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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 2023, 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):

Once in awhile I’m ready to read another Louise Penny mystery. This time it was World of Curiosities. Usually I’d write something wonderful regarding “another tome about Three Pines.” Not going to say it this time. Three Pines becomes a sinister place. Murders (many).  Of course. Some bad folk out there, far too close to home. I had to put it down a couple of times because it was so frightening. But Inspector Gamache prevails. Of course he does! A piece of very complicated art is involved (I think it may be a real painting). Louise wrote a nice epilogue about how she devised the whole idea. Very interesting read.

Over the years I’ve read many of Jodi Picoult’s books. This, her newest, or very new, is called Mad Honey. Oh, my. This book is beyond Picoult’s usual borders, but then she always writes edgy books. That’s her genre. This one is written with a co-author, a woman who is gay (I think) and also a trans-gender. There is a lot of learn in this book, and might be very difficult or hard for some to read. Very engrossing story, though, as always.

Philippa Gregory is one of my fav authors. Just finished her 3rd (and last, I think) in the Fairmile series called Dawnlands. If you scroll down below you’ll find the 2nd book in the series, Tidelands. Very interesting about English history, but about the same families from the first book in the group. Loved it, as I loved all of them.

Am currently reading Rutherfurd’s long, long book, Paris. I love these involved historical novels about a place (he’s written many about specific places in the world). It’s a saga that goes back and forth in time, following the travails of various people and families, through thick and thin. Some of it during the era of the King Louis’ (plural, should I say Louies?). Very interesting about some of the city’s history and royalty.

Although this book says A Christmas Memory, by Richard Paul Evans, it’s not just about Christmas. A young boy is the hero here, but really an older widower man who lives next door plays a pivotal part of this book. It’s poignant, heart-rending and sweet. It delves deep into childhood memories to take readers back to an age when a world felt like it was falling apart, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, the light of hope can still shine. A beautiful read.

Wish You Were Here, by Jodi Picoult. Another page-turner. I loved this book. A thirty-something woman, about to take a trip with her boyfriend, when Covid breaks out. Covid plays a major role in this book, beginning to end. She decides to go anyway as her boyfriend is a doctor and cannot leave. She ends up on a remote Galapagos island, and you go along with her – with people she meets, the life she leads, the isolation she experiences, the loneliness she feels, but the joy of nature is a sustaining aspect. She’s stuck there because of Covid. Not boats, no airport, no nothing. Barely enough food. But yet, she survives. I could NOT put down this book. It had me riveted. You know, Covid is going to play a major role in a lot of books in our future – it has to. It was such a pivotal moment in this century!

Not everyone wants to read food memoirs. When I saw Sally Schmitt had written a memoir, titled Six California Kitchens, I knew I wanted to read it. I met Sally a few times over the years when I visited Napa Valley, and bought some of her famous pickled items, chutneys, jams, etc. She was the original chef at The French Laundry, before it became truly famous by Thomas Keller. Sally shares her food story, how she came to become a chef and entrepreneur. It’s a charming book and there are a few recipes (I think one at the end of every chapter). Enjoyed reading it. If you ever visited Napa Valley in the early days (the 1960s through 80s) you will enjoy reading how “California cuisine” kind of came into being.

Being a fan of Vivian Howard (from her TV show), when I saw she’d written another book, I knew I should buy it. This Will Make It Taste Good is such an unusual name for a cookbook, but once you get into the groove of the book, you’ll understand. She’s now divorced, but still running two restaurants and raising twins (part-time, I’m guessing as I assume her ex is involved some). I don’t know how she had time to write another book. She’s hysterically funny. I mean it. Over the years (and I’m guessing most of this came from her North Carolina roots and the mayhem she encountered opening a restaurant in her tiny, rural town, to great fame) she developed a group of tasty “things,” to complement her food. It’s hard to pinpoint what these are – they’re recipes for some “kitchen heroes” she calls them. They’re condiments. They’re food additions, they’re flavor enhancers. If I make some of them (I hope to) I’ll post them on my blog. They have umami flavors, and she says it’s how she survives and makes everything taste good. She includes the recipe for each of these kitchen heroes (and each title is laugh-out-loud funny in and of themselves) and a few uses of them. Recently she wrote a column in Garden & Gun (magazine) about online dating, and about how she filled out her profile and of some of the not-so-happy first dates. I laughed and laughed over that. I hope you click on that link and read it.

As soon as it came out, I ordered Spare, by Prince Harry. I’ve always been interested in the Royal Family. And I’m old enough to remember when Queen Elizabeth was crowned – my mother and I watched it on tv, in those early days of television. I admired her throughout her long life. What you learn in this book is how abominably Harry and Meghan have been treated. We all know the Royal Family has a company of people who “handle” them, called “the firm.” These people control what everyone in the R.F. does, when, who is present, who can take a vacation where, and some of them give permission for journalists to photograph, in somewhat private spaces, in return for leaving them alone for awhile. The paparazzi, and the photojournalists are ruthless. Absolutely ruthless and relentless. I cannot imagine having to live with that kind of low-life awaiting  your every move. It could break anyone, as it did Diana. I’ve never been a fan of Charles, and this book doesn’t endear him to me. I’ve never been a fan of Camilla, either. There’s a lot of verbiage given over to outing many people in the R.F. Betrayals on many levels. I devoured it, but then I’m an Anglophile of the first order.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Usually I don’t seek out short stories. I might have purchased this book without realizing it was. There aren’t that many stories – each one gets you very ingrained in the characters. I love her writing, and would think each story in this book could be made into a full-fledged novel. I was quite taken with the main characters in each and every one of them. Since each story is different, I can’t describe one, without describing all of them; no space for that. With each story I was very sad when I realized it was the end, leaving you hanging. I wondered if these were stories Lahiri wrote hoping they would transcend into a full length novel, but she grew bored, or couldn’t quite flesh out more. But I always felt there could/would be more. I wanted there to be more.

