Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Oxtails braised with pear cider

I have been using alot of pears lately. They seem so festive for the holidays. Their shape is interesting-so much more elegant than apple. I like the Bosc best, mostly because of the shape, they are so uniformly plump at the blossom end, and skinny at the stem. The seckels are also attractive, but with their diminutive size they are alot of work peeling to get enough for the recipe.

I've also been drinking some marvelous Woodchuck Pear Cider. Refreshing and different, it is a draft cider and does have a small (4%) alchahol content. It has a pale straw coloring with a few bubbles-it almost looks like a champagne. It has a little sweetness to it, but not as much as you might expect-sort of like a dry champagne, and would be great with stews and chilis. I think it would make a great addition to your holiday bar.

I braised some oxtails with it last night and they were delicious. I browned the tails, added some onions, carrots, and flour, to slightly thicken it. I added some beef stock and a bottle of the cider and braised them for about 1 1/2 hours.

As a side dish I made a puree of potato, celery root, and pears. Quite tasty with the brasising liquid. I added some brussels sprouts which I sauteed with some chestnuts. I like chestnuts, but they can be too starchy for me sometimes. I like them best sliced into dressing, or as an addition to a vegetable side dish like the brussels sprouts. They also make an interesting soup that I have made in years past.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Grilled Sea Scallops and Pears

Sea scallops are a sweet meat that always works well with fruit. Citrus, of course, but they are also delicious with pears. I peeled, halved and cored the pears and roasted them with a little honey, white wine, and butter. I grilled the scallops and finished them in a saute pan with the roasted pear liquid, some shallot, and reduced cream. For plating I fanned (sooo 1980's)
the pear. Quite tasty, but epensive, I costed them out at a little over $2 each.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pot Roast

Braised Beef or Beef en Daub would probably be a more elegant title for this technique, but it all boils (please pardon that lame pun) down to the same basic dish. A rather tough, fatty piece of beef is browned and then simmered in liquid for several hours until tender. Cuts like arm roasts, briskets, short ribs, and shanks are best for this dish. I used a 7 bone roast. It is a shoulder roast that contains a bone shaped like the number seven, hence the name. To me, the bone is also an important aspect. Most chain groceries don't even carry roasts with bones anymore they are all boneless-maybe some ribs and shanks if you're lucky.

One of the 'butchers" at the Schnucks-our local chain of Grocery stores-explained that most of the meat is already butchered when it arrives at the store and the bones are expensive to ship (heavy) and difficult to pack. So why do they call them butchers if they mostly weigh out meat and wrap things? I think your best bet for meat is a butcher shop, one of the grocery stores with an honest-to-god butcher like Ladue Market or Straubs, or ordering on line from someone like Niman Ranch or Harris Ranch.

I also recommend wrapping the roast in a dry tea towel for a couple of days to eliminate some extra moisture and concentrate the beefy flavors. Thoroughly sear the outside of the roast and place it in a large roasting pan. Cover with sliced onions, a couple of garlic cloves, thyme leaves, bay leaf, a couple of whole cloves, and salt and pepper. Place a split pig's trotter on the side of the roast and add one cup of port wine and then an entire bottle of red wine-this can be cheap red but it must taste good, I used a $7 bottle of Smoking Loon Merlot-add stock to cover the meat and vegetables, and roast at 325 for three hours. Then add the vegetables to the roasting pan-I used cabbage wedges, portobella mushrooms, potatoes, turnips, carrots, celery, and onion wedges. Return the pan to the oven, lower the temperature to 300 degrees and roast until the vegetables are tender and slightly browned, basting the vegetables with the pan juices.
The natural gelatin in the roast's bone and the pig's trotters make an especially luscious pan juice. Defat and thicken the juice if you like, but not really necessary for a really staisfying winter's dinner.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mrs. Goldberg's Russian Borscht

I got this recipe from a lovely Jewish lady, of Russian descent, when I lived in Chicago. Mrs. Goldberg's family had once owned a small chain of clothing stores, but through financial reversals had lost their businesses and grand lifestyle. The Goldberg family was always plotting ways to recapture their footing in retailing. They were so optimistic and creative that I am sure good things returned to them eventually, but I have lost touch with them for several years now.

