Monday, November 29, 2010

Cranberry Almond Streusel Cake

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This recipe comes from the Holiday issue of Sweet Paul Magazine,  an online 90 page food, crafts and lifestyle magazine filled to the rim with great recipes, fun crafts, interesting people and much more.  It is based on Paul Howe's wildly successful blog Sweet Paul.

I am surprised to say I love this cyber magazine.  The recipes are fantastic, down to earth and very doable.  The photography is stunning.  If this is the future of online magazines, bring it on!


2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 stick salted butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 Cups sour cream
2 cups french cranberries
3 TB sugar


1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 sticks salted butter


Preheat oven to 350

Mix the flour and baking powder

Butter a 9 inch square or round pan

Cream butter and sugar until light.  Add eggs one at a time and mix well.

Add the two extracts and sour cream.

Add the flour and baking powder mix.

Coat the cranberries with sugar in a separate bowl and incorporate into mix by hand

Pour mix into cake pan

Make the streussel, work together sugar, flour and butter until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of the cake.

Bake for 50-60 minutes. until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and and dust with powder sugar

I have condensed the directions from the actual recipe on the magazine, but you get the point!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sunday Family Dinner...Turkey A La King And Four Others!

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When I was growing up, I could always count on having Turkey A la King,  Turkey Croquettes or Turkey Tetrazzini within a couple of days of the big turkey dinner.  Nowadays, kids look forward to either Turkey Chili or Turkey Enchiladas with the same anticipation.   Well, guess what? I've got all bases covered between this blog and the country blog so enjoy an easy day tomorrow!

This is really my recipe for Chicken A La King with turkey substituted.  Those of you who, like me, are of a certain age will remember it well.  Enjoy!

Yield: Makes 6 servings


3/4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 lb cooked turkey meat, both white and dark or skinless boneless chicken breast halves

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 green bell peppers, cut into small pieces

1 1/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1/4 lb white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered

3 large egg yolks

1 small can red pimientos dices

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

2 tablespoons dry Sherry, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon paprika (not hot)

6 puff pastry shells

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a 4- to 5-quart wide heavy pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then cook peppers, stirring, until softened (do not brown), 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer peppers to a bowl and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Add onion and remaining 3 tablespoons butter to pot and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add flour and remaining teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and reduce heat to low, then cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in 3/4 cup broth, then all of cream and mushrooms, and simmer until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together yolks, lemon juice, Sherry, and paprika in a small bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup sauce, then stir yolk mixture back into sauce remaining in pot. Cook over low heat, stirring (do not simmer, or sauce will curdle), until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

Cut turkey crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices and add along with peppers to sauce, then cook over low heat (do not simmer, or sauce will curdle), stirring occasionally, until turkey and peppers are just heated through. Add more broth to thin if desired.

Spoon turkey à la king over shells or toast on 6 plates, then sprinkle with parsley.

You may also want to look at these four and substitute with leftover turkey:

Turkey Chili
Turkey Croquettes
Turkey Tetrazzini
Turkey Enchiladas

Photo: Google

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftovers...Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms

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This is the best leftover stuffing idea idea I've seen yet.  You can make these the next day or freeze the stuffing and prepare the mushrooms at a later date.


Mix 1 cup leftover stuffing with 1/4 cup grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons each olive oil and chopped parsley and 1 minced garlic clove. Stuff into 24 button mushroom caps; top with more parmesan and olive oil. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees. *

I added more parmesan and a shake of red pepper flakes.  Very nice!

Recipe courtesy Food Networks
Photograph by Kang Kim

Check out these other leftover ideas from Lindaraxa's Garden

Turkey Tetrazzini
Turkey Chili

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Turkey Day Etiquette...Y'All Behave!

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It's that time of the year again...The Family Dinner From Hell.

This is the time when family grudges are aired in anticipation of forgiveness and peace by the time the Christmas holidays come around.

Here are a few tips for hostesses, family members and guests to make the holiday a pleasant one for all involved:


Dress appropriately, watch your language, arrive on time and keep your elbows off the table!

Try a little of everything and praise everything that is laid on your plate even if its burned or raw.  Thank your lucky stars you are having a warm meal that someone else cooked for you!

Don't get mesmerized by the football game.  Socialize, talk to others outside your group or family and help your hostess by offering to fix drinks or pass the appetizers.  She will be most grateful.

