Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Unexpected Great Meal...Shrimp with Limes & Vermouth

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Sometimes a combination of circumstances leads up to a great meal, and tonight was one of those times. My initial intention was to make shrimp scampi with beautiful shrimp I had just brought back from the store but, unfortunately, I had forgotten the lemons, so that was out of the question. What I did have were limes, so I had to improvise. What came out was one of the nicest meals we have had so far this week. A cup of chilled asparagus soup from the night before was a nice starter.

1/4 cup Spanish olive oil
1TB butter
3 cloves garlic
1 lbs. unpeeled shrimp
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp pimenton de la vera (Spanish sweet paprika)
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 lime
salt & pepper
1/4 cup dry Vermouth

In a skillet, melt the butter in the oil over medium heat. Mash the garlic, add to the pan and saute for about 1 min. Peel the shrimp leaving the tails on and add to the oil. Add bay leaf and pimenton and the tomato paste. You can add more pimenton if you want it spicier. Squeeze the lime from one half of the lemon on top of the shrimp, season with salt and pepper. Add the dry vermouth. Turn the heat up and reduce until the liquid evaporates by half. Remove from the heat and add the other half of the lime cut in wedges to the pan right before serving. Serve with white rice.

Serves 2
Preparation time 10 min

Cooks Note
I keep a tube of tomato paste in the fridge for when I only need small quantities

Monday, March 30, 2009

April in Paris...Creme of Asparagus Soup

Pin It When I think of April, I think of Paris, and when I think of April in Paris I think of asparagus, white and green, on every menu, in every restaurant of that wonderful city. Some of us may not be able to eat there this Spring, but we can surely bring Paris, and April into our kitchen. The following is a wonderful creme of asparagus soup from Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris. It's simple, it's easy, it's authentic and very economical. I just bought two bunches of asparagus for $1.98/lbs at Milam's this afternoon and in less than an hour, we were enjoying this wonderful soup for dinner!

Creme D'Asperges, Restaurant Guy Savoy

Serves 4
Active Time: 20 min Start to finish: 50 min

2 lbs green asparagus, trimmed
1 large onion, chopped
3 TB unsalted butter
Salt and White Pepper
5 to 6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup creme fraiche or heavy creme
1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Cut tips from 12 asparagus 1 1/2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish. Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces.

Cook onion in 2 TB butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring until soft. Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste (I added white pepper which has a wonderful taste in soups) then cook stirring 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth and simmered, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain and set aside.

When the soup has cooled down a little bit, puree soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl and return to pan. Stir in creme fraiche or heavy cream. If you find the soup is too thick (I didn't), add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Bring soup to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon of butter.

Add lemon juice and garnish with asparagus tips.

Cook's Note
Soup keeps, covered and chilled, 2 days. If making ahead, add last tablespoon of butter and lemon juice after reheating. Don't miss adding the lemon juice to this soup... it's only a few drops, but it makes a difference.

As the stock market turns...so does your stomach!

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My mother was on her way to the supermarket this afternoon, car keys and grocery list in hand, when she took a look at CNBC turned around and without one word headed back up the stairs. What's this, not going out? But you are out of Scotch!! "The market is down 300 points and I don't feel like going shopping", she said. My feelings indeed. I feel sorry for the millions of retirees on fixed income who's portfolios have been cut in half, in spite of solid and safe investments. If this is the collective attitude of millions of Americans every day, our economy and our stomachs are in for a long recession. So with that in mind perhaps it is worthwhile to take a moment and consider what is often said of the French who no matter how strapped, are never too poor to eat well.

Chateau Roquefort 2005

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This is one of my favorite house wines. It has all the makings of an expensive Bordeaux for a fraction of the cost. It presently sells for $13.95 at Sherry-Lehman in New York. Free shipping ends tomorrow, March 31st. I do not, at present, have an association with Sherry Lehman, so this is just free and unbiased advice. Get some, you won't regret it!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Simple Saturday Night Dinner at Home...Chicken Paillard

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This is another of my go to meals when I'm in a hurry or have been out all day. Don't forget the candles and a nice Sangiovese. After that, imagine you are in Venice or at Paillard in New York City!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs, whipped slightly with splash milk
2 cups panko crumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Begin by pounding out the chicken breast gently between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.
Prepare a breading station with flour, whisked eggs and milk, and panko crumbs. Season all with salt and pepper. Coat the breasts in flour, egg then panko. Lay the coated breasts out on a flat tray and refrigerate to let the crust dry out (about 10 minutes) this will ensure there is less moisture and less chance your coating will break when frying.
Shallow fry the paillard in hot oil for approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side depending on how thick the breasts are. Drain well, season with salt and set aside when done.

