Thursday, September 1, 2016


I made a wonderful Couscous yesterday to bring to my book club meeting.  We read a book called The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty.   The book is set in Casablanca, Morocco.  Our club has evolved to  trying to prepare foods that are either mentioned in the books we read or served in the location of the setting.  I regret that I didn't photograph this dish, but will next time when I make it again.

The recipe in general came from The Gourmet Cookbook.  The recipe called for Moroccan Style Preserved Lemon Wedges which should have been made 5 days ahead and since I didn't have time I substituted Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice.

Here is how to make the dish.

Preheat Oven to 425.

Cut 1 1/2 Lbs Butternut Squash to a 1/4" dice.  Toss with Olive Oil and roast for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.

While roasting is happening, cook 1 1/2 Cups Plain Couscous. (I used a 5oz box of Whole Foods 365 Couscous).  Boil together  1 1/2 Cups Water and 1/2 C Chicken Broth with 1/4 tsp Salt, 1/4 tsp Cinnamon and 1 Tbl Olive Oil.  Once boiling, slowing stir in couscous and remove from heat, keep covered and set aside for 5 minutes to cook.  Remove lid and stir with a fork to keep from clumping.

Meanwhile, toast 1/2 Cup Pinenuts in Olive Oil in a small skillet.  Chopped 1/4 Cup Parsley and set asside and measure out 1/2 Cup White Raisins.

To finish the dish, Dice 3/4 Cup Onion.  Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1-2 Tbl Olive Oil.  Add Onion and cook until light brown.  Add Roasted Squash and stir.  Add Couscous and stir to combine.  Add Toasted Pine Nuts, Raisins and Parsley.  Add S&P to taste.  Remove to a large flat rimmed platter to keep from continuing to cook.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Vegetable Pancakes

I have been intrigued by the Spiralizer for sometime and being drawn to kitchen gadgets, I bought one.  Bed, Bath & Beyond sells the OXO for $40, $32 after the discount.   I chose that one because of the way the suction mechanism works.  It will get lots of use, though I am not so sure about zucchini cut into spaghetti and then cooked like spaghetti because I like my zuchinni carmelized. Because it's so watery, cooking in water seems like the workings for a watery mess to me.  We'll see, maybe it's pictured raw with olive oil and herbs but we are led to believe it's cooked.  

So first up for me was vegetable pancakes.  I make potato pancakes often enough but wanted to try vegetables along with a small Sweet Potato for a change.  They were fun to make and very tasty.  You can combine many vegetables, including things I chose but also, turnips, rutabagas, scallions, shallots, onions, bean sprouts, black olives, zuchinni, summer squash, jicama, etc.  Really anything you are in the mood for.

We just got a local Whole Food a few weeks ago.  They have tri-colored carrots on their immense salad bar so that became my inspiration.  I figured they must sell them as well and I was right.

It takes a little practice to use the spiralizer and the short ends of the carrots didn't work as well because there isn't anything to grip.  The fatter halves worked better, so I cut them in half.

What I spun created 12 nicely sized vegetable pancakes.  Spiralize onto a sheet pan, 1 Small Peeled Sweet Potato, 1 Peeled Orange Carrot, 1 Peeled Red Carrot, 1 Peeled Yellow Carrot, 1 Medium Zuchinni. To this I added 1/2 Red Onion cut along the radius to make long strips.  Place all of the vegetables in a bowl.  Beat 2 Eggs with a few TBL of Milk.  Add to vegetables.  Generously add S&P to taste.  Add enough Flour to coat the vegetables so the excess moisture is absorbed.  Right before cooking, I dusted with a bit more flour so the vegetable mixture isn't soupy.  

Preheat the oven to 250 and have ready a sheet pan with a cooling rack inserted.  Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add 1/2" Canola Oil.  Make small pancakes and place in hot oil.  Flip over one time once golden brown.  You can add additional S&P if needed to the cooked side.  What's neat is because the spirals come out as very long strands, you have to break them apart and the result is that no 2 are alike.  

Place the cooked pancakes on the cooling rack and place them in the oven once they are all cooked.  Serve warm!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower with Gruyere Sauce

A few weeks ago, we traveled to Chicago, a city I recommend you put on your 'don't miss' list!!  It was fantastic.  There is so much going on and so much to do in a very small square area that you will never be bored. I mostly walked every where I went, even if it was a mile away.  We were go, go, go, from the time we got there until the day we left, with museums, shopping, Wrigley Field for a game, and dining.  

