Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thanksgiving Favorites... Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie, An All Time Favorite

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One of Lindaraxa's most popular posts published six years ago. 

Now that I live in the South, the DEEP South, I think it would only be appropriate to have pecan pie as my other dessert on Thanksgiving.  I have been mulling whether to have pecan pie or chocolate pecan pie or chocolate bourbon pecan pie and the choice was made for me last night by my friend Libby Wilkie who publishes the beautiful blog An Eye for Detail.  Isn't that what friends are for? Although I have to admit that the bourbon part is my contribution. Who wouldn't exchange that for vanilla extract, especially on Thanksgiving!

Pecan trees are so abundant in this part of Georgia that they are all over my son's backyard.  The area where he lives used to be a pecan farm in the middle of what is now a suburb of Atlanta.  Maybe I can get them to gather some  for me, since, after all, the pumpkin pie filling is a product of our visit together to the pumpkin farm last month.  Talking about home grown pies!

One of the most important things about this pie is toasting the pecans beforehand.  Really, do go the extra mile, it makes a world of difference as far as flavor is concerned.  Place whole or halved pecans on an ungreased sheet pan and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring a few times until light brown and fragrant. Let cool and set aside.  Don't go overboard on the pecans. Just add what it says in the recipe or you will overwhelm the pie  Been there, done that.

 Don't scrimp on quality when it comes to making the best chocolate pecan pie for the holidays. As important as toasted and roasted pecans are to this pie, so is the type of chocolate used. Gourmet chocolate would include such brands as; Lindt chocolate, Ghirardelli chocolate and Callebaut chocolate. Mini chocolate chips are easy to use, and shaved or finely chopped dark chocolate works well too. These two ingredients -- toasted or roasted pecans and gourmet chocolate -- will be the deciding factor between a so-so chocolate pecan pie and a knock-your-socks-off, have-to-have-some-now chocolate pecan pie! A few drops of Bourbon won't hurt either.

Servings:  8 - 10


1 deep dish 9 inch basic pie crust

3/4 cup gourmet chocolate chips or shaved dark chocolate

1 1/2 cup toasted pecans, shelled and chopped in half if desired

1/3 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup Karo light corn syrup

3 large eggs

3 TB Bourbon


Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F with rack in lowest position.  Prepare pie crust ahead of time  whether you are making one or buying one already made such as Mrs. Smith's. Place toasted pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell (don't worry, they will rise to the top when the pie is fully baked ). Sprinkle chocolate chips or shaved chocolate over the pecans. Place the pie crust on a baking sheet to prevent drips and set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Turn off heat. Add brown sugar, stir until dissolved and pour into a large mixing bowl. Mix well with the whisk attachment.

Add corn syrup and mix again. Scrape.

Mix in bourbon and eggs, beating to mix well, but not foamy.

Carefully pour batter over the chocolate chips and pecans, being careful not to disturb them.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until top is slightly browned and puffed up. This will fall during cooling.  Make sure you let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 4 hours.

Chocolate Pecan Pie cuts best when it is chilled. Use a sharp knife. Let cool completely before wrapping. This pie freezes well, so make extra!


Friday, November 13, 2015

Fond Memories of Fall, Pumpkin Spice Bread....Tracking My Jarsdale Pumpkin From Farm To Table.

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My friend Cronica Domus' new post reminded me of this adventure when I first came to live on the lake.  It also reminded me of Lucy, my Sous Chef who loved to go to the farm.

Are we there yet???

The beautiful Jardale pumpkin which my friends at the pumpkin farm gave me a few days ago is now pumpkin pie and Pumpkin Spice Bread!  I can't believe I did it but I roasted the pumpkin yesterday, strained it, drained it and froze it for a later use, just like my friend Patti Londre recommended.  All in all, I got 4 Cups of pumpkin flesh, 2 1/2 for the pie and 11/2 Cups for the bread.  A meaguer yield for a lot of work.  I did follow their advice and mixed the pie filling before I froze it;  that way I won't have much to do before I serve it on Thanksgiving.

The pumpkin bread was a cinch and a welcomed addition to my afternoon tea.  By the way, it gets better and better every day that goes by.

