Sunday, December 28, 2008

Scalloped Potatoes (Best ever!!)

2 cups heavy cream
6-8 large potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/8 inch thick
1 clove minced garlic
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter or spray pam on a shallow casserole (about the size of a 9 x 13-inch glass pan--a shallower pan gives you more "browned potatoes" which is what my crowd likes) and set aside. In large, heavy saucepan, bring cream to a boil and add the slice potatoes and garlic and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste. Pour potatoes, garlic and cream into prepared casserole and bake until the potatoes brown and cream has thickened. [if you want to be really sinful, put some gueyere cheese on top and run under broiler]

Shrimp with Rotel

Papa Joe fixed this as an hors-d'œuvre on New Year's Eve. I thought that it was delicious and easy. It would also be good served with rice as a main course.

1/4 Cup of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds of 30 count shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can Rotel- Mexican style with lime

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil. Turn off heat and let mixture infuse with garlic flavor. Turn heat back on and saute shrimp 2 minutes. Add Rotel and cook another 2-3 minutes or until shrimp are just done. Serve with crusty french bread to sop up sauce.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kentucky Bourbon Apricot Nut Cookies

These came from Camille Glenn's Old Fashioned Christmas Cookbook. She calls them Fruitcake cookies. Since so many people are wrongly prejudiced against fruitcake, I am going to call them Apricot Nut Cookies. These are incredibly good-- a perfect Christmas treat. I have made several changes to the orignal recipe.

Make about 5 dozen small cakes

Preheat oven to 250

Line 1-1 1/2 inch tart pans with paper liners

1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
4 tbl butter at room temp
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sifted White Lily flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/3 Cup bourbon
1/2 pound seedless white raisins, chopped
1/4 pound dried currants
1/4 pound candied lemon peel and orange peel (about 1/2 a container of each)
1/2 pound dried pitted prunes, or Mission figs, chopped
1/2 pound glazed or dried apricots, chopped
3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
Bourbon glaze

Chop nuts in food processor,reserve. Chop fruits & reserve. Grate zests and add to sugar. Cream butter and sugar in food processor or mixture. Add eggs and mix well.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add to egg mixture. Add bourbon and mix well.

Stir in fruits and nuts by hand.

Fill tart pans with mixture, packing it in with the back of a greased spoon. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and let cool in pans. Brush on glaze when cool.

Bourbon Glaze
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
2 tbl bourbon
2 tbl orange juice

Mix til smooth

Mincemeat Cookies

The original recipe is from Camille Glen's Old Fashioned Christmas Cookbook. I have changed it to use store-bought mincemeat and a glaze. I didn't love these cookies until I topped them with a lemon glaze. Now they are delicious.

Makes 30 cookies

Preheat oven to 350

Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment or silpats

1/2 cup butter @ room temp
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sifted White Lily flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg reconstituted Nonesuch Mincemeat, with 2 tbl orange marmalade & 2 tbl brandy added
2 tbl chopped preserved ginger
1 cup coursely chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1-1 1/2 tbl brandy

Lemon Brandy Glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbl brandy

Stir together until smooth.

Crumble box of mincemeat into 3/4 cup of water. Add orange marmalade and brandy. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from heat and let cool.

Cream butter & sugar together. Add eggs and beat hard.

Sift the flour w/ the baking powder & salt & beat them into egg mixture.

Fold in mincemeat, ginger, nuts, and vanilla by hand.

Drop batter by tsps onto cookie sheets and bake on middle rack until cookies are light brown, 15-20 minutes.

Cool on rack. When cool, brush cookies with glaze. Allow to dry thoroughly before storing in airtight containers between wax paper.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Scalloped Potatoes with 3 Cheeses

Another great recipe from Epicurious. I replaced the blue cheese with gruyere because one of my guests was not a blue cheese fan. I think that the blue cheese version would be delicious with roast beef, so I'll try it that way next time.
I've also changed the cooking time as well. The original recipe called for 90 minutes of cooking, and that is simply not long enough.

• 3/4 cup (packed) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
• 3/4 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese (about 4 ounces)
• 1/3 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/4 ounces)
• 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
• 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
• 3 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Mix cheddar cheese, blue cheese and Parmesan in small bowl.
Arrange half of potatoes in prepared baking dish, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle onion over, then flour. Dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle half of cheese mixture over. Top with remaining potatoes, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 2 tablespoons butter. Reserve remaining cheese.
Bring milk to simmer in medium saucepan. Pour milk over potatoes (milk will not cover potatoes completely). Cover baking dish tightly with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Uncover dish (liquids in dish may look curdled); sprinkle potatoes with reserved cheese mixture. Reduce heat to 350 and bake uncovered until potatoes are tender and cheese is deep golden brown, about 1 1/2 hours longer or until liquid has been absorbed. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cover and rewarm in 375°F oven about 20 minutes.) Remove from oven; let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce for Roast Beef

1 Cup sour cream
2 heaping tbl horseradish or to taste
1 tbl dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all together. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Beef Tenderloin with mustard herb crust

I made this last night for a dinner party. It's from Emeril Lagasse, and was easy and delicious. I bought a 5 pound tenderloin which, when trimmed, weighed 3 1/2 pounds. Make sure you get the butcher to tie it for you. I had six for dinner, and this was more than enough. I served it with a sour cream sauce, 3 cheese scalloped potatoes and green beans amandine. Debbie made a banana cake with chocolate icing for dessert--fabulous!

8 servings
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied (about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
• 1/2 cup Creole mustard, or other spicy whole-grained mustard
• 8 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
• 1 bunch fresh rosemary, finely chopped
• 1 bunch fresh thyme, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat until almost smoking. Season beef on all sides generously with salt and pepper and transfer meat to the skillet. Cook beef until well-browned on all sides, turning with tongs when necessary.
Transfer the beef to a cutting board or platter and, using a rubber spatula or spoon, rub all over with Creole mustard and garlic. Cover meat with chopped herbs, using your hands to evenly pat herbs into the mustard coating. Place prepared meat in a shallow roasting pan and cook about 20 to 25 minutes, or until meat registers 125 degrees F on a meat thermometer for medium-rare. Remove meat from the oven and let it stand at least 10 minutes before slicing to serve.
Note: Meat may also be served at room temperature, and in this case should not be sliced until just before serving.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Biscuits w/ self-rising flour

2 C. white lily unbleached self-rising flour
1/4 cup butter (plus two tablespoons for brushing on
top of biscuits)
2/3 to 3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Spoon flour into measuring cup and level with a knife. Measure flour into bowl. Cut in butter until mixtures resembles coarse crumbs. Blend in enough buttermilk until dough leaves sides of bowl. Knead gently 2 or 3 times on lightly floured surface. Cut with large biscuit cutter. Place on pan with biscuits touching. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake at 500 for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes on wire rack.

Biscuits w/ White Lily flour

2 C. White lily flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 C. butter, cut into small chunks or Crisco
3/4 C. buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees

2. Prepare ingredients: Cut butter into small chunks, place in a bowl and return to fridge. Measure out buttermilk and set aside. Sprinkle flour on a work surface and have extra flour nearby for your hands and biscuit cutter. Have biscuit cutter and an ungreased baking sheet handy

3. Mix dough: In a medium-large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until very well blended. Add butter or Crisco and cut into flour using a pastry blender, two knives or your fingertips, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in buttermilk and stir lightly until dough comes together in a ball.

4. Knead dough and cut biscuits: Dump dough mixture out onto floured work surface. With floured hands, lightly knead dough a few times until it is fairly well blended. Pat out into a circle, 3/4 - 1 inch thick. Dip cutter into flour and cut biscuits without twisting the cutter. Form the dough scraps into an extra biscuit-like shape instead of re-rolling the dough. Place cut biscuits together on the baking sheet so that the sides are touching. Brush tops with melted butter, if desired.

