Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lovely dinner ... lovely wine

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And here is a link to what we had for dinner: Osso Buco

Friday, February 23, 2007

one a penny, two a penny ... Hot Cross Buns!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny—Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters
Pray give them to your sons,
One a penny, two a penny—Hot cross buns!

This is the time of year when Hot Cross Buns start showing up in stores and bakeries. I haven’t eaten one for years, and yesterday while doing some grocery shopping I couldn’t miss all the packages of these seasonal treats stacked in the bakery aisle. I ate one for breakfast this morning. Indeed, now I know why they need to be eaten hot with butter—without warming them up they are a bit heavy and dry. I knew part of the tradition surrounding them, but when I looked further this morning, I found out some other interesting facts. Did you know ...

“Hot Cross Buns were traditionally served during the Lenten Season, especially on Good Friday. Their origins, however, like the Easter holiday, are mixed with pagan traditions. To the ancient Aztecs and Incas, buns were considered the sacred food of the gods, while the Egyptians and Saxons offered them as sacrifices to their goddesses. The cross represented the four quarters of the moon to certain ancient cultures, while others believed it was a sign that held supernatural power to prevent sickness. To the Romans, the cross represented the horns of a sacred ox. The Christian church adopted Hot Cross Buns during their early missionary efforts to pagan cultures. They re-interpreted the “cross” of icing which adorns the bun to signify the cross on which Jesus sacrificed His life. Some historians date the origin of Hot Cross Buns back to the 12th century, when an Angelican monk was said to have placed the sign of the cross on the buns to honor Good Friday, known at that time as the “Day of the Cross.” In 1361, a monk named Father Thomas Rocliffe, was recorded to have made small spiced cakes stamped with the sign of the cross, to be distributed to the poor visiting the monastery at St. Albans on Good Friday. According to the scholar Harrowven, the idea proved so popular that he made the buns every year, carefully keeping his bun recipe secret.

According to tradition, Hot Cross Buns were the only food allowed to be eaten by the faithful on Good Friday. Made from dough kneaded for consecrated bread used at Mass or Holy Communion, and thus representative of Christ’s body, Hot Cross Buns were also credited for miraculous healing and for protection. Throughout the years, Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday were used in powdered form to treat all sorts of illnesses. In addition, many families hung the buns from their kitchen ceilings to protect their households from evil for the year to come. The tradition, however, suffered attack during the 16th century. During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, when Roman Catholicism was banned, ‘backward - lookers’ were reportedly tried for Popery for signing the cross on their Good Friday buns. The accused often claimed that it was necessary to mark a cross on the dough, to ensure that the buns would rise. However, the popularity of the buns prevailed, and the Queen resorted to passing a law which limited the bun’s consumption to proper religious ceremonies, such as Christmas, Easter or funerals.”

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The world is [was] my Oyster

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey
Oysters. Raw. Icy cold. On the half-shell. Oh my. Just look at the size of those babies! I have to admit, before our trip to New Orleans I was not a particular fan of raw oysters. Sure, I’ve had them before when we lived in France. I remember them as being unchewable and tasting of salt water brine, and mostly let them slide right down my throat without ever touching my teeth. I remember them as being somewhat small. Nothing like the oysters to be had in the Acme Oyster House. Yum. Sheer ambrosia! Delectable, and definitely not chewy or briny despite their large size.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

It’s just a tiny restaurant off Bourbon Street, but it was always packed with customers. We ate oysters there several times sitting at the bar, and they were delicious time after time. I wish we could have eaten there every day but we had other commitments. Next time I’ll plan to eat there more often. They can be very addicting! Now, now. I see some of you out there turning up your noses at the mere thought of eating raw oysters. To you I say, don’t knock ‘em ‘till you’ve tried ‘em. Acme’s oysters will turn those thoughts right around. Trust me.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Friday, January 19, 2007

Lunch at Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

This past weekend we went to Sunday lunch at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, New York. This unique restaurant is situated in the rolling countryside along the Hudson River, just a mere 30 miles from New York City. It’s a part of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, situated on the enormous estate Kykuit built by John D. Rockefeller. Blue Hill prides itself on serving organic, seasonal food straight from the farm and the richly blessed Hudson Valley.

Our route took us over the Tappen Zee Bridge and on to Route 9 through the towns of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. I’m sure that on a beautiful spring or summer day the drive is quite beautiful. However, our day was murky and very foggy. Even the top of the bridge was not to be seen. Really though, it was perfect weather for driving through the town of Sleepy Hollow. You know—the good old Headless Horseman’s stomping grounds? We expected him to ride by at any minute, head in hand. Surely you’ve all heard of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving?  In any case, after a 45 minute drive we arrived at our destination.

As you can see by my collage of photos above, it was not a day for standing around trying to take pictures. The tops of the beautiful silos were completely shrouded in fog. It’s a shame because it was such a photogenic place. At least I managed to get a few.

Stone Barns is a collection of barns built in the 1930s for the Rockefellers to house their cattle farm. The restaurant is actually the old dairy barn. It’s the building in my collage above, [the top left photo] that can be seen through the archway. Here is a photo I ‘borrowed’  from The Food Section web site of the inside.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

It was simple, yet elegant. We chose from a prix fixe menu [$42.00] for three courses: Starter, Main Dish & Dessert. For my three courses I chose Most of the Greenhouse Greens; Veal Canneloni on a bed of fresh beans; and Poached Bosc Pear on a slice of Hazelnut Cake with Cardamom Sauce. Rick chose the Blue Hill Charcuterie; Berkshire Pork; and Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with Caramel Ice Cream

My salad was wonderful! Lovely flavor-packed, meaty, mushrooms [not sure what kind they were], fresh greens and topped with an fresh egg just collected that morning that was soft cooked, cut in half and had a fried breading of some kind on the outside. My veal cannelloni was excellent as well, just too rich for me to eat them all. And dessert ... well ... marvelous! Rick enjoyed his meal as well, though he told me that he wished he had ordered what I did. But he always says that. We always choose the same things and he has it in his head that he can’t order the same thing I do. Too boring; but good!

The service was excellent and the presentation of the food was superb.

I wish the weather had been more conducive to walking around as I’d like to explore the farm more. I can see us definately going back in the spring or summer for a leisurely late dinner. Yes, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is a ‘keeper.’

Watch the video!


Monday, November 20, 2006

First Fuzz on the Camembert

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Rick’s Camembert is coming along nicely. I don’t know if you can see it or not, but the first fuzz of mold is starting to grow on the top and bottom. He’s holding it with two hands, by the way!

Yesterday he started a stirred-curd Cheddar which is still in the cheese press right now. If you want to learn more about home cheesemaking, visit Rick’s cheesemaking site.


Welcome, I'm Lynne. You know me better as a 'new' Jersey Girl. But now I've moved once again, this time to North Carolina. Here I write about my thoughts, good food, and of course, dogs.

© 2006-2023 Lynne Robinson All photography and text on this blog is copyright. For use or reproduction please ask me first.

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