Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fourth Of July 2011...The Menu

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Unlike last year when we had a full house of adults, young people and dogs, this weekend should be a fairly quiet one.  By that I don't mean dull.  Starting this Thursday, the houses around us will be rocking with weekend guests and the lake will be full of activity, culminating in the Fourth of July Fireworks at Lake Lanier Islands.  It is a madhouse, only fit for the young at heart and the masochist.  On holidays like this, it is a blessing to be on a cove and be able to swim off our dock!

On the home front, there will be only two couples to take care of, my brother and sister in law and some friends of my daughter.  A breeze compared to other summer holidays.  I am planning a casual menu for eight on the 4th, early enough for a leisurely meal with plenty of time for those going to the fireworks to get there by boat.  This is one time when I don't bother too much with appetizers.   Chips and dips, maybe Kentucky Beer Cheese and chorizos on the grill.

The menu below is easily adaptable to a bigger crowd.

Easy Latticed Blueberry Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream

If you have killer home grown tomatoes from your garden, good olive oil and fresh baguettes, serve them as a first course while you are grilling.  They will go well with the grilled chorizo.

Photos # 1 Facebook #2 Everything Fabulous

Sunday, June 26, 2011

From Georgia With Love...Tarte A L'Oignon

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Nothing gives me more pleasure than to satisfy a friend's request.  Within reason, that is.

Last week while my blogger friend Paul Gervais de Bédée was enjoying himself in Sardinia and St. Tropez, I got an unusual request from him.  Did I have a recipe for a tarte a l'oignon? Mais non, but  I was sure that  with a little research and some practice on my part I could come up with a good one, if not the best one. 

When I go in search of the ultimate recipe for something I haven't made before, I like to start with an authentic source.  Obviously, Julia Child was the first name that came to mind but knowing her recipes, I knew hers was going to be long and involved.  The next name on the list was Patricia Wells who, amongst others, had written a cookbook on bistro cooking.  Not good enough.  She's really more Provencal.  I wanted  a typical tart recipe from the region that made it famous, in this case Alsace.  And then a coupe de foudre... André Soltner!

 For those of you not familiar with M. Solter, he was the former owner and chef of the four-star restaurant Lutéce in New York City.  For many years, long before Daniel and even Le Cirque came around, Lutéce was considered by many to be the best French restaurant in Manhattan.    This recipe,  traditional cafe fare in Alsace where he was born,  was shared by him in his book  The Lutéce Cookbook.   A copy of it, now out of print,  resided until recently in my mother's bookshelves but,  unbeknownst to her, it had mysteriously slipped into my suitcase the last time I visited.

At about the same time as all this was going on, I was looking for a recipe for the vegetable bounty now appearing in my friend Sandra Jonas' potager.  Just last weekend the onions had started making their appearance.  Sweet onions, no less.  So the ones I borrowed for my tart are from her Georgia vegetable garden, via my Georgia kitchen to Paul's table in Lucca, Italy.  From Georgia with love, dear friend....a french tarte a l'oignon!

Just as I predicted, the tarte was sublime.  When one has cooked as long as I have, one can tell just by reading the recipe.  

M. Soltner recommends blind baking the tart's crust, a process in which the crust is baked, then filled, then baked again to help keep the crust firm and crisp.  I strongly encourage you to do this.  There is nothing worse than slicing a tart and finding that the bottom crust has disappeared.  I made the dough the night before, stored it in the refrigerator overnight and rolled it out the next morning.  It handled beautifully.  I guess I am getting better at working with dough now that  I've started making pizza at home.

If you don't have pie weights for blind baking the crust, you can use dried beans, rice, or clean, round pebbles.

Don't rush the onions.  Cook them on low until they begin to caramelize.  It might take as long as 20 minutes.  That is really the part that takes the longest but it is well worth the effort.  While the onions are cooking, open a bottle of a chilled French rosé  and start slicing some fresh tomatoes for a salad.  Life could be worse.

It looks like a lot of onions

...but it's not once they are cooked

Andre Soltner's Tarte A L'Oignon

Serves 6

* 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for tart pan

* 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

* 1/2 cup ice water

* 1 1/2 pounds onions, about 2 large) finely sliced.  I used Vidalia onions.

