I can’t believe it’s been soooo long since I last posted. So much art… and life, has happened in the last year. I’m going to try and fill in a lot of blanks, but for now, I ‘m getting ready for the Melbourne Art Festival next weekend and recently finished 3 new pieces for “Bon Appetit”, a show at Fifth Avenue Art Gallery, here in Melbourne, Fl.
These pieces are a combination of acrylic paint and collage. The multi artist show, Bon Appetit, celebrates food… mostly nice looking (pretty) food. I had a lot of fun with these and think they would make a nice addition to any kitchen or dining area :)
The show at the gallery ends next Saturday (4/27/2019)… so I will bring them to the Melbourne Art Festival to add to my tent, on Sunday.
Yes… I know, so corny, but I couldn’t resist that title. So BEETS. Healthy, from the earth (under the earth) colorful, nutrient rich, RED or purple or golden or really pretty red and white, trendy too. I never want to be “afraid” of a food item… especially one that is so good for you. My mom and dad always had a jar of pickled beets in the refrigerator, always. I love pickled veggies but the beets in the jar were never appealing to me. The best way I could describe the aroma from that jar would be “dirt disks”, eeeewwww.
Lately I have been approached by various beets… my son likes “daily roots” juice (lots of beets there) and occasionally I add a little bit to my morning smoothie to hide the greenish brown kale color. I went to lunch with my friend Suzanne and two of the four salads on the menu included beets. Then I was asked to make borscht (beet soup) for a presentation at my church… borscht! So maybe it’s a good time to re-evaluate my position on beets.
Along with being so good for you, beets are quite lovely, and if you peel them and cut them up without gloves, your hands will turn magenta… one of my favorite colors. The salad I had at The Crepe restaurant in downtown Melbourne was delicious and due in part to the diced beets… never second guess French cooking. As far as Borscht… it’s a very tasty soup with chicken or beef stock (I used beef) onions, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, leeks and grated beets and dill with a hint of apple cider vinegar to balance the earthiness. I just finished my first ever bowl of Borscht and would definitely make it again.
Tonight I’m cooking dinner for friends and I’ll be making a different soup; carrot, lemongrass and ginger bisque along with grilled salmon and a mixed salad with fresh beets and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. If you, like me have avoided beets in your diet, you might want to re-consider. (Unless you love the color magenta… wear gloves.)
My friend Marti gave me a treasure for my birthday years ago — a Meyer Lemon tree. I have had years and years of successful crops of lemons! My husband Jay wishes so much that it was a tangerine tree…
Meyer lemon trees are scraggly. They don’t grow in a regular fashion but prefer to spread out. You can even espalier them to the side of a house or trellis. I tell Jay it’s a great attribute of the Meyer Lemon tree. Our tree is growing sort of sideways right now, reaching for full sun; it annoys Jay. When I told him this morning that I had harvested some beautiful lemons and preserved them in jars with salt and spices… his response: “imagine if that was a tangerine tree and your out working in the yard, sweating and you walk over a pick a nice juicy tangerine.” Me: ” But lemons are so beneficial! ”
Over the last 4 or 5 years my annual crop is around 70 large Meyer lemons. Not the little tiny California grown Meyer lemons either, but big Florida, size of a grapefruit, lemons. I’ve canned jars and jars of lemon marmalade, cherry lemon marmalade, lemon fig marmalade, lemon honey jelly and preserved jars and jars of lemons.
Preserved lemons are made with lots of salt and I like to add the suggested spices; cinnamon, cloves, coriander and peppercorns. You wash your lemons very well since what you will eventually be using is the peel. Use sea salt or good canning salt and layer the lemon sections, spices and salt in canning jars; squeezing the juice from the sections into the jar as you go. Once your jars are filled, you put lids on, not too tightly, and set them in a dark place (my pantry) to start the fermenting process. Every day or two open the lid to release built up gasses and gently shake them up to re-distribute the salt. After a week or two the fermenting process has created a funky, lovely, exciting aroma :) Now you can stick the jar in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation. The great thing is… you can keep your preserved lemons for a year or more in the fridge and use when wanted.
ready to start
Big juicy lemons!
salt and spices in the bottom of each jar
salt, spices, lemons… repeat
if you lemons are smaller, cut 3/4 down the sides and leave the sections intact. Push into the jar to release the juices
almost filled…add more spices
I use them for seafood soups and stews, my version of Moroccan chicken with lemons and olives, seafood marinades, vinaigrette… etc. To use the lemon you remove the sections from the jar and rinse well to wash away the salt. You also remove the pulp and discard, leaving the soft aged peel to chop, mince, dice — whatever you like.
Another great benefit of having a Meyer Lemon tree… their lovely purplish blooms have one of the best fragrances and your whole yard will smell heavenly. Bon Appetit and happy gardening!
Whew… 7 courses, 10 guests, so many hours… I must say it went off better than I anticipated. Most importantly, I think everyone had a wonderful and memorable evening. After a very tough 2014, I realized it is “later than you think” and I’m trying to realize each day’s blessings and create memories with family and friends. A fine example… my friend (lizard friend) Eddie IV, one day you are king of the flower pot… catching moths and bugs every night by the breakfast nook window and growing back your tail…that some awful dog named Beau removed, and the next day your friends (me) are lamenting your demise due to the attack by the aforementioned BAD DOG… Beau. Eddie loved life! Anyway… creating events and enjoying each day is so very important!
