Friday, December 31, 2010

Treacle Tarts and Thoughts

Yes, what you see is my version of Treacle Tarts.  When I knew my 11 year-old grandson, Josiah, would be here for Christmas, and that the family  would be going to see Harry Potter at Universal Studios, I told him that I had found a recipe for Treacle Tarts, Harry's favorite treat, and we would make them together. 

I could not find the English golden syrup and the recipe said to substitute a combination of Karo white syrup and molasses.  Josiah's reaction when he smelled the molasses told me this would be a bumpy ride.  We did work together to put the tarts together.  Yes, he ate a couple, but even I was not fond of them.  The filling also included lemon juice, ginger, and bread crumbs.  I am not posting the recipe.  If you really want to try this, you can find it on the Internet.  Personally, I think a nice pecan pie would be so much better.  Sorry, Harry.  We also passed on the Butter beer.  Josiah, maybe you can talk your mom into trying that.  (wink)

2010 was again a busy year for a couple of retired folks.  Our dear old friends became grandparents for the first time, we went to a wedding, we went to a funeral and sadly, we had to say good-bye to our dear friend, our little dog, Kippy, in October.  Today, December 31, she would have been 15 years old.  We still miss her every day, but realize we have too much traveling to do and it just would not be fair to another pet.

We had a wonderful trip to France in May and once again, spent our summer in beautiful Montana.  We put many, many miles on our automobile, The Trout caught over 700 trout and I started sewing American Girl doll clothes.  There is one special dress, almost finished, and after my granddaughter has it, I will publish a picture.  It actually is rather special, if I say so myself. 

I have befriended so many people on Face book; we have always been friends, but now are reconnected.  And blogger goodness!!  I will not even tell you how much time I spend on the computer reading each and every blog that I follow.  In fact, I have been reading more blogs and writing less.  I hope to correct that in 2011.  Still reading lots of blogs, but writing more also.

I don't like saying it, but my year is ending with a splat on the driveway!  I have the worst cold I have had in over 5 years.  Our plans for this evening, eating at a very special restaurant in Tampa, will be cancelled.  But, there are birthdays coming up, so we can get to that restaurant soon.

So, 2011, what will you hold?  Another birthday...they are coming faster, aren't they?  A trip to Provence in May-June, and back to Montana on July 1.  I hope to see some old friends this year as they are traveling around Florida.  I am also hoping to go back home, to the Amana Colonies, and do some genealogy work in the museum where the records are kept. 

I wish for good health, and the same for all of you.  And then, one more wish.  I have so many people reading my blog, but they do not comment.  I am hoping that will change this year, because those that do are becoming such good blogger friends.   God Bless you all.  Let it be a very safe 2011.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Prime Rib and a great wine

Not quite sure where I have been.  Actually, I have been here the whole time, but just a little lacking in enthusiasm for blogging.  Our youngest daughter and family arrived on Christmas eve, and we have been spending a lot of time together.  It is nice to see how the grand boys have grown in the last two months.

As usual, for Christmas Day dinner, I roasted a prime rib.  As far back as I can remember in my childhood, this is what my mom always put on the table.  She worked as a cook in the local restaurant, and meat was her speciality.  She baked very little, but she knew her way around the butcher shop and any cut of meat was always placed perfectly on the table.

I let this 3 bone roast stay in the oven just a little longer, since the boys don't like it too rare.  Here is mom's unusal recipe which always works.  It is in her translated words from German, and I did make some corrections...(smile)


Buy a bone-in prime rib, any size.  Try to have the roast at room temperature, definitely not icy cold.  Sprinkle well with Lawry's seasoned salt and pepper. 

Perheat oven to 375 degrees F and roast for 1 hour in a shallow roaster, uncovered.  Turn off oven.  DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.  (Use the best German accent you can muster at this point!)

About 45 minutes-1 hour before serving, turn on the oven again to 375 degrees.  For example:  If you are planning to eat around noon or 12:30 p.m., roast from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and then turn off oven.  Start again around 11:30 or so for another 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Only draw back, you cannot use the oven for anything else.  Adjust your roasting period according to roast size.  You'll love it.  Crisp and well done on the outside, medium rare in the center.

And then the wine.  The Trout keeps a running log of his wine collection.  He thought he was getting out a Whitehall Lane 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, but it turns out that it was a 1998, mistakenly labeled by him.  It did not have quite as high a rating at the '99, but the wine was excellent with the prime rib.   WINE SPECTATOR rated the wine an 89.  "Harmonious and well-balanced, integrating anise, cedar, currant, mocha and mineral flavors.  It picks up intensity and complexity on the finish." 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sausage and Red Pepper Ragu

This fall while The Trout was sitting in a doctor's waiting room, he came across a recipe in a magazine, tore it out (is there a law or something?) and brought it home.  Tonight we made this for the second time and we really do like it a lot.  The aroma while it is cooking is outstanding and the flavor is top notch!