* 1 large egg, lightly beaten

* 1/2 cup heavy cream

* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

* 1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

* 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese


1. Butter a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom; set aside.

2. Make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled butter, and combine with fingers or a pastry blender until it has the texture of coarse meal. Add 1/2 cup ice water, and stir just until a dough forms. Form into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 15 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch-thick round. Fit dough into prepared tart pan; trim excess. Line with a parchment paper round, and fill with pie weights. Chill for 15 minutes. Transfer to oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment paper. Bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from oven, and set aside.

4. In a large skillet, heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly browned and softened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. In a small bowl, combine beaten egg, cream, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in onions.

Ready to go in the oven

6. Sprinkle baked tart shell with cheese. Spread onion mixture evenly over cheese. Bake until set, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

All you need to serve with the tarte is sliced tomatoes with  good olive oil, fresh basil  and Balsamic vinegar.  Paul should have no problem coming up with that!

I know some of you have had problems leaving comments.  Here's two solutions.  1.  Sign in as anonymous and sign your name at bottom 2.  When signing in as Google account, uncheck the box that says "stay signed in". That should help.

All photos Lindaraxa

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Poached Salmon With Two Sauces And Fingerling Potatoes

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If you are wondering why so many salmon recipes are popping up all of a sudden, the reason is simple: Copper River salmon season is upon us.

This 300-mile-long Alaskan river, which empties into Prince William Sound, is famous for its summer runs of King, Sockeye and Coho salmon. Because of the length and nature of the run, these fish are high in unctuous, delicious, healthy omega-3 oils.

We’re right at the height of the Sockeye salmon season, and the smallish, deep red fillets are in area Whole Foods Markets and Costco, among other outlets. The markets should have plenty for the next two weeks and possibly the next month.  Don't miss this once a year treat and remind yourself that salmon is a seasonal treat.

To me a perfect companion to salmon, whether hot or cold, is fingerling potatoes.  At my friend Sandra Jonas' vegetable garden the crop is just coming in, together with luscious yellow squash and sweet onions. Sandra is the well known garden designer and owner of Recreating Eden Garden Designs.  Her noteworthy landscapes have appeared in  Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living, and HGTV.  Stop by her blog and check out her beautiful garden and landscapes.    We are teaming up and linking to each other's blogs as the harvest comes in and I come up with recipes for all to enjoy.  In the next post I will be using some of her sweet onions and making a popular French recipe for an Italian friend.  How's that for networking?

The new crop of fingerling potatoes from Sandra's Garden

Chilled poached salmon with a refreshing horseradish sauce makes a lovely summer lunch dish. When I serve it as part of a buffet, though, I like to serve it with two very distinct sauces, one with heat the other with a little more depth to it.  Roast or steam the fingerling potatoes or prepare them as in the recipe below. They go well with either sauce.

Poached Salmon With Horseradish Sauce
Serves 6 to 8


1 (3-pound) skin-on salmon fillet
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup white wine
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/4 cup chopped dill, plus 8 whole sprigs
1 TB prepared horseradish sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 cucumber, peeled (1/2 seeded and chopped, 1/2 sliced)


Season salmon with salt and pepper. Put 1 cup water, wine, onions, peppercorns and 4 sprigs of the dill into a roasting pan or fish poacher large enough to hold the fillet. Add the salmon. If not covered by liquid, add just enough water to barely cover the fillet, then gently bring it to a simmer. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, until salmon is just opaque in the center. (Allow about 10 minutes of cooking time per inch thickness of fish.) Remove from heat and let salmon cool slightly in liquid. Transfer salmon to a large platter and set aside to cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

Meanwhile, make the Horseradish Sauce.

In a bowl, stir in crème fraîche, horseradish, lemon juice, chopped cucumber and chopped dill. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Chill until ready to serve.

