Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fettuccine With Scallops and Lime

Last nights dinner was in a word FANTASTIC! Thanks once again to my newest BFF Chef Cat Cora for a meal that makes me feel like I could actually have a dinner party. The cumin coated scallops browned and cooked just the way Chef Ramsey abused, I mean instructed. This dish is spicy hot but the avocado and butter makes it creamy, smooth and rich. I would actually pay for this dish in a restaurant. The best part is that it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare.
Photograph by Mike Johnston

Fettuccine With Scallops and Lime
Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 16 medium scallops, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fish stock or store-bought low-sodium stock
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup cilantro plus more for garnish
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced

Fill a large pot with water, add the salt, and bring to a boil.

In a large bowl, toss the scallops with the cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes.

When the water boils, stir in the fettuccine and cook until it's al dente, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until it begins to shimmer but not smoke. Add the scallops and cook, turning with tongs, until almost cooked through, about 1 minute per side. With a slotted spoon, transfer the scallops to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

Pour the stock into the pan and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. When the pasta is al dente, 9 - 11 minutes, drain it, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add the red pepper flakes, lime zest, and half of the butter to the stock, whisking until the butter is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the remaining butter and whisk until the sauce has thickened. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss; add the cilantro and toss again. If the mixture isn't saucy enough, add some of the reserved pasta water. Divide the pasta among the serving bowls. Distribute the scallops and sliced avocado evenly among the bowls, garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve immediately.

Cat gives a twist on this recipe. I will probably try it when I make this next time.  It is called the tequila twist. She says "[a]fter you've cooked the scallops on both sides, pour in 1/2 cup tequila (stand back!) and flambe. With a slotted spoon, transfer the scallops to a platter, pour the stock into the pan, and proceed as directed."

Since I live in the mid-west there is no such thing as a fresh scallop. I have to buy mine frozen.  One trick I have learned is they will not brown unless you dry them.  I wrap mine in a tea towel and press down on them gently to remove the water. 

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did. It's quick, easy and will truly impress your friends and neighbors.

Life is good - enjoy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cat Cora's Chopped Vegetable Salad

Every cook I know loves a new cookbook.  There is something seductive about them.  Most have glossy pictures that make us think we can be great chefs. Cookbooks let us dream about what could be.  There is something about holding a cookbook - flipping through the pages of one that your mother or grandmother owned and seeing all the little specks of history -  their handwritten notes about what was good and what was not, or what they changed to make the recipe better. I hope that electronic readers don't replace my beloved cookbooks - it just won't be the same.

This week my copy of Cat Cora's Classics With A Twist arrived in the mail. According to Wikipedia Cat was born in Jackson, MS, attended the Culinary Institute of American and was the only female winner of the Food Network's Iron Chef. The books jacket describes its contents as "...casual fare that looks as if you spent hours on it (but it takes a fraction of the time)..."

On Sunday I made the Chopped Vegetable Salad.  The salad has a lot of flavor and textures is light and delicious. I halved the vinaigrette for the two of us but made the entire recipe of vegetable salad (used only 1 avocado) and doubled the salad greens.

Photograph by Mike Johnston

Chopped Vegetable Salad
Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup almond oil or safflower oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Whisk together the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oils, one at a time, whisking constantly, until the vinaigrette is thick and creamy. Add the salt and pepper and set aside. (The vinaigrette can be made 1 to 2 days ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.)

Chopped Salad
  • 1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup trimmed and chopped green beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels raw or cooked
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped jarred artichoke hearts
  • 2 large avocados, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peeled and chopped tomato
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mixed greens of choice (curly endive, chicory, or baby lettuce), cut or torn into bite-sized pieces.
To Blanch the vegetables: Using a fine-meshed basket or a slotted spoon, dip the carrots in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes, removing them while they're still crisp and bright. Cool them in the ice bath, then scoop them out, let them drain for a few seconds, and place them in a large bowl. Add more ice to your ice bath and repeat the blanching process with the green beans, transferring them to the ice bath while they're still bright green, cooling and draining them in the same manner and adding them to the bowl with the carrots.

