23 December 2013

French Aligot Potatoes for Christmas Day!

Christmas is nearly here! I thought I'd share a potato recipe that has become an absolute family favorite! We are pairing this up with a standing rib roast and an Italian Merlot wine for Christmas Day supper! Hope the season is Merry and Bright for all of you!


1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup whipping cream (or use crème fraîche if you can get it)
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
8 ounces Cantal cheese, sliced in small strips
salt and pepper

Cook the peeled potatoes in boiling water until quite tender (about 20 to 25 minutes).
Meanwhile in a small saucepan warm the cream, butter, and garlic until almost simmering.
Drain the potatoes and either smash them with a potato masher or run them through a stainless steel food mill.
Place a solid pot (ideally a Dutch oven) on low heat and place the potatoes in this. Stir in the warmed cream mixture and a pinch of pepper (you might not need any salt as the cheese will add quite a bit). Using a wooden spoon, begin gradually and vigorously stirring in the cheese bit by bit.
Traditional aligot recipes tell you to form figure eights while you are doing this, but circles work fine as well. If you occasionally pull the spoon up out of the pot, you should see more and more ribboning as the cheese gradually melts.
Continue beating until the potatoes come away from the sides of the pan and you get long smooth ribbons when you lift the spoon through the potatoes. The whole process of incorporating the cheese will take about between 10 and 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

This recipe was copied from my fave website; www.easy-french-food.com

01 December 2013

Shallot & Chestnut Compote

A brand new recipe that we made for Thanksgiving this year via Saver magazine with a few key changes that I loved! I felt the original recipe Was a bit too bland to be served with So we added cheese & nutmeg to punch it up a bit! Absolutely fantastic And our family loved it, One minor note was using canned chestnuts, they are really mushy feeling in this dish, So you might consider roasting a few fresh ones just for this recipe to achieve the best results. BTW, I am having SO SO much fun with new technology, I hope You don't mind a photo of my handwritten recipe!! Happy December 1st !

19 November 2013

Rice Stuffing for poultry or squash

l started making this rice about 4 years ago and we absolutely love it for stuffing of poultry,especially Cornish game hens and roasting chickens. l also use it to stuff Winter squash. l think it tastes best in squash with thinner skin and drier flesh. It's also so much easier to serve & eat a thinner skin. Delicata, Acorn, Buttercup and pumpkins are my favorites. You can use any type of rice you like as well as other whole grains like quinoa, barley, farrow or wheat berries. Savoy cabbage does taste best, My next choice is Napa, Followed by regular green cabbage. Regular cabbage tends to have a stronger flavor, So l usually cut down the amout called for, by a third.

The really great thing about this dish is that it can be made at least 2 days in advance and re-heated with fantastic results. When planning a large dinner party or holiday gathering,it's easy to roast Squash, stuff and refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving time. Reheat With a foil covering @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The next time you make whole grains, try making a double batch and freezing half of it, I was quite surprised there was no noticeable difference in texture or flavor.
l hope this finds you anticipating Thanksgiving and a new side dish for the autumn & winter!

Btw l created this post with a new "app" and writing with a Stylus, So I think the handwriting recognition has done a pretty darn good job.... considering the user!

4 cups whole grain rice or other grain, Cooked
6 Tablespoons Butter
l pound Savory cabbage, sliced thin
8 ounces mushrooms, shitake, Button, Chanterelle
2 cloves minced garlic
3 cups day old bread cut into 1/2 inch pieces ( Sourdough, farm bread, Italian is best)
1/2 to l cup chicken or Vegetable Stock
2 Tablespoons each fresh rosemary, thyme & parsley, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt better & saute Cabbage about 8 minutes until soft. Add Mushrooms & cook additional 5 minutes. Add bread cubes & cook a couple minutes until lightly browned. Add rice & stock & stir until well combined, Season to taste . Feel free to use any vegetables or even fruit that you like. We have found apple or pear cubes to be fantastic as well as roasted chestnuts & prunes or raisins.

18 November 2013

Chestnut Soup

If you happened to stop at The Market's wine tasting last week, we paired up Le Grand Noir Cabernet/Shiraz wine with the Chestnut Soup. I love chestnuts and can't wait for them to arrive every autumn. I always seem to eat all of the freshly roasted, so I rely on canned chestnuts for my recipes! I've made several chestnut soups and this BY FAR is my favorite. The earthy-ness of the chestnuts is tempered by the wine and the sweetness of the wine really brings the chestnut flavor to life! I served the soup at The Market sans heavy cream, but if you'd like to lighten the flavors a bit, by all means add the cream.


4 tablespoons butter
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked chestnuts or 1 can approx. 15 ounces
1 cup Banyuls fortified wine or Ruby Port ( I have also used Pedro Ximenez Sherry successfully!)
1 fresh thyme sprig
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 slices Proscuitto, sliced into ribbons and fried until crispy

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add carrot, celery and onion. Cook until softened about 10 minutes. Add chestnuts and cook another 5 minutes. Turn heat to high and add wine and thyme. Cook until wine has reduced by half and then add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover pan and allow to cook about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, add heavy cream and puree using an immersion or traditional blender. Warm through if necessary and season to taste.

