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April 30, 2012

Essential Nourishment: Lamb’s Quarters with Feta

The first Estonian edition of the book Essential Nourishment, by Marika Blossfeldt, came out in 2009. The first English edition appeared in 2011. It is chock-a-block full of wholesome and visually appealing recipes as well as gorgeous photographs of food and European country scenery. Scenery of Marika’s beautiful Estonian farm, to be exact. This “life book” (so much more than a cookbook) is better than plane fare. It is a window into a world where time has slowed to a healing pace, where living in the present is all there is, and there is time to live in gratitude. Cooking is done in a mindful and seasonal way, with fresh food from the gardens and foraged ingredients. I love the way the text in this book is punctuated by frequent bits of information divided into “Essence” and “Action”. These are very real tools for affecting change.

Making life a work of art seems to come naturally to Estonian born Marika Blossfeldt. But tracing her roots, the journey back to her kitchen has been a full and interesting one. A globe trotting dancer and painter, early on in the 1970s and 80s she worked and performed in Berlin and later, New York. Eventually her career in performing arts took her all over the world. Some seventeen years ago, she fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning and restoring an old farm.

Now an international art and wellness center called Polli Talu Arts Center (, this farm in Estonia is where Marika welcomes visitors, practices and teaches yoga, cooking, wellness, and tends her gardens. Her culinary skills were honed by a course of study at New York’s Institute for Integrative Nutrition and her life direction illuminated by the realization that body, spirit, and mind are one.

Good vibrations and lifestyle suggestions abound in these recipes; the balance of her food and presentation is palpable. Marika’s food is beautiful, delicious, nutritious, and fun. Regionally sourced, Estonian style!

image by Lindsay Taub

Laura’s Recipe Note: Pretty soon, we will have plenty of these lamb’s quarters in my gardens! Because of their wild nature, they are very nutrient-dense.


Lamb’s Quarters with Feta
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

2 cups pure water
1 pound lamb’s quarters, leaves and tender tops only
1/4 cup olive oil
A little lemon juice
Fresh grated pepper and sea salt
9 ounces feta cheese, cubed

Bring the water to a boil.

Add the lamb’s quarters and cook quickly until tender, about five minutes.

Drain. Mix lightly with oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Add in the feta and mix carefully.

Serve warm.

Serves 4.

(From  Essential Nourishment by Marika Blossfeldt, Delicious Nutrition, Beacon NY, 2009.)

April 29, 2012

Garlic Soba Noodles and Shiitake Mushrooms

Think outside of the box for dinner this evening. Try this great recipe for garlic soba noodles with chicken and shiitake mushrooms. Courtesy of, click on the image below for the recipe.


April 28, 2012

Chewy British Flapjacks

British flapjacks, not to be confused with American pancakes, are more like buttery, caramel granola bars. Click on the image below for the complete recipe, courtesy of our friend at Make these delicious flapjacks for Sunday brunch today!

ND7K 289 (Medium)

April 27, 2012

Andouille Blue Cheese Sliders

Blue Cheeseburger Sliders, anyone? Fire up the grill and offer up these great little burgers, packed with big flavor! Click the image below, from, for complete step-by-step instructions.

Click on the image below to get this recipe.

Recipe and image  courtesy of the Spicy Perspective blog

April 26, 2012

Edamame Succotash with Shrimp

Give succotash—traditionally a Southern dish made with corn, lima beans, and peppers—an update using edamame instead of limas and turn it into a main dish by adding shrimp. Click the image below for the recipe to make this uniquely delicious, nutrient dense meal.

image and recipe courtesy of

April 25, 2012

Chili-Rubbed Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

A terrific recipe from the National Pork Board shared with us by Lori Lange of the Recipe Girl blog. Click on the image below to get the recipe an step-by-step visual instructions from Lori’s blog.

