Thursday, July 24, 2014
     

Food

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
This June 9, 2014 photo shows Mackays dundee orange marmalade, left, and Crofter's superfruit spread, right, in Concord, N.H. Jams and jellies are good for adding oomph to everything, including sweet-and-sour chicken (apricot jam), barbecue pork ribs (seedless raspberry), beef marinades (orange marmalade), ham glazes (blackberry or cherry), sweet-and-savory dips for vegetables and crackers (red pepper jelly), even sandwich spreads. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

It was probably 15 years ago that I discovered the magic that is a nearly empty jar of jam.

Until then, I'd always hated those sticky knuckle moments of scraping the slimy dregs of the jar, hoping I had enough to add that sweet balance so needed by the otherwise leaden smear of peanut butter on my bread.

Then an Italian cook who was supposed to be teaching me pasta making got sidetracked. She wanted a salad to go with our orecchiette, and she wanted to make her own vinaigrette.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
This June 9, 2014 photo shows kung pao pork with peanuts and scallions in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Let's just get something out of the way right at the top. This is not an authentic kung pao recipe. If you are looking for an authentic kung pao recipe, just move along.

If, however, you are looking for a crazy delicious weeknight-friendly recipe for stir-fried pork that tastes very much like really good kung pao. ... And if you are looking for a quick and easy dinner your kids will love. ... And if you really like recipes you can toss in to marinate in the morning and have on the table within 20 minutes of getting home. ... This is the kung pao you were looking for.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
This May 5, 2014 photo shows Memphis-style baby back ribs in Concord, N.H. Back ribs usually are sold in either full slabs (13 ribs) or half slabs (7 ribs), and are the most expensive cut of rib. When they come from a pig that was less than a year old, they are referred to as ‡¨baby‡Æ back ribs. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

It was one of those culinary epiphanies. I realized you rarely get great barbecued ribs from a restaurant. They have to come from backyards.

My rib-awakening came during the world's largest barbecue contest, Memphis in May. All it took was that first bite of a grill-smoked rib for me to recognize the real deal. There is nothing like homemade ribs.

And here is the dirty little secret: They don't take nearly as long as the competition guys would like you to think they do. And they are much simpler to prepare than legend has it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
AP Photo/Matthew Mead Grilled tomatillo and mango salsa over blue cheese meatloaf  burgers. This summer grilling recipe combines meat, vegetables and fruit.

We all know fire works wonders on meat and vegetables. But we often forget that it also can do amazing things for fruit.

To prove the point, we decided to come up with a summer grilling recipe that puts the heat to all of the above meat, vegetables and fruit.

We start by making a grilled salsa built around tomatillos, mangos, red onion and Peppadew peppers.

Then we created a blue cheese-blended patty that is equal parts burger and meatloaf, the perfect base to spoon the salsa onto. The result is a moist, tender burger with tons of flavor in and on it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
This April 14, 2014, photo shows grilled eggplant bruschetta in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Spring is back and so are farmers markets. And that means a whole new chance to make friends with strange and unusual vegetables. Or to rehabilitate some old familiars.

The number of farmers markets has more than doubled during the past decade, topping more than 8,000 in 2013.

Matching that proliferation is equally wild growth in the variety of produce sold at them. Heirloom tomatoes and carrots in funky colors?

That's just the start. Think rainbow-spectrum radishes, unusual peas, beans and legumes; gooseberries and quince.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
A Strawberry Elderflower Frappe for ice cream season.

Ready to move beyond basic vanilla or chocolate this ice cream season?

Much as we love those classics, with so many crazy and crazy delicious flavor combinations flooding the freezer aisle of the supermarket, it's hard to resist making some big, boldly flavored frozen concoctions of our own. We started with a bee sting parfait, inspired by the honey, almond and coconut-studded pastry of the same name.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
AP Photo/Matthew Mead Ice cream season supplies, from top left clockwise, ice cream waffle cones and bowls, Oreos, assorted nuts, dried pineapple, granola, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, chocolate sauce, raspberries, maraschino cherries, strawberries and Talenti gelato, honey and Breyers real fruit topping.

Coming soon to a freezer aisle near you balsamic vinegar ice cream. Plus, hot sauce ice cream. And maybe even tomato.

"You're seeing the same kinds of trends in ice cream that you're seeing in other foods," says Peggy Armstrong, spokeswoman for the International Dairy Foods Association. "People are willing to experiment."

Just a generation ago, Americans mostly bought their ice cream at the supermarket in recognizable flavors that occasionally sported chocolate chips or a swirl of some kind.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
This Apr. 14, 2014 photo shows summer baked Alaska in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)This Apr. 14, 2014 photo shows summer baked Alaska in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

When it comes to ice cream, I generally feel it's hard to improve on a simple scoop right out of the carton. But this time my mind has turned to baked Alaska. I know ... How retro!

Baked Alaska once was the star dessert of cruise ship dining rooms and upscale restaurants. The classic recipe called for vanilla ice cream enrobed in sponge cake, lavishly frosted with meringue, then lightly browned in a high-heat oven.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
This April 7, 2014 photo shows a blackberry-orange Napoleon in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

The secret to this simple Mother's Day dessert is frozen puff pastry. It is easy to work with and bakes up into a deliciously flaky pastry.

You'll find puff pastry in the grocer's freezer section, usually near the frozen fruit and pie shells. Be sure to thaw it completely before trying to unfold the sheets of pastry. You can place the box in the refrigerator overnight, or leave it (unopened) on the counter for about an hour.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
This April 7, 2014 photo shows a ricotta spinach tart in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Lasagna isn't typically associated with Mother's Day, but it is the dish that inspired us this year as we searched for a fresh way to offer Mom a delicious brunch.

We took some of our favorite lasagna ingredients ricotta cheese, spinach, thyme and Asiago cheese but instead of layering them with noodles, we mixed them together in a rich, but still light tart filling. With a store-bought crust, the tart can be in the oven in 20 minutes and on the table 40 minutes later. And similar to a good quiche, this tart can be served hot or room temperature.

Ricotta Spinach Tart