I have not lost touch with this delicious soup, written down in Mrs. Goldberg's longhand, with a friendly little note at the end "any problems just give Mrs. G a call".

1 Small head cabbage, thinly sliced
1 Medium onion, diced
2 Quarts of tomatoes (I used my mom's home canned)
Tomato juice to cover cabbage, if required
1 marrow bone (optional-it tastes very good as a vegetarian soup as well)
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 Cup sugar
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
Salt and pepper to your liking

Add cabbage, onion, tomatoes, juice (if needed), and marrow bone (if using) to soup pot and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour.

Add the potato cubes and continue simmering until the potatoes are tender, about another 1/2 hour.

Add the sugar and lemon juice, taste, and adjust to make a perfect balance of sweet and sour by using more lemon juice or sugar.

Add the salt and pepper.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Happy Birthday Joy of Cooking

Here is a story I wrote recently for a local paper:

On its 75th birthday, "Joy of Cooking" is getting a facelift. Partially to correct the botched job done in the mid 90's, when much like Michael Jackson's face, too much of the good stuff had been cut away. Can it be saved-(Joy of Cooking, not Michael's face)?

"Joy of Cooking" the 1973 edition was the first cookbook I ever purchased. I was recently graduated from Western Illinois University, with my first job, and my first apartment on Cornelia Street in Chicago. It is a book I know very well and it is reliable for information and technique. "Joy of Cooking" has had a lot of influence on how I cook today.

Irma S Rombauer wrote the original "Joy of Cooking" and self-published it in St Louis in 1930 or 1931 (I have found references for both dates). The initial printing was for 3,000 copies, which she sold out of her apartment located in the Cabanne neighborhood. That book is now worth over $5,000 depending on condition. Throughout the years the book has been reissued, reprinted, and reborn millions and millions of times. It is probably the most successful cookbook in the world and has been the only cookbook named one of the most influential books of the twentieth century by the NYC Public Library.

This informative and witty cookbook actually has a dark beginning. Mrs. Rombauer wrote the book after her husband's suicide as a way of making ends meet and coping with her personal disaster. Her delightful witticisms and family stories show no hint of the tragedies she was experiencing.

Irma was born into the wealthy von Starkloff family and grew up in one of the mansions in Compton Heights. She married Edgar Rombauer, an attorney, and they were a socially prominent fixture in St Louis society. She can at times seem smug, but mostly she seems good natured and just a daughter of privilege. She shows no qualms about relating stories about her cooks-including dialect. For example in her introduction to "Never fail Hollandaise Sauce" she says "our cook calls this "holiday sauce"-isn't that a grand name for it?"

Here's what she has to say about edameme-"They really need an uplift, being on the dull side but, like dull people, respond readily to the right contacts."

Many of the mid century recipe additions suffer from the "add a can of soup syndrome" that became popular in the 1950's and 1960's. The controversial 1997 edition tried to eliminate this by replacing the sodium train-wreck Campbell's Cream of Mushroom with Bechamel. Critics and fans declared this to be pretentious and inauthentic. This new edition will try to recapture Mrs. Rombauer's original voice and a return to decidedly old-fashioned recipes but also newer dishes to reflect the revolution in contemporary eating habits. A balance she would probably approve of.

In all of its incarnations, "The Joy of Cooking" has tried to remain current to its times. Even if some of those recipes were awful, they were the way the country was eating at the time., and in this way it also provides a sort of anthropological timeline of American culture in the last century.

I began this article by asking of "The Joy of Cooking can be saved, and I will end with a rather prophetic introduction to "French Casserole Chicken" from the 1973 edition. I love the unique voice this introduction displays, slightly smug and wise, bitchy and well written enough to be confused with a piece of dialogue from Clare Booth Luce (The Women).

"Whenever we see one of our contemporaries trying to regain her youthful allure with gaudy sartorial trappings, we think of a dish we found in a collection of college alumnae recipes, called Supreme of Old Hen". We all know the supreme, in chef's parlance simply means a breast of fowl. But in this case, it really lives up to its billing and makes such a good dish out of a poorish bird that the old girl is still an acceptable morsel." What follows this introduction is a rather straightforward recipe for braised chicken, with vegetables and stock-no can of soup in sight.

