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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2022, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Have only begun Geraldine Brooks’ brand new book, Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loving it so far. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the miniscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. To say that this book stretched my comfort zone is the least of it . . .think about a time in the not very distant future, when global warming has done it’s worst and nearly all animals are extinct. No bird song in the air or fish in the sea. There’s this woman, Franny, who is on a quest to follow the very small, but last migration of arctic terns, who fly from pole to pole each year. She somehow sees this migration as a paean to her own life (of many travails). Is this book a foretelling of what our world will be like?  There’s a lot of angst going on here in this book, with her marriage, with her career, with her perpetual need for travel . . . always needing to go somewhere else other than staying at home and finding peace and happiness there. Then this final, gritty, illegal at-sea voyage trying to find the terns. Very much worth reading if you can stomach the sadness in it. Soul-searching is a common denominator here, but then aren’t a lot of books?

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife. A German Kommandant enters the picture in this tiny berg in France. Knowing her husband is in a camp, most likely a death camp, she compromises her morals to save the picture and possibly save her husband’s life. Jump to somewhat current day and the painting, which has survived all these years, and is in the hands of a young widow who has an extraordinary connection with the painting. A lawsuit ensues having to do with art stolen by the Nazis and a convoluted trail of how the painting traveled in the intervening years. Even though this was WWI, not WWII, but the law encompasses the past. It’s a heart-wrenching story. There’s a love interest too. Well worth reading. Would make a good book club read.

Memoirs are such fun, especially if you really enjoy/love the author. This was the case as I read Rachael Ray 50, an ode to  her age. So I read online, Rachael discloses more about her personal life in this book than she has done in her many other cookbooks. I really enjoyed reading the book, as she told stories about her growing up, including some of her mother’s recipes and from other family members. She and her family eat tons of pasta, so lots of the recipes I probably won’t prepare, but okay, I still enjoyed reading all the stories.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus. I’m not a gardener at all, but I found the story just fascinating. It chronicles the love story between a young couple, human ones, not trees, one a Greek, one a Turk and their relationship (verboten back in the 70s). It goes back and forth between the 70s (when the real conflict was going on) and current day (2010ish). Loved this book from page one to the last.

If you’re a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, you’ll find his newest book a league apart. Klara and the Sun. It takes place in the near future when we humans can go to a store and buy an AF (artificial friend). These robotic humanoid “things” have knowledge and personalities. The book follows along as a family buys Klara, an AF with perhaps a better personality than some. She has feelings, but not very many needs. The reader never really “sees” Klara except for a few descriptions of her human-type shape. You get into Klara’s brain (her PC chip) and know how she feels about her family. Her main job is to be a friend to the daughter, Josie, who has some kind of unnamed illness. The AF must spend a part of every day in the sunshine (some kind of hidden solar unit must be within Klara). There are any number of other characters in the story (mostly human, not AFs) which add dimension. I was quite mesmerized by the story and am in awe at the creativity of this author. Loved the book. May not be for everyone. I’m not a science fiction fan at all, but this was believable. And you’ll fall in love with Klara who wants so much to be wanted and loved.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however. The husband and wife own a tennis school (this takes place in Australia) and the children grow up surrounded by tennis everything. The children don’t necessarily get along. The parents haven’t always gotten along, either, although through many years the parents were quite besotted with each other, to the detriment of the parenting. Much travail from all the family members. But oh what a story. It had me riveted and wondering, until the last 5 pages of so when the resolution occurs. Big surprise.

Amor Towles’ new book, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel. Literally it’s a page turner. I think it’s still on the best seller list. A young man, Emmett, is released from a youth work camp (back in the day) and is returned home (by the camp warden) following the death of his father, to find that the home they’d lived in was in foreclosure. His mother abandoned them years before. His intent is to pick up his 8-year old brother and they will head off for Texas, but then he discovers two of his work-camp-mates had hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Oh my goodness, such a tangled web. Fascinating, and Amor Towles has such a way with words. His sentences are like blooming flower vines, with metaphors in nearly every sentence. Such a gifted writer.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean. Oh there are plenty of twists and turns. Couldn’t put it down.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride. She moves to San Francisco and becomes the bride, and mother to the man’s young child. But all is not right with the world. Sophie senses an undercurrent about her husband’s life. He’s elusive, leaves her alone for days on end, doesn’t share her bed, and she begins to feel the only reason he wanted a wife was to care for the child. Then the world turns upside down with the 1906 earthquake. And then there’s more. . . and more. . . very gripping read.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration. Oh the various twists this book can give you. There’s a guy she meets, but she’s keeping her boyfriend at home on the string, sort of. Then there’s the desk itself, that has history. Oh my, does it have history. Really interesting story, light reading.

One of my book clubs has us reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library: A Novel. What a premise for a book. About a library you can whiz to in the middle of the night and discover other lives you could have lived. And experience them. To find out the answers to those questions we ask ourselves sometimes, “I wonder what would have happened if I’d . . . .” taken that other job, gone out with that guy, taken that trip. That kind of thing. You’ll find out what happened to one particular woman who thought she had nothing left to live for. Good read. Very different. A bit space-agey. Sort of time travel, but not really. But yes, maybe.

