Can we agree that seven years of blogging about food is worth 250 calories? Thus, the cake.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on this lifetime of growing, cooking, eating and sharing food, realizing it’s the frame work I’ve used to build and re-build my life. Most of my happy memories are in some way attached to food.
– From my childhood I still crave Mom’s Apple Crisp, Helen Shelley’s Whipped Cream and Oreo Cookie Pudding, Millie Potter’s Molasses Cookies and Carole Renken’s mom’s Rice Krispie Bars. There are so many memories attached to each of those cravings.
– As for silly family memories, this rises to the top. The turkey wouldn’t gobble if I didn’t bring a huge batch of Chex Mix to my family on Thanksgiving. Every year my granddaughters wonder aloud if Grandma will remember. It’s always a week before the holidays when I get the call.
“Hi, Mom. It’s Missy.(long pause)Mom, now I am serious, please, please don’t put so much butter in the Chex Mix this year.”
“Mom, Mom, I really mean it this year.”
“I know Missy.”
When I arrive the girls are quick to spy the Chex Mix canisters in the car. “I only doubled the butter,” I whisper to them.
They giggle and run in to tell their Mom. I do penance. Eleven years. Same story.
Take a look at the potato plant, just dug from of the soil. Potatoes are now grown in the Valley by Woody Creek Distillers who make acclaimed craft spirits including 100% Potato Vodka. WCD Photo
– One of my favorite Michael Memories is our annual potato harvest. We Iowans could not successfully grow tomatoes in Aspen but our potato crop was gangbusters. Each fall Michael would make the call. It was time. He’d grab his pitchfork to dig up the plants as I got down and dirty to retrieve those spuds. Since I experimented with different varieties, there was lots of ooh & aah-ing as we spotted each one. And God help that man if he mistakenly speared and damaged one of those tubers. Our harvest’s success dictated the number of guests invited to our boisterous potato parties which followed.
In Las Vegas, where I’ve spent the holidays, some people go High Brow and some go Low. I favor the Low – my favorite burger joint on Eastern Avenue.
My long-lasting friendships, whether in Iowa, Nevada or Colorado were nourished and nurtured in the kitchen and around the table. This experience of the past seven years of cooking virtually only raised the bar. In an instance of serendipity I joined French Fridays with Dorie, arguably among the first virtual cook-the-book food groups.
This exposure to kindred spirits throughout the world was an unexpected gift. C.S. Lewis nailed it, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
LV now has a big box IKEA. Since I had never visited an Ikea I stopped by to taste their iconic Allemansrätten meatballs with mashed potatoes & gravy and lingonberry sauce.
For me, every week I make time to plan, cook, click and write. My measuring cup runneth over.
There are none of the long lines here in Las Vegas as reported at Danny Meyer’s popular Shake Shacks in New York City.
Still worth a stop for the ‘Shroom Burger, a crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted meunster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce. Tasted mighty fine with french fries and a salted caramel shake.
YEAR EIGHT KICKS OFF IN SAN MIGUEL de ALLENDE
On Thursday I am flying to San Miguel de Allende, located in central Mexico, for a 5-week visit. Designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, SMA joins other historical cities like Venice, Florence, Salzburg and Prague as the most historically and culturally significant in the world.
I will be living near the centro histórico, the city’s 500-year-old downtown district. For the next few weeks of posting I’ll be trading David Lebovitz’s recipes for those of Diana Kennedy, aka the “Julia Child of Mexico,” and Señora Trini, the reigning cook in my hosts’ cocina.
Gracias, Readers, for a wonderful seven years with you.
Jam Thumbprints with Toasted Coconut, MACARONS by Fançois Payard and World Peace Cookies
In the mood to feel good? Need to unplug for a moment? I can magically make that happen:(1) Read my blog;(2) While still (hopefully) chuckling from Dorie & Ina: The Art of Fierce, drive to to your local theatre to see “La La Land”. If you’re not happy after (1) and (2) then, apparently, you don’t do happy.
EYE to EYE with JULIUS CAESAR at CAESAR’S PALACE.
One afternoon, during the Thanksgiving holiday, my son-in-law asked if I wanted some coffee. It wasn’t 5 o’clock anywhere so coffee sounded like a good substitute. “I’ve got a new cup for you, Mary,” he said as he reached into the cupboard.
He set the “new” cup in front of me. As you can see, it says, FIERCE. Melissa, standing nearby, watched as I morphed into my ‘hurt feelings’ position. You know, head down, shoulders rounded, going mum. Realizing her mother was of a different generation, she jumped in, “Mom, mom, that’s a good thing. It’s a compliment. My friends just gave it to me and we thought you’d like to use it.”
“You mean being a fierce woman is a good thing?” I questioned, somewhat amazed.
“Yessssss,” Missy emphasized. “They – gave – it – to – me – as – a – compliment.”
“It’s good, Grandma” Emma chimed in, with the entire family shaking their heads in agreement. (I knew Clara, who remained silent, was thinking, “Whew, that was close.”)