Recipe and image courtesy of Lori Lange at the Recipe Girl blog

April 24, 2012

Hawaiian Ginger-Chicken Stew

The melding of flavors in this stew is divine! This is a great go-to recipe for a healthy dinner. Click on the image below for complete directions.

image and recipe courtesy of

April 23, 2012

Avocado-Buttermilk Soup with Crab Salad

This simple, no-cook soup is garnished with delicious orange-infused crabmeat. A vibrant, green-hued bowlful set before a hungry diner will not last long—take our word for it. Although it is intended to be rich and creamy, if the soup seems a little too thick, add 1 to 2 Tablespoons more buttermilk.


photo by John Autry

Avocado-Buttermilk Soup with Crab Salad
from Ann Taylor Pittman, Cooking Light

3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatillos
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 ripe peeled avocados, pitted
1 serrano pepper, seeded
1 small garlic clove
2 Tablespoons minced red bell pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
8 ounces lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed

Place first 7 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth.

Combine bell pepper and remaining ingredients; toss gently to combine. Spoon about 3/4 cup soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1/3 cup crabmeat mixture.

Serves 4.

April 22, 2012

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

A great party food with only five ingredients, these treats only take a few minutes to put together. Click on the image  below to get the recipe from Brandy at the Nutmeg Nanny blog.


Recipe and image courtesy of Brandy at the Nutmeg Nanny blog

April 20, 2012

Margarita Cheesecake Bars

These bars are truly outstanding. Satisfy your sweet tooth with these treats!

image: Jacqueline Hopkins

Margarita Cheesecake Bars

1 box lemon cake mix, prepared as box directs
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (grate lime peel first)
1 package (2 1⁄2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon freshly grated lime peel
Garnish: 1 lime

Heat oven to 350°. Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil, letting foil extend about 2 inches above pan at both ends. Coat foil with nonstick spray.

Spread cake batter in prepared pan. Bake as box directs. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Holding foil ends, lift from pan. Trim rounded top (hump) off cake with a long serrated knife until flat. Holding foil ends, return cake to pan.

Pour lime juice into a small saucepan; sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand 1 minute, then stir over low heat 3 minutes until gelatin completely dissolves. Remove from heat.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and lime peel in a large bowl with mixer on medium speed 2 minutes until fluffy. Slowly beat in gelatin mixture. Beat 1 minute to blend. Scrape onto cake, then spread evenly to edges. Refrigerate 1 hour to set, then cover loosely and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

To serve: Lift from pan. Cut in 42 bars (dip knife in hot water; wipe clean between cuts).

To garnish: With citrus zester, cut peel off lime. Cut lime in quarters lengthwise then crosswise in 11 slices. Top bars with lime and peel.

Yields 42 bars.

April 19, 2012

Sautéed Chicken With Sweet Potatoes and Pears

This hearty dish is also delicious made with an apple in place of the pear or with pork tenderloin in place of the chicken.


image: David Prince

Sautéed Chicken With Sweet Potatoes and Pears

2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (1 1/2 cups)
1 firm pear, peeled, cored, and cubed
1 1/2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the chicken with ⅛ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Sauté the chicken until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Remove from skillet, cover, and set aside.

Add the sweet potato and ½ cup water to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, about 5 minutes.

Add the pear and cook for 5 more minutes or until the potato is tender.

Transfer to a bowl. Toss with the vinegar, mustard, tarragon, ⅛ teaspoon each salt and pepper, and 3 Tablespoons of water.

Divide the chicken among 4 plates. Spoon the vegetables over each entrée.

April 18, 2012

Hake with Wild Mushrooms

Broiling delicate hake gives it a slightly golden crust and a flaky, moist center. That texture is made all the more memorable when it’s paired with rustic sautéed mushrooms.

Hake with Wild Mushrooms

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, divided
4 (6-ounces) hake or cod fillets (1 1/2 to 2 inches thick)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, divided
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 pound mixed fresh wild mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat broiler.

Stir together oil, 1/2 teaspoon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then toss with fish.

Broil fish on rack of a broiler pan 3 to 4 inches from heat until just cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes.

While fish broils, heat 2 Tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté garlic 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sauté until liquid mushrooms give off has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Add broth, scraping up any brown bits, then add parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon zest, and remaining 2 Tablespoons butter, swirling skillet until butter is incorporated. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mushrooms over hake.

Serves 4.

