Sunday Morning with Martha

May 31, 2009

Sunday morning pancakes are a veritable tradition around here. My favorite pancake recipe is adapted from my mom’s dirty, won,  old Betty Crocker cookbook. I make the basic buttermilk pancake recipe then add blueberries and cinnamon.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients

Today I decided to try out Martha’s Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes (Martha Stewart Living June, p. 24 – would someone PLEASE ask the folks at MSLO to get all the magazine recipes up on their site?? There’s no link for you on this one unfortunately, but if you need the recipe, email me).

The first crisis was that the daughter ate all the blueberries I had bought for this. So off the store went Mr. MarthaAndMe. The recipe calls for a pint. He came home with one of those little half pint containers. That was ok though, since the kids don’t like blueberries in their pancakes, so I made half with and half without.

My messThe recipe is straightforward – cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg, milk, buttermilk and melted butter. This batter is very wet. The first batch I made was without blueberries. The pancakes I am used to making firm up very nicely and flip easily. Not so much for Martha. I put the first batch on (sans blueberries) and when I went to flip them they were wet and heavy. One ended up on the floor. I managed to pick up the big pieces and the dogs happily cleaned up the rest.

Clean up crew

Clean up crew

The second batch had blueberries and they held together a bit better. These took a looongggg time to cook though, I think because there is so much liquid in the batter. We waited and waited and waited some more and finally they were done.

I forgot to mention that Martha says to serve these with Orange Maple Butter (butter, OJ, syrup, and orange zest) as well as syrup.  That was quick to whip up blue corn pan5while the pancakes were cooking (and cooking and cooking).

Ok, now for the taste test. These were great! I have to admit I was totally unsure about the cornmeal in the recipe but it was a really interesting flavor to add to it. They reminded me a bit of Paula Deen’s Hoe Cakes (which I adore). I thought I was going to miss cinnamon, since I always add cinnamon to my blueberry pancakes, but I didn’t even think about it. The orange maple butter added an interesting layer of citrus flavor that I really liked.

Thumbs up on this recipe!blue corn pan6

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Skin Cancer Wellness

May 30, 2009

We all know that Martha is very interested in wellness – she’s just created the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mt. Sinai – a center devoted to aging. I applaud her for that. I recently heard a Dr on a talk show that aging is one of the last frontiers in medicine. We now know how to prolong life, but we don’t have a handle on improving quality of life for the elderly. I think Martha’s center will truly do good things.

Martha now has a monthly feature in Living about health and wellness. I love that she includes this now. What good is it to eat wonderful food or live in beautiful surroundings if you are essentially unwell when it comes to health.

In the June issue is a topic I am familiar with – skin cancer. As a fair-skinned, blue-eyed person who had several bad sunburns as a child, I am at high risk for skin cancer. Add to that the fact that my father has had a melanoma and my risk goes through the ceiling. Because of this, I see my dermatologist yearly and this year I had a basal cell carcinoma removed. Not fun (and no, sorry, no photos!).

In our house, I am the sunscreen Nazi. No one goes out into the sun without it on. Ever. I hope that you read and take to heart the advice in this column. Checking your skin and seeing your Dr with any abnormalities is a small “Martha” thing you can do for yourself every day.

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Soy Garlic Marinade

May 29, 2009

I love to grill. I even grill in the winter on the Jenn-Air grill inside. Mr. MarthaAndMe does the requisite grumbling about being sent out to grill, but usually does a good job. I love that there is very little clean up and it doesn’t make the house hot in the summer.

The June issue of Martha Stewart Living is all about grilling, which is a fun summer topic. My last attempt at one of these recipes was a flop however, since the Honey Brine grilled chicken I made was totally inedible. I was ready to give Martha a second chance on grilling however, and went with the Soy-Garlic Marinade for steak. Soy and garlic are flavors I love with steak and this recipe can be made and kept overnight, which worked out perfectly since I was taking it to the lake over Memorial Day weekend.  I bought my organic steaks (we eat beef rarely now and when we do, I only buy organic) and whipped up  the marinade, which is super simple. I marinated in a plastic zipper bag.

soy glaze steakThe steaks grilled up nicely and the marinade gave it a nice flavor. I think I would probably add some herbs to this next time – maybe some thyme.  I would also use more garlic and more lemon juice. It just needs a little something extra. It was good, but not fabulous.

What I want to know is what is your favorite marinade? I plan to do a lot of grilling and would love some tips.

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The Tale of the Cream Puff

May 28, 2009

We were heading out to my parents’ lake house for Memorial Day weekend and I needed a dessert to bring. I like to get my cooking done ahead so I can spend the time there enjoying the water. Martha’s Cream Puffs with Lemon Mousse and Blueberry Sauce (June Martha Stewart Living) sounded very summery and light, so I decided to make that.

cream puff1So there I was on a Friday night, making cream puffs. I’ve never made cream puffs before. They were a little more complicated than I expected. First you cook sugar, water, butter and salt and then you add flour and cook it again. Once that’s done you beat in eggs. You know it’s ready when you can touch it and take your finger away and a string follows your finger. I was worried it wasn’t going to work, but it did. It was quite similar to Gougere, an hors d’oevres I’ve made often.

Next you bake your cream puffs.  Martha says to use a pastry bag to get them cream puff2on the baking sheet. Piffle. I just used a spoon. And really, that worked out quite well. The recipe says it makes 10 but I was able to get 12.

They bake a surprisingly long time, but when they were done, they looked great. Now, let me say candidly that these are probably best the same day you bake them, but I had to put them in a plastic container and save them for cream puff3the next day. They did get a tiny bit mushy I think, so eat them the same day if you can.

