Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gazpacho!...A Healthy & Refreshing Summer Soup

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As summer soups go, there is nothing more delicious and refreshing than Gazpacho. It is a salad in liquid form, with the added advantage that it keeps forever in the refrigerator. If you are trying to watch your weight and eat healthy, gazpacho is for you.
The name gazpacho reminds me of a little miniature Chihuahua my daughter and I saw one day on South Beach. The name was bigger than the dog. Every time this dish comes up, the though of this tiny little thing with big ears and a big attitude makes my daughter and me burst into giggles.

The recipe comes from my mother who has been making it for years. She can't remember where she found it but I can honestly say, I haven't had a better one. When the tomatoes are in season in the summer, there is always a pitcher in the refrigerator at home. The funny thing is nobody can believe how easy it is to make.

This is dedicated to my friend Albert P. who subscribed to my blog, even though he is on a diet. That is what you call true friendship. You can have this, dear Albert, it's all vegetables, except for a little olive oil which is also good for you. It is also filling, healthy and packs well for the office.

Ingredients

3 ripe tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled
1 onion, yellow
1 clove garlic
1 green pepper
1 1/2 C tomato juice
2 1/2 C beef or chicken bouillon
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C red wine vinegar
salt
pepper
croutons


Chop tomatoes, cucumber, onion and green pepper. Add to a blender, together with the rest of the liquid ingredients. You will have to do this in batches. Place in the refrigerator until well chilled. Add croutons on top just before serving

If serving for company, you can garnish with chopped cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes and onions. Place a bowl of croutons on the side.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Grilled Chicken Mojito

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I am fortunate that I live in Florida and I can grill year round. As a matter of fact, Floridians stop grilling at this time of year, except for major holidays like the 4th of July, as it is too hot and humid to be standing next to a hot grill. I, on the other hand, grill at least 3 or 4 times a week, year round. It is simpler and less fattening and the flavor is incomparable.

I lived for 10 years on the top floor of an apartment building in Key Biscayne. You can imagine what that can do to a griller, as buildings do not let you barbecue because of fire hazards. I was bombarded with all types of grilling substitute gadgets for Xmas, from family and friends who knew how much I missed it, to no avail. After trying an indoor electric grill and an outdoor mini gas grill I decided to chance it and get arrested. I purchased a small Smokey Joe from Webber, hid it in the corner under a big plant and orchestrated a process of lighting and cooking depending on the sunset. The grill would get lit as the sun went down so neighbors wouldn't see the flames, and cooking did not take place until it was dark, so no one could see the smoke. As I lived on the top floor overlooking the ocean, I did not have neighbors upstairs to complain and if I was lucky, the smoke would blow into the ocean. Thank heavens for the friends and neighbors who stood in a circle around the grill to shield it from getting spotted from the neighbors across the street. I have to admit I almost got caught on more than a couple of ocassions! All that for a simple barbecue!

Now you know that I have earned my stripes in the barbecue department although I am still working on my second stripe in the baking category.This is a simple everyday recipe for chicken which can be marinaded ahead and cooked in less than an hour. If you are in a hurry, you can cut the marinade time to 30 minutes, but try not to.


Prep: 15 min., Chill: 2 hr., Grill: 40 min.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


Ingredients

2 Cups Goya Mojo Criollo
1/4 C olive oil
1tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 C crushed mint leaves
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) cut-up whole chickens*
Preparation

Stir together first 6 ingredients until blended.

Place half each of mojo mixture and chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal. Repeat procedure with remaining mojo mixture and chicken, placing in a separate zip-top plastic freezer bag. Chill chicken at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade.

Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 35 to 40 minutes or until done, turning occasionally.

*8 skinned and boned chicken breast halves and 8 skinned and boned chicken thighs may be substituted for whole chickens. Chill in marinade at least 1 to 2 hours, turning occasionally. Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until done. On the other hand, I strongly recommend you buy chicken with skin on and remove it before you eat it. You will get a moister chicken inside with lots of flavor.

Cook's Note

Mojo criollo is a wonderful blend of orange and lemon juice, garlic, onion and spices. There are four or five brands, all are good, but I prefer Goya. Nowadays, it can be found in the Spanish section of most grocery stores. If you can't find it, go to my Amazon store in the lower right column of the blog. Once you try it, you will not be able to live without it! You can use it as a marinade for meat, seafood and pork.




Worcestershire Sauce on Foodista

Friday, May 29, 2009

Strawberries With an Almond Creme Anglaise

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By this time, the thrill of the fresh strawberries of the season is wearing out, but they still look too good to pass up at the market. Mark Bittman is a master at finding easy and quick recipes, particularly for dessert. Creme anglaise is yummy by itself, but I have to admit the thought of almonds is very intriguing. If you are entertaining for dinner and want a quick dessert, this is it. If you want to dress it up, or "guild the lily" as I often tell my daughter not to do, you can make some meringue shells, fill with strawberries and top with the almond sauce. Any berry will work well with this, particularly blueberries, raspberries or a combination.