A Lantern in Her Hand, by Beth Streeter Aldrich. A very interesting and harrowing story of early pioneer days in the Midwest (Nebraska I think); covered wagon time up to about 80 years later as the heroine, Abbie Deal, and her husband start a family in a small town. On land that isn’t lush or reliable. Many years of drought, winds, grasshoppers. The story is a novelized one of Aldrich’s own family roots. It’s full of good old-fashioned family values and is a record of some difficult Midwest pioneering history.

The Messy Lives of Book People, by Phaedra Patrick. From amazon’s page: Mother of two Liv Green barely scrapes by as a maid to make ends meet, often finding escape in a good book while daydreaming of becoming a writer herself. So she can’t believe her luck when she lands a job housekeeping for her personal hero, mega-bestselling author Essie Starling, a mysterious and intimidating recluse. The last thing Liv expected was to be the only person Essie talks to, which leads to a tenuous friendship. When Essie passes away suddenly, Liv is astonished to learn that her dying wish was for Liv to complete her final novel. But to do so Liv will have to step into Essie’s shoes. As Liv begins to write, she uncovers secrets from the past that reveal a surprising connection between the two women—one that will change Liv’s own story forever.

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr. I’m a fan of this author and relished reading his book about a year in his personal life, with his wife and very new, newborn twins. Doerr was given an auspicious award – a year of study in Rome, with apartment and a stipend. There are four chapters, by season. You will laugh and cry with him/them, as they have to work very hard to survive days and nights with crying babies that will not settle down. As he escapes to his study lair, if only to get away from the babies, sometimes to nap because he was up all night. Those of us who have had fussy babies know what this feels like. He suffers greatly because the “great American novel” isn’t coming to him. He feels the year wasting away from the standpoint of the award. The time in Rome was wonderful, and he and his family enjoy many wonderful visits to city high points, to stand in awe at old relics. I loved every bit of this book – so well written. If you’ve ever been to Rome you’ll enjoy it all the more.

Kristin Hannah’s Distant Shores is quite a read. Some described it as like a soap opera. Not me. Interesting character development of a couple who married young. She put her own career/wants/desires aside to raise their children. He forged ahead with his life dreams. The children grow up and move on. Then he’s offered a huge promotion across the country. She’s torn – she doesn’t want to be in New York, but nothing would get in the way of his career. They try to make the marriage work from separate coasts. The wife begins to find herself again, re-igniting her own passions. Lots of family dynamics.

Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout. Lucy Barton is divorced. But she’s still sort of friendly with her ex. It’s complicated. Out of the blue he asks her to go on a trip with him to discover something about his roots. They go. And of course, they’re taken for a married couple most of the time. Lucy laments the things she loved about her ex, William. Hence she says “Oh, William” more than once. They encounter some very funny circumstances, and she guides him along, lamenting again, “Oh, William,” again. I don’t think she ever says it TO him, however. Very funny book. Sweet. Elizabeth Strout is a gifted writer.

Tidelands,  by Philippa Gregory. It tells the tale of a peasant woman, Alinor (an herbalist and midwife), who lives barely above the poverty level, trying to raise two children, during the time of great turmoil in England, the rancorous civil war about Charles 1. Her husband has disappeared. The feudal system at the time isn’t any friend to Alinor. In comes a man (of course) who is a priest, but to the Catholic king, not the Protestant people, and everything Catholic is abhorred and suspect. A fascinating read, loved every chapter.

Read Reminders of Him, by Colleen Hoover. A page turner of a story. A young woman is convicted of a crime (young and foolish type). Once released her sole purpose is to be a part of her daughter’s life. Hoover has such a gift of story-telling and keeping you hanging on a cliff.

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. Oh my goodness. The wicked webs we weave. How in the world did the author even come UP with this wild story, but she did, and it kept me glued. Sophie walked away from her wedding day, and always wondered if she made the wrong decision. Then she inherits his aunt’s house, back in her home town, where the quizzical Munro baby disappearance provides a living for many of his family. Sophie moves there, only to have to unearth all the bad stuff that happened before. Quite a story.

Very funny and poignant story, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that one). Mrs. Palfrey, a woman of a certain age, moves into an old folks’ home in London. It’s a sort of hotel, but has full time elderly quirky residents. You get to know them all, and Mrs. Palfrey’s subterfuge effort to show off her “grandson.” I might not have ever picked up this book, but one of my book clubs had us read it, and I’m ever so glad I did.

For one of my book clubs we read Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus. This book is so hard to describe. Elizabeth is a wizard at chemistry and struggles to be recognized for her intelligence and research. She meets a man at her company who is brilliant too. They make quite a pair. They have a child, then he suddenly dies. Her work isn’t taken seriously, so she leaves her employment and becomes an overnight phenom on a cooking show where she uses the chemical names for things like sodium chloride, etc. You go alongside her struggles, and her raising of her daughter. LOTS of humor, lots to discuss for a book club.

Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loved it from the first page to the last. Sad when it ended. 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 minuscule 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 Breads, Brunch, on July 16th, 2023.

Another sensational recipe from my friend, Linda T. It’s an Ina recipe, and so worth putting into your recipe treasure chest.

My friend Linda T is a marvelous cook. And she’s so tickled when one of her recipes appears here on the blog. So I’m delighted to share this recipe – which – as I type up this post – I’m going to make in the next few days for one of my book groups as they’re coming to my house, and I’m reviewing Geraldine Brooks’ book Horse. Such a wonderful and powerful book, by the way. I wrote up a review of it on the sidebar if you’re interested.

