Tag Archives: silly lindsey

origanum majorana

Marjoram sounds like the name of a homely, studious girl in your mother’s eighth grade biology class.  I don’t know about you, but the scientific classification for the herb Marjoram, origanum majorana, sounds like a naughty phrase from the boy’s locker room. Utter its cousin, origanum vulgare, and it’s study hall for you.

However you like to address fresh herbs, I have a spunky friend for your new pal Marjoram. Oregano is her sneak-out-the-window older sister, so the same flavor rules apply. If you’ve visited A Pear to Remember before, cue palm-to-forehead smack as I gush over eggplant and feta YES SERIOUSLY AGAIN. (I find affordable, abundant varieties of eggplant at Korean/Latino grocers, discussed here).

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Andrew is a newly inducted member of the eggplant fan club and still weary of initiation rituals. When it’s not breaded or covered in cheese, eggplant in-the-nude lingers suspiciously longer on his fork on the slow ascend to his mouth. He liked this salad. Really, genuinely liked this salad. I like to think the Andrew-Stamp resides in the same circle of Kid’s Approval since, let’s face it, men aren’t always so excited about new veggies.

If you thought eggplant was only for Italian food, well, obviously you’re new here. Even if you’ve cooked it twelve ways, here’s a strikingly simple Middle Eastern salad for your expanding culinary repertoire.

Spinach Salad with Grilled Eggplant and Feta

from Gourmet, June 2009

serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic (I’ve got a sexy Brit to show you how)

2 teaspoons chopped marjoram or oregano

1 (1 1/4-pounds) eggplant, trimmed and cut into 8 (1-inch-thick) rounds (here’s how)

10 ounces baby spinach

1 cup crumbled feta (1/4 pound)

1/4 cup pine nuts (1 ounce), lightly toasted

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal (high heat for gas); we use this stovetop fellow year round. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, marjoram, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

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Brush both sides of eggplant slices with some of dressing. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper—you know, pinch it, don’t fret over measures. Oil grill rack, then grill eggplant, covered only if using a gas grill, turning occasionally, until tender, 12 to 15 minutes total. Cut into pieces.

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Toss spinach with enough dressing to coat and season with salt and pepper. Add eggplant, feta, and pine nuts and toss again.

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Serve atop fluffy couscous and sprinkle with some baby tomatoes. I imagine this salad would gladly accept an invitation from my juicy roast chicken to get together after school and “study”.

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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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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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is it a brie day or bulgar day?

When I’m not shoveling in pastry-wrapped brie, I try to plan healthy meals for Andrew and I. With our Charleston trip just a week away (and belly-aching memories of monstrous pancakes from last year’s visit), we’re trying to eat light before a week of Southern cuisine. After 350 days, I think I am ready to look at biscuits again.

I love the search engine on Epicurious.com, which provided an abundance of quick, easy and healthy recipes. I chose an herb-packed grain salad to accompany a different take on green beans. With almonds and lemons on hand, edamame in the freezer, and a healthy mint plant on my windowsill, the meal was budget-friendly with ample leftovers.

I grabbed bulgur, a whole grain, in the bulk bin for less than $2 and was pleasantly surprised to find it tastes fluffier than couscous and not at all bland like whole wheat pastas. It tastes buttery.

The following recipes—marrying here for a substantial meal—are adapted from the September 2009 issue of Gourmet magazine. Oh, and you need to be open to cilantro.

Bulgur with Herbs

1 cup bulgur wheat

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 cup chopped scallions (from 1 bunch)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup chopped mint

1 tablespoon store-bought roasted-almond oil or olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus 1/2 tsp. lemon zest

In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the cup of bulgur, and cover, allowing the bulgur to simmer on low heat. Stir occasionally and cook about 20 minutes until the bulgur has expanded. Fluff gently with a fork. Drain any excess water.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until hot, then cook almonds, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute.

Return drained bulgur to serving bowl and stir in scallions, herbs, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and almonds (with oil).

Season with salt and more lemon juice if desired. Serve at room temperature. Oh how crunchy and loaded with lemony flavor!

Bevy of Beans and Basil

3/4 frozen edamame, thawed (soybeans; shelled saves time)

3/4 pound young fresh Romano beans (Italian flat beans), stemmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-to 2-inch pieces (I omitted)

1/2 pound green or wax beans, trimmed and halved crosswise

1/4 cup packed basil leaves

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons water

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil; add thawed edamame for about two minutes, remove with slotted spoon and transfer to serving bowl. Cook Romano beans (if using) in same pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a bowl.

Cook green beans in same pot until just tender, 6 to 7 minutes and add to other beans.

Cut basil into very thin shreds. Cook garlic in oil with a rounded 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 1 minute.

Add beans, water, zest and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Stir in basil and 2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and remove from heat. Season with salt and additional lemon juice if desired.