Peel skin off salmon once cooled. Garnish platter with remaining 4 dill sprigs and cucumber slices. Serve with horseradish sauce on the side

Tarragon Sauce*

2 large bunches fresh tarragon (about 1 ounce total)
1 large bunch fresh chives (about 2/3 ounce)
1 large shallot
3/4 cup fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Pick enough tarragon leaves to measure 1/2 cup (do not pack). Chop enough chives to measure 1/3 cup. Coarsely chop shallot. In a food processor puree tarragon, chives, and shallot with remaining sauce ingredients until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Sauce may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring sauce to cool room temperature before serving.

*This sauce is also used in a poached salmon recipe from Epicurious served with the fingerling potato recipe below..

Fingerling Potatoes

Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. In a steamer set over boiling water steam potatoes until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Spoon sauce onto 6 plates and arrange some potatoes in a circle, overlapping slightly, on top of sauce . Season potatoes with salt and arrange salmon on top of potatoes. Garnish salmon with peas.

 Photos courtesy of Whole Foods and Sandra Jonas

Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Elegant Picnic For A Concert In Central Park...Filet of Beef On Baguette

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Summer is full of free concerts in parks all over the nation.  If you are lucky to live near a city that has one, don't miss it.  Boston, Cleveland and New York are the ones that come to mind, even here in Atlanta we have them on Centennial and Piedmont parks.  But there is nothing that comes close to a concert in Central Park!

Years ago, when I worked and lived in New York, I was invited to a few of these concerts by Wall Street firms who entertained their clients by taking them to concerts, opening exhibits at museums, Shakespeare in the Park (my favorite),  or the theater .  One of the firms once took us out for dinner and a cruise around New York harbor. No, I was not wealthy client, but I did manage a lot of money on behalf of some of the largest investment banks in the world.   Just last night, I was cleaning my bookshelves and came across some art books from two exhibitions I was invited to...Matisse at the MOMA and John Singer Sargent at the Whitney, with the business cards still inside!

The New York Philharmonic at the Great Lawn In Central Park

In the summer of 1988,  I decided to take my group to a concert in Central Park.  Everybody came, portfolio managers, sales, operations, traders, the whole lot.   The only mistake was inviting my boss, a charming unattached Scot who proceeded to get drunk and pick up every single girl in sight!  Not exactly what I had in mind.  The concert was spectacular, with Placido Domingo as the star of the evening.  Throw in Linda Rondstat and Gloria Estefan at the end, a full moon and something no one anticipated, 100 degree temperatures!  There is no place in the world that can be more miserable in high heat than New York City, even if you are in a park.

In those days, everybody brought a nice picnic, with chairs and blankets, all very civilized, as New Yorkers can be when asked to behave themselves.  You also have to realize that the people who live in that part of town and the type of audience who would be interested in such a concert is of a certain economic class and very yuppy. 

Should you find yourself in the position of being invited to such an event, grab it. You will remember it for the rest of your life.

Tell me, have you ever been to one of these events? anywhere in the world?

A picnic basket from Picnic At Ascot

For this kind of a picnic you must travel light.  Remember, you will be doing some walking before you get to what you think is an acceptable destination. Getting back home after the concert can take a long time and this is not the type of outing where a town car will be waiting for you at the curb.  Bring your champagne in a portable cooler and the soup in a Thermos.  If you don't have the time to make the bars, pick up some chocolate covered espresso beans.  You will need the caffeine!

This picnic will fit nicely in a picnic basket like the one on top.  All you need is a hunk in great shape to carry it for you.  You might also opt to bring two lighter baskets.  Check out the selction at Picnic at Ascot, they have a lot of choices.  As to a wine, a light red Burgundy or Malbec will go well with this meal.  Nothing too heavy though, remember you will be outside and it's hot. Wine will make you hotter! And don't forget to bring real napkins and plenty of water. You have eight hands to help you carry the load!

The Picnic

Cheese wafers
Black Mission Figs With Prosciutto


Filet Of Beef On Baguette With Horseradish Sauce

Filet of Beef On Baguette With Horseradish Sauce
Yield:4 servings

For the beef:
2 to 3 pounds fillet of beef, trimmed and tied
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

For the sandwich:
1 French baguette, halved horizontally and cut crosswise in 4
Mustard Horseradish Sauce, recipe follows
1 bunch arugula
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the beef on a baking sheet and pat the outside dry with a paper towel. Mix the unsalted butter and mustard together in a small bowl and spread the mixture over the beef with your hands. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for exactly 22 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium-rare.

