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Perfect Summer Lobster Corn Chowder

We love this recipe for Lobster Corn Chowder from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa website! While we’ll admit it’s not exactly health food, a bowl of this luscious chowder loaded with the sumptuous flavors of late summer would be just the perfect thing for an end of season dinner party. Paired with a simple salad and some nice, crusty bread you just can’t go wrong!

Photo by Quentin Bacon / courtesy barefootcontessa.com

Photo by Quentin Bacon / courtesy barefootcontessa.com

 

Recipe: Summer Corn & Lobster Chowder

Ingredients

  • 3 (1½-pound) cooked lobsters, cracked and split
  • 3 ears corn
  • For the stock:
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • ¼ cup cream sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • For the soup:
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • ¼ pound bacon, large-diced
  • 2 cups large-diced unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (2 medium)
  • 1½ cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups diced celery (3 to 4 stalks)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
  • ¼ cup cream sherry

Instructions

  1. Remove the meat from the shells of the lobsters.
  2. Cut the meat into large cubes and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  3. Reserve the shells and all the juices that collect.
  4. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs separately.
  5. For the stock, melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the lobster shells and corncobs.
  6. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the sherry and paprika and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells and their juices, and corncobs and bring to a simmer.
  9. Partially cover the pot and simmer the stock over the lowest heat for 30 minutes. (I move the pot halfway off the heat.)
  10. Meanwhile, in another stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until browned and crisp.
  11. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  12. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt, and pepper to the same pot and saute for 5 minutes.
  13. When the stock is ready, remove the largest pieces of lobster shell and the corncobs with tongs and discard.
  14. Place a strainer over the soup pot and carefully pour the stock into the pot with the potatoes and corn.
  15. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
  16. Add the cooked lobster, the chives and the sherry and season to taste.
  17. Heat gently and serve hot with a garnish of crisp bacon.

Number of servings (yield): 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall & Holiday 2014 Will Be Our Final Season

After over twenty years of cooking in our quaint country cottage, surrounded by people who have become not only friends but a second family, the time has come for The Cooking Cottage to move on and transform.

As some of you may know, the land around the cottage is slated for development in the not-so-distant future, and this decision to close our doors has come from much heartfelt discussion and thought amongst all involved in The Cooking Cottage tradition. It’s not the end necessarily, but a new beginning as we work towards other things.

We want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us over the years. We’d never be where we are today without you. Two amazing women, my grandmother and my mother, Winnie & Peggi, started this business when I was five years old. Not only did they create a wonderful gathering place for food lovers (the best kind of people, don’t you think) to learn and share, but they inspired myself and my sisters to grow into the kind of women who embrace food, family, fun and travel with reckless abandon. It’s hard to argue that these aren’t the most important things in life. I’d like to extend the deepest, most heartfelt thank you to all of you who made it possible for us to grow up in such an incredible environment. You all mean so much to me and my family.

We have a great season coming up, full of current new classes as well as Cooking Cottage favorites. Peggi and Winnie, and of course Leigh, Susan, and myself, will be here teaching throughout the fall and holiday season. We hope to see you at the Cottage.

Yours Fondly,
Kate

A Festive Holiday Pie Recipe

Last week sisters Kate and Molly taught two pie classes alongside their grandmother, Cooking Cottage cofounder Winnie. We had so much fun and whipped up some tasty pies in the process. This Nutmeg Maple Custard Pie was our personal favorite… Molly even went so far as to say that it was one of her favorite desserts ever!

Kate, Winnie and Molly with freshly baked pies at The Cooking Cottage.

Kate, Winnie and Molly with freshly baked pies at The Cooking Cottage.  (Nutmeg Maple Custard, Lattice-Topped Apple & Bourbon Pumpkin Pecan)

This pie is simple to prepare and oh-so-delicious. We hope it will show up on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table this year.

Recipe: Nutmeg Maple Custard Pie

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 9-inch pie crust

Instructions

  1. Par-bake pie crust: Preheat oven to 350. Roll out pie crust and place in a 9″ pie plate.
  2. Cover with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans (to prevent the crust from puffing up as it bakes).
  3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until beginning to set.
  4. Remove foil and weights and bake 15 to 18 minutes longer, until it becomes golden. (If shell puffs during baking, press it down with the back of a spoon).
  5. Cool on a wire rack. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  6. Prepare filling: in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a cup or bowl with pouring spout.
  8. Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.
  9. Pour filling into crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, about 1 hour. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Meet Melissa, Our Youngest Attendee!