Mick's Pik:Chinese Low Calorie Dressing-from the 1973 edition

Good on sliced cucumber and tomato.
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon finely chopped candied ginger

This dressing is simple, light, and delicious. I made it many times in the late 1970's, although I used it over fresh spinach, sliced mushrooms, sprouts, and toasted sesame seeds.

Pork Adobo stuffed with Chorizo with Adobo Hollandaise

Butterfly the pork loin and stuff with chorizo. Roast and glaze with adobo mixed with lime, orange, and honey. Make a hollandiase and flavor it with Adobo, 1 chipotle (pureed), and lime and orange juice. This was quite delicious and sold out quickly. The dish has a little fire to it, but the honey tames the fire in the glaze, and the firey chipotle and adobo spice up the rich blandness of Hollandaise. A chilled Beaujolais Nouveau would be a great wine pairing for this.
Pork should be brined a couple of hours before roasting (like poultry) to insure a juicy roast.
Roast to an internal temperature of no more than 155 degrees, let the roast rest for 5 minutes before slicing, the internal temperature will continue to rise to 160 degrees. Overcooked pork is dry and tough.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving at The Restaurant

I always like preparing this great American feast, but it was a bit stressful. Ater serving over 190 guests, the staff also ate dinner together.
the Menu:
Cranberry -Orange and Pumpkin-Walnut breads
Roasted turkey
Spicy Andouille and cornbread dressing and tradition bread dressing
Mashed Yukon Gold potatoes with gravy
Suzie's (my boss's recipe) sweet potatoes with vanilla, pecans and brown sugar
Green bean casserole-I know it's gross, but the hoi paloi demand it
Buttered sweet corn
Cranberry sauce
Pineapple orange congealed salad
Chocolate Kahlua Peacn pie
Brownstone Pumpkin Pie(Original recipe from the Nero Wolfe/Rex Stout cookbook)

Selected Wines:
Bridlewood Viognier and Cloudline Pinot Noir

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Atumn Salad of Mesclun with St Andre and Hot Walnut Dressing
Check out all the Fall salads at My Life As a Reluctant Housewife

This is a salad we used to make at the Richard Perry Restaurant in St Louis back in the 80's. It is so rich and delicious that I still make it occaisionally for dinner. The vinaigrette is so subtle that the main flavors are the cheese, greens, and walnuts, which make it a salad that is especially friendly to a glass of wine. This is for two large salads.

1 Pound mesclun
1 clove of garlic, smashed
2 Tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar
1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
A sprinkle of salt and a grind of pepper
3 Tablespoons of wanut oil
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 Pound black walnuts
1/2 Pound St Andre cheese, cut into 4 two ounce slices

Rub the salad bowl with the garlic, discard the clove when you are finished.
In the garlic seasoned bowl, add the vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
Slowly whisk in the oils, and set aside.

Walnut Dressing:
Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the black walnuts, let bubble for a couple of minutes at very low heat-careful not to let them get too hot, as they burn easily with their high oil content.

Compose the Salad:
Add the mesclun to the salad bowl and toss with the vinaigrette in the bottom of the bowl.

Divide the dressed greens between two salad plates, and top with two slices each of the cheese.

Top the cheese with the hot walnut dressing and let the cheese melt and the greens wilt slightly.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Crab, Shrimp, and Lobster Lasagne Roll Ups

Here is a new dish we have been doing at the restaurant, it has been quite successful. I start by blanching some lasagne noodles-leave them al dente but they must be flexible enough to roll.

Make a stuffing with sauteed shallots and garlic, ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese, some herbs-I like basil, oregano, and a bit of tarragon-, and egg or two and a mixture of the shellfish-cooked- as much as you like. Season with sea salt and a judicial pinch of cayenne.

Lay the noodles out flat and spread the seafood and cheese mixture over the noodles, roll up jelly roll style .

You also need a really nice tomato sauce and a fairly thin to medium bechamel.

