Thursday, July 30, 2009

Miss the Paris Cafes? Have a Croque Monsieur!

Pin It The Croque Monsieur, or “Crispy Mister,” appeared on Parisian café menus in 1910. The original Croque Monsieur was simply a hot ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich, fried in butter. Some believe it was accidentally created when French workers left their lunch pails by a hot radiator and came back later to discover the cheese in their sandwiches had melted.

Found all over France today, the Croque Monsieur - casually referred to as a Croque - has as many recipes and variations as it has cooks. I like mine fancy, with a nice Mornay Sauce* on top! It is second on my list only to the Reuben which is, hands down, my all time favorite. (the Pulled Pork sandwich is not far behind!)

This crunchy sandwich is served as an appetizer, snack, or casual meal. Try this recipe for an incredible experience. Bon appetit!

A nice double espresso should get you through the afternoon!

Serves 4 for a meal or 8 for a snack


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread.

Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot

*A Mornay sauce is a Béchamel sauce with shredded or grated cheese added. Usually, it consists of half Gruyère and half Parmesan cheese, though some variations use different combinations of Gruyère, Emmenthal cheese, or white Cheddar

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Amaretti Cookies

Pin It After I posted the Roasted Peaches with Amaretti Crumble recipe, I got a lot of inquiries as to where to find the cookies. It is indeed a problem to find them these days, unless you have a good specialty store in your town. I have added them to my Amazon store in the right fray and also thought you might want to bake some yourself. They are really easy and simple to make and much better than the ones that come in the box.

This recipe for amaretti cookies, courtesy of chef Mario Batali, is an excellent accompaniment to pumpkin lune pasta and can be found in his book, "The Babbo Cookbook." Use them in the Roasted Peaches with Amaretti Crumble and as an accompaniment to the Chocolate Gelato Affogatto previously posted.

A nice espresso with these cookies is a delighful and "lite" dessert. Don't forget to add a touch of Limoncello to the espresso!

Makes about 30 cookies


1 1/4 cups whole blanched almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large egg whites
Pinch of kosher salt
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon amaretto
1/2 cup turbinado sugar, for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place almonds, cornstarch, and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until almonds are very finely chopped.

Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add salt and beat on medium speed until foamy and light. Gradually add granulated sugar in a slow, steady steam and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Beat in almond extract and amaretto.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in ground almond mixture.

Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle each cookie generously with turbinado sugar.

Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are pale golden and begin to crack slightly, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees. Leave oven door ajar to release some of the heat. Let cookies stand in oven until completely dry and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes more.

Let cookies cool briefly on baking sheets, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Roasted Peaches With Amaretti Crumble

Pin It If May and June were dedicated to blueberries and strawberries, July and August is the time for peaches. We've been getting the large ones from California, including the white peaches I love for Bellinis, and now is the time for Georgia peaches. I must say this year I was a little disappointed in the white peaches from California...we'll have to see what Georgia brings this month.

One of the advantages of a baked dessert is that the fruit does'nt have to be just right. You can always adjust the sweetness with a little sugar here and there. That is why I like to have this kind of recipe on hand. When the fruit is not up to par,use it in pies, crisps and crumbles and save the others to have by themselves.

This rustic take on a peach crumble couldn't be easier: Halved peaches are topped with a quick mixture that includes amaretti, almonds, butter, flour, and sugar. The crunchy topping is a nice contrast to the warm, tender peaches. Serve them with vanilla ice cream!

6 servings


5 amaretti cookies (Italian macaroons; about 3/4 ounce total) *
3 tablespoons whole natural almonds
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 firm but ripe large peaches, rinsed, wiped clean of fuzz, halved, pitted
Vanilla ice cream


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine cookies, almonds, flour, and sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, process until cookies and almonds are coarsely chopped. Add 3 tablespoons chilled butter to processor. Using on/off turns, process topping mixture until moist clumps form.

Place peach halves, cut side up, in prepared dish. Spread topping over surface of each peach half (about 1 generous tablespoon for each), pressing lightly to adhere and leaving 1/4-inch plain border. Add a tad of butter on top of the crumble.

Bake peaches until tender when pierced with knife and topping is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer 1 warm roasted peach half to each of 6 plates. Serve with scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside.

Photograph by Nigel Cox

Adapted from the August 2009 Bon Appetit

*Amaretti Cookie Recipe click here

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Think Christmas in July! ...Strawberry Preserves

Pin It Let's face doesn't look like this Christmas is going to be any better than last. What's more, in some respects, it's going to be far worse. If I were you, I would start thinking ahead, particularly if you have a gazillion little presents to give to people you don't much care about.

