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Cooking and Sipping with Friends Edition

Rampage in the Kitchen of Oz


Cooking & Sipping with Friends Edition

 

 

 

5 Minutes Lemon Pound Cake Dessert

When unexpected company rolls in try this. It is moist, lemony and tastes homemade

1 boxed lemon cake mix

1 pkg instant lemon pudding 

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

zest from half a lemon

4 eggs

3/4 cup veggie oil

3/4 cup water

preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a bread pan and in a mixing bowl add all the ingredients and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.  Pour into bread pan and bake 50-60 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  While cake is in the oven prepare the glaze.   Ingredients follow, mix together all the ingredients in a bowl.  When cake comes out of the oven let cool 10 minutes and then polk some holes in the top of the cake with a fork and pour glaze over cake and serve when almost or completely cool.

1 tbsp water

2 tbsp melted butter

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cup powdered sugar

A Pound of Pound Cake

I wish I could remember where I got this recipe, I have it written on a napkin from the Rainbow Java Coffee Shop I used to own in Folsom California.  I got it from someone who used to come in all the time I guess.  You know who you are, Thanks!  I used to make it for the coffee shop all the time and here it turns up again.  I is one of the most moist and wonderful pound cakes ever.  This recipe makes 2 loafs so 1 for you and one to give away.

2 sticks unsalted butter

2 3/4  cups of sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature

2 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp lemon extract

1 cup plus 2 tbsps of heavy cream

3 cups plus 3 tbsp cake flour, not all purpose, only real cake flour here

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Grease and flour 2   9x5 bread pans.  In your kitchen aid or whichever mixer you have put paddle attachment on and in the bowl first cream together the butter and sugar until mixture is a light yellow color and fluffy, this takes a few minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time until each egg is incorporated well.  Add the vanilla and lemon, then add a little flour and a little cream and keep doing this until all ingredients are in the bowl and beaten well, this takes 4-5 minutes.  Pour the batter into the greased bread pans 3/4 full.  Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean.  This will take anywhere from 40-50 minutes.  Serve pound cake with your favorite pound cake toppings

 

 

“All In One Dish”

Butternut Squash, Potato, Sausage and Apples

Good for breakfast with a egg on the side or a hearty supper with a great salad.  

serves 6 as breakfast side and 4 as dinner

1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into half inch cubes

1 lb russets potatoes, peeled and cut into half inch cubes

1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced

1 lb sweet italian sausage, or whichever milder sausage you like , bulk or with casings removed

1 large firm apple, your choice, peeled and cut into half inch cubes

s and p to taste

1 tbsp of a really good, sweet tomato paste

1 tbsp ketchup

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

2 tbsp fresh italian parsley

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a 12 inch skillet heat 1 tbsp of the oil, when hot add the onion and the sausage,  stir around breaking up sausage and cook over medium heat until golden brown, 10 minutes or so.  When meat and onion is cooked use a slotted spoon and remove to a bowl draining most of the fat off.  keep one tbsp sausage fat and add one more tbsp of the olive oil and saute potatoes, and squash, s and p to taste.  Cook for about 5 minutes and add the apple and cook 7 minutes longer.  Cook until everything is fork tender.  Return sausage and onion mixture to pan with potato and squash.  In a small bowl mix the tomato paste, ketchup, mustard, thyme and parsley.  Stir it into the sausage mixture and cook another 5-10 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.  S and p to taste and serve.  Drop a poached egg over this for breakfast and face the world for another day.

I always know when the wine does not work well with the food it is paired with.  When it is the right combination, it is like a party in your mouth.  While on Robin’s Crush Tour 2007 we had a amazing lunch at Julia’s Kitchen, inside Copia, in Napa.  Robin ordered Foie Gras on brioche with a Apricot Chutney.  After really reading the wine list, she ordered a Sauterne to go with that dish.  Watching her take a small bite of the foie gras and a sip of the wine together, I saw something on her face the resembled sheer bliss!!!!!  Her excitement was contagious, she had me take a bite and a sip and immediately I felt what I saw on Robin’s face, shear bliss.  When food is paired correctly with wine.  Nothing, and I mean nothing is more exciting or fulfilling.  Robin knows her business, and her passion for food and wine is apparent in everything she creates.

 

 

Allison Piser, Wilmington, DE

Allison’s Birthday Cioppino

My dear friend Allison’s birthday is in February.  I asked what she wanted for her gift and she asked for me to cook dinner for her self and a few friends.  Of course I was more than happy to oblige.  We had just been together  in October on  Robin’s 2007 Napa and Sonoma Crush Tour NS ( the ns stands for no spitting) meaning we drank all that was poured.  That week was such a blast.  My best friend Deb (FIB) from Boston and Allison from Delaware and myself.  Plus we had our wonderful driver Max, who never missed a beat or a winery we wanted to visit.   We got to touch taste and smell some of the greatest Pinots coming down the pike in a couple of years. Long story short here, we only had one day in San Francisco.  That was not enough time to taste the wonders of that city.  So I suggested we revisit that and I would make her a real San Francisco treat.  Most of all, a great wine to drink with this is Pinot Noir.  We got to relive our trip all over again, and of course no spitting!

Serves 8

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 


1 ½  cups onion, sliced 


15cloves fresh garlic, minced 


grey salt and pepper to taste 


1/4 cup really good tomato paste 

1 cup vermouth, dry


½  cup dry white wine, one you would drink

 
2- 14 ½ cans san marzano  tomatoes, hand crushed, including liquid


1 red bell pepper, seeded, and diced

 
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped

 
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped 

2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped


1 bay leaf 

1 tsp red pepper flakes


1 bottle of clam juice

2 cups chicken stock, low sodium

1-2 tsp of your favorite hot sauce


1/4 cup  fresh basil leaves , julienned


SEAFOOD :


18 little neck clams, wash and scrubbed 


1 cooked dungeness crab, chopped into large pieces, or 2 alaskan king crab claws, cracked and quartered , dungeness is native to San Francisco, but hard to get on east coast


18 mussels, cleaned and debearded 


1 lb wild american large shrimp, butterflied in the shell, and deveined

 
1 lb fresh halibut, cut in 2 inch chunks


1 lb sea scallops, tough muscle removed 

8 wedges of fresh lemon

Make the stew base first.  Heat a large stew pot or Dutch oven over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the onions and red pepper,  saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about another  minute. Add the wine, vermouth and clam juice, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits in the pot.  Simmer the wine mixture until reduced by half.  Add the tomatoes,  parsley, thyme, oregano  and bay leaf and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook the base, with a cover slightly tipped , for 30-45 minutes.  This step can be done well ahead of time, all you have to do is add the seafood last minute before serving.
  To finish the Cioppino. Bring the base to a simmer. Add the basil and the washed  clams, and cook covered, over high heat, for 5 minutes, or just until the clams open. Add the crab and cook for 1 minute. Add the mussels, shrimp, halibut, and scallops. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mussels open, the shrimp curl, and halibut and scallops are just firm, about 3 minutes more. Serve in large  bowls with  a wedge of fresh lemon and plenty of crusty sour dough bread, another San Francisco treat!  Or my crostini recipe from page ??????????????

 

 

Happy Birthday Al!!!!

 

 

Andrea’s Mom’s Vinaigrette

I make it just a tad different than mom does, but it is a great dressing and always get rave reviews.

While in the middle of writing this book, shortly after we spent Christmas Day 2007 with Andrea’s Mom, She passed away .  We enjoyed this recipe that day with her and because of her we have it for all of you to enjoy!  Have this dressing and a great Italian Night of your own with your family and raise a toast to a beautiful and wonderful woman who created this recipe, Patricia Boff.

1/4 apple cider vinegar

juice of ½ fresh lemon

1 small shallot

1small clove fresh garlic

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp sugar

2 tsp dried italian herb blend

1/4 cup veggie oil

s and p to taste

2 tbsp Parmegiano reggiano, or sometimes I use goat cheese here ,
depends on what is in the fridge.

Put all the ingredients in a blender and let it rip until well combined.  It is a house favorite around here, especially on Spaghetti with meatballs and sausage, italian night.  Sorry the recipe for my meatballs and sauce is pages long with about 100 steps and days of cooking it, which is why I only make it once in a while.  But even the italians in the family say I make the best sauce.  Maybe in the next book, it can be it’s own book!Any Season Roasted Veggie Salad
with a Maple and Cider Dressing

I make this roasted veggie salad all year round and I use whichever fresh veggies are in season at the time.  There are so many veggies to give you a list but I made this for Thanksgiving and I used these veggies for this that day.  

serves 4

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp local honey

2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced fine

3 carrots, peeled and cut in 2 inch pieces

3 parsnips, peeled and cut in 2 inch pieces 

1 large vidalia or walla walla onion, peeled and cut in ½ inch rings

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1 inch dice

1 small sugar pumpkin, peel on, seeded and cut in ½ inch wedges

8 baby artichokes, trimmed and topped

2 sweet apples or pears or one of each , peel on, cored and cut in ½ in slices

about 10 fresh sage leaves

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees

Spread all the veggies on a rimmed baking sheet, do not crowd use 2 if you have to.  In a small sauce pan heat the oil, butter, honey and garlic until just melted.  Give it a stir and pour it over the veggies, toss them and hit them with some   s and p.   Lay herbs all over the veggies and toss.   Put baking sheet into the oven and roast veggies for about 35-40 minutes until tender and golden brown.  Remove from oven let coll to room temp and toss with Cider - Maple Dressing from page ?????  And serve.  Now remember this is a seasonal dish so use zucchini, summer squash, fennel, rutabaga etc. etc.  whatever looks good and is in season.

 

 

 

Apple chutney 101

this chutney recipe has 1 million and 1 uses. 
Use in place of apple sauce for a tangy change with pork.

2 large tart cooking apples  peeled, cored, and chopped


½  cup onion, chopped fine


1/4 cup red wine vinegar


1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp lemon zest


1 tbsp orange zest


1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated


½ tsp ground allspice

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir.  Bring to a boil,  reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 50 minutes.   Uncover and simmer over low heat for 5  minutes more to cook off excess liquid.   Let cool to room temp,  Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 2 cups

Applesauce with a Twist

A new twist on a old, very old favorite.  This applesauce goes so well with the Pork Chops with a Burst of Flavor.  This applesauce is not just for adults either the kids love this to.

4 lbs of apples peeled, cored and cute into 1 inch bites

1 1/4 cup fresh for frozen cranberries does not matter here

½ cup turbinado or unrefined sugar

1-3 inch cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground

1 or 2 slices of fresh lemon peel 

In a large pot add the apples, cranberries, sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon peel.  Cover over medium to low heat, stirring occasionally until fruit is tender and sauce like.  This will take about 45-50 minutes.  Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel and throw away, they have done their job.  Mash to a chunky consistency or run it through a food mill for a smoother sauce.  Cool or chill before serving.

 

 

Artichoke and Parmigiano Bread Spread

This mayonnaise based spread has 100 and 1 uses.  Use it in Chicken Salad instead of regular mayo, or spread it on a variety of sandwiches, Crostini.  It is really endless.

1 3 oz can or so of artichoke hearts

1 cup of your favorite mayonnaise or the homemade one in this book better yet!

Juice from ½ fresh lemon

zest from ½ fresh lemon

3/4 cup fresh grated parmegiano reggiano

Drain the artichokes very well and add all the ingredients to a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds until chokes are in small, but recognizable pieces.  Spread on anything you like.

Baked French Toast Crisp

A crowd of people at this one morning at my home in Delaware on a crisp Christmas morning.
 It has been become a staple for the masses.  I usually have to double this recipe.

1 loaf challah bread or brioche

 
2 tbsp butter to butter the pan


8 large eggs 


2 cups half-and-half

 
1 cup milk 


2 tbsp sugar 


1 tbsp vanilla extract

 
½ tsp ground cinnamon 


Dash salt 

Grade A Maple syrup warmed, I put some blueberries in the warm
syrup it was great, but up to you


Crisp Topping, recipe below

Slice bread into 20 slices, 1-inch thick each.  Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon,  and salt and whisk until well blended . Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

The next morning , preheat oven to 350 degrees . Spread crisp Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 45 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with Syrup. 

Crisp Topping:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, room temp

 
1 cup packed light brown sugar

 
1 cup chopped pecans 

3/4 cup oatmeal, not the quick cooking kind


2 tbsp light corn syrup 


1 tsp ground cinnamon 

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.  Works best with your fingers.

Baked Rice Pudding

this rice pudding is a easy cooking method and can be enjoyed 1 hour after coming out of the oven.  Yes, I said oven!

2 cups whole milk 

8 tsp turbinado style sugar or unrefined sugar

1/3 cup arborio

1/4 cup dried cherries or what ever kind of dried fruit you like ruff chopped

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

4 tbsp heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and get out 4 6-8 oz ramekins

add to each ramekin ½ cup milk, 4 tsp rice, 2 tsp sugar, and even distribute what ever fruit you chose and the cinnamon to each ramekin.  Tiny pinch nutmeg in each as well.  Give each a stir and place ramekins in a shallow baking dish and bake until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the tops are golden in color, this will take about 1 hour.  Remove from oven and cool for about a hour.  A skin will form on top of the puddings.  Remove the skin and stir in 1 tbsp of cream into each pudding.  I like them warm or at room temp, but feel free to chill them.   Be sure to cover them if you do.

Baked Ziti for Gramma Sophie

I loved Andrea’s Gramma Sophie, she was a fashionable, fun loving and wonderful 90 year old .  Her favorite dish on earth was baked ziti.  Gramma I think you would have liked this one.

Serves 8

1 pound ziti 


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

 
5 cups tomato sauce , your own homemade or a very good store bought


3 cups whole milk ricotta 


2 cups shredded mozzarella

 
½ cup parmegiano reggiano, grated 

1/4 cup pecorino romano, Grated


6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees  

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente,  about 8 minutes.  Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. . Do not rinse pasta with water since you want to retain the pasta's natural starches so that the sauce will cling to the ziti. Cover with a damp cloth if you not going to get right to it.  In a large bowl, combine the tomato sauce and ricotta and mix well. Add the cooked ziti  and toss gently. In a large greased baking dish, pour in pasta mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella, parmesan, and pecorino all over the top. Dot with the butter. Place baking dish on top of baking sheet. Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.  I wish Gramma was here still to enjoy it.

Barbara Murphy’s Portuguese Soup

(White Mountain Momma)

When I was a kid in my early 20's I had a older friend who I looked up to and adored.  She was about 57 and she knew a lot about everything.  Especially the restaurant business.  I really think it was she who got me interested in being a entrepreneur.  She raised Championship Daschounds, was a judge at Westminster Dog Show .  She also wrote the original Daschound Handbook and owned a Gourmet fish and Cheese shop in Bedford, NH where I worked part time.  Barbara died about 2 years after we met from a horrible disease called Sclarea Derma.  It was my real first big loss due to death, but I owe my culinary expertise and knowledge to her starting me off on the right foot.  I still quote her funny little lines from time to time and think of her all the time.  Even though she has been gone 27 years I hear her guiding me still.  I have 2 daschounds of my own right now and have had many since she gave me my first one a long time ago.  I know she is enjoying a glass of wine and this soup with a piece of crusty bread right now.

1 bunch of fresh kale, or frozen if you cannot get fresh, leaves only removed from stems


1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced


3 potatoes, peeled and ½ inch diced

1 smoked ham hock


2 chorizo or linguica sausages , sliced in 1/4 inch circles


8 cups good quality chicken stock


1/4 cup olive oil


6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed


1 can cannelloni or kidney beans, drained 


1 bay leaf


1 jalapeno  pepper, seeded and minced


½ tsp paprika


s and p to taste

In a large soup pot add the oil and slice chorizo or linguica and saute add  onion, celery and carrot  and cook for about 3 minutes and then add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the ham hock And liquid and simmer for 30 minutes. Prepare the kale by rinsing thoroughly and tearing the leafy portions from the stems. Tear into bite-size pieces. Discard stems.  Add potatoes, kale, and simmer additional 30 minutes.  Add the beans and cook another 15 minutes.  Serve hot with crusty bread and a nice glass of Spanish Tempranillo or something like that, of course a good glass

of Pinot Noir would work here as well.

Beef Carpaccio

As I am writing this book I realize how many things I really like and order when I go out.  I have certainly had enough different styles of Carpaccio to be a good judge and I always come back to this one.  “Why fix it if it ain’t broke.”

Serves 5-6

1 lb of a really good beef tenderloin from a butcher you trust,
all fat and membrane removed

1 clove fresh garlic, cut in half the long way

3 lemons cut in half, plus 1 extra half

2 tbsp capers, salt packed and rinsed or brined

1 tsp dijon mustard

5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

½ tsp grey salt, or fleur de sel 

freshly cracked pepper

4 oz thinly shaved parmegiano reggiano

1 small bunch of arugula or micro greens rinsed and clean

wrap the whole piece of tenderloin in plastic wrap and put in the
freezer for 2-3 hours until firm, will not be like a rock.
 

Slice the meat across the grain about 1/8 inch thick, put slice between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or parchment  and pound it out very gently with the flat side of a meat pounder until it is translucent, but still in one piece.  Take your plate and rub the plate lightly with the fresh garlic and lay each pounded slice around the plate.   Arrange the meat slices to resemble the petals of a beautiful flower.  As you get each plate finished, cover with plastic wrap and keep meat cold until needed.  When ready to serve prepare the sauce by putting dijon and squeeze that extra half of the lemon over mustard and whisk in the olive oil until this forms a creamy sauce, set aside for minute until plates are all ready.  Add about 1 oz. Of cheese scattered over the meat on each plate, scatter a few capers on each plate as well.  Dress the arugula or whichever peppery green you chose with half the dressing mixture, do not make the greens soggy, less is more here.  Put a little pile of greens in the center of each plate on the greens and drizzle the rest of the dressing around the plate over the meat.  Hit the meat with a little grey salt and fresh cracked pepper, serve with a half of lemon for squeezing over the meat for more tang if needed. Blue, Apple and Roasted Pistachio Salad

I thought this might catch your eye if you thought there were some blue apples out there.  I only know of blue potatoes, but anything is possible these days and that is scary enough.  I serve this with a white balsamic vinaigrette.  Recipe on page ??????????????

Serves 4 as a side salad

4 cups mixed greens, whatever you favorite is

1 carrot peeled and curled onto salads

1 granny smith apple, I like this kind because of the tartness, unpeeled, halved and cored and cut into 12 slices

1/3 cup roasted pistachio nuts, shelled and slightly toasted in a pan

½ cup blue cheese, I like the Point Reyes Blue from California here, but you use the one you like

grey salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

split up the greens among 4 plates, top the greens with the apple curls of carrot, pistachios and crumbled blue cheese, s and p to taste here.  The white balsamic dressing has a nice sweetness and spicy bite all in the same mouthful.

Blue, Apple and Roasted Pistachio Salad

I thought this might catch your eye if you thought there were some blue apples out there.  I only know of blue potatoes, but anything is possible these days and that is scary enough.  I serve this with a white balsamic vinaigrette.  Recipe on page ??????????????

Serves 4 as a side salad

4 cups mixed greens, whatever you favorite is

1 carrot peeled and curled onto salads

1 granny smith apple, I like this kind because of the tartness, unpeeled, halved and cored and cut into 12 slices

1/3 cup roasted pistachio nuts, shelled and slightly toasted in a pan

½ cup blue cheese, I like the Point Reyes Blue from California here, but you use the one you like

grey salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

split up the greens among 4 plates, top the greens with the apple curls of carrot, pistachios and crumbled blue cheese, s and p to taste here.  The white balsamic dressing has a nice sweetness and spicy bite all in the same mouthful.

Blueberry Dressing

This dressing is a refreshing change to the everyday dressing and really easy to make.

½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries, I like the frozen ones, they have a little more juice

1 tbsp of brown sugar or honey for a little less sweet

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp red wine vinegar 

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp fresh lemon zest

1/4  cup fresh lemon juice

s and p to taste

combine all the ingredients in your blender and let it rip for 30 seconds. 

 Borscht in a Tower Salad

Not the soup however, more fun than that.  All the flavors of this classic
Russian soup in a salad,  towered up for a beautiful presentation

Serves 4-6

4 medium size beets, use all colors it is prettier

2 medium yukon gold potatoes peeled and boiled whole

1/4 head of cabbage, napa or regular cabbage does not matter, shredded very thin

1 small fresh tomato or 10 grape size tomatoes, diced

1 carrot peeled, boiled and diced up 

1 small crisp apple

1 tbsp olive oil

zest and juice of ½ lemon 

½ 8 oz container of your favorite sour cream

 2 tbsp fresh dill feathery leafy part only or parsley, dill is the traditional flavor but if you do not like dill use the other

2 tsp sugar, more to taste if needed

1 tbsp cider vinegar or white or red, balsamic would not be good here

preheat oven to 425 degrees

Take the beets and wash and scrub of the dirt, dry well and slather with the olive oil, put in tin foil and roast in oven for 1 hour or until tender.  Inserted knife should have no resistance.   In a pot of salted water cook  the potatoes whole, throw carrot into the same water and cook until tender and remove and reserve till later.  Cool potatoes and reserve till needed.  Dice up the tomato and apple, hit apple with a little of the lemon juice to keep them from turning color.  Shred the cabbage very thin  . To make the dressing, in a food processor add sour cream, sugar, vinegar, rest of the lemon juice and the fresh dill s and p to taste.  If you take a slice of the red beet and add it to the dressing it will turn the dressing a beautiful shade of pink, or you may want it white, entirely up to you, good either way, blend well and taste.  You may want it a little sweeter at this point so add a little sugar at a time until it suits your taste, not to sweet you want it a  tangy.  To assemble the salad slice beets in nice ½ inch rounds, the potato slice the same way and begin to stack on your serving plate, a slice of beet some shredded cabbage a little dressing and top that with a potato slice some more cabbage a little dressing and a beet you get the idea now.  Make this tower about 6 inches tall or so.  Garnish around the tower with the tomatoes, carrots, apple and little spots of dressing and dill fronds. 

Makes a beautiful, colorful salad or first course.

Breakfast in OZButt Kicking Black Bean Soup

I used to make this at my old Restaurant the Sutter Street Grill in Folsom California.  It had it’s very own regulars.  I would get requests to make it all the time.  I still make it from time to time.  It is on my comfort foods list.

1 lb black beans, soaked over night

2 tbsp olive oil

1 smoked ham hock

2 ½ large onions, sweet or spanish type

3 carrots, peeled and diced

4 gloves fresh garlic, minced

1tbsp chili powder

 3 tsp ground cumin

2  tsp dried oregano

½ tsp cayenne pepper, be careful here because if you add to much as it cooks it get hotter.  You can always add more later if you want it kickier.

8 cups chicken stock, low sodium

s and p to taste

4 tbsp brown sugar

1/3  cup fresh lime juice, about 3 juicy limes

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped

very good dry sherry

creme fraiche or sour cream

Drain the beans and put in soup pot with the ham hock and 1 onion cut in half s and p,   add water to cover and cook for 1 hour.  Bring to boil and lower heat to simmer.  Drain  after the hour and set aside until needed, discard the onion.  Wipe out the soup pot add the oil and heat until hot.  Add the onions, carrots and spices,  cook over low heat for 10 minutes, add the garlic and cook a few more minutes.  Add the beans and ham hock,  4 cups chicken stock and cook over low heat for 1 hour stirring frequently.  Add stock if needed so beans do not get to dry.  After 1 hours add 2 more cups or chicken stock and cook another 30 minutes more partially covered.  Then stir in brown sugar and lime juice.  Cook 5 more minutes and taste for seasoning, adjust at this point.  Now you can either put soup in a blender and make smooth or serve just the way it is.  I prefer to process half and leave the other half for texture.  Serve in a bowl with a drizzle of sherry and dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.  And a  big piece of crusty bread or corn bread.

Carne Gizado

Stewed Meat and Vegetables

This is the Cape Verde style meat dish that goes with the Jag from page ?????  This is so tender and tasty.  Try something new, you’ll be amazed how much you’ll like this dish.  Have a nice cold beer and enjoy.

3-4 lbs of cubes meat, pork or beef works best

4-5 white potatoes, peeled and 1 inch cubed

3 lbs Mandioca Root , or Yucca, can be found at most markets now, 1 inch cubes

3 yams, any color, 1 inch cubes

3 green bananas, 1 inch cubes

3 medium onions, 1 inch cubes

s and p to taste

5 tbsp fresh chopped garlic

½ cup red wine vinegar

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp Paprika

1/4 cup oil, they us vegetable oil there

In large zip lock bag put the meat, vinegar, bay, garlic, and s and p.  marinate overnight in the fridge.  In a large soup style pot add the oil and squeeze out the meat some and add to oil and cook until meat is medium, add any marinade that is left with the bay and garlic add the paprika and all the veggies.  Give a stir for a few minutes and just cover with water.  Cook on low until all the veggies are cooked.  Serve with Jag from page ?????????????Carribean Style Sea Scallops

When you have a hangckering for something spicy, this is the ticket right here!!!  I enjoy the whole concept of Jerk.  These are a Jerk Style Scallops.  When I first decided to try this I thought the scallops would be to delicate for the heat.  I was wrong.

Serves 8 as a first course and 4 as a main course

1 cups scallions, chopped

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine


2 scotch bonnet peppers or habanero , these are easier to find, seeded and finely minced


2 tbsp soy sauce


2 tbsp fresh lime juice


4 tsp ground allspice


2 tbsp dry mustard


2 bay leaves


3 cloves fresh garlic


1 tbsp grey salt


1 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp vegetable oil


1 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves only

½ tsp fresh ground nutmeg


2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp white vinegar


16 Sea Scallops

Put all the ingredients in a zip lock bag and shake around to mix.  Add the scallops and marinate at least 4 hours up to 12.   Prepare you grill and get it smoking hot.  Grill scallops for about 2 minutes on each side until medium rare or another minute if you like them done more.  Do not over cook these.  Serve with Jag from page ??????? or your favorite rice dish

Cedar Plank Grilled Halibut with Roasted Tomatoes and Olives

This came to me on my trip to Alaska this summer with my 85 year old Mother whose gastronomic eyes were wide open to new things.  We had Halibut one night for dinner and she liked it, I liked it OK as well.  But in the back of my mind as always I am thinking how it could be better, and this is what I cam up with.

Serves 3-4

2   1lb halibut steaks bone in or out up to you

1 ½ lemons

2 tbsp olive oil s and p to taste

1 untreated cedar plank bigger than the fish 12 long b 8 maybe or so

2 cups roasted tomatoes from page ???????