Back to the dinner
Oysters a la Russe • canapes a’l’amiral
poached salmon with mousseline sauce
filet mignon lili • potatoes anna • pea puree
asparagus salad with Dijon vinaigrette
My favorite course was the cold poached salmon with mousseline sauce. I usually eat my salmon hot off the grill or out of the oven. Poaching it in a court bouillon (lightly flavored white wine and vegetable stock) kept the delicate flavor and texture of the salmon. I used a Scottish Salmon from Norway as opposed to Alaskan Salmon. It was beautiful…as you will see. The mousseline sauce is a hollandaise with whipping cream added before serving. Another favorite course was the asparagus salad, also served cold with a vinagrette. I kept this course in the meal because my husband Jay loves asparagus. It was served after the beef filet. Blanching the asparagus and then chilling it kept all the great flavor.
I owe much of the success of this event to my son Jay. He worked alongside me all day on Saturday as my sous chef. I always tease him when he is in the kitchen, about how long it takes him to do tasks. He is a perfectionist and thinks recipes should be followed exactly… I don’t. He peeled vegetables, piped the pastry cream into the eclairs, researched the proper table setting and folded napkins, all in a short span of time! He also helped me plate each course throughout the evening… and because he is so intrigued by facts and history, he now knows much more about the Titanic and the food on the Titanic than I do.
My husband Jay did a little research about the champagne served on the Titanic and we toasted the evening with Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Champagne. Each of our couples brought a wine pairing for their assigned course and really outdid themselves. We sampled some wonderful wines that enhanced the meal.
It was definitely a night to remember! If you are considering serving the Titanic dinner… remember to enjoy all the preparations and focus the memories you are creating. Bon Appetit!
p.s. take lots of pictures… my biggest regret is forgetting to take pictures of each course. Next time :) To answer my own question, I would definitely say the evening was a success.
On Saturday, April 18th… 103 years and 1 day after the RMS Titanic tragically sank after colliding with an iceberg on her maiden voyage destined for New York City, I am cooking a 7 course menu from the last meal served in the 1st Class Dining Room, for 10 people. This will be the inaugural meal for the new Sanderling Drive Dinner Party Group. On many, many occasions my husband Jay has requested this meal… My usual response is, “are you crazy”, “it would be too much work”, “NO”. When one of my neighbors mentioned starting this plan to share hosting a dinner with some of our neighbors, the Titanic meal came to mind and I offered to be the first hostess. So…today is Thursday, yesterday I cooked my beef stock for 7 hours and today I will be making the court bouillon to poach the salmon in along with a long list of other tasks to accomplish today. I LOVE cooking! This will be a daunting challenge for even a seasoned chef. It will not be a perfect meal because there are always things to improve on. I have scaled back the menu from 10 courses to 7…since I don’t have a sous chef and I would like to enjoy dining with my guests. Each couple attending is bring a wine to pair with their assigned course and a champagne toast will kick off the evening. If you would like to take on this task, no fear… there are lots of places to look online for assistance! The recipes are available along with suggestions on how to break down all the tasks into an organized, hopefully efficient plan. I’m depending heavily on this. You can look at http://downtonabbeycooks.com/2012/04/05/game-plan-for-hosting-a-1st-class-titanic-tribute-dinner/ , and I am also relying on a great blog: http://www.thedragonskitchen.com/2012/04/complete-first-class-titanic-menu.html and… I did get a used copy of “Last Dinner on the Titanic” it is a great resource for all things Titanic. It even has that timetable I mentioned, and most likely I am behind schedule. We will have period music playing and even though my home most definitely not super fancy… I am polishing my silverware and have put all 4 leaves into my dining table. We mailed out the boarding passes to our guests and cleaned some thing that only usually get attention during the holiday :). I am hoping that after Saturday evening the only mention by my husband about the Titanic Last Dinner will be, “that was great”. One good thing… I can finally use the lovely chef’s toque that my friend Suzanne bought me for Christmas!
Heading home from another great trip to NOLA. I have seen several signs around town that say: “New Orleans, is the most foreign city in the United States”. I haven’t been to all the cities in the US, but New Orleans is definitely different in an amazing way; the food alone is worth the trip. Food, “flavor”, art, history, architecture, and wonderful hospitality. New Orleans is like a touch of Paris with a 1 1/2 hour flight. We had great food… I think I said that… lunch at Commander’s Palace is a must-do, oysters, oysters, oysters everywhere you go. We had an oyster Rockefeller po-boy at Tableau that was amazing. Our best dinner was at Restaurant August… really amazing.
We started with their potato crisp and P&J oysters appetizer; lightly dusted with cornmeal and Parmesan and served with their house pickled vegetables. The entrees were gulf snapper in court bouillon and breaded “trout Pontchartrain” shrimp, blue crab, and wild mushrooms. We booked an early afternoon flight home to take advantage of one more meal of oysters… char-grilled oysters and an oyster po-boy at the ACME Oyster House; I don’t think you can beat the ACME for oysters! We will be back next year, trying new places and re-visiting our favorites.
Thanks New Orleans for always delivering a great time!
I 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
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.
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 :)
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.
1 garlic clove
2 cups loosely packed fresh
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,
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
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.
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!
So many goods… Here in Savannah, Ga. Good atmosphere, sights, food, shopping. spending the weekend, loving the weather and the company:) and that it is only a 5 hour drive from home, but it’s the “Deep South”.