March Best Bites

I didn’t cook so much in March for some reason, so relied on Lucy’s and Trader Joe’s to fill in the gaps at home. Sometimes I’d just buy vegetables to go with soups and purchased entrées, and that works well, too, such as adding kale to vegetarian split pea soup from Lucy’s, below. (Those fried sweet potatoes from Trader Joe’s are the best ones I’ve tried by the way.) More of my dinners than usual were meatless, not really by design, but when that was the case, the meal “made up for it” in cheese and/or eggs.

For dining out, I enjoyed two very good dinners at the new Trattoria Procaccini (my review is here), and an impromptu lunch at Luca’s up in Somerset. The “Grizza” you see below was incredibly good, a very crispy flatbread topped with porchetta, shallots, provolone, arugula, parmesan and balsamic. Pound the table good!

The oven-fried chicken thighs were a combination of recipes (so typical of the way I cook), that included dredging the chicken in Dijon mustard and seasonings, coating with panko, and baking. But I could taste the mustard too much. I am just one of those people who only like mustard with very specific things. Like a hot dog. Or pastrami (including the excellent short rib pastrami I brought home from the Carversville General Store, along with Max Hansen’s smoked salmon). I do NOT like mustard on roast beef sandwiches, however. And, apparently, not on chicken unless it’s very subtle, or maybe in a winey sauce.

I made a run to The Gingered Peach in Lawrenceville, and snagged their last blueberry glazed donut. Tasty, but I loved, even more, their almond croissant, below. (Either one of those is really a dessert to me, I just can’t start the day off with anything too sweet; I need protein first.)  I also really liked the Irish Soda Bread I bought at Brothers Moon in Hopewell, although other versions I’ve tried through the years have been too dry. It helps that Will Mooney uses golden raisins instead of dark ones. (Currants are fine, too, but not that many bakers use them now.) I tried Italian rainbow cake for the first time, impulsively when I ran across it at ShopRite (online, yet!). It was okay, but not great, it’s one of those things that when you find it in the market, it’s got way too long an ingredient list. It’s not something I would attempt on my own, however, just too much work and I’d rather put the energy into making dinner. Complicated baking is not my thing, and that’s why I love a good bakery!

I also tried an easy version of the currently trendy chicken and waffles. I’ve never had it, so just bought chicken tenders and frozen multi-grain waffles. The tenders were your average supermarket kind, and it turned out they were chopped and formed chicken. Ugh. I’ll use them up, but will read labels more carefully in future (and try Lucy’s much better-looking version). But, once I drizzled some honey on the tenders and waffle, it was good enough to make me long for a higher-level experience. I got one of those heart-shaped waffle irons a couple years ago and have yet to use it, so one of these days…

Standbys such as sausage and peppers (hot Italian sausage from McCaffrey’s and frozen roasted peppers & onions from TJ’s) and my beloved Armenian herisah (which I also made in February) also made appearances on my table.

I already posted on Facebook about several of the other items you see below, but a word of explanation about the Bird’s custard. I bought that and some Baker’s Tennis Biscuits intending to make a cheesecake recipe I saw on one of my favorite blogs, Not Quite Nigella. (She’s a cooking virtuoso, and travels a lot too, I find her very entertaining and funny! And since she lives in Australia, I like the contrast of our seasons.)

I’m not usually that interested in cheesecake, but this one, billed as a New York Cheesecake (because it’s dense rather than fluffy), sounded good. Have I made it yet? Of course not (and maybe just as well). But I went ahead and made the custard because I’ve heard of it forever and never had this classic English nursery treat. Well, let’s just say, it needs dressing up. I had the foresight to throw in some grated orange rind. And I plunked a dollop of Nutella in the serving. When you can make your own vanilla pudding so easily (if you use cornstarch and no yolks), I won’t be craving this shortcut custard, but we’ll see if it makes it into that New York cheesecake by way of Australia one of these days.


2 thoughts on “March Best Bites

  1. I too lost the desire to cook In March, so I survived by making Kale salads and eggs for dinner and whey smoothies with greens for breakfast. I sense that my vision has improved with the help of all those greens. Avocados are beautiful and reasonable from The Whole Earth Center. More to come. Joan Goldstein

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