Aug 31, 2010

my brain is still on martha's vineyard

in the cozy hamlet/charming fishing village of menemsha in particular. it is beautiful, quiet, and still at sunset, and makes you feel almost like you are in a remote outpost in norway somehwere.

and then around a corner, there is soft serve. really great soft serve. at the menemsha galley. so much quaintness and beauty and all your food needs met so perfectly. that is martha's vineyard.

it is time to come back home though. my son started school this week and my daughter started field hockey 2-a-days. much focus is required to fill out and hand in all the right forms, so many forms. get the equipment and supplies in the right bags. water bottles. lunch. check. check. and check.

it wasn't easy to keep my vineyard feeling going so long. i've tried with some small success to imitate the wonderful meals we enjoyed. i've created a few new recipes inspired by the trip, as i tend to do. i really do travel for food. food and inspiration. recipes coming soon. xo, g

Aug 28, 2010

Chilmark Chocolates (more martha's vineyard wonderfulness)

remember those old-fashioned chocolatiers, the ones who lovingly made each piece by hand and the chocolates were always super fresh, like they were just made? this rare expertise still exists in chilmark. every single time i drove by this tiny up island shop, there was a line out the door. a line that took 15 minutes just to get inside the chocolate shop. there is a pleasant wooden porch for this purpose, so the wait isn't so bad. and everyone is real friendly in line, like all of you are so smart to even be waiting in this particular line, that it is kind of like a secret smart chocolate persons club. and importantly, you are all going to walk out with a great box of chocolates sooner or later. it is a happy line.

once, inside you are handled smartly and efficiently by friendly custom chocolate box consultants who steer you along until you've got your box just the way you like it. they are very patient with you if you hem and haw a bit your first time. they don't mind. they understand. and speak in soothing tones so you feel you've made the right decisions. the price seems like a steal. the taste is incredible, like you just made chocolates in your own kitchen an hour ago just the way you like them.

Aug 26, 2010

if i could i would

hop right back on that ferry to vineyard haven. and take a drive up island. to aquinnah. the views are so spectacular of the gay head cliffs. gay head light. and moshup beach. i would breathe in the views and drink in the marvelous sea air.
ahhh. so lovely.
wonderful views in every direction. stunning.
this would be exhilarating, of course, and maybe might make me a little hungry.
so, i would stride over to faith's, conveniently located in the center of all this, and me and the family would order the usual delicious assortment of fish tacos, lobster rolls, meatball subs and the world's greatest clam chowder.


Aug 24, 2010

i still can't stop thinking about it

we had such a great week on martha's vineyard, it really was one of those magical vacations. the weather was charming, the food was amazing, the beaches, the waves, the inn, all fabulous. and the seafood shacks? great. we went back to faith's seafood shack in aquinnah 3 or maybe even 4 times (that good!), her clam chowder was the best, and so were her fish tacos. edgartown seafood was great too. amazingly sweet and fresh steamed lobster which they kindly crack for you if you ask, and truly excellent fried clams. every single shack had the best something. there is no dressing up and no formal dining required to get a great dinner on mv. though there are plenty of nice restaurants too. the casualness and beauty and great food really make it my kinda place.

it was fresh and familiar, as we'd vactioned there about 10 years ago and i spent one whole summer on the island during college. all in all, it is a pretty easy island to get to know if you go with the flow and take your time. great movie theaters, bookstores, surf shops, bakeries, general stores, farmer's markets. oh i could go on and on. i'll share some more vineyard photos tomorrow as i am suddenly so very sleepy and headed off to bed just now. night all. xo, g

Aug 17, 2010

it's been great

it has been really great out here on martha's vineyard. so much beauty! we all feel refreshed and recharged. now it is time to head home, we are ready to get back into it. see you soon. xo, g

Aug 13, 2010

at the beach

happy weekend everybody. we are spending ours at the beach. boogie boarding. eating fried clams and ice cream cones. going to peach festivals and farmer's markets. steamed lobster picnics on the beach at sunset, meteor showers. really lovely. xo, g

Aug 8, 2010


"an apple is an excellent thing - until you have tried a peach." said george du maurier sometime before 1900. still so true. and peaches are at their peak right now. so many ripe, luscious juicy ones we have been eating. glorious. 

all this bounty can sometimes induce me into a bit of a panic though, no matter how firm i buy them, or in what stages of softness, they all seem to ripen at exactly the same time. the perfume in the kitchen is wonderful but and at certain points this summer there has been ripening fruit all over my kitchen: avocados, peaches, apricots, tomatoes. each imploring to be eaten right now. a bad case of fruit ripening panic. this generally calls for emergency fruit salad for breakfast or as an afternoon snack, and then maybe emergency guacamole for dinner. it would also be an excellent idea to keep some pastry dough in the freezer for emergency fruit tarts as well. these ripe peaches and stone fruits can be a quite an urgent matter. 

