About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Well Dressed Lettuces

Our dear friends, Nancy & Jay joined us for fish tacos al fresco Sunday night.  Jay is a fabulous gardener and produces a bounty of tomatoes and vegtables in the summer. It's still spring and he's already got a bumper crop of tender lettuces. He brought me a beautful pot mixed with Paris Island, Romaine, Red Sail and Salad Bowl. I plan to make a fabulous dressing for a very special salad.  These beautiful green leaves deserve a light dressing that complements their quality. This is a favorite dressing with fresh herbs that makes other salad ingredients unnecessary.

Peel a large garlic clove and place in under the blade of a wide blade knife.  Give it a good whack with your hand to crush it. In a pint jar with a lid, leave crushed garlic and salt in vinegar overnight.  Add the rest of the ingredients the next day, except grated egg, and shake vigorously until all are combined.  Dress lettuces and garnish with grated egg.  Refrigerate over night before use.

2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, crushed                                                                                 
1 tbls finely diced shallot
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
 2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbls capers
2 tbls chopped pimento
1 tbls honey
1 tbls chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1 tbls chopped fresh chives
1 olive oil
1/3 cup canola oil
1 hard boiled egg, grated (for garnish)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Champagne Mango Sorbet

I found ripe mangoes on sale, 10 for $10, so I took the bait, feeling an inspiration.  The key to a sorbet is perfect fruit and these were perfect. They were very sweet, juicy mangoes with a golden yellow peel; ideal for sorbet.  Always be on the lookout for something at peek. Ripe mangoes peel easily but the large pit of the fruit can be tricky to work around.  Cut the "cheeks" off and dice. Ten mangoes worked up to a quart of puree.  I added just enough sugar to ensure sweetness and a touch of vanilla, but they didn't need much.

10 very ripe champagne mangoes peeled and cut free of pit
1/2 cup of sugar (adjust to the sweetness of the fruit)
1 tbls vanilla
pinch of salt

Process fruit and sugar, vanilla and salt in food processor until smooth.  Pour into a plastic container with a lid and refrigerate over night.  Mixture must be thoroughly chilled.
Pour chilled fruit mixture into the a frozen ice cream maker bowl and follow manufacturer's instructions. Return churned mixture to rinsed and dried plastic container and freeze for at least six hours or over night.  Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sweet Potato Hash

It's Sunday night and we have been traveling today. No eggs for breakfast so we'll have them for dinner. This can be a knock out brunch dish or a casual throw it together dinner- and that's what this is tonight. I'm tired and I don't want fancy but I like this it's so gooood. Hash is one of those great left overs meals.   

2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green onion
1 jalapeno (optinal)
2 tbls canola oil
1 tbls butter
8 oz diced ham or meat of your choice
3-4 eggs
8 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Heat oil and butter over medium heat in a 12 inch slope sided skillet until bubbleing. Add the vegetables and cook tossing frequently until vegetables begin to brown making a bed of the browned vegetables. Crack three or four eggs over the vegetables and cook until the whites of the eggs begin to cook. Cover the vegetables and eggs with shredded cheese and cover with a lid for 3-4 minutes until the eggs are cooked but still runny. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediatley.


Highway Gourmet

My husband and I travel several times a year to the coast for golfing vacations. Not too long ago, we made the trek for his birthday. After a long, hard day of work, we got it the car and drove to the beach with a birthday picnic packed in my cute new picnic tote. It looks like a lunch pail made of toile and it’s insulated with various zippered pockets so I can separate things and put a small freezer pack in any compartment. Friendly Gus’s Truck Stop is the halfway point where we leave the state highway and take the scenic route. My husband likes this route off the main highway because it’s one of those wonderful, well kept, two lane country roads with pretty little white churches.
The truck stop has a microwave , which I have been known to use on occasion depending on what I’m serving, and fair bathrooms. Friendly Gus’s is a truck stop deluxe; fried everything, mashed potatoes and cobbler along with all the usual gas station fair. I always check out the buffet just to be thankful for what I’ve brought along. Truckers patronize it the way New Yorkers would a deli; it’s probably the finest truck stop in middle Georgia, but I bring my own, nonetheless. Just past Macon, I like to serve the appetizer. It’s dark, so hubby can’t see what I’ve bought to pop in his mouth. Prosciutto wrapped melon. Now don’t count the presentation, I had to feed these on tooth picks while he was driving. He was thrilled. Since I’m not driving, I sip on one of those nasty little screw top wine bottles. Yech! But it makes the ride so much shorter. When we pulled into Gus’s, I serve the main course, crab cake sandwiches with rich remoulade sauce and exotic vegetable chips, a portable way to get the veggies in. We giggle at the location, and open a present. Finally, what would it be without the birthday cake., his favorite angle food, in mini bundt cake size with lemon glaze and a small candle. Something about the ambience of a truck stop and screw top bottle wine made it one of his most memorable birthday meals.
Tonight, we are on that same road, with flank steak sandwiches and horseradish sauce which my husband says will open up the sinuses followed by Woopie Pies.
The ride home is never much fun. We have to stop at one of those dreadful fast food joints. This time I insist we try a new franchise dedicated to chicken. It took forever to get our food and I’ve consumed a quart of water afterwards from the sodium content. My husband takes a few bites and tosses the rest. He’s so spoiled.

Monday, March 12, 2012

French Chicken in a Pot

This simple peasant meal is one of the finest ways to prepare a chicken. It gives you tender, moist, succulent meat and the best au jus for gravy or, when seperated from the fat, a superb way to enhance any soup or sauce. The beauty of this chicken is two fold, flavorful chicken and flavorful juices that can be saved for another recipe. I save a little of this liquid gold each time and keep it in the freezer to enhance the next batch of stock.

1 whole fryer chicken rinsed and patted dry. Salt & pepper chicken liberally. In a large heavy Dutch oven heat 2 tbls olive oil. Brown chicken breast side down first. Adjust heat so chicken does not stick. After 5 mins. Sprinkle around chicken 1 cup diced onion, ½ cup diced celery and 6 garlic cloves. Flip chicken by inserting a wooden spoon in the cavity and turning over. Brown other side a few minutes. Add a few springs thyme or rosemary. Heat oven to 250. Cover Dutch oven with aluminum foil and then cover with lid. Put in oven for 2 hours. Carve chicken. Put juices in a fat separator if available and serve with au jus. Save au jus for other purposes. Freeze if necessary. Excellent for flavoring sauces and stock.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shirred Eggs

Sunday morning should be peaceful. I like the quiet, only interrupted by the chirping of a bird outside. The simplicity of shirred eggs matches my mood. Served with chopped herbs and toast points, it’s a no fuss way to prepare eggs. This is an individual serving but can be made for more. Ramekins may also be used.

Preheat the broiler and position the rack 6 inches under the heating element.
Butter a gratin dish with one tbls. butter then add 2 tbls. cream in the dish. Heat under the broiler until the butter and cream begin to bubble, about 2 mins. Add two eggs to the ramekin, salt and pepper, and put under the broiler for 2 more mins. Then turn the over off and leave in the over for 6 more minutes. The eggs should be just glazed over and the yolk runny. Garnish with chopped chives or a mixture of your favorite herbs and serve with toast points.