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Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Fresh, light and delicious, Vietnamese summer rolls are a great appetizer or light meal any time of the year. Crisp vegetables, bright herbs and shrimp are rolled in a rice paper wrapper, with a side of sweet and salty peanut sauce for dipping. 

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Phyllo Pot Pie with Creamy Chicken, Caramelized Onions and Swiss Chard

Tender chicken, caramelized onions and Swiss chard in a creamy garlic sauce, topped with a blanket of buttery, flaky, ultra-crisp phyllo dough. This is comfort food pretty enough for the fanciest dinner party, but tasty enough for a relaxed family meal. 

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Three-Layer Whipped Peanut Butter Bars

Three layers of delicious: these ultra-decadent peanut butter bars are a guaranteed crowd pleaser. The base is a crunchy, buttery graham cracker cookie, the middle is a generous layer of creamy whipped peanut butter and the top is silky chocolate ganache sprinkled with chopped roasted peanuts. Get ready to perform some crowd control. 

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The Reluctant Gardener

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I have a confession to make. I’m actually a little freaked out by “nature”. I mean, it’s beautiful and keeps us alive and I hate that we do terrible things to the Earth. And of course I love farmers markets and fresh, organic produce. That being said, I’m the person that steps off the pavement and immediately gets stung by a bee. Or trips on a tree stump. Or gets stuck in a bramble.

I’ve lived my whole life (until recently) in New York City and haven’t had a lot of experience with non-urban life but Matt really loves the country and I really love Matt so now we live in Beacon, NY. It’s not exactly the wilderness but it’s a pretty small town in the Hudson Valley, about an hour and 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan. We’ve been here almost a year now and I’m liking it much more than I anticipated but adjustments had to be made. There is almost NO restaurant delivery around here (which means we end up cooking a lot more which is good). Going out for dinner often means a 20 minute (or so) drive unless we just go into town. That also means I had to learn how to drive which is no small accomplishment for a city girl who’s never had a license. Now that I finally learned, I love driving everywhere. Even to the mall (I’m still tickled that we have to go to a mall sometimes).

Ramp and Fontina Biscuits

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I know ramps are a little out of season by now (their season is crazy short) but these biscuits were really good so I wanted to post the recipe. Ramps are also irritatingly trendy right now but even though it’s such a jerk move to say so, I’m going to declare it anyway: I’ve been obsessed with ramps for years. Starting around 1995, I used to go to the Union Square Green Market when it was pretty much the only one in town and I would try to get whatever was just in season, whether I was familiar with it or not. In very early Spring, that meant asparagus, fiddlehead ferns (which I just never got a taste for), and ramps.

A brief culinary tour of our (not so recent) trip to England and Wales.

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At the beginning of the summer (2013), Matt and I went to England to visit his family and do a little sightseeing. For years we went every other Christmas which means that we hadn’t been to the UK when the weather was warm for ages. Now don’t get me wrong, Christmas in England is magical, with all the fireplaces and fairy lights and mince pies (ok, those are kinda gross). But when you’re driving around it’s a bit difficult when it gets dark at 2pm and the average weather is frozen drizzle.

Chard, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart

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When my gorgeous sister-in-law Hayli and her delightful husband Tristan got married in France a couple of summers ago, Matt and I spent a week at a gîte (french farmhouse) with his family and a mad gaggle of their international friends. It was a delightful mixture of cultures, languages and food with English, French, Belgian, Irish (and one slightly befuddled American).

Each night of the week, different groups of people would cook for the whole gîte (seriously, I think there were about 40 people in all). On our night, Matt and I along with a few co-cooks made baked pastas. I think one was a creamy wild-mushroom rigatoni and the other was a cheesy tomato penne type of thing. Not fancy but cooking for 40 people in a strange kitchen is HARD. I think between shopping, prepping and baking it took about 15 hours (okay, I may be exaggerating a teeny bit but it was seriously exhausting).

You won’t find these at Williams-Sonoma

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In the process of clearing out my Nan’s house this year, we dug out these vintage kitchen items. On the left, a pair of butter paddles. On the right, stamps/presses for stamping either shortbread or butter. There’s a shamrock, a thistle and a dragon, so I wonder if there was once a fourth “rose” stamp to complete the British theme.

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