Category: Appetizers

‘Beet’ the Winter Blues with this Gorgeous Golden Beet, Blood Orange and Goat Cheese Salad with Citrus Dressing

‘Beet’ the Winter Blues with this Gorgeous Golden Beet, Blood Orange and Goat Cheese Salad with Citrus Dressing

We are now in prime citrus season. February can be a little bleak, so after months of hearty soups and stews, may I suggest you add some color (and vitamin C) into your life with this seasonal salad which has become one my favorite winter dishes.  I created this recipe a couple of […]

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Best Salad Ever! Quinoa Salad

Best Salad Ever! Quinoa Salad

Happy Memorial Day or Bank Holiday, depending on where you are! I hope you are able to celebrate with family and enjoy the holiday. I have just done a live cooking webinar for Hayvn Halftime, and wanted to share the link with you. Check out […]

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Pesto Orzo with Roasted Vegetables, Feta Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts

Pesto Orzo with Roasted Vegetables, Feta Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts

Pesto Orzo with roasted vegetables, feta cheese and pine nuts

Updated Post with new video!

I hope this finds you well!

This is one of my original posts, a perfect dish to have in the fridge for the never ending snacks and meals required when everyone is staying at home.

I have just added a video, my third. Apart from only filming half of my head I seem to be getting the hang of it!

As we are just getting to know each other, I want to share all my absolutely favorite, foolproof, you will love me and be so impressed, recipes with you. I also have, however, to warn you about my tendency to vagueness.  This pasta dish is a perfect example. 

My dear friend Ann Gill first made me this for lunch when we were neighbors in London. Many, many years ago. I have been making it on a regular basis ever since. 
 
This works as a meal in its own right. With the mix of pasta, protein and vegetables, it is perfect for vegetarians.  However, the real beauty of this dish is that it seems to go well with almost anything. I usually pair it with

Herb Roasted Salmon,

and

Orange and Beet Salad

but it works with beef, pork or chicken. The individual parts can also be made ahead, and transported in Ziplock bags if you are bringing the dish to a potluck ( and hopefully those days will be back soon).  When you are ready to assemble the pasta, you can you can do so in a matter of minutes. Afterwards, any leftover pasta keeps really well and makes a great grab and go lunch. What more can you ask of a recipe?

 
 

 I also like to serve the pasta on a large platter, rather than a bowl, the colors of the green pasta, roasted vegetables and creamy white feta make it really attractive. 

 
 

And the thorny question of quantities? I am going to try to give some guidance, since we are just getting acquainted. If I am serving more than one side dish, I use a small bag of Trader Joes orzo pasta for twenty people. On its own, that bag would easily feed ten. So, if you want enough for five to six people, half a small bag of pasta would be perfect.

Add enough pesto to cover the pasta completely. For a whole bag of pasta, a small container of fresh pesto is usually enough. I love the large jar from Costco. Less stressful. However, If you want a treat and to support local business, pick up a tub from my favorite Cheese Shop in Goodwives (and maybe their feta too), when you are collecting your Easter Cheese!

www.dariencheese.com

Thank you ANN!

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Sausage Rolls – Food of the Gods – Christmas Wreath

Sausage Rolls – Food of the Gods – Christmas Wreath

Christmas Update 2020 Sausage rolls are an essential part of our holiday tradition. It’s a British thing! However, I upped my game recently, and made a sausage roll wreath. It made me really happy. Hoping it might make you happy too!  I had made it […]

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2018

Back ‘home’ in Connecticut this year! So excited to be doing all the usual stuff, coffee mornings, drinks, brunches, High School American Football and Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends. I am truly giving thanks to my dear friends Felicia and Marty who have lent us her house while they celebrate Thanksgiving with their family in California. I am hoping the wild fires currently burning there are brought under control and the smoke clears for all living in that gorgeous state.

Our family are thankful to be together in beautiful Rowayton,,a small town about an hour from New York, with its wonderful  beaches

Coastal walks

Rowayton
Rowayton

and cute little houses

Cute little house in Rowayton
Cute little house in Rowayton

many of them designed with a nod to the Arts and Crafts style by the fabulous firm of architects Pagliaro Bartels Sadja.

Cute little house in Rowayton
Cute little house in Rowayton

California Dreaming

Last year we celebrated  Thanksgiving in Novato, in North California where two of our children are now living.  We blagged an invitation to hang out with close family of our friends Marty and Felicia, for which I was very thankful. We did the usual Californian stuff, lots of hiking  and wine tasting.

