Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve...Lobster Thermidor

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Mother and I have been dreaming of lobster sice she arrived ten days ago. There is a wonderful recipe in Gourmet magazine circa the 1970's for a lobster in Pernod sauce that we both adore but somehow I have lost my recipe and hers is back in Miami, buried heaven knows where. As an alternative, we have decided to cook another old favorite for New Year's Eve, Lobster Thermidor...the long version. It will be served with a simple green salad and our favorite Veuve Cliquot Champagne. Nothing but a chocolate mousse for dessert will do on this ocassion!

So many steps are involved in the preparation of a really splendid lobster Thermidor, no wonder it costs a fortune in any restaurant.  For the recipe to be authentic, it must include mustard, preferrably powdered, Cognac,  and cheese at the end.  I have found no better recipe than the following one from Julia Child.

Lobster Thermidor is not a particularly difficult dish to execute,  though it is a bit time consumming but well worth the effort.  One major advantage is everything may be prepared in advance and heated up just before serving.

In this recipe the meat is stirred in hot butter before it is sauced, thus turning a rosy red. Buy lobsters weighing a good 2 pounds each, so the shells will be large enough to hold the filling.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting my blog and to extend to all of you my warmest wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

Lobster Thermidor
Servings: Serves 6
  • Covered, enameled or stainless steel kettle with tight-fitting cover or stainless steel saucepan
  • enameled or 4-cup stainless steel saucepan
  • 1/2-quart enameled
  • Wooden spoon
  • Wire whip
  • 3-quart mixing bowl
  • 12-inch enameled or stainless steel skillet
  • Shallow roasting pan or fireproof serving platter
  • 3 cups dry white wine or 2 cups dry white vermouth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large onion , thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot , thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk celery , thinly sliced
  • 6 sprigs parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh or dried tarragon
  • 3 live lobsters , 2 pounds each
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. cream
  • 1 Tbsp. dry mustard
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 4 to 6 Tbsp. more whipping cream
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Swiss cheese ( I use Gruyere, trust me)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter , cut into bits
Steaming the lobsters: Simmer wine, water, vegetables, herbs, and seasonings in the kettle for 15 minutes. Then bring to a rollingboil and add the live lobsters. Cover and boil for about 20 minutes. The lobsters are done when they are bright red and the long head-feelers can be pulled from the sockets fairly easily.
While the lobsters are steaming, stew the mushrooms slowly in the covered saucepan with the butter, lemon juice, and salt for 10 minutes.

The sauce: When the lobsters are done, remove them from the kettle. Pour the mushroom cooking juices into the lobster steaming juices in the kettle and boil down rapidly until liquid has reduced to about 2 1/4 cups. Strain into the 4-cup enameled or stainless steel saucepan and bring to the simmer.

Cook the butter and flour slowly together in the 1 1/2-quart saucepan for 2 minutes without browning. Off heat, beat in the simmering lobster-cooking liquid. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Set aside. Film top of sauce with the cream.

Split the lobsters in half lengthwise, keeping the shell halves intact. Discard sand sacks in the heads, and the intestinal tubes. Rub lobster coral and green matter through a fine sieve into the mixing bowl, and blend into it the mustard, egg yolks, cream, and pepper. Beat the sauce into this mixture by driblets.

Return the sauce to the pan, and stirring with a wooden spoon, bring it to the boil and boil slowly for 2 minutes. Thin out with tablespoons of cream. Sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon fairly heavily. Taste carefully for seasoning. Set aside, top filmed with a spoonful of cream.

Sautéing the lobster meat: Remove the meat from the lobster tails and claws, and cut it into 3/8-inch cubes. Set the skillet with the butter over moderate heat. When the butter foam begins to subside, stir in the lobster meat and sauté, stirring slowly, for about 5 minutes until the meat has turned a rosy color. Pour in the cognac and boil for a minute or two, shaking the skillet, until the liquid has reduced by half.

Final assembly: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fold the cooked mushrooms and two thirds of the sauce into the skillet with the lobster meat. Arrange the split lobster shells in the roasting pan. Heap the lobster mixture into the shells; cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter. The recipe may be prepared ahead up to this point and refrigerated.

Place in upper third of 425-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until lobster is bubbling and the top of the sauce is nicely browned. Serve immediately on a platter or serving plates.

From Mastering The Art Of French Cooking by Julia Child
Table setting Carolyn Roehm
Photo Dorling Kindersley

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas In The NEW House!

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I can't believe it....we are ready! well, as ready as we are going to get.  Madame Mere arrived two days ago and whipped everyone into shape.  Amazing how many orders can come out of a mouth.  Then she wondered why we were all so tired. 

Yesterday we looked into some of the Christmas boxes for leftovers to set the table.  A few balls that we never use anymore were found and some glass garlands from past decorations.  The only china at hand was Verdures from Raynaud since the other four sets I have, including the one I usually use for Christmas, were unpacked in the basement.  I have yet to find the wine goblets but there's still 24 hours 'till Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Day the grandchildren and the rest of the family will arrive for the traditional Cuban lunch of pork, black beans and turrones.  Fortunately that is a less formal ocassion.

This year we have two Christmas trees, one in the great room and a smaller one in the dining room.  I will post better pictures later when the light is better.  The ones I took yesterday were much too dark to make them justice.


Well Madame Mere is calling, we are off to the grocery store to pick up the leg of lamb and finish up. And to think just a couple of months she fell and broke her foot.  Amazing....

Merry Christmas to all of you dearest friends and remember...Don't sweat the small stuff!

