Restaurant Field Trip – The Whelk

Last year at about this time, we visited Le Farm restaurant in Westport, CT.  The restaurant’s owner and head chef, Bill Taibe, is one of the leaders in the area for the farm to table movement, where fresh food is bought from local farmers, brought into his restaurant and served to his customers.  In January of this year, Bill Taibe opened up his latest restaurant, The Whelk, along the water in Westport.  This new restaurant is heavily concentrated on seafood.  Just like Le Farm, The Whelk shares the same artisanal philosophy, using as many fresh and locally grown ingredients as possible.  The Whelk is also focused on fresh and sustainable seafood.

Question:  So, you are asking, what is a whelk?  The answer is below.

While the Whelk is just above the Saugatuck River, the windows in the rectangular dining area face the street, not the water.  Yet the interior has the feel of an informal seafood shack with large harbor lights hung above the bar and slatted picnic chairs and benches, the kind you might find outdoors at a roadside spot.  During our visit, there were eight main course offerings, but it is the smaller plates and appetizers that were the draw for us.  The food that we ate was so good, we are planning to return for a second round next week.  Come see what we ate at our first visit to The Whelk:

We started off with appetizers and small plates.  As in a typical seafood shack, our first courses were served on plates covered in newspaper.  Here is one BBQ little neck clam left from a plate of eight.  These were fresh clams with a little bit of BBQ sauce and bacon placed on top before being placed under the broiler for a few minutes.  These clams went fast.

Another favorite was the hot smoked trout dip served with trout roe and crackers and bread.

We have a friend who says she has never met a potato that she doesn’t like.  Here are some french fries with ketchup and a delicious smoked mayo.

A good wine that was recommended to us by our server.  The Whelk has a large list of by-the-glass and by-the-bottle wines.  This French selection was a little more acidic than I would normally like, but that worked well with the seafood that we ate during our visit.

One of my favorites!  Gulf shrimp and grits with pickled jalapeno-ramp butter and country ham.  Reminds me of our trip to Charleston, SC.

One of the more unique offerings the night we were there.  This is squid ink cavatelli with red shrimp, mexican chorizo and preserved tomatoes.

Cornmeal fried catfish with early summer slaw and walnut-pepper romesco (partly devoured at time of photo).

Rare seared line caught tuna with bacon and black olive and green pea dressing.  An offering that was limited, but we were lucky enough to “snag” one.  Get the seafood joke here?!?

My vote for “Best Of Show”.  Norman’s (we don’t know who Norman is, but he is a man with good taste) lobster butter with leeks, peas and fingerling potatoes.  We were told this is a lobster that is slowly poached and then removed from its shell.  The poaching liquid is then reduced and the lobster meat is added back along with the potatoes, peas and leeks.

What’s dinner without some dessert?  The Whelk offered a small and homey dessert menu for us to choose from.

A quickly devoured set of Whoopie Pies.  These pies never disappoint.

Two at a time…a magic bar in the background with butterscotch and sea salt.  In the front is a meyer lemon posset with cornmeal cookies.  Yummy!

As in our visit to Le Farm, we all left full and happy.  Like I said, we’ll be back on Tuesday so that shows how good The Whelk is.  If you are around Westport, you need to give The Whelk a try.  If you are like us, one trip just won’t be enough.

Answer:  So what is a whelk?  A predatory marine mollusk (family Buccinidae) with a heavy, pointed spiral shell, some kinds of which are edible.  As Bill Taibe has said, calling his restaurant Le Mer would have been too easy.

Fried Ricotta Cheese – Two Ways

This is the question-if you decide to fry ricotta cheese, do you make it a savory appetizer or a sweet dessert?  That was the decision we had in front of us and so we decided to do both in the same meal.  This means we started off our little dinner party with a savory fried ricotta dish and ended the meal with the same fried ricotta made into a sweet dessert.  Most people equate fried cheese to the fried mozzarella sticks you get in your typical bar or tavern fare.  However, our Italian recipe for fried ricotta, known as ricotta fritta, has a subtle texture and flavor that works better being turned into a first course or dessert than its more famous mozzarella cousin.  The creamy texture of the ricotta fritta also cannot be beat.  So here is our recipe for ricotta-two ways.


