Maria's Market

Now that things are more settled inside my new home, I have begun looking more carefully at my surroundings outside. I've had some good finds, but also some disappointments. Finding new grocery stores (easy, peasy), new malls (a partial fail here: you really can't beat Town Center in Boca Raton and the drive is worth it), finding new locations for my old favorites (like Whole Foods and Fresh Market, which I thought I'd have to drive more than 45 minutes back to visit my old stores, only to find both 15 minutes away, newer too.), searching for good restaurants in the neighborhood (unfortunately, there are none. Boo, hiss!), but as if to make up for that: the discovery of a wonderful farmers market chock full of fresh fruits and vegetables....... only 5 minutes away! The green market I frequented before was open only on Saturdays, but this market is open every day, year round and trust me, a different kettle of fish entirely.

Now I was told when someone heard where I was moving to look for Maria's Market. They referred to it as Maria's Barn because it's red but I nearly missed it as the market really isn't very red (although there IS a red house next door, where I imagine the owners live), but if there was a barn, I didn't see it. Never mind, after my first visit, I was totally hooked.

So today, I'm going to take you on a pictorial journey of Maria's. You'll see barrels of beans, rice in bulk....veggies and fruits you've never heard of (and we had to ask), a fabulous display of herbs and every kind of pepper and banana known to man! I also don't think I've ever seen so many different kinds, colors and shapes of eggplant. Outside in front, melons, and in the back, citrus, apples and pineapples. There was a entire room, refrigerated, for veggies and also a refrigerator display in the main room filled with even more veggies; a separate room filled to the brim with all kinds of onions and potatoes. It's a gem of a market (it opened two years ago) and while some of you in bigger cities may be accustomed to markets like this, it's new for me. Look at those two kinds of guavas in the third photo. Guava jam anyone? I think I still have my mother's recipe. She used to pick them on the golf course. :)  

Ya gotta love Florida.
(The photo below on the right is their hydroponic garden.)


I adore apple bananas!!

Got rice?

(All photos were taken with my iPhone, so not as clear as they could/should be. Sorry about that!)


Meyer Lemon Loves

Happy Easter!

Lemon always seems to be such a spring flavor and color, doesn't it? I thought these bars would be a perfect Easter post. Lemon bar recipes abound but I normally stick with two basics. One is the triple layered version my kids adore that's been around for ages...it has coconut and nuts in it and I remember making it the first cooking class I ever took (a gazillion years ago). Frankly, I'm astounded I've never posted it, but then it's a pretty common recipe. We made an unusual chocolate bar in that class as well, which was one of my first blog posts. When he comes to visit, one of my sons insists the freezer contain bags of each...the coconut/nut bars with lemon glaze and the chocolate bars.

Anyway...back to my second lemon bar of choice, which is the recipe for this post. I'm quite certain it came from the Boston Junior League Cookbook, long missing from my shelf. They were called Lemon Loves and now that I make them with some Meyer lemons, I altered the name just a bit. Meyer lemons are sweeter and more floral than regular lemons so I used half Meyer lemon juice and half regular so that perky, tart flavor is still there. Then I took a closeup of the bar because I wanted you to see this is not your usual lemon bar. It's more like a lemon pie bar.
If you're a lemon addict like my sister, you're gonna love these.

Meyer Lemon Loves

1 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 Tablespoons lemon juice (half Meyer lemon, half regular)
1 lemon, rind only (regular lemon)
pinch salt

Blend flour, butter and powdered sugar. Press into a well greased and floured 9 by 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Watch closely. Beat eggs until frothy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour onto the crust and bake 20 to 25 minutes more at 350. Dust with powdered sugar, cut into squares (if you don't do it before refrigerating, they're difficult to cut; I'd forgotten, hence the irregularity of my squares below) and then refrigerate.

This charming video was emailed to me by my friend Janie...let's hope spring arrives soon for you in the north.


Asian Fried Rice

During our Air Force years in the 50's, we became friends with a Chinese couple. She taught me lots of quick, easy tricks to cooking Chinese....and this fried rice was one of the recipes. Although I don't know if you can call it a recipe exactly, it's more of a guide. Use what's in your fridge. If you have leftover chicken or shrimp, use it. Ditto with vegetables. I remember she often started with chopped bacon and used the bacon grease to scramble her eggs; she also used onion instead of shallot.....I just prefer the milder taste of shallot. Your choice. Edamame was not available back then (I doubt I even knew what it was), that's been a more recent addition; I always have some in my freezer. This is one of those quick meals that I loved when I was a busy mother, a refrigerator with lots of leftovers and an added bonus: my family was crazy about it.