1/4 cup store bought olive tapenade or make your own it is easy recipe follows

½ cup mixed Mediterranean type olives

1/4 cup dry white wine

Crank up your grill or build the fire in the Webber, this works on a open fire as well. Place the cedar plank in cold water or to make it even more interesting white wine, and soak for 30 minutes.   Take the steaks and smear with olive oil and s and p to taste.  Place on the cedar plank and when fire is smoking hot, but no flames put plank on the grill and cover, cook for about 10 minutes, hit the fish with juice of one lemon and return to the fire to 8-10 minutes longer or until fish is opaque and beautiful.  In the mean time take the roasted tomatoes put in a skillet to heat, when hot add the wine cook and until wine reduced by half add the olives give a toss and remove from heat.  Plate up the fish on serving plate, squeeze the other half lemon over fish.  Garnish plate with tapenade around the fish and spoon tom and olive sauce over fish and have a wonderful meal.  A good Chablis or Rose here is good.

Champagne Melon with Smoked Sturgeon

Loving Champagne the way I do especially Rose Champagnes, I decided to add some recipes through out the book that go well with Champagne.  This one makes a nice light summer lunch,  appetizer or first course.  Simple yet elegant, just like Champagne.

Serves 2

there are so many melons out there now, experiment with others as well, but I used

1/4 honeydew, sweet and in season

1/4 cantaloupe, sweet and in season

½ cup of the champagne your going to drink with this

6 oz smoked sturgeon or other smoked white fish such as sable or trout would be good too.

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp thinly sliced green onion 

1 tbsp thinly sliced red onion

 ½ pinch cayenne pepper meaning , a tiny bit, a very teeny little!

Chill the serving plates

Remove the rinds from the melons, slice each very thin and place in a shallow dish.  Pour champagne over melon and allow to sit for 30-45 minutes covered in the fridge.  Remove any skin from the fish you choose, debone if need be, and crumble into a bowl, mix in lemon juice and the red onion.  Arrange melon slices on the chilled serving plate, sprinkle the fish and red onion mix over slices and hit it with the crisp green onion, sprinkle the very tinniest bit of cayenne and serve with your favorite champagne.

Cheese and Pepper Cookies

These little morsels are so delicious.  Your friends will be asking you to make them all the time.  They pair so well with the “Great White Bubbly” 

2 sticks of butter softened

1 ½ cups asiago cheese grated fine or you could use a good peccorino, a not to salty one

2 cups of all purpose flour

3/4 tbsp fresh cracked pepper medium ground

2 teaspoons cold milk

preheat oven to 325 degrees

Cream the softened butter and cheese together in your mixer.  Sift flour and pepper together and add ½ the mixture to cheese and butter, add the milk and then add the rest of the flour mixture.  Roll the dough in your hands into 1 inch round balls and place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes until a golden color.  This makes about 40 cookies.  40 of these and a bottle of champagne, I’m done!Chicken with Rosemary, Artichokes and Lemon

When you have company coming as much as I do, I try to find dishes like this one that I can be free from the kitchen and still put on a fine meal with a lot of flavor.

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

8 large cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and chopped, or more if you like it garlicky

2-3 lbs chicken breast, thighs and legs

1/4 cup drinkable dry white wine

1/4 cup low salt chicken stock

20 whole baby artichokes or 2 -13 oz cans of artichoke hearts

3 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp fresh italian parsley, chopped for garnish

s and p to taste

In a 12 inch frying pan add the butter, oil and garlic and cook over low heat for 7-8 minutes.  Remove garlic to a plate and reserve for later.  Increase the heat to medium-high, season chicken with s and p on all sides, begin to brown the chicken,  do not crowd the pan, this will take about 10-12 minutes.  Brown well on all sides and transfer to the plate with the garlic.  When chicken is all brown get rid of all the excess fat in the pan and return pan to high heat.  Add the wine, s and p to taste here again and deglaze the pan scrapping up all the brown bits and color off the bottom of the pan.  Cook about 2 minutes until wine reduces by half.  Return the chicken and garlic to the pan.  Add the stock and cook for 15 minutes more.  Add the rosemary and artichokes and cook 15-20 minutes longer, until artichokes, if the fresh ones, have cooked through or until the canned ones have warmed through.  Transfer chicken and artichokes to a serving plate.  Return the pan to the heat and hit it with the lemon juice, if you need a little more liquid here add a tbsp of water as well and pour over the chicken and garnish with the fresh parsley.

Chick-Pea and Pasta Soup

This soup is so easy and so good for you.

Serves 6

 1/8 lb of prociutto chopped fine

1 medium onion, ½ inch dice

1 medium carrot peeled and  ½ inch dice

2 stalks celery ½ inch pieces

2 clove s fresh garlic, minced

1 ½ tbsp fresh rosemary

1/4 cup olive oil

1 28 oz can san marzanno plum  tomatoes or good quality ones, rough chopped

1 tbsp good quality tomato paste, I like the kind out of the tube.

4 cup low salt chicken stock

2- 15 oz can chick peas

1 cup small pasta tubes, dittalini

1 bay leaf

1 oz rind from parmegiano reggiano cut in inch cubes

s and p to taste

fresh roasted red pepper or a bottles one here is fine, cut in strips and used to garnish soup

In a heavy bottomed soup pot add half the oil and ham hock or prociutto, carrot, onion, celery and rosemary and cook for 7-10 minutes until veggies are softened. Add garlic,  Add the tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes,  Add tomatoes with their juices.  Add bay leaf and the cheese rind, chicken stock and the chick peas and simmer on low for 45 minutes.  Then add the pasta and cook until pasta is al dente.  Ladle soup into serving bowl and top with more fresh grated cheese.  Garnish with strips of red pepper and  serve.

Chilled Summer Peach Soup

I have so many peaches around the Sonoma house I try all the time to come up with new and wonderful ways of using them up.  This recipe came to me one afternoon while sitting by the fountain eating a hot peach off the tree drinking a glass of cold Italian Prosecco.   The light went on and I scurried to my kitchen to rampage through the cabinets and fridge to see what I had for a nice soup of peaches and Prosecco.

2 ½ cups Prosecco or sparkling white

3/4 cup of a nice white dessert wine

1 tbsp  of fresh ginger, grated very fine

1 cup of sugar, it may need more depends on how sweet you like it and the sweetness of your peaches


6- 8  large fresh peaches, peeled and sliced, save 1 for garnish

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2 for soup, 1 for raspberries

2 tsp fresh lemon zest


1/8 tsp sea salt 


1 small container of fresh raspberries 


1 tbsp sugar 

1 tbsp Chambord ( optional )


1 8 oz container mascarpone cheese

1 tbsp confectioners sugar

2 tbsp heavy cream

 
12 small sprigs fresh mint, for garnish

Combine prosecco, sweet wine, sugar,  peaches, ginger and  salt, in a soup pot.  Cook for 20 minutes over medium heat to infuse flavors.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Adjust salt if needed here.  While your soup is cooking in another smaller pot add the raspberries, tbsp lemon juice  and 1 tbsp sugar and cook over medium heat until raspberries break down and release their juices.  Cool and press through a wire mesh sieve to remove the seeds.  Stir in Chambord if desired  and  set puree aside until needed.  when soup has cooked 20 minutes remove from heat and let cool a bit.  Hit it with your hand blender or pulse in a bench blender, but leave some chunks of peaches.  Let cool until completely chilled.  Whisk in the 2 tbsp of cream and confectioners  into the mascarpone cheese to lighten it up.  Serve soup in a beautiful bowl with a dollop of the cheese mixture drizzled with the raspberry puree, sprinkle with a little lemon zest  and a mint sprig for garnish. 

Pour yourself a glass of Prosecco and heaven awaits.

Chocolate Gelato

Discovering Gelato in Italy was a big mistake.  There is nothing like it here in the states.  Being the ice cream lover that I am, I can only wait to go to Italy now to enjoy the frozen treat.  The milk there is different and even trying to recreate it is often a challenge.  This recipe come close.

½  cup whole milk 


3/4  cup heavy cream 


1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

1/4  cup  sugar 


10 egg yolks , yes I said 10


½  teaspoon vanilla extract 


6 ounces sweet dark chocolate, chopped 

Place whole milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean and seeds in a sauce pot and cook until hot.  Remove vanilla bean. Whip the sugar and egg yolks to a pale yellow, ribbony and fluffy  state.  Add about a ½  cup of the  scalded cream to your chopped chocolate in a bowl, stir until chocolate has melted and set aside until later.   Place the custard bowl over a double boiler of barely simmering water.  Constantly stirring the custard with a wooden spoon.  Once custard is cooked, and begins to coat the back of that wooden spoon, remove from heat.   Place the bowl over a cold water bath to cool. Gradually add your melted chocolate.  When chocolate is all incorporated let it cool well.  Once custard is cooled, add custard mixture to your  ice cream machine and run as per manufacturer's instructions.   

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

This is such a easy dessert to make, be careful you don’t make it everyday.  You’ll weigh a ton and half.  Once in a while won’t kill you.

Serves  4

6 oz of a really good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup or heavy cream

1 cup mascarpone

1 tsp good vanilla extract

2 tbsp of frangelico, Kahlua or whichever your favorite liquor is.  If you do not add liquor to this add ½  tsp more of vanilla

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave, remove from heat and cool until tepid.  Get out your mixer and mix cream and mascarpone until mixture holds soft peaks.  Try not to over beat.  Fold the cream mixture into the chocolate 1/4 at a time.  Stir in vanilla and liquor and serve immediately, or cover and put it in the fridge.  Immediately will mean soft and fluffy and out of the fridge means a denser mouse, your choice.Cider - Maple Dressing with Toasted Walnuts

This is a dressing you can find many uses for it,  not just roasted veggies.  You can use this on any apple salad or salad with fruit in it.  Pour it over roasted pork or turkey salad.  Experiment!

2 tsp grade A maple syrup

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

½ clove fresh garlic

1 tsp brown sugar

s and p to taste

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp walnut oil

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup walnuts toasted in oven until fragrant

put all the ingredients into a blender and let her rip for a minute.  Will keep in fridge for up to a week.  Bring to room temp before using.

For Seasonal Roasted Veggie Salad Toss the walnuts in last minute with veggies just before dressing.   Use the wonderful toasted walnuts in any salad to add crunch and more flavor.

Cipolline Onions with Grapes and Pinenuts

cipolline onions are the bulbs of a hyacinth, who would have thought?

1 lb of cipolline onions with the skins on

½ c seeded red grapes

2 ½ tbsp sugar

2 tbsp of a good extra virgin olive oil

1/4 c white wine on the dry side

1/4 c of a moderate priced balsamic vinegar

Boil about 1 quart of water and add the onions over medium heat for about 2 minutes, drain and cool off the onions so you can handle them.  Peel back the skin and cut off at the root end leaving enough to hold the little suckers together.

In a non-stick skillet heat the oil, while oil is heating dry of the onions.  When hot put onions in pan and cook turning and sliding them around in the pan until browned, be careful these onions burn easily, don’t walk away!  At this point add the sugar and little salt and pepper.  Cook for about another minute and add the wine, let cook for another minute and then add the vinegar.   Cook for another 5-6 minutes until liquid is reduced to a glaze.  Add the grapes and remove from the heat.  Transfer to your serving dish and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and serve.Corned Beef and Cabbage

This recipe is not just for St. Patricks Day ya know....Make it anytime is easy to cook in a crock pot on a slow simmer all day on the stove.  Serve with a variety of mustards and invite a last minute crowd.

4-6 lbs corned beef brisket

8 black peppercorns 

1 tsp garlic powder 

1 onion, peeled and left whole 

2 bay leaves 

s and p to taste

1 small head cabbage, cored and cut into wedges 

6 large potatoes, quartered 

6 large carrots, peeled and sliced 

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 

2 tablespoons butter 

In a 6 quart dutch oven, Place the beef brisket, peppercorns, garlic powder, onion, bay leaves and s and p. Fill pan with water to cover  plus one inch. Bring to a boil, turn down to a low boil and  cook for 20 minutes. Skim off any residue that floats to the top. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 hours, until meat is very tender. Once the meat is cooked, add the cabbage, potatoes and carrots, pressing them down into the liquid. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Skim off any oil that comes to the surface. Stir in the butter and parsley. Remove the pot from the heat.  Remove meat from the pot and place onto a serving dish and let rest for 10 minutes. Also remove vegetables to a bowl and keep warm. Slice meat on the diagonal against the grain. Serve meat on a platter and spoon juices over meat and vegetables.  Serve with a variety of mustards and crunchy bread.  Defiantly a nice glass of Malbec or a light style red table wine.  On Saint Patricks Day, a cold beer for sure.

Chicken Fried Steak and Sausage Gravy

You look at this recipe and say “Heart attack waiting to happen!”  I do to.  Which is why you cannot eat it all the time.  But once in a while you just have to have it to fill a food void.  This certainly does that.

Serves 4

4  cube steaks, all about the same size


Vegetable oil for frying


1 cup flour


1 tsp pepper


1 tsp salt


1 tsp paprika

pinch of cayenne pepper


½  tsp garlic powder


½  tsp chile powder


1 egg, beaten


½ cup milk 

Combine egg and milk; mix well in a baking dish, Combine flour and all dry seasonings in another baking dish . Dredge  steak in flour; dip in egg mixture; then dredge again in flour, 1 piece at a time. Heat ½  inch of oil in a large skillet. Add meat and fry approximately 10- 15 minutes, until crisp, golden brown, turning once about ½ way through. Drain on paper towel. Serve with sausage gravy.

Sausage Gravy

 1 lb  seasoned pork sausage, your favorite kind


1/4 cup flour


1/2  tsp salt


1/8  tsp pepper


2 1/2-3 cup hot milk 

.

 Brown pork sausage; drain. Save 1/4 cup of drippings, if there is not enough drippings from sausage add a little bacon fat to make up the difference.   Return drippings to pan and place over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper and cook for a minute or 2 to cook out the flour taste. Gradually add hot milk; stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in browned crumbled sausage and serve on top of the  steak.  2 eggs over easy and a side of hash browns and hot sauce.  A real good cup of coffee, WOW!  You would think I was raised in the south.  When I owned the Sutter Street Grill in Folsom ,California this was a huge seller.  We kept the defibrillator by the front door, but never had to use it, thank God!

Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir

What would any holiday be without cranberry sauce, and what would any cranberry sauce be without Pinot Noir

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cups Pinot Noir or other dry red wine
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
good size  pinch of Chinese five-spice  powder 

 pinch of salt

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cranberries and fresh ginger; stir until cranberries begin to burst, 3-5 minutes. 

 Add wine and sugar; boil until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. 

 Add crystallized ginger, curry powder and five-spice powder. 

Serve sauce cold or warm. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Cranberry-Apricot and Fennel Stuffed Pork Loin

A very festive dish that can be served anytime of the year.

1 4 -5 lb pork loin or roast

½ cup dried apricots

½ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries for a sweeter roast

1/4 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped

2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

½ fresh fennel bulb

2 cloves fresh garlic chopped

3 medium shallots or 1 small sweet onion, 2 for roast 1 for sauce

4 tbsp olive oil

½ cup cognac, brandy or calvados

1 cup low sodium chicken stock homemade or canned

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp dijon mustard

preheat oven to 375 degrees

Heat a 12 in skillet and add 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Cut the  fennel bulb in half and dice into ½ inch  pieces.  Add to skillet and sweat out for a minute or 2, add garlic s and p to taste.  Cook for 1 more minute and remove from heat.  Put the fruit in a small bowl and add ½ cup boiling water and set aside for about 10 minutes or until fruit plumps up.  Drain fruit reserving the liquid for sauce later, add fruit to food processor with the nuts and the butter.  s and p to taste.

With a sharp butchers knife butterfly open your pork roast or have the butcher do it for you.  Pat dry, season with s and p and spread the processed mixture all on the inside of roast.  Take skillet ingredients and spread over top of fruit mixture, roll and tie the roast shut for baking.  Cooking of the meat should take about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until thermometer inserted to center of roast reads 145-150.  Remove meat and let rest, tented to keep warm for 20 minutes.  While roast is in the oven you can make the sauce.  Using same skillet you used to cook the fennel and garlic add the brandy, off the heat as to not singe your eyebrows, and the other shallot.  Return skillet to heat be careful here brandy could flare up, don’t panic if it does just gently slide off the heat until flames subside and return to heat.  Cook over high heat until reduced by half and syrupy consistency.   Add the chicken stock and the liquid from soaking the fruit.  Boil down until it reduces by another 1/3, add cream and simmer until  it slightly thickens, whisk in the mustard at this point and s and p to taste.   To make a really rich sauce  remove from the heat and whisk in 1 tbsp of cold butter.  Sauce is finished.  Untie the roast and slice in ½ in slices or to your liking and serve with the sauce.  This will be your new favorite thing to serve anytime.

Crostata Any Fruit, Anytime

I throw one of these together in the last minute all the time.  You never know when you need dessert.  Use peaches and raspberries or plums and blueberries, apple and cranberries, you get it now.  Whatever you have around, but use fresh if you can, it is not so runny.

1 store bought pie dough, I like the pillsbury one

5 pieces of any fruit you have on hand or a mixture of fruit and berries

1/4 cup light brown sugar packed

1/8 teaspoon of good vanilla extract

1 tbsp all purpose flour

1 8 oz container of creme fraiche , whip cream or vanilla ice cream

1 beaten egg

mix your choice of fruits in a bowl with the sugar, flour and vanilla extract

Roll out 1 piece of the pie dough slightly to make it 12-14 inches around.  Overlap the fruit all around the center of the dough leaving 1 ½ inches along the edge.  Fold the edges over slightly covering the fruit to form a free form tart going all the way around.  Brush edges with a beaten egg and bake until pastry is golden brown this will take about 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove from oven and let cool, serve with your choice of topping

Crostini

This is the base recipe for bread for bruscetta, crouton for french onion soup, cioppino bread, Etc, Etc.

1 loaf good, crusty bread such as ciabatta, sour dough, or a  baguette, etc

1 few cloves fresh garlic, halved

 extra-virgin olive oil 


gray salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees 

Rub both sides of the bread with raw garlic cloves.   Then brush olive oil on both sides of the bread  and season lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake until crusty and brown,   this takes about 10 to 12 minutes.  Serve just the way it is with a dish of Cioppino or top with your favorite topping.

Dedication Page

To Andrea

I am my beloved’s

and her desire is for me.

Come, my beloved,

let us go forth into the fields,

and lodge in the villages;

Let us go out early to the vineyards,

and see whether the vines have budded,

whether the grape blossoms have opened

and the pomegranates are in bloom.

There I will give you my love.

—Song of Songs— slightly modifiedDinner in Morocco

This dish has a wonderful flavor that will keep them asking for more and
saying Hmmmm what is that flavor????  

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped to 1 inch dice

1 3-5 lb chicken cut up into pieces, cut breasts in half as well

1 tbsp grated fresh grated ginger

1/4 cup italian parsley, leaves only

½ cilantro, leaves only

2- 3 inch cinnamon sticks

pinch of saffron

1 cup dry white wine, a good one you would drink

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup kalamata olives, pitted

1 preserved Moroccan lemon, skin only, diced very fine

s and p to taste

2 tbsp unsalted butter

Use a large heavy bottomed pot.  Heat 2 tbsp of oil s and p the chicken very lightly.  The preserved lemon is salty so be careful not to over salt the chicken.  Brown the chicken pieces in the pot, do not crowd the pot or the chicken will steam and not brown.  Brown in batches if you have to. It will take about 3-4 minutes per side.   Once all the chicken is browned set it aside until a little later.  Add the rest of the oil and onion and ginger and cook just until onion begin to brown.  Deglaze the pan with the wine for a minute and add the chix stock, cinnamon, ½ of the cilantro and parsley and the chicken.  Cook for another 30 minutes on a low simmer.  Now add the olives and preserved lemon peel.  Cook for 15 minutes longer and remove the chicken to a large plate and keep warm.  Cook the remaining liquid down by half, remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the unsalted butter until melted.  Serve chicken with this delicious sauce spooned over the chicken olives and all.  Garnish with the chopped parsley and cilantro mixed.  I served this dish with Israeli Cous Cous, which is a larger version of the original.  Cook this according to directions on the package.  Use regular Cous Cous if you cannot find the larger one.

If you cannot find preserved lemon in your market.  Make your own a week a head of needing them.  Recipe on page ??????

Dishes on the Side

Blackened Diver Scallop Salad with a Roasted Lemon and Garlic Dressing

This salad has complex flavors, but that is what makes it so good.  Serve this with a nice crisp, citrusy sauvignon blanc.  This recipe is for a light lunch, make this salad with 1 or 2 scallops for a 1st course or salad course.

Serves 6

18 diver or sea scallops 


rampage blackening spice, page ??????

1/4 cup roasted lemon, garlic and shallot vinaigrette dressing page????


1/4 cup vegetable oil 

6 cups mixed micro greens or your favorite leafy lettuces

preheat oven to 350 degrees 

Heat a oven proof skillet over high heat. Dredge scallops in rampage spice  and saute on both sides quickly until brown crust forms.   Finish the cooking in the oven, for about 4 or 5 minutes.  Dress the 6 cups of greens with 1/4-1/2 cup dressing.  Do not over dress, lettuces should be on lightly coated.  Place 1 cup on each plate with 3 scallops.

Dressed Up Salads

Emerald City Pesto!!!

I am no different, When I make pesto I use the very freshest ingredients I can find or grow.  I try to do this with everything I make, but especially pesto.  There are hundreds of versions of pesto and I like the simple clean flavor of this one.

Makes about 1 cup

2 large cloves fresh garlic

2 bunches of small leaved green basil

6 tbsp toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup pecorino cheese, use the very best you can find

1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, again use only the best here as well

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

6-10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, get it to consistency you like

put all but the oil in a food processor and blend until everything appears incorporated , about 30 seconds.  Drizzle olive oil in until pesto appears together but not runny.  Just before adding to your choice of pasta I add 1-2 tbsp of the hot pasta water to make pesto a little creamy.  You can’t beat this for a fresh and wonderful quick dinner.

In my book when I refer to s and p to taste that is exactly what I mean.  Everyone has a different taste for salt and pepper, so I leave it up to you to season things the way you like them.  99% of the time unless I mention different I always mean fresh herbs of any kind.  I almost always mean extra virgin olive oil and I always mean to use the very best fresh local ingredients you can get your hands on.

Fall Bisque with Smoked Duck Breast

This bisque can be enjoyed as a main course with crusty bread or a smaller version as a first course.  this is a heavenly masterpiece if I do say so myself.

3 medium sweet potatoes

1 butternut squash

1 spanish onion

1 stalk of celery

2 medium carrots

1 qt chicken stock

5 oz heavy cream

1/4 cup good quality honey

s and p to taste

roasted pumpkin oil

1 smoked duck breast smoke it yourself or buy one from a good food purveyor

peel and dice all the veggies

place all the veggies in a pot with just bit of olive oil to get them started.  Sweat them out for about 5 minutes, do not let them brown.  Add the chicken stock and simmer for about 25 minutes.  Cool a bit before blending.  Blend in batches until smooth.  Put soup back in pot and add the honey and cream, s and p to taste.  Place in a serving bowl and top with the smoked duck either sliced or shredded, I prefer the shredded. And drizzle with a good quality pumpkin seed oil and WOW!  Is this ever good!

Farmer John’s Favorite Pumpkin Bread

--Eda Muller

Every year Half Moon Bay has a huge Pumpkin Festival in October sometime and Farmer John is always around to answer any questions anyone has about pumpkins.  He eats and breathes pumpkin so he knows everything there is to know about them.  

I don’t usually use other peoples recipes, but this one is a must.  This is the best pumpkin bread I have ever tasted and why mess with the best.  Thank-you Eda and Farmer John, I sure do miss Half Moon Bay

Mix together in a large bowl: 

4 Cups Flour 


2 ½  tsp Nutmeg


2 ½   cups dark brown sugar 


1 tbsp cinnamon


2 cups granulated sugar 


1 ½  tsp ground cloves


1 tbsp baking soda 


½  tsp allspice


1 ½  tsp salt 


½  tsp ground ginger 

Add the following to above dry ingredients: 

6 Eggs

 
3.5 cups cooked fresh pumpkin *


1 ½ cup oil, I used veggie oil

 
2 ½ cups nuts (walnuts or pecans or a mix of them)


1 cup water


½  cups raisins

Mix second mixture gently into first for about 2 minutes. Grease 3 loaf pans (9 x 5 x 3) or 6 foil pans (7.5 x 3.5 x 2.5). Pour mixture into prepared pans .

Bake at 350º. Large pans for one hour, smaller for about 45 min. Check for doneness with toothpick or knife. Cool on rack.

*Pumpkin Prep: Wash, cut into slices and clean pumpkin. Put in baking pan with half inch of water. Cover with foil and bake at 350º about one hour or until soft
but not mushy. Let cool, then mash a bit. Best varieties are Sugar Pie,
Cinderella, Long Island Cheese and the like. 

* I did not have fresh pumpkin so I used the canned and it was still very good.

Farmer John’s Pumpkin Soup

This is one of the best pumpkin soup recipes I have ever had.  So why mess with the best!

Approximately 10 to 12 Servings

Ingredients: 

6-8 Cups cooked Pumpkin* from:

2 Sugar Pie Pumpkins or 1 Sugar Pie and 1 Green/Jade, or
 
1 Cinderella and 1 Red Kobacha

4 Tbsp. Butter

2 Leek, cleaned and chopped

.5 lg. Onion, chopped

4 Carrots, peeled and sliced coarsely

2 Stalks Celery, cleaned & coarsely cut


1 clove Garlic, smashed

16 Cups Chicken Stock

1" fresh ginger (put in tea strainer)

2 Green Apples, peeled and cored

1 Tbsp. Sage


1 Cup Apple Cider

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 pinch Allspice


Salt and Pepper to taste

Garnish with: 

2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Parsley

Lemon Crème Frache or Sour Cream with Lemon zest 

*Pumpkin Prep: Cut pumpkins in half, clean out, and bake with 1" water in covered pan at 350¾ for approx. 1 hour (until tender to fork), or wash, peel and seed the pumpkins and roast in the oven for about an hour at 350. Each method will impart a different flavor and slightly different texture.

Slightly saute chopped leek, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in butter, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to boil. Turn to simmer, then add pumpkin, ginger, apples and sage. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring when needed. 

Then add the cider, cinnamon and allspice along with the salt and pepper. Taste before adding the salt, as some chicken stocks are saltier than others. Let all the ingredients meld. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

Puree all except the ginger. Serve in heated soup bowls. Once served, put a dollop of either lemon creme fraiche or sour cream mixed with some fresh lemon zest

Dinner in Morocco

This dish has a wonderful flavor that will keep them asking for more and saying Hmmmm what is that flavor????  

