Summer Nights and Pesto Pasta

This week we spent it in Delaware, the coastal stretch of Bethany, Dewey, and Rehoboth. It was a last-minute change from our promised week in Kiawah, South Carolina. We had to cancel due to the hurricane.

It has been a few days of peach eating. Long naps under thin sheets. A puddle of sand in the shower drain. A sunburn behind my ears. A baby nephew napping in the crook of my shoulder and my neck. A crumbled animal cracker stuck to my sock moments later.

I like this part of Summer, when it is just embers and afterglow. Sometimes it’s a promise we couldn’t fulfill. Sometimes it’s a last minute change that is just as good. And sometimes it’s a meal one throws together just to get the bellies full. That’s how this pasta came about.

Goat Cheese and Pesto Pasta with Vermont Creamery

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Ingredients:

  • 1 box spaghetti (½ cup reserved pasta water)

  • 10 oz goat cheese

  • ½ cup pesto

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil

  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook spaghetti or other pasta to box directions

  2. When spaghetti is fully cooked, reserve ½ cup pasta water

  3. Drain pasta and set aside

  4. Put still-warmed pot back on stovetop with heat on low

  5. Combine goat cheese and pesto, stirring until just beginning to soften and melt

  6. Add pasta water and lemon juice, stir to combine

  7. Add spaghetti and fold into goat cheese mix to coat pasta

  8. When ready to serve, sprinkle with basil, walnuts and season to taste

Vermont Creamery - Brett Braley - Goat Cheese.jpg

Make It Easy on Yourself, It's the End of Summer

I lament that Summer has gone too fast, but I could say that about every season nowadays. I do not know where my time goes. I do not always know who I am when the seasons pass. It is not a dilemma, but it is a passing thought when I do the chickens, when I make dinner, when I set the coffee pot for the next morning. I think I have settled this year. I will be 28 soon. I think I’m happier now than I was last year.

But there are always chores to do and places to go. Last week I was in Chicago and New York. Next week I am in South Carolina with my husband and in-laws. My diary fills up with check boxes.

So I am valuing the small wonders of dinner. I am writing outside of this blog more. I am romanticizing picnics again. I am reading books I loved. I was reading Brideshead Revisited when we vacationed in Cancun last. I proposed to Nolan on that trip.

And if you are busy, like I have been, then let me give you a dessert to make that is easy. It is my gift to you, since I have been so quiet lately.

Poundcake Flottante

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This is certainly an unabashed mash-up of American and French desserts. With a pool of vanilla pudding and crème fraîche, a smattering of buttery pound cake slices, and a dotting of berries macerated in orange juice, it’s an easy dessert to put together and completes any al fresco meal. The best part? Most of this is store-bought, so make it easy on yourself!

Ingredients:

2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved

1 cup blackberries (or whatever you like!)

½ cup granulated sugar

½ tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup orange juice

1 box pudding packet

8 oz Vermont Creamery crème fraîche

1 poundcake, sliced

Directions:

At least six hours before serving, macerate your berries by combining strawberries, blackberries, sugar, vanilla, and orange juice in a bowl. Allow to steep in refrigerator

Make your pudding during this time as well

When ready to serve, beat together pudding and crème fraîche until combined and silky

On a tray, pour your crème fraîche layer

Next, add your layer of poundcake

Pour your macerated berries and juice over the cake slices

Serve immediately (this holds beautifully and the longer it rests the longer the berry juice soaks into the cake!)

Poundcake Flottante

Where has it gone? Summer 2019

I’m sure I’ve said this a million times - but I’m not sure where this month went. No, I’m not sure where this year has went. A small ticker of small events ran through my head this morning. So little to show for seven months, but I feel my roots have shimmied their way into the soil a bit more this year. So, for a recap, here is what 2019 has brought me since the last time I blogged:

  • I’ve planted sixteen rose bushes in the front - blush and pink and red and peach and yellow. They bloom a little then die quickly. I love them. I’m going to deadhead them as soon as I hit “send”.

  • We’ve a garden on the deck now. It’s beautiful. I hadn’t previously been so successful, so I’m glad to take it on a smaller scale and learn what I’m doing this year. It’s worked well, I think.

  • We had to remodel the bathroom. Maybe that’s why I have been so far behind in updating this space. Working from home means that so much of my day was disrupted with the contractors over. Including the dogs being at their grandparents’! Glad it is (90%) done.

  • I lost a bantam. My favorite one, as these things tend to go. I’m sad. Her name was Little Brown. She was my favorite hen of all times. The barn is a little quieter, as she was always yelling at me for snacks (and she always got more than the others because of it - the rascal).

  • We went to Baltimore last month and are going to Philadelphia this month. Concerts. But also a day trip to New York is on the agenda. Can’t wait.

  • I’m trying my hand at Italian and back to Spanish. Wish me In bocca al lupo!

And most boring of all, I’ve not baked much this year! It’s hot now. I don’t want to - it’s as simple as that. But, I have been getting creative with meals. Which is what I bring you today - the best weekday pasta I ever made. Enjoy, dear Reader!

Weekday Pasta

This is all completely up to you on what vegetables to use up. That’s the beauty of it. But note that cooking times are estimated based on the ingredients I listed for my dish.