For the Salad:  Add the onion, corn, celery, and artichokes to the bowl. Just before you're ready to serve, add the avocados and the tomato. Gently toss the vegetables with about half the vinaigrette until they're lightly coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and gently toss once more.
Toss the greens with the remaining vinaigrette, but use a light hand. Taste the salad and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Divide the salad greens among four salad plates. Mound the chopped vegetables on the greens and serve.

I served this with a crusty Tuscan White Boule and glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc. 

Life is good-enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mexicali Sliders With Cajun Yam Fries

I recently read about a young vegan chef, named Chloe Coscarelli,  who won a contest on the Food Network show called “Cupcake Wars”.  She made beautiful cupcakes WITHOUT butter and eggs and won. I was intrigued thinking that anyone who can bake without these two ingredients and win a contest against other chefs has some secrets to share with the rest of us. I was right. There were the two winning cupcakes:

If you want to try your hand at making her winning raspberry tiramisu cupcakes you can follow this link: http://www.chefchloe.com/blog/2/16-new-winning-recipe-raspberry-tiramisu-cupcakes.html.
Many years ago I tried being a vegetarian.  It was boring and the food I ate just wasn’t that exciting. More recently I have tried to incorporate vegetarian and vegan meals into my weekly diet.  I know several people who don’t eat meat but eat convenience foods that make them think they do.  I’m talking about those fake burgers and chicken patties, fake sausage and fakein-bacon.  I ate  these things as well, thinking how healthy I was being, until  I looked at the ingredient list on the backs of the boxes.  You may as well be eating pesticides for all the chemicals they put in to make it tastes like meat. But today things are changing.  There are wonderful cooks like chef Chloe who are taking healthy ingredients and transforming them into meals that we can all love.
This past weekend I made her Mexicali Sliders and Cajun Yam Fries.  The sliders are out of this world.  Since I didn’t have small buns I divided the slider mixture into four 5oz. patties.  These sliders are slippery and the best way to eat them is with a knife and fork.  We pitched the top bun - it just wasn’t necessary.
Photograph taken by Chef Chloe
Mexicali Sliders
Serves 6-8
12-15 mini buns/rolls for sliders or 6-8 regulars sized hamburger buns
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, small dice
1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small carrot, finely diced or shredded (about ½ cup)
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ bunch cilantro, chopped
¼ cup water
My Patties before pan frying

Spicy Mango Sauce
1 mango, peeled and cut
½ cup sun dried tomatoes, whole or sliced
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, but any kind will do)
1/8 teaspoon salt

3 ripe Haas avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
½ lime, juiced
¼ cup salsa fresca
sea salt and black pepper

1.    In a large skillet, sauté onions in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until tender and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.
2.    In a large bowl, use a large spoon or your hands to mash together beans, carrots, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, chili powder, salt, cilantro, ¼ cup water, and caramelized onions. If mixture is too dry to hold together, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.
3.    Using your hands, form mini burger patties that match the size of your buns or mini slider rolls.
4.    In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium/high heat and fry patties. Let each patty get browned and slightly crisp on each side before flipping (about 3 minutes on each side). Add more olive oil to skillet as you continue to fry more patties.
Spicy Mango Sauce
1.    Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
1.    In a large bowl, mash together the avocado and lime juice, then fold in the salsa fresca.
2.     Season with salt and pepper to taste.
1.    Slice each roll or bun in half and layer a couple teaspoons of mango sauce, 1 black bean slider, and about a tablespoon of guacamole. If you have extra mango sauce, you can use it as a dip for your fries!
Cajun Yam Fries
Photograph by Chef Chloe
Serves about 3 people
1 large yam, peeled and cut into ¼ thick fries
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

1.    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2.    Toss yam sticks with oil, salt, and Cajun seasoning. Spread out evenly on a half sheet tray. If multiplying the recipe, use a separate sheet tray for each yam.
3.    Bake for 15 minutes then flip fries with a spatula. Rotate pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes until nicely browned and crisp looking.
This is soul satisfying food.  Although this meal took some time the leftover sliders kept well under refrigeration for several days. Thanks to chef Chloe and to the many other cooks and nutritionists who are helping us enjoy great vegan cooking.