Remove the beef from the oven, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Remove the strings and slice the fillet thickly.

To make the sandwiches, cut the baguette horizontally. Spread the bottom slices thickly with the Mustard Horseradish Sauce. Top with slices of beef and arugula and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mustard Horseradish Sauce:

3/4 cup good mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons sour cream
Kosher salt

Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, sour cream, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Serve at room temperature. Yield: 1 cup

I have taken Ina Garten's recipe and adapted it to an open faced sandwich on a baguette.  You can always make them her way but I thought this was a tad more elegant.

These beef sandwiches are wrapped in parchment, tied with baker's twine, and transported in a baking dish that doubles as a serving tray. The watercress is packed separately so that it stays crisp.

Photos # 1 # 2 # 3 Google
#4 Picnic At Ascot #5 Martha Stewart    

Friday, June 17, 2011

Greek Drama...Moussaka A La Grecque

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This weekend all eyes will be on Greece.  Whether the government gets its act together and  pushes through the deep cuts needed to receive the next installment of international aid or not, there is no question that tough times lie ahead for the Greeks.  Oy vey, it seem like these days we get out of one crisis just to plunge into another...

While the markets were falling apart this week and I was trying not to notice by concentrating on the blog and polishing the silver, moussaka came to mind.  Well that and the fact that I have some beautiful eggplant, or as some of you like to call it, aubergines, sitting on my kitchen counter.  They were really destined for the grill, but I think that instead, I will use them to make this long forgotten recipe.

Contrary to what you may think, moussaka is not just for the winter.  Now is the perfect time of the year to make one while the gorgeous eggplants, or aubergines,  are at their prime.

I haven't made a moussaka in years. As a matter of fact, this is the only recipe I have and it is from a long time ago;  but when I looked for something  more au courant, nothing came even close. Sometimes old recipes are better than new ones and with Craig Claiborne,  you can never go wrong.

Don't be put out by the length of the recipe.  There are really only four simple steps:  First you brown the eggplant, then the meat onions etc, make a bechamel and assemble the whole dish.  Simple as that. So go for it and pray that everything (the moussaka and the drama) turns out alright.

Serves 6 to 8


3 medium eggplants

8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 onions, chopped

2 pounds ground lamb

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Pinch cinnamon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 quart whole milk, heated

4 large eggs, beaten

Pinch nutmeg

2 cups ricotta

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Peel the eggplant and slice it crosswise 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides of each slice lightly with salt, arrange in 1 layer on paper towels and let drain for 30 minutes.

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat; add as many slices as will fit in 1 layer and brown on both sides. Repeat the procedure with 4 tablespoons of the remaining oil and the remaining eggplant. Drain the eggplant as they are cooked on paper towels.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the onion to the skillet and cook until the onions are brown. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink. Combine the tomato paste with the wine, parsley, and cinnamon. Add this mixture to the skillet and simmer over low heat, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

In a sauce pan, over low heat, melt the butter, add the flour and whisk for 5 minutes. Turn up the heat to moderate and add the milk in a stream, whisking. Simmer for 5 minutes, add salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat. Cool slightly and stir in the eggs, nutmeg, and ricotta.

Grease and 11 by 16-inch pan and sprinkle the bottom lightly with bread crumbs. Arrange alternating layers of eggplant and meat sauce in the pan, sprinkling each layer with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Pour the egg sauce over the top and bake one hour in a preheat 350 degree oven, or until top is golden. Let cool twenty minutes before slicing.

Recipe from Craig Claiborne
Photos: Getty

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grilled Pork Tenderloin With A Mustard Bourbon Rub

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This recipe comes from Lobel's, New York City's premier butcher shop located amongst the priciest boutique on the Upper East Side.  Get the picture?

I have never bought a steak at this renowned butcher shop but I have pressed my nose to their window often enough to qualify as an authority on their cuts.  With so many great steak houses in NYC it seems silly to buy a prime cut of beef to cook at home.  To me great meat should be cooked outside on a grill, preferably over coals and not gas.  But that is just me and it is the primary reason I have never sprung for one of their steaks.