5. Bake biscuits: place baking sheet in the middle of a preheated 500 degree oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove biscuits to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie

There's nothing I like better than chicken pot pie. It's a delicious, comfort food meal; however, it is somewhat time-consuming. You could easily use a rotisserie chicken & save at least one step. On the other hand, if you are trying to save money, start with a whole chicken instead of chicken breasts. You will need to add more liquid to cook it, and it will take longer to cook. Instead of 10 minutes, simmer for 40 minutes. You could do this a day or 2 ahead. I like this with biscuits on top, but it's really good with a pie crust topping as well. You could use the frozen pie crusts and save another step, but drop biscuits are super easy to do.

To cook chicken:
2 whole chicken breasts (4 1/2 breasts),preferably with skin and on the bone
1 stalk of celery, broken in two
1/4 large onion
1 bay leaf
2 cans chicken stock
Place all in a pot and bring to a bare simmer. Let cook for about 10 minutes. Turn off and let chicken cool in broth. Remove chicken from broth. Remove skin & take off bone. Dice chicken and reserve covered. Strain stock and return to pan.

1-2 peeled potatoes, cubed
handful of baby carrots
green beans

Add potatoes to stock and bring to a boil, add carrots & green beans. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes. Remove vegetables & reserve.

To make sauce:
4 tbl butter
5 tbl flour
1 stalk of celery,chopped finely
1/4 large onion, chopped finely
sieved chicken stock from cooking the chicken
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup milk
Salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter & add onion & celery. Cook until onions are translucent. Add flour and cook 3 minutes without browning. Whisk in cooled chicken stock, white wine, and milk. Bring back to a boil, continue whisking for about 3 more minutes.

Drop Biscuits
2 cups all purpose flour (I like White Lily)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp soda
1/4 cup Crisco
1-1 1/2 Cups buttermilk

Stir together dry ingredients. (You can just use self-rising flour if you want to simplify your life.) Cut Crisco into flour mixture. Add 1 1/4 cup buttermilk and mix together. If too dry to drop from a spoon, add a little more buttermilk.

Assembly & baking: Preheat oven to 500.
Frozen green peas (optional)

Add chicken and vegetables to sauce. Bring to a boil & add optional peas. Taste & correct seasonings. Pour into greased casserole dish. Drop biscuits by large spoonfuls onto mixture. Place dish on cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil to catch spills. Place into preheated oven & bake 12-15 minutes or until biscuits are browned & mixture is bubbly.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chicken Paprika from Wolfgang Puck

I haven't tried this, but I will, and I'll let you know how it is.


* 4 (12-ounce) chicken breasts or 4 half-chickens
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1/4 cup peanut oil
* 4 cups onions, thinly sliced
* 2 tablespoons minced garlic
* 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* 1 cup tomato, concasse
* 2 tablespoons minced marjoram leaves
* 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 1 cup dry white wine
* 2 cups chicken stock
* 1/4 cup heavy cream
* 2 red bell peppers, both roasted, peeled, cored, seeded, and 1 cut into 1 inch by 1/4-inch strips
* 2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
* 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
* Napkin Dumplings, recipe follows


Cut each chicken breast into 3 pieces. Season with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of paprika. Lightly coat with flour. In a braising pan, heat peanut oil. Sear chicken pieces until brown on all sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and place in a tray.

Add onions to the pan and saute for 5 minutes until golden brown. Add the garlic and cumin seeds. Cook 1 more minute. Add the tomato paste, tomato, and remaining 2 tablespoons of paprika. Stir until well blended. Add the marjoram, thyme and bay leaf. Deglaze with the vinegar and wine. Add chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add the reserved chicken pieces and cover with a piece of vented parchment paper. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add cream and continue to simmer another 10 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Transfer chicken to a saute pan. Pour sauce and 1 roasted pepper in a blender. Process to a puree. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour sauce over chicken. Reheat until warm. Garnish with pepper strips, minced parsley and creme fraiche.
Servietten Knudel (Napkin Dumpling):

* 2 ounces butter
* 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
* 1 small onion, minced
* 1 loaf white bread, crust trimmed
* 2 teaspoons minced thyme
* 2 teaspoons minced chives
* 1 teaspoon minced parsley
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1 egg, lightly beaten
* 1/4 cup milk
* Salt and pepper
* Freshly ground nutmeg, to taste

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

In a saute pan, over medium high heat, melt the butter. Cook the garlic and onions until translucent. Do not allow to develop color.

Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in a baking sheet and bake in the oven to dry, about 20 minutes. Do not allow to develop color. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Pour the onion mixture all over the bread. Add the thyme, chives, parsley and flour. Toss to evenly distribute the herbs with the bread and flour.

Leftover pot roast or beef stew

If you have left-over traditional pot roast dice the meat & veg & place in a greased casserole dish. Add some frozen peas & pearl onions, if you like. Add all the leftover gravy and top with pie crust or biscuits, and bake in the oven at 375 about 45 minutes, or until brown & bubbly. You can also top with mashed potatoes, instead of pie crust or biscuits.

If you make the Mexican pot roast or ropa vieja, chop the meat and add frozen corn and diced zucchini. Then make cornbread according to package directions (omitting any sugar). Heat the stew mixture in the microwave, then pour the cornbread mixture on top of the stew and bake for 20 minutes at 375 or until cornbread is browned.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sweet & Sour Zucchini

1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
3-4 Zucchini, quartered lengthwise & sliced into large dice
1/2 onion, chopped
1 fat garlic clove, chopped fine
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano
salt & pepper
2 tbl white wine vinegar
1 tbl sugar

Saute onion in oil with a springkling of salt, add zucchini and garlic, and continue to saute. Add tomato, oregano, salt & pepper. Saute until zucchini is almost tender. Add vinegar & sugar & cook til pan juices reduce. Correct seasonings.

Pan Sauteed Chicken Cutlets w/ Vermouth

This recipe came from Biba's Italian cookbook. I made it for dinner tonight and thought that it was very good and quick. Bread the chicken breasts at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Nonstick skillet

4 boneless,skinless, chicken breasts
1 Cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 Cup grated parmignano reggiano
salt & pepper
1 egg, beaten

2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl butter
3/4 Cup sweet vermouth

Pound the breasts until they are of uniform thickness. In a bowl or pan large enough to hold 1 chicken breast, beat the egg w/ salt & pepper. Mix bread crumbs and parmignano in another bowl. Put chicken in egg and then in bread crumbs, coating well. Place on plate, cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Heat oil & butter over medium high heat in non-stick skillet. When foam subsides, add chicken breasts. Saute 2-3 minutes per side. Add vermouth, cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I made this last night for dinner. It was very good, but a little time-consuming. If you're in a hurry, use a good jarred marinara sauce.

1 container ricotta
1 cup parmesean, grated (Use good parmigiano reggiano)
1/2-1 Cup cooked, chopped spinach, w/ all liquid squeezed out
1/4 Cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper
1 egg
grated lemon rind, from about 1/2 lemon

Mix all ingredients except egg together and taste. Correct seasonings--it should be highly flavored. Mix in egg.

Marinara sauce
3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 cans chopped tomatoes, pureed
1/2 can tomato paste
salt, pepper
2 tsp dried basil
2 tbl fresh basil, chopped (optional)

Saute onion & garlic w/ a sprinkle of salt in oil until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and dried basil. Let cook until thick. Add fresh basil. Taste & add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350

1 pck manicotti, cooked and drained
1/2 cup parmesean, grated

Fill each manicotti and place in a greased baking dish. Top with marinara sauce & more parmesean. Bake, covered for 30 minutes, remove top & bake 10 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Made these for the TN-Bama game and they flew into people's mouths. Everybody loved them. I did make a few changes, like lining the pans with Release aluminum foil which makes it super-easy to cut these bars. Also, heat the preserves for 30 seconds in the microwave or it tears up the shortbread base. I used strawberry preserves.

Shortbread Base
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold, unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor process all ingredients until mixture begins to form small lumps. Line your pan with Reynolds Release aluminum foil, making sure the "release side"is up. Sprinkle mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and with a metal spatula press evenly onto bottom. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes. While shortbread is baking, prepare topping.

