Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cape Cod Chicken Bog

Tonight we had a hankering for some chicken bog. We were introduced to this dish by my sister-in-law, Dana, who grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This is one of her specialties.

Not only is she beautiful, but I have to say, she makes a damn awesome bog.

Now she and my brother Chris live in Nashville and it’s been much too long since we’ve had a meal together.

I tried calling Dana for her recipe, but she was out. So the Kitchen Genius decided to come up with his own Cape Cod version. In the meantime, my brother emailed these fighting words: “It won't be as good as hers ... or at least not as authentic!”

KG considered this a Throwdown, so here’s his version. He fully expects you to get cooking and send your photos and recipe, Dana - or anyone else who does a fine bog.

The beauty of this dish is how well the flavors meld together. The chicken broth and kielbasa make the rice especially moist and flavorful and the chicken is tender enough to fall off the bone. Love that!

Best of all this recipe feeds six and the ingredients only cost a whopping $10.

Cape Cod Chicken Bog
Serves 6

5 pounds of chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, medium diced
1/2 red pepper (3/4 cup) medium diced
2 celery stalks, small diced
4 cloves garlic, minced then mashed
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups rice
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 pound turkey kielbasa, sliced

Trim excess skin and fat from chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat olive oil in large skillet and brown chicken three minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside. Place onion, red pepper, celery and garlic in pan and sauté until tender, about four minutes. Add chicken broth, rice, spices and kielbasa. Stir to combine. Pour into enamel roasting pan (or large baking pan). Arrange chicken thighs on top. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

For a printable recipe click here

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Caramelized Bananas

Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day? All three names applied to yesterday, the day before the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. We love any excuse to celebrate something different than our every day life, but what to make for dinner?

I was thinking about making a jambalaya, but it was getting late and my energy was waning. A trip to the grocery store and fish market sounded like too much work.

All day long the IHOP in Hyannis advertised free pancakes on the radio. They do this on “Pancake Day” every year to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit organization that donates money to hospitals specializing in pediatric care.

There’s nothing like hearing the same ad all day long to start a craving, and the Kitchen Genius had a hankering for pancakes. Best of all, we had every one of the ingredients right in our pantry. In fact a quick check of our supplies is what inspired this recipe.

This really was the perfect comfort food after a long, hard day of work - and a kid favorite.

No holiday is complete without a cocktail to go with it, so I whipped up a batch of Blood Orange Martinis to go with our pancakes. They were really more like fresh juice screwdrivers than martinis, but I shook them and served them straight up in martini glasses. Yum!


Cathy at Noble Pig invited me to include this recipe at her monthly Potato Ho Down, a roundup of scrumptious potato recipes. I'm honored to do so!

Click on the link above and join in the fun! The deadline for this month's event is March 18, so you've got plenty of time to come up with your own spudilicious dish.

The Recipes:

Sweet Potato Pancakes
Makes 12 medium sized pancakes

1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (about two medium sized ones)
1 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten

Prick sweet potatoes with tines of a fork to release steam and cook in microwave for 6 to 7 minutes or until tender. Cut open skins and allow to cool. When cool, place in medium bowl and mash with a fork.

Meanwhile stir together flour, baking powder and salt.

Add melted butter to sweet potatoes and stir. Add milk and stir again until well blended. Add eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Cook on preheated, greased skillet until golden on each side.

Caramelized Bananas

1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
4 bananas, peeled and sliced

Melt butter in skillet. Add brown sugar and maple syrup and stir until well blended. Gently place banana slices in mixture and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, flipping banana slices once. Serve on top of pancakes or ice cream. Top with toasted pecans.

For a printable recipe click here

Blood Orange Martinis
Makes 2

3 blood oranges
2 tangerines
1 teaspoon sugar
4 ounces of vodka

Fill martini shaker with ice. Juice the oranges and tangerines. Remove any seeds and pour juice over ice. Add sugar and vodka. Shake well. Rub rim of glass with a slice of the orange left over after juicing. Dip glass in sugar. Pour and enjoy!

For a printable recipe click here

Monday, February 23, 2009

Green Fairy Oysters Rockefeller

For those who follow along, here's the other photo I snuck in during our "no photo" Valentine's dinner - and my favorite dish of the evening. It was an easy top choice. I order Oysters Rockefeller every time I see them on a restaurant menu, and we’ve made a whole bunch of versions at home too.