Life is good - enjoy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Indiana Goats & A Farm Called Capriole

When Mike and I made the move from Indianapolis to Columbus, IN our intent was to locate a small farm for me to run.  I wanted to do the usual gardening and canning and mix in some chickens and goats. As it turns out we purchased a house in town with a swimming pool and an ordinance against barnyard animals. I often wonder if we did the right thing but for now I am content. We spent last Sunday going to an open house at a place called Capriole.  They make farmstead cheeses from their goat herd. They purchased the land in 1976, the year I graduated from college, and have grown their business selling cheeses across the United States. If you have a Whole Foods close by you can try Capriole cheeses.

The farm is located in Greenville, IN about 125 miles south of Indianapolis and a stones throw from Louisville, KY. The view on your left shows their residence.  Upon our arrival we were treated to three selections of locally brewed beer and several selections of fresh goat cheeses. We had made reservations for a lunch that consisted of a mixed grill of Capriole (I'm talking goat sausage) and Fiedler Farm sausages. (Fiedler Farms website is incomplete but they sell grass fed beef and grass-fed lamb in Rome, IN.)  A spring potato salad with asparagus and goat cheese topped with a mint vinaigrette and bread from the Blue Dog Bakery located in Louisville, KY. Desert was a strawberry rhubarb short cake with Grand Marnier Chantilly. Although the weather was cool and rainy we throughly enjoyed our meal while seated under a large tree and sharing a bottle of Starborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  We could have done a local wine but I'll let you in on a little secret - Indiana does a lot of things well but wine in not one of them!
After lunch we made our way around the lovely landscaped lake towards the barns that housed the star attractions - Goats!

Here is a selection of what we got to see.

They call her #60                                                                                                        


Anybody got any food?

The recipe I selected for today's post comes from the August 2007 issue of Cuisine Magazine.  It can be a side dish or an appetizer. 

Marinated Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 torn fresh sage leaves
  • 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 T. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 roma tomato cut into 4 slices
  • 4 slices of goat cheese (chevre) from 1/4" to 1/2" thick
Combine oil, herbs and garlic for the tomatoes in a shallow baking dish. Toss panko, salt and pepper in a second shallow dish.

Season tomato slices with salt and pepper, then coat tomatoes and goat cheese in oil-herb mixture.

Dredge both sides of goat cheese in crumbs and arrange on tomato slices; transfer tomatoes to a baking sheet. (You can use the left over oil mixture to marinate pork or chicken if you like)

Broil tomatoes and cheese until crumbs are golden, 1 to 2 minutes.  

The amazing thing is that the cheese will not melt - it just becomes creamy and will melt in your mouth. It doesn't melt because it doesn't have the high fat content that other cheeses have.

If you have the time take a look at the Capriole web site.  They list many recipes using goat cheese some are savory and some are sweet - they all sound delicious.  You can also purchase their cheeses on-line for yourself or as gifts.

Life is good - enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Vegetarian Meal - # 1

Every now and then I run across a recipe that make me think supper.  The word supper congers up an image in my mind that says easy, simple and comforting. The April 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens had just such a dish called Sweet Potato Hash. It's healthy, delicious and simple to make. From start to finish it will take you about 25 minutes. It serves four and cost a mere $1.06 per serving.  What's not to like about that?

Sweet Potato Hash

  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 11 oz. can southwestern-style corn with black beans and peppers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons chipotle salsa
  • 3 medium avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • Fresh cilantro leaves and chili powder (optional)
  1. Place sweet potatoes in microwave-safe dish; cover and cook on 100% power (high) 5 to 8 minutes until tender enough to chop. Cool slightly; cut into chunks. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
  2. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add potatoes; cook until browned and crisp-tender; about 3 minutes. Add drained corn to skillet. Cook 3 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Meanwhile, stir together sour cream and chipotle salsa.
  4. To serve divide sweet potato mixture among 4 plates. Top with avocado and serve with chipotle sour cream sauce. Add cilantro and sprinkle with chili powder.
Serves: 4
Each serving: 246 calories, 14 g fat, 12 mg chol, 463 sodium, 29 carbs, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein

I microwaved the sweet potato with its skin on and peeled and quartered it after it had cooked. I could not find the southwestern-style corn with black beans and peppers in my local market, so I used 1/2 can of rinsed black beans and a half can of frozen corn. I think one avocado quartered and sliced for each person is plenty, but some folks really like their avocado - you be the judge.