We served this over a slice of grilled Ciabatta bread.  It is simple to put together and tastes so very good.

Sausage Fest, Italian Style
by way of Chef Victor Casanova
Culina restaurant, Los Angeles

2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp red dried red pepper flakes
3 Italian sausages (we use Johnsonville)
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell peppers, seeded and cut in strips
14 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the pepper flakes and swirl.  Immediately add the sausage (which we have skinned and cut into chunks) and the onions.

Cook the sausage with the onions for 5-7 minutes to caramelize well.  Add the garlic, peppers, tomatoes, wine, fennel seeds, salt and pepper.

Cook over low heat for 30 minutes.  Serve with rustic Italian bread.  We also topped the ragu at the end with chopped fresh basil.  This could also be served over pasta or polenta.  A quick and very, very nice meal.

A very good Snickerdoodle

For years I have not enjoyed baking cookies.  One batch would always turn out too dark for sure.  It also took me years to figure out what was going on.  It was my darn frugality that was stopping the show. 

A couple of weeks ago, The Trout and I went to a restaurant supply store to "check it out."  I found beautiful, heavy baking sheets for under 8 dollars.  I feel they are of a much better quality than what you can buy in the typical baking department of a store.  I immediately went home and threw those old sheets out.  I have plans to go back and get more of these beautiful baking sheets. 

Then another item I have wanted for a long time is a "Silpat."  It is a remarkable sheet made in France that is placed on the bottom of a baking sheet.  It is made of silicone with fiberglass mesh.  Nothing sticks to it and nothing BURNS!!  No greasing of the pan is needed.  I am so happy!!!  I just might have to get another one to fit the second baking sheet I plan to buy.  I am slow to change, but I am so happy I did.

And on that note, I was ready to start baking cookies.  Velva at "Tomatoes on the Vine" had a Snickerdoodle cookie recipe that sounded very different from all others.  I remember tasting very bitter cream of tartar years ago in these cookies.  Velva had the same ingredients but in different portions.  They taste out of this world!  In fact, The Trout thought they tasted like cinnamon custard.  Here is Velva's recipe and "I approve this recipe!"

Makes 24 (I got 36 cookies 2" diameter)

2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine 1/2 cups sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs.  Mix well.

Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  Blend well.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.  Roll dough in sugar-cinnamon mixture and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until the cookie is set.  Immediately remove from cookie sheets and cool.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sardalaise-Lyonnaise Potatoes

Several years ago, my brother asked me why he couldn't fry potatoes that tasted as good as our mother made.  I immediately knew the answer.  Mom would get rendered lard from the local meat market and she fried everything in it.  It definitely made fried food taste better.  The Trout and I eat very little fried food.  But when we do, we want it to be the best. 

My last posting talked about the wonderful goose confit we brought back from France.  The cassoulet we had was so good, but we were very excited about the goose fat that was in the can that I saved.  We knew we would have to have fried potatoes.

In France, chickens and ducks are roasted on a rotisserie and on the bottom of this large cooker potatoes are sliced and piled high.  The drippings from the poultry drip onto the potatoes and this makes the potatoes taste wonderful. 

I fried the Yukon Gold potatoes (I doubt any one of these potatoes has ever had a root in the Yukon) and added some sliced onions.  So not only did we have Sardalaise potatoes from the Dordogne where the ducks and geese are raised, but also Lyonnaise potatoes from the city of Lyon where they add onions to the potatoes.  They were outstanding.  

I want to share with you what the goose fat looks like.  It is almost perfect.  Creamy white and very pure.  We will be using every bit of it.  This fat also freezes nicely. 

Thank you for joining us on our journey in remembering some wonderful times in France.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cassoulet our way

 Two years ago we spent two weeks in the Dordogne region of France, exactly as we had the previous year.  And once again, as in 2007, we went to the farm where they fatten ducks and geese for foie gras and confit.  The can of goose confit came home with us as did a can of gizzards for salad.  The gizzards will be another posting someday.  They are dear to my heart and stomach and I am making them last as long as possible.

We found this farm in the village of Tursac in the Dordogne.  Unfortunately, I did not write down how much this can cost.   I am guessing 7 Euro which would be about $10.  You can't imagine my fear of not getting this through customs, but it was professionally canned at this farm, so it passed.  Of course, there is always that little clause on re-entry papers asking if you spent any time on a farm.  Actually, no...just in their sales room, right?