  • 15 ounces fresh ricotta , drained overnight
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil


  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • Fresh basil leaves


  • 2 cups fruit jam or preserves (I used a jar of cherry preserves)
  • 1 cup whipped cream


Put the drained ricotta in a bowl.

With an ice-cream scoop, scoop out tablespoon-sized balls of ricotta, and set them on a parchment-lined tray or sheet pan (you should have about twenty-four ricotta balls total).  Set the tray in the freezer, and chill the balls until firm, about 30 minutes.

Spread the flour on a small plate and the bread crumbs on a large plate. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt in a wide, shallow bowl.

Dredge the balls in the flour and gently flatten them into thick patties.  Coat the patties in egg, then dredge them until well coated in the bread crumbs, but not heavily so.  Return the breaded patties to the parchment-lined tray.

When you are ready to fry the patties, pour the vegetable oil in the skillet and set over medium heat.  The oil is ready when the tip of a patty sizzles on contact.  Drop the patties into the skillet in batches, so they are not crowded, and fry for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy.  Lift them from the skillet with a slotted spatula and drain briefly on paper towels.  Serve ricotta fritta while still hot.

For a savory appetizer or main course:  spoon a pool of hot marinara sauce onto each serving plate, set 3 fried patties in the sauce and scatter basil on top.

For a dessert dish:  top 3 patties with warmed preserves (or any fruit jam or poached fruit) and whipped cream.

In our little experiment, we found we liked the sweet version the best which is surprising because most of us at the dinner are not real dessert lovers.  Somehow the sweet taste of the preserves and cream played nicely off the creamy and tangy flavor of the fried ricotta.  Don’t get us wrong….there wasn’t any of the savory fried ricotta left over, so it must have been a crowd pleaser as well.  We’ll definitely be giving this versatile dish another go in our kitchen.  We hope you will too.  Do you have any cheese recipes that you use for dessert or for an appetizer that you would like to share?

Good Eating – Hot Pepper Jelly

This is the easiest appetizer in the world to make.  For as easy and low-key as it was to make, it was the hit of the night.  It is some hot pepper jelly spooned over cream cheese.  When everyone took a cracker and dipped it into the jelly and cream cheese, there was not a person at our house that didn’t declare that this was delicious.  Why is this always the case?  The food you spend hours preparing is o.k., but the simplest fare, like our hot pepper jelly, is the rage of the evening.

To add insult to injury, I didn’t even make the jelly.  No, it was in a jar and comes from a company named Mrs. Sassard’s in South Carolina, a family run business that has been selling its home-made Southern specialties since 1917.  Now operated out of the family home, the company hopes to expand into larger space and add new equipment, products and a Web site over the next few years.  In addition to the jelly, Mrs. Sassard’s also makes and sells a number of other relishes and preserves, like artichoke relish and pumpkin chip preserves.

For the purists out there, I also have a recipe if you would prefer some homemade hot pepper jelly.


  • 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh hot green pepper, such as jalapeno
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces pectin
  • 4 drops green food coloring
  • 6 (1/2-pint) canning jars with lids


Process bell pepper and hot pepper in a food processor until finely minced.  Combine pepper mixture, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat and add pectin and food coloring.  Pour into sterilized jars and seal according to USDA guidelines for sterilizing jars/lids and canning.

I know this doesn’t look like it would taste so good, but as they say, looks can really deceive.  Whether you track down a bottle of this jelly like I did or make your own, give this hot pepper jelly a chance at your next get together.  The peppery taste with a hint of heat mixed with the creamy texture of the cream cheese on a cracker can’t be beat.  Again, it is also so easy!  Have you ever eaten hot pepper jelly?

Charleston’s Hominy Grill Restaurant – Yum!