Asian Fried Rice

3 cups leftover cooked brown rice (or any rice you have left over)
2 or 3 eggs
1 tablespoon oil for cooking
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced  
6 scallions, chopped (reserve some of the greens for the top) 
1/2 cup shredded carrots 
1/2 cup water chestnuts, sliced 
1 cup ready-to-eat edamame 
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Beat the eggs and scramble them (I used Pam in the pan). If you have a wok, that's perfect, but I do it in a largish frying pan. Remove the cooked eggs from the pan and put aside.

Reheat the pan until hot, add the oil, then the shallots, scallion whites, carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring, for about a minute until soft. Add brown rice and stir for several minutes to heat through. Add your cooked eggs, soy sauce, water chestnuts, scallion greens and edamame, and fry together for a few minutes. Garnish with some scallion greens.  


Much as I think word verification is annoying AND time consuming for my followers, I've been getting way too much spam (and some of it not very nice). So starting with this post, I'm adding word verification. Sorry everyone!
Update: Susan's comment above suggested turning off the anonymous comments might be enough, so I'll try that first. (Can't read those numbers and letters anyway half the time!)


Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

I'm thrilled to announce hothouse rhubarb appeared in Fresh Market last week! You know me and rhubarb.  So I came home with a couple pounds and proceeded to make the first entry in my annual spring rhubarb love-in. More recipes on the way, of course.

As a start, I found a fantastic upside down cake recipe using rhubarb. The cake nearly floats away it's so light and it has a slight lemon flavor. Ever so
 slight. It takes a few steps, but it's simple enough to make and it's a cake to make you proud to serve to friends and family for dessert. It's elegant, bright, makes a beautiful presentation and the flavor is ambrosial. What more could you ask? Love, love love.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Andrew Scrivani for the  The New York Times

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, more to grease pans 
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, rinsed and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups) 
2 teaspoons cornstarch 
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1/2 cup light brown sugar 
2 cups cake flour 
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 
Zest of 1 lemon, grated 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
4 large eggs 
1/3 cup sour cream 
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and sides of the pan. Wrap two layers of foil under the pan, and place it on a buttered baking sheet. 

In a bowl, mix the rhubarb, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the sugar.

In a small skillet, mix the brown sugar and 1/2 a stick of butter. Place over medium heat and stir until smooth and bubbling.

In another bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the 2 sticks of butter until light. Add the 1 cup of sugar and the lemon zest. Cream until light and fluffly, scraping down the sides often.

Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Then beat in the sour cream and lemon juice. It will look curdled at this point.
On low, add the flour mixture 1/3 cup at a time until mixed in, scraping the sides of the bowl often.

Pour the brown sugar mixture into your prepared springform pan, the  add the rhubarb. Pour the batter over everything, smoothing it over.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool (with the foil turned down a bit) on a wire rack for only 15 minutes. Run a knife around the cake, place a plate on top and turn it upside down. This is when I removed the foil and released the springform sides carefully.


Brown Bread Ice Cream

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Have you ever heard of Grape-Nuts ice cream? Supposedly, it was invented in 1919 by a chef at The Palms Restaurant in Nova Scotia. She had run out of fruit to add to her ice cream, so decided to throw in some cereal. It became a hit. In the U.S. you can rarely find it outside New England and 
the Shenandoah Valley, although there's a rumor it was found at a Mister Softee truck in Flatbush. Believe it or not, while it's never eaten as a cereal there, it's an extremely popular ice cream flavor in Jamaica.

So why do I bring all this up? David Lebovitz's brown bread ice cream recipe kind of reminded me of it, but you'll not find any Grape-Nuts here. The brown bread used in this recipe is actually a version of Irish soda bread, but crumbled and sweetened up, resulting in tasty little morsels. The ice cream base has Irish whiskey in it and another ingredient I really liked: brown sugar. It gave the ice cream a marvelous caramel flavor and then, when you add the brown bread nuggets, you have a nice crunch. The nuggets soften slightly while in ice cream suspension, but they're still in every mouthful. Just to make sure, I garnished the ice cream with some of those yummy bits I had left over.

