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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 Beef, easy, on April 28th, 2022.

I do love my Instant Pot. This meal came together in a flash.

A post from Carolyn. As it turned out, we were invited out for St. Patrick’s Day dinner. But I’d already bought a corned beef – might I just say, a small corned beef at Trader Joe’s was close to $25. And that great big piece of meat becomes a small little bit of meat when it’s done cooking. That’s always the case with brisket, however.

Beef has become a treat anytime with prices like that. Even ground beef is pricey. But anyway, I needed to cook the corned beef. I waited a couple of weeks. Researched a few recipes online and decided on this one. I had Savoy cabbage, carrots and onions. I don’t eat potatoes hardly at all, and can’t say that we missed them. However, I’d have eaten them if I’d added them to the pot!

I made a bed of onions and garlic in the Instant Pot, then added in the rinsed corned beef on top. You can use beef broth or water, then seal and cook under pressure for 70 minutes. Some recipes say 90 minutes, but others said 70. Mine was a smaller brisket so I went with 70. The very tender corned beef was removed and set aside, covered with foil. The carrots and cabbage were added back into the Instant Pot (with all the cooking water) and pressure cooked for 2 minutes. Yes, two minutes. So easy and quick. Onto the platter everything went and I put out grainy mustard and horseradish to augment the corned beef. Altogether delicious.

What’s GOOD: how quick and easy this meal was to make from beginning to end. A 70-minute cooking time in the Instant Pot might make it hard to do for a weeknight if you’re a working family, but it was sure easy in every other way. Veggies were perfect after two minutes under pressure.

What’s NOT: really nothing – not very big servings, but then, we didn’t need a lot.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Instant Pot Corned Beef, Cabbage and Veggies

Recipe By: Adapted from Pressure Cooking Today
Serving Size: 6

3 pound corned beef brisket — brined in the package
4 cups low sodium beef broth
1 large onion — cut in wedges
8 cloves garlic
3 large carrots — cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small Savoy cabbage — cut into 8 wedges

1. Rinse the corned beef under cold water to remove herbs and seasonings, and discard brine.
2. Place onions and garlic in bottom of pot. Place corned beef on top and add about 3 cups of beef broth or water.
3. Lock the lid in place and cook under high pressure for 70 minutes. When beep sounds, allow pot to cool for 10 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure. When valve drops carefully remove lid. Test meat for tenderness. If necessary, continue cooking under pressure for another 10 minutes if the brisket is not done.
4. Remove the corned beef and set aside, covered lightly with foil.
5. Add carrots and cabbage to the broth in the Instant Pot. Lock the lid in place. Select high pressure and set the timer for 2 minutes. When beep sounds, turn off pressure cooker and do a quick pressure release to release pressure. When valve drops carefully remove lid. Check vegetables for done-ness. If they’re not done, cook under pressure for one more minute.
6. Slice corned beef across the grain into serving pieces and place on a platter along with the vegetables. Serve with grainy mustard and horseradish on the side.
Per Serving: 487 Calories; 34g Fat (63.9% calories from fat); 36g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 123mg Cholesterol; 3117mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 46mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 871mg Potassium; 306mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, easy, on April 14th, 2022.

Elegant dinner but super easy. You’d think it’s complicated and time consuming, but it’s really not. 

A post from Carolyn.  Someone asked me recently what chefs I follow . .. . my answer? I don’t really follow many chefs. Probably my two favorite food TV shows are Ina Garten and Rachael Ray. Neither of them are professionally trained. They’re both excellent cooks who make very approachable food. Do I have cookbooks from famous chefs? Yes, I do, but I can’t say I turn to them all that often for inspiration. I love reading cookbooks, however.

So, a few weeks ago I was watching a Rachael Ray show and she made these delicious little  morsels and I couldn’t wait to try it. Since I always have chicken thighs in my freezer, and I always keep shallots on hand, it was an easy “yes” that I’d make them. She explained that this recipe is Canadian and on a trip she saw a recipe in a magazine and tore it out and probably made it her own somehow. She thought these tournedos were worthy of even a wedding dinner. And I would agree. They’re really fabulous.

I changed just two things in her recipe: (1) I spread a bit of mustard on the insides of the chicken thighs; and (2) I added a little splash of cream to the sauce. You can certainly eliminate both of those if you want to be true to Rachael’s recipe. Usually tournedos refer to beef, but the word refers to the shape, I think (normally it’s beef tenderloin). So someone, ingeniously, decided to try the techniques with chicken.