I wonder how many days Madame Mere will be staying with us...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reprise...Christmas Eve Table And Menu

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Lindaraxa Photo

The first Christmas in the new house is just around the corner and the good news is I am mostly unpacked.  The bad news is I don't have the stamina to even think of a creative new menu for this year's dinner.  Why bother when there are so many good ones from past years including this one from 1999.   One of the first rules of no hassle entertaining is to serve what you are familiar with and this menu has passed the test with flying colors.

Last year I made a standing rib roast with Yorkshire Pudding, a first for me;  but then again, I did not have the added stress of setting up a holiday table and overnight guests for the weekend including Madame Mere, as one of my friends likes to call her.  Next week will be spent digging out and polishing the silver,  making the pate, and organizing the dreaded beds for everyone to sleep! 

 In years past, I used to go all out for Christmas Eve and entertain my family and very close friends on a grand scale.  It was a formal affair and everybody would dress up to the hilt! Luckily,  I have a Sheraton dining table  with two leaves which will seat twelve comfortably and a smaller table for six was set up in the library. We would start with cocktails on the terrace, laid out buffet style, and move later into the dining room for dinner.  I have to say that even though it took a lot of planning and work, I enjoyed it tremendously.  I think the rest of the family did too.  It was a night meant to set all our problems aside and enjoy each other's company.  We always had the best intentions of making it to Midnight Mass but somehow nobody had the stamina to do so after all that food!

It has been awhile since I have entertained like this and frankly, looking at the pictures makes me a little sad and nostalgic.  But times change and so do lifestyles and I am blessed to have been able to do it and have the pictures and memories.

This year it will be celebrated on a much smaller scale, in another town and definitely without any outside help. We are getting together on the 25th instead of Christmas Eve as these are the plans that fit everybody this year.  It will be wonderful anyway and I will get to spend it with my brother and his family, something I haven't done in years.  I also have a new granddaughter which surpasses any Christmas I have ever had.

Christmas 1999

Smoked Salmon
Pumpernickel Toasts
Capers, Onions, Sour Cream, Lemon Slices

Pate de Foie Gras

Spiced Roasted Pecans

Champagne Veuve Cliquot, Cocktails


Cream of Chestnut Soup
with Creme Fraiche

Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary
Mint Jelly

Gratin Dauphinois

Haricots Verts With Toasted Almonds

Chocolate Mousse

Brazo Gitano

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

(Dreaming Of) A Tree Trimming Party...Beef Stroganoff

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I don't know why I am writing a post about a tree trimming party that is so off the charts it's not even funny.  We have a tree, bought this weekend from our friends at the Kinsley Family Farm, and we certainly have enough friends to invite to a party.  I just don't have the energy nor the enthusiasm at this point to think of such an event, particularly when my mother is arriving in less than two weeks! She calls every day to find out how the move is going when I know, deep down, that what she really wants to know is if I'm completely unpacked!   What is it about mothers that can put the fear of God in daughters of any age?! Lordy be, I am a mother and a grandmother and still,  just the thought of Mother coming over to a disorganized house is enough to send shivers up my spine.  So I unpack boxes and more boxes and dream of a party that will never be.

A tree trimming party is the perfect excuse for a holiday get together.  Not only will you be paying back all those invitations, but you will be also getting ornaments for your tree...for free!  Talk about killing two birds with one stone...

A classic of the 1950's,  Beef Stroganoff is the perfect recipe for a holiday buffet where you want guests to drop in and share in the fun of helping to decorate (and finance!) your tree.  If you still have a silver chafing dish buried somewhere in the attic, this is the time to bring it out.  It is something that is easy to prepare and can be made early in the morning and heated in the chafing dish or on top of the stove.  Just be careful warming it up or the meat will overcook. Now if only I could find mine....

Sterling Chafing Dish - Tiffany's

I would serve a  simple green salad afterwards with some fantastic cheeses (Stilton a must!)  and nuts.  Follow with homemade Christmas cookies for dessert. A nice Burgundy would go rather well with this menu.


1 2 1/2-pound piece beef tenderloin, well trimmed, meat cut into 2x1x1/2 inch strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter 
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 pound small button mushrooms, thickly sliced*
1 cup canned beef broth
2 tablespoons Cognac 
3/4 cup sour cream 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

12 ounces wide egg noodles 
1 tablespoon paprika


Pat meat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat until very hot. Working in batches, add meat in single layer and cook just until brown on outside, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped shallots and sauté until tender, scraping up browned bits, about 2 minutes. Add button mushrooms. Sprinkle with pepper and sauté until liquid evaporates, about 12 minutes.

Add beef broth, then Cognac. Simmer until liquid thickens and just coats mushrooms, about 14 minutes.

Stir in sour cream and Dijon mustard. Add meat and any accumulated juices from baking sheet.

Simmer over medium-low heat until meat is heated through but still medium-rare, about 2 minutes.

Stir in chopped dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper
Meanwhile, cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Transfer to bowl. Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide noodles among plates or transfer to chafing dish. Top with beef and sauce. Sprinkle generously with paprika

*I use a mixture of wild mushrooms

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Images Getty (top) and Google

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pate Mousquetaire...Duck Pate With Calvados And Prunes

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Just a quick note to say I'm alive and well, though exhausted and overwhelmed from "the endless move".  And endless it has been. 

We got here a week ago and are still surrounded by boxes and what have you.  Moving in town is worse that moving across the country, that I can attest to.  When you move far away everything has to be packed in boxes, even the garbage! Don't laugh, I have arrived at the other end and found a waste paper basket full of discards.