It was a month or so ago, and I stopped to visit with Linda on my way to my daughter Sara’s. As it turned out, Linda invited Sara to come too, and we enjoyed some of this wonderful breakfast cake and some coffee as we chatted and visited. Linda has had a lot of health problems in the last couple of years, and now her puppy has had some challenges too. I’d told Linda not to make or bake anything, but she doesn’t listen to me!! In this case, I’m glad she didn’t because this recipe is such a keeper.

In describing this, I’d say this is a cake disguised as a breakfast bread. Disguised in that it’s as pillow-tender as the tenderest of dessert cakes, but with the blueberries in it, you can serve it for breakfast and feel like you’re eating something that isn’t so decadent. You could make this for a dessert too – it works for either. Sara and I both had second helpings. The batter (picture at right) is straightforward (except it has ricotta cheese in it – do buy full fat). Half of the blueberries are folded into the batter, then it’s poured into a springform pan and the remaining berries are sprinkled judiciously all over the top, pressing them very lightly into the batter surface. Linda served this when it was still warm. Can I just say, it was sublime. And so pretty with the dusting of powdered sugar on top.

What’s GOOD: everything there is is good about this breakfast cake. So tender. So delicious. Nice, rich flavor (the little bit of lemon zest is nice in it too). It’d be delicious as a dessert too. If you can, serve it warm – Linda did. Ina Garten is a wizard in the kitchen.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of. Altogether a keeper of a recipe!

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Blueberry Ricotta Breakfast Cake

Recipe By: Ina Garten, from her cookbook, Go-To Dinners
Servings: 6-8

10 tablespoons unsalted butter — (1 1/4 sticks) at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 extra large eggs — at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese — use full fat
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest — grated
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries — 12 ounces, divided
Sifted confectioners’ sugar for dusting on top

NOTE: If using large eggs, use four eggs.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round springform pan, shaking out any excess flour.
2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the ricotta, sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest and mix well. (The batter will look curdled.)
3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter, mixing just until incorporated. With a rubber spatula, fold two thirds of the blueberries into the batter. Transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining blueberries on the cake, pressing them lightly into the surface.
4. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and lightly dust the top with the confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Per Serving: 534 Calories; 27g Fat (45.1% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 64g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 177mg Cholesterol; 272mg Sodium; 39g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 288mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 208mg Potassium; 390mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, Desserts, on July 14th, 2023.

Always on the lookout for a new use for my home grown Meyer lemons. This one is a real winner.

This recipe came from The Splendid Table. I don’t recall if the author of the recipe, Paul Hollywood (that very handsome man on The Great British Bake Off) was interviewed about this cake or whether I happened to be at the website looking for something else. Either way, I’m so glad I downloaded it and then made this cake. You’ve heard me say that when someone writes (or says) prosaic words, I pay attention. Paul said this: This is my favorite cake of all time. Could you resist making it after hearing those words? Not me!

This cake is divine. Just absolutely divine. All I wanted was more of it. I think the Brits call that more-ish. Yup, it qualified on all counts. My Meyer lemon tree doesn’t have many lemons on it at the moment, but new ones are in development, so it won’t be long before I have more. My tree is very pokey – i.e., you can seriously damage your arms trying to reach inward to grab a lemon. You almost need one of those long, long gloves vets use for handling some wild animals. Anyway, I did have some lemons available and I had house guests who devoured this bread in no time flat (with me helping along the way too).

The cake was so easy to make – get the ingredients out and measured before you begin. I have a bread pan that has grooves (very light ones) so nothing sticks to it; but I still used the parchment, which makes it very easy to remove from the pan. I’ll just say -again – this cake is really tender, so getting it out of the pan without the parchment might not turn out well.

You use a hand-held mixer – the immersion blender type, but with the whisk attachment. Made it so easy to combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and pour it into the prepped pan. While it bakes make the drizzle (lemon juice and sugar). While the loaf is still hot (and in the pan, still), poke many tiny holes in it and slowly drizzle the cake with the mixture – it soaks in easily enough. If you want to be fancy, sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on top just as you serve it. If you left it on the cake for long it would dissolve into the top and you wouldn’t see it at all; hence, do that at the last minute.

What’s GOOD: everything was wonderful about this cake. So lemony. So very tender – the tenderest of loaf cakes. Truly it’s a cake rather than a bread, even though it’s made in a bread pan.

What’s NOT: I sure can’t think of anything – only that you’ll be out of it in a jiffy – it’ll get eaten up way too soon. My advice: make two.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Recipe By: Paul Hollywood, Great British Bake Off
Servings: 12

12 tablespoons butter — softened, plus extra to grease the pan
3/4 cup superfine sugar — PLUS 2 tablespoons
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour — (175g)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
A pinch of fine salt
2 tablespoons whole milk — approximately
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

NOTE: If you don’t have superfine sugar, run/pulse granulated sugar in a food processor for quite a long time until the sugar is like fine sand.
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 2-pound (1kg) loaf pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together, using a hand-held electric whisk, until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until smoothly combined. Add just enough milk to achieve a dropping consistency.
3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and gently smooth the surface to level it. Bake for 45–50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
4. Once you’ve removed the cake from the oven, make the drizzle topping: mix the lemon juice and sugar together in a small pitcher. While the cake is still warm, use a toothpick to prick holes all over the top of the cake then trickle over the lemon drizzle. Leave to cool completely in the pan before removing. Cut in slices to serve.
Per Serving: 228 Calories; 13g Fat (50.1% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 77mg Cholesterol; 186mg Sodium; 15g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 86mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 39mg Potassium; 140mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, Grilling, on July 7th, 2023.

So I understand, tri-tip isn’t a cut of meat available everywhere. Maybe you can ask for it at the meat counter?