This is Melissa, she is six years old and in kindergarten, and she came to our Summer Entertaining class on Friday night with her mom and grandmother. A fan of the food network, when she found out they were coming to a cooking class Melissa said, “What about me? I like to cook and eat. I promise I’ll behave!” She tried everything we made (even a spicy jalapeno popper) and after dinner she came in the kitchen to help me cut the cake! It was a lot of fun having Melissa in class and we can’t wait to see her again!

Melissa, 6, with her Blueberry Lemon Layer Cake.

Melissa, 6, with her Blueberry Lemon Layer Cake.

Spring Vegetable Dip

This elegant but indulgently delicious dip get its edge from goat cheese and fresh spring vegetables. Think of it as Spinach Artichoke Dip with pizzazz – it’s sure to please crowds and would be a nice addition to any dinner party, Easter table or potluck this season.

The creamy cheddar and goat cheese base is also a versatile vehicle for whatever other ingredients you’d like to use in the dip, for instance you could easily substitute summer vegetables – such as zucchini and corn – for the spring vegetables, or try sun-dried tomatoes, peppers and sauteed red onion with feta instead of goat cheese, and you’ll have a delightful Mediterranean dip! Also, as the seasons change, feel free to swap out the herbs for any that you have on hand.

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Recipe: Spring Vegetable Dip

Summary: This elegant and versatile dip is a sure crowd pleaser!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ¾” pieces asparagus, tips reserved
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup chopped leeks
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup grated mild white cheddar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 14-oz. can chopped artichoke hearts in water, drained
  • ¼ cup fresh or thawed frozen peas or shelled edamame
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • ½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain; let cool.
  3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes. Whisk in flour, gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened; remove from heat.
  4. Add cheddar; whisk until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Fold in asparagus (reserve tips), artichoke hearts, peas, chives, mint, flat-leaf parsley, lemon zest and 2 oz. of the goat cheese.
  6. Transfer mixture to a 4-5 cup baking dish, arrange asparagus spears on top and dot with another 2 oz. goat cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 15-20 minutes.
  7. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Gnocchi with Lemon, Peas & Spinach

This year’s meal at our Holiday Cookie Classes was a simple salad with Cooking Cottage house Italian dressing (sorry, that recipe is a secret!), followed by Gnocchi with Lemon, Peas & Spinach.  Some people were asking for the gnocchi recipe – so we’ll share it here.  We actually found the original recipe from Gourmet magazine on Epicurious.com, it’s one of their top-rated recipes, and we can see why.  We picked it because it’s an absolute breeze to prepare and tucking into a dish of lemony-cream coated gnocchi feels a little special – so this recipe could become a treat in your weeknight dinner rotation, or something nice to serve to guests (who will never guess it only takes 10 minutes to get the finished dish on the table).  Look for this recipe in the new Epicurious cookbook as well.

The gnocchi served at Cookies was from Bova on County Line Road, but you can also find nice gnocchi at Altomonte’s in Doylestown or in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores.  To cook gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add them, and cook until they rise to the surface, about 3 minutes.  Remove with a large slotted spoon or gently pour into a large colander in the sink to drain.

We served our gnocchi topped with sliced roasted chicken and roasted red pepper, shrimp would also be delicious.

Recipe: Gnocchi with Lemon, Peas & Spinach

Summary: Adapted from Epicurious.com/Gourmet Magazine.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen baby peas (not thawed)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp. dried hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 3 cups packed baby spinach (3 oz.)
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound dried gnocchi
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. Simmer peas with cream, red-pepper flakes, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet, covered, until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add spinach and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, stirring, until wilted. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and juice.
  3. Meanwhile, cook gnocchi in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain gnocchi.
  4. Add gnocchi to sauce with cheese and some of reserved cooking water and stir to coat. Thin with additional cooking water if necessary.

Preparation time:

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

More Holiday Classes & KIDS Classes Added!

The holidays are an exciting time at the Cooking Cottage.  In fact, we can’t think of many places that are cozier or more bursting with holiday cheer!  We’ve added two more holiday classes to our holiday season as well as kids classes.  More information and registration is available by clicking “classes” on the top of our homepage.