I don't know how I'm going to unpack, decorate and receive my mother in two week's time.  Something has to give and that something is, sad to say, blogging. But I will try to stop by and drop off a recipe or two of things I think you will enjoy making for the this pate.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, now sadly out of print, La Cuisine de Normandie by Princess Marie Blanche de Broglie. It is typical of the area of Gascony and uses all the flavors typical of the region: duck, prunes and Armagnac. The sweetness of the prunes plays well with the rich duck meat in this savory recipe. It is simple to prepare and makes quite a splash. 

Keep it ready in the refrigerator for family or guests and take some to the home of special friends, particularly if invited for Christmas Eve Dinner.

If you are a new subscriber, search around the site for Christmas recipes and ideas of the past three years.  There's plenty to keep you busy.

Now back to the boxes...ugh.

Serves 6


4 1/2 - 5 pound duck, boned, or 2 large duck breasts and 2 dark chicken quarters, including thighs and drumsticks

1/2 cup Calvados

1/2 onion

2 shallots

1 apple, peeled and cored

1 tablespoon butter

10 ounces loose sausage, try a mild "country" sausage

1 egg

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Allspice to taste

Thyme, to taste

1 tablespoon minced fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage

6 prunes, pitted and quartered

1 small bay leaf

2 whole sage leaves

2 strips bacon or skin from chicken


Remove the meat from the bones of the duck and chicken. Cut one duck breast into 1/4-inch strips and the rest of the meat into chunks. Marinate the meat in the Calvados for at least one hour.

Mix the onion, shallots and apple; sauté them gently in butter. Using a grinder or food processor, chop the chunks of meat coarsely. Combine this meat, the sausage and the onion-apple mixture. Moisten it with the egg, add the seasonings and the Calvados, and mix well. Fry a small patty and check the seasoning.

Place 1/3 of the mixture on the bottom of an oiled 3 1/2 cup loaf pan or terrine. Then place half of the breast strips and the prunes on top, lengthwise; cover with another third of the meat mixture, and repeat. Put the bay leaf and sage leaves on top and cover with the bacon or chicken skin and foil.

Bake the paté in a water bath in a preheated 325 oven until done, about 1 1/2 hours. Weight the pan until the paté is cool (Note: use another pan with a can of tomatoes on top). Refrigerate it for a day or two before serving.

Serve on very thin white toast.

From "The Cuisine of Normandy" by Princess Marie-Blanche de Broglie

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving On The Move

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So last year we had Thanksgiving on the road and this year we have it on the move...literally.  Yes dear readers we are moving over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Actually, the big move is on Friday which means that while all of you are out shopping the sales I will be packing and moving.  If it weren't for the fact that the new house is beautiful and my daughter is over the moon, I would be having a hissy fit, as they say here in the South.  In spite of the ruckus, there is no way I will be forfeiting my favorite holiday dinner.  It will be simpler and easier, but the basics will be there. If I had a fabulous restaurant nearby, well I might consider going out, but there is no such thing within 60 miles of where I live.

I will tell you that the one time I managed to have a spectacular Thanksgiving at a restaurant was in London, at Claridge's, in the early 90's.  I was there on business and managed to coincide with my friend Silvia who happened to be there for meetings also. There must have been a crisis or something because it is strange that both of us would have been away for Thanksgiving and in London at the same time. In any event, I was staying at Claridge's and invited her to come over and have dinner with me.  We were offered a choice of the regular or Thanksgiving menu and being the more adventurous I opted for the latter. Well, let me tell you, never have I ever had such a delicious Thanksgiving dinner in my life.  It was worth ordering just to see the enormous silver domed serving trolley rolled over to your table and a  perfectly cooked turkey sliced by the maitre d'  who was as elegant and, well, butlery as Anthony Hopkins in The Remains Of The Day.  What a treat and one I highly recommend if you happen to be on that side of the pond.  But I digress...

This year's Thanksgiving will be spent very far from those surroundings but it will be just as special, for I will be celebrating in the company of my daughter who has just bought her first house.  Unlike years past when I spent hours cooking and setting the perfect Thanksgiving table, this year's dinner will be probably enjoyed on a simple card table and rattan folding chairs surrounded by cardboard boxes and masking tape.    But there will be a real tablecloth and fresh napkins, wine glassses and silverware and the simple meal will be just as enjoyable as those of the past for there is nothing in this world that I would rather be doing than exactly what I will be doing this coming Thanksgiving Day. 

For those of you going the normal route, there are plenty of Thanksgiving recipes on the blog and I encourage you to take a look at some past menus here and here.  More on table etiquette and table setting can be accessed by entering Thanksgiving on the Search box.  I might be offline for a while but I will be back...promise.  It all depends how long it will take Comcast to get us back on.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, don't burn the turkey and, above all,  don't sweat the small stuff!

Photo Southern Accents


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Autumn Dinner For Four...Winter Veal Stew With Mushrooms, Sage And White Wine

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Talk about comfort food, this is the kind of main dish you want to serve on a cool autumn night with a great bottle of wine and a roaring fire.  That's what we did just last night.  It is also the perfect addition to an elegant buffet and goes perfect with a simple white rice with basil and mozzarella cheese.  A bottle of Brunello de Montalcino and the Caramelized Roast Pears for dessert round up a magical evening!


(for 4 persons)

2 Tbs finely chopped shallots or yellow onions
2 Tbs of olive oil
2 Tbs of butter
1 1/2 pounds shank or shoulder of veal, boned and rather lean, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spread on a dinner plate or on waxed paper
18 medium dried sage leaves
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper (4 twists of the mill)

I cup frozen peas
Mushrooms in cream


First prepare the mushrooms in cream. Set aside until needed.

