See Turtle Swim

photo_1 (4)This turtle has been so much fun to work on… incorporating lots of design elements by applying paint using some of my favorite stencils. Most of my turtle paintings push the color and design aspects just beyond what you see in nature. This piece will be featured at the Ponce Inlet, Florida Marine Science Center’s Turtle Day coming up in April.

Life > Lemongrass > meatballs

2014-03-12 08.13.13I love cooking with lemongrass… in all forms. I buy it fresh whenever I see it and I alway keep a “tube” of it in the fridge. Look in the fresh produce area of your grocery store for herbs that come in squeeze tubes– almost as good as fresh and they are so handy when I am in the middle of a recipe and missing fresh herbs.

Lemongrass: lemony, yes… light, fresh, tart. I use lemongrass in most of my Thai or Vietnamese dishes, it provides so much flavor, especially when combined with ginger, garlic, citrus juice and fish sauce. One of my favorite dishes is Lemongrass Pork Meatballs in Lettuce Cups.

Dinner a few night ago:

Lemongrass Pork Meatballs in Lettuce wraps

Rice Noodles with red peppers, scallions and shiitake mushrooms

Pickled radishes and shallots

Lemongrass Pork Meatball
1 lb ground pork
1/2 chopped cilanto
4 TBLS finely chopped lemongrass
2 shallots minced
black pepper to taste

The great thing about these meatballs is that they are mostly pork… no breadcrumbs or fillers. They are juicy and tasty and go great with hot or cold noodles and with lots of fresh herbs.

Mix all the ingredients together and either saute in a pan with 2 TBLS oil or bake in a 375 oven for about 20 minutes. I like to saute them so I can keep a close eye on them and make sure they stay juicy.

The SECRET SAUCE
It is only the most magnificent sauce ever! Vietnamese table Sauce goes on everything…

1/4 C of fish sauce
1/4 C of lime juice
1 stalk of lemongrass finely chopped
3 TBLS brown sugar or light brown sugar
1 clove of garlic
1 TBLS of freshly grated carrot
2 tsp finely chopped Thai chiles (adjust for your heat tolerance)

add all the ingredients and let set for 30 minutes or more… I keep a jar of it in the fridge.

PICKLED EVERYTHING
You can do a quick pickle very easily…
fresh veggies along with a mixture of vinegar, sugar and spices like cinnamon, cloves, star anise, peppercorns, etc.
Heat up the vinegar and sugar and spices just till the sugar dissolves and let cool. Add your choice of julienne veggies like: onions, radishes, cucumbers, etc and let them sit for as little as 20 minutes… I keep a jar of “pickles” in the fridge and add them to salads, sandwiches and meatballs.
ENJOY! Bon Appetit :)

It’s Not Cheating

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Yes, I shoot 99% of my photography with my iphone, it works well for me. As a painter and mixed-media artist,  I rely on visual inspirations every day. Most artists will tell you they “see their world differently”, and I feel that way too. I can find inspiration looking out my window, taking a walk, books, galleries, museums and of course online. Shooting with my phone works well for me. I can scan through images when starting a new project or when I’m too tired to actually pick up a paintbrush… Sometimes I end up with a image I love so much, it becomes the art.

I love to share my newly crafted images with my family… so excited about the possiblities, like turning things PINK. It never fails, I show one of my sons what I’ve done and his exact words… everytime, because he loves to tease me,  are: “It’s Cheating”.

I like to play with images the way I push color and design in my artwork, and have three great ways to do that on my iphone.  The Apps are: Hipstamatic, Photo Toaster and my newest find… Pic Lab.

Hipstamatic
My all-time favorite, with Hipstamatic you choose you lens, film and flash options before you shoot. If you invest, as I have, in all the paks that are available… you will have a truly endless variety of combinations to work and play with. I have been using Hipstamatic since I got my first iphone. Love it!

examples of my hipstamtic shots

Photo Toaster

My friend and fellow artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills shared  Photo Toaster with me last year. I love having the post-shoot options to add filters, effects and frames. It saves time when shooting… if I see a subject I like, and get a sharp image to work with, I can alter it many ways.

images using photo toaster:

Pic Lab

THANK YOU Daily Post for sharing! I just read about Pic Lab last night and sat playing till my battery died :) So much fun! I love text… and adding text, borders, effects, shadows, did I say effects? I love everything you can do with Pic Lab. Yes… after about 2 minutes I opted for the paid version to increase the available options. It’s sort of like buying art supplies… you can never have enough.

images using Pic Lab:

These are my favorites. Hope you enjoy and give them a try. It’s not cheating.

