Yesterday I had the pleasure of judging the blueberry pie contest at my local farmers market in Summit, New Jersey. It’s not easy tasting 10 blueberry pies in 10 minutes (poor me!). They ranged from gluten free to tricked out with whipped cream and even one with canned blueberries (I noticed). But the winner kept it simple with a buttery crust loaded with blueberries bursting through the sugar dusted lattice, almost identical to my own version. If pie baking seems daunting to you, take note home cooks; the winner was just 12-years old. Congratulations Jozi! That’s an honest blueberry pie.
Author Archive Amy
Grilled squash with basil drizzle is a recipe created from the tangle of yellow squash and basil overtaking my garden and it couldn’t be easier to make. There’s a certain fascination with a vegetable garden for someone who loves to cook as much as me. Planting begins as soon as the temp. clears 32 degrees, around late April in NJ. It’s year two for my little garden and once again, my enthusiasm has yielded so many thriving plants, it’s hard to tell one from the other. So, several days ago I was shocked to find a 4-pound yellow squash growing under a canopy of basil. The dish came quickly in my mind (how fun to pick and cook in a matter of minutes!) and I can’t wait to see what my ‘secret garden’ brings me tomorrow.
Gazpacho with spicy shrimp is one of those recipes you’ll be glad to pull out when it’s too hot to cook. There are thousands of recipes for this Spanish raw vegetable soup, but the bottom line is it’s a chopped salad in a bowl. As a home cook, you can pick and choose your vegetables from whatever’s in the fridge or your garden. If the ingredients are fresh, you can’t go wrong. Adding spicy poached shrimp keeps it light and healthy with a little punch of protein to make it a substantial meal.
Sometimes the best recipes are the ones that are made the most. This one for best lemon bars has been a “keeper” in the SHC kitchen for over 20 years. While the success of most baked goods is exacting measurements, this is one of those recipes in a constant tweaking mode. Finding the perfect sweet/sour combo makes them irresistible and earning the title ‘best lemon bar’.
What could be better on Mother’s Day than showing your mom some love from the kitchen with mozzarella, tomato, basil tart? Mozzarella, tomato and basil are pretty spectacular on their own, but bake them in a tart and they’re transformed into a rich, layered dish of gooey mozzarella, tender tomatoes and a puffy basil custard finish. You’ll instantly be elevated to favorite child status no matter your age.
July 4th is just a little more special in my little town of Summit, New Jersey. That’s because Summit is all-American all the time. Our neighborhood, with 30-plus kids, means instant play dates, pick up ball games, sleepovers and potlucks without ever leaving the street. But, on July 4th, Summit hosts a fireworks display that rivals anything in a larger city. Families all over town host open houses and cookouts and not much has changed in the last fifty or so years. So, if you’re bringing potluck to someone’s house this July 4th, here’s an all-American recipe for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. They couldn’t be easier to whip up and they just happen to be gluten free too!
It’s been a perfect storm in the Secrets of a Home Cook kitchen. First, baker extraordinaire, Dorie Greenspan’s been talking up her strawberry shortcake recipes and with strawberry season in full swing, it’s all I want to eat right now. Second, my mom (mom extraordinaire) brought me gorgeous vanilla beans from her recent trip to India. The result is my own version of strawberry vanilla shortcake. It really is a very easy recipe with vanilla beans throughout. They’re a bit pricy but worth the few extra dollars and you can find them right next to the extract in the baking aisle.
There’s a certain fascination with a blood orange. Ordinary on the outside, the inside is like Andy Warhol pop art, bloody red and otherworldly. They thrive in cooler weather so they’re in season right now and it’s worth seeking them out. It’s a sweet and less acidic orange, great for snacking or the main ingredient in these showstopper blood orange oatmeal cookies.
Panzanella salad with burrata and fresh produce are a natural fit. The salad, a classic from Tuscany is a simple compilation of seasonal vegetables and stale bread, which soaks up the veggie juices along with good quality olive oil and vinegar. SHC prefers using toasted fresh bread since the bread is such a prominent ingredient. It just doesn’t seem logical to eat it in a fresh salad after its prime (save your stale bread for breadcrumbs). The addition of burrata, a richer version of mozzarella thanks to the addition of fresh cream makes it a showstopper.
Recently I was driving when I heard a recipe on the radio. It went something like, “These slow-roasted ribs are the best ribs ever, it’s an old family recipe and the ribs are cooked in sauerkraut for 4 hours”. I was doubtful but intrigued. So, I made the recipe and I made it again and again until I got it just right. The ribs cook “all day” in the oven, low and slow until the meat falls off the bone. The sauerkraut not only acts as a tenderizer, but it caramelizes as it cooks intensifying the flavor. With just two ingredients, it’s hardly a recipe, but the unlikely combo is spectacular and the credit goes to my nameless fellow home cook on the radio.