So first you spread the inside of the chicken thighs with grainy mustard. The first thigh you mold (as best you can) in a roll, a log shape. Then drape the other thigh over the first one. Then wrap the bacon slice (use thick sliced if you can) around the outside edge and loop kitchen twine to tie it. It’s a little awkward getting the bacon in the right place and the twine just in the middle and then tied properly. Just takes a little bit of fussing. The chicken is sprayed with oil or some kind of spray and baked for a mere 30 minutes, until the chicken reaches 165°F. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure you don’t overcook them.

Meanwhile, make the sauce – butter shallots, sherry, mustard, maple syrup, Worcestershire and cream. Some is poured over the chicken, and the rest you can serve on the table. Poppy seeds are sprinkled on the top (kind of an unusual garnish for chicken, I thought) but it looks good.

What’s GOOD: everything about this is good – the moist chicken, the lovely bacon flavor and the sauce. Altogether wonderful. Easy too.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Canadian Chicken Tournedos with Creamy Sherry Sauce

Recipe By: Adapted from Rachael Ray (her original recipe)
Serving Size: 4

CHICKEN:
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 slices bacon — very meaty
Kitchen string
Olive oil cooking spray
SAUCE:
3 tablespoons butter
2 large shallots — finely chopped
1/2 cup dry sherry — or white wine
2 tablespoons hot English mustard — or grainy Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons maple syrup — or smoked maple syrup
Splash of Worcestershire sauce — optional
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1. Preheat oven to 400°F, with rack in center.
2. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Roll 4 pieces tightly into cigar-like logs, then drape the top of each cigar-shaped piece with the remaining pieces of boneless thighs and form a round shape like a firm bun. Wrap the side edges of each chicken “bun” with 1 slice of bacon. Secure the bacon to the chicken “bun” by snugly tying a piece of kitchen twine around the bacon. Arrange the chicken on a parchment-lined medium-sized baking sheet, then lightly spray or drizzle with olive oil, transfer to preheated oven and bake 30 minutes, to 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. A few minutes before the chicken is done, top with the glaze and return to the oven.
3. Heat a sauce pot or small skillet over medium heat, add butter and sauté shallots seasoned with salt and pepper for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add sherry and reduce to 3 tablespoons, add mustard, maple syrup and a splash of Worcestershire sauce, then cream and swirl a minute or so. Pour some of the sauce over the chicken tournedos and baste to coat evenly. Return chicken to the oven to finish cooking and to set the glaze, just a couple of minutes.
4. To serve, remove string from the chicken. Top the glazed tournedos with poppy seeds and serve with remaining sauce on the side.
Per Serving: 693 Calories; 44g Fat (56.8% calories from fat); 60g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 332mg Cholesterol; 992mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 99mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 196mg Potassium; 110mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Pasta, Vegetarian, on April 7th, 2022.

Creamy pasta with luscious lemon flavor and arugula. And cheese. Yummy Parmigiano-Reggiano. A post from Carolyn, but it’s really from my friend Linda.

Linda says: I spent the weekend with my friends Carolyn & Dave many years ago in Palm Desert, California. I picked up a book called “Cooking for Mr. Latte” by Amanda Hesser, a writer [and later editor] for the New York Times food section. I made this recipe finally and it was outstanding. The pasta I used was imported lemon linguine. I added extra lemon zest, Parmesan & arugula. My suggestion is to taste and adjust to your preference. I thought it needed more of everything, except lemon juice. The pepper is important!

From Carolyn: the book from Amanda Hesser is just so cute – it’s about her meeting her (now) husband, and their courtship. He wasn’t much into food, and of course, she was/is. Yet he managed to pull recipes from his back pocket (you’d have to read the book to learn about his cooking), so each chapter tells a little story of their courtship, then bookended with a recipe. Some are his, and most are hers.

When Linda visited me last fall  at the desert house, we went shopping at Home Goods, and she picked up a package of lemon linguine. Now . . . this recipe doesn’t call for “lemon linguine,” just linguine, but hey, if you can find lemon linguine (it might be available at World Market), use it. I bought a package of that lemon linguine too, the same time she did, and I need to try it. As you know, I don’t eat much pasta, but this would be a special occasion.

What’s GOOD: Linda says it was outstanding. That’s enough said! Easy too.

