Friday, June 26, 2020


My good friend, Karen Sykes, recently gifted me with some beautiful squash, two of which I had never heard of.

Kabocha is on the left, Delicata in the center
and of course a beautiful Butternut Squash,
which we're all familiar with.
The big, round green squash is KABOCHA, also known as Japanese Pumpkin. It is the sweetest winter squash variety and has a taste and texture somewhere between a pumpkin and a sweet potato. The flesh is a beautiful bright orange and the skin is edible! Filled with lots of fiber, beta carotene, iron and vitamins B and C, it is also good for you. Being in the winter squash family it was a little tricky cutting, but I brought out my big knife to do the job.
I decided to roast the Kabocha with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. cinnamon, a drizzle of maple syrup-about 1 Tbsp., and liberal amount of salt. Wash the squash and cut into 2 to 3 inch chunks removing seeds. I used a grapefruit spoon, which works well to remove seeds and stringy pieces. Rinse the seeds and add salt. They can be roasted along with the squash, but won't take as much time. You want them crispy, but not burned. I roasted for about 15 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the Kabocha with the olive oil and other ingredients and roast for 30 minutes or until tender.

The pale yellow squash is called DELICATA. It is also known as Peanut Squash, Bohemian Squash and Sweet Potato Squash. Technically a summer squash, however Delicata is classified in the winter squash family because of its hard flesh and late harvest. As with all winter squash it is rich in Vitamins B and C, fiber, potassium and manganese. The creamy flavor and texture is also reminiscent of sweet potato with hints of corn and as with the Kabocha the skin is tender so no peeling necessary. Some varieties are striped in green or orange. This sweet little squash is only about 6 inches long. Since I have not had this squash I decided to keep it really simple so I could taste the true Delicata flavor. Wash the squash and cut off both ends. Cut the squash into rounds and pull out the seeds using a grapefruit spoon. Coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until tender.

Now that I have experienced both Kabocha and Delicata I look forward to trying some new recipes. The Delicata would be excellent stuffed with ground meat--possibly ground lamb with pine nuts and feta cheese; or sausage with lots of fresh herbs and parmesan. I think the Kabocha would be great roasted and then pureed to use as a spread. They both would make a rich and delicious soup flavored with curry. Thanks again, Karen, for introducing me to 2 delicious winter squashes! My husband wants me to make another Squash Pie with the Butternut Squash. Scroll down to find the recipe.

I served the squash with a ROULADE OF BEEF.
I didn't have any real parmesan,
but this grated cheese worked OK
with all the other luscious flavors!

Using Round Steak, salt/pepper on both sides of the steak, sprinkle with dried tarragon, stuff with cheesy bread crumbs, finely minced garlic, lots of fresh spinach. Roll the steak the long way and wrap with a slice of thick cut bacon. Cook on the grill until bacon is crisp.
The two squash were a perfect complement!


Saturday, June 13, 2020


I like to stuff and roll all kinds of meat and have stuffed pork many times, but this time I wanted to make a very traditional stuffed Italian pork called PORCHETTA. The Italian word for pork is Maiale. When we were in Tuscany a couple years ago I ate maiale nearly every day. Porchetta is traditionally wrapped in pork belly, but unfortunately I could not get my hands on any, so decided to wrap the pork loin in bacon. And just to make sure there was enough pork flavor I chose to stuff with some beautiful Italian salami and provolone cheese. This is not traditional, but as with so many dishes there are regional differences so this is my version from the southwest of Arizona region.
2 lb. pork roast
8 slices good quality salami or enough to fill the pork in one layer with slight overlap
4 slices provolone or enough to fill one layer with a bit of overlap
8 slices (or more) thick-cut bacon

4 fresh sage sprigs and 4 fresh rosemary sprigs for the overnight 'resting'

Ingredients For the Spice Rub:

1 tsp. whole fennel seeds
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. fresh sage leaves, finely sliced
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 tsp. Kosher salt, or more to taste (I used about 1 1/2 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flake
1 Tbsp. olive oil or more to make a thick paste

This amount of spice produced a very herbaceous flavor heavy on the pepper. For my husband, Jerry, whose pallet is a bit more delicate than mine it was a bit much, but for myself I thought it was perfect. Adjust spices up or down as you like.

