Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon-Breadcrumb Crust

24 Aug

As I mentioned yesterday, I was having our friend Karen and her daughter Mandy over for dinner. Mandy turned 2 this past weekend, and since our husbands were on a business trip together, I thought it would be a perfect time to have them over for a girls dinner celebration. Mandy is a cheese lover, so as a treat, I made some mac and cheese. This wasn’t any ordinary mac and cheese – this was “grown up” mac and cheese. Didn’t matter though, Mandy ate it and liked it. So did we.

I had a mix of random cheeses in the fridge and decided that together, they’d make for a rich, creamy and delicious baked pasta. Sharp cheddar, Gruyere, and the dark horse, Teleme cheese, all blended really well. The result was exactly what I was looking for. It had the classic bit of cheddar that we all love in mac and cheese, but with a nuttiness from the Gruyere and a tang from the soft Teleme cheese. If you haven’t tried Teleme, I highly recommend it. I had paired it earlier in the week with an heirloom tomato salad drizzled with balsamic and olive oil. Texture wise, it is like a combination of Brie and fresh mozzarella. Taste wise, it is like a tangier Brie or Camembert. As such, if you can’t find Teleme, you can definitely use one of those as a substitute. In fact, there is a Bon Appetit recipe that uses cheddar, Gruyere and Brie (of which this recipe is loosely based).

Anyway, back to the sauce. It was fabulous. I admit that after I had mixed the pasta with creamy sauce and put it in the baking dish, I licked the pot clean. I think I could have been happy having just a bowl full of cheese sauce, although my stomach may feel differently. The nutmeg added a comforting, subtle depth that completed the sauce. I’d say it was a success.

For the pasta, I used Ancient Grains quinoa pasta. I’ll be honest, I’ve never had quinoa pasta. Ever. Christian doesn’t like quinoa, which kind of makes me sad because I really love it. So, because I want him to enjoy what I make for dinner, I never event attempt to sneak quinoa into the mix. For pasta, I usually use a corn – rice blend that was consistently good. I’m not a fan of the brown rice only versions since they get really mushy, no matter how careful I am during cooking. Having the corn in there adds the bite that makes for great al dente pasta like I had in the old days. I must say, the quinoa pasta did not disappoint. Perfectly al dente, without any trace of being a wheat pasta impersonator.  Plus, the extra protein and other nutritional benefits that come along with quinoa made me slightly (and I mean slightly) less guilty about eating such a rich dish.

The last bit that really threw this over the top was the bacon. Did you think I’d go this long without posting a recipe without a pork product of some kind?! Sure, it isn’t the main ingredient, but in my opinion, it is a crucial ingredient that really makes this mac and cheese truly wonderful. I used a thick cut uncured applewood smoked bacon. Yum. The smokiness mingled with the crispy, buttery breadcrumbs and really complemented the creamy sauce. I mean, really, is there anything better than bacon and cheese together? I’m not so sure there is. The smell of this casserole cooking was amazing. I’d make this for the smell factor alone.

So basically, if you can’t find beauty in a medley of flavorful cheeses, rich whole milk and smoky bacon, then I’m not sure we’d get along. If you do, then you must give this a try. I imagine on a cold winter night this would be the perfect dish to warm you up. There is also no reason why someone couldn’t make this with regular pasta and flour – it is divine no matter what.

Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon Breadcrumb Crust

Serves 4 – 6

  • 8 oz gluten free pasta (macaroni, rotelle, penne, etc)
  • 1/4 lb bacon
  • 2 tbsp shallots, diced
  • 3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs from gluten free bread
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tbsp gluten free flour (I used 2 tbsp sweet rice + 2 tbsp all-purpose GF flour)
  • 2 cups whole milk (you can use 1%, but don’t use nonfat)
  • 3 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 3 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 oz Teleme cheese (or Brie)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente – you’ll want to cook it for less time than the box suggests.  Drain, rinse with cool water and set aside.

In a large sauce pan or dutch oven, cook the bacon. When done, drain on paper towels and set aside. Chop or crumble once it is cool enough to handle. Keep the bacon fat in the pan to cook the shallots – if there is a lot of fat, pour some off – you’ll want about 1 tbsp total.

