Simple Creamy Fennel Salad

This salad happened by default as I came home from food shopping without the cucumber that was on my list. I wanted to make a creamy mizeria, a Polish cucumber salad that is so easy, just blended with sour cream and dill, that goes just great with fish dishes. I love this salad, it’s cool and refreshing. But here I was making baked cod in the oven and was craving that creaminess that goes so well with fish. So I looked into the fridge, hoping to find a sad cucumber somewhere but no…a fennel bulb stared back at me…and it made a great stand in for the salad. It was creamy, bright and delicious. I will surely be making it again and I hope you give it a try! Enjoy!

  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced and then roughly chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 heaping tablespoons sour cream
  • sea salt

Combine everything in one bowl, while you do a happy dance, as this is done in no time. ;) Season to taste and garnish with those pretty fennel fronds and include some in your salad too. Serves about 2-4.

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The Great Gravlax Experiment: The Final Chapter

I went through a bit of a gravlax obsession back in December and early January of this year. And I thought I was pretty much done, little did I know I would be making the silky, salty indulgence once again, a few months later. I call this the last chapter but maybe, don’t quote me. I thought the Fuggedaboutit method was pretty much the last of the experiments but here we are again. I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Food Network and forgive me but I don’t remember the restaurants’ name but it is Swedish and as the chef started to make the buried salmon, my eyes were glued. This is a bit modified, as on day 3 or 4, he flipped the fish and I chopped my dill, instead of keeping it whole and I didn’t add the customary akvavit, instead I added a shot of vodka and I added juniper berries. What allured me was he didn’t put a weight on it. Each time I made the gravlax, I put a big paver stone on top of layers of brown paper, with cling wrap underneath. It looked a little sad and less glamorous of a process that I think gravlax should be, lol. This method, ladies and gents is glamorous. No unglamorous paver stone or brick sitting in your refrigerator for days! And he used substantially less salt than I have. I was excited to try this new method, probably a real classic way to do it but it’s been fun experimenting and has brought us here. Enjoy and Happy Weekend!

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  • 1 pound salmon, skin left on
  • kosher salt
  • 5 juniper berries
  • chopped dill, stems and all, a nice amount to coat the fish completely
  • a shot of vodka

In a non-reactive dish, lay the fish down, flesh side up and sprinkle the shot of vodka over it. Sprinkle kosher salt all over the fish but not going crazy, the way I was in previous experiments. I was literally burying the fish in salt. This is a nice sprinkling, covering it completely. Dot it with juniper berries and top with a generous amount of dill. Cover with two layers of plastic wrap and allow to sit for 4 days. I didn’t flip mine on the third day as the chef did, I left it and had pretty good results.

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And this time, as per the chefs’ instructions, I didn’t rinse the salty dill mixture off, I just scrapped everything off with a spoon and I’m not sure if that made a difference but the dill flavor was outstanding. I really liked the way this came out. Hope you do too!

DSC05700Serve the gravlax with sour cream on top of crispy crackers, dotted with mustard. Or any glamorous way you fancy! Enjoy!

Crazy Eights Onion Soup

This day started out beautifully, sunny and swiftly changed to a cloudy, then eventually rainy day. In between the breaks of raininess, I walked Daisy-dog and the fog was rolling in and disappearing before my eyes. It was a bit eerie and it reminded me of a book I read when I was a teenager, The Fog by Caroline B. Cooney. Oh that book creeped me out, in the best way. She described the fog in such a way that whenever there is a fog around, it brings me back to the days of sitting, reading it- terrified. I like to scare myself sometimes and on this Halloween-esque night, despite the date on the calender. I saw shadows where there were none. As we walked down the street, I looked back and the fog was coming closer, in my mind- following me, ready to engulf me. I began to walk faster, the fog dissolving before plain sight, turning around again to see it, coming at us, mysteriously. I began to walk faster, my imagination getting the best of me. I started to laugh at my own ridiculousness and calmed down but it was so much fun being mesmerized by the fog this evening and reminiscing a little bit about books that I loved to read; books by R.L.Stine and Judy Blue like Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret and Tiger Eyes, a book called Crazy Eights and that book about the fog…The weather today is perfect for curling up on the couch with a good chilling book and a creamy onion soup in hand with a buttery sandwich on the side. Enjoy and watch out for that fog! ;)

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  • 8 onions, varied sizes, about 2 1/2 pounds
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 tablespoons half and half, about 1/2 a cup
  • 4 cups homemade or good-quality ready made chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • sea salt to taste

DSC05674In a large, heavy bottomed pot, combine the onions along with the butter and a little sea salt, cover and stir often, on low heat. You don’t want the onions to brown even slightly, you want them to sweat. After about 20 minutes, add in the cup of water and simmer for an additional 40 minutes. (If you need to, add in that cup of water earlier.) After the hour, add in the chicken broth and on high heat, bring to a boil. Once at a boil, remove from the heat and let it cool down a bit, and using an immersion blender, blend away. Because you are doing this when the soup is hot, use caution or you can wait till it cools down completely and then blend away. (*Only use that immersion blender if you are completely comfortable.) If you have cooled down your soup and blended it, warm it up on low heat and stir in the half and half. If you have blended your soup and it’s still warm, add in the half and half and adjust the seasonings. Top with minced chives. And if you are serving this for a fancier dinner party, run the soup through a sieve so it can be silky-smooth. Serves about 4-6.