James Shipman has written an intriguing book, It Is Well: A Novel, about a man who has lost his wife. And about a woman who has lost her husband. But their relationship stalls, big time, because the guy made a promise to his wife, and he feels duty-bound to honor it. There is much angst about it all. Much wringing of hands, some tears on her part. Nice book; good read.

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.


Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Soups, Travel, on September 22nd, 2022.

That’s my granddaughter’s freezer . . . but I made all those soups – four different kinds.

A post from Carolyn. Last week I spent in Greenville, South Carolina and one day in Blacksburg, Virginia. Daughter Sara (who posts here occasionally) and her husband John, his mother and sister and I flew to S.C. to attend a “white coat ceremony.” Their daughter, Sabrina, my granddaughter, is in medical school at the University of South Carolina/Greenville. She began classes there about 6 weeks ago. First she did EMT training, and now she’s in full-on med school classes requiring lots, lots and lots of studying.

A white coat ceremony is done for nursing students and for med school students (maybe others but I know only of those two). Sabrina was given her white coat to wear when she works at Prisma Hospital, associated with the med school. Families of the 110 students were there (from all over the world, but lots of them from South Carolina). Her undergrad was from Clemson University, 30 minutes away, and that probably helped her get into the med school in Greenville. I think there are three students from California in her class. I removed her last name from the photo, just because it’s the safe thing to do. Can you tell I’m short and she’s tall?

It was a very moving ceremony; so very proud of this sweet girl. So, I flew to Greenville four days earlier than all of the family. I stayed at a B&B about a block away from Sabrina’s apartment. I became a regular at the Publix supermarket down the street, and I spent 2+ days making soup by the gallon. Sabrina spends so much time studying that she doesn’t have much time to cook, so this was my gift to her. If I’d had bigger pots/pans I’d have made double the quantity, but she has a limited repertoire of them, so I made do with her Instant Pot and one other pan.

Since this is a food blog, you probably want to know what I made for her? These soups are favorites of mine. If you haven’t ever made any of these, you’re missing out.

Cabbage Patch Stew – after making the soup with ground beef and veggies, I prepared a batch of mashed potatoes, filled a small snack-sized ziploc with the mashed potatoes and added it inside the main ziploc (quart sized) with the soup in it.

Moroccan Harira Chicken Soup  – chicken soup in a flavorful soup with lentils, rice and garbanzos – this is one of my favorite soups that I make regularly.

Beef, Cheese and Macaroni Stoup – a Rachael Ray recipe I’ve been making for about 20 years or so. This time I made it with Italian sausage.

And lastly my dad’s Lentil Soup – my dad never cooked anything for the family except this soup and grilled burgers and steak. But it’s a regular favorite in my family now (granddaughter Taylor loved it). I used ground beef in it this time, but I often use Italian sausage instead.

There are some more pictures to share, but I’ll do it in the next post. Lots of things to do here at home when you’ve returned from a trip away.

Posted in Breads, on September 16th, 2022.

Ever wondered why there isn’t more zucchini IN zucchini bread? Read on . . .

A post from Carolyn. Not that I’ve ever spent much time philosophizing about zucchini bread, but when I read the article from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, I knew I needed to make her version. Her write-up on her blog was so funny, I LOL’d. If you need a good hearty laugh, do go to her post about it. And her starting point is why isn’t there more zucchini in zucchini bread? She decided to change that, and for now, at least, until someone else comes up with something better, I’ll be baking this one. I’m too afraid of fiddling with baked goods because of the chemistry of them – the right amount of dry to wet to leavening to baking. I’m glad Deb did!

My friend Sue (Colorado Sue) made the bread when I was visiting them in late April. Sue is careful about sugar because her husband Lynn is a diabetic now, so she used monkfruit in her version – except for the turbinado sugar on top.

Once home from my trip I located the recipe and have now made it myself. If you look carefully at the open slice of bread (pictured, on the right) you can actually see some of the zucchini peeking through. I used monkfruit golden (instead of brown sugar) and monkfruit classic (instead of granulated sugar) when I made it, and it’s just as tasty as making it with the real thing. Sometimes in desserts I can tell it has some type of artificial sugar in it (I get that cooling feeling or texture – can it be called a texture? – after chewing or swallowing) and know. With this, I couldn’t tell. That’s a real big win for my taste buds!

Make this with the real sugar or a combination of artificial ones. In either case, this recipe is a real winner.

What’s GOOD: altogether delicious bread – you can’t taste the extra zucchini, but it’s so moist. A keeper.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Ultimate Zucchini Bread

Recipe: adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen
Servings: 12

2 cups zucchini — grated (13 ounces or 370 grams) packed zucchini, not wrung out, grated on the large holes of a box grater
2 large eggs
2/3 cup neutral oil — safflower(160 ml) olive oil, or melted unsalted butter [I used butter]
1/2 cup dark brown sugar — packed (95 grams) or Monkfruit golden
1/2 cup granulated sugar — (100 grams) or Monkfruit classic
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt — or table salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg — rounded
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour — (260 grams)
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar — (25 grams)

1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Lightly coat a 6-cup or 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
3. Place grated zucchini in a large bowl and add oil, eggs, sugars, vanilla, and salt. Use a fork to mix until combined. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and baking powder over surface of batter and mix until combined – and then, for extra security that the ingredients are well-dispersed, give it 10 extra stirs. Add flour and mix until just combined.
4. Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the raw or turbinado sugar – don’t skimp. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick or tester inserted into the middle cake but also into the top of the cake, closer to the dome, comes out batter-free.
5. Let cool completely in the pan. Leave in pan, unwrapped, overnight or 24 hours, until removing (carefully, so not to ruin flaky lid) and serving in slices. Zucchini bread keeps for 4 to 5 days at room temperature. I wrap only the cut end of the cake in foil, and return it to the baking pan, leaving the top exposed so that it stays crunchy.
Per Serving: 279 Calories; 13g Fat (42.0% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 37g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 31mg Cholesterol; 305mg Sodium; 21g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 39mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 152mg Potassium; 74mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Vegetarian, Veggies/sides, on September 11th, 2022.

