Vinny’s Brown Sugar Bacon

27 Mar 2015-03-22 08.54.45 bacon

We recently had a wonderful weekend out in the wine country – Long Island’s North Fork is one of our favorite places to go…farmland, vineyards, the bay and the sound on either side and dear friends we’ve made over the years.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

I had a baby shower to go to, so after a bit of lunch at Love Lane Kitchen with our friend Ashley and a little wine-tasting (me) and Scrabble (them Exhibits A and B) across the street at the Roanoake Tasting Room, I took Leandro to our friends Vinny and Carolyn’s  to hang out while I met Ashley back at the joyous shower at Paumanok Vineyards.

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

The bacon theme seems to have started at dinner for them, as they ordered him bacon mac and cheese at the Blue Canoe.

This is how morning breaks in the North Fork

This is how morning breaks in the North Fork

And then the next morning it was bacon again, but this time Vinny upped the flavor profile, introducing us to his decadent Brown Sugar Bacon, which he says is a simplified adaptation of something he had elsewhere.

Vinny shows his style

Vinny shows his style

It is barely a recipe, more of a seasoning, but the results are salty-sweet, crispy and juicy and I will be doing it here at home this weekend.

How it looks going in...note the relative quantity of sugar (this is a recipe you eyeball more than measure)

How it looks going in…note the relative quantity of sugar (this is a recipe you eyeball more than measure)

I am hooked. Mind you, with hospitality like that, it’s a wonder Vinny and Carolyn ever get rid of us!

And voila! Special bacon....

And voila! Special bacon….

Vinny’s Brown Sugar Bacon

Rashers of thick-cut bacon, preferably smoked

light brown sugar (not dark brown, as it won’t crisp)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the desired number of strips of bacon flat on the paper. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Place in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until you start to smell that bacony smell. Turn and cook another ten minutes or until you reach the desired crispness. Serve with whatever breakfast food you like!

We Won! I Won! Thank You for Your Support! #2015EDDYs

24 Mar Featured Image -- 6794

Thanks first to the judges for selecting the package of my writing, Cameron Prather’s recipe and Doug Young‘s photos of Watermelon Mojitos as a finalist in the EDDY Awards – Edible Communities’ way of recognizing and celebrating the best in food and beverage writing (as well as blogging, video and imagery).

Thanks second (but not less) to the readers who voted for us (many of you daily for two straight weeks!)…..in the final round to win the Reader’s Choice Award for Best Drink Recipe. We took the prize and we are so pleased!

Featured Image -- 6794Edible Long Island and our family of downstate New York magazines Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan and Edible East End did very well, winning a collective 11 awards for 2015!

So once again, thank you so much for your support. I have not been blogging as actively as I would like as other parts of life (like writing for Edible) pull me away, so it is very lovely to know that you continue to keep me in your orbit. I feel pretty honored an grateful all around.

xo Natalia

Filete de pescado entomatado (Fish filets in spicy creole sauce!)

20 Mar Featured Image -- 6802

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

Tonight’s choice for Lenten dinner…easy and bold in flavor!

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

In the supermarket the other day, Leandro asked for fish for lunch. This is not in itself odd…everyone in this family is island-born somehow, we all love fish, and he is a huge fan of River Monsters on Animal Planet (which I strongly encourage, because I think Jeremy – the mad fisherman — is quite hot and much better to watch with my son than Diego the animal rescuer – why, why, why do he and his bloody cousin, Dora the Explorer, have to shout everything they say? –  or Phineas and Ferb – who are quite sweet, but not nearly as compelling as flesh and blood Jeremy and his sunburnt, craggy-faced, understated British delivery, rod-wielding self ).

So I picked up some wild caught tilapia to accommodate him, and because I suddenly got a strong craving (antojo) for fish in salsa criolla.

Fortunately, I had all…

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The Best Ever Slow Cooker Beef Stew

16 Mar Featured Image -- 6796

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

Why the reblog: In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I am making this beef stew in the slow cooker….It is easy to do and I have prepared it until the broth and slowcooker stage. I will “set it and forget it” tomorrow morning when I leave for work….

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

I’ll tell you more about the party I made this large amount of Beef Stew for, but I can’t tell you right now, because I am still recovering from the fun and therefore just going to do a workmanlike job on this post…can’t manage much more…

Brown those veggies...I don't even like celery, but this worked beautifully! Brown those veggies…I don’t even like celery, but this worked beautifully!

(…let me tell you that getting the little man to soccer at 9 a.m. this morning was a testament to a mother’s love. Actually two mothers’ and one dad’s love, as right there beside me this morning were two of last night’s guests cheering on their kid in the freezing cold! We came home and ate this for leftovers!) 