I serve them in individual casseroles. Ladle some tomato sauce on the bottom, place two roll ups on top of the sauce, then ladle some of the bechamel sauce over the tops of the roll ups letting some run over the sides, lightly sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the top (light hand with the parmesan because too much would over power the delicacy of the shellfish) and bake for 20 minutes. Run them under a broiler to brown the tops.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


This head of Savoy cabbage looked so beautiful it inspired me to try and recreate this dish-I didn't have a recipe-that I once read about. It was served at the New York restaurant Lutece`-once the most revered French restaurant in the country. The original dish did not have mushrooms in it, but at Soulard Farmer's Market yesterday I purchased these Chanterelles grown in Washington state, and I thought they would make a nice addition.

I blanched the cabbage leaves and chose the most attractive to line a cake pan with, the rest of the leaves I julienned and mixed with potato slices, onion, and mushrooms. I crisped some bacon and then sauteed the vegetables in the drippings, I added a cup of wine and some water and simmered it until the liquid was absorbed and reduced. I then mounded the mixture in the cake pan lined with the reserved leaves and baked it for about 20 minutes.

I also bought a chicken at farmer's market from one of my favorite farmers-his name is Scott and although I've purchased things from him for years I don't know his last name. Oh well, he has great chichen, eggs, home made butter, wild caught rabbits and coons, and lamb chops. I brined the chicken overnight and then roasted it using Ruth' s recipe from her blog Once Upon a Feast. It was delicious. It starts with a dry rub of ginger, dry mustard, and paprika, with a basting broth flavored with fresh ginger and orange. You must visit her blog for the recipe listed under Orange Ginger Capon.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Power Dinner

Here is my idea of a restorative and emotionally uplifting dinner. Liver sauteed with onion, bacon, and balsamic vinegar with swiss chard sauteed with grape tomatoes and mushrooms. I think there is a lot of energy and mood enhancing elements to this dinner. The swiss chard is beautiful right now. The stems, which I slice and saute a little longer than the leaves, are in brilliant colors of scarlet and gold. the leaves are a bit chewier than spinach and slightly more bitter than spinach-the grape tomatoes sweeten it a bit, but you could also add a pinch of sugar.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Southern Cooking-Smoked Pork Chops with Sauce Beautiful

Another cooking blog roundup-this time Southern. Check out all the entries at My husband cooks at

This is the number one selling dish at the restaurant, and it has an interesting story. The original recipe came from a cookbook entitled "Princess Pamela's Little Kitchen"-It is a collection of recipes from a famous soul food restaurant in Harlem-published in the 1960's. I don't have a copy of this book, but my friend Richard Perry does. He has served this dish for many years at "The Jefferson Avenue Boardinghouse", "Richard Perry Restaurant", and probably at "Orchid's" in Cincinatti, when he ran that restaurant.

Soul food restaurants sprang up in Black communities after the Southern diaspora when many of the rural South (Blacks and Whites) moved North for work in the factories. Beautiful was the name of Princess Pamela's mother and the sauce is named for her. It is a homey dish that never fails to please. I love to serve it at a big Southern breakfast with creamy grits to sop up the sweet glaze.

12 smoked pork chops
2 cups of peach preserves
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Combine all of the ingredients except the pork chops and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce until slightly thickened.

Briefly grill or saute the chops to brown them, add to the sauce and heat through. This dish holds nicely in a chafing dish .

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cooking class at the Kitchen Conservatory

Last night I taught a class at the Kitchen Conservatory, which is a marvelous cookware store and teaching facility. Over the years, I've taught there many times and I always enjoy it. I always meet such interesting people and learn as much from them as they from me. Last night had a Harvest theme.

The Menu:
Carrot and Parsnip latkes with creme fraiche and caviar
Roasted pumpkin stuffed with wild mushroom risotto
Duck Confit with persimmon sauce
Pomegranate salad
Apple, pear, and quince tart

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monkfish and Lobster Tango

Once called the "poor man's lobster", it seems to have joined the upwardly mobile economic class as I paid over $10.00 a pound wholesale for it last week. The demand for fresh fish keeps climbing even in the landlocked Southern Illinois-St Louis area. The flavor and texture of monkfish is often compared to lobster, and I often use lobster in a monkfish dish to reinforce the similarities.