What’s NOT: only that you need arugula and crème fraiche on hand.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Linguine with Meyer Lemon Zest, Crème Fraiche and Parm

Recipe By: Adapted from Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser
Serving Size: 4

Sea Salt
1 pound linguine — lemon flavored if you can find it
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
2 Meyer lemons — zest and juice
2 1/2 cups arugula — roughly chopped
1/2 cup crème fraiche
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

1. Fill a large pot with water and season with lots of salt – enough that you can taste the salt. Bring it to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente (still firm and not quite cooked through).
2. While it cooks, finely grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into a large serving bowl. Zest the lemons into the bowl, then add the arugula.
3. Scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Juice one of the lemons and set aside.
4. Drain the pasta and turn it out into the serving bowl with the cheese, lemon zest and arugula. Working quickly, sprinkle over the lemon juice and a little pasta water. Add crème fraiche, then begin to fold all of the ingredients together. Fold over and over again until the pasta is slicked with sauce, the cheese is fully melted, the arugula wilted and the flavors harmonized. Season with plenty of ground black pepper. Taste a strand of linguine, then add more lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper and creme fraiche, as needed. Or add more grated cheese if it’s needed. If the sauce is a bit too sticky, add a little more pasta water and mix again. [Notes from Linda: she added more lemon zest, arugula, cheese and pepper – she didn’t think it needed more lemon juice or the creme fraiche – but then, this recipe is very adaptable to your own individual taste.]
Per Serving: 783 Calories; 29g Fat (34.1% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 91g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 78mg Cholesterol; 753mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 752mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 394mg Potassium; 636mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, IP, Soups, on March 17th, 2022.

So very easy to make in the Instant Pot. 

A post from Carolyn. For quite awhile I’m been reading a blog called Ministry of Curry. And I’ve made several of Archana’s recipes, since I’m a lover of all things Indian food. This recipe isn’t Indian – that’s not to say they don’t eat barley in India – – – I have no idea, actually. But there are no Indian spices here, as this is very much a simple, lightly seasoned mushroom and vegetable soup with some added barley. I started out with her recipe, although I altered it. You can find thousands of mushroom barley soup recipes on the web and there may be nothing all that unusual about this one. But I’ll just tell you it’s a good stick-to-the-ribs kind of cold-weather soup for these cool/cold evenings. The easy part is that it’s made in the Instant Pot. Love that pot.

A few weeks ago I was out in the desert at the 2nd home (condo) my daughter Sara, her husband John and I purchased in 2020. We’re in the process of renovating it now, and that will likely take a long time to finish. As I write this, the guest bath (mine) is getting a total makeover – new shower and tile, new cabinet, fixtures, lighting. Except for a vessel sink and granite countertop the bathroom was circa 1985. Old. Tired. Eventually we’re going to vinyl (wood-like) plank the floors in the whole house, but for now it’s tile. Anyway, I got sidetracked there – – I wanted to make a batch of butter chicken and the recipe I’ve posted here (that I just love-love-love) is made in the Instant Pot. Well, shoot  – we didn’t have an Instant Pot at that house. So, I went to Costco and bought one. I don’t think I could function anymore without an Instant Pot in my kitchen. My most common use for it is making hard boiled eggs (the 2-10-2 method – 2 minutes manual pressure – 10 resting – release pressure – then 2 minutes in ice water). I eat a hard boiled egg for breakfast seven days a week with a little yogurt and fruit on the side.

So back to this recipe . . . am I giving all of you TMI? . . . I went to a local market and got some bulk barley (I can’t tell you the last time I bought or ate barley), a big honkin’ leek, onions, mushrooms, celery, carrots, etc. This soup doesn’t inherently have any protein in it – although barley has some – but when I reheated bowls of it I added in some chopped up rotisserie chicken so I would have some protein. But many of the heated bowls I ate as is, no protein. It’s very filling, let me say. I really liked the addition of sour cream on top that gets mixed in as you eat it. There’s a little bit of tomato paste in the recipe (good umami flavor), and I also used mushroom soup base (try amazon) that is a regular fixture in my frig. And over a pound of mushrooms. And I added some sherry wine to it also. Every time I heat a bowl of it the sherry aroma wafts from the steam.

As with all soups, this one tasted so much better the next day and I’ve been eating away at it for a week with enough to put some in the freezer too. It’s very filling – a scant cup is plenty for me for lunch.

