Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Savoring Summer with Summer Savory

What inspires me? Well you need to be open to inspiration.
Sometimes it is a plate or fabric, sometimes a food, in this case an herb. I was leaving work and stopped at whole What inspires me? Well you need to be open to inspiration. foods for some salmon. I left work with a bunch of produce and some odds and ends from the job. One of the items was an orange chili chutney. Immediately I thought of salmon on the grill. The sweetness of the chutney would give a nice charring to the salmon. On my way into the store I spotted a summer savory plant with purple flowers. Eureka.

The delicacy of the leaves would be perfect with the seafood that I had in mind. Upon my journey to the fish counter I spotted some shrimp. I had a long talk with the fish monger regarding the best salmon and shrimp. I had worked with shrimp during the day on a photo shoot and it stunk so bad I was ill. It was also a mushy texture from being frozen and thawed, etc. For photo the taste matters not it is all about the look so it did not bother me too much. For the home suburban kitchen I need non-stinking fresh shrimp for MY loved ones.

I do love shrimp but I admit it is not easy to find being of high quality here in the midwest. If we lived on a coast it would be an easier task. So I bought some salmon and shrimp and proceeded on my way to gather some more high quality items from the market. A nice chardonnay to go with my seafood? Splendid. Oh I love when things come together and a perfect meal is in the works. Splendid.

I prepared a salmon on the grill as well as these beautiful shrimp. They were brushed with a chili orange glaze and then grilled over charcoal. Served over a bed or baby arugula and sprinkled with flowering summer savory.

The summer savory was actually my inspiration for this one. When I saw the flowers and delicate leaves I thought light delicate and seafood came to mind. The shrimp were a perfect summer main course and the savory a perfect muse.

A glass of California Chardonnay was another light component to this perfect amuse bouche.

Summer savory is actually an herb that is not that popular in American gardens. But it is well known in European cooking. It is one of the herbs in the famous “herbes de provence” in French cooking.

In German cooking, the herb is called "Bohnenkraut," which translates as 'bean herb,' an appropriate name since German recipes often use it with beans. The romans also use savory. The Roman palate was fond of strong flavors, including spicy, sweet, and salty, and savory's strong flavor made it popular. Roman recipes that use summer savory include mussels steamed in a broth flavored with leeks, cumin, a sweet grape syrup and wine, and chicken baked with wine, leeks, dill, coriander, pepper and savory. It was also used to flavor vinegar for cooking.

The peppery delicate leaf of the summer savory was a perfect match for the baby arugula and sweet orange chili shrimp. Try it in salads of all types this summer I think you will be pleasantly surprised by it’s kick of flavor. Take the delicate leaves from the stem before placing in salads. Enjoy. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Am Not Going To Use The F-Word

You know the F word? Foodie.

Ok I have used this word over the years to describe my cohorts and fellow food loving friends however, I feel we have outgrown this word. It no longer fits. We still use it I guess because we have no substitute and when you need a word to describe someone of this nature it just IS the right word.

The definition of foodie according to the urban dictionary is as follows:

March 28, 2006 Urban Word of the Day 

A person that spends a keen amount of attention and energy on knowing the ingredients of food, the proper preparation of food, and finds great enjoyment in top-notch ingredients and exemplary preparation.

A foodie is not necessarily a food snob, only enjoying delicacies and/or food items difficult to obtain and/or expensive foods; though, that is a variety of foodie. 

Yes, I agree that definition is spot on. Over the years there have been many words for people who are in the know about food. Words such as gourmet, gourmand, epicurean to name a few. Those words conjure up a little hauty tauty-ness to me. I picture the woman all dressed in pearls preparing a French dish from one of Julia Child’s books on French cooking. I guess foodie was a way to create a less snobbish word for the food lovers of the world.

I believe a new word is in order although I haven’t got a replacement at the moment but am working on it. Maybe in one of my posts it will show itself.

