Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowl Menus And Recipes..Updated!

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This was originally posted on January 25, 2010.  I have added a few new recipes since posted in Lindaraxa and My Kitchen By The Lake

Okay it's almost here, the most anticipated sports weekend of the year... the Super Bowl! (yawn).   Frankly, I just sleep through it, play bridge or go to the movies.  I am not a football fan, but I am an avid baseball (Yankees!), tennis and golf fan, and oh yes...the Olympics are coming, must get ready for that.   I have decided that it's not so much the sports I like but the competition.  I am intensely competitive... inherited it from my mother, the one who doesn't like broccoli anymore, like old "41".

Perhaps the only thing I like about the Super Bowl is the food, and then again, not that much.  I am a fan of Chili, especially on a cold winter night;  but as I'm getting on in years, Turkey Chili has replaced  Beef Chili in my repertoire.  And the dips, love those too! I'm so glad dips are back.

If you are on a budget and have a big plasma TV, you have just hit the jackpot.  There are lots of budget friendly recipes for this event so make a list and invite those you must, particularly the ones who hate to dress up for your dinner parties.  This is the time for casual and jeans, men... the only time!  Beer and wine are the drinks of choice and I don't know of a single male guest or fan who doesn't show up at one of these parties without a six pack under his arm. Testosterone and beer must go well together. I never allow guest to bring anything to my dinner parties but this is one occasion when it is okay and even fun to let them participate and show off some of their favorite is that informal.  So take advantage of this economically- friendly, entertaining opportunity and invite everyone you owe.  There is no excuse  for not reciprocating and paying back all those invitations you've had during the last year.


Here are some suggestions of things you can bring or serve.  They are all on this site or in my country blog, My Kitchen By The Lake.

Appetizers and Hors D'Oeuvres

Thai Fried Chicken Wings With Hot And Sour Sauce
Sausage Bean And Spinach Dip
Cowboy Caviar
Tequila Mexican Cheese Dip
Cheesy Spinach And Artichoke Dip



-OR -

Have a Sundae Bar !

and let everyone fix their own!!

If you want to keep it simple, serve only vanilla ice cream, (already scooped and served in a big bowl) and have different sauces (Hot fudge, Caramel or Butterscotch, and Strawberry) Make sure you have pecans or walnuts, whipped cream and some fun toppings such as Sprinkles, Oreo cookies, Heath Bar get the point!

More great recipes here

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Laduree's Chocolat Chaud...Hot Chocolate

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One of the great pleasures of visiting Paris in winter is sipping a cup of hot chocolate in one of its famous cafes.  Better yet,  if you are in a maison de the or one of the great patissseries for which Paris is known, you might be in for a memorable surprise.  Contrary to what most people think,  French hot chocolate is made with milk and not cream.  It gets its richness and creaminess from good quality chocolate and by stirring it on low heat for three to five minutes.

I don't know if the hot chocolate at Laduree is the best in Paris or not, but it's pretty damned good.  It is definitely nothing like the one served here in the States.  Like Spanish hot chocolate, it is strong and very rich and will fill you up for hours.  I never feel the need to order anything else since it feels like a meal in itself.  Laduree has shops all over Paris.  My favorite, though, is the one on Rue Bonaparte on the Left Bank...smaller and less crowded than the ones on the Champs Elysees or the Rue Royal. 

Laduree Champs Elysees

If you happen to be in the Right Bank near the Place de la Concorde on a cold afternoon,  stop at the Hotel de Crillon and order a pot of hot chocolate.  I had a memorable cup there one afternoon after rushing in during a violent rain storm.  Completely unplanned and a nice surprise.  Those are the best.

I have included in Laduree's recipe amounts to serve 4/or 2 people.  Keep it handy for the next cold spell.

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to skip the blending step. It helps to incorporate the chocolate and makes the texture velvety-smooth.  Hopes this keeps you toasty warm!
Photo here
 Hot Chocolate / Chocolate Chaud Recipe

Adapted from Laduree via
Dorie Greenspan Paris Sweets


3 cups whole milk /1 1/2 cups
1/3 cup water / 2 1/2 TBS
1/3 cup sugar 2 1/2 TBS
6 ounces bittersweet/ 3 ounces
chocolate, finely chopped*

Bring the milk, water and sugar just to the boil in a medium saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. At this point the hot chocolate needs to be blended. At Laduree this is done with a hand-held blender.  If you have one,  leave the hot chocolate in the saucepan and whip it with the hand-held blender for one minute. If you do not have a hand-held blender, transfer the hot chocolate to a traditional blender and whip on high speed for one minute. The chocolate should be served immediately, while still hot and frothy.