While the humble monkfish now demands more dollars and enjoys more respect culinarily, it is still decidedly "marrying up" in this dish. An exotic sauce flavored with vanilla bean and Italian prosecco complement the slightly sweet fishes. A saffron rice make a beautiful splash of color against the creamy sauce and the coral lobster.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Crab Stuffed Tenderloin with Sauce Choron

I've been so bored with tenderloin for the past couple of years. When I was doing a lot of catering it seems all everyone wanted was tenderloin. It does have a certain cache because of the expense and it is considered a luxury item, so on the positive side if you choose tenderloin to serve your guests it could say I'm generous and I honor my guests with this luxury item. Or on the other hand it could also say I'm rich and I'm a show off and I'm serving tenderloin to my guests. In any case here is a tenderloin I serve to much acclaim, eventhough it is something I don't especially care for myself. From a business standpoint it is a dish I like a lot because it sells well, is easy to prep, gets a high price point, and is profitable. It is also a bit of a show off dish, so if you have some of the show dog in your own genes you might like it as well.

Sauce Choron is one of those French classics, but it is so simple, just add some tomato paste to your bernaise sauce and it becomes Sauce Choron. I also garnish it with a couple of spicy shrimp.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Braised Lamb Shanks

I love those slow cooking dishes like braised lamb shank. I browned it in the dutch oven, then added stock, wine, bay, parsley, rosemary and put it into the oven for about 2 1/2 hour on 325 degrees.

I also cooked a pot of white beans which I flavored with a smoked pork trotter, bay leaf and mirepoix of carrot, celery, and onion. Lamb and beans have this great affection for one another, so close to the end of the cooking, I combine them for about 1/2 hour so that their flavors may marry. It's kind of one of those happily ever after stories in a soup bowl.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chihuly at the Missouri Botanical Garden

As if the Missouri Botanical Garden weren't breathtaking and astonishing enough at every sensory level, they added an art glass instalation by the arttist Dale Chihuly. It is practically visual overload. It has been here since April 30 and leaves October 31.

We went last night which was only the second Monday evening open. Throughout the summer the garden has been open on days and Thursday evenings. All the glass installations were illuminated dramatically. The glass sculptures took on various organic forms and blended into the various gardens in which they were placed.

There were two of his tentacle-like chandeliers-one at the entrance in colors of cobalt, aqua, and white;one suspended under the foot bridge into the Japanese Garden over the lake, it was all firey shades of red, which reflected in the waters of the lake underneath. The gates into the rose garden were also adorned with bright yellow tentacles and the Garden is featuring a new rose hybrid named for Dale Chihuly (it is a flower with yellow centers which bleed to deep rose at the end of the petals.

There were onion shaped floats in all the many lilly ponds. They were in all colors, and some metalic, and some marbelized. In the Climatron (which is a geodesic dome that houses the rainforest garden) the glass looked like gorgeous flowers from outerspace, ditto the desert garden.

It was a terrific evening-the weather was cool and crisp, they were playing 50's lounge music (Tony Bennett, Louis Prima, Keely Smith) in the sculpture reflecting pool area which was set up as a cafe, unfortunatley they were pouring horribe wine-I had a glass of Lagaria Pinot Grigio which tasted of vinegar and might have made a delightful salad dressing but was not a delightful cocktail. We left about 10 and went home to a cold supper. Our wonderful neighbor Linda treated our little group to this outing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wine blogging Wednesdays-Champagne

I chose Nicolas Feuillatte, which in hindsight I would choose something else. It wasn't unpleasant, in fact it was enjoyable, but it just didn't seem special in any way. It had a lime and green apple flavor component. After I purchased the bottle at Whole Foods-I know it's not cool to buy wine at a grocery store, but Whole Foods is a bit different, and I do like the wine department manager-I read more about Nicolas Feuillatte. It is the Number 2 selling Champagne in France and It is the Number 6 selling Champagne in the world. It is produced in Chouilly, a tiny village close to Epernay in the Champagne region. It cost $28 dollars and was certainly worth the cost, but just wasn't that special-it reminded me alot of the California sparkling wines produced by French houses such as Domaine Chandon-there just seems to be a lack of depth to the experience and I think some Spanish Cavas are just as interesting for the same amount of money. Mike Parker awarded it 92 points-go figure.

