Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chicken Piccata

Pin It Still unpacking, but eating better.

This is one of those recipes that you can have on a week night or dress up if you are having another couple for an inpromtum dinner. We just happened to have it tonight because it's easy and I had all the ingredients on hand. If you are serving it with company, do go the extra mile and slice the lemon at the end of the recipe. It looks pretty and more, shall we say, professional?

You can buy the chicken breasts already thinly sliced.

Serves 4


2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of paprika
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
lemon, thinly sliced (optional)


Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and paprika and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate.

Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning.

Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Layer the thinly sliced lemon on top of the chicken, pour sauce over it and garnish with parsley.

Adapted from Giada de Laurentis

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Sister Blog! My Kitchen By the Lake

Pin It I am starting a new sister blog for my new life at the lake. This will be a smaller blog, more community oriented, more casual, more country, more fun! There will be recipes there as well, but they will be more appropriate for that kind of life. Let's say there will be no tagines or souffles!

Please come visit http://mykitchenbythelake.blogspot.com and tell me what you think. Nothing is permanent there, just going with the flow. You might be interested in the pictures of the area after the flood.

Don't worry, Lindaraxa's Garden lives on!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tomato Zucchini Gratin AKA Casserole

Pin It Its funny, in my days this was called a casserole... my, my how times have changed! I don't know how I could have forgotten to post this. To me this is the quintessential summer casserole and when I make it, it reminds me of summer and of my days living in North Carolina. In that part of the country, everyone had a signature casserole!

I have many variations of this dish, which hopefully, I will be posting in summers to come. This is a great way to cook the last of this summer's fresh tomatoes and zucchini. I love to serve it with fish, accompanied by yellow rice. It is also very nice with grilled lamb chops.

Serves 4-6.

2 pounds fresh zucchini
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
1 pound fresh, peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
4 TB grated Gruyère cheese (or more to taste)
3 TB   grated Parmesan cheese (or more to taste)
1/4 cup bread crumbs, buttered

Wash and thinly slice zucchini. Melt butter in large skillet. Toss zucchini to coat with melted butter and cook over high heat, stirring continuously. Sprinkle with water and continue to cook until tender, yet firm. Remove from pan, and set aside. Pour tomatoes into skillet. Add basil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Cook until slightly thickened. Pour over zucchini and mix. Spoon into a buttered casserole or individual gratin dishes. Sprinkle with mixture of Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses, and top with buttered bread crumbs. Cover with foil and bake at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and brown crumbs briefly under broiler.


Wash and thinly slice tomatoes, zuccini and onions.  Butter a casserole dish.  Lay one layer of zucchini, one of tomatoes and pne of onions.  Salt and Pepper and chopped basil leaves.  Sprinkle generous layer of coarsely grated Cheddar Cheese.  Repeat so you have 2 layers ending with cheese.  Lightly sprinkle bread crumbs.  Cook covered 375 30 minutes and uncovered at 400 15 minutes until browned.

This is one of my most requested recipes!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Peche Melba... A Homage to a Diva!

Pin It I had forgotten to publish this before I left for the lake so in a pinch for a post, here it is.

The move has been slower than I expected, seeing the house is larger than I anticipated (a good thing) and there are three levels ( a bad thing). It has been raining since I got here a week ago so I have to stop everything to clean up 8 little paws every time the dogs go out. Needless to say my lower back, which has always been a problem, is giving me a hard time. My daughter has promised to connect the wireless tonight as I have been working off this miniature laptop which is a pain in the neck. I will try to post at least twice a week for the next two weeks but forgive me if im not too chatty...its the exhaustion. I'm moving muscles I didnt know existed. Today I counted the steps up to the second floor ...sixteen!! and down to the lower level another sixteen..and most of the boxes are stacked up in the garage! So I would be lying to you if I told you I was cooking wonderful things every night. I will be back full force in a week or two.

The Peach Melba was made in honor of Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba by French chef Auguste Escoffier at London's Savoy hotel in 1894.

This recipe for Peches Melba (Melba Peaches) uses an often neglected and little known cooking technique called white poaching to keep the peaches firm. When white poaching, the ingredients are brought to barely a simmer and then the whole pan is removed from the heat. The hot mixture stays in the pan for a time, gently cooking in its own heat as it cools. The result is perfectly cooked, and never mushy.

This is the final dessert for the summer season so enjoy the peaches while they last!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes 12 servings.


6 ripe peaches, peeled and pitted
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract


1 12-oz. package frozen unsweetened red raspberries, thawed in bowl
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
Vanilla ice cream


Using a deep, wide skillet, heat 1 ¼ cups sugar and 2 cups water to boiling. After sugar dissolves, add peaches in a single layer. Reduce heat to just under simmering and poach, covered, for 5 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, gently turn all the peaches over, cover, and continue poaching for 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and allow peaches to sit in hot syrup for an additional 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. Chill peaches in syrup for at least one hour.