The strawberry crop this year has been fantastic and with all the sales and specials in the supermarkets, prices have been much lower than last year. Strawberries don't need peeling and pitting and making jam is also a fairly quick process. So why don't you bite the bullet now, set aside some time to make some preserves, can them and put them away for Xmas presents? Remember all those silly little dinner and cocktails parties you are going to have to attend...and your children's teachers, husband's secretary, office co -workers, the next door neighbor who took care of your plants when you went to see your daughter for two weeks, and the list goes on..

In years past, we used to bring along a bottle of wine to the Xmas party. Have you checked prices lately? Nothing decent for under $15. I, for one, would rather get something homemade than something I don't really like or need that is going to get stuffed in a drawer. As far as I'm concerned, you can give me homemade cookies or preserves any day of the year. I think most people would second that motion!

Nowadays, nobody likes to cook, so cooking or baking something for someone else is really special. Another great thing about making preserves is that you can make it way ahead of the holiday rush. Also, if you plan ahead now that the fruit is at its prime, you can come out with something special as well as economical for the holidays. Take advantage of all the 2 for 1 specials at the supermarket or go to Costco. Buy some canning jars, spend a few minutes on a Sunday afternoon stirring a pot and next time you see a fabric sale, buy a yard or two of some cute material. Come Christmas time, when everyone else is scrambling for inexpensive presents, you'll be sitting home smiling like the Cheshire Cat!

Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Start to Finish Time: 60 minutes


Juice of 2 lemons, strained
4-1/2 cups sugar
2 pounds small to medium strawberries, hulled

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine lemon juice and sugar. Cook undisturbed until most of the sugar is melted, about 10 minutes. Gently stir, until sugar is completely melted. Using a moistened pastry brush, wash down any sugar crystals from the side of the pan.

Add strawberries and raise heat to high and gently boil (and gently mash the strawberries) until the mixture reaches 220°-- continue to boil until thickened, about 5 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes, then spoon the preserves into 6 very clean, 8-ounce canning jars, leaving a 1/4 inch of space at the top, and close with the lids and rings. Let cool and refrigerate or process.

To process, boil the sealed jars for 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and serve after 2 days or store the preserves in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.

Image from Foodista

Fresh Strawberry Jam on Foodista

Camargue Style Mussels...Remembering Provence

Pin It A few days after I posted the Moules Mariniere, I thought about another of my favorite ways to cook them and just had to sneak this in.

There is nothing in the world like mussels with fennel and Pernod and in Provence they have a wonderful recipe that also includes tomatoes and leeks. I thought I would share it with you since mussels are such an inexpensive summer and winter lunch. Don't forget a nice crusty bread and a chilled white wine. Try a Sancerre this time... a Riesling would be nice too!

If you want the complete Provencal experience, finish with the Figs in Rosemary Honey for dessert!


4 1/2 pounds [2 kg] fresh mussels, in shells
1 onion
2 leeks [white only]
2 fennel
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon [15 mL] fennel seeds
2 tablespoons [30 mL] olive oil
1/2 cup [125 mL] dry white wine
2 tablespoons [30 mL] Pastis or Pernod
28 ounces [796 mL] diced tomatoes
2 fresh parsley sprigs or 1 pinch dried parsley
2 fresh thyme sprigs or 1 pinch dried thyme
Salt and pepper


Well scrub mussel shells under cold, running water; reserve [do not soak shells in water].

Chop onion, leeks, fennel or celery stalks, garlic and fennel seeds.

Into a large casserole, heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion mixture for approximately 5 minutes, until leeks are soft.

Do not brown vegetables.

Mix in dry white wine, Pastis and tomatoes.

Salt and pepper, to taste.

Bring to a boil; simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix in mussels, parsley and thyme.

Cover; cook over high heat, until shells open-up, approximately 5 minutes.

Throw away unopened shells.

Using a slotted spoon, remove mussel shells from casserole.

Remove mussels from shells; arrange mussels onto individual plates, or into shell halves, as you would oysters.

If using fresh parsley and thyme, remove sprigs from sauce.

Cook sauce, over high heat, for 5 minutes.

Pour sauce over mussels and serve immediately.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shrimp Creole...Remembering Craig Claiborne

Pin It We go around trying to invent new recipes when there are so many old ones, like Shrimp Creole, that are just great.