What is it, you ask? Tri-tip is a triangular cut of beef cut from the bottom of the sirloin. Which means it’s not super tender to begin with. It’s an odd shape – kinda-sorta triangular in shape, hence the name. The narrower end tends to cook too much (because it’s thinner) so you have to cook the meat for the thicker center portion. Which is what we did here.

This was a big dinner I did a year ago – and totally forgot about it – about posting it. I think it was a celebration of my granddaughter Taylor’s graduation from nursing school and the whole family visited. I served this and some other meat (so people could have a choice). I don’t even remember what else I served! Here in SoCal we can buy already marinated tri-tip, but that’s not what I bought – I wanted the un-marinated one so I could use my own. The recipe I’ve had around for a long time – it came from an old Sunset magazine article. And got rave reviews. And I’d give this good reviews too.

The marinade is very easy – soy sauce (I use the low-sodium type), fresh cilantro, liquid smoke, dried oregano, garlic and pepper. See? Simple. I had to dig deeply into my cabinet to FIND the liquid smoke. Likely I’ve had that little bottle for 15 years! The meat marinates for 24 hours – that will guarantee you’ll get tender meat. The tri-tip does contain a few stripes of gristle, so you need to eat around that, but otherwise the cut of meat is easy to cook and because it’s so nice and tender when it’s done, it’s easy to slice into thin strips. I don’t believe this cut of meat has much fat in it – which is why it’s necessary to marinate it.

The soy marinade flavor doesn’t overpower the meat (there’s only 1/4 cup in the marinade) but the soy sauce is the magic power that tenderizes this meat so well. It’s grilled for about – note ABOUT – 10 minutes per side. I think I assigned the grilling duty to someone else as I was busy in the kitchen doing the last minute salad and veggie prep and plating. I know we ate outside. One interesting technique for this was instructions to make small slits in the meat, both top and bottom – so that marinade will reach deeper into the meat.

That dinner may have been the only time I used my patio last summer as I had such a problem with mosquitoes. Oh my gosh, it was awful. We had the regular sized ones, but we also had the no-see-ums, or ankle-biters, as most people call them. They’ve become a new thing in California, probably because of our changing climate. It was an abundant infestation of them last summer, even though – then – we were in a terrible drought. This year they’re anticipating another bad siege of mosquitoes, so I’ve hired a mosquito service. They come every 3 weeks until early November. So far it’s worked well, although they don’t guarantee it’ll completely remove them, I think they said about 90% improvement. So far, so good.

Back to this tri-tip. Use an instant-read thermometer and remove it when the thickest part reaches 125°F. Then just let it rest 5 minutes, lightly covered with foil (otherwise it’ll get cold quickly). Slice and serve immediately. Slicing tri-tip into thin pieces is important – if you do thicker, it’ll be too chewy.

What’s GOOD: loved the flavor – tri-tip has really good, beefy flavor, and the marinade did it’s job of tenderizing the meat. I think the guests ate it all. It’s easy to slice, easy to grill. Great recipe.

What’s NOT: only that you need to start this 24 hours ahead, turning over the meat every few hours so the marinade reaches every crevice.

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Grilled Tri-Tip Roast with Cilantro

Recipe By: Tanya Newgent, San Diego, 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 for garnish

1. Trim and discard excess fat from beef and remove any silverskin. 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. Pour 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, cover loosely with foil, 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 Salads, on July 5th, 2023.

So, this salad recipe is already on the blog – I posted it waaaay back when – in 2007, within a month after I began writing this blog. But knowing that many of you readers haven’t gone back to look at all the OLD recipes here, I am just giving you a heads-up, that you need to make this salad. It’s just wonderful. And so very easy. Ingredients: baby spinach, frozen peas, toasted pine nuts, some grated Parmesan and pesto as the dressing. It took me, literally, about 2 minutes to make the salad. I prepared it yesterday for the 4th of July at a family barbecue. We had grilled sausages and hot dogs, a delicious hummus platter ahead of time, then I made a watermelon salad too – another recipe that’s been here on the blog from years ago.  That one thanks to my friend Kathleen (who got it from Martha Stewart). This time I added blueberries. Someone else made peanut butter brownies (oh, so decadent and delicious). I’d made some chocolate brownies, so we had those too.

Anyway, click on that first link to look up the pesto pea salad, and make it soon, okay? Or the watermelon salad too. Watermelons are truly delicious this year.


Posted in Salads, Vegetarian, on June 30th, 2023.

A special way to serve tomatoes – more so if you have some heirloom or super-tasty home grown ones.

A note: do not make this if you don’t have really good, ripe, tomatoes. Ordinary ones from the grocery store might not taste like much. I used those dark-skinned ones called Kumato. I’ve forgotten where they’re grown (hothouse, maybe) but even in mid-winter they’re really delicious.

This tomato side dish can be made about 4-6 hours ahead – a boon in my book since it’s nice to get it out of the way ahead of time. The tomatoes are combined with green onion and fresh chopped parsley. The vinaigrette is heated: EVOO, brown sugar, celery, garlic, oregano, thyme, some hot pepper sauce of some kind to give a little bit of zip, grated lemon zest, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Once it’s heated you cook it for a minute only. That actually barely cooks the celery, or at least takes away the real-crisp rawness of them. You pour the dressing over the tomatoes, cover and let them sit in the frig until about 30 minutes before serving. Take it out of the frig and let it warm up to about room temp, then pour it out onto a pretty service plate or platter. I garnished it with a few more sprigs of parsley. Do taste it to make sure you’ve got enough salt and pepper on the mixture. This recipe came from an ancient Bon Appetit magazine. I  have an old stand-by favorite for tomatoes on my blog already, Mrs. Nylander’s recipe – and it’s better than these, but I like to have some variety now and then, especially if you have a surplus of tomatoes.