Hiking in California
Hiking in California

Origins of Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving meal was celebrated in 1621 and the menu probably included Swan, lobster and seals.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers. The Pilgrim, as they are now commonly known, were seeking to escape religious persecution and start afresh in the New World. They reached Cape Cod after 66 days and eventually crossed Massachusetts Bay where they established a village at Plymouth. During the first winter half of the pilgrims died due to malnutrition and scurvy. In the Spring the survivors were greeted by Native Americans, who taught them how to fish the rivers, extract maple syrup from trees and to cultivate corn, ensuring they were prepared for the coming seasons.

The meal was offered by the pilgrims who invited their Indian allies as a thank you for all the help they given over the first challenging year. The Native Americans, good guests as ever, brought five deer as their contribution to the first extended family gathering!

Traditional Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for tradition, family rituals, football and eating.  It is probably my favourite holiday, Christmas without all the stress of gifts.  As it is not observed outside of Canada and the States, it would be a normal working day in Denmark, our present home.  After so many years of living in America that would just seem just wrong, so we have headed back each year to celebrate with our family.

I am sure you all already have your Thanksgiving organised and know which dishes you are going to make, however just in case you are looking for a little inspiration I have a few thoughts to share:

The meal itself

I have been hosting Thanksgiving for most of the time we have lived in Connecticut. It was the one meal where I encouraged everyone to bring their favourite dish and we sometimes ended up with as many as seventeen different sides.  There were always the standards, turkey, obviously, mashed potato, did I mention my potato obsession? In addition, we had to start with Kate’s Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls
Sausage Rolls

and a Holiday Cheese Platter from the wonderful Darien Cheese Shop.

The Fabulous Ken - Darien Cheese Shop
The Fabulous Ken Skovren – Darien Cheese Shop

We always had a fairly long cocktail hour, as it is my favourite part of any meal.

I liked to serve a little soup before the main event, maybe Carrot or Butternut Squash with Pear and Stilton.  Everyone had a chance to find their seats and faff around with drinks beforehand and we had a fighting chance of eating hot food when everything was finally served up.  If I was super organised I ran the plates for the main course through a quick cycle in the dishwasher just to heat them up.  I had a warming drawer, but it was normally full of things being warmed.

Carrot Soup
Carrot Soup

Thanksgiving Menu

Every family has its own version of a thanksgiving meal but there are certain elements that are totally traditional.

Turkey!

Stuffing or Dressing

Green Bean Casserole

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows

Mashed Potatoes

Gravy

Cranberry Sauce

Now in my opinion you can never have too many sides.  I sometimes think I might not even notice if I forgot the turkey as long as I had gravy, bread sauce (it’s a British thing), cranberry sauce and a bit of everything else.  Rebecca always brought fabulous roasted root vegetables. Ellen’s family liked peas and sweetcorn. There were the obligatory green beans and corn bread. In recent years my new favourite side was Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries and Pecans. For years I have also been making my stuffing and wrapping it in bacon, I know what you are thinking, can it get any better? The recipe is called Sausagemeat and Bacon Roll!   I think it the appearance of abundance that appeals to me. I also love leftovers, sometimes more the actual meal itself.

Brussel sprouts with cranberries and pecans

And pudding!

Traditional Thanksgiving desserts are all about pies. Pecan, Pumpkin and Apple are the standards.

For the last few years we have been buying some rather excellent pies from Vermont through a fundraiser for Katherine’s rowing club CBC.  I,however, always had a need to make trifle for dessert. Also in recent years I have switched out pumpkin pie for Pumpkin Panettone Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce.  Last year my contribution was Chocolate Almond Torte with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberries as our hostess was gluten-free.

Chocolate Almond Torte
Heart shaped chocolate almond cake with chocolate ganache and strawberries

You can always just make the British favourite Sticky Toffee Pudding.

One Thousand and One Epicurean Delights – Sticky Toffee Pudding!

The American tradition is to watch American Football, but after dinner we usually played a couple of games like charades or had a Thanksgiving quiz.  And we always played the ‘Thankful Game’.  We went round the table and everyone said what they were thankful for, and had to also remember what everyone else before them had said.  Over the years I noticed a difference in the game.  It used to be played for laughs, but it changed as everyone realised what the they were truly thankful for was their family and friends and a chance to be together.

November 26, 2015

An American Thanksgiving in Darien with Brits, Scots, Australians, South Africans etc


I am thankful that you have read this post to the end!

Wherever you are this Thanksgiving I hope you have a great time!