This is one of the first things you see when you arrive at the Hominy Grill in Charleston, South Carolina.  Painted on the side of the building, this waitress seems to assure you that inside you will soon be eating some great home-cooked food just like your Grandma used to make.  Nationally acclaimed and locally beloved, the Hominy Grill is a Charleston institution serving classic Southern specialties.  No cans are opened at the Hominy Grill.  All of the food is prepared from scratch with fresh, locally raised ingredients.  Chef/proprietor Robert Stehling first learned to cook at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, NC.  He then worked for several years in New York before moving to Charleston where he opened the Hominy Grill.  He received the prestigious James Beard Best Chef Southeast award in 2008.

When we first arrived, we knew we would have a little wait given the number of people who were outside on the patio already waiting for a table.  Given the gorgeous weather that Charleston is known for, waiting outside for our table was nice.  Although there wasn’t a bar to stand at, the Hominy Grill does have a window where you can go up to and order whatever it is you would like to drink during your wait.

After about thirty minutes, it was our turn to eat.  The six of us sat down at a table inside a nice bright room with what appears to be an old-fashioned stamped tin ceiling.

Next up, it was time to read the regular menu and review the daily board of specials.  Almost of the dishes offered were Southern classics made with fresh ingredients.  Right off, we knew that we would hit all three courses in our eating adventure–appetizers, main course and dessert.

We started off with fried green tomatoes with ranch dressing for the entire table.  Is there anything more Southern than that?  Did you know that there is not a special variety of green tomato that you grow to use when you make your fried green tomatoes?  You just need to gather unripened, green tomatoes off the vine and batter and fry them.

After polishing off the fried green tomatoes in record time, it was time to move on to the main course.  Take a look at this delicious dish of shrimp and grits, another Southern classic.  The shrimp was sautéed with mushrooms, scallions and bacon and then served over cheese grits.  In this dish, the bacon actually gave the dish a nice smoky and salty flavor when up against the smoothness of the grits and the tender shrimp.

What would the South be without something fried and then served with gravy and a biscuit?  The Hominy Grill did not disappoint and several of us ate the Big Nasty Biscuit with a fried chicken breast smothered in cheddar and sausage gravy.  When we saw this, all we could do is trick ourselves into thinking it only had 200 calories in it and then dig in.  Talk about some good eating!

BBQ was also on order at the Hominy Grill.  Southern barbeque is more vinegar based than other barbeques that you may have eaten.  I like the bite that this type of barbeque offers.  Here is the BBQ chicken sandwich with slaw.  Vinegar BBQ heaven!

Are you ready for dessert?  We were.  We kept it simple and delicious as you can see.  Nothing light about butterscotch pie and a chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, huh?  The butterscotch pie was creamy and delicious.  It has been quite a while since I had eaten butterscotch pie and this was a light and flavorful treat.

Now onto the chocolate brownie with homemade vanilla ice cream.  Here’s the question–have you ever met a brownie a la mode that you didn’t like?  I haven’t and the Hominy Grill’s selection was as good as it looks in this picture.

What a great brunch!  At this point in a meal and after all of this food, all you can do is either go back to home base and take a long nap or walk it off.  We thought it best to do some walking which is probably the right choice after you just finished devouring something called the Big Nasty Biscuit.

When we go on vacation, we do some sight-seeing, but for the most part our favorite part of a vacation trip is getting to know the locals through eating.  The Hominy Grill in Charleston really got us acquainted with the food of South Carolina’s low country.  Given that they try to utilize fresh and local ingredients, the food was really delicious.  We hope you enjoyed our little eating frenzy at the Hominy Grill….we sure did.  Do you enjoy dining out a lot when you are on vacation?

Our Charleston, South Carolina Vacation Review Begins!