To those of you too young to remember, Craig Claiborne (September 4, 1920 – January 22, 2000) was an American restaurant critic, food writer and former food editor of the New York Times from 1957 to 1988. He was the author of numerous cookbooks and an autobiography. Over the course of his career, he made many contributions to gastronomy and food writing in the United States including the now-universal reviewing system of awarding stars to reflect quality. His most famous, and best-selling cookbook is the 1961 NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK. Craig Claiborne died at 79 and left his considerable estate to the Culinary Institute of America.

Two cookbooks were given to me for my wedding in of them was the Joy of Cooking and the other was The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne. Together with my grandmother, my mother and Julia Child, he was one of the most influential people in my kitchen.

This is an adaptation of Craig Claiborne's Shrimp Creole recipe. I made it over the weekend with some tweeking here and there and it was one of the best shrimp dishes I have cooked in a long, long time. It's a great dish to prepare for a dinner party as it can easily be prepared a day or two ahead. It freezes very nicely too. Why don't you serve it with the Cold Cucumber & Spinach Soup to start!

I had it with a chilled and inexpensive Pinot Grigio which was already chilling in the refrigerator and it was great!

Yield 2 -4 Servings


1 pound raw shrimp

2 tablespoons butter*

2 tablespoons olive oil *

3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion

3 small ribs celery, coarsely chopped

1 green pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 cups canned tomatoes, preferably Italian peeled tomatoes
(I used Pomi Crushed Tomatoes)

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 bay leaf

Tabasco sauce

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Worcestershire sauce (optional)*

Juice of half a lemon.


1. Shell and devein the shrimp. Rinse and pat dry. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until onion is wilted. Add the celery, green pepper and garlic. Cook briefly, stirring. The vegetables must remain crisp.

3. Add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, Tabasco and Worcesterhire sauce to taste, lemon rind, salt and pepper to taste. I added the basil and lemon basil, but its optional. Simmer 10 minutes uncovered. 4. Add the shrimp and cover. Cook three to five minutes, no longer. Add the chopped parsley, lemon juice and, if desired, more Tabasco sauce to taste.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cauliflower Gratin...Gratin de Chou-Fleur

Pin It This is the time of the year when we Floridians try to keep our freezers as empty as possible because of hurricane season. If a storm hits our area, the chances of being without electricity for a week or two are pretty high, meaning most of what you have in your refrigerator will have to be thrown out. This means more trips to the grocery store and smaller purchases of things that need to be frozen.

We have been eating the remains of our freezer now for the last two weeks and today, to my horror, I found that there were only two anemic looking little pork chops left in the back and one beautiful head of cauliflower in the fridge. The pork was easy, marinated with garlic, onion lemon juice and Worcestershire Sauce and into the frying pan. But was it going to be enough for two hungry adults? Not a chance. So i decided to be a little bit more elaborate with the cauliflower and make one of my favorites, Gratin de Chou-Fleur.

The recipe below is for a full head of cauliflower which will serve 6-8 people easily as a side dish. I halved the recipe and had more than enough for the two of us as a hearty side dish, with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow.

I hesitated posting another cauliflower dish so soon, but seeing that the cauliflower puree was such a hit, perhaps this will be a sensation too!

Serves 6 - 8


One large head cauliflower, trimmed and separated into florets

Coarse salt

Freshly grated nutmeg

(2/3 cup) freshly grated Gruyere

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 Cups of milk

Fine salt and freshly ground pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Extra grated gruyere for top

Extra butter for the top


Sprinkle the cauliflower with coarse salt and steam for 15 - 20 minutes, until soft The cauliflower can be cooked up to a day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Set an oven rack in the upper half of the oven and preheat to (350°F). Transfer the cauliflower to a medium gratin dish.

Prepare the béchamel. Have the butter, flour, and milk measured and ready. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to sizzle, add the flour all at once and stir it into the butter with a wooden spoon or preferably, a wire whisk.(this is called a roux blanc). Cook for 3 minutes without coloring, stirring continually until the mixture turns creamy. Pour in the milk and whisk it into the roux blanc, making sure you don't leave any clumps on the bottom and sides of the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, stirring with the wooden spoon or the whisk as the mixture thickens. Add the 1/2 Cup of the grated cheese.Set aside to cool for a few minutes

Season the béchamel with salt, pepper, and a whisper of nutmeg. Pour evenly over the cauliflower, top with the remaining cheese, adding more if necessary to cover the top generously, sprinkle with bread crumbs. top with a little butter and slip into the oven to bake for 20 minutes, until heated through and well gratinéed at the top; you can switch to the broiler setting for the 5 final minutes.

Let rest for five minutes and serve -- you may want to warn your dining companions that the gratin will be very hot.

Any leftovers can be reheated for 10 minutes at (350°F) the next day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cool as Cucumber and Spinach Soup!