This one is my hands-down favorite - so far - since I'm more than willing to continue testing these succulent babies both at home and in restaurants for the rest of my life.

But from now on, every recipe will have to compete with this one. With shallots, fennel root and fresh wilted baby spinach, these oysters rock with fresh flavor.

But that’s not all. There is secret ingredient that makes the brine so tasty, you’ll be tempted to lick the shell. If you were sitting in my dining room eating these with me, I’d make you guess what it is, but some things are lost when sharing food on a blog rather than in person.

Hint: It was the drink of choice of artists and writers in the mid to late 19th century. Oscar Wilde drank it. So did Edgar Allen Poe and Ernest Hemingway. Picasso and Van Gogh painted it. Its nickname is la Fee Verte or the Green Fairy. Did you guess?

The secret ingredient is Absinthe. I don’t know what the laws are where you live, but Absinthe is now legal in Massachusetts. It was outlawed in the U.S. in 1912 because of its reputed hallucinogenic effects, but now that it's back, it's experiencing a revival.

We didn’t actually buy a bottle ourselves. It was a gift from a friend who bought it for us years ago in Europe, long before it was legal here. The stories about Absinthe scared me enough that it rested in our wine rack, looking oh so cool, for years before we actually tried it. Yes, years!

We finally decided to try it on our anniversary a year and a half ago – at a cottage we rented in Maine, because if we were going to hallucinate we sure didn’t want to do it in front of the kids. Just kidding – kind of. I had actually done enough research to reassure me that one drink of Absinthe wasn’t going to make me lose my mind.

It didn’t. But it did have a different effect than a glass of wine – more like a buzz with a heighted awareness. We drank it the traditional way, by pouring cold water over a sugar cube placed on a spoon. This causes the Absinthe to louch, or turn a milky opalescent white. It’s pretty cool and the flavor is a combination of anise and other herbs, including the wormwood that is blamed for the hallucinations.

But I digress…back to the oysters…

The other special ingredient in these Oysters Rockefeller is St. Andre cheese. This French soft ripened cheese is buttery like Brie, but with a more intense flavor. Its triple crème makeup with a 75 percent butterfat is certainly not for dieters, but it is so well worth trying for those occasions that just demand decadence.

Don’t you wish all of life could be that way?

Green Fairy Oysters Rockefeller
Serves 2

12 oysters
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 cloves minced garlic
4 tablespoons finely chopped fennel root
2 ounces Absinthe (or Pernod)
Sprinkle of salt and pepper
2 cups baby spinach
Small wedge of St. Andre cheese

Open oysters (* see tip below), discard top shell and arrange on cookie sheet. Heat butter and olive oil in sauté pan. Add shallots, garlic and fennel root and sauté over medium low heat until tender, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add Absinthe, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Place spinach in pan and cook just until wilted, 1 – 2 minutes.

Divide spinach mixture evenly (about a kitchen teaspoon each) among the 12 oysters. Top each with 1 teaspoon St. Andre cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

* John Lowell, owner of the East Dennis Oyster Farm, offers the following instructions on how to open an oyster. First, always wear a pair of sturdy gloves and use a good quality oyster knife. Lowell says true Cape Codders go in from the side, but its easier to in at the hinge and twist the knife to pop it open. Cut the adductor muscle that holds the shell closed. Discard the top shell and separate the adductor from the bottom shell. For the best presentation, take your knife and flip over the oyster meat.

For a printable recipe click here

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bloody Mary Martinis or Snacks in a Glass

There’s no question the best food we ate all week was on Valentine’s Day, but the Kitchen Genius put the kyboshes to my desire to photograph each course and write down every recipe early in the evening.

“This isn’t about the blog, you know,” he said, watching me take photos of the martinis that served as our first course. Oh, right. Focus on romance…

KG indulges my blog addiction most of the time, but even he has his limits. Apparently it isn’t very romantic to have your wife leaning over your shoulder, notebook in hand, asking questions and sneaking measurements while you are cooking her a meal worthy of a four star restaurant.

Got it. But I sure was happy I also got this photo:

I’m a big fan of Bloody Marys so I love these martinis, especially when they are stacked with plenty of snacks like giant olives, pepperoncini and shrimp. The flavor inspiration for them came from the Lobster Pot restaurant in Provincetown, where they serve the best Bloody Marys in the world.