April 17, 2012

Roquefort Pear Salad

This salad is tangy from the blue cheese, fruity from the pears, and crunchy from the caramelized pecans. The mustard vinaigrette pulls it all together.


Roquefort Pear Salad
image and recipes courtesy of

1 head leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
3 pears – peeled, cored, and chopped
5 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup pecans
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium heat, stir 1/4 cup of sugar together with the pecans. Continue stirring gently until sugar has melted and caramelized the pecans. Carefully transfer nuts onto waxed paper. Allow to cool, and break into pieces.

For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, pears, blue cheese, avocado, and green onions. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans, and serve.

Serves 6.

April 16, 2012

Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake

Spring has sprung and if you are like many Mainers, you might be out in the garden digging the first spring parsnips out from under the straw mulch. Once you’ve had your fill of skillet fried beauties, try this recipe for what I believe will be the “next carrot cake”. This recipe is from a British site called “Good Food” and in metric measure. So this may be something of an exercise….

I enjoyed a version of this cake last evening at Francine’s in Camden with a dollop of lovely maple walnut ice cream. I love the addition of maple to this recipe, especially for spring with the new maple syrup abounding, and anything featuring mascarpone is okay by me.


Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake
recipe and image courtesy of


175 grams (about 2 sticks) butter, extra for greasing
250 grams (1 cup) white sugar
100 milliliters (about 1/3 cup) Maine maple syrup
3 large eggs at room temperature
250 grams (about 1 cup) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon
250 grams (about 1 cup) parsnips, peeled and grated
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and grated
50 grams (1/4 cup) chopped pecans
1 small orange, zested and juiced
Powdered sugar to serve


250 gram (1 cup) tub of mascarpone
3-4 Tablespoons Maine maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease two, 8-inch layer cake pans.

Melt butter, sugar, and Maine maple syrup over a low heat, then cool. Whisk in the eggs, then flour, baking powder, and spices followed by the grated apple and parsnip, nuts, and orange juice/zest.

Divide in half and fill the two pans.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

When somewhat cool, turn the cakes out onto a rack and allow to cool completely.

Just before serving, combine the mascarpone and maple syrup. Spread over one cake and sandwich with the second layer.

Dust with powdered sugar, cut, and enjoy!

Garnish with blue violets. It’s spring in Maine!

April 14, 2012

Quick ‘n’ Easy Shrimp Pad Thai

A quick and easy version of this traditional Thai dish you can make with common supermarket ingredients.

Click on the image below to get the recipe.

Recipe and image from the My Gourmet Connection blog

April 13, 2012

Pineapple-Teriyaki Chicken

Grilled teriyaki chicken with pineapple can be made with just a few pantry staples. Although it’s delicious when made with canned pineapple, fresh pineapple and its juice can easily be used in its place. Serve with brown rice and snow peas.


Pineapple-Teriyaki Chicken

1/3 cup dry sherry, (see Note)
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 20-ounce can pineapple rings, plus 1/3 cup juice from the can
4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs, (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed (see Tip)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon butter

Whisk sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar, and the 1/3 cup pineapple juice in a large bowl. Add pineapple rings and chicken and gently stir to coat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium-high.

Remove the chicken and pineapple from the marinade and pat dry; reserve the marinade. Oil the grill rack. Grill the chicken and pineapple until the chicken is cooked through and the pineapple is marked, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Whisk the reserved marinade and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking, until reduced and thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in butter. Serve the chicken and pineapple drizzled with the sauce.

Serves 4.

Tips & Notes

Note: Sherry is a type of fortified wine originally from southern Spain. Don’t use the “cooking sherry” sold in many supermarkets—it can be surprisingly high in sodium. Instead, purchase dry sherry that’s sold with other fortified wines in your wine or liquor store.

Tip: You’ll need about 1 1/2 pounds untrimmed boneless, skinless chicken thighs to serve four people. For recipes that call for one large thigh per person, buy them at the butcher counter; prepackaged thighs vary dramatically in size. Ask for four 6-ounce boneless, skinless thighs. To trim them well, we like to use kitchen shears to snip the fat away from the meat. After trimming, you’ll have four 4-ounce portions.