Garnish with strip of proscuitto.

04 October 2013

Apple Cider Sangria

well...I can't forget to post this :)


1 bottle Pinot Grigio
2 1/2 cups Fresh Apple Cider
1 cup Club Soda or plain water
1/2 cup of Cinnamon Simply Syrup (recipe below) OR 1/2 cup Cointreau, Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
2 apples, cored and chopped~other fruit would be tasty as well

Stir all to combine and allow to mellow in fridge for an hour before serving.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick 3 inches long
6 or so whole allspice
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

In a small saucepan bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat and keep at a rolling boil for 5 minutes. I only used 1/2 of the quantity for the sangria, but feel free to add to taste. I put the cinnamon stick and allspice into the sangria as well.

Chocolate Loaf Cake & Pumpkin Sage Beer Bread Recipes

Good Morning! Thanks to all that came ove to The Boulevard market last night for our tasting! As promised, here are the recipes for the Chocolate Loaf and Pumpkin Beer Sage Bread. You can find the Pumpkin Fondue recipe HERE. Enjoy and happy weekend!


1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup NATURAL cocoa powder (I used Valrhona that we sell at the market. This is not the same as "Dutched" and you won't get the same results substituting)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons Buttermilk
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks (I used Callebaut 66%)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 loaf pan or use 3 disposable pans.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all liquid ingredients including eggs and egg yolk. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until well combined. Add chocolate chunks. Pour into prepared pan(s).

Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. I baked the small pans 1 hour and 10 minutes and thought it was a little too long, I should have taken them out at an hour. They were just a bit too dry and crumbly for my preference. Cool in pan for 20 minutes and gently tap out to remove.


2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hearty dark beer
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter, slightly cooled
3 Tablespoons fresh Sage, sliced thinly
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9 inch loaf pan.

Melt butter and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and pumpkin adding the beer carefully to prevent a foam over, then stir in the butter. Pour wet ingredients into dry and fold gently until just combined. Stir in sage and walnuts and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes and remove from pan.

07 September 2013

Ridiculous Fudgy Brownies

8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter; more softened butter for the pan
3 oz. (2/3 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pan
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8 or 9 inch square pan with tinfoil.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk or stir in the sugar, followed by all four of the eggs and the vanilla. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, starting slowly to keep the ingredients from flying out of the pan and stirring more vigorously as you go. Stir until the batter is smooth and uniform, about 1 minute.

Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing it so it fills the pan evenly. Bake until a toothpick or a skewer inserted 3/4 inch into the center of the brownies comes out with just a few moist clumps clinging to it, about 40 minutes

13 August 2013

Domaine Huet Vouvray Demi Sec

I asked a friend to talk about Dm. Huet Vouvray Demi Sec a bit since she knows the wine makers and I thought you might like to see the photos she has taken of the vineyard and winemakers! Enjoy!

1095: the vineyard
1102: Me with Hugo and Sarah Hwang, the Managing Director and President of the estate
0894: Le Haut Lieu
0889: Le Haut Lieu

Domaine Huet is known as one of, if not the, finest vineyard of Vouvray, producing extraordinary chenin blanc. The vineyard was first established by Victor Huet in 1928 after he returned from WWI and he and his wife fell in love with the house and the land. He decided to try his hand at winemaking, and the rest is history. His son, Gaston, became winemaker in 1937 and really built the Huet legacy. Le Haut Lieu was their first parcel, and produces much of their grand cru wines. They now have two others, Le Mont and Clos du Bourg, both of which also produce outstanding wines. Today the vineyard is owned by Anthony Hwang and run by two of his children, Hugo and Sarah. They are wonderful, energetic, and hard-working young people who are passionate about the estate and its wines. We've had the pleasure of getting to know them over the last several years, and see them whenever we're in Amboise (which is about 20 minutes outside of Vouvray). Visiting the vineyard is always a joy, and we always walk (or usually ride since we go on our bikes) away with wine. The photo of me with Sarah and Hugo is at their "Portes Ouvertes" or Open Doors, which is always held in May. They present and serve about 25 or 30 of a variety of their wines and vintages, served with local treats that complement them, and often have an art display. It's truly a treat! One of our favorites is the 2007 demi-sec, a beautifully smooth wine that is neither too sweet nor too dry. Sometimes the label "demi-sec" scares us off, but it shouldn't…and this is not just dessert wine. It's beautiful with goat cheese or appetizers with cheese in them (although the French would never have a cheese plate as an appetizer). It's also lovely with chicken with a cream or other sauce. It can also offset the heat of Thai or other spicy food. We did a Mexican dinner in France for about 20 friends, including Sarah and Hugo, and served this with it, with rave reviews from our French friends. It's also fabulous after dinner, with a strawberry shortcake, an almond cake, or a crème brûlée. So buy some and enjoy…I can't wait to tell Sarah and Hugo that we were actually able to buy some and hope to get more.

Thanks Sandra!!

09 August 2013

Beer Mustard!

We hosted a "Make your Own Beer Mustard" workshop last night at The Market during our Thursday tasting. Thanks so much to all that stopped by and I hope you had fun trying some new brews! I will apologize for a bit of disorganization on my part...John has shared his sore throat and summer cold with me. (He says I caught it from the dog :))

Here's a re-cap of the recipe and tasting.