Don't skip the browning of meat and veggies...it really draws out sweetness and adds complexity Don’t skip the browning of meat and veggies…it really draws out sweetness and adds complexity

But for now, all you need to know about the party is that the theme was Anglo-Irish (Think…

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HELP ME WIN an EDDY AWARD! Vote now….

14 Mar Featured Image -- 6794

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

This is the LAST DAY TO VOTE! Let’s make one final push to make sure I win this one. THANK YOU for your support!

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

Edible Feast has chosen my piece on Cameron Prather’s Watermelon Mojito Recipe

as a finalist for the EDDY Awards in the DRINK category!

Please vote for us (and photographer Doug Young)  by clicking here. Thank you and ¡SALUD!

Doug’s gorgeous photo….

!

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KID IN THE KITCHEN: Banana Nut Maple Mini-Muffins (Simplified)

6 Mar A veritable army of mini muffins to deploy round the neighborhood.

(Don’t forget to vote for my Watermelon Mojito story for a #2015EDDY award for food and beverage writing. Vote daily till March 15. Thanks!)

Today was yet another snow day in a winter that has been the coldest in decades and during which we’ve been snowed on an awful lot. Most of us are well sick of the disruption and the winter coats and gloves and hats and the shoveling and the slush.

The bakers did very well!

The bakers did very well!

But there are small pleasures with unexpected days off…like sleeping in and — if your seven-year-old shuts up long enough to allow you to complete a thought or a blog post or pay a bill or anything for the love of God — finishing little tasks you wouldn’t have time for otherwise. And then there’s baking, because the best defense against the bad weather blues is a house that smells like sweet, warm, doughy things.

The muffins were not all exactly the same size, but that's part of the charm of home-made!

The muffins were not all exactly the same size, but that’s part of the charm of home-made!

So I decided to try a simpler version of our Banana Walnut Maple muffins with my little man and his friend from across the street after they’d been playing in the snow for a couple of hours (remember when you considered that kind of thing fun?) and I had actually completed one report.

Cute, no?

Cute, no?

It was a great success, both the making and the fragrant baking and the tasting, plus being able to send the neighbor home with muffins for her family and having muffins for the guy on the corner who cleared the driveway with his snow blower and for the sweet couple in their 90s across the street. Mini-muffins go so much farther than standard size muffins!

And we still have plenty left over for lunchboxes!

And we still have plenty left over for lunchboxes!

Banana Walnut Maple Mini Muffins II (simplified)

2 Cups all-purpose flour (or 1 Cup all-purpose and 1 Cup whole wheat)

1.5 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

4-5 overripe bananas

1 Cup light brown sugar

¾ Cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ Cup maple syrup

¾ Cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375˚F and grease or line with cups 2 standard muffin tins (12 muffins) or 4 mini-muffin tins (48 muffins) plus be ready to do an additional six standard muffins. This makes a lot.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. In another, mash the bananas, then add the sugar and mix well with a fork. Add the melted butter, egg, vanilla and beat well. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the nuts and maple syrup gently with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill about halfway.

Bake 12 minutes for mini-muffins and 20 for standard muffins. Allow to cool for a minute before planning them on a rack to cool further or just serve warm. These store well in an airtight container for about three days and also freeze well. I take them out of the freezer and pop them into my son’s lunchbox frozen and they are good to go by snack time.

KID in the KITCHEN: Wild (Center) Whole Wheat Pancakes

3 Mar Featured Image -- 6774

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

National pancake day….

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

(Reminder: I am a FINALIST for an EDDY Award! You canvote for my Edible Long Island piece on WatermelonMojitos  every day until March 15, 2015. As always, I deeply appreciate your support!) 

If you Google National Pancake Day, you will find a variety of dates, from September to Shrove Tuesday (before Lent) to this coming Tuesday, March 3, as declared by IHOP (International House of Pancakes). So I hereby declare that Natalia National Pancake Day shall be any day that I don’t have to be up at 5:30 a.m. and out by 7 for work and that my son wants to make them and I have the ingredients.

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift...am I smiling or grimacing? Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift…am I smiling or grimacing?

Those stars aligned during the recent winter break from school. We spent the first part of the break with dear…

View original 427 more words

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

1 Mar 2015-02-26 10.08.06 cauliflower leek soup

(Reminder to vote for my piece on Watermelon Mojitos for an #EDDYS2015 Award by clicking here! Vote daily until March 15!)

Here on Long Island we are having one of the coldest winters on record. Since you can’t reasonably spend the entire winter drinking hot toddies all day — as much as the idea appeals –, the second best, more sensible and certainly more sustainable response is soup.

Light winter lunch

Light winter lunch

Here is an easy-peasy soup recipe that is warming and light, inspired by my dear friend Deborah Rivera Pittorino’s matchless soups at her restaurant La Cuvee Seafood & Grille in the heart of Long Island’s North Fork wine country. She shares some her recipes on her blog, The Seasoned Fork, by the way.