In a deep skillet, sauté the shallots in the oil and butter over medium-high heat until translucent but not browned.

Dip the pieces of veal in the flour, coating them on all sides and shaking off excess flour. Add to the skillet, together with the sage leaves, and brown well on all sides. (If all the meat won’t fit into the skillet at one time you can brown a few pieces at a time, but dip them in the flour only when you are ready to put them in the skillet.)

Transfer the meat to a warm platter when browned.

Turn up the heat to high and add the wine to the skillet and boil briskly for about 30 seconds, scraping up and loosening any residue in the pan.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the browned meat, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook gently for about 1 hour, turning and basting the meat from time to time, adding a little warm water if necessary. (I added a little extra wine here also). The meat is done when it is tender at the pricking of a fork.

About 5 minutes before it's ready, add the peas first, cook for 5 minutes and then add the mushrooms.  Stir and cook for a minute or two. Remove from the heat and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Mushrooms in cream

1 1/2 lbs mushrooms
1 1/2 TB. shallots finely chopped
2 1/2 TB butter
1 1/2 TB. olive oil
Ground pepper
1/2 Cup heavy cream

In a medium skillet sautee mushrooms and shallots in butter and oil on medium high..  When the mushrooms have absorbed most of the fat turn to low.  Add salt and pepper and sautee until their juices begin to come to the surface.  Raise the heat again and cook shaking the pan for another 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the heavy cream and cook fr another 2 to 3 minutes until part of the cream has been absorbed and the rest has thickened lightly.  Transfer to a platter and serve over toast immediately OR add to the veal stew at the end.

This recipe really serves 6.  Use as much as you want to for the stew and save the rest.

Serve with Rice With Basil and Mozzarella

Recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Banana Cake With Banana Cream Frosting

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I have been looking unsuccessfully for a recipe for banana cake with cream frosting ever since I can remember.  Years ago when we came to this country and I was a very young girl I fell in love with a banana cake which  you could buy in the frozen section of any supermarket.  It was none other than Sara Lee's Banana Cake.  After awhile I sort of outgrew it and years later I tried it again and somehow it did not seem to be the same.  I don't know if Sara Lee changed the recipe or if my taste buds grew more sophisticated.  But the idea has stayed in my mind, particularly since my son loves banana cream pie.  I wonder if somehow he has inherited the banana gene from his mother.

I have looked for a good banana cake recipe in every cookbook I own and and all over the Internet.  Nothing.  So I picked out one that seemed to have the basics and proceeded to go from there.

What you want is a really light cake with a banana cream frosting that is on the creamy side and not too stiff.  I have substituted the regular flour for cake flour and followed the instructions on the box to make sure the measurements are right.  Originally the recipe called for 2 1/4 cups regular flour* which is the reason for the extra tablespoon you see in the ingredients.

The second ingredient that has been changed is the  shortening, primarily because I didn't have any on hand.  Shortening is supposed to make cakes lighter but the butter worked great in this case.

Finally, I have added a ripe banana to the frosting as I recalled that this was the game changer in the recipe of my dreams.

The recipe can also be baked in two cake pans, with frosting in the middle, for a different twist.

All in all, my best critic, who is my daughter, adored it and that is a lot coming from someone who doesn't like desserts!

Serves 16

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 TB. cake flour*
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 3)
  • 3/4cup buttermilk or sour milk*
  • 1/2cup shortening or butter (i used latter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs


1. Grease and lightly flour one 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set pan aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat the butter in an electric mixer on low speed, add the sugar, mix until combined. Add the mashed bananas, and vanilla.  Add eggs, mix well, then add the buttermilk.  Add the flour mix slowly and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 35 minutes for 13x9-inch pan or till a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Place cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with Banana Cream Frosting. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Note : If you don't have buttermilk on hand, substitute sour milk in the same amount. For the 3/4 cup of sour milk needed, place 2-1/4 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 3/4 cup total liquid; stir. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes before using it in a recipe.

Banana Cream Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1 8 oz pck. cream cheese or Neufchatel (1/3 less fat)*
1 mashed banana
1/2 tsp vanilla vanilla
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

First mix the butter and cream cheese.  Add the banana well mashed.  Add vanilla and sugar. If the frosting is too stiff, add 1 TB. sour cream.  I purposely used Neufchatel cheese to make the frosting lighter.

Put in the refrigerator until about an hour before ready to serve.

The cake keeps best in the refrigerator.  I have frozen half, frosting and all.  I will let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Tale Of Two Turkeys...Stuffed Turkey Breast With Chestnuts And Prunes

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On weekday mornings I usually get up fairly early, get a strong cup of coffee and turn on CNBC for the usual dribble on Greece, Italy,  gold and everything bad that is going on in the world economies.  This morning the news was all about "Mario's gaffe" last night. Mario? what Mario? a new Prime Minister for Italy? Did Berlusconi finally throw in the towel? Nothing doing, this was none other than our friend Mario Batali, the well known cookbook author, chef and owner of several restaurants in New York, most of which none of us can afford.

Apparently last night at a Time magazine event promoting its Person of the Year issue,  our culinary friend nominated the food writer Michael Pollan, then went on to say:

"But I would have to say that who has had the largest effect on the whole planet without us really paying attention is the entire banking industry, and their disregard for the people that they're supposed to be working for."He added: "The way the bankers have toppled the way money is distributed – and taken most of it into their own hands – is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys."