Pin It
It's been a miserable summer here in South Florida and it's not even August or September yet. When you take your dog for a walk at midnight and come back drenched, you know it's hot! I've given my Westie a haircut that makes her look like a Mexican Hairless. Even though I think she's happier, she hasn't come out from her cave (under my bed) since, except to eat and go out.

The only thing I crave for lunch these days are cold salads and chilled soups, particularly Gazpacho and this chilled cucumber and spinach delight. I've had the recipe since my days living in North Carolina and not a summer goes by that I don't make it at least once.

So, if it's miserably hot in your area right now, add this to your'll thank me for it. Even if it's not, it's wonderful for lunch or as a first course for dinner. I have served it at dinner parties year round, in demitasse cups, right before we sit down to eat.

Serves 8


1 bunch green onions (scallions) sliced

2 TB Butter

4 cups diced, peeled cucumbers

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup chopped, fresh or frozen spinach

1/2 cup sliced, peeled potatoes

1/2 tsp salt

1 TB lemon juice

Freshly ground pepper to

1 cup light cream

Green onions for garnish


In a saucepan, saute green onions in butter until they are softened.

Add cucumbers, chicken broth, spinach, potatoes, salt, lemon juice and pepper. Simmer uncovered until the potatoes are tender.  Let it cool down to room temperature.

Transfer the mixture to a blender in batches and puree. Transfer the puree to a bowl and stir in the light cream. Let soup cool and chill overnight.*

Garnish each serving with thin slices of green onions.

Cooks Note: *It is important to make the soup the day before and chill overnight so that it is very cold when served.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Celebrating National Ice Cream Day...Chocolate Gelato Affogato!

Pin It I was eating this in the 1960's and didn't know it had a name!

Boarding school meals are atrocious, as anyone who has gone to one can attest..but leave it to a group of creative 14 year olds and even vanilla ice cream can turn into a gourmet dessert.

Remember those ice cream squares covered in paper that they used to have years ago? They tasted like frozen milk. On Sundays, as a treat (?) they would give us Neapolitan ice cream... or so they called it. To us, it was just three colors of frozen milk. I can't remember exactly which one of us invented what I now know as Gelato Affogato* but God Bless her! We'd take a vanilla square and pour coffee over it and presto! coffee ice cream...what a treat! Hey, Haggen Daz wasn't around in those days... but we did have Schraffts, just not at school.

This secret recipe became a tradition, particularly if you were a junior or senior, although I wonder if boarding school kids today would put up with the horrors they called food in those days.

So in memory of those horrible days, here's a wonderful recipe for a hot summer afternoon!

Serves 4


1/2 cup cold heavy cream

2 pints chocolate, vanilla or coffee gelato or ice cream

2 cups freshly brewed espresso

Kahlua (optional)

Crushed Espresso Beans (optional)

Biscotti or amaretti cookies (optional)


Beat cream until soft peaks form

Place two scoops gelato or ice cream into each of 4 glasses. Pour 1/2 cups hot espresso over tops of each, just to cover. If you are using Kahlua, pour some now. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle some amaretti cookie crumbs or crushed espresso beans on top and serve with biscotti.

*The word affogato means "drowned" in Italian; affogato al caffe is the name of a popular dessert in which hot espresso is poured over gelato just before it is eaten. The bitterness of the espresso acts as a pleasant counterpoint to the sweet creaminess of the ice cream. Liqueur intensifies the overall flavor. Although traditional gelato is denser than ice cream and therefore melts more slowly, you can use either one for equally delicious results. If you prefer, substitute very strong brewed coffee for the espresso.

If you want to make your own gelato go to:

Gelato on Foodista


Friday, July 17, 2009

Baked Figs with Rosemary Honey

Pin It This is dedicated to an old friend from school, a fellow blogger, Tweetter, Westie lover and Francophile like me. She has a design business and publishes a wonderful blog on color and design.

After I posted the fig and prosciutto recipe last week, she mentioned a wonderful sounding dessert that she had eaten in Provence...baked figs with honey and rosemary The idea intrigued me and I searched high and low for a recipe, but none could be found.

Having eaten at many a little restaurant by the side of the road in France, I figured it couldn't be difficult or complicated. Besides, the crux of these wonderful unexpected experiences is not only the quality of the ingredients but also the time, the place, the mood and the unexpected. How many times have you had a magnificent bottle of wine at a restaurant and opened the same at home and were disappointed? Nevertheless, wanting to surprise her and having some figs on hand, I decided to replicate something I had never had before. Bad idea? Not really!