Using the bacon fat in the pan, cook the shallots for about a minute or so over medium-low heat. Add 3 tbsp butter and saute until the shallots are soft and translucent. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes until it thickens and starts to turn brown. Turn up the heat to medium and slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the cheeses  in handfuls and stir to melt. Remove from heat and add in the salt and pepper to taste, along with the nutmeg. Combine the pasta with the sauce, then pour into an 8×8 baking dish.

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. While it is in the oven, melt the remaining 1 tbsp butter. Combine the breadcrumbs, crumbled / chopped bacon, Parmesan and thyme; add the melted butter and stir until breadcrumbs are evenly coated.

After 15 minutes, remove the foil and evenly cover the pasta with the breadcrumb topping. Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes until topping is crispy and the mac and cheese is bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes and serve.

Pork Free Post: Sugar Cookies!

23 Aug

Christian is out of town in Honduras again, so I’ve been using my alone time to bake, something I don’t do nearly enough. Having lots of baked goods around the house is dangerous. Very dangerous. And in our efforts to get healthier, cookies and cakes don’t really fit in. But every once in a while is okay, right?

I got in the baking mindset this week when I developed a new all-purpose baking mix. I ran out of my other one, and I decided to get creative while wanting to use up some coconut flour that Christian had bought. The result was great – I’m really happy with it so far (well, I’ve only used it for the cookies, so I don’t have too much to base it on yet!). It is a mix of coconut flour, millet flour, rice flour and starches (proportions are below after the cookie recipe). The taste is very mild, with no pronounced coconut flavor, which is good.

My first baking attempt this week was a disaster. Like, a serious disaster. For some unknown reason, I thought making bagels would be a great idea. Wrong. This was probably the worst thing I’ve ever tried. It was laughable……and a total waste of 3 hours. Luckily I had nothing else to do. I made the dough, which seemed like a success – it felt like “real” dough. From there it went off a very, very steep cliff. They didn’t rise (the recipe called for putting them in an oven that had been warmed to 200 degrees, then turned off – I think it was too warm). Then, when they were boiled, they became bricks. After baking, they were gooey on the bottom, super dense inside, and not crispy on the outside. When this fiasco was over, I just stood there and laughed. Into the trash they went.

Second attempt, last night, was cookies. I’m having our friend Karen and her daughter over for dinner to celebrate Mandy’s second birthday. Mandy loves cheese, so I’ve developed a new mac and cheese recipe (will be posted, assuming it is a success – stay tuned). There’s no dessert in the house, and I couldn’t have them over without having something sweet. I figured I’d bake up some cookies. Normally this is easy, but when I realized I have no brown sugar, no butter, and no vanilla extract on hand, it made me think a bit more. While prepping for our kitchen renovation, I rediscovered my sanding sugars for holiday cookies. So, I decided I had to make sugar cookies – they don’t require brown sugar, I can use coconut oil in lieu of butter, and I can use almond extract rather than vanilla. Done.

So I whipped up a batch. Oh my goodness, yum. This is my new sugar cookie staple recipe. They roll out well, cut well, and bake up to a nice crisp golden brown. I finished some with the standard sanding sugar, and for the rest I dipped half in chocolate ganache and coconut (kind of almond joyish, I guess). I really cannot tell the difference between these and “regular” sugar cookies. So good! These are a must make. Holiday cookie time will most definitely include some of these.

I started thinking of variations. Obviously, you can use vanilla extract instead of almond, butter instead of coconut, etc. But you could also add in lemon zest / juice for brightness, or anise extract for a totally different flavor. Make larger cookies and use them for ice cream sandwiches (I’m starting to think about making some pumpkin ice cream and sandwiching it between two of these).  Basically, it is a great cookie base to play around with.

Note that the recipe uses psyllium husk. I don’t like xanthan gum, and have actually never purchased it. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I just refuse to use it. The psyllium husk works wonders to hold doughs together, in my opinion. And a bonus – it is actually good for you. There’s no harm in adding a little extra fiber to your sugar cookies. Also, if you use an all-purpose mix that has coconut flour in it, like my mix below, add an extra egg white to compensate for the moisture absorbing qualities of the coconut flour.