On the other hand, I have had their pork chops, courtesy of a friend who could afford them. They were bought to complement a great bottle of wine and as it turned out, they were the stars of the evening.  The great thing about knowing how to cook in New York City is people will buy things for you to make.  I will cook in exchange for great ingredients any time, any place.

Although tender, succulent, and elegant, pork tenderloin is also lean and therefore needs a marinade, like the one used here. The spicy brown mustard, in this case, adds some kick to the sweetness of the bourbon and the meat itself. And the bourbon? Well, a little southern charm never hurt anyone!.

Serves 4


3/4 cup spicy brown mustard

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp bourbon

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 pork tenderloins, each 3/4 to 1 lb, trimmed

vegetable-oil cooking spray


1.Combine the mustard, bourbon, oil, thyme, garlic, parsley, and pepper in a bowl, stirring well. Rub into the tenderloins; cover the meat on all sides.

2.Put the tenderloins in a shallow glass or ceramic dish, cover, and set aside at room temperature for no longer than 30 minutes, or refrigerate up to 4 hours. If refrigerated, let the tenderloins stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before grilling.

3.Prepare the grill: Lightly spray the grill rack with vegetable-oil cooking spray. Light the fire and wait until moderately hot.

4.Grill the tenderloins for 12 to 14 minutes, turning with tongs once or twice, until cooked through with an internal temperature of 150 to 155 degrees. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing; the temperature will rise to 160 degrees during the resting period. Slice thin and serve.

Photo: Dorothy Kinderling

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Cool Dinner For A Hot Night...Cold Grilled Salmon And Cucumber Salad With Dill

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We are going on our third week of temperatures in the nineties and I am beginning to feel like a cat on a hot tin roof!  When the weather is like that, everything stops in this house, including the oven.  I am sure you have noticed that recent posts have been full of salads and simple things although I did break my resolve and baked a blueberry pie a couple of weeks ago.

Salmon is the first thing that comes to mind when I want something light on a hot summer night.  Grilled or poached, hot or cold.  Sunday night we fired up the grill and an Asian styled salmon was served with steamed artichokes and hollandaise sauce.  I made plenty so I could have it the next night with something I have been longing for, something my mother used to make in the summer when we lived in Connecticut...Cucumber Salad With Sour Cream and Dill.

If you want something to cool the body inside there is nothing like cucumbers, whether they are in a salad or in a cold soup.  In the Middle East, you will often find a small dish placed next to you filled with cucumbers and yogurt to balance the heat of the meal.  They were my salvation one night at a formal dinner in Karachi, Pakistan where one dish seemed to be hotter than the last.

I prefer to mix sour cream instead of yogurt with the cucumbers in this salad, something that is traditional in Scandinavia.  For a recipe I turned to Anna Pump's cookbook The Loaves And Fishes Cookbook, a selection of her recipes from her fabulous gourmet shop.

Cucumber Salad With Fresh Dill And Sour Cream
Yields 6 to 8 servings


2 European cucumbers*
1 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup peeled and finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. white pepper
2 TB white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups sour cream

Slice the cucumbers very thin.  Sprinkle with salt and place them in a colander for 15 minutes. Then press out as much liquid as you can with back of a large spoon. Transfer cucumber slices to a salad bowl.  Add rest of ingredients and mix gently but thoroughly with your hands.

* European or seedless cucumbers have no wax coating.  Skin is left on for both color and texture (I peel off every other strip) The salad will keep for 24 hours.

All photos Lindaraxa

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Slim's The Word!...Field Greens With Chicken, Goat Cheese, Apples and Cranberries

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The Ladies Who Lunch don't like to eat much in the Summer.  They like to show off their bodies in the latest summer fashions and the competition is stiff!  After all, some of them are not as young anymore....

and bathing suits are getting skimpier and skimpier, or so it seems to those of us of a certain age!

I noticed from my friend Slim Paley's latest post that lunches are getting skimpier too, albeit much prettier from the looks of this recent lunch she attended!  Well, such is the life of the Ladies Who Lunch and we at Lindaraxa can adapt to any circumstance.

