Surf's Up

Last Friday after work, Christina and I went to Surf for appetizers and wine to celebrate our mutual birthdays and Christina's annual trip to Greece.  One of Portsmouth's newest restaurant, it is situated near the top of Bow Street in new construction that has closed the row of buildings and eliminated what was a perfect slice of open space to view tanker ships arriving and leaving.

That unfortunate detail aside, the new retail spaces have brought foot traffic farther up the hill and Surf is a perfect spot for people-watching.  We happily perched ourselves at the end of the U-shaped bar and, with great views of the river and street, ordered wine (a Stone Fruit Riesling for me, a cabernet sauvignon for C.) and a series of outstanding apps:

Clams on the Half Shell 
Parmesan-Fried Calamari
Hong Kong Salmon Rolls
Chorizo-Braised Mussels 
Clams on the Half Shell (again!)
Fried Tomato and Crispy Bacon Salad

Well worth a visit, especially in the evening when it's hopping.

In the spirit of seafood and the fact that I have dozens of yet-untried recipes that need action, here is a quickie from an old Food and Wine magazine.  Total time is given as 25 minutes but if you cheat and buy shrimp that are already cleaned and deveined, it's even faster.

And to the readers on the East Coast - I hope you were safe and sound throughout Hurricane Irene.



I have been eyeing the squash blossoms every week at the farmers market. And, as we are getting to the end of the blooming season, I was acutely aware that I needed to get them today.

I love stuffed squash blossoms, squash blossom risotto, and pasta with squash blossoms and saffron. Once they come home with me, they need to be used within a few hours, preferably for a noontime meal to have them as fresh as possible.

For today, stuffing them was the answer. Many preparations for stuffed squash blossoms call for deep-frying them in either a whipped-egg batter or a tempura-like batter, but frying isn't on my current diet. Not for a while, anyway. For me this was a fun challenge to find or create a recipe that wasn't too fattening.


Chickpea, Feta & Cilantro Salad

Last month I rejoined the gym.  Trust me, it was long overdue.  I've refused to buy clothes in a larger size and now (if I have any desire at all to breathe) the number of available ensembles in my closet is at an alarming low.  French women may pull it together with five easy pieces but I crave a bit more variety.

So the weight machines and I have become well acquainted.  Lower body, upper body, abdominal (painful!), I dutifully go through the paces prescribed by the gym's personal trainer.  And - shocker - I actually enjoy it.  Muscles have woken up and are engaged, and I feel stronger if not yet leaner.  Although I can't quite fully exhale in the grey pants I bought online last spring and have never worn, my palms once again touch the floor.

All this physical goodness has spilled over into other parts of my life, the obvious one being eating habits.  Not so much pasta, a lot more salad.  This recipe from Falling Cloudberries is one of many that I had dog-eared to try.  Nancy came by while I was making it and she gave it her seal of approval.  I agree - it has a nice zippy flavor.  So good, in fact, I'm planning to make it again on Wednesday for Greek Girls' Night.

Have a wonderful week - and enjoy!


Corn, Off the Cob

How can anyone resist fresh white corn at this time of year?

Once again, my friend Laura had an overabundance of corn from her farm share. Being the martyr that I am, I grudgingly took it off her hands - you know, just to help a friend in need... Seriously? I could not contain my excitement!

When I got home that evening, I took stock of the ingredients I had on hand. The corn. An avocado. Some flash-frozen Brazilian shrimp from Trader Joe's. A head of butter lettuce. Some leftover saffron mayonnaise. Basil and chives in the garden. Hmmmmm.... With the temperature approaching 110°F (almost 44°C), a chilled salad seemed just perfect.