Category Archives: here to share

the curry comeback

I missed you guys!

I really like blogs. In fact, I have several I read every day, I enjoy catching up on daily musings and adventures of writers who feel like virtual friends. A Pear to Remember is not currently a site for daily recipes, and I decided recently that I am okay with that. Rather than disappointing myself with unrealistic expectations of time, or regularly pairing recipes with apologies, I’m going to visit to talk deliciously do-able cooking whenever I can–and that might not be every day. I just love living life, you know?

You see, I do get my blogging in: I also author a weekly WordPress blog at my new job, so you can find new recipes and Nutrition-talk here. I hope you’ll feel free to pop over and see what I’m cooking in my new career.

I don’t forget about you, no no—I’ve photographed many a dinner, anxious to share the secrets to recreating the magic in your kitchen. I even made homemade pumpkin spice lattes that are the best welcome home treat ever. Last night was the third time I made the dish in today’s post—you know I rarely make any recipe twice, so third time here is truly a charm. And I added a few special twists you will love. You do not need a dutch oven to make this rice, you can steam it right on the stove, or bake it in a covered dish—amazing baked rice has come from my Grammy’s vintage turquoise pyrex. But it does look pretty in Monsieur Pesto, oui?

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugFinal disclaimer before we get to the goods: I know a few dears out there are going to FREAK OUT at the word preceding “cauliflower” in the recipe name below. In previous Indian dishes on this site, I’ve tried my darndest to remind you that curry is really a verb meaning to mix. When the Brits got a taste of how spectacular Indian food is (my favorite cuisine, in fact), they—yes, the Brits—invented a spice blend to mimic Indian flavors. Curry powder, I made some last week when I ran out, can be as simple as turmeric + cumin + coriander + cayenne. Put it in a jar and people freak out. An alarming number of people have said to my face: Oh see, I don’t like curry. Well, if I can’t change your mind, this rice will change your world.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugAndrew will gladly call your house and tell you himself.

One-Pot Curried Cauliflower Rice

loosely based on a recipe from Everyday Food, serves 6

4 teaspoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter—oh God!!)

1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (or 1 bag frozen florets)

1 medium yellow onion, diced small

2 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice (we used brown), rinsed well

4 heaping teaspoons curry powder (if it’s been in your pantry for two presidents, time for a new jar)

1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 3/4 cups low-sodium broth

1/2 cup canned coconut milk

½ cup other veggies in your fridge (I diced carrot and fennel), optional

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, until browned in spots. Transfer to a plate.

Add 2 teaspoons oil and onion (plus any other veggies) to pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 5 minutes. Add the rinsed rice, curry powder, and chickpeas.

Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated, about 2 minutes. Add broth and coconut milk (shake the can first!) and bring to a boil.

Scatter cauliflower over top (do not stir to combine). Cover and bake until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes (25 minutes for brown rice).

Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with cilantro and a pinch of salt for pizazz. We enjoyed ours with a side of fried paneer.

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armed and embroidered

Several weeks ago, The Chef’s Emporium asked me to write a product review for them. The amazing catch? I got to pick the product. The Chef’s Emporium has an array of cooking clothing and accessories—even chef clothing for kids (the Children’s Lime Green Chef’s Coat is irresistible). Because my knife rack suffers overcrowding, I decided on V-Series Black VERONA Women’s Cool Vent Chef Coat from the appealing Women’s Collection. The poly/cotton twill coat has a number of wonderful features, better even in person: side seam slit at the hip, ¾ length sleeve, Under-Arm and Sleeve Cool Vent Inset Panels, and a thermometer pocket. For $59.95, I was very pleased with the durability yet lightweight fabric. I was expecting an awkwardly thick top like my karate uniform, and this was a truly pleasant surprise. The sizes run from XS-2XL. I ordered the XS.

I like to consider my “catering” gigs informal: wedding showers, events under 50 guests, dinner parties. Yet in true American female fashion, I am always concerned about what to wear when I’m cooking for others in public. I want to look nice, yet it is guaranteed I will get food on myself. For me, this coat is practical and professional. I would recommend it to any caterer, restaurant cook, or—like myself—the enthusiastic entertainer looking to leave the party without olive oil on her blouse.