BEER MUSTARD for Preserving

1/2 cup Coleman's Dry Mustard
1/3 cup Beer (robust style works the best)
1 Tablespoon Mustard Seeds, black or yellow
Salt & Pepper to taste

Choose to add 1/2 cup Horseradish for spicy mustard or 1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. If you will be hot water bath canning, add 1 teaspoon white vinegar to mixture. Fill sterilized jars with a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims attach lids and finger tighten rings. If canning; process in hot water bath canner for 10 minutes. If freezing, freeze up to 1 year.

The mixture really needs to sit a month to mellow and allow flavors to meld.


27 July 2013

Summer Salads from The Market Tasting

Thanks a million to all the folks that came to Thursday's tasting event! Hope you enjoyed the salads and here are the recipes! A big thanks to Prochaska Farms for the awesome vegetables, they made our salads super great!

Watermelon Salad

1 small watermelon, rind removed, seeded and sliced
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. Bleu Affine or Danish cheese

3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar (I used our Boulevard Market bottled one!)
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used Mas Portell brand from Spain)
Salt and pepper

Toss to combine watermelon, onion and bleu affine cheese. In a small bowl combine vinegar and lemon juice. With a whisk, add olive oil in a thin drizzle, constantly whisking until emulsified. Salt and pepper to taste.

I laid my fruit and cheese out on a large platter and drizzled with the dressing. Magnificent!

Halloumi & Sweet Corn Salad

3 large ears of sweet corn, blanched and cut from cob
4 ounces Piqullo peppers, sliced (These are Spanish peppers that have been roasted and peeled) or sauteed sweet red peppers
1 package Halloumi cheese, approx. 8 ounces

2 Tablespoons fresh chives
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Grill Halloumi over high heat until browned and crispy. Combine cheese, peppers and corn.

In food processor, pulse chives and oil until pureed.

Drizzle Chive Oil over vegetables and toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste.

I only used about 1/2 of the chive oil recipe on my dish and saved the rest to use on chicken!


1/3 cup toasted walnuts
3 medium-ish zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick
4 T Olive Oil
Salt & pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 ¼ cups mixed greens
½ cup fresh torn herbs
3 ounces romano cheese, curled
2 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil

Tear greens and herbs and toss lightly in a large bowl.
Toss zucchini with olive oil and grill over high heat on a BBQ grill until tender.

Toss zucchini with greens, sprinkle with toasted walnuts and romano. Lightly whip balsamic vinegar and evoo until emulsified and drizzle over greens.

12 July 2013

White Sangria

I'm always in love with Sangria in the summer, but I'm not fond of the overly sweet, fake fruity stuff, so I created my White Sangria to be refreshing and just lightly sweet. By using a simple syrup, you can ad just the sweetness you like versus waiting for sugar to dissolve or cooking your wine and allowing to cool. Feel free to use the simple syrup for Mint Juleps, Mojitos or drizzling over fresh fruit. If mint is not your thing, you could easily use rosemary, basil or thyme for an herbal edge that gives your sangria layers and layers of flavor!! Of course you can use whatever fresh fruit you have and enjoy the most. We love lemon slices and strawberries or fresh peaches and blueberries as combos!

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
a handful of fresh mint leaves (cut this amt down for thyme or rosemary, use the same for fresh basil)

In a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a boil and cook 5 minutes. Bottle up and refrigerate up to 1 month.


1 bottle DRY white wine (I used a Spanish Verdelho from Rueda)
16 ounces cold club soda
1 batch simple syrup
handful of fresh raspberries
3 fresh plums, chopped
2 handfuls of frozen green grapes instead of ice

Make sure all of your ingredients are cold. Mix all ingredients in a pitcher, allow to sit about 15 minutes and enjoy!!


Our workshop for Gazpacho was fun last night! This recipe is my family's favorite, so feel free to adjust seasonings to suit your family's tastes. Tis the season for all of the fresh produce!! If you've got the time to make a day in advance, you'll appreciate this, otherwise, I make it an hour in advance and it's perfectly amazing!!


5 small tomatoes, quartered
3/4 of a 6 inch cucumber, cut into chunks, peeled if using a cucumber, unpeeled if using a "pickling cucumber or English cucumber
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 of a sweet bell pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I used Bourbon Barrel Smoked :))
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup Olive Oil (I used Zoe brand)
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar (I used the 20 year at The Market, sweeter is better)
2 Tablespoons fresh Cilantro
1 cup or so of Tomato Juice ( need to adjust to desired thickness)

Blue cheese, fresh goat cheese or yogurt for garnish would be nice too

In a blender, I chop onions and cucumbers first and then throw the rest in on set on grind. For a finer puree, use the "liquify" setting. TASTE, TASTE again and adjust seasonings to fit your taste! Will last up to 3 days or so in fridge before "splitting".



Thank you one and all for coming out for The Boulevard Market's Spanish Night! The Paella was a big hit and so easy to make at home! Here is the recipe I follow and just cut down amounts according to how many you are serving. I reduced the ingredient amount to 4 cups broth and 2 cups rice...so you'll get a gauge of how much the original makes! Feel free to give a call if you run into a snag.....


