Posts made in February, 2013

Big Gowns and Siamese Hair-dos

Posted by on Feb 27, 2013 in Salad | 1 comment

Big Gowns and Siamese Hair-dos





Romanesco has been cultivated in Italy since the 16th century.  Is it broccoli or cauliflower?



When I first saw this vegetable, it called to be plucked from the basket and rotated around and around in my hand.

It is a stunning chartreuse crown of turrets which reminded me of a hair-do I had seen in a movie as a child.

I have lovingly brought home Romesco Cauliflower as it is called in the United States each year during this growing season.

After peeling away the leaves, the turrets can be separated to be eaten as a crudités.  Raw they are dense and nutlike in flavor.  I have steamed, roasted, and cooked the vegetable in pasta.

But this preparation was over the top!

Recently Food and Wine featured a side dish created by Jean Georges Vongerichten in 2011.

He roasted Brussels Sprouts and tossed them with toasted pecans and avocado.  It inspired me to create dinner from some of  our market bounty.








Hazelnuts were my nut of choice.  They seemed so Italian--reminiscent of fragrant biscotti.








After steaming the spirals in a basket for 6-8 minutes,








they were tossed with olive oil and roasted in the oven at 425 degrees until tender.

Earlier, I simmered black eyed peas which have been in the pantry since the New Year.








I whisked together  about 4-5 tablespoons of Meyer lemon and thyme vinaigrette.








We had been waiting, patiently waiting, and waiting for this Pinkerton avocado grown in Riverside to ripen.








The stars aligned.

MP walked into the kitchen looked at the elements and said nothing.

I placed the peas in a bowl with a couple of handfuls of wild spicy arugula and the diced avocado.








I tossed them gently with some of the dressing before adding the hazelnuts, and warm Romanesco florets.

A little more dressing and...








This half warm textured salad blossomed into a fusion of 16th century Italy with local cropped vegetables, earthy tender black eyed peas, and sweet Meyer lemons.

We talked about it all the way to church...

Just listen!

I am adding this new revision on April 26, 2014.  Every week during this time of year, I buy a Romanesco and am quizzed as to what to do with it.  Here is how I approach the salad now for the best outcome.  Consider making the black-eyed peas and vinaigrette in advance and keeping them in the refrigerator.  The nuts can be roasted earlier too and stored in the freezer.

  • Steam the florets until barely tender
  • Line a sheet pan with foil and toast hazelnuts at 350 degrees until fragrant (8-10 minutes).  Remove them to a tea towel and wrap up for a few minutes; roll them around in the towel to loosen the skins. Pluck the nuts out and discard the skins.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 425.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the same sheet pan and brush the surface of the foil.  Lay the florets in a single layer on the sheet pan.  Spray or lightly drizzle a little more oil over the florets and sprinkle them with kosher salt.  Oven roast the florets until tips are golden brown.
  • Toss the arugula with a little of the lemon vinaigrette (I add thinly sliced apple to the arugula now as well for a sweet crunch.  Line a platter with the lightly dressed arugula.
  • Top the greens with the florets, avocado chunks, and a scattering of black eyed peas
  • Drizzle the rest of the salad dressing over the florets.
  • Top with chopped nuts.










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MP and Eggplant Oscar

Posted by on Feb 25, 2013 in New | 4 comments

MP and Eggplant Oscar

February is a short month packed with lots of celebrations.

We fly from fête to fête.








Yesterday was MP’s birthday and the celebrity super bowl gala too.

When we were first married MP did some of the cooking—we either had tacos or his invented specialty which he proclaimed to be Eggplant Oscar.

It was a mélange of cubed eggplant breaded with too much tarragon and fried!

Because it was just the two of us for dinner and the big Oscar night I formulated a plan to surprise him.



I hid his gift.








While he amused himself searching for it...







and because I set the last one on fire quite unintentionally,







he found a new maple boos block.





Then we revisited Eggplant Oscar in a tongue in cheek style.

