Sunday, October 30, 2011

It is a SO GOOD recipe for Lemon Pound Cake

I have been baking just about all my life it seems.  My grandmother always let me into her kitchen and she was a very fine baker.  Her cakes were outstanding!!  So, I know that you almost have to be a chemist to put all the ingredients together to make it work.  Unlike regular cooking, baking must be exact.  I know this.

So here is my problem.  I have known forever that I have this problem and I have a very difficult time correcting it.  When I see baking soda and/or baking powder in a recipe, invariably, I always interchange them.  Not very smart.  I take the time to get out the baking powder and the baking soda, look at each product, figure out which one I need and then pick up the wrong one.  I know that baking soda is usually used when one of the ingredients is sour cream, sour milk or buttermilk.  It is necessary to help the batter rise.  Baking powder is used to help everything else rise.  So, it happened again today.  I always put my flour, salt and baking powder or soda in a separate bowl before adding to the batter.  There, all is not lost if I make a mistake.  So, once again, today, I ended up throwing out the flour, salt and baking powder....because it was not soda.

I honestly believe my baking days will soon be over.  I could contribute this flaw in my skill to old age, but believe me, I have been doing it forever.  Also, I have never gone ahead to bak with the wrong ingredient...maybe it would actually work.

Anyway, this is what came out of my oven today....with the first batch of flour thrown out.  As Pam says on her blog, Pam's Midwest Kitchen Korner, this lemon pound cake is WONDERFUL!!  I am just thrilled she shared it.  Please check out her blog for the recipe.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chicken Satay with Slaw and Peanut Sauce


The Trout and I love Thai foods.  At one time we lived near a Thai restaurant and we loved it!  So since that time, we have been trying to find recipes that we love a lot.

One challenge has been a peanut sauce.  There are cooked sauces and uncooked.  We decided we really don't like the taste of the warm peanut sauces, so we experimented until we found a sauce we liked.  Then, some years back we found a cabbage slaw with a peanut sauce, so we finally put all this together into a great dinner.  This meal is perfect for the two of us with a little leftover salad and leftover peanut sauce for another salad.  Enjoy!!

Grilled Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Cabbage Slaw

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
1 tsp Sriracha sauce

Cut the chicken breast into long strips, 3 or 4 from each breast.  Mix the rest of the ingredients and marinade chicken strips for about 45 minutes.

Thread the meat the long way onto skewers, sort of pleating it.  Grill over direct heat 8-10 minutes or until done.

Cabbage Slaw

1/2 head cabbage
1 large carrot
1/2 jalapeno
chopped mint leaves (optional)

Slice cabbage and carrots as thinly as possible.  Place in a bowl along with the jalapeno.  Pour peanut sauce over mixture and toss to coat.

Peanut Sauce

3 tbs. grated ginger root
1 or 2 shallots, minced
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, (Use a little less)
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

In a large bowl, combine ginger, shallots, fish sauce, soy sauce and lime juice.  Slowly whisk in peanut butter and then sesame oil.

This makes more than you need, serve extra sauce on the side.  Unused can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator up to 4 days.

Toss the cabbage slaw with some of the dressing and use some of the peanut sauce for dipping the chicken satay.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We had a Magical Week!

We spent a lot of time this last week at Mickey's House.  In fact, we received our 5 year pin for volunteering at the Children's Miracle Network Golf Classic.  The best part is that we have worked with the same "crew" for all 5 years.  So, it really is a reunion each year to see each other again.

The Trout and I drive a wagon/cart which we fill with cases of bottled water and bags of ice.  We divide the golf course into sections and deliver the water and ice to the tee boxes in our section throughout the day.  The ice and water is only for the golfers and caddies, so we do get up close to watch some golf.  That is the very best part!!

Readers have been asking me how the Trout is doing.  He is doing quite well, seven weeks out from surgery.  In fact, he was lifting the ice and water without problems so he is definitely on the mend.  The difficult part is that he will probably have to wait another seven weeks or so until he can swing a golf club, but we are thankful he is feeling so well.

We are glad to be back in Florida, because the weather is gorgeous.  I love this time of year when you can turn off the A/C, open the windows and let the cool air flow through.  After living over 50 years in the Midwest, it is so refreshing to enjoy warmer falls and winter.  Yes, we do cheat and get out of Florida in the heat of the summer, but that is what retirement is all about.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spelt/Farro Salad

Back in December of 2008, when my blog was just starting and there were very, very few readers, I posted a favorite salad recipe.  I just put it together again and feel it needs repeating.  This is very good and very healthy.

After a trip to Italy where we found "farro" on the menu a lot, I did some searching to find out more about this grain.  It is very similar to "spelt" and often, in the US, you can find it by the name spelt..  I usually get a large bag of it when I am at Whole Foods.  It looks sort of like barley, cooks the same way, and to me, smells like oatmeal while it is cooking.

