Monday, August 10, 2020

The Wind in the Willows

"Why didn't you invite me, Ratty?"
Illustration by Tasha Tudor

I recently reread Kenneth Grahame's classic novel, The Wind in the Willows, concerning a collection of rather well-to-do animals at times skittering about, languidly discussing ideas, or extolling the virtues of nature. Such wonder! There's a grandiose, preposterous (while still quite amiable in his delusions) toad on the wrong side of the law, a couple of critters who nearly succumb to the sea in response to the siren song of the Sea Rat and his wayfaring ways. And also, lovingly wrapped in the pages--a pausing meditation on dawn.

And boy, do the little fellows love to eat! They rarely ever stop--if not eating, they're talking about eating, or talking about food while eating! I was enamored of the fat, wicker luncheon basket that the Water Rat and Mole share, its contents including, "cold tongue cold ham cold beef pickled gherkins salad french rolls cress sandwidges potted meat ginger beer lemonade soda water..."

We had a few friends over and I served such things as these one entirely civilized afternoon. Perhaps I skipped the tongue and potted meat and watercress but the package of DAK boiled ham, Pillsbury crescent rolls, thinly sliced cucumbers on buttered white bread, bread and butter pickle coins and figgy orange jam stepped in nimbly and rose most admirably! Pink fizzy lemonade, fruity seltzer water and an excellent chilled white Chardonnay-Viognier refreshed the gathering.

I also happened to find an absolutely charming copy of The Wind in the Willows Country Cookbook (pub. 1983) on ebay, with recipes by Arabella Boxer and fine illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard. Contents reveal FOOD FOR varying occasions such as, "...staying at home...excursions...the storage cupboard..." I found a recipe for Refrigerator Cookies from the latter section while perusing other things such as Snowfalls in Dark Woods, Leafy Summer Lettuce Snacks and Very Easy Flapjacks.

A guideline for Refrigerator Cookies may be found here thanks to However, the recipe in The Wind in the Willows Country Cookbook simply deals with 6 TB butter, 1/2 cup superfine sugar, 1 egg, 1 1/2 cups self-rising flower and a pinch of salt--dispensing with the cinnamon, walnuts, baking soda and cream of tartar called for on

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats..." And eating, apparently! Do enjoy!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Sumptuous Summer Salad

This salad was so beautiful and delicious, each bite a different delight! The method is simple too and only requires just a touch of artistry when composing--summer does the rest.

Scatter fresh arugula leaves on a platter, shred some proscuitto, slice up ripe stone fruit (we used white peaches) and arrange artfully. Drop a luscious orb of burrata cheese on top--if you are not familiar with burrata, it's high time you become well-acquainted. A ball of mozzarella cheese holds a treasure of luscious stracciatella and cream, which oozes out when cut open. Yes! Drizzle some olive oil and a squeeze or two of lemon over the whole thing and season with some freshly ground black pepper and Maldon sea salt flakes. Add your favorite herbs if you like, or add some fennel fronds to the mix. 

Instead of stone fruit, perhaps you have some juicy melon on hand? Try that with some fresh figs and take a bite out of summer! 


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Eating Outside the Box

As we are spending most of our evenings at home these days, food delivery has taken on a new meaning. There are so many well-assembled boxes available now to help us out, but which ones are the best? I have tried my hand at several of the meal delivery kits, such as Hello Fresh, Home Chef, and Blue Apron, writing about them here in some detail. If only I had known about, I could have possibly saved money (and most definitely time) to see how these boxes stack up first! While I am a great believer in experiencing things for oneself, provides a handy, thorough guideline to cooking, out of these boxes: Hello Fresh, Home Chef, Sun Basket, Every Plate, Freshly, Plated, and Blue Apron.

Click here for their "Best Meal Delivery Services" to get their comprehensive guide based on convience, shipping and delivery, cost, quality of ingredients and the variety of cuisines offered.

In the meantime, here's a recipe I featured from Blue Apron for Lemongrass Shrimp, peppered with my comments.

A peek into what's inside the boxes!

Do enjoy and thanks to!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Zucchini Tahini Dip

This is quite simple--and I believe it's even vegan! Everything is tossed into a blender and should amply serve a reasonable number of guests, depending on their voraciousness.

Zucchini Tahini Dip
Makes about two cups

An admirably sized zucchini, chopped--or 10 oz frozen vegetables of your liking, thawed. I found a great zucchini and summer squash frozen mix
1 cup tahini
Juice from one whole lime
1 cup roughly chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tsps paprika
2 tsps cumin
2 tsps mustard seeds or powder
1 tsp salt perhaps, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup good olive oil

Throw everything except for the olive oil into a blender and push play. Then drizzle the olive oil in as well while the motor is still running. Place in an attractive vessel and let sit for a few hours in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature and suggest that your guests spread the dip on crackers, such as Ryvita wholegrain rye crispbreads topped with pumpkin seeds. Perfect for the season--do enjoy!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Baby's Spanakugela

What to do when Jews and Greeks break bread? Why, make Baby's Spanakugela of course! Part Spanakopita, part Lukshoen Kugel, this sumptuous savory pulls both cultures together for a dish that will delight anybody.

Baby's Spanakugela
Serves 10-12

2 bags frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 lb broad egg noodles
1 lb feta cheese
1 lb farmer cheese
3 cups full fat Greek yogurt or sour cream
6 eggs
1 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp grated fresh cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
2 Tb olive oil
A generous amount of salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with 9 x 12 casserole dish inside.
Boil egg noodles only about 8 minutes so they are very al dente as later they still cook in the oven for an hour. Drain when done.
While noodles are cooking, saute onion in the olive oil until translucent and tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In large bowl, combine cheeses and use sturdy wire wisk to mash up. Add yogurt or sour cream, eggs, spices and whisk together.
Stir in spinach and onions and blend thoroughly. Add noodles and fold together until evenly mixed.
Carefully remove baking dish from oven and pour in mixture.
Return to oven and bake for 1 hour.
Let set for 20 minutes before serving.

Then gird your loins and above all else, enjoy!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Shouldn't You Just...?

Drape your dinner table with fresh leafy herbs, such as parsley or basil? Not only does such a display add fragrant life to the proceedings, but guests may also pull off a few leaves as they wish to further complement the meal!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Glazed Carrots

                                                Artwork by Peter

This is easy: glazing carrots or other root vegetables as described below is a simple yet utterly charming (and delicious) addition to almost any meal. I cooked and chopped bacon for a crispy topping and in a fit of fancy, subbed herb oil found here instead the butter suggested.

"Start by cutting vegetables into uniform pieces and arrange them in a single layer in a saute pan. Add a few tablespoons of butter, a dash each of salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Add water to nearly cover the vegetables; lay a piece of parchment paper on top; and simmer. As the water cooks off, fat from the butter combines with the vegetables' starches and sugars to form a rich glaze; a shake of the pan distributes it throughout, transforming humble vegetables into elegant side dishes."

Do enjoy!

Thanks to Saveur magazine, issue no. 144.