Serve beans warm or at room temperature.

It’s a record-hot spring already in Virginia, this is perfect picnic food!

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out with the old, in with the blue

I’m officially paying my electrician in lasagna. Spinach-Pesto-Fontina Lasagna to be precise, and just you wait for that phenomenal recipe. It helps that our dear, dear friend—and his sweet wife—appreciate culinary reimbursement.

Before I share an exciting kitchen update in our cherished condo-living, let’s travel back in time to our kitchen apartment: living-eating-cooking space rolled into one, and the former kitchen table…

Our five cabinets were a little tight, serving space limited, and cookbook shelf shoved between a storage cabinet and printer…

As you can see, Andrew and I managed as the occasional cooking duo, but it’s a lot easier in our new home. (A special thanks to Bob for behind-the-scenes shots of this memorable brunch).

Besides sanding and painting our table set—a tedious summer undertaking on my part—and investing in a kitchen cart, the neccessary kitchen update was apparent: the terrifying lamp.

Our rental company insisted this kitchen light was not possibly in need of replacement, and those exposed wires were not really a hazard. Well, our handyman friend Dominic said, “Yes it is. Get yourself a new light and I will install it.”

A few sparks and fuse box visits later, and we welcome you to our ever-improving new kitchen…

 

The painted table is a definite improvement for the time being, especially with the World Market cushions I picked up with a moving gift from Andrew’s Nana and Granddad. In case you like our antique-brass pendant, you can find more information about it here. I also highly recommend this kitchen cart for small spaces needing extra storage and prep space. Dominic assembled it for me while his wife and I worked on this leek and brie gratin.

Should not we revisit the bartering system?

 

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scary good

new kitchen, good witch

On Halloween, my school held a sweet Dress Like Your Favorite Book Character day. Maybe walking around both my workplace and the grocery store as Amelia Bedelia inspired this fun, casual dinner. But this was one of those meals where the first, divine bite was this melting moment of, “That’s the best taste in a looooooong time.” Really, it’s just a sandwich, jarred pantry ingredients, nothing fancy. And you need to grill it this week.

I should also mention that you really don’t taste the artichoke, if that’s a dealbreaker for some Andrews readers out there.

Artichoke and Eggplant Panini

from Gourmet 2009, serves four

1 (6 oz.) jar marinated artichokes, drained and chopped

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 small garlic clove

1 (3/4-pound) eggplant

olive oil

1 (1-pound) loaf Italian bread, 8 (1/3-inch-thick) slices cut from middle

1/4 pound Fontina, thinly sliced or shredded

1/3 jar roasted red peppers (optional)

1 tablespoon drained capers (optional)

Prepare a gas grill (or stovetop grill pan) for direct-heat cooking over medium-high heat. (If you do not have a grill, brown both the eggplant and sandwich in your oven broiler).

Pulse artichokes, mayonnaise, capers (optional), and garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped.

Trim off a thin slice from 2 opposite long sides of eggplant, then cut eggplant lengthwise into 4 thin slices. Brush both sides of slices with olive oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Grill eggplant slices, covered, turning once and brushing grilled sides with olive oil, until golden-brown and tender, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a tray.

(Since Andrew isn’t “into” eggplant, I hammered one chicken breast into an even piece and grilled along with the eggplant. Literally, with a hammer).

Brush both sides of bread with olive oil and grill, covered, without turning, until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes. (We used regular hearty sandwich bread).

Top each of 4 bread slices, grilled sides up, with cheese, peppers, and an eggplant slice. Spread artichoke mixture on remaining 4 bread slices, grilled sides up, then assemble sandwiches.

Put sandwiches on grill and press down with a metal spatula, then grill, turning once, until heated through and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes total.

Enjoy with pickles, maybe some soup, and a slightly spooky movie. We love Young Frankenstein. What’s your pick?

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bend it like bekvam

I hope you caught my latest pistachio-filled post over on Anilia’s blog A Little Inspiration.

We are super, super busy taking apart furniture, wiping down cabinets in the new condo, and squeezing through the maze of moving boxes in our apartment.

You were right (FBI agent Mr. John S. was indeed the first to guess) that we do not have a microwave in the new place—and, no, I would never sacrifice the counterspace for one. We’ll live. We will also live without phone, cable, and internet due to the massive Verizon worker strike. (September 7th update: we are still without virtual connections to the outside world—Verizon estimates 7 weeks to installation—hence the lack of gorgeous food on the blog. We have, however, been eating plenty in the new, fabulous kitchen).

Some consolation: I’ll be too busy to surf the net unpacking all of my kitchen goodies and interpreting the Sweedish instructions to assemble BEKVÄM, the kitchen cart on which I finally landed. It’s smaller than what I would love to have both counter and storage space. But to fit both a mobile work station and my cookbook shelf (aka a great piece from Andrew’s childhood bedroom), this is the best bet.