What’s GOOD: just another way to serve tomatoes – would be great for an outdoor barbecue, a picnic, or anytime, providing you have good tomatoes. They are the star of the show, obviously.

What’s NOT: only if the tomatoes you have aren’t ripe or tasty enough . . . don’t bother!

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Creole Marinated Tomatoes

Recipe By: Bon Appetit, years ago
Servings: 4

1 1/2 pounds large tomatoes — cored, each cut into 6 wedges (or you may slice them in rounds)
2 large green onions — thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup EVOO
3/8 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar — scant
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar — (packed)
1/2 celery stalk — thinly sliced (yes, this goes in the vinaigrette)
1 large garlic cloves — thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce — or Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest — finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Combine tomatoes, green onions, and parsley in large bowl.
2. Combine oil and all vinaigrette ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar and salt dissolve, about 1 minute.
3. Stir warm marinade into tomato mixture. Chill at least 4 hours and up to 6 hours. Taste for more salt, oil, or vinegar. Serve with additional parsley sprinkled on top.
Per Serving: 293 Calories; 27g Fat (82.4% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 324mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 37mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 459mg Potassium; 49mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Grilling, on June 23rd, 2023.

Ah, the best laid plans – of taking a picture of the finished kabobs. I guess you just need to trust me that they looked delicious after grilling and with the herby crema drizzled all over the top! And tasted wonderful.

My cousin Gary has a girlfriend. It’s been nine months now, and they finally came south to visit. It happened to be Gary’s birthday too, so I invited members of the family and some friends who’ve known Gary for a long time, to come for an outdoor dinner. It was delightful meeting Susan, and the family was happy to come to celebrate the birthday and to meet this new person in Gary’s life. In addition to the kabobs (which actually had 3 of the food groups – protein, veggies and carbs in them) I made one of my favorite salads. It’s been posted here before – many, many years ago (you realize I’ve been writing this blog for 16 years now). A rice and vegetable salad from the Silver Palate cookbook.It went well with the kabobs. Gary can’t eat wheat, so I catered the menu to meet his GF needs. I had ample salad leftover – some I gave away and I ate some in the ensuing days and enjoyed every single bite. Actually, Gary had told me ahead of time about all the things Susan doesn’t eat. We had a big laugh about it because Susan does eat all of the things Gary thought she didn’t. Like raisins. I asked her, as I was making the salad, if it was okay to put the raisins in the salad and could she move them out or would it ruin the salad for her if I put them in. She looked at me quizzically — I said, “Gary told me you don’t like raisins.” She looked at him, frowning, I believe, and asked why he thought so. Anyway, that was one of several things we laughed over as she has very few things on her no-no list, if any. The salad has raisins – or currants – or golden raisins in it. I prefer currants because they add a speck of dark color to the salad, but I didn’t have any, so used golden raisins instead.

Incidentally, Susan and I had been briefly acquainted some years ago – she wrote a blog called Wild Yeast. She wrote about sourdough and I happened to write a comment – I had no recollection of it – but when she heard that I write a food blog, she remembered it. Her blog is still up and available (though she doesn’t post to it anymore), if you’re at all interested in bread baking in all forms. Susan is retired now, and is quite the birder, which is kind of funny, because Gary’s mom was a birder too. Small world!!

Anyway, back to this recipe. The chicken is marinated in taco seasoning and oil for awhile. You can use breasts in this, but I prefer thighs, especially for grilling. Then you thread the chicken onto skewers with peppers, corn coins and red onions. The skewers are grilled briefly – my son in law John did the grilling  – and did it perfectly. The chicken was nicely cooked through and not at all dry. The kabobs are then drizzled with a simple sour cream “crema” that has Tajin seasoning, some cumin, Cotija cheese, cilantro and lime. Brilliant! Originally I found the recipe on the web, but I changed it some to suit my tastes.

Once the kabobs are cooked, have everything ready to serve since the meat and veggies will cool off quickly. Sara had brought home made angel food cake for the birthday dessert. Altogether lovely meal.

What’s GOOD: the kabobs are delicious – the marinade makes it, along with the crema drizzle. It makes a very appealing presentation and altogether succulent combination of flavors in your mouth.

What’s NOT: only that you need to prep all the kabob ingredients ahead of time. Not hard, just takes a bit of planning. You could prep the kabobs altogether several hours ahead – and the sauce too. Loved the flavor of the chicken and the drizzle “makes” it.

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Tex-Mex Chicken Kabobs with Vegetables

Recipe By: Adapted from Lena’s Kitchen blog
Servings: 8

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs — cut into 1 1/2″ cubes (see NOTE below)
2 whole corn on the cob — husked, and cut into 1″ coins
2 whole poblano peppers — trimmed, cut into 1-1/2″ pieces
1/2 small red onion — cut into 2-inch pieces
5 tablespoons safflower oil
1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons cilantro — finely chopped, then remove about 2 tbsp for garnish
1 small lime — zested and juiced
1 tbsp Tajin seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup Coija cheese — grated
more Tajin seasoning, cilantro and Cotija cheese