6 cups very strong chicken broth (bouillon)
1/2 tsp saffron
1/4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika (Pimentón de la Vera)
1 small onion, peeled
2 small chickens, about 2-1/2 lbs each (I used boneless skinless chicken breast for ease in eating)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 lb of cooking chorizo, in 1/4 inch slices
1/4 lb piece jamón serrano ham, diced (optional-I didn't use last night)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
4 tbsp chopped garlic
2 sweet peppers
1 lb small or medium shrimp, shelled
3 cups short grain Spanish rice such as Bomba or Calasparra
5 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 lb fresh or frozen peas
18 clams and/or mussels, scrubbed (While I didn't use because of the lack in our county, this is a MUST for authentic flavor!)
Lemon wedges for garnish
Parsley for garnish

Heat the broth with the saffron, paprika and the whole onion. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove the onion and measure the broth -- you need exactly 5-1/2 cups.

Cut the chickens into small serving pieces -- the whole breast in 4 parts, each thigh into 2 parts, the bony tip of the leg chopped off, the wing tip discarded, and the rest of the wing separated into 2 parts. Dry the pieces well and sprinkle with salt.

In a metal Paella pan, with about a 15 inch base, heat the oil. Add the chicken pieces and fry over high heat until golden. Remove to a warm platter. Add the chorizo, and jamón to the pan and stir fry about 10 minutes. Add the chopped onion, scallions, garlic, and peppers and saute until the onion is wilted. Add the shrimp and saute about 3 minutes more, or until the shrimp barely turn pink. Remove the shrimp to the platter with the chicken. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat it well with the oil. Sprinkle in the 5 tablespoons of chopped parsley. (You can make in advance up to this point.)

Stir in the chicken broth, boiling hot, the wine, rice, and peas. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat about 20-30 minutes or until rice is tender and juice has been absorbed. Bury the shrimp and the chicken in the rice. Add the clams and the mussels, pushing them into the rice, with the edge that will open facing up.

To serve, decorate with lemon wedges (or squeeze over at the counter) and chopped parsley.

14 June 2013

French Night Meringues

Thanks all for coming to The Market for our "French Night" and I hope you enjoyed all the tasty treats and Meringue Workshop! I would love for you to post comments, tips and ideas from your own meringue experience! If you need a plan for your leftover egg yolks, you may want to check out another French favorite here.

4 egg whites, room temperature
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar or caster sugar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Separate eggs carefully, making certain there is absolutely no yolks in the whites.

Wipe down mixing bowl and beaters with white vinegar to capture any bit of oils that might be lurking.

Place egg whites in bowl and beat on medium until stiff peaks have formed then begin adding sugar a couple tablespoons at a time allowing all to be incorporated. You will slowly see the mixture become a satiny shiny pillow. Stop at this point, resist over beating.

Pipe out whites onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake about 1 1/2 hours for half dollar sized, increasing baking time a bit according to size. Do not open oven door. Turn off oven and allow to cool overnight or several hours.

29 May 2013

Vin d'Orange

I have forever loved the European custom of an aperitif. If you're not familiar with it, you can read about it on my previous post. Most recently, I tried my hand at making Vin d'Orange. I researched a gazillion recipes and tried the one I thought seemed the most authentic. I waited the requisite month of aging and .....yuck. It was weirdly slimy and pulpy and murky, not what I had in mind for a tiny afternoon tipple or a lovely spring brunch I was planning. Generally, the recipes consisted of allowing whole oranges to soak in wine and sugar about a month, then boiling the mixture, straining and adding the brandy.

So, I put on my creative hat and began again. This recipe is not as traditional, but there are a few points I think you'll like better.

1.I didn't boil the entire bottle of wine, so I am assuming you keep the majority of the alcohol intact.
2.Much fresher flavor overall, less of a "baked" taste. I also think you could add some club soda to make it sparkle.
3.The long strand of orange zest looked really fabulous suspended in the wine.
4.We drank on days 4 and finished the bottle on day 10.....I hate waiting.

So very sorry, apparently I did not photograph.....please use imagination to visualize.


1 bottle (750ml) dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
Zest from 3 Oranges
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup Brandy or other spirits

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of wine, sugar and orange zest over medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer 10 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine remaining wine and Brandy in a decorative pitcher or bottle.

Using a fine sieve or coffee filter, strain zest/sugar mixture and add to wine/brandy combination. Add a piece of zest if desired. Refrigerate. This will last up to 1 year in a cool place. Serve cold as an aperitif.

I packaged mine in a great, clear, flip top bottle for a bit of vintage flair, but you could also pour right back into the pinot grigio bottle and re-label!

20 May 2013

Build your own potting Bench

On of the greatest gifts I have ever received was a potting bench John made for me. It was a past life of growing my own seedlings, being a Master Gardener and creating massive perennial beds and vegetable gardens.....

I was upset this Spring to see a rotting leg on my old potting bench despite good care throughout the years, so it had to go. I briefly considered purchasing a new potting bench and then just realized we could copy the old because I loved it so much and it was a fraction of the cost of a cheaply built bench.

