Svíčková na smetaně

Czech Svickova

Svíčková na smetaně (hereafter simply svickova) is classic Czech home cooking, but it is often made for fine dining events as well.

It's a braised sirloin of beef with a sauce of pureed vegetables and cream, traditionally served with fluffy knedlicky (bread dumplings sliced with a thread).

I made this with my Czech friend Jana in November of 2015, when the coming winter mader her think of her father's Svickova back home in Prague! 

A Swedish Feast

We had a Swedish feast. I don't remember why...I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time. We had no lutfisk, but I had acquired some Swedish potato sausage and the rest became self-evident.

A Swedish Feast

We had: 

Oyster Stew

Here's a Yankee classic, submitted by long-time reader Sue Sullivan.

Fresh Pasta

Mandilli de Saea, photo by Richmond Talbot

What a treat is fresh pasta! When we toured Italy in July 2015, our most memorable meal was a plate of fresh ravioli in Rome. The story is rather longer than this page requires, but the bottom-line result was that fresh home-made pasta is work exploring, so I did.

In this case, it was for Annette's Genoese Birthday, so I made silky-smooth, super-thin Genoese Mandilli de Saea (Silk Handkerchiefs) with fresh pesto.  It was fun and delicious!

Savoy Cake

Savoy CakeThis beautiful, light sponge cake works well in a fancy mold, and it accompanies berries, preserves, or chocolate sauce wonderfully. Unlike the similar Genoise Butter Cake, this one uses no butter.


Type of Post: 
What's on my Mind?

There is something to be said for a restaurant where you order your favorite dish every time you go, and it always tastes the same. It’s as comforting as the pillow upon which you lay your head, but Bondir isn’t that sort of place. Oh it’s comfortable enough, and the staff is welcoming, and there are no snooty waiters peering down their noses to see which fork you choose. We entered the premises at 279A Broadway in Cambridge on a chilly evening and were offered a seat by a warming fire. We sipped Spanish cava and enjoyed the homelike atmosphere.

But as soon as they brought the bread basket, what we thought of as reality began to twist and bend. There was “sea bread” in which black squid ink ranged across the slice like the negative of a photo of the Milky Way. The bread also contained shrimp and seaweed. I think the shrimp may have been dried and ground to a powder. The bread had the heartiness of wheat and a briny flavor that reminds you of the scent of the ocean when you walk in the froth of waves in the cool of a summer sunrise. I ate it in fascination tinged with disbelief.

New England Rum

Type of Post: 
What's in my Glass?
New England
Best of Show: 
Medford Rum from GrandTen Distilling
14 New England Rums compared with some island rums

New England has a long relationship with rum, dating back to colonial times. Rum was invented in the Caribbean in the 17th century, and in the years just before the Revolution, over a hundred and fifty distilleries were making rum throughout New England, mostly wherever molasses was imported. In those days, American colonists drank more than 5 gallons of rum per capita annually.

The pot still and column stills at Privateer Distillery, Ipswich

Today I count 23 distilleries actively making rum in New England, with a handful of them that have not yet aged enough product to release an amber rum.

This article is an exploration of what is known about colonial rum and rum made today to see if we can identify the characteristics of a New England Rum. I'll start with a brief discussion of the steps in producing a rum, and then I will highlight four areas where New England's climate and economy would contribute to making a distinctive style that can be called New England Rum.

Finnan Haddie

Finnan HaddieOne of our favorite breakfast or lunch dishes on a cold rainy day is this old Scottish favorite made from smoked haddock in a white sauce, with the white sauce made from milk in which the fish was cooked.

Finnan haddie is smoked haddock. You can sometimes find it frozen at your fishmonger. That's OK - Finnan haddie is said to have been invented by a penurious Scot who wanted to salvage a load of haddock damaged by smoke in a warehouse fire. Rather than let it be discarded, he claimed it was the Irish ("Fennian" or "Finnan") style and sold it for food. So this recipe was never developed to use the purest, freshest, local ingredients - it came from a salvage operation!

Finnan Haddie can be a tricky dish. In general, people that like it like it the way they like it (follow that?) and any deviation is simply wrong. For example, one of our favorite restaurants used to make it one way, and Lorna loved it. Then the new chef changed the recipe and she won't eat it any more. It wasn't a big change - he didn't add pickles or substitute mussels for haddock - he just makes it thinner.

So this recipe is for a thicker version. It's easy to thin it by adding cream, but it's a little more work to thicken it up again.

Braised Green Cabbage

Braised Green CabbageThis is an easy recipe, good for when you have a cabbage from your CSA and you really don't want any more cole slaw...

It's a savory dish, good with homey fare like meatloaf or hamburgers. The flavors mingle over two hours of slow cooking to become something unexpected and delicious.

I did this in a heavy Le Creuset braising pan. If you do not have one of those expensive kitchen luxuries, don't worry! You can do this just as well in a glass or enameled baking dish covered tightly with aluminum foil; the secret is to confine all the flavors in a small volume with enough area to spread out.

Blueberry Slump

Blueberry Buckle

This easy crowd-pleaser is known variously across New England as Blueberry Buckle, Blueberry Cobbler, Blueberry Slump, and Blueberry Grunt. The basic idea is simple: a bed of berries topped  with sweet biscuit dough and baked until the berries burst into a delicious sauce for the tender biscuits.

This is great hot with ice cream, or cool with whipped cream.  Make it with wild Maine Blueberries if you can, especially while they are in season in August.

Blueberry slump is very easy to make; this one was made at work in the Actifio Food Truck by my friends Debbie Goswami and Chandrika Venkatraman.

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