On one of the nights, we went to Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse. It was very good, with the exception that for the first time ever, I was served an end piece of Prime Rib.  Normally, at least in my experience, those slices are saved for Medium Well diners.  I was disappointed that it was over done, when I ordered medium, and too dry for my taste.  I should've sent it back but the piece was large enough that I could find medium in the thicker areas and left the medium well behind.  Would I return, meh, maybe not.

The restaurant, as with most steakhouses, is ala carte.  The side dish we chose to share was something we had not eaten before.  Roasted Cauliflower with a Gruyere Sauce.  We couldn't finish it all and my son had 3 servings.  It was relly good.  When were returned home, I made what I thought was close to the dish.  

Preheat oven to 350.  Rinse and cut , 1 Cauliflower to desired size.  Place on a sheet pan and drizzle and coat in 1/4 Cup Olive Oil.  Add S&P to taste.  Place in oven for a total of 20-25 minutes, turing over the cauliflower after 15 minutes, to ensure even roasting.  

While cauliflower is roasting, make Gruyere Sauce.  For b├ęchamel, heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 Tbl Unsalted Butter.  Once it stops bubbling, add 3 Tbl Flour.  Stir for about 3 minutes total, without letting it brown.  Add 1 Cup Whole Milk and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.  It should bubble gently.  

Using a grater box, grate 5-6 oz Gruyere Cheese and add Gruyere to b├ęchamel.  Add S&P to taste.  Add Roasted Cauliflower to the sauce, toss gently to coat, and place in buttered casserole dish.  

Pictured, I took 2 slices of a Rosemary Boule that we had from the previous night, and I tore them into randome pieces and added to the top. Then I sprinkled with Parsley and Paprika.  You can easliy use Panko Bread Crumbs instead.  Place in hot oven for 25-35 minutes, until bubbly and hot.  Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

For a variation and bolder flavors, you can toss the cauliflower in hazelnut oil before roasting.  Before adding flour to the butter, add a medium shallot, minced, and let this sweat.  Then add the flour and continue on.  For the topping, instead of bread, use roughly chopped hazelnuts.  Season with nutmeg instead of parsley and paprika.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tomato Basil Soup

Lately, I have eaten Tomato Basil Soup but have never attempted to make it ~ until today.  I found a nice recipe in my California Fresh Cook Book published by Jr League of Oakland-East Bay.  If you are a vegetarian, on a tight budget, or just like fresh homemade food, this is a recipe for you!

What made this particularly special is that I made it with my son, whom I homeschool and we served the soup in warm Panera Bread Bowls.  

Preheat a large pot over medium heat.  Once hot, add 1/4 C Butter, 1 Medium Coarsely Chopped Vidalia Onion, 2 Medium Diced Carrots.  Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  

Meanwhile, rinse and quarter, 8 Medium Vine Ripe Tomatoes.  Coarsely chop 1/4 C. Fresh Basil.  Add Tomatoes, Basil, 1 tsp Salt, 3/4 tsp Sugar, 1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper to the pot and stir to combine.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add 2 Cups of Chicken Stock (use Vegetable Stock for a vegetarian version).  Cook for an additional 10 minutes.  

At first we both thought the soup looked a tad bit thin, probably on account of my increasing the tomatoes from 5 to 8, so I added 1 Tbl uncooked Basmati Rice to the soup and once it was cooked, I blended it in for a heartier version.  That is an option for you depending on your tastes.  

Either using a blender in batches, blend soup until smooth and return to a clean pot or using a hand blender, whirl until the soup is blended.  The hand blender will not make a completely smooth soup.  If you want a silky smooth soup, use the blender method.  

While soup is cooking, preheat the oven to 300 and add the desired number of bread bowls and bake until crusty.  Remove a circular top and hollow out the bowl.  Turn off the oven, but return the bread bowls to the warm oven until ready to serve.

Once soup is done, season if necessary and serve in the warm bread bowls.  What a delicious lunch we had!!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Baked Brie

It's been a long time since I have posted anything to my blog.  I have been very busy and my blog has gone to the last rung of my priority list.

Last Christmas, at our tennis party, the hostess, my friend MAS, made this Baked Brie appetizer.  It was delicious!!  She sent around the recipe a few weeks ago and I decided I wanted to prepare it for a Thanksgiving Day appetizer.  I normally don't eat a lot so this appetizer will be a welcomed sight as I sip a Whiskey Sour - a Thanksgiving tradition thanks to my sister D and brother-in-law, L!