1 cup organic grape tomatoes
1 bag fresh Spring Mix salad, or Aruguala, Radichio, Romaine mix
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, boccancini, halved
Shaved Parmesan, for garnish
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Prepare the salad by splitting the grape tomatoes in half through the middle lengthwise, mixing all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing and toss the salad well.
To serve lay the warm, crispy chicken paillard on the base of the plate and top with the salad. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese, a wedge of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

Makes 4 servings
Takes 15 min. including 10 in fridge

If it's the Weekend..it's time for the Perfect Bloody Mary

Pin It In the late 70's waiting for a friend at the old, old King Cole Bar at the St. Regis in New York City, I was served the most perfect and purest of any Bloody Mary I have ever had. Let's just say it was straight and to the point. Seeing that it was early, I was young and good looking and there was nobody else at the bar, I conned the bartender into giving me the recipe. The most important thing, he said, is that everything must be cold to start with. I've been serving this Bloody Mary ever since.

Cold Tomato Juice (I use Campbell's)
Cold Vodka (Don't waste your Grey Goose on this!)
Red Pepper
Black Pepper
Worcestershire Sauce
Horseradish (if you want to do my version)

That's It! As I love horseradish, I add about 1/2 tsp to mine. But that is now my version..not the St. Regis!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Speaking of Goat Cheese..

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I bought something like this at Epicure Market in Miami Beach a few years ago for a small fortune and after that, decided to make it myself to much acclaim from family and friends. If you happen to go to Costco, buy one of their big logs, use half for this and save the rest for omelets and salads

Goat Cheese Appetizer

1 small log goat cheese
olive oil
6 cloves garlic
herbes de provence or rosemary
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Roll the log in Herbes de Provence or Rosemary and red pepper flakes to cover all over. Get a small plastic container with a lid and place the goat cheese in it. Add about 4 TB of Olive oil. Mash and slice the garlic and add on top. Baste log with olive oil a few times. Cover the container and let it marinade for at least 2 hours. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use. Take out of the refrigerator at least an hour in advance. Place in a serving plate and drizzle the olive oil and garlic mix over it. Serve with mini toasts. When you spread it on the toast, make sure you add some of the olive oil drizzle to it! Put whatever is left after the party back in the container and in the refrigerator. With time it gets better and better. Add more olive oil if needed. You can always throw a piece in an omelet!
Photo: Jason Riedy Flickr

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beer Braised Beef with Onions

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Have you noticed when you rent a place in Europe how small their kitchens and refrigerators are? That's because they go to the market every day and only buy what's fresh and in season. No wonder their food is so good. Now that things are so expensive at the market, I have begun to do the same thing, only buying what is fresh and on sale. The result has been a resurrection of old recipes and a new and exciting dimension to my repertoire. Yesterday, when I went to Costco the chuck roasts were absolutely beautiful and inexpensive. So I dug up this recipe from the old days and plan to make one tomorrow and freeze the other for a later date.

Oven 350

3 lbs onions
1 5lbs. chuck roast tied
2 TB vegetable oil
2 Bay leaves
2 12 oz cans of pilsner or budweiser beer
2 TB red wine vinegar.
Salt and pepper

In a dutch oven or large skillet cook onions in oil for 25 minutes until caramelized. Set aside. Brown beef. Return onions to pan add bay leaf, vinegar, beer, salt and pepper. Set in the oven covered for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. It should almost fall apart when pierced with a fork.

Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta.

Necessity is the mother of invention..so what's on sale?