Time: 15 Minutes
Yields 6-8 minutes

Ingredients

3/4 cup chopped almonds plus

1/2 cup lightly toasted slivered almonds

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

1/2 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

6 to 8 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered.

1. Put chopped almonds in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant and beginning to toast, about 3 minutes.

2. Add milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks, and whisk well to combine. Cook, whisking almost constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil.

3. While sauce is still hot, strain it through a sieve and let cool a bit. To serve, put a cup of strawberries in each dish, drizzle with warm sauce and garnish with slivered almonds. Sauce will keep, tightly covered, in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What I Miss the Most...Spring in New England

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Even though we have beautiful flowers and shrubs here in South Florida, to me there is nothing like Spring (and Fall) in New England.  My friend and classmate (CRH) Libby Wilkie of Libby Wilkie Designs in Poughkeepsie, New York just posted some pictures of what is blooming in her garden this Spring.  It made me pea green with envy, particularly of the lilacs.  I can close my eyes and smell them.  They remind me of the lilac bushes next to my bedroom window in my house in Connecticut.  For two weeks, sleeping in that room was like sleeping in heaven.  I've posted so many pictures of our blooms here in Florida that I thought I should give equal time to the blooms in New England.  Besides, Libby and I are kindred spirits...We love Westies, have blogs and tweet!

How to Stretch Your Budget, Chuck Steaks Nogales

Pin It There are few bargains left in this world and if you add great flavor and versatility to the equation, the bargain choices become even less. Chuck steak fits this bill. Because the chuck steak is made up of several muscles of varying degrees of tenderness, people have avoided this very delicious meat. In addition, chuck has areas of fat between muscles, a fair amount of bone and some gristle to contend with. But that's why the Lord invented knives. These problems are easily cut away. For me, having a bone to gnaw on is a plus since I think the meat next to the bone is the best.
Since any given chuck steak will contain pieces of several muscle of varying degree of tenderness, look for steaks that include those particular muscles that are best suited for dry-heat cookery (dry-heat cooking means grilling, broiling, pan-frying and roasting) Look for chuck steaks that are cut adjacent to the prime rib section. These will include some rib bones. The meat next to the rib bone is called the rib-eye and will be as tender and tasty as rib-eye cut from the prime rib section and for a lot less money. Some butchers sell these steaks boneless, called chuck eye steaks. Often bone-in chuck steaks also include some blade bone. The strip of meat underneath the blade is tougher than the rib-eye meat but can be made more tender by marinating. For best results, chuck steaks should always be marinated.
Bone-in chuck steakss are usually at 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick and may weigh between 1 1/4 and 2 1/2 pounds each. Since there is a fair amount of bone and other waste, allow 10 to 12 ounces of chuck steak per serving, which should yield about a half pound of boneless meat per serving.
One of my favorite ways to serve chuck steaks is marinated in a Mexican style marinade and then grilled over charcoal. Slice the cooked steaks and eat the slices in warmed tortillas with lots of salsa and guacamole.
Nogales Marinated Chuck Steak
Serves 6 to 8
The marinade in this recipe will tenderize the somewhat tougher chuck steaks adequately and is also a superb marinade for fajitas made from skirt or flank steak. Chiles and other Mexican ingredients are available in Latino groceries. For best results, make this recipe the day before you plan to serve it.
Flavor Step: Nogales Steak Marinade
6 garlic cloves, mashed with 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a mortar or on a cutting board
1/4 cup fresh sour orange juice (from Seville oranges) OR 1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons tequila (optional)
2 tablespoons ground chiles (ancho or New Mexico)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
Two 1/2 to 1-inch thick chuck steaks, cut closest to the prime rib
Salt and freshly ground pepper
24 corn tortillas, preferably handmade (or the freshest machine-made you can find)
1 pound mild white cheese, such as Mexican casero, California Monterey Jack or Wisconsin Muenster or brick, cut into 1/2" x 1" strips
6 fire-roasted pasilla chiles or 10 Anaheim chiles sliced or equivalent canned green chiles, preferably Ortega brand, sliced
Garnishes:
Guacamole
Salsas of your choice -- such as green chile salsa and salsa cruda
Flavor Step: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together, or put the ingredients into a food processor and pulse briefly. Lay 1 steak in a non-reactive dish. Puncture the meat all over on both sides with a fork or skewer. Pour over half the marinade. Put the other steak on top and repeat the process. Reverse the steaks to make sure that both are well coated with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, turning the steaks occasionally to insure full penetration of the marinade.
About an hour before grilling, remove the steaks from the refrigerator. Soak 6 mesquite wood chunks or 2 cups of mesquite, oak, or hickory chips in water. Fire up a covered charcoal grill with about 60 briquettes or the equivalent of mesquite charcoal. When the coals are completely covered in gray ash and you can hold your hand over them only for a count of three, scatter the mesquite chunks or chips over the coals.
Remove the steaks from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Put the steaks on the grill and cover the kettle immediately. Adjust the vents so that no flare-ups occur. Cook until steaks are done to your liking, about 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium-rare to medium. Set the steaks aside on a platter and cover with foil to keep warm while you prepare the tortilla/cheese setups.
Preheat the oven to 300� F. Briefly heat each tortilla over the direct heat of the grill to soften them (or heat each tortilla in a heavy skillet over high heat to soften). Heat the tortillas only enough to make them pliable, so they don't crack when folded over the cheese. Place 2 pieces of cheese on each tortilla and fold in half. Fold 6 or so tortillas, wrap in foil, and keep warm in the oven. Repeat the process for all 24 tortillas. It takes about 10 minutes to heat the folded tortillas in the oven and barely melt the cheese -- don't keep them in the oven too long, or the cheese will ooze out. Pay attention to timing: if you put the tortilla packets in the oven when the steaks are done and let the steaks rest for 10 minutes, that should work out fine. You can leave the tortillas in their foil packets for serving or, if you'd like to be more authentic, wrap them in large cloth napkins or dishtowels.
To serve, cut the steaks against the grain into strips 3 to 4 inches long and about 1/2 inch thick. Put the bones on a separate platter. Set out the fire-roasted chiles, tortilla/cheese setups, guacamole, and salsas, and encourage your guests to go for it. Pass around the steak bones for true carnivores to gnaw on and toss over their shoulders to the dogs. Beer (preferably Mexican) goes great here, but a spicy Zinfandel would also be delicious