Talk to the old people. They appreciate every nice gesture we throw their way.

Turn your damn i-phone off and, by all means, don't even consider bringing it to the table!  Texting is NOT an alternative.  Make this sacrifice for world peace...

Stay out of the kitchen. Your hostess is hassled enough without you going in and bombarding her with stories of your last trip to Paris with your new boyfriend.

Don't surprise your hostess with unexpected  "guests of guests".  Call beforehand, make sure it's okay and bring something edible like an extra pie or casserole AND a couple of bottles of wine.

Family Members:

Avoid confrontations, unpleasant surprises and sarcastic comments.  That's all..

Wait!... and serve your little ones before you and everyone else sits down at the table.


Don't try to cook everything at the last minute.  Be calm, cool and collected by the time your first guest arrives.

Your turkey should be out of the oven at least 1/2 hour before guests arrive and kept warm by tenting it.  Everything should be done by the time the doorbell rings... that includes the gravy.  1/2 hour before serving, stick your casseroles and dressing or stuffing in the oven for warming.

Spend time with your guests and family, that's what this holiday is all about.

Keep the booze light.  Alcohol has a way of un-inhibiting the inhibited and accentuating delusions...

Don't delay the meal waiting for "halftime".  Serve when you are ready!

At this point it's up to the gods of civility.  What will happen is going to happen... you have done your bit.   Don't sweat the small stuff and have a good time!

Have A Happy Stress-Free Thanksgiving!

Top image Google
Cartoons from

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cranberry Sauce With Port

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This year I am going to do a variation of my Cranberry Orange Sauce by reducing the orange juice by half and adding port.  That's it!

Makes 2 Cups


1/2 cup ruby port

Three 1-by-3-inch strips of orange zest, cut into thin matchsticks

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

12 ounces fresh cranberries

3/4 cup sugar


1.In a medium saucepan, combine the port with the orange zest and orange juice and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries and sugar and simmer over moderately low heat until the sauce is jamlike, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and serve warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead

The cranberry sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

You might also like:

Cranberry Orange Sauce 
Photo: William Meppen

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving On The Road...The Menu

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This will be the first year in a long time that I will not be hosting the Thanksgiving dinner at my home.  When my children were little and we all lived in Connecticut, my mother was the queen of this holiday.  Then Christmas Eve would be at my home with Christmas Day left for the respective in-laws.  I'm not fond of Christmas Day.  I would rather have the  family dinner on Christmas Eve, traditionally late as is the custom in Spain and most Latin countries, and sleep late, go to church and afterwards go to the movies with the kids.  It was a tradition for many years while they still lived at home.

Now that my "children" are older and one of them has children of his own, things get complicated.  My daughter in law has her family in Atlanta and my mother is too fragile these days to travel back and forth.  Last year my daughter and I spent Thanksgiving by ourselves because of last minute illnesses and cancellations in the family and did what we have always wanted to do...Thanksgiving in our pajamas!  Yes, and I cooked a full meal for us with all the trimmings, except I made Cornish Hens.

This year we are spending Thanksgiving at my brother's, something we have never done: but Lindaraxa will be cooking the dinner, something she is often called upon to do now that she has a cooking blog.

This is one holiday where usually, except for the stuffing , the menu stays the same;  but this year I will accomodate the hosts and their family and will cook what they want.  I have three favorite stuffing recipes that I rotate, one with pears, the other with apples and, of course, a corn stuffing.  This is the big predicament every year...which stuffing; but I settled it early on this time by deciding to make the easiest.  So, here are the candidates for this year's Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving 2010

Roast Turkey With Madeira Sauce


If you want a peak at last year's menu, click here.  The stars of the show are always the same, the chocolate bourbon pecan pie and the stuffings!  The pie was last year's most popular recipe on this blog by a mile.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guest Post...The Corinthian Column Makes A Souffle!

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I was delighted to wake up one morning last week and see a post on what looked like a very professional souffle.  I had to do a double take to make sure where it was coming from.  Now, we are not talking about any of the food blogs I follow.  No, it was posted on one of my favorite art blogs, The Corinthian Column, better known to most of us as the Columnist.  I know very little about him, personally, but I like his style, his taste in art, his knowledge and the fact he is a true gentleman.  He lives in Bangkok, summers in Scotland, and was born in Singapore to British parents.  Sometimes when things get crazy in Thailand, as they have recently, we follow him to undisclosed locations until things get better and it is safe for him return back home.

