An Easter Frittata and Spring Blooms

Backyard Azaleas

Happy Spring! Charleston is in full bloom, and it’s spectacular. I love living in an older neighborhood full of charm and character, with dripping live oaks, wisteria, and azaleas everywhere. Here’s a frittata recipe in case you find yourselves with house guests and limited time to prepare food. Around here, Spring means exactly that: a full house and being stretched for time due to packed schedules. This frittata comes together very quickly, so you can be on your way to enjoy the best of Spring. It’s also nice to get creative and add whatever you have on hand. Sautéed asparagus would be an amazing addition to this frittata. Also, bacon. Read More

Seeking Serenity at Mepkin Abbey

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March is typically one of my favorite months, because it means SPRING is soon here, but lately we find ourselves wondering if it will ever stop raining, and if we will ever see the sun again? To take our minds off the everlasting dreary Winter, this past weekend we took a little day trip to Moncks Corner, about an hour’s drive from Charleston. Our first order of business for the day was, of course, lunch: an all you can eat BBQ buffet at A&M Brown’s for $10.50 is hard to beat. It is worth the drive to Moncks Corner just for this. After lunch we took the 15 minute drive over to Mepkin Abbey, a trappist monastery following the rule of St. Benedict. There are currently sixteen monks at Mepkin, and they devote their lives to prayer, spiritual study, work and hospitality.

Whether or not religion plays a role in your life, it is well worth a trip to observe this beautiful, serene and peaceful place. Our visit was during “Camellia Season,” but “Azalea Season” is coming up pretty soon and I imagine when the grass gets greener (and the sun comes out), the place probably just glows. Take a tour with Father Joe and try to imagine living a life of solitude and mostly silence.  Read More

Cornbread, A Love Story

“Happy Valentine’s day, here’s some cornbread!” is hopefully what you’ll be hearing tomorrow.

skillet cornbread

skillet cornbread

 

In case someone forgets to deliver your cornbread though, it couldn’t be easier to make your own. Read More

Oregon – Food!

Oysters //stonostories.com

Pacific Oysters

One of my favorite parts of traveling is experiencing wonderful meals in new destinations. In Oregon, and especially in a culinary destination such as Portland, there was no shortage of recommendations or amazing restaurants, and we did not have one bad meal the entire time we were in the State. Keep reading for some of the places that we fully enjoyed.

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood

Portland

We arrived late on a Sunday, so we stumbled to dinner at a place around the corner from our (really great!) Guest House. We were so weary from travel and SO hungry, I don’t even remember the name of the place we ate that night. All I know is that they had beer and food. Not helpful, I know. PS: Alaska Airlines is THE BEST domestic airline, and I only ever want to fly Alaska from now on. Too bad they don’t really service the East Coast … that’s kind of a problem.

Monday morning we awoke rested and refreshed, and the air was cool and crisp – a welcome change from the hot Charleston summer. The friendly staff at the Hostel and guest house recommended Fuller’s in the Pearl District, so we walked there and enjoyed a simple, delicious and filling breakfast while sitting outside and enjoying the fresh air. I had the corned beef hash and G ordered the blueberry pancakes with big, fat local blueberries, bacon and eggs, and we both had coffee. Grand total: $18.

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It’s (Still) Pesto Time!

If, like me, you have mounds and mounds of basil in your garden this time of year, it’s time to take advantage of this abundance and make lots of pesto. If you don’t happen to have ridiculous amounts of basil, I’m sure a friend with plenty would be grateful for your offer to help them get rid of some of theirs.

pesto

Basil-Arugula pesto

One of the things I love the most about pesto is that you can use your imagination and dream up many combinations and delicious pairings of greens, herbs and nuts beyond the classic favorite of Basil-pine nut, depending on what you have on hand in the fridge or in the garden. Some of my favorite combinations include Basil-Arugula (pictured above), Spinach-Walnut (below), Cilantro-Almond, and Kale-Cashew. In most recipes, it is best to toast the nuts first in order to impart an extra nutty, bold flavor that goes missing without this extra step. Let the nuts cool completely and take care not to burn them while toasting in the skillet (as I have many times before-oops). Some recipes call for first blanching the greens, which you can do, but I find the classic preparation to be perfectly delicious.

Below is my basic, go-to recipe for delicious pesto. Add most any combination of greens/herbs and nuts you like! You can omit the cheese if you are vegan.

Pesto

3-4 heaping cups of herbs and/or greens
1/2 clove of garlic (or more, but you don’t want the garlic to overpower the dish)
1/2 cup of good quality Parmegiano-reggiano cheese
1/4 cup of nuts
1/4 – 1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (depending on how thinned out you like it)
Optional: Stir in about 1 Tsp of lemon zest and 1 Tbsp of juice at the end to brighten up the flavor
Crushed Red Pepper flakes to taste (also optional)
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

pesto

Spinach-Walnut pesto

Making pesto is very quick and easy with a food processor, but you can also use a mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients.

Place the first four ingredients in the food processor and pulse until well combined.
While slowly drizzling the oil into the top of the machine, process for about 1 minute until a thick paste forms.
Scrape down the sides, add lemon zest and juice if using, and add more olive oil to thin if necessary. Give it one more quick whirl to bring the sauce together.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

It takes about 10 minutes to make and will last in the fridge for about 3 days, or in the freezer for about 6 months. I like to freeze it in small containers for a quick and easy dinner option.

There are as many ways to serve and enjoy pesto as there are to prepare it. Serve it with your favorite pasta (ravioli, whole wheat spaghetti, penne, cavatappi, etc.), with potato or ricotta gnocchi, or use it as a sauce for fish or chicken, drizzled over steak, lentils, grilled vegetables, etc.