How to Feed a Family of Four on a Budget Mushroom Pot Roast

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This recipe is, no kidding, at least 45 years old. It was a favorite of my brother's who has been requesting it ever since I started the blog. My mother has it in an old scrapbook and ironically, I also just found it on the web. I guess, for some reason, budget meals are back in...

Blade pot roast is also called bone- in chuck steak. I just bought one at the Winn Dixie here in Miami. It is the chest bone of the animal, and consequently, very inexpensive, flavorful and quite delicious. It was on sale for less than $3.00/lbs.

Don't change anything, particularly the sherry!

A delicious and simple roast recipe with a very tasty gravy. Great and economical for big families, particularly those with teenage boys! I like it with mashed potatoes, but it goes well with noodles. Pot roasts do not photograph as nicely as souffles, but believe me, they are just as tasty.

Ingredients

4 tbsp. flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 (2-3 lb.) boneless chuck roast
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup water

Sauce:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp dry mustard
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 bay leaf

Mix 2 tbsp flour, salt and peper in a small bowl. Pat over the beef covering all sides. Brown beef in hot oil in a large skillet

When browned, remove to a platter, add mushrooms and brown those for a couple of minutes.  Remove them, bring roast back in the skillet and pour pot roast sauce over the beef and add the onion. Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Add the mushrooms and simmer for 1 more hour.(Check after 45 mins.)

Remove the beef to a platter and reserve the sauce in the pot. Discard the bay leaf.

Mix the remaining water and remaining 2 tbsps. flour in a bowl. Degrease sauce in pot if desired. Stir flour/water mixture into reserved sauce. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.

Serve over beef.

The photo is from http://www.nancysrecipes.wordpress.com as mine didn't come out the way I wanted and she had the recipe on her blog.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Picadillo Stuffed Manicotti in a Bechamel Sauce

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My kids, like Pavlov's dog,were conditioned to expect a certain sequence to their meals. If we had artichokes with hollandaise sauce one night, it was a sure bet that meringues were around for dessert. On those weeks when Picadillo appeared one day, they could bank on their favorite, Little Pigs in a Blanket, to appear a couple of days later. They are still so conditioned, at ages 35 and 37, that on my last trip to Atlanta last week, and after a meal on Friday of Picadillo with the works, the famous pigs were requested for my last night. Now my daughter in law, as well as her grandparents, who received the leftover leftovers, are new fans to the dish.

I really don't know where they got the name, but I can certainly see why. They are delicious, but definitely not for people on a diet or with a heart condition.

Ingredients

Serves 6

1 box manicotti
4 cups leftover Picadillo
8 TB butter
8 TB. flour
4 Cups Hot milk
2 oz leftover tomato paste
1 1/2 Cup. Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste.

You can make the full recipe or half depending how much Picadillo you have left. Cook manicotti shells according to package directions. Rinse in cold water and dry with paper towels. In a skillet warm the Picadillo and add the 2 oz leftover tomato paste.