In this can was the cutest and fattest goose leg you can imagine.  It had been roasted to perfection and tenderness and was absolutely swimming in goose fat.  (Be still my heart!)  The fat was carefully drained off and put in a container in the refrigerator.  This is like gold.  Unless you have been to France, you cannot imagine how out of this world fried potatoes taste fried in this goose or duck fat.  It is beyond belief good!!  The potatoes will come later this week.  

The recipe we used for our cassoulet today comes from Gourmet Magazine and we have made it our own with little changes.  Above you see the herbs harvested from our garden this morning to be included in our cooking.  Rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme.  (I changed the order so as not to get you all singing!)

The cassoulet was as great as last time.  Imagine, living in France and being able to eat this as often as you want.  To my blogger friends in are so fortunate.  As for us, we are once again looking forward to being back on your roads and in your shops and eating your food in June.

Sausage and White Bean Cassoulet with Confit

2 bratwurst (from Whole Foods...excellent taste)
1 goose leg - confit
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium onions, halved and sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1/4 cup of fresh herbs; rosemary, sage, and thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 chopped Roma tomatoes or use canned
1 can white beans such as cannellini, drained and rinsed

In a medium skillet cook the sausages in oil over moderate heat, turning until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to drain on paper towels.

In fat remaining in skillet, cook onions and garlic, stirring until golden.  Stir in herbs and bay leaf, tomatoes with juice (I add a splash of chicken broth if using fresh tomatoes), salt and pepper to taste.  Boil mixture, stirring, 5 minutes.  Cut sausages into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Add sausages and beans and goose leg which has been cut into small pieces to tomato mixture and heat through.  Discard bay leaf and transfer to a casserole dish.


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices firm white bread, crusts discarded, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 small clove of garlic, chopped fine
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

In a small skillet, heat oil and saute bread cubes until pale golden.  Stir in garlic and parsley, stirring one minute.  Top the casserole with this mixture.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. 

We enjoyed this with a beautiful French Beaujolais cru from Chiroubles, 2009.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gravlax for breakfast

 I doubt there would be many beating down our door to join us for breakfast.  You have to have a real love for all foods and possibly a little bit of Norwegian in the blood helps also.  Nearly 10 years ago, we found a recipe from Emeril Lagasse for Vodka and Citrus Cured Salmon.  Since that time, The Trout has tweaked the recipe quite a bit and now just makes it by guess and feel.  That being said, I will try to explain how he makes this lovely piece of salmon taste like something very outstanding.

I also toasted the bagel, topped with cream cheese, gravlax, capers and a few chopped chives.  I used the thin bagels now available at only 110 calories compared to 270 for the regular sized bagels.  After all, this is about the salmon and not the bread.  I do like these thin bagels a lot.

Vodka and Citrus Cured Salmon
by way of Emeril Lagasse

1 (2 pound) salmon fillet with skin
1/2 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup vodka
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

Place salmon skin side down on several sheets of plastic wrap.

In a small mixing bowl, combine salt, sugar, dill, vodka and lemon zest.  Spread over the fleshy side of the fish, pressing into the fish.  Wrap the salmon tightly in plastic wrap and place in a large baking dish.  Place a flat glass or heavy ceramic dish on top of the salmon and weight the dish with several heavy cans or a brick.  Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours.

Unwrap the salmon and rise all of the cure off under cold, running water.  Pat dry and slice diagonally into paper-thin slices. 

We cut this recipe down and kind of guessed at the amounts for curing.  It turned out lovely, tasty and was well-received.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The German Pickle

When my ancestors came over to America many years ago, they brought with them lots of traditions, recipes and memories.  One thing they left behind was the German pickle.  It was not until many years after they reached our American shores that I came across the history of the the pickle.

I made sure years ago, that my daughters had a German pickle for their Christmas trees.  Somehow, I did not have one for mine.  This spring when The Trout and I were in the Black Forest of Germany, we stopped in a glass blowing factory.  There on the counter where baskets of German pickles.  I knew it was finally time for me to have my own.

In case you do not know about the pickle, let me tell you about it.


A pickle used as decoration on a Christmas tree seems odd at first, but it is an old German tradition.  It is customary to hide a pickle among the branches of the tree on Christmas Eve.  The first child Christmas Day to find the Christmas pickle receives an extra gift!  The reason for the different sizes of the pickle are for the age of the children.  The largest pickle is for the toddler.  As children grow up, the pickle size gets smaller. 

Let there be no doubt, the pickle on my tree is the largest I could find.  It is also already hanging on a branch.  I am going to enjoy my German pickle all season.  Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome to the kitchen of Schnitzel and the Trout

Penny at "Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen" presented a challenge, a Kitchen Reveal.   I knew I would not be opening my cupboards, because, actually, that is on my BIG list for the new year.  Organize.  My daughters know I can be very neat but what is in drawers and cupboards is another topic.