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped to 1 inch dice

1 3-5 lb chicken cut up into pieces, cut breasts in half as well

1 tbsp grated fresh grated ginger

1/4 cup italian parsley, leaves only

½ cilantro, leaves only

2- 3 inch cinnamon sticks

pinch of saffron

1 cup dry white wine, a good one you would drink

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup kalamata olives, pitted

1 preserved Moroccan lemon, skin only, diced very fine

s and p to taste

2 tbsp unsalted butter

Use a large heavy bottomed pot.  Heat 2 tbsp of oil s and p the chicken very lightly.  The preserved lemon is salty so be careful not to over salt the chicken.  Brown the chicken pieces in the pot, do not crowd the pot or the chicken will steam and not brown.  Brown in batches if you have to. It will take about 3-4 minutes per side.   Once all the chicken is browned set it aside until a little later.  Add the rest of the oil and onion and ginger and cook just until onion begin to brown.  Deglaze the pan with the wine for a minute and add the chix stock, cinnamon, ½ of the cilantro and parsley and the chicken.  Cook for another 30 minutes on a low simmer.  Now add the olives and preserved lemon peel.  Cook for 15 minutes longer and remove the chicken to a large plate and keep warm.  Cook the remaining liquid down by half, remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the unsalted butter until melted.  Serve chicken with this delicious sauce spooned over the chicken olives and all.  Garnish with the chopped parsley and cilantro mixed.  I served this dish with Israeli Cous Cous, which is a larger version of the original.  Cook this according to directions on the package.  Use regular Cous Cous if you cannot find the larger one.

If you cannot find preserved lemon in your market.  Make your own a week a head of needing them.  Recipe on page ??????

Festival of Asparagus Soup

I have been to the Asparagus Festival in Stockton California a few times.  You can practically watch asparagus grow there are so many things made of asparagus.  I was inspired after one of my trips there  and many tastes of different asparagus soup.  I felt I always came away with something missing in the soup.  Yeah, It tasted like asparagus but I wanted more.  So the Rampage in the kitchen began again.


2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


2 large  yellow onion, finely chopped

2  leeks, rinsed and cleaned and cut into ½ inch rings, white part and some of green part

1 smoked ham hock


s and p to taste


1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1  inch cubes


1 bay leaf


8 cups chicken stock


salt and freshly ground black pepper


2 ½  pounds asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into 2 inch lengths


2 tsp finely fresh thyme leaves only, finely chopped


1 cups  fresh baby spinach leaves

1  stick butter


½  cup creme fraiche or sour cream


2 tsp lemon zest, freshly grated

 set a large soup pot over a high flame and heat up the olive oil. Add the onions, leeks and smoked ham hock stir briefly and lower the heat to medium. Add a pinch of salt to draw moisture out of the onions. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent but without any browning, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, bay leaf and chicken stock. Raise the flame to high to bring the stock to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Taste the stock and season with s and p to taste here.   Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the asparagus and thyme. Return the stock to a simmer. Cook until the asparagus is just barely tender.  Remove the bay leaf and throw away.  Take ham hock out and set aside to cool.  Reserve about 10 asparagus tops for garnish.  Blend the soup and the fresh spinach in batches until smooth.  Cube up the butter and stir it into the soup.  Pick the meat off the ham hock and dice up fine return it to the soup.  Give a stir and ladle out the hot soup into bowls and serve with a dollop of cream fraiche, a few asparagus tops and a pinch of fresh lemon zest.
Fiddleheads and Garlic

there isn’t anything that tells me it is spring more than the first sight of a fiddlehead fern.  If I am in California in the spring, then I send for them to be shipped overnight.  If I am on the East coast in the spring they are everywhere good produce is.  I eat them till I can’t find them anymore and wait til the next year.

Serves 4

1 lb fresh fiddleheads

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp unsalted butter

2 cloves fresh garlic minced

s and p to taste

first off clean your fiddleheads but removing what is known as the “chaff” A brownish, paper covering.  Just rub them with your fingers and this comes right off.  They don’t last long so cook them right away.  They should be firm and green.  They keep for a day or 2 in cold iced water if you cannot get to them right away, but you’ll want to.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch fiddles for about 20-30 seconds.  Have a ice bath ready to shock them after to stop the cooking and retain their beautiful color.  Drain well and get a large skillet over the heat with the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic for about 5 seconds and add the fiddles and cook tossing frequently for about 5 minutes.  Season with s and p to taste, they should still have a crisp bite add the butter, toss again and serve. YUMMMY!

Flippin Best Buttermilk Flapjacks

There is nothing like a good stack of flapjacks.  I used to serve hundreds of flapjacks at the Sutter Street Grill, with hot maple syrup and plenty of butter.  Having the edges be crisp is the hard part, all you need is the right recipe and a little  patience.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour 


2 tbsp sugar 


3 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp baking soda


½  tsp table salt


3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted,  plus more for cooking the jacks


2 large eggs, room temperature , slightly beaten


2  cups buttermilk, at room temperature

 
1 tsp vanilla 

lots of grade “A” maple syrup, heated

pats of room temp butter, so you do not cool your jacks down trying to melt it on top

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together in another bowl.  Combine the dry with the wet and mix until just incorporated.  Do not over mix. Batter should be thick.    Melt some butter in a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium to low heat.  Ladle about ½  cup of the batter onto the skillet, to make a flapjack. Make one or two more flapjacks, taking care to keep them evenly spaced apart, this way they can form that crusty edge we mentioned. Cook, until bubbles break the surface of the jacks, and the undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes for each side.  This is where the flippin  part comes in.   Flip with a spatula and cook about 1 minute more on the second side. Serve immediately or transfer to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the skillet each time you add more batter.  Serve with fresh fruit such a s strawberries or bananas for a even better flapjack breakfast.

Fondue on the Rampage

When a spontaneous party happens, and that seems to be the norm around our house, you have to be ready to feed the hungry bunch with something filling to keep them going until whatever else your thinking about making comes together.  This come together fast and is very satifying.

1 garlic clove, cut in half 


1 ½ cups of a good  dry white wine, one you would drink 


½ lb gruyere, grated 

½ lb fontina cheese, grated

½ of a roasted red pepper, diced small, bottle one is just fine here

4 pieces of applewood smoked bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled


1 tbsp cornstarch 


1 tsp sea salt 


½ tsp black  pepper 

preheat your fondue pot

Rub the inside, bottom and sides of a medium saucepan with the clove of garlic. Set the garlic aside. Heat the pan over medium-high heat. Pour in the white wine and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to simmer the wine. In a bowl, toss the cheeses with the cornstarch until the cheese is completely coated with the corn starch.   Slowly add in the cheese and stir with a whisk until the cheese is melted thoroughly, about 2 - 3  minutes.   Season with salt and pepper and pour into the fondue pot.   Add the bacon crumbles and diced roasted red pepper.  Serve immediately with your favorite vegetables blanched for a couple minutes first  and your favorite crusty bread or foccacia  bread.  Talk about a mouthful of joy.

French Onion Soup

This is one of the first recipes I tried to make way back when I was 19 or so.  I remember it clear as a bell.  I was living in Hanover , NH and working at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in the lab.  I had met a nurse and we became friendly.  I invited her over to dinner and I made this soup from the lovely Julia Childs Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Well I tried it, I didn’t master the art of french anything and it was a bomb.  Cooking the onions before adding them to the soup would have been a start.  Instead I had raw onions floating in Consume’, But the bread was nice and hot and crunchy so we ate that and had a glass of wine and laughed about it later.  This is a version of that, the onions are cooked and the soup is delicious.

½ stick butter

 
2 tbsp olive oil

 
8 cups  onions about 2-3 pounds , peeled and thinly sliced, I use a assortment of onions to make it more interesting, vidalia, red, spanish and a few shallots


½ tsp salt

 
½ tsp sugar 


1 tbsp flour

 
8 cups homemade beef stock, or a very  good quality store bought stock, heated 


1/4 cup cognac 


1 cup dry vermouth

8   slices of French bread, toasted, about ½ inch thick


3/4 pound coarsely grated gruyere cheese

Heat a heavy saucepan over moderate heat with the butter and oil. When the butter has melted, stir in the onions, cover, and cook very slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the salt and sugar, increase the heat a little and let the onions brown, stirring frequently until they are a dark walnut color, this will take about 25 to 30 minutes so be patient.  Sprinkle the flour and continue cook slowly, stirring, for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool a minute, then whisk in 2 cups of hot stock. When well blended, bring to the simmer, adding the rest of the stock, Cognac, and Vermouth. Cover loosely, and simmer very slowly for about 1 more hour, adding a little water if the liquid reduces too much. Taste for s and p at this point. Divide the soup among 4 ovenproof bowls. Arrange toast on top of soup and sprinkle generously with grated gruyere cheese. Place bowls on a cookie sheet and  under a preheated broiler they go until cheese melts and forms a wonderful, bubbly brown crust over the tops of the bowls. Serve immediately.  I would drink a light burgundy here or a oaky Chardonnay.  You could go either way.

Fresh Basil and Peach Vinaigrette

This dressing can used over a tossed salad, over a heirloom tomato salad or spoon some over grilled chicken or fish, YUM! 

1 clove fresh garlic

2 tbsp light brown sugar

s and p to taste

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

½ tsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp olive oil

8 leaves of fresh Basil, no stems, leaves only

2 small peaches or 1 large, chopped in 1 inch cubes leave skin on

Put the first 6 ingredients in a blender and blend until combined and stays together.  Add the basil leaves and pulse for a couple seconds, stir in the chopped peaches, DONE!  How easy was that?

Fully Flavored Short Ribs Rampage Style

I enjoyed messing about with this recipe.  It seemed the more I added the better it tasted.  You can do that with short ribs, they can handle it.   This a really a recipe of a little of this and a little of that.   I stopped before I went off the deep end and wound  up with this wonderful, robust and full of flavor dinner.  

serves 6-8

3 lbs beef short ribs, I like the english cut here 

4 tbsp olive oil


2 tbsp garam masala, my own blend, recipe page ???

 
8 cloves fresh garlic, chopped


8 shallots, peeled and chopped


2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped 

1 parsnip, peeled and finely chopped


2 celery ribs, finely chopped 


1 cup really good sherry

½ cup really good sherry vinegar


 4 cups  chicken broth, low sodium 


1- 14 ½  ounces can san marzano  tomatoes, hand crushed with their juice 


4 sprigs fresh thyme 


4 sprigs fresh italian parsley 


2 bay leaves 

1/8  tsp red pepper flakes


2 tsp ground coriander 


1 tsp ground cloves 


s and p to taste 


6 beets, trimmed and scrubbed, roasted off in oven for 40 minutes, so they begin to develop their flavors.  They do not have to be cook all the way through.  This can be done ahead 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees 

Season the short ribs with the garam masala. Heat a large dutch oven over high heat and turn down to medium.   Brown off the ribs until good and brown.  This takes about 30 minutes and is a very important step so be patient.  Remove meat to a platter, it will go back later.  Add the garlic, shallots, carrots, celery, parsnip.  Cook for 5-10 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with the sherry and sherry vinegar.  Be careful this could ignite so stand back and don’t panic if it does.  Just pull it off the heat until flames subside.  Return to the heat and scrape  up all the flavor and brown bits.  Cook it down by half.   Add  the broth, tomatoes and juice, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, coriander, cloves, red pepper flakes,  s and p to taste.  Place the pot covered in the oven and roast for about 1 hours.  Meat should be getting tender but still on the bone.

Cut the beets into large wedges and add to the ribs. Push them down in the sauce.  Roast for 1 ½ more hours, or and meat is falling off the bone.  Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the ribs and ½ the  beets to a serving platter, tented to keep them warm.  Remove and throw away the bay leaves and any sprigs that remain in the sauce.  Using your hand blender puree the sauce leaving it a little chunky.   Pour the sauce over the ribs and beets.  I serve this over  polenta or mashed potatoes.

Grapes with Herbed Goat Cheese and Toasted Nuts

Champagne, butter, the tang of the goat cheese, the sweet surprise of the grape, yeah this is the ultimate treat with a glass of champagne.

serves 4-6

2 cups really fresh and crisp seedless grapes

½ cup Harley Farms or other really good goat cheese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

2 cloves fresh garlic very finely minced

3/4 cup almonds, toasted ,small chopped

1/4 cup pecans ,toasted, small chopped

wash your hands really well cause you need to use them here.  Take a small piece of the goat cheese and a grape and roll the two together in your hands so that each grape is coated with a thin layer of cheese, set aside each ball.  In a skillet add the butter and garlic saute 30 seconds and add the chopped nuts, cook  for another 3-4 minutes tops and transfer mixture to a sheet pan and allow it to cool.  When it cools roll each grape ball in the nut  mixture until well coated.  Pour a glass of your favorite champagne, call all the world leaders to the party and peace will be instant.

Greek Style Salad Dressing

The flavors here are light and bright, good on any salad. 

1/4 cup veggie oil, something light, olive oil is to heavy here


1 tsp sugar

1 tsp fresh lemon juice


½ tsp oregano, dried or 1 tsp fresh oregano


3 tbsp red wine vinegar


s and p to taste


1/8 tsp dry mustard

Put all the ingredients into a blender and let it rip until well combine and emulsified.  Toss lightly into any greens of your choice.

 Grilled Wild American Shrimp and Orzo Salad Greek Style

I love this salad anytime, anywhere.  It is like a up-scale pasta and Greek  salad combined with so many wonderful flavors.  Take this to your next Potluck and here the oooohs and ahhhhs. 

Serves 6-8 

3/4 pound orzo, cooked al dente 


1 large cucumber, peeled,  seeded, quartered, and sliced 


3 scallions, thinly sliced or ½ cup minced red onion


1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved 

½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved

2 tbsp  fresh dill, tops only chopped


1/4 cup red wine vinegar 


2 tbsp dijon mustard 

1 clove fresh garlic

1 small shallot, quartered

2 tbsp  fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp  fresh lemon zest

2 tbsp water


½ cup olive oil 


s and p to taste


3/4 lb of a really good  feta cheese, crumbled 


20 wild american shrimp, medium size,  peeled and deveined 

dill sprigs for garnish

6-8 fresh lemon slices

Combine orzo, cucumber, green onions,  tomatoes, and  olives in a large bowl.  Combine the next 10 ingredients in your blender and  blend until very smooth.  Pour the vinaigrette over the orzo mixture and stir well to combine. Gently fold in the crumbled  feta cheese. 

Set aside until later.    Heat grill to high. Brush shrimp with olive  oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for about  2 minutes per side or until just cooked through.  

Toss shrimp in gently with the salad.   Divide salad evenly among serving plates.   

Garnish with a sprig of dill and lemon slice and serve. 

Grown-Up Open Faced Grilled Cheese

One of my favorite cheeses in the world is Blue Cheese.  Any kind at all really, but my favorite these days has been Gorgonzola from Italy.  I love the creaminess and salty flavors that these cheese has, especially with the savory, sweet thing going one so one day when the peaches were in season around the Sonoma house I tried something that I loved.  Experiment here, the are hundreds of combinations.  Here is one of them.

Makes 6 open faced sandwiches

1 loaf crusty bread, sliced and grilled for a minute on each side

6 oz of gorgonzola or your favorite blue cheese

a few slices of your favorite fresh fruit, I used peaches

1 tbsp brown sugar

4 slices of bacon cooked crispy and crumbled, I like the applewood smoked bacon

2 onions, sliced and caramelized, room temp

bottle of store bought fig jam, or fig cake from cheese department

toast or grill the slices of bread.  I prefer grilled it adds a better flavor.  Spread bread with a thin layer of fig jam or thin  slice fig cake thin and place that on the bread. A few caramelized onion slices and a few bacon crumbles, then 1oz of Gorgonzola and sliced fruit on top of that.  Peaches or pears work really good here.  Sprinkle with a little of the brown sugar and put under the broiler for a minute or 2 watch closely so it does not burn.  Enjoy!  A nice glass of sweet sauterne YUMMY!  Who said sweet wines are only for after dinner?  Wait till you try this.

Home Spun Recipes

  By Chef Robin A. White

I grew up in a wonderful little town nestled in Boston Harbor.  I mean literally in the middle of the harbor.   The bold Atlantic Ocean lined one side of town and the Hull Bay lined the other.  At the very end of this Island kind of town was a amazing spot called Hull Gut.  It is at this spot where the ocean and the bay come together.  The force of the water in this gut is so strong, it can sweep you out to sea in no time at all.  Or if you are lucky and the tide current is right , it can sweep you right over to Boston.  Hull is 8 miles from Boston by sea and 22 miles to drive all the way around.  It is in the magical Hull Gut

That some of the most beautiful Striped Sea Bass are caught.  I have been taker to a few big ones myself there.  The sad news is it was not until I was in my late 30's that I actually could catch one and knew how to prepare it.  You see I loved to fish as a kid and still do.  But when I would catch beautiful fish I would give them to all the older ladies in my neighborhood.  These were amazing ladies of many descents who knew what to do with these beautiful fish.  Fish would run in schools threw the bay during different seasons.  Flounder you could catch most anytime, But Mackerel would show up for most of the summer, Striped Bass start late June- September ( in June they are 5-15 lbs. In August the a bruising 50-60 lbs.)  And the Blue Fish are in the bay July and August.  Then comes fall and the Smelts start pouring in and you fish for them until you freeze and buckle down for the winter.  Not to mention the full bounty of Lobster, Crabs, Steamers, Mussels, Periwinkles, sea urchin, Eel, Skate the list goes on and on.  I was mostly fishing with a pole from the pier or from shore, but when I was a teenager my dad got me a little boat with a little 5 horse Johnson motor and the bay was now mine.  I could fish the places I heard about for years, off Bumpkin Island and Peddocks Island and George’s Island and the Worlds End.  Of course there are others, but those are secret and a fisher person always has a few of those.  Being so young and not really understanding the glory of food yet , I did not know what to do with such bounty.  My Dad didn’t really like fish to much and my mom did not like to stink the house up when cooking it, which in those days fish was only fried or chowder.  Fish has come a long way over the last 40 years or so.  

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Andrea loves chocolate pudding.  It is comfort food for  her.  So when she is having a blue day I know the cure.

Makes 4 servings

1 cup sugar 


1/3 cup really good cocoa powder , unsweetened


3 tbsp cornstarch 


Pinch salt 


2 1/4 cups whole milk 


1/3 cup  semisweet chocolate, chopped 


2 tbsp unsalted butter

 
1 ½  tsp vanilla extract 


Whipped cream 

In a heavy medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in about half of the milk until very thick and then  stir in the rest. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and begins to coat the back of a wooden spoon ,   this will take about 5  minutes. Continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer, until smooth and very thick. Remove  from the heat and add the chocolate, butter and vanilla, stirring until they are both melted and well incorporated.   Pour the pudding into 4 dessert bowls or one larger serving dish. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming on top and refrigerate until firm.  Served  topped with fresh homemade whipped cream.

Homemade Creme Fraiche

This is the most wonderful stuff, but it gets expensive to use for a large crowd.  This is a easy , cheaper way to make creme fraiche when you know you need it ahead of time.  This is all you have to do.

Heat 1 cup of whipping cream to lukewarm just about 85 degrees on your instant read thermometer.  Remove pan from the heat and add 2 tbsp of buttermilk.  At this point put it in a container, cover with plastic wrap and let it stand at a warm room temp until slightly thickened.  This will take about 1-2 days, it depends on the temperature of the room.  When it has thickened put if fridge until needed.  Will last about a week.

Homemade Ketchup

Everything you use ketchup on or in just got better!

Makes about 3 ½ cups after cooking

1 ½ lbs fresh tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

½  cup of san marzano or like tomato puree

½ cup of a really good tomato paste

1 cup white vinegar

½ cup molasses, the light one

1/4 cup packed brown sugar, the dark one

1 cinnamon stick

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

5 cloves fresh garlic, minced

2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp celery seed

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp of your favorite hot sauce (optional, but gives a great kick)

½ tsp ground mace

1/4 tsp ground cloves

s and p to taste

Put all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook over low for 1 hours until all the flavors are completely combined.  Remove pot from the heat and throw away the cinnamon stick.  Let cool completely.  Put all the ingredients in the pot in a blender and let it rip until smooth.  Will keep in fridge for a week.  Delicious and no preservatives either.  Enjoy!

Homemade Mayo

With this being such a breeze to make why would you ever use the stuff from a bottle???  This will change your life right here.  The flavor is so fresh and rich.

2 egg yolks


1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 


1/8  teaspoon cayenne pepper

 
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup safflower or canola oil

salt to taste 

In a food processor, mix egg yolk, mustard, pepper, lemon juice, vinegar and salt in food processor. Add oil in a small steady stream till it all comes together.   Keep chilled.  Will last about 4-5 days.  If you can stand it, it only lasts one day around my house.

Honey Caramelized Onions with Red Wine and Thyme

these onions are great on a antipasto, on crostini, anywhere really.  Use your imagination with them

3 tbsp good quality light honey

2tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

7-8 sweet onions, Vidalia, red, Walla Walla whichever you prefer

2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme

1/4 tsp allspice, ground

1 3/4 cup of a rich , dry red wine

1 bay leaf

1/3 cup of good sherry vinegar or wine vinegar

peel and cut onions in 1/4 inch slices

heat a 12 inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the honey and oil and butter. Stir until it starts to brown a bit.  Add the onions give a stir and leave them alone for a about 5 minutes.  They will get transparent.  At this point s and p to taste.  Add thyme and bay as well.  Then add the wine and vinegar.  Cook for 1-1 ½ hours on a very low simmer until syrupy.  Stirring only occasionally, they really like to be left alone most of the time.  Add little bits of water if they seem a little dry.

How to Boil a Lobster

My traditional Christmas Eve dinner is lobsters and champagne.  I remember one year someone being funny and bought me a 18 pound lobster.  I have to say after I found a big enough pot I took this as a challenge.  Even the cat was frightened, but onward we pushed from bag to pot.  I can honestly say when lobster is cooked properly and not over cooked it does not matter how big it is.  Delicious it was, just delicious.  I only ate one claw that evening, but how nice it was to have it all week in a sandwich or lazyman’s lobster.  I can’t wait till Christmas now.

For 4 lobsters: In large kettle fill with 3/4 full of water. Salt the water with a good amount of salt.   Let water come to a full boil. Put in 2 lobsters at a time and boil, or if the pot is big enough and can hold all four cook them all at once.   About 18 to 20 minutes for a chicken lobster or a lobster weighing 1 1/4  - 1 ½.  Melt a couple sticks of butter while lobsters are cooking.    Remove them from the  pot and let cool a little. Remove lobster meat from tail and claws. Dip in the  melted butter.  Pour yourself a glass of champagne and enjoy the ride.  And for goodness sake don’t let those legs go to waste.  They are like little lollipops.  

How To Open a Bottle of Champagne

Remove only enough foil to expose the twisted wire

Hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle with the cork facing away from you, you don’t want to get hit with one of these.

Hold the cork and gently turn the bottle not the cork

You should never her a big “POP” though I know that is half the fun, restrain yourself, because “the ears gain is the palate’s loss” why waste those bubbles on the “POP”

They say the sound of a perfectly opened bottle of champagne should be a “Gentle Sigh” and when I taste a good champagne boy do I sigh....

“ Got Champagne”

How to Store Champagne

Don’t be tempted to store your champagne in the fridge unless it is for the 3 hours before you going to open it.  Champagne stored in  the fridge for to long will cause the cork ro shrink and the champagne to become bitter.  It is better off in a cool cellar, lying on it’s side for a short period of time waiting for you to drink it.  It is a fallacy that champagne gets better with age, it does not.

So the moro ???? sp.   of this story here is drink that bubbly when you get it.  Plunge the sucker into a ice bucket for 20-30 minutes or put it in the fridge for 2-3 hours will do the same thing.  As long as you get that thing to 45 degrees.  Then enjoy your perfectly temperatured glass of champagne, or 2 or 3.

Hunting in OZ  Stew  

Growing up in a family of hunters as far back as the eyes can see, I had my fair share of game as a kid.  As I recall I really only liked some of it however.  Since I have been cooking myself though I have found many uses and cooking techniques that makes it some of my favorite food now.  This is a good recipe because you can use regular meats and poultry as well as game foods and it still has a rich and wonderful flavor.  By the way Pinot Noir goes Excellent!!! with this dish, and did I mention I think “Pinot goes with just about everything?”  The Pinot Mafia will be happy I said that!  Oh by the way this stew is always better the next day so if you can plan it ahead of time, great!  If not it is still very good the same day.

1 lb dried navy or cranberry beans

11 cups of water, divided

2 cups rutabaga, peeled and chopped, 1 inch 

3 large yukon gold or red potato, skin on, 1 inch chop

1 lb button or your favorite mushroom

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

3 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal ½ inch

3 stalks of celery, string removed and cut ½ inch

1   5 lb or so duck, cleaned and dressed  or 3 lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks

3-4 links wild boar or venison or duck  sausage or 1 lb sweet italian sausage

3 cups of a really good light, dry red wine, such as pinot noir

½ cup fresh italian parley, chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 tbsp fresh marjoram, or leave it out

s and p to taste

2 cups really good beef stock, low sodium preferred

25 year or older balsamic vinegar to finish just before serving

pick through the beans to remove any stones or unwanted beans.  Soak 8 hours or overnight.  Drain beans and put in a large dutch oven or heavy stew pot.  Cover with water and cook beans for about 1 hour or until still slightly firm.  Drain beans and set aside,  They are going to cook in the stew so they will be plenty done eventually.  If you are using the duck remove excess fat and cut duck into 8 pieces, if you are using chicken remove excess fat and set aside.  heat a non stick skillet and over medium high heat begin to brown off the duck or chicken about 5-6 minutes on each side.  Same with the sausage about 10 minutes or so until brown.  Remove  to cutting board, let cool  and cut sausage in 1 inch rings and set aside.  At this point deglaze the skillet with wine, scrape up all the goodness and set aside.    Ok, assembling of the stew starts now.  In your stew pot add a few tbsp’s of olive oil and add the carrots, onions, rutabaga, and celery, and mushrooms. Let cook 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add the drained beans now and the meats, add the stock and the  the wine from the skillet and enough water to just cover  the entire thing if it needs it.  Add the parsley, thyme, marjoram  and s and p at this point and put pot on a medium flame until it just begins to boil.  Turn down heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Check the beans at this point for almost doneness. If they are almost done, the beans need to be in this state before adding the potatoes.  If beans are ready add the potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender about 15-20 more minutes.    If your are serving the next day let cool completely and put in fridge.  The next day before reheating skim off the fat and reheat and drizzle each bowl with about 2 tsp’s of a good aged balsamic and serve with crusty bread and glass of pinot.  Same day serving try to skim off any fat you can and serve with what I said before.

The whole idea behind this book is you do not have to be a Wizard of a cook to make these recipes.  I want to encourage you to add , leave out, or  change as you feel you can.   These recipes are good the way they are, but I am a firm believer that a recipe can always be made better.  So in my Kitchen of OZ !  Degree of Wizardry is not needed.

The Wizardry behind any of these recipes is very basic.  

Use the freshest ingredients you can find always, if you question the freshness of any ingredient, change it out to something else that can fill the void or make something different you can get fresh stuff for.  Fresh is where it is at!