If any of you have a new word that you think fits let's hear it. Until then cook on!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Light Creamy Cheesecake With A Touch Of Lemon


My posting has been a bit sporatic as of late and I do apologize. Trying to juggle everything is sometimes a bit challenging. I admit I am not one of these women who can do it all and do it well. But one thing I can do very well is make this cheesecake.

Today I was deciding what to make and I was really in the mood to make some homemade bagels. After reading my recipe and noting the 500 degree oven I needed, I decided to forgo this one due to the fact that the temp outside was 90 degrees with high humidity. So instead I chose something light and sweet. My favorite cheesecake.

There are a few things that I make that create a frenzy in the kitchen. One is my quacamole and the other is this cheesecake. This is my daughter’s favorite and she often begs me to make it. The problem when I make it is that everyone wants to jump the gun and eat it before it is set. I practically have to put a lock on the frig to prevent this from happening.

It is the best cheesecake I have had and I have been making it for at least 15 years. Now as with all foods, people have their favorites. When it comes to cheesecake I am sure people have strong opinions. I like a dense cheesecake on occasion but I cannot tolerate a cheesecake made of ricotta. To me cheesecake is all about the mouth feel. Smooth and creamy not cottage cheesy if you know what I mean.

If you like a light cheesecake with a hint of lemon here is your recipe. It comes from Molly Katzen’s book Moosewood. I have changed the recipe over the years to the point of it really being my recipe but I always give credit where credit is due. The first time I made it I loved it and have never looked at another cheesecake recipe since. I will give you my version of her recipe. I always serve it with fresh fruit. You could try a berry medley or peaches with blueberries, whatever you have on hand or is in season works best. I happened to have some beautiful raspberries from the market that worked very nicely.

My Favorite Cheesecake 
Adapted from Molly Katzen’s Moosewood cookbook


1 3/4 cups graham crackers crushed in a food processor
2 Tbsps sugar
3 Tbsps melted butter, cooled

Combine and press firmly in a 9" springform pan. I use the bottom of a metal measuring cup to really pat it firmly.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes.


2- 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs, room temperature is best
1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsps fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat cream cheese and sugar until very well mixed. Not on high this will add too much air. Next add the eggs one at a time until mixed but do not overmix. Add vanilla and lemon juice and zest.

Pour onto crust and bake for 25-30 minutes. Do not overbake. Check at 25 minutes and the center will be slightly moister than the edges but firm. Let cool to room temperature on a rack. When room temperature add the layer of topping. Recipe below.


1 1/2 cups sour cream
3 Tbsps sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Reheat oven to 375 degrees F. Blend topping ingredients and pour onto cheesecake. Spread evenly with a bent spatula. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

Chill for at least 12 hours before serving.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July Snuck Up On Us

Today is July 1st. How in the world does summer go so quickly. The fourth of July weekend is upon us and I am working on some great recipes and articles to post. The light this morning is uninspiring so I will be at the computer writing a little longer than expected.

My life does revolve around light. I appreciate it so much and am in awe of it's beauty and chameleon like qualities. Like for instance last night I was sitting on the screened in porch listening to the summer concert at the music festival that is very near our home. Maroon Five was playing very nicely I might add and loud and clear except when the wind would whip up. Seriously, I thought a tornado was coming. Anyway, while this weather was going through it's many stages of transformation one thing happened. The light in the sky turned a yellow. It was wild. My son and I ran outside and I begged him to let me photograph him. It was like the whole back yard had a yellow filter over it. Really cool.

The lemons in the picture above were taken when I found these bowls recently at a thrift store. They were made in Poland. I love the color. What else to put in them but beautifully shaped lemons. Ok, right this minute I can't stop thinking about homemade lemonade. Do you make it? It is so easy. Make a simple syrup. Equal parts sugar and water heated on the stove until sugar melts. Let come to room temperature.

Mix fresh squeezed lemon juice with simple syrup and water then serve over lot of ice. The amount you add of each is too your liking. I like it more tart than sweet. Do what you like. Add a lemon wedge or wheel to the edge of your glass. Lemon balm leaves or fresh mint are a nice addition too.

Let's try to appreciate every day we have left of summer. So much bounty left to harvest.