If you are making the full recipe, melt 8TB butter, add 8 TB flour, cook for about a minute and add the 4 cups of hot milk, a little at a time, to make the Bechamel sauce. I use a whisk to stir. When the sauce comes to a boil, it is done. Add salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese. Add a couple of TBs to the Picadillo, tomato sauce mix and stuff the manicotti. Butter a 9 X 13 casserole dish, add a couple of TB of the white sauce to the bottom of the pan and lay the stuffed manicotti, side by side in one layer. The ones that don't fit can be placed in another 8x8 glass pan or 2 individual dishes of two each. Cover the pigs with the rest of the white sauce, add the rest of the Parmesan cheese on top, dot with butter and put in the oven at 350. Once the sauce starts to bubble, in about 30 minutes, put the dish in the broiler until browned, 5-10 minutes. Watch it, it depends on your oven. Make sure you serve with a green salad, some bread sticks and an inexpensive Italian wine.

The Classic Cuban Picadillo

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Everyone has been waiting for me to crack open the family safe and publish some of my grandmother's recipes. The problem is that they are too complicated for this day and age and people just don't have the time to cook like that. Recipes nowadays have been simplified and shortened and, in most cases, they taste just as good.

After Castro came to power, our family was separated for a while. My parents came first with us and it wasn't until almost 12 years later that my grandparents, on my mother's side, were able to get out. Throughout all those years, my grandmother mailed out, little by little, all her recipes. They were meticulously handwritten by her. That is how much pride she took in them. As they arrived in this country, we would read them and giggle at the thought of ... " Three days before you kill the chicken, you feed it bread soaked in milk and brandy...!" She never travelled, yet she had recipes from all over the world, and loved American food. When my mother was growing up, she remembers coming home to a house full of the smell of cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon rolls in Cuba in those days were like eating Beluga caviar now in this country. Not a one to be found. What I remember the most, though, was the ice cream machine and the dry ice for mantecado, the Cuban vanilla ice cream. Life in that house revolved around food and canasta parties and boy do I miss her. All her recipes are still kept and cherished by her three daughters and all her granddaughters, including me.

Her recipes are complicated, but as far as the everyday Cuban classics like Picadillo, not a chance. You see, Picadillo is a simple and common dish eaten traditionally at lunch, preferably with white rice, a fried egg and fried bananas, either maduros or tostones. This new thing of having it for dinner all dressed up in heaven knows what is an insult to a wonderful dish. I have seen everything from cinnamon to chili powder added to it. As I always tell my daughter, "don't guild the lily!"








In memory of a wonderful cook and to please some of the audience, here is the first of what, I hope, will be many Cuban recipes...good, simple and authentic.



Serves 6-8 (depending if they are Cuban or American!)
Cooking time: 60 minutes

Ingredients

3 TB olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, mashed
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 lb ground meat, preferably chuck (80-20)
3 oz. tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white Vermouth or dry white wine
1/2 C water
1 tsp.Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup pimiento stuffed olives
1/2 cup of raisins
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet and in medium heat, sautee the garlic, onion, green pepper and bay leaf in the olive oil for about 15- 20 minutes. Add and brown the meat. Turn heat down to medium low. Add the tomato paste, the wine and the water. Bring to a slight boil, and reduce temperature again to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 30 minute. If the liquid is absorbed, add more water 1/4 Cup at a time. While it simmers, cut the pimiento stuffed olives in half. After the 30 minutes are up, remove the lid, add the olives (I add some of the olive brine) and the raisins and cook, uncovered, in a slow simmer for another 15 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. I like my picadillo runny. Here again, everybody is different. If you like it dry, control the water you add to the tomato paste. Serve over fluffy, white rice.

Cook's Note
If you really want to be Cuban, fry an egg or two, lay it over the white rice, and put the picadillo on the side. My favorites with this dish are fried ripe bananas, a beer and a siesta.

Leftovers can be frozen or saved to make what my family calls Pigs in a Blanket coming up next on the blog.





Picadillo on Foodista

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fool Proof Chocolate Souffle

Pin It Tonight, while reading Mark Bittman's Blog, I was reminded of this recipe which I made for a dear friend from Geneva, no less, a couple of months ago. About the only thing I have a lot of respect for in the world of cooking is a souffle. Let's face it, they are not exactly what you would call a sure thing, so why bother when there are so many other good chocolate desserts? Because they are yummy, that's why. I must have made a really bad one way back when, because i've got a real mental block against them...until I made this recipe. Granted, it is not Le Cirque's or La Grenouille's, but it is very very good, and it will make you proud!

Time: About 45 min
Yield: 2 servings.

About 1 tablespoon butter for dish
1/3 cup sugar, plus some for dish
3 eggs, separated
2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 2-cup or one 4-cup soufflé or other deep baking dish(es). Sprinkle each with sugar, invert it and tap to remove excess sugar.