Before it went in the oven---look at the beautiful orange color!

and the contrast with the blue- gray of the skin

After they came out of the oven

After mashing...look at the water in the bottom!

the end result just after it came out of the oven

Pumpkin Spice Bread


1 1/2 cups (210g) flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup (200 g) sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (1/4 L) pumpkin purée*

1/2 cup (1 dL) vegetable oil

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup (1 dL) chopped walnuts or almonds*

* To make pumpkin purée, cut a pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on a foil or Silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Drain on top of a colander for a couple of hours. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use.


1 Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.

2 Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts.

3 Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack.

*This time I used almonds

Makes one loaf. Can easily double the recipe.

Fresh Pumpkin Puree on Foodista

Saturday, November 7, 2015

I'm Back!... Carbonade A La Flamande, A Ma Façon

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If it is accompanied by French fries it's Belgian.  If it says Flamande it is Flemish and involves beer ; and if it says a ma façon, it means I can do to it anything I want.

Hi, I'm back! 

Yes, that is truly me with a new neck.  It's all bolted up but only I know that.  I was hopeful of getting a new swan neck like Babe Paley and Marella but when I asked my doctor,  he said he could only get me one millimeter.  Nothing is for free, ever.

Now, it's been there, done that.  While I was convalescing, I connected with friends on Facebook.  It is worse than sugar or nicotine.  It's so addictive I was afraid of  overexposure.  I'm still weaning off. 

So today I did some serious cooking.  As in it has a name.  It was for Madame Mere to remind her of her days in Belgium.  I think it worked.  I added the sweet potatoes,  The Belgians will probably set the gendarmes after me but that's what life is all about.  Vive la difference!


  • 2 lb. beef chuck, cut into 2″ x 12″-thick slices
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 14 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups Belgian-style ale, like Ommegang Abbey Ale or dark beer
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Thyme, tarragon, 
  • 1 bay leaf\
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed. (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen boiled onions
  • kitchen bouquet, (2 TB.)
  • French fries


Season beef with salt and pepper in a bowl; add flour and toss to coat. Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef; cook, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside. Add bacon; cook until its fat renders, about 8 minutes. Add remaining butter, garlic, and onions; cook until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Add 1/2 cup chopped Pomi tomatoes,  half the beer; cook, scraping bottom of pot, until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Return beef to pot with remaining beer, stock, sugar, vinegar, thyme, parsley, tarragon, bay leaf, and salt and pepper; boil. After 30 minuted add sweet potatoes (if using). After 1 hr. add frozen boiled onion. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until beef is tender, about 1 ½ hours. Add kitchen bouquet.  cook a few minutes. Serve with french fries or bread.

When you cook your french fries, make sure the heat of the oil is very hot before you add them.  I know about the splash.  It's a tough shot but it's what works best!

Don't tell her but my neck is longer...all I can say is, it hasn't been easy.

All photos Lindaraxa

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Of Times Gone By...For Adults Only

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I am sure most of you have not seen this post as it was one of my first when I started this blog.  I will be celebrating Halloween this year, not exactly in this fashion, but greeting kids at the door and later going up to a neighbor's house who also knows how to celebrate it in style.  For those of you who, like me, have doorbells to answer, here's a recipe for an easy, hearty and enjoyable dinner.  Some of us aren't kids anymore and we just can't survive on candy!

Halloween has always been, after Christmas, my most favorite holiday to entertain.  In years past, I did a lot of entertaining and prided myself in setting a beautiful table.  I think I thought of myself as the next Carolyne Roehm, my hero.

 I don't know how I packed so much stuff in my apartment.  There were plates and glasses and tablecloths and flower arrangements hidden all over the place!  I had quite a large archive in my brain of where everything was.  Now, as I unpack in a much larger house, I wonder how I ever did it. I don't entertain like that anymore, just don't have the stamina, or the money, for that matter.  Maybe now that I live with my daughter, the artist, I will get a second wind, but for the time being, here are some of the memories:

For the pumpkin, I usually called a kid, a nephew, a niece, a neighbor, anybody to carve the pumpkin.  Then I started to build from that. On that particular year, I was gaga over my black candles, and I was debuting my new china in orange tones I had literally carried from Gien, France.  Some raffia ribbons, lots of goodies from Marshall's, some old silver, and orange and black M&Ms  in little Halloween clay pots and poof! magic!