If you want to store the hot chocolate leave it to cool before putting it in the fridge, tightly covered, for up to two days. Re-heat and re-whip before serving.  Serves 4/ Serves 2

*Use best quality 70% Cacao chocolate

Photos Google

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tortellini Salad With Tuna And Roasted Red Peppers

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A great pasta salad using leftover tortellini, perfect for lunches, buffets and picnics any time of the year.  If you are one of those who, like my daughter, often brown bag it at the office this is can be eaten cold or room temperature. 

The measurements I have given you are approximate, particularly as it applies to the tortellini. Use your judgement but there should be, of course, more tortellini than tuna. I also used canned but good quality Italian roasted red peppers. As to the balsamic vinegar, I must have added about 1 TB at most.  What you want is just a hint.

Serves 2


6 oz. cooked tricolor cheese tortellini or enough for two portions
1 can of best quality tuna, drained
3 canned roasted red peppers, drained and cut in strips
1/4 cup of capers
6 basil leaves chopped right before you add
Olive Oil
Dash of Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste


Mix everything together, add enough olive oil to moist but not overwhelm and a dash of balsamic vinegar.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Le Poulet Roti Grand -Maman

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If you are expecting a lot of very sophisticated ingredients in this recipe, you will be very disappointed.  What makes this the tenderest most succulent chicken you have ever had is the way in which it's cooked.  C'est tout.

When you think about it, the roasting method is brilliant. The chicken is cooked first on one side, then the other and finally on its back.  Just like in a rotisserie.   When a chicken is roasted like this, there is less of a chance of drying out the breast than if it sits on its back the whole time it's cooking .  Finally, once roasted, the bird is turned to rest, tail up in the air so the juices flow down through the breast making it a perfectly moist bird.  I know, you are smiling....and you are not the only one but trust me, it works... it comes out really, really moist and divine.

 I love roasted carrots with chicken so I added some to the roasting pan with the chicken 15 minutes into the cooking and mixed them up a bit with the juices. It was the crowning glory.

I love to entertain guests for Sunday dinner, particularly in winter.  I know for a fact that bachelors and New Yorkers are particularly appreciative of a home cooked meal at the end of the week.  For the hostess it's a chance to gather friends for a casual, simple and relaxed dinner.  No fuss, just turn on the fireplace and send them home early and well fed.  What could be simpler! Oh, and if you are worried about the smoke...there isn't any.

Sunday Night Dinner A La Francaise

Fresh Mushroom Salad With Parmesan Shavings
Grandmother's Roast Chicken
Roast Carrots (optional)

Wine Suggestion: A medium bodied Burgundy such as a Volnay

Poulet Roti Grand-Maman

Makes: 4 to 6 servings


1 free range roasting chicken (about 5 pounds), with giblets
1 1/2 tablespoons butter ( I used 2) extra for greasing roasting pan
Salt and white pepper to taste
2 whole heads plump garlic unpeeled, cut in half horizontally
1 large sprig of rosemary
1 large sprig of thyme
(I spread Herbs de Provence all over the chicken)


Remove chicken and butter from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature 20 minutes. Chop giblets.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Grease a roasting dish* with softened butter. The roasting dish should not be much bigger than the chicken.  Season chicken generously and evenly, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Truss the bird (this is important so it will brown evenly) Spread  butter all over bird, using a pastry brush if desired.

Place bird in prepared dish on its side, thigh and wing down. I placed mine on a rack on top of my roasting pan. Scatter the chopped giblets all around chicken, but not beneath it. Put chicken in preheated oven and roast uncovered 20  minutes. Baste the chicken.

Remove from oven and turn chicken onto its other side, thigh and wing side down, using tongs or large fork. Be sure chicken rests on the roasting dish, not the giblets. Pour 3 tablespoons water over chicken and return it to oven for another 20 minutes.

 Remove chicken from oven and reposition bird on its back, and rotate it a quarter turn. Cook 20 minutes. You will have cooked the chicken a total of 1 hour.  By this time the chicken should be a golden color.  Reduce the temperature to 375, baste again and cook for another 15 minutes.

Remove chicken to a platter. Puncture thigh joint to check for doneness: juices should run clear with no trace of blood. (put some of these juices back in the roasting pan for the sauce) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken at an angle, breast side down with tail-end propped up (so the bird is almost vertical; ramekins may help hold the chicken in place here, too) .Loosely tent with foil, turn the oven off and place the chicken back in the oven with the door ajar.  Allow chicken to rest 20 minutes. It will continue to cook.

 Don't laugh...this is serious.

Meanwhile make the sauce:

Place the baking dish over moderate heat scraping any bits that cling to the bottom/ cook for 2 to 3 minutes until liquid is almost caramelized. Don't let it burn. Discard excess fat with a spoon.  Add several tablespoons cold water to deglaze and bring nack to a boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve and place in a sauceboat.

