Thursday, July 26, 2012

Salmon Mousse

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Long before the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook became the IT book to have on your kitchen shelves, there was another wildly popular one called the Silver Palate Cookbook by Julie Rosso and Sheila Rufskin owners of the store under the same name in NYC . It was the most exciting cookbook to hit the market since Julia Child's Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.  Like Julia's cookbooks, it had no photos but the recipes were straight forward, easy to prepare and different.  Everywhere you went in the 1980's, whether for lunch, dinner or drinks, you were sure to find one of its recipes on the menu.  It was fun eating, marvelous presentation and really good food.

Some of the dishes that came out of this cookbook, like Chicken Marbella, became legendary to ladies of a certain age like moi;  and after thirty odd years, they can still make an impression when served to the right crowd on the right occasion.

That looks like a regular loaf pan but it is really one of the two mini loaf pans I used.

Another of the legendary recipes was this salmon mousse, a store staple since the business opened it's doors in the early 80's.  Last weekend,  it made its appearance on my table after a long absence.  After grilling some salmon for dinner and finding myself with more than an ample supply of leftovers, the question was... salmon croquettes or salmon mousse?  The croquettes involved frying during what looked to be another scorcher of a week, so the mousse won hands down.

Even after all this time, this salmon recipe is still innovative and different from anything you've ever had.  It's not pate and it's not a dip or a spread.  It is all of the above plus airy and "moussey".  Great as a first course or an appetizer, it can be served with toast points and a salad for a simple lunch;  or, like my lunch today, with crackers and cherry tomatoes from our garden.

One caveat...don't leave out for a long time on a hot day.  Remember it has whipped cream which will soften in the heat leaving you with a mushy mousse and a couple of sick guest.

I will be posting sporadically until after Labor Day.  I have some guests visiting next month, including Madame Mere, and whatever cooking I do won't involve anything new or too complicated.  One thing that is definitely on the docket is her favorite Peach Pie

For the recipe click below

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Shrimp Tacos With Grilled Corn Salsa And Southwest Cream Sauce

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On Friday nights I like to have something funky and fun for dinner.  Sometimes it's Italian, like homemade pizza or pasta,  and sometimes it's an old favorite of my children's, tacos.  When the kids were young,  a big treat for them was the El Paso taco kits that came with everything except the ground beef.  That was their idea of a surprise dinner for Mom on Friday nights so she wouldn't have to cook after a week of commuting to work in the city.  I have never gotten out of the habit, and now that my daughter commutes to work in Atlanta, I try to have something easy and fun for dinner on Friday nights to celebrate the end of the week.

 This past week we had the best tacos I've had in a long time.  They did not come in a kit. We had shrimp in the fridge and leftover corn from the night before so assembling this dish was easier than expected.   Everything, except the tortillas, was ready before she came home so all we had to do was mix a couple of stiff drinks and choose a movie.  (The Artist)  When we were ready to eat, and still able to walk, I threw the tortillas on the grill for a minute or two on each side.

You can substitute chicken or flank steak for the shrimp and use flour or corn tortillas.   I used the latter in my efforts to cut back on wheat, but it's up to you.  All the flavors complement each other and the end result is a perfectly balanced taco heatwise.  For those who may want extra heat or spiciness, serve a bowl of ready made tomato salsa on the side.  We get ours in the produce department and it is a fresh tomato salsa. Whatever you do, do not skip the Southwest Cream Sauce.  It is the best part of the dish and something you can serve with other things.   The recipe is for 8 so adjust accordingly.  I did not follow measurements for the two of us.  Just mixed and chopped from the seat of my pants...and it was so-o-o-o good!

For the recipe click below:


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Velvety Chilled Corn Soup

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This is an adaptation of Susan Mason's Chilled Corn Soup which appears in her book Susan Mason's Silver Service.  Ms. Mason is the owner of the  upscale catering service in Savannah which is famous for good Southern food and elegant service.