SO easy to make, and so delicious. 

A post from Carolyn. I made this for my lunch the other day. My usual go-to for lunch is soup, but gosh, it’s been SO darned hot here in SoCal, that eating hot soup did not appeal. But warming up my toaster oven was easy enough and this came together in minutes. This was so good. Maybe doesn’t reach the tip-top of any broccoli dish I’ve ever made, but it sure was tasty and easy to do.

I had broccoli heads in my refrigerator – being a single person/widow, buying an entire bunch of broccoli is usually too much for me, so the broccoli head, even though more expensive, is a wiser choice. If you want to buy the bunch and have a family, well then, just double this recipe. My notes say this is an Ina recipe, but I did alter it a little bit – really I just cut up the broccoli into florets (making sure I cut off any of the wider, thicker stalk parts, tossed it with EVOO, salt and pepper, some slices of fresh garlic, roasted it in a 425°F oven for about 15 minutes. Once out of the oven I sprinkled it with shreds of Parm and pine nuts and put it back in the toaster oven for about 3 minutes. Done. Then I added the lemon zest AND lemon curls and a squirt or two of lemon juice and it was ready to eat. I gobbled up that pan full, just about. The recipe called for julienned basil – and I had some – but forgot to put it on there. Do add it if you have it available.

I also had some leftover calabacitas (one of my favorite vegetables ever) and ate those along with the broccoli. A very filling lunch. Not much protein (cheese and pine nuts, only), but I had chicken for dinner, so I was fine with my allotment of daily protein.

What’s GOOD: so easy to prepare, and takes just minutes start to finish. Really good flavor from the cheese and pine nuts. Lots of texture too. Be sure to use finely grated Parm, not big shards or shreds so you have plenty of Parm to go around. You don’t use much.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Easy Pan-Roasted Broccoli with Parm

Recipe: Adapted slightly from an Ina Garten recipe
Servings: 6

2 pounds broccoli heads
4 garlic cloves — peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon zest — some grated, some in threads
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts — toasted
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — not shreds, but finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh basil — julienned

1. Heat the oven to 425°F.
2. Cut the broccoli into florets, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart.
3. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 2 tablespoons EVOO, then sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
4. Roast for 18-20 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned. Remove the broccoli from the oven add lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, and Parmesan. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted. Sprinkle wop with basil. Serve hot.
Per Serving: 136 Calories; 7g Fat (40.9% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 9mg Cholesterol; 783mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 234mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 534mg Potassium; 219mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, on September 6th, 2022.

A winner of a good cookie.

A post from Carolyn. In my recipe program, MasterCook, I have 344 cookie recipes. I’ve probably made half of them; maybe more. And, of course, I keep adding to the list. Last week I was preparing some food to ship off to my granddaughter who is in medical school in South Carolina. She’s been there for about 6 weeks now – loving it as far as I know. I’ve texted with her a few times. She studies a lot. Obviously! And although she likes to cook, she’s learning that she just doesn’t have much time to cook because of the amount of studying she must do. Fortunately, there’s a Trader Joe’s in her neighborhood. But food from home is always welcomed. I hope the cookies survive the flight across country in a box that may get thrown and tossed.

I made a batch of granola bars (with dried cranberries and walnuts). Not sure they will ever make the rotation again (they were all for her), but we’ll see what she says. They were very sticky and not as firm as I’d hoped. They were altogether too sweet for me, but then she’s young and needs nutrition in any form she can get it.

Then I made these cookies. I had started out with a recipe from Half Baked Harvest, but I altered it some. I’m not such a fan of cookies made with all brown sugar, so I used about 2/3 brown, and 1/3 regular white sugar. I’d debated about adding walnuts, but ended up not; I also reduced the quantity of chocolate chips. Otherwise, the recipe is mostly the same. Butter gets gently browned in a skillet. Be sure to use a light colored pan so you can SEE how brown the butter is getting. It goes from looking like golden melted butter to dark in a matter of about a minute. It needs to cool awhile before being added to the cookie batter.

I kept the dough in mounds (I thought they would ship better), but you can also flatten the dough on the pan too. In mounds, the cookies took about 13 minutes to bake (until golden brown). If flattened, they’d probably bake in 2-3 fewer minutes.

What’s GOOD: loved the crispy texture and taste. Good and nutritious. The chocolate doesn’t overwhelm the cookie but you know the chips are there. The browned butter adds a rich flavor. Yes, I’d make these again.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of . . . they’re really delicious.