I also use my bench for outdoor entertaining with just some cute flour sack towels under the dishes or for a copper bucket with ice and wine bottles.

If you don't have a power saw, you can easily have your boards cut at the local hardware and haul it all home prepped. I used treated lumber because I don't want to bring my bench inside during winter weather, but it's a personal choice as treated lumber does have some environmental downsides.

The bench only took about an hour and a half to build and had I been smart, I would have stained all of the boards first, but (whatchgonnado), sometimes it takes me a little to catch on!

Here is what you need for construction;

Weatherproof screws 2 inches long

8-1X4 boards 48 inches long (top of bench, back support and top shelf)
5-1X4 boards 45 inches long (bottom shelf boards)

4-2X4 boards 24 inches long (bench supports)
2-2X4 boards 36 inches long (front legs)
2-2X4 boards 60 inches (back legs)

2 1X4 boards 10 inches long (top shelf supports)
(You could also replace these boards with some decorative iron brackets, it would look REALLY great)

Weatherproofing stain or paint of choice

This is mainly a 1 person project, however you may need a helping hand when putting the main frame work together as it becomes cumbersome for 1 person.

Put the sides together first, making sure that the leg bottoms are perfectly level to each other. Attach back support board to topmost back leg and level before screwing in. You want this even with top of leg boards. You may always add an additional 1X4 board here as well, for hooks or a decorative piece of wood (this will be your visible "back").

Measuring accurately, lay out bottom shelf boards and screw in with 2 screws on each side of board. You'll want 1 1/2 inches of space between each board. John and I didn't measure the bottom boards the same as my old bench for this step. On my old bench the boards were 45 inches for the bottom shelf and so they lined up perfectly with the 2X4 support and the most outer edge board of the shelf which is cut to fit between the 2X4 supports. While it looks ok with the 48 inch boards, I preferred the other look. (It was starting to rain and I said to hell with it, just put them on :))

Next start on the top shelf boards, measuring accurately and using 2 screws per side of board with 1 1/2 inch space between edges of boards.

Last we added the top most shelf lining up the board to be even with the entire back of the legs and support board across back. (NOTE; this is where we went a little jenky; Your 10 inch support pieces should be cut with 45 degree angles. As you can see, mine are not. RULE OF THUMB WHEN BUILDING Measure twice, cut once.)

Add your support beams on the inside, lining up with the back legs and put in just 1 screw. Line up your second shelf board and adjust to be level, then add additional screws to attach and secure.

After reading this, it's the most unprofessional builder advice ever, but it should be easy to understand and implement. Small imperfections don't bother me on a DIY project and gives things a bit of character. So don't get too bogged down in the small stuff. You should probably sand your boards ends, I didn't. And as I said before, it would have been much easier to stain the boards first....but I never seem to choose prepared or easy :)

Good luck and Happy Gardening for years to come!!

14 May 2013


Memories of beaches, children, sunny days, lakes, oceans, parenting, sunscreen, ice cream. It's a pile of shells, a flotsam of our summers with a tiny forget-me-not growing in the midst to remind me.

10 May 2013

Smoked & Pickled Green Onions

At our store, The Boulevard Market, I have hosted a seasonal series of Preserving Classes for the last few years. We create wonderful preserved foods using canning, freezing, smoking, pickling, fermenting, drying and occasionally "air exclusion" as a way to preserve the bounty of Michigan spring, summer and fall harvests. On my part, it's been fantastic to try lots of new preserving techniques and recipes, in small batches, that I might not otherwise have made. On the part of the attendees, you get to sample the finished recipes (so you know if it's to your liking) and we pair it up with other foods so you've got some serving ideas, we also keep the batches small.

Whew...all that being said, I'm forever purchasing new cookbooks/magazines/publications for inspiration and new techniques. I recently scooped up "The Preservation Kitchen" by Paul Virant with Katie Leahy as he included some really interesting recipes and is located in the midwest. I also love that fact he included many recipes to go with his preserves and that is a treasure, as creativity can often be missing with hunger.

The Smoked and Pickled Green Onion recipe was one I featured at last month's class and I have blown through the jar I made in less than 2 weeks! Here's the recipe, my way (sorry for the liberties Mr Virant):


30 green onions, cleaned and tossed with a teaspoon of vegetable oil
1 ¼ cup Champagne Vinegar
1 ¼ cup water
3 Tablespoons Honey
½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
6 Sprigs thyme

Bring vinegar, water, honey and salt to a boil, turn to low to keep hot.

You can use a traditional smoker to smoke onions, or the cheaters way, which I did. I filled the bottom of an old 9X13 pan with applewood chips to just cover bottom of pan. I put the pan on the grill racks of my gas grill and heated to very hot. As soon as the wood in the pan started to smoke, I place the green onions on the rack above the pan and cooked them about 12 minutes until a bit softened and slightly yellowed.

Sterilize a quart jar or 2 pint jars, warm lids. Pack hot onions into jars, add a few sprigs of washed thyme and fill with vinegar combination, leaving a ½ inch headspace.

Finger tighten rings and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes, or allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate up to 2 months.