His blog is a treasure trove of information on art, antiques, interior design, architecture and as of now, souffles!    I urge you to take a peak and if you are interested in learning about beautiful thing from a very knowledgeable source, follow him.

But now, back to his souffle...

I have asked him if we would be so kind as to share his recipe with my readers and he has graciously agreed.  I am also dying to ask him some questions as I am always interested in knowing what makes people tick in the kitchen.  Does he cook everyday? Where and when did he learn? What are his favorite dishes? Cuisine? Where does he get his recipes? Favorite cooks?  Cookbooks? Did he really beat those egg whites BY HAND? and finally what is it like living surrounded by all that wonderful Thai food!

My partner and I both enjoy cooking and sometimes work together, disproving the proverb "too many cooks spoil the broth". We seem to have perfected the art of ignoring each others' foibles, so it's usually a harmonious experience, as was the case with making these souffles. He made the white sauce, separated the eggs and beat the yolks and whites, (by hand). I prepared the broccoli and the ramekins. When we cook together it is not preordained who does what, but when tasks are agreed, we tend stick to them.

We cook or prepare one or all meals everyday, quite often taking turns. We are both fastidious about a tidy kitchen, so once pans and boards are used, they are washed straight away. As much as anything in a hot climate it is important to remove any food residue that might attract insects. In addition the kitchen counters, hob and oven are thoroughly cleaned by the maid everyday.

In particular response to your piece, we are both self-taught, although my mother showed me some basics when I was young. I have no particular favourite dish, although I enjoy "comfort food", but everything in moderation. Cuisines I favour include Japanese, (my partner is Japanese), Chinese, (I lived in Hong Kong for many years) and Thai, (I have lived in Bangkok since 2003), but the latter not all the time, as it can be very rich.

The recipe is as follows:

Broccoli Souffle

Serves 4


45g (1 1/2 oz) butter

3 tbsp plain flour

250 ml (8 fl oz) milk

pinch of grated nutmeg

salt and cayenne pepper

375g (12 oz) broccoli florets

3-4 shallots, finely chopped

2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

4 egg yolks

175g (6 oz) blue cheese, crumbled

6 egg whites

4 x 250 ml (8 fl oz) souffle dishes/ramekins


Melt the 30g (1 oz) butter in a large pan, add the flour, and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat, gradually blend in the milk, then bring to a boil, stirring until thickened.

Add the nutmeg, and salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes until just tender.  Rinse in cold water, then chop coarsely.

Heat the remaining butter in the pan, add the shallots, and cook gently for 3 minutes, or until soft.

Prepare the souffle dishes; butter the bottoms and sides and sprinkle with a thin layer of the grated Parmesan, rolling it around until it adheres to the surface inside.

Beat the egg yolks, add to the cooled sauce with the broccoli, shallots and blue cheese.

Whisk the egg whites until they form a firm but not dry peaks. Fold 1-2 tbsp of the egg whites into the broccoli mixture, then fold in the remaining egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the souffle dishes. Bake the souffles in the top half of a preheated oven at 180C, (350F, Gas 4) for 30minutes. Serve at once.

This recipe is from Mary Berry's Complete Cook Book.

Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook

For more pictures and a post on the next day's lunch click here and here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

James Beard's Cornbread Stuffing

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The original recipe for this stuffing was published in Gourmet Magazine in 1965.

Anointed the “dean of American cookery” by the New York Times in 1954, James Beard laid the groundwork for the food revolution that has put America at the forefront of global gastronomy. He was a pioneer foodie, host of the first food program on the fledgling medium of television in 1946, the first to suspect that classic American culinary traditions might cohere into a national cuisine, and an early champion of local products and markets. Beard nurtured a generation of American chefs and cookbook authors who have changed the way we eat. (The James Beard Foundation)

 Need I say more?