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on size

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose gluten-free flour (see my mix below)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp psyllium husk powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 egg (if you use a mix with coconut flour, add another white)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • sanding sugar, melted chocolate, icing, etc. for decorating

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients together well. Add the coconut oil, egg and almond extract. Mix until well combined. The dough will be very smooth and will resemble a “normal” dough – it will come together and not be sticky. If it is sticky, add more flour by the tablespoon until you get a good dough that you can work with, using your hands rather than your mixer. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap (it is easier to split it into 2 portions for rolling out). Put in the refrigerator until well chilled, about 30 to 45 minutes.

When chilled, lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough to a thin disk, about 1/4″ or 1/8″ thick. I like to put plastic wrap on top of the dough to prevent sticking and so I don’t add too much flour to the dough. You want the disk to be even in thickness, so I use the “pie crust” method – roll the dough in one direction, then turn 1/4 of the way and roll again. Keep doing that until you are finished. Using whatever cutters you like, cut out the dough and put on the baking sheet. If using sanding sugar, sprinkle with sugar now. Stick the cookie sheets back in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to chill.

Put cookie sheets in the oven and bake about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack. Once cool, you can either decorate with icing or chocolate…..or just eat them.

All-Purpose Gluten Free Baking Mix

  • 300 gms millet flour (you can use brown rice or sorghum flour)
  • 100 gms coconut flour
  • 300 gms white rice flour
  • 300 gms cornstarch (you could use potato or tapioca)

Weight out all ingredients and combine very well with a whisk. To ensure even distribution, I also sift the mix together before putting it in containers. It is best to store this in the fridge.

Note that with coconut flour, you will need to increase your liquid ingredients a bit in whatever recipe you use. Coconut flour absorbs moisture, so you’ll need to compensate for that.

Pork Free Post: The BEST Brownies, ever

17 Jul

As promised in my comeback post, I’m going to start adding more non-pork recipes, the first of which is a brownie recipe. The almond coconut brownies I posted a while ago are tremendous, but these are crazy good.

Dark chocolate is one of the greatest things on the planet – that super bitterness mixed with a touch of sweet is fabulous. When I was younger, I used to love Hershey’s Dark Chocolate bars. I thought it was soooo fancy. That was before I knew what real dark chocolate was all about. Now, that Hershey’s stuff is nasty sweet, and totally unappealing. Another great thing about dark chocolate? It is filled with healthy antioxidants, giving me more reason to eat it.

So the brownies. I came across these on the Baking Bites site, so I can’t claim them as my own. The relatively minimal amount of “flour” (actually, there is zero flour in here) makes them super dense and rich, almost like eating a chocolate truffle or piece of fudge. For the melted chocolate content, I used 1 oz of 100% dark chocolate and 1 oz of 85% dark chocolate, both high quality, and the chocolate chips were 85% dark chocolate. I did throw in some walnuts, but contemplated mixing a bunch of nuts – cashews, walnuts and almonds. Next time, right?

Also, the original recipe uses a microwave to melt the chocolate and butter. I do not own a microwave, so I used the double-boiler recipe. If you want to use a microwave, follow the original recipe which is linked below.

Fudgy GF Dark Chocolate Brownies

(Adapted from Baking Bites)

  • 1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil)
  • 2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (or more!) of nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking dish with foil and spray with nonstick spray (FYI – I didn’t do this, and they didn’t stick at all).

In a small saucepan, bring some water to a simmer. Place a metal bowl over the saucepan (without letting the bowl touch the water); add the chopped chocolate and butter. Using a silicone spatula, stir until completely melted. 

In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder and cornstarch. Add in the butter / chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Whisk in vanilla and salt, then add the eggs one at a time, stirring to incorporate. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until brownie edges are set. Cool completely before slicing (this is really hard to do!). 

