I purchased a new cookbook the other night - on a whim - and when I showed it to a friend she quickly thumbed through it and pronounced, "There are a lot of duck recipes in there...." after that I have no idea what she said because I coudn't believe I didn't even LOOK at the inside of the book before purchasing! I took the book up to the register to ask the price and the boy/clerk who looked like a girl/clerk and was probably all of 20, told me it was his/her favorite cookbook and that the recipes were really, really good....I LISTENED TO HIM/HER and bought the thing! So there I was, feeling like a first class ejit, thinking I had purchased a $37.50 cookbook full of DUCK recipes....and I don't eat duck! Well, as it turns out, I listened to the right guy/gal! This book is wonderful and yes, it does have it's fair share of duck recipes but it also has the most mouth-watering recipes I've had the pleasure to read in a long time!
The Cooking of Southwest France, Recipes from France's Magnificent Rustic Cuisine by Paula Wolfert was a great read - she doesn't just give the recipe, she tells the story of the recipe - where it's from, and why she included it. All of the recipes in the book are from Southwest France - duh - but when I read there were many from Toulouse, I was even happier that I had been "dumb enough" to buy this book!
My sister and I spent a week in Toulouse a few years ago - to say we had fun would be an insult to fun...it was the trip of a lifetime - so, since I was walking down memory lane I thought I'd let you stroll along as well....here's a few photos of Toulouse, France - a beautiful city with incredibly nice people and patisseries on almost every corner!
My first recipe from the book was a dessert - mainly because I had these cherries that I've been saving for something special...so I made Custard and Cherries Baked in a Skillet or, as I'm trying to say correctly...Clafoutis aux Cerises.
I'm not a cherry person - but I did like this. I tried this right out of the pan - piping hot and it was good, but it was even better when it was at room temperature. The custard has a very subtle taste so it's really the cherries that "shine" in this rustic and homey dessert - which smells wonderful!
Custard and Cherries Baked in a Skillet - Clafoutis aux Cerises - Adapted from The Cooking of Southwest France by Paula Wolfert
2 cups Dark Morello Cherries in light syrup
2 cups frozen Unsweetened Dark Sweet Cherries
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon for the skillet
pinch of salt
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups warm milk
2 tablespoons Cognac
1 teaspoon vanilla
Spread the frozen cherries out on a cookie sheet. Drain the Morella cherries well, and spread around the frozen cherries. Sprinkle with lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Mix until all are coated.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, 3 tablespoons of the butter, eggs and 1/4 cup of the warm milk, whisking to blend thoroughly. Gradually add the remaining milk and whisk until smooth. Stir in the Cognac and vanilla. Cover and let the batter stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour. (This encourages a little fermentation, which allows the batter to rise to the top of the skillet during baking.) Use half the remaining butter to grease a 9-inch, straight-sided ovenproof skillet, preferably a well-seasoned cast-iron one. Dust with the remaining tablespoon of flour, tap out to remove any excess.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain the cherries from the cookie sheet and arrange in a single layer in skillet. Whisk the batter to a good froth and spoon over the cherries. Set the skillet in the top third of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, the surface will barely be set. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the clafoutis and dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, divided into small bits. Continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until well puffed, golden brown, and set. Test by inserting a skewer into the center - it done it will come out clean. Transfer to a rack to let cool, before serving lukewarm, at room temperature or chilled.
Oh yes we did - we won the Lotto!!! So to all of you who have laughed at us for playing all these years - we say - who's laughing now?!?! Yes, we buy lotto tickets...yes, we even stand in line with illegal aliens to get them....yes, we make mad dashes to purchase before the cut-off...we do all that and why? So we can have a moment like this...a few minutes of quiet contemplation about what we'll do with all that money...cars, furs, jewels, islands in the sun - to purchase, not to sit on - and then, a slight case of nerves as the mister checks the ticket....
one match....nothing new - we're used to that...
two matches....big deal, happens all the time....
three matches...now he has my full attention....
four matches....WOO-HOO BABEEEEEEEEEE!!!
five matches....not even close but just as well as I would have needed some Depends....
Six matches....The Holy Grail - HEY! You Can't Win if you Don't Enter!!!
So we didn't get the BIG money - but we did get some serious change....like to the tune of $33.00! And that's nothing to sniff about! If we invest it wisely, we'll be able to retire in 2088!!
