Monday, May 31, 2010

Lemon, Orange or Grand Marnier Souffle

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Tonight, looking through some of my earlier unpublished post, I realized I had never posted this recipe.  It is for variations of Mark Bittman's fool proof chocolate souffle which I posted last year. Now, I pride myself on being willing and able to tackle almost anything in the kitchen, but when it comes to bread and souffles, I have to admit I'm a little skittish.  Luckly, I have a mother and a daughter who love me enough to act as guinea pigs and on those occasions, I have been mostly successful.  BUT, when it comes to making them for company I turn into a jellyfish.

I made the chocolate souffle last year for a dear friend from Geneva who was very impressed, or so he told me.  He used to work for me and is a darling man, and maybe he was just been gracious for old times sakes. But I don't think so,  I was kind of proud of it myself too!  I haven't had another willing young man over for another go at it, but I am sharing this with you because it is the exact same recipe except with different flavorings.  I am partial to the lemon souffle, particularly at this time of the year, so that is the one I would tackle next...maybe with meyer lemons??? I have in mind to try an apricot souffle next, as soon as they are in season.

If you want to make individual soufflés, use a little more butter and grease four 1 1/2- to 2-cup ramekins.

Yield 4 to 6 servings
Time About 45 minutes


About 1 teaspoon unsalted butter for the dish

1 cup sugar, plus some for the dish

6 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon minced or grated lemon or orange zest

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice or Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur*

Pinch salt

Powdered sugar (optional)


1. Butter a 2-quart soufflé or other deep baking dish. Sprinkle the dish with sugar, invert it, and tap to remove excess sugar. Set aside and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar until light and very thick; the mixture will fall in a ribbon from the ends of the beaters when it is ready. Beat in the flavorings and set aside.

2. Beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold soft peaks; continue to beat, gradually adding the remaining 1/4 cup sugar,* until they are very stiff but still glossy. Stir a good spoonful of them thoroughly into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites, using a rubber spatula or your hand. Transfer to the prepared soufflé dish(es) and bake until the center is nearly set, 25 to 35 minutes (15 to 25 minutes for individual soufflés). Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

*add 1 TB zest to egg whites

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Outdoor Entertaining...Where Casual Meets Chic!

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I love to entertain outdoors and to me the perfect evening is sitting in one of those Italian or French farmhouses eating dinner under the trees... with lots and lots of candles!  There is so much you can do outside that you wouldn't dare do in your formal dining room.  This is the time to use orange, or turquoise or that color you love that wouldn't necessarily match anything else in your house.  But don't go overboard.  Make one thing the focus of your table, like the lanterns below, or if you use bold plates, go easy on the rest.  Do try to remain chic, please.  Simple and casual can be elegant too. On the other hand, there is nothing more summery than white plates, white tablecloth and clear glasses, so take your pick.

If you are looking for ways to perk up your outdoor table settings here are some suggestions:

These Moroccan lanterns would dress up any table.  They come in different colors (Hint:  if you get them in orange, you can use them for fall (Thanksgiving, Halloween) and Easter!)

If you happen to have a big tree near your outdoor table a few of these hanging from the branches would be great...if not, a couple as centerpieces would also do the trick!

Melamine plates are the new paper plates!  I saw Colin Cowell combine them this morning in the Today show with the orange Moroccan lanterns and fresh bunches of green plantains instead of flowers.  This is where casual meets chic.

Williams Sonoma melamine plates

Also check out Target if you are looking for less expensive melamine plates

Liberty of London for Target

Can you believe these are melamine??? Beautiful for a white summer table, very provencal!

These chargers are great under any plate and they are slightly different from the ones we are used to!!

These are definitively not melamine! they are the real thing for an elegant outdoor table, check out the napkin rings!

Turquoise is okay!

Love these from

Fun things! drink straws

Now, go shopping!
Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pretty Summer Tables

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Southern Accents

Southern Accents

Southern Accents

Southern Accents

Southern Accents

Southern Accents


So now go out and buy something cool!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Very Simple Paella for Sunday Lunch

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Paella is one of those dishes that look and sound complicated when they really are not.  I have to admit that even I am intimidated by the damn dish particularly since everyone in my family claims to have the real recipe for Spanish paella.  Their paella is the best paella ever cooked, so when I make mine, I make sure not to invite them, so I won't have to hear how theirs is different and much much better.

