Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Menus

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It seems that Easter in this house is to be postponed again this year.  The culprit...the kitchen, of course.  We are planning a trip to Dahlonega on Easter Sunday where there is a beautiful Catholic church my daughter has been wanting to show me.  I will miss having Easter at home,  it is one of my favorite holidays foodwise and tulipwise; and of course,  I will miss the grandchildren and all the mess in the kitchen decorating the Easter eggs.  I will always treasure the year they stayed with us while their parents were away on a trip.

Here are some menus including the very first one I posted right after I started the blog.  I hope you get inspired!


My grandson Ben Easter 2012

Filled baskets while Nani weeds!

Top photo Tumblr
#3,5,6 Martha Stewart
last three photos Lindaraxa


Friday, April 11, 2014


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I don't know what made me do it, but last Fall I planted over one hundred tulip bulbs.  Thank heavens. The rest of the spring garden is a dud.  Everything came up at once and didn't last as long as usual.  My three cherry trees up front made an appearance one day, stayed pretty for less than a week and then goodbye.  Just like the song in the Sound of Music, Farewell, Goodbye!

So long, farewell,auf wiedersehen, good night.
I hate to go and leave this pretty sight.
So long, farewell auf wiedersehen, adieu
Adieu, adieu, to you and you and you.

Some early bloomers,  like the forsythia, were extraordinary this year but the problem was Spring came so late they are all tripping over each other.  With the tulips still in bloom and the daffodils just fading here come the azaleas! It's a zoo out there.  Just last week we had two mornings with temperatures below freezing...madness.  We are now dressing like the San Franciscans, in layers!

On the bad news side are the gardenias.  The Sous Chef was right.  They are deader than a door nail.  Although my yardman wants to take the pruners to them, I've been told to wait until the 15th.  Every morning I lean over the deck rail in anticipation of some green.  Nada.  Should they come back it will indeed be a miracle.  Last year I had so many blooms I had to give some away.  Gardening is such a trial.

Then there are the peonies.  They are coming out like gang busters.  Even the ones that didn't come up in the past are finally showing their faces.  As the saying goes...God takes with one hand and gives with the other, or is it the other way around?

The Astilbes look beautiful (you can see some in the back of the tulips) but I think I have lost two of my Artemisas, those beautiful light grey perennials I had in front of the house.  And the Pinks? I have no idea what happened to them although my love affair with Roundup might be partially to blame.

Anyway, enjoy the tulips because a lot of the rest of the garden looks like this

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Grilled Swordfish With Orange Lime Pesto

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The bad news is the kitchen is not finished.  It actually is, but they have to tear down the back splash and start all over again.  It seems the guys who put it up learned their technique in Kindergarten.  The good news is that I had saved this recipe in case things did not go according to plan.  So here we are...

Swordfish ranks up there with lobster, halibut and crab meat as far as the best of "luxury" seafood is concerned.  It wasn't always that way.  When I was a young girl, swordfish was plentiful and relatively inexpensive.  So was sole.  Both frequently appeared on my plate when Madame Mere decided I should be on a diet.  I got to hate sole but never swordfish.  It was meatier and stayed in my tummy far longer than the more delicate sole.  Who would have thought these two would one day be on my favorite's list and more expensive than steak!

Luckily, there are a couple of excellent chop houses here in Atlanta that serve very good meat and very fresh seafood.   Whenever we go and there is swordfish on the menu, I don't look any further.  What we get at the supermarket is not the swordfish I remember from my days in Connecticut.  Then, swordfish steaks were so big two people could eat out of one.  Now, they are babies!

In the early 1980's, when I was a young stockbroker at Merrill Lynch in Greenwich, Connecticut, my Quotron* buddy was the quintessential preppy and grill master par excellence.  I can't remember if he was from Nantucket, had a house there or just visited often.  In the late afternoon when things slowed down a bit, we would talk about cooking and dinner plans.  He was the one who taught me how to prepare swordfish this way.  After I tried it, I never cooked it any other way.  His method was simple:  Mix dill weed in mayonnaise and rub it all over the fish. It browned the outside and kept it really moist inside.  You would have never thought the steaks had been rubbed with mayonnaise!