Rock Them Fellers

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Improving on the mighty raw oyster… puhleeeese. Freshly shucked with a little splash of tabasco, it’s such an amazingly simple and sumptuous bite. From my title, you may know where I’m going with this, there is that legendary creation that most definitely comes close; Oysters Rockefeller.

Thank you Antoine’s for moving to New Orleans, most likely that contributed to your culinary exploration of  ocean creatures and choosing the oyster when the shortage of snails demanded creative solutions.  Created in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, son of the restaurant’s founder and named after John D. Rockefeller because of the ultra-rich sauce, Oysters Rockefeller continues to elicit ooos and aaaahs from food enthusiasts everywhere.

I resisted the temptation to stray from that most purist of briny goodness,  the raw or slightly steamed oyster with hot sauce on a saltine, for many, many years. While on a trip with my husband in California some years ago and driving along the coast north toward Mendocino, we stopped at an “oyster shack” to try some highly recommended West Coast oysters.  When they arrived, we asked about sauce… hot sauce, cocktail sauce… crackers? “No, we don’t have those, how about Mignonette Sauce?” I had been eating oysters all my life and never heard of it, but its delicious on oysters… shallots (on my favorites list) pepper (top of my list) and vinegar. But back to O. R.

Good food drives most of our travel plans; it’s just so important! Most of the time the reward of “finding” a great new place or exciting, delicious dish is well worth the time it takes to research and fit meal opportunities into our itinerary. I hate to admit it, and will most definitely correct it on our next trip to New Orleans, but we have never dined at Antoines. I LOVE New Orleans and the amazing food options from muffeletta sandwiches from the market to super fine dining available throughout the city.  Galatoires on Bourbon Street  has very good fellers and they surprised me when I asked for a recipe and my waiter handed me a postcard with their recipe, apparently they have been approached before. I will try that one… but I haven’t yet. Presently, my favorite place for Oysters Rockefeller is in Savannah at Vic’s On the River. I enjoyed a plate 9 days ago and that prompted my decision to cook some last night. Vic’s was kind enough to share a list of ingredients they may or may not use in their’s but no recipe. So as usual, I searched some recipes online looking for what I would imagine to be the very best representation. I ended up going with a recipe on Bon Appetit and making a few variations.

Here is the recipe… a starting point, I almost never follow a recipe exactly… I like to add my favorite ingredients where I can and make the dish my own.

INGREDIENTS
1 garlic clove
2 cups loosely packed fresh
spinach
1 bunch watercress, stems
trimmed (I didn’t use any… but added extra spinach)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted
butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Pernod or other
anise-flavored liqueur ( I used Sambuca)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground (no… I couldn’t locate mine, so I added an little extra Sambuca)
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I did a Tablespoon)

1 pound (about) rock salt
24 fresh oysters, shucked,
shells reserved
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
cheese

PREPARATION
Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Finely chop garlic in processor. Add spinach, watercress and
green onions to garlic. Process, using on/off turns, until mixture is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
Combine butter, breadcrumbs, Pernod, fennel and hot sauce in processor. Process until well blended. Return spinach
mixture to processor. Process, using on/off turns, just until mixtures are blended. Season with salt and pepper. DO
AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover; chill.
Sprinkle rock salt over large baking sheet to depth of 1/2 inch. Arrange oysters in half shells atop rock salt. Top each
oyster with 1 tablespoon spinach mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until spinach mixture browns on top, about 8
minutes.
ORIGINAL RECIPE on BonAppetit

It was amazingly easy! I wish I had found larger oysters, and will try to get better ones next time. We really loved this first attempt at making these at home… so fresh and bright and delicious. If you LOVE oysters, you should get to shucking and give these a try.

p.s.
My very, very favorite and unforgettable oyster dish is the wood-fired spicy roasted ones at Cochon in New Orleans… if you planning a visit you should definitely stop in!