This recipe adds a little nuttiness (nutty flavor, not crazy person nuttiness) by dry roasting the cauliflower for 10 minutes. This amount makes four appetizer servings or two meal-size bowls and reheats really well in the office microwave for lunch!

Office lunch

Office lunch

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

3 Cups cauliflower (stems and florets, trimmed)

1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs butter (salted or unsalted)

3 Cups leeks, white and pale green part, carefully cleaned and sliced into ¼ inch rounds

1 Qt veggie stock (if using store-bought, choose low sodium and season accordingly)

¼-1/2 Cup milk (optional)

1 tsp mild curry powder

salt & pepper to taste

On a baking sheet or in a baking pan roast cauliflower at 400˚F for about 10 minutes (I do it in my fancy, full-service Breville toaster oven) until getting browned at the edges.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium. When the foaming subsides, add the leeks. Stirring occasionally, allow the leeks to get very soft (5-10 minutes). Add the cauliflower, stir and cook a minute or two. Add the stock, bring to a boil, then add curry, lower heat, add milk and simmer for at least 30 minutes, until cauliflower is falling apart. Using an immersion blender or (in batches) a blender or food processor, blend until you reach the desired smoothness. Season to taste and serve, topped with a dollop of plain yogurt or croutons if you like.

 You might also like

17 More Warming Winter Soups!

 

KID in the KITCHEN: Wild (Center) Whole Wheat Pancakes

28 Feb Hungry!

(Reminder: I am a FINALIST for an EDDY Award! You can vote for my Edible Long Island piece on Watermelon Mojitos  every day until March 15, 2015. As always, I deeply appreciate your support!) 

If you Google National Pancake Day, you will find a variety of dates, from September to Shrove Tuesday (before Lent) to this coming Tuesday, March 3, as declared by IHOP (International House of Pancakes). So I hereby declare that Natalia National Pancake Day shall be any day that I don’t have to be up at 5:30 a.m. and out by 7 for work and that my son wants to make them and I have the ingredients.

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift...am I smiling or grimacing?

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift…am I smiling or grimacing?

Those stars aligned during the recent winter break from school. We spent the first part of the break with dear friends Adriana and Micaela at Adriana’s sister and brother-in-law’s in the Lake Placid area (because it wasn’t cold enough downstate at -7ºF so we went for -27°F? Eek!). It was a terrific weekend of learning to ski and snowboard and snow shoe (and becoming almost casual about jumping the frozen battery of my car) and actually enjoying winter.

Barred owl at Wild Center (We literary folk thought it was the poetical "bard", but biology tends to be a bit more prosaic)

Barred owl at Wild Center (We literary folk thought it was the poetical “bard”, but biology tends to be a bit more prosaic)

But one day we decided to go to The Wild Center at Tupper Lake, a beautifully designed nature museum full of Adirondack flora and fauna that you could admire in the sunny and well-heated indoors. Funnily enough, they had recipe cards, one of which was for whole wheat pancakes, which the little man decided he wanted to make when we got home.

Independent!

Independent!

The original recipe was for 14 pancakes, so we halved most (not all) of the ingredients, keeping the cinnamon and vanilla at full-strength, and adding homemade cranberry-blueberry jam.

The original recipe card Nice, right?

The original recipe card Nice, right?

The little guy has really graduated to following a recipe, measuring and cooking on his own, except for the odd difficult pancake flip and one mild burn, so that was very cool.

Proud!

Proud!

We really liked the almost cake-like lift that the baking powder gave them. Not too sweet and very cinnamon-y, these were pancakes we will be making again and again.

Hungry!

Hungry!

Whole Wheat Pancakes (adapted from The Wild Center, Tupper Lake, NY)

Makes 9 pancakes

1 Cup whole wheat flour

2 ¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sugar

1 large egg

1 Cup milk

1.5 tsp vanilla

(optional 1-2 Tbs of smushed berries or berry jam)

butter for cooking

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix until there are no dry spots, then stop right away. You can swirl in a couple of tablespoons of berries or jam at this point, or do it after you’ve made some plain ones, then add the berries to change things up.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt a knob of butter. When the foaming subsides, spoon batter into skillet ¼ Cup at a time, leaving plenty of room for each pancake. The surface will start bubbling. When the bubbling settles and the edges look set, it’s safe to flip. Cook till the edges set again, remove and stack on a warm plate and start another batch, adding butter to the skillet as needed.

 

 

HELP ME WIN an EDDY AWARD! Vote now….

27 Feb Photo by Doug Young

Edible Feast has chosen my piece on Cameron Prather’s Watermelon Mojito Recipe

as a finalist for the EDDY Awards in the DRINK category!

Please vote for us (and photographer Doug Young)  by clicking here. Thank you and ¡SALUD!

Doug’s gorgeous photo….

!

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