The soup is divine and should be served as originally intended; but let's face it, eight lobsters for a soup is a bit much for most budgets nowadays.  I think it can be just as good if served garnished with a few cooked shrimp or sliced pimentos and chives.  I am leaving it up to your imagination...and your budget.  It is a very elegant first course for a summer lunch or dinner and can be made ahead of time.

Cool Summer Menus For A Ladies Lunch.

For the recipe click below

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cool Summer Menus For A Ladies Lunch

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One of the most visited posts on Lindaraxa's Garden is An Elegant Summer Lunch For the Ladies Who Lunch published three years ago.  I can gather from this that most of my readers are ladies who like to entertain other ladies, for lunch, in the summer.  Surprise.

With that in mind, I have given much thought to this post and the heat that has been prevalent throughout the country this summer. I, for one, don't think much about food and entertaining these days and haven't seen a soul since the heat started.  The dogs, which used to go out around noon for their late morning "stroll", now hide under the bed when I call them and won't budge until their bladders are ready to burst just before dinner time.  I have been staying indoors for most of the day, only venturing out to take care of my poor plants and an occasional trip to the grocery store for the essentials.  The rest of the time has been spent glued to my computer screen watching Mad Men episodes from the beginning.  Great show for those who haven't watched it and highly recommended.  I did two seasons in three nights and then I realized the dishes were piling in the sink and I couldn't continue to go to bed at four a.m and rise at noon.  As my daughter told me one morning, I was behaving just like a teenager.

Now, I do understand that most people are probably not affected by this heat as much as my dogs and I so for all of you with a social life, I am posting these two lunch menus.  The first is a fairly informal one, perfect for a ladies card party or get together.  The second is slightly more formal and appropriate for when you have to entertain an out of town guest or your best friend's engagement or birthday.  Here you would bring out grandma's tablecloth and silver service and your Limoges table setting.  Both are easy, simple, balanced and cold.  In this heat, the simpler you eat the better you will feel.  Both are appropriate to be served inside if the heat is bad or outdoors if you live in Alaska.    Everything, except for the popovers, can be made ahead.

The hor's d'oeuvres in both are the same.  They are summery, cool and simple.  A French dry rose such as Domaine Houchart, which is very reasonably priced and widely available, or the more expensive Chateau Romassan will be excellent with either lunch.  If it is very warm, though, you might want to have a pitcher of iced tea or lemonade as well.

For the menus, click after the break.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stuffed Tomatoes With Arborio Rice And Shrimp

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 When it comes to one dish summer meals this tomato recipe takes the prize. It is good just out of the oven and delicious at room temperature. Wonderful as an appetizer or vegetable, this dish also looks great on the buffet table.  It is the perfect lunch to serve before an afternoon of Bridge and a favorite amongst the Ladies Who Lunch.

I have taken the original recipe and added shrimp and a couple of little goodies to make it a one dish lunch or dinner.  If you want to serve it on the side then just remove the shrimp.  It is quite filling, so if you serve it as a main course for lunch all you will need is some Italian breadsticks or a crusty bread to gather the juices.  A very versatile dish, indeed!

  For the recipe click below:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gelato Alla Crema

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It is time... it is time to dust off the ice cream maker and bring it front and center.   Just think, pieces of peach, strawberry, blueberries any berry! to add to this scrumptious cream.  Even pieces of baked crust or cookies.  It's such an easy dessert to make,  and it brings such joy to anyone lucky enough to share a bowl.  Seriously...have you ever seen the expression on someone having a bowl of homemade ice cream?!

I have posted a few recipes for ice cream already on this blog and a Canteloupe Sorbetto awhile back,  but this is the first one I post for a real gelato.  Frankly, given the choice, I prefer gelato to ice cream.  The difference?