LA TOUR EIFFEL (FAUX)
ELLEN FAHR (L) AND HER HUSBAND, CHARLIE, WERE OUR FIRST FRIENDS WHEN WE MOVED TO HENDERSON IN 2004. BEST REALTORS EVER. LUNCH, 58 TOUR EIFFEL, PARIS LAS VEGAS
So I’m all over this but discovered via Google I was fiercely ignorant in the urban slang department. The first twisted version of fierce grew up in the 1990s and later evolved into a fashion statement. Six years ago model/television personality Tyra Banks hijacked it and social media went nuts.
I AM ALWAYS RELIEVED WHEN I SPOT ANTHEM COUNTRY CLUB’S RESIDENT GREAT BLUE HERON. SUCH A GORGEOUS CREATURE GREETING ME EACH MORNING WHEN I WALK THE “LOOP.”
Today fierce, in its affirmative form, seems to have landed between ‘the combination of a positive mental spirit, bold words and unapologetic actions used collectively’ and women ‘who are on fire and possess too much swag for the common man or woman to handle.’
Take your pick.
“FIORI DI COMO,” THE GLASS SCUPLTURE BY ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE DALE CHIHULY HANGS FROM THE CEILING IN BELLAGIO’S LOBBY. IT IS BREATHTAKING TO SEE, YEAR AFTER YEAR.
EVERY DAY BETWEEN 15,000 TO 20,000 TOURISTS VISIT THE BELLAGIO’S HOTEL-CASINO LOBBY TO SEE CHIHULY’S MAGNIFICENT ART BLOSSOMS.
However you phrase its definition, Baking Icon Dorie Greenspan and renown television personality and author Ina Garten are double-digit fierce. That’s why I’m featuring them and their favorite cookies in today’s post. Both are incredibly hard-working and classy women who, for thirty-some years, have shared their lives and talents with us. This special season is an opportune time to reign glory on Dorie and Ina. Let’s do it.
DORIE GREENSPAN’S 12TH COOKBOOK WILL GARNER SOME AWARDS OF ITS OWN.
The seemingly indefatigable Greenspan, an IACP/James Beard award-winning cookbook author, just published her 12th cookbook. Greenspan was the French Fridays with Dorie guru of our virtual group which cooked through all her recipes in Around My French Table, More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. This week-end I baked her renown World Peace cookies featured on the cookbook’s cover. All recipes below.
Then there’s the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, whose tenth cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, just hit the bookstores. Having always been an Ina fan, I already own most but am trying to fill in the gaps by haunting favorite used book and thrift stores. Long ago I bookmarked her Jam Thumbprint cookies from her Family Style cookbook. Fun to mix together and a tasty morsel.
OKLAHOMA FOOD-BLOGGING COLLEAGUE & FRIEND, GUYLA MAYO SENT ME HER LATEST JIGSAW PUZZLE SUCCESS. IT’S WINTER AND TIME TO RETURN TO MY MONTHLY JIGSAWS. THANKS GUYLA & GARY.
As I end this post, my last for 2016, I thank you for loyally following my blog. It seems amazing that my subscriber list continues to grow with other readers stopping by occasionally. I appreciate your comments and personal e-mails. Know these two things for sure: 1) I love writing this blog;2) LOBNB’s Readers are FIERCE.
Sending kindness and good wishes to All.
WORLD PEACE COOKIES by Dorie Greenspan, Dorie’s Cookies
Makes about 36 cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup BEST-QUALITY unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into irregular sized bits
1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
2. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until soft, creamy and homogenous, about 3 minutes. Beat in the salt and vanilla.
3. Turn off the mixer, add all the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to start the blending. When the risk of flying flour has passed, turn the mixer to low and beat until the dough forms big, moist curds. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix with beater on low to incorporate. Sometimes the dough is crumbly and sometimes it comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Happily, no matter what, the cookies are always great.
4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather it together, kneading it if necessary to bring it together. Divide the dough in half. Shape the dough into logs that are 11/2 inches in diameter. (Use a ruler for a correct measure.) Don’t worry about the length — get the diameter right, and the length will follow. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and freeze them for at least 2 hours or refrigerate them for at least 3 hours.
5. When you’re ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
6. Working with one log at a time and using a long, sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. (The rounds might crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them. Slide in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking. Cut the second log and put in the fridge while you bake the other.
7. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes — don’t open the oven, just let them bake. When the timer rings, they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, and that’s just the way they should be. Leave the cookies on the pan and transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can munch them, let them reach room temperature or put them in an airtight container.
STORING: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just bake the cookies 1 minute long.
JAM THUMBPRINT COOKIES with TOASTED COCONUT
by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, Family Style cookbook
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
Apricot preserves and Blackberry preserves or filling of your choice
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla.
3. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together.
4. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
5. Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet.
My baking and cooking projects improved when I invested in a food scale two years ago.
6. Press a light indentation into the top of each with your cookie ball with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation.
7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.
TIP: 1. Use your food scale to gauge a 1-oz. ball of dough.
2. After making the thumbprint cookies, slide the entire pan in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking.
3. These cookies freeze well.
Bourbon & Roasted Walnut Vanilla Ice Cream, before the roasted walnuts are added.
Can you spare five minutes to be silly? In these somber times we still need to step outside our life box of concerns and shake it up. You have lots of happy breaths stored beside those worried and stressful ones. Just dig deeper and gulp.