I baked this wonderful dessert tonight (with the oven at 425 degrees and the outside temperature at 95F!) and I must say it was quite good! Although I've never tasted the original nor have the everlasting memories that go with it, I would definitely make it again. They were served warm...I wonder what temperature they were served in Provence...

Black Mission figs was what I had on hand. but you could also use green-skinned Calimyrnas, or both for this dessert. Give the figs a gentle squeeze to check for ripeness; they should be quite soft.



12 fresh figs
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
4 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 tablespoons water
Rosemary Sprigs


Heat the oven to 425°. Cut the stems off the figs. Rub the oil over the figs and put them in a baking pan, stem-side up. Cut a cross in the top of each fig, cutting almost to the bottom.

Drizzle the honey over the figs. Top each one with a piece of the butter and rosemary. Spread some longer twigs of rosemary in the bottom of pan and drizzle with the honey.

Bake the figs for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Put the figs on plates, add the water to the pan, return the pan to the oven for 1 minute, and then stir to make a sauce.

Drizzle the sauce over the warm figs and serve.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thai Corn Fritters

Pin It The first time I had these fritters was in the mid 80's at the legendary Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Unfortunately, at that time, I was not that interested in cooking Thai food at home so I never gave them a second thought. Living in New York at the time, if I wanted Thai food all I had to do was get in a cab.

Years later, living in Miami, I saw a fabulous cookbook at Costco called, The Ultimate Thai and Asian Cookbook, by Deh-Ta Hsiung, Becky Johnson and Sallie Morris. It had the most wonderful Asian recipes with pictures to match and on the second page I opened, there they were.

Now whatever else you may hear, Miami is not a place for good Thai food or any other kind of Asian cooking. I finally had to break down, purchase a wok and several Asian cookbooks and learn by trial and error.

These fritters are really very easy to make. I tried them on my bridge group one night and they flew off the plate, along with plenty of wine to chase them down! They are terrific with cocktails but they are hot, as in spicy hot, so be warned. If you do not like hot food, cut back on the chilli pepper. I wouldn't, particularly if you serve them for cocktails. Now that the fresh corn is coming in take advantage of it, particularly if you have some left over corn on the cob from dinner.

For those of you who like to eat and cook Asian food, I highly recommend this book. The only problem is its weight. It is the heaviest book I have ever carried in my life, but it's worth every pound of it.


3 corn cobs

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 red or green chili, finely chopped

1 scallion, finely chopped

1 small bunch cilantro (aka coriander), finely chopped

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3/4 cup rice flour or plain flour

2 eggs

4 tablespoons water

salt and pepper, to taste

oil, for frying

Sweet Chili Sauce or
Sweet & Sour Dipping Sauce


Using a sharp knife, slice the kernels from the cob and place in large bowl. Add all the other ingredients, except the oil and Chili Sauce. Stir well to mix thoroughly. The batter should be firm enough to hold its shape, but not stiff.

In a large skillet, heat oil for shallow frying, about 1/2″ deep. Add spoonfuls of corn batter. spreading out with back of spoon to make a roundish fritter. Cook about 2 minutes on each side until cooked thoroughly and golden brown. If the fritters begin to brown too much before they are cooked, lower the flame.

Drain on kitchen paper and keep hot while frying more fritters

Serve hot with Sweet Chili Sauce or Sweet & Sour Dipping Sauce which can be bought at the supermarket or a Chinese food store.

Mac & Cheese Harry's Bar

Pin It

Can you believe? I guess it pays to watch the Food Channel once in awhile! I was writing this week's post and watching Giada on the Food Network when suddenly I heard the words Mac & Cheese and Harry's Bar. According to Giada, the recipe was made for her at Harry's Bar in Venice. Pays to be famous! I haven't tried it, I don't need to...just reading the ingredients I know it will be good! I am posting it for my daughter who's always looking for a new way to make Mac & Cheese.

I remember when she was living with me and we'd both stop working after the market closed to watch Giada and Barefoot Contessa. If we saw something we both liked, she'd get in the car go to the store, get whatever we were missing and we'd have it for dinner that night! Boy, I miss those days and I miss her, my favorite sous chef, after Lucy, of course! Unfortunately, my new room mate, my mother, doesn' t go for this kind of adventure so I guess we won't be having it for dinner tonight. Christy, darling, wheyayou?? I'm posting it with plenty of time so you can make it over the weekend. Let us know how it turns out!

Serves 6


Butter, for greasing dish
12 ounces wide egg noodles
2 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (packed) grated Fontina
3/4 cup (packed) finely grated Parmesan
3/4 cup (packed) grated mozzarella
4 ounces cooked ham, diced, optional
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Drain well, but do not rinse.