Paella is really a rice dish, very similar to risotto, except you throw in everything but the kitchen sink.  Long considered the national dish of Spain, a good paella will have chicken, pork, chorizo, a combination of shellfish such as shrimp, mussels and clams, zaffron, tomato paste, peas, pimiento slices and sometimes, white asparagus spears. These are the basics but not necessarily all of the ingredients you can add to a mixed paella. Now comes the arguments, some will add cider, others beer, and still others white wine.  There is always the jerk who claims it can only be made with champagne!

I am giving you a recipe for a "starter" paella,  very simple, economical and not complicated to make. I just want you to get your feet wet.  Later on we'll talk about making it fancier.

For spring and summer, I prefer to serve a late Sunday lunch instead of an early dinner, or supper as they call it down here.   This is the time of the year when I like to cook hearty rice dishes such as paellas and risottos.  To me, rice dishes are really for lunch, they are too heavy to be enjoyed and properly digested late at night.

Serves 4


3 1/2 cups chicken or fish stock  or combo of both

Pinch saffron threads

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 medium onion, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces Spanish chorizo or other cooked or smoked sausage

2 teaspoons smoked paprika (pimenton)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup tomato puree

2 cups short- or medium-grain rice, preferably paella rice (valencia) or Arborio

1 cup peas (frozen are fine)

1 jar pimento slices

1/2 lbs peeled shrimp

Cuttlefish or monkfish (optional)

Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Warm the stock with the saffron in a small saucepan. Put the oil in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, cook the chicken until deeply browned on both sides, then add the onion and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the chorizo, paprika, wine, and tomato purée; bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice, scattering it in the pan as evenly as possible, cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s shiny, another minute or two. Carefully add the warm stock and peas and stir until just combined, then tuck the shrimp into the top before putting in the oven.

3. Put the pan in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for 15 or 20 minutes. Check to see if the rice is dry and just tender. If not, return the pan to the oven for 5 minutes. If the rice looks too dry at this point, but still isn’t quite done, add a small amount of stock or water. When the rice is ready, add the pimientoes, turn off the oven and let it sit for at least 5 and up to 15 minutes.

Paella usually has a layer of toasted rice at the bottom of the pan. This is considered a delicacy in Spain and is essential to a good paella. The toasted rice develops on its own if the paella is cooked over a burner or open fire. If cooked in an oven, however, it will not. To correct this, place the paellera over a high flame while listening to the rice toast at the bottom of the pan. Once the aroma of toasted rice wafts upwards, remove it from the heat. The paella must then sit (most recipes recommend the paella be covered with a towel at this point) for about five minutes to absorb the remaining broth.

4. Before serving, sprinkle with parsley.

Adapted from The Way to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

Thursday, May 20, 2010

'Til Death Do Us Part...Julia Child's Quiche Lorraine

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There are recipes that you marry for life and Julia Child's Quiche Lorraine, like her Chocolate Mousse, are two of them.  I discovered both in the late 1970's and never looked back.  It was my second husband's favorite weekend lunch, after Coquilles St. Jacques.  A Wall Street trader and  7- handicap golfer, this man loved quiche. So, who says real men don't eat quiche!

In those days, you couldn't buy quiche at gourmet shops.  If you wanted one, you made one, so it was indeed a treat.  Nowadays, we are so sick of it we have already forgotten what the real stuff tastes like.  If you are a quiche lover,  I suggest you try this recipe. You can make it with your eyes closed.  If you don't want to go through the ordeal of making a crust, buy a frozen one.  I recommend Mrs. Smith's.

The original Quiche Lorraine,unlike what you may have heard, does not have cheese.  That is something that came later and has become acceptable now.  You will notice this recipe does not have it and I suggest making it as is; but if you want to add some, make sure you use Gruyere (1/2 cup), eliminate bacon and use milk or half and half instead).