Pin It I haven't had a porterhouse steak in about 30 years..really. The other day I received a flyer from Milam's (IGA) here in Miami, with their porterhouse and ribeye steaks on sale for $6.99/lbs... so away I went. Now, let me tell you... I lived in North Carolina in the 1970's and all we could get there were ribeyes, so after I left that lovely state I never looked back, particularly on ribeyes. For the next 20 years all I ate were NY strips, until tonight... OMG, if you, like me have forgotten about this cut of meat, get one! Just marinade for about 10 mins in Worcestershire Sauce and Webber's Chicago Steak Seasoning and off to the grill! French fries or baked potatoes and a salad, and you died and went to heaven. I was also lucky to have a bottle of Chateau Roquefort 2005 which I opened for the occasion. Chocolate, chocolate chip ice cream for desert, anyone??

Notes from your Sommelier

Pin It As I have been the designated sommelier for my friends in New York and Key Biscayne here are some ideas you should pick up now.

Caymus, Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 at Costco in Miami (8 bottles left) $58.99

Riondo Prosseco, 90 Pts Robert Parker for aperitifs and Bellini's $9.99 Costco

Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio $7.99 at Costco. Good for the ladies who lunch. Tasted it last week at my mother's canasta lunch. They loooved it.. I'm not a fan of PG but it is good for a ladies lunch and a great price.

Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio $15.99. Better for the ladies who lunch.

For those of you in NYC or, for that matter , anywhere in the US where wine can be shipped to, don't miss the next two wines. Sherry Lehman is shipping for free anywhere!!! They do a beautiful job shipping wines so don't be afraid to order for delivery.

Now don't sniff at Roses--they are not the pink sweet stuff from a jug you are thinking about. Real men on vacation in their yachts in the Riviera enjoy them, so why can't you. They are delightful, dry and refreshing and dress up any meal, especially lunch. This rose is it... and a real bargain!

Domaine Ott, Rose 'Chateau Romassan', 2007

On sale now until April 1st! From the Cote d’Azur in Provence comes France’s most famous rosé. This gorgeously dry rosé is distinguished by its amazingly creamy and velvety smooth texture, exceptional nose, perfect balance and a wonderful finish.

“This is everything that a rose wine should be. A delectable, pure, peachy nose blossoms from the glass whilst the palate is beautifully balanced with passion fruit, peach and rosewater. Superb definition on the finish. A rose that just seems to blossom with aeration. Outstanding!” —Wine Advocate

This is available as a pre-arrival. Offer ends April 1st, and the wine will be available to ship the first week of April

The next is a great second wine from a great chateau from one of the best years ever for Bordeaux! I still have a couple of bottles of Prieure Lichine 2005 left and that wine is awesome. Margaux are probably the softest and most seductive of the great Bordeaux and that is probably why I like them so much!

Chateau de Clairefont, (Margaux), 2005
Taste and enjoy the second wine of the renowned Chateau Prieure Lichine from the remarkable 2005 vintage AT AN INCREDIBLE PRICE!

Chateau de Clairefont is a wine with many of the characteristics of its more famous parent but in a more fruit forward and approachable style.

The 2005 is one of the greatest vintages in recent years and the quality shines through. We loved this stylish Margaux so much we bought all we could… and are passing the savings on to you!

For those of you who like wine and can afford to get a case of this, do it..you wont regret it! And do get a bottle of the rose, it makes any lunch memorable. Chin chin!

Hello Costco...Goodbye Dean & DeLuca

Pin It None of my friends understand why I, an empty nester, go to Costco. If you like to eat well, enjoy a glass of wine every night, entertain occasionally and have a freezer, you have every reason to have a Costco card. Besides, it's fun, the meat is superb, and you can't beat the prices.

I usually skip by the electronics, pause at the books, and move straight to the meats and produce. If it's June, I look for the fabulous white peaches from California to squeeze and freeze for Bellini's in the summer. A box of Campari tomatoes is always in my kitchen, for salads, sandwiches or pasta. They are the best. From the refrigerated area, Prosciutto, and the Kirkland Smoked Salmon alternate on my list and a can of White Star Alaska Crab meat is always in my refrigerator. If my daughter is home, I pick up a bag of clams or mussels to steam for lunch together with a baguette and if I'm having company for dinner, Shrimp Scampi is always a favorite.