What’s GOOD: just the wholesomeness of it – healthy, hearty, filling. So very easy in the Instant Pot (15 minutes, that’s it). The chopping up of all the veggies took a lot more time than that! Good for freezing. Good umami flavors throughout.

What’s NOT: nary a thing.

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Mushroom Barley Soup in the Instant Pot

Recipe By: Adapted from Ministry of Curry
Serving Size: 6

1 pound mushrooms — crimini
4 tablespoons EVOO
4 tablespoons dry sherry
1 large leek — or two medium sized ones
1 1/2 cups onion — finely chopped
3 cloves garlic — minced
1 1/2 cups celery — thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups carrots — diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons mushroom base — a concentrate
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup barley
1/4 cup parsley — minced
GARNISH:
1 cup sour cream

1. Slice half of the mushrooms. Dice the remaining half.
2. Set the Instant pot to sauté mode and heat half of the oil. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add cooking sherry as the mushrooms start to stick to the pot, cooking for additional 2 minutes. Remove cooked mushrooms with liquids and set aside.
3. To the Instant Pot add remaining oil, leeks, onions, garlic, and celery to the pot. Sauté for 2 minutes. Next, add mushrooms and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add carrots, tomato paste, bay leaves, barley, salt, pepper, and mushroom paste and water.
4. Pressure Cook for 15 minutes followed by natural pressure release. Remove bay leaves.
5. Stir in the reserved mushrooms. Cool soup and for best flavor, refrigerate overnight. Reheat then garnish with parsley. Serve hot with bread. You can also add a dollop of sour cream as a garnish.
Per Serving: 290 Calories; 16g Fat (48.0% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 19mg Cholesterol; 735mg Sodium; 10g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 107mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 833mg Potassium; 190mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Pork, on March 10th, 2022.

This recipe comes from my friend, Linda. 

A post from Carolyn. First off, I have to apologize to my readers . . . I’ve not been very “present” with my blog lately as I’ve been so crazy-busy – I’ve felt like I hardly have time to think. After four years, I’m finally going to be turning over my presidential gavel in my P.E.O. chapter to someone else. I’m hoping that’s going to free up a lot of my time. That happens exactly two weeks from today. I’ve hardly done recipe testing of late. My granddaughter, Taylor, the one who is in nursing school and is living with me, went home to Northern California on a 2-week break. Cooking a nice meal for her sometimes motivated me to try a new recipe or two. It’s not that I am eating out all that much, or buying ready-made food. I don’t really. Writing up a blog post about my usual evening green salad with everything in it but the kitchen sink wouldn’t be very noteworthy for you, my readers.

Anyway, my friend Linda offered to take a picture of a pork chop dish she made recently, these deviled pork chops. She said they were the best – the moistest – pork chops she’d ever had. Ever! That’s high praise, for sure.

As I was thinking about this recipe, the name for sure, how did anything get to be called “deviled” I wondered. Well, the web is certainly helpful: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in 1786 to “devil” a food meant to cook it with a spicy seasoning or over very high heat. For hard boiled eggs, it meant to garnish it with red (meaning from the devil), and that would mean using  paprika. Who knew?

So this recipe came from America’s Test Kitchen. Linda and I are faithful watchers of that PBS program. Linda’s comments: Made this tonight after seeing it on ATK. SUPER EASY! Takes about 15 minutes.  Brown panko crumbs in butter, make a paste of good stuff. Smear on chops, pat crumbs on & bake on a rack at 275 for 40-50 minutes. Sounds very straight forward! Easy. Do use THICKER pork chops – you probably can’t do this with the thin ones at all.

What’s GOOD: I’m paraphrasing from what Linda told me via email and phone that this recipe was just so very easy. The chops were extremely moist (often a problem with today’s lower-fat pork chops).

What’s NOT: only that you need to allow for 40-50 minutes of baking time. And be sure to buy thicker pork chops.