Here are some photos of my cheater smoker. There is no need to purchase any fancy smoker box. I routinely use an old 9X13 pan for light smoking grilled food. (Remember this is not the same technique for preserving food by smoking) Since I have plenty of fruit trees that I grow without pesticides, I save my apple, pear, plum trimmings and allow to dry in the shed or garage for use in the traditional smoker or on the grill.

I fell in love with Mr Virant's Salsa Verde for using these onions;

1 cup S&P Onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh italian parsley
1/2 cup fresh tarragon, chervil or chives (or a combo)
2 Tablespoons capers, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

At the class I made a fresh chevre (goat cheese) quiche to pair with...delicious!!

I hope you take a bit of time to preserve your own harvest this year! There is nothing in the world like opening a jar of summer during the nastiest of January days!

07 May 2013

Easy-Peasy Pulled Pork & BBQ Sauce

We love pulled pork. We think about, drool over it, gorge ourselves on it and do it all over again. The odd thing about pulled pork is everyone's idea about how it should taste, be cooked and what sauce you eat it with is different. Which is great because there really is no wrong!

After hosting 3 high school graduation parties (in the Midwest we throw a huge party), John has found a way to make amazing pulled pork without a gargantuan pig roaster burning in the yard for 2 days. He makes at least 10 pounds, so we share the remains and stick a bag in the freezer for emergency BBQ gluttony.

Around our place everyone likes a different sauce too. Some like a North Carolina vinegar sauce, some like it sweet and some like it a little spicy. I'm going to share the sauce we all agree on even though it's unconventional. I think you'll love it! Happy BBQ-ing!

15 pounds of pork shoulder blades (bone in) or pork butt roast
plenty of salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic and we enjoy a little blackened seasoning and a dash of cayenne

We just sprinkle the spices right on the meat, never really measuring. I would say a Tablespoon of each if no measuring bothers you.

Place seasoned meat and 4 cups water in a large electric roaster pan. Set temperature at 250 degrees and allow to cook overnight or at least 12 hours. Remove meat from juices and allow to cool. Carefully shred all meat into a separate bowl, removing bones and fat. You may want to hang on to a cup or 2 of the juices so when reheating meat, it does not dry out.


1 cup firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup dark rum
1 tablespoon jerk seasoning blend
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced

Place all ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 10-15 minutes until desired thickness.
Allow to cool. Sauce can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks (if it lasts that long!)

01 May 2013

Non-traditional Paint Project

I almost always choose the classic style, the proven combination, the traditional, the button down cardigan in black. I like it that way. Season after season it looks "nice". I'm not exactly sure what just happened here. I chose non-traditional paint colors for the exterior doors and shed and mailbox.

Before; Mid-western white with Sage green trim. It was a nice color combo, that was just needing a paint job.

I like it. I think it has style....or at least more than it had before! I am excited to plant the windowbox with purple something or other and John has agreed to not mow over any perennials (or maybe sunflowers) I might plant along the bottom.

I didn't photograph the mailbox yet. I spray painted it with copper paint to see if I'd like a real copper mailbox. It's unusual and funky and fun. I think I owe the mailman a bonus since I'm almost positive he had copper smears of paint on his hands for a couple days! It also took the entire can of spray paint to cover evenly.

It feels good to do something a bit different. A bit uncomfortable at first, but hey, in my case, it is just paint!

13 April 2013

My First Mint Julep

Last month John and I had a vacation to Savannah Georgia. We really loved the city and surrounding areas and had a ball exploring the area. We embraced the local food scene which is really good too!

My bucket list included drinking a Mint Julep in the deep south, preferably on a verandah....I made it really close! A rooftop bar overlooking the city and Savannah River wasn't too shabby! Of course I fell in love with the Mint Julep and had to make it at home. (Which can never be quite the same feel in rural Michigan) The first recipe I made I muddled mint with sugar and a bit of water until a paste formed, then added the bourbon (I used Woodford Reserve) and ice. It didn't have the nice thickness and refreshment of the one I tried and it didn't have enough of the super fresh mint. So this last time, I made a simple syrup with mint, then added fresh chopped mint to the glass....oh yes! That seemed to make all the difference!


Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
a bunch of fresh mint (mine totaled 7 sprigs)

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Boil for 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat an pour over a handful of mint leaves and gently crush the mint with a spoon.

Refrigerator syrup mixture overnight in a closed jar. Remove mint leaves and continue to refrigerate. This syrup mixture will keep for several weeks.

A handful of fresh mint leaves (I used about 6 leaves per glass)
2 tablespoons Mint Syrup
Crushed ice
2 tablespoons water
2 ounces good-quality Kentucky bourbon (I used Woodford Reserve)
Fresh mint sprig for garnish

Prepare the Mint Syrup.

Crush or muddle a few mint leaves in the bottom of an 8-ounce glass. Then fill glass 1/2 full with crushed or shaved ice. Add prepared Mint Syrup, water, and bourbon.


BTW- this mint syrup is really delicious! Iced tea, hot tea, a bowl of sliced strawberries.....