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Oatmeal Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe By: Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Servings: 60

4 sticks unsalted butter
1  1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups oatmeal — old fashioned
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Add the butter to a skillet set over medium heat. Cook until the butter begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Let cool about 10 minutes.
3. In bowl of stand mixer, combine brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla, mixing until smooth. Add browned butter, then add flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Gently fold in the chocolate. As the batch sits, it will get more firm (as the oatmeal absorbs liquid).
4. Using a scoop, make rounded tablespoon size balls and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Rotate sheets and continue to bake for about 5 more minutes until are golden brown and show some dark brown around the edges.
5. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet. They will continue to cook slightly as they sit on the baking sheet. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Per Serving: 175 Calories; 9g Fat (45.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 30mg Cholesterol; 112mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 24mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 66mg Potassium; 54mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, Miscellaneous, on September 1st, 2022.

Having made this as a dip, to eat with pita chips, I had a lot of it – and it went beautifully as a sauce with the tri-tip steak we grilled. Several guests commented how complementary it was to the meat.

A post from Carolyn. There’s been a bit of cooking and entertaining going on in my house lately. Birthdays and then Taylor’s nursing graduation. I made a batch of this dip and had plenty to serve for both events. Happy coincidence. I made the grilled tri-tip for both parties (mostly different people) and this dip, although maybe not the most appetizing color, is really delicious.

The recipe has been in my arsenal for a long time – I might have made it years ago – before I started writing a blog. It’s a Phillis Carey recipe. And I’ll just say – it’s super easy to make. It’s a sour cream based dip but also contains red wine vinegar, some oil, a little brown sugar, garlic, fresh ginger, cumin and salt. The most time consuming thing about this is soaking the dried ancho chiles in boiling water for about 20-30 minutes.

Pasilla Chili Peppers in Bulk | Buy Dried Ancho Peppers There’s a picture at left of some ancho chiles (or chilies). They’re a very dark red/brown. They’re a pasilla/poblano chile that’s been dried. They have tons of flavor, but not much heat. I keep them on hand – although the food experts say if you haven’t used them in a year, buy new ones. I’ve never done that — I have dried chiles that are 5 years old and they seem fine to me. Use  your own judgment.

Anyway, once you have soaked the chiles, you mix up the ingredients in the food processor, then chill for several hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with tortilla chips, with veggie strips, crackers, or as a sauce for grilled meat (shrimp also recommended).

What’s GOOD: so easy to make. Just have dried chiles and sour cream on hand and you will likely have all the other ingredients. Great also as a sauce to grilled meat. It’s not hot – it has a little bit of heat and a lot of flavor.

What’s NOT: nothing, as long as you have the dried chiles on hand.

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Ancho Chile Dip/Sauce

Recipe By: Phillis Carey, about 2005
Servings: 6

3 whole dried ancho chiles — (remove stems and seeds after soaking)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Place dried chilies in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 20-30 minutes and then drain well. Remove stems and seeds. Tear the chiles into 1″ pieces.
2. Add all ingredients to a food processor and buzz until smooth. This dip will keep 4 to 5 days in refrigerator. Serving ideas: Great with sliced vegetables, with tortilla chips or as a dip for shrimp but also good used to garnish for quesadillas or taquitos. And makes a great sauce to go with steak or a grilled beef something (marinated tri-tip). Garnish bowl with one dried ancho chile, to help identify what it is.
Per Serving: 159 Calories; 15g Fat (85.2% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 19mg Cholesterol; 205mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 39mg Calcium; trace Iron; 59mg Potassium; 28mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, Grilling, on August 26th, 2022.

What do you think about tri-tip? Like it? Not? Too gristly? Flavor? 

A post from Carolyn.  I’ve not ever been a big fan of tri-tip. Too tough, usually. The flavor was always good – good, strong, beefy flavor; but the texture was chewy; usually too chewy for my taste. I mean, I love-me a good ribeye. That’s my fav. But I was feeding a crowd and served grilled Italian sausage and this tri-tip. My friend Dianne fixed this beef a few weeks ago when she invited Taylor and me to dinner, and I really liked it. It happened that the slices I had contained next to no fat or gristle. Not so much when I made it myself (above). But the flavor was great. I liked the marinade. The tri-tip happened to be on sale at one of my local markets . . . now I suppose I could have gotten one that wasn’t trimmed as well . . . I don’t know.

You do need to trim the meat of visible fat and gristle. And there’s a piece of silver skin on one side that also needs to be removed. That takes a bit of hand labor. But worth the effort. Marinate the meat for 24 hours if time permits. This recipe came from an ancient Sunset Magazine and is still available online. Dianne had a copy of the faded page from the magazine as she’s been making this for a bunch of years.

As I type this, I’m serving it again this week to a different gathering – my granddaughter’s nursing school graduation party. I’m expecting 18 people – some family and a bunch of my friends who have gotten to know (and love) Taylor since she’s lived with me. It’s been hot-hot here in our neck of the woods, so we may be eating inside (I don’t know where I’ll seat 18 people – it’ll take some ingenuity). I’m doing another coil of sausage (see cooked sausage coil at left), this tri-tip and also a full slab of slow-roasted salmon with a garlic vinaigrette on top. Then with tons of sides and salads. And daughter Sara is bringing a cheesecake (lemon strawberry is what Taylor requested). A few people are bringing something to help out.