95% of the time I try to buy local, meaning, veggies, eggs, milk, meat, cheese, etc, anything I can find from local farms I buy.  There is a better chance of it being fresh.

Learn how to use salt and pepper.  These 2 ingredients are your friends when you know how to use them or a enemy if you do not.  Salt can ruin a dish or enhance it.  Under salt things a little until you develop a flavor for correctly seasoned food.  You can always salt it some more later.  By doing this you will understand how much salt you should add when you begin the next time.  Pepper as well.  Remember you cannot remove it once it is in, that goes for salt too.  Everyones palate for s and p are different, so it is a happy balance for the masses.  If you can master this part, you are well on your way to becoming a Kitchen Wizard.

And third, ask a lot of questions at your local specialty stores, butchers, fish mongers, cheese stores, farms stands, etc.  These people are full of knowledge about the products you have questions about.  The 800 numbers on the back of some of these products have real experts on the product who actually answer the phone and will help you.  You can become closer to a Wizard by picking the pro’s brains and adding the knowledge to your own.  The internet has so many question and answer sites for cooking questions, do not be afraid to go there.  You will be so amazed.  There is everything you ever wanted to know about everything you can imagine when it comes to food.

Italian Inspired Beef Stew

I love beef stew of any kind, one day I was rampaging in the kitchen trying to come up with  something interesting to put on top of polenta for a more italian inspired dish.  It was cold and damp and beef stew was on my mind.  This is what came of that rampage.

4 tbsp olive oil

2 lbs stew beef or venison is good here as well, trimmed and cut in 1 inch pieces

about 3 cups of your favorite mushrooms, halved

2 roasted red peppers, your own or good bottled one is fine here, chopped

½ cup of dry cured or oil cured olives

1  large onion, peeled and chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 stalks celery, strings removed and chopped

3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced

1 cup of a rich zinfandel or syrah, one you would drink

2 cups good quality beef stock, low sodium preferred

1 cup flour , seasoned with s and p for dusting beef to brown

s and p to taste

1 tbsp  fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1 large can of san marzanno tomatoes and their juice, or any  good quality italian tomato, squeezed in hand to break them up slightly

3/4 cup fresh italian parsley leaves only chopped for garnish

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, to finish

drizzle of a good aged balsamic vinegar, to finish

heat olive oil in your dutch oven or heavy bottomed stew pot.  Roll the beef in seasoned flour and shake off excess and begins to brown the meat in batches, don’t crowd the pan or the meat will steam and not brown.  Brown on all sides and remove meat and set aside until needed.  Add to the pan mushrooms, carrots, onion, garlic and celery s and p to taste and cook about 5-6 minutes.  Degalze pot with wine and cook 5 minutes scraping up brown and bits.   Return beef to pot, add stock and all but the olives, roasted peppers  and last 3 ingredients, simmer over low flames for 1 hour or so.  At this point add the olives, peppers and cook another 30 minutes or until beef is really tender.  Discard the bay leaves and serve in bowls over nice creamy polenta, recipe for polenta on page???????????  Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic and parsley.

Jag (Jagacida)

This is a dish from Cape Verde and it is so tasty and good with BBQ.  I love to cook Carribean food and there they have a similar dish called rice and pes.  I like this one a lot and it is real easy to make.

2 tbsp oil, any kind really

1 medium onion, diced into ½ inch chunks

3 cups rice

6 cups water, boiling hot

1 15 oz can red beans or kidney beans

  1 tbsp  paprika  

2 bay leaves

s and p to taste

use a 2 quart pan for this, heat the oil and add onion and cook until golden over medium heat.  Add the paprika, and bay, and the rice, stir around for a minute until rice takes on the color and get a little toasted.  Add the water and lower the heat ,  add the beans and simmer for 25 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.  Turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes or until ready to serve.

Just Peachy Crisp

Here we go with the peaches again.  When they are abundant you use them.  That does not make me sad, I could eat them everyday.  I love any kind of crisp, apple, pear, mixed berry, mixed fruit.  You name it.  A scoop of great homemade vanilla ice cream on top and you have crowd pleaser.

10 - 12  firm, ripe peaches, not to soft of they just fall apart when baking, peeled and cut into wedges, about 8 each peach

 
2 tbsp  fresh orange zest


1 1/4 cups  sugar 


1 cup light brown sugar, packed 


1 1/4 cups plus 2  tablespoons all purpose flour 


1 tsp vanilla


1/4 tsp salt 


1 cup quick cooking oatmeal

2 tsp cinnamon


2 sticks unsalted butter, diced 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 

Butter the inside of a large baking dish

 put  the peaches  into a large bowl. Add the orange zest, 1/4 cup  sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss well.  Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes.   If there is a lot of liquid, add 1 more tablespoon of flour to help absorb some of that.  Pour the peaches into the baking dish a even them out.  Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup  sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the  diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the peaches and  Bake for about 1 hour, until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbling.  Let cool 10 minutes and serve in bowls with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream or a good store bought one.  Have a glass of sweet white wine with this and your day can only get better.

Jutta’s Chicken Soup

My dear friend in San Diego Jutta Miller is a wonderful cook.  She can make anything taste better than it already does.  Her Dad was a chef at a big hotel in Hamburg, Germany where she is originally from and what he knew surely rubbed off.  I had this chicken soup one year for Christmas dinner at her house and I never forgot it and have made it several times since.  The secret is in the topping.  It sounds a little funny when you read the recipe, but trust me, this will be a chicken soup you will not soon forget.

1 4-5 lb roasting chicken

enough water to cover the chicken in the pot by a few inches


4 carrots, cut in half

1 celery root peeled and halved

 
2 large leeks, white and green part, cut in half and cleaned


1 bay leaf 


2 sprigs fresh thyme

 
2  sprigs fresh parsley 


8 whole black peppercorns 

2 tsp sea salt

In a large stockpot, combine the chicken with the water and bring to a boil, skimming off the scum that rises to the surface. Simmer the mixture for 20 minutes, skimming, and add remaining ingredients, green part only of the leeks.  Save the white part for later.   Simmer for 2 to 3 hours and strain. Discard the fat that rises to the top.   Let cool for a bit and strain the stock, set the chicken aside and let it cool enough to handle.  Discard all other ingredients.    Return the stock to the cleaned stockpot and simmer until it is reduced by half. Add salt to taste and the white part of the leeks cut into 1/4 inch half circles.  Let simmer another 20 minutes or so until white part of the leek is tender.  Pick the chicken clean off the bones and add meat back to soup.  Ladle up a nice bowl of hot soup and top it with  a spoon full of the following.

½ pint whipping cream

1 jar mango chutney

2 tsp of curry powder

whip the cream to firm peaks but not butter, add 1/4 to ½ cup of the chutney and fold it into the cream along with the curry powder.  This cream is delicious, now serve a good size tablespoon on top of the soup and have a nice glass of Riesling or a Sancerre style would be good.

Kir Royale

they don’t call this royal for nothing

chilled champagne

3-5 drops of a really good creme de cassis

1 long twist of lemon

Fill a champagne glass 3/4 full and add the drops of creme de cassis 3 for dryer, 5 for wetter.  Garnish with that long lemon peel and your day just got better.

Last Minute Savory Bread Pudding With Roasted Red Peppers and Gogonzola Cheese

Bread pudding is such a versatile dish to me.  It can be sweet or savory.  One thing is for sure, the combinations are endless and when you serve it the fans go crazy!  

1 loaf of day old bread, cut in 1 inch cubes, do not use a sweet bread here

1 tbsp butter

1 ½ cups milk

1 cup heavy cream

6 egg yokes, plus 2 more eggs

½ cup sour cream or creme fraiche

2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn in pieces

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp fresh garlic, minced

1 cup roasted red peppers, chopped, your own or jarred is fine here

s and p to taste

1 cup gorgonzola or your favorite blue cheese, crumbled up

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a  medium size baking dish with the butter,  toss the bread cubes with the garlic and chopped red peppers and basil leaves, s and p and cheese in that dish.  In a sauce pan on the stove top heat the milk and cream with the sprigs of thyme until just below the boiling  state.  Remove the thyme sprigs and throw away.   In a bowl combine the eggs and sour cream and whisk until combined.  Slowly add the hot cream  to the egg mixture stirring constantly to temper and not cook the eggs.  Add the  rest of the hot cream and stir well to thoroughly mix.  Pour this mixture through a strainer over the bread mixture and mix all the ingredients together in the baking dish.  Let that dish sit for 10-15 minutes to absorb the cream mixture.  Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour or until inserted knife comes out almost clean.  The cheese will leave this a little wet, but that is ok.  Let this rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.  Spoon out or cut in squares, that is up to you.

Leftover Farm Cakes Bread Pudding

As if the Farm Cakes are not bad enough.  One day I had some leftovers and decided I could not eat them and they were getting a little dried out.  In a rampage to save my precious farm cakes from the trash bucket I thought and thought and the light came on clear as a bell.  What do you do with old bread????  Bread Pudding!!  So the experiment began.  I cannot be held responsible for how much of this you eat.  Chocolate muffins, cream cheese and chocolate chips in a bread pudding?  Please, this was genius!  Fattening as hell, but, genius!

Serves 4 - 6

4 leftover farm cakes, recipe page ?????


1 cup cream 


4 eggs, well beaten


1 ½  cups  milk


½  cup sugar


1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Break up the farm cakes in a baking dish.  Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl and pour over the cakes.  Make sure the is still liquid so this is not to dry.  Add a little cream if need be.  Bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes or just until set.  Let cool and serve with your favorite bread pudding topping.

Leftover Panettone French Toast with a Toasted Pine Nut, Cinnamon and Butter Maple Syrup

If you have as many friends who love Italian food as I do then you understand there are only so many Panettone you can get for Christmas before running out of ideas for using them up.  One morning we had a crowd who stayed over from a day of wine tasting and I wondered what to do for breakfast for them all.  While rampaging through the freezer I found a lonely Panettone and it soon became breakfast.  Since the Panettone already has dried fruit all through it I decided to keep with the Italian theme and try making a new kind of syrup.  This was the result.

Serves 6

1 loaf Panettone

6 eggs

½ half pint half and half

½ pint whole milk

1 tsp of a good vanilla

butter for pan

Preheat oven to 275 degrees

Cut the panettone in 1 inch slices and set aside.  In a bowl whisk the eggs, half and half, milk and vanilla.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a few slices of panettone to egg mixture and let soak well.  Add enough butter to the pan to cook a few pieces, do not burn butter.  Cook off the soaked panettone slices until golden brown and cooked through.  Move to baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Toasted Pine Nut, Cinnamon and Butter Maple Syrup Recipe

2 cups grade A maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

1 stick butter

½ cup pine nuts, toasted in 350 degree oven until golden

In a sauce pan add the maple syrup, butter and cinnamon over low heat, gently heat until the butter melts and you can whisk it slowly until it is all combined.  Put panettone on plates.  Toss in pine nuts last second into syrup and serve hot over Panettone French Toast.

Leg of BBQ’d Lamb for a Crowd

This is a real easy way to feed a bunch of people and have everyone rave about the flavors.  Roll up in pita bread or just slice and serve with a big salad or pasta salad.

5-7 lb leg of lamb boned and butterflied

½ cup olive oil


1/4 cup soy sauce


1/4 cup fresh lemon juice


 3 tbsp dijon mustard


fresh cracked  pepper to taste


1/4 cup brown sugar


2 tbsp dry sherry or vermouth


4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes 


4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stripped and chopped 

Remove excess fat from lamb. Put lamb in a very large zip lock bag.   Assemble marinade in a bowl and pour over lamb. Let marinate for 4 hours or overnight, massage bag occasionally to get marinade into the meat.  Bring to room temperature before cooking. Cook lamb on a hot grill 15 to 18 minutes per side for medium-rare.  Or 4 minutes longer per side for medium.   Remove from heat and let meat rest lightly tented with foil for 10-15 minutes to redistribute juices.  Slice in thin slices and serve.  This dish goes nice with any kind of chutney and sour cream.  Ryan Cellars Peay Pinot Noir would be great with this if you can get it.

Lettuce Wedges with Cabernet Vinaigrette and Stilton Blue

Being from the Boston area one of the first salads I discovered when I ventured out on my own food discoveries was lettuce wedge with blue cheese.  Trying it for the first time I was amazed at the flavors in my mouth.  Never trying anything like that before, this was the start of my culinary adventures.  I have Made this recipe my own over the years using different lettuce and dressings.  This one however has turned out to be my favorite.  I use Boston or Bibb Lettuce to add some velvety texture and Cabernet to keep with my wine spirit.  The original one is still good to me and I order it where ever I find it on a menu.

serves 4 

1 head boston lettuce

1 tbsp finely minced shallot

2 tbsp good quality cabernet

2 tbsp good quality red wine vinegar

½ tsp dijon mustard

1 1/4 inch circle pancetta diced small

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup walnut oil

3/4 cup walnuts toasted

1/4 lb stilton blue cheese shaved or crumbled

preheat oven to 375 degrees  and toast walnuts for 10-15 minutes until you smell their richness.  Be careful not to burn them.  Saute diced pancetta in a skillet until brown and crispy.  Set aside until later.

Cut the lettuce in quarters keeping stem attached, rinse under cold water to remove any dirt and dry well in a spinner or with a clean kitchen towel.  Whisk together shallot, cab and vinegar and dijon, s and p to taste at this point.  Add the oils in a slow stream whisking constantly to bring dressing together.  Spoon over lettuce wedges and scatter over the nuts, cheese and pancetta bits

“ One of the toughest assignments for any hostess is to make it look easy — so that her guests are truly at ease. No one does this better than Robin. Whether it’s a formal dinner party with impeccable place settings and special presentations for each course, or a casual buffet on the kitchen island where people dig in to platter after platter of wonderful foods, salads, and breads — Robin is somewhere around with a wine glass in her hand and a hug for all, from pets to partygoers. She never seems frazzled, although I’m sure her perfectionist tendencies have tried the patience of others before we arrive, and she never fails to be interested in the moment, whether her head is inside or outside the oven. She’s comfortable with other people participating in the food prep and helping in the kitchen, and that’s unusual, and relaxing for everyone. Her food is incredibly flavorful and picturesque, without the nonsense of extreme “presentation” getting in the way of taste and pleasure. The wines are the best I’ve ever had in a private home, and the amount of food and drink and the variety of both is Lucullan...incredibly generous. Where I might serve two desserts she serves six; where I might have two hors d’oeuvres she serves four or five. I always feel like I need to take notes, because the level of detail and plenty is just so rich — gleaming crystal, flickering candles, colorful textured napery, heavy, creamy china. All I can say is that, when my husband and I are invited to Robin White’s home for dinner, or to an affair which I know she will be catering, I am delighted and try not to eat all day. I know I will be in good hands, because the way she entertains is the way she defines herself, and anyone at her table is the beneficiary. Robin White is a genius at hospitality.”

Linda Spikol

Philadelphia, PA

Lobster Roll Done Right

Being from Hull, MA right on the ocean and Boston Harbor, having 3 lobster man brothers and my parents having second home in Maine, I know a thing or two about lobster.  Lobster is one of those flavors you crave if you love it.  The very best way to make lobster salad is to compliment the lobster with flavors that will not over power it.  Plain and simple is the rule and the Wonder Bread Hotdog Roll should always be buttered and grilled!!!!!!

Makes 4 rolls

2 chicken lobsters or 1 1/4 pounds each or 2 cups fresh lobster meat

1 stalk celery

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 dashes of hot sauce

1/4 or a little more of my homemade mayo recipe page ?????

4 leaves of boston or bibb style lettuce

4 old fashion white hotdog rolls with no crust cut on top

2 tbsp butter

s and p to taste

1 stick butter melted

Claw and knuckle meat work the best with a lobster roll but that is hard to find sometimes.  In a bowl add the meat keeping knuckle and claw meat whole.  Cut up tail meat in bite size pieces and for God sake don’t waste the legs.  Suck on those while your making the rolls.  And those little succulent wing pieces of meat in the tail get those too.  Those two pieces are my favorite in the entire lobster.  Anyway in a bowl put the meat, celery, lemon juice, hot sauce and that 1/4 cup mayo.  Toss it around lobster should be barely coated with mayo.  Butter the rolls and grilled until golden brown and you can smell the nuttiness of the butter, oh God I’m going there, place the lettuce in the bottom of the roll and fill with lobster, a knuckle a claw, make it pretty.  Split up that melted butter for dipping that roll in and open a very cold beer or a nice glass of champagne or chardonnay.   I can’t wait to have this now, maybe tonight!

Lollipop Lamb Chops with a Apple Cider Glaze

These are grown up lollipops.  Be careful, these are addictive.  Make sure they make it to your guests.  I have been known to make a few extra just to be on the safe side.  

Serves 4

1 cup fresh apple cider

2 tbsp fresh ginger

1 ½ tbsp fresh minced garlic

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar, the unseasoned one

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 ½ tbsp honey

8-10 lollipop lamb chops, ask your butcher to cut them that way, 8 for company and 2 extra for you

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 scallion

s and p to taste

preheat the broiler

In a sauce pan boil the cider, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar and the honey until it reduces to about 1/4 cup, this will take 9-12 minutes.  Cool and set aside.  Pat any moisture of the chops with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and brush with the cooled cider mixture.  Put on a broiler tray and place under broiler for a 3 minutes on the top shelf in oven.  Turn the chops and brush again and broil another 3 minutes for rare.  Add a minute to each side for medium rare.  Make something else for you and your guests if you cannot handle that or you will ruin these little guys if cooked anymore.   Sprinkle with sesame and scallion, open a great bottle of syrah and go to town.  Bask in the ooooh’s and ahhhhh’s of the crowd.

I lived in San Francisco during many years of M. F. K. Fisher’s life and I never had the opportunity to meet her.  Though I feel I know her some,  she lives in my mind and soul and the memory banks of my food journal.  I have read a good deal of her food related books, all I can say is “Brilliant”, brilliant writing, brilliant ideas about food and I imagine she lit up a room with brilliance when she walked in.  

Did I mention one of the all time favorites on my hit parade is Caviar.  This is a little story she told about a caviar  experience she once had , and I only hope one day to have one similar.

...I was perhaps twenty- three when I first ate almost enough caviar

-not to mention any caviar at all that I can remember.

It was one of the best , brightest days of my whole life with my parents...

My father and I ate caviar; probably sevruga, with green-black smallish beads and a superb challenge of flavor for the iced grassy vodka we used to cleanse our happy palates.  

we ate three portions a piece, tacitly knowing it could never happen again.  That anything would be quite so mysteriously perfect in both time and space.  The head waiter sensed all this.... and the portions got larger ; and at our third blissful command he simply put the tin in it’s ice bowl upon our table.  

It was a regal gesture, like being tapped on the shoulder with a sword.

M. K. F. Fisher

If my life follows hers at all I wish for just  one thing.  That is to die the way she did at 83 years of age on a vineyard in California that I called mine.

Mac and Cheese for Grown-Ups

Who doesn’t like Macaroni and Cheese?  I do not know a soul.  This version takes it a step above.  If you just want plain old Mac and cheese leave out the lobster and enjoy it anyway.

1 stick unsalted butter


½ cup flour


2 tsp dry mustard


s and p to taste


5 1/2 cups whole milk


4 cups assorted cheeses, 2 cups sharp cheddar, 1 fontina, 1 gruyere, to make 4 cups, or use whichever cheeses you like.


1 lb ziti macaroni, or penne

2 lbs lobster meat ( optional)


parmegiano  bread crumbs, equal parts of your favorite bread crumb and parmegiano reggiano


tomato slices (optional) 

preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cook ziti according to package directions; drain. Set aside until needed. In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the dry mustard, salt and pepper and stir. Add in the flour and continue stirring the mixture until it becomes a "roux". It should have a thick, paste-like consistency and the flour smell should be more of a nutty smell.  Add the milk to the roux and continue stirring over medium low heat until the  mixture becomes thick and bubbly.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the shredded cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Put ziti and lobster  into baking dish  and top with the cheese mixture. Stir to be sure ziti is fully coated with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top and add tomato slices.

 Meatloaf Everybody Loves

Comfort food is different for everyone.  I know a ton of people that meatloaf is their go to comfort food for either a meal with mashed potatoes, or the next day sandwich.  This is the one for me.

1 ½ lbs ground beef, I like chuck here, but you use whatever you want

1 lb ground pork

3/4 lb ground veal

2 cup fresh bread crumbs

½ cup milk

1 small onion

½ jalapeno pepper seeded and minced fine, or use a bell pepper for less heat

1 roma tomato seeded and 1/4 inch dice

1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1 tbsp dry mustard

3 tsp fresh thyme, leaves only

3 large eggs

s and p to taste

8 sliced of bacon

1 ½ cups ketchup

1/4 cup worcestershire sauce

4 tsp soy sauce, low sodium type is best for this

1/4 cup light brown sugar

preheat oven to 400 degrees

combine the ketchup, worcestershire, brown sugar and soy sauce in a bowl, stir and set it aside.  Soak the bread crumbs in the milk and let sit 5 minutes or so.  In a large bowl combine the eggs, onion, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeno, parsley , mustard, thyme and the s and p.  to this large bowl add the meats, the soaked bread crumbs and ½ cup of the ketchup sauce and combine it all gently with your hands folding it all in.  Now there are 2 things you can do, either use a loaf pan, or I like the free form meatloaf, form a meatloaf shape in a 9x13 or larger roasting pan.  Layer in a single layer the bacon to cover the top of the meatloaf.  Bake for 30 minutes until the bacon gets crispy  and add ½ cup more of the ketchup sauce all over the top of the bacon and continue to cook about 45 minutes more until the internal temperature reaches 160 F.  Serve with remaining sauce and my caramelized shallot mashed pots from  page ??????????.

 Meatloaf Everybody Loves

Comfort food is different for everyone.  I know a ton of people that meatloaf is their go to comfort food for either a meal with mashed potatoes, or the next day sandwich.  This is the one for me.

1 ½ lbs ground beef, I like chuck here, but you use whatever you want

1 lb ground pork

3/4 lb ground veal

2 cup fresh bread crumbs

½ cup milk

1 small onion

½ jalapeno pepper seeded and minced fine, or use a bell pepper for less heat

1 roma tomato seeded and 1/4 inch dice

1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1 tbsp dry mustard

3 tsp fresh thyme, leaves only

3 large eggs

s and p to taste

8 sliced of bacon

1 ½ cups ketchup

1/4 cup worcestershire sauce

4 tsp soy sauce, low sodium type is best for this

1/4 cup light brown sugar

preheat oven to 400 degrees

combine the ketchup, worcestershire, brown sugar and soy sauce in a bowl, stir and set it aside.  Soak the bread crumbs in the milk and let sit 5 minutes or so.  In a large bowl combine the eggs, onion, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeno, parsley , mustard, thyme and the s and p.  to this large bowl add the meats, the soaked bread crumbs and ½ cup of the ketchup sauce and combine it all gently with your hands folding it all in.  Now there are 2 things you can do, either use a loaf pan, or I like the free form meatloaf, form a meatloaf shape in a 9x13 or larger roasting pan.  Layer in a single layer the bacon to cover the top of the meatloaf.  Bake for 30 minutes ot until the bacon gets crispy.   Add ½ cup more of the ketchup sauce all over the top of the bacon and continue to cook about 45 minutes more until the internal temperature reaches 160 F.  Serve with remaining sauce and my caramelized shallot mashed pots on page ??????????.

Mediterranean Lamb Burgers

Not your typical burger but it sure is tasty for something a little different and less fat to, That can’t be bad!

Serves 4

3 tbsp milk


2 tbsp your favorite bread crumbs


1 tbsp onion, peeled and  finely chopped


2 clove fresh garlic, minced


1 tsp fresh oregano, leaves only chopped fine


½  tsp fresh lemon zest

s and p to taste, careful of salt here, feta can be salty


3/4 lb lean ground lamb


1/4 lb lean ground beef


1/3 cup feta cheese, finely crumbled


1 tsp ouzo liqueur (optional) OHPA!!!!!

½ tsp fresh mint, minced fine


1/4 tsp ground cumin


2 c. spinach, shredded 

In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons milk, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, oregano, lemon zest,  and s and p to taste . Add meats; mix well. Shape into eight same size thickness  patties. Combine feta,  milk, mint and ouzo. Place 1 tablespoon feta mixture in centers of 4 patties. Top with remaining patties; press edges to seal. Sprinkle with a little cumin and black pepper.   Grill burgers, on an  grill directly over medium-hot coals, for about  7-8 minutes. Turn and grill for another  6 to 8 minutes more for medium doneness. Serve on rolls or pita bread with spinach.  Try serving these with a Greek style dressing tossed on the spinach leaves.  Greek Dressing page ?????????????????????

Mediterranean Olive Tapenade

so good and yet so easy 5 minutes of your time and they will think you have cooked all day.  The flavor or orange goes so well with olives I decided to twist this my way with the addition of orange zest and Grand Marnier.

3/4 pound pitted black olives, such as Kalamata, Nicoise, or Gaeta

 
3 tbsp capers, salted ones rinsed and dried of or use the brined ones less the brine

 
2 anchovy fillets, salted ones are the best rinsed and dried off 


2 cloves garlic, minced

zest of 1/2 orange

 
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped 


3 tablespoons chopped parsley 


1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

 
1/2 lemon, juiced 


1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

 
1 tbsp grand marnier

 
1/2 cup good  extra-virgin olive oil 

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine well, then allow to process until mixture is coarsely pureed. Taste for seasoning.  Can be used on bruchetta with a tangy goat cheese, on pasta or pasta salad

Milk Pie

This recipe is for Andrea’s Sister Barbara.  She loves anything to do with custard, milk or cinnamon.  This incorporates all, so this should be a big hit with her.    This recipe is a old recipe from Greece that they have made there for since the beginning of milk.   This recipe is traditional around Easter time, but it is so good why not have Easter traditions all the time? 

5 cups whole milk 

 1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar

½ tsp salt 

1 cup semolina flour 

3 large fresh eggs, separated 

1 tsp of a good quality vanilla 

1 cup walnuts 

1 tsp cinnamon 

20  sheets phyllo dough, fresh if you can find it, good luck with that, find it in frozen section at any grocery store, thaw before using 

1 stick  unsalted butter, melted 

Confectioners sugar for dusting the top 

Bring milk, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and salt to a simmer in a 4-quart heavy saucepan. Whisk in semolina, slowly , and simmer, whisking constantly, until mixture is the consistency of loose mashed potatoes, about 3- 4 minutes.  Remove from heat. Whisk together yolks and vanilla in a large bowl until well  combined, then whisk in hot semolina mixture, a little at a time, so as not to curdle the yokes, this is called tempering the yokes . Cool, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. 

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees    

Pulse nuts in a food processor with cinnamon and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar until finely chopped. 