Cocktail Party Favorites: Mon. 12/3 @ 6:30pm
This fun class was so popular that we decided to add a second one.

New Years Eve a la Cooking Cottage: Thurs. 12/20 @ 6:30pm
Peggi’s youngest daughter, Molly, will be back to help with this menu her middle daughter, Kate, made last New Years Eve for her grandparents (Cooking Cottage founder Winnie and husband Pete), and Kate says the thinly pounded filets baked with mushroom gravy, prosciutto and mozzarella called Beef Scallopine Casalinga is the best thing she’s ever cooked.  But first we’ll have Clams Casino and a Holiday Champagne Punch in the kitchen, followed by a Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Poppyseed Dressing, the filet will be accompanied by Italian Green Beans and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, and for dessert a scrumptious Cranberry Mousse will top it all off.  It’s a wonderful menu for any special evening!

Kids Classes

We’ve brought kids classes back to our holiday season this year.  If a child is registered for both classes on Dec. 16 they are invited to enjoy a complimentary lunch in the farmhouse between sessions.  Classes are appropriate for elementary to middle school aged children.

Gifts from the Kitchen

Each child will take home three handmade and lovingly wrapped holiday gifts to proudly give to friends or family members.  

Gingerbread Houses 101

We’ll be constructing the holiday classic out of homemade gingerbread and icing, complete with all the candy fixin’s.  Each child will take home their own gingerbread house, a great decoration throughout the season.

Nibbling Through China : Part II

…. After a long bus ride back to our base in Chengdu from the giant Buddha in Leshan, we were ready for a quiet spot to have dinner.  That can be hard to find in China, but we ended up enjoying a typical Chinese style meal in a gated courtyard tucked away from the noisy street.  The standout on our table was a salad – a julienned toss of smoked tofu, red pepper, cucumber and carrots in a vinegary dressing – really delicious.

Dragonfruit – lovely, delicious & very common in China!

The next day, our last in Chengdu, we had a traditional Chongqing hotpot lunch – when we walked into the restaurant our eyes burned from the sichuan pepper laced steam rising from the bubbling pots!  Chongqing is a city in southwestern China famous for it’s hot weather and spicy, spicy hotpots.  Mouths on fire, after lunch we headed to the lively People’s Park to relax in its famous and very old teahouse.  Then we caught our flight back to Beijing!

Some serious hotpot eaters. Look at all those fresh ingredients!

On Sunday morning Kate had us scheduled to attend a Malayasian brunch in the Hutong, the same place where we’d attended our cooking class the week before.  The brunch was prepared by a special Chinese Malaysian chef.  It was a wonderful event and we enjoyed talking to other Westerners about their experiences in the East.  Malaysian cuisine is truly delicious, fresh and unique – a great place to try it at home is the Banana Leaf on Arch St in Center City, Philadelphia (one of Kate’s favorite restaurants).

A plateful of Malaysian goodies!

After a visit to the Drum Tower and a little boat ride on Houhai Lake, we spent the afternoon wandering around the traditional narrow lanes and alleys, stopping to enjoy a couple of craft beers at Great Leap Brewing.  Founded two years ago by a man from Ohio, this brewery is an important fixture in China’s emerging craft beer scene. Later, at a trendy cocktail bar called Mao Mao Chong we played more pinochle while sipping Asian inspired artisinal cocktails, our favorite was called “Sichuan Mule” and its ingredients included sichuan pepper infused tequila and spicy mango syrup. Dinner that evening was at a sidewalk table at a seafood restaurant on Gui Jie – or Ghost Street – at night the street is just blocks and blocks of restaurants with a sea of red lanterns hanging from their eaves. The restaurants display what they are offering in fountains and tanks and I felt like I was in a pet market – lots of turtles, shellfish, snails, frogs, fish, crabs, etc.

Seafood in a restaurant on Gui Jie.

On Monday morning Kate made a western omelet frittata in her apartment which is quite a feat since Chinese homes don’t have ovens!  Then we were off for our last adventure – The Great Wall!  The wall did not disappoint, and after all the walking we were starving.  The kids took us to their favorite neighborhood restaurant, which is owned by Uyghurs, a Muslim minority of Turkic descent from Xinjiang, the northwestern-most province of China.  The food was great & very different.  I particularly enjoyed the fried nang bread and lamb. There was also a wide noodle dish, they translate them as “flour slices,” with a tomato-based sauce and the most traditional Xinjiang dish, “da pan ji,” or “big plate chicken” – a huge plate with one whole chopped up chicken, curried potatoes, carrots, peppers and noodles – the ultimate Chinese comfort food!
After a quick visit to Tian’anmen Square on Tuesday and one last lunch of traditional Chinese dishes we bid zaijian to China and headed to the airport for the long flight home…

With my husband, Herb, at dinner among the lanterns on Gui Jie.