once, a long time ago, i was very happy to be in greece in august. for all over the city of athens fruit vendors with carts and in shops were selling giant peaches, peaches nearly as big as my head! these peaches were not only large in size but in flavor, texture, color, in every way. each morning i would head out early and buy one for breakfast. i would quickly head back to the flat with my treasure and devour it over the sink, slurping occasionally, in an attempt to prevent the abundant juice from pouring down my face (a lost cause, let me tell you). but such a lavish breakfast. true luxury. this marvelous ritual went on for a week until i took a boat to the islands. which were lovely of course. but alas, when i returned a month later, no more peaches, the season was over. i don't think i was ever so devastated, before, or since. 

so if you are like me, there may be some fruit ripening in your kitchen right now. it is probably delicious. do hurry, the season is all too short.

Aug 6, 2010

brownie quest

i have been on a brownie quest all week. you see, i had a sudden craving for brownies last week. this is unusual as i am more in the savory camp than the sweet tooth camp, and yet, there it was. an intense desire to eat the perfect brownie. this was probably due, in no small part, to my children who adore the brownies from le pain quotidien. which are very good. but sometimes they can be a bit stale, on an off day, and oh, that is almost too much disappointment to bear when you are in the mood for a really good brownie. it was clear, we had to find a reliable in-house source to fulfill our brownie requirement.

what did i want in a brownie? something rich, substantial, dark, flavorful, but not too sweet. there is an outrageous amount of sugar in some brownie recipes (2 cups of sugar and more). and i just can't have that.

my quest process went something like this: first, i researched brownie recipes from my past, recipes i had used before, i checked out the lpq recipe also, which i plan to try one day, but the idea of making two separate batters and then combining them was too complicated for me in summertime. so then i consulted the recipes of some of my favorite baking experts. i took a few ideas from each. i baked a batch nearly every day. (making my family very happy in the process). tweaking the recipe, changing a few things. 

i have come up with a recipe i love. one that is perfect for me. my son loves it too. perfect with a glass of milk. it is dark and rich and velvety. paired with vanilla ice cream and warmed chocolate sauce, it is some kind of taste of heaven. my husband and my daughter, they maybe want something a little sweeter. not bad, they say. so thankfully, the quest continues. it is hard work, but someone's got to do it.

rich velvety double chocolate brownies
10 TBSP unsalted organic butter (1 stick plus 2 TBSP)
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate broken into pieces (best chocolate you can find, organic green&blacks is nice)
1 cup + 1 TBSP organic sugar
4 large eggs, whisked
1 TBSP vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (i used green&black's cocoa powder as well)
1 cup sifted organic flour

preheat the oven to 350 degrees. line a 13 x 9 baking pan with parchment.

melt the chocolate pieces and the butter in a glass container in the microwave or over a double boiler. i like to use the microwave for this as it takes 1 minute 30 seconds at most. often less. allow the butter and chocolate mixture to cool for 5 minutes. stir until smooth. add the vanilla extract and stir in the sugar.

whisk in the 4 eggs, the cocoa and the salt. stir until combined. now gently and swiftly add the sifted flour, stirring only as much is absolutely necessary to combine.

pour the batter into the parchment lined pan. bake until set, only about 15 to 20 minutes. 17 minutes worked for me. simple, dark, rich, velvety brownies in half an hour! cut into squares while still warm. a fine accomplishment during one sultry week in august.

vietnamese shrimp

this is one of those fast, easy summer suppers that still has a lot of flavor and interest. somewhat kid friendly. my daughter does not like shrimp, so we cook some tofu for her the same way. she loves it. this dish works quite well with scallops or cleaned squid also.

vietnamese shrimp
1 pound medium to large shrimp, shelled, deveined
3 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
2 TBSP minced cilantro stems
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 TBSP brown sugar or agave nectar
2-3 limes, cut into wedges
handful of cilantro leaves

mix fish sauce and sugar or agave nectar together. saute garlic, shallot, scallions, cilantro stems for 1 minute on very high heat. add shrimp, stir, add fish sauce mixture. throw in half the cilantro leaves. continue to saute until shrimp is just cooked, another minute or two at most. remove from heat. squeeze 1 of the limes over the shrimp. sprinkle on the cilantro leaves. stir. serve immediately with some jasmine rice, lime wedges and maybe a cool cucumber salad. so fast.