Time spent in the garden and kitchen is not time wasted; the essence of quality is attained through toil, not technology.

Friday, September 21, 2012


 Nothing better....
 Chop, chop & then slice!
 Call me when this is done.
 Oh my- nap time for me.

"In the Basque style"- I like the way that sounds.....

Well, the jury is still out on this one- um, it was ok, pretty good; very good? and my DH seemed to heartily enjoy it for supper.   You see, I sometimes use this summary ratio of time spent in preparation compared to the 1-10 scale for the finished dish.   I must have chopped for a solid hour (understand though that I do consider chopping and slicing foods as rather relaxing & always a certifiable practice of knife skills).   And the finished rainbow array of veggies on the cutting board was most rewarding.
I had purchased a nice organic chicken that my husband cut up (no,no; I do not cut up chickens!) for me, and then it soaked in a mild salt/sugar brine for several hours.  This has become a required step to our chicken recipes now, whether we are grilling out or however.
The pepper/onion/spices went together well & smelled wonderful.  After simmering a while, I also just let it sit & absorb amongst itself while the chicken soaked.   Then I proceeded with Dorie’s simple instructions for the rest of the recipe.   I did modify on my wine; all I had available was a sorta disliked bottle of white zin that I had picked up God knows where- too sweet, yecch.   So I added a little balsamic vinegar & chicken glace stock along with a smaller portion of the wine- the sauce was tasty.
The only other small hurdle was my “raised in the South” dispensation to fry that chicken up with a beautiful crunchy brown crust when it went into the frying pan.   But I held off and did as directed.....ho hum.
My sweet husband prepared a perfect pot of rice; another thing I gave up on- it always ended up a sticky, gummy, stuck to the pan kinda thing.
I suppose I give it a 7, maybe a 7+?    Was it worth all the time & prep work?? What do the rest of the Dorista ladies and gentlemen think?
Please link to http://www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com/?p=1225 and read more delicious renditions of this recipe.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

FFWD- Spice Poached apples

 Have to admit when I first read over this recipe; I had visions of that awful fruit mixture that used to get passed around & you would stir & add more fruit....I can’t say, perhaps it was only prepared here in Texas, but, yuk!
Anyway,  decided to give it a whirl- any recipe with vanilla beans & star anise has to be worth it. I went with one apple & some nectarines and pluots that needed a mission.
The sauce was quite tasty and it made a pretty little dessert  for our dinner.   My only question was that the sauce needed much longer to reduce & it did not seem  thick enough.  Guess I could have doctored it up, but the taste was yummy! To see how our other marvelous cooks fared please link to http://www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com/?p=1201.

 How I love my copper pot!
 Getting started.
 Oh, so pretty....
 Juicy for sure
Too busy hunting squirrels to cook!

Friday, May 18, 2012

FFWD- Double Choc. & Banana Tart

Wow, does that name say it all? Even for me, a pretty hardcore chocolate addict- it was a real contention.
After making several of these recipes with the choc. crust tart & enhanced choc. fillings- decision reached to use one or the other, not both.
And what the heck happened to my ganache?? It sounded simple, but there was a snafu (could it have been because I did not have enough bittersweet choc. & had to sub in the cocoa/oil mixture??)  Yowser, just take a gander at this picture- butter & oil oozing everywhere- a relative gusher.....
Moving on to the banana mixture- did those directions really mean 1/8 inch slices?  My lovely little diagonal banana pieces simply melted in the butter/sugar caramel- tasted fine though.   So, yes, in they went on top of the "bonne idea" nutella coated tart (luv that darn stuff). Check.
Finally- this is a beautiful tart; best enjoyed in demurely sliced pieces & yes- do have that dollop of fresh whipped cream on top!

Please visit the French Fridays with Dorie site to view the other bakers' blogs & experiences with decadent tart baking.   

LYL: double chocolate and banana tart

Wok Wed.- Stir Fried Spinach

It was appreciated that we started out with a simple one- I just love recipes with only 1 or 2 ingredients.
With that being said, I will add that spinach is not my favorite vegetable, but, as I am trying to broaden my palate & eat more healthy- I surged ahead.
My wok was about 6 months old & I could not remember how I had seasoned it, so I started over & used Grace's method from the beginning. It was a fun process & I enjoyed it- the frying of the onions & ginger smelled wonderful; although the 15 min. span did turn them extremely brown.  Since I had to get nervous about something- I then worried if I had scorched the veggies!

Cooking the spinach dish was simple, of course....but led me to the decision to invest in one of the nice Rosle garlic presses that Grace recommends.  I do enough garlic that it will be nice to have- we grow huge stalks of elephant garlic, and I use it liberally.
The spinach stayed bright green in the stir frying & the pinch of salt & sugar was just right. Along with some pork tenderloin, it was a worthy accompaniment for a nice little supper.