Yield: Makes enough stuffing for a 10-pound bird


1/4 pound (or more) butter

1 1/4 cups finely chopped onion

1 cup finely diced celery

1/2 cup chopped celery tops

1 1/2 teaspoons thyme

1 pound small link sausages or chipolatas, lightly browned

1 tablespoon salt or more, to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

6-8 cups coarse corn bread crumbs

3/4 cup Madeira


Melt the butter in a saucepan with the chopped onion. Add the celery, celery tops, and thyme. Sauté the sausages gently or broil them. Add the salt and pepper to the crumbs and mix with the onion-celery mixture, the sausages, and the Madeira. Add more melted butter or some of the rendered sausage fat, if needed. Taste for seasonings. Stuff the turkey lightly.


1. Omit sausages and add 1 cup whole kernel corn and 1/2 cup finely chopped green chiles (or 1 cup, if you like the taste of chiles). Substitute 1/2 cup cognac for the Madeira.

2. Omit sausages. Sauté 1/2 pound sausage meat with the onions, breaking it up well. Add to the stuffing with 1 cup pecans.

3. Omit sausages. Add 1 1/2 cups finely shredded Smithfield ham to the stuffing. Sauté the onions in ham fat instead of butter.

4. Omit sausages. Add 2 cups crisp crumbled bacon to the stuffing. Sauté onions in bacon fat.

5. Omit sausages and celery. Add 2 cups coarsely chopped Smithfield ham and 2 cups coarsely chopped roasted and salted peanuts. If peanuts are not to your liking, you may substitute toasted and salted filberts.

6. If you like oysters in a stuffing, add about 2 dozen oysters with their liquor.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin Fritters In the Age of Innocence

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If you have never tasted pumpkin fritters, you are not ready to die and go to heaven.  You must try them, you have nothing to loose..its not as if you are investing in caviar or filet mignon.  Next time you purchase butternut squash, buy a little extra, roast it and save a little.  Great for cocktails, or side dishes.... like little fried balls of squash puree.  To die for!

In Spanish we call them Frituras de Calabaza and they are usually made from a type of pumpkin-like squash that is round in shape and varies in size.  This squash is popular in the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. It is also commonly called a West Indian Pumpkin.  You can find them already cut in  most Latin markets for they are quite hard to get into.  The closest thing to the flavor and texture of calabaza in this country is Butternut Squash and that is what my mother used when we first came to the States.

Pumpkin fritters remind me of a dinner I attended about 10 years ago. The host and hostess, both wonderful people but a bit showy, just didn't know the phrase enough is enough. I had been warned by friends who had previously dined at their home, but I also had been told they had a cook who made the best pumpkin fritters on earth. When I was a little girl, we used to have a cook who made them and I hadn't had them in a long time. They were my favorite.

Sure enough,  cocktails went on for two hours.  Two  uniformed servers in white jackets and black bow ties passed one hors d'oeuvre after another and I paced myself,  anxiously waiting for the fabled pumpkin fritters.  Finally, there they were, the stars of the show and the beginning of my Waterloo.  Tray after silver tray of pumpkin fritters came out to ooohs! and ahhs! and I did not let one pass untouched.  My mother, sitting across from me in the living room,  kept giving me the evil know, the one that says, "You are making a pig of yourself. " But to no avail...I must have had a good dozen and dinner was yet to come.

Around ten o clock we were ushered into the dining room where a  table for 24 was dressed in Victorian splendor with plenty of silver accoutrements to make Queen Victoria blush.

These people came from another century. It was like having dinner in the Age of Innocence.   As soon as we sat down, three servers this time, serving a la russe, came out of the kitchen with the first course.   Keep in mind now, I was seated to the right of the hostess with  a Catholic priest in between.  Very Garcia Marquez meets the Thorn Birds. 

We started with a luscious crab cocktail  that was out of this world.  Large chunks of crab so fresh that they must have been caught just that afternoon.  Cream of squash soup followed,  devoured like it was the Last Supper, for anything squash is high on my list.  On to the main course of beef tenderloin with roasted potatoes and a vegetable mousse.  I think there were another two side dishes being passed around but by this time I was catatonic and hyperventilating and definitely in my own cocoon.  The priest, thank heavens, was having a lively chat with the hostess and the person across from him.  If he had tried to engage me,  no doubt he would have been met with glassy eyes and dead silence.

At some point, I started doing what I used to do when I was a child,  hiding bits in my napkin and hoping to excuse myself to the ladies room to dispose of them.  I kept looking at my hostess and noticed she would serve herself a bird's portion of each dish and kept talking and drinking with not a single morsel going into her mouth.  No wonder she looked so fresh; but by the time I caught on, I was a dead duck.

