Gravlax

GravlaxHomeland
Not too long ago I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown that was filmed in Copenhagen and I found myself glued to the seat fascinated by what I was watching on the screen. My mother’s side of the family is Danish — and I don’t mean mostly Danish with a little bit of “other” thrown in. I mean, “one hundred percent my ancestors wore breastplates and rode in boats to raid your shores” Danish.

Copenhagen, and Denmark in general, have always been on my bucket list of places to visit, mainly because I want to know more about where my family is from. It never occurred to me to go because of the food. But, as I sat there watching this show, it was a revelation. Because, more often than not, when I think of Scandinavian food I am transported back to the nights my grandmother would make red cabbage. (The smell when we entered the house was horrendous. But, Gam and Mom loved it.) Other times it makes me think of the herring in cream sauce we sell here at the store. Apparently, it’s delicious. I…just…can’t…even. I’ll sell it but I don’t have to eat it.

What I was seeing on the tv screen, however, was something completely different. And, it made me hungry. To be fair, Smørrebrød is not new and, in fact, it makes a perfect lunch. But, watching the chef create classic Scandinavian dishes in a way that made the old ways new again was energizing. His emphasis on ingredients that could be grown and used sustainably was icing on the cake. Now, he did use moss that he gathered off the trees in his backyard.(Foraging is big in Denmark.) Not sure I’m ready to go there yet. But, it did get me fired up about my garden again.

If you look really closely, on the menus of the nicer restaurants around us you will notice more and more chefs creating dishes with Scandinavian influences. (Akvavit comes to mind.) I started noticing it before my virtual trip to Copenhagen and even more so since. If those sixty minutes have done anything they have made me seek those places and recipes out.

In the meantime, as I thumb through some recent cookbook purchases, I am content to make myself a little bit of Smørrebrød for snacking. And, if it includes a little homemade Gravlax, so much the better….

Gravlax
Adapted from The Spruce
Gravlax is salmon that has been cold-cured with sugar, salt, and fresh dill. Modern gravlax has a fresh, delicate flavor and is delicious served either as an elegant appetizer or as a topping for smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches). Read more…

Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers for the Superbowl

Amy's Juicy Lucy BurgersFor Better or Worse…or Football
My husband is a Patriots fan. Sigh. A real one, not part of the bandwagon folks who jumped on at the beginning of what has been there dynastic dominance. Born in Rhode Island, he has been a fan since birth. And, he prefers the old minuteman logo to the current slick modern version. To be fair, he’s pretty low-key in his fandom. Living in an area heavily populated with Raiders fans will do that. But still…the Patriots? Anyone but those guys.

My husband is not low key at home. The Patriots could be down 21 points but I get the constant update as to when Tom Brady will kick it in gear and start the comeback.

As you may have guessed, I am not a fan of the Patriots. In the beginning of our relationship, I was, frankly, indifferent. I even wore the Patriots shirt my beloved gave me as a show of support. (We were newly married then.) As the Patriots’ continued, I got tired of seeing the same faces and jerseys every year. Give someone else a chance, right? This year is no different. I was Jacksonville’s biggest fan in the conference championship. (They had it! The game was in the palm of their hands!) Alas, it was not to be. So now I am the world’s biggest Eagles fan. Fly Eagles Fly!

Usually, I try to do appropriate regional foods for the Super Bowl depending on who is playing, ‘cause I’m just weird that way. Not gonna lie though, as much as I love New England Clam Chowder, this year I just can’t seem to muster the energy and make myself do it. While I am not entirely opposed to making cheesesteaks (because who doesn’t like cheesesteaks?) there is a good chance that we will be at a volleyball tournament and have to DVR the Super Bowl. This means whatever we have will need to be quick or made ahead. And, we won’t be able to look at our phones ‘cause we don’t want to ruin it.

So what’s a girl to do? The answer is a family favorite that happens to be hugely popular in Minnesota, which satisfies my weird regional Super Bowl food requirement. (Also, it’s meat and cheese so it’s kinda like a cheesesteak, maybe?).

I give you Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers. I love these as do my boys. There are really easy to slap together ahead of time. Use whatever cheese you prefer but I will say that good old American “cheese” really is the best choice for authentic flavor. You could also do them as sliders if you are looking for more of a bite-sized snack.

Happy Super Bowl watching and eating! May you enjoy the wacky commercials and not have the urge to strangle your favorite Patriots fan even though he is the love of your life….

Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burger
Serves 4 Read more…

Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches

Frittata Breakfast SandwichesFor The Times They Are A-Changin’
For the first time that I can remember, I find myself counting down the days until we fall back. Usually, it’s the other way around and I am trying to make a little bit more out of the Indian Summer daylight. This year? I feel like a 6-year-old waiting for Santa. I can’t wait to fall back ‘cause I just wanna sleep.

