This week’s trip to the farmers’ market resulted in finding beautiful baby turnips with their greens still attached and equally enticing small carrots. Meanwhile, my sister’s garden is yielding the first ripe cherry tomatoes, and my father allowed me to once again scratch in his garden to find the tiny new potatoes that I love so much. (Speaking of baby potatoes, have you seen how much the grocery stores charge for the small baskets of these, marketing them as “gourmet”? I have to laugh.) I garnished them with a dollop of sour cream and a light sprinkle of bacon bits, but if you wish to have a truly vegetarian menu, omit the bacon.

The ice cream recipe is my secret. I made it for our Father’s Day feast yesterday and the entire family praised it as the best butter pecan ice cream they had ever eaten.

June 17, 2013

Steamed baby turnips with their greens
Tiny carrot coins glazed with maple syrup and butter
Sea Island red peas from Anson Mills
Boiled new potatoes with sour cream and bacon bits
Sliced cherry tomatoes with crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Cornbread muffins

Eddie’s housemade butter pecan ice cream with brown sugar pound cake

There is certainly nothing extraordinary about tonight’s menu–the main dish has been done by numerous other cooks before. But the various components add up to a satisfying and simple meal. Think bean and cheese burrito, but instead of the fillings folded into a tortilla, they’re sandwiched and layered into a casserole-type dish that can be cut into wedges. The rice is given a bit of extra pizazz with the addition of onions, roasted red peppers, and pine nuts, and the summer squash is prepared simply…blanched until tender in a small amount of spring water to which a knob of butter, salt, and pepper are added.

Dessert involves a dish of the ice cream made earlier in the week, but updated with a topping to add a new twist.

Southwestern tortilla stack en casserole with housemade refried beans, green chilies, sour cream, and pepperjack cheese served with salsa
Rice pilaf with onions and roasted red peppers
Summer squash with a butter glaze

Pineapple-coconut ice cream with a fruit and nut trail mix topping

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