Raw Vegetable Slaw with Creamy Garlic Dressing
It’s CooktheBookFriday, time to share the exceptionally-talented David Leibovitz’s recipes with you. From his My Paris Kitchen cookbook, Raw Vegetable Slaw with Creamy Garlic Dressing and Galettes Complètes (Buckwheat Crêpes with Ham, Cheese and Egg). Because it’s homemade ice cream time, I pulled out his popular The Perfect Scoop cookbook and made vanilla bean ice cream embellished with booze. Why not? Bourbon and Roasted Walnut Ice Cream is so adult.
Galettes Complètes (in process)
Before the yummy food, let’s do silly. Recently, while on my 7,500-mile junket, I was Ms. Michelin, spending considerable time planning and researching my itinerary. Remember Michelin’s three-star system for recommending sights:Worth a trip; Worth a detour; and Interesting? Doing that certainly enhanced my experiences this past winter and challenged my limits.
Three baby Great Blue Herons are searching for Mom who is supposed to be bringing them food. Northstar Preserve 2016
This summer it occurred to me I should check out my own back yard. Although I’ve lived in Aspen since 1988, were there activities I’d missed or sites unseen? If not now, when? While most of you do not live in my Valley, these suggestions might trigger local adventures of your own. Wiggle out of your comfort zone. It’s healthy.
Mule Deer in Velvet Northstar Preserve, 2016
Here are five To-Dos-This-Summer from my List:
1. Music Appreciation, MUS-120. Dr. Thomas Buesch, Colorado Mountain College – Since moving to Aspen I’ve taken liberal arts courses from Dr. Buesch, the best of college professors. His summer 10-week music course, given in conjunction with the Aspen Music Festival, is always oversubscribed. This year I jumped in early, committed to the task and I’m all ’bout that bass. (IN PROCESS)
2. The contemporary Powers Art Center, designed by architect Hiroshi Nanamori of Japan in 2014, is located in a cow pasture in nearby Carbondale. The art center showcases Jasper Johns’ works on paper and is a memorial to the life of art collector John G. Powers, a longtime Valley resident. Worth a visit. (TO DO)
Marci Krivonen photo
3. Independence, Colorado. In the late 19th century about 300 people lived in this ghost town. Located 12 miles from Aspen, at 10,900’, Aspen Historical Society guides give engaging daily tours at this National Register Historic Site. (TO DO)
4. PokémonGo, an outdoor, free smart-phone game. Load it. Play it. (IN PROCESS)
5. First Aid/CPR Class. Whether you’re almost 15-years old (I’m talking to you, Ms. Emma) or a Baby Boomer, take an American Red Cross-sanctioned First Aid/CPR/AED day-long class. I took a course, sponsored by the USFS, in June and was surprised to learn new methods and utilize life-saving equipment. It’s a responsible thing to do for yourself and others. (DONE)
Before you start making your own summer list, here’s the lowdown on this week’s recipes.
RAW VEGETABLE SLAW with CREAMY GARLIC DRESSING by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
Why this works: Slice or chop up a 6 cup combo of veggies you already have in the fridge. Cabbage, endive, kohlrabi and fennel are a nice touch. I use the leftover dressing for dip.
Two main course servings/4 side salads
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups sliced, chopped or shredded raw vegetables, any mix of:
cabbage, red or green
radicchio or Belgium endive
broccoli or cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoon chopped chives, plus more for garnish
1. To make the dressing mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, mustard and pepper in a small bowl until smooth. Cover and chill. May be made 2 days ahead.
2. In a large salad bowl, mix together the raw vegetables. Add the parsley and chives. Toss with the dressing and mix well. Garnish with parsley and chives.
3. Serve immediately.
This adult Cooper’s Hawk, maybe Dad, maybe Mom (cannot tell) is waiting for me to leave. Not happy I am near the babies, I only stayed 5 minutes.
BOURBON & ROASTED WALNUT VANILLA ICE CREAM adapted from The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz
Why this works: Leibovitz’s vanilla ice cream recipe is my choice…always. To add this grown-up touch is fun.
About 1 quart
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 TBS Bourbon (or, Licor 43 or, your choice)
2 cups of walnuts, roasted and chopped coarsely
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Using a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warmed milk. Then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for 30 minutes.
2. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the heavy cream into the bowl.
3. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice.
4.. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Gradually pour some of the infused warmed milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed yolks and milk back into the same saucepan.
5. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
6. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Add the vanilla extract and stir over the ice until cool.
7. Stir in the bourbon. Refrigerate to chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.
8. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
9. After the ice cream is churned, stir in the roasted, chopped walnuts. If not serving immediately, put back in the freezer to harden more.
Making buckwheat galettes
GALETTES COMPLÈTES (Buckwheat Crêpes with Ham, Cheese, and Egg) by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
Why this works: There are some gems I want to leave to the Pros and that’s how I feel about crêpes. Still, making this recipe, Galettes Complètes (Buckwheat crêpes with ham, cheese, and egg) was a worthwhile cooking experience. Try experimenting with buckwheat flour using this recipe or Dorie Greenspan’s Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche or from the multitude of buckwheat flour recipes on Pinterest. To be correct, a crêpe is made with white flour and a galette with buckwheat flour.
The galette, made with prosciutto, grated cheese, and an egg, is quite rich in taste.
CooktheBookFridays is a virtual international group making its way through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen cookbook.To see what others have mixed up this week or to join, go here.