Please visit the site http://www.greeneatsblog.com/2012/05/ww-stir-fried-garlic-spinach/ in order to view the other chefs' offerings.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

FFWD-Sardine Rillettes

Ok, so I really thought this one over- I mean, it totally fell into the "I would never eat this, but I must try new things" genre.....my primary impulse was to run in the opposite direction & perhaps wimp out with some salmon croquettes or something similar.  But I mulled it over, while reminding myself that my dear husband & a particular close friend love love luv any kind of smelly little fish prepared any which way.
So....I decided to prepare it for them and not ME.   I sorta appreciated the order of the recipe, as I could mix & have fun with all the other ingredients; then throw those sardines in at the last minute!
So I pried open the cans (the cat was standing close by on duty);  one of them had the little bones in the fish, but true to Dorie's instructions- they were quite easy to dismantle.  I was working quickly, mind you, those little fish- well, you know.....So I mixed them all up and put the rillettes in a nice tidy bowl with some crackers on the side & proudly served them to my husband.   The other half of the recipe went to my friend who also loves anything with sardines!  Yes, he relished it also; so in that respect we have a winner!   And truly one of the wonderful things about cooking is sharing things with those you love.
My dear sweet Mom, bless her soul, would have been proud of me!

So please link to http://www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com/?p=1033#comments, just in case you are curious about how others fared with this sardine concoction!

Friday, March 30, 2012

FFWD- Crab & Grapefruit Salad

Honest as I am, I have to consign that my crab & grapefruit salad turned into a shrimp salad, although the recipe was followed faithfully besides that.   If you kind Doristas will permit, I shall slightly diverge from cooking for a moment & widen the perimeter somewhat.   You see, I just finished reading a book called
The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan.  This story is an examination of our way of procuring, selling and cooking food in restaurants from an undercover viewpoint.   I won't bore you with the details, but it was very thought provoking and well worth the time to read.
It does have an extensive focus on what we spend on food and what a lot of people simply can not afford to indulge in.  When I went to the market to shop for my recipes this week (along with my TWD assignment "Pizza Rustica"); I found myself very carefully adding up prices & running questions through my mind.
Now, I consider myself very blessed to be somewhat lenient with my food budget, especially since my husband & I have already raised our 2 sons & we are empty nesters. BUT when I approached the seafood counter & realized that lump crabmeat would be $26.00 a pound, I gulped & stepped back to ponder that.
Then I moved on & chose to purchase the large shrimp, ever mindful that they were $10.99 per lb. I will end this line of discourse by saying that I spent $57.00 for, basically, the ingredients for 2 recipes- along with some extra fruit and herbs!
 So pretty, so pink!
 Veggierific collection!
 No cooking, Mom-I want to play!
 Chop, chop- almost there.
I did fully enjoy working with the scrumptious ingredients in this recipe- living in Texas, we love our Rio Star red grapefruit, avocados & peppers....so I merrily chopped, scooped and mixed.  The addition of a nice vinaigrette made from the grapefruit juice & olive oil greatly enhanced the lovely parts & pieces of this salad.   We sat down to a delightful and very fresh meal with a cool glass of white wine & some simple saltine crackers with homemade butter.
Please find your way to the French Fridays with Dorie site http://www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com/?cat=10 in order to browse all the posts.    Thank you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

MKMW-Finnish Meat Balls

I am already confused in my new journey with My Kitchen, My World- after realizing that I posted my link incorrectly before I even wrote this blog.   And, secondly, for thinking that a simple sounding recipe would be quick & easy.   Ha, the joke is on me. After my research on Finnish recipes, I chose to try this meatball selection, even though there many wonderful sounding bread recipes.    Those are really my favorite, but I had just completed Irish Soda Bread for Tuesdays with Dorie.


1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 lb. ground beef
1 med. onion, chopped
1 egg
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. evaporated milk

Soak bread crumbs in 1/2 cup milk and combine with beef, onion, egg and seasonings. Form into small balls and brown in butter. Add flour to drippings in pan and make gravy, add 1 1/2 cup evaporated milk. Return meat balls to gravy and cover and simmer 30 minutes or bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

This recipe is reprinted from the Cooks.com site.

I followed the directions rather closely but did add more seasoning- as it seemed bland to me.   We live in Texas & bland does not describe our eating habits!
I am rather a novice with meatballs and found them just a little tricky to brown correctly on all sides- I know that sounds downright silly, but it is true!
 The basics-meat & onion
 Everything needs a wee bit of this!
 Dachs ready to help Mom
 Nicely browned finally
 Ahhh, the sauce.
And then my gravy required the quick immersion blender save when it lumped up in a real jiffy.   All in all, this was a nice, substantial meal- the meatballs were served on a bed of rice with a crisp, green salad on the side.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

FFWD-Cheese Souffle-Better Late than Never.....