Whisk the cream, milk, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl to blend. Stir in 1 cup Fontina, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, ham, if using, and parsley. Add the noodles and toss to coat.

Transfer the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Toss the remaining 1 cup Fontina, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup mozzarella in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the noodle mixture.

Bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

4/27/13 I have made this recipe a few times and can tell you it is great! The grandchildren love it and it is a staple when they come. Don't compare it to our American Mac & Cheese.  It is the Italian version and, after all, it is Harry's Bar.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moules Mariniere...Remembering Barfleur!

Pin It Sometimes a place reminds you of something special, a kiss, a meal or just a delightful experience Other times, it is a recipe that brings forth the wonderful memories.

To me, Moules Mariniere will always remind me of a week I spent in Normandy, in a small town named Barfleur, with my close friends Yiyina and Ricardo. Now, these two are not just close friends, they are very special friends. They've taken care of me when I was ill and they have shared with me some of the most fantastic gastronomic experiences anyone can have. The three of us have travelled together many times for long periods of time, renting houses all over France, our favorite spot. That's not easy, not with two women who are great friends and one husband to share! Goes to show you how special they are.

Several years ago, we rented a Captains House in the harbour on Barfleur. I imagine it was similar to the ones in Nantucket. It was a charming house, but very, very uncomfortable. The wonderful thing was it's location, right smack in front of the harbour, where we could see the fishing boats come in and out, day in day out. That's all we did the first two days of our stay... sit by the window and watch the boats unload their catch.

It was fascinating to watch the tides. In low tide it was as if the water had been completely drained out of the harbour, just like Mont Saint Michel, but more dramatic. When the tide came back in, in came the fishing fleet and all the boats in the harbour straightened out again!

The main street surrounding the harbour was full of small family owned restaurants with signs advertising Moules Frites. That's not fried mussels like I thought at first, rather Moules Mariniere, with french fries on the side. Works for me...

As long as I live, every time I see moules on a recipe or in a menu, I will think of Barfleur and my friends the Bosques. Tonight, I was checking my blog when I saw this recipe from the James Beard Foundation. I have taken out the salt, as mussels are pretty salty on their own, as well as the tabasco sauce. No hot moules for me. The rest are pretty standard ingredients for Moules Mariniere. Make sure you have plenty of fresh, crusty baguettes on hand to soak up the buttery, aromatic broth. A nice, well chilled Muscadet is wonderful with shellfish and perfect for another great summer lunch, particularly if you have weekend guests at the beach! It is also inexpensive.


2 to 3 quarts mussels, scrubbed and bearded
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 to 3 sprigs parsley
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup white wine
½ cup chopped parsley

Place the garlic, onion, parsley sprigs, 4 tablespoons of the butter, salt, and pepper in a large pot. Add the mussels and pour the wine over them. Cover tightly and cook over low heat until the shells open.

Transfer the mussels to a soup tureen or serving dish. Add the remaining butter and chopped parsley to the pot. Adjust the seasoning and serve the mussels in soup plates along with some of the broth and plenty of crusty bread.

Historic Significance of Barfleur

In the Middle Ages Barfleur was one of the chief ports of embarkation for England

1066 - A large medallion fixed to a rock in the harbour marks the Norman departure from Barfleur before the Battle of Hastings.

1120 - The White Ship, carrying Prince William, only legitimate son of Henry I of England, went down outside the harbour.

1154 - Henry II and his consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine, took ship from Barfleur despite the weather and survived the crossing.

1194 - Richard I of England departed from Barfleur on return to England following his captivity by Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor.

1692 - Battles of Barfleur and La Hougue

Our house was the third house from the left, next to the white house. The photos of Barfleur are from Flickr. The photo of the mussels from the James Beard Foundation.

7/26: For a wonderful recipe for Moules Provencal with Fennel try this one from Marc Bittman!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Celebrating Bastille Day ...Chicken Grand-mere Francine Daniel Boulud

Pin It Chicken grand-mère, a savory fricassee, is a classic in French cuisine in general, but it was a classic in Daniel Boulud's family too. It was a specialty and a favorite of his Grandmother Francine, who cooked at the original Café Boulud outside Lyon, and at no time was it better than at mushroom harvest time. Mushrooms are a typical chicken grand-mère ingredient, but there was nothing typical about the dish "when my grandmother would add rose des pres, pink field mushrooms, newly dug potatoes, and new garlic." Fortunately, this dish always seems to be both satisfying and soothing whether you’re making it plain, with cultivated cremini or oyster mushrooms and creamer potatoes, or fancy, dressing it up with exotic mushrooms and any of the small fingerling or banana potatoes that many green markets now offer.