Carve the chicken.  Serve with the half garlics and the sauce.

Cooks Note:  If you see that there are not enough juices to baste the chicken with, add about 3TB water to the pan and mix with the drippings.  Don't add too much water or it will steam instead of roast.

All photos Lindaraxa

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sunday Dinner A La Francaise - Le Gratin des Gratins

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One of the advantages of being laid up for a month was all the recipes I got to read and only dream about.  One of the cookbooks that happened to be by my bedside was Joel Robuchon's Simply French which he co wrote with Patricia Wells.  What a treasure trove of recipes and cooking tips.  I had previously only made one recipe from this book, a vegetable confit with chestnuts that I prepared last Fall, but I now have earmarked lots of recipes to try when I feel up to snuff.  (It is now four weeks folks, and I'm still not 100%.  This is the worst flu I have ever had in my life)

Last night I made the Roast Chicken Grand-Maman and his Gratin des Gratins to get me back into the groove of things.  For starters  let me tell you that, had I closed my eyes, I could have sworn I was in a French farmhouse for Sunday dinner chez la grand-mere (snow on the ground optional).  The chicken had that certain "je ne sait quois" that we can't seem to get here in the States when we try to reproduce those rotisserie chickens we see at the market all over France.  The potatoes, even though they had less butter than my Julia Child recipe, were creamy, rich and delicious.  The trick is to precook them in milk for a few minutes before finishing in the oven.

In French the word gratin means not only a dish with a top crust consisting of browned crumbs and butter, often with grated cheese; but also the "upper crust" as in tout le gratin parisien or the top of Parisian society. Hence the name of this dish.

Stay tuned for le poulet...

The "Upper Crust" Potato Gratin
(Le Gratin des Gratins)

“I am sure that if you polled a hundred Frenchmen, each one would have a
strong opinion on the ‘best’ potato gratin. Well, for me the ‘best’ is the last
great potato gratin I sampled. This recipe brings up the ever-present question
of ‘to wash or not to wash.’ There are those who believe that all potatoes
should be rinsed of starch, which on its own does not have a pleasing flavor.
Others enjoy the earthiness the starch imparts. Since you’re the cook, you
can have it your way. Or try the recipe both ways and see which is closer
to your own taste.”

Equipment: One oval baking dish (about 9 x 13 inches)


3 pounds baking potatoes, such as Idaho Russets

1 quart whole milk

Bouquet garni: several parsley stems, celery leaves, and sprigs of thyme, wrapped in
the green part of a leek and securely fastened with cotton twine

Freshly grated nutmeg to taste 

Sea salt to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups freshly grated imported Gruyère cheese

Freshly ground white pepper to taste

1 plump fresh garlic clove, halved lengthwise


 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. If desired, rinse the potatoes to rid
them of starch. Dry thoroughly in a thick towel.

3. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, milk, bouquet garni, nutmeg,
salt, and 1 tablespoon of the butter, and bring to boil over modately
high heat. Stir occasionally to prevent the potatoes from sticking to
the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook, stirring
occasionally, until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about
10 minutes.

4. Prepare the topping: In a medium-size bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the
cream and 1 cup of the cheese, and stir to blend. Set aside.

5. Rub the bottom of the baking dish with the garlic and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. With a slotted spoon, transfer half the potatoes to the baking dish. Sprinkle with additional nutmeg, pepper, the remaining 1/2 cup cream, and the remaining 1 cup cheese. Cover with the remaining potatoes and sprinkle again with nutmeg and pepper. Cover
with the reserved topping. Discard the milk and the bouquet garni.

6. Place the baking dish in the center of the oven and bake until the
potatoes are crisp and golden on top, about 1 hour. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

A Touch of Garlic
To some cooks, the idea of rubbing a baking dish with a halved clove of garlic,
then discarding the garlic, seems like a waste of time. The trick is to rub the
bottom of the dish vigorously and thoroughly, so that the clove of garlic all but
falls apart and seems to disappear, totally impregnating the baking dish with
its essence. As the gratin bakes, the garlic gently flavors the potatoes and milk,
adding that essential touch of extra seasoning.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pasta Puttanesca

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This is the famous dish of the ladies of the night and, aside from chicken soup, my first  
real meal in three weeks.  The only reason it came about is an email from La Cucina Italiana which landed in my inbox this morning featuring it as the recipe of the day.   Boy did it look good.  Just the fact that I made it tonight is a good endorsement as to how little time it takes to prepare.

You will find my version to be on the milder and less salty side which I get by soaking the capers in water before adding them to the sauce.  Don't miss adding the anchovy paste which is typical of the Neapolitan version.  You will not even know it's there but it does add a lot to the flavor of the sauce.  A little sugar serves to balance the acidity in the tomatoes.