The first time we drank these martinis was last summer, when I had an abundance of fresh tomatoes. I made a recipe that called for me to strain the juice from fresh tomatoes and use just the solid tomato and discard the juice.

I looked at the leftover nectar and couldn’t bear to thrown it out. And just like that a new martini was born. For the Valentine’s martinis, I used a quart jar of my home canned tomatoes. I strained the juice and KG used the tomatoes for a sausage and white bean ragout and veal parmesan breaded with fresh rosemary bread crumbs, topped with the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.

The nectar from strained tomatoes is much lighter in color (more pink than red) and texture (no heavy sediment) than tomato juice. I’m pretty sure you can get a similar result if you strain a can of store bought diced tomatoes, but I haven’t tried that myself. If you do, please let me know how they turn out.

As we were sipping the martinis, KG noted that they would look better with a celery salt rim. (D***, I forgot!) But the fact that he remembered was proof that the blog is part of his life too, because it's not like celery salt is "lick the rim off your glass" good.

It gave me the courage to take one more photo of my favorite dish of the night…and it is none of the yumminess I have already mentioned. Next time!

Bloody Mary Martinis
Serves 2

1 cup tomato nectar
4 ounces high quality vodka
1 tablespoon green olive juice
1 tablespoon pepperoncini juice
1/2 teaspoon grated horseradish
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Sprinkle of salt
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Two lime wedges
Celery salt
2 large green olives
2 pepperoncini
2 large cooked shrimp

To get tomato nectar, strain 1 quart of fresh canned tomatoes or 2 (14 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes. Fill 2 cup martini shaker with ice. Add tomato nectar, vodka, olive juice, pepperoncini juice, horseradish, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Slice lime wedge in half and run cut edge over rim of martini glass. Sprinkle celery salt on plate and dip limed rim of glass in celery salt to coat. Shake martini vigorously and pour into glasses.

Thread one olive, pepperoncini and shrimp onto a cocktail pick and lay over top of glass.

For a printable recipe click here

Thursday, February 19, 2009

White Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

I have a habit of buying things that I never get around to using. I’m not talking about big, expensive things. More like small, inexpensive (where are you going to store them?) things like the Valentine’s cookie cutters:

And small silicone heart shaped cupcake cups:

Well, Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and I’ve given up on those cookie cutters, but on Sunday I was determined to use the silicon cupcake cups. My Aunt Sandie and Uncle Jerry are visiting from Hawaii, so we had a family dinner at my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Foster’s house in Harwich. This seemed like the perfect excuse to make some cupcakes.

Ever since last summer, I’ve been dying to make my dear friend Jennifer’s cupcake recipe. These are not just any cupcakes. They are the best cupcakes I’ve tasted – EVER.

Jennifer is so modest I might never have known how incredible her cupcakes were, if I hadn’t made bread and butter pickles and relish with the excess of cucumbers we grew last summer. Jennifer loves sweet pickles so I offered her a jar of each. Instead she wanted to trade, so I asked her what her specialty is.

“I’m pretty good with cupcakes,” she said, and just like that a deal was made. I loved the idea of bartering food and thought it would be a great blog post. I took this photo of what I gave Jennifer:

And then I took a few pictures of her cupcakes as soon as I brought them home. Why, you ask, are those photos not here? Unfortunately, I didn’t upload the photos until the next day and they were simply awful. I was still trying to figure out how to take food photos back then (and now) and for some reason those cupcake photos were tinted blue and very blurry – in short, not at all worthy of Jennifer’s cupcakes.

Which were simply AWESOME! She isn’t just pretty good at cupcakes; she is the cupcake QUEEN. Her cupcakes were so light and flavorful and topped with plenty of fluffy frosting that was creamy and not too sweet.

They were so amazing that I ate two that afternoon, and I’m not prone to sweets. The rest of the cupcakes were glommed down by my family before I ever had a chance to discover my photos didn’t come out.

I meant to make them myself right away so I could take new photos, but you know how that goes….fast forward six months later and here they are, finally.

The batter came together so beautifully:

And for the first time perhaps ever, I decided to test the new kitchen gadget before I committed to a whole batch. Good thing I did! For my first trial, I sprayed one little heart shaped cup with butter flavored Pam and filled it with batter.