Now you know...so back off...I'm not going on a cruise - never, never, never...there is nothing you can say or do to get me on a cruise - and no amount of money either - or diamonds...ain't going to happen...
Tsunamis...Norwalk Virus...Scud Missilies (what? they've been known to misfire!)...Titanic...Creature from the Black Lagoon...Torpedos...The Poseidon ...Ursula The Sea Witch...Pirates...Speedos...The Abyss...I could go on and on but you get my point - not going, not going, not going.
Being that it was snowy and cold outside - I felt we needed a good, hearty breakfast - so we could watch the snow melt - so I dug out the ol' Aebleskiver pan - dusted it off and set about making one of the best breakfasts the mister and I have had in at least a week! I first became aware of Aebleskivers when we lived in Minnesota - surrounded by Sven's and Ollie's who, after a breakfast of Aebleskivers, would shush down the snow-packed streets with flags attached to their heads so cars backing out of their driveways could spot them over the 6 foot high drifts....ah, it brings back such fond memories...Swedish pancakes with Lingonberries and Aebleskivers with jam, available at every Luthern rummage sale for a buck and a smile.
My kids loved them - and ate them as fast as I could turn them out. And "turn" is the operative word here - you have to turn them in the pan, round and round, with a toothpick or a wooden skewer - my preference or even a knitting needle will do! They'll come out nice and round, about the size of a golf ball and you can even put a filling in them if you want - but we prefer them without.
My first batch usually burns - but then I get the hang of it - and the race to get them made and on the plate begins...
The mister likes his with warmed maple syrup - I like mine with my sister-in-law's delicious peach jam - warmed slightly so it's like a sauce - oh, oh, OH SO GOOD!
If you don't have an Aebleskiver pan, you can pick one up at any good cooking/kitchen store or you might even look for one at a thrift shop - I am forever seeing them there and it just confounds me - who would EVER give their Aebleskiver pan away! Dolts!
3 eggs, separated
2 cups fresh buttermilk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar for sprinkling
Beat egg yolks and buttermilk together. Combine dry ingredients. Add to egg mixture. Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until stiff. Fold into batter, carefully keeping the whites light. Heat the Aebleskiver pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1/2 teaspoon or so of butter into each hole of pan. Fill 2/3 full with batter. (This is the point where you could add a filling if you wanted - like a small amount of appplesauce, jam or fruit - and then you would cover it with a small amount of batter.) Let cook until slightly crustly on bottom. Loosen around the edges and turn them slightly with a wooden skewer - or knitting needle. Continue cooking, turning the ball to keep it from burning. Cook until the ball is indeed a ball and cooked on all sides. Remove from pan and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with jam, jelly or syrup. Makes about 36 Aebleskivers - which feeds the mister and me...kidding...we don't eat them all...not usually...the boy helps...if he's fast enough!
*Note to self...L&P spent last night at the hospital with false labor - tick-tock, tick-tock - the wait continues...cherry tree that we gave to Mia (10 years ago) when she arrived from China fell down with the weight of the snow - I had just commented to the mister how beautiful the pink blossoms were yesterday afternoon - and now it's gone along with several trees in the park...however the one tree we WANT to come down is still standing...I must remember to be "specific" in my prayers!
I waited all winter for this...SNOW! And last night it finally came! This is what greeted me when I went to let Caesar Beezer The Wonder Dog out for his piddle...I wish I could have captured the look on his face - he loves snow - he saw it, looked back and me and smiled - he does that - and off he went - hopping and jumping all over! Snow in Seattle is rare - and Snow in Seattle in MARCH is rarer than steak tar-tar on a vegan's plate!
Before the snow, and Caesar's late night adventure...there was dinner - his and hers. First I'll show you mine....Chinese Chicken Salad. It's one of my very favorite things to eat - I can never get enough of the dressing and I love the crunch of this salad. When we tried to adopt a baby from China, years ago, before things really got moving over there, I subscribed to some list on line for parents waiting for their baby...and every other comment was about food and usually included a recipe. I must have printed off reams and reams of recipes for "Oriental Chicken Salad" or "Asian Chicken Salad" or "Hong Kong Chicken Salad"....so this salad is a compliation of all of those.
