Bon Voyage with A Suitcase and A Spatula

Raspberry Croissant Bread Pudding, photo (c)2013 La Domestique

Bonjour! Today we travel to France with Tori Haschka’s new cookbook, A Suitcase and A Spatula! I’ve followed her beautifully written recipe blog, eatori, for years and couldn’t wait to dive into Tori’s debut book of “recipes and stories from around the world.” The book is divided into 4 chapters dedicated to breakfast, then summer, winter and finally, dessert. Tori tells the tale of traveling the world with her other half, The Hungry One; each page a new destination with a story (sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always touching) and a recipe. She has a way with words, demonstrated perfectly in the book’s intro, ” More than a photo, a journal entry or a pair of souvenir cufflinks, it’s the food that keeps the journeys alive.” 

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Greetings From Ireland and a Recipe for Blueberry Parfait

Blueberry Parfait (c)2013 La Domestique

Greetings from Ireland! We arrived in our new home town of Cavan yesterday and the sun has been shining the whole time (which I’m taking as a good sign). Cavan is in the north, just 15 minutes from Northern Ireland. It’s marked by rolling green hillsides dotted with fluffy white sheep and spotted cows. I like it out here. It’s quieter and more laid back than the big city of Dublin. I will say though, ever since we got off the plane everyone has been so welcoming! People are very friendly and kind here. They do talk fast and I’m often looking towards the husband for translation of what was just said. Hopefully I will quickly develop an ear for it. We’re staying in a B & B owned by a family with three very young boys running around. The whole family is lively and fun and our bed is comfy so I’m quite happy. This morning the mother made us a full Irish breakfast, which was a real treat (rashers, black and white pudding, broiled tomato, Irish bacon, eggs, brown bread and scones)! The husband felt like he was finally back home again.

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Concord Grapes

Concord Grapes from the Boulder Farmer's Market (c)2012 La Domestique

The thought of grapes hadn’t even entered my mind as I passed through the crowded farmer’s market, eying the mysterious Japanese eggplant and passing my fingers over plump tomatoes. Amongst the regular cultivars I’d grown used to seeing over the summer, my eye halted at the sight of a newbie – midnight blue grapes coated in white dust. Could it be? Concords! I couldn’t hide my excitement from the farmer, eagerly (but tenderly) gathering up a couple pounds of the delicate grapes. Here in Colorado, the season for such fruit seems to pass with the blink of an eye. Feeling like I’d struck gold, I headed home with my riches. Most of the Concord grape’s flavor is concentrated in its thick skin, and an abundance of pectin means this fruit is well suited to preserving as a jam (find Rachel Saunders’ recipe over at Tasting Table). My first desire was to bake a Concord Grape Focaccia, which you’ll find here on the blog later this week. A few of you who follow Ladomestique on instagram had some great suggestions for cooking with Concord grapes. Talley of House to House blog was kind enough to steer me towards Melissa Clark’s recipe for grape focaccia in the New York Times. Joelle of Home Sweet Homemade suggested grape juice. Gail likes Concord jam. Tori had a fantastic idea for incorporating the fruit into a strudel, and @bablanch pickles the grapes.

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Cook in the Moment: Grilled Plum Salad with Purple Basil, Blue Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Grilled Plum Salad with Purple Basil, Blue Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette (c)2012 La Domestique

I seem to be going through a purple period. I just can’t get enough of plummy colors. Last week there was the Grilled Mission Fig Salad, followed by that post on aubergines, and today I’m grilling plums and placing them on a bed of purple lettuces and purple basil dressed in winey balsamic vinaigrette. Do you ever find yourself attracted to a certain hue which inspires the food you prepare in your kitchen? Figs, eggplant, plums- and I’ve got to warn you that next week it will be Concord grapes and purple potatoes! Now I’m realizing I may be out of control here with the purple.

Cooking with seasonal ingredients found at the farmer’s market brings awareness to the colors of each season. In spring it’s all green- asparagus, broccoli, spinach. Summer is fiery red and orange with peaches, berries, tomatoes, and peppers. As summer fades into fall the purples come out- cabbage, eggplant, kale, and glorious plums. It’s been a stellar year for plums here in Colorado. I’ve never thought too much about this stone fruit – peaches always seem to steal the show – but this year I bit into a ripe and juicy Santa Rosa plum from the farmer’s market and it was like tasting the fruit for the first time. I was blown away by the tart flavor matched with just the right amount of sweetness. Never one to eat plums out of hand (before this I mostly baked with them) I was surprised and delighted by this discovery.

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For Everything there is a Season

Eggplants from the Boulder Farmer's Market (c)2012 La Domestique

Summer lingers here in Colorado, but autumn is nipping at her bare feet. The days are definitely getting shorter and a cool breeze swept through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains last week. Mornings are crisp and I need a light sweater to take Minnie the dachshund for her walk before breakfast. Summer won’t let go just yet, and her bright sunlight warms the day slowly, but she just can’t seem to coax the mercury into the 90′s as she has done in weeks past. The farmer’s market is bursting with produce: tomatoes, beans, peaches, and eggplant. I feel the need to grab as much as I can. The frost will arrive soon, bringing an abrupt end to our summer. Our grief will be soothed with the arrival of autumn and her apples, pears, root vegetables, squash, and pumpkins. Though I’ve reveled in summer this year, fall is my favorite season. Enlivened by the smell of change in the air, I feel the year has begun anew. January first means little to me. The beginning of fall has always felt like my New Year.

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