Push raspberries and juice left from thawing through a fine-mesh sieve, and then discard seeds and solids; set aside. Bring 1/3 cup sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil for 2 minutes and remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and zest. Stir simple syrup (sugar mixture) into seedless raspberry puree and chill for 30 minutes.

Layer peaches and raspberries over ice cream in frosted dishes, decorate with mint leaves and serve.

Photo: Chris Bayley

Thursday, September 17, 2009

London Broil...Dinner at the New House

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It has been pouring ever since I got to the new house which is good for unpacking but certainly not for the grill. Usually when we move, we eat off the grill the first couple of nights, but not this time. Yesterday, we went to the store and picked up a beautiful top round on sale which was destined for last night's dinner, but with all the rain, there was no way we could cook outside. The broiler pan was nowhere to be found but the iron skillet luckily was on hand. I first thought of broiling it but thought perhaps a few minutes on top of the stove to sear it and lock the juices would be a better idea. So this is what I did. I took the meat out of the refrigerator two hours before cooking, marinaded it in Worcestershire Sauce and Crazy Salt, rubbed butter all over it, seared it for a couple of minutes on each side and baked it at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. (leave oven door ajar) I took it out of the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes on the iron skillet to let the juices do their thing. The result, the best London Broil I have ever cooked...soft, juicy, tender, the works. Make sure you slice it very thin and against the grain and whatever you do, do not overcook. This is what makes it tough.

London Broil, despite what you might find at the local meat market, is not a cut of beef but rather a method of cooking. It was one of the first recipes to become popular in early restaurants and so the name London Broil became synonymous with a cut of meat. Originally that cut of meat was flank steak, but over the years the name has been applied to almost any cut of beef that is very lean and less tender. Hence you might find London Broil being a steak or a roast that comes from the sirloin or round sections of cattle. This of course makes the whole thing very confusing.

What you will find today as London Broil in most grocery stores is Top Round, usually between an inch and 1 1/2 inches thick. A wonderful marinade is olive oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, honey and balsamic vinegar. Tonight, none of that could be found. However, the alternative was terrific and a second recipe to file away for this cut of meat, which is wonderful in winter when grilling is out of the question for most of us.

Servings 4 - 6


1 Top Round Streak 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
Crazy Salt
Worcestershire Sauce

Preheat Oven to 425 degrees

Take the meat out of the refrigerator two hours before cooking. Marinade in Worcestershire Sauce, Crazy Salt and pepper. Before cooking, rub the meat on both sides with soft butter. Heat the iron skillet to medium high and brown the meat on both sides (approximately 2 minutes each side). Place the iron pan with the meat in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Leave oven door ajar. Remove skillet from the oven and let meat rest in the skillet for another 5-10 minutes. The meat will continue cooking during this time. Remove to the cutting board and cut very thin, against the grain.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time for a Break

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We will be on a short break starting September 14. I have a surprise in storage when we return. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sausage, Peppers & Onions...Definitely a Man's Sandwich

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I love this sandwich but I never order it when I'm out, way too messy to really enjoy and an almost sure candidate for a dry cleaning bill.

This is definitely one of those things I save for eating at home, preferably by the pool in the summer, or in jeans on a cold winter day. Make sure you have it with a cold beer and a big napkin around your neck!

#5 in my list of favorite sandwiches!

Servings: 4 - 6 people


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Marsala wine
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
4 to 6 fresh Italian sandwich rolls, optional


Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on both sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain.

Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the peppers, onions, salt, and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.

Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the Marsala wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer.

Cut the sausages into 4 to 6 pieces each, about 1-inch cubes. Add the sausage back to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Split the rolls in half lengthwise. Hollow out the bread from the bottom side of each roll, being careful not to puncture the crust. Fill the bottom half of the roll with sausage mixture. Top and serve sandwiches immediately.
Recipe: Giada de Laurentis

Monday, September 7, 2009

Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto

Pin It Fresh figs have an incredible flavor, but because they last only about a week after harvest, almost 90% of the world's fig crop is sold as dried fruit. The nutritional value of dried figs is quite impressive. They have the highest fiber and mineral content of all common fruits, nuts or vegetables. They also have as much as 1,000 times more calcium than other common fruits and by weight they actually have more calcium than skim milk.

Figs are 80% higher in potassium than bananas, and are extremely easy to digest. They also have more iron than any other of the common fruits and are extremely high in magnesium. All of this for about 20 to 40 calories per fig. No wonder they are often referred to as "nature's most nearly perfect fruit."

I adore figs, but my family doesn't so when I buy a carton I have to figure out all sorts of way to eat them quickly. Today I had these for lunch hot, but they can also be served fresh, without heating. Take advantage of the fact that they are in season, if only for a short time!!

Serves 2


8 large firm and ripe Mission Figs
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
4 oz fresh goat cheese cut into 1 inch chunks
4-6 slices prosciutto cut into 1/2 in. ribbons


With a knife, make a cross on top of each fig about an inch deep.This is where you are going to stuff the cheese.