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup blueberry or other fruit preserves, heated for 30 seconds in the microwave, stir

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a bowl whisk cream cheese until smooth and whisk in eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Evenly spread preserves over hot shortbread and pour cream-cheese mixture over it. Bake in middle of oven until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan, remove from pan, using aluminum foil to lift out, and cut into 24 bars. Bar cookies keep, covered and chilled, 3 days.

pecan-pie bars

I made these for the TN-Bama game. Everybody loved them. I did make a few changes, like lining the pans with Release aluminum foil which makes it super-easy to cut these bars. I also substituted a mixture of light & dark Karo for the honey, and I added vanilla.

Shortbread Base
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold, unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor process all ingredients until mixture begins to form small lumps. Line your pan with Reynolds Release aluminum foil, making sure the "release side"is up. Sprinkle mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and with a metal spatula press evenly onto bottom. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes. While shortbread is baking, prepare topping.

8 ounces pecans (about 2 cups)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey or a mixture of light & dark Karo
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a food processor coarsely chop pecans. In a heavy saucepan melt butter and stir in brown sugar, honey, and cream. Simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, 1 minute and stir in pecans. Pour pecan mixture over hot shortbread and spread evenly. Bake in middle of oven until bubbling, about 15-20 minutes. Cool completely in pan, remove from pan, using aluminum foil to lift out, and cut into 24 bars. Bar cookies keep, covered, 5 days at room temperature.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Zucchini Sausage Squares

Delicious. These are from Marlene Sorosky's Seasons Greetings.

2 large zucchini
12 ounces pork sausage (I like Jimmy Dean Hot)
1/2 C chopped onion
4 large eggs
1/2 grated Parmesean
18 Ritz crackers, crushed (about 1/2 c)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 325. Wash, trim, and shred zucchini; set aside. Saute sausage & onion in skillet until all pink is gone; drain fat. Whisk eggs, stir in Parmesean, Ritz cracker crumbs, basil, oregano, pepper, garlic, sausage, & zucchini. Spoon into 7 x 11 glass baking dish.
Bake 25 minutes, top with Cheddar, and bake 15 minutes longer. Let cook & cut into squares.

Rosemary focaccia

This recipe is from It was very easy, and makes a tender,delicious bread. I used Rapid Rise yeast and altered the rising times. I also omitted the hand kneading. My loaf did not brown enough, so I am adding directions to broil the top for the last 2-3 minutes.

Servings: Makes 1 15- by 10- by 1-inch loaf

1 (1/4-oz) package Rapid Rise dry yeast
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Special equipment: a standing electric mixer with paddle attachment and dough hook

Stir together 1 2/3 cups lukewarm (105 to 115°F) water and yeast in bowl of mixer and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, and 2 1/2 teaspoons table salt and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead dough at high speed until soft, smooth, and sticky, 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and turn dough to coat with oil. Let rise, covered with damp towel (also,place bowl on pot holder), in oven set to 110, until doubled in bulk, 30-45 minutes.

Press dough evenly into a generously oiled 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan. Let dough rise, covered completely with a kitchen towel, until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Stir together rosemary and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Make shallow indentations all over dough with your fingertips, then brush with rosemary oil, letting it pool in indentations. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over focaccia and bake in middle of oven until golden, 17 minutes, turn oven on broil & brown top. (If your loaf is brown, don't broil, just bake 3 more minutes.)

Immediately invert a rack over pan and flip focaccia onto rack, then turn right side up. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Memphis "Barbequed"Italian Sausages

Great tailgate food. I use both sweet and hot Italian sausages, but you can use just sweet if you don't like spicy food. Don't forget toothpicks.

1 pck hot Italian sausage
1 pck sweet Italian sausage
1/2 Cup barbeque sauce, any kind you like
Memphis dry rub seasoning

Grill Italian sausages over low flame until done, about 30 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Slice into bite-size pieces. Toss with barbeque sauce and sprinkle generously with dry rub.
Serve warm.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ham, Manchego,& Fig Tartines

This is from Epicurious and it is spectacularly good. I sliced these and served them as appetizers. Everybody loved them. I think that you could sub apricot or orange preserves for the fig, and gruyere or Italian fontina for the Manchego.

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons fig preserves or jam
1 (24-inch) baguette, quartered crosswise, then each quarter halved horizontally and lightly toasted
6 ounces thinly sliced serrano ham or prosciutto
1/4 pound Manchego, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Stir together butter and fig preserves. Spread mixture on baguette, then make open-face sandwiches with ham and cheese. Drizzle with oil and season with pepper.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Eggplant Dip

Your father hates this, but I love it. I think that the first time I made this I needed to do something with leftover grilled eggplant. If you don't want to take the time to grill the eggplant, you can bake it in the oven.

1 eggplant
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
lemon juice
salt & pepper
fresh oregano & basil, chopped

Grilled eggplant or zucchini:
Take the ends off the eggplant & slice lenthwise into 1/2" slices. Marinate in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, basil. Grill until brown on 1 side, turn & brown the other side. It should be soft, but not falling apart.

Baked eggplant:
Cut the eggplant in half & brush with olive oil & sprinkle with a little salt. Bake at 325, cut side down, on a cookie sheet covered with oiled aluminum foil. Check in about 1/2 hour. The eggplant should be really soft. Cool, scoop out of skin, & proceed.

Process eggplant with garlic, lemon juice and more olive oil. Add salt, pepper, oregano & basil to taste. Serve with pita toasts.

Fried Ravioli

When we lived in Memphis we used to eat often at Ronnie Grisanti's restaurant on Union Avenue next to Sun Records. The restaurant is gone, but we still remember the fantastic fried ravioli appetizer. The ravioli had a delectable meat filling and were served with a garlicy marinara sauce.
Their ravioli was homemade, but I've had decent results with fresh ravioli purchased from the grocery store.

1 pkg fresh ravioli, removed from fridge 1/2 hour or so before frying
olive oil for frying

1/4 Cup parmeseano reggiano cheese-grated

Fresh basil to garnish (optional)

Marinara sauce for dipping - homemade or bottled sauce spruced up with some fresh basil & extra virgin olive oil

Wash & dry the basil. Stack up the leaves and roll lenthwise. Slice across the roll to make a chiffonade of basil.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until a glaze begins to form. Add ravioli a few at a time, so as not to lower the oil temperature too much. Lightly brown on one side, turn and brown on the other side. Remove to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with parmeseano reggiano while still hot.

Serve on platter with a bowl of marinara. Sprinkle with basil. Provide toothpicks.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Warm Zucchini & Parsley Salad

I made this today to use up some zucchini and parsley that needed to be cooked. I think that this tastes great. Fresh diced tomato would be nice in it too.

Serves 4

2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
3 Zucchini, in large dice
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1/4 large red onion, chopped
big handful of parsley, chopped coarsely
1-2 tbl Balsamic vinegar

Quarter your zucchini lengthwise, and then slice into large dice.
Heat olive oil in non stick frying pan. Add zucchini and brown, turn & brown on the other side.
Season with salt; reduce heat and add garlic. Stir until garlic just begins to color. Turn off heat. Add red onion and parsley. Stir. Add balsamic vinegar. Taste and add more salt or vinegar.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tailgate Breakfast Casserole

This needs to sit overnight. So start it the day ahead.
  • 4-6 Slices of good white bread like Pepperidge Farm
  • 16 oz. Jimmy Dean's Hot Sausage, cooked, drained, and crumbled
  • 1 package shredded extra sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne

Grease the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Take bread and cover the bottom of the pan, overlapping slightly. Evenly spread cooked sausage over bread pieces, cover with cheddar cheese. Mix eggs, milk and mustard together. Pour mixture over casserole.

Store covered, overnight. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes, cover and take to game!

Serves 4-6.

This needs to sit overnight. So start it the day ahead.