The original recipe says 25 small bites or 16 larger brownies, but those must have been pretty darn small. I got about 16 small brownies out of the recipe, which were about 2″x2″. Clearly my “small” brownies are equivalent to other people’s “normal” or “larger” size brownies. Oh well…..

Where Have I Been?!

12 Jul

I feel like a flake. Has it really been SEVEN months since the last post….which wasn’t even about pork?! Apparently so. I’m horrified.

This year has been kooky, per usual. I actually do have reasoning behind not posting – I haven’t been cooking pork shoulder very much. Without getting into specifics, I was diagnosed with a “syndrome” that now requires me to take some diabetes medicine (I don’t have diabetes though, thankfully!). My brother and I couldn’t help but joke about the whole situation, which of course was in an exaggerated Paula Deen voice with a little Wilford Brimley in there, and as such I made this beautiful collage for him:

Image

Anyway, back to the main point. The side effects of the medicine are worse when you eat fattier meats, so I’ve been trying to comply with that. However, there is a bright side. The side effects are only in the beginning, and lucky for me, haven’t lasted that long. In fact, they were actually very mild. I read some awful stories that freaked me out, but I guess I was one of the lucky ones. I have my reasons as to why, mostly that despite loving pork shoulder, I eat a pretty damn healthy diet. What does this all mean? I’m promising to myself that I’m back on the pork shoulder wagon.

A few months ago I started ordering meats from a local “meat buyers club”. It sounds so weird, but it is amazing. All of the meats are local and raised with sustainable practices (is this Portlandia?! Did I eat Colin?!), and you can definitely taste it. The meats are so.freaking.good. We’ve had eggs, lamb, chicken, beef and pork. Guess which meat we find to be the best? Pork, of course. The pork chops are out of this world. I’ve yet to order a shoulder, but this is marked on the order form that will be faxed in tomorrow. I was actually overwhelmed when figuring out what to order – they have Boston Butt roast, shoulder roast boneless and shoulder roast bone-in…..and each as choices from three different farms. Oh my, the stress involved!

Anyhoots, in summary, I’m healthier now that I’ve figured out why I’ve had some various issues, and I’m ready to eat tons of pork again. Keep an eye out in the near future for the next recipe! We’re undergoing a kitchen renovation at the moment, which has rendered me kitchenless to some degree, so either this next post will involve a grill in the next 3 weeks or it will be appearing in the first week of August. Either way, I’m exciting to figure out my next pork concoction.

I’ll also add here, briefly, that I am going to start to add more non-pork recipes. I’ve been experimenting a lot more lately and have made some recipes I feel are worth sharing (like super rich dark chocolate gluten-free brownies). 

Second Annual Truffle Extravaganza!

19 Dec

With fall comes so many beautiful things that I love. Bright yellow leaves of the Aspen trees, a welcome sight to help break up the (somewhat) monotonous evergreen foliage. Slightly crisp air with bright blue skies, perfect for being outdoors. Fewer tourists (at least here in Tahoe!), which means shorter lines at the grocery store and less traffic. But my favorites involve food and cooking, of course. Root vegetables and the ability to create more hearty and warming dishes is really what fall means to me. The tastes and smells just can’t be beat. What else can’t be beat? Fresh white truffles. Probably the most exquisite component of Mother Nature’s fall bounty. Intimidating, yes, but still exquisite nonetheless.

Last year our dear friends John and Lynn organized a dinner revolving around fresh white truffles. It was a great experience. The food, the wine, the company – all fabulous. We vowed we’d do it again, and this November, we did. Earlier in the year, John and Lynn jetted off to Europe for a vacation that included some time in Slovenia and Croatia, which I learned was formerly part of northern Italy, where John’s family is from. During this trip they had a ton of great food, including numerous dishes with fresh truffles. They returned with a wealth of information on the best ways to use those dirty, but tasty, little fungi. This year, we’d embrace the traditional and simple. It paid off.

John showing us where they visited in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy

We decided to go simple, letting the food serve as a backdrop for the truffles, ensuring the flavors enhanced rather than overpowered the main attraction. Last year we were truffle virgins, so to speak, and did not entirely know how complex working with truffles could get.  This year, we knew more and all agreed it showed. The food was spectacular. And it wasn’t only the flavor combinations that made it a success, it was also technique – like warming the truffles under very low heat for a very short time so they “melted” onto the food and their oils were adequately released.