Prepare the grill until it's hot and cook the fish about five minutes on each side, depending how thick the steaks are. Watch the side of the fish.  You will see clearly when the whole thing is done.  Look how juicy they come out.

The recipe below is a variation of the way it is cooked above.  After thirty two years I thought it was time to play with the original but not discard it.

As long as I live, I will always think of swordfish together with Summer, grilling, Connecticut and my friend Lang from Merrill Lynch. Thank you, buddy!

*A Quotron was the old machine we used to get stock quotes.  When I started in 1977 each machine was shared by four brokers.  We also had a ticker tape along the front of the  boardroom, where brokers sat in rows separated by these monstrosities.   By the time of this story (five years later!) the machines were shared by only two brokers.   It was still a war zone and a LONG time before each broker had his/her own computer at the desk.  (We also sent our orders via pneumatic tubes to a wire clerk in the back room!)  I am really dating myself.

Grilled Swordfish With Orange Lime Pesto
Serves 2

2 Swordfish steaks about 1 1/2 lbs total

Orange Lime Pesto:

2 Tbs. Mayonnaise
2 tsp.  Pesto
1 tsp. Lime rind, finely grated
1 tsp. Orange rind, finely grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the orange lime pesto ingredients in a bowl.  Rub a little over the steaks, both sides.  Set aside.  Preheat your grill to high.  Cook the steaks about 5 minutes on each side or until they are done.

Dollop half of the remaining pesto on top of each swordfish steak or serve on the side.

Recipe and photos Lindaraxa


Sunday, March 30, 2014

The View From The Top Of The Stairs By The Sous Chef

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They think I'm asleep...Ha!

Yo! this is Lucy Westie, Sous Chef of Lindaraxa. Head of Security Services and Cuddler Par Excellence.

I've been sent to entertain you, seeing that we don't have a kitchen this week.  My two legged sister has decided to do some reno..something and put in a new back splash and countertop, as well as some lights.  She's been watching HGTV.  Boy does she love that channel.  At first I thought we were moving, AGAIN.  Seeing all those boxes and packing material sent me into a tizzy.  I rushed upstairs and told Lily and she went into a tizzy too.  After a couple of days we finally calmed down.  I had all my coats and collars packed.  All for nothing.  Just a reno-something.  Stupid word..

Best spot in the house....and best view of the kitchen

I was going to post my favorite recipe, steak!  but Mom thought it would be more entertaining if I told you about Coco and me.  What's so intereting about that?! We eat, we sleep, we poop and then do the same all over again.

For Mom's sake, and her frail heart condition (sure), I've decided to play along and behave.  Yes, I have let it be known that I'm not thrilled with the idea of cohabitating with a c-a-t (I can't even say the word) by marking my spot all over the house.  This sends Mom and Sis into a tizzy.  I don't understand why. They mark every day, at least three times a day.  It's called a toilet! Anyway, they took me to the vet.  Mom told the lady in the white coat I must have an infection.  They had the audacity to weigh me first.  WHY?! why do people in white coats always want to know how much you weigh.  Mom says they do the same to her and she gets mortified.  What's mortified? Anyway, then they took me in the back and did unmentionable things to me.  UNMENTIONABLE! I heard something about having to stay overnight.  Mom nearly lost it.  She and I have never spent a night away from each other.  Except when she travels and then I stay with my sister.  I love that.  So they gave me pills.  One day Mom took one by mistake.  She's useless before her coffee.

Did I hear chopping on the wood board???

Anyway, aside from the kitchen being a disaster, nothing interesting is going on in the backyard.  No flowers, nothing.  It's cold, really cold.  Mom hasn't even switched my winter collar to my pretty Spring Kate Spade.  I heard Mom moaning over her burnt gardenias.  Her prize gardenias.  She says there's a chance they'll come back.  I doubt it.  They're deader than a door nail.  I do hope for all our her sakes they come back.  Mom will be devastated. 

Mom says you might want to hear about that moronic cat Coco.  No one calls her Coco.  I don't know why they gave her that silly name.  They call her kitty.  Kitty this, kitty that.  They've spoiled the name for me.  I used to bloom when I heard the word.  Ears up, well at least one of them, tail on alert, point and dash.  Now it's just another word.  I don't even trust squirrel.  What if they bring one inside.  Kitty Coco is  okay sometimes.  She lets me chase her for a bit out in the yard but then she spoils it by climbing up a tree.  Not fair.  That'd be cheating in my book.  Only good thing about her is she starts meowing for her food every day at four o'clock.  I didn't know cats had alarms in them.   Cool!  Now we puppies get fed earlier. I gobble mine up but my sister Lily refuses to eat at such an undignified hour.   Silly girl, more for me.