Put phyllo sheets  on a cutting board and trim with a sharp knife into a 13- by 9-inch stack. Cover phyllo with 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and then a dampened kitchen towel.  Phyllo dries out very quickly so this step is very important.  Brush a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Put 1 sheet of phyllo in pan (keep remaining sheets covered) and brush with butter, then sprinkle with a  tsp granulated sugar. Repeat with 9 more sheets, then spread walnut mixture evenly on top. Make 9 more phyllo layers over walnut mixture, buttering and sugaring each sheet.  Beat whites in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until  stiff peaks form.   Stir one fourth of whites into semolina mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently through.  Spread egg mixture evenly over phyllo. Bake until filling is golden and puffed around edges, about 35-40 minutes. Cool pie in pan about 1 hour before cutting into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature, dust with confectioners sugar before serving.

Mom’s Fish Cakes

On Fridays during Lent we would have something other than meat.  Growing up on the ocean this usually had something to do with fish.  Mom would serve these fish cakes with homemade baked beans.  I am not sure which I liked better, the beans or the fish cakes.

Makes about 12 cakes


1 lb cooked filet of fish, Cod, Haddock, or soaked salt cod


1 egg


2 tbsp butter


s and p to taste

½ tsp fresh lemon zest ( I added this for a fresh taste )

1 pinch of cayenne pepper ( I added this as well ) optional


1 tbsp  onion, grated or minced


Bread crumbs, for coating


1 tbsp fresh parsley


2 whole large potatoes, peeled, cooked and put through a ricer or mashed


Oil, for frying

Mash or mix together fish, egg, butter, s and p , lemon zest, cayenne,  onion, parsley, and potatoes. Form into cakes and coat with bread crumbs. Brown both sides in oil.   Serve hot!

.

1 lb cooked filet of fish, Cod, Haddock, or soaked salt cod


1 egg


2 tbsp butter


s and p to taste

½ tsp fresh lemon zest ( I added this for a fresh taste )

1 pinch of cayenne pepper ( I added this as well ) optional


1 tbsp  onion, grated or minced


Bread crumbs, for coating


1 tbsp fresh parsley


2 whole large potatoes, peeled, cooked and put through a ricer or mashed


Oil, for frying

Mash or mix together fish, egg, butter, s and p , lemon zest, cayenne,  onion, parsley, and potatoes. Form into cakes and coat with bread crumbs. Brown both sides in oil.   Serve hot!

.

.

Mussels, Crunchy Bread and a Glass of Wine

what else is there???

Serves 4

2 lbs of really fresh mussels debearded and cleaned with a scrub brush

4 cloves of garlic minced or thinly sliced

3 tbsp of olive oil

1 15oz can san marzanno tomatoes

1 ½ cups really good dry white wine

s and p to taste

1/4 cup fresh minced italian parsley

loaf of your favorite crusty bread cut in slices and brush with olive oil and garlic, toast in oven.

In a large pot add 2 of the 3 tbsp of oil heat on medium high heat, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds stirring constantly, add the mussels and stir for another minute.  Raise the heat to high for 30 seconds more and then add the wine and tomatoes, s and p.  bring to a boil and cook 4-5 minutes until all the mussels have opened.  With a slotted spoon remove mussels to a serving bowl and reduce the liquid another 2-3 minutes until thickens slightly.  Add parsley last second, give a stir and pour over mussels.  Always check your seasoning before you finish a dish.

Serve with that wonderful bread and a amazing glass of wine, you could go white or red.  I am thinking a good glass of Pinot Noir, doesn’t Pinot go with everything?  I would have Diana’s Reserve Chardonnay from Testarossa Vineyards.

My Bruschetta

10-12 Fresh garden ripe roma style tomatoes, diced fine


4- 6 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

1 small onion, peeled and diced fine 


2 tbsp shallots, minced

15 - 20 fresh basil leaves, julienned

 
2 tbsp aged  balsamic vinegar 


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 


s and p to taste

 Put all the ingredients in a bowl and gently combine.  Let sit a room temp for about 30 minutes for flavors to combine and serve on crusty bread.  

My Favorite Way to Eat Caviar

Some people when they are feeling blue turn to chocolate, ice cream or something sweet.  When I have the blues or when I am feeling just fine my favorite taste in the world is a great Rose Champagne and Osetra Caviar.  Of course caviar heaped on a  fresh  potato latke and dollop of  homemade creme fraiche never hurt either.  I wish I could say this is my go to food.  These days caviar is so expensive and I am afraid it is being over fished, so I control myself and indulge only about 2-3 times a year, caviar that is, champagne I drink all the time.  I feel a trip to NYC and Petrossian coming on as I sit here!

2 large potatoes, your favorite kind, preferably not a baker, peeled and grated

s and p to taste

6 tbsp veggie oil

creme fraiche, store bought or recipe page ??????

½ tin of a good osetra caviar

1 very cold bottle of Rose Champagne, Billecart or Tattinger for me, whichever one you like will work just as well

Because I like to keep the integrity of the potato in tact I do not add anything to hold these together.  I love the flavor of just the potato and caviar together.  I grate the potato, add s and p and heat the oil and make as many as these two potatoes will make.  Heat the oil in a skillet, not smoking but hot.  Use a tsp heaping of grated potato and put in the oil and press down to form a pancake 2 minutes on each side until golden and drain on paper towel.  Keep warm and serve when all pancakes are cooked off.  Take a pancake, ½ tsp creme fraiche and 1 tsp caviar and let the flavor from the caviar and bubbles from the champagne have a little disco party in your mouth , I love disco! Enjoy!

I'm thinking of a wine tasting event. All of the top Napa wine makers( and that means the  Big Cab Boys) came S.F. Robin and I decide to go and it was all it should have been , Robin you can remember the wines better than I can. We finally can drink no more Cabernet and make a Ladies room stop. We both look in the mirror and our teeth a PURPLE! We laughed so hard and tried to scrub off the cab stain , What to do?? As usual Robin has an idea, lets go to dinner and drink champagne. The bubbles will scrub off the Cabernet! I think is was Elizabeth Daniels, but on the list was "The Billicart" And yes Champagne does remove Cabernet.

Nancy Girard

Half Moon Bay, CaliforniaMy Own Salsa

When I used to own the Sutter Street Grill in Folsom California back in the early nineties this was a big hit.  It was out on every table for breakfast and I was asked many times why it was so fresh and crunchy.  This is the first time I have ever told.

Makes 3 ½ cups

4 large plum tomatoes seeded and finely diced

½ large sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla

1 japeleno chile finely seeded and finely diced, or if you like it
hotter leave the seeds in.

½ english cucumber seeded and finely diced

2-4 tbsp fresh lime juice start with 2 and taste until its right for you

½ tsp garlic salt

4 tbsp fresh ruff chopped cilantro

s and p to taste

combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  Stir gently and taste.  Make sure the veggie pieces are not to big and they are all about the same size for a consistent salsa.  Let sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes to a hour for best flavor.  I hope you love it as much as all my friends and patrons did.

Napa Cabbage with Asian Pear Salad

Over the last several months I have been thinking about getting in shape again.  I know your thinking how can I do that while writing a book like this?  I am doing it, I am working out 6 days a week at the gym and my dear friend Allsion is pushing me every step of the way.  I do so love her for that, yeah right, whatever!  Anyway, I already feel better and stronger with just a few pounds off.  I have realized I can basically eat what I want if I move.  This is a salad I used to make all the time, I have simply left out a few things so I could eat more of it.  Like the blue cheese and beef and I have changed the dressing to be lighter as well.  Eat lots of this and enjoy.

serves 6

6 cups napa or savoy cabbage, shredded

s and p to taste

5 tbsp of apple cider vinegar

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp  of walnut oil

1/4 cup currants or raisins

2 asian pears, sliced thin

1 ½ tbsp fresh chopped chives or scallions

3/4 cup of your favorite nuts, slightly toasted

toss the cabbage with s and p, vinegar, lemon, and oil.  Add the pears , chives, and currants and toss again.  Add the nuts and toss just before serving.  This recipe is also good with some slices chicken and sear tuna.New England Clam Chowdah

There are so many different versions of clam chowder that I find most of them are good, except the ones that are to thick and like glue.  This is not reminiscent of any New England Clam Chowdah I know.  Why people like that paste based whatever it is, I don’t know.  What I do know is the lighter it is the more you taste each piece of clam and potato.  As I always have said through out this book, you choose what tastes best to you all I can do is provide recipes that have taste.

½ inch slice salt pork, minced in small cubes or 3 pieces of bacon diced

1/2 cup chopped onion

4 potatoes, peeled and ½ inch cubes

½  tbsp all-purpose flour

2 cups  bottled clam juice

1 cup water

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 cup whole milk

1 cup half-and-half

1 quart of sea clams ground up or chopped small or 4 (6 ounce) cans minced clams , with the juice as well

s and p  to taste

1 stick butter

1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

2 tbsp  fresh parsley , chopped

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, fry the salt pork until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, reserving the bacon fat in the pan,  set aside. In the same saucepan with the pork fat, saute the onion and potatoes for 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well to coat.

Pour in the clam juice, water and  add bay leaf, thyme sprigs ,bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add the half-and-half, milk and chopped clams and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, whisk in the heavy cream, if desired.  Float the stick of butter on the top and let melt. Allow to heat through, about 5 minutes.   Do not allow this chowder to boil or the clams will get tough and the cream will curdle.  Garnish with a little parsley, and the crisp salt pork  and serve hot with salt water chowdah crackers.

New England Clam Fritters

I loved a nor easter as a kid, (not now), but then I knew a nor easter would bring the big tides and the big tides would bring in the sea clams, lobsters and what ever else to shore that could not hang on in the rough and treacherous seas.  My Dad would get us up in the middle of the night, if the tide was right,  and we would go down to the beach and pick up as many sea clams and lobsters as we could fit in the truck.  What came of this was usually many quarts of shucked sea clams in the freezer and lobster meat as well.  These few nights a year I would look forward to from the previous year.  Our entire family and always many others would get together at one of the families houses and there would be a feed that beat the band.  It usually consisted of REAL clam chowda, not that thick, pasty stuff that most places serve, but the milky, buttery, clam and potato broth, Believe me it was just plain delicious.  These little fritters would be served after the chowda, it seemed by the hundreds.  I just love those memories.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour 


1/2 Tsp baking powder


1 egg


1 1/2 cup minced or ground clams

s and p to taste


1/4  cup  butter ( must be butter )


  oil about 1/4 cup each ( salad or canola )


 lemon wedges

In a bowl combine flour, baking powder and egg with clams; mix until batter is well combined. In a wide frying pan, heat butter and oil (1/4-inch deep), over high heat until it foams but doesn't brown. Drop clam batter into hot oil/ butter combo by heaping  tablespoonfuls full, adding as many spoonfuls as will fit without crowding the pan.  Crowding will cause the fritters to steam and not get crispy.  Cook, turning  once until fritters are browned on both sides (less than a minute on each side usually). Remove from pan, drain briefly on paper towels, or brown paper bags as we used to and arrange on warm serving platter; keep warm until all fritters are cooked. Add more butter and oil to pan, if necessary and repeat process with remaining clam batter. When all fritters are done, salt to taste again if needed and serve immediately. Garnish with lemon wedges. Makes about 20 fritters (2-inches in diameter).  You can add some corn to the batter  as well for something a little different but still great.  Use one cup clams and ½ cup corn and same everything else.  They really need no sauce or anything.  Just sweet little fritters and a nice glass of Chardonnay or a cold beer.  Oh yeah and don’t forget the chowda first, recipe on page ????????  This is the real thing!!!

Notes

All through the book I refer to patience and take your time as part of the recipe.  It is really the most important part of any recipe.  The extra minute you cook a sauce down, the extra time you take to brown the meat right, the simmering instead of boiling all translates to putting more love in a dish.  All the extra time never goes to waste.  Everyone who tastes this food that you have so painstakingly prepared can taste the difference.  I have always known this in my heart, and doing this book I have learned from talking to friends and family about meals they have had at our home to times they have eaten ay my restaurants, the loves comes through in my cooking.  Not only for the love I have for those individuals, but also the love I have for food and it’s preparation in general.  It never ceases  to amaze me how a good meal can calm the savage beast and take a group of people from so many walks of life and make them one.  One in the moment of a incredible meal.

Old Fashion Farm Cakes

I used to buy these muffins years ago at a bakery in Hingham, MA.  They were a good cheat muffin if you were going to cheat on your diet.  I cheated a lot!  The bakery is no longer there, but every time I run into someone they ask me for the Farm Cake recipe.  Save 6 muffins for Farm Cake Bread Pudding, recipe page ?????

makes 18- 24   muffins

for the filling :

1 (8 oz.) pkg. Of a good  cream cheese


1 egg, slightly beaten


1/3 cup sugar


pinch of  salt


½  cup semi sweet chocolate chips

for the muffins :


3 cups flour 


2 cup sugar


1 cup of a really good  unsweetened cocoa


2 tsp baking soda


1  tsp salt


2 cup water

1/3 cup vegetable  oil


1 tbsp white vinegar


1 tsp of really good vanilla 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat together cream cheese, eggs, sugar and pinch of salt.   then add chocolate chips and set aside.   Sift together next 5 ingredients. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.   Fill the  muffin cups 1/3 full of chocolate batter.  Drop 1 rounded tablespoon of cream cheese mixture in center of each.  Bake  for 30 to 35 minutes.  Makes about  18 muffins.  These are addictive so be careful.

Old Fashion New England Boiled Dinner

My Mom used to make this every once in a while and I loved it.  Way back when she would make it with my favorite meat that I can never find anymore, but I still remember the flavors like it was last week.  She would use corned country spare ribs, very hard to find now a days, but the flavor the potatoes would pick up is like no other I have ever tasted.  I tried to replicate it here and it comes close.  My Mom lives with me now and we often talk about the old, wonderful dishes that are hard to recreate, We are sure giving it a shot though.

Serves 6-8

2 1/2 - 3 lb. picnic ham


3-4 garlic cloves


3-4 bay leaves


 12 peppercorns


4-5 small onions peeled and halved


6 potatoes, I like yukon gold or red bliss here


cabbage, napa or regular style, quartered

6 carrots

3 parsnips

3-4 ruttabega, peeled and quartered, or turnips if you can’t find the other

1 pkg , can or bottle of your favorite sauerkraut , rinsed well


Kielbasa, the best you can find, 1 ring 

Place ham in large Dutch oven. Cover with hot tap water. Add all the  spices, simmer 1 1/2 hours.  Add remaining ingredients. Simmer another 1 hour and serve to a hungry crowd.  Serve a variety of mustards and crunchy breads with lots of butter for those veggies

Old Fashion New England Boiled Dinner

My Mom used to make this every once in a while and I loved it.  Way back when she would make it with my favorite meat that I can never find anymore, but I still remember the flavors like it was last week.  She would use corned country spare ribs, very hard to find now a days, but the flavor the potatoes would pick up is like no other I have ever tasted.  I tried to replicate it here and it comes close.  My Mom lives with me now and we often talk about the old, wonderful dishes that are hard to recreate, We are sure giving it a shot though.

Serves 6-8

2 1/2 - 3 lb. picnic ham


3-4 garlic cloves


3-4 bay leaves


 12 peppercorns


4-5 small onions peeled and halved


6 potatoes, I like yukon gold or red bliss here


cabbage, napa or regular style, quartered

6 carrots

3 parsnips

3-4 ruttabega, peeled and quartered, or turnips if you can’t find the other

1 pkg , can or bottle of your favorite sauerkruet , rinsed well


Kielbasa, the best you can find, 1 ring 

Place ham in large Dutch oven. Cover with hot tap water. Add all the  spices, simmer 1 1/2 hours.  Add remaining ingredients. Simmer another 1 hour and serve to a hungry crowd.  Serve a variety of mustards and crunchy breads with lots of butter for those veggies

Old Fashioned Grape Nuts Pudding

This recipe is from a old friend of mine.  When I was 10 she was 90, her name was Ida Kelley and she lived right up the street from me growing up.  She always had pudding in the fridge and a cup of tea in her hand.  She was a tough old broad who mowed her own lawn, even when she could not see that well.  She cleaned all the fish I caught, even when the bee’s were harassing her.  She lived in her own house  until the end of her life which as I recall was somewhere around 98. I miss you Ida and think of you often.  This is not her recipe, I only wish I had thought about those things at 10.  I remember the flavor though.  This is very close.

Makes 6 servings

3/4  cup  grapenut cereal


4 cups hot milk, not boiled


4 eggs


1/3 - ½ cups sugar, depends on how sweet you like things, I use 1/3


½ tsp table salt


1 tsp vanilla


Grated nutmeg, if you do not like nutmeg use cinnamon

boil water for water bath

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Soak cereal in hot milk for 10 minutes. Beat eggs slightly and add sugar to taste. Add salt, vanilla and grapenuts and milk mixture.  Mix well and pour into a 9 x 9 buttered glass baking dish, just big enough to hold the mixture. Sprinkle top with nutmeg. Place baking dish into a larger baking dish and bring to oven. Set dishes in oven and pour boiling water in larger dish to create a water bath so the custard will set better.   Stir pudding twice during the first twenty minutes of baking. This will help incorporate the grapenuts all through the pudding.   Bake  for 1 hour or until center of pudding is a little firm.   Serve warm or chilled topped with fresh whipped cream.

One Potato, Two Potato Torta

Easy and fun to make.  Delicious goes without saying.  Serve it along side any meat or even room temp with a salad.  Make this dish in a round pan , like a cake pan is fine.  I make mine is a cast iron skillet .

Serves 6

1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled

1 lb  russet potatoes peeled, or another type of baker

 6 oz parmegiano reggiano , shaved with a veggie peeler

3 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup heavy cream, pour a little between each layer

s and p to taste

fresh grated nutmeg, or you can leave this out

preheat oven to 425 degrees

Slice all of the potatoes on a mandolin or whichever type of kitchen slicer you have, or cut with a knife thin.  Melt the butter with the oil and pour half in to the bottom of your skillet or pan, begin to layer the potatoes around the pan overlapping each other.  1 layer of sweet pots and the next layer of white, s and p to taste every layer and cheese, little pinch of nutmeg and a drizzles of cream. Make the next layer the same way.  Layer of sweet overlapping and then a layer of white, s and p , cheese and pinch of nutmeg, cream.  You will have 5-6 layers when all the potatoes are gone.  On the very top layer drizzle the remaining butter and oil mixture, and whatever cream is left.  Cover very tight and bake for 25-30 minutes, at this point remove the foil and bake another 25-30 minutes for finish baking and brown the top crust.  Bake until potatoes are tender and a knife goes in with no resistance.  Cut in wedges and serve.

Oyster-Gazpacho Shooter

These little suckers are good.  They go down smooth and easy.  A good way to try oysters for the first time or a new time.

Makes 16 shooters

1 cup tomato juice

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp worcestershire sauce

½ tsp tabasco sauce, or your favorite hot pepper sauce

1/4 tsp paprika

1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced

3/4 cup fresh cucumber, seeded and chopped

3/4 cup celery, strings removed and chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 clove fresh garlic

s and p to taste

16 of the freshest oysters you can find

In a bowl combine the first 6 ingredients.  In a food processor put the next 6 ingredient and pulse a few times until very small pieces appear and look like confetti, add the mixture to the tomato juice mixture.  S and p to taste right here.  Stir to combine.  Now get your shot glasses ready and either shuck the fresh oysters yourself or have your fish monger due it ahead.  If the fish monger does it use them right away .  Place 1 in each glass and fill with the cold gazpacho and serve with a lime garnish.

Panzanella Perfect

This Italian Bread Salad should be served when the tomatoes are really good..  The bread just adds a something, something that keeps me looking forward to the next year of good tomatoes.

3 to 4 good  tomatoes, or a basket of sweet cherry or grape tomatoes

1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut in 1 inch cubes


4 cups Mediterranean style loaf  bread, ½ inch cubes


½ bunch fresh basil, leaves only, torn with your hands


½ bunch parsley, leaves only, rough chopped


3 cloves fresh garlic, minced small

2 tbsp capers, I prefer the salted kind and rinsed well, or use what you have

½ cup roasted corn kernels, they are good in this but optional


1/4  red onion, sliced paper thin


grey salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


½ cup extra virgin oil


3 tbsp red wine vinegar 

Cut  bread in 1 inch squares. Brush with olive oil. Lightly toast in 250 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour until dried out and lightly toasted.  Remove from oven and set aside.  Mix the oil and vinegar together with s and p to taste,  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl,  except bread.  Add the dressing and let rest for a few minutes,   Add bread just before serving. Serve at room temperature

Peaches with Italian Ham and Fresh Basil

This is a quick and easy last minute, OH MY GOD people are coming appetizer.

Makes about 24 or use less peaches for less

3 peaches pitted and cut into 8 slices each

½ tsp light brown sugar

1 tsp sherry vinegar

1 tbsp fresh orange juice

1/8 tsp ground cumin

1/4 lb prosciutto di parma or spanish ham

about 24 or so basil leaves one for each slice of peach how ever many you make

Put peaches in a bowl and toss together with the sugar, vinegar, orange juice and cumin.  Let them sit at room temp for about 10 minutes or so.  Take a basil leave and put it along side of the peach slice and wrap each peach slice with a ½ slice of prosciutto.  Secure with a pretty toothpick and serve.

Pearl Tapioca Pudding

We only had this on Thanksgiving and Christmas growing up and it was one of the things we all looked forward to the holidays for.  It almost seems sacrilegious to make it any other time.  And I don’t, but I should.  But somehow the two times a year I make it is seems like that is the way it should be.  So it is.

Serves 6-8

½ cup large size pearl tapioca (not instant) I order this online


2 ½ cups whole milk


1/4 tsp salt


2 eggs ,separated, use yokes only


½ cup sugar


1 1/4 tsp vanilla 

Soak tapioca in water overnight or about 7-8 hours. Add milk and salt to a large sauce pot.   Heat and stir until just begins to boiling. Turn down heat and  Simmer at low heat, uncovered, for 50 minutes, stirring constantly. Beat the egg yokes and sugar together in a bowl.   Mix with some of hot tapioca mixture  with the sugar and egg mixture to temper before adding to hot pudding .   Return slowly to rest of mixture. Stirring constantly  to achieve pudding consistency. Probably about 15 minutes or so until the pudding coats the back of a wooden spoon.    Cool completely before  Adding  vanilla, so as not to curdle your pudding and ruin all your hard work.  The pudding is wonderfully creamy!

Peasanty White Bean and Sausage Stew

  I save all the rinds of my parmegiano and throw them in the freezer and when I have about 5 oz I make this stew.  I love this dish on a wind blowing, cold and damp night.  It is great to put a fire in the fire place, make this stew and make some crusty garlic bread.  Oh yeah, a glass of Pinot wouldn’t be bad either.

Serves 6 as a meal

1/4 pound Pancetta,  chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot , peeled and chopped

1 onion peeled and ½ inch chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

5 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1/8 tsp red pepper flake, optional

6 links of italian sausage, mild or hot or a combo of both

1 lb butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes

128 oz can of san marzanno tomatoes or a good quality one, rough chopped

½ cup good quality white wine, something you would drink

1 small package frozen lima beans

1 can good quality cannelini beans or a white bean

5 oz of the rind off the  parmegiano reggiano cheese

4 leaves of fresh sage 

1 ½ tsp fresh  rosemary, chopped

3 cup low salt chicken stock

s and p to taste

1 bag spinach cooked and drained well 

4 oz of parmegiano reggiano shaved for on top of the stew

add 2 tbsp of the olive oil to the pot and remove sausage from it’s casing , break up in to pieces, add to pan and brown, when well brown remove sausage and reserve for later

In a heavy bottom soup pot add the rest of the olive oil and the diced pancetta, cook for 2 minutes until pancetta starts to brown a bit, add the onion, carrot, and celery, red pepper flake if you wan tit in, and cook for another 2 minutes giving it a stir. Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the tomatoes and cook another minute, then add the wine and cook down wine for 5 minutes to burn off the alcohol but still keep the flavor.  At this point add the sage leaves and rosemary and chicken stock, s and p to taste and the chopped butternut squash, add back the sausage .  Cook on top of the stove at a simmer for 1 hour and check the squash.  You want to cook this really low and slow to develop the flavors.  Add the beans and cook 10 more minutes or until beans are heated through.  Divide up the spinach among 6 bowls and ladle the stew over spinach and top with fresh grated cheese and serve

Pepperonata

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 -2.5 lbs peppers from mild to hot whatever your liking

½ large yellow or sweet onion

½ pound of whatever kind of mushrooms  you like

1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley

1/3 cup kalamata olives pitted and chopped

1/3 cup green olives, I prefer the lucques, but you can use whichever ones you like

3 tbsp capers, salt packed and rinsed or the brine packed ones are fine, chopped

1 ½ tsp anchovy paste

2tbsp red wine vinegar

fresh ground pepper and salt to your liking

baguette sliced and toasted off in the oven or crackers

Heat oil in at least a 12 inch skillet over high heat.  Add peppers, onions and mushrooms about 10 minutes until veggies start to brown.  Turn down heat and cook about 10 more minutes until all veggies are soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer.  Remove from heat and stir in capers, parsley, olives, vinegar and anchovy paste.  At this point you may add a little more olive oil and salt and pepper even vinegar if it suits your taste.  Serve on baguette slices warm or at room temperature.

Pinot Noir Sorbet

I use this more as a pallet cleanser between courses, but it does add a certain je nais se qua to a wonderful meal 

1 ½ cups of fresh lemon juice, must be fresh!!

½ cup sugar

2 cups of water

1 cup very good Pinot Noir remember if you won’t drink you won’t eat it.

1/3 cup fresh oregano finely chopped , again it must be fresh!!

Put all the ingredients in a sauce pan and warm until sugar is dissolved.  When sugar is dissolved remove from heat and add oregano, let cool and pour into your ice cream maker and follow manufactures directions for sorbet.   Process until sorbet begins to hold it’s shape.  Freeze and serve.

Poached Pears in a Spicy Zinfandel

so simple but delicious in every way.

1 pear for each person

1 cup organic or granulated sugar

1 bottle of a good Spicy zinfandel from Venge Vineyards if you can find one, otherwise use another one

1 tbsp cinnamon

10-12 cloves

1 tsp nutmeg

juice of 1 ½ lemons

garnish with some kind of fruit blossom or mint always works well

A little sweetened mascarpone cheese would be wonderful with this to.

Peel and half the pears bring all the other ingredients to a boil in a heavy sauce pan, lower heat to simmer and add pears and cook until tender.  Remove the pears and continue to cook zinfandel down to a syrup, this takes about 10-20 more minutes, watch it so it is not to burn.  Pour mixture into a strainer.  Place pears overlapping on a plate and pour sauce over each one.  Garnish and serve.  You can thank me later!!!!

Polenta, Polenta

Of course there are some wonderful quick cooking polenta’s out there feel free to use a good one.  If you cannot find one I like this version best.