Life is good - enjoy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

A British Pudding

According to the May 2010 edition of bon appetit magazine "[i]n England, classic desserts-tarts, possets, crumbles, and the like-are simply known as puddings." One of Mike's favorite desserts is a strawberry rhubarb pie. His mom, Betty, used to make these pies for his birthday - I have on occasion. Since his birthday falls on June 1 the timing couldn't be better. The markets are flush with these beautiful red fruits.

Last night we had our Indianapolis/Rhode Island friends The McKenzie's over for dinner.  My goal for every dinner party is to design a menu that minimizes my time in the kitchen. I chose a strawberry and rhubarb crumble for dessert that was created by Tamasin Day-Lewis.  (Ms. Lewis is a writer of British cookbooks and a TV personality.) Everything can be done before your guests arrive with the exception of coating the strawberries and rhubarb, putting on the topping and popping it in the oven.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup husked hazelnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled, halved (about 4 cups)
  • 12 ounces rhubarb (preferably bright red), ends trimmed, stalks cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
  • Vanilla ice-cream
Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Add butter. rub in with fingertips until mixture sticks together in clumps. Mix in oats and nuts. Do Ahead: Topping can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Place 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean whisk to blend well. Add strawberries and rhubarb to sugar in bowl; toss to coat well. Scrape fruit filling into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle oat topping evenly over filling.

Bake crumble until filling bubbles thickly and topping is crisp, about 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Spoon warm crumble into bowls. Serve with ice cream.

I have to tell you this crumble is delicious. The addition of the hazelnuts makes the topping crisp and flavorful.  Don't skip the ice cream. I have three words for you - yummy, yummy, yummy!

Life is good, enjoy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fettuccine With Peas, Asparagus and Pancetta

The May 2010 cover of bon appetit magazine has a lovely picture of fettuccine with peas, asparagus and pancetta. I made this entree this past weekend for Mike and me. It is quick, 40 minutes, easy and uses two of springs most plentiful vegetables - peas and asparagus. The taste is light and lemony and the pancetta gives it just the right amount of salt and crunch. Once you get started the pace is quick so I would have all ingredients prepped and measured before cooking.


  • 12 ounces fettuccine or penne
  • 3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
  • 1-1/4 pounds of asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups shelled fresh green peas, blanched 1 minute in boiling water, drained, or frozen peas (do not thaw)
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, cook pancetta in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon drippings from skillet. Add asparagus to drippings in skillet; saute 3 minutes. Add peas, white and pale green parts of green onions, and garlic; saute until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. (Here I put my pasta bowls in the microwave to warm before plating.)

Add vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, dark green parts of green onions, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, half of parsley, and half of basil to pasta. Toss, adding more cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle pancetta, remaining parsley, and basil over. Serve adding additional Parmesan cheese.

Prep 40 minutes Total 40 minutes
4 servings
Calories 559 Fat 18g Fiber 8g

This recipe easily converts to two servings although I liked it so much I wish I had made the entire thing, so I could have eaten it again the next day. I reduced the pasta to two ounces per serving and used half and half instead of cream reducing calories and fat.

Life is good-enjoy!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Mike and I went to visit our daughter Sarah and her boyfriend Tony in early February. They live in Silver Lake, CA.  Wikipedia describes Silver Lake as "... a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, California east of Hollywood and northwest of Downtown Los Angeles.  Silver Lake is inhabited by a wide variety of ethnic and socioeconomic groups, but is best known as and eclectic gathering of hipsters, the creative class and a noticeable presence of LGBT people."  My oldest daughter Katie visited late last year and described it as a dressy upgraded Nicaragua! I loved it. We stayed in a Days Inn on Sunset Boulevard and walked everywhere and felt safe early in the morning and late at night. Since eating is my main passion in life Silver Lake was like my new best friend. There were so many restaurants to choose from -  from hole-in the-wall taco stands to fancy eateries. It's also a haven for vegans.  (I have learned, from a good source, that one of the fancy places puts rosemary on their Biscuits and Gravy-YUK. Sometimes those folks in California take things just a tad to far.) But I digress...