Prepping, drinking and conversing!

The first course was so simple and clean. Lynn prepared soft scrambled eggs smothered in fresh shaved white truffles. It was one of those things where you never can imagine how something so simple could have so much flavor. I’m not a real egg lover, but this was delicious. To maximize the truffle flavors, Lynn housed the eggs (in shell, of course) in a container with rice and the truffles. The smell was out of this world when we opened it up to start cooking.

Next we had homemade gnocchi with a butter cream sauce. This was my first contribution to the evening. I used my trusted gluten-free gnocchi recipe, which turned out soft, with a bit of a chew. Perfect. After boiling the gnocchi, I browned them in a pan with a bit of olive oil, then added butter, jarred white truffles, cream and a tiny pinch of nutmeg to make a quick sauce. Of course, they were finished with shaved white truffles. Just a few of these little guys were entirely satisfying.

Gnocchi with butter cream sauce and fresh white truffles

Next up was a rustic, earthy roasted mushroom salad made by Lynn. The simple roasted mushrooms, a combination of wild varieties that included fresh baby chanterelles, were a perfect accompaniment to the truffles – hearty, but light and not overpowering.  The crisp greens, tossed with a white truffle oil vinaigrette, added a nice freshness to the warm mushrooms. This was really delicious, and a great middle course.

Roasted mushroom salad

For the main course, Lynn made a sauteed turkey cutlet that incorporated ham, cheese and the fresh truffles. This dish was surprising and wonderful.  We paired it with roasted asparagus, drizzled with white truffle oil and a few fresh truffle shavings.

Turkey breast with fresh white truffles, cheese and ham

Next up, a beautiful plate of cheeses and nuts drizzled with truffle infused honey. Simple, tasty, satisfying. I love it.

Cheese platter with toasted nuts and truffle infused honey

Lastly we had dessert. Shockingly, we had room. There were no “real” truffles in this dish. I made homemade chocolate almond truffles. They had a perfect balance of bitterness, sweetness and richness. It was a great end to this very memorable meal.

And we can’t forget about the wine! John brought in all sorts of interesting and new wines, introducing French and Italian selections that were faultless in their pairings.

After dinner, he also poured a Slovenian or Croatian liquor, Pelinkovac. This aperatif-type drink is bitter and probably comparable to Jagermeister, but less syrupy sweet.

Overall, this was a fabulous and memorable night. The caliber of food this year was far above that from the previous year. Not that last year was bad – believe me, the food was great. But there is something to be said about simplicity and clean flavors. Truffles want to be showcased, not merely an accessory. That is what we accomplished this year.

Lynn, John and Me

Day Thirty Five: Pork Roast Stuffed with Figs and Caramelized Onions

9 Oct

It felt so great to be cooking good food again, especially pork shoulder (of course). We’ve  started to have a chill in the air and leaves are becoming increasingly yellow (we don’t have “real” Fall colors, unfortunately). While I love the summer, I’m excited for this new season – the food associated with Fall is my favorite, and this was no exception at all.

This dish requires some prep time, but you could definitely do it in steps and certain elements ahead of time. To make it easier, make the caramelized onions the night before or earlier in the morning, same goes for the figs.

The flavor of this was fantastic. It had just the right enough sweetness that went very well with the rosemary mashed potatoes and the red wine sauce, with its  subtle hint of orange. The pork held together for slicing, but was incredibly tender. I’d guess this would be a great addition to the Christmas table – warm flavors that lend itself to a million great sides.

Another thing I loved about this dish? It was amazing as leftovers. We don’t have a microwave at home, so leftovers are sometimes a challenge. I just put a few thin slices (it is easier to slice this once it has been chilled) with some sauce and a bit of water in a small skillet and reheated it over a simmer. Delicious!