Tailgate breakfast squares

Since the 1st home game is at 12:30, the tailgate will be breakfast. I'm publishing some likely candidates to make & take. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Serves 8

Breakfast Squares
24 ounces shredded frozen hash browns, thawed
2 cups chopped cooked bacon or ham
6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, extra sharp
6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
4-5 green onions, minced
1 cup milk

Place hash-browned potatoes in greased 9 x 13" pan.
Top with bacon and then the cheeses.
Beat together eggs, milk, and salt; add onion; pour over potatoes.
Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, until bubbly and brown. Remove from oven & let stand 10 minutes. Cut into serving size squares.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Italian Dressing

This is very good on a green salad with tomatoes.

1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard,
1 clove garlic diced finely
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
Big handful of chopped fresh basil & fresh oregano; sub dry herbs if you don't have fresh.
(1 tsp dry basil)
(1 tsp dry marjarom or oregano)
3/4 cup olive oil
Mix all together, taste & correct seasonings

Basic Vinagrette

This dressing is good on any salad of greens. If you are using regular vinegar you should keep a ratio of about 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, although this can be varied according to your taste. Since rice wine vinegar is much milder you can use 2 to 1.

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard,
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp thyme
1tbl sugar,
1/2 cup olive oil
Mix all together, taste & correct seasonings

Orange Vinagrette

This dressing is good on a salad of greens with fruit like oranges or peaches

approximately 1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard,
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp thyme
1tbl sugar,
1/4 cup olive oil
Mix all together, taste & correct seasonings

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Marcella Hazan's shrimp spiedini

This is a great recipe from Classic Italian Cooking. It's simple, easy, and wonderful. If you use wooded skewers, as I do, soak them in water while the shrimp is marinating in their coating. This is nice served with the Pazanella salad.

Serves 4

2 pounds medium shrimp, unshelledweight
3 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic chopped very fine
2 teaspoons parsley chopped very fine
Black pepper, ground fresh
OPTIONAL:a charcoal grill

1. Shell the shrimp and remove their dark vein. Wash in cold water and pat thoroughly dry with cloth kitchen towels.

2. Put the shrimp in a roomy bowl. Add as much of the olive and vegetable oil, in equal parts, and of the bread crumbs as you need to coat the shrimp evenly, but lightly all over. You may not require all the oil indicated in the ingredients list, but if you have a large number of very small shrimp you may need even more. When you increase the quantity, use olive and vegetable oil in equal parts.

3. Add the chopped garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper, and toss thoroughly to coat the shrimp well. Allow them to steep in their coating a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours, at room temperature.

4. Preheat the broiler at least 15 minutes before you are ready to cook, or light the charcoal in time for it to form white ash before cooking.

5. Skewer the shrimp tightly, curling one end of each shrimp inward so that the skewer goes through at three points, preventing the shrimp from slipping as you turn the skewer on the grill.

6. Cook the shrimp briefly, close to the source of heat. Depending on their size and the intensity of the fire, about 2 minutes on one side and 1 1/2 on the other, just until they form a thin, golden crust. Serve piping hot

Panzanella Pasta Salad

Tonight I'm making Marcela Hazan's grilled shrimp, and I thought that panzanella would be good with it; however, Jim wanted pasta. So, I decided to use the flavors and ingredients from the Italian bread salad to make a pasta salad. It's very good!

4-6 servings

6 oz.s of small pasta shells
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 purple onion, chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded & chopped
2-3 tbl capers
big handful of fresh pasta, chopped
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until tender. Drain & refresh with cold water. Drain well.
Add all ingredients and dress with oil and vinegar. I use about a 1/1 ratio of oil and vinegar, but it will depend on the vinegar you use. If you don't have balsamic, you'll need something like 3/1. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you're not serving immediately, you may have to add more oil and vinegar, and more salt and pepper.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chocolate Gelato - from Cipriani Hotel

I haven't tried this. The recipe is from Epicurious, as is the review with suggested modifications. We had fabulous chocolate gelato in Florence and I want to try to make something similar. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Servings: Makes about 3 cups
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3 1/2 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
4 large egg yolks, beaten lightly
In a dry 3-quart heavy saucepan cook 1/4 cup sugar, undisturbed, over moderate heat until it begins to melt and cook, stirring with a fork, until melted completely and deep golden brown. Remove pan from heat and dip pan briefly into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. (Caramel will harden.) Cool pan about 5 minutes and return to heat. Add milk and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until caramel is melted. Whisk in cocoa until combined well and keep mixture warm.

In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water (or a double boiler), melt chocolate, stirring, and remove from heat.

In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg yolks with remaining 3/4 cup sugar until thick and pale. Whisk in caramel mixture and chocolate in streams, whisking until combined. Pour custard into another 3-quart heavy saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 140° F. Cook custard, stirring (do not let it boil) 4 minutes more and remove pan from heat. Cool custard completely and freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.

Gelato will keep in the freezer for one week.

AWESOME!!! What an intense chocolate flavor! However, the recipe is way to complex and time consuming for it’s own good. Here’s how I simplified it: I cooked the ¼ cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of sugar on high without stirring until it started to caramelize (about 3 minutes). Then I swirled the pan until it reached a dark golden color. At that point I dumped in the milk that I had heated to almost boiling, and whisked like mad. After whisking in the cocoa, I mixed in the chopped chocolate. Thus a 30-minute process is cut down to about 7. Taking suggestions from the cook from Ann Arbor, I sifted a mixture of Cadbury and Droste cocoa into a 1-cup measure and that was perfect. I also used Scharffen Berger bittersweet for the chocolate. As this makes a batch about half the normal size, I found that it reached perfect consistency after about 20 minutes of freezing. The cook from Florida may have frozen the batch too long, but it still sounded yummy! To enhance and round out the chocolate flavor, I added a teaspoon of cognac and a pinch of salt to the mix just before freezing. Taking another suggestion from the cook from Ann Arbor, and because I am a chocolate fanatic, I mixed in a small handful of chocolate nibs (chopped roasted cocoa beans) to the gelato as I removed it from the freezer. Simply amazing! If you love chocolate gelato, this is definitely for you! Enjoy.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Stir Fry at the Galleria

I ate lunch yesterday at Stir Fry at the Gallery on Kingston Pike. I usually eat at the Turkey Creek restaurant which is always good, but we were going to the movies at Downtown West. We arrived at about 11:45 and there were only 2 or 3 occupied tables. Our movie was at 1:10 so we felt like we had plenty of time. The waitress promptly brought menus and water and took our orders. I ordered spinach salad with grilled salmon; My friend Connie ordered moo goo gai pan; My mom ordered pad thai , and then we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally at about 12:25, the waitress came by to say that the food would be out in just a few minutes. The food arrived and the salmon was very good, as was the moo goo gai pan, but the pad thai was cold and glued together in 1 large mass of noodles. It was also impossible to eat because it was on a teeny plate. If our waitress had ever returned to ask if everything was okay Stir Fry could have fixed this quickly. Instead we were forced to try to get someone's--anyone's--attention. We did and they graciously offered to make something else (moo goo gai pan). It came out very quickly, and they took the pad thai off the bill. It all turned out fine, but I think the Stir Fry at Turkey Creek is much better.

zucchini, corn, and basil fusilli with bacon

This recipe is from this month's Gourmet magazine. Ama B made it the other night and it was really good. She used bow tie pasta and not as much zucchini. I ate some yesterday sort of lukewarm with a tomato and cucumber salad dressed with balsamic vinegar. I mixed the two together and got a delicious pasta salad. If you don't have pesto, just add fresh basil, parmesean cheese, and some olive oil.

6 bacon slices
1 pound fusilli
3 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, coarsely chopped (1/2-inch pieces)
1 (5- to 7-ounce) container
basil pesto

Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp. Drain on paper towels; discard drippings from skillet.

Meanwhile, cook fusilli in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quart water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then add vegetables to pasta in pot and cook, partially covered, 2 minutes (water will stop boiling). Drain.