The menu was French (my idea of being quirky), and every year I invited only 8 people.  Small, intimate, sit down and easy to cook for. No costumes or funny drinks!  But yes, place cards, and  menu cards staggered around the table.  Champagne with cocktails for those who liked it and a good French wine with the main course.  In those days, with the dollar almost at par with the euro, it was affordable to do so.  Nowadays, it's prohibitive and a little ostentatious, if not politically incorrect!


Creme de Potiron
(Creamy Butternut Squash Soup)

Breast of Duck with Corn Cake
And Spinach Puree

Munster Avec Confiture d' Eglantine

Warm Chocolate Tart Jean Georges

That year I had gone to Alsace and come back loaded with confiture d'eglantine, a jam typical and only found in Alsace..  I really can't describe or translate eglantine, nobody, for that matter, can!.  It;s a small red fruit, not terribly sweet, loaded in vitamin C.  The taste is very hard to descibe, the only thing I can compare it to is guava...same color, but a totally different fuit.  At the hotel where we stayed, they served it with the cheese course which, in that region HAD to be Munster.  Here is a clip of eglantine confiture, in French but easy to follow.

Another year, 2002, I had just come back from Normandy and Brittany so Halloween was spent "in Normandy"


Terrine de Coquilles Saint-Jacques
Sauce Pernod

Soupe au Marrons
Creme Fraiche

Cailles Aux Figues Fraiches et Au Miel 

Puree de Poireaux

Tarte Chaude aux Pommes

Have fun this Halloween, and remember...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Where There's A Will, There's A Fall Front Door

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You didn't think that back surgery was going to keep Lindaraxa from having her Fall decorations up this year, did you? If you did, you don't know her very well....

I have gotten to really enjoy those little electric carts that they have at some stores for shoppers with disability, although I have to say that what I see mostly riding them are really overweight people. Sometimes you see two, one on each cart of course, following the other.  People like my mother, who really need them, for some reason refuse to use them.  I think it's their way of fighting back although once she came to live with us she tossed in the towel.  As for me, if that is the only thing standing between me and my mums, I don't care.   They are really a good device for getting people like me to do what they have to do.

These are really more of an orange than yellow

I'm telling you this because I'm sure you are wondering how I got the mums.  Between us chickens, I sneaked out of the house one afternoon when I heard Costco had them and made up some cockamamie excuse as to how they got to the front door. And part of it is true, for I am lucky to live in an area of the country where gentlemen still open doors for you and bend over backwards when you ask for a little help,  I usually pick a really cute one, particularly when I'm shopping for electronic gadgets or a Christmas sweater for my son and it drives my daughter insane.  Anyway, the mums got here and the new wreath was brought in by the Three Kings.  Now, I have to figure out the pumpkins...

Once I can get a good samaritan to move the fern and the ivy to MM's apt. I will rearrange with a pumpkin or two

Once the mums are done, I have orange pansies in the urn which, with the pumpkins, should carry us through Thanksgiving.  That's as far ahead as I can think right now.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The State Dinner Menu For the President Of China

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Just a short post to share with you what I thought was a beautiful dinner at the White House last night.  Once in awhile, you have to give them some credit....

Last night, President and Mrs. Obama  hosted President Xi Jinping of China for a State Dinner at the White House. The theme of the dinner was "Autumn Feast" and I love the colors and the material they chose for the tablecloths and napkins.  Although not exactly our idea of Fall colors it was perfect for this time of the year when roses and dahlias still abound.  As to the menu, how divine.  All my favorites in one dinner, truffles, lobster and lamb! The wines were all American and for comments on the pairings check Dr. Vino, one of the wine blogs I follow.  He has written a very interesting article on the protocol followed by the White House on choosing wines for State dinners..

 Twenty two of these 100% edible Chinese inspired petit fours were placed on each table at the end of the meal

Roses were the main theme o the centerpieces, a favorite in both China and the United States

The Clinton State china, one of the few things they left behind when they left....

FLOTUS posted this on her Instagram, a first I understand.  I guess she too was very pleased.

The guests at the head table for 16:

I guess it pays to spy on the United States,,,,,and then promise you won't do it again,

As to the Pope...he got to meet Bo and Sunny.  Given a choice, I would have taken that visit.