Nibbling Through China

Now that I’ve been in China for a week, it’s time to make note of a few culinary experiences! We are currently in CHENGDU, the capital city of the Sichuan Province. Its also the culinary hot pot of China and a UNESCO recognized world city of gastronomy!

Enjoying dumplings in Beijing!

We’ve been able to enjoy some amazing and authentic food, thanks to my daughter Kate & her fiancé Jim. They live in Beijing and have a good handle of the language and culture. We spent our first two nights in Beijing where on our first night we a enjoyed an authentic Peking duck – Kate even had to place an order for it that morning.

Carving the duck.

The next night we had a wonderful dinner at a Yunnan restaurant. Yunnan is the southwestern province bordering Viet Nam, Burma, Thailand and other countries – the food is like a fusion of Chinese and the cuisines of those places. We were with several of the kids’ friends, so we ordered many dishes, all so good! Kate has been learning Yunnan cooking from a friend from that province so she will teach a Yunnan class at the Cooking Cottage when she gets home.
Speaking of cooking classes, Kate & I took one at a place in Beijing called the Hutong – it was all about Dim Sum. Very imformative with delicious results – I’m anxious to give the recipes a try.

Kate & I with the Singapore Noodles we cooked up at The Hutong.

In Xi’an, our next stop, we wandered through the Chinese Muslim, or Hui, quarter. Xi’an was the former capital of China during the Silk Road days, and lies at the end of that famous trading route so the food has a Middle Eastern flair. We explored a street bazaar there, eating hot salty spiced walnuts and then sat down to a wonderful street food lunch of  “yang rou po mo,” a soup of braised lamb and shredded flat bread with vermicelli, garlic, wood ear mushrooms, ginger, green onions & cilantro. So delicious – even my non-mushroom and lamb eating husband loved it. The cost for lunch with drinks – about one third of what the four coffees we had at Starbucks an hour earlier cost!

Fruit for sale at night in Xi’an.

That evening we had an amazing hot pot dinner after cycling around the top of the wall that surrounds the city.  Hot pot is a traditional Chinese gastronomic experience that is both tasty and invigorating.  You sit around a table with a big boiling pot of spicy broth in the middle and you cook the raw ingredients in the pot yourself, it’s so spicy and yummy and lots of fun.. Of course cold beer helps!
In Chengdu we are enjoying the wonderful peppery noodles, the most famous are called dan dan mian, in tiny little restaurants you find tucked into lanes everywhere. Sometimes all the employees come out to get a good look at us – they don’t get too many western patrons. Our favorite here so far has been The Little Rain Drop – only 6 tables.

Dinner at the Little Raindrop in Chengdu.

Today we took a cab, several buses & a rickshaw to arrive at the dock in Leshan to board a boat to see The Leshan Buddha – literally carved into the side of a cliff, this magnificent Buddha is the largest in the world.

The Leshan Buddha.

We had lunch in a fly – so named because it’s a restaurant so small people literally fly in & out for their food. Also, the sanitary conditions leave much to be desired, though I didn’t actually see any flies! The noodles & dumplings were spicy and delicious and  the veggies were fresh and green! Also, you could throw your trash right on the floor!
We are headed back to Chengdu and…… It’s almost dinner time, so stay tuned!

Dried fruit for sale in Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter.


Good Books & A Vegetarian Potluck

Did you read anything good this summer? I’m currently reading Shark’s Fin & Sichuan Pepper A sweet-Sour Memoir of eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop, sent to me by my Daughter Kate in preparation for our trip to visit her next week – we’ll be visiting Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. Most of what I read somehow involves food, though I just finished a great book called Waking by Matthew Sanford for the book club at my yoga studio, Shine in Perkasie.  It was a wonderful read, followed by a lively discussion and…here’s where the food comes in – a vegetarian potluck. Actually, most of the food was vegan and all so delicious!

Potluck at Shine Yoga Studio ~ yum!

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