2 cups chicken stock, low sodium preferred


2 cups water 


1 cup stone-ground cornmeal 


1 tsp kosher or sea  salt

 
½ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano


3 tbsp unsalted butter 

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the chicken stock and the water to a boil.  Slowly pour the cornmeal into the hot liquid while whisking constantly.   Stir in the salt. Lower the heat to cook the mixture over very low heat  stirring frequently, until the cornmeal is creamy and not grainy,   this takes about 30 minutes. Remove thepolenta from the heat and stir in the cheese and the butter and serve.

Pork Chops with a Burst of Flavor !

I have done pork chops a million different ways.  But I just love how these ones bring my palate to Italy every time I have them.  The freshness of the lemon, well you will see.  This recipe is for 4 chops, but feel free to double it and feed more.

4 bone-in ½ inch cut chops, great on veal chops as well

4 cloves of garlic

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp fresh rosemary ruff chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves only ruff chopped

1 lemon

Take chops out of fridge and leave at room temp for 30 minutes.  Mash garlic with ½ tps salt, ruff chop rosemary, thyme,  Add to a bowl with olive oil and squeeze half the lemon in the bowl as well.   pepper to taste at this point.  Spread the mixture on chops.  Preheat broiler,  broil chops on a broiler pan for 4 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through.  Loosely tent the chops to keep warm for 5 minutes and serve with a wedge of lemon cut from remaining half.

Potato Gratin

you cannot eat this dish all the time though I wish I could cause I love em!!  But if your going to indulge, go all the way and do it right.

1 ½ cups heavy cream 

½ cup whole milk 


2 sprig fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary


3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped 

5 medium shallots sliced thin

4 tbsp unsalted butter 


2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices

3 tbsp flour

 
s and p to taste

1 cup 50-50 mixture of gruyere’ and cheddar


½ cup grated parmegiano  reggiano,  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

In a saucepan, heat up the cream and milk with a sprig of thyme, rosemary and  2

 cloves chopped garlic.   Heat cream to almost a boil shut off and let steep for at least 20 minutes.   Butter a casserole dish, place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper to taste.    Sprinkle with the cheddar and guyere mixture dollop with butter and sprinkle with 1 tbsp flour.   Strain cream mixture, then pour a little over the potatoes.  Make 2 more layers the same way to use up all ingredients.   Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.  Sprinkle the  Parmigiano reggiano and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.  These are so good you won’t want to stop eating them, but you have to control yourself.

Potato Gratin

you cannot eat these all the time though I wish I could cause I love em!!  But if your going to indulge, go all the way and do it right.

1 ½ cups heavy cream 

½ cup whole milk 


2 sprig fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary


3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped 

5 medium shallots sliced thin

4 tbsp unsalted butter 


2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices

3 tbsp flour

 
s and p to taste

1 cup 50-50 mixture of gruyere’ and cheddar


½ cup grated parmegiano  reggiano,  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

In a saucepan, heat up the cream and milk with a sprig of thyme, rosemary and  2

 cloves chopped garlic.   Heat cream to almost a boil shut off and let steep for at least 20 minutes.   Butter a casserole dish, place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper to taste.    Sprinkle with the cheddar and guyere mixture dollop with butter and sprinkle with 1 tbsp flour.   Strain cream mixture, then pour a little over the potatoes.  Make 2 more layers the same way to use up all ingredients.   Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.  Sprinkle the  Parmigiano reggiano and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.  These are so good you won’t want to stop eating them, but you have to control yourself.

Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons add a dimension of flavor that only these lemons can do.  They keep for months and you can find 101 used for them.  They are great in salads, dressings, with fish Etc.  They are strong in flavor so use sparingly or according to the recipe you are working with.  A little adds a amazing punch of flavor.  You can do this recipe with as many lemons as you want.  As long as there is enough salt to cover them

 20  medium size fresh lemons 


 4 cups kosher or sea salt, enough to cover very well 


1 quart glass jar with a tight fitting  lid 

Slice each lemon in half. In a mixing bowl toss the lemons  with salt. Place half of the lemons in the quart jar, do not be afraid to pack them tight.   Juice the remaining lemons and pour into the jar. Fill the jar to the top. Secure the lid and let sit in a cool dry place for at least 5 days.  After 5 days put the lemons in the fridge. The lemons will keep in the fridge for a year.  Mostly you only ever use the peel from the lemon so pay attention to what the recipes say to use.

Pumpkin Chutney 

I did show on Food TV a few years ago, I did a segment on BBQ with Bobby Flay.  Half Moon Bay Wine and Cheese has a Wine BBQ every year and this one was wines from around the world and cheeses to match.  We picked cheese we could actually grill.  This is not your mothers grilled cheese I’ll tell you that!  Since Half Moon Bay is the Pumpkin Capital as well we decided to use pumpkin as much as we could, so I cam e up with this recipe.  It was a big hit and look good on TV as well.

1 pound pumpkin peeled and chopped in 1 inch squares , preferably a sweet type pumpkin

 
2 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil 


1/2 large onion, preferably Walla Walla, Maui or other sweet onion 


1 clove garlic, well minced 


3 tablespoons white vinegar

 
2 quarter-size slices fresh ginger 


Dash cayenne pepper, or to taste

 
1 teaspoon ground mustard 


1/2 cup brown sugar 


1/2 cup apricot jam 


1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 


1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 


1 cup raisins 


1/4 tsp ground allspice

1  lemon,  juiced 


1 hot chile, any kind , leave whole and pick out after cooking 

 1 medium  wheel of Brie cheese 

Put all the ingredients into a pot and cook slowly on low heat until thick. It will take 1 or 2 hours of patience and watching, but worth it when it is time to have it with the brie. This recipe  can come out different according to the type of pumpkin you choose. Some pumpkins are dryer than others, so if it appears too dry then add no more than a 1/2 cup of apple cider or apple juice in the beginning. The most important thing is LOW heat and patience. Enjoy!

Soak an untreated, (must be untreated) cedar shingle in wine or apple juice or anything you want for about 1 hour. Place shingle on grill with brie cheese with only the top cut off. Top with chutney of your choice. Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes depending on grill heat. Serve spread on fruit slices, bread, crackers whatever, it is great.

Puttanesca

How many times have you seen or made this recipe?  I feel it needs more attention than it gets.  It is quick, delicious and one of those recipes that your friends think you cook all day.  Unless of course your friends know how easy this is.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 large cloves of fresh garlic chopped or more to your liking

1 large can of San Marzanno peeled tomatoes in puree

½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half

3 anchovy fillets, preferably the ones in salt

2 tbsp drain capers or salted capers rinsed well

1 tbsp fresh oregano

2 tbsp fresh julienne basil

½ tsp red pepper flakes  

3/4 lb or your favorite pasta, I like spaghetti with this one

chopped fresh italian parsley for sprinkling on the top

grated parmigiano reggiano, to your liking

Heat oil, add garlic and anchovies  for 30 seconds swirl around and then add the tomatoes that you squish in your hand before adding, with the puree as well.  Add the olives, capers, red pepper flakes, oregano and basil.  Simmer over medium-low

 heat until it thickens about 8-10 minutes.  S and P to taste.  Be careful of the salt here with caper and anchovy being salty, be sure to taste it then season.  Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until tender.  Drain pasta to sauce and toss to coat about 2 minutes then serve with the cheese and crusty bread

 

Quail Salad with a Strawberry Chutney Style Dressing

This recipe was a result of a cooking class I had coming up and it was suppose to be a peach chutney.  When I arrived at the market here in Delaware to pick up things for the class there were no fresh peaches to be had.  The strawberries looked go so we made up a new recipe on the fly.  Even though I had the recipes printed out for peach the class rolled with it and took good notes.  They enjoyed the salad so much I decided to keep it on board.

Serves 6

6 semi-boneless quail, a good butcher will do this for you, leave the leg and wing bones in

 
s and p to taste


1 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered 


1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

 
1/4 cup shallots, peeled and chopped

 
1 ½ tbsp brown sugar 


1 tbsp orange grand manier or cointreau

 
½ tsp fresh orange zest

 
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

 
½  tsp fresh ginger, grated 

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 cups of you favorite micro or regular greens

Preheat oven to 400 degrees  

Season the quail with s and p  to taste. Tie the legs of each quail together, and set the quail in a shallow roasting pan with the legs  up. Roast for 20 minutes. It just looks better later for presentation. Remove quail from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes, tented with foil to keep warm.  In the meantime, combine the remaining ingredients , except the oil, in a medium bowl. Place the mixture in a shallow baking dish and roast alongside the quail 10-12 minutes, until the strawberries are softened.  Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.   Put ingredients in a blender with the oil and pulse  2 or 3 quick times to combine but keep it integrity.  Place a quail over 1 cup of greens and spoon chutney dressing over the top.  Of course a great glass of Pinot Noir here would be great. 

 

Queen of Chicken Breast Dish

This recipe is so good I can only make enough for whoever I am feeding.  I would eat all the left overs if I didn’t.

Serves 6-8

1 cup toasted pine nuts

1 cup grated  parmegiano reggiano

3/4 cup of your favorite bread crumbs

2 cloves fresh  garlic

½  tsp red pepper flakes

½ cup italian parsley

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

8 half chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, this part pretty healthy right?

2 ½ tbsp dijon mustard

pepper to taste, remember parmegiano has salt so be careful, if you need a little more salt add it after they are cooked.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a food processor add the nuts,  garlic, pepper flakes, parsley, bread crumbs and the rosemary and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Put mixture in a small flat pan. Add the grated cheese to this pan and incorporate well with the rosemary mixture.  Rub or brush the chicken breasts only on one side with the dijon mustard and press into the cheese mixture and coat as well as you can on that one side.  Spray a sheet pan with your favorite baking spray so they do not stick.  Bake for 25-40 minutes depending on the thickness of the breasts and have a nice dinner.  

 

Quick and Easy Glazed Carrots

I used to think if a chef made glazed carrots they learned to cook in jail.  Sometimes I was right but in the case of these glazed carrots I am certainly wrong.  These carrots go great with so many things as a side dish.  Eat em up!!!

Serves 4

1 lb fresh carrots - baby ones

½ tbsp chopped fresh dill

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp light brown sugar

1 tbsp dijon mustard

peel and cook carrots in boiling, salted water about 7-9 minutes or until just tender.  Leave a little crunch, and then drain and set aside.  Melt the butter in a skillet, stir in the sugar, cook for a minute than add the dill and dijon.  Add the carrots to skillet, toss to coat, s and p to taste.  

 

Rampage Blackening Spices

This stuff has so much flavor it can blacken anything and make it taste good.  From Beef to seafood.  Not to overwhelming either for the faint at heart.  Make sure all your spices are fairly new.  Don’t reach for all those 3 year old ones in the back of the cabinet.  If you find any of them “throw them out”

Makes about ½ cup, store in a airtight container and use when needed

2 tbsp red pepper flakes

2 tbsp garlic powder

2 tbsp onion powder

2 tbsp of  your favorite chili powder

1 tbsp of a smokey paprika

1 tbsp kosher salt

2 tsp dried parsley

2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp celery powder

1 tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

mix all the spices in a bowl together until well combined and store in a air tight container until needed.

Rampage Garam Marsala

I like make my own spice mixtures, I know for sure they are fresh and the flavors in the recipe will come all the way through

2 tbsp coriander seed


1 tbsp cumin seed 


 8 cardamom pods, seeds only 


2 tsp whole mustard seed


2 tsp fenugreek seed


2 tsp black peppercorns 

1/4  tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp tumeric


1 tsp whole cloves 


 1 small cinnamon stick, broken in half 

Heat a dry small skillet over  high heat until it is hot and add all the spices,  stirring frequently  for 2 to 3 minutes, be careful the mustard seeds will pop a little. Cook until they are a few shades darker, be careful again not to burn them.   In a  electric coffee grinder, one I use just for spices only.  grind the toasted spices to a powder or pulverize them in a mortar and pestle. Transfer the spices to a jar with a tight fitting lid.  this mixture will keep for about 2 months.

 

 

Jutta’s Chicken Soup

My dear friend in San Diego Jutta Miller is a wonderful cook.  She can make anything taste better than it already does.  Her Dad was a chef at a big hotel in Hamburg, Germany where she is originally from and what he knew surely rubbed off.  I had this chicken soup one year for Christmas dinner at her house and I never forgot it and have made it several times since.  The secret is in the topping.  I sounds a little funny when you read the recipe, but trust me, this will be a chicken soup you will not soon forget.

1 4-5 lb roasting chicken

enough water to cover the chicken in the pot by a few inches


4 carrots, cut in half

1 celery root peeled and halved

 
2 large leeks, white and green part, cut in half and cleaned


1 bay leaf 


2 sprigs fresh thyme

 
2  sprigs fresh parsley 


8 whole black peppercorns 

2 tsp sea salt

In a large stockpot, combine the chicken with the water and bring to a boil, skimming off the scum that rises to the surface. Simmer the mixture for 20 minutes, skimming, and add remaining ingredients, green part only of the leeks.  Save the white part for later.   Simmer for 2 to 3 hours and strain. Discard the fat that rises to the top.   Let cool for a bit and strain the stock, set the chicken aside and let it cool enough to handle.  Discard all other ingredients.    Return the stock to the cleaned stockpot and simmer until it is reduced by half. Add salt to taste and the white part of the leeks cut into 1/4 inch half circles.  Let simmer another 20 minutes or so until white part of the leek is tender.  Pick the chicken clean off the bones and add meat back to soup.  Ladle up a nice bowl of hot soup and top it with  a spoon full of the following.

½ pint whipping cream

1 jar mango chutney

2 tsp of curry powder

whip the cream to firm peaks but not butter, add 1/4 to ½ cup of the chutney and fold it into the cream along with the curry powder.  This cream is delicious, now serve a good size tablespoon on top of the soup and have a nice glass of Riesling or a Sancerre style would be good.

Rampage Roasted Olives

Yes I said roasted olives, When I tried these for the first time I thought they were interesting enough to dabble around with on my own and try some new flavors with the olives.  The first time I put these out my friends all raved, even the un-olive lovers who try new things when they come to hang out with me.  Use the olives you can find as long as they don’t start off to soft.  I use the ones listed below because they hold up to the heat and flavors, but use what you can find and adjust the roasting time according to meatiness of the olives.

1 cup imported black olives, such as kalamata or nicoise

  1 cup    oil cured black olives

1 cup cerignola olives, green, black or a mixture

4 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced

4 pieces of fresh orange peel, mostly orange part

 ½ lemon, scrubbed and thinly sliced

4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only


½ of a fresh fennel bulb, sliced in 1/4 inch slices, break apart pieces


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Pinch of crushed red pepper, or to your taste if you like it spicier

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl toss the olives with all the ingredients above.  Spread everything on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the olives at least 3 times. Remove from oven, let cool for about 15 minutes and serve or cool completely and  store in the fridge until needed.

 

Rampage Spices for Blackening for Anything

This mixture has so much flavor it can truly blacken anything and make it taste good.  From beef to seafood.  Not to overwhelming either for the faint at heart.  Be sure all your spices are super fresh.  Spices only last in your cupboard for about a year so when you are flinging into spring cleaning, fling those old spices and get all new ones.

2 tbsp red pepper flakes

2 tbsp garlic powder

2 tbsp onion powder

2 tbsp of your favorite chili powder

1 tbsp of a smokey type of paprika

1 tbsp kosher salt

2 tsp dried parsley

2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp celery powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne, a little more if you like it hotter, you want to taste the other flavors so be careful

Mix all the spices in a bowl together until well combined and store in air tight container until needed.

Ricotta Gelato with Blackberry Syrup

1 pound fresh whole-milk ricotta


1/4 cup half and half


3/4 cup simple syrup

Blackberry Syrup

3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries


½ cup sugar


1/4 cup water


2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

or use any kind of fruit you want raspberries, blueberries, strawberries etc.

Puree ricotta, half and half and syrup in a food processor

or blender until very smooth.


Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's

 instructions. Place gelato in a freezer-proof container and freeze until firm, about

 2 hours. Take gelato out of freezer and leave at room

temp 10 minutes before serving.

To make syrup, place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir to dissolve

 sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; lower heat and cook uncovered

 until berries are soft, about 15 minutes. Press through a fine-meshed sieve set over

 a bowl, discard solids. Serve at room temperature. 

Do not chill or the sauce will become gelatinous.

Roasted Rack or Roast of Pork with a Tuscan Flair

 2-pound pork rib roast, or pork roast or whatever size you would like just adjust

 cooking time allow 30 minutes for each 2 lbs


Honey


Olive Oil

My salt mix with a Tuscan Flair

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Rub the pork with a little honey and olive oil and the

 and the Tuscan Flair Salt


Arrange in a shallow roasting pan and roast about 30 minutes, or until an instant

 thermometer reads 140 degrees. Remove from the oven and let stand 15-20

 minutes before carving

Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup

This is a twist from a childhood favorite.  I remember the snowy days in the 60's growing up in Hull, MA where in those days we got a lot of snow.  My Dad worked on the Highway Department and when it snowed he would be gone until the snow was.  But at noon everyday, he would pull up in the plow for a break and have some lunch.  I would go running , if I could, because my Mom would have bundles me up in 2 snow suits, 3 pairs of socks with plastic bags from the bread over them, 3 pairs of mittens, a scarf , face mask cap and a hat over that.  Who could play in the snow, I was lucky to get down the stairs of the house.  Anyway, I would go have lunch with Dad and it usually was Cream of Tomato soup and a Grill Cheese Sandwich.  I remember his face being so pink and cold, not mine though I had 10 hats and scarfs on.  That lunch would just warm you up for the rest of the afternoon.  Dad would go back to work, and I would spend the next 2 hours putting all those cloths back on to go outside, just in time to be called back in for dinner.

4 cups roasted tomatoes from page ??????

1 small pinch  ground cloves

1/4 cup  brown sugar

2 tbsp fresh parsley

3 tbsp butter

1 cups chicken stock

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup half and half

s and p to taste

add everything to a pot except the butter, cream and half and half

gently bring up to a almost boil and remove from heat, let flavors blend for 5 minutes and use a immersion blender or bar blender and blend until coarsely blended, you want some chunks here.  Put soup back into a pot and heat up again for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool about 5 minutes, then add the butter, cream and half and half, heat through if need be and serve warm.

                             Roasted Eggplant Relish

So good as a side dish with grilled anything.

Makes 2 cups

1 10 jar of roasted eggplant, drained, or roast 1 of your own

1 small jar sliced pimentos, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup vidalia sweet onion or other sweet onion, peeled and diced

1 tbsp capers

1/4 cup fresh italian parsley

1 tsp sugar

s and p to taste

Toss everything in a bowl and let sit at room temp for about 30 minutes and serve with your favorite grilled meat.

Roasted Lemon, Garlic and Shallot Vinaigrette

This is so good on a grilled chicken salad of any kind.  Quite savory so
add something sweet in the salad like any dried fruit of you favorite kind,
cranberry , cherry, raisin, just to break it up a bit.

2 fresh cloves of garlic with the skin on

½ fresh, juicy lemon

1 medium shallot, skin on as well

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar

4 sprigs fresh italian parsley, leaves only

s and p to taste

preheat oven to 450 degrees

put lemon cut side down and the 2 cloves of garlic and shallot in a baking dish, rub that all with about 1 tbsp of the  olive oil.  Roast all that in the oven for about 30 minutes until they are all soft and golden in color.  Remove from oven and set aside until they are cool enough to touch.  Remove all the skins from garlic and shallot put them in a bowl and squeeze the juice out of the lemon over the garlic and shallot, mash with a fork well and add the vinegar, s and p, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil while all the time whisking.  Season again if need be.

Roasted Rutabaga and Apple Bisque

This recipe makes the rutabaga really sweet and gets kids of all ages to eat their vegetables

2 pounds of rutabaga or the yellow variety of turnip

3 tbsp olive oil

s and p

3-4 sprigs of thyme

1 pound sweet apples

1 lemon

2 tbsp dark brown sugar

fresh nutmeg to taste 1/8 tsp

5 cups organic chicken stock

2 tbsp butter

1 cup plain yogurt

peel and dice rutabaga into a 1 inch cubes.  Put in a bowl and add olive oil, thyme leaves only salt and pepper to taste.  Spread on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until fork tender turning a 2-3 times.  While rutabaga is roasting saute the apples over medium heat in a non-stick skillet with butter and the juice of the lemon, when apple are almost done add to them the sugar and the nutmeg, stir frequently now until apples are tender.   Remove them from the heat.  Heat chicken stock in a pot big enough to hold the apples , rutabaga and stock.  Bring it all to a boil, shut off and let cool enough to blend.  After blending well return to a pot and simmer until hot add 2 more tbsp of butter and the yogurt.  Taste to adjust seasoning and serve.  You can serve this with a few sauteed apple chunks and a few fresh thyme leaves on top.

Roasted Tomato oil vinaigrette

this dressing is good on most any salad especially those with cheese in them

4 tbsp roasted tomato oil, recipe on page ??????

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp sherry vinegar, use a good one

1 small lemon juice and zest

½ tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp light brown sugar or mild honey

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves 

1 tsp fresh rosemary

1 clove of fresh garlic

Put all the ingredients above in a blender and pulse until fully combined

let sit at room temp for 30 minutes for flavors to marry and enjoy your salad

Roasted Tomato Oil

3 ripe plum tomatoes, halved and seeded 

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

s and p to taste 

2 cloves garlic

1 cup extra virgin olive oil 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Place  tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet, lay the fresh thyme all over the top.  Roast  in  oven until tomatoes dry out and start to char this takes  about 30- 45 minutes or so. Let cool a bit. Place in blender with remaining ingredients and puree.  Check seasoning. Let sit at room temp for about 2 hours for flavors to blend.  Will keep in fridge for about 1 week.  Bring to room temp before using.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Use this sauce on chicken , fish , pasta, veal, antipasto.  I can’t say enough about the uses of this spectacular and tasty sauce.  If you want a smoother sauce blend it up or serve the toms whole or crushed up and chunky.

24 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, cores and seeds removed

3 medium onions peeled and quartered


8 tbsp good olive oil 


3 tbsp balsamic vinegar 


4 large garlic cloves, minced 

½ cup chopped fresh herbs, a good mix of rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano and parsley, leave out what you do not like


1 tbsp sugar 


s and p to taste 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees 

Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the garlic, sugar, herbs , salt, and pepper over the tomatoes. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to break down  and start to caramelize. Serve warm or at room temperature.

There is so much you can do with this sauce add capers for a roasted puttanesca style sauce or mushrooms the list goes on and on.  Very, very versatile sauce here.

If you had told me 30 years ago when I was getting out of high school and ready to face the world that I would someday be a chef, I would have laughed right out loud.  In fact I find it funny sometimes how life takes it’s twist and turns.  If you had told me I would be writing my biography in the form of a book, I would be laughing even harder.  Now I am rolling on the floor because not only am I writing my biography of sorts, even funnier than that is, it is in the form of a cook book.  I guess I should have called it Recipes of a Lifetime, but that would not be me at all.  To mellow and way to philosophical.  Nah!  Rampage in the Kitchen of OZ, now thats a title and that describes my crazy life.  Let’s see if I can explain this a little.  

When I first had even the slightest interest in food it came from falling in love with wine first.  Food quickly followed.  I tasted wines, I read about wines and food was always in the back ground.  It was only natural that I ended up in search of the perfect pairing.  Though I believe I have had the perfect pairing many times.  My quest for finding out all I can about wines that I love has also turned into my quest for making recipes and wine more user friendly, open to change and additions and simply enjoyed with out a lot of  pomp and circumstance is my goal.

Back in the early 80's I co-owned a cleaning service.  We had clients from all walks of life.  I walked into one of our best clients one day and she was crying at the kitchen table.  Of course I ran to her side and asked what was wrong.  She told me she had just lost her caterer for her daughters engagement party that weekend, which was 3 days away and she had over 50 people coming and didn’t know what to do.  This is when me volunteering for everything get s me in trouble.  I perked up and said that I would do it for her.  She looked at me as if I had lost my mind, though she had also heard that I was a pretty good cook.  I assured her I could do it and really what choice did she have.   This is where my rampaging days in the kitchen began.  When I got home that day I began to panic about this undertaking, I had a glass of wine and I rampaged through every cookbook I had at the time and decided on about 50 different things to make.   Since I had no idea of what I was doing I decided to make them all.  Mostly appetizers and buffet food.  I made practically everything in Martha Stewarts Entertaining book and many different things from the Silver Palate Cookbook.  So how hard could this be, the books were both great and easy to follow.  Well to make a long story short, I worked non-stop for 3 days straight, I had to buy and have delivered a new refrigerator for storage of all the food.  I called 3 of my friends to come help me set up and serve, which they all did and it cost me over $1000 dollars to do the party, not counting the new fridge.  That was it right there.  I was hooked on the catering business and anything to do with food, wine or entertaining.  Fortunately over the years I have learned how to cater and make money and serve food that does not take 3 days to make.  But hey, you have to start somewhere and that was my start into a business I knew nothing about.  Oh!  by the way the party was a big success, lots of guests asked me for my business card to do parties for them, of which I had none, so I wrote my phone number of pieces of paper and gave them out.  The phone began to ring and the rest is history.

Rosy Red Homemade Apple Sauce

I made this for Christmas to go with the pork loin stuffed with cranberry and fennel on page ??????.  It was a big hit and it got the kids at the table to eat cranberries.  They loved it.

4 lbs of apples, I used 2 lbs golden delicious and 2 lbs fuji.  But you can use what you like, peeled cored and cut in 1 inch cubes

2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 cinnamon stick

3 slices of fresh lemon peel about 2 inches long each

½ cup sugar

Put all the ingredients in a large pot over medium low heat covered.   Stir occasionally until fruit is very tender and broken down into a sauce.  This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel and toss in trash.  I mashed it with a wire whisk cause I like it chunky and homey, but feel free to run it through a food mill and make it smoother.  Serve room temp or chill.

Rosy Red Homemade Apple Sauce

I made this for Christmas to go with the pork loin stuffed with cranberry and fennel on page ??????.  It was a big hit and it got the kids at the table to eat cranberries.  They loved it.

4 lbs of apples, I used 2 lbs golden delicious and 2 lbs Fuji. 
But you can use what you like, peeled cored and cut in 1 inch cubes

2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 cinnamon stick

3 slices of fresh lemon peel about 2 inches long each

½ cup sugar

Put all the ingredients in a large pot over medium low heat covered.   Stir occasionally until fruit is very tender and broken down into a sauce.  This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel and toss in trash.  I mashed it with a wire whisk cause I like it chunky and homey, but feel free to run it through a food mill and make it smoother.  Serve room temp or chill.

Saganaki Flaming Cheese

This dish sounds Japanese, but it actually a dish from Greece.  Makes a fun presentation and even more delicious to share with friends.