So I read, tri-tip isn’t a cut of meat available in all areas of our country. A lot here in California. But in other places, they’ve never heard of it. It’s from the bottom sirloin and has a triangular shape with a long tapered end, hence tri – – tip(s). Most people dry roast it but it can also be marinated and grilled like a steak. That’s what we did. My son barbecued the meat for me as I was busy in the kitchen. He also grilled a complete round (coil) of Italian sausage with Mozzarella cheese in it. SO SO good. We have a good Italian restaurant in Newport Beach (Sabatino’s) that has a butcher department attached to the restaurant. The coil was $42 – probably about 2 1/2 pounds. Not sure, I didn’t weigh it.

Back to this tri-tip. It’s marinated in a very simple solution – reduced sodium soy sauce, dried oregano, garlic, a jot of liquid smoke, pepper and a bunch of fresh cilantro. But first, you cut some long 1/2″ deep slits in the roast so the marinade can get into the crevices. Next time I’ll poke it all over with a fork, too. Into a plastic bag it’ll go, and several times over the 24 hours turn the bag over and over. There really isn’t much marinade, so you need to continue to flip it over in the frig numerous times. Let is sit out for 30 minutes or so, then it goes onto a medium-high grill for about 10 minutes per side, or until it gets to 125°F in the center, to get that meat a lovely medium-rare. It needs to rest for about 5 minutes (foil-covered) then you slice it SUPER-THIN across the grain. If people prefer more well done, the tapered end will be more well cooked. I served it with an ancho chili dip/sauce (posting in a few days).

What’s GOOD: Good, beefy flavor, needs marinating so don’t skimp on the 24-hour time. Cut into super-thin slices, it’s a very nice steak type entrée. Some people prefer a more chewy beef texture – this is it. Love the flavor from the marinade. The meat would like a sauce to go with it.

What’s NOT: making time for the marinating is about it. Don’t expect this to taste like ribeye, though, because it’s far from it. If you don’t live in California you might have trouble getting the cut of meat – you’d have to ask a butcher to cut it.

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Grilled Tri-Tip Roast with Cilantro

Recipe By: Tanya Newgent, San Diego, via Sunset Magazine
Servings: 8

2 1/2 pounds beef tri-tip roast
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons liquid smoke — optional
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Cilantro sprigs

1. Trim and discard excess fat from beef and remove any silver skin. Cut 1-inch-long slits about 1/2 inch deep and about 1 inch apart over top and bottom of roast.
2. Mix soy sauce, chopped cilantro, liquid smoke, oregano, garlic, and pepper in a heavy-duty plastic bag.
3. Add meat and spoon soy mixture into slits. Spoon remaining mixture over meat. Refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the roast every 3-4 hours or as often as possible.
4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds). Cover gas grill. Cook roast, turning once, until a thermometer inserted in center of thickest part registers 125° for rare, 20 to 25 minutes total (so about 10 minutes per side) for a 1 1/2- to 2-inch-thick piece. Tapered end will cook faster, so try to place it away from heat.
5. Transfer meat to a board and let rest about 5 minutes. Cut across the grain in very thin slices. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve with a sauce of some kind: try an ancho chili and sour cream mixture.
Per Serving: 241 Calories; 12g Fat (46.8% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 94mg Cholesterol; 330mg Sodium; trace Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 45mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 487mg Potassium; 282mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, on August 21st, 2022.

This is the best chicken makhani (butter chicken) I have ever eaten. Bar none. Can you tell I love cilantro?

A post from Carolyn. The various types of chicken curry I’ve eaten, that I’ve made myself and/or really enjoyed out, include khorma, butter and makhani, plus an old recipe I used to make from Dinah Shore (it’s here on my blog too), as it was an early iteration of curry that I made in my early cooking years, called Chicken Curry Without Worry. Perhaps they’re one in the same, just by different names; I’m not enough of an expert of Indian cuisine to know. But this recipe, which may become my all-time favorite and will be made in my kitchen with regularity from here on, is just so stunning in flavor.

The original recipe for this came from one online, and my daughter-in-law Karen’s sister Janice sent it to me (thanks again, Janice). She made a few changes to it, and when I made it; I did too. Again, not because I’m an expert at Indian recipes (for surely, I am not). A couple of ingredients I didn’t have in my pantry –  curry leaves and fresh serrano chiles (just didn’t want to make a trip to the store for those).  Janice’s husband is Indian. Actually he’s British, but has Indian heritage, so their family make and eat a lot of Indian food. Janice has become a really good Indian cook (though she’s not Indian at all). She introduced me to methi, which are fenugreek leaves. Not the seeds/pods, but the leaves. Methi chicken will often appear on Indian restaurant menus. And it’s a unique flavor; something I like.

This iteration of chicken curry relies on a huge variety of herbs and spices, used in different ways. First, there’s a yogurt-based marinade that includes ginger and garlic (such huge standards of Indian cooking), garam masala, turmeric, cumin, chile powder (and I used Kashmiri). A side note here, Kashmiri chile powder may not be something you’ll find at the grocery store. I bought mine on amazon (see link). Kashmiri chile is mild – and imparts a really red color, more red than some chile powders. It doesn’t have much heat. But it does have some, so don’t be misled that you can add a lot and not heat up the dish.