Pork Roast Stuffed with Figs and Caramelized Onions

  • 3 small sweet onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1/4 cup orange juice, plus zest of one orange
  • 2 cups dried figs, halved
  • 12tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tbsp thyme, chopped
  • 1 pork shoulder, ~4lbs, butterflied
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

To caramelize the onions, place butter and olive oil in a skilled over medium-high heat. When melted and foam has subsided, add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until getting soft and they begin to brown. Lower head to medium-low and add the sugar, stirring. Continue to cook until onions are dark brown and soft (about 30 to 40 min). Reserve for later.

In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of red wine, orange juice and zest, figs, 1 tbsp rosemary and 1 tbsp thyme to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool and save for later.

Drain the figs and reserve the liquid. Open up the pork shoulder and spread the caramelized onions. To the figs, add the remaining herbs and garlic. Spread 3/4 of the mixture over the pork and onions. Using twine, tie the shoulder in a few places snugly. Season with salt and pepper and place in roasting pan.

Roast pork for 2 hours. Add the remaining 2 cups of wine. Continue to cook for another 1 1/2 hours, basting occasionally. Stir in the remaining figs and reserved soaking liquid and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil. Pour juices from roasting pan into skillet or sauce pan; reduce liquid until it is about 2 cups. Season as needed with salt and pepper.

Slice pork and drizzle with sauce.

So Good to be Back!

29 Sep

Aaaaaand, we’re back. I can’t believe it has been over a month since the last post…..and that wasn’t even a pork recipe. I’m ashamed of myself.

Well, the long pause in pork shoulder recipes comes after a much needed 15-day vacation to Nantucket. This summer has been crazy. Christian was laid off in March and the past few months have been full of highs and lows, a real rollercoaster. There were a few jobs that were right at the tips of his fingers, but then they were snatched away. Right before our trip we were both at our breaking points. My stress was two-fold: I am working a job that is completely frustrating on so many levels, and I was constantly worrying about what we were going to do if Christian didn’t get a job.

The break was absurdly helpful, mostly because I did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Sure, I played a few hands of bridge during Hurricane Irene, read some books and attempted to fish, but that was about it. The bulk of the vacation involved laying on a beach, some socializing with family and friends, and lots of eating. For the most part, I decided that I would shut off most sections of my brain in an attempt to achieve total relaxation. I am pretty sure I succeeded, considering when I returned to work I sort of forgot what I did. What a great feeling.

Now, the one part of the brain I didn’t shut off was the part that is associated with pork, of course. I guess the most mentally exhaustive thing I did while away was try to brainstorm new recipes for this site. Thanks to not only the vast amount of free time I had, but also to my Mother-In-Law who had a great magazine that happened to have a few delicious looking pork shoulder recipes in it, as well as the restaurant American Seasons. My first night in town, and what do I do? Order the most fabulous pork dish: Grilled Berkshire Loin of Pork with Crispy Pork Shoulder, creamy grits, red eye gravy and Mission Figs. Ummm, not only was the pork about 6″ thick, but the crispy pork nugget was unreal. Seriously, any place with a pig on it’s logo/sign is definitely going to be amazing. If you are ever on the island, you must go here.

Courtesy of the Boston Globe

So, I’m ready to take Fall on with a vengeance. Christian has an exciting consulting opportunity. I’m refreshed and, while still not excited about my job, definitely less stressed than I’ve been in years. Some sort of clarity fell over me out on the Gray Lady, which may be a result of still not having activated all areas of my brain. But that is okay – I don’t need it all anyway.

Tonight I’m cooking a new recipe that I’m very excited about, and will be testing it on our usual guinea pigs, John and Lynn. The menu: Roast Pork Shoulder Stuffed with Figs and Caramelized Onions; Grilled Carrots with Brown Butter Vinaigrette; Rosemary Roasted & Mashed Potatoes; Mixed Greens with Toasted Walnut and Thyme Vinaigrette. The pork was definitely inspired, in part, by the meal at American Seasons. We’ll see how it goes. When we got back, Christian and I realized that since I hadn’t cooked in so long, I somewhat lost my touch. Have no fear, all I need is a little pork shoulder to get it all back.

Stay tuned!

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