At this time of year, if I am serving it for a (ladies) lunch, I will have gazpacho to start and serve the quiche with a spinach salad.  A strawberry sorbet with chocolate cookies and you are done!

The gazpacho, sorbet and the crust for the quiche can be made the day before and the filling can be mixed and stored in the refrigerator the morning of the lunch. I would not bake it completely and reheat it later. You could, but it does make a difference.

A chilled Puligny Montrachet is my wine of choice!

 4-6 servings


3-4 ounces lean bacon (6 to 8 strips) cut in 1" slices

8-inch partially cooked pastry shell

3 eggs

1 1/2 – 2 cups cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

pinch of pepper

pinch of nutmeg

1-2 tablespoons butter cut into pea-sized dots


Preheat oven to 375°. Put bacon in a medium pan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain. Return bacon to pan and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain, then arrange on bottom of crust.

4. Beat eggs, cream, and salt together in a medium bowl and season to taste with nutmeg and pepper. Pour mixture into crust and bake until custard is puffed and golden and just set in the center, 30-35 minutes. Slide quiche off parchment paper onto a serving platter and remove ring. Serve quiche warm or at room temperature, sliced into wedges.

If you want to make your own crust, here is her recipe, simplified: You will need a flan ring or a cake pan with removable bottom.


2 cups flour

1⁄4 tsp. salt

Pinch sugar

8 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp. cold vegetable shortening, cut into

small pieces

1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Sift together flour, salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to work butter and shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle in up to 6 tbsp. ice water, stirring the dough with a fork until it just begins to hold together. Using your hands, press dough firmly into a rough ball, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Give the dough several quick kneads with the heel of your hand to form a smooth dough, then shape into a ball, flatten slightly to make a round, and dust with flour. Wrap round in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 400°. Allow dough to soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out on a lightly floured surface into a 14'' round. Fit dough, without stretching it, into a buttered 10'' bottomless metal flan ring, 1 1⁄2'' deep, set on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet with no rim. Press overhanging dough down slightly into sides of ring to make the sides of the crust a little thicker and sturdier. Run the rolling pin over the top of the ring to remove any overhanging dough. Using a fork, prick bottom lightly, then make a decorative edge around the rim. Line dough with buttered aluminum foil, then add pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is set and edge just begins to color, about 25 minutes. Remove foil and weights, brush bottom and sides with egg, and continue baking until crust is pale golden, another 2-5 minutes.

The photo is above is @aneyefordetail whose picture came out better that mine!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Healthy Dinner...Baked Halibut With Tomato Caper Sauce

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I am horrified at the amount of dessert recipes I've been posting lately...aren't you?  Why didn't somebody tell me?!  By this time of the year I am usually in bathing suit mode and all pies, cakes and bread disappear from my radar.  With this strange weather- one day cold, one day hot, three days raining-  my system is a little confused;  but before I know it, it will be time to don that (ugh) bathing suit and all hell to pay.  I love to swim and nothing is keeping me out of the water, even if it is fresh water whose bottom I can't see!

Cutting back  and eating healthy is not that bad if you really put your mind to it (yeah, right).  All it takes is a little adjusting... no more drinks during the week,  lighter meals at night, more salads for lunch and absolutely NO desserts.  Oh, but life would be so dull...  don't worry I can always resort to old recipes and post a dessert here and there...but not three in a row!

Luckily halibut season is upon us. It starts in March and ends sometime in late Fall.  Fish is the best thing to have for dinner when you want to cut back, even better than chicken.   Unfortunately, where I live now, I have to resort to buying fish at Costco and Trader Joe's as there isn't a  fish market for miles.  If you can't get fresh fish, flash frozen is the way to go.    Its ironic that I live within spitting distance of a lake and can't get fresh fish, even occasionally.  But these lake fish are smart.  Did you hear someone caught a bass yesterday on our dock but it got away?   Jumped right out of the bucket back into the lake..never heard that one before.