I only buy Parmeggiano Regianno at Costco, it's the only place I can afford to. Besides, if you stick it in a Ziplock, it lasts forever. Now that imports are so expensive, Costco has cut back on European cheeses but the Dubliner cheese, which they still carry, is pretty good. The Ile de France goat cheese is still also reasonable and it always comes handy for appetizers, salads, omelettes and sandwiches. I promise to post my goat cheese roll appetizer real soon! They used to have a fabulous Manchego from Spain, but not anymore.

In the meat department, you can't beat the quality of their steaks or their lamb chops and their whole chickens are small enough to fit two in the freezer. Of course, their Rotisserie chicken is pretty good if you are in a hurry!. I do not buy their leg of lamb, simply do not like the taste of it, so I skip that. I also skip through the frozen foods, and the paper stuff and pick up a bottle of their Kirkland Olive Oil from the recent harvest on the way to the cash register. Did you know that olive oil, like wine, has a harvest? well I didn't, until a few years ago. Don't confuse this with their regular olive oil which comes in a plastic jug and is just okay. This comes in a glass 1 Liter bottle that says Toscana as well as the year of the harvest. It's in now, so get it, you won't be sorry. After it runs out you won't be able to buy it until it's bottled again after the next harvest. I usually get a case, as I use it practically every day for cooking, salads and marinades.

I spend most of my time in the wine department. Boy, do I love that place. Even though 90% of their wines can be categorized as plain and "boring" you can get some really good bargains sometimes on the other 10% if you know what you are doing. The best time to go shopping for the top wines at Costco is on Thursdays, after lunch. That is usually the day when they put out their new arrivals. You also need to know the time of year when certain wines are released to get a jump start. In my case, Bordeaux have always been my favorite wines and I know they start being released in late March or April, so I pay weekly visits during those months, always on Thursday afternoons. So guess where I was today just before this post?? Right. I am sad to report that no Bordeaux have arrived as yet, but I did come upon 8 bottles of Caymus 2006 for $58.99, a very good price compared to what they are asking at my favorite wine store in NYC. I also picked up a couple of bottles of Prosecco, the Italian wine from the Veneto that is used as an aperitif or in Bellinis, which I serve in the summer. Now, all I need are the white peaches which should be around soon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dinner from the Pantry...Pasta with Marinara Sauce

Pin It This is my go to meal when I haven't planned ahead and need something quick. It's all made from the staples I keep around. What makes it special is the Marinara Sauce, which is quick, authentic and delicious...what you get in Italy and in only 20 minutes. The recipe is adapted from Lidia Bastianich, co-owner of three New York restaurants, several cookbooks and the celebrated PBS show, Lidia's Italy. I used to stay up until 1:00 a.m. to catch her show here in Florida. Use what you need and freeze the rest for a million other things like Bruschetta, Eggplant Parmeggiana or another quick meal of pasta. It is also a good base for Penne alla Vodka. That's why I keep a bottle handy in the freezer! Use the best and freshest ingredients, after all that's what makes this simple sauce great.

Marinara Sauce

1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic peeled
1 box Pomi Crushed tomatoes(or one 35 oz San Marzano tomatoes seeded and lightly crushed, with their liquid

1/2 tsp. sugar
Crushed hot red pepper (go easy!unless you like it hot)
10 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Heat the oil in a 2 to 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Whack the garlic with the flat side of a knife, add it to the oil, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Carefully slide the tomatoes and their liquid into the oil. Bring to a boil and season lightly with the salt, sugar and red pepper. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer and cook, breaking the tomatoes with a whisk or a spoon (if you got the can of whole tomatoes) until the sauce is chunky and thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil* about 5 minutes before the sauce is finished. Taste the sauce and season with salt and red pepper, if necessary. Set aside.

You can bring to a boil and cook the spaghetti while the sauce is cooking if you are pressed for time. I prefer to cook my sauce first and let it settle. It will get thick but I thin it with water from the spaghetti just before I pour it off the saucepan.

*Do use fresh basil and do not chop until right before you add it. Herbs release their best aroma when they are just cut and you want this released into the sauce, not the counter.