Spice Rub Preparation:
Crush the fennel seeds in a mortar with a pestle until mashed; about 1-2 minutes. Add garlic, sage, black and red peppers, rosemary, salt and lemon zest. Pound into a thick paste. Add olive oil and pound until all ingredients are totally blended.

Cut a slit 3/4 of the way through the center of the pork so the pork opens like a book. Spread about 1/2 of the spice mixture over one side of the pork. Top with salami and cheese. Close the pork and evenly spread the rest of the spice mixture over the top. Wrap the pork loin with thick-cut bacon so bacon ends or seams are on the bottom of the roast. I topped the wrapped pork roast with big long sprigs of fresh sage and rosemary. If you want less of an herby flavor, skip this, but I think this is part of what made this pork loin so delicious! Wrap the pork roast tightly in foil and refrigerate at least overnight. I refrigerated for 2 nights, which enhanced the flavors of the Spice Rub.

Heat a gas grill to 400 degrees. I chose to add a smoker box into the grill to give the roast a little smoky flavor, as over the centuries in Italy they would often roast Porchetta over a wood grill with open flame. Bring the meat to room temperature for about 45 minutes before grilling. Place the roast on the grill and grill on all 4 sides until bacon is nice and crispy.  Lower the heat to 350 on the pork side of the grill (keep the other half of the grill at 400 degrees) and continue cooking until a meat thermometer reads 135 degrees. This cooked very quickly and was up to temp in about 20 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before carving. The meat will continue to cook and final temp will reach about 140-145 degrees.

Tender, juicy, perfectly succulent pork.
I served with lightly steamed broccoli,
and pasta with sauted mushrooms, lots of garlic,
olive oil, coarse salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
Alternatively you could roast this in your oven. Preheat to 450 degrees. Place roast on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees. Follow the steps, as above.

I love cooking outside on the grill, especially when my husband joins me!
Our back yard as night approaches.

Not only is my brother a fantastic cook, but also a great gardener!
At their home on the farm, Eliot, Maine. July 2019

Enjoying an Empress Gin on the back patio at the farm.
June 13, 2020
Me and Skip at the Wells, Maine food-truck rally. July 2019
Skip and his beautiful wife, Esther, Portsmouth, NH August 2017

Thursday, June 4, 2020


No ice cream maker...No problem!

I spend a fair amount of time using the internet to search for new and different recipes. I found this one online. I also have tons of cookbooks and love to pour through them. And, of course, I use my own blog to search for recipes I have made in the past that I have forgotten about.
Thanks again to the generosity of our neighbors, Brian and Lori Itule, we are still eating beautiful mangos. Plus my good friend Leslie Jackson gifted me with a few more. This ice cream is super creamy, easy to scoop and totally delicious. The mango flavor is subtle, but just enough so you know what flavor you're eating, and only 3 ingredients!

2 large ripe mangos (2 1/4 cups mango chunks equal about 2 cups puree)
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups heavy cream, whipped

Dice the flesh of the mango removing both skin and stone. Puree in a blender or food processor then measure out 2 cups mango puree. Pour the puree into a nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 8-10 minutes. As it reduces you lose some volume, but that is OK. I ended up with 1 1/2 cups puree. When you are able to drag a wooden spoon across the puree and the path remains clean you are at the right reduction.
Cool the puree.
Combine cooled mango and condensed milk in a bowl. Whisk until well combined. I decided not to strain the mango puree through a fine-mesh sieve as I thought the little pieces of mango would bring extra texture and flavor. They did.
Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks are formed. Take a scoop of mango puree and mix gently, but thoroughly until mostly combined. This will lighten the mango puree before the rest of the cream is added.
Keep adding mango mixture and cream alternately gently folding until both are well combined. Do not beat vigorously or use a mixer as you will take the air our of the whipped cream. It will be quite soft.
Pour the mixture into a glass container and seal with the lid. Place in the freezer and freeze for at least 12 hours.
Let it soften a couple minutes before scooping and serving.
With all these beautiful mangos, the week before I made Mango Sorbet, which has a more mango-y flavor and no heavy cream or evaporated milk so gentler on the waistline. On these hot pre-summer days in southern Arizona they are both a wonderful treat!
Scroll to the end of the blog to get the recipe for Mango Sorbet.
I have just enough mangos left to make a Mango Sponge Cake and will share that with you soon!