Above you see the west end of the kitchen.  I like the glass top range.  Gas is something you don't find in Florida, and the ability to keep this range clean is such an added bonus to me.  My olive oils and vinegars to the left of the stove and I have a counter garage where I keep the toaster, blender, small food processor.  I love this feature a lot.  

Not my choice of refrigerator, but it came with the house.  A French door refrig would be only a dream to wish for.  On the right you see my messy cookbook shelf.  Most of our recipes are in the blue folder on the top right shelf.  They are copied off the Internet from blogs like yours and used often.   I keep a running list of what is in the freezer on the refrigerator front, so that nothing gets lost and forgotten.

The four plates on the wall are very special to me.  They are hand prints and foot prints of our four grandchildren with their names and date of birth.  These cannot be replaced  and mean so much.  Besides, it is a gentle reminder that a birthday is coming up!!!

The center of my counter is a bit lower than the rest.  It is actually for kneading bread and rolling pie crusts...a more comfortable position for working.  I have my coffeemaker and my Kitchenaid and a basket of onions and shallots and potatoes sitting there all the time. 

My kitchen is open and a sit-at counter on the other side is in the dining room/living room area.  I love my tile floor.  A lot of south windows make the whole area very bright.  It is a comfortable home and very conducive to cooking.  Since the Trout and I both cook together, it works out great for us. 

Come on over.  We'll make room at the table.  And thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Can't Believe I am Doing This

I do not do those "MeMe" type lists even though I enjoy reading those compiled by others.  However, Lena from TALES FROM FROSTBITE FALLS challenged me and so, after some careful thinking, I can't believe I am doing this.


1.  Justin Bieber...he's annoying
2.  Taylor Swift...ditto
3.  Grouchy people
4.  Compulsive shoppers
5.  Rap music


1.  Desire to exercise
2.  Desire to sew
3.  Desire to write
4.  Family get-togethers
5.  Old friend get-togethers


1. The "F" word, especially from women
2.  "Whatever"
3.  "Ain't"
4.  Mixing up "your" and "you're"
5.  "Awesome" totally not used correctly


1.  Stan Musial
2.  Larry Sherry
3.  Leo Durocher
4.  Johnny Padres
5.  David Stockman - Budget Director under Reagan
It's a baseball thing!!  The Trout beats me on this though.  He talked to Leon Redbone in a restaurant, Jack Benny in the caddyshack at the Broadmore Hotel and the Everly brothers in a men's bathroom!!  :-)


1.  Dusting
2.  Cleaning the bathroom
3.  Vacuuming
4.  Cleaning
5.  Cleaning
It's a cleaning thing!!!


1.  Travel
2.  Spend time at a spa
3.  Knitting classes
4.  I want to see the Nutcracker
5.  I want to go to the opera


1.  "The lower the latitude, the better the attitude"  Jimmy Buffet
2.  " If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music that he hears, however measured or far away."  Thoreau
3.  "I want what she's having!"  from When Harry Met Sally
 4.  "Simplify, simplify."  Thoreau
5.  "We write to taste life twice, once in the moment and once in retrospection."  Anais Nin


1.  Stayed in an Air Force General's home for the weekend.
2.  Threw up for nine months during a pregnancy.
3.  Took ballroom dancing lessons from an instructor named Mrs. Hardup
4.  Played Suzuki violin at a concert with my daughter
5.  In 50 years of driving, I have never gotten a ticket.

Enough said.  This little test has taxed my memory.  Let's just let it pass.  Yes, Lena, I was up for your challenge and I did it!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's that time again.....

in France when it seems like all French people and millions throughout the world eagerly await the release of this year's BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU.  It only takes 5-6 weeks from the picking date to shipment all over the world of this light, fruity red wine best drunk chilled as an aperitif!  To sell any of the year's bottling before the the designated day in November is a high crime in France!!

Beaujolais is produced in southern Burgundy from the Gamay grape, akin to Pinot Noir!  There are over 9,000 growers of Beaujolais who produce over 150 million bottles each year of Nouveau, Beaujolais, Beaujolais Village and Beaujolais Cru or the "1st growths!"

This year, I bought 4 different  2009 Crus from one of my favorite wine stores, GARY'S in Wayne, NJ who offers a good selection of fine wine at good prices and great service.  The 2009  Beaujolais vintage is supposed to rival the great Bordeaux 2009 vintage although not as glamorous but of greater value for every day drinking!!  There are 9 "Growths" that must meet strict standards such as minimum alcohol levels of 10% which helps assure a measure of durability and longevity over the simpler bottlings!