1 lb soft Kasseri or Kofalotiri cheese, cheese from Greece


3 tbsp  butter  melted, should really use real butter here

juice of ½ of a fresh lemon


2 tbsp brandy 

1 loaf crusty bread

Cut cheese into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place on broiler safe dish  and brush with melted butter. Broil on high 4 to 6 inches from heat until cheese bubbles. Remove from heat. Pour brandy over cheese and ignite immediately with a lighter or a match. Squeeze the half of lemon over the cheese and flames and serve immediately with crusty bread.

Salad of Succotash

This recipe is for my Mother who loves Succotash, so this is Succotash for her with a twist for me.

Serves 6

1 cup canned butter beans

2 cups fresh corn kernels, about 3 ears

1 small red bell pepper, 1/4 inch diced

1 shallot finely minced

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half

½ tsp hot sauce 

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

t tbsp extra virgin olive oil

s and p to taste

2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped in 1/4 inch pieces

1/4 cup fresh italian parsley

Drain and rinse the beans well, cook corn in boiling, salted water or grill, whichever flavor you want they both work well.  When corn is cooked , let it cool till you can handle it and cut corn off the cob.  Add 1st 5 ingredients to a bowl and toss a little until combined, add the next 4 ingredients to a bowl and whisk until combined, pour over veggies and add chive and parsley and mix well to combine and serve over lettuce or stuffed in a larger tomato, or a cool side to a steak, endless uses.

Salads and Their Dresses

Salsa Verde

This lovely green sauce is so good on grilled meats.  I especially like it on pork and beef.  It adds a certain fresh dimension to grilled meats.  You’ll love this!

2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled

2 anchovy filets, I like the salt packed ones

1 cup fresh Italian parley leaves only 

1/3 cup celery tops

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp fresh lemon zest

2 tsp fresh rosemary, leaves only

1 tsp fresh thyme, leaves only

1 ½ tsp fresh sage leaves

1 ½ tbsp red wine vinegar

s and p to taste  

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

This is the easy part, put all the ingredients in a food processor, except the oil, and pulse until combined.  With machine running stream in the oil until mostly smooth.  transfer to a bowl, check the seasoning.  Cover  and keep in fridge until needed.  You can make this up to a day ahead.

Salt with a Tuscan Flair

1/4 cup kosher salt


1 tablespoon coarse sugar, such as Demerara or Turbinado


1 tablespoon red pepper flakes


1/4 cup  peppercorns


2 tbsp  fennel seed

2 tbsp coriander seed

2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary


1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon peel

Toast coriander seed, fennel seed and peppercorns in a heavy bottom pan for a few minutes moving around in pan until you smell the spices, put them into a spice grinder and grind coarsely, mix all ingredients together and use right away.  Will keep in fridge for a day or 2.

Scouts Honor Chocolate Fondue

While visiting Venge Vineyards in Napa, California during the Crush Tour of 2007 we tried so many wines that day it is hard to recall just one.  However, one does stand out. Kirks Syrah and Zin blend.  That wine was the inspiration of this recipe.  The story goes that Scout was Kirks Venge old faithful companion for ??? years, a beautiful Golden Retriever, who stuck by kirk through thick and thin.  I believe a dog like that deserves a recipe of Chocolate as well as a great wine named after him.  So Scout here’s to you old boy!

1 lb very good quality  semi sweet chocolate 


½ cup heavy cream 


2 tbsp unsalted  butter

1 pinch of gray salt or sea salt

 
1/4 cup sugar 


½ cup Venge Vineyards Scouts Honor Syrah and Zin blend , or whichever other great Zin or Syrah  you have, they both go well with chocolate

 Melt chocolate in a double boiler slowly.  Add all the remaining ingredients, except the wine  to pot.  Melt and stir until well combined.  Remove pot from the heat and at this time add the wine.  Stir well to combine.  Transfer mixture to a fondue pot and serve with cut up fruits, pound cakes and brownies.  Pour yourself and big glass of Scouts Honor and think of your favorite pet and drink to them.

Seared Duck Breast Salad with a Blueberry Dressing

Don’t be afraid of duck, it is delicious and really easy.  Makes a great salad, small first course or very satisfying entree for dinner.

Serves 4

1 whole duck breast extra fat on the side trimmed off

1 bag mixed baby greens or whichever salad greens you like

1 10 oz bag frozen blueberries

4 oz Harley Farms or other good goat cheese

3 oz toasted pumpkin seeds

2 small shallots minced

1 small clove fresh garlic minced up fine

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tsp sugar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ tbsp fresh tarragon

s and p to taste

preheat oven to 375

Score the fatty side of the duck breast in a criss-cross pattern be careful not to cut down into the meat.  S and p both sides of the breast and in a screaming hot dry pan place the breasts fat side down, do not crowd the pan, use 2 pans if you have to.  Turn heat down to medium and sear until most of the fat has rendered about 8 minutes.  Turn breast over for about another 6-8  minutes.   Drain off all but 2 tbsp of the duck fat.   Remove from stove top and put duck in oven to cook for 5 minutes longer.  Remove from oven, put duck on a plate, to rest and cool a bit.  Using the same skillet with the 2  tbsp of duck fat add the shallots and garlic little s and p and the sugar stir constantly for 1 minute, add the blueberries,    Let cook for 2-3 minute until blueberries pop and start to release their blue liquid.  Add the vinegars and let cook until reduced by half.  This only take 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Remove the contents from the heat and put in a blender.  Add tarragon and blend until a smooth, drizzle in the oil, taste for seasoning, re- season now if needed.   Strain through a fine mess sieve.   Slice duck thinly on a angle across the breast.  About 1/4 inch slices.  Scatter greens on serving plates, add 4-5 slices on top of greens on each plate sprinkle with the goat cheese and pumpkin seeds.

Seared Foie Gras and Rhubarb Compote Salad

When I think of Sonoma one of the first things that comes to mind is Foie Gras.   The crisp seared outside of the liver and the soft, luscious inside.  In the spring  time at the farmers market on Tuesday evenings I look for the long pink strips of rhubarb and I wondered how the two might marry together.  We till death due us part and this recipe is why.

Serves 4

1 cup fresh rhubarb, diced

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp light brown sugar

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 clove of fresh garlic, minced fine

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced fine

2 tbsp water

4 nice slices of foie gras, grade A

s and p to taste

4 cups mixed micro or your favorite greens

To make the compote put all the ingredients into a sauce pan except the foie gras and the greens and cook over a low heat until the compote cooks down and has the syrupy consistency.  Remove from heat and let come to room temp.  Heat a skillet over high heat and when pan is very hot add the foie gras and sear for about 1 to 1 ½ minutes on each side, that is all.  Remove from heat and let rest for a couple of minutes.  To plate this salad, 1 cup greens on each of 4 plates.  Top with foie gras, drop a little crack of sea salt on it  and top that with the rhubarb.  So Good!

Seared Foie Gras with a Peach Sauce and Tokjai Aszu

Back in 1995 I was spending quite a bit of time in New York City.  I went to Gotham Bar and Grill one night and this is the first time I tried Foie Gras.  I was simply blown away with the texture and these flavors together.  It became my new favorite food and is still to this day.  Never thinking to ask for the recipe, I have often wondered about it.  This is my version of what I had that night.

Serves 4

1 cup water

1 cup ice wine or really sweet sauterne 

1 tbsp sugar

3 fresh peaches not to soft, but not hard either peeled, sliced and cut into wedges

1 cup balsamic vinegar or a bottle of at least 40 year old

s and p

4 pieces of foie gras grade A about 2-3 oz each

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp grapeseed oil

½ lemon

fleur de sel or your favorite sea salt

brioche bread

In a heavy bottom sauce pan bring water, wine and sugar to boil, cook until slightly thickens and reduced by 1/3.  Add the peeled and sliced peaches , cook  for 1 minute and remove from heat and cover, let sit for 10-15 minutes.  If you don’t have 40 year old balsamic then take the one you have and put it in a small pot and reduce it until it forms a thick syrup.  Watch this closely it can burn easily when it starts to get thick.    Next take your foie gras from the fridge, work with the foie gras cold, it melts very easy.  Have a glass of hot water near by, heat your knife in the hot water and foie gras will slice much easier.  Take your knife and score the foie gras slightly on one side only.  Heat a non-stick skillet on high heat, when pan is smoking remove from the heat and add a little dash of grapeseed oil, place foie gras scored side down and back on high heat for one minute, be sure not to burn it,  turn over with tongs and cook for one more minute on the other side until a nice brown crust has formed on each side.  Remove from heat and let rest for 1 minute.  Brush brioche with a little butter and brown on both sides in skillet or do this ahead of time in oven, do not burn.  Return peaches to just heat through.  At this point stir in 1 tablespoon butter and juice from the lemon, be careful not to get any seeds in.  Remove from heat.  To built the plate, place brioche slice in center, top

 with foie gras slice, spoon the peaches and sauce all over the foie gras, enough to just cover and 2-3 pieces of peach.   Hit top of foie gras with a pinch of fleur de sel last minute to add a great crunch.   Drizzle plate with reduced balsamic or the 40 year old balsamic and serve with a aperitif size glass of really good Hungarian Tokjai aszu  I didn’t say this was a cheap dish to make, but I guarantee if you are a foie gras fan you’ll never forget it, and it is worth every cent.

Sherry Vinaigrette with Maple

This is so good over roasted veggies or any salad that has bacon in it

1/3 cup of a good quality sherry vinegar

1 tbsp shallots

1 small clove fresh garlic

2 tbsp warm bacon fat

2 tbsp grade “a” maple syrup

1 tsp dijon

3/4 cup of a light oil, peanut, veggie, or grapeseed

s and p to taste

In your blender combine all the ingredients except the oil.  Whirl in the blender to combine and while blender is running on low drizzle in the oil until all combined.  S and p to taste again if it needs it.

Sicilian Meatballs from the Oven

These are always a hit and easy to make.  Very tasty little morsels

serves about 8

1 lb sweet italian sausage, bulk or cut out of the casings

2/3 cup bread crumbs, preferably homemade

4 tbsp milk

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup parmegiano reggiano

1/4 cup finely minced shallot, or 1 small onion

1/4 cup fresh basil, leaves only torn up with your fingers

4 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

3 tbsp currants or golden raisins chopped if you cannot find the other

1 tsp lemon zest, myer lemon preferably, if not “don’t worry bout it”

1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced

1 ½ cups homemade marinara, or a good quality store bought, heated up for dipping, this is optional in Sicily they wouldn’t put out the sauce

preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl combine the bread crumbs with the milk, let sit a few minutes for milk to absorb, add the egg, parmegiano, shallot, basil ,pine nuts, currants, garlic, s and p to taste.  Then add this mixture into the sausage and mix well just until combined.  Make a small patty about the size of a quarter and cook it off in a frying pan so you can taste it.  You better do this part because if the seasoning is not quite right you have a chance to fix it here.  Roll gently in your hands about 24 little meatballs and place meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet on parchment paper for easy clean up.  Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until done.  Drain off the fat and serve with or without  sauce.

 

Silky and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

It seems the newest spice as of late is the Chipotle Chile.  The addition of this ingredient to this soup makes it a new and tasty twist of a old holiday classic.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small-medium size onion

2 cloves garlic mashed

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 stalk of celery diced

2 sweet apples , any kind you like, peeled, cored and diced

2 lbs sweet potatoes peeled and diced

1 quart low sodium good quality chicken stock

3 cups of water

1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce, found in Mexican food section in a small can.  These are spicy little suckers so use according to heat you like, cut 1 in half  for less heat up to 2 whole chipotles  for really spicy.

S and p to taste

1 tsp cinnamon

18 oz. container creme fraiche 

2 tbsp heavy cream

3 tbsp major greys or some other sweet chutney

In a medium size soup pot heat the oil and add the onions, garlic, ginger and cook for about 5 minutes, use a low heat.  Add apples, celery and sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes longer, add the cinnamon and stock and water.  Cook on simmer for about 45-55 minutes until veggies are tender.  Mince up the chipotle and add at this point.  Working in batches puree soup in blender until silky smooth.  Add back to pot to keep warm.  Mix creme fraiche, cream and chutney in a bowl until incorporated.  Serve soup up hot with a dollop of chutney cream on top.  Soup can be made 5 days in advance, but it tends to get spicier so use a little less chipotle unless your serving it right away.

 

Simply Roasted Salmon

My first trip to Alaska was summer of 2007 with my Mom.  I say first trip because it was one of the most amazing trips of my life and I know I will go back.  I never really enjoyed Salmon before this trip, but there was something about it being right out of the water there that made it taste like heaven.  While the ship was cruising along,   there were literally hundreds of
salmon just jumping and splashing everywhere.  I call this recipe simple because fresh 

salmon needs nothing.

Serves 4


1/3 cup chardonnay, one you would drink


1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice


1/3 cup low salt  soy sauce

2 tsp dark brown sugar

fresh cracked pepper to taste

grey salt to taste


 4   6 oz salmon fillets with skin on

preheat oven to 450 degrees

Mix wine, orange juice, soy, sugar and a couple of cracks or pepper in a zip lock plastic bag. Place salmon in the bag, zip shut and refrigerate 2 hours, turning occasionally.  Line baking sheet with foil. Shake excess marinade .   Transfer salmon to baking sheet, skin side down. Roast until fish is opaque in center about  12 - 14 minutes.  Season with a little grey salt and serve.   Simple! 

Snackattizers

Sonoma Citrus Vinaigrette

this is my go to salad dressing when I cannot think of anything new.  It is a fresh, clean and very tasty vinaigrette and goes well on any fresh salad.

Juice of ½  meyer lemon, or a regular one if meyer cannot be found


Juice of ½ orange

 
Juice of ½  lime 


1 to 2  tbsp rice wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, depends on how tangy you like your dressings 


1 tsp dijon mustard 


2 tbsp  of a fresh local honey 

grey salt and p to taste


1/4 cup grape seed oil 

put all but the oil into a blender and pulse 2 or 3 times.  With blender on low slowly add the oil and check the seasoning.  Will keep in fridge up to 1 week.

Soups, Stews and other
One Pot Creations

Spaghetti with Lemon

This is just a quick dish that I make when I need a quick trip to Italy.  I had this in Florence and I never forgot the fresh, wonderful and satisfying flavors.

1 lb spaghetti

1 stick unsalted butter

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  This helps keep the butter from burning

½ tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp fresh lemon zest

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

s and p to taste

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves chopped

3/4 cup parmegiano reggiano

6 full basil sprigs for garnish

cook pasta in a large pot of salted water and cook until al dente.  Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the zest, juice and s and p to taste, cook for 1 more minute and add spaghetti and toss.  Remove from heat and add the fresh basil and parmegiano and toss or mix until sauce even coats the pasta and serve garnished with a fresh sprig of basil.  Add a piece of crusty bread a little olive oil , a glass of crisp pinot grigio and your done.

To add a little zip to this dish you could add a 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes and saute when you add the garlic, a couple of anchovy’s wouldn’t be bad either.  I leave this part up to you.

 

Spiced Cracked Olives

These are better than any run of the mill olives you can get.  I use the green Sicilian type olives and they love being bathed in the deliciousness.

2 pounds green sicilian olives, with pits 


3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 


1/3 cup sweet chili powder 


1/4 cup fresh italian parsley leaves only, chopped


2 tbsp fresh garlic, minced

3 tbsp fresh lemon zest

1 tbsp red pepper flakes

1/4 cup  sherry vinegar 

Place  olives in a resealable plastic bag, hit with mallet or the bottom of a sauce pot to crack the olives. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bag.  Mix well and let them sit about 30 minutes and serve.

 

Spicy Grilled Wild Caught American Shrimp

I am atomate about the shrimp I eat.  It is either caught in our country by our own fisherman or I don’t eat it, simple as that!  Anyone who knows me or has been to one of my classes knows where I stand on this issue.  Our fisherman can hardly make a living anymore, while other countries fish our waters bare.  I am this way with all seafood and fish.  It has to caught and come from a American  fisherman or I’ll have something else.  I even ask in restaurants.   Lets keep some things here in this country.  We know it is fresh when it is from here and not treated with anything it should not be.  Eat American fish and seafood, you won’t be sorry.  Besides read a little about how they raise shrimp in other countries and you would never eat it again unless it was from here.  There I’ve said it!

Serves 8 as a appetizer and 6 for entree

24 large, not jumbo, large wild American caught shrimp, peeled and deveined.  Save shells for shrimp stock

½  cup extra virgin olive oil

 
1/3  cup fresh lemon juice

 
4 sprigs fresh thyme , leaves only

1 tbsp fresh oregano, leaves only


6 cloves garlic, smashed 


1 shallot, peeled and chopped 

 2  tbsp smokey paprika

 
2 tbsp mustard powder 


1 chipolte chili in adobo sauce

1 tsp adobo sauce from the can

salt to taste

put all the ingredients into a blender and let it rip for a minute.  Put the shrimp in a zip lock bag and pour marinade over them let it sit at least 30 minutes up to 4 hours.  Be careful not to go to much longer or the lemon juice will cook the shrimp.  When ready to cook get the grill hot and place shrimp on grill turning in 2 minutes for 2 more minutes and there you have it, done.  Serve as a appetizer or a main course with your favorite rice and salad.
 Spicy Nuts

I use these for everything, on salads, to munch on, or  ground up to coat chicken or fish.  They are easy as pie to make.  You can also put them in jars and wrap us for the holidays to give as gifts.

½ tsp  ground cumin

 
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, more of this if you like them spicier

 
½ tsp ground cinnamon 


4 cups unsalted mixed nuts,  walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds, anything you like really add some  pumpkin seeds , sunflower seeds, untoasted and unsalted is the trick here

 
4 tbsp  unsalted butter 


7 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp water

 
1 tsp salt

Mix spices and set aside. 

Heat the nuts in a large dry skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to toast about3- 4 minutes.  Add the butter and cook, stirring, until the nuts begin to take on some color, this takes about 1 minute or so, watch them closely don’t burn them.   Add the spices, the sugar, 1 tablespoon water, and the salt and

 cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and the nuts are glazed, about 5 minutes. 

Take the nuts off the heat  and transfer to a sheet pan lined with aluminum

 foil, separating them with a fork. Use something these little suckers are hot and that sugar can really burn.   Let the nuts sit until cooled and the sugar has hardened, about 10 minutes.  Break them up and use them up anyway you want.

 


Spicy Roasted  Vegetable Salad with Feta and Pepitas


1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds)


1 lb parsnips or turnip or rutabaga or a little of each to make 1 lb.


1 tsp ground cumin


1 tsp  paprika


1 tsp kosher salt


1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Zest and juice of 1 orange


2 tbsp olive oil


4 cups  baby arugula or baby spinach


½ cup  feta cheese crumbles or block and crumble yourself


1/4 cup pepitas ,hulled green pumpkin seeds, toasted


2 tbsp  pumpkin-seed oil


2 tsp  honey


2 tsp  red wine vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, trim off the top and bottom and slice in

 half. Scoop out the strings and seeds with a large spoon and discard. Slice the

 squash into 1/2-inch pieces and spread on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Peel the parsnips, turnips, or rutabaga and slice into 1/2-inch pieces. Add to  the

 baking sheet

.
In a  bowl, whisk together the cumin, paprika, cinnamon, salt, pepper, orange

 zest and juice and olive oil. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat evenly.

Roast the vegetables 20-25 minutes in a 425 degree oven, stirring once or until

 fork  tender and lightly caramelized.


Add the arugula or spinach  to the warm vegetables and toss to wilt slightly.


Transfer to a large platter . rumble feta cheese over salad and

 sprinkle with pepitas.

Whisk together the oil, honey, mustard and vinegar and drizzle over the salad.

Split Pea Soup with Ham

I always knew and looked forward to when my Mom would make a  New England Boiled Dinner   (Page ???)  Because soon after followed split pea soup.  In our house nothing ever went to waste, even if it were a bone.  This was the tastiest bone of all.  This was one of the things that really got me interested in flavors.  To think there was still that much flavor in something that had already been cooked.  You’ll see for yourself.

1 leftover ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks

1 pound green split peas, picked over, rinsed, and drained 


1 medium onion, peeled and  chopped 

2 shallots, peeled and chopped


2 stalk celery, strings removed and  chopped 


2 large carrot, peeled and chopped 


4 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sprigs italian parsley


1 bay leaf 


4 cups cold water 

4 cups chix stock

s and p to taste

In a large soup pot combine the peas, ham bone , onion, shallots, celery and carrot. Tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf together with kitchen string. Add the herbs, water, and s and p, bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer  for 1-2  hours or until the peas are tender. Remove the pot from the heat and remove the ham bone.  Reserve,  Cool and remove the meat from the ham bone. discarding the bone when picked clean.   Cut the meat into bite size pieces. Remove the herb bundle and throw away.  Puree the soup with a hand held blender  so you can leave it a little chunky.   Heat the soup to a simmer with the meat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls with a nice piece of crostini.

 Steak Diane

I took my Mom on a cruise to Alaska in 2007.  I had never been before, what a beautiful part of these United States.  I highly recommend it for you relaxation and beauty for the eyes.  We went on the Infinity and ate at upscale restaurant every night called the USS United States.  We adopted our wonderful staff and came away with a recipe for this delicious steak dish that between Mom and I had 4 times in one week.  Many thanks to Christian, Carla, Marcella,  and the rest of our wonderful staff in the USS United States on the Infinity.   And a very  special thank you to Jose Palacios who made us feel like Royalty every day of our trip. 

serves 4

6 tbsp butter 

1 tbsp olive oil, to help keep butter from burning


½ cup fresh button mushrooms sliced


2 tbsp shallots, minced

 
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed 


1 tsp fresh lemon juice

 
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 


s and p to taste

1/4 cup cognac

1/4 cup heavy cream

 
2 tbsp  fresh italian parsley leaves , chopped

1 pound beef tenderloin, cut into 8 slices 

Melt 4 tbsp of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallots, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and s and p, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender. Stir in the parsley; pour the sauce into a small metal bowl or saucepan, cover, and keep warm. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter in the skillet and the oil. Cook the steaks over medium-high heat, turning them once, for 2 minutes on each side for medium rare.1 minute each side  Longer for medium.  Deglaze the pan with the cognac cook for about 1 minute add the cream and 1 tbsp butter and add this sauce to the mushrooms and spoon over the steak, I can still taste the Kings Estate Oregon Pinot Noir I had with it.

 

Steaks with Cabernet and Boursin Cheese

There is nothing like a good steak once in a while and this one is so good.  I prefer the NY Strip, but use which ever one suits your taste.  You’ll dream about this steak.

Serves 6

3 tbsp of olive oil

6 8-10 oz. Whichever steak you like about 1 inch thick or thicker if you like, remember cooking time will change

1 ½ cups good quality cabernet

½ 5 oz container boursin cheese cut into 6 pieces

½ stick of cold butter

1 medium shallot minced

2 tsp fresh parsley

2 tsp fresh chives

s and p to taste

lay out the steaks and rub them all with the olive oil.  S and p and let sit at room

 temp  for 20 minutes.  Heat 2 large skillets to hot, add 3 steaks to each pan so as not to crowd them.  Cook about 3 1/2-4 minutes per side for medium rare, another minute per side for medium.  When steaks are done remove them to a platter and top each steak with a piece of the cheese. And keep tented to keep warm.  In once skillet add the shallot and cook for 1 minute then add the cabernet and cook over high heat until reduced to about ½ cup scraping up the brown bits from pan.  Remove pan from the heat and stir in cold butter 1 piece at a time until melted.  Mix in parsley and chives, pour this delicious sauce over the steaks and go to heaven.  

 

Strawberry Shortcake for Gretchen

My friend Gretchen who lives in Half Moon Bay said I could not do this book without my strawberry shortcake recipe in it.  Now that you have the recipe Gretchen I expect you to make it for me next time I am in town. It is easy and so tasty.

5 cups of the freshest strawberries you can find

½ cup  sugar

2 tbsp grand manier or cointreau

cut the berries in half, unless they are huge then cut in fourths.  Put them in a bowl and add the sugar and grand manier.  Let them sit at room tem p for 1 hour and put in fridge until needed.

for the cakes:

this recipe is right of the box so follow it to the “T”.  I have tried many cake recipes for the shortcake part of this and I love this one.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2 1/3 cups or the regular Bisquick mix

3 tbsp sugar

½ cup milk

3 tbsp melted butter

in a bowl put all the 4 ingredients and mix lightly until soft dough forms, don’t overwork it.  Drop 6 large spoonfuls onto a ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  They should be light golden brown.  Let cool and split biscuit in half with a fork to create nooks and crannies.  Place bottom half on plate and spoon berries and their liquid over biscuit.  Top with biscuit top and more berries and fresh whipped cream

 

Strawberries Modena Style

On my very first rip to Italy we went to Modena, where all the good balsamic vinegar comes from and we had lunch at the Malpighi Family Restaurant.  A very special tasting menu of 5 courses where the balsamic vinegars just got older and older as we moved up the courses. 
For dessert we had wonderful, fresh strawberries with their 100 year old balsamic poured over them top and hit with a touch of fresh cracked black pepper.  These flavors ring in the back 

of my mind and I dream about being there again.  One way to get there is recreate what
we had, at home.

Serves 4

1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and halved


3 tbsp  sugar 


1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar, plus additional to drizzle, 40 year old or older is best 


½ cup fresh ricotta cheese 


Fresh ground black pepper 

 Add the strawberries to a bowl.   Add 2 tbsp sugar, balsamic vinegar. Gently toss  and set aside to macerate for 15 to 20 minutes.  Mix the ricotta with the other tbsp of sugar.   Add equal amounts of berries to a pretty serving dish, hit them with a twist of cracked black pepper.  Top with a tbsp of the fresh ricotta and drizzle with a little more vinegar.  You won’t believe your taste buds.

 

Strawberry Club

Not your typical turkey club, a fun idea for a cocktail party though.  Goes great with a nice glass of champagne for a good opener to a fun nights party.

Serves 8-10 

26 medium strawberries remove top, cut in 2 slices lengthwise, will make 3 pieces, keeping them together , cause your gonna put them back together.

4 oz of a good goat cheese

1/4 pound thinly sliced serrano ham or prosciutto

26 leaves of baby spinach, basil, or watercress.

2 tbsp 20 year or older balsamic vinegar

pepper to taste

to build the club take one slice put a little goat cheese a little pepper and a leaf of your choice, they all taste good.  The next layer of strawberry and a small piece of ham or prosciutto and 1 drop of balsamic. Top it off with last piece of strawberry and you have a 3 decker club.    Place on plate  and garnish plate with drops of balsamic and scattered pieces of whatever you chose for a leaf.  Of course you can use your imagination here a put whatever mild cheese that goes with strawberries, Heck Go Crazy there must be hundreds of choices, use pesto instead of leaves, the ideas are endless.