The dessert was the crowning glory, a cart rolled in with cakes, flans, cookies...don't ask me what else; but I noticed a couple of my favorites somewhere in the mix.  I must have dived into one of these too but I was so close to passing out that I kept trying to catch my mother's evil eye in case I made a fool of myself.   This time she wouldn't even look my way..oh boy, was I in trouble.

I won't go into what happened when I got home...I will leave that to your imagination.  Let's just say that for a long time the mere mention of pumpkin fritters sent me into convulsions and I avoided them like the plague.

Definitely a night to remember!

I haven't had pumpkin fritters since that night almost ten years ago.

I think its time.

If I could only trust myself to eat but a few...

Serves 12


1 1/2 pounds calabaza or butternut squash

2 tbsp butter

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups self rising flour

cooking oil


1.Peel calabaza, cut into chunks and boil in a large pot of water until tender.

2.Drain water and mash calabaza then drain again.

3.Mix 1 1/2 cups of mashed calabaza together with butter, egg and sugar.

4.Sift flour with nutmeg and cinnamon and add to calabaza mixture.

5.Mix well and drop spoonfuls into heated oil such as a deep fryer. Oil should be enough to cover fritters.

6.Cook until both sides are lightly browned and serve hot. Makes 12 Fritters.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Classic Revamped...French Green Bean Casserole

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If you are a baby boomer, you grew up eating this.  However, you grew up eating the recipe that has Campbell's condensed cream of mushroom soup and regular green beans.   Well, I have news for you, this ain't it.  This is my remodeled, upgraded, stylized 2010 version of the old classic;  since to suggest, in this blog, that one open a can of condensed mushroom soup would be tantamount to heresy.  So read on, you will be comforted and thrilled to find out that the more things change, the more they almost stay the same.

It is interesting to see how some recipes come about.  I was looking for orange juice, of all things, when I passed an aisle at the grocery store dedicated to holiday cooking and baking and there, among the nuts and marshmallows, were the cans of French's fried onions.  Who would have thought!  Convinced that I had a can of cream of mushroom soup in my well stocked pantry, I started salivating and planning to make this long forgotten classic for dinner.  Sure enough, when I got home no can of mushroom soup, but some leftover fresh mushrooms from heaven know what in the refrigerator.  Mmmm...

For many years, this casserole was a favorite Thanksgiving side dish.  You might want to revive it!

Serves 6


•8 ounces fresh baby bella or shitaake mushrooms, brushed clean, trimmed, and quartered

•2 - 3 TB butter

•1 pound frozen french cut green beans, cooked for 3 minutes and drained

•1 TB flour (hefty!)

•1/2 cup heavy cream, half-and-half or milk

•2 teaspoons soy sauce

•1 can (2.8 ounces) French's fried onions,

•1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or to taste

•Kosher salt to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. F.

Place a heavy skillet over medium high heat. When pan is hot, add mushrooms and butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Saute mushrooms on high until browned.  Lower heat and add the flour.  Mix well for 1 minute.  Add the cream and a little milk,  add white pepper and stir until it thickens.  You may need to add more milk if sauce is too thick even though  you want a consistency similar to that of condensed cream soup.

Add beans, and soy sauce. Mix until combined.

Pour green bean mixture into a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Add fried onions to cover.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly and the onions are browned and crispy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Arroz Con Leche...Rice Pudding

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This is the rice pudding I grew up with and the one I still pester my mother to make.  It is light, mellow, not too sweet and very white, nothing like the yellow goop with raisins you find premade at the deli.  Once you try this recipe, nothing else will ever do!

The key here is the lime peel and the use of whole milk rather than evaporated or condensed milk.  If you can't find limes go ahead and use lemon peel, but I much prefer the former.


• 1/2 cup white rice

• 1½ cups water

• 1 small piece of lime peel.

• 1 small cinnamon stick

• 4 cups milk

• 1 cup sugar

• ¼ tsp salt

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• cinnamon powder


Boil the water, lime peel, and cinnamon stick. Add rice. As soon as the rice begins to boil, turn down
the heat, stir, and cover. Cook until soft, about 20 minutes.

Add the milk, salt, vanilla and sugar. Cook at medium-low heat, uncovered, until it gets thick and rice has absorbed most of the milk. Stir once in awhile so it will not stick.