2. Beat egg yolks with all but 1 tablespoon sugar until very light and very thick; mixture will fall in a ribbon from beaters when it is ready. Mix in the melted chocolate until well combined; set aside.

3. Wash beaters well, then beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until whites hold soft peaks; continue to beat, gradually adding remaining tablespoon sugar, until they are very stiff and glossy. Stir a good spoonful of whites thoroughly into egg yolk mixture to lighten it; then fold in remaining whites, using a rubber spatula. Transfer to prepared soufflé dish(es); at this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.

4. Bake until center is nearly set, 20 minutes for individual soufflés and 25 to 35 minutes for a single large soufflé. Serve immediately.

Watch this video of Bittman making the souffle!
The Minimalist: By Public Demand: Chocolate Soufflé (February 11, 2009)

A Quick Light Lunch...Steamed Clams & Clam Chowder Tomorrow!

Pin It Some of my best recipes come when I have to improvise. Last weekend, while visiting my son and family in Atlanta, we took a fast run to Costco and as luck would have it, my daughter in law also loves clams. On the way out we picked up a bag of fresh clams and a baguette for a quick lunch and salivated all the way home without remembering we were out of onions! but the night before I had seen some leeks that needed to be used fast and had mulled the idea of leek and potato soup. Ta ta! I substituted them instead of the onions and added some heavy cream that I found fresh in the refrigerator. The result was a softer version of my recipe for Clams Provencal and a keeper. Use the leftover broth and clams for New England Clam Chowder tomorrow!

Ingredients

3 leeks, chopped
4 TB.butter
1/2 bottle of dry white wine
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 large bag of clams
8 sprigs of dill
parsley
Pepper

Directions

In a tall pot, sautee the leeks in the butter until soft and translucent. Add the clams and the wine to cover them by about 3/4 full. Add dill, parsley and fresh pepper. Cover and steam until all the clams are open. About 15-20 mins. Discard those that don't open. Add the cream and steam for another minute. Serve with a nice crusty bread, a salad and a nice dry white wine or rose.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More on Chilling Wines in the Summer

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Just received this email from Wine Enthusiast which I'm passing along. A great looking piece to chill your wines in the summer, at a great discount. I don't have an agreement with these guys, just thought i'd pass it along in view of my post a couple of days ago. If you only want the carafe with chilling piece, scroll down to my amazon store on the right and look under wine.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Huevos al Plato...Baked Eggs

Pin It This is a simple version of Huevos a la Madrilena. My mother has been serving them at home ever since I can remember. I like it for a simple lunch any day, but if you want to dress them up for brunch on Sunday or a small lunch party, serve with a green salad, a baguette and the Perfect Bloody Mary. You can make Arun's Quick Cake for Tough Times for dessert , which I recommend you make the day before, and serve with vanilla ice cream. The whole lunch should take you less than 30 minutes to prepare. A very economical and simple meal that will delight everyone, particularly ladies.

For 2

Preheat oven to 400 Cooking time: 10 Minutes

4 large eggs
4 TB Le Sueur's petit pois (small early peas)
4 TB chopped ham or prosciutto
2 TB Heinz Catsup
Salt and Black Pepper
Butter for greasing molds.

Grease two gratin dishes with butter. Break two eggs in each. Add 2 TB petit pois to each serving, together with the ham or prosciutto. Squirt about 1 TB catsup over each plate and add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10-11 mins. Remember, the eggs will continue to cook once you take them out of the oven, so make sure you under cook them a little so they don't become hard boiled. Everyone should be at the table and ready to eat before you serve them.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mommy and Me Crab Cakes...Lunch with my daughter

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My favorite kitchen mate is my daughter, Christina. She will be great cook one of these days. Whenever we get together, we gravitate towards the kitchen; like this afternoon, when she decided to show off my crab cake recipe with a few additions of her own. The ingredients are the same, except she gives it a final dredge in Panko and fries them in sesame oil. I loved it...but what I love the most about my 36 year old daughter is that after all these years and in spite of her independence, she still calls me Mommy!

Ingredients

1 lb lump crab meat
2 TB red or white onion
1 Egg
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 TB Mayonnaise
1 tsp.lemon juice
1 TB mustard
1 TBS melted butter
1 tsp. Parsley Flakes
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
Panko for dredging

Crisco or Sesame oil for frying

Combine all ingredients except for crab meat. Gently fold in crab meat. Shape into 8 cakes. Pass through Panko. Pat well. Fry in regular or sesame oil. Serve with tartar sauce.

Tartar Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tsps. relish


Serves 4


Cook's Note: Make sure you get good crab meat, such as Alaska King crab in lump. Otherwise, you will have mediocre crab cakes and will blame the recipe. The quality of the crab meat is 90% of making good crab cakes. Serve with a salad and a dry white or rose for lunch. We had a bottle of a very nice and inexpensive rose from Bordeaux, Mouton Cadet. It is dryer and more robust than other roses we are used to, like the ones from Provence. Recommended by my daughter and stocked at Kroger's here in Atlanta and most grocery stores.