Strawberry Shortcake for Gretchen

My friend Gretchen who lives in Half Moon Bay said I could not do this book without my strawberry shortcake recipe in it.  Now that you have the recipe Gretchen I expect you to make it for me next time I am in town.  It is easy and so tasty.

5 cups of the freshest strawberries you can find

½ cup  sugar

2 tbsp grand manier or cointreau

cut the berries in half, unless they are huge then cut in fourths.  Put them in a bowl and add the sugar and grand manier.  Let them sit at room tem p for 1 hour and put in fridge until needed.

for the cakes:

this recipe is right of the box so follow it to the “T”.  I have tried many cake recipes for the shortcake part of this and I love this one.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2 1/3 cups or the regular Bisquick mix

3 tbsp sugar

½ cup milk

3 tbsp melted butter

in a bowl put all the 4 ingredients and mix lightly until soft dough forms, don’t overwork it.  Drop 6 large spoonfuls onto a ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  They should be light golden brown.  Let cool and split biscuit in half with a fork to create nooks and crannies.  Place bottom half on plate and spoon berries and their liquid over biscuit.  Top with biscuit top and more berries and fresh whipped cream

Stuffed Chicken Breast a la Rampage

I am not a big fan of cheese and poultry together unless it is chicken parmesan, but the fontina cheese worked for me.  One night when  I was rampaging  through the fridge to see what I could see.   This is what happened from what I found that I had already in the house.

Serves 6

6 boneless chicken breasts, skin on or off does not matter

1 small can of artichoke hearts, cut up in ½ inch chucks

1 cup fontina cheese, grated

½ cup sun dried tomatoes, oil packed, chopped 

2 tbsp kalamata olives pitted and chopped

12 fresh basil leaves

s and p to taste

olive oil for browning

preheat oven to 375 degrees

mix the artichokes, tomatoes, olives  and cheese in a bowl.  Pound out chicken breast to ½ inch thickness and add about 1/3-1/2 cup of cheese mixture to each breast, put three basil leaves on top of that.  Roll them up and secure with a toothpick or tie with kitchen twine.   Heat a large skillet to accommodate all the breasts with space in between them and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.  When golden brown place skillet in oven and cook 10-15 more minutes. Check for doneness.   Serve hot with your favorite veggies and roasted potatoes.  

Stuffing that Rocks

I made this stuffing this past Christmas and it was a very big hit.  So I thought it deserved a stage.  It has so many great flavors it is like a symphony and add great flavor to the bird if you decide to stuff it in there.

7 tbsp butter 


1 medium onions, finely chopped

2 stalks of celery, strings removed and chopped


½ lb linguisa or chorizo sausage, andoullie would be fine as well, but spiceier,

 chopped up in 1/4 inch pieces

1 pkg prepared stuffing,  pepperidge farms 


1 to 1.5 cups chopped dried fruit, such as  peaches, figs, prunes, dates, cranberries, whichever you like or a mixture


4 cups  chicken stock, canned is fine, low sodium

1 stick of butter

s and p to taste


2 eggs, lightly beaten


1/4 cup  italian parsley , chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme , leaves only , chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Use 1 tbsp of the butter and smear it all over a 3-qt. casserole dish 1 tbsp. butter in  skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery, cook until tender. About 7-8 minutes, remove and set aside.   In the same skillet add the linguisa or whichever sausage you picked and saute until browned, set aside with the onion and celery.  pour 2 cups boiling water over the dried fruit and let it sit 10 minutes.  Heat the rest of the butter in the stock in a  saucepan over high heat to a boil. Pour broth mixture over stuffing mixture and stir lightly to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes.  Add in the  eggs, herbs, onion, celery, sausage  and dried fruit.   Spoon mixture into the  prepared dish and cover.

And watch it go!

 

Sunshine Muffins

These muffins for breakfast brighten up even the gloomiest beginning of any day  .  Rain or shine these muffins defiantly help the day get started a little brighter.

Makes about 24 depends on size of your muffin tin

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

3 eggs

3/4 cup Veggie oil or canola oil or a blend of both

1 cup fresh grated zucchini

1 cup fresh grated carrots

½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

½ cup crushed pineapple undrained or you could use chunks if you have them

preheat oven 350 degrees

line a 12 cup muffin tine with muffin papers, that’ s what I call them but I think they are called cupcake liners, you know what I mean.  In a medium size bowl mix the flour , sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Mix the eggs and oil in a small bowl and add to flour mixture until just combined.  Gently fold in the zucchini, carrots, pineapple and nuts.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool for about 10 minutes, make yourself a great cup of coffee and start your day brighter.

 

Sweet and Spicy White Balsamic and Orange Vinaigrette 

This dressing is also good on grilled fish and Pork Chops.  Don’t be afraid to try new things and new uses for flavorful dressings.

3 tbsp while balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup fresh orange juice, or tangerine juice would be good here as well

1 1/4  tsp sweet and spicy mustard, Rayes sweet and spicy or your favorite kind

1 small clove fresh garlic

3 tbsp of canola oil

s and p to taste

Put all the ingredients into a blender and let it rip until well blended, adjust seasoning and dress greens of your choice lightly.

 

 Sweet Peach

At our home in Sonoma we have spring and summer peach trees, yes, we are doubly blessed there.  I get so excited to see the beautiful budding trees that produce the most juicy fruit I have ever had.  As the peaches get closer and closer to being ready to eat, I feel like I am stalking them for just the right time to pluck one off the tree.    The afternoon sun has heated them up inside and out.  There is nothing like sun heated peaches cut up into a bowl with a pinch of cinnamon and cold cream poured over them.  A small taste of chateau d’ yquem on the side.  I am just as happy as peach.

1 serving, when no one is looking!

1 warm ripe spring or summer peach

2 tsp brown sugar, if needed

1 pinch of cinnamon

1/4 cup fresh cold cream

1 small taste of a good souterne

30 minutes to enjoy it

Pick one sun drenched peach of your tree or a neighbors, (they’ll never know ) wash and dry, cut into wedges and put in a serving bowl.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, just a pinch of cinnamon now, and sprinkle on the peach.   Pour cream over warm peaches, pour your wine, grab your shades and sit out in the sun that made it all possible for 30 minutes and thanks me later.

 

Sweet Reminders

The word dessert always seems so final to
me so I wanted dessert to go on and on

Tart with Caramelized Apples

This tart comes out tasting like you went to pastry school.  Always a huge hit and people think it takes tons of skill.  Our secret, it doesn’t.

Serves 8

the crust:

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

½ cup sugar

½ tsp salt

1 stick  unsalted butter, cold

2 egg yokes

combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and give a stir.  Add the butter and the egg yokes and using your fingertips begin to rub it into the flour and keep rubbing into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal.  Knead the meal into a ball and flatten it out into a disk shape, wrap in plastic and put in fridge for 1 hour unto 1 day ahead.

for the filling:

1 stick unsalted butter, cut up in cubes

1 cup sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 lbs of sweet apples, such as golden delicious, pink ladies, halved and cored out and tossed wi the lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

sprinkle the cubed stick of butter in a 12 inch skillet that can go in the oven.  I use my black cast iron pan it works great for this.  Sprinkle the sugar over the butter and arrange the cut apples all on top of that, cut side up, in the pan side by side all around.  There will be a few halves left over, cut these up in smaller pieces and tuck them into the spaces so it is packed pretty tight but still flat in the pan.  Cook this on the stove top on medium low until the butter melt and sugar caramelizes, moving and shifting the pan every so often.  As the apples cook down keep the spaces that happen filled with more apple pieces and continue to cook about 45 minutes or so.  Don’t let it burn.  After 45 minutes remove from the heat for 10 minutes or so until bubbling stops.  Roll out the crust on a floured surface to a 12 inch round to fit the top of the pan.  Place the crust on top of the hot apples and bake in that 350 degree oven for 30 minutes longer or until golden and bubbling.  Remove from the oven and let it come to room temp, about 30 minutes or so.  Using potholders or mitts invert the skillet on a bigger than the skillet size  plate.  Serve with fresh whip cream or vanilla ice cream.

Thank-you Page

This book has taken over 6 years and 7 moves to get it completed, there are a ton of people to thank and I am going to thank them all while I have this chance.

Thank you  to Julia Child who I wish  was still here everyday.  Who never drank a bad glass of wine in her life, even on a air  plane.

Thanks to the Pinot Mafia of Half Moon Bay, they go incognito, so thanks to all of you for introducing me to the many Pinot Noirs who have  broken my bank more than once over the years, cause you have to have it, and took me into the fold.  I always wanted to be in the Mafia.  Thank to my Mom for all the days she sat down in the family and knitted away because I was busy working on recipes.  Thanks to Kim and Barbara Cresswell, great decorators and taste testers, without you our house still would not be done.  To my Brother In-Law Andy who called and called and told me his disappointment every time I wasn’t working of the book.  To all my friends who have eaten at our home over the years and kept telling me I should own another restaurant that they would eat there every night, I hope this is OK, writing a book is easier.  To Allison, who has scooped me up more than once and kept me going here on the east coast and her wonderful husband, my rent-a-husband for keeping the house fixed and made Sunday Gravy with me.  And her two wonderful boys Ben and Eli who were patient enough to let Mommy and Daddy help me out sometimes.  To my Best friend Deb (Debinski) who I have forced over the years to eat, drink and be merry.  To Mary Alice who got dragged along with us whenever she could go.  To Rob Jenson, and Dana Sheldon at Testarossa Vineyards, who kept me in Pinot here in Delaware and provided good wine for my cooking classes.  Without you the cupboards would have been bare.  To Po Conner ( Peg O’Connor) my email taste tester who if she could have been here she would have been.  To Kim Levin Owner of Pasta Moon in Half Moon Bay, our dear friend who never said no, and always put together a party last minute and made it wonderful for either 2 or 30.  To Everyone at Half Moon Bay Wine and Cheese for keeping me in good wines and cheeses, and sending support by sending emails telling me every week what I was missing for the tasting and drinking that bottle of Latache on my birthday out of my glass.   And a special thanks to Frances Mayes who wrote the forward for this book and sent  emails of support and funny stories kept me plugging along.  To John Riley and Janet Higgs, Who thought everything was good always, as long as we were together.  To my Cousin Barbara who saw this a Rampage.  To Rob and Kathy , who would try anything I put in front of them and now are Pinot fanatics too.  To my cousin Wendy who was never around, but never far away.  To Nick and Linda Farrell who own Sovana Bistro in Kennett Square, PA , who fed me great food when I was sick of cooking.  To all my nieces and Nephews , great nieces and nephews, auntie Robin loves you and always try new tastes.  Thank you to Christian Bell, USS United States, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Infinity, whose quest for perfection does not go unnoticed.  To Drew Cortese who is my biggest fan, and I am his.  To Erica Schwartz , who says I make the best omelettes ever.  She is the best director ever.  To Pat Boff ( Mom) for always telling me it was good, even when it was to spicy for her.  Thanks to Pat and Flip Hithe for always having Bosco and Hagen at their house so I could work late at the restaurant.

The Main Dish

Food and Wine Living Comfortably in the Same Space

There’s Nothing Like a Good Champagne Cocktail

1 sugar cube

a dash of bitters

1 long twist of lemon

chilled champagne

drop the sugar cube into a champagne flute, add the bitters
and lemon twist.  Fill the glass and thank me later!!!!!Thyme and Thyme Again Muffins

These are a nice switch up from bread and rolls.  These muffins go well with so many meals.  I have even left out the cheese, cayenne and mustard and added some blueberries or peaches and a couple tbsp’s of sugar and a little cinnamon  and had them for breakfast.

1 cup all purpose flour

½ cup ground yellow corn meal

3/4 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

2 ½ tsp fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped fine

½ cup parmegiano reggiano, finely grated

½ tsp colemans dry mustard

pinch of cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg, plus 1 yoke

2 tbsp of a good local honey

½ stick butter, melted

1/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup goat cheese, room temp

preheat oven to 400 degrees

Lightly grease your muffin tins, this recipe makes 12 large and 24 small muffins.  In a bowl combine the first 9 ingredients.  In another bowl whisk together the next 5 ingredients, saving out goat cheese for last.  Add the wet to the dry and fold until just combined.  Crumble in the goat cheese and fold gently , do not over work the batter.  The goat cheese will stay in little clumps, it’s OK.  Fill your tins 3/4 each and bake for about 18-20 minutes checking them by inserting a toothpick until it comes out clean.  Feel free to try some new things here.  Add some roasted red pepper to these or some lemon zest.  They can handle it!

Toasts with Warm Goat Cheese, Thyme, Honey and Walnuts

These little toasts go great with a glass of champagne, hanging out with friends.

1 french baguette, I prefer a sweet one here

10 ounces fresh Harley Farms or other really good goat cheese

1/3 cup honey

½ cup walnuts, toasted or pecans would be ok as well

½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves chopped

preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cut baguette into 1/4 inch  slices on the diagonal.  Spread the goat cheese on each slice of bread.  Arrange slices on a baking sheet and bake until edges of the bread begin to turn golden brown about 8 minutes.  Put the honey in a small pan and gently heat, add the thyme and the nuts to the honey, heat gently for a minute and spoon mixture over each toast and pour yourselves a glass of bubbly and enjoy.

 

Tomato and Blood Orange Aspic

This brings back the ole days of dinning.  It makes a great first course or a smaller version can make a great intermezzo.  Bring back the days of ole and serve this new and updated version of a old favorite.  Wow your guests!

6 medium tomatoes, grated on a box grater into a bowl


2/3 cup of water

1/4 cup of a good bottled tomato juice

2 ½ tsp gelatin, unflavored


3 tbsp blood orange juice


½  tsp salt 

6 fresh basil leaves, julienned

In a large saucepan heat the tomatoes, water and salt.  Cook for about 5 minutes on a low flame  pushing tomatoes against the side of the pot to extract all their flavors.  Remove from heat and pour through a strainer, let cool for 5 minutes and add the gelatin and stir well to combine.  Add the blood orange juice and bottled tomato juice.  Check the seasoning.   Pour into or individual decorative molds or single serving small glass finger bowl type bowls.  Refrigerate to set. Dip mold in hot water for a few seconds. Unmold on platter or plates or leave in bowl and garnish with the fresh basil and serve.

Truffled Filet Mignon

You know that once in a while where you just crave a steak, This is the one right here.  After you have this you’ll crave it all the time.

Serves 4

4 5-6 oz filet mignon

3 tbsp olive oil

a very good quality white truffle oil for drizzling

2 oz shaved parmegiano reggiano, shaved

s and p to taste

let steaks sit at room temp for 30 minutes before cooking.    Season both sides with salt and pepper.    Rub olive oil all over the steaks and get your grill or pan smoking hot.  Either grill or pan sear these steaks to your liking, medium rare for me.  When cooked to your liking remove steaks to a plate and tent to keep warm and let rest 10 minutes before cutting into them.  Place steak on serving plate and drizzle with a little white truffle oil and serve with caramelized onion mashed potatoes , found on page ????????  And a nice fresh tossed salad with a simple  red wine vinaigrette found on page ???????????

serve with a great Cabernet Sauvignon or we know for sure a great Pinot Noir would be good here as well.  I am trying to give other wines fair billing, but it is tough.

 

Venison Chile

I grew up with a hunting Father and three hunting Brothers.  They were not just hunters for the fun of it they were and are hunters for the food of it.  My parents have a second house way up on the Kennebec River in Maine, Dad found this place a long time ago while on a hunting trip.  We have  owned it now and have for 35 years or more.  We would go there all the time as kids, all year round.  Dad and the boys would go every November to hunt deer and we always had Venison in the freezer.  Back then Mom was creative and we ate it a few different ways.  But now that I know how to cook myself  I have found hundreds of ways to use it in place of many things.  Wild and farm raised venison have different flavors and I like them both.  However I will take the wild any day.  This is one way to serve venison to new people who have never tired it and convert them to Venison fans.

1/4 cup olive oil

 
2 pounds venison shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 


S and P to taste 


1 large yellow onion, finely diced 

1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped in ½ squares 


4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 


4 tbsp of your favorite chile powder


1 tablespoon ground cumin 


1 bottle dark beer any kind will be good


5 cups homemade chicken stock, or low salt canned or water 


1 (16-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained and pureed 


1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo sauce very finely minced, ½ for the faint of heart 

2 tablespoon local honey, any kind really


2 cups cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained well


3 tablespoons fresh lime juice 


Toasted Cumin Crema, recipe follows 

Heat oil in a large Dutch or heavy bottomed pot oven over high heat.  Season the venison with salt and pepper, and saute until browned on all sides, this step is important so take your time and let it brown well without crowding the pot or it will steam and you will never get it brown.   Remove the meat to a plate and remove all but 3 tablespoons of the oil from the pan.
Add the onion and red pepper to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes .  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chile powder, and cumin and cook an additional minute or 2. Add the beer and cook until completely reduced. Return the meat to the pot, add the chicken stock, tomatoes, chipotle, and honey, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and simmer on low for 45 minutes. Add the beans and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the lime juice, and adjust seasonings, and serve with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche

 

Very Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Must use a heavy rimmed baking sheet or little toms will burn

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

4-5 lbs of your favorite tomatoes, preferably fresh garden types

kosher salt

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp granulated sugar

4-5 garlic cloves very thinly slices or grated

3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

preheat oven to 325 degrees, line your baking sheets with foil for easier clean up.  

Cut tomatoes in 1 inch slices and arrange on sheets cut side up.  Pour cup of oil 

over toms and turn to coat them all over.  Sprinkle each with a pinch of sugar and 

salt, scatter garlic and thyme leaves all over them and roast in center of oven for 3-

4 hours until you see a deep reddish brown and the toms have shrunk in size by 

half.  Check on toms every 1-2 hours if they are browning to quickly turn down 

oven to 300 and continue to watch.  Let cool 15-30 minutes and serve at room 

temp as a side or use to make a quick pasta sauce or a roasted tomato soup.  Try 

them on a grilled cheese sandwich, in a salad there are about 1000 uses for the 

delectable little morsels.  Do not throw away the left over oil either this makes a 

wonderful salad dressing.

 

Very Tasty Cream Cheese Dip

1 8 oz   pkg of your favorite cream cheese

8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil 

½ jalapeno pepper seeded

2 cloves fresh garlic

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 ½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp chili powder, your favorite one!

1/4 c green onions

1/4 c fresh cilantro

Add all but the cream cheese to a food processor and let it rip until all the ingredients are really smooth, then add the cream cheese and process a bit longer.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Use for a dip with chips or crudites.  Also can be spread on your favorite sandwich for a new and improved sandwich.

 

Warm Mushroom Salad

Living in the mushroom capital, Avondale PA, for a while when I first went back east was a mushroom extravaganza for me.  I have worked with mushrooms quite a bit in my career, but having mushrooms houses all around your home makes you really pay attention is different.  Since I am such a strong believer in buying and using local produce, I was compelled to use them more.  This is a recipe that came from my new love for the mushroom.

Makes 2 salads or double it for 4

6 bibb lettuce leaves, or your favorite mild lettuce

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ lb mushrooms, all types, mix em up

1/4 of a very good sherry

1 tsp butter

s and p to taste

In a 10 inch skillet heat 1 tbsp of oil to hot and add the mushrooms , turn down heat to medium and toss around off and on for about 8 minutes or until golden.  Add the sherry and cook 2 more minutes add the butter and s and p to taste right here.  Remove from heat and spoon mushrooms over the lettuce.  Drizzle with remaining tbsp of oil , hit it with some cracked fresh pepper and serve right away.  You could drop a few curls of parmigiano reggiano as well if you like.

 

Who Said the Ritz Makes the Best Bellini?

They do!  The Ritz Carlton in San Francisco makes a pretty good one, but then again so do I.

Makes 2

1 ripe peach, must be ripe, peeled, and pitted

1 small drop and I mean small drop of a good vanilla extract

very cold champagne

puree the peach in a blender with the vanilla until very smooth.  Pour equal parts into each of 2 glasses.  Fill with champagne and be transcended.  Wine Tasters Next Day Breakfast

There have been Many a wine tasting day in the Napa and Sonoma Valley’s.  There have been days we have hit as many as 10-15 wineries and knowing as many winemakers as we do the experience is always a surprise.  A  tasting in the caves, or another barrel, some days it is a never ending pour.  At the end of the day we end up with a lovely mouth full of wine teeth and usually the next day not a one of us will feel like making breakfast.  I have a recipe here that will feed the crowd and satisfy even the most finicky of tasters and in our crew finicky is a understatement.  Never a complaint with this.

Serves 8-12 hungry,  hangovers

1 lb bulk breakfast sausage, bulk or if there are casings, remove them


2 tbsp all purpose flour, for making a rue


1 ½ whole cups milk , I use 2%, but not as creamy, but still good 

1- 1 pound package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes

s and p to taste


4 green onions, finely chopped, if you do not like these leave them out


1 1/4 cups grated monterey jack, pepper jack or sharp cheddar, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

 Butter 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Cook sausage in heavy large skillet, I use my 12 inch cast iron one here,  over medium-high heat until brown, breaking up the sausage into  small pieces with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Mix in flour and cook a minute to cook out the flour taste.   Then add the milk slowly . Cook until mixture thickens and comes to boil, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Arrange potatoes in buttered dish. Top with 1/3 of green onions, 1 cup cheese, 1/3 of green onions, sausage mixture and remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake casserole until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes or so.  Mimosa’s , crispy toast, they’ll be happy and ready to hit the road for another day of tasting.

Feel free here to improvise.  I have used chicken apple sausage, sun dried tomato sausage, bacon instead.  This is a hodge   podge and you can leave out the green onions if you do not like them and add caramelized onions instead.   Serve this up along side some scrambled eggs and Voila!  

Winemakers to me are better than rock stars, They are the stuff that dreams are made of.  Everyone one of them I have ever spoken with has had a dream and a passion to make the best wine possible and grow the best fruit possible.  They eat , live and breath wine and wine making.  When you are at a winery tasting and the wine maker happens to be there, they really want to know what you taste and how you like it.  They respect a wine tasters opinion, for that is their audience and fan club.  A bottle of good wine is as good as a record gone gold or platinum to them.  After all wine is life to them.

 

Winter Blues Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

After living in California for so many years, going back to the east coast was a shock, especially winter.  I noticed in the markets in Delaware the Avocado’s always  looked good.  The grapefruits are always good and they remind me of warmer weather.  So this is my take on a cure for the winter blues.

Serves 4 as a small side salad or 2 for lunch

1  head boston lettuce, or bibb lettuce washed and torn 


1 fresh pink  grapefruit ,all skin and white removed cut into sections


1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced

a few slivers of paper thin sliced red onion

½ lb of piave or gruyere cheese cut in long thin pieces, about 2 inches, you need a contrast with the cheese here, you could even use sharp cheddar, but a good one

3 tbsp walnuts, toasted and chopped

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp dijon mustard

pinch of grey salt

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Split up the lettuce on your serving plates and Mix together the next 5 ingredients in a salad  bowl.  In another bowl whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and red pepper flakes until combined.  Pour dressing over grapefruit mixture and let sit a minute, serve over the lettuce on plates and watch your winter blues melt away.  Oh yeah, did I mention a nice glass of Vouvray could help with that as well.

 

BLT on the Rampage,  Heirloom Tomato Salad

I never ate raw tomatoes until I tried a heirloom tomato salad at Postrio in San Francisco in the early 90's.  I was amazed when the plate came that the tomatoes were white with green stripes and yellow with red stripes.  Since then I know they are the white zebra, mister stripey and the red brandywine.  There are a few hundred I have tried since then and made up for all the years I didn’t eat those horrible store bought tomatoes.  With the addition of the bacon bits and a good glass of wine this is like a “Big Girls BLT”

Serves 6-8

2-4 heirloom tomatoes, your choice there all good

enough fresh organic spring mix to cover your serving dish

fresh basil leaves

applewood smoked bacon

½ small red onion

5 oz Harley Farms goat cheese or a very good goat cheese, actually here you could use a variety of cheeses, blue, ricotta salata which ever you prefer 

balsamic vinegar, the really good at least 20 year old type

extra virgin olive oil

fleur de sel or a hand harvested salt that goes well with tomatoes, I prefer the pink one

1 fresh peach sliced, when in season, otherwise leave it out

fresh cracked pepper

Heat a skillet and dice up the bacon, cook bacon until crispy, set aside.

Scatter the  spring mix on your serving plate in a thin layer.  Cut the tomatoes in ½ inch slices and overlap them around the plate alternating colors.  Slice the onion in paper thin slices, break slices apart.  Scatter the bacon, onion, cheese and basil leaves all over the top of the tomatoes.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and the good balsamic.  Hit it with the salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Pour a glass of viogner or sauvignon blanc and enjoy the afternoon.Zucchini and Summer Squash Flan with Caramelized Onions and Feta Cheese


This is a crust less quiche basically, serve with a great salad for a light lunch with friends

1 medium zucchini about 8 oz

1 same size summer yellow squash

1 large onion or 2 small thinly sliced

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 cup crumbled feta

1 1/4 half and half

2 large eggs

2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves coarsely chopped

1/8 cayenne pepper

black pepper to taste

in a small skillet add the olive oil and thinly sliced onions over very low heat until brown and sweet.  This takes a while so be patient.  It is worth it!

Grate the squash on the large holes of a box style grater or food processor shredder blade.  Place in a large bowl with the salt and let drain for 30 minutes.  Put squash in a strainer and let drain well.  Pat dry with paper towels or clean kitchen cloth.  Squash should be very dry.  In a bowl put squash, feta and the cooled caramelized onions and mix gently.  Put the mixture in a glass or ceramic quiche size dish that has been buttered.  In a bowl add half and half, eggs, cayenne, fresh thyme leaves and black pepper to taste.  No salt is needed due to the saltiness of the feta cheese.  Whisk to combine and pour over the squash mixture and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes until middle is only slightly jiggly.  Remove and let cool for 10-15 minutes, serve warm and enjoy your lunch!

Zucchini Carpaccio

I always wonder what to do with the loads of zucchini at the end of the summer.  This is a sure way to get the kids to eat their veggies and you!

Serves 4

4 small zucchini

2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup mint leaves loosely packed

1 tsp lemon zest ruff chopped

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

your favorite sea salt to taste  

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

4 oz parmigiano-reggiano shaved

diagonally make a cut in the zucchini and get out your mandolin slicer or whatever slicer you have that can make paper thin slices.  Cut the zucchini up into paper

thin slices and arrange on 4 plates overlapping zucchini slightly 1  layer on each plate.  Or make on big plate and let people help themselves.   Whisk together oil, lemon juice in a bowl and drizzle over zucchini.  Stack mint leaves on top of each other and roll and julienne slice to create long thin slivers of the leaves.  Sprinkle the pine nuts and lemon zest over as well.  Let stand for 10 minutes at room temp for flavors to come together. Sprinkle the fresh cut mint leaves, shave curls of the parmigiano on top, hit it with a little fresh cracked pepper and ser