I am planning to don this fashionable coat for upcoming cooking demos, so I have been wearing it regularly in my own kitchen in lieu of my usual array of aprons. I especially love the ¾ sleeves for all my prep tasks. Yesterday, I was vigorously shaking salad dressing ingredients in what I swore was a sealed container and proved that this coat does indeed protect one from the neck on down—and is stain-resistant even from oil and vinegars. (If the salad dressing splashes onto your bangs, this coat—regardless how awesome—will not, I discovered, protect you).

I am pleased with the quality of this coat, both in the flattering tailored details and the embroidery. However, I have two complaints; I am to blame for both. I am four-foot eleven-inches short, and rarely need to consider a top size above XS. The XS supposedly suits a woman with 32-42 bust size. There is no mention of hips, and this home cook sure has them. The XS is tight on top, and impossible to button the final button on the bottom over my hips. Having not ordered a chef’s coat before, I failed to consider that I would be wearing this with another top beneath. I would recommend one to two sizes up from your normal, fitted-shirt size. Despite the tight bust, my broad shoulders are not at all constricted working in this coat—another pleasing feature.

I was also disappointed the embroidery is so close to the buttons that my “L” is not visible from certain angles of the coat. However, I chose to include 16 characters with a space in a single line of text: lesson learned. Now that I have a logo (courtesy of Steven DeFoliart), I would order from The Chef’s Emporium again with Steven’s artwork.

A very special thank you to The Chef’s Emporium for providing me one of their quality products I can enjoy for years to come. Check out their affordable knives, clothes, hats, aprons and kidswear at http://www.chefsemporium.net. Then click here to read the lovely things they had to say about A Pear to Remember!

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pretty, perfectly awful food

Many Pear readers remark to me how they enjoy the food photos featured here. Now that I’ve taken a photography course (after two years of owning my camera!), the photos will hopefully improve to not just pretty but professional. A Pear to Remember is a place for recipes I have confidence are worth your time, money and effort—not to document meals only a skilled chef could recreate.

I cook nearly every night in our condo kitchen, so why aren’t there daily recipes posted here? Time is the biggest factor. Flops are another. In the five years I have cooked with determined diligence, the what-a-disappointment meals are increasingly distant from each other. But still.

For those of you who pop over here to find visual culinary inspiration, the following photos are for you. I took them the day after I completed my photography course. What a beautiful meal! An exquisite entrée of herbs, vegetables and wine!

For those of you who want a reliable, replicable recipe—check out the many recipes on this site. The recipe that accompanied this dish produced a complete failure, nearly throw-away bad. The wine made the veggies a soggy, sour mess. I promise I will only ever publish recipes worth your while. I also promise I will always post photos to make you hungry and excited to cook. This is just a we’re-all-in-this-together-my-dinners-flop-too reminder 😉

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Any food disasters you care to share?

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the can-can gratin

My food snobbery diminishes by the day. I like to think.

In the past eight months, I visited six food banks—even as recent as yesterday. I’m learning how they operate, feed, support, and educate the hungry working poor they serve. In two weeks, I get to demo “creative cooking with canned spinach” at an incredible food bank in Maryland with a strong Nutrition Education emphasis. It has me thinking about canned food—where and how it has a place in the American diet.

In my blog profile, I reference my soggy canned corn/green bean childhood. (Allow me to mention here that I was raised in a loving, stable, incredible family and blessed to have canned vegetables as my main complaint). Indeed, my fresh-food-filled adulthood has thus far proven crunchy and delightful. I love witnessing how many food banks are providing seasonal produce to their clients when there are abundant markets. They wisely save canned products for colder seasons. Some local food banks are even sorting canned produce by nutrient priority: orange vegetables, beans, low-sugar fruit, low-sodium soup.

Canned vegetables are not ideal: fresh and frozen are more nutrient-dense and contain less sodium. However, my feelings here resemble my feelings toward the organic-local movement. That’s great if you have access to fresh, local, organic foods. That’s seriously awesome you can afford it. I, in fact, envy this privilege—my farmer’s market has been beyond our budget for the past two years. Hunger is a real and prevalent problem for more Americans than we imagine. Yes, canned vegetables are more susceptible to BPA and sodium. But for thousands of families living within ten miles of me, rent payments and medical bills take precedence over seemingly invisible issues like BPA.