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Deviled Pork Chops

Recipe By: America’s Test Kitchen
Serving Size: 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup panko break crumbs
Kosher salt and pepper
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic — minced to paste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
24 ounces boneless pork chops — ¾ to 1 inch thick

Notes: For the best results, be sure to buy chops of similar size. This recipe was developed using natural pork; if using enhanced pork (injected with a salt solution), do not add salt to the mustard paste in step 2. Serve the pork chops with mashed potatoes, rice, or buttered egg noodles.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275°F.
2. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add panko and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir Dijon, sugar, dry mustard, garlic, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in second bowl until smooth.
3. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and spray with vegetable oil spray. Pat chops dry with paper towels. Transfer chops to prepared wire rack, spacing them 1 inch apart. Brush 1 tablespoon mustard mixture over top and sides of each chop (leave bottoms uncoated). Spoon 2 tablespoons toasted panko evenly over top of each chop and press lightly to adhere.
4. Roast until meat registers 140°F, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest on rack for 10 minutes before serving.
Per Serving: 390 Calories; 19g Fat (44.9% calories from fat); 39g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 129mg Cholesterol; 348mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 52mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 698mg Potassium; 432mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Fish, on March 1st, 2022.

Want to make salmon in a simple pan sauce? So easy and tasty.

A post from Carolyn. In trying to make salmon about once a week at my house, I search through the untried recipes in my file and this one popped up because I had all the ingredients on hand. That’s a win in my book!

The original recipe used lime juice, but I had lemon, so I used what I had. It would likely be even better with lime juice merely because of the coconut milk – they seem to make a common marriage in lots of recipes. Because I knew this would come together in a hurry, I got everything ready before I started. The veggies that went along with it (zucchini and yellow squash) plus a side of rice I started before I even began the salmon. It came together so very quickly. There is garlic, ginger and lemongrass (I had some in a tube) plus a tiny bit of brown sugar, and you could use any number of types of hot chili paste – I used Thai red chili paste (very little). One extra addition was a tiny splash of Vietnamese fish sauce which added a little more umami flavor. I totally forgot to keep some of the lemon zest for the top – – oh well.

My only caution – do NOT overcook the salmon. I had two pieces (one for my granddaughter Taylor and the thinner one for me) and one was much thicker than the other, so they required very different cooking times. A thin fillet as you see in the picture above will take just a couple of minutes on each side to cook through. Just be careful about that. I added some additional lemon juice at the end which gave the sauce even better flavor.

What’s GOOD: how easy this was, beginning to end. Loved the sauce that flooded over into the rice. Altogether yum.

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

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Poached Salmon in Coconut Lemon Sauce

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Recipe Tin Eats blog
Serving Size: 4

24 ounces salmon fillets
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons neutral oil — divided use
2 cloves garlic — finely grated
2 teaspoons fresh ginger — finely grated
1 teaspoon lemongrass paste — or use fresh
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Thai red chili paste
8 ounces coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons lemon zest — or lime zest
lemon juice to squeeze on top (or lime juice)
cilantro leaves for garnish

1. Sprinkle both sides of salmon with salt and pepper.
2. Heat 1 T oil in a non stick pan or well seasoned skillet over medium high heat. Add salmon, skin side up, and sear for just 1 1/2 minutes until golden. Turn salmon over and cook the other side just for 1 minute, then remove onto a plate (should still be raw inside).
3. Turn heat down to medium low and allow skillet to cool.
4. Heat remaining 1 T oil. Add garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Cook until garlic is light golden, about a minute.
5. Add sugar and cook for 20 seconds until it becomes caramelized, then stir in chili paste. Add coconut milk and stir, scraping the bottom of the skillet to dissolve any bits stuck on the base into the sauce. Stir in fish sauce, increase heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes.
6. Place salmon into the sauce, lower heat and simmer gently for 2-4 minutes, or until just cooked. Do not overcook. Salmon is done when the internal temp reaches 135°F. Remove salmon, stir in lemon or lime zest and juice to taste. Adjust salt to taste with fish sauce.
7. Serve salmon alongside noodles or rice. Spoon sauce over the salmon, garnish with citrus zest and cilantro leaves if using.
Per Serving: 408 Calories; 27g Fat (58.6% calories from fat); 36g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 126mg Cholesterol; 448mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 36mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 909mg Potassium; 542mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, easy, on October 17th, 2021.

This is a post from Sara. FAST & FLAVORFUL.

These days I am without the hustle and bustle of chicks at home as we are officially Empty Nesters.  But I am amazed at how little time I have to make dinner.  So I find myself searching for new quick and healthy recipes.  This is a recipe I found online that is SUPER easy.  I mean 20 mins start to finish easy!  And so tasty.  I was looking for something to do with the ground beef I’d bought that wasn’t tacos, or hamburgers.  And this recipe fit the bill perfectly!  It is so flavorful with a hint of heat.  I added the steamed cauliflower to satisfy my need for veggies.  You could add any type of cooked veggie, frozen would work easily too.  This also made excellent leftovers for lunch the next day.