These 9 Crus come from the villages of Saint- Amour, Julienas, Chenas, Moulin-A-Vent, (the supposedly "King" of Beaujolais for its richness and fullness over other Crus), Fleurie, Chiroubles,(the "Cinderella" of the Crus), Morgon, (longer lasting than most Crus), Brouilly and Cotes de Brouilly.  I am following the great book by Alexis Lichine "Guide to the Wines and Vineyards of France."

I sort of followed the ratings and advice of David Schildknecht of the WINE ADVOCATE magazine when buying 2 of each of the above Crus in the photo.

The Fleurie was rated a 93 while the others came in at a 91 rating each.  Each can be drunk now but should even get better in 4-5 years. I intend to have 1 of each this next year and lay down the others as advised by David.  Aging can definitely improve most reds over time!

Last night, we had a bottle of the Cote de Brouilly.  David described this wine as "blueberry and juniper berry combine for intense aromatics and bright palate persistence with black pepper, juniper, salt and tart berry skin combining for an invigorating pungency that along with crushed stone and pencil lead mineral undertones serves as a superb foil for the sheer intensity of this wine's blue fruits.  The finishing interaction of fruit and mineral here is worthy of a Reisling, and this will prove deliciously versatile for at least the 3-4 years."

I can't be this poetic but Schnitzel and I really enjoyed this bottling as very bright, juicy, and great berry fruit flavors that went very well alone and with our Mushroom Burger!  Way to go our French Beaujolais vintner friends!!!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving from Schnitzel and the Trout

I am sharing with you my 100 year old postcards.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rancho Gordo Beans

We recently placed another order for Rancho Gordo beans.   This time we tried a bean called Scarlet Runner.  Surprisingly, these beans were huge.  I did not know quite what to do with them.  The label on the bag said they were meaty and crying for mushrooms.  So, after soaking all night, I sauteed some onions and mushrooms and added them to the cooked beans along with some fresh thyme. 

We enjoyed the large beans.  I only used half the bag for this meal and we even had left-overs.  The way I cooked them was good, we enjoyed them, but if anyone has any other hints as to what to do with these Scarlet Runners, I would be willing to try another recipe.

We served them along with a green salad and marinated flank steak.  We found the marinate last June at Noble Pig, a great blog.  I will definitely try this marinate again.  Flank steak is a favorite as of late.  We buy a package at Costco and then divide into several meals.  It is always tender, grills quickly and very, very good.

Quick-Marinated Flank Steak
Adapted from Gourmet by Noble Pig

1 1/2-2 lb flank steak
1/4 cup grainy mustard (or Dijon, not grainy)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced, peeled ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste

Place the flank steak in a Ziploc bag.  Whisk together the mustard, lime juice, Worcestershire, soy sauce, hoisin, garlic, ginger and pepper until smooth, then pour over steak, turn to coat.  Chill for 1 hour before grilling to perfection.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Herbed White Bean and Sausage Stew

We finished a long but good week at Disney.  We volunteered for the Children's Miracle Network golf classic and worked 6 days and several of those were 12-hour days.  It was all for a good cause and we worked with the same crew for the last four years.  It is kind of like a reunion week for all of us.

So, now it is time to get back in the saddle and start preparing for the holidays.  Oh, yes, except for the one more interruption.  We are also volunteering at the LPGA golf classic the first weekend in December. 

The Trout found this recipe a couple of weeks ago in the NY Times.  I was surprised how quickly it came together and no, don't soak the dried beans overnight.  They cook up nicely in 2 hours.  The addition of the balsamic vinegar at the end seemed odd, but we liked it and even added more to the bowl.  A nice touch. 

Herbed White Bean and Sausage Stew
Time 2 1/2 hours    from the NY Times

2 tablespoons olive oil, more for serving
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, sliced 3/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon tomato paste (Be sure to try the tomato paste in a tube.  So convenient)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound dried Great Northern Beans, rinsed and picked through
8 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 thyme sprigs
1 large rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, more for serving
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, more to taste

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add the tomato paste and cumin to the pot.  Cook, stirring until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic.  Cook, stirring until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.  Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.

When the beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the vinegar and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil.

Yield:  6-8 servings

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clam Chowder to Wish For

We had a long day.  We got up at 4:10 a.m. and by 4:30 we were on the road to Disney.  By the time we got there and were at our work station, it was 5:45 a.m.  After a very busy day and lots of fun, we got home by 4:15 p.m. 

Plans were made ahead that tonight we would 'whip' together Mary's "Clam Chowder for Two".  I know a lot of you know Mary of ONE PERFECT BITE.  If not, please stop by her blog because she is the ultimate chef with a multitude of recipes that you will want to try.