Tip: To oil the grill rack: Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to spray the food with cooking spray.

April 12, 2012

Limoncello Cheesecake Recipe

Debbie Peck of the Ciao! from Debbie blog shares her Limoncello Cheesecake Recipe with us, along with other cheesecake variations, as follows:

Amaretto Cheesecake: For the crust, replace the cookie crumbs with Amaretto cookie crumbs and omit the lemon zest.

In the filling, use Amaretto instead of Limoncello and omit the added lemon zest.

Bailey’s Cheesecake with Chocolate: For the crust, use chocolate cookie crumbs or add 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder to the plain cookie crumbs. Omit the lemon zest.

In the filling use Bailey’s Irish Cream instead of the Limoncello and omit the lemon zest.

For this option I often frost the top of the cooled cheesecake with a combination of 1 package of cream cheese (8 oz./200 g) with 4 oz./100 g melted white chocolate. I melt the chocolate slowly, over low heat, and then stir in the cream cheese until smooth.

Pure Vanilla: For the crust, omit the lemon zest. In the filling, omit the lemon zest and in place of the Limoncello, use heavy cream and 2 tsp. of good quality vanilla.

For step-by-step instructions and photos for the Limoncello Cheescake Recipe, click on the image below.

Recipe, image, and step-by-step instructions by Debbie Peck of Ciao! from Debbie blog.

April 11, 2012

Mongolian Beef

An Asian-inspired stir-fry dish bursting with exotic flavors. Strips of sirloin are marinated in a hoisin sauce and stir fried with a medley of vegetables.

Marinate the beef ahead of time and have this filling and savory dish on the table in just minutes. Serve over a bed of rice or with rice noodles to create a full and satisfying dish.


Mongolian Beef

1 pound sirloin or flank steak
1 egg white
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) can baby corn
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon chili paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup oil for frying
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Slice beef across the grain into thin strips. Place in a large bowl.

In small bowl combine sesame oil, egg white, cornstarch and salt. Stir to combine. Pour over beef. Gently toss beef to combine and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

In small bowl combine hoisin sauce, water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili paste. Set aside.

Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat. Add 1 cup oil and heat until very hot. Add beef and fry until just cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in skillet. Add garlic and stir-fry briefly. Add baby corn and green onions. Make a well in the middle of the vegetables. Add sauce and bring to a boil. Stir to thicken. Add sugar and stir to combine.

Add fried beef back to pan and stir to combine sauce and vegetables.

Serve over rice if desired.

Serves 2-4.

April 10, 2012

Cooking with Fernet Branca

Like to cook, read, and laugh? Pick up this book Cooking with Fernet Branca, by British novelist James Hamilton-Paterson. It is the tale of a British opera buff who moves to the wilds of Tuscany and all the comical adventures that ensue.

I found myself interested first in the title, as I am one of those seemingly rare people that love “amaros”, or Italian bitters, and especially Fernet Branca. But I found myself laughing out loud as I lay on the sofa reading, then picking up the phone to order multiple copies for all my foodie friends.



Drinking Fernet Branca the way “portenos” do (people of the port, as in the port of Buenos Aires):

Mix Fernet Branca (half and half ratio) with Coke over plenty of ice. Yes. Really!

April 9, 2012

Halibut with Zesty Peach Salsa

“Our Test Kitchen came up with a fun way to serve halibut by marinating it in citrus juices and brown sugar, then topping it with a refreshing peach salsa. The colorful entree is pretty enough to serve to company.”—


Halibut with Zesty Peach Salsa
recipe and image courtesy of

1/3 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 (6 ounce) halibut steaks

2 cups chopped fresh or frozen peaches
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients; mix well. Remove 1/4 cup for basting; cover and refrigerate. Pour remaining marinade into a large resealable plastic bag; add the halibut. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 2 hours. In a bowl, combine salsa ingredients; cover and refrigerate until serving.

If grilling the fish, coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray before starting the grill. Drain and discard marinade from fish. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat or broil 4-6 inches from the heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork, basting occasionally with reserved marinade. Serve with peach salsa.

Serves 4.