10 April 2013

Marinated Manchego Cheese

I know the title seems odd, yet the concept is not. What to do with the last bits of cheese in the drawer that you're not using? Friends coming over this weekend and you need something to serve up that isn't SO time consuming in the kitchen? Or possibly, you just want to see the sunshine through a beautiful jar filled with spring-ish green, fresh herbs and bits of colorful peppercorns waiting for your family to come through the door and share fabulous food together? My favorite wine to pair this with is a Tempranillo from Spain! Enjoy!


½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, best quality
1 Pound Manchego, Pecorino or hard cheese of choice; rind removed and cut into 1 inch chunks
½ Tablespoons whole Peppercorns
½ Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary, Thyme or Oregano; washed and torn to small clusters

In a small crock or jar with lid, combine all ingredients and let sit for at least an hour at room temperature.

The cheese can be stored in fridge for up to a week, but the olive oil will solidify, so bring it to room temperature before serving. You could also add olives, sundried tomatoes or roasted peppers of your choice to the mix as well.

05 April 2013

Wine Tasting Notes; Chateau d'Angles Oorain-Victoria

Well balanced, fruit forward, supple tannins, dried figs, earthy.....

What does this gibberish mean to you? Seriously. This is the first post I've created to be about wine and what I'm tasting/drinking these days.

A little disclaimer before we proceed;
I hear the above comments everyday from wine salespeople and read many reviews online at various wine critic sites and what does it really mean to you? One of our key objectives at The Market when selling wine is to find a wine you might like to drink and sell it to you. I cannot stand a snippy little wine person that sniffs when you describe what you want. But I am also honest when I say, "live a little" there is an amazing world of wine out there that you may be surprised at what you like. The wine spectrum does not culminate at "I only drink red". Why? When it's 90 degrees in Michigan I cannot think of anything more repulsive than a heavy, high alcohol, red wine. Even our Italian winemakers will throw red wine to chill during the hot weather or drink a lovely dry rose. Hmmmm. I am not judgmental when it comes to wine. I like all types of wine because each is made to represent something special and work with certain foods, temperatures, etc.

The other main point I would like to make is this; there is tasting and there is drinking....these are not the same things. The next time you attend some wine tasting, I urge you to discover possibilities. Is it possible that the wine you're sampling might be amazing with dessert? Or fish? Or sitting by the fire? Or relaxing on the patio? Why do I like it? Why do I not like it? This analytical tasting will create more success for you in purchasing/drinking and knowing what you do/don't like in wines.

I do not mean this to be a critique of wine but simply a fun description and what I'm experiencing. By no means am I an expert in wine, I simply taste.


This wine caught my eye in one of my distributor's catalogs for 3 reasons, it is made by Eric Fabre who was Technical Director at Château Lafite Rothschild (oh yes, that means winemaker), it comes from one of my personal favorite wine regions of France (la Clape which is now an AOC) and it is red wine made with Maple Syrup. Weird. (#4; and it has a really cool label)

Mainly Syrah (shiraz) with a bit of Grenache and about 10% Maple Syrup (French spelling maple sirop). How can this be? And it's only 13% alcohol so it's not fortified like a Port. After reading a bit of background, it's a collaboration between Fabre and Oorain brands Victoria, a chocolate and confections maker from France.

I was actually quite surprised upon tasting that this wine isn't very sweet. It's more of a concentrated fruit style wine with lots of dried fig notes, distinct maple syrup flavors mid-palatte that disappear quickly and some tannins (that dry feeling) that give the whole wine structure and interest. It's nice and earthy like I expected from this region, yet elegant. The overall impression is rich flavor, a bit velvety and a great lingering taste. I like it very much. I also like the fact that it has some staying power once opened (I opened it the day before I had the flu and 7 days later its still very nice. I would drink this wine as an aperitif, in place of dessert or with a rich oozing chocolate dessert. It would also be incredibly lovely with a cheese plate. Stinky French cheeses of course :)

If you're interested in trying a bottle of your own, give me a call at The Market 517.423.6000 and we can special order it for you. The going price is going to be around $34, so not cheap, but far from expensive given the quality and interesting nature. Being an 06 vintage I think it's best to be drunk now, but I'm not great at determining cellaring, I think the color looks a bit off of garnet and that's usually a decent observation as to how long lasting it will be. (there are tons of online experts to help with that!)

Have a great weekend...and drink some fun wine!!

04 April 2013

Fresh Mozzarella and Arugula Crostini

Why is a simple always the tastiest?

When I remember some of our travels, I always seem to remember the simple pleasures of food versus the fancy restaurants. Case in point, Fresh Mozzarella and Arugula Crostini. The baguette was toasted to perfection, the olive oil was fruity and golden, the arugula was peppery and bitter and the Fresh Mozzarella was milky and warm.....it was my "ah-ha" Italian moment. This is a recipe that requires GREAT quality ingredients, use the best you can afford. Because the simplicity of the ingredients, each component is actually tasted and you want them to be amazing. I also use only coarse sea salt for these, I want the crunch and they need a good bit of salt to bring out the flavors.

Spring is here and the allure of fresh garden arugula was calling me. So simple to make, so lovely before dinner, so fresh.


10 slices of fresh baguette
1 ball Fresh Mozzarella (of course I used Four Corners Creamery)
1 handful of fresh Arugula, cleaned and torn to 2 inch pieces
Best Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush baguette slices with a bit of olive oil and bake 7 minutes. In the meantime, slice 1/2 ball of fresh mozzarella into 10 slices.