“Untold
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Quick and Easy Appetizers Part One

Quick and Easy Appetizers Part One

Cocktail Hour – the best bit! Personally, I love the drinks and appetizers part of the evening. The bit before dinner, when everyone is arriving and mingling.  In our house, cocktail hour tends to be a relaxed, drawn out affair, leaving some guests a little […]

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Classic Victoria Sponge

Classic Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge A Victoria Sponge is a classic British cake, named for Queen Victoria who was known to enjoy a slice of cake with her afternoon cup of tea. It was a patriotic cake, created to celebrate a fabulous new British invention, baking powder! The […]

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Nordic Platter

Nordic Platter

Nordic Platter

Nordic Platter

Ingredients

    • 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced lengthways
    • Small pack of smoked salmon
    • Jar of picked herring
    • Dozen or so large shrimp
    • Skagenröra (recipe below)
    • Gherkins
    • Pickled Red Onions (recipe below)
    • Soda Bread (recipe below)
Soda Bread
    • 10 oz/280g/21/2 cups strong white flour plus a little extra for dusting
    • 7 oz/200g/13/4 cups wholemeal flour
    • 1 heaped teaspoon baking soda
    • 12 fl oz (UK)/ 350g/11/2 cups of buttermilk
    • 1 egg
    • 1tsp runny honey
Skagenröra
    • small handful of little cooked shrimp (prawns), chopped
    • 2 Tbs Dill, finely chopped plus extra for garnish
    • Small tub of Créme Fraiche or sour cream
    • 1 tsp dill sweet mustard
    • A little caviar, optional
Red Pickled Onions (can be made ahead)
    • Two large red onions, finely sliced preferably with a mandolin
    • 1 cup /8fl oz /200ml Apple Cider Vinegar
    • 1 cup /8f oz /200ml Cold Water
    • 1 cup /51/2 oz / 150g white sugar
    • A few juniper berries and allspice berries (optional but pretty)
    • 2tsp Mustard seeds
    • Bay leaf
To serve
  • Red Cocktail sauce for the shrimp (optional but recognizable to anyone who buys their Shrimp in Costco)

Instructions

Soda Bread
  • Preheat oven to 200C/400F and dust a large baking sheet with flour.
  • In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together,
  • In a separate bowl mix the buttermilk, egg and honey together.
  • Make a well in the center of the flours and gradually add the buttermilk mixture, stirring to combine until a dough is formed. If the mixture is too wet add a little more flour.
  • Quickly knead the dough and shape into a domed round.
  • Cut the traditional cross on top of the dough and sprinkle with a little more flour.
  • Bake for around 35 minutes, the bread is fully cooked when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow
Skagenröra
  • Combine all the ingredients to make the röra.
  • Put in a pretty serving dish
Pickled Onions
  • Put the sliced onions in a glass jar or other non reactive container.
  • Slowly boil the other ingredients until the sugar dissolves.
  • Simmer for two minutes then allow to cool.
  • Poor the cooled liquid over the onions, making sure they are completely covered.
  • Stores well in the fridge and looks exceeding pretty.

To serve, arrange all the ingredients on a platter!

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Pesto, Goat Cheese and Tomato Hearts

Pesto, Goat Cheese and Tomato Hearts

I love these little heart shaped tarts. I make them as an Amuse Bouche for for my Afternoon Teas at the Darien Community Association ( DCA). They are a perfect size and super cute, a fancy vol-au-vent, that retro party favorite. I have just made a video […]

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Flatbreads or Pizzas to please everyone!

Flatbreads or Pizzas to please everyone!

One pizza, so many choices I love the flatbreads and pizza bases you can buy because a) everyone gets to choose their own topping and b) by calling it artisanal you can convince yourself  that it is both healthy and lower in calories than a […]

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Anti Pasto Platter

Anti Pasto Platter

This is a great way of serving vegetables as part of a buffet, straddling the starter and main course beautifully, and works perfectly at room temperature.  I have read that the zucchini and eggplant (courgettes and aubergines to those of you in the UK) should be salted and left to drain to take out the bitterness, but that, for me, falls into the life is too short to stuff a mushroom category, although keep watching for a great stuffed mushroom recipe.

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Bob Smith’s  Absolutely Fabulous Korean BBQ Pork ( and bonus Flank steak recipe)

Bob Smith’s Absolutely Fabulous Korean BBQ Pork ( and bonus Flank steak recipe)

A few weeks ago I helped out at the Darien Men’s Association Soiree at Weed Beach.  The full menu appears under the menu tab on my website.  The food was fabulous, Roberto and two other members of staff from Tokenize club helped out at the […]

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Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Woman’s Club of Greenwich talk –  Jan 2015

Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Woman’s Club of Greenwich talk – Jan 2015

Good morning and thank you so much for asking to talk today at the woman’s club of Greenwich, it is so good to get out. For those of you who do not know me I have lived in Darien for 13 years but grew up […]

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