Veal Oscar is culinary creation said to have been named in honor of Sweden's King Oscar II, who was especially partial to its ingredients. The dish consists of sauteedveal cutlets topped with crab or crayfish meat and bearnaise. Traditionally Veal Oscar is garnished with asparagus spears.

Via wiki--

Dinner and no movie.

 Watercress and Beet Salad with Dried Cherries, Toasted Hazelnuts,

Goat Cheese, and Grapefruit Vinaigrette

( A salad I recreated from Juliette  Kitchen + Bar)

 Eggplant Oscar

Japanese eggplant slices breaded with panko and Parmesan topped with

sautéed leek, seared scallops, and roasted red pepper sauce.

Tirumisu in my mother's wedding  coffee cup.

Fostoria Colony

Danish Princess spoon

--Cooking Light 

Happy Birthday MP!

February 24, 2013

The Turn-Around Year




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Melting Chocolate Cakes

Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in Desserts | 3 comments

Melting Chocolate Cakes



The Oscars... I am always a day late.

Lucky for you I am on top of dessert this year!

I was inspired by Real Simple to create over the top-- indulgent Oscar worthy-- individual warm melting chocolate cakes.



Two guests or Twenty?

It is a math problem.

The photographs are for two cakes.








Melt the chocolate with the butter.  This can be done over simmering water or in the microwave in 30 second bursts.  Stir after each interval until not quite melted.








I also added just a touch of instant coffee.






















The sugar and egg are beaten then the flour and baking powder are added with a pinch of salt.















I temper the chocolate with a bit of the batter before combining it together.






















The very best part?  You can fill the ramekins early in the day.  Refrigerate them until an hour or so before you bake them.






Slide them from the oven.  While they are still warm open the center and dish in a bit of vanilla bean ice cream.







Just when you thought the awards were over-- there is one more stroll down the red carpet.

You will be scraping every crumb from the bottom and sides of the dish.

Two Too Divine Cakes

2.5 ounces dark chocolate

1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 Tablespoon butter

1 extra large egg

1 Tablespoon sugar

3 Tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

vanilla ice cream






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The Key

Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in New | 4 comments


--Author Unknown

As I've grown older, I've come to realize that life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I'm not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else.


But what I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other's faults and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

And that's my prayer for you today...that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God. Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where minor things aren't deal-breakers!

We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship! Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket -- keep it in your own.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

Philippians 4:8



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Snow Day?

Posted by on Feb 18, 2013 in Pasta | 5 comments










It does not snow over our house or town—but since Ty's family is returning from a snowboarding trip today--I am going to send a little love their way.

Mac and Cheese is still considered the classic comfort food.

The formula of preparation is classic too.

Where it gets switched up-- is in the splendor of creation.

Madelynne has been my inspiration for our family's particular pasta.

Archer Farms® Organic Trottole Pasta 16-oz.

The shape of the pasta must be divine.

The cheese blend must be white with a savory tang.

It must not be crunchy on top.








1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil.








1/4 cup flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt







Cook and stir the flour until it resembles wet sand.








Scald a quart of milk.  I use 2%.  Stir one third of the milk into the flour mixture.  If you use a flexible whisk it is much easier to whisk, whisk, whisk...







until the Béchamel is totally "lump-free".








Add the remaining milk and continue to cook on low until the mixture begins to boil around the edge and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  This takes a few minutes. Be careful not to scorch the bottom--keep it moving.








I am generous with nutmeg. Turn off the heat .







Add one pound of cheese cubed or grated into the sauce and cover the pan while you boil the pasta.  During this time the cheese will melt into the sauce.








The blend of cheese  varies with the chunks I have.  Crazy mac and cheese dishes have resulted from a leftover cheese course--Brie? Blue? Drunken Goat?

Our everyday blend is  a combo of English White Cheddar, Fontina, and Goat Cheese.








Drain the pasta and stir it into the cheesy sauce.








At first the pasta will seem loose--but as it sets-- it becomes quite luscious.








The perfect bite becomes a moment in time reserved for the one stirring the pot.








In Madelynne's early words...

It must be fresh from the pot.

Simple and creamy with a straight ahead balance that my girls love...

Welcome home!





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