Don't let this picture fool you...I was just too lazy to move

Maybe they come tomorrow to finish the kitchen.  Maybe not.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Mom doesn't seem to mind.  She's taking a break from cooking.  My two legged sister is going bonkers.  She's never done a reno....whatever.  She thinks they go according to plan.  Ha! I've been through one with Mom and believe me, it wasn't pretty.  Mom wasn't pretty.  She turned into a monster at the end.  One day I thought the men in white coats were going to come and take her away.

So we wait and don't cook.  No recipes.  Not today.  Sorry.....


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Char-Grilled Broccoli Salad With Sweet Tahini

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This salad is loved even by those who claim not to like tahini.  It is delightful as part of a cold buffet or a picnic.
I am on an adventurous streak these days, experimenting with new flavors and cuisines instead of falling back on that which is familiar.  Perhaps it has to do with Spring and its association with new beginnings.  Maybe it's just a phase or an "itch", but the truth is I want to feel excited again about cooking.

Discovering Yotam Ottolenghi has opened new doors for me and has introduced me to new dishes, new flavors and spices  I had never heard of.  It has also pushed me to go out on a limb and experiment with the unknown.  It has been almost as good as having an affair!

Take tahini paste.  First time I tried it was three years ago in hummus.  It took me awhile to like hummus but once I did, I couldn't stop eating it.  A couple of months ago, I bought my first bottle of tahini and made Roasted Red Pepper Hummus from scratch.  Little steps...
The recipe below is the second time I use tahini, this time to make a delicious drizzle for a broccoli salad.  The Ladies Who Lunch (and travel to London) will be most impressed.  They have heard of Ottolenghi.
Tahini  is a paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds used in North African, Greek, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is served as a dip on its own or as a major component of hummus and other dishes.  Nowadays you can find it in most supermarkets.  I found mine in the Jewish section at Publix.

I promise you I am not going to turn this blog into a Middle Eastern affair but I will, from time to time, introduce you to new flavors and spices.  I hope you enjoy delving into the unknown and the unexpected, once in awhile, and join me on this culinary adventure. I can't think of a better guide than Yotam Ottolenghi.

We had the broccoli salad last night, together with grilled chicken and royal basmati and wild rice.   We both loved it but agreed that it would show off best if served as part of a cold meal or buffet.

Char-grilled sprouting broccoli with sweet tahini

Serves four.

550g broccoli (1 head)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 1/2 oz/40g tahini paste
1½ tsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tsp each black and white sesame seeds, toasted (or just 2 tsp white)

Trim any big leaves off the broccoli and cut off the woody base of the stems. Blanch for three minutes in boiling, salted water until al dente, refresh, drain and leave to dry.

Toss the broccoli in the oil, a teaspoon of salt and a large pinch of pepper, then cook on a very hot ridged griddle pan for two minutes on each side, until slightly charred and smoky. Set aside to cool.

Whisk the tahini, honey, lemon juice, garlic and a pinch of salt, and slowly start to add water half a tablespoon at a time. At first, the sauce will look as if it has split, but it will soon come back together.

Add just enough water to make the sauce the consistency of honey – around three tablespoons in total. Arrange the broccoli on a platter, drizzle with sauce and scatter with sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Yotam Ottolenghi
All photos Lindaraxa


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Quick Shortcuts For Grilled Pork Skewers With Peppers, Onion And Pineapple

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We all know that meat, in order to be flavorful, needs to marinade before grilling.  We also know that pork tenderloin tends to be dry, as it does not have much fat; thus it must cook in some type of fat to avoid drying out.

One of my favorite shortcuts to marinade meats before grilling is the Good Seasons Italian Dressing.  You know, the one that comes with its cruet and all you do is add olive oil, vinegar and water.  I have been buying it for years, long before I became Lindaraxa and started publishing a food blog, so don't get on my case. Habits like this don't die easily.  It is one of those things that stays with you most of your life.   My daughter is the main culprit these days.   She uses it on the salads she takes to work most every day.    It was actually my brother, the grill master, who turned me on to using it as a marinade, so it runs in the family.