NOTE: If you’d prefer to use chicken breasts, cut them into similar-sized pieces as the chicken thighs and grill the kabobs for a shorter period of time – 1-2 minutes less, but still cooked to 165°F internal temperature.
1. Preheat the grill to medium high – about 400ºF.
2. Combine 4 tablespoons of safflower oil and taco seasoning in a bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate chicken for an hour or two, covered.
3. Using skewers, thread the chicken, corn pieces, red onions, and poblano chiles, alternating until filled. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the same bowl the chicken was in and lightly brush the corn, onions, and jalapeno pieces. Sprinkle all skewers with salt on both sides.
4. Grill over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway. Use an instant read thermometer to check the chicken – remove when the center has reached 165ºF.
5. SAUCE: Combine sour cream, 1 tablespoon of Tajin seasoning, cumin, lime zest, juice, and cilantro in a small bowl. Mix well. Mixture may be too thick to drizzle, so add water to thin it to a sauce consistency, about a tablespoon or less.
6. SERVING: Place the skewers on a serving plate. Drizzle the sauce on top, and sprinkle with Tajin seasoning, cilantro, and cotija cheese. The kabobs will cool quickly, so serve immediately.
Per Serving: 297 Calories; 19g Fat (56.0% calories from fat); 23g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 115mg Cholesterol; 732mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 56mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 224mg Potassium; 70mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Veggies/sides, on June 16th, 2023.


Talk about flavorful? You need to make this – these two recipes.

It’s been a couple of months since I made this – I’ve had lots of recipes to write up for the blog – I think this was over Easter weekend. My friend Linda and I shared cooking responsibilities. I made this one of the evenings. Two fabulous recipes (below). You definitely need to make them both – not necessarily together, but the chicken was great with the cheesy cauliflower, and the zinfandel gravy was tasty to have with the cauliflower.

The chicken recipe was in Bon Appetit in November of 2001. A long time ago, and I just got around to making it. Nothing about it is difficult. You do need bacon (adds so much wonderful flavor), shallots and good mushrooms. The recipe called for boiling onions – I tried to find them (frozen) at Trader Joe’s, but they told me they only carry them around the holidays. So I used regular yellow onions instead, cut into some wedges and some chopped. I took along a good bottle of Zinfandel, and Linda and I enjoyed drinking it – the part I didn’t use in the chicken. The recipe was developed by Chef Jeff Mall, from a restaurant in Healdsburg, CA, called Zin. No longer in business, so the internet says. I’m glad I have this recipe – it’s a good one to serve to guests, and you could make a large or small quantity. I prefer cooking chicken thighs over breasts (too easy to overcook breasts) and I think thighs have more flavor.

The thighs are dunked in flour, salted and peppered, then browned in the bacon grease. Don’t over-brown them as you’ll cook them through right there in the pan. Since I always use thick cut, meaty bacon,  there wasn’t a lot of grease anyway. The recipe suggests adding a dash of olive oil to the pan also, which I did. Once browned, the thighs are removed while you make the sauce (shallots, garlic, onions, mushrooms and Herbes de Provence, if you have it –  if not, use thyme). The original recipe called for marjoram –  I didn’t have it but did have the Provence herb mixture on hand. Chicken stock is added plus the Zinfandel, and you scrape up all that browned goodness from the bottom of the pan. The original dish was baked, but I cooked it on the stovetop. Boneless, skinless thighs don’t take that long to cook! The chicken and veggies are removed, then you make a butter roux and thicken the sauce. Add the chicken and veggies back in to re-warm. Just warm everything through.

Meanwhile, you will have made the cauliflower. I started with a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen – she calls it “the best pureed cauliflower.” I agree! Once the cauliflower has steam-cooked for about 20 minutes, you drain it well. In fact, you drain it for about 5 minutes so you know there isn’t much water left (this way the mashed version won’t be too thin/watery). The cauliflower goes into the food processor along with some grated Parmesan (the good stuff, not the canned variety), salt, pepper, a little bit of cream, and Kalyn used 1 1/2 T of soft goat cheese. What I had on hand was Boursin garlic herb cheese – that’s what I used – about 1/4 cup (more than in the original recipe). Taste it for seasonings. You might need to reheat the mashed cauliflower just before serving – over low heat as it could burn easily. My friend Linda was quite enamored with the cauliflower – she’d never had any that was so flavorful. Yup! Really good. When you serve it, lap some of the sauce on the cauliflower – not a lot.

What’s GOOD: both of these recipes are delicious. Worthy of a company meal. It does require several steps to making it, but neither is overwhelming. Count on about 1 1/2 hours total including baking time for the chicken. The chicken is extra-tasty. Also a bit rich from the bacon and the buttery sauce. Love-loved the sauce! If you have leftover sauce be sure to use it in soup (I made a chicken and vegetable soup the following week). The cauliflower recipe is a real keeper. Well, both of these are. Loved the cauliflower with the cheesy components in it. Not overwhelmingly cheesy – just GOOD cheesy. Altogether fabulous two recipes.

What’s NOT: only that the chicken does take some time, start to finish. Cauliflower is easy, though.

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Coq au Zin

Recipe By: Adapted from Bon Appetit, Nov 2001 (from Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar, Healdsburg), Chef Jeff Mall
Servings: 8

2/3 cup all purpose flour — for coating the chicken
Salt and pepper, sprinkled on the chicken thighs
6 slices thick-sliced bacon — chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 boneless skinless chicken thighs — excess fat trimmed
1 cup chopped shallots
3 garlic cloves — minced
1 pound onions — (boiling onions are called for, but you may use yellow onions, some in wedges and some coarsely chopped)
12 ounces crimini mushrooms — quartered, or white mushrooms, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons herbes de provence — dried
1 bottle Zinfandel — (750 ml)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons all purpose flour — at room temperature
2 tablespoons butter — (1/4 stick) room temperature
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1. Place flour in shallow dish.
2. Cook chopped bacon in heavy large pot over medium-high heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Add olive oil to bacon drippings in pot. Sprinkle chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, coat chicken thighs with flour and add to pot; sear until light, golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Boneless, skinless thighs will not brown as much – and if you did, it might dry out the chicken too much. Remove chicken and set aside.
3. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons fat from pot. Add shallots and garlic to pot and sauté 1 minute only. Add onions, crimini mushrooms, and herbes and sauté until onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add red Zinfandel and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Add chicken stock and bacon; simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken back in and bring liquid to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat so the juices just barely simmer and cook slowly for about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and vegetables and set aside.
4. Mix flour and butter with a fork in small bowl to blend. Bring wine mixture to boil. Whisk in flour mixture and boil until sauce thickens and is reduced to 2 3/4 cups, about 8 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper (it may not be needed since you reduced the sauce). Add chicken and vegetables back into the pot and heat through. Serve immediately over a bed of mashed potatoes or cheesy mashed cauliflower.
Per Serving: 518 Calories; 26g Fat (45.8% calories from fat); 48g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 227mg Cholesterol; 503mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 32mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 402mg Potassium; 135mg Phosphorus.