Assemble by layering a small amount of arugula and slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each baguette slice. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle (give it a healthy bit as it really brings out the flavors!) with sea salt. Eat immediately!

02 April 2013

Blue Cheese Spring Nests

A few months ago I came across a box of "kataifi" at my favorite Mediterranean grocery store. It's basically phyllo dough made in long strands, much like angel hair pasta. As the possibilities swirled in my head and around shrimps for dinner, this recipe was my first thought and I've been waiting to make them for Easter brunch!

I made a variation of this for a cooking class at The Market, but the flavor was very mild and for Easter I wanted more punch! Originally, I used an aged goat cheese from Four Corners Creamery, a few bits of onion and a sprinkle of parsley. On my trial run last night, I used a hunk of blue cheese and was much happier since it's more flavorful. So feel free to use either cheese depending upon your preferences (maybe both together would be great too?)!

The kataifi does dry out quickly, so you'll only want to thaw what you plan on using, and cover it with a damp paper towel while you're working.


1/3 box of Kataifi
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1/4 lb blue cheese cut into slices

1 cup fruity red wine-Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon (young), Syrah/Shiraz
3 Tablespoons Agave Syrup or honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap several strands of kataifi into a nest shape on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Using a pastry brush, brush melted butter gently onto nest. Top with a slice of blue cheese.
Bake 12-15 minutes (watch carefully, they can get a little TOO brown) until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine agave and wine over medium heat and allow to reduce to about 1/2 cup of thickened syrup. Use immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days. Drizzle over slightly cooled nests and serve.

Sorry, about the lack of photos, apparently the Easter Bunny brought me the flu. I was struggling to get this posted before Easter and nothing turned out well finished photo wise!

25 March 2013

Baked Costa Rican Rice

A few years ago, a friend brought this Costa Rican rice "casserole" (for lack of a better word) as a dish to pass for a Mexican dinner on a hot summer evening. I immediately fell in love with it! And then I changed it up to suit my tastes! The flavors of warm spice, fruit and creamy rice are saving my sanity as I await Spring weather in Michigan.

We are on the "cusp" of Spring here in Michigan. The calendar clearly says it is Spring and the temperatures are a balmy 22 degrees with consistent snow flurries. It sort of reminds me of the movie "The Shining", except the entire population is slowly going crazy. We YEARN for sunshine and warmer temperatures, a day to be outside without boots and hats. The weather has become a constant source of conversation, frustration, and in my case, over consumption of food and beverages. Ugh.

Baked Costa Rican Style Rice

1 cup long grain rice (We like a blend of white, brown and wild rices, Lundberg makes a great blend)
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup orange juice
1 lime juiced
zest of 1 lime
2 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp sugar
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 15oz can black beans drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped fresh pineapple (I have used canned Tidbits)

Preheat oven to 400

Cook the rice in chicken broth according to package directions.

In a small bowl, combine orange and lime juice, olive oil, zest, garlic, sugar and cilantro. In a large bowl, combine rice, beans and pineapple, stir to combine. Pour juice blend into rice mixture and gently combine. Salt & pepper to taste. Turn out into a casserole dish and bake 20 to 30min.

We also love to add strips of chicken that have been coated in spices and grilled or baked! (The spicier the better!) I usually brush a couple flour tortillas with a bit of melted butter and pop them in the oven to get crispy during the last 5 minutes or so of baking.

This is a great weeknight dish to use up leftover chicken, rice and the last bit of orange juice in the carton! The last time I made it, I had a handful of leftover red quinoa that I added and it was delicious too!

I hope you enjoy trying this and it's Spring where you are.....

STILL working on photos.....

06 January 2013

Macaroni & Cheese....a cheesemongers favorite recipe

As promised....Mac & Cheese. 

1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1/2 lb. good quality cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 lb Vlaskaas (or other aged gouda cheese), grated
1 lb sour cream
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.  When fully drained, mix with sour cream until pasta is evenly coated.

Mix together melted butter, eggs and milk.

In a large casserole dish (larger is better for this dish) place 1/2 of the pasta, cover with 1/2 the grated cheeses and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Layer the remaining pasta and cheese.

Pour egg/milk/butter mixture evenly over the pasta/cheese.  Cover dish with foil or tight fitting lid and bake 35 minutes.   Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes until golden brown.

Devour, repeat.

Happy New Year!

A whole new year.

So sorry for being out of touch during the holidays.  I was limiting the areas of crazy in my life.

We had a great holiday with all of ours girls home, lots of food, work, twinkle lights, laughs and even a bit of lounging around.

I've been catching up on end-of-the-year stuff, new cookbooks and novels, STILL potty-training little Henry and may even get my Christmas cards sent out before February :) 

I also had to do a bit of soul searching as to how I would move forward in 2013 with various things, this blog included.

Over the last years I've been sharing all sorts of weird stuff from my pups to a disease called PLEVA to ridiculous political bs going on in our small town, to furniture refinishing.....

So I'm thinking of stream lining a bit.  Just doing food? I don't know....I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Happy New Year!