Starting tomorrow, we will again be volunteering at Disney for the Children's Miracle Network Golf Classic which means we leave home before 6 a.m. and get home after 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.  That means a quick, hearty, simple dinner will be necessary in the evening.  I made a large batch of this salad as it "cures" nicely.  I also used what was available in my refrigerator this morning, so most anything goes.

Spelt/Farro Salad

In salted water, boil farro for 40-45 minutes.  Drain and let cool.  In the meantime, dice into small pieces, tomatoes, zucchini, radishes, spring onions, red bell pepper, and finely chop parsley.  Mix with the cooled farro.

Make a vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, touch of honey and salt and pepper.  Blend and mix into the salad.  Enjoy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Susan Hermann Loomis, in her book, French Farmhouse Cookbook, says that "perhaps no dish is so classically Provencal as ratatouille."  I absolutely love it and try to eat it as often as possible while in France.  We have made "medleys" of these same vegetables at our house before, but never before cooked each vegetable individually before melding them all together in the end.  Until today....

In Loomis' cookbook, she has a recipe that she got from Monique Tourette, therefore it bears her name.  Yes, it does take some cleaning up, and the chopping can be time consuming, but the recipe makes a fair amount and much can be done with it.

It can be a main course along with bread and a salad.  How about a sandwich filling, by itself or with cheese or ham?  You can even spread it on fresh bread dough and bake it as a pizza.  It also gets better with age and supposedly reaches peak flavor on the third day.  I doubt it will last that long around here.
I know most of you have gardens that have come to an end, but I would really suggest you try this, and enjoy!!

Monique's Ratatouille
La Ratatouille de Monique
from Susan Hermann Loomis and French Farmhouse Cookbook

1 large eggplant, cut into medium cubes
sea salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, peeled and cut into small cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large green bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into small dice
1 large zucchini, cut into small cubes
1 pound plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

1.  Place the eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt, toss and let sit for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, rinse the eggplant quickly and pat dry.  Place in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of oil.  Toss so the eggplant is coated with the oil and then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake in the center of the oven, 425 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is soft and golden, about 40 minutes.

2.  During the time the eggplant is salted or baking, prepare the rest of the dish.  In a large, heavy skillet, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil with the onions.  Stir, cover and cook over medium heat until the onions begin to turn golden and are very soft...20 minutes.  When done, season with salt and pepper.  Transfer onions to a bowl and set them aside.

3.  In the same skillet, combine 1 tablespoon oil and the green peppers.  Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are olive green and tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove the peppers to the bowl with the onions.

4.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet.  Add the zucchini, toss to coat in oil, cover and cook until tender throughout, about 15 minutes.

5.  Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes which have been peeled and cubed, garlic, bay leaf and thyme in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cook until the tomatoes have softened and are tender but still have some shape, 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

6.  To finish the ratatouille, combine the eggplant and all the other ingredients in the skillet with the zucchini.
Stir to combine and season to taste.  Let cook just long enough so that the ingredients are hot through, about 10 minutes.  Adjust the seasoning.

Minced parsley leaves can be used to garnish along with lemon wedges.  Vinegar is also comely used as a garnish for ratatouille.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A very fitting wine

We found a beauty of a wine yesterday.  We took a drive to a favorite wine shop in Orlando.  Picked up a bunch of every day wines and this Sean Minor was one of them.  It is a Cabernet, 2008 from the Napa Valley.  I don't think this can be found all over, but certainly should be available in California.

We had a grilled Porterhouse, sauteed mushrooms, loose leaf salad with vinaigrette and goat cheese and Craisins.  This cab was the perfect finish.

As quoted "warm, full and fruity in the mouth with soft tannins and gentle acid core that make this very accessible and pleasant.  The finish is gentle with cedar tones and cherry."  I love the way these wines are described.  We paid $13.99 and felt the price was very fitting.

You have to know that since the Trout had his surgery on September 2, he has not been able to drink wine.  He was on several antibiotics for 10 days and lost all taste for wine.  It was like his taste buds took a vacation and could not tolerate the taste of wine.  So finally, this bottle tasted just right!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Lentil Recipe from Provence

So what is the difference between a cook and a chef?  Let me show you.  When we were in Provence in June, I had just read Barbara's blog, Cuisine de Provence.  I had told Barbara I had just seen her recipe for lentils and asked about it.  I remember her words so well; "It was absolutely delicious!"

So, I knew I had the French lentils in my pantry in Florida, and I knew I would not be in Florida until October.  In my head, I obsessed about this lentil recipe all those months.  We got home yesterday, and tonight the lentils are on my table.

And Barbara, I have to say, "They are absolutely delicious!"  The only difference in her photo and mine....she is the chef....cutting everything to perfection.  I am the cook...simply putting it all together.  See how large my chunks of zucchini are?  (sigh)  I would guess the flavor is not that different.