It’s important to note that I don’t believe for a minute economically disadvantaged families should have to choose between nutrition and every other financial matter. I find it appalling it’s often acceptable to donate our leftovers and junk food to “the poor”.

As I am turning my own home into a novice test-kitchen for interesting and healthy canned-food recipes, it only seems appropriate to revisit this dreamy artichoke gratin I made in Brennan and Alejandro’s kitchen. Oh yes, a gratin—pronounced gre-tan—from a can.

Artichoke Gratin

from Plenty, serves 4-6

2 pounds frozen artichoke hearts (sold out, so I used 32 oz. canned in water, rinsed well)
4 lemons, grate zest and reserve juice
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons thyme, chopped (the thyme is crucial!)
6 tablespoons flat-leafed parsley, chopped (I omitted the parsley)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (lower fat is great)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup ricotta
6 tablespoons parmesan, grated 

Place frozen artichoke hearts in a large pot and cover with water. Add the lemon juice to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until tender. If using canned artichokes, no need to boil just rinse well. Drain.

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While artichokes are cooking, heat saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onions and some salt and pepper. Saute 15 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Add cooked onions and artichoke hearts to a bowl and mix with lemon zest, thyme and parsley. Add salt and pepper as needed.

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and then add the flour. Stir mixture constantly for 2 minutes. Add milk slowly, whisking as you pour. Add salt and whisk on low heat for 10 minutes or until sauce is thick and creamy. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, it’s good to go—give it a taste (I like to add an extra tablespoon of parmesan into the sauce at this point).

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Mix bechamel—the groovy french word for the white sauce you just made—with the artichoke mixture.

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Lightly grease a medium-sized casserole dish and pour in mixture. Make small holes in mix and drop in teaspoons of ricotta. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

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Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and remove foil. Top gratin with Parmesan. Continue baking for 20 minutes or until golden brown and bechamel bubbles. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Serve warm. Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

The thyme is a surprising match to the artichokes—and believe me canned vegetables deserve to be featured in such a decadent meatless entrée. Even Andrew and Alejandro—carnivores of carnivores—scarfed up spoonfuls. The best part? Company in the kitchen.

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For more recipes from the cookbook Plenty, check out this zucchini pasta and this unforgettable yogurt-pomegranate eggplant.

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greetings and bean-ings!

Hi friends, I’ve missed you, too! Where have I been? I have an exciting life-project (which may involve me reading 22 books) that I can’t reveal for some time—sorry for the necessary suspense. How have you been?

Here’s the quick catch up on me since August…

Andrew and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary at our favorite B&B

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I chopped my hair off (my students love the fairy resemblance)

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My sweet sister-in-law got engaged (while I snapped, surprise!, 201 photos)

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For Andrew’s 27th birthday this month, we threw a wildly successful Mad Men party (where Andrew had this genius idea to have everyone else bring the food)

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I honored my Grammy’s memory with her kick-ass thanksgiving stuffing

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And, kind of personal, but it’s been nearly 300 days since my last sinus infection so I lovvvvvvve being chronically healthy now (thank you, Symbicort) and in the kitchen every day!

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I realize last time I dropped in to chat, we were discussing corn, but the weather demands we move on. I don’t know where you live, but Virginia had a sunny, 60 degree Thanksgiving day quickly turned blistery-cold weekend. Let’s warm-up and snuggle up with a hearty, healthy dish before the neighbors start delivering cookies…

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Fresh herbs are vital in this simple stew, trust me. And grab a big, fresh, cheesey loaf of bread to scoop up every last drop.  We serve this with Trader Joe’s Alpine Gruyere bread. Click on the highlighted words should you like a demonstration on technique. In this dish, don’t concern yourself with precise vegetable measurements; the more veggies the tastier.

Tuscan White Beans

Adapted from Ina Garten, serves 6… or amazing leftovers

1 pound dried white cannellini beans, cooked (or about 4 15 oz. cans; I have always used canned)

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves; note jarred minced garlic will be too potent in this dish)

1 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I love the rich flavor of Pacific Organic)

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or aged cheese like parmesan)

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Rinse and drain the white beans. Heat the olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pepper and carrots, and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the beans to the vegetables.