For a product to carry the label of “ice cream” in the US it has to have a minimum 10% fat content. Lower quality ice cream will be around 11 or 12%, while higher quality products will hit 16% and higher. Gelato is a different thing all together- since the milk-to-cream ratio is much higher, the fat content is significantly lower- anywhere between 3 and 8%. This is particularly important when t comes to taste, as the lower fat content doesn’t saturate your taste buds as much, and the flavors have the chance to emerge stronger. Air content is also significantly lower,  about 25%-30% in gelato and usually in excess of 50% in ice cream. The reason of the different air content resides in the churning method and the processing speed. Last, but not least- serving temperature. Ice cream is served frozen, while gelato is not- hence the challenge to lick your way around the cone before it melts.

The only flavors in this smooth, rich gelato are sweet cream, sugar, egg yolks and a hint of orange. You can use it as the base for other gelatos by adding chunks of chocolate, bits of fruit or chopped nuts during the last minute or so of freezing.  I would recommend that you have it "plain" the first time.  There is nothing to compare to a homemade bowl of Gelato Alla Crema...Nothing!

For the recipe, click below:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Garden Tour In Atlanta, Part II

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The third garden on the 2012 American Hydrangea Society Garden Tour in Atlanta was probably the most mature, having been nurtured and developed over 38 years by its owners.  There are many large hydrangeas including "Tardiva",  "Nikko",  "Endless Summer" "Little Lamb" and "Limelight (I'm just rattling off from the brochure).  Best of all is the fabulous view of the 8th green of the Atlanta Country Club.  No wonder this family has never moved... it's every husband's dream!

Although you will not find many photos of hydrangeas in this last installment, they were all there.  Every single one you might hope to find.  I, however, being the neophyte gardener that I am, was taking it all in and was just enchanted with the layout of the gardens and the beauty of it all.

The path leading to the front of the house with a view of the golf course

 Can you imagine the color in Spring from the azaleas?

Hostas, Gardenias and I think Confederate Jasmine (I'm picking up quickly)

The beautiful climbing New Dawn Rose over the front door, unfortunately not in bloom at the time

Pure simplicity, and very elegant.

The most charming potting shed to be found anywhere

We later learned from the owner that originally this had been her daughter's dollhouse.  The daughter, by the way, lives next door and has an equally, if not more,  impressive  house as her mother.  Wait til you see the inside of this "shed". 

If I had a potting shed like this I could be a good gardener.

Notice the small table and chair for when the little ones come gardening with grandmother

There is a small toilet to the left behind a folding door but I thought it was a bit much to take a photo. I too have my limits.

 The gazebo with the club's pond behind

And if you get tired going from the potting shed to the gazebo, there's a bench!

I thought this was the height of luxury, fans to keep the golfers cool. Was disappointed to hear they are for the grass

See, Sandra thought so too!

We had a wonderful conversation with the owner who joined us in the gazebo for a rest.  That's were we learned about the potting shed and the fans.  A very nice lady, family originally from Chicago.

Oh yes, the hydrangeas, I forgot that's what we came to see....

And then we come to the fourth garden of the six on the tour and the last one for us.  We had talked so much and gotten lost so many times we were just exhausted.  In hindsight,  I wished we had had the stamina to continue, but it was getting pretty hot and we had done quite a bit of up and down walking. 

This small garden, in a quiet neighborhood behind a shopping center, is the perfect example of "where there's a will, there's a way".  Nothing as spectacular as the first three, but full of ideas for people like me

Like planting my clematis bulb around a bird house

This photo is typical of what you might find in Southern Living under "Small Spaces" All it was missing was a pitcher of cold iced tea.

A basket full of herbs on the coffee table with some color gives a charming touch to an outdoors sitting area

Tokyo Delight hydrangea

Here's Sandra and my ongoing education of hydrangeas. 

The best idea of the tour...galvanized cans for storage!

For everything...

Including this. This lady was the epitome of organization.

Old shutters find a place on a brick wall leading to the front door.

And that, my friends, is the end of an exhausting but delightful day.  Boy, I hope I behaved and get invited back next year. I did promise to bring a picnic next time...

All photos Lindaraxa
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