The reaction from Wall Street was swift and merciless. Bankers took to their Blackberries and Bloomberg terminals to sound off and organise a boycott. This message was sent out across trading floors:

"Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Says Bankers As Bad As Hitler, Stalin … a list of his restaurants – *B&B Ristorante *Osteria Mozza *Babbo *Otto *Bar Jamon *Pizzeria Mozza *Carnevino Italian Steakhouse *Tarry Lodge *Casa Mono *Tarry Market *Del Posto *Mozza2Go *Esca *Manzo *Lupa – cancel all reservations … pass the word."

On Twitter, the reaction was also fast and furious.

"Wow. Mario Batali pisses off the only people who can afford to eat at Del Posto," wrote one.

Later Batali took to Twitter to "clarify" his views.

"To remove any ambiguity about my appearance at yesterday's Time Person of the Year panel, I want to apologise for my remarks," he wrote. "It was never my intention to equate our banking industry with Hitler and Stalin, two of the most evil, brutal dictators in modern history."

Mario, Mario, Mario...what where you thinking?! Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

So, if you are not a banker and have always wanted to eat at one of his restaurants, this might be your only chance.  But don't tell them who sent you. I still have some "Nazi" friends who might not return my phone calls if they find out and who knows when I may need them.

So talking about turkeys, here's a great recipe for a Sunday family dinner or Thanksgiving for a small crowd.  Enjoy!

Tacchino Ripieno...Stuffed Turkey Breast With Chestnuts and Prunes

Serves 10-12 people
  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) whole turkey breast, removed from the bone, halved and butterflied by your butcher
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 pound pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork shoulder
  • 10 Italian prunes, pits removed, cut into quarters
  • 12 chestnuts, roasted, peeled, and halved
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoons each chopped fresh rosemary and sage
  • 2 cups dry white wine plus 1 cup
1/2 cup brown chicken stock, recipe follows

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 pounds chicken wings, backs, and bones
  • 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley stems


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the pancetta pieces and cook until golden brown, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add the ground pork and cook until starting to brown in its own fat, stirring regularly. Drain all but 4 tablespoons of the fat from the pan, then add the prunes and chestnut, and continue cooking for 8 minutes, until the prunes start to really soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, about 20 minutes.

Add the bread crumbs, the Parmigiano, the eggs, the pepper, nutmeg, and herbs and just bring together, stirring with your hand. Over-mixing here can result in a lead torpedo for a stuffing, so don't.

Place the 2 turkey pieces on a cutting board and divide the stuffing between them.

Roll each of the breasts like a jelly roll and tie them firmly with butchers twine.

Place the 2 breasts, skin side up, on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and pour 2 cups wine over them.

Season with salt and pepper, and place into preheated oven and cook uncovered until dark golden brown outside and a meat thermometer reads 165 at the thickest part of the breast, about 1 hour, plus or minus 10 minutes.

Remove and allow to rest 15 minutes before carving.

Add remaining 1 cup of wine to the roasting pan and deglaze, scraping with a wooden spoon. Add chicken stock and cook for 5 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup remaining oil and season with salt and pepper.

Carve turkey into 1-inch slices and serve with pan sauce.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over high heat until smoking. Add all the chicken parts and brown all over, stirring to avoid burning. Remove the chicken and reserve.

Add the carrots, onions, and celery to the pot and cook until soft and browned.

Return the chicken to the pot and add 3 quarts of water, the tomato paste, peppercorns, and parsley.

Stir with a wooden spoon to dislodge the browned chicken and vegetables bits from the bottom of the pan.

Bring almost to a boil, then reduce heat and cook at a low simmer until reduced by half, about 2 hours, occasionally skimming excess fat.

Remove from heat, strain, and press on the solids with the bottom of a ladle to extract out all liquids.

Stir the stock to facilitate cooling and set aside. Refrigerate stock in small containers for up to a week or freeze for up to a month.

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

Mario Batali recipe

Friday, November 4, 2011

Caramelized Roast Pears...A Simple Fall Dessert

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Dessert recipes don't have to be complicated and time consuming to be spectacular.  The recipe here is a case in point and one that can be prepared on the spur of the moment for a dinner in the middle of the week.

Buy a can of roasted caramelized pecans or toast some almonds in the oven to sprinkle on top.  The pears can bake while you are getting the rest of the dinner together.  Don't be tempted to add anything other than a drizzle of heavy cream.  It's really all you need.

Serves 4


4 firm-ripe pears (any variety)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. honey
1/2 cup sweet dessert wine, such as a late-harvest Muscat or a Viognier Doux

Roasted Caramelized Pecans (crushed) or slivered almonds (optional)
1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature, for serving


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Peel, halve, and core the pears.

Smear the butter over the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish or small roasting pan. Set the pear halves cut side down in the dish.

Drizzle 1 tsp. of honey over each pear half. Pour in the sweet wine. Roast for 40 min.

Remove the dish from the oven and, using pot holders, tilt the dish so the juices pool in one corner. With a spoon, baste each pear with some of the juices.

Continue to roast until the juices cook down to a glazy consistency and the pears are very tender and take on a light toasted color, another 15 to 20 min.

Lift up the cut side of a pear; it should look nicely caramelized. Turn off the oven and leave the pears in the oven to keep warm until serving time (the liquid will continue to thicken and the pears will brown a bit more).

If the juices have completely evaporated at serving time, add a Tbs. or two of hot water to the pan and swirl to recreate a syrupy glaze. Drizzle the glaze over each pear. Add the pecans or almonds if you wish.

Serve warm and pass a pitcher of heavy cream to pour over. Leftovers are good eaten at room temperature or warmed gently.