One of the things I found in the freezer while I was cleaning it last week was a piece of uncooked pork tenderloin I had saved from Christmas.  There were fewer of us for the Cuban Christmas Day lunch than I had anticipated so I cut off a piece and saved it for another time.  So here we were three months later.  Part of it was grilled for this recipe and the other went into Sweet and Sour Pork to use up the leftover pineapple as well.   Using up leftovers is a challenge, but it's fun.

Another product we use all the time in our marinades is Mc Cormick's Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning  which is both salty and hot.  We marinade the meat with it for about 30 minutes, together with Worcestershire Sauce. I buy the latter by the gallon and use it in every type of cuisine.  I really don't know what I would do without it.

I am not going to give you a "recipe" for this.  It doesn't need one.  You can make it for two or a dozen.  It's fairly easy and quick and great for when you are having guests at the last minute.

Figure on about 1 1/2 lbs of pork tenderloin for 4 people.  Cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Marinade the pork in the  prepared Good Seasons Italian dressing (about 1/2 cup), or any other ready made Italian dressing such as Paul Newman's, together with some orange juice (about 1/4 cup) and soy sauce (a couple of TB) for at least 30 minutes

Preheat your grill.

Cut (1 each) the onion, red pepper, green or yellow pepper and pineapple chunks in 1 inch pieces.

Thread the pork and the vegetables and pineapple through a skewer, alternating.  Try to place the meat in the middle (it needs more cooking) and the fruit and peppers at the end.  Place back in the marinade for a few more minutes until your grill is hot enough.

Shake some Montreal Seasoning on both sides before grilling.

Grill the skewers for about 5 minutes on each side.  While it is cooking, reduce the marinade on top of the stove and baste your skewers with it after each turn. When done, sprinkle some cilantro and serve. That's it!

Serve with yellow saffron rice.

I have not received payment for endorsing any of the products mentioned above

All photos Lindaraxa

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sunday Orchids

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While everyone else is looking forward to the Spring blooms, may I remind you that this is the time for orchids, at least for Phalaenopsis.  I purchased mine about a month ago, two doubles in fuchsia and another two in white.  The former have it all over the whites although, in all fairness, they are hogging the best spot in the house, the East window in the kitchen.   If they stay there, they will continue blooming for another month or two.  I am torn between keeping them there or giving the white ones equal time.  They need it the most.

An East exposure is the best place to put your orchids.  They get the morning sun and good light throughout the day.  Water them once a week, always in the morning.  Put them in the sink and run water through them for about 15 seconds.  Leave to drain for about 15 minutes, or until they are completely drained.

When they are done, cut them about half an inch above the second node from the bottom.  Fertilize every two weeks with 1/4 tsp. per gallon of water and chances are they will bloom again.  Continue caring for them, watering every week and fertilizing as above and they will bloom again in the late Fall...almost in time for Christmas.  That's all.

If you are hesitant at the cost, think twice.  A bunch of tulips for about $ 8 dollars will last you, with luck, a week.  These doubles were each $12 and they will last at least 2 months.  I don't have to do the math for you.

In my opinion. the white phalaenopsis are the prettiest and they go with everything, including tulips, daffodils and all the other Spring blooms. I find they are more temperamental than the other colors, but maybe that is all in my mind.  These purple color ones seemed to be the sturdiest ones at the store and they have proven me right.  They sit in my kitchen counter and are just thriving.

The addition of succulents to the bottom of the pot seems to be a new decorating idea.  I love it.  Now while they are dormant, I just water the roots when I water the rest of the plant.  The pot is covered in moss and placed in a wicker basket.  I also have a blue Chinese porcelain pot to display some of  the white ones in the great room.

Look at the leaves in your plant and they will tell you a lot.  Unlike other indoor plants, if the leaves  are a dark green that means they are not getting enough light.  You want the leaves a medium to light green as above.  If the flowers and the leaves are droopy, that means they are in need of water.  You don't need to talk to your orchids...just give them a loving look each day and they will let you know what they need.  That's all.  



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