Well the center of the cupcake rose, but the sides didn’t because that Pam kept making them slide right back down. The end result looked like a pregnant heart. I wish I took a photo, but I was too horrified to even think about doing that. Obviously I’ve got a long way to go as a food blogger…

The next individual heart went into the oven with no greasing. It rose evenly and looked beautiful, until it refused to leave its red silicone heart behind. I gave up on the hearts and threw some liners in my regular cupcake pans and crossed my fingers.

Finally success!

Jennifer’s recipe comes from the cookbook from her favorite bakery, the Buttercup Bake Shop in Manhattan. The original recipe called for all whole eggs, but Jennifer has found that the cake is lighter when you substitute egg whites for some of the whole eggs. She also substituted some cake flour for regular flour because she thinks it tastes better, and used salted butter instead of unsalted and added a touch of almond extract.

The frosting recipe is my second attempt at strawberry frosting. The first time I tried to make this, I used a recipe from the February issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. The chocolate cherry stack cake looked beautiful so I decided to make it for my daughter Julie’s 16th birthday.

Julie wanted strawberry frosting instead of cherry, so I substituted strawberry juice for cherry juice. The recipe called for sour cream, whipping cream, confectioners sugar and maraschino cherry juice – all good in concept, but the frosting just didn’t gel.

It tasted great, but the consistency was more like yogurt than frosting. This time I used a traditional buttercream recipe and added the strawberry juice to that. Much better.

My cupcakes weren’t as good as Jennifer’s, but they were still the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. The kids agree - and they were a huge hit at the family party. They got great compliments and both these plates came home empty.

Jennifer's Cupcakes
(Adapted from The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook Golden Layer Cake)

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 egg whites
1 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups Softasilk cake flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 24 liners in cupcake pans.

With medium speed on electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the extracts to the milk and stir. Add half the flour to the butter and sugar mixture, beat well, then half the milk. Repeat.

Fill cupcake liners and bake about 20--22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Cool and frost.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

5 strawberries
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3 – 4 tablespoons milk

Wash and hull strawberries and place in a mini-food processor. Process until pureed. Beat butter in mixing bowl. Add confectioners sugar and 4 tablespoons strawberry puree. Beat, adding 3 tablespoons milk as icing mixes. Scrape sides of bowl, beat until all ingredients are blended. Check consistency. If frosting is still too thick, add one more tablespoon milk.

*Because the frosting contains fresh strawberries, refrigerate any cupcakes that are not eaten right away.

For a printable recipe click here

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is the perfect day to share a little blog love - my Cape Cod Bag of Goodies contest is officially over. Because it’s Valentine’s Day, I’m also tucking a heart shaped rock I found at my favorite walking beach, Linnell Landing, where I just watched the beautiful sunset in the picture above.

Thank you to everyone who participated! I used a random integer generator and the lucky number is…

#6 – Katherine at Smoky Mountain Café! And how perfect is it that this Valentine's Day is also Katherine's 17th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary!

(Katherine, please shoot me an email with your address and I will get your bag of goodies in the mail on Monday.)

I’m going to be cooking up a romantic meal with the Kitchen Genius over the next few hours, so I don’t have time for a long post or any recipes today.

I hope your day is just lovely and full of candlelight, chocolate, champagne, and kisses.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

“Hungry Eyes” Chicken Sandwiches

(Dirty Dancing photos by David Scheimann, with Amanda Leigh Cobb as “Baby,” Josef Brown as Johnny, and Britta Lazenga as Penny.)

Last night the Kitchen Genius and I went to went to Boston to see “Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage” presented by Broadway Across America - Boston at the Opera House. We had great seats thanks to my lovely editors at the Cape Cod Times and the wonderful publicists at the Opera House.


The show was simply amazing! The special effects were eye popping and the dancing was beyond incredible. Can you imagine being able to do this?

Or this?

Yeah, me neither. But it sure was fun to watch. If you’re anywhere near the Boston area, I can’t recommend this show highly enough. Get your tickets as soon as possible, because they’re selling out quickly and the show is only here until April 12.

Unfortunately those great seats came with a price. I had to write a review when I got home at 11:45. Not that I minded, because the show had me so energized I was no where near ready for sleep, even after and hour and a half ride home.

Before the show, we had dinner at a little place around the corner from the theater called Max & Dylans Kitchen Bar. Cool name for a cool place. Their whole menu sounded so tasty, I wanted to order one of everything.