Adapted From Fine Cooking      
January 1, 2006

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Shallots and Rosemary

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Remember the Brussels sprouts recipe from the New York Times that I posted a couple of years ago? The same one that got Brussels sprouts haters all over the world, including my daughter, to give them another chance? The same one Reggie D included in his Thanksgiving menu and my friend Silvia  (who doesn't cook) now makes when she is forced to entertain? Well, I think this one is a close second, although I'm sure the diehards will disagree.

The secret, methinks, is shredding the Brussels sprouts.  Somehow that takes away the stigma engraved in our minds from boarding school days and Charles Dickens books.

This rich, creamy side dish is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Brussels sprouts, pan-roasted in brown butter until tender and nutty, are mixed with sweet, earthy Gruyère and topped with crisp breadcrumbs. For a casual dinner, serve it straight from the oven proof skillet after browning the topping in the oven;  although I much prefer to serve and bake in a gratin dish.

I loved it!

Serves 6 to 8.


1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 large shallots, halved
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
3-1/4 oz. (1-1/4 cups) finely grated Gruyère
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cayenne
3/4 cup panko
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. In a food processor fitted with the slicing blade, slice the Brussels sprouts and shallots.

In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter until it begins to brown and smell nutty. Set aside 1 Tbs. of the browned butter in a medium bowl.

Add the Brussels sprouts, shallots, 2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the pan and toss to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts and shallots begin to soften and brown in spots, about 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, Gruyère, nutmeg, cayenne, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Heat until the cheese is melted, whisking occasionally, about 4 minutes. Do not boil.

Add the sauce to the Brussels sprouts, carefully stirring to combine.

Add the Panko, Parmigiano, rosemary, and a pinch of salt to the reserved butter and mix thoroughly.

Top the sprout mixture with the panko mixture.*

Bake until the crumbs are browned and the Brussels sprouts are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. )It tool a little longer for me...more like 25 minutes). Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

*Alternatively, transfer the Brussels sprout mixture to a 12-inch-wide, 1-1/2-inch-deep ceramic baking dish before topping with the panko and baking.

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Preserved Eggplants With Olives, Capers And Parsley

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What a gorgeous Fall we are having here in North Georgia.  This has always been my most favorite times of the year although, because of the drought, we have not been able to enjoy picnics on the lake, one of our favorite pastimes. 

If you are a football fan, and I"m not,  you are probably out tailgating with friends and family at the numerous college games all over the country. Or just driving around with a picnic lunch in the back seat.  If you are not, there is something wrong with you. Do try to get out there and enjoy this gorgeous weather.  Pretty soon you will be home bound with snow up to your ears and the mother of all cabin fevers.  Remember last winter?

This is one of those recipes that is easy to make and great to have around in case of unexpected guests.  It goes well with the French meatloaf for a picnic or as an appetizer at a tailgating event or a Sunday lunch with friends and family.

Japanese eggplant have thinner skins and a sweeter flavor than their American counterparts.  They are perfect for this recipe, thus, substitutions are not encouraged.

There is no need to peel the skin of Japanese eggplants, as it will soften with cooking. Slicing, placing in a brine solution and draining, as with common eggplant, is also not needed. Simply cut and cook to your liking.

They are available from July until October so go get some and start making a batch.  A great addition served with a crusty baguette at your next tailgate picnic!

This recipe makes one pint.


2 Japanese eggplants (3/4 pound), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds

2 tablespoons fine sea salt

1 cup water

3/4 cup white wine vinegar (7 percent acidity)

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

1 garlic clove, gently smashed and peeled

10 pitted green olives

2 teaspoons salt-packed capers, rinsed, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, then rinsed again

3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 fresh arbol or small serrano chile

About 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Put eggplant pieces in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Fill a bowl, slightly smaller than colander, with water and place bowl on top of eggplant. Let eggplant stand, covered, at room temperature for 6 hours. (Eggplant will turn brown.) Discard liquid in bowl.

Gently squeeze out any excess water from eggplant. In a large saucepan, combine eggplant, remaining tablespoon salt, 1 cup water, vinegar, wine, coriander and garlic; bring mixture to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Drain eggplant slices; discard brine. Transfer slices to prepared baking sheet and let drain and cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, finely chop together olives, capers, parsley and chile.

Layer eggplant slices and olive mixture in a clean, dry 1-pint jar, or other container, with a tight-fitting lid. Add just enough oil to cover eggplant, and secure with lid. Preserved eggplant keeps, chilled, for 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.

La Cucina Italiana

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls...And Computer Problems!

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If you are reading this, chances are that you have had computer problems in the past and know exactly what an ordeal that can be.

A couple of nights ago I inadvertedly closed down my laptop before the system had a chance to completely shut down and that's where all the problems started.  Hours with technical support talking to people with foreign accents which is bad enough for someone with English as a mother tongue, but twice as hard for someone whose English is a second language.  Believe me, even though my English is excellent and better perhaps than most native born, when it comes to filtering computereze with an accent, my brain turns into a giant cotton ball and my system shuts down.  I become instantly stupid. 

Hello my name is Kevin how may I help you?

The long and the short of it is I have had to download my system again and have lost all my programs and files, albeit temporarily.  Luckily they are somewhere "in there" and will be restored within the week by the techies at Geek Squad.  So my photos of the cinnamon rolls are there (somewhere) and if you think I am going to bake them again to post a photo you are delusional.