Thursday, May 14, 2009

How to Serve French Wines...Particularly in the Summer!

Pin It Most of us have been brought up to serve red wines, particularly French red wines, at "room temperature"... but what exactly is room temperature?

When the words room temperature (in French “chambré") were coined centuries ago, dining rooms were much cooler than those of today. Huge rooms were heated only by a log fire and, certainly, “room temperature” was never intended to mean the temperature of our present-day, centrally-heated or air conditioned homes.

The right temperature for red wine is about 15.5°C to 18°C (60° to 65°F). Regional and vin de table wines may even be served a little cooler. To achieve this, particularly in the summer, I usually stick the bottle in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes prior to serving. In the summer, I have seen the French stick a bottle or red wine right into a bucket of ice, particularly if it is a vin de table and you are in a bistro. The grand crus are a different story.

White and rosé wines are served slightly chilled (around 10°C or 50°F) and one hour on the shelf of the refrigerator will bring them to the right temperature. Most of us tend to chill them too long. Try this sometimes, particularly with a good Burgundy, such as a Mersault, and you will taste a big difference. I usually place them in an ice bucket for a half hour prior to serving .

Champagne and other sparkling wines take longer to chill and are left in the refrigerator for a few hours. If you use an ice bucket, an hour should be more than enough, although this is one time when too cold is not an issue for me.

General rules:

Young wines are served COOLER than old wines

Do NOT FORGET that wine heats up in the glass during the meal . A wine served at between 6°C (43° and 46°F) in a room having a temperature of 18°C (64°F) will reach a temperature of 10° to 12°C (50° to 54°F) within about 10 minutes. Keep an ice bucket nearby so you can place the bottle back after pouring.

Mistakes with white wines:
Over-chilling or icing
Leaving in the refrigerator for over two hours
Using the freezing compartment or the freezer
Putting ice-cubes in the wine (I kill people for doing that!)

Mistakes with red wines

Serving them too warm or too cold

So, take note and give your wines every break they deserve, particularly in the summer. A wine, no matter the vineyard or the vintage, is always at its best when it is at the right temperature!






Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If you subscribe to my blog by email, make sure you read this post!

Pin It Last Friday, I posted information on the new format of your emails. Since there has been some confusion and most of you, Im sure, do not read your emails on the weekends, this is a reminder to check it out by clicking here. Thank you again for subscribing to my blog.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Filet Mignon with Pommes Frites and Bernaise

Pin It Ingredients

2 Beef Tenderloin Filets
2 strips of Bacon
Worcestershire Sauce
Black Pepper

Make sure your tenderloin steaks are at least 1 1/4 in thick. Two hours before grilling or pan frying, marinade in Worcestershire Sauce and black pepper. Take out of refrigerator 1 hour before cooking and bring to room temperature. Light your grill or preheat the oven. Wrap tenderloins with bacon, secure with toothpicks.

Grilling

Grill about 5-6 minutes on each side for medium rare, depending on thickness. Let rest for at least 5-10 minutes.

Pan Seared

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and sear on both sides until well browned, 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the steaks to an oven-proof baking dish and place in the oven. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare.

Serve with Bernaise Sauce and French Fries. (Psst..Ore Ida's Frozen Golden Fries taste like the real thing i.e. imagine a Paris bistro, particularly since you will be dipping them in Bernaise)


Bernaise Sauce

If you follow my directions, exactly, you will have a Bernaise Sauce to rival any first rate restaurant's in Paris or New York, with very little time and effort.

3 egg yolks at room temperature
8 oz. butter
3 TB tarragon vinegar
1 TB fresh tarragon
1 TB minced shallot
2 TB Vermouth or dry white wine.

In a saucepan reduce the tarragon vinegar, tarragon, shallot and wine to about 1 TB.

Place the 3 yolks in the blender. Melt the butter on medium heat until bubbly. Turn on the blender and blend yolks for about 30 seconds. Add the bubbling butter in a steady stream and when finished, imediately add the tarragon reduction. In less that 10 seconds you are done. The trick here is to have the yolks at room temperature, the butter bubbling and the tarragon reduction ready to go. The reasoning is the butter cooks the egg yolks, that is why the eggs have to be room temp and the butter bubbling. Immediately after you pour the tarragon reduction, you will see the sauce thicken in the blender. The whole process takes less than 5 mins from start to finish. Just don't pick up the phone in the middle of the whole process!!

Serve with a nice Bordeaux or robust Cabernet from California.

Saturday Night...Eat Out or Eat In?