All photos Google

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Brief Update

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I am so sorry to have been away this long.  What was supposed to be a short break from cooking and gardening has now turned into six weeks due to a major operation I had about three weeks ago to fix a back and neck problem I have had for quite awhile.  I was supposed to do this last year but due to Madame Mere's arrival and Lucy's passing away I had postponed it twice, only to make it worse and more complicated.  The recovery is expected to last four or six weeks meaning lots of bed rest, pain medication, no driving, no lifting or bending, short walks and no chores except "simple meal preparation".  That means no gardening either, something that frustrates me as Fall is my favorite time of the year to work in the garden. To say I am bored, depressed and frustrated is a major understatement.

I don't know exactly when I will be back as even pressing the computer keys is painful.  Yesterday I tried to color with the grandchildren and spent the rest of the day on pain medication, so a long post is not in the cards right now.  I do read your posts and appreciate your emails but forgive me for not commenting or writing back.

I miss blogging and interacting with all of you so I will try to figure something out to stay in touch.  I shall return as soon as I can but I don't have my next appointment with the doctor until mid October when hopefully I will get "cleared" to do more stuff.  Driving would be a nice start...and Maddy desperately needs grooming.  She's beginning to look like Rod Stewart!

In any event, sooner or later I will return!

I have offered to write the blog but I've been turned down


It' so boring around here all we do is hang out...with a silly cat

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Summer Garden..Winners And Losers

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The summer garden these past two years has been one of boom and bust.  Very cold winters, and very hot summers just about sums it up.

I don't pretend to be a master gardener and some of you know that when I moved to this house I had to seek the help of my readers to identify most of the plants.  But I have learned, the hard way.  Lots of reading and trial an error and lots of dollars spent experimenting with different plants have gone into this garden.  I had no experience with perennials and, what little I knew, came from weekend gardening up north in Connecticut.   Most of what grows well there, including my favorite lilacs and peonies, does not do well in the South.

Ten years in Florida were spent mastering the art of container gardening on the balcony of my ocean front apartment in Key Biscayne.  There the killer was the wind.  With a growing season of twelve months, everything you planted grew like a weed.  Orchids lasted forever and then re bloomed six months later.   I had retired and this was the kind of gardening I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

And then I moved to Georgia....and here I learned that, just like investing in the stock market, it pays to diversify.

Between my daughter and me, we have just about tried every traditional perennial that grows in the South including azaleas, Confederate jasmine, gardenias, hydrangeas, crepe myrtles and camellias.  . The only one I haven't been able to stick in the ground, for lack of space, is a magnolia.  We have one growing in the woods next to the fence, but it won't bloom.  It gets no sun and little light and I'm afraid to go near it for fear of stepping on a snake.

Surprisingly, some of these traditional  perennials are the ones that have gotten hit the hardest .   The azaleas and the jasmine bloomed but not as long or vibrantly as usual.  No such luck with the gardenias or the hydrangea macrophylla. They got hit with a frost just as they were starting to bud and that clinched their fate.  No blooms, except for this one.

No blooms either for the Moonlight Hydrangea by the garden gate.  That was a killer for me, I so look forward to those flowers.  The camellias bloomed later than usual, almost right into Spring. Nothing fazes the crepe myrtle.  It does it's thing year in and year out in spite of the weather.  It needs a good pruning this winter before it overtakes the front of the house.

What saved the summer were the hydrangea paniculata which blooms on new growth.

The one above  is the limelight hydrangea .  There are four in front of mother's window out back.

I have a few of the hydrangea paniculata tardiva along the fence but they are not showing any blooms.

My daughter planted caladium bulbs in a pot to add some color interest out back.  They have done well in spite of the heat.  They are a definite comeback next year.

The hostas have also done well.  Their only enemy is the little Sous Chef who likes to play hide and seek with Lily our lab.

The winners this summer are the ferns.  Now I know why they are a symbol of Southern hospitality. Nothing else thrives like them in this humidity!

Boston fern by the garden gate.  Moonlight hydrangea on the bottom right had no blooms this year.

The Man fern almost died after the surprise frost in early Spring.

That's what you call a come back!

Boston ferns hanging from the crepe myrtle add some interest to the front garden

I've never had a fern that looked this good!

Kitties and ferns by the front door.  How is that for Southern charm!

The fox tail fern is a new addition and definitely a keeper

It will over winter in Madame Mere's apartment

I just came in from watering the front garden.  It's like the land that time forgot out there.  Every year I promise myself that I will not buy as many plants.  Every year I violate this promise and curse throughout the months of July and August when I have to go out and water.

The kitchen is closed for awhile.  The last thing on my mind is food...   I can't wait 'til Fall.
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