Sarah and Tony took us to brunch at a place called Dusty's. Dusty's is located on Sunset Boulevard a few blocks from their home. This spacious, airy restaurant is best described as a French Bistro. The day we went everyone enjoyed mimosas and the most wonderful food.  For breakfast they serve egg and bacon dishes, poached egg Molliere, Florentine omelets, French toast and Provencale Crapes.  At lunch and dinner times you can choose from quiches, pasta, burgers, roasted lamb sandwiches, croque monsieur and steamed mussels.  These are just a few of the things that you can get.  I selected a dish called Eggs A La Luna.  It's an english muffin, with melted fresh mozzarella, topped with steamed asparagus spears a poached egg, fresh parmesan and crispy prosciutto. It was irresistibly good.  When they say fresh it was like they had picked the asparagus that morning in their backyard.  This is such a simple thing to make that no specific recipe is necessary.  It is a quick and easy breakfast to assemble and with asparagus now at the farmer's market this is the time to make it.  I made this once with thick sliced bacon and another time with sliced ham.

                                                 Eggs A La Luna with thick sliced bacon

                                                          Eggs A La Luna with ham

Life is good, enjoy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Dreaded Dandelion

When I was a little kid I loved dandelions.  I remember trying to impress my mama by bringing home hand fulls of them. By the time I got them home they would have wilted but tended to perk up after she placed them in a coffee cup full of water. I loved it when the flower turned into that big puffy ball of seeds. I would blow on it until the stem was clean -  not really understanding that I was helping make more dandelions.  Most folks today despise the dandelion. Folks use huge amounts of chemicals to poison them. We hate the dandelion so much that we would rather our children and pets be exposed to chemicals instead of having to look at that yellow flower in our manicured lawns.

I moved into a new house in Columbus, IN last fall. The house looks out over a 48 acre park in a flood zone.  The city cares for the park - mows and does the mulching and edging, but they don't try to kill the dandelions. Most days I walk Boston Beans through this park. Yesterday the field was full of  blooming dandelions and wild violets.
                                      Noblett Park, Columbus, IN

When I got home I spent some time trying to learn about the dandelion. I found a website written by "Wildman" Steve Brill who is known as America's Greatest Forager. The Wildman's URL He takes people on tours of parks and other areas and teaches people what is OK to eat.  According to Steve, "[t]he leaves [of the dandelion] are more nutritious than anything you can buy. They're higher in beta-carotene than carrots. The iron and calcium content is phenomenal, greater than spinach. You also get vitamins B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc by using a tasty, free vegetable that grows on virtually every lawn. The root contains the sugar inulin, plus many medicinal substances." So I thought I would give eating the dandelion a try.  I knew the park didn't use any chemicals. so I figured that I wasn't going to die.  I read that I should try to find leaves that had just emerged without flowers. These leaves would be less bitter.  Eureka!  I found one. 
My Dandelion Green w/ no flowers!

When I got home with my basket of greens, I cut them off their tap roots and cleaned and spun them dry.

Steve mentioned that his preferred way to eat the greens is to saute them. He didn't give a lot of direction so here is his recipe with a little bit of my improvisation. 

Steve Brill's Sauteed Greens

  • 4 cups washed dandelion green
  • 1.5 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 white onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over a medium flame.  Add all ingredients except salt and pepper. Lower heat and saute for 20 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.

OK - so now everyone knows I am an old hippie at heart.  This was not the best thing I have ever made nor was it the worst.  The greens had a wonderful chicory and endive taste but were very tough even after 20 minutes of cooking time. I thought about boiling them for a while, but my man Steve said all or most of the vitamins would be washed away.