Pin It You tell me...If you are on a budget and had the choice to eat out or eat in what would you do? If you have been subscribed to my blog for over a month, you know what my answer is going to be. To me the thought of getting dressed and tossing a coin on a good meal vs. eating well and having a great bottle of wine for sure is a no brainer..but then again, I love food and wine too much to go out and spend top dollar for a mediocre meal. Always have, always will. I guess it depends on your priorities, and mine are very well defined.. If the main event is to have a good eating experience,we are on the same page, so read on.

Tonight we had a first rate dinner for two for less than $35.00...and here's how. The menu was pretty cool....Filet Mignon with a Bernaise Sauce, French Fries (or Pommes Frites if you want to be elegant) and a wonderful 2000 Bordeaux. Candlelight and a full moon were on the house. At $8.99/lbs. at Costco, two beef tenderloins were approximately $12.00; the bottle of wine, a 2000 red Bordeaux I got at a bargain was $15; and the Bernaise and the pommes frites were, give or take, another $5.00. Total cost for 2 people = $35.00, tax, tips and delivery included. A simple salad and a slice of Arun's cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream wrapped up the meal. Where in the world can two people eat like this for this price? On a Saturday night?

Folks, if you are on a budget, love to eat, and can light up a stove or a grill, do yourself a favor, stay home and eat well. Anything else is travesty. Set a pretty table, light up the candles, and turn on some music and you've got yourself a date evening. Use your imagination and your "business skills" and with very little work and some planning ahead, you can still think it's the 1990's and happy days are here again. I know, I know, your view doesn't look like the one on the left...neither does mine... but it was a pretty picture, its late and I couldnt find a better one. Just use your imagination...we all have to, these days...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's Mother's Day!

Pin It Happy Mother's Day! I hope you have someone wonderful cooking for you today. Next week, my children have invited me to come visit them in Atlanta. Can't wait to see my granddaughter, Taylor Rose! My posts will be a little sporadic over the next few days, but I will be back full force on May 18th. In the meantime, I am leaving you three great posts which will appear over the next couple of days. Have a wonderful Mother's Day and thank you for subscribing to my blog. The purple vanda orchid on the left belongs to a neighbor here in Miami. It is in full bloom today!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Housekeeping - How Blogs Work

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As you may have noticed, your recent emails contain only a partial content of the posts. In order to read the full article, please click on the title and it will redirect you to the full content as it appears on the blog. This has been done on purpose to get you to come back to the site. Why?? Let me explain how blogs work. First of all, their content is free to subscribers so the only way bloggers can make money, and not a lot, is to get advertisers on their site. Advertisers want to know how many subscribers you have and how many hits you are getting on your blog. The way it was set up before, you were getting the full content in your emails and nobody was coming back to the main blog. It was my mistake and now I am fixing it and apologize for the confusion.

Bloggers live and thrive from their subscriptions, so please, if you know anyone who would enjoy or benefit from my blog, pass it on and encourage them to subscribe. IT'S FREE!

I've also noticed that some of your subscriptions are unverified. When you subscribe, you will get an email asking you to reconfirm the subscription, which you must do in order to receive my uninterrupted and yummy posts.

Thank you for subscribing and do make comments on the blog. I look forward to them, good or bad. That's the only way I can produce good content and keep you entertained and coming back.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Arun Manansingh's Quick Cake for Tough Times

Pin It Arun Manansingh is my new best friend. He is a fellow blogger whom I met at a business oriented social website called Linkedin. It's a friends of friends type of networking, where you link to others through trusted contracts. Arun and I met at an online business forum where I started a discussion regarding blogging and unemployed Wall Street executives. We have never met face to face and we do not have any contacts in common, but we do have something more important that binds us together, we have started blogging in search of new opportunities and to keep our spirit alive. We make strange blogfellows, he is in his late 30's and I am a woman of a certain age...

Until fairly recently, Arun had a very senior position as head of IT for a Wall Street firm and now writes a blog called A CIO's Epilogue. If you want to know everything about IT and in the process meet a very nice man, visit his site. I have designated him Lindaraxa's Chief Technology Officer, a job Im sure he treasures. Today he asked me if I let people contribute recipes to my site. I told him no, only friends and family. So, with that in mind (drumroll), here is Arun Manansingh's Quick Cake for Tough Times.

INGREDIENTS

1 pk Yellow cake mix (I find Duncan Hines Moist yellow cake to be the best)

1 small vanilla instant pudding (the cheaper the better)

4 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable Oil

1 cup orange juice (with pulp)

GLAZE

1 cup confection sugar

1/2 cup margarine

1/4 cup orange juice (same as above)

1 teaspoon of orange zest



INSTRUCTIONS

Mix cake mix, pudding, eggs, oil and orange juice together.

Pour into greased bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Glaze: Mix above ingredients together. Boil on very low heat ingredients for 2 minutes. Let cool slightly until glaze begins to harden. Pour over cake.

