Archive for the ‘Food’Category

Fun with Phyllo

Athens Phyllo’s “think outside the box” contest was fun; in addition to the strudel contest, they held a baklava contest and a spanakopita contest too. Below are my entries from each–the twist on baklava recipe won, and the winners on the spanakopita contest will be notified soon.


The “twist” on baklava resulted in cashew “turtle” mini baklava cups; the spanakopita recipe includes roasted vegetables tossed with spinach and smoked Gouda cheese.



04 2014

Savory Strudel

Earlier this month, I entered a strudel recipe in a contest on, for Athens Phyllo. In checking the site, it appears as though my Butternut Squash and Crab Strudel with Pistachios was one of the winners!

To see the recipe, visit their site at:


11 2013

These Blueberries Have Met Their Match

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is running a recipe contest that asks bloggers to create recipes pairing blueberries with ingredients that go beyond tried-and-true standards like lemon. The recipe category pairings are: banana, coconut, balsamic, and rosemary. If you want to learn more about the contest, check out the site at

I chose to take blueberries on a tropical route–no doubt influenced by the current chilly weather we’re experiencing here in the Northeast. (It’s currently 20 degrees here. A burst of the tropics would not be unwelcome!)

For the ingredient pairing with coconut, I created a Blueberry-Toasted Coconut Upside Down Cake. The cake is buttery and nutty with toasted coconut, and the blueberries are a sweet and jammy counterpart. Lime juice and lime zest brighten the flavors of both the blueberries and the tender cake.

Blueberry-Toasted Coconut Upside Down Cake

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, divided

2 cups frozen blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly grease an 8 x 8 square pan (or coat with cooking spray). For easiest release, you may also line the bottom with parchment paper that overhangs on two sides, and grease or spray the parchment also. Set the prepared pan aside.

On a shallow baking sheet, spread the coconut in one layer and toast in the oven, stirring frequently, for about 5-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and measure off 1/3 cup of the toasted coconut and set it aside to top the finished cake.

In a large bowl, combine the 1/4 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss with the frozen blueberries and then distribute the blueberry mixture evenly in the prepared pan, and then sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of lime juice over the top of the blueberries.

In a small bowl, combine the 1 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the two eggs with the 1/2 cup of sugar, and add half of the dry mixture and half of the melted and cooled butter, then the remaining portion of each. Fold in the two teaspoons of lime zest and the 2/3 cup of toasted coconut.

Evenly dollop the batter over the frozen blueberries, and then level the batter (an offset spatula works well here).  Bake in the center of a 350 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes. The cake will be golden brown and firm, and a toothpick inserted into the cake will not have any crumbs on it when tested.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes to allow the blueberry juices to thicken a bit. Place a plate over the top and then invert, using the parchment paper to release the cake from the pan. Remove and discard the parchment paper, and then distribute the reserved 1/3 cup of toasted coconut over the top of the cake.

Serve warm or at room temperature–with or without a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.


11 2013

Laws and Sausages

Otto von Bismarck is famously quoted as having said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

I used to work as a lobbyist, and I concur on the law portion of the quote. However, I recently embarked on the process to make my own sausages, and since I have control of what goes in, it’s honestly nowhere near as disconcerting as seeing legislation being crafted.

Homemade sausages.

Homemade sausages.

I always seem to have help when I am in the kitchen…

Ralph doing quality control work.

Ralph doing quality control work.


11 2009


I attended my first-ever chocolate tasting last evening, hosted by Dancing Lion Chocolate. What a great time–not only did I get to taste some amazing chocolates, I met some really nice people too.

Having attended more than my fair share of wine tastings, I knew what to expect in the way of identifying scents, mouthfeel, primary and secondary characteristics, and so on. The nice thing about chocolate tastings though, is you get to consume the chocolate, rather than spitting it out as you must do at a wine tasting, lest you get too snockered to even remember what wines you’ve had. (Sidebar: one of the funniest pieces P. J. O’Rourke has written, in my opinion, was a wine tasting with Christopher Buckley, where the two of them actually drank the wines and kept taking tasting notes. It’s included in his book “CEO of the Sofa.” Hilarious.)

My favorite chocolate of the evening was a Tainori chocolate from the Dominican Republic. I thought it really opened up considerably as it melted, and I loved how it developed. A close second was a Palmira chocolate from Venezuela.

It’s always encouraging to see what passionate people produce. I’m fortunate in that New Hampshire seems to be a place where these types of foodies not only exist, but are actually findable. I get my coffee from a micro-roaster in Nashua called Riverwalk Cakery, and amazing cheeses from Butter’s in Concord. I’m thrilled to be adding another terrific local source/producer to the list.


05 2009