The moral of the story is twofold.  Make sure your system has shut down completely before closing your laptop AND make sure all your programs and files are backed up somewhere not in your computer. For a very reasonable fee, you can now back things into the Cloud through services offered by Geek Squad at Best Buy and the like.  If you do this, they can work on your computer and fix problems directly.  I am seriously thinking of going this route.  Has anybody tried it?

 As to the cinnamon rolls....

There is no better aroma than a pan of these big, puffy rolls baking in the oven, fragrant with cinnamon, brown sugar and orange zest.  Great for breakfast or a snack while you are on hold waiting for Tech Support in Bangalore!


For the dough:

1 package active dry yeast

3/4 cup milk, warmed (110°F)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks

For the filling:

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Finely grated zest of 1 large orange

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water

For the cream cheese frosting:

1/2 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted


To make the dough, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, eggs, the 4 1/2 cups flour and the salt. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed, adding a little more flour if needed, until the ingredients come together. Toss in the butter and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and springy, about 7 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, put it in the oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half.

Roll out 1 dough half into a rectangle about 9 by 14 inches. Spread with half of the butter, then sprinkle evenly with half of the brown sugar, half of the cinnamon and half of the orange zest. Starting at the long side closest to you, roll the rectangle away from you, forming a log. Cut the log crosswise into 8 equal slices. Arrange the slices, cut side down, in half of the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling ingredients, and arrange the slices in the other half of the pan. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm, draft-free spot until puffy, about 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight, then let stand at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before baking.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Brush the rolls lightly with the beaten egg mixture. Bake until the rolls are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a roll comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until thoroughly combined, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If the consistency is too soft, refrigerate the frosting until it is spreadable, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the pan with the rolls to a wire rack and let cool slightly, then spread the rolls with the frosting while they are still warm. Pull the rolls apart and serve warm. Makes 16 rolls.

Baker’s note: If you like, add 1/3 cup raisins or toasted chopped pecans to the filling. If you prepare these the night before up until the final rise and baking, then all you have to do in the morning is let them come to room temperature and slide them in the oven to bake.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort, by Kim Laidlaw (Weldon Owen, 2011).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rustic French Meatloaf

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I have had this recipe tucked away in my files for years and just recently something reminded me of it.  It combines the simplicity of meatloaf with the flavor and depth of a French pâté and goes well paired with buttered boiled potatoes.  Leftover slices naturally make terrific sandwiches, but they’re also wonderful panfried in olive oil. Moreover, it makes an excellent dish, cold or room temperature, for a picnic or tailgating event.

Serves 6


1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a rustic loaf)

1/2 cup whole milk

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb chicken livers, separated into lobes, trimmed, and rinsed

3/4 lb ground pork

3/4 lb ground veal

1/4 cup chopped prunes

1/4 cup shelled pistachios

 2 teaspoons thyme leaves

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Accompaniment: Dijon mustard


•Preheat oven to 475ºF with rack in middle.

•Soak bread crumbs in milk in a small bowl.

•Cook onion, garlic, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper in oil in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly.

•Purée livers in a blender, then transfer to a large bowl. Add pork, veal, prunes, pistachios (if using), thyme, eggs, bread-crumb mixture, onion mixture, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and gently mix with your hands until just combined.

•Transfer meatloaf mixture to an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch glass loaf pan (see cooks’ note, below) and bake, covered with foil, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 165ºF, 50 to 55 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. Cover top of meatloaf with parsley before slicing.

Cooks’ note: You can use a metal loaf pan, but the meatloaf will take about 15 minutes longer to cook.

Serve With: buttered boiled potatoes

Recipe by Kay Chun for Gourmet
Photograph by Romulo Yanes

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Buffet Menu Served At The Wedding Of The Duchess Of Alba

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This past 5th of October, the Duchess Of Alba, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart and Silva, married Alfonso Diez at the Duenas Palace in Seville.  All of you, I'm sure, know the story.  She is 85, he is... well, a bit younger.  She is very rich... he is not.  She is a real trip.

What you didn't know, that is until now, is what the guests were served after the ceremony

It was a buffet served around the garden of the palace.  Here's the food.

Cold Plates 

- Gazpacho rebujito con hierbabuena
Gazpacho with Mint 

- Tortilla Española
Spanish tortilla 

- Ensalada de Nuyes con Angulas y Caviar
Salad of Nueyes & caviar

Hot Plates 

- Arroz a la provenzal acompañado con gambas blancas de Huelva y langosta en salsa americana
Provencal Rice with Shrimp and Lobster in American Sauce

- Tournedó de Ternera con Salsa Bearnesa
Tournedos Of Beef with Bernaise Sauce 


Pimientos de Padrón
Red Pimientos from Padron 

Cebollitas Francesas
French small onions 

Patatas Estilo Ducal
Potatoes Ducal Style

- Ave al limón en su jugo con verdura variada a la plancha
Grilled Lemon Chicken with vegetables

- Ensalada Mimosa
Mimosa Salad 


- Tocino de coco
Coconut Custard 

- Pastel de almendras con salsa de leche condensada
Almond Pie With Condensed Milk Sauce (??!) 

- Bomba de chocolate con salsa de turrón caliente
Chocolate Bombe With Warm Turron Sauce

Source and Photos Hola

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pork Chops Shepherd Style

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When you get to be an old timer in the kitchen like me, you can tell by osmosis who is who in the world of food blogging.  Yes, there are beautiful sites with gorgeous pictures but,  frankly, they are more for show than substance.  On the other hand, there are some where the photos may not be as professional (who wants the food to get cold!) but where you know the recipe they are sharing will be great.  Most of them, like me, have a good nose for good recipes from other sources.  They may tweak here and there but why fool around with perfection.