I have literally been counting down the days until November 5th. Trick or Treating? Please. I’ll take a pillowcase full of Zs thank you very much…. Am I the only one feeling this way?

What’s truly scary is I have put way more thought into this than I should. For example, I think there should be a Daylight Savings advent calendar of sorts. There would be two versions, and they would both start 30 days before the change dates—one in the spring and one in the fall. The spring version would include new razors, (‘Cause reality people. If my legs are always in jeans I am not, shall we say, as diligent.), antihistamines, margaritas, and small tubes of self-tanner among other helpful items. The fall version would have a variety of fresh-roasted coffee beans, artisan beers, pumpkin spice scented whatever, cozy boot socks, and maybe some new flannel sheets. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

So, with 25 days to go and no calendar to get me through, I’m dragging. The mornings are definitely the hardest. Just getting everyone out the door with everything they need is a challenge without also having to get them fed. Make ahead breakfasts have become essential. True, you can never go wrong with a muffin or box of cereal and some milk. But, that gets boring. And, it’s always good to have a little protein to start your day.

These Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches are great for when your morning routine gets away from you. They are easy to make in advance, have a lot of good protein, and are a nice change from cold cereal. Feel free to play around with the ingredients.

So if your sleep struggle (like mine) is real, try whipping up a batch of these babies. And, know that better times are only a few weeks away….

Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches
Yields 6 sandwiches

Read more…

Avocado Toast

Avocado ToastToast of the Town
Sometimes food trends make me laugh. Recently I have been rather amused by the phenomenon known as Avocado Toast.

Why is this a thing? It’s tasty to be sure, but avocado toast is not a totally new discovery. To my knowledge, people have been spreading avocado on toast for quite some time. Is it a spoiled Californian thing? I mean we do take our immediate access to tasty avocados for granted but, really?

To be fair, what I am seeing on menus and online is not just a smear of avocado on some sourdough. There are plenty of twists and creative combinations and sprinkled with exotic herbs and spices—even some with carefully poached eggs—now that sounds super good.

No matter where you stand on the craze, avocado toast is a great option for breakfast or brunch or any time, really. So, next time you grab your favorite loaf and a ripe Haas, congratulate yourself for being a culinary visionary. And, enjoy….

Now, one might argue that you don’t need a recipe to make avocado toast, and that’s a good point! However, the basic recipe is a showcase for ingredients, so you want the best available.

Those hipster joints that sell avocado toast for $4 a slice are really selling you amazing homemade bread and great avocados. If your ambitions lie in baking your own loaf, we recommend this Hearty White Sandwich Bread or this Vermont Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread. If not, pick up a big loaf of crusty bread, perhaps from Acme Bread Company.

Avocado Toast
Here is our recipe for a basic Avocado Toast. There are countless variations, and here we  recommend a few of our favorites. Be creative! Read more…

Egg Sandwiches

Egg SandwichesChicken And The Egg
As a family, we have reached that stage where making scrambled eggs means using at least a dozen. Usually more. (I have teenage boys.)The good news is that because we have chickens, we always have fresh eggs around. Until we don’t…

If it’s 6 AM on Saturday morning and everyone is awake, chances are I am at the stove making egg sandwiches to go because we are heading to some sort of event—baseball, softball, volleyball, music. And, nothing is as portable or easy to eat in the car than an egg sandwich. This past Saturday, though, tragedy struck.

There are 5 people in our family. We had 4 eggs in the fridge. This almost never happens. With 6 chickens and a busy weekday schedule we normally have way more than we need. But, see, we have that busy weekday schedule and sometimes pancakes and eggs for dinner is the fastest way to feed a hungry crowd. Yeah, that was Wednesday night…Remember what I said about the scrambled eggs?

So while the kids were getting dressed and putting their gear together, I was pacing the kitchen floor like some expectant parent anxiously waiting for the telltale squawk from the back yard. I knew it was coming. I just needed some patience and more time which was in short supply. The girls are pretty regular layers and there is always at least one egg in the coop by the time we go to let them out in the morning. But, we were up a little earlier than normal. So, I was at the mercy of the flock clock.

Now, I get that this might weird some people out. There’s fresh and then there’s really fresh and some people are just more comfortable with a little more time distance between the chicken and the egg. I totally get it. But, I will tell you that if you ever get the chance to eat a really fresh egg you will no longer have that issue. There is that much of a difference and they are that tasty!

So, the girls came through in the end. After a rather vocal commotion in the coop, we had five sandwiches in hand, five butts in car seats heading down the highway, and a fight for the sandwich with the really fresh egg.

Egg Sandwiches
Here are two delicious version of egg sandwiches that make a fantastically quick meal. Of course, the variations are endless…you can play with the breads, cheeses, meats, veggies, and sauces. Your creativity is encouraged. Read more…