This is the kind of dish that I would serve in the Fall or Winter, but it is so typically French, that I thought I would add it now in honor of Bastille Day on July 14th. Why don't you start with the figs, prosciutto and cheese recipe from the last post? I think it would make for a beautiful combination, particularly now in the summer!

Makes 4 servings


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
One 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 cipolini onions, peeled and trimmed
4 shallots, peeled and trimmed
2 heads garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
3 sprigs thyme
4 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 small celery roots [celeriac], peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 ounces slab bacon, cut into short, thin strips
12 small cremini or oyster mushrooms,trimmed and cleaned
2 cups unsalted chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth*

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Working over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan or skillet – choose one with high sides and a cover. Season the chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper,slip them into the pan, and cook until they are well browned on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes. Take your time – you want a nice,deep color and you also want to partially cook the chicken at this point. When the chicken is deeply golden, transfer it to a platter and keep it in a warm place while you work on the vegetables.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the cooking fat from the pan.Lower the heat to medium, add the butter, onions, shallots, garlic,and thyme, and cook and stir just until the vegetables start to take on a little color, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, celery root,and bacon and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, just to start rendering the bacon fat. Cover the pan and cook another 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.

4. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and return the chicken to the pan. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil, and slide the pan into the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes,or until the chicken is cooked through. Spoon everything onto a warm serving platter or into an attractive casserole.

To serve: Bring the chicken to the table, with plenty of pieces of crusty baguette to sop up the sauce and spread with the soft,sweet, caramely garlic that is easily squeezed out of its skin.

Cook's Note*I use 3/4 cup of a rose or robust white wine and 1 1/4 cup chicken bouillon. Sometimes I substitute the wine with cognac, particularly if I use fancy mushrooms, to make it more special!

To drink: A rustic Bandol Rouge

Cook's note: Rather than use an oven proof skillet, I use a cocotte, a French oven proof cast iron dish. Le Creuset makes a good one!

Adapted From Café Boulud Cookbook by Daniel Boulud (Simon & Schuster, Scribner, 1998)

Figs, Prosciutto & St. Andre, A Delightful Combination

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Figs are around for only a short time of the year and when they appear in the supermarket, I have to restrain myself from buying up the whole lot.  I do try to make plenty of fig jam to serve with pates during the year; but nothing compares to fresh figs accompanied with prosciutto and a triple cream.  Add to that a crusty baguette and a glass of Sauternes or Muscat the Beaumes de Venise and you might as well be having lunch in the South of France.

Figs were brought to North America by the Spanish missionaries who came to California to build a network of Catholic missions. They found the climate particularly favorable to growing figs, which resulted in the naming of the purple-black variety known as the Black Mission. Other figs can be used for this recipe, including the large, fat, white-fleshed, green-skinned Calimyrna, and the small, thick-skinned, green Kadota. Or consider an assortment of all three. Me? The Black Missions are my favorite, but I'll take anything with the word fig, before or after.

This makes for a wonderful light lunch or first course.


1/3 cup crème fraîche

2 tsp. chopped fresh mint, plus mint sprigs for garnish

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 to 3 tsp. milk

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

12 ripe figs, a single variety or a mixture

6 oz. St.-André or other triple-cream cheese, such as Explorateur, cut into 12 wedges

3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto


In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, chopped mint, lemon juice and as much of the milk as needed to form a thick, creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Halve the figs and arrange them on individual plates or a platter. Intersperse the wedges of cheese among the figs. Drape the prosciutto around the figs and drizzle with the crème fraîche mixture. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve. Serves 6.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lipton's Meat Loaf with a Twist

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I usually don't post on Sundays but one of my dearest friends is having a craving for meatloaf!

I have been making this meatloaf recipe ever since I got married 40 years ago! It comes from a friend of ours who used to have a house in Vermont where my husband and I went during ski season. I think it is so good that I have never felt the need to look for another recipe and my family and friends have been enjoying it all these years. Like a lot of meatloaves today, it is a variation of the one on the onion soup mix but the addition of bacon really makes it stand out. The original recipe calls for real bread crumbs, so if you have day old bread, by all means use it.

The way I like to accompany meatloaf is with baked sweet potatoes on the side and creamed spinach. If you don't want to make the latter, Stouffers makes a pretty good one. The baked sweet potato will only take an hour at 350 degrees, so both can cook in the same oven. Make sure you let it rest for at least 10 minutes, otherwise it will be hard to cut. I usually let it rest longer.