Arun's Note: You can substitute the orange for any juice you like. I have tried Apple and mango and it comes out great.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Asian Style Salmon Jan Marie

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My daughter in law, Jan Marie, loves salmon. By this I don't mean she likes salmon, rather she LOVES salmon. Any time, anyway, anywhere. Baked, broiled, steamed, sauteed, with chipotle, on a sandwich, with eggs, you name it, she loves it. A real salmon fan. If she lived in Alaska, she would swim upstream to spawn. So with that in mind, this is "dedicated to the one I love", as I am fairly sure she hasn't had it this way..but with her, you never know.


Cook Time: 9 min
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds)

For the marinade:

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons good soy sauce
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 TB honey
1TB Dill weed

Light charcoal briquettes in a grill and brush the grilling rack with oil to keep the salmon from sticking.

While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, mayonnaise, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and sprinkle the dill weed. Allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. Turn again skin side down, coat the side without the skin with the rest of the marinade, and flip back and grill for another 5 minutes. If you have a rack to grill fish on the grill, it works wonders.

Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Serve with jasmine or coconut rice

Coconut Rice with Scallions

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I love asian style rices with fish. The mix of sweet and sour works wonders with any rice. This is one of many combinations that I make. It goes well with the Asian style salmon. Triple the recipe for 6.

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 Tb butter
2 chopped scallions (green and white part)
1 TB fresh ginger minced
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/2 C coconut milk
1 C chicken broth
1 C jasmine rice
1/2 C slivered almonds
Salt

Sautee scallions and ginger in butter. Add curry powder. Add Rice saute for 1 min. Add the coconut milk, broth and salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook until all broth is absorbed. Place a folded paper towel between the pot and the lid to absorb steam. Replace lid and turn off. Add almonds, correct salt and stir with a fork.

Cooks Note
Leave rice alone after you add water. Cook in low heat. If you need to stir use a fork

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cookbook Review...Two Must Haves!

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Ever since I started this blog, I have become a frequent visitor of the local library. When I zero in on a subject, I become obsessed and spend hours on end doing research, which used to mean I went out to the bookstore and bought everything on the subject. Now that I'm on a budget, the library is my best friend. When I started this blog about a month ago, I knew absolutely nothing about blogging so the first thing I did was take out every book on blogging I could find, beginning with Blogging for Dummies. As luck would have it, "blogging" is next to "cooking" and I have been making a dent there too. Last week , I happened to take out Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the Worldand found the book so good, that I decided to add cookbook reviews to the blog. Now, keep in mind I get as excited reading recipes as most people get watching porn but as the owner of over 100 cookbooks, I have to be very selective before I decide to give it a home. If it has at least 3 recipes I can't wait to try, it's a keeper. I started reading this book about an hour ago, on a full stomach, and I must have about 20 pink Post-Its all over the place. Here is what I like about it. Mark Bittman writes a column for the New York Times called The Minimalist. I usually just glance at it since I like to get more involved with my cooking, but this is exactly what I like about this book. It is a no-frills approach to dishes once considered esoteric and too complicated to try in your kitchen. Everything you have ever enjoyed but were afraid to cook is here. In my case Indian food has always been taboo...too different from what I cook to even think of trying in my kitchen. I've spent years looking for a good curry recipe and to date I have only made it once and not very satisfactorily. This book has everything, from Chimichurri to Kung Pao Chicken but most importantly, the recipes are simple, authentic and straightforward. I only have this book for 25 more days but I can guarantee you that if my children are not reading this and thinking Mother's Day, I'm getting a copy in 26 days.

The other book I took a hard look at is Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook. This was recommended to me by my daughter, no less, so I paid attention. It is an excellent book and a must have for any cook, particularly aspiring ones. It covers everything, from frying an egg to making a souffle, all beautifully illustrated and explained. It also covers sophisticated techniques like how to trim a tenderloin and practical ones like how to light a grill, with grilling times. Very, very nicely done. Another must have for all cooks and a great shower or wedding gift.

Now back to House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Streetby William D. Cohan on the fall of Bear Stearns and the reason I'm on a budget and writing a blog. Also, a very good book.

Friday, May 1, 2009

African Violets Make Inexpensive Centerpieces for Mother's Day

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African violets are out in full force at most major markets and grocery stores. I just picked up these for $2.99 each. They make beautiful centerpieces and last quite a while. If you are having a large gathering and a buffet table, use them as centerpieces aranged in baskets of 3 or more with the names of the mothers in the party. If it's a small dinner or luncheon, set one on top of each mother's plate or, if you want to splurge, with a place card on top of each of your guest's plate. It's an inexpensive way to be generous. If instead you are a guest for Mother's Day, bring one to your hostess. It's a nice touch. Make sure you keep some for yourself!

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