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Add 1 cup of the stock, rosemary, salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes, until creamy.

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Stir in the Pecorino, season to taste, and serve hot with fresh bread. We’ve never used spoons.

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10 Things You May Not Know About Me

Spoiler alert to new readers: I love to cook. We talk about that all the time. Here are 10 things you may not know about me:

1.  ELVIS

graceland, 90s, denim

elvis impersonator, denim

this is when demin was “In”.

I have always had an infatuation with Elvis. I watched Blue Hawaii a lot as a kid, and my parents even road-tripped the entire fam to Graceland at the height of my Elvis phase (age 10). I still really enjoy his music, but these days I flip frequently between Al Green, A.R. Rahman,  Dinah Washington, and as of this week: the Swedish soloist Robyn.

this is called Third Position in ballet

2. DANCE

I lovvvvve to dance. Since I stopped studying formally, this passion often gets me in trouble. I was carried out on a stretcher (by some hunky EMTs) from my college house (three fire trucks + one ambulance + two police cars blocking a two lane road for moi) after falling from an arabesque in the kitchen. I only studied ballet for 11 years, but there is not a day in my home without plies or pirouettes (hence three total sprained ankles in four post-ballet years). I worked on learning The Thriller dance for a while and secretly hoped we could break into it at our wedding. Currently, I am learning this dance by Robyn.

3. RETIREMENT PLANS

I would really like to run a B & B in retirement. Andrew is totally on board with this dream. We’ve been to The Ledge House, Victorian Charm, The Baywood, and recently Santosha on the Ridge. harper's ferry, the ledge houseWe’ve loved them all, and immediately scheduled a return trip to Santosha for our four-year wedding anniversary in October.

4. FONTS

I have this thing for fonts, in addition to very strong opinions about how and when certain typeface should be used. I pride myself at naming fonts on signs and menus. It’s not uncommon to hear me mutter, “Oh, please, Papyrus?!”

5.  RELIANCE ON THE INTERNET

Confession: I own 35 cookbooks, one big recipe binder, dozens upon dozens of old food magazines and still I most often search Epicurious.com for dinner ideas. Sitting on my kitchen table at present is Bistro Latino from the local library, I’ve checked it out three times in three years. The grass is always greener, eh?

6. CRAFTING

I really like to be crafty. Nut wreaths, photo albums, collages, knitting, sewing (though I lack skill and know-how), and last week I tried painting with acrylics. Here’s how it turned out:

painting by lindsey, art

original painting by lindsey

7.  SIDE JOBS

I teach flute. This is a more recent addition to my schedule, and I am loving it. I love to sing, but do not have much of a voice, and my poor student has to listen to me demonstrate “TooooooooooooooooooOOOO” vs. “tew” or “pew”. Then I try to sing scales—it is something else.

8. I’M BETTER AT WRITING

I cannot be videotaped. Like, when my hubby was making his first feature film, he gave me a two-second role as “Sleeping Student”. As soon as a videocamera is near me, I giggle incessantly and start talking even faster than I do normally. If you have ever heard me speak, I know this is hard to fathom. I made a short cooking video for a grad school project and we had to do 30 takes of me trying to keep a straight face while slicing avocado.

9.  VERY VINTAGE

I’m REALLY into old things. Old albums for my record player, vintage vases, retro furniture, old French music, old dresses, old pots for my houseplant fixation, old movies (Bringing Up Baby, All About Eve). Old photos top them all.

10. HUMOR

I spend my time on funny things. There is so much pain and loss around, and so many people I miss all the time; it’s just too easy to be sad. If I get a choice, I like to laugh. Favorite sources include (in no order): Saturday Night Live, The Lonely Island, David Sedaris, Car Talk, Weird Al, Anne Lamott, Woody Allen,  Catalog Living, Carl Hiassen, The Onion, Frasier, Modern Family, Arrested Development, Wes Anderson,  Seinfeld, Andrew, and the Stingray Sam theme song. We saw Stingray Sam at the Maryland Film Festival a few years back: It’s a musical. And a Western. Set in Outer Space. Narrated by David Hyde Pierce. Ingenious silliness.

For more about what goes on beyond my little kitchen, click here.

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kitchen block, help!