Fish out the cinnamon stick and pour into a bowl or several individual bowls and sprinkle with powdered cinnamon. 

Let cool and stick in the refrigerator.  Serve cold.

Source: Cocina Criolla by Nitza Villapol

Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Elegant Fall Menu For The Ladies Who Lunch...Apple Fall With Maple Cream

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One of the best transit systems in this country is in New York City.  I can't tell you a lot about the subway, since I refuse to ride it since 9/11,  but the buses are terrific, my favorite the M1- 4 along  5th Avenue heading south with the Madison Avenue one northbound.  I used to take both these buses to work every day when I lived in the city and it was a great start to my day.  Of course, you are riding along two of the chicest avenues in the world and the view of Central Park in the morning is second only to the action in the avenue. 

On the last day of my visit last month,   I was returning home on Madison Avenue around 4 o'clock when someone hopped on the bus that made me giggle.  A tall  40 -something young lady, dreadfully thin, with beatifully styled long blond hair , perfectly groomed,  dressed to the hilt, Hermes bag, unbukled of course,  a sytlish camel suit with silk blouse and pearls, a gold Cartier tank watch and very chic Manolo Blanik shoes.  The minute she sat down, she pulled her Smythson diary out of her bag and made some notes.  Well, well, well...nobody dresses like that in New York, at that hour of the day, unless you are, of course,one of the Ladies Who Lunch!  I'm not going to even venture a guess as to where she had just recently lunched for the possibilities are endless, but it goes to show you the kind of people who ride the bus in NYC

Nan Kempner, Pat Buckley and Betsy Bloomingdale

In case I haven't mentioned it before, Ladies Who Lunch is a phrase to describe "slim, well-off, old-money, well-dressed women who meet for lunch socially, normally during the working week. Typically, the women involved are married and non-working. Normally the lunch is in a restaurant, perhaps in a department store during shopping. Sometimes there is the pretext of raising money for charity." (Wikipedia)  That was before the Reagan years.  Since then, these ladies, some of whom employ full time chefs in their households, sometimes meet at home for an elegant lunch, no pretext of charity necessary.

The phrase was popularized by Elaine Stritch in the play Company by Stephen Sondheim. Take a look!

R.S.V.P.: Menus for Entertaining from People Who Really Know How

This dessert is from Anne Bass' chef and appears in the book R.S.V.P by Nan Kempner, a hostess par excellence, clothes horse and Chairman Emeritus of the Ladies Who Lunch.  Everytime I passed Mortimer's, their  favorite restaurant now defunct,  there she was in her corner table by the window.  Mrs. Kempner passed away a few years ago.  Nobody has been able to take her place.  Other members of the club in those days were Mrs. Alfred (Betsy) Bloomingdale, Nancy Reagan's best friend, Mrs. William (Pat) Buckley, Mrs. Oscar (Annette) de la Renta, and Princess Marie Chantal of Greece, chairman in training of the young set.

A Fall Lunch

Green Salad

Apple Fall with Maple Cream
(recipe follows)

Apple Fall With Maple Cream

The secret to this cake is the salted butter, something which is seldom used in baking

Serves 8

1 stick plus 3 TB salted butter
11 Tb sugar
3 large Mutsu apples
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
2C whole milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Confectioners suggar for dusting

Maple Cream
1/4 cup maple sugar
1 pint heavy cream


Preheat oven to 375

Grease a 9 inch springform pan with 2 TB butter & dust with 2 Tb sugar.  Peel and core 2 apples and slice very thin. Layer apple sclices in concentric circles until bottom of the pan is covered.  Sprinkle the apple slices with 1 Tb sugar and dot with 1 Tb butter.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 mins or until the apples are tender.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Sift the flour together with 6 Tb sugar in a large mixing bowl.  In a cup whisk together the milk and eggs.  Make a well in center of the dry ingredients and pour milk mixture, whisking constantly, until thoroughly combined.

In a small saucepan, melt remaining 1/2 C butter with the vanilla in low heat.  Gradually combine with the batter, whisking constantly to combine.

Peel and core the remaining apple and slice very thin.  Pour the batter over the cooked apple slices and arrange the fresh-cut apple slices on top.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 TB sugar and bake for 1 hour or until cake is puffed., golden and crusty around the edges.  Remove from oven and cool over wire rack for 15-20 minutes.