That doesn’t happen very often for me. Usually I can narrow my choices pretty quickly. But this place had fun stuff like homemade potato chips with crumbled bacon and warm Roquefort cheese, filet mignon sliders, grilled pear salad, and a whole line of spiffed up mac and cheese dishes with additions like Buffalo chicken, lobster, and prosciutto.

They also had a bunch of really yummy sounding sandwiches and flatbreads with nifty toppings. Since we were in a hurry, we kept our order simple and had the seared duck flatbread with caramelized onions, orange cranberry compote and gouda and the beef tenderloin flatbread with mashed potatoes, frizzled leeks and truffle oil.

Total YUM! And the quick service allowed us to make it to the theater a half an hour early. (If I had known it would be so quick, I would have ordered more food - next time...)

My late night last night made me a wee bit tired tonight, and I wasn’t in the mood to make a big dinner. Then I remembered the great sandwiches on the menu at Max & Dylan’s and decided to come up with my own cool combination.

I bought some ciabatta rolls and a store roasted chicken at Shaw’s and then added pesto, wilted spinach, sautéed onions and mushrooms, roasted red peppers and a slice of provolone.

These were a huge hit with the family. We served them with homemade white sweet potato oven baked fries.

If you haven't already done so, hop on down to my Cape Cod Goodie Bag Giveaway and register. The drawing is February 14.

The Recipe:

“Hungry Eyes” Chicken Sandwiches

Serves 6
6 Ciabatta rolls
1 whole roasted chicken, meat removed from bones and sliced
1 ? ounce bag of baby spinach
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 red peppers, or one jar of roasted red peppers
6 tablespoons pesto
6 slices provolone cheese

To save this step you can use a jar of pre-roasted red peppers. Or - Cut red peppers into quarters, cut off stem and remove seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and place on foil lined pan, skin side up. Put peppers under the broiler for five minutes until skin is charred. Immediately place peppers in a Ziplock bag and seal. Set aside.

Put a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet. Sauté onions over medium high heat for three minutes, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until both onions and mushrooms are lightly browned and tender, about 4 – 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Using the same already heated pan, sauté the spinach, adding two tablespoons water to steam it slightly for about 3 minutes, or until just wilted. Take pan off burner.

Remove meat from chicken and slice. Peel skins off roasted peppers and slice.

Slice ciabatta rolls in half and place them on a cookie sheet. Toast in a 400 degree preheated oven for five minutes. Spread each roll with a tablespoon of pesto. Layer each open faced roll with chicken, spinach, onions, mushrooms and red peppers. Top with a slice of cheese. Place sandwiches back in oven for about five minutes longer, until cheese is melted.

For a printable recipe click here

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Braised Lamb Shanks

This past weekend, the Kitchen Genius went up to Vermont with my step-father, Tom, to get me some firewood (dear, sweet men!). I have a fire every single night from the beginning of October through the end of April and that means I blast through quite a stack of wood.

With K.G. away, I discovered something rather shameful about myself: I would most likely not be the foodie I am if he wasn’t around. This actually came as a surprise. I always thought I’d be the kind of person who would still cook lovely meals, even if I lived alone.

Since I’ve NEVER lived alone, the only thing I had to base this supposition on is the one week I spent alone in Vermont on a writing retreat. That week, after writing all day, I would could wonderful meals like steak au poivre and chicken stir-fry.

Well that certainly didn’t happen this weekend. In my defense, I’ve had a killer two weeks where every single minute was filled with work and more work. But still...

On Friday night my daughter and her boyfriend ate out, so that just left my son and me and he’s just too fussy to be fun to cook for. So I got Wendy’s takeout for him (totally horrible parenting!) and made an uninspired pepper and onion omelet for me.

On Saturday it was just Tommy and me again, so I got take-out clam chowder for both of us along with a salad for me and chicken fingers for him from the Hearth ‘n Kettle.

To make up for my transgressions, I made one of K.G.’s favorite dinners to welcome him home – lamb shanks. This is actually a dish he usually makes, but I’m proud to say that my first attempt turned out awesome.

My Mom and Tom joined us for dinner. Since Mom thinks lamb tastes musty like mold, she brought her own veggie macaroni and cheese casserole that she and Julie shared.

Today was so warm and sunny my Mom and I took a walk on Linnell Landing Beach after I put the lamb shanks in the oven. It was a bit chillier at the beach, but the whole time I was walking, I kept wondering why on earth don’t I do this every day? Here’s hoping for some more sunny days…

P.S. Don't forget to visit the post below and leave a comment to qualify for my Cape Cod Bag of Goodies Giveaway!