Where to begin. This is my last LIGHTSonBRIGHT postmarked from California. In mid-November I left Aspen, barely escaping the first snow flurries, knowing it would be springtime before my return. The left side of my brain, where my logic is warehoused, kept telling me this was a good thing. My heart, where most of my decisions are made, was shouting, “What have you done?”
David Lebovitz’s CROQUE MONSIEUR from My Paris Kitchen cookbook
In the past 5 1/2 months of this solitary journey I have motored through five states, joyously celebrated three major holidays, one VIP 50th birthday and settled into 3 different homes. Good fortune smiled broadly in December for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Galapagos.
The Valley Vixens, my nature study group, flew to California for a long week-end of whales, wildflowers and birds. – with our guides at Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore
This solitude and being alone thing cuts both ways. My adventures and explorations throughout California from Point Reyes in the north to Los Angeles have been magical. I have fallen in love with this state and the people in it. (Caveat: Aspen and the Rockies are still #1.) I’ve relished my aloneness, Yin time to my Yang’s constant busyness of Aspen. Admittedly, it’s time for Yang.
My BETTER THAN THIS drop cookie
There will be many hours during my 1,000 mile trip back to Colorado, to revisit this journey, realize Life lessons learned, and re-think traveling more simply. Unfortunately, the drive also coincides with what would have been our 30th wedding anniversary. That day I plan to cut short my driving time, stop at a familiar hotel, enjoy a nice dinner with a glass or three of wine and remember the good times. Reservations already booked.
Load. Lock. Puree. This tapenade can be thrown together in 10 minutes.
MY PARIS KITCHEN: TAPENADE & the non-sexist CROQUE
I’m betting you’ll like this farewell post from Cambria. It’s Cook the Book Fridays when we feature recipes from David Lebovitz’s spectacular My Paris Kitchen. That man knows how to write a cookbook. Here’s my take on his Artichoke Tapenade with Rosemary Oil, a tasty quickie and multitasker. Try it also on pizza, stuffed in mushrooms or in a myriad of other ways suggested here. And, that Rosemary Oil? Do it.
The Rosemay Oil infusion is oh-so-simple to create and it is a classy touch to the tapenade.
Let’s be clear. The Croque-Monsieur, which America has bastardized into a fried ham and cheese sandwich, is sexist. Whenever this recipe is featured anywhere, we women end up in parentheses:(to make Croque-Madame, top it with a fried egg). I just can’t work with that. Instead, this week we’re making David’s absolutely delicious Croque-Madame. (If you’d rather make a Croque-Monsieur, hold the egg.)
No, artist Andy Goldsworthy isn’t hanging out on Moonstone Beach but visitors and locals alike create their own disposable twig art every week-end. Using debris that’s washed up on the beach, they spend their time creating habitats. And, then, we all sit together in them and enjoy the sunset. And, then, Boom, it’s washed away at high tide.
For David’s, first mix together his Béchamel which elegantly separates his version from the pack. Don’t be intimidated, Readers. It’s a white sauce, plain and simple. Now, start building the sandwich, layering the prosciutto or ham with Comté or Gruyère cheese. Then, butter. Not a good calorie-counting day. Serve this richness with a green salad/mustardy vinaigrette. I cannot express adequately how deliciously amazing this sandwich tastes.
Mmmmm. dark chocolate, dried cherries, toasted walnuts and oatmeal – what’s Better Than This?
We only post David’s recipes if they are already out there in cyberspace. Luckily these two are flying high so I’m reprinting them. I do encourage you, however, to buy this terrific book.
My friends travelled from Colorado to San Francisco for sunshine, warmth and to visit me. Is one out of three considered a Win?
The BETTER THAN THIS Cookie
The beloved Dorie Greenspan, our talented French Fridays with Dorie mentor, bakes World Peace cookies. Her test-tasting neighbor, Richard Gold, became convinced that ‘a daily dose of these cookies was all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness.’ They are sublime. Blogger Chris Scheuer, who resides at Cafe Sucre & Farine, makes I Want to Marry You cookies, a chocolate chip delight reputed to inspire marriage proposals. These are two of the best cookies I’ve baked.
Pop into the ‘fridge for ten minutes before putting into a 375 degree oven.
However, I’m throwing down the gauntlet and suggesting to these ladies that my gem of a cookie can compete. I’m naming it the Better Than This cookie because no cookie you taste or bake now can be, you got it, Better Than This. Here’s the deal. Since returning to Aspen three years ago and setting up shop at The Gant, its young, professional staff has made me feel comfortable and safe. They’ve helped launch me into a happy albeit different Lifestyle. My gratefulness knows no bounds. Those kids have become willing LIGHTSonBRIGHT test-testers. Because I’ve been MIA the past many months, I’m afraid my tiara may have tarnished somewhat. Here’s betting this tasty jewel of dried cherries, dark chocolate, rolled oats and walnuts, will re-burnish my status and have them asking, “What can be better than this?”
I will miss these crazy noisy clowns called Acorn Woodpeckers who live nearby. If you ever spot a tall pole or tree riddled with hundreds of holes, each containing an acorn—it’s an amazing Woodpecker granary tree. Stop and take a look.