Starting with the rice since it usually takes 20 mins.  Then I cut and cleaned the fresh cauliflower, dropped it into the steamer to cook.  I began browning the beef and garlic in a shallow pan.  While that was cooking, I mixed the sauce ingredients.  When the beef has no more pink, I added the sauce and let it cook on low for a few mins.  Then I fluffed the rice and was ready to assemble.

I used a bowl, layering the rice, beef then cauliflower.  I topped it with sliced scallions.  My husband enjoyed this dish with a bit of siracha to kick up the spice and a nice IPA (well, not with the leftovers at work!)

This will be a repeat in my rotation for sure!  I imagine one could substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef, but you may need to increase the spices to give it more flavor.

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Korean Beef and Rice

Serving Size: 4

1 pound lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cups hot cooked rice
3 green onions — thinly sliced
2 cups cauliflower — steamed

1. In a large skillet, cook beef and garlic over medium heat until beef is no longer pink, breaking into crumbles. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix brown sugar, soy sauce, oil and seasonings.
2. Stir sauce into beef, heat through. Serve over rice and cauliflower.
Per Serving: 551 Calories; 26g Fat (43.3% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 85mg Cholesterol; 703mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 3 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Posted in easy, Fish, on October 1st, 2021.

It’s not often that I repeat a recipe, but this one is just too good to forget.

Way back when, I posted this recipe, one that came from a cooking class with Phillis Carey. And as an aside, Phillis still isn’t doing any in-person cooking classes, and I’ve decided that if I can’t attend a class and taste the food, well, I don’t want to go to an online class. Phillis always made me think outside my box, serving ordinary food but with a different twist or ingredients that I might not have matched with one thing or another. Leeks and salmon are one of those combinations, but I’m telling you true, this is a match made in heaven. My friend Linda T, who lives about an hour south of me, is a big fan of my blog (we’ve been friends for over 30 years), and it may not be a stretch to say that this recipe is one of her all-time favorites.

One of the things I like about it is how EASY and quick it is. All made in one pan. First it’s the chopped leeks (I buy Trader Joe’s because they’re already cleaned – all I have to do it trim the ends and chop) gently sautéed in butter. Do this over low heat so they don’t burn (like mine did, see photo above). Then the salted and peppered salmon is laid on top of the leek bed, and you add in some dry white wine (I used vermouth), grated orange rind, thyme and some cream. The salmon is very gently simmered (covered) for about 8-10 minutes (depending on the thickness). I used my instant-read thermometer and it was thoroughly cooked in 8 minutes. If using wild salmon, 5-7 minutes probably. Meanwhile I’d cooked some rice with a tad of lime juice and more orange zest, and a pan of sautéed zucchini too. The original recipe called for a little tiny bit of sugar, but I didn’t use any, and I can’t say that it made a difference. I did have to add a little more cream, as most of it boiled away during the gentle simmering. Add water, cream, or a bit more wine if yours dries up. I’d made a half of a recipe and 2 leeks needed a bit more liquid to make it all come together.

Dinner was prepped and done in about 25 minutes total time. My granddaughter Taylor nearly licked the plate. Seriously. I did, too. Fortunately, I made enough for 2 meals, so we’ll have leftovers in a night or two. This is certainly a meal fit for company, and easy enough for a weeknight family meal also. Do make pasta or rice on the side to sop up any sauce remaining on the plate.

What’s GOOD: first off, it’s all about the leeks. Once cooked and simmered, they take on a very mellow flavor, but they add startlingly lovely accents to this sauce. Altogether delicious.

What’s NOT: only that you must have leeks and cream on hand to make this work.

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Salmon Fillets with Orange and Leeks

Recipe By: Phillis Carey, cooking instructor
Serving Size: 6

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large leeks — halved, white and pale green parts only, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
6 pieces salmon fillets
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup dry white wine — or orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh chives — cut in 1-inch lengths, garnish

1. Melt butter in heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sprinkle with sugar and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté 4 minutes. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until very soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
2. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Arrange atop leeks and sprinkle with orange zest. Add cream and wine. Cover pot again and cook until fish is opaque, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer fish to plates and keep warm. If using thinner (wild) salmon, cook for 4-8 minutes, depending on thickness. Fish is done when the internal temp reaches 135°F.
3. Boil sauce until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over fish. Garnish with chives.
Per Serving: 678 Calories; 32g Fat (43.6% calories from fat); 82g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 342mg Cholesterol; 219mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 103mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 1849mg Potassium; 1164mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, easy, on August 2nd, 2021.