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Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower with Boursin Cheese

Recipe By: Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Servings: 6

1 large head cauliflower — cut into small same-size florts
1 clove garlic — minced
1 tablespoon half and half — or more if needed
4 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
4 tablespoons Boursin Gourmet Spreadable Cheese, Garlic & Herb — crumbled
salt/pepper to taste

1. Place cauliflower florets in a pan with enough water to cover, and add garlic and a small amount of salt.
2. Let cauliflower come to a boil, then lower heat and cook 15-20 minutes, or until cauliflower is very soft.
3. Remove from heat and pour into a colander. Allow to drain for at least 10 minutes. Do not skip this step or the finished dish will be watery.
4. When cauliflower is well drained, pour into food processor and puree, adding the half and half if needed. You could also use a potato masher or a small hand beater to “whip” the cauliflower as you would potatoes, although the texture will not be as smooth.
5. Put cauliflower back into the pan you cooked it in and heat on very low. Add Parmesan, Boursin goat cheese and stir until both are incorporated and melted. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Heat 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly so it does not stick to the bottom. Serve hot, with a little freshly grated Parmesan on top if desired.
Per Serving: 81 Calories; 6g Fat (67.5% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 18mg Cholesterol; 170mg Sodium; trace Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 133mg Calcium; trace Iron; 68mg Potassium; 79mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beverages, on June 9th, 2023.

So refreshing. So rosemary. So pretty. Worth making for sure.

A few weeks back my friend Dianne and I did a fundraising luncheon for a group of ladies from our PEO chapter. Dianne and I devised a menu based on recipes in Erin French’s cookbook, The Lost Kitchen (for her wildly popular restaurant of the same name in Freedom, Maine).

We made Erin’s dad’s meatloaf (delicious – recipe up soon), mashed parsnips (so creamy and a big surprise to most of our guests, recipe also coming up soon), and a raw, grated beet slaw. I made the cocktail, and also Eton Mess, the lovely strawberry, meringue and whipped cream dessert (not from the cookbook).

Rosemary grows wild in my garden, so it was a no-brainer for me to make a rosemary simple syrup. I merely heated the sugar, water and numerous sprigs of fresh rosemary and let it sit for awhile before straining it, then refrigerating it to use the next day.

The cocktail is so easy to make – you just have to have the ingredients ready: some apple cider, measuring spoons, some Cognac, the chilled prosecco and more rosemary to decorate the glass when served.

So, into each glass you add 1-1/2 teaspoons apple cider, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the rosemary simple syrup, 1-1/2 teaspoons Cognac, then about 5 ounces of prosecco. The most difficult thing to do is measure 1-1/2 teaspoons of anything when you’re a short person and the tall champagne flutes are almost at eye level (not quite, but it seemed like it). A little pitcher might be easier, but still be cautious about adding too much cider, or syrup, or Cognac. I should have made a pitcher of it all, then poured into the individual glasses where the rosemary was already hanging out. That would have been easier, for sure. Note to self . . .

I think everybody enjoyed it – I sure did. In fact, I made myself a second glass since we had all the ingredients on hand. Dianne had made a few little nibbles to have with the drink. I still have some of the rosemary simple syrup in the frig – all I need is apple cider plus another bottle of prosecco and I could have it again.

What’s GOOD: loved it – did I mention refreshing? Lovely lightly rosemary-ied flavor in the glass. Don’t buy expensive prosecco, as  you’ll not know the difference. Don’t buy a sweet prosecco as it would be too sweet with the simple syrup and the apple cider in it. Not sure men would like it – maybe too sweet? Certainly more of a ladies’ drink, I’d venture to say.

What’s not: only that you can’t make this on-the-fly as you need to make the rosemary simple syrup ahead and have it chilled.

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Cider-Rosemary-Prosecco Cocktail

Recipe By: Erin French’s cookbook, The Lost Kitchen
Servings: 1

1/2 fluid ounce apple cider — or apple juice
1/2 ounce rosemary simple syrup — (see recipe below)
1/2 ounce Cognac — or brandy
5 ounces Prosecco — chilled
Rosemary sprigs, for garnish
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
5 sprigs fresh rosemary

1. Pour cider, rosemary simple syrup and Cognac into a champagne glass. Top with Prosecco and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
2. If you’re making this for a group, multiply the recipe and add everything to a pitcher – it’s much easier.
Per Serving: 194 Calories; trace Fat (0.3% calories from fat); trace Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 16mg Sodium; 13g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 16mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 126mg Potassium; 28mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on June 2nd, 2023.

A delicious, savory side dish – full of flavor, but very healthy. Potatoes on the bottom, then bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, basil and oregano.

A recipe from my friend Linda T, and she got it from Cucina Rustica, a cookbook from 1990, by Evan Kleiman. The cookbook is all about rustic (simple) Italian fare. Linda served this with the delicious double glazed salmon dish when we spent the weekend doing a lot of fun cooking. Serve this with a meal that has a stellar main dish – a roast, a roasted chicken perhaps, or in our case, with salmon. There’s no real liquid poured in or over this dish – just the juices from the sliced tomatoes.