Add pasta with vegetables to skillet along with pesto and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and toss. Season with salt and moisten with additional cooking water if necessary.

Top with crumbled bacon and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.

For the pasta salad--Cool to lukewarm and add:

1/2-1 container of grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1 fresh cucumber, peeled, seeded & diced

dress with 1/4 cup or more balsamic vinegar

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Northshore Brasserie

We love Northshore Brasserie. If we were thinner and richer, we would eat there 2 or 3 times a week. I think that a lot of people think that this is a frou frou French restaurant and don't go because of that, but it's really a casual neighborhood steakhouse with a French take on down home cooking.

Jim orders the same thing almost every time we go. He starts with oysters on the half shell. Then he has the Frisee Lyonaise salad. It's curly endive dressed with a vinaigrette with lardons (chunks of bacon) and a poached egg on top. Finally, he has the Steak Frite--a NY strip cooked medium rare with a big portion of pommes frites (french fries ya'll). Occasionally, Jim is seduced by the whole fish special on Friday nights. The preparation varies, but it is always outstanding. Jim also thinks the Brasserie has some of the best french bread in town, and I agree.
What do I like? Unlike Jim, I mix it up. My favorite salad is spinach salad with poached pear, bleu cheese, and nuts. Although it's a starter I sometimes have the ravioli with sweetbread filling as my main course. I know, I know--sweetbreads??, but trust me, this is delicious. I also love the veal cheeks starter. I eat that as a main course also. The grilled calamari with tomato jam is also a favorite starter. Among the entrees I love the nightly specials. They are always wonderful. I haven't had it, but I hear fabulous things about the pork shank on Wednesdays. I love the duck, the lamb shank, and all the steak preparations.

The wine list is thoughtful and has some wines that you may not have tried. It's pricey, but which restaurant in Knoxville doesn't have its wine overpriced? The service at the Brasserie is almost always excellent. The restaurant is owned by a brother and sister. He cooks and she takes care of the front of house. The result is service that is warm and attentive, but not overly familiar.

Bone Fish Restaurant

I've always wanted to write Knoxville restaurant reviews because I think that our most "famous" reviewer has never been to a restaurant that he didn't like. I'm not going to do a comprehensive review--more like my thoughts on which dishes Jim and I like and don't like. Since we just went to Bone Fish Friday night, I'll start with them.

We really like the food at Bone Fish, particularly the appetizers. Friday we started with their feature appetizer of shrimp and scallop ceviche. DON'T BOTHER! It's mediocre at best. If you want ceviche, go to Casa Don Gallo. We then ordered the Bang Bang Shrimp--their signature appetizer. Hot, crunch, spicy, with just a touch of sweetness--this dish is absolutely perfect. It's also very generous; a good dish to share. I then had the Bone Fish salad--nice greens with hearts of palm, pine nuts, tomatoes, and a citrus vinaigrette. Jim ordered the small portion of the Ahi Tuna appetizer. It's not his favorite version, but it's good. Bone Fish's wine list is too expensive, but somebody has put some thought into it. Jim drank the Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc and I had a featured Gewurtztraminer which was too sweet to pair well with most seafood. Not a good choice.

On other evenings we have had the fried calamari which is served with 2 sauces--one Italian tomato sauce, one Thai sweet and spicy. I love it, although Jim isn't a calamari fan. I've also had the mussels which are to die for. The mussels are steamed in a fragrant, buttery broth which is delicious to sop up with french bread. My friend Debbie and I often share this as our main course. We've also had most of the fish preparations and they are all very well done. I can't really comment on desserts because we are invariably too full to eat it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer Vegetable Medley

Summer vegetables are sooo delicious. If not for Jim and Phillip, who can't live without meat, I could make a meal of them. This was inspired by a recipe for peas with prosciutto that I really like. I used what I happened to have in the refrigerator, so don't limit yourself. Use what you like. I served this with pork chops that I had sauted in olive oil & then braised with white wine & fresh rosemary. I also served corn salad with basil.

2 tbl olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta or prosciutto, chopped
1/2 large onion, diced in fairly large pieces
handful of baby carrots
1 yellow squash, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 C or so of frozen peas
handful of snow peas, cut in half
1/3 C chicken stock
handful of fresh mint, chopped
Salt & pepper

Saute pancetta or prosciutto in olive oil. Add onion, sprinkle of salt, and saute 1 minutes. Add carrots, sprinkle of salt, and saute 3-4 minutes. Add yellow squash & zucchini, another sprinkle of salt, & saute 2 more minutes. Add chicken stock, cover, and cook on med high until tender. Uncover and add peas & snow peas. Cook 1-2 minutes more. Add mint, taste and add pepper & more salt if needed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pina Colada Pie

This is a great, easy summer dessert. I made it for dinner with some friends last weekend and it was a big hit. This recipe came from, but I've suggested some changes. This recipe is big--it makes a 10" pie. If you only have an 8" pie plate, just cut everything back by about a 1/8.

1 7-oz jar roasted macademia nuts (I substituted roasted almonds)
3/4 Cup sweetened shredded coconut
3 Tbl brown sugar
1 Tbl butter, melted

1 1/2 pints pineapple sorbet, softened
1/2-1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped or canned pineapple tidbits, drained

1 cup caramel sauce
4 tsp dark rum
1/2 tsp coconut extract
3/4 Cups (packed) sweetened shredded coconut
2 pints vanilla frozen yogurt, softened

1/2 large pineapple, trimmed,cored, thinly sliced
Toasted sweetened, shredded coconut
Fresh mint sprigs

For Crust: Preheat oven to 350. Finely chop 1st 3 ingredients in processor. Add butter & blend. Press mixture firmly onto bottom & sides of pie plate. Freeze 10 minutes. (I omitted this step) Bake until golden brown--about 15 minutes. Freeze 20 minutes.

For Filling: Mix pineapple into sorbet & spread in crust; smooth top & freeze.

Mix caramel sauce with rum, extract, & 3/4 cup coconut. Add frozen yogurt & fold in until blended. Taste-- I added another 1/8 tsp coconut extract & more rum. Spoon over sorbet in pie plate. Cover & freeze. (I finished this about 2:00 pm and served it at 9:00pm that night.)

Decorate pie with pineapple slices; sprinkle with coconut & garnish with mint.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Quick Black Bean and Rice Salad

This is a quick and easy vegetarian meal.

Serves 3-4 as a main course

1 Cup rice, cooked (you will have about 2 cups of cooked rice)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Cup frozen corn, defrosted (optional)
1 can black beans, drained (preferably seasoned w/ jalapeno)
1 chopped tomato
1/2 chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt & pepper to taste
Salsa (I like Pace Picante Sauce, but use what you like)

Cook the rice and when it's done, but still hot, add the garlic. Mix and add the corn and beans. Add the tomato, red onion, and cilantro. Mix all together, taste, and correct seasonings. Divide between 3 dishes and top with salsa.

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

I love this salad. I first ate it in Florence and it's a brilliant way to use up leftover French bread. Serve it with grilled meat or chicken, and you have a complete meal. Don't get hung up on the proportions here. It won't matter if you use more or less of any ingredient. Make it according to your taste.

If you make this ahead, you might want to reserve the basil and add just before serving. It will turn dark otherwise. It doesn't affect the flavor, but it's prettier when the basil is bright green.

Serves 6

6 slices leftover French or Italian bread, cubed
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1 tbl capers
Big handful of fresh basil, chopped coursely
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Balsamic vinegar
1/4-1/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil

Place bread in a bowl and dampen with some water (just a sprinkling, depending on how dry your bread is). Add all remaining ingredients, mix, correct seasonings and serve.

Rosemary & Garlic Grilled Pork Tenderloin

I made this last night for dinner with the Stevens. I served this with roasted asparagus and pazanella salad. It was a delicious and easy summer dinner. I didn't have to turn on a burner or oven inside, and there were no pots or pans to clean up. What more can you ask?