This is a big welcome to Acorns On Glen’s “Charleston, South Carolina Vacation Review” festivities!  Yes, we are back from our vacation to Charleston and the beach on Kiawa Island and we are ready to show you some of the highlights of our trip.  First off, we were in South Carolina when news of Hurricane Irene started.  We did fly back to Connecticut before the hurricane hit land and we were impacted on Glen Road when it hit Connecticut on Saturday evening.  Most of our town is still without electricity as of today, but everyone we know is safe and sound (just a little cranky at this point).  To all of you that were impacted by this storm, we hope that you and your families are doing well.

I will start off with a confession.  I wasn’t expecting much of this vacation.  I had done some research on Charleston and learned that during August, Charleston is:

  1. Hot
  2. Really hot
  3. Super humid
  4. All of the above

Not sure that this is really a good match with a person who:

  1. Is experiencing male menopause, including hot flashes
  2. Doesn’t really enjoy the beach
  3. Has not had a tan since the ’80s
  4. Has thick, coarse hair that does not do well in humidity
  5. All of the above

Let me tell you this.  I have learned in my life that when expectations are low, you usually have one of the best times of your life.  An example, when Les Miserables was a hot play on Broadway, I bought tickets.  I was so excited to see this show.  All of my friends that knew I was going called me and told me that I was in for a treat.  It would be the best show I ever saw in my life.  My expectations were super high.  I went to the show and, guess what, I left at intermission.  I mean, come on, how long can that revolution go on?  Shoot your guns and die.  Get it over already!

It’s the same with our trip to Charleston.  One of my best friends (love her) and her husband (who I’m crazy about as well) take their kids (love them too; an all around super-duper family) down to Charleston and then a drive over to Kiawah Island (about 30 miles east of Charleston) for some beach time.  She knew that we had not had any vacation this year and knew that we didn’t have any plans and so she graciously offered for us to travel down to SC and be a part of their vacation.  She also knew that our saying “yes” was dicey because of the points listed above.  After a lot of persuasion from my dear friend, we said yes.  I set expectations low in my mind….thinking it was better to get away to a place that you probably wouldn’t like versus not going away at all.  In my experience, low expectations usually produce the best times of your life and this was the case here.  What a week of great fun!  To anyone that is ever on the fence about going to Charleston, I have to tell you to just pack your bags and get down there.  From history, architecture, GREAT food, nice people and a great opportunity to relax, Charleston has it all.

For me, Charleston will always be remembered for great food.  Because the landscape is marshy and swampy, they refer to their cooking as low country.  The food that they produce is down home, comfort food and I believe that it is similar to the food I grew up with in Iowa, where the cooks in Charleston work very hard to take the ingredients that they have and work to develop the best taste that they can with the simple ingredients that are present.  So to give you an example of this, I thought I would start our vacation review festivities with a recipe for Pimento Cheese.  To make this Southern classic, I turned to Matt Lee and Ted Lee, two brothers that have brought Southern cooking to life with their cookbooks.  I turned to their first cookbook, ‘The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook’, to help me make my Pimento Cheese.  This cookbook by the Lee Brothers is fantastic for a would-be Southerner like me.  It won the James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year Award for Food of the Americas in 2007 and is as fun to read the stories as it is to read the great Southern recipes.  It is my newest addition to my vast cookbook collection.  Halfway through my visit to Charleston, I saw it in a shop window and looked it up on that night and knew that my new-found lust for Charleston made this a must for my collection.  So let’s have the Lee Brothers take it over and let’s make this Southern classic, Pimento Cheese.

The Lee Brothers say that there was a time when you could eat pimento cheese sandwiches at lunch counters throughout the South.  Today, you are more likely to find this orange spread of sharp cheddar and mild pepper served as a dip, on crackers, in someone’s home during cocktail hour.  That’s how we enjoyed our dish of Pimento Cheese over the weekend.

Traditional recipes for Pimento Cheese call for canned pimentos, but this recipe broils a fresh red bell pepper, removes the blackened skin and then cuts the pepper into small dice before mixing it with the cheeses.  The Lee Brothers do admit that some of their Charleston friends roll their eyes that the recipe uses red pepper versus pimentos, but they believe it is a simple route to a more vibrant and sophisticated (and less chemical tasting) pepper flavor.  If you are a die-hard pimento lover, you can feel free to replace the pepper with 3 1/2 ounces of pimentos, but make sure that you dice them finely so that they get distributed throughout the spread.