Some holidays are at the beach with my folks, others are here in (hot, storm-struck) Virginia. This year it’s the latter, meaning I will not be parading the boardwalk with this modest portion of vinegar-soaked potatoes.

french fries, Gus boardwalk fries, beach, Rehoboth

No matter where I am, I’m cooking. Every Fourth of July, I am tempted to repeat this nutty fruit tart from Vegetarian Times magazine. It is about my favorite dessert ever. Then, out of the corner of my eye, there they are: The Cookbooks. By the dozen on my kitchen shelf, filled with recipes yet to make.

Last year, two hours before heading to a neighborhood cookout, I decided to make something. With few groceries in the fridge, and that tiny kitchen apartment, I resorted to making crackers. Salty blue cheese and walnut crackers.

How did July 1 arrived so fast! At least I’ve still got a few days to plan this year. With the summer off from school and time on my side, I’ve got writer’s kitchen block: so you decide. Fair and square, the dish with the most votes by Tuesday night will rinsed and on the (literal) chopping block Wednesday morning. And I’ll be right back to tell you about it.

Don’t worry, there is plenty more from Plenty to which we’ll return after the holiday!

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moroccan in the mail

There is an Arab proverb that goes, “If you have much, give of your wealth. If you have little, give of your heart.” I love surprises, but I am usually on the planning end. Just a few days after I reviewed Salt & Pepper Books, I received a thrilling gift. I was home from work, waiting for the plumber, only to hear a knock at the door hours before I anticipated  his arrival. There was no one at the door, only this:

It was not from the plumber. Well, I was so touched and excited, I couldn’t bring myself to open it. So after a bit, I opened the card…

An early graduation gift from my dear Godparents. My coveted cookbook: Mourad New Moroccan. Isn’t it STUNNING?

    Nearly 400 pages of cultural and technical instruction on traditional and creative Moroccan cooking. I cannot wait! I might begin with the fried spiced almonds or  a homemade jar of preserved lemons. During last week’s vacation to Charleston, I picked up just the right souvenir to get me (and my spice collection) started!

 

Thank you to Rick & Lynette for this exciting gift I will cherish for all my days in the kitchen, and to Christine (the owner of Salt & Pepper Books) for making it so personal and lovely.

 

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shop review: salt and pepper books

 

Last weekend, I introduced my friend Jen to Occoquan. Occoquan is a small (0.2 square miles!) historic town in Prince William County, Virginia with less than 1,000 residents. After over two hours of venturing through art galleries, craft stores, beer tastings, and gelatos stops—all on one short strip—we ducked into a bookstore at the end of the street before heading home. Without noticing the store’s sign, it became clear the titles had something in common.

THEY. WERE. ALL. ABOUT. FOOD.

Today, I headed back to document this special, bedazzling place in hopes my local (and traveling) foodies discover it in person. I left about four hours later, ask Christine.

Despite the blinding rain outside, there were rare moments without customers: regulars popping in to discuss the history of tea, share book critiques, sit on the floor with titles on hibachi cooking. A repeat customer left with five books and half the items on the clearance cart.

This might be an appropriate time to mention the array of genres within books for cooks. Where corporate bookstores leave foodies wanting more than  an aisle of celebrity chef titles, Salt & Pepper Books offers entire shelves on (merely some topics I jotted down): regional cooking, international cuisine, food politics, gardening, cooking memoirs, food ethics, local eating, baking, cooking in the wild, slow cooking, spices, food careers, special diets, seafood, cooking with children, culinary mysteries, flavors, and books on—seriously—cooking.

Christine, the young storeowner, opened Salt & Pepper Books in November 2007. After a successful career in finance, she got to the corner office only to realize, as she put it, “I hate this.” Within a month of leaving her job and relocating from Richmond, she leased the space and opened the store in five months. Christine had no experience in business or retail, but her spicy and easy-going personality suits independent business well. I met a number of regulars in my visit: grandparents to children on a Paleo diet, a first-time cookbook writer, another concerned mother of a vegetarian daughter—Christine had suggestions for each visitor in moments. When I asked her about a new Moroccan cookbook I discovered in Delaware, she had it in my hands before I could recall the title.