Make the maple cream while cake cools.  Using a whisk add the maple sugar to cream and beat briskly until soft peaks form.

Invert cake into a serving platter, dust with confectioners sugar and serve warm with the maple cream.

Wine: A robust California Chardonnay or French Burgundy can be served throughout the meal, but not too dry because of the curried flans

All Photos except #2 are by Quentin Bacon  in the book R.S.V.P. by Nan Kempner, unfortunately out of print

Photo #2 Google

Friday, November 5, 2010

Camembert Croquettes

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The holidays are coming and with it a lot of celebrations and parties.  I am sure you will be serving plenty of cheese and crackers, something I try to avoid, particularly if there is something else to choose from. Why spend those calories!

I don't know if you have noticed, but cheese has gotten quite expensive and to top that, guests barely touch it when there are other exiting things being passed around.    In the past, I have been guilty of having a plate of cheese and crackers, as a filler,  and invariably, I end up throwing most of it away after I've tired of the leftovers. Yes, I know, it's an easy thing to pull together but believe me, at a big party,  it will only go to waste.   

To me spending money on cheese makes sense when you serve it like the French, after dinner and before or in lieu of dessert.  Then, by all means, spend it on your favorites, but you don't need to go overboard when three different cheeses will do.  I usually serve a Camembert which, to me, is a little more interesting than a  Brie, paired with one of my favorites, Stilton, and some type of  goat cheese.  Fig marmalade to accompany and English crackers are all you need to go with it, but don't forget the port!

I came across this simple recipe in the Worldwide Gourmet and thought I would share it with you if case you decide to go to Costco and stock up on all their great cheeses.  Great prices but have you notice their size? After a week of making myself sick trying to justify their purchase, I am always looking for things to do with what remains.  In this house, NOTHING, ever gets thrown away.  Remember those poor kids in China?? Who would have thought they would end up supporting our debt!

You can substitute Brie for the Camembert or something else with the same consistency.  Check out the Manchego and Serrano Croquettes I posted awhile back.  They are definitely something I would spend my calories on!

Total time: 30 to 60 minutes

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes


- 1 Camembert

- 100 g (6 tbsp.) butter + 20 g (4 tsp.) for the baking sheet

- 40 g (1/4 cup) flour

- 40 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch

- 150 ml (10 tbsp.) milk

- 1 egg

- 1 tbsp. oil

- 250 ml (1 cup) breadcrumbs

- Salt and cayenne

- Oil for frying


1.Make the béchamel sauce: melt the butter; when foamy, add the flour and cornstarch; let color slightly; remove the pan from the heat; whisk the roux while slowly adding the milk; return to the heat and continue whisking until thickened; season with salt and cayenne.

2.remove the rind from the camembert; cut the cheese into strips; add to the béchamel and let melt for 5 minutes, stirring constantly;

3.butter a baking sheet; pour the mixture on it and spread evenly; let cool;

4.heat the frying oil in a pan; a bowl, beat the egg with 1 tbsp. oil; pour the breadcrumbs in another plate;

6.cut the cheese mixture into squares or sticks; dip each piece in egg, then breadcrumbs; repeat until all the cheese is breaded;

7.fry the croquettes in hot oil for a few minutes; turn so that they brown on both sides; drain on paper towels; place on a serving platter, cover with a cloth to keep them hot and serve immediately.

Cooks Note

Here's an idea..melt some hot pepper jelly or fig preserves and serve as a sauce to accompany the croquettes!

Recipe adapted from Worldwide Gourmet

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sunday Family Dinner...Braised Beef Brisket

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This is great comfort food for a cold evening.

 If you want something inexpensive that feeds an army and is easy to make, there is nothing better than a beef brisket.  Even though it takes time in the oven, it's idle time.  Make it on a day you are going to be home for a few hours and, if you can, wait and serve it the next day.

With a little bit of time and the proper cooking method, even the toughest piece of meat can be made palatable. Brisket is one of the least tender cuts of beef, but it can be made tender and the flavor is tough to beat.

What is brisket?

Brisket is a beef cut taken from the breast section beneath the first five ribs, behind the foreshank.

Fresh brisket is an inexpensive boneless cut that requires long, slow cooking to break down the collagen in the connective muscle tissues achieve tenderness. The long piece is cut in half for marketing. You'll find it sold as a flat cut or a point cut. The flat cut is leaner, but the point cut has more flavor due to a bit of extra fat (called the deckel).

