Salmon en Croute and Scarlet Feather for Cook the Books Club

Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy has been our June/July book pick for Cook the Books Club, as well as my first hosting experience there.  I was pretty sure I had read this novel sometime in the past, but to be honest, once I got (re-)? reading it, the story was absolutely new to me.  Maeve Binchy was the starting point however.  Knowing that I wanted us at Cook the Books Club to feature one of her wonderful novels, I selected this one for the culinary connection.  And it does indeed contain lots of foodie inspirations

The book concerns a pair of friends from cooking school who have the dream of opening their own catering business.  An engrossing story, covering the process of getting Scarlet Feather (named for the duo - Tom Feather and Cathy Scarlet) the perfect premises, funded and established, including the connections and interesting personalities of all the various relatives, friends and, unknown to them, enemies, with lots of humor and understanding.
Binchy is well known for her delightful and humorous depiction of unique  and memorable characters, both good and bad, and this novel has plenty of them.  I especially loved the funny, precocious, abandoned  twins who come to stay and end up living with Cathy and her family.  Tom and Cathy face almost insurmountable odds both in their personal lives as well as with their business.  But, are a fictional illustration of what can be overcome and be the impetus for growth in life.

Among many treats mentioned in the book was Salmon en Croute, which called to mind some wonderful meals we enjoyed in Ireland featuring salmon.  A fish which also brings to mind an old Irish legend about the "Salmon of Knowledge."  Perhaps eating salmon makes you wiser?


Quick and Easy Chilled Gazpacho


You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto!

We're rockin' out with tomatoes this week at IHCC and chef Curtis Stone.  The weather, being so muggy and hot, has been inspiring me to more salads and less cooking.  A Gazpacho sounded quite cool and refreshing, and it was, it is!  This recipe may be found on his web site and in his book, Relaxed Cooking, as well.


Green Pineapple Chutney with Cranberries

You see here a couple of green, unripe pineapples that no one in their right mind would pick.  However, at the beginning of the season, when the desire for a lovely, sweet, fresh pineapple overrides common sense,  we usually make this mistake at least once, thinking maybe it's ready.  Hope prevails.  Both Bob and I did it.  They sat around for a week or more, and I could see those guys were never going to ripen up.  Meanwhile really, truly ripe ones were happening.

Cooking them into a tangy chutney was the solution.  Lots of wonderful spices, red peppercorns, cranberries, you get the picture.  A double rescue.


Competition Mixed Veggie Mac 'n Cheese

 I was truly forced to do another Christine Wenger book post here.  It was the Mac 'n Cheese cook-off competition in Macaroni and Freeze that did it.  Firstly her descriptions of the contest entries had me planning  ingredients for a nice variation of my own.  Also, the book, "A Comfort Food Mystery" is a fun, food-filled cozy.  Nothing deep here.  Even the cuisine is pretty basic, '50's Diner style stuff, which you might expect, as the heroine runs a comfort food diner.  In between helping solve various murders.

The last one I read, and posted about here, was good and this who-done-it is no exception.  The expected murder, narrow escapes, a wee bit of romance, and food of course. Formula writing, but diverting in the evenings.

The beauty of macaroni and cheese is the infinite diversification possible.  I've made a number of those and posted some of them.  Cauliflower, Tuna, hamburger, salmon, green kale, to name a few.  This particular version was inspired by the one I had at Moon and Turtle, made with spätzle.  After my own session of spätzle making,  a corporate decision was made to not bother again, or to buy a special gadget for making said noodles.  There are enough fine pastas on the market which can be conveniently used.  


Local Ono on the Barbie!

This week with Curtis Stone, current reigning chef at IHCC (I Heart Cooking Clubs), we're On the Barbie!  Grilling whatever.  In my case, Curtis' recipe for grilled salmon was transmogrified to ono, a locally caught, quite delicious fish, the name of which translates to really good.  Some of you folks might know it as Wahoo!  I always think deserving of the exclamation point.

Served up at his website recipe on a Greek salad, with kalamata olives and chunks of feta.


Tinga Poblana - A Smoky Pork and Potato Stew

 This is Potluck week at IHCC, (I Heart Cooking Clubs) and I selected a wonderful recipe from Rick Bayless out of his Authentic Mexican Cookbook.  Which, after perusing the library book with extreme covetousness, for weeks already,  I now have coming via Amazon.  My very own copy.