DSC05652To make this quick sandwich, toast a split croissant, lightly butter and top with ham and Jarlsberg cheese. Give an old-school, grade-school hand squash and cut in half. Enjoy!

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Turkey and Artichoke Puttanesca

It’s still a cold one here on the east coast and we still have snow on the ground. It was a chilly, rainy day today and I wanted something warming to the soul, yet a little spicy and deeply satisfying. And I also want to do a little bit of spring cleaning, starting with the freezer. And that bag of artichokes has been staring at me for quite a while. And they always feel like spring to me. A girl can be hopeful right? Lol. This makes a juicy potful of goodness that’s great topped on a pile of rice, broken noodles, or even mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

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  • 1 1/4 pound turkey cutlets, cut into strips
  • 1 14oz. bag of frozen artichokes, defrosted and squeezed dry if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, ripped in half
  • 2 1/2 cups good quality puttanesca sauce (a 24 oz. jar)

In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter over low heat until bubbling add turkey and saute for about 10 minutes or so. Add tomato sauce, artichokes and olives and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until turkey is cooked through. Serves about 4.

DSC05634I just love the rustic-fanciness of this dish! It’s so tasty too!

Make someone happy tonight! ;)

The NoseFrida

Yesterday, I didn’t find a pot of gold at the end of any rainbow or see any cute little leprechauns leaping around the yard. (I don’t blame them, it’s still snow covered. Although I walked little Daisy-dog today and saw some pale greenery shooting up through the dirt, where it was visible. A sign that spring is indeed, around the corner!) But this NoseFrida is the closest thing to a pot of gold for a mom of a stuffy-nosed babe. My little guy couldn’t sleep, he was so stuffed up. I bought one of those little kits for babies that has a a little of everything, a thermometer and one of those bulbs that takes boogies out but it just didn’t work for us. I wanted to take the little guy out of his misery. I wanted him to breathe and after a little searching, the next day, at my local CVS, I found this wonderful, fantastic, where-have-you-been-type of product…The NoseFrida…the snotsucker. Yes, even the guy at CVS joked with me, “I guess you are gonna be sucking some snots out huh?” I proudly said, “Yes, yes I am and I can’t wait!” My little guy was much better in the daytime but once night came around, the nose was filled and it was my chance to try out the NoseFrida and it worked, like a dream. It helped my babe breathe and with him breathing he was able to fall asleep and so were we. My little pot of gold. A must have for stuffy noses.

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Spicy Pea Mush

Although I will be making corned beef and cabbage tomorrow, (Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I’m so excited. I usually make it boiled and it’s a big fail. I never cook it long enough and it’s chewy and interesting…So I came across her recipe and it looked excitingly different compared to my sad, boiled down square of chewy meat.) Where was I? That’s right – although I will be making corned beef and cabbage tomorrow, I remember my vegetarian days and though my husbands impromptu recipe would help a vegetarian out on St. Patty’s day. It’s festive, being green and all and can be served with potatoes and roasted or sauteed cabbage. Or if you are in a hurry, on a bed of rice. My husband made this, in what seemed to be a flash and it was so good and I’ve never quite had anything like this before. Enjoy and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  • 1 pound dried split green peas
  • 2 cubes vegetable bouillon
  • about 4-6 cups water
  • generous tablespoon curry powder
  • 3-4 allspice berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Combine everything in a heavy bottomed pot, bring to a boil on high heat. You want to cover the peas by about an inch of water. Once it comes to a boil, allow to simmer for about half an hour or more. Stir occasionally. Add more water as needed and the peas dry out. And if you want more of a soup, add more water. Once the peas are tender, bring out that immersion blend and blend your little heart away. (The cooking time varies as it depends on the freshness of the dried peas. I’ve had peas done pretty quickly and I’ve had a batch that took a looong time to get soft.) Serves about 4.

*non-vegetarians can use chicken bouillon cubes

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Neckwarmer Hoodie

The other day, I got together with a friend for a late afternoon walk, with our dogs and I gasped, as I saw her neckwarmer hoodie. I fell in love with it and asked her where she got it? To that, she replied, “I made it!” (Gasp!) “WHEN?” “The night before.” (Gasp again!) A few days later, she gave me one and it’s the prettiest – with a white trim and red stripes- my favorite color and it’s oh-so-warm. It’s been so cold here on the east coast that this gift put such a smile on my face.

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And I just love the pointy cap…

DSC05579The designer herself, sporting a pretty blue one…

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“What’s that in the distance?” Is it spring?