A Granary Tree – One tree can have up to 50,000 holes drilled by Acorn Woodpeckers, each filled with an acorn for winter forage. Imagine the effort involved.
When I see you next time, I’ll be happily shedding my road warrior skin and blogging from Colorado’s High Country. Big smiles all around.
CROQUE-MONSIEUR by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen cookbook
Makes 2 Sandwiches
Béchamel Sauce ingredients
1 Tablespoon salted or unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
3/4 Cup whole milk
Pinch of sea salt or kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 thin slices sourdough or country style bread, 1/4 to 3/8” thick
4 slices prosciutto or thinly sliced dry cured ham or 2 thick slices boiled ham
2 thin slices Comté or Gruyère cheese
4 Tablespoon salted or unsalted butter
1/4 Cup grated Comté or Gruyère cheese
1. Spread the Béchamel Sauce on the bread.
1. Béchamel Sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the flour. When the mixture starts to bubble, stir and cook for 1 minute more. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the milk, stirring to discourage lumps. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Cook for about 1 minute more, until the sauce is thick and creamy, like runny mayonnaise. Remove from the heat, stir in a pinch of salt and cayenne and set aside to cool a bit and thicken.
2. Place meat of choice on one slice.
2. Spread the Béchamel evenly over the four slices of bread. Lay a slice of meat over two of the bread slices, top them with slices of cheese and then top with the remaining ham slices. Close the sandwich with the two remaining slices of bread, Béchamel side down (on the inside). Brush the outsides of the sandwiches without restraint with the melted butter. (TIP: My choice, Prosciutto and Gruyère).
3. Top with cheese of choice and then add more meat.
3. Turn on the broiler and heat a large ovenproof frying pan or grill pan over medium heat on the stove top. (Make sure to use a pan with a heatproof handle for broiling later.) Place the sandwiches in the frying pan, drape with a sheet of aluminum foil and then rest a cast iron skillet or other heavy pan or flat object on top. Cook until the bottoms of the sandwiches are well browned. Remove the skillet and foil, flip the sandwiches over, replace the foil and skillet and continue cooking until the other side is browned. (TIP: I used a grill pan and browned for 2 minutes on EACH side.)
4. Close sandwich. Slather each side with melted butter. Now is not the time to begin worrying about calories.
4. When browning the sandwiches, place a piece of tinfoil and heavy object on top to weigh them down.
4. Remove the cast-iron skillet and foil and scatter the grated cheese on top of the sandwiches. Put the pan under the broiler and broil the sandwiches until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.
7. Scatter grated cheese on top and pop in the over to broil.
ARTICHOKE TAPENADE with ROSEMARY OIL by David Leibovitz, My Paris Kitchen cookbook
Because I was using up my opened items before leaving Cambria, I used green olives with pimentos. It was pretty and tasty but David recommends the real deal, fresh green olives.
Serves 6 to 8.
One 14-ounce) can artichoke hearts (2 Cups), drained and quartered
1/2 Cup pitted green olives
1/3 Cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon capers, rinsed, squeezed dry, and chopped
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/8 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
Rosemary Oil Ingredients (Makes 1/2 Cup)
1/2 Cup olive oil
Generous pinch of sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 Cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 Cup rosemary leaves
Toasted sliced baguette or crackers, to serve
1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Heat the oil and salt in another small saucepan until warm but not boiling. Remove from the heat and set aside. Add the herbs to the boiling water and cook for 10 seconds before draining and putting the herbs in the ice water.
2. When the herbs are cool, lift them out with your hand and press them in a paper towel until very, very dry. Add them to the oil. Let the herbs infuse for 15 minutes.
3. Blend the herbs and oil in a mini-chopper or food processor for 30 seconds. Strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer. There will be a few bits of greenery in the oil. The rosemary oil can be kept for a few days at room temperature in a closed container, or for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before using.
1. In the bowl of a food processor, purée the artichokes, olives, olive oil, capers, lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne pepper until smooth. Taste, and season with a bit of salt if necessary.
2. Serve drizzled with a liberal amount of rosemary oil, along with toasted slices of baguette or crackers for dipping. The tapenade will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
The BETTER THAN THIS cookie adapted from THE KITCHN COOKBOOK by Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand
Note to High Altitude Bakers: When I return to Colorado, I will adjust these cookies to altitude and post the resulting recipe.
Makes 4 dozen cookies
1 3/4 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 Cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 Teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 Cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 Cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 Cup dried cherries
8 Ounces (two bars) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
Flaked sea salt (optional, I use the Maldon brand)
1. Preheat oven to 375°F
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking liner. Pour the walnuts onto the baking sheet and toast until browned about 10 minutes, turning once. Cool slightly and then chop coarsely. Cool completely before using them.
3. Cover the cherries with 1 cup boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes to plump up. Drain and thoroughly pat dry. Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
4. In a large mixing bowl with the paddle beater, mix together the sugars with the softened butter until completely blended. Add the eggs, one at a time to form a smooth batter. Mix in the vanilla, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
5. Add the flour all at once and stir the batter gently by hand until the ingredients are well-combined. Fold in by hand the rolled oats, cherries, and chocolate until all the ingredients are combined.