Clam Chowder for Two
from Mary at One Perfect Bite

2 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams ( For an added bonus, we added quite a few fresh shrimp)
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
Water, if necessary
2 slices thick cut bacon cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 clove minced garlic (perhaps a bit more)
1 tablespoon unbleached flour
2 large red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, or perhaps more
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Drain clams, reserving juices.  Add bottled clam juice to reserved clam juice to measure 2 1/2 cups.  If short, add water.
Cook bacon in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes.  Stir in onion and cook until onion has softened and bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in flour and coat vegetables, and gradually whisk in clam juice.  Stir in potatoes, bay leaf and thyme.  Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Stir in clams, cream and parsley.  Return to a simmer and then remove from heat.  Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.  Yield:  2 servings.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Guess Where We Went Today?

We spent some time this morning at Disney.  It is that time of year again, when we do our volunteering at the Children's Miracle Network Golf Classic at Disney World.

This is a map of the Palm and Magnolia golf courses which will be played this week.

It is our 4th year and once again, we are helping to deliver water and ice to the tee boxes for the pros and their caddies.  Today we picked up our uniforms and hats and tomorrow we start slowly with a training session in the afternoon.  Then, we have Monday and Tuesday off and then 5:30 a.m. until dark Wednesday through next Sunday.

As usual, Disney does everything first class.  These type of topiary displays are often seen at The Magic Kingdom, but they are also here at the Palm and Magnolia golf courses.

The golf courses are lush and groomed to perfection.  It looks to be a beautiful week for the golf pros to enjoy a last of the season competition.

And of course, the best part of all of being at Disney is seeing this little guy.  How can anybody not smile when they see Mickey.  We are looking for an exhausting and busy week, but it will also be a fun week.  I won't be blogging much, but will see you when it is over.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Red Lentil Soup

I saw these beautiful red lentils at Whole Foods a few weeks ago and just had to buy them.  And then, the dilemma of how best to prepare them.  So, I emailed my blogger friend, Nizrine, a beautiful lady living in Florida, with a background of growing up in Morocco.  Please visit Nizrine at "Dinners and Dreams" to learn more about her.

Nizrine's suggestion was her Red Lentil Soup which we prepared this evening.  It is cold here, 64 degrees high today.  I know, I know, I shouldn't even mention this.  But, let's just say this soup was very good, hit the spot this evening and will be made often.

Red Lentil Soup
from Nizine Merzouki

4 servings

3 sausages of your choice, removed from casing
1 medium red onion, grated (we elected to simply cut finely)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 cup tomato puree
5 cups vegetable broth
1 jalapeno (since we are Norwegian and German, we opted for 1/2 jalapeno ;)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium soup pot, saute the sausage, red onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the lentils, tomato puree, vegetable broth and jalapeno.  Season the soup with cumin, salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake and Cinnamon Ice Cream

The following two recipes have been on my mind for quite some time.  Marie-Helene's Apple Cake from "Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan was featured on a favorite blog of mine, More Than Burnt Toast. 

I immediately liked the idea of a light batter and lots of apples.  Then I read that Marie-Helene actually served Cinnamon Ice Cream with this beautiful dessert, and I was totally sold!!  The cake is very simple to put together, not too sweet and not much batter and lots of apple flavor.  As for the cinnamon ice cream, I can't rave enough about it either.  It is so good, I can imagine even eating it on pancakes.  It is subtle but very cinnamon flavor.

So, don't be hesitant about trying both recipes.  You will not be disappointed.  With this we had a terrific $6 bottle of wine, Vina 24, Albarino 2008, from Raimat in Spain.  It was from a very favorite wine store of ours, West Palm Wines in Ybor City, Florida.

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake
From Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan via
More Than Burnt Toast Blog

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (4 different kinds if you choose)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  My pan was 9 inches so therefore the cake is a little thinner with more diameter.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores.  Cut the apples into 1 to 2 inch chunks.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they are foamy.  Pour in sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend.  Whisk in rum and vanilla.  Whisk half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth rather than thick batter.  Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so it is coated with batter.  Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it is even.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan.  Open slowly.  Allow the cake to cool until just slightly warm or at room temperature.

The cake can be served warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or cinnamon ice cream.

The cake will keep 2 days at room temperature.  It is best not to cover it because it is too moist.  Leave on the plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap against the cut surfaces.

Cinnamon Ice Cream
by David Lebovitz from The Perfect Scoop

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Ten 3 inch cinnamon sticks, broken up (I just hammered them to split them..not small pieces)
2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon sticks and 1 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan.  Once warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Rewarm the cinnamon-infused milk mixture.  Remove the cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon and discard them.  Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  Pour the custard through the strainer and into the cream.  Stir until cool over an ice bath. 