Next, I got to work on the lemon curd, which would become the lemon mousse. I’ve never made lemon curd before and it was quite easy. Eggs, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest get cooked, then butter gets mixed in. Pretty easy. I put that in a container to chill and bring along with us.

The next step was the blueberry sauce. Blueberries, water, sugar, salt and lemon zest get cooked down. At the end you add in more blueberries. No problem. I got that done and chilling.

The next morning I packed it all up, along with the heavy cream I needed to make the lemon mousse. It all went into a cooler and came along with us. That night, I served it.

First I cut the cream puffs in half. Next, I got to work on the lemon mousse and here is where things get out of control. I grabbed the heavy cream, dumped it into a bowl and started whipping. Nothing happened. It got foamy but not fluffy. Finally I looked at the carton and realized I had grabbed half and half, which comes in an identical carton (who’s the labeling genius in charge of that I’d like to know!). Down the drain that went and I started over, this time making sure I had the whipping cream I had brought with me. I got it whipped up and stuck my finger in it to check the texture and licked my finger off and immediately gagged. The cream was bad! And I had just bought it two days ago. The expiration date was not until the end of June. What the hell! Fortunately my mother had another carton of heavy cream, so I set to work whipping for the third time and this time it all worked out.

cream puff4I folded the whipped cream with the curd and voila! Lemon mousse. I filled the cream puffs with the mousse and was getting ready to put the blueberry sauce on them. My son asked me not to put sauce on his. My father overheard this and asked for me to do the same thing for his.

We sat down to eat and my dad took a bite and said, “Oh! It’s lemon! I thought they were regular profiteroles.” My mother then says to him, “It’s not French honey, it’s Martha,” and takes his plate and goes and puts the blueberry sauce on it. He thought they were regular cream puffs and didn’t like the idea of blueberry sauce on them. Once he realized they weren’t, then he was willing to try it.

These were quite good, despite all the effort it took to produce them! The lemon mousse was light and fluffy and just lemony enough. The blueberry sauce was a nice contrast. It all worked well together and was a nice summer dessert. I enjoyed it a lot. I have to admit I would probably rather have regular cream puffs with chocolate sauce though!

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Spinach Phyllo Pie

May 27, 2009

Spanokopita is one of my most favorite foods in the world. Probably because it has spinach and cheese in it – two things I could eat all day. I must confess that I have never made it though! So I was delighted to see the recipe for Spinach Phyllo Pie in June Martha Stewart Everyday Food. It looked so easy, that I could not believe I had never tried it before.

spin pie1The first step is to cook onions, garlic and spinach. I bought frozen spinach so I didn’t have to wilt my spinach. The recipe calls for a white onion, but I had some red onion hanging around so I used that up.

An important step that I didn’t pay attention to is that you need to get your phyllo dough defrosted. On the package it says to let it sit in the fridge overnight. Eek! Didn’t do that, so I stuck it in the microwave on defrost and all was well.

spin pie2You lay out a sheet, brush it with butter, then put another sheet on top. It’s not hard to work with if you are careful when moving the sheets of phyllo since they can rip.

Once you get all ten sheets ready, you place the spinach mixture down the center, then fold each side of the phyllo in, so that you have a flat log.  This was not hard to do at all.

spin pie3Once you’ve got it sealed shut, you cut some diagonal slices on it to make it look pretty.

This takes longer to cook than it seems like it should – 45 to 50 minutes, although I cheated and put it on convection to get it done.

The result? It was very good. But you knew I was going to say that since it has spinach and cheese in it! I have to say I still prefer the traditional layered spanokopita, but this was a good alternative. It definitely looked gorgeous when it came out of the oven.

spin pie4

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Fishy Business

May 26, 2009

I am already a wild fan of fish prints. A few years ago we vacationed on Cape Cod and happened upon this fab little shop called Blue Water Fish Rubbings. They sell clothes, bags, and prints that are made by pressing real fish and sea creatures that have been inked onto fabric or paper. We bought a shirt while we were there and I love it.

Fast forward to June Martha Stewart Living, where Martha has several pages devoted to making fish prints, shell prints and other beach imprints. Martha uses a rubber fish for hers, but this weekend we visited my parents at their lake house, so I was determined to use a real fish.

fish print1I went to a craft store and bought ink and rice paper. I had a little brush already. I took it with us. We caught a lot of fish, but since bass season has not started yet, we couldn’t keep those big fish. We did catch a lot of little sunfish though and we kept some to eat for lunch. One of the fish we set aside for the print.

First I dried the fish off and let it sit in the sun to get really dry. I painted the fish print2ink on it and pressed the rough side of the rice paper onto it (hoping that was the right side!). The first one wasn’t great and I quickly learned to use a very light coating of ink. The next few turned out really well. I am definitely going to frame one and hang it up at the lake.

I ended up with ink all over my hands, but it all washed off. And don’t worry, we did eat the fish after we washed it, so this project was not wasteful.

fish print3I want to try this again with a really big fish once they are in season and we can keep them, so I left all the supplies at the lake. I’m going to buy some other colors of ink so that I can do a multi-colored print as well.

This project was really very easy. If I can do it, you can do it! I would love to try it with some shells and maybe some seaweed.fish print4

fish print5

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Are You Checking Me Out?

May 26, 2009

This morning I had a blast chatting with Kim and Betsy on Martha Stewart Radio Morning Living Live on Sirius about this blog. They are so fun to talk with and they always have great tips for me. I’m going to be checking out Martha’s yoga videos online based on their recommendations.

I also did an interview with a great blog (Writers in Business) about the writing business and I talked a lot about this blog. Check it out here.


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