Boil the spaghetti for about 10 minutes in a big pot with lots of water and a dash of salt. Don't skimp on the water! This prevents it from sticking in the pot. When the spaghetti is almost done and before you drain, take one or two laddlefulls of water and add it to marinara sauce to thin. If you want to eat it like a real Italian add the spaghetti to the sauce, not the other way around, and cook it in the saucepan for a couple of minutes. This and the water helps the sauce stick to the pasta. Add freshly grated Parmeggiano-Regianno and enjoy. I serve mine with a baguette and a tossed salad.

Wine suggestions: Peppoli from Antinori, if you can afford it, or Santa Cristina, the least expensive of the Antinori wines. Monte Anticho, found sometimes in the supermarket and fairly inexpensive, is also good. But stick with Italian wines, preferrably from Toscana-- remember terroir! P.S. You can find Peppoli sometimes at Costco, at great savings. It is one of my daughter's favorites.

Monday, March 23, 2009

First Things First..The Well Stocked Pantry

Pin It I always keep in my pantry things that I know I will use all the time and that can take me out of a jam if I get surprise guests. With what I keep on hand, I can always pull together a meal, including hors d’oeuvres and dessert in no time. As I use them, I make sure I replace them on my next trip to the store so I will not have to make little trips every time I need something. It also forces you to cook with what you have which can be more economical and more creative. Here’s what you’ll find in my pantry:

1. Anchovy paste
2. Apricot jam
3. Baking powder
4. Baking soda
5. Beans – split peas, lentils, garbanzos they last forever!
6. Bread crumbs
7. Capers
8. Catsup, Heinz
9. Chocolate squares semi sweet & unsweetened
10. Clams, chopped, canned for dips and pasta
11. Flour
12. Garlic paste in tube Amore
13. Honey
14. Horseradish
15. Lemon, lime, fresh!
16. Mayonnaise, Hellmann’s made with olive oil
17. Mustard, Dijon
18. Non-stick spray
19. Nuts (pine nuts, slivered almonds, walnuts)
20. Olive oil (Extra Virgin)
21. Olives
22. Onions
23. Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
24. Paper, parchment, tin foil, Saranwrap
25. Parmalat whole milk (for emergencies)
26. Pasta – Spaghetti, Fettuccine, Penne, Lasagna noodles
27. Pepper, both black and white
28. Pimientos
29. Polenta
30. Raisins
31. Red pepper flakes
32. Rice, Arborio for risottos
33. Rice, Jasmine
34. Rice, White from Mahatma
35. Salt
36. Soy sauce
37 Stock, Chicken and Beef in cans or cubes usually from Knorr
38. Sugar, Dark Brown
39. Sugar, Powdered
40. Sugar, White
41. Tomato juice (Campbells)
42. Tomato paste (Hunts)
43. Tomato paste in a tube (Amore)
44. Tomatoes, Crushed (Pomi)
45. Tuna, solid white, canned
46. Vegetable oil
47. Vinegar, Balsamic and White
48. Vodka, for Martinis, Bloody Mary and vodka sauce
49. Wine, white or Vermouth
50. Worcestershire sauce
51. Ziplock freezer bags

*Flour Tortillas (both large and extra large) Lipton Onion Soup and Jiffy Corn Bread Mix are optional but I try to keep some always in my pantry!

Herbs, Spices, Extracts etc.

Living in Florida, I am able to grow fresh herbs, and I do. Parsley is something you need fresh, don’t bother with the stuff in the bottle. So is mint and chives. There is nothing like fresh rosemary, tarragon, oregano and basil. As a matter of fact I have several varieties of basil, including one that I love for salads called lemon basil. Still, I keep the dry stuff on hand, just in case. By this time, I must have every spice in the universe, but the following is what I consider must-haves.

1. Allspice
2. Almond extract
3. Basil
4. Bay Leaves
5. Cayenne pepper
6. Cinnamon
7. Cloves
8. Cream of tartar
9. Curry powder
10. Goya’s Mojo Criollo, great for marinades
11. Herbes de Provence
12. Kitchen Bouquet
13. Nutmeg
14. Peppercorns
15. Rosemary
16. Saffron & Pimenton de la Vera (for Spanish dishes)
17. Sage
18. Tarragon
19. Thyme
20. Vanilla beans and extract
21. White pepper

To be kept in refrigerator:

I have several friends whose refrigerator looks like it is for sale…empty! The following won’t take up much space and will come in handy when you have to put something together fast. If nothing else, you can always get a good breakfast out of it!