This recipe works well with a 10" Wheel of Brie.  Preheat over to 350.  Place the wheel of brie on a rimmed plate that you will serve from so you are not left trying to tranfer the soft brie.  Bake Brie for 20 minutes - til soft.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping.  Melt 1 Stick of Butter with 1 Cup of Brown Sugar over medium heat, until the sugar disolves.  Add to the mixture 1 Diced Granny Smith Apple, 1/2 Cup Crainsins, and 1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans and stir until everything is coated.  Remove from heat.  Add 2 Tbl Grand Marnier.  It will bubble as the alcohol evaporates.  Once it is done bubbling, pour over the hot brie.  Serve immediately with Sturdy Crunchy Crackers or Crunchy Bread Rounds.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Homemade Mozzarella Caprese Salad with Grilled Bread

I made Homemade Mozzarella for the second time.  This turned out better than the first time because I pulled it longer.  It was firmer and held its shape better.  One gallon of milk made 2 generous 8oz portions of cheese.   

For lunch I ate Slices of Mozzarella and Fresh Tomatoes drizzled in Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, topped with Cracked Pepper and Hawaiian Black Salt.  I placed the tomato and cheese on Grilled Slices of Bread.  It was delicious!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Grilled Skirt Steak

I found skirt steaks recently and they are not always available unless you really look or ask.  The first time I had skirt steak was at the Fog City Diner in SF.  This was in the 80's, mind you, but that was the dish to order.  It was served, unsliced, with a huge pile of delicious shoe string fries!

This past Friday night, I made up my own quick marinade.  Skirt Steaks are long so I cut it in half.  One end is thicker than the other so if you want them both the same done-ness, place the thick one on the grill first.  For the marinade, I used about 2 Tbl Soy Sauce, 1 Tbl Rice Vinegar, 1 Tbl Stone Ground Mustard, 2 Tbl Brown Sugar, 2 Tbl Water, 1/4 tsp Coriander and Cracked Peppercorn to taste. You can add Garlic or even Red Pepper Flakes for more bold flavor.

Years ago, I bought a neat Tupperware container for marinating.  It has a waffle design so the marinade touches whatever you are marinating.  You add the lid, a similar design, and just flip the container e very so often.  It all goes in the dishwasher.  I highly recommend investing in something like this if you marinade a lot; I use it just about weekly.  I make my marinated right in the container and simply add the meat.  Marinate the skirt steak(s) for at least an hour.  When ready, preheat the grill with the lid shut, to at least 600-650 degrees.

Oh, I should add, we finally replaced our infer-red grill!  I am back to doing what I love!!

To grill the steak, place on the grill on the diagonal.  You are going to cook both sides twice to get cross marks.  For medium rare, cook the first side for about 3-3.5 min then flip and cook for another 3-3.5 minutes.  Then turn 90 degrees to the marks you have on the first side and cook for at least 3-4 minutes.  Then finally flip to the 2nd side again and cook for at least 3-4 minutes.  The grill will cool down so you may even had to go 4 minutes on the second cooking.  NOTE: Think about your flipping before you mess with this so your marks are good. 

I served mine with oven made Fries.  I thinly cut elongated New Potatoes and tossed in good quality Olive Oil and cooked til crispy.  They take over an hour in a 375 oven, turning about every 20 minutes. 

The skirt steak can be grilled and served whole or can be sliced after resting for 5 minutes.  The sliced steak is delicious leftover in a Fajita or Steak Quesadilla!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

If you like light lemony things, you will love this recipe!!  We have 6 Blueberry Bushes in our yard that must be about 18-20 years old.  They produce an abundance of blueberries in spring when we have winters of heavy rain and this year was a doozy.  They were 3 weeks late this year, on account of a cold winter, but they were abundant!!

On Father's Day, we were getting the first of our blueberries and I usually have a bag on lemons on hand at any given moment, so that's was on the breakfast menu.

I took my Mom's Buttermilk Pancake recipe and amended it by substituting some of the Buttermilk for lemon juice.  The results were tasty.  The surprising part was the fact that instead of 12 pancakes it made 18.  The difference was air.  When the lemon hit the baking powder it expanded in such a awesome way, that the pancakes were light and fluffy.  The typical golden brown outside became sightly caramelized because of the lemon and had a really good flavor. 

The first round was served with Vermont Fancy Grade Syrup but it conflicted somewhat with the lemon.  In the end all they needed were a smear of butter and a dusting of powder sugar.  Wow delicious!!