For the spreadable Pimento Cheese:

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 8 ounces finely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 ounces softened cream cheese, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (I made the Lee Brothers homemade Lemony Mayonnaise and used it in the recipe….see the recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


Turn on the broiler.  Place the pepper on its side on a dry cookie sheet and slide it under the broiler until the skin blackens on the side facing up.  With tongs, turn the pepper so that an unblackened side faces up and repeat until the skin is blackened on all sides.  Place the pepper in a small bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it steam for 5 minutes as it cools down.  Uncover the bowl.  When the pepper is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a cutting board, reserving any liquid in the bowl.  Remove the blackened skin with your fingers and discard.  Using a paring knife, cut the pepper in half, remove and discard the stem and the seeds and chop the pepper into 1/4-inch dice.  You should have about a 1/2 cup.

After chopping, you have to admit that these peppers do a pretty good job impersonating pimentos.  The choice is yours, but I have to think the Lee Brothers know how to make some good Pimento Cheese.  You be the judge and do what you need to do.

Place the grated cheddar in a medium bowl and add the cream cheese pieces, the mayonnaise (homemade version coming up), the diced red pepper and its liquid and the red pepper flakes, distributing them evenly over the cheese.  With a rubber spatula, blend the ingredients together until the spread is thoroughly mixed, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Note that Pimento Cheese keeps in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Are you adventurous?  Here is the homemade Lemony Mayonnaise that I used in my Pimento Cheese recipe.  This takes less than 5 minutes to make.  Give it a try.

For the Lemony Mayonnaise:


  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (white, white wine, champagne, red wine or sherry…I used red wine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper


In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the lemon juice.  Add the oils in a thin stream, whisking constantly to emulsify.  When the mayonnaise is thick and consistent, add the vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk vigorously to incorporate.  Store in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

This is my new favorite dinner party appetizer dip.  If you are really trying to get back to your Southern roots, spread this Pimento Cheese on some white sandwich bread and enjoy a sandwich for lunch.  Thanks so much to the Lee Brothers for this delicious recipe and please buy their great cookbook.  This is just the start of our Charleston, SC vacation review.  Come back to enjoy more of this jewel of a city.  We have more stories….from hats to our hotel to restaurant fun.  Come back and visit us, y’all.  Have you ever visited Charleston, SC and what did you think?

A Field Trip To Le Farm Restaurant

This is Le Farm restaurant in Westport, Connecticut.  We were lucky to go there for dinner over the weekend.  Le Farm is one of those great restaurants where it seems one dish is better than the one you ate right before it.  It is an absolute great place for dining.  What else is great about it is that it is one of the front-runners in the farm to table movement.  Bill Taibe is the executive chef and here is how the restaurant and local farmers operate together to make the food at Le Farm some of the best and freshest food in the area.  This is from the website for Le Farm:

Farmers like to grow things.  They don’t like to market, advertise and transport them.  Bill Taibe likes to cook.  He loves using local ingredients — the fresher the better.  The convergence of area farmers and Taibe is good news for diners — and not just fans of Le Farm, Taibe’s restaurant that earns raves for showcasing market-based food cooked and presented in a homey, comfortable and very sustainable atmosphere.  Thanks to RSA — “Restaurant Supported Agriculture,” a concept that Taibe knows needs a zippier name — 5 local restaurants now offer the best in local products.  Banding together, they guarantee farmers a market for their goods.  Promising to buy takes pressure off the farmers.  They reciprocate by planting what the chefs request.  Make no mistake:  It’s not just lettuce, tomatoes and corn anymore.  Taibe — who built 2 previous restaurants on the barter system, and admits he “may have been born in the wrong century” — explains that RSA is based on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model.  RSA is less structured – shares are not bought in advance from farmers — but the concept is similar.