After lunch I went back into the field, picked another batch of greens, washed and spun them dry.  They are laying on my sun porch to dry over the next few weeks. I'm going to smash them up for hot tea.  I'll let you know how that goes!

Life is good, enjoy!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Peas & Ham With Creamy Orzo

 I love it when my April issue of  Cuisine at Home  arrives. I know that I only have six more weeks until April gets here and lighter cooking can begin. This little recipe, from Cuisine,  takes a scant 20 minutes to make but packs great flavor and taste. Even my grown son Will eats this, and he hates peas!

If you live in the south your fresh peas are already arriving. Here in Indiana mine are still trying to stick their heads out of the soil.  So gather your fresh peas (frozen for those of us up north) your leftover Easter ham and give this a try.

Peas & Ham With Creamy Orzo
1 cup dry orzo pasta
1/2 cup diced onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup fresh peas
1 cup diced ham steak
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup Parmesan
salt and black pepper to taste.
Cook orzo according to package directions; drain and set aside
Saute onion in oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute.
Stir in wine, cream, broth, peas, and ham simmer over medium-low heat until peas are tender; 4-5 minutes. Stir in cooked orzo.
Off heat stir in egg yolk and Parmesan until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper.

I made this with half-n-half instead of cream and was pleased with the results.

Off to the side of the magazine Cuisine offered 5 quick pea recipes:

  • Pea Soup: Simmer 2 cups peas in 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water for 5 minutes. Puree soup in a blender with the juice of 1/2 a lemon, season with salt and pepper, and serve hot or cold with whipped sour cream.
  • Pea Crostini: Smash cooked peas with some goat cheese and spread a generous amount on toasted rounds of French bread. Top crostini with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan.
  • Peas n' Rice: Stir cooked peas and chopped fresh mint into cooked basmati rice.
  • Peas n' Pasta: Stir cooked peas, arugula, and prosciutto into cooked pasta. Drizzle pasta with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Minted Peas: Blanch peas and serve with butter and minced mint leaves.
None of us has an excuse to throw out our peas!  Live is good-enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010


Back in 2006, Mike and I were driving from Indianapolis, to Boston to visit our daughter Sarah. I had picked up a copy of Julie Powell's Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously and began to read it out loud. The reading went on for hours and the laughter was obnoxious. The book was originally a blog that details Julie’s goal of cooking Julia Child’s book Mastering The Art of French Cooking in 365 days. The blog was published, as a book, Nora Ephron wrote a screenplay and the wonderful Meryl Streep played Julia. I loved the book and I loved the movie, but I thought then and still think now that Julie Powell got the short end of the stick. The book was laugh out loud funny and brave. I know no one who has ever cooked that entire book. Without the blog there would have been no movie and much of the world would have missed out on knowing two remarkable women.
In a tribute to Julie Powell and to Julia Child today’s recipe is for Julia’s Boeuf Bourguigon.


Serves 6
  • * A six ounce chunk of bacon
  • * A 9 to 10 inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep
  • * 1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
  • * A slotted spoon
  • * 3 pounds lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
  • * 1 sliced carrot
  • * 1 sliced onion
  • * 1 tsp salt
  • * ¼ tsp pepper
  • * 2 Tb flour
  • * 3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine, or a Chianti
  • * 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • * 1 Tb tomato paste
  • * 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • * ½ tsp thyme
  • * A crumbled bay leaf
  • * The blanched bacon rind
  • * 18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
  • * 1 lb. quartered fresh mushroom sautéed in butter
Remove rind, and cut bacon into lardoons (sticks, ¼ inch thick and 1-1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1-1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.
Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate the heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2-1/2 coups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
FOR IMMEDIATE SERVING: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.
FOR LATER SERVING: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
I have made this dish several times over the years and I’m always tired when I finish it. Julia Child makes you work for your dinner, but the flavor and taste of this dish makes the hard work worth it. She also suggests that you serve it with a full-bodied, young red wine such as a Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux-St. Emilion, or Burgundy.
If you’ve gotten this far and would like a new copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking I have an extra. Just post a comment with your email address and I’ll send it to you. I only have one so first request wins! Life is good – enjoy!