1. Butter, unsalted
2. Carrots(baby) and Celery
3. Cheese, Parmesan (Parmeggiano Reggiano)
4. Cream cheese
5. Eggs
6. Garlic peeled
7. Heavy cream (optional, but great to add to pastas, sauces and cream soups)
8. Milk
9. Orange juice
10.Red potatoes, they last forever in the fridge
11.Sour cream

To be kept in the Freezer:

1. Baguette
2. Frozen petite green peas
3. Frozen whole onions and chopped onions
4. Pancetta
5. Peppers, Green and Red, frozen whole
6. Very Thin sliced bread from Pepperidge Farm
7. Vodka!

Now we can cook!

Friday, March 20, 2009

About Lindaraxa's Garden

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Lindaraxa's Garden is one of the most photographed parts of the Alhambra Palace located in Granada, Spain. Washington Irving wrote in his Tales of the Alhambra:

"One window of the royal sleeping-room commanded a prospect of the Generalife and its embowered terraces; another looked out into the little secluded garden I have mentioned, which was decidedly Moorish in its character, and also had its history. It was in fact the garden of Lindaraxa, so often mentioned in descriptions of the Alhambra, but who this Lindaraxa was I had never heard explained.

A little research gave me the few particulars known about her. She was a Moorish beauty who flourished in the court of Mohamed the Left-Handed, and was the daughter of his loyal adherent, the governor of Malaga, who sheltered him in his city when driven from the throne. On regaining his crown, Mohamed rewarded the governor for his fidelity. His daughter had her apartment in the Alhambra, and was given by the king in marriage to Nasar, a young prince descended from Aben Hud the Just. Four centuries had elapsed since the fair Lindaraxa passed away, yet how much of the fragile beauty of the scenes she inhabited remained! The garden still bloomed [66] in which she delighted; the fountain still presented the crystal mirror in which her charms may once have been reflected; the alabaster, it is true, had lost its whiteness; the basin beneath, overrun with weeds, had become the lurking-place of the lizard, but there was something in the very decay that enhanced the interest of the scene, speaking as it did of that mutability, the irrevocable lot of man and all his works."

Lindaraxa was also the name of my home in Havana, Cuba from which I departed in 1960 and have never returned. This blog is in memory of a time gone by but a lifestyle not forgotten.

Lindaraxa's Garden, the blog, is my recipe journal where I write about recipes I have collected, cooked and served throughout the years. Often the recipes are from my cookbook collection, sometimes not- they might come from a family member, the Internet, or I might write about a recipe I created myself.  Regardless of  the source, cooking has always been a passion and no matter the circumstances, we will always entertain

So you want to be a blogger....

Pin It My name is Julieta Cadenas and I am a 30 year veteran of Wall Street and a lifelong aficionado of good food, fine wines and great entertaining. I have been living in Miami Florida since 1999.

My cooking career began on the eve of my wedding in 1969 with a few basic recipes from my mother that later became the basis of my first cookbook, a black 3-ring notebook that I still keep with me. In those days we clipped recipes from magazines such as the Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping, as well as from brand advertisements. For years, I cooked with the Joy of Cooking, The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne, Julia Child, Gourmet Magazine and the Junior League cookbooks. Then, of course, came Martha Stewart’s Entertaining and the world changed.

I have lived in many areas of the United States and in my career as an investment banker in New York, travelled extensively all over the world. I was fortunate to be able to stay at the best hotels and eat at the best restaurants due to an extensive expense account in the days of plenty at investment banks. But more importantly, coming from a family and generations of fabulous home cooks, I was always in the kitchen, including the years I was a working mother of two, always trying something new, and experimenting with different cuisines. What I had tried abroad and couldn’t find in town, I cooked at home.

My house has always been a Mecca for family and friends to gather and enjoy good food, fine wines and the good life. This blog is in memory of those good times and is dedicated to my daughter, Christina whose love and support have been indispensable, particularly during my fight with breast cancer a few years ago.

Cooking has always been a passion, and no matter the circumstances, we will always entertain.
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