6. Using a medium cookie scoop or mounded 1 1/2 inch tablespoon of mixture, space the dough on the cookie sheet 1 to 2 inches apart. Put each tray in the refrigerator for ten minutes before baking the cookies. Then bake, rotating the tray once, until the craggy tips and edges just start to darken, 10 – 12 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE
7. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. After completely cool, these cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week. These cookies freeze well.
TIP: When baking, use exact measurements. No eyeballing anything. With all drop cookies, I use an Oxo cookie scoop.
Cook The Book Fridays is an international group cooking its way virtually through David Lebovitz’s newest cookbook. To visit our link or join us, go here.
ROASTED ACORN SQUASH with GARLIC BUTTER and BURRATA
Last summer when we finished cooking through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, I seriously considered signing off. The major reasons I began LightsonBright. as I’ve often said, were not only to bring structure to a chaotic time but also to chronicle the journey of rebuilding a life. Besides completing the cookbook, I also felt I’d accomplished my task and brought order, stability and balance to myself. I was unsure if I had anything left to say.
RADICCHIO with PINE NUTS, CURRANTS and AGED BALSAMIC
Okay, hold on. I already know that with that last sentence many of my dear friends who loyally read my post every week just fell on the floor laughing. Now get up, compose yourselves and let’s be serious.
The conclusion I finally reached is that this lifestyle I’ve structured will never again be as orderly or constant as it was for most of our 25-year marriage. It will invariably need tweaking. Compromises will be required and trade-offs made. Michael was the guy who kept my playing field level, always steady-eddy, unruffled and calm. I’ve had to jump into those voids plus all others now to keep the Hirsch household humming.
MISE en PLACE ( the necessary ingredients) for ROASTED ACORN SQUASH WITH GARLIC BUTTER and BURRATA
So, surprising as it may be, perhaps I have more to say! It’s also true that I eat well because of this blog. Why mess with that? Since February 2011, I’ve tried a new recipe every week. Hits and Misses. The two recipes for this week, Radicchio with Pine Nuts, Currants, and Aged Balsamic and Roasted Acorn Squash with Garlic Butter and Burrata are definite HITS.
MISE en PLACE (the necessary ingredients) for RADICCHIO WITH PINE NUTS, CURRANTS AND AGED BALSAMIC
What I know for sure is if I wasn’t writing this blog, that wouldn’t happen. I love to cook but who really enjoys the alone part of mealtime? For me, cooking has become purposeful. That’s why it works. This whole blog thing brings me Joy. My web host provider who sends me weekly e-mail updates on site visits reported last week’s post climbed to a 4-year high for Hits. Clunk my head with the Joy Bar.
Never in a million years… Wiggling in is easier than negotiating yourself out of a wetsuit. Necessary in the Galapagos for not only warmth while snorkeling but my friends also insist it will provide buoyancy.
About those tweaks. My December Galapagos trip is still a GO although I’ve hit a snag with the swimming/snorkeling challenge. I’ve nailed the snorkeling (thanks Carol Kurt) but learning to swim may be more difficult. Last Monday the local newspaper reported that our INDOOR community pool is closed for renovation. Say what? I was all set to move indoors and learn to stay afloat. Not happening: Snorkeling, check; Wetsuit, check; Floaty, available onboard the Integrity; Swimming, progress halted. Whether I succeed or not, I think I am brave to try.
Last December was snowy, cold and icy in Aspen. Perfect for this skiing resort community but I found myself wary of driving or falling. A broken hip and my life changes forever. While accidents can happen anywhere, I am gaming Mother Nature by leaving Aspen earlier, at Thanksgiving and returning later, in May. It’s Plan A and I’ll be telling you all about my upcoming adventures. As my daughter, Melissa, my wingwoman for the past 12 eventful years, always reminds me, “If Plan A doesn’t work, Mom, we’ll go to Plan B or C.” (Love that Lady.)
THE ACORN SQUASH, SEASONED WITH GARLIC BUTTER and S/P, IS READY FOR A ROAST.
This week’s recipes are too simple, require too few ingredients and are too delicious. Radicchio with Pine Nuts, Currants and Aged Balsamic is another favorite from Jody Williams’ Buvette cookbook. Radicchio, which is a leaf chicory, has a bitter and spicy taste but mellows in the oven. That’s what happens here. We braise it in olive oil and water, making it soft and supple. After then adding roasted pine nuts, currants and balsamic, it’s good to go.
AFTER DRIZZLING EACH RADICCHIO QUARTER WITH OLIVE OIL AND POURING IN WATER, IT’S READY FOR THE OVEN.
It’s squash season. Tell me something better than Roasted Acorn Squash with Garlic Butter and Burrata by Food & Wine magazine’s Chef Dave Beran. According to The Kitchn blog, ‘Burrata cheese takes the mozzarella one step further — it’s mozzarella that’s formed into a pouch and then filled with soft, stringy curd and cream.’
While Chef Beran insists it is ‘fantastic with a lush Chardonnay’, I found it quite tasty with an Octoberfest beer.
ROASTED ACORN SQUASH with GARLIC BUTTER and BURRATA, adapted from Chef Dave Beran, Food & Wine magazine
YIELD: Serves Four
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
Two 1 1/2-pound acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds discarded
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
4 cups baby greens (2 ounces)
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced and rinsed under cold water
One 1/2-pound ball of burrata
Cracked black pepper, for garnish
Flaky sea salt, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a bowl, combine the butter, shallot, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Season the squash halves with salt and pepper also and set on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the garlic butter and roast for about 30 minutes, until the squash is golden and tender.