Preheat your griddle to 375.  In the meantime, place the dry ingredients into a bowl.  1 Cup Flour (or mixture of flours ~ I used all-purpose and whole wheat totaling 1 cup), 1 TBL Sugar, 1 tsp Baking Powder, 1 tsp Baking Soda, 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, the Zest of 1 Lemon.

I was given a neat juicer for squeezing lemons and limes.  Cut the zested lemon in half and have handy the juicer.  

To a measuring cup add, 3/4 Buttermilk, 2 TBL Canola Oil, and 1 Egg.  Give it a stir.  Juice both halves of the lemon into the mixture.  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl.  Stir with a wire whip until smooth.  Fold in as many Blueberries as you want up to 3/4 Cup.  You will see the batter expand right away.

Spread Crisco on the griddle where you intend to place the pancakes.  I use Crisco because butter has a very low smoke point and will burn and oil doesn't stay put.  Pancakes need to set up and brown quickly and the higher heat helps them rise.  I have found that Crisco offers better results. 

Ladle the desired size, cooking 6 at a time.  I like a short stack of 4 pancakes so I use about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake.  Because of the light nature of this batter, the berries will settle on the bottom.  When ladling, you have to go to the bottom for the fruit.

You are going to turn the pancakes only once.  Once they look done around the edges and the top batter is still wet, flip quickly.  I find I use less butter if I lightly, without deflating the pancakes, add butter to the cooked side at this time.  Once the second side is cooked to your liking, place a stack on a plate and dust with Powdered Sugar.  Serve immediately as they come off the griddle.

NOTE: for a few variations, you can add toasted Nuts or Oatmeal to the pancakes at this time or for a decadent breakfast, Whipped Cream.  In the winter when Raspberries are in season, substitute them! 

Oatmeal Berry Banana Muffins

Coming soon.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Broiled Artichokes

I love artichokes!!  Right now, I believe Artichokes are coming into season because they look awesome and the price is low, $.99 each for large.

I don't cook them often enough.  In the past, I have made this really neat recipe for oven baked stuffed artichokes from a Tuscany The Beautiful Cookbook that I own.  The leaves are pulled apart and stuffed with milk soaked bread.  They are sealed tightly and baked.  I will have make them soon and share that recipe with you.

A few months ago while in Baton Rouge, I ate at J. Alexanders for lunch.  The food was delicious, btw!!  The Fired-Grilled Artichoke appetizer was outstanding!  Additionally, about 10 years ago, I ate at The Cheesecake Factory in Maryland.  There, I had also ordered an artichoke appetizer that was wonderful, similar to the fire-grilled variety, but served with reduced balsamic glaze.

As a kid, when my mother brought home artichokes, we cooked them in seasoned water with Lemon, Olive oil, salt and whole peppercorns.  Once done, we ate them while standing around the kitchen counter.  We simply pulled the leaves off, one at a time, and dipped the leaves in melted butter.

The inspiration for today's recipe comes from all of those experiences and spans the many years. So today, I am going to make up a recipe that combines the two preparations.  Artichokes take time to cook and are inedible if undercooked.  I feel that broiling alone will leave them undercooked, so I am cooking them first and broiling them later.

I am working with 2 large Artichokes. First, using a very sharp knife (I just sharpened mine 2 days ago) remove them bottom outside set of leaves since they can be tough.  Next, trim the stem so the artichoke is flat on the bottom.  Trim 1/2" off the tops of the leaves and using a spoon, clean cut the very center of the fine purple leaves and try to remove the parts that resemble "hair".  They are very fine fibers.  Soak them in water to rinse while you are working.

To a pot, add enough water that the chokes will be covered.  Add the squeeze of 4 lemon wedges then drop the wedges in the pot.  Add 1/4 Olive Oil, 1 tsp Salt, and 20-30 peppercorns.  The peppercorns can be any color you choose.  Add the artichokes and heat over medium until simmering.  Cook for about 35-45 minutes, depending on the size.  Remove from water, let cool for 5 minutes (up until now can be made ahead).  Once cool enough to handle, cut the artichokes in quarters.  Place on a sheet pan, cut side up. 

Make an herbed butter by combining 3 Tbl Softened Butter, 1 Minced Shallot, Salt and Pepper, Fresh Parsley.   Add the butter to the cut side of the artichoke and try to get some in between the layers.

Preheat the broiler and when hot add the artichokes and cook for 5-7 minutes until browned.  While broiling, add 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar and 1/4 tsp Sugar to a saucepan.  Reduce over medium heat for a few minutes until thickened.  Place the artichokes on a platter and drizzle with Olive Oil and Vinegar.  Eat right away with warm crusty bread.