Chicken thighs were what I used – though you can use breasts if you’d prefer – just don’t cook it as long. I removed some fat from them, then cut them up into bite-sized pieces. The more surface available for flavor is what I was looking for. Into a ziploc bag went all of the marinade (yogurt, etc.) then I added the chicken. The practical part of using a plastic bag for this is you can smoosh the bag to get all those flavors all over the chicken pieces. Just move, squeeze, smoosh away. Into the frig for several hours (I did about 6 hours – but you can do overnight too) before beginning the cooking of the curry.

The sauce: the chicken pieces are added to a medium hot skillet to brown (with oil and butter first) and turned to get some good dark brown crust. Then onions are added plus more garlic and fresh ginger, then a plethora of additional spices. And some canned crushed tomatoes, more Kashmiri chile powder too and CREAM. Oh yes, the cream. An integral part of chicken curry in my book. The mixture is simmered briefly, then the chicken is added back in and simmered some more. Don’t let it get dry – add water if needed. That simmering time gives those flavors an opportunity to bloom throughout the sauce.

Meanwhile, I made a batch of rice in my Instant Pot (so easy — 2 cups rice, 2 1/2 cups water, 1 tsp salt; pressure for 3 minutes, rest for 10 and it’s done to perfection). That’s the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Into that bowl it went with a couple of spoonsful of the curry on top and some chopped cilantro. That was dinner. Since my granddaughter Taylor has moved back home, I’ve been making a few things that I knew she didn’t like – specifically curry!

What’s GOOD: everything minute thing about this dish was fantastic. Can’t use enough superlatives here. Full of flavors – you can’t pick them out, just a beautiful homogenous sauce with abundant flavor.

What’s NOT: only if you don’t like curry or spices (several of my friends do not). Oh well, more for me!!

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Chicken Makhani

Recipe By: Adapted from an online recipe
Servings: 8

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs — or breasts, if preferred
2/3 cup plain yogurt — full or 2%
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger — very finely minced
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter — or ghee
2 large onions — coarsely chopped
3 whole garlic cloves — minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger — very finely minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
28 ounces crushed tomatoes, canned
1 1/2 teaspoons Kashmiri chile powder
2 teaspoons salt — or more if needed
3 whole curry leaves — optional
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kasoori methi — (dried fenugreek leaves)
4 tablespoons cilantro — chopped, for garnish

1. In a large plastic Ziploc bag, mix all the ingredients in the marinade – squeeze the mixture in the bag until you cannot see any streaks of spices or yogurt, then add the chicken, cut up into bite-sized pieces. Squish the bag several times to distribute the marinade throughout the chicken; allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or up to overnight.
2. Heat half of the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add chicken pieces (including the sticky yogurt marinade on the chicken) in several batches, making sure to not crowd the pan. Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes maximum, just until the chicken is browned some. Remove chicken and continue browning remaining chicken. The chicken is not fully cooked here, but will finish cooking in the sauce. Some of the yogurt marinade will stick to the pan, scrape it loose and leave it in the pan.
3. Heat remaining oil and butter in the same pan. Fry the onions until they start to sweat, about 5 minutes, scraping any more browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pan.
4. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for one minute until fragrant, then add ground coriander, cumin and garam masala. Let cook for about 20 seconds until fragrant, stirring constantly.
5. Add crushed tomatoes, Kashmiri chili powder and salt. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens and becomes a deep brown red color.
6. Remove from heat, scoop mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. You may need to do this in two batches, and add about 3 tablespoons of water (or more) to each batch to allow the thickened mixture to puree.
7. Pour sauce back into the pan. Stir in the cream and crushed kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves). Add the chicken with juices back into the pan and cook over low heat (simmer) for an additional 8-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and bubbling. Don’t allow the mixture to get dry; if needed add water to keep it more fluid.
8. Instant Pot Rice: 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed, 2 1/2 cups water, 1 tsp salt; pressure for 3 minutes; rest for 10 and it’s done.
8. Serve curry with rice, naan and garnish the curry with chopped cilantro.
Per Serving: 538 Calories; 41g Fat (66.4% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 220mg Cholesterol; 1317mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 124mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 471mg Potassium; 107mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Fish, Grilling, on August 18th, 2022.

This may be my new favorite way to fix fish.

A post from Carolyn. A few weeks ago I was watching Ina Garten’s new TV show, Be My Guest (I think that’s what it’s called), and she had Julianna Margulies visit her, in Ina’s lovely Long Island kitchen. I’ve been such a fan of Julianna Margulies since she was on The Good Wife. So sorry that show ended. I didn’t know that Julianna loves to cook, and she prepared halibut for Ina.

Julianna explained that this is her signature company dinner entrée. With that kind of a recommendation, I knew before she started that it would be something I’d prepare. They had the most beautiful 1-inch thick halibut steaks, probably the kind you can’t get unless you go to a fish market or caught the fish yourself and asked for 1-inch thick slices. My Costco has fresh halibut right now, so that was the impetus for making it. And let me tell you, this preparation is so very EASY! The down side is that halibut is ferociously expensive. I bought a small piece (that I was able to get 4 small servings out of) and after making this, I vacuum-sealed the other three portions – with a little plastic wrap packet of the herb butter stuck on top of the halibut.