2. While the squash is roasting,in a bowl, whisk the oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add the baby greens and red onion and toss to coat.
3. Cut the burrata into 4 pieces.
4. After the squash has roasted 30 minutes, place each burrata piece on the squash half as pictured. Slide carefully under a broiler for between 1-2 minutes to soften and toast it. Watch this process carefully.
5. Top each squash half with salad, as pictured and moving the slightly-melted cheese a bit if necessary. Garnish with cracked pepper and sea salt, serve warm and pass extra salad greens.
RADICCHIO with PINE NUTS, CURRANTS, and AGED BALSAMIC, by Jody Williams, Buvette, The Pleasure of Good Food
YIELD: Serves 4
2 small heads radicchio
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons currants
1 tablespoon good-quality aged balsamic vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar Glaze (optional)
1.Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Quarter each radicchio lengthwise. Be sure to leave the cores intact so that you end up with wedges that are held together at the base.
3. Place the radicchio wedges in a roasting dish or a skillet, anything that will hold them in an even layer and that can go into the oven. Drizzle with the olive oil and pour in the water. Tightly cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil and roast in the oven until tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 20 minutes.
4. While the radicchio is braising, put the currants in the 1 tablespoon (or, slightly more) of balsamic vinegar to plump.
5. Toast the pine nuts.
6. (Optional) When the radicchio is cooked, I also put it under the broiler for 2 minutes for an ever-so-slightly charred effect.
7. Transfer the radicchio to a serving dish and sprinkle with a large pinch of salt. Scatter the pine nuts and balsamic vinegar/currants mix over the radicchio, and drizzle with a tiny amount of glaze if you wish.
8. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I WENT ON MY LAST ASPEN CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES BIRD CLUB HIKE THIS WEEK. ALTHOUGH MANY BIRDS HAVE ‘FLOWN THE CHILLY COOP’, THIS FEMALE KINGFISHER IS STILL HANGING AROUND.
TUNA & HUMMUS SANDWICH, THANKS TO INA GARTEN, THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA
This is my prediction. After reading this post you’ll open your cupboard doors or walk into your pantry, put your hands on your hips and take a mental inventory. Whether you’re into cooking or would rather not, it’s smart, if only for safety’s sake, to stock your pantry well. The question? Can you feed the two-legged/four-legged mouths in your home, for one week, from your pantry?
MY PANTRY, HOMEMADE INGREDIENTS THAT MAKE SIMPLE MEALS YOUR OWN by Alice Waters
Alice Waters, an American culinary icon and author of 12 books about food, recently published her 13th entitled “My Pantry, Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own”. Being a Waters’ devotee, I ordered the book. When it arrived, I thumbed through the 135 pages but it was her Introduction that reminded me why I honor this woman.
MY PANTRY WAS UP TO THE TASK OF PROVIDING “COMING HOME PASTA” WHEN I RETURNED TO ASPEN AFTER AN 8-DAY TRIP.
“A familiar pantry,” she writes, “is like being surrounded by friends who won’t let you down. No matter how tired I am, at least I’ll be able to dream up something to cook — something delicious! — and right away, too.”
IT’S ALWAYS GREAT TO COME HOME AND THIS PASTA IS COMFORT FOOD AT ITS BEST.
It was her opening sentence, however, that threw down the gauntlet for this week’s post. “When I come back from a trip, one of the first things I need to do is walk into my kitchen and look around. A pantry is not just a shortcut to cooking something special in a hurry, it also encourages the best kind of impromptu cooking.”
BETSY’S AND MY FIRST STOP IN BOSTON WAS AT JFK’S PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY.
THIS IS A REPLICA OF THE CBS STUDIO WITH WALTER CRONKITE’S DESK AT WHICH HE ANNOUNCED THE VICTORY OF JFK AGAINST RICHARD NIXON IN THE 1960 ELECTION. THE RCA PROJECTION CAMERA IS TO THE LEFT.
Since I was leaving for an 8-day journey, I challenged myself to let my pantry create the meals for at least two days upon my return. So, while catching up on sleep (my usual 8:30pm lights-out routine would be severely interrupted), unpacking, returning calls and wading through a week’s mail, I’d survive on what was already in-house.
FDR’S PRESIDENTIA;L LIBRARY. OF THE 11 LIBRARIES I’VE VISITED THIS IS, IN MY OPINION, THE MOST WELL DONE AND MY FAVORITE.
SPRINGWOOD, THE LIFELONG HOME OF FDR. DIANE, ANOTHER FFWD COLLEAGUE, JOINED US FOR SATURDAY.
Fast forward to last Tuesday. Trip over. Early in the morning, my friend, Betsy, drove me to the Boston airport to catch my 4-hour flight to Denver. After arriving in the Mile-High city and retrieving my bags, I waved down a shuttle which dropped me by my parked car. I was Aspen-bound. Four hours later, cruising by Whole Foods and City Market in El Jebel, I wished I hadn’t read that damn book! By the time I reached Aspen and drove by the Hickory House (best ribs in town), I was silently cursing Alice Waters.
