Posts made in July, 2014

My Cool Baking Buddy

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Desserts | 4 comments

This is an unusual display of a mammoth baking project.  It is not the ingredients either.







It happens to be one of the most hot and humid days of the summer--








and I am baking dozens and dozens and dozens of Monster Cookies for a wedding party in Carmel.











What do you think MP built for me?



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Grilled Bread with Tomato Jam and Prawns

Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in Fish | 2 comments








It began with a bumper-crop of cherry tomatoes, slices of my favorite bread and a roadshow of Vietnamese Black Tiger Prawns.








Ordinarily, I would zizz up a partial peck of tomatoes after a scorch in the oven for a hot and creamy soup.  Only, grilled bread called me by name (I actually heard it).















A pound of MP’s seasoned tomatoes blistered at 425 degrees for 20 minutes;








prawns grilled too.








Right on to the baking sheet,








I added a clove of crushed garlic and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar;








then rubbed a clove of garlic over the toasted bread, sandpaper-like;









the tomatoes topped the bread like savory jam.







After snapping the tails off the prawns, they rested on the jam before crowning the mélange with Romesco Aïoli.









MP didn’t see it coming—snappy summer supper on the patio with Otis.









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Pass the Pretzels’, Please

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Salad | 1 comment

Last month I posted a recipe for my House Ranch Dressing.  I make a batch for Izzy now and again, which helps get a few leaves of green on her plate.  When she was about three years old, I asked her what kind of salad I should make for a family dinner.

Iz thoughtfully replied, “Crouton salad”.

Last week she reminded me about a smoky ranch dressing I made last summer. She was not implying that it was a salad dressing but she thinks of it as a dip for pretzels’.








Here you have it— the recipe calls for low fat mayonnaise but on this occasion, I had the full boat variety.








Mix the ingredients together, taste on a leaf of lettuce (or a pretzel), and adjust the seasonings to your taste.








If you prefer a smokier flavor, add more paprika too.  If your intention is to use the mixture as a vegetable dip rather than a dressing reduce the amount of buttermilk and add a tablespoon of instant dry milk powder.

Let it mellow several hours or overnight for the best flavor.











It is simple-- but ideal for a salad of leafy greens, red onion rings, halved cherry tomatoes, and chunky cubes of cucumber eaten outdoors of course!

xococo ♥

Smoky Buttermilk Ranch Dressing


  • 1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 cup 1% buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ¼-½ teaspoon smoked paprika (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients and store up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
  2. Makes 2 cups
  3. © Copyright 2014 Peggy Barrett Lunde
  4. All Rights Reserved



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No Rubber Chicken

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Chicken and Turkey | 2 comments









Planning dinner for a crowd in your home or maybe taking it on the road across town, sometimes to another state can be daunting. Cooking for eighty is not only ten times more than eight—it is a systematic organization, proper storage, and time management.  The menu needs to be seasonably fresh, flavorful, and delicious, reflect modern food trends, cross sections of dining lifestyle choices, and be pretty. Whew!











Being a confident home cook does not protect a former blonde from the jitters; my family is often the target of a new dish (more than once).  Boneless skinless chicken breasts have become the bane and bother of professional chefs, at the same time a go-to protein for large groups. In my collection is a tried and true winter menu of Creamy Chicken Breasts with a Trio of Mustards.  The springtime favorite is a Mediterranean Herb-Marinated Chicken with a Medley of Dried Fruits and Olives.


Today is a trial run to create a Grilled Chicken Breast with Fresh Herbs inspired by Zov Karamardian (Zov’s Bistro); with an unusual profile twist cozied alongside a Summer Tomato Compote, fragrant quinoa, and grilled zucchinis.  The recipe is not online but found in the Zov Cookbook.








Chicken breasts marinate in a blend of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, chopped parsley, and oregano along with salt, pepper, paprika and a touch of cinnamon.  The tomato compote is a simple sauté of red onion, garlic, more parsley and oregano with fresh ripe tomatoes. The suggested garnish is pine nuts.








This proved to be a lovely light summer dinner shining with bright colors; softly charred vegetables, and a fascinating allure of warm spices in the chicken as well as the quinoa.







MP Master Griller!


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Hit Parade

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 in Desserts | 2 comments

Independence Day on Balboa Peninsula is more than a parade of bicycles and bathing suits.  For the Newport Beach Fire Department it means over 100 calls from one station alone—mostly medical aid pleas.


Usually I take old-fashioned pies to Ty and his crew.  This last holiday I mixed it up with a selection of desserts.  Ty said the favorite seemed to be the Three Berry Crisp.










I saw Mario Batali make the sweet blend of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries on The Chew. The online recipe didn’t match up with what I saw Mario create on television—so I tweaked it here from memory.  Two cups of each type of berry or 10 ounces (of each) if you are scale baker like me.


















Combine the berries in a bowl with sugar, lemon zest, and a slurry of two tablespoons of Limoncello and one tablespoon of cornstarch.








Load the berries into a buttered baking dish.








In the same bowl, combine the topping mixture.








Blanket the topping over the berries.








Quintessential summer berry love... à la mode.








Three Berry Crisp


  • 2 cups Blueberries
  • 2 cups Raspberries
  • 2 cups Blackberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Limoncello
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9x9 baking dish with butter.
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss together the berries, sugar, and zest. Make a slurry with the Limoncello and cornstarch. Stir in to the berry mixture and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  3. Crisp Topping:
  4. Distribute the Crisp topping evenly over the Berries and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden on top.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  6. Helpful Tips:
  7. 1. Use Limencello, the Italian liquor made from lemons.
  8. 2. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  9. --adapted from Mario Batali















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