First you make up an herb butter. What I had (fresh) was sage and chives (both survived last winter and continue to provide this summer) and Italian parsley. You also add garlic to the mix.

There at left you can see the various components. Sage leaves have such a different texture to them.

The butter needs to be at room temp and you carefully chop up the herbs and garlic and add it to the butter. With a bit of lemon zest too. Mix it well and set it aside. If time permits, do this an hour or so before you’re ready to begin cooking the halibut.

The halibut is salted and peppered before starting. And a note of caution – the rest of your meal needs to be completely ready to go and serve. You’ll have no time for other kitchen prep once you start the halibut. The stovetop grill pan is heated to high/medium-high and you drizzle a bit of EVOO on it before laying on the halibut steaks. At that point set a timer. My halibut steaks were about 3/4″ thick (not the 1-inch called for) so I knew they would cook in less time. Do set a timer – I know I said this before – but it’s worth repeating. The recipe indicates you melt the herb butter at this point – I didn’t, as the herb butter was so soft it was almost melted in the bowl! Once the fish is turned over (it should have a beautiful golden glow on it) you turn OFF the heat and slather on, or pour most of the herb butter on top of the halibut. If you used the soft butter, it melts in seconds. Cover the pan with a lid or a piece of foil and set a timer again. This time you set it for 3 minutes (if your steaks are 1″ thick). I set mine for 2 minutes. Everything else was ready to plate, so I slid the halibut off onto a plate (or heated platter if you’re doing several) and poured what little herb butter was in the pan itself (my grill pan does have a handle) and the remainder I had set aside. It melted immediately. Sprinkle with lemon zest, the little curl-type. Serve.

What’s GOOD: oh my, so good. But then, I love the lovely big flakes of fish that come from halibut. The fish was beautiful to look at and serve, (the lemon zest on top adds a lot – that happened to be something Ina added to the recipe) and so tender and moist. This cooking method is genius. I’d serve this to guests anytime. Just know you’ll be making a big dent in your wallet to buy several hunks of 1″ halibut steaks.

What’s NOT: only that you want to make this with halibut (or maybe sea bass). All expensive. I’ll try it with cod too – it might be nice.

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Halibut with Herbed Butter and Lemon Zest

Recipe By: Ina Garten’s show, Be My Guest, from Julianna Margulies
Servings: 4

8 tablespoons unsalted butter — softened
2 garlic cloves — minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves — minced fine
1 tablespoon Italian parsley — minced, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh chives — minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage — minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest — grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds halibut fillets — (6 to 8-ounces each) about 1″ thick, skinless
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons lemon zest — for garnish

NOTE:  If your halibut is less than 1″ thick, adjust cooking time down so it won’t overcook (i.e., 3/4″ would need 2 minutes each side)
1. HERB BUTTER (if time permits, prepare butter one hour ahead): in a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, chopped herbs, and lemon zest plus salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and transfer to a small saucepan and set aside.
2. HALIBUT: Heat the olive oil in a grill pan over high heat. Sprinkle the halibut generously on both sides with salt and pepper. When the grill pan is hot, place the fish on the pan, and cook for about 3 minutes on one side. Do not move the fish.
3. Meanwhile, heat the herb butter just until melted.
4. Turn the fish over, lower the heat to medium, and pour most of the melted herb butter over the fish. Cover the pan with a lid or a piece of aluminum foil, turn off the heat, and allow to sit for 3 minutes.
5. SERVE: place the fish on a heated serving platter, spoon the herb butter from the pan over the fish, then add any reserved herb butter you set aside, sprinkle with extra parsley and lemon zest. Serve hot.
Per Serving: 476 Calories; 33g Fat (62.4% calories from fat); 43g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 172mg Cholesterol; 159mg Sodium; trace Total Sugars; 11mcg Vitamin D; 45mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 1026mg Potassium; 548mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, on August 14th, 2022.

Do you wonder how to pronounce it? It’s ch-tee-pee-tee. It’s Turkish.

A post from Carolyn. It’s been years ago now that one of my granddaughters, Sabrina (the one who has just started med school in South Carolina) and I flew to Washington, D.C. with my son, Powell (her uncle), who needed to be there on business. In between business he took us places and made some touring arrangements for us. Sabrina and I flitted around to various monuments and museums during the daytime and then we’d meet Powell in the evenings. One night he took us to Zaytinya, a well known restaurant (by Jose Andres) which serves Turkish, Greek and Lebanese food. So kinda-sorta Eastern Mediterranean food. Among the outstanding dishes we had that night, this one stood out to me. An appetizer served with pita bread or pita chips. I couldn’t get enough of it. Once I got home, I found the recipe online somewhere, somehow, and until now I hadn’t gotten around to making it. Not sure why as it’s so easy to do.

If you have abundant red bell peppers, by all means, char or roast them yourself. I had a big jar of them in my pantry, so used them instead. You mix up a vinaigrette of shallot, garlic, red wine vinegar and EVOO or just OO, then mix in crumbled Feta, some fresh thyme leaves and you’re done. So easy. I made it the day before, and actually, it kept for a week. Some of the feta had begun to disintegrate, but the flavor was still there and it tasted fine. The picture I found online shows a more homogenous mixture (you couldn’t see the cheese or peppers, it was just a solid red), but I like the differentiation with mixing it this way.