This is the kind of recipe you want to keep on hand for a quick midweek meal or for a Friday night at the ski or lake house. The ingredients are all staples that should be in your pantry.  All you need is a loaf of French bread and a sturdy red wine.

I did not have fresh basil but I did have some in cubes which I keep in the freezer.  What I do is chop the basil, place it in ice cube trays and cover with olive oil. Once the cubes are frozen, I taken them out and keep them in freezer bags. They come in handy in the dead of winter.

I don't know how long this malaise will linger now that the worst part of the flu is over;  but, in the meantime, I will try my best to entertain you with simple recipes and some stories.

Pasta Puttanesca

yield: Makes 6 servings                          

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine fini
  • 5 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press or pounded with the back of a knife and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano or Pomi crushed tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped basil


Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil.  Soak the capers in water for a couple of minutes.

Heat oil, garlic and hot pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat until warm.

Add anchovy paste and continue to heat,  Add tomatoes and stir to combine.

Add olives, capers, pinch of sugar and tomato paste; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.  Add basil.

Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot. Immediately add sauce and stir to combine; warm over low heat, tossing, until sauce coats pasta well, about 1 minute.

Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sopa de Pollo...Cuban Style Chicken Soup

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Believe it or not, this post is coming to you from the same place it came over two weeks bed. 

Yes, dear readers,  I have been so sick for the last couple of weeks that today was the first day I was actually able to get out of bed, for a few minutes, and make myself some soup.  Not that I have lacked for nourishment.  Thanks to family, neighbors and a wonderful daughter I have been well fed.  As I am writing this post I am sitting here popping chocolate nonpareils and sipping a delightful black tea brought to me by a dear friend who knocks on my door regularly and leaves little bundles of joy at my door,  As long as I'm lying in bed, all is well.  The minute I get out, all bets are off, and so it goes...

I haven't had these in years.  Sometimes it pays to get sick.
A couple of days ago I decided I was going to pamper myself and pulled out a set of linen sheets that I haven't used since I moved here for lack of having  someone to wash and iron them.  Linen sheets are such a luxury these days.  It's not what you pay for them, the real luxury is being able to use them and not worry about having them washed and ironed. When I lived in NYC I had a dry cleaners right across the street and they did a great job for a fairly reasonable price.  In Miami  I had someone who ironed.  Here, while I I feel like a queen right now,  I wonder who is going to wash and iron them when they come off the bed... and at what price.  That date is getting closer, even though I have plans to switch to the other side of the bed in a couple of days.  (The advantages of being sick in bed is all the time you have to make plans)

The Sous Chef is the only member of the family that I see on a regular basis even though, by now, she has gotten tired of the bed, the linen sheets and the crumbs. She started sleeping with my daughter a couple of days ago and now I have to prod her and entice her with cookies to get her to come up on the bed.

So much for my misery, now on to the soup...

I'm not a lap dog, I'm a terrier.  This is boring, linen sheets or not...

The first words out of a Cuban's  mouth when he/she hears you have a cold is a variation of any of the following:

Have you had some chicken soup?  Why don't you make yourself some chicken soup?  Do you want me to bring you some chicken soup?

It is so ingrained in every Cuban's DNA that at the mention of a cold, the first thing that pops in our minds is chicken soup.  As a matter of fact, and I kid you not, I know I am getting a cold if I start aching for chicken soup.  That is how deep it runs.  No matter your social or economic standing, where you live or how old you are, if you have any traces of Cuban blood in your body, a cold equals chicken soup.

Our chicken soup is different from the one most Americans are used to in four five ways:

1.  You start with uncooked chicken

2.  You use a wide variety of vegetables, mainly roots from the Caribbean

3.  You don't use celery or carrots

4. You finish it with a squirt of lime juice

5. When it comes to chicken soup, Cubans don't measure, but I will try

For starters, I prefer to buy chicken pieces, mainly the thighs, instead of a whole chicken.  They are easier to deal with when it comes to separating the meat from the bone.  Forget chicken breasts, they do not have that much flavor,   Whatever you choose, buy the parts with the skin and the bones, that's where a lot of the flavor comes from. This is not the time to be fuzzy.

Secondly, nowadays you will find all of these vegetables at your local grocery store.  They are in the produce department, in the aisle that most of you Americans skip, in bins full of dark rooty things that look like they came out of the Stone Age.  Trust me, these things are full of vitamins, delicious and not hard to peel.   All you need is a good peeler and the willingness to do it.   This is your chance to try them, go for it!. 

Name (pronounced nyamay), or yellow yam

You won't need many, only one of each and I will give you a choice.  If you are the Whole Foods type, this group is for you. Just think how much you will impress your friends in East Hampton  when you start rattling off the names.

Get the recipe after the break

I can tell she's feeling better...much better.  That cough syrup is a godsend.

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