This salad was an unexpected surprise from a Lindaraxa- in- waiting, my daughter Christina.  She is the queen of cookies and salads in the family,  a strange combination for someone who is constantly watching her figure. Sometimes she makes cookies that she doesn't even eat, I do.  She doesn't remember where she got the idea for this salad but I can honestly say, as a proud mother and cook, it was out of this world!

I don't know the exact measurements, but it doesn't really matter.  Just chop and add away and mix with a white balsamic vinaigrette.

Field Greens With Chicken, Goat Cheese, Apples and Cranberries


Field Greens
Roast chicken breasts cut in 1 inch pieces
Unpeeled apple slices (1 inch)
Goat cheese
Dried Cranberries

White Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 part White Balsamic Vinegar
3 parts Olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper

I like to serve this salad on a plate, untossed,  arranging the field greens in the bottom and everything else on top.  Pass the vinaigrette and let everyone serve themselves.

It's strange how post ideas come along.  Half an hour ago I was looking for a recipe to post and here I am, a recipe from my daughter linked to Slim Paley's blog.  Who would have thought!

Photos: Top Lindaraxa #2 and #3 via Slim Paley

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pasta With Brie, Tomatoes And Basil

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Although you can serve this as a first course, I prefer to make a meal of it in the summer.

I have basil coming out of my ears this year and the tomatoes at my farmers market are the best I have seen in a long time.  I know a pound of Brie is a bit much, but believe me, it is worth every cent in this recipe.


Serves 4-6 as an entree, 6-8 as a first course

4 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 pound Brie cheese, rind removed, torn into irregular pieces

1 cup cleaned fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

1 cup best quality olive oil

salt to taste

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 pounds linguine

freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. Combine tomatoes, brie, basil, garlic, 1 cup olive oil, salt and pepper in a large serving bowl. Prepare at least 2 hours before serving and set aside, covered, at room temperature

2. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the linguine and boil until al dente, about 10 minutes.

3. Drain pasta and immediately toss with the tomato sauce. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of The Silver Palate

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Belmont Stakes...Gallagher's Belmont Breeze

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The Belmont Stakes is the final leg of the Triple Crown and will be run this Saturday at Belmont Park, New York.  The official drink is the Belmont Breeze and what better place to enjoy it than at one of New York's great steakhouses, Gallagher's.

Founded in 1927 at the height of Prohibition, Gallagher's soon became the place where famous and notorious New Yorkers could find a great steak and a stiff drink. After Prohibition ended in 1933, Gllagher's became more famous than ever primarily due to their exceptional steaks.  Aged for 21 days at a constant temperature of 36 degrees to ensure tenderness, their prime steaks are grilled over hickory coals. This combination of all-natural dry aging and hickory coals makes a steak you cannot find any place else in the New York area.

If you cannot make it to Gallagher's by post time on the day of the race, all it takes is a few ingredients to have an authentic Belmont Breeze at home.  Make this easy recipe for Clams Casino and you won't notice the difference!

Gallagher’s Belmont Breeze

1½ oz. Jack Daniel’s whiskey

¾ oz. Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry

½ oz. lemon juice

1½ oz. orange juice

1 oz. simple syrup or sweet and sour mix

1½ oz. cranberry juice

7 Up

Club Soda

Strawberries or Lemon wedges


Shake the first 6 ingredients with ice. Top with half 7-Up and half club soda. Garnish with a strawberry or lemon wedge.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Easy Latticed Blueberry Pie

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This morning when I left the house I had absolutely no intention of making a blueberry pie; but as luck would have it, when I stopped at the farmer's market to pick up tomatoes for tomorrow's lunch, I spotted the most luscious blueberries I've seen in a long time.  So after adding them to my basket, I stopped at the store to purchase a frozen crust to make my "homemade" blueberry pie.  Yes, I do cheat sometimes, (more often than not) and buy a ready made crust, but not just any ready made crust, only Mrs. Smith's.

