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Durham

In light of our hectic fall travel calendar, we chose to spend thanksgiving in Durham. Our dear friends Steve and Sam had us over for a magical evening. I contributed a green salad and pumpkin pie. Joey created a wonderful vegetarian Shepard’s pie, that he adapted from the Moosewood Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Lindsay made the cranberries and pear & cranberry pie. David made green beans with bacon. Steve and Sam made stuffing, turkey cooked with bacon on the skin and an English trifle. A great time was had by all. Here are some snippets of the evening, will post some of the recipes soon.

The lovely place settings.

Steve pouring champagne.

The spread.

Joey’s plate (note the bacon that topped the turkey!).

It is too hot hot hot to cook… I think the heat index tomorrow is 110 degrees here in Durham. This leads me to an important observation:

Ice Cream for Dinner!!!
peach ice cream & triple berry sorbet
source: The Parlour’s facebook page

(followed by a salad for dessert)

If you are from around here, I highly recommend visiting Durham’s mobile-school bus turned ice cream truck, The Parlour. Please accept my apologies for no picture of the fabulous decadence that I have previously consumed. I seem to have forgotten to take them as a result of the heat delirium/ice cream bliss.

Our lovely neighbors were kind enough to let us pick their zucchini while they were out of town. For those of you who know North Carolina summers and vegetable seasons, right now is prime zucchini time and as such we had boatloads of zucchini. Here come zucchini muffins to the rescue! They are hearty and wonderful for breakfast or a unconventional dessert. Note this recipe is adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.

Zucchini Muffin Madness
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
Supplies
Muffin tin (or a loaf pan, which will result in zucchini bread), oiled with vegetable oil

Wet ingredients
2 eggs, large
1/2 cup vegetable oil
~1 cup light brown sugar (not a full cup, but almost a full cup 🙂
1 Tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups zucchini, grated [use large side of your grater]

Dry ingredients
2 cups white flour, all-purpose
1 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp salt
2 Tsp cinnamon

Extras (add if you wish)
1/2 cup nuts, chopped [walnuts, and pecans work great]
1/2 cup golden raisins [dark raisins are OK too]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift together the dry ingredients if you are so inclined. In separate bowls, mix the wet and dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir until combined [Do not overmix, this results in poor muffin texture!]. Fold the extra ingredients in to the batter.

Spoon batter into the muffin tins. Bake in oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with jam, butter or enjoy sans condiments.

Toast is one of my favorite lunch/early dinner places in Durham. Joey and I went for lunch yesterday before seeing our dear friend off as he moves home to Arizona. I had a green salad and crostini, which was a perfect complement to the 95+ degree day. For those of you who don’t know, crostini are little toasts with yummy toppings. I had two kinds of crostini yesterday- pesto with roasted tomato and mozarella & goat cheese with honey and cracked black pepper. They were divine and are perfect with a nice green salad. I am excited to make them at home for a cocktail party, or just for fun.

Here are recipes for the crostini (note the amounts of toppings will vary slightly depending on the size of your bread).

Goat cheese crostini with honey and black pepper

Serving size varies depending on how many you want to eat 😉

Ingredients:
Goat cheese
Baguette, sliced in 3/4″ slices, or prepared crostini from the store
Honey
Black pepper

1) Slice baguette, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and toast in oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast in oven for 2 minutes.

2) Remove baguette slices from oven (or if using crostini start here). Spread about a tablespoon of goat cheese on each slice. Place back into oven for another minute.

3) Remove from oven and top with a drizzle of honey and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!!!

Crostini with roasted tomato, pesto and mozarella

Again the serving size varies depending on how many you want to eat & how much ingredients you buy.

Ingredients:
Fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4″ thick & wide enough to cover  about 2/3 most of the baguette slice (see picture above for example)
Homemade or store bought pesto
Tomatoes (roma, cherry or grape).
Baguette, sliced in 3/4″ slices, or prepared crostini from the store

1) Roast tomatoes in oven following this recipe from smitten kitchen. This takes a while, but is worth it!!!!

2) Slice baguette, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and toast in oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast in oven for 2 minutes.

3) Remove baguette slices from oven (or if using crostini start here). Spread about a teaspoon of pesto on each slice, top with a roasted tomato and a slice of mozzarella. Place back into oven for another minute or until the mozzarella is melted. Prepare to be blown away!