Serves 6

2 pork tenderloins
1/3 C balsamic vinegar
1/3 C olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbl fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Cut the pork tenderloins on the bias into slices about 1 1/2 inches thick. Mix all the marinade ingredients; reserve 1/3 cup for sauce. Place the meat & remaining marinade in a ziplock bag and allow to marinate for 4 or more hours in the refrigerator. About 1 hour before grilling, remove from the fridge and allow the meat to come to room temperature. On a hot grill, cook meat about 3 minutes on each side. I think this is best still slightly pink. Remove to a platter and pour reserved marinade over the meat. Garnish with fresh rosemary.

Friday, July 11, 2008

How to peel & slice an avocado

To peel & slice an avocado: Cut the avocado in half by sliding your knife in until it meets the seed. Then rotate the avocado around your knife, using the seed as the pivot point. Grasp the avocado in 2 hands, slightly turn each half, and pull apart. Remove the seed by chopping into it with your knife (not too far), twist and remove the seed. Discard the seed. Hold one half in your hand and slice the meat into the desired shapes being careful not to slice through the skin (and your hand). Using a large soup spoon, scoop the meat of the avocado out of the skin. If not using right away, place slices in a bowl and cover with something acidic--lime juice, orange juice, vinegar, etc.

My favorite summer salad

Right now my favorite summer salad is a new version of an old favorite--spinach, red onion, and canned mandarin oranges with a poppy seed dressing. This salad is particularly good with spicy foods. It cools everything down. Long ago, I began substituting fresh oranges for the canned, and using strawberries when they came into season. Now that summer is in full swing and peaches are juicy and delicious, I've started making the salad with peaches--Fabulous! If you want to cut your peaches and avocados ahead, pour some orange juice over them to keep them from turning brown. The dressing that I've been using is this: approximately 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt, fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tbl sugar, 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix all together, taste & correct seasonings. Use soft greens like bibb lettuce if you have it, but any lettuce will do. Peel and slice a peach (It's easiest to peel if you plunge it into boiling water for 10-15 seconds). Peel and slice an avocado*. Cut a red onion in half and slice thin half moons.

*To peel & slice an avocado: Cut the avocado in half by sliding your knife in until it meets the seed. Then rotate the avocado around your knife, using the seed as the pivot point. Grasp the avocado in 2 hands, slightly turn each half, and pull apart. Remove the seed by chopping into it with your knife (not too far), twist and remove the seed. Discard the seed. Hold one half in your hand and slice the meat into the desired shapes being careful not to slice through the skin (and your hand). Using a large soup spoon, scoop the meat of the avocado out of the skin. If not using right away, place slices in a bowl and cover with something acidic--lime juice, orange juice, vinegar, etc.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chicken Parmesean

I made this last night, and your dad loved it. It was quick and relatively easy. If you had a good bottled marinara sauce it would be even simpler. I used fresh herbs because it's summer, and they're growing in my garden. In the winter you could use dried herbs, but use about 1 tsp basil & 1/2 tsp oregano.

I served this with bread and a salad, but it would also be good w/ pasta.

4 boneless chicken breasts, seasoned w/ salt, pepper, & garlic powder or fresh garlic
1/2 cup or more Italian bread crumbs, seasoned with salt & pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (1/2 for bread crumbs, 1/2 for topping)
3+ tbl olive oil

1 tbl olive oil
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 cup onion
1 can chopped tomatoes, pureed
salt & pepper to taste
handful of fresh basil, chopped
leaves from 1 sprig fresh oregano, chopped

For the marinara: Saute onion & garlic in olive oil. Add pureed tomatoes and cook til thick-about 15 minutes. Season w/ salt & pepper. Remove from heat and add fresh herbs.

For the chicken: Season the bread crumbs w/ salt & pepper, and add 1/4 cup Parmigiano & mix.
Rub chicken with garlic & season with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Dredge chicken lightly in bread crumbs and pan fry 5 minutes on each side.

Remove chicken from pan and place on plate. Top with a spoonful of marinara & some parmigiano. Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Corn Salad w/ Basil

I made this yesterday to go with grilled flank steak. I wanted to make Miss Debbie's corn salad, but I didn't have cilantro. This turned out to be delicious. All amounts are approximate. I used the rice wine vinegar because it is mild & somewhat sweet. If you don't have it, substitute another white vinegar & add a pinch of sugar.

If you want to make this in advance, chop & add the basil just before serving. It will turn dark if added in advance. This doesn't affect the flavor, just the appearance.

3 ears of corn (or a defrosted bag of frozen corn)
1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup purple or vidalia onion, chopped fine
handful of fresh basil, chopped
handful of fresh chives, chopped (optional)
1-2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 + tbl extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Shuck & wash the corn and cut it from the cob. (Stand the cob upright on a cutting board & slice down the sides with your knife.) Mix everything together, taste & correct seasonings.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Easy Lemon Chicken and Pasta

Last night I had a rotisserie chicken and not much time. I made this which turned out to be delicious.

Serves 6

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 box rotini pasta

3 tbls olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 can chicken stock

grated lemon rind from 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
handful of fresh herbs (I used basil, oregano, and chives)
1/2 cup grated parmeseano reggiano cheese

Shred the chicken into a bowl.
In a pan saute the garlic in the olive oil; add the chicken stock and chicken bones and bring to a boil. Let simmer 10-15 minutes. (You could omit the bones) until reduced by half. Remove bones and season with salt & pepper.

Cook the pasta in boiling water. While it's cooking chop the herbs and grate the cheese and lemon. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the chicken. Add the stock, herbs, cheese, lemon rind and juice. Toss, correct seasonings, serve.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Galatoire's Shrimp Remoulade

From Galatoire's in New Orleans--the perfect shrimp cocktail

(Serves 6)

1 stalk celery
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch parsley
1/4 cup large onion
1 cup ketchup
1 cup tomato puree
1 cup Creole mustard
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup salad oil
1 1/2 ounces paprika
32 boiled shrimp (21-25 per pound)

Mince celery, green onion, parsley, and onions in a food processor. Add ketchup, tomato puree, Creole mustard, red wine vinegar, horseradish, and oil to the vegetables and mix all ingredients in the food processor adding paprika last. Allow the sauce to stand refrigerated 6-8 hours before serving. Evenly coat the shrimp with the sauce in a mixing bowl and serve on a bed of lettuce.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chicken with Rice and Garlic

This is another yummy recipe from Natalie Dupree. It's pretty fattening, so you may want to save it for a special occasion. Of course, I omit the olives because your dad doesn't like them. I usually halve this recipe for the family. I have changed this recipe to make it a little easier and less fattening.

Serves 6-8
Preheat oven to 300. You'll need a large oven proof skillet with a lid.

2 whole heads garlic
2 tbl olive oil

1/3 cup olive oil
2 chickens, cut up
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/4 cups uncooked rice
1 16-oz can plum tomatoes with their juice, broken up
2 1/2-3 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup black olives, preferably Nicoise. (Don't use canned olives)
3 tbls fresh rosemary & thyme, mixed & chopped
4 oz Boursin, Montrachet, or other soft cheese, cut up
salt and pepper to taste

Place unpeeled heads of garlic on aluminum foil and drizzle with 2 tbl oil. Wrap tightly and bake for 1 hour-1 hour 15 minutes, or until a clove squeezed out is spreadable. Cool slightly, and pop all the cloves out of their skins and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the 1/3 cup oil in skillet. Dry and season chicken with salt & pepper. Brown, in batches, starting skin side down. Remove chicken and set aside. (I drain off all but 2-3 tbl of the fat.) Add the onions and saute until soft. Add the rice and cook 5 minutes without browning. Add the tomatoes and their juice, breaking them up. Add the stock,chicken, and half the herbs, and cook, covered, 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook,covered, 15 minutes more or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Sour cream swiss steak

This is from Natalie Dupree's New Southern Cooking. It has been a family favorite for years. I have made a few adjustments to lighten it up, but it's still delicious. I like to serve it with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans.