Once a week — via the Green Village Initiative — 5 restaurants (Le Farm, the Boathouse and Dressing Room in Westport, CT, plus Wilton, CT’s Schoolhouse and Fat Cat Pie Company in Norwalk, CT) receive a list from local growers of whatever is ripe.  By 4 p.m. each Monday, the chefs respond with their own list:  what they want.  The farmers pick the crops on Tuesday morning.  By 2:30 that afternoon, Green Village Initiative volunteers have gathered it and it’s ready for pick-up by the restaurateurs.

Le Farm is a very small restaurant.  We counted 11 tables and were told that the restaurant holds 34 people at capacity.  That doesn’t mean there are 34 people dining there at one time.  The hostess told us that the kitchen cannot accommodate that many diners at one time.  So when you dine there, you are eating with a relatively small number of people and the atmosphere is really quiet and relaxed.

Wooden tables line the walls in a very homey and country sort of way.  Glass jars filled with dried split peas hold the silverware.  Water for the table is brought to you in country-style bottles.  There is a wine list for sale and limited cocktails are available made with spirits that were hand selected by Le Farm.  Have you ever heard of:

  • Tito’s Hand-Made Vodka
  • Caeden Head Old Raj Gin
  • Gran Centennaro Plata Tequila
  • Ben Riach 12 Year Scotch?

After you’ve secured the beverage of your choice, the food starts to roll in and you can’t believe what you are feasting on.  Let us show you some of the things our party ate while at Le Farm.

Let’s start with appetizers.

This is roast pork belly with whipped cornbread, collards and sweet bacon vinegar.

How about foie gras terrine with cherry marmalade, pistachios and toast?

This is smoked duck potato hash with black truffle and a fried egg.

This is an aged beef meatball salad with green cabbage, pignoli, parmesan and pickled cipolinis.

Last, but definitely not least, here is some cavatelli for the table made with sweet 100 tomato pan sauce, spicy oregano and parmesan.  We asked what sweet 100 was and we were told it was a type of tomato.

Who said we were done eating yet?  Now it is on to our main courses.  Not as many pictures as many of us got the same dish.  Great minds think alike I guess???  Here is what we had.

A Southern classic.  This is shrimp and grits with italian sausage, roasted corn and shrimp sauce.

A little comfort food?  Brisket braised in beer with beet tops, potatoes with horseradish and dill.

You can’t leave without dessert can you?  We couldn’t, that’s for sure.  Take a look at these treats.

This is a chocolate pot de creme with peanut butter cream and salted pretzels.

A brown-butter almond shortcake with strawberry gelato and cajeta caramel.

Some bourbon white raisin bread pudding with vanilla gelato and hazelnuts.

We’ll admit we were stuffed.  Well, with all this food, we were beyond stuffed.  If you are ever in Westport, Connecticut, Le Farm is a restaurant you must go to and enjoy.  We think you can tell a difference when you are eating really fresh and local ingredients prepared in such fun and inventive dishes like those served to us.  Tell us about your favorite farm to table restaurants in your neck of the woods?

A Tomatillo First Here On Glen Road

This is a group of tomatillos that we bought on Sunday.  We have never cooked anything here on Glen Road that contained tomatillos.  Why the sudden change of heart?  On Sunday, we went to the market and we were going to buy some green salsa.  For some reason, we turned the bottle around to read the label and we were shocked at how many ingredients were in it that we couldn’t pronounce.  Then at the farmers’ market, a woman told us tomatillos are great right now and so we bought some.  We went home to make our own green salsa and we are glad we did.

Tomatillos are small green-tomato look-alikes encased in paper-thin husks.  Tomatillos are only distantly related to true tomatoes.  Raw ones have a distinctive tangy citrus flavor that is great in salsas.  They are also great roasted until soft and then pureed.  Good ones have taut husks and lime green skin underneath.  You can refrigerate them in a paper bag up to 1 week.  When ready to use, peel away the husks and rinse any sticky residue off before using.