I have never found a better recipe for blueberry pie than the one in the Joy Of Cooking, that old stalwart of my generation.  If you don't have this cookbook, I strongly recommend it.  It has everything you can think of as well as very detailed instructions on how to go about making things.  Better yet, and this is the part I like, it gives you alternatives.  Case in point, when I looked for a recipe on one of my other books it called for tapioca pudding.  Who has that in a pantry these days?! The Joy of Cooking gives you that option plus two others, flour or cornstarch,  and depending on which one you pick, it adjusts the rest of the ingredients.  In the case of blueberries you have to be careful which thickening agent you use for they can get  get quite runny when baked.

As to the crust, leave it out for about 30 minutes so that you can ply loose one of the crusts from the tinfoil.  Lay it flat on the counter and cut 1/2 inch strips with a knife or pizza cutter. Follow the instructions here on how to make a lattice top.  Easy!

If you use a ready made crust, this pie takes no time at all; and if you cut the second crust in strips for a latticed pie no one can tell  it was not home made.  I had to swear on my grandchildren three times before my daughter  believed I had made it from scratch!

Tips from "Joy of Cooking"

•A 9-inch fruit or berry pie needs about 4 cups of fresh fruit or 3 cups of cooked fruit.

•Each type of fruit requires its own quota of sweetening. For example, 4 cups of gooseberries need about 1 3/4 cups of sugar, while blueberries may need no more than 1/2 cup plus lemon juice to heighten the flavor.

•Acidic fruits should be thickened with tapioca starch, cornstarch or arrowroot starch because the acidity of the fruit may neutralize the thickening power of the flour.


1. Line a 9-inch pie pan with  dough. I used Mrs. Smith frozen pie shell.

2. Prepare by picking over and hulling:

4 cups fresh berries


2/3 to 1 cup or more sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I recommend 1/2 if fruit is very juicy)

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used Cinnamon)

4. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the berries and stir gently until well blended. Let stand for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).

5.Turn the fruit into the pie shell. Dot with:

1 to 2 tablespoons butter

6 .Cover the pie with a well-pricked top or with a lattice*. Bake the pie at 450°F (230°C) for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F (175°C) and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown * watch after 30 minutes, mine only took 35 mins.

* for a lattice top, use the second pie shell.  Let it come to room temperature, separate from tin shell, lay it out flat and with pizza cutter cut 1/2 in strips.  Follow these directions.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Banana Walnut Bread

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Nothing gets thrown out in this house, that is as far as food is concerned! Perhaps it's because I am of that generation that was forced to eat everything on the plate because of the poor starving children in China (or was it India?)  and look at them now! Those cute starving kids are now eating OUR food and driving the prices insane.  After all the sacrifices I made!

For those of you not of a certain age, this must sound ludicrous but that was the sneaky way our parents got us to finish our meals.  Nowadays, kids eat in stages.  A couple of bites here and there, get up from the table, come back, eat some more...don't get me started on this.

This morning I woke up to 4 over ripe bananas sitting on the kitchen counter, leftovers from last weekend's visit from my grandchildren.   I was exhausted from working in the garden but I knew they wouldn't last another day so out came the pots and pans and the Silver Palate cookbook.

It took less than half an hour to throw everything together and now I am delighted for I will have a real treat to serve for breakfast and tea over the long weekend.  Which got me thinking....there is nothing I appreciate more as a weekend hostess than having someone show up with homemade treats.  Cookies, breads, pies, salads, ANYTHING to alleviate the weekend meal debacle.  Of course,  a casserole will do fine,  but I'll even settle for a jar of homemade jam!

Makes 1 loaf


 8 T unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 c granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1 c whole wheat flour

3 large ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/4 cups - 1 1/2 cups) I used 4

1 t vanilla extract

1/2 c walnuts, coarsely chopped (I used 1 cup, love it nutty)


1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

2. Mix flours, soda, salt together

3. Mash bananas with a fork, add vanilla to the banana mixture.

4. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat.

5. Alternately add dry and wet ingredients to butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry)

6. Pour into pan. Bake 50-60 min, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 min, then on rack. f

Banana bread freezes beautifully.  Half my loaf is sitting in the freezer ready for next weekend!

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