Ok, so I was sorta edging towards working myself into a lather over this soufflé; but it ended up pleasantly surprising me.   I mean,  I have probably only constructed maybe 3 of these in my cooking years, but I took some deep breathes as I read Dorie's calming prologue to the recipe.  Like the little engine that could, "I think I can, I think I can."
If there is one huge lesson that I have learned from my recent FFWD & TWD kitchen endeavors, it would be these 3 words- "mise en place" or however you spell that.  It is the fancy French way to say what Texans might term, "Get yer shit together before you start rattling the pans."
So I did, I had even prepared the béchamel sauce the day before when I had some extra time- it was nice & smooth & thick.  I could not find my soufflé dish (does anybody else's cupboards eat pans like mine do?), so I used a wonderful little clay pot that looked the right shape & size.
With the Doxie sous chefs in place- the party started.  My sweet husband grated the cheese, as I separated the eggs (only lost 2 when the yolks fell in my bowl of whites, coulda been worse!!).  I get exquisite farm fresh eggs from my neighbor around the corner, and I luv luv using them in my recipes.  I even enjoy doing whites by hand instead of the mixer- I just think it's really fun to watch them puff up.
I mixed, folded & cajoled this baby into its little dish & ever so gently slipped it into the oven.   Mind you, I was darn sure to follow Dorie's admonition not to peek at all until 25 min. had elapsed.  After 30, I snuck that piece of tin foil over it & gave the beauty another 10 min.

Ta dah, if I do say so myself- it came out very nicely browned & puffy and tasted delicious!   A simple salad & some fresh fruit made a perfectly satisfying Sat. dinner.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

FFWD-saint-germain-des-pres onion biscuits

Wow, that's a really fancy name for a simple biscuit; albeit a bit of a fancy version.  I elected to make these to serve with our chili on this cold, rainy evening here in N. Tx.
 Yes, I teared up
 Doxie sous chefs tussling-they get banished from the kitchen!
 Ok- it is Sat. night- cocktail "thyme"
 Pleasing enough?
But barely puffy??
I did the onion thing & even minced up a little thyme  to add in.   All seemed to go pretty well with the mixing- I used a tiny smidge of extra milk to gather it up, patted it out in a rectangle &  cut out some cute square biscuits with my pizza cutter.   Yeah, that seemed pretty simple & ever so much quicker than the round cutters.  I popped those little dudes in the oven & out they emerged 18 min. later- pretty much the same height as they were before baking??  I dunno.....I did like their crunch & very pleasing flavor, though.
To read about the fun the other FFWD bakers had with this recipe please link to

LYL: saint-germain-des-pres onion biscuits

Saturday, February 25, 2012

French Onion Soup

Let me commence by declaring my affinity for this soup- I order it out constantly; if it's on the menu- I will most probably try it!    But, that leads me to admit that I have never ever made it myself.  So, it was with a slight trepidation that I nestled into my cooking space to change that.
First off, I have discovered yet another cooking gadget that I believe will very soon go flying out the back door- a mandolin??   I had alway read that they were a must have kitchen item & I even received it as a requested Christmas gift last year.  Well, in a nutshell, that damn thing & I don't work well together at all!
Faced with 6 rather substantial onions- I decided to drag it out & go after it; egads, I had chunks of onion flinging everywhere along with a pitiful few very lovely slices.   I know- technique, technique- any of you that know how to finesse one of these instruments, do tell, please.
When I finally have my onion slices, they go in for the marathon browning session- no need to repeat what you all are aware of- "forever and a day".... Suffice it to say I began at 4PM and we dished up at 8!
 The bowls await the lovely concoction!
 Cheese & fresh, hearty bread- total yum!
 Finally, a somewhat caramel color
 My smallest sous chef, Millie
I used 6 cups chicken stock & 2 cups of broth made with a mixture of chicken & veal glace that I had in the cupboard plus a dollop of the cognac in the pot.   The flavor was superb, but I do have to ask- or I had always assumed that it was made with beef stock?   It was most enjoyable and DH ate it with obvious  relish and went back for seconds.   I will definitely do a repeat with this one!

Friday, February 17, 2012

FFWD- Mussels with Chorizo

First of all, let me say- I don't do shellfish & fish very willingly; frankly, they scare me.   Cooking times are so very critical, not to mention, are they dead or alive??   But, my dear husband, loves anything form the ocean or waters, so here we go.  I proclaimed to him that this week's recipe was composed of mussels & he was oh so pleased.   I said, oh Lord, where do you even get them?  Costco was his answer, every Friday; fresh, just waiting to be plucked.    So he proudly brings home a little net  5 lb. bag of mussels and scrubs them for me to place in the lovely broth that I prepared.....I plopped them in, set the timer for 3 min.- then covered for another min or 2.
He peeked under the lid- said they were all opened and ready to enjoy on their soft bed of pasta.   I have to admit, they smelled very luscious.    Husband dug in & consumed a bunch of them.   I was a bit picky; why did some of them look just plain funky in those shells & some were nice & round??
OK, so bottom line here is "did, done, experienced them- maybe not again, any too soon. "  Get my drift?