Braised Lamb Shanks

Serves 4

4 meaty lamb shanks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ten ounce package of pearl onions (about 3 dozen)
5 carrots
4 parsnips
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary

Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat and brown lamb shanks on all sides. Place in a dark enamel roasting pan* (see note below). Meanwhile peel onions and leave whole. Peel carrots and parsnips and cut each one at an angle into thirds. Turn heat down to medium and add vegetables to the pan. Cook until lightly browned, about five minutes. Put veggies on top of lamb shanks. Tuck garlic cloves into pan.

Add wine to pan and deglaze with a whisk. Add beef stock and tomato paste and whisk until smooth. Stir in salt, pepper and rosemary. Pour over lamb shanks and vegetables. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for two and a half hours or until meat is fall off the bone tender.

To make gravy, remove shanks and veggies from pan. Skim as much of the fat as you can with a spoon. Pour juices into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile put 2cups cold water and 1/2 cup flour in a gravy shaker and shake vigorously. (You might not need all of it, but I'd rather have too much than have to make more.) When juices are boiling, whisk about a quarter of a cup of the flour water into pan. Stir and bring to boil again. Continue doing this until the gravy is the consistency you prefer. Once it is thickened, continue to cook over medium high heat for two to three minutes to cook the flour. Pour gravy over lamb shanks and veggies. Serve with mashed potatoes.

*Things roast faster in dark enamel roasting pans, so if you don’t have one add up to an extra hour to the cooking time, testing to make sure meat is tender.

For a printable recipe click here

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cape Cod Bag of Goodies Giveaway

Sick kids and deadlines at my paying writing gig have kept me away from blogger-land, but I’m finally ready to post my first giveaway to celebrate my new blog design.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cape Cod, my logo is a colander full of beach plums (not blueberries). I wanted a design that reflected my love of my home on the Cape, but also represented my passion for local food.

Beach plums are my Holy Grail when it comes to local food because the only way you can get them is to forage. The locations of the bushes are a secret that those in the know NEVER reveal. Even me, now that I’ve finally found my own top secret spots.

You have to be devoted to pick beach plums. You can search for hours and find nary a plum, which just makes the satisfaction that much sweeter when you find a full bush. Then there’s the poison ivy that grows side by side, and in many cases intertwined with beach plum bushes.

The truth is you have to be a little bit crazy to undertake this activity - all for a batch of jelly, but that is just what I love about it. Plus the scenery is awesome!

For the blog makeover, I sent a photo of beach plums in a colander, as well as one of a beach plum bush to the wonderful Kaela at Fresh Designs and she created my background using the photo of a real beach plum bush. Pretty cool, huh?

Since I was going for a Cape Cod theme with my new design, I decided to give away things that represent Cape Cod for the giveaway. Here's the loot all spread out:

First I will be giving away Cape Cod summer resident Lora Brody's awesome cookbook, The Cape Cod Table.

It has gorgeous photos of the Cape and fabulous local recipes like "Cottage Street Bakery Dirt Bombs," "Candy Manor Hot Chocolate," and the Green Briar Jam Kitchen's Spice Pear Jam, as well as yummy treats like Portuguese Muffins, Baked Stuffed Clams, Kale Soup, and Cod with Roasted Tomatoes.

As wonderful as the cookbook is, I wanted to give away a bit more, so I headed to the Christmas Tree Shop because it’s kind of a must stop place for many people who visit our sand bar.

Those who live here hum the jingle, "Don't you just love a bargain?" under their breath as they enter the store. Or maybe that's just me...

There I found a cute blue and white plaid lunch bag that is lined with plastic. I also picked up an adorable little notepad and a cottage print oven mitt, potholder and matching apron.

At my local chocolate shop, Brewster Sweets, I got some Cranberry Bog Frogs, Cape Cod Wicked Walnuts and mini dark chocolate mint cups. I’m also including the last small jar I have left of my homemade beach plum jelly.

So how do you win? It’s simple. Just leave a comment and I will use a random selector to choose a winner. You don’t have to have a blog or register anywhere to leave a comment. Just stop by and say “hi.” It won’t affect your chances at all, but if you really want to make me happy, tell me what food is your “Holy Grail” to find, either in nature or at the grocery store.

The contest ends February 14, on Valentine’s Day, because blogging is a labor of love…