Preheat oven to 300. You'll need an oven proof skillet.

2 lbs top round or boneless chuck steak
2 tbl flour *
1 tsp salt *
1/2 tsp black pepper *
1/2 tsp paprika *
1/2 tsp dry mustard *
* I don't measure any of these ingredients

2-3 tbl olive oil
3 tbl butter (I omit this)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup water
3 tbl soy sauce
3 tbl brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream (I use reduced fat)

Cut the meat into serving pieces. Dust with flour and pound with mallet. (If you're in a hurry, omit pounding and increase baking time.) Season with salt, pepper, paprika, and dry mustard.
Heat oil and brown meat on both sides. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and bake 60-90 minutes or until tender.

Creole Pecan Praline Bars

These are from Maida Heatter and they are delicious. They are easy too. The only time consuming part is lining up the pecans in rows so that the bars will cut easily.

Equipment: 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan

32 Bars or 64 bite-size pieces

Preheat oven to 350

Shortbread Layer:
1 stick butter @ room temp
1 Cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 Cups sifted flour
2 1/2 Cups large pecan halves

Praline Topping:
11/2 sticks butter
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

Turn pan upside down and press a sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side down, onto the pan, shaping it to the pan. Remove the foil. Pour some water into the pan to wet it all over, and pour out all but 1 tbl. Place the foil in the pan and press it to the bottom and sides to adhere.

Make the shortbread layer: Using a mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add the sugar & salt & beat to mix. Add the flour and beat at low speed for 1-2 minutes until the ingredients form tiny crumbs that hold together when pinched. Tun dough into foil-lined pan. Using your fingertips, spread the dough to form an even layer and then press it down with the palm of her hand. Place the pecan halves, flat side down, in 1 direction, touching each other, to cover the dough.

Make the praline layer: In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over high heat. Stir until it comes to a rolling boil and continue stirring for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and pour over the nuts, coating as much as possible.

Bake the cake for 22 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days before slicing.

To slice, cover pan with a board or cookie sheet and invert. Remove the pan and peel off the foil. Cover with another board and invert again to turn right side up. Using a large, serrated knife, cut crosswise into quarters, then cut each strip crosswise into 8 bars (~31/4 x 1 inch). You may halve these bars to make pieces about 1 2/3 x 1 inch. Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WSJ - Five-Spice-and-Cocoa-Braised Short Ribs

Papa Joe made this last weekend. He says that it's great! It's from the Wall Street Journal.

[Braised short ribs]

Yield: 4 servings
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours 15 minutes

4 pounds well-marbled beef short ribs, cut 2 inches thick and preferably with the bone
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup soy sauce
The zest and juice of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons ketchup
3 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher suggest wine pairings for this meal.
The ribs may be short, but the list of possible wine pairings is quite long. Chef Farmerie recommends a Southern Rhône-style blend or an Australian Shiraz and those would certainly be winners (though we'd avoid Shiraz under $20 because we generally find them overly simple and creamy, which wouldn't pair well with the short ribs). This dish is so yummy that if you stick with any red wine of some oomph and stature you can't go wrong. Barolo and Barbaresco from Italy, Syrah from California or Washington state, Pinot Noir from Oregon, Bordeaux -- any would be lovely. But how about trying something different tonight? Pick up a Petite Sirah from California. Petite Sirah is a deep, dark, big, peppery wine that's quite distinctive and really needs a substantial dish like this to make it shine. (Petite Sirah is sometimes spelled Petite Syrah, but is unrelated to Syrah.) Some names to look for under $20: Guenoc, Parducci, Bogle and Concannon. Over $20: David Bruce and Stags' Leap Winery (a long-time favorite that's worth a special search). Petite Sirah ages beautifully, so if you find a bottle with some years on it and it has been well cared-for, that's great. If you get a young bottle, you might consider decanting it after you have tasted it to make sure it needs decanting—your puckering mouth will let you know. You can contact us at
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the short ribs in an ovenproof casserole just big enough to fit them snugly.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the stock, soy sauce, zest, juice, ketchup, five-spice powder, brown sugar, cocoa powder, garlic, shallot and thyme. Pour the mixture over the short ribs.

Cover the baking container tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 21/2 to 3 hours (depending on the size of the ribs). The meat should be falling off the bone and give little resistance when pressed with a fork. Uncover and return to the oven to allow the juices to thicken, about 15 minutes more.

Transfer the ribs to a plate and carefully pour the braising liquid into a large glass measuring cup. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes so the fat will rise to the top. Using a small ladle or cup, skim off the fat.

Serve the ribs with a few spoonfuls of sauce drizzled over the top. If making ahead of time, pour the defatted sauce back over the ribs and cover the dish with foil. Reheat for 20 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Roast rack of lamb with mint sauce Bon Appétit | February 1996

I made this for Debbie's birthday. It was delicious--just perfect. I thought the sauce was a little strange, but it was perfect with the lamb. I served this with garlic mashed potatoes and green and white asparagus with brown butter.

I used veal stock in place of beef broth, and onions and garlic instead of shallots. I also doubled the sauce recipe.

Serves 6.

3 8-chop racks of lamb, trimmed
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cups fresh white breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Fresh mint sprigs

Mint Sauce
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup canned beef broth
1/3 cup minced shallots
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

To make lamb:
Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon mustard on each side of each lamb rack. Mix breadcrumbs and mint in medium bowl. Press breadcrumb mixture onto lamb, coating completely.

Arrange lamb, meat side up, on large baking sheet with rim.

Roast lamb 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast until thermometer inserted into lamb registers 130°F. for medium-rare, about 20 minutes longer.

Transfer lamb to work surface.

Tent with foil; let stand 5 minutes. Cut lamb racks between bones into chops. Arrange chops on plates. Garnish with mint sprigs; pass Mint Sauce separately.

To make sauce:
Combine 1 cup mint, broth, shallots, vinegar and sugar in heavy small non-aluminum saucepan.

Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cover and let stand 2 hours.

Strain sauce into large glass measuring cup.

Place cornstarch in same saucepan. Gradually whisk in sauce. Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir until sauce thickens slightly and turns translucent, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.) Stir in remaining 2 tablespoon mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 cup.
Cover and let stand 2 hours.

Strain sauce into large glass measuring cup.

Place cornstarch in same saucepan. Gradually whisk in sauce. Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir until sauce thickens slightly and turns translucent, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.) Stir in remaining 2 tablespoon mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 cup.

brazilian banana and white chocolate ice cream torte Bon Appétit | December 1991

I made this for Debbie's birthday dinner because she likes bananas so much. It was easy and could be done 1 or 2 days early which is always a plus. I did make a few changes. I used a graham cracker crust because Deb doesn't like nuts, but I think that it would be better with the nut crust. Also, instead of decorating the torte I served slices of it with strawberries and bananas on the side, and chocolate sauce drizzled over the top. I melted raspberry jelly and coated the strawberries in it. I sauteed the sliced bananas in butter and brown sugar with some rum and a squeeze of lemon. It turned this into an upscale banana split.

Note that if you are using a table top ice cream maker, you will need to make two batches of ice cream, so plan accordingly.

Serves 12.

3 cups walnuts (about 12 ounces)
1 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled

Ice Cream
3 cups whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
8 ounces imported white chocolate (such as Lindt), chopped

1 1/2 pounds very ripe bananas
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate,

3 large ripe bananas, peeled, cut on diagonal into 1/4-inch-wide slices
15 small strawberries with stems

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely chop all nuts with sugar in processor. Add butter and blend until well combined. Press mixture firmly onto sides, then bottom of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Freeze 10 minutes. Bake until light brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

For Ice Cream:
Bring 1 cup cream, half and half and sugar to simmer in heavy medium saucepan, stirring occasionally.

Whisk yolks in medium bowl. Whisk in hot cream mixture.
Return mixture to saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes; do not boil. Strain into bowl. Add white chocolate; whisk until melted. Mix in remaining 2 cups cream. Chill until cold.