(Click here to see the new kitchen where Bekvam will reside next to Prickles and Rocket, my new plants).

Your turn:

Does anyone have experience staining birch? Spray vs. paint primer? Techniques? It’s not an immediate goal, but would be fun to stain this at some point to make it a classier home for my mixing bowls and kitchen tools.

Do any readers own Bekvam or have any experience with IKEA kitchen products? IKEA would not be my first place for furniture, my upcoming trip is primarily to load up on affordable ceramic pots for the abundant greenery I picked up at Peppers yesterday. Our new kitchen has two bright windows with generous ledges already filled with arugula, chives, cilantro, parsley, and rosemary. We have no furniture in there yet, but the greens are already flourishing!

I must rest up before tomorrow’s big and rainy move, but I will report back on kitchen things (and my herbal survival rates) when I sneak back to the apartment for internet connection [to you].

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I’m not in right now, but if you leave a message…

I’m a guest writer! You can find my latest recipes and post over on Anilia’s health and home blog: A Little Inspiration. Today, I’m writing about pistachio pesto, a 5-minute plum salad, and sharing the yellow roma tomatoes I submitted to the 2011 Virginia Grown farmer’s market photo contest! Click over to read, and see you back here soon 🙂

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much ado about a (new) kitchen

Hi. I’ve missed you, and I can’t believe I have yet to tell you about last week’s memorable cheese flautas or pistachio pesto! But my final exam in Epidemiology is tomorrow, and then life will resume.

an announcement

It’s time to say goodbye to my cooking days… in our itsy apartment kitchen!! Okay, maybe sufficient for the average Joe, but not for those Lindseys who love using five bowls, two pans, and four appliances…

My present disaster zone:

looks deceivingly spacious with this panoramic camera feature.

The new place (we get the keys on Friday!) is just around the corner from our apartment. It has a charming, spacious stone patio where Andrew intends to grill to his heart’s content. Though we’ll need a grill first.

Besides converting the dining room to a music room (my piano + flute + retro reading chair), here’s the kicker:

A kitchen! With space! And counters! A built in pantry! And a new stove going in this Saturday!

This photo is taken from the breakfast room, yes a charming little spot for our teeny table beneath a second window looking out to the woods.

Two windows! In a kitchen! Oh, imagine.

Look around. Do you notice anything missing that may be in your kitchen? I’d love to see if you can guess in the comment section. If you’re closeby, perhaps the first commenter with the correct guess will win an invite to dinner?

Over on the left side with the 16 foot blank wall, I would like to put my cookbook shelf and storage island with cooking surface (as affordable, but maybe not as unattractive/boring as this). Suggestions?

the view from our breakfast room

Being vertically challenged, I am eager to organize our kitchen within my reach—Andrew will love the fewer calls to “fetch the brown sugar, pretty pleeeease. Any thoughts? Innovative systems in your kitchen?

Come back soon for some memorable meals and do-able recipes I made last week (it’s whole grain pasta and frozen veggies for Lindsey during Study Days). And remember to answer the What’s Missing In This Kitchen Photo puzzle below in the comment section!

side yard and guest room view

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the salty blues

Just the other day, we talking about foods too rarely made at home. Less than two hours before the neighborhood cookout, and I hadn’t made anything to share (nor had I showered/picked out an outfit/plugged in the hairdryer). Minor limitation: no time left in the day or money left in the budget to purchase ingredients. What’s a Lindsey to do?

Make homemade crackers, of course.

Flour? Check. Butter? Check.

You remember my indulgent blue cheese binge when Andrew went hiking recently? I still had 3/4 block of Blue, and knew Andrew would not volunteer to eat the stinky cheese. The inspiration came from a sunny day in March, reading  cookbooks with cousin Ruby on the porch, teaching her small phrases like “caponata” and “who loves Ina”.

Excuse me for a moment while I share a gratuitous photo of the sweetest strawberry ever.

Yes, it was this memorable afternoon that Ru and I came across this appetizer. When Ruby pointed to these and said, “Uh-oh!” I knew she meant that I would may eat the entire batch.

Well, little cousin, by the time you’re old enough to read this (which may be next week, at your pace) your teeth should be able to handle the serious crunch. Thanks for the inspiration.

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

inspired by Ina Garten

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

8 oz. Stilton or other blue cheese, crumbled (about 12 ounces with rind), at room temperature

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 extra-large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cheese together for 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix until it’s in large crumbles, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix until combined.

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 12-inch long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the log 3/8ths-inch thick with a small, sharp knife and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes (check around 18 minutes) until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking (I also flipped with a small spatula halfway through). Cool and serve at room temperature. Fabulous with wine or my father-in-law’s frozen margaritas. You definitely don’t need to like blue cheese to enjoy these salty snacks—ask the hubs. And the neighbors.

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