To name a few of my favorite real cooks, there is Martha's Lines From Linderhof, Penny's Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen and Carolyn's A Southener's Notebook.  Both Carolyn and Penny are friends of Lindaraxa's country blog My Kitchen By The Lake.  Martha is a friend of both and her baking is to die for!

Last week I noticed that Carolyn had posted a recipe from one of my favorite Italian cooks, Lidia Bastianich.  When I lived in New York,  I used to go to her restaurant, Felidia's,  for one of the best Italian meals in town.  Later on she started her own show on PBS and I was just transfixed.  Everything I tried was not only good, it was spectacular.

This recipe is probably one of the best pork chop recipes I have ever tasted.  The three of us, including my daughter and my favorite neighbor,  were just in awe of what we were eating.  No words can express how good this recipe was.  Like Carolyn, I served them with artisanal egg noodles made in Tuscany, something I have been keeping for a special occasion, and a simple Italian salad.  Tiramisu for dessert. I am still marvelling at the combination.

Don't make any substitutions.  I went to the local deli and asked them to cut the provolone in 1/8 in slices which I lay on top of the chops.

This is nirvana.  A simple, no fuss dish that is out of this world and perfect for a Sunday family dinner;  but do get the right ingredients and make no substitutions.  By the way, as there were only three of us, I halved the recipe.

Carolyn, I owe you one.  In the meantime, you might want to try the recipe she cooked for the Pope when he came to this country...Goulash

Pork Chops Shepherd-Style

Serves 6


6 bone-in pork loin chops, about 1 inch thick, 6 to 8 ounces each

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2cup all-purpose flour, for dredging

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)

3 plump garlic cloves, sliced

6-ounce chunk provola or provolone, preferably imported from Italy

1 cup white wine

1/3 cup grated pecorino

Recommended Equipment: A heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet or saute' pan, 12-inch diameter or wider.


Trim excess fat from the pork chops, leaving only a thin layer on the edges. Season both sides of the chops with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Spread the flour on a plate, and dredge the chops, lightly coating both sides.

Meanwhile, pour the olive oil in the skillet, and set it over medium heat. Shake excess flour from the chops, and lay them all in the skillet in one layer (depending on the size of your pan, you may have to snuggle them in). Gently brown the pork on the first side, about 4 minutes; turn the chops over and brown the second side, another 4 minutes. Remove the chops to a plate and keep warm.

Scatter the onions and garlic in the skillet, stir them around the pan, season with the remaining salt, and cover. Cook the onions slowly, stirring occasionally, and scraping the pan bottom to mix the crusty browned bits with the onion juices.

Meanwhile, if you'll be finishing the dish right away, set a rack in the middle of the oven and heat it to 400*. Slice the provola in 6 or more thick slices about the size of the pork chops.

After the onions have cooked for 15 minutes or so, and are quite tender and colored with the pan scrapings, uncover, and push them all to one side of the skillet. Lay the pork chops back in, one at a time, spooning a layer of soft onions on the top of each chop. When they're all in the pan, lay the provola slices over the onions.

Raise the heat, and when the meat is sizzling again, pour the wine into the skillet (in the spaces between the chops, not over them). Swirl the pan so the wine flows all through it, and bring to a boil. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of pecorino on each chop, then carefully move the skillet from the stove to the oven.

Bake the chops for 10 minutes or so, until the cheese toppings are bubbly and crusty. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, and let the chops rest in it for a few minutes. To serve, lift out each chop with a spatula, keeping the cheese topping intact, set it on a dinner plate, and spoon some of the skillet juices and onions around it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gnocchi Alla Romana

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Unlike the gnocchi which you are most familiar with and which is commonly made with potatoes Gnocchi Alla Romana is made with semolina flour.  In Marcella Hazan’s “The Classic Italian Cookbook,” she mentions that this dish can be traced back directly to Imperial Rome. Apicius, the Roman gourmet who lived during the 1st century, had a recipe for gnocchi made of semolina exactly like these, then fried and served with honey. These are made the same way, but baked in the oven with freshly grated parmesan cheese and butter and are as light as can be.

It makes for a great first course or primi after which you can serve any meat or fowl.  I actually like it the way it was suggested in Williams Sonoma's site, accompanied by Roman Style meatballs.

The entire dish can be made ahead up to 2 days, before baking, if it is refrigerated and covered with plastic wrap.

Serves 4 to 6


•1 cup semolina

•1 quart (1 liter) milk

•1 brimming cup grated Parmigiano plus more for sprinkling over

•7 TBs unsalted butter

•2-3 egg yolks



Bring the milk to a boil, and gradually stir in the semolina, stirring constantly to prevent lumps and keep the mixture from sticking to the pot. The mixture will become quite thick; continue cooking and stirring for about 20 minutes, and remove the pot from the fire. Beat the yolks with a little more milk, and add them to the semolina, together with 2/3 cup of the cheese,  2 TB butter, and a pinch of salt. Mix well and spread the mixture a little less than a half an inch thick  on your work surface.

Let the semolina cool for 2 hours, and with a biscuit cutter cut it into rounds.

Butter a square pan and layer the disks in it, overlapping like roof tiles.  spread a little more grated cheese between the layers (there should be 3-4). When all the rounds have been used up, dot the gnocchi with the remaining butter and add the rest of the grated cheese. Use more cheese if you need to.

Bake the gnocchi 15 minutes in a hot (400 F or 200 C) oven, until golden, and serve at once. If a crust hasnt formed, raise the temperature to 500 and bake another 5 minutes.

Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Marcella Hazan

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