I wish I would have purchased a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, which I do like alot, but I thought it
was just too well known to blog about. I do have a Veuve Cliquot story. On the last evening on a trip to New Orleans I was without a reservation for dinner. How had I neglected this? I really wanted to eat at Bayonna in the French Quarter, owned by chef Susan Spicer. I called and pleaded my case, they were totally booked, but if I didn't mind waiting they would seat me if they had a no show reservation or squeeze me in at the end of service. A friend and I spent a pleasant hour in their courtyard garden with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. Bayonna is housed in a cottage that is typical of the French Quarter. They are set very close to the street with the front windows completely shuttered, and unless you get to peek into the back you would never guess at the splendor of their courtyards and gardens.

They eventually found a table for us and we entered the dining room. It was basically one large room which was divided by two huge floral displays. I ordered a blood sausage with caramelized apples, sweet breads with lemon and capers, and a grilled duck breast. We just kept drinking Veuve Cliqout throughout the evening. Chef Spicer's dishes have a pronounced French influence, and it was an elegant and memorable dinner.

Sadly Bayonna isn't reopened after Hurricane Katrina. Last I read they were still restoring equipment which had water damage eventhough the French Quarter was spared the worst of the damage. I hope they do get it reopened, because it was such a beautiful dining experience.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Food Blog Tag

The food blogosphere has a new game of tag in which bloggers list five foods to eat before you die. It was conceived by Melissa at Traveler's Lunch Box after seeing a BBC documentary. I am so flattered that Ruth from Once Upon a Feast tagged me, I honestly thought only my mother (Hi mom!) and my cousin in Texas (Hi Kev!) read this blog. So thanks for asking Ruth here is my list-each and every one a personal epiphany into my world of food.

They are not in any particular order of chronlolgy or importance.

1) Properly Roasted Chicken
I never get tired of eating roast chicken. Crispy skin, juicy meat, and the ability to absorb complimentary flavors makes it one of the best canvases for the kitchen artist. With the old Shaker quote "that which posesses the most uses is the most beautiful", it is truly the most beautiful dish because after you have enjoyed the dinner, the leftovers make terrific sandwiches, salads, and pastas. Then the bones make stock. For expert advice on how to roast a chicken properly please read Shirley Corriher's "Cookwise" or Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking"-the secret is in the brining.

2) Mom's Tomato Cocktail
My mom makes and home cans this most incredible vegetable juice. She also grows all the stuff that goes into it as well. It contains tomatoes, sweet peppers, basil, sort of a homemade V-8. It is sweetness, sunshine, and good cheer in a glass. On Sundays around here we add a shot of vodka or tequila to enjoy with our eggs and pastries. Very limited quantities of this elixir are available.

3) MFK Fisher's Peas
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher has been the most influential food philosopher/writer in my life. Her writing is prose, her insight and intelligence is formiddable, and her passions burn like fire.
In her book "An Alphabet for Gourmets" first published in 1949 in the chapter P Is For Peas, she recounts a lunch of just picked, just shelled early peas high in the Alps around Lake Geneva. I have been pining for those peas since I first read the story in the 1980's. I know I shall never taste those peas, but I remain enchanted by them over 25 years later.

4) Coulibiac of Salmon
This was one of the first sort of "show off" dishes I learned to make. Today it seems hopelessly old-fashioned but just the same in its day it was a great vehicle to impress dinner guests, seduce lovers, and take on picnics. I remember one particular night when I was living in Chicago I took this dish to a picnic at the Ravinia Festival. That night Ella was singing with the Chicago Symphony. The combination of a migical vocalist like Ella, with the music of the Chicago symphony, the beauty of Ravinia, and a damn good fish dish remains a benchmark of taste. Was it the fish, the music, Ella, or the company? For a great recipe use "The chez Panisse Menu Cookbook" where wild rice and quail eggs add an American touch to this French-Russian hybrid.
5) Buerre Blanc
I must include a sauce and that sauce has to be buerre blanc. It is an almost universally complimentary sauce. It is sensational on steamed vegetables especially asparagus, it can elevate anything simply grilled like lamb chops or salmon fillet. I know the foods trends are leaving me behind with things like foam, esfericacion, and essence but I just can't seem to get my lips around foam.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lillet Blanc for Mixlolgy Mondays VII