What is more beautiful than summer fruit topping a cake?

A post from Carolyn. This recipe has been hanging around in my to-try file for awhile. It came from Beth Hensperger from her book: Best Quick Breads: 150 Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Shortcakes, Gingerbreads, Cornbreads, Coffeecakes, and More, I don’t own the book and can’t find a reference online to this recipe, but it’s a keeper. I think I must have borrowed the book from the library and entered it into my MasterCook program. Her recipe only contained peaches. I had nectarines, and I also had about a cup of blueberries that were on the over-ripe side, so decided to add those in also. The other change I made was to substitute 3/4 cup of artificial sugar (I use So Nourished brand Erythritol Sweetener Granular – 1:1 Sugar Substitute, Keto – 0 Calorie, 0 Net Carb, Non-GMO). And then I rounded out the quantity with 1/4 cup of real sugar. Otherwise, I used her recipe. You know, of course, that baking is all about chemistry. You don’t want to adjust measurements of dry ingredients or wet ingredients, or you’ll throw off the chemistry of it all. I used less nectarines (or you can use peaches) but then added in the cup of blueberries, so it all works out.

Beth’s recipe had you halve the peaches (after peeling and removing the pit) and simply lay them on the top of the batter. I cut the nectarines into wedges instead (peel on) and sprinkled the blueberries all over the top too (first). Some of the batter baked up beside the fruit. Makes for a very pretty dessert. There at right is the photo of the raw batter with the fruit on top. I didn’t mind the peel on the fruit (isn’t it good for us?) and I thought it looked more beautiful that way. I love the color contrast of the blueberries nestled in amongst the nectarine slices.

See, I couldn’t decide which photo was better – the cake whole at the top, of this photo below of the slice of torte.

The dry ingredients include almond flour – her cookbook was published before the recent craze for all things non-wheat flour, so instead of grinding up raw almonds, I simply used almond flour from my big bag of Costco’s blanched almond flour that I keep in my freezer. There’s nothing low calorie about this cake – it has a cup of butter in it and 4 eggs as well. I served 3 pieces the evening I made this. The recipe said it’s best eaten the day it’s made, but I can say that the next day (left out at room temp, covered) it seemed fine. But for me, baked goods don’t like hanging around very long before they begin to stale, hence I froze the remains. I served the cake with some vanilla ice cream.

What’s GOOD: everything about this cake was good – very tender, tasty. Loved the almond flavoring and with peaches or nectarines in season, so delicious. It probably could be frozen whole – but the top of the batter is kind of wet (from the juice of the fruit). If you do freeze, reheat it briefly. Freeze what you haven’t eaten after 2 days.

What’s NOT: nothing at all, really. Pretty easy cake/torte to make. I’d definitely make it again.

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Peach or Nectarine Almond Torte with Blueberries

Recipe By: adapted from Beth Hensperger, The Best Quick Breads
Serving Size: 8-10

3 large peaches — about 1 pound OR use a 29-ounce can of peaches, drained, patted dry
1 cup blueberries — fresh
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter — room temp
1 cup sugar — (or substitute artificial sugar or part or all)
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. If using fresh peaches, fill a deep, medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add peaches and blanch them for 10-15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool under running water. Place on a cutting board, slip off the skins, cut peaches in half and pit them. Drain on paper towels. If peaches are very tart, sprinkle them with some sugar and set aside at room temp. If using nectarines, peeling is not necessary.
2. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan and set aside. Combine flour, almond flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
3. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add almond extract. Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat well until fluffy, smooth and quite thick batter is formed. There should be no lumps or dry spots. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Cover surface evenly with blueberries, then add nectarine slices in a spoke pattern or place peach halves over the batter, with flat sides down.
4. Bake in center of oven until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, the center springs back when gently touched, and a cake tester inserting into the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Let the cake stand for 10 minutes before removing the springform ring. Serve warm or at room temp, cut into wedges. This cake is best eaten the day it is made. It will keep for a day, covered, at room temp. After that, freeze. When defrosted, warm cake in a 200°F oven for about 10-12 minutes.
Per Serving (based on 8 servings): 547 Calories; 34g Fat (53.9% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 154mg Cholesterol; 108mg Sodium; 32g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 138mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 306mg Potassium; 257mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Fish, on June 2nd, 2021.