In traditional Jewish cooking, brisket is most often braised as a pot roast, especially as a holiday main course usually served at Rosh Hashannah, Passover, and Shabbat. For reasons of economics, it was historically one of the more popular cuts of beef among Ashkenazi Jews. In current times, however, brisket is most often associated with barbecue-style cooking.

I have to confess that the only other time I've had brisket was at school and it was disgusting. A boiled to death  grey mass.  We usually made a bee line back to the room for cheese and crackers.  This is nothing like that, for you do brown it first and then cook it in a delicious tomato sauce for around 3 1/2 hours.

Once you have made this fairly basic and delicious recipe, you can improve on it and make it your own.  You can add red wine, or beer, make a rub with salt , garlic and paprika, or add mustard and light brown sugar.  There are many a recipes for brisket so whatever you do will be considered original.

I will be posting an oven braised barbecued beef brisket in the country blog in a couple of days...don't miss it., It's now my favorite way!

yield: Makes 4 (main course) or 6 (as part of hash)
active time: 35 min
total time: 4 hr


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 (2-pounds) piece beef brisket (preferably second-cut)

2 large white onions, chopped

4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces

6 garlic cloves

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 cup beef stock or reduced-sodium beef broth

1 (28-ounces) can crushed tomatoes


Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in lower third.

Heat oil in a wide 5-to 6-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Season brisket with 1 tsp each of salt and pepper, then brown brisket, turning once, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add vinegar, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Add stock and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Return brisket to pot, nestling it in braising liquid (liquid will not cover meat). Cover with a tight-fitting lid and braise in oven until fork-tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

Cooks' note:

Brisket is best if made at least 1 day ahead (and up to 3 days) and chilled (covered once cool). Skim off fat before reheating.

Adapted from Gournet Magazine

Monday, November 1, 2010

Yellow Rice Pilaf With Raisins & Almonds

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This is a much simpler version of Colin Cowie's Aromatic Basmati Rice or as I like to call it, Basmatic Rice.  It is the one I use for family and casual weeknight entertaining when I'm cooking certain chicken or fish recipes and want something sweet and sour to complement the dish.

Rice is the traditional accompaniment in most Latin dishes and as such, we have as many recipes as Americans have for potatoes.  If my mother could have gotten away with it, we would have had rice every night of the week.  White, yellow, with vegetables, mushrooms or chicken bouillon... any combination she could think of.  So I grew up eating lots of rice and not as many potatoes.  Saffron used to be the traditional spice we used in those days but with the astronomical price you now have to pay for a few threads, well, you just have to be creative.  I found some at Marshall's a few weeks ago and bought the entire lot.  It is safely tucked away in the back of my jewelry box.

Saffron threads an saffron powder

I have started using turmeric as a less expensive alternative for coloring the rice and almost have the family convinced that they like it.  But it's been an uphill battle so if you don't care for turmeric, by all means, substitute saffron.  In that case, I sometimes add a teaspoon of tomato paste for a different dimension and omit the cinnamon stick!  You will be left with essentially a Cuban yellow rice with raisins and almonds...not a bad combination!

Tumeric root and tumeric powder

Monks in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon

Yellow Rice Pilaf With Raisins And Almonds

Servings: 8


2 TB butter

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 bay leaf

3 cups light chicken stock

2 cups long-grain rice

1/2 cinnamon stick

One 1-inch piece of tangerine or orange zest, white pith removed

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup sliced almonds (about 2 ounces)

1/2 cup raisins or yellow raisins(about 3 ounces)

Chopped Parsley


1.In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and sautee the chopped onions until translucent.  Add the bay leaf halfway through.  Combine the chicken broth with the rice, cinnamon stick, tangerine zest, salt and turmeric. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over very low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 15 to 17 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the raisins and remove from the heat. Add to rice together with the chopped parsley.  Fluff gently with a fork to combine. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

If you want a little flair in your presentation, sprinkle a little shredded coconut on top

Cooks Note.

If you want to keep this simpler, saute the almonds and raisins first and transfer to a plate.  Wipe the pan and proceed to step #1.  I hate cleaning up so I am always thinking of ways to cut back on pans

Photos Getty Images
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