Speaking of said cookbook, I only need to teach four more piano lessons to afford the gorgeous Mourad: New Moroccan. Sigh.

It wasn’t until she opened Salt & Pepper Books that Christine discovered an entire world beyond cookbooks: food history, food politics (Lindsey’s personal favorite)—not to mention the culinary mystery series, some written and set locally in Virginia. Check out the titles.

Salt & Pepper Books also sells locally-made aprons, cooking tools, children’s cooking toys and games, and fabulous wine and bar accessories.

Here’s my take: there is something for everyone. Hello, there are 2,000 books! Salt & Pepper is for the novice, the college student, the home brewer, the gluten-free, the gourmet, the wino, the scholar. It is a charming store that warrants many visits. You will leave inspired!

Here’s the good news—if you can’t visit in person, you can still purchase books from Salt & Pepper books through the shop’s website.

Salt & Pepper Books is located on the first floor of the Riverwalk Shops in Occoquan, Virginia. The building is located on the riverfront (125 Mill Street), next to the Route 123 bridge. There is plenty of free parking both in the lot next to the building and under the bridge.

If you come to town, I will personally take you for a visit 🙂

http://www.saltandpepperbooks.com/

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a firenze frenzy

This Sunday, I plan to eat delicious snacks and salty things as an ode to my American culture. I have no plans, however, to watch sporting events. My lifelong indifference to athletics led only to my parents teasing me I would surely marry a man who wanted to watch football every Sunday. Well, I married a film major (brags blogger wife whose laptop rests upon a 4th edition of The Screenwriter’s Bible). We’ll probably take the day to enjoy our own movie marathon. And eat snacks.

Last Super Bowl Sunday, I was home sick and eating this. This year, I am on the rebound to good health and endorsing some healthy appetizers (inspired by serious steroid-related weight gain). These were such a smash at our housewarming in August, and a nice treat again this week at a neighborly happy hour. Tis not the season for tomatoes and strawberries—I know, I know—but grape tomatoes help make the most of this Tuscan treat.

Note: I made this for 50 guests with nary a leftover and multiplied the recipe by six. Because the toasts and topping make excellent leftovers, it is worth at least doubling the recipe. I also used a multigrain baguette the second time around, and it was fantastic.

Crostini di Firenze

from Desperation Entertaining by Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross

makes 20 crostini

1 baguette (at least 12 inches long)

1 large clove fresh garlic

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 lb. ripe strawberries (about 1/2 cup chopped)

1 lb. grape tomatoes, halved

5 or 6, fresh mint leaves (2 tsp. chopped)

Make the crostini

Turn on the broiler. Cut off one end of the baguette, then cut 20 slices, each about 1/2 inch wide. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast in the hot broiler about 3 inches from the heat source until golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove, turn the slices over, and toast until golden brown on the second side, about 45 seconds. Remove the toasted bread from the baking sheet and let cool to room temperature.

Mix the topping

Mince the garlic (on a microplane, or like this) and place in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk well to blend and set aside at room temperature until ready to serve. The vinaigrette and toast slices can be stored at this point for up to 8 hours. Cover the vinaigrette. Place the toast slices in an airtight container at room temperature.

Rinse and drain the strawberries thoroughly. Remove the leaf caps of the strawberries and cut the berries in half. Place the strawberry halves on a cutting board and chop coarsely to 1/4-inch pieces. Put the strawberries in a mixing bowl with the chopped tomatoes. Rinse and dry the mint leaves; finely chop and add to the fruit mixture. The strawberry-and-tomato mixture can be refrigerated and covered up to 2 hours.

Assemble the firenze

Whisk the vinaigrette to remix, pour over the fruit mixture and stir well to blend. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your preference. Arrange the toasts on a serving platter and spoon the topping onto each slice.

Let the crostini stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving to allow the vinaigrette to penetrate the bread. They will get soggy if standing too long, so better to assemble in batches—I promise, even in the midst of a party, this is a breeze. They will go fast.

Click to some other favorite dips and appetizers from A Pear to Remember

Jalapeno-Feta Dip

Mushroom Turnovers

Watermelon-Feta Bites

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

5-Ingredient Trail Mix

Smoked Paprika Chickpeas

Savory Tartlettes

Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Stuffed Peppadews

Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Pita Chips

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