Place the figs, cut side up, on a serving tray. Drizzel each fig with olive oil and springle some salt.

Gently push a chunk of cheese into the center of each fig. Wrap each fig in a ribbon of prosciutto.

If you want to serve warm, place in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt. Enjoy!

Feast your Eyes And Drool!... Pierre Herme, Paris

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If you got this far, you are brave! If you are a glutton for punishment, you can go to
http://www.pierreherme.com/ They are only 7.50 euros (that's only $10.00 EACH) I think we'd better learn to make them at home, the macarons, I mean. Think i"ll look for a recipe, I have become obssessed now!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Zesty Lemon Chicken

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Had this for dinner tonight. Simply sensational. I bought the wrong cut of chicken, thinking it was boneless chicken breasts instead of skinless chicken tenders. My original intention was to make chicken paillard but there you go, we had Lemon Chicken instead. My daughter is going to be thrilled when I make it for her as it is one of her favorite Chinese dishes.

This is an adaptation of an adaptation of Martin Yan's Lemon Chicken. I've forgotten what the original recipe looks like as most of my cookbooks are in storage (they'll be out soon!). No matter, this is a keeper.

Chinese meat dishes, as a rule, are not marinaded beforehand for long periods of time. Ten minutes is the usual time in most recipes. In this case, since the chicken was intended for something else, the tenders sat in fresh lemon juice and garlic for about 4 hours*. That might have been what made this dish over the top. The end result was a light crisp crust on the outside and very tender and juicy inside, with a sauce that was lemony and not too sweet. White rice and broccoli florets accompanied the dish. Can't wait to make it again!

4 servings


6 to 8 tablespoons mild-flavored honey
5 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoon lemon pulp
2 tablespoons plum sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 lbs. chicken breast tenders*
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup cooking oil
1/2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds


Make the sauce by whisking the honey, lemon juice, zest and pulp together in a small bowl until blended. Stir in the plum sauce, pour into a small saucepan; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine egg with the salt and white pepper. Lightly coat the chicken with the cornstarch; dip into the egg mixture and coat in the cornstarch again. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

Shake off the excess cornstarch prior to cooking.

In a wok, heat the oil until hot. Cook the chicken, a couple pieces at a time, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat; add the cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens.

Place the chicken on a serving plate. Pour the sauce on top and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Flourless Almond Torte with Chocolate Coffee Sauce

Pin It When I saw this recipe, I immediately thought of my good friends Andrew and Juan, who make the most divine Chocolate Flourless Cake. Now, these two are hosts par excellence, and an evening at their home is the epitome of what a great dinner party should be. I must say I have learned a lot from them and some of the things I have observed only serve to reinforce what I have already learned and applied to my own dinner parties. I want to write a separate post on entertaining soon so I won't digress from this wonderful dessert.

This recipe is from the book Effortless Elegance by Colin Cowie, one of the West Coast's preeminent caterers and event planners. In this book, he applies the same principles he uses in creating some of the most famous parties in LA to entertaining at home. It is ironic that I would find this recipe in his book considering how I feel about my friends Andrew and Juan's entertaining style. Just a coincidence? perhaps...

Flourless Almond Torte

2 1/2 C blanched almonds
1 1/2 C sugar
Dash salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Grated peel of 1 lemon
Powdered sugar
Chocolate Coffee Sauce (see following recipe)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Butter a 10 inch spring form pan, then line it with wax paper. Butter the wax paper.

3. In a food processor, combine the sugar and almonds. Process until almonds are finely ground. Set aside

4. Separate 4 of the eggs, placing the yolks in a large bowl and reserving the whites. Add the remaining eggs, along with the salt, vanilla, and lemon peel, to the bowl with the yolks and beat to blend well. Gradually beat in the almond mixture. The mixture will become very thick.

5. In a large bowl of a electric mixer, beat the reserved whites until they are stiff but not dry. Gently fold them into the batter, a third at a time.

6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center of cake comes out clean.

7. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the sides of the pan and sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar. Serve with Chocolate Coffee Sauce.

Chocolate Coffee Sauce

1 1/4 C milk
1 vanilla bean, split
1 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
1 TB finely ground coffee
2 egg yolks
2 TB sugar


1. In a saucepan, bring the milk with the vanilla bean to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat.

2. Transfer 2 TB of the hot milk to a bowl and stir in the cocoa powder and the coffee. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, beat the yolks and the sugar until light. Set aside.

4. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the insides into the milk. Discard the bean.

5. Stir a small amount of the hot milk into the yolk mixture, then stir the yolk mixture, along with the cocoa mixture, into the pan of milk. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the sauce begins to thicken and coats the back of a metal spoon, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir for 1 minute to cool slightly.

Cooks Note: This is a great cake to serve for Passover.
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