THIS IS THE BACKYARD OF VAL-KILL, ELEANOR ROOSEVELT’S LAST HOME WHERE THE HOT DOG SUMMIT OF 1939 BETWEEN FDR AND KING GEORGE V! OF ENGLAND TOOK PLACE. THOSE HOTDOGS WERE ROASTED ON THIS GRILL.
OCTOBER 11th WAS ELEANOR ROOSEVELT’S 131ST BIRTHDAY. WE PARTICIPATED IN A GRAVESIDE MEMORIAL CEREMONY AND THEN JOINED EVERYONE FOR A CELEBRATION AND BIRTHDAY CAKE.
Tired and hungry I decided to mimic Water’s menu. Coming Home Pasta: spaghetti tossed with a heap of sautéed garlic, dried chile flakes, a salted anchovy and handful of chopped parsley, ‘is what I always make for myself when returning from a trip,’ she writes.
SIX OF THE FRENCH FRIDAYS WITH DORIE GROUP DINING AT THE BOCUSE RESTAURANT AT THE CIA. Patty Stormer photo.
If this sounds familiar, Ina Garten’s version is called Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. I meshed the two recipes. It couldn’t have been easier, faster or more delicious. Most ingredients were in my pantry. I cut/refreshed parsley, in its last gasp but still growing on my balcony, grated an end chunk of Parmesan cheese and pulled half a whole-wheat baguette from the freezer. (Okay, the freezer thing, that was cheating.)
WE ALL WERE INVITED INTO THE KITCHEN FOR A TOUR (No, we didn’t ask!). THIS IS THE PROFESSOR CHEF AND OUR STUDENT WAITER.
My two-day challenge ends when I share this post with you. I didn’t starve. It was fun. I win. Oatmeal topped with dried dates or apricots. A hard-boiled egg. Popcorn, my fave snack. And, Ina’s Tuna & Hummus Sandwich. The leftover tuna mix was also fantastic with cheese, a grilled tuna melt.
BETSY AND I RETURNED ON THE NEXT DAY TO TOUR THE VERY BEAUTIFUL CIA CAMPUS.
While I may not make all Water’s suggested recipes myself, her book, packed with spice mixtures, sweet and savory preserves, grains, legumes and condiments, is loaded with ideas. Her All-Purpose Pickling Brine has my head spinning. (Stay tuned.) The Panforte recipe is doable. And, when I go shopping tomorrow to replenish my pantry, I’ll do it more skillfully.
BETSY TOOK ME TO AUTHORS RIDGE IN SLEEPY HOLLOW CEMETERY IN CONCORD, MASSACHUSETTS TO SEE THE GRAVESITES OF EMERSON, THOREAU, ALCOTT AND HAWTHORNE. I AM NOT EMBARRASSED TO SAY I WAS THRILLED. THIS IS EMERSON’S TOMBSTONE.
My recent journey to Boston and Hyde Park exceeded my expectations, thanks in part to the generosity of Betsy Pollack-Benjamin. Although Betsy and I had met only once, she’s been my virtual friend for years, having shared administrative duties on French Fridays with Dorie. When we finished cooking through Greenspan’s Around My French Table, our responsibilities ended but our friendship did not.
LOUISA M. ALCOTT GRAVESITE
These photos are a brief glimpse of our trip’s highlights. The premier memory was our dinner at The Bocuse Restaurant in Hyde Park’s prestigious Culinary Institute of America. We were joined by other FFWD colleagues who lived nearby in New York and Pennsylvania. “Nearby” translates to Cher & Joe (4-hours RT); Diane (2-hours RT) and Tricia & Ro, who stayed overnight, (6-hours RT). This evening, six months in the planning, was second to none, without equal.
COMING HOME PASTA/SPAGHETTI AGLIO e OLIO adapted from Waters & Garten
1/2 pound dried spaghetti, such as DeCecco
1/2 cup good olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 salted anchovy, chopped roughly
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 – 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold the pasta. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it just begins to turn golden on the edges. Don’t overcook it! Add the red pepper flakes and chopped sardine and cook for 30 seconds more.
3.Carefully add the reserved pasta-cooking water to the garlic/oil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about a third.
4. Add the drained pasta to the garlic sauce and toss. Off the heat, add the parsley and Parmesan and toss well. Allow the pasta to rest off the heat for 5 minutes for the sauce to be absorbed. Taste for seasoning and serve warm with extra Parmesan on the side, if desired.
TUNA & HUMMUS SANDWICHES, minimally adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?
Makes 2 Sandwiches
5 ounces canned tuna packed in olive oil
1/4 cup minced celery
1 tablespoon minced yellow onion
1 tablespoon of capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon minced cornichons
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rustic artisan bread or baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick
Hummus, store-bought or homemade
1.Drain the oil from the tuna.. Place the tuna in a mixing bowl and flake it with a fork.
2. Add the celery, onion, cornichons, lemon juice, mayonnaise, the mustard, salt, and pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop.
3. When ready to serve, toast the bread and spread each slice with a layer of hummus. Spread the tuna mixture on each piece of bread and garnish with minded parsley.
4. Serve immediately.
TIP: Although I had an unopened container of Classic Hummus in the fridge, you can also make your own. Garten includes a tasty hummus recipe in her cookbook and Waters has a Hummus with Preserved Lemons recipe in hers.