We decided on a classic roasted green salsa to serve with tortilla chips.  The roasting effect gave the salsa a deep, slightly smoky flavor.  All ingredients are roasted under the broiler until they are a little blistered and the vegetables become somewhat soft.  The vegetables become soft depending on their size–small vegetables are first and the tomatillos and onions are last.  As you take soft vegetables out from underneath the broiler, place them directly into the bowl of a food processor while the other vegetables continue to broil.  Our salsa definitely had a little heat to it.  If you prefer less heat, use fewer jalapenos or remove the ribs and seeds from the ones that you do use.


  • 1 1/2 pounds of tomatillos, husks and stems removed
  • 1 medium white onion, halved
  • 3 japapenos, stems removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat parsley (you can use cilantro if you prefer)
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper


Heat broiler with rack in the top position.  Place all vegetables (except parsley) in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

Broil until vegetables are blistered and slightly softened.  Rotate the sheet often and flip vegetables frequently.  Vegetables will become soft depending on their size from 8 to 15 minutes.  Take them out as they become soft.

Discard garlic skins.  In a food processor, pulse garlic and vegetables until coarsely pureed.  Season with coarse salt and ground pepper and pulse to combine.  Transfer salsa to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup chopped parsley.

Refrigerate until cool and serve.  Salsa can be kept into the refrigerator up to 3 days or 3 months if frozen.

What a treat our roasted green salsa was and, better yet, there was nothing but natural ingredients in it.  If you serve salsa like this, a margarita cannot be far away.  It’s the perfect start to a Summer dinner party.  The next day, remember to use your left over green salsa over a grilled chicken breast or use it in place of ketchup over a burger.  There are tons of ways to use a fresh Summer salsa if you think about it.  So bring a tomatillo home this Summer and enjoy!  Do you have any recipes that use tomatillos that you could share here on Acorns On Glen?

Roasted Eggplant Caponata

This is a roasted eggplant caponata that we used as an appetizer last night when we had friends over for dinner.  It is an old Italian favorite our Brooklyn Italian Grandmother told me.  Although she had never made it, she told me that it was her sister-in-law’s specialty, so the pressure was on when I announced that I was going to make it.  There were a couple of questions about the recipe (“What, no celery?” and “She never used pine nuts.”), but the end result from Notorious B.I.G. was a huge thumbs up.  To me, that meant this eggplant recipe was a keeper.  It is one of those make ahead recipes because the longer you hold off on serving it, the more time the flavors have to mix and meld together.  You can absolutely make this a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator until time to serve.  I served it along with some plain and multi-grain pita chips, but use your imagination.  Since it is a dip, we could have used regular chips, bagel chips, vegetables to accompany it.  It’s really up to what you are in the mood for when you serve it.  Try this recipe…the flavors are incredible together and by the empty container that was there at the end of the night, it was a hit.  As well, remember that it comes with the Notorious B.I.G.’s seal of approval.  Here’s how you make it.


  • 1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds)
  • Olive oil
  • 4 ounces jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 large cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Place the whole eggplant on the pan, prick with a fork in several places (you don’t want an exploding eggplant in your oven) and rub with olive oil.

Roast for 50 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft when pierced with a knife.  Set aside to cool.

Halve the eggplant, peel, and discard the skin.  Place the eggplant, peppers and olives in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Pour into a mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saute pan.  Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onion is lightly browned.  Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, and add to the eggplant mixture.

Add the parsley, pine nuts, lemon juice, capers, tomato paste, vinegar, salt and pepper and mix.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop.  Taste for seasonings and serve at room temperature.

It’s great having friends over for dinner and even better when you can serve them something new and delicious.  Our roasted eggplant caponata did just that.  It was the perfect start to a fun evening.  Well, the eggplant and a few glasses of wine were the start to a fun evening.  You get my drift.  Give it a try.  What do you like to serve as an appetizer at your dinner parties?