David Lebovitz adapted the brown bread crumb 
recipe from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson. If you don't want to make brown bread from scratch, you can use crumbly whole grain bread, country style bread, leftover bran muffins, or even gingerbread. I used a canned brown bread (quelle horreur), but it turned out beautifully.

Brown Bread Ice Cream

From David Lebovitz

Ingredients for caramelized brown bread crumbs:
2-3 slices of brown bread (250g, 9 ounces)
3 tablespoons (45g) butter, salted or unsalted
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Method for bread crumbs:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Crumble the bread, the largest should be no bigger than a kernel of corn.
In a skillet, heat the butter until it melts, then continue to cook until it starts to brown. Remove from heat and stir in the bread bits, 1/2 cup (100g) sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
Spread on the baking sheet and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring a few times during baking, until the bread bits are well-toasted; a deep, dark brown. Cool completely then store in an air-tight container until ready to use. (They can be made a few days in advance and stored at room temperature.) 
Personal  note: I found the bread crumbs stuck together in large clumps after baking and had to break them up when they cooled off. (I used a plastic bag and a rolling pin.)

Ingredients for the ice cream:

1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1 1/2 cups (375ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar plus 1/3 cup (65g) brown sugar (dark or light)
pinch of salt
8 ounces sour cream (regular or lowfat)
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: 1 tablespoon whiskey

Method for the ice cream:

 Heat the milk, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a medium-sized bowl along with the sour cream. Beat with a whisk until smooth. Set a mesh strainer over the top.
In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Gradually pour some of the warm milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the custard thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Strain the custard into the heavy cream and sour cream and stir until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and whiskey, if using.

Refrigerate overnight, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once churned, quickly fold in about two-thirds of the brown bread crumbs, or to taste, then store the ice cream in the freezer until firm and ready to serve.

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.



Nancy's Roquefort Quiche

My dear friend for more than 30 years gave me this recipe. She passed away 10 years ago and I don't imagine I will ever get over missing her. 
She was amazing, such fun, a true conch (someone born and raised in the Florida Keys) and loved by all who knew her. Nancy's work was in the fundraising field, so as a result, she knew everyone in town, remembered everything and you could call and say...what do you know about this or that...and she'd have the complete skinny. Always. I'm still in touch with her youngest daughter (via Facebook....it does have its uses) even though she moved away. 
When Nancy served this quiche years ago for a luncheon, we all took a deep breath. Quiche Lorraine was the big thing back then, so a quiche made with Roquefort was a walk on the wild side. Typical Nancy. Ever the trailblazer. We loved it. 

I've always served a fruit salad with it, which makes perfect sense...fruit and cheese. Unfortunately, I only had some leftover cantaloupe in the house when I made the quiche for this post, so that's what I used. But for company, my suggestion is to make a colorful salad with a variety of fruits and a nice light poppy seed dressing.

Nancy's Roquefort Quiche

6 ounces cream cheese, soft
4 ounces Roquefort or blue cheese 
1/2 cup light or heavy cream
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (I grate it)
freshly ground black pepper
1 baked pie shell

Preheat oven to 375. Beat cream cheese, Roquefort and cream until smooth with electric mixer. Add eggs, onion and pepper. Pour into baked pie shell and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.


Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread

I've had Grace on my mind today. Grace from A Southern Grace that is. She's the biggest cinnamonaholic I've ever heard of and my entire house is smelling of cinnamon at the moment. She'd be in heaven. 

Recently I read someone's post about leftover buttermilk and how she was always madly searching for recipes to use it up. So true. I've had some in the fridge for three weeks and have been debating dumping it. I've used it in several recipes...but today almost threw it out. But then Pinterest came along and there was this recipe for cinnamon bread made with buttermilk.....

Oh my.

Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread

From Taste of Home (Originally published as Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread in Quick Cooking May/June 1998, p19)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1  tablespoon finely chopped walnuts or pecans


Preheat oven to 350.
Butter two small loaf pans and then sprinkle with bread crumbs. Tap out the excess.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, combine oil and 3/4 cup sugar. Add buttermilk and eggs; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. 

Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; distribute about 1/3 of the batter in the pans, then sprinkle half the cinnamon/sugar mixture on top. Top with remaining batter and cinnamon-sugar. Swirl batter with a knife. Sprinkle with nuts.

Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.

A hint: the bread is very crusty on top. You'll find it cuts easier after refrigerating. I find that with most sweet breads, actually.


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