Ingredients:

  • One large yellow onion, diced

  • 2 large zucchini

  • 4-5 medium tomatoes (I liked campari here), roughly chopped

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced both greens and whites

  • 1 can drained chickpeas

  • 1 bouillon cube

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 cup red sauce (or sub with more red tomatoes and about 1/2 cup water and stew at the beginning)

  • 4 tablespoon butter

  • 1 box spaghetti

  • Plenty of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta to box directions

  2. While that is boiling away, heat a large skillet or Dutch oven with olive oil

  3. Stir in onion and cook for a couple minutes until just fragrant

  4. Add zucchini and green onion whites

  5. Cook until browned and softened

  6. Add tomato and chickpeas, stirring until tomatoes are just stewed

  7. Add water, bouillon cube, and red sauce, stir and allow to simmer until thickened

  8. Add butter, stir to melt

  9. Add spaghetti and season to taste

It Should Be Easy - Ramp and Pesto Pizza

I’ve gone all in this Spring. Celebrating it. Loving it. Enjoying it. Napping outside, napping inside. Napping between calls. Muting myself on calls to go outside with the dogs. Anything I can do to soak up this time of year.

One way I’ve been celebrating is with fresh produce, using what’s in season and what I’m craving most. Here we have ramps, given to us in a bundle of salad mixes and radishes. Slightly garlicky, naturally ombred and absolutely delicious, I wanted to highlight their natural tastes and not mask it as an aside.

So here is a ramp pizza. Pesto, mozzarella, and red pepper do the rest. It’s a perfect little dinner for two (or one if you’re very hungry after a long day of napping, as I usually am!).

Ramp Pizza

This recipe is adapted from a few places. Most importantly is Smitten Kitchen. I used pesto as the base and my dough recipe from here. and a pizza stone from Sur la Table. And yes, these are a little fluffy, and that’s do to accidentally doubling the yeast 😅

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Strawberry Shortcake, as Easy as Pie

Strawberry Shortcake

I like simple in most areas of my life. A simple morning of dogs and coffee. A simple farm, 5 acres and 26 chickens. A simple basket of hammered gold filled with simple eggs or blues, greens, and browns. A simple wardrobe of whatever is a hand-me-down of Nolan’s or bought on a whim after a glass or two of wine. A simple shower at the end of the day. A simple pillow of 800 thread count. Simple, comfortable. Easy, but the way I like it.

Same with desserts. Or breakfast. Whatever you consider biscuits and cream and strawberries. The below doesn’t involve rolling or kneading or resting. It involves a shaggy dough and an ice cream scoop. Think the stale Bisquick from your grandmother’s pantry, but with a little extra (by “extra” I mean tequila).

Egg adn Shortcake-3.jpg

Ingredients for Biscuits:

  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour

  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 TB sugar + more for sprinkling

  • 1/3 cup sour cream

  • 1/3 cup whole milk

  • 1/2 TB vanilla extract

Directions for Biscuits:

  1. Preheat oven to 450*F and prepare a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment

  2. Sift all dry ingredients together

  3. Whisk all wet ingredients and pour onto dry

  4. Mix with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms

  5. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop dough out and drop onto prepared pan

  6. Sprinkle with sugar

  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and puffed

  8. Allow to cool before serving with strawberries and cream

Directions for macerated strawberries: Slice a quart of strawberries and cover with a 1/2 cup sugar, 2 TB water, a splash of vanilla, 2 TB tequila or rum, a sprinkle of salt, a zest and juice or a lemon or lime, and a few basil leaves, roughly chopped. Allow to macerate overnight.

Directions for whipped cream: Beat heavy whipping cream on high with a stand mixer. When peaks form, add a splash of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and a couple tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar to sweeten

To serve: Slice biscuit in half, jam full of strawberries and cream and enjoy for every single meal - I mean it. Every. Single.Meal. You won’t regret it.

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Brunch with Vermont Creamery

Vermont Creamery Brunch Bruschetta

How lucky are we to have Spring come again? The trees are waking up, small buds perk a little every day. Our dogs run outside in the sunshine until they’re sore; puffing in the still-cold air. I’m learning to love Spring for what it is: a greeting, a promise, a chance to try something new.

And so I bring a bruschetta. I use this term loosely, of course. It’s toast. With goat cheese. Micro-greens and tomatoes roasted to the point of jamminess with half an onion to cut the sweetness. Topped with an egg, the freshest I could find: still warmed from the morning lay where I tucked it into my pajama pocket when I opened up the barn door for a flock of eager, hungry, crowing hens.

Vermont Creamery asked me to provide a “tip” for Spring cookery. Mine is to surround yourself with animals, all kinds and all ages and all sizes. Dogs to comfort you, to keep you warm in the still-cold morning. Chickens to watch from your kitchen window, to give you fresh eggs every day. We can learn a lot from chickens, you know. Keep busy, rest often, and keep one eye on your friends at all times.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 campari tomatoes or whatever variety you have at hand, sliced in half or quartered if larger

  • ½ white onion, chopped

  • 4 slices of your favorite rustic, crusty bread

  • 4 eggs

  • 4 oz Vermont Creamery goat cheese, slightly warmed to room temperature

  • ½ cup arugula or other microgreens

  • Rice wine vinegar or a lemon half

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450*F

  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil (for easy cleaning)

  3. Drizzle tomatoes and onions with a little oil and roast for 25-30 minutes until skin is wrinkled on tomatoes and onions are softened and browned

  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool

  5. While tomatoes are cooling, toast your bread and fry 4 eggs in your preferred method

  6. Evenly spread goat cheese on each piece of toast

  7. Top each with greens, then roasted tomatoes

  8. Gently place fried egg on all slices

  9. Either squeeze a little lemon or a teensy drizzle of vinegar on egg

  10. Season to taste and enjoy!

Vermont Creamery Brunch Bruschetta
Vermont Creamery Brunch Bruschetta
Brett Braley - VTC - Brunch Bruschetta-4.jpg
Vermont Creamery Brunch Bruschetta