What’s GOOD: how easy it is to make if you’ve got some jarred bell peppers. Keeps for several days; obviously a good make-ahead appetizer. Very tasty with the bell pepper and cheese combo. Altogether delicious. I served it with pita chips.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of.

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Htipiti Spread

Recipe By: From Zaytinya, a Turkish-Greek-Lebanese restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Servings: 8

4 whole red bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 medium shallot — finely chopped
1 whole garlic clove — finely chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces Feta cheese — crumbled (use goat’s milk Feta if available)
4 teaspoons thyme — plus more for garnish
pita chips for serving

Note: it’s pronounced ch-tee-pee-tee, which means “beaten”. If desired, you can use jarred red bell peppers; remove any skin, membranes and seeds before proceeding to step 3.
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Place bell peppers on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 1 T oil, turn to coat. Roast peppers, turning every 15 minutes or so, until collapsed and very tender, 60-75 minutes; Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, whisk shallot, garlic, vinegar, a pinch of black pepper and 1/4 cup oil in a small bowl to combine. Season with salt.
4. Remove stems, skins and seeds from bell peppers, discard. Finely chop flesh and transfer to a medium bowl. Whisk dressing to reincorporate and pour over peppers. Toss to coat. Gently toss Feta and thyme. Cover and chill dip at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
5. Top the Htipiti with more thyme and serve with pita chips. Can be made one day ahead. Keep chilled. Will keep for several days.
Per Serving: 168 Calories; 15g Fat (77.3% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 25mg Cholesterol; 326mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 147mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 151mg Potassium; 113mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, Vegetarian, on August 14th, 2022.

These toasts, cute as can be, and quite delicious. I’d have this for lunch. Dinner even, if you didn’t want a hearty meal.

A post from Carolyn. So this recipe came from my friend Cherrie. She subscribes frequently to “Hello, Fresh,” that delivery service that gives you everything you need for a meal (several meals in a week, actually), all you have to do it put it together. I’m not sure whether this was an appetizer, or if it was a vegetarian type light dinner. She made it, took a taste of her husband’s but decided she wasn’t hungry enough for it and when I came for dinner that night she gave me a package of these. Already put together – all I had to do was warm them up a bit. She liked it enough she plans on making it herself sometime soon, and she sent me the Hello, Fresh print-out they sent her for the preparation.

Going online, I discovered this recipe was in Bon Appetit in 2014. So neither she nor I can claim anything about creating this recipe. It’s just that with tomatoes in season right now (and so very tasty) this can make a lovely light meal, or served on smaller toasts, as appetizers. However you serve them, they’re really tasty and not difficult to make.

There’s the photo I took of the ones my friend Cherrie made. She used pine nuts in hers, not walnuts. You do need to have ricotta on hand, some good tomatoes (cherry or grape type), some fresh herbs (chives, dill, thyme, maybe, or basil) and good bread to serve it on. Oh yes, balsamic glaze too. Knowing this recipe was just up my friend Joan’s alley, I sent it to her and she made it that very evening (her picture there at top). She raved about the good taste of the tomatoes (charred) and the garlic too. I concur – love tomatoes and garlic, and the charred tomatoes have that wonderful umami flavor.

What’s GOOD: the tomatoes (charred makes such a difference), the garlic, the cheese, texture of the nuts, the herby ricotta. Everything good.

What’s NOT: nary a thing – fresh herbs are needed here.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Charred Tomato & Ricotta Toasts

Recipe By: Hello Fresh recipe
Servings: 2 (maybe more)

1 clove garlic
10 ounce grape tomatoes
1/4 cup herbs — parsley, dill and/or chives
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
4 slices sourdough bread
3 tablespoons walnuts — or toasted pine nuts
5 teaspoons balsamic glaze
salt and pepper
4 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated

1. Adjust rack to top position and preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Peel and grate or mince garlic. Halve tomatoes; toss on a baking sheet with half the garlic, a large drizzle of olive oil, and pinch of salt and pepper. Roast on top rack until tomatoes are lightly charred, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Carefully wipe off sheet with paper towels.
3. Meanwhile, pick parsley leaves from stems; mince leaves. Mince chives. In a second medium bowl, combine ricotta, half the Parmesan (save the rest for serving), and half the minced herbs. Season with salt and a pinch of chili flakes to taste.
4. In a small bowl, combine remaining garlic and a large drizzle of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Brush one side of each slice of sourdough with garlic oil. Place on baking sheet used for tomatoes. Bake on top rack until toasted, 4-5 minutes total.
5. Remove sheet from oven; add walnuts to same sheet. (TIP: If sourdough is done at this point, remove from sheet.) Return to oven until walnuts are toasted, 2-3 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop walnuts.
6. Divide toasts between plates; spread with herby ricotta. Evenly top with tomatoes, walnuts, and remaining Parmesan. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and chili flakes to taste. Drizzle with as much balsamic glaze as you like and serve.
Per Serving (the calorie count must to be high because of the unknown size of the sourdough bread): 936 Calories; 44g Fat (42.1% calories from fat); 39g Protein; 98g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 76mg Cholesterol; 1475mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 672mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 892mg Potassium; 638mg Phosphorus.

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