I know this is an extremely old-fashioned aperitif, but I still enjoy it. I like to serve it chilled, straight up with a fruit garnish usually orange. This time I it garnished with a slice of nectarine because I had them around for the tart I was making. Lillet has been around since 1872, when it was created in Bordeaux. I am fascinated with the Edwardian Age of dining because of its over the top excess and celebration of wealth created by the robber barons. Lillet somehow fits into my mind set for this era. It is also the perfect summer time cocktail served out of doors on my deck in an overly fussy wine glass.

Check out all the bloggers favorite summer cocktails after September 18 at The Cocktail Chronicles.

Monday, September 04, 2006

La Festa al Fresca-Farewell to Summer

Here is a farewell to summer tart. The stone fruits and berries are quickly coming to an end. The first hard fuits are coming into the markets-I just purchased locally grown Gala's this last week. I made a tart with the last of the black berries, raspberies, nectarines, plums, and blue berries.

La Festa at Fresca

It must be Fall

The first of the apples are showing up in the farmer's markets. Mrs. Crook, one of the farmers who delivers to me, delivered some Gala beauties to my back door last week. They are so crisp and delicious eaten out of hand. The evenings are getting cooler as well. Time to start changing the menus to Fall. Saturday I made veal chops with a Bourguignonne sauce, and red cabbage with those same apples.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Weekend Cookbok Challenge #8

I like to participate in these food blog challenges, but I seldom have the time. When you have been cooking as long as I have you sometimes get in a rut of using the same techniques, the same ingredients, the same mind set. The food blog challenges and the food blogs themselves have turned out to be such a source of inspiration. It helps keep me fresh and it helps me keep the menus at the restaurant fresh.

This theme was something foriegn to you from a cookbook you already owned. It is being hosted by Ruth-visit her blog at I chose Sushi Secrets by Kazuko Masui and Chihiro Masui. I love sushi, but it is not one of the stronger suits in my repertory of cooking. My first encounter with sushi was in the early 80's and I had moved to Arkansas from Chicago(which is another long story), but I took a job at the Dillard's department store and one of the seamstresses in the alterations department was a Japanese lady who brought a platter of sushi to share. I remeber it being gorgeous to look at-most co-workers were afraid to indulge-I just pulled up a chair in front of the platter and ate half of it. A strange initiation to shushi to say the least.

Another informative brush with sushi came when I moved next door to a Japanese family and the mama san taught me to make the vinegared rice-I can still she her fanning the rice as she gently folded cool air into it. She really stressed the fanning component-it makes the rice shiny and glisten.

From then on my sushi learning experience has been mostly autodidactic, until last year when I hired Jason. Jason had done a stint as the sushi chef at St Louis Fishmarket which is a seafood restaurant that I like alot even if I can't afford to eat there often. Jason taught me about sushi knives-which I haven't purchased yet. I think my sushi looks a bit clunky and not as polished as I would like. My inexperience with sushi has alot do do with it, but I don't have the proper knives I have German knives Henkels and Wustoffs mostly. I am seeing another extravagant knife purchse in my near future.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tomato Frenzy

The tomato crop keeps coming in a frenzy. Farmer Alan Nolte, who just started delivering to me brought a beautiful heirloom variety which he called German Stripe. It is a golden and red stripe. The flesh is mostly golden with a few streaks of red.

We've also been enjoying Brandywines, Purples, Pinks,and a couple of others.

We've made Caprezi and Greek tomato salads daily.

I prefer to skin and chill the tomatoes before making salads, but the true purists like to pick them off the vine and eat them still warm.

Food and Wine magazine did a spread on a Napa Valley tomato party and I got inspired to make the yellow tomato juice from the story. Of course I didn't follow the recipe, but made my own as I went. I added some carrots, parsley, and celery to the mix. I believe they called them "Blondie" Marys.