Peel and slice 1 1/2 pounds bananas.

Puree bananas with lemon juice in processor. Mix puree into custard. Transfer custard to ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon ice cream into prepared crust; smooth top. Cover and freeze overnight. (Can be made 1 week ahead; keep frozen.)

For sauce:
Bring cream and syrup to simmer in medium saucepan.

Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool to lukewarm. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over low heat before using; do not boil.)

Remove pan sides from torte.

Arrange bananas and strawberries in rows atop ice cream. Serve with sauce.
Return mixture to saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes; do not boil. Strain into bowl. Add white chocolate; whisk until melted. Mix in remaining 2 cups cream. Chill until cold.

Peel and slice 1 1/2 pounds bananas.

Puree bananas with lemon juice in processor. Mix puree into custard. Transfer custard to ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon ice cream into prepared crust; smooth top. Cover and freeze overnight. (Can be made 1 week ahead; keep frozen.)

For sauce:
Bring cream and syrup to simmer in medium saucepan.

Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool to lukewarm. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over low heat before using; do not boil.)

Remove pan sides from torte.

Arrange bananas and strawberries in rows atop ice cream. Serve with sauce.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sweet Corn and Queso Blanco Bisque

My friend, Dale and I were in Phoenix at a seminar and had a chance to go to the Boulder's Resort for lunch. If you haven't been to the Boulders, it is worth the trip. The resort is literally "wedged" into an area surrounded by incredible, large rock formations. They have a golf course and a conference area.
The waiter recommended the soup of the day. We split a bowl and both agreed it was fabulous. We asked for the recipe and the waiter graciously brought us a copy. The recipe is for "restaurant" proportions, so its going to need a little "tweaking" to make it at home.

2 ea. Grilled Jalapenos
2 ea Leeks, cleaned and rinsed
1 Yellow pepper, charred with seeds removed
2 Garlic cloves
3lbs. Frozen corn
2 Grilled white onions
2 oz. Butter
2 cups Chardonay
0.5 oz Fresh thyme
1/2 gal chicken stock
1 qt Heavy cream
3 cups Queso Blanco cheese, grated

Cook corn, peppers, onions and garli in butter until onions are transparent. Deglaze with the chardonay. Add in fresh thyme, stems and all. Simmer until reduced by half. Add hot chicken stock. Simmer for 15 min. Remove thyme stems. Add in queso blanco and puree in blender. Season to taste. Add in Heavy Cream before serving.

Garnish with small amount of Chile Oil
For the chile oil: Take 6 seeded, dried New Mexico Chiles, 6 sun dried tomatoes, 1 tsp paprika, 1 clove garlic, 1 sliced shallot, 3 cups of salad oil, and heat until oil starts to simmer. Puree in blender for 3 minutes and strain through a coffee filter. Salt to taste.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Italian Beef Short Ribs

This is an easy take-off of the Beef Braciole recipe. You could use a chuck roast also. If you use short ribs, be sure to do this a day ahead. The short ribs are delicious, but so fatty that you really need to refrigerate and then skim off the fat that solidifies on top. I had unexpected guests for dinner and not enough short ribs, so I browned some hot Italian sausages and added them to the pot. Delicious! Serve this with pasta, mashed potatoes, or polenta.

If you would like to do this in the crock pot, instructions are at the end.

Preheat oven to 325

Serves 4

4 short ribs, about 2 pounds
4 tbl olive oil
1 3 ounce pkg pancetta or good ham chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tbl chopped fresh oregano
1 tbl chopped fresh thyme (I used 1 tsp dried)
1 tbl chopped fresh sage ( I had a little fresh and added 1 tsp dried)
1 Cup beef broth
1/2 750-ml bottle dry red wine
1 26 ounce bottle marinara sauce

Salt and pepper the short ribs. In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tbl of the olive oil and, in batches, brown the short ribs on all sides (about 3-4 minutes a side). Remove the ribs and discard the fat.
Add 1 tbl olive oil to the pan, along with the prosciutto, onion, celery, and carrot. Add a pinch of salt and saute, scraping the bottom of the pan. When vegetables are translucent, add the garlic and the herbs and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add the broth, wine, and marinara sauce. Cover and bake for 2-3 hours or until very tender. Check about halfway through. Add liquid if necessary. Refrigerate at this point; remove the fat, reheat and proceed.  If you aren't doing this the day before, skim off the fat. Taste and correct seasoning when done. If you would like a brighter flavor, you can add a handful of chopped, fresh herbs at the end. A little grated lemon zest also brightens the flavor.

For the Crockpot: 
Salt and pepper the short ribs. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbl of the olive oil and, in batches, brown the short ribs on all sides (about 3-4 minutes a side). Remove the ribs and discard the fat.
Add 1 tbl olive oil to the pan, along with the prosciutto, onion, celery, and carrot. Add a pinch of salt and saute, scraping the bottom of the pan. When vegetables are translucent, add the garlic and the herbs and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Remove all to the crock pot. Add the broth and  wine to the skillet to deglaze and pour into crock pot. Add marinara sauce, stir. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours or until very tender.  Refrigerate at this point; remove the fat, reheat and proceed.  If you aren't doing this the day before, skim off the fat. Taste and correct seasoning when done. If you would like a brighter flavor, you can add a handful of chopped, fresh herbs at the end. A little grated lemon zest also brightens the flavor.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Salmon Provencal

I saw this the other day on TV. It's from Wolfgang Puck. It looks really easy and delicious, as well as healthy. I'm going to try this the next time I buy salmon.

Sauce Pistou:
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1 bunch basil leaves, chopped
3 shallots, minced
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped fine
1/2 lemon, zested and grated
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
Salt, freshly ground pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste

2 carrots, peeled
1 leek, white part only
2 stalks celery, with strings removed

2 quarts court bouillon, recipe follows
2 pounds Chinook or King salmon fillets

Combine the olive oil, sherry vinegar, basil, shallots, tomatoes, lemon rind, chives, and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let marinate overnight, unrefrigerated.

Cut carrots, leek and celery into julienne. Cook them in 1 cup strained court bouillon until tender but still crisp. Drain and reserve.

Wrap each salmon fillet in foil and poach in court bouillon for approximately 5 minutes. To check the degree of doneness, remove 1 package from the liquid and unwrap. The center should still be slightly pink.

To serve, divide julienne of vegetables among serving plates. Arrange salmon fillets in the center of the julienne and top each fillet with a tablespoon of the sauce pistou. Serve remaining sauce separately.

Court Bouillon:
2 medium carrots
2 stalks celery
1 leek
1 sprig fresh thyme or a pinch dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 quarts water
2 cups dry white wine
Slice carrots, celery and leek into 1/4 inch pieces. Place in the bottom of a saucepan.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes.
Yield: Makes about 2 quarts

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Asian Crab Cakes - Untested

We had some very good crab cakes with curry and a mango salsa at Wok Hay the other night. I liked them, but I think that they could be improved. Here are some ideas. When I get a chance to work on this, I'll finalize the recipe.

4 small crab cakes or 2 large

1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 green onion, chopped fine
1 tbl red pepper, chopped fine
1 tsp rice wine vinegar or lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
1 egg
1/4 C dry bread crumbs

1/2 C dry bread crumbs
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne ?
1/4 tsp salt

Mango Salsa:
1 fresh mango, chopped (peaches are a great substitute if you don't have mango)
1/4 C red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 C fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbl rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar

Mix all together lightly. Try not to break up crab meat. Form into patties. (Can be refrigerated at this point) Mix coating ingredients together and lightly coat crab cakes. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium high and add about 1 tbl of neutral oil (peanut, corn, safflower). Brown the crab cakes for about 3-5 minutes on one side and about 3-5 minutes on the other, depending on their size and whether they have been refrigerated. Reduce the heat to medium if the cakes are browning to fast.

Serve with Mango Salsa.