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicken and Orzo Frittata

A beautiful, chubby, Costco roasted chicken was in the refrigerator, so the left-overs were just right for this lovely recipe from Giada De Laurentiis.  While I was putting it together, I kept thinking, "Giada did not add any cheese to odd."  Of course, creme fraiche is not something you find in abundance in 'gator country', so I substituted Fage Greek yogurt.  Still, no cheese?

This baked up beautifully and was very tasty, but...we need to add some fresh thyme and possibly just a little bit of cheese.  We enjoyed this with a fresh lettuce salad with a lemon vinaigrette.

Chicken and Orzo Frittata
courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

3/4 cup orzo pasta ( I used whole wheat orzo)
6 eggs
1/3 cup whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup creme fraiche (I used Fage Greek yogurt)
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed, about 2 cups
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped Italian falt-leaf parsley
1/3 cup diced roasted red bell peppers
1 teraspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat over to 375 degrees.

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain pasta.

In a large bowl combine the eggs, ricotta, and creme fraiche and stir until the eggs are beaten and the ingredients are combined.  Add the cooked orzo, chicken, scallions, parsley, red bell peppers, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.  Turn on the broiler and place the pan under the boiler until golden on top, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let set for 5 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve with a side salad.

Actually, I am looking forward to having some of the left-overs for breakfast.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Way back in the early 1980's, I got into some serious bread baking.  I was totally enamored at that time with the Williams-Sonoma catalog.  It would be years later when I would finally enter a Williams-Sonoma store.  It was love!!

Back in 1981, The Trout and I belonged to a "Wine Group".   We were 5 couples who became friends through the local Newcomers Club.  We started out so 'good,' meaning, we would blind taste 5 or 6 wines and only eat a slice of bread to cleanse the palate.  We would try to meet once a month at someone's home.  Just let me say, very quickly, the slice of bread to cleanse the palate made way to some really nice gourmet dinners.  We also took the brown paper bags off of the wine bottles, and simply enjoyed the evening.

During these years - we stayed together in our group for 12 years - I kind of started 'my specialty' which was my recipe for Williams-Sonoma recipe for baguettes. 

Above you see the double metal pans that I purchased so many years ago.  You simply formed your loaves and baked them in them grooved pans.  They held the dough nicely, made a very crisp crust and kept the loaves at a small, petite baguette size.

Well, today was one of those days and I felt I had to revisit the old days, so I baked the baguettes.  I only wish our dear friends were here this evening to enjoy with us a glass of wine and a slice of bread.  We have scattered, as it happens.  So for Gene and Peg, Jim and Laurie, Mark and Kathy and John and Melva....a toast to the good old days.

Williams-Sonoma French Bread (Baguettes)

In a large bowl dissolve 1 envelope dry yeast, 1 Tbs. sugar and 2 tsps. salt in 2 cups warm water.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Stir in about 4 cups all-purpose flour, and turn out onto a floured surface.  Using a pastry scraper, lift and turn the dough, which will be very soft, until it coheres enough to knead.  Add more flour if necessary and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  Put in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place.

Dislodge dough from sides of bowl with a rubber spatula and turn out.  Gently pat flat, dust with a little flour, and fold in half to form a half circle, and then again to form a quarter circle.  Return to bowl and let rise for another 30 minutes (the rising develops the full flavor and ultimate lightness.)

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, pat flat and fold in half.  Cut into four equal pieces, form into balls and let rest for 5 minutes.  Flatten each ball into an oval and roll up like a jelly roll.  Form into a loaf almost the length of the pan by rolling back and forth.

Line baguette pan with a pastry cloth or coarsely woven cloth and place formed dough in the furrows.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise again until almost double.  Pull the pans out from under the cloth and gently flip the loaves onto the pans which have been brushed with butter.  Use the cloth to help you, pulling the loaf towards the pan.  Brush the loaves with well-beaten egg mixed with a little water, and slash each loaf diagonally with a bakers' blade or razor blade.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  (I have always reduced this to 425 degrees because my ovens have always seemed very hot)

I have not checked if these pans are still available, but I suppose you could free-form these loaves as well.  Enjoy.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Salmon on the Grill

It was a good day!  I just opened the windows...the air is cooling, our hot spell has passed, and now we can get down to enjoying a great late fall and winter in Florida.

Bon Appetit arrived this week as it has for the last 30+ years.  We have always promised ourselves that we would prepare at least 2-3 recipes out of each issue.  Usually, this has worked out just fine.  Tonight's meal was "Spice-Crusted Salmon with Ginger-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce." 