This is one of the simplest most delicious and economical meals you will ever have...The ultimate comfort food. In addition, there is nothing like having meatloaf sandwiches for the rest of the week!


1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix or Onion Beef Soup Mix

2 lbs. ground beef

3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs*

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup ketchup

1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp dry basil*

3 slices of bacon


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
2. Shape into a loaf in a 13 x 9-inch baking or roasting pan or in a loaf pan. Cover with 3 slices of bacon.

3. Bake uncovered 1 hour or until done. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

*Cook's Note Use 1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs or 5 slices fresh bread, cubed
* If you have fresh basil use it..if you have lemon basil, even better!
* I prefer to use a metal meat loaf pan instead of ceramic. The one in the photo is from Getty Images. The one in the recipe will look the same or better!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lindaraxa's Garden on Foodista!!

Pin It I'm very excited to announce that Lindaraxa's Garden has been chosen by Foodista as Food Blog of the Day for this Saturday, July 11th! The post for The Real Cuban Mojito will be featured on the Foodista homepage for 24 hours.

Foodista is a collaborative project to build the world's largest, highest quality cooking encyclopedia. One of it's investors is .

You might be able to check it out as early as tomorrow night!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pimiento Cheese Spread

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This is a traditional and very Southern recipe by Craig Claiborne. Although I've never been to Augusta National in Georgia, I understand that it is a favorite of golfers around the world and is served in the tents around the course during the Masters. It is great for a light lunch or afternoon snack, particularly if you are having your friends over for bridge. In these hot summer afternoons, I love to serve it on tea sandwiches with a big pitcher of freshly made lemonade or iced tea. I also serve it on Ritz crackers or celery sticks! Either way, it's addictive.


1/2 pound mild yellow Cheddar or longhorn cheese

1/2 pound white aged sharp Cheddar cheese

1 can (7 ounces) pimientos

1 cup chopped scallions, including green tops

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

6 drops Tabasco sauce

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Use a meat grinder, if possible, to grate the cheeses, using the cutterwith large holes. Otherwise, use the coarse side of a cheese grater. Put the grated cheese in a mixing bowl and add half the juice from the canned pimientos. Dice the drained pimientos and add them along with the scallions. Combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and garlic, and add the cheese mixture. Add the Worcestershire, Tabasco, and pepper and blend well. Serve at room temperature as a spread for crispcrackers and raw vegetables or use as sandwich spread. Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

Top Photo: Wright Bryan NPR

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Real Cuban Mojito

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Mojito at Hotel Ambos Mundos, Havana

If you're looking for the classic Cuban Mojito, the way Ernest Hemingway drank it in Old Havana, you've come to the right place!

For starters, a real mojito is a very simple and delicious cocktail, if you make it the right way. One trick is the sequence in which you add the ingredients; the other is the addition of the sprigs as well as the mint leaves (or yerbabuena) Aside from that, it consists of 5 simple ingredients, sugar, limes, mint, soda water, good rum (make mine Bacardi!) and ice cubes, NOT crushed ice. Use a tall cylindrical glass. To make several mojitos, line up the glasses and follow this sequence.


2 Tsps Sugar

1/2 Lime

2 Sprigs of Mint

1 Part Soda Water

2 Parts Bacardi Rum

Ice Cubes

To the glass, add the sugar and coat with the juice of the 1/2 lime (save the wedge). Add the mint, leaves and sprigs, soda and leftover lime wedge. Muddle well with a pestle. Add the rum and top with ice cubes.

The craddle of the Cuban Mojito is a place in Old Havana named La Bodeguita del Medio. Originally an old warehouse in the middle of a side street near the cathedral, it later became a bodega and eventually a restaurant in the 1940's. There is an old saying of Hemingway's on a wall, "Mi mojito en La Bodeguita y mi daiquiri en El Floridita," another legendary Cuban establishment. Hollywood celebrities such as Errol Flynn, Nat King Cole and Ava Gardner where notable visitors in the 50's.

I have enclosed a link to La Bodeguita del Medio in Old Havana which is wonderful. I have to take my hat off to the Cuban government. Sometimes it takes a bit to load (It is a Cuban link!) but will be delighted you did. Make sure you click on the link to the bar and watch a Cuban bartender make a real mojito! Unfortunately, the chain of Bodeguitas that you find around the world, including one in Miami and another in California, have nothing to do with the old place. They are just tourist traps with bad food and horrendous prices.

I hope you enjoy your mojitos and your visit to La Bodeguita del Medio!

Mojito on Foodista
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