Start with the potatoes (use a boiling type) and they’re sliced and layered in an olive-oil greased casserole dish. (See unbaked dish in photo at right.) Then add the sliced peppers, then a layer of tomatoes. It’s seasoned with salt, pepper, basil, garlic and oregano. Then layer again. Lastly you drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top and bake for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender (thicker = longer baking time). You can add a tiny bit of water to the dish if you think it’s too dry – this would be part way through the baking process.

Allow it to cool a few minutes as it would be way too hot to eat immediately.

What’s GOOD: a simple dish, layered, baked in a hot oven, a lovely melding of Italian flavors with the peppers and tomatoes. Note: there’s no cheese in this! And do notice the low calorie count – as I said, very healthy. (Thanks for the recipe, Linda.)

What’s NOT: nothing at all – a straight forward dish. Has to be made just before baking, however, as the potatoes would darken.

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Tiella del Sud – Potatoes, Peppers and Tomatoes

Recipe By: My friend, Linda T, from Cucina Rustica cookbook
Servings: 6

1 pound boiling potatoes
2 whole bell peppers — red, orange, yellow
3 large tomatoes — red, ripe
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 large garlic cloves — peeled, coarsely chopped
10 whole fresh basil leaves — coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano — or more if desired

1. Wash potatoes well and slice thin. Cut peppers lengthwise and remove cores and seeds. Slice into strips about 1/2-inch wide. Core tomatoes and slice horizontally about 1/4-inch thick, reserving juice.
2. Use some of the olive oil to grease bottom of gratin dish large enough to contain all ingredients to a depth of about 2 inches. In dish, arrange a layer of potatoes, a layer of peppers and a layer of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with garlic, basil and oregano. Continue layering until all ingredients are used up. Pour reserved juice from tomatoes over mixture. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for about 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. If mixture appears too dry, add a few tablespoons water as it cooks. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
Per Serving: 168 Calories; 9g Fat (48.0% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 8mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 24mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 515mg Potassium; 59mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Brunch, on May 26th, 2023.

Such a lovely breakfast/brunch dish. Rich with Gruyere cheese and has a base of cubed red potatoes.

A post from Carolyn. Maybe I should just leave off that beginning sentence since neither Sara nor Karen seem to have time to post a thing. They were both excited about it at first, but when they realized how much work it was to get a post from the keyboard to the website with photos, both were frustrated.

Anyway, my friend Linda T made this a few weeks ago when we were out in Palm Desert. We had a weekend of lots of cooking and sharing of recipes. Linda is such a good cook. She loves sharing her recipes (thank you, Linda) but doesn’t enjoy the writing-up of a story about it. Blog readers want more information. I probably tip the scales with too much writing.

This Ina Garten recipe (originally from Ina’s friend Anna Pump) is made in a 10-inch iron skillet. Butter is melted in the bottom of it, then the potatoes are sauteed (Linda prefers using red potatoes) until they’re lightly browned, stirring and turning them often to gather the golden color. Meanwhile combine the eggs, ricotta cheese, grated Gruyere, some melted butter, salt, pepper and an ample amount of fresh basil. A bit of flour is added and baking powder. That egg mixture is poured over the top of the potatoes and it’s baked at 350°F for 50 minutes to an hour, until the egg dish is mounded in the center and firm when you insert a knife.

If you’re adept (remember, this is an iron skillet, i.e. heavy!) you can flip the frittata out and upside down on a platter. If not, you can use spatulas to lift and slide it out of the skillet onto a platter. It’s piping hot at this point, so it’s best to let it rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice into wedges and serve. I’d made popovers the night before to have with our dinner and we had leftovers, so we had another popover with this for a late breakfast. Isn’t it just beautiful? If you go online to read about Ina’s recipe, some commenters suggested adding some onion along with the potatoes, or a leek and that fresh thyme was a nice addition to the eggs, along with the basil.

What’s GOOD: it’s rich and tasty, a lovely presentation. Not too difficult. Be sure to use Gruyere (it’s an essential flavor profile for this). No substitutions! Loved it.

What’s NOT: only the grating of the cheese, maybe. Having to wait nearly an hour to eat it since it takes about an hour in the oven. And no, you can’t prepare this ahead – you could have all the various ingredients prepped (cheese grated, eggs, dry ingredients at the ready, though) which would cut down on the prep time.
printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Potato Basil Frittata

Recipe By: Ina Garten (from her friend Anna Pump)
Servings: 7

3 tablespoons unsalted butter — for the potatoes
2 cups boiling potatoes — peeled, 1/2″ diced (about 4 potatoes)
8 extra large eggs
5 tablespoons melted butter — for the egg mixture
15 ounces ricotta cheese
3/4 pound Gruyere cheese — grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves — chopped
1/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1. Heat the oven to 350°F.
2.Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch ovenproof omelet pan over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and fry them until cooked through, turning often, about 10 to 15 minutes. Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a small dish in the microwave.
3. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, then stir in the ricotta, Gruyere, melted butter, salt, pepper, and basil. Sprinkle on the flour and baking powder and stir into the egg mixture.
4. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and place the pan in the center of the oven. Bake the frittata until it is browned and puffed, 50 minutes to 1 hour. It will be rounded and firm in the middle and a knife inserted in the frittata should come out clean. Serve hot.
Per Serving: 561 Calories; 41g Fat (66.0% calories from fat); 29g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 356mg Cholesterol; 777mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; 2mcg Vitamin D; 701mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 450mg Potassium; 595mg Phosphorus.

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