It was very good, especially the sauce, but the fennel and coriander seeds crusted on the salmon were not that well received.  We both decided that dill would have been a better choice.  The salmon was beautifully grilled, instead of pan cooked, and the roasted asparagus always are a hit.

Spice-Crusted Salmon with Ginger-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 6 -ounce salmon fillets with skin

Mix yogurt, cilantro, 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon oil, ginger and garlic in small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Crush fennel and and coriander seeds and press into the salmon filets.

Grill on each side until done.  Serve with the yogurt sauce.

We served this with a 2008 Smythe-Renfield Pinot Nois from New Zealand which turned out to be a very delightful wine and a perfect companion to the salmon.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rose Liquor

I really like odd and unique shaped bottles.  Always have and don't know why.  This past spring when we were in Germany, the Trout and I came across a little distillery where you could sample just about anything your little heart desired.  Always thinking with a practical vice around my heart, I knew we had little room for anything breakable.  But, can you imagine?  Of all the flavors of liquors in this tiny place, the one that struck both of us was Rose Liquor?

It hits your tongue with a perfume that is very strong and then it lingers on the tongue for a long time.  WOW!  This was very DIFFERENT.  We bought this small bottle (I also liked the shape) and last evening, we had our first opening and taste.

Just a little taste..I have to make it last.  And then we started imagining where we could use it.  Like in a flavoring for a white frosting on a cake, a vanilla pudding, frosting on a sweet roll.   Or, just another sip after a good dinner. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's planting time

We went to the downtown farmer's market today and found beautiful replacements for the hibiscus plants we lost this past January in a hard frost.  We have bought from this gentleman before and his plants are very reasonable and hardy.

This is a beautiful yellow hibiscus, while the photo above shows a brilliant orange. 

Though this is white, it is as beautiful white with a double flower.  What is amazing about these gorgeous plants is that they are in 12 inch pots, almost 3 feet tall, profusely blooming and they cost....$10 each. 

And then we stopped at our favorite hyponic lettuce grower's stand.  He has many different types of lettuce and these were harvested this morning.  The long-leaved lettuce on the bottom, middle, he called deer tongue.  New to me, but we are willing to try them all.  They are so crisp and fresh and because the roots are attached, they can stay in the refrigerator for quite a long time. In this photo we have 4 different kinds including a red romaine.  We can get at least 3 or 4 good sized salads out of this collection and a total of $5.  Another bargain in my eyes. 

Now to get the tomato plant, cucumbers, radishes and pepper planted.  Very, very small garden, but it is nice to just run outside to harvest during our winter season.

Friday, October 22, 2010

We are home

My passion flower is still blooming   

I guess I have taken enough time from my blog.  It really is time to enjoy writing again.  First of all, I want to thank everyone for their wonderful thoughts after our sadness came on so suddenly when our beloved four-legged furry friend, Kippy, went to the Rainbow Bridge.  Two friends, first Bonnie and then Becky, told me about the Rainbow Bridge.  It was new to me and it certainly expressed all of my feelings.  Thank you to both of you.  And to the other 24 comments, expressing your sadness, I was touched.  I even made a new friend, Kary, Diane sent a beautiful poem, and I actually felt the many hugs.

Arriving back in Florida with a little tough.  Our neighbor's Yorkie came running immediately looking for Kippy.  He still doesn't understand that Kippy did not come home with us and keeps looking for her.  On my Facebook page, I received many other notes of encouragement.  I am happy to see that there are so many pet lovers out there that truly understand.

But now, it is time to plant our winter garden, get our home back in order and very soon we will be doing our volunteering at the Children's Miracle Network golf classic at Disney.  And cooking...really need to start cooking again.  Making a spelt salad tonight that I have made before.  Also picked up a new slow cooker along the way home, and anxious to try some recipes in that.  I'll be back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Goodbye little baby Kippy


Born 12-31-95, Winona, Minnesota
Died 10-11-10, Anaconda, Montana

Kippy was the most loyal, loving and best little friend in the world.  She will be missed.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It is just about time

We are now into October and that means the bags are coming out and we are starting to slowly pack up for the long ride home.  There is just one little exception.

Tomorrow I leave on a flight for Arizona.  A friend from Kindergarten through high school graduation is celebrating a special birthday, and I will be there!!

When I get back next week, we start the 3000 mile journey back to Florida.  The weather down there is getting beautiful.  Low 80's and much, much lower humidity.  It's been a real good summer, but the time is right to get back to our routine.

I will be taking a little blogging break until I am back in Florida.  We will be visiting grandchildren along the way home and we are definitely looking forward to that. 

So, "Happy Trails" to you, until we meet again!!