No…not yet…

It’s a special 10% off coming your way, when you use the coupon code BLISS HOUSE. You can use it in the whole shop, good until April 5, 2015. Check out Alison’s shop at www.oldearthtradingco.etsy.com

Pictured above is Alison, wearing an earthy, brown hued neckwarmer hoodie. ($40) All orders are custom made, which is great. Have a favorite color? Love that winter white, paired with some bright red lips? Fan of violet and gold together? Feeling like red riding hood? (I kinda did and loved it, lol.) Loving lime green, hot pink? Grab one now, for the rest of this winter, which apparently is going to be another six more weeks and squirrel one away for next winter…

You can request custom orders to: oldearthtradingco@gmail.com

Happy shopping! And happy weekend!

Buttery Cavatelli with Radishes & Walnuts

Ohh the allure of a shiny new Martha Stewart Living magazine, those were my most beloved early Saturday or sometimes Sunday mornings. I would wake up early before the house was up and grab a coffee and look through those glossy food-filled pages. And although I can’t recall the month or year, it was a spring issue. I remember the surprise of seeing an appetizer recipe involving spring radishes plated with bread or crackers, unsalted butter and salt. It looked inviting but it was beyond my taste buds at the time. That simple recipe burned a hole in my memory. Many moons later, I made it and it was different, beautiful, these fresh, bright radishes combined with creamy, rich butter and large flecks of sea salt. I was hooked in its’ beauty. Although spring is far from here, I needed that spring feeling and made a dish to match. It was snowing outside today but inside it felt like tulips were blooming. Enjoy!

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  • 1 13oz. bag cavatelli
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 2 tablespoons walnut pieces
  •  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • shredded Manchego cheese

Bring a pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, prepare the radishes, leaving an inch of greens on the radishes, quarter and rinse well, using a brush if necessary to remove any dirt. Once the water comes to a boil, toss in the cavatelli, salt generously and finish cooking, as directed on the package. (I used frozen cavatelli.) In a pan, melt the butter on low heat, add in the radishes and saute for 8 minutes. Drain the cavatelli, reserving some of the pasta water. Add the cavatelli and walnuts to the radishes, saute for about 2 minutes, adding a little bit of the pasta water for a little creaminess.Top with the Manchego cheese. Serves about 2.

DSC05561Just look at that cute little radish and all of that melted cheese…

Fresh Mozzarella Plate

The Oscars are on this weekend and more than anything, I can’t wait to see all the pretty dresses and I’m predicting the men will have some major beardage going on, a trend that I am ready to see on it’s way out, lol. (There is such a thing-as too much of a good thing.) And a good cheese platter is always nice to have nearby to munch on during commercial breaks. This is so easy to get together and comes together quickly. Serve with nice crusty bread on the side or Pane Guttiau (Sardinian Parchment Crackers) from Trader Joe’s…(ohh…so good.) Enjoy and have a great weekend!

  • fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • raw walnut halves
  • anchovies in olive oil
  • sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • capers
  • celery leaves
  • olive oil for drizzling

Arrange everything and drizzle the mozzarella with a little olive oil. Allow to rest at room temperature for about an hour before serving.

DSC05531I really love this plate, lol. Three posts in a row…

Tuna Melt

I swear I have been craving a tuna melt for about a good week now. And then last night when I was watching The Americans and Stan was having lunch with Zinaida at the diner and she asked, “What is a tuna melt?” I was sold, a tuna melt had to made today. Coincidentally, I had some English muffin bread that I made and there were about two slices left, it was just the amount I needed for my melts. Moons ago, I had English muffin bread and haven’t seen it anywhere. My first and only attempt at making bread was a sad one. It was a hot summer day and it was a garlic rosemary walnut bread that wasn’t quite done. But I ate it anyway, once I toasted it and buttered it, it’s wasn’t so bad. But I added more rosemary, thinking it would add to the earthiness of the loaf but it wasn’t a good idea, overwhelming it and for a while just the sight of rosemary made me run in the other direction. So, making bread has always intimidated me. But then I saw a recipe for English muffin bread on Cook’s Country that looked easy and it was. It was so easy, the following weekend I made another batch substituting reduced fat buttermilk for the milk in the recipe and instead of dusting with cornmeal, I dusted with raw brown rice farina and it was a little more tangy and tasted more like the bread I loved. (Really- if you are intimidated by making bread, try this as your first experiment and you won’t be disappointed.) So, where were we? Tuna melting time…

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  • 1 English muffin, split and lightly toasted or 2 slices English muffin bread
  • 1 can chunk light tuna fish
  • 1/2 stalk celery minced, about 2 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • a few black olives, minced
  • thinly sliced fresh mozzarella sliced or shredded

DSC05503Combine the tuna, celery, onion, mayo, olives and spread over the English muffin halves, top with the mozzarella slices and broil on high, about 6 inches away from the flame, until nice and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

DSC05492My first batch of bread!