Eating healthy doesn't have to be dull or complicated as you will see from the recipe below

Yield: Serves 6

For the tomato caper sauce:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

4 plump garlic cloves, minced or mashed in a mortar and pestle

1/4 cup capers, drained, rinsed and finely chopped or mashed with the garlic in a mortar and pestle

2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped, or 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

Salt, preferably kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pinch of sugar

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon slivered fresh basil leaves


1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, three to five minutes, and add the garlic and the capers. Cook, stirring, for three to five minutes, until the onion has softened thoroughly and the mixture is fragrant. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce is thick and fragrant. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot or cold.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups


For the baked halibut:

1 recipe tomato-caper sauce, above

6 6-ounce halibut fillets

Salt, preferably kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

6 lemon slices


1. Make the sauce as directed and keep warm.

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Oil a baking dish large enough for the fish to lie flat. Season the fish with salt and pepper, and arrange in the baking dish. Drizzle the olive oil over the fillets, and place a round of lemon on each one. Cover the dish tightly with foil, and place in the oven. Bake 15 minutes. Check the fish; if you can cut into it with a fork, it is done. If it doesn’t yield, (halibut fillets tend to be thick can take time to cook), cover and return to the oven for five minutes. Remove from the oven, and check again. Remove the lemon slices from the fish.

3. Place a spoonful of sauce on each plate, and place a piece of fish partially on top. Spoon some of the liquid from the baking dish over the fish. If you wish, top the fish with another spoonful of sauce, garnish with basil leaves and serve.

Advance preparation: The sauce will keep for about five days in the refrigerator.

By M. Shulman for NYT
Published: May 12, 2009

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cooking With Lavender...Honey Lavender Ice Cream

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image Epirurious

Dried lavender is nice in potpourri, but it’s even better in the kitchen, where it can be put to both sweet and savory uses.  For years, the French, particularly the Provencal,  have been using it in their cooking but it is only recently that we here in the United States have been adding it to our recipes.   


One classic use is as a central component in the blend, Herbes de Provence.  Unfortunately, in this country, it is difficult to find HP with lavender so what I do is incorporate some into the blend.  Next time you buy herbes de Provence, make sure you read the ingredients,  It is a blend, like any other, and some are definitely better than others.  I usually get some from friends who live in France and bring me some from the local market.  If you want to make your own mix, combine crumbled dried lavender with dried rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and savory, and crushed fennel seeds. Herbes de Provence makes a terrific addition to goat cheese, omelettes, lamb and roast chicken.

On the sweet side, you can steep dried lavender in milk, and make creme brulee, rice pudding, or ice cream. It  is good in buttery shortbread cookies, especially with lemon zest in the dough or a lemon glaze on top to offset its floral notes. A little goes a long way, though, so don't add too much or it’ll seem like you’re eating a bar of soap.

Make lavender sugar by tossing whole blossoms with granulated sugar and allowing it to sit for a few weeks. Use in tea or sprinkle on cookies or muffins. Or steep dried lavender in simple syrup and use as a flavoring for lemonade or iced tea.

You can usually find lavender flowers at gourmet shops such as Dean & Deluca and Whole Foods. Here in Atlanta I buy them at the World Market.  They are not hard to find, just make sure they are the culinary lavender seeds and not the ones treated for sachets.

This year I bought some plants at Home Depot and I will let you know how they fare.  They started slow but they now seem to have taken off and I see some of the buds sticking out.  Maybe flowers by June or July, we'll see!

Now that I have my ice cream machine down from the attic, the first homemade ice cream of this season is Honey Lavender, something you will not get from Hagen Daz.  Use good honey, preferably from Provence, but a good domestic honey will also do the trick.


Makes about 1 quart


2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup dried lavender

1/3 cup honey

5 large egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream


1.In a medium saucepan, combine milk, lavender, and honey. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and remove from heat. Let steep for 5 minutes. Strain mixture, reserving milk and discarding lavender.

2.Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, return milk to a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

3.Add half the milk to egg-yolk mixture, and whisk until blended. Stir mixture into remaining milk, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

4.Remove from heat, and immediately stir in cream. Strain mixture into a medium mixing bowl set in an ice-water bath, and let stand until chilled, stirring from time to time.* Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in an airtight plastic container up to 2 weeks.

*I highly recommend you place the cream back in the refrigerator overnight before you freeze in the ice cream maker.
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