EASY! Have salmon? Asparagus? Cream? Yogurt, cilantro, ginger and curry powder? Plus some red curry paste (Thai)? You can make this in a jiffy. 

A post from Carolyn. What I had on hand was a nice, big piece of salmon. And I had asparagus. But no recipe. I decided to “wing it,” and I’m so glad I did. I was in the mood for curry, and this was so very easy to make. Of late, I’ve wanted to simmer fish over very low heat on the stovetop rather than baking or grilling it – mainly because I love the smooth silkiness of salmon that’s been poached. And I overcook fish too often when it’s oven baked or grilled. It’s a turn-off to me to eat a piece of overcooked (aka: dry) fish. This way, it’s moist, tender, and just so easy to eat that way.

First I dug out my jar of ghee, and slowly warmed a dollop of it in the pan while I chopped up half an onion and added it. Then I grated some fresh ginger and added that into the mix. Then I minced up some fresh garlic, sprinkled in a bit of salt and pepper. Curry powder and red curry paste were added, along with Greek yogurt (don’t use nonfat) and some cream. I let that simmer for about 5 minutes over very low heat.

The slab of salmon was added, and I spooned the sauce over the top of the salmon, put on a lid and let it heat up, allowing it simmer for about 6 minutes. I checked how it was doing, and when I could still see that the salmon wasn’t quite cooked through, I took it out. I knew the salmon would continue to cook as I continued with the dish.

The asparagus I prepped differently – I left a few spears whole (but trimmed), and the rest of them I cut up into little pieces. Both were added to the sauce still in the pan. Once the pan came up to a simmer again, I put the lid back on and let it bubble away, slowly for about 4 minutes. I tested the asparagus and when a knife would slip easily into the asparagus, it was done. I removed the asparagus to the serving plate(s), then poured the sauce over the salmon and added a few sprigs of cilantro. Done. The whole meal took about 20 minutes. Yeah! Serve with rice on the side too – I didn’t – but it would be great to sop up all the rest of the sauce on the plate.

What’s GOOD: how easy this was – start to finish, about 20 minutes. Really lovely, subtle curry heat and lots of flavor. Asparagus was crisp-tender and went well with the fish. I have leftovers and will do nothing but reheat in the microwave. Because the fish was just slightly under-done, I think the fish will reheat without overcooking it. This recipe is a keeper.

What’s NOT: nothing, unless you don’t have all the ingredients.

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Salmon in Creamy Curry Sauce with Asparagus

Recipe By: My own concoction
Serving Size: 2

1 tablespoon ghee
1/2 yellow onion — diced
1 large clove garlic — minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger — finely minced salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon Thai red chili paste
3/4 cup Greek yogurt, full-fat — unflavored, unsweetened
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 ounces salmon
6 ounces asparagus
2 tablespoons cilantro — chopped, for garnish

1. In a large skillet, melt ghee and bring it up to medium heat. Add onion and ginger. Cook for 2-4 minutes until onion is translucent. Add garlic, salt and pepper. Add chili paste, curry powder and stir until combined. Add yogurt and cream and stir until mixture comes to a low simmer.
2. Add salmon (leave whole or cut into serving pieces) and spoon sauce over top of salmon. Bring back to a low simmer; cover and continue cooking for about 6 minutes, until outer edges of salmon are cooked through. Interior of salmon may still be “rare,” but will continue to cook once it’s removed from the pan.
3. Remove salmon and set aside.
4. Cut half of asparagus into small pieces, leaving 4-6 spears whole. Add to simmering cream sauce; cover pan and keep on low heat until asparagus is cooked through, but not soft, about 4-6 minutes (depending on the thickness of the asparagus).
5. Cut the salmon into serving pieces and spoon sauce over the top, along with the spears and chopped up asparagus on the side. Garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately.
Per Serving: 594 Calories; 41g Fat (62.1% calories from fat); 42g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 244mg Cholesterol; 194mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 95mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 1029mg Potassium; 577mg Phosphorus.

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