Chinese Chicken Salad - Pots and Pins
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
1/2 head Napa cabbage, washed, drained and thinly sliced
1 cup julienned carrots
4 green onions, finely sliced
1 package Ramen noodles, broken into small pieces
3 tablespoons Soy Sauce
5 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup Rice vinegar
1/2 cup peanut oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
In a small skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and add sesame seeds and slivered almonds. Stirring constantly, toast until lightly browned, being careful not to burn, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat to cool. Combine chicken, cabbage, carrots, green onions and Ramen noodles, sprinkle slivered almonds and sesame seeds over all. Mix well. Make dressing and pour over salad, tossing to coat. Serves 4.
So this is what I had for dinner - and it was delicious - down to the very last bite....and the mister, who claims to not like this salad even though he picks at it out of the bowl with his fingers when he thinks I'm not looking, wanted something really special for dinner - he had an entire night of basketball to watch and he needed HIS comfort food...so this is what HE had:
This morning - the snow is still here - and even though it's already beginning to melt - it's such a beautiful sight! Time to get out there and make a snowman!
I'm adding a new category to my blog...it's only just sunk in that having a blog is a great way to journal - but since I wouldn't dare to bore you with the intimate details of my life - as I really have none - there are some things that I want to remember - or make a note of - so occasionally I'm going to post a "note to self"...feel free to skim right by these. I'm sure they won't make much sense to anyone but me but it's better than trying to keep up TWO journals!
So, on that note....Note to self: Time to make the boy pay rent ...I had no idea he was independently wealthy! In the last week he has purchased three new toys - to the tune of $500....a "training club"....a "range finder" and a new video game - Guitar Hero...it's time to lower the boom!
I started collecting chili recipes when we lived in Houston - the newspaper published one blue-ribbon winner after another - or so it seemed. But it wasn't until we were living in the Emerald City that I came across a recipe for white chili....it was good but it didn't have enough of a kick for me - or enough difference from a regular chili - except for the color of the beans. But I was intrigued with a white bean/chicken chili so I began to experiment and after many years and many variations, the chili Gods smiled down upon me and while the planets didn't line up, the spices did - at least, I like to think they did because this is the one recipe that I keep coming back to.
I use three different kinds of beans - (okay, so I use two types of beans and one can of black-eyed peas...if it looks like a bean and it tastes like a bean.....then it's a bean!) I use canned beans so it's fast - but if you want to buy dried beans and soak them go ahead - it's your 8 hours....I love the hint of cloves and the subtle taste of lime...it's the way to the mister's checkbook - er, heart - when it's cold out and his beloved Memphis Tigers are playing basketball in the playoffs, a big bowl of White Stinger Chili and he's putty....
White Stinger Chili - Pots and Pins
1 can (15 oz.) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) white or navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (32 oz.) can of chicken broth
4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup Rose's Sweet Lime Juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin, separated
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (7 oz.) can chopped green chiles
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
2 avocado, coarsely chopped
Rinse chicken in cold water, pat dry with paper toweling and cut into bite-sized pieces. In large baking dish, mix lime juice with 1/2 tablespoon of the cumin, add chicken pieces and let marinate for 30 minutes or longer.
In large Dutch oven, over medium high heat, add olive oil, chicken pieces and 1 tablespoon of the marinade, discard remaining marinade. Add onion and cook until chicken is done, about 10 minutes. Stir in minced garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in chicken broth and all three cans of the rinsed and drained beans. Stir well and add the chiles, white pepper, oregano, remaining cumin, salt and cloves. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in shredded Monterey Jack cheese and stir until all is melted.
Serve hot with flour tortillas on the side or use them to line the bowls. Top chili with a dollop of sour cream and chopped avocados.
Let me introduce you to Symon and Murphy - my "granddogs." They are Maltese - sweet and cuddly and cute but not much brain activity to talk about. However, I DO love them and when I go visit my daughter they are the entertainment - and they are her babies so I have to love them - at least until the real baby comes and then they'll go back to being just pests, I mean pets.
So now that you've met the real Symon and Murphy, let me show you my versions....
They are cute and cuddly - and have about as much intelligence as the real Symon and Murphy...but they don't chew or pee or constantly lick my face....
When White On Rice Couple, otherwise known as Todd and Diane, went out of their way to send a special gift to my mom, I wanted to send them a special thank you in return...I've never met T&D, neither has mom, we just "know" them from Blogland...and, I must say, to "know" them is to love them! So, knowing how they like to turn up the heat in their kitchen, I decided to make them something to wear in the kitchen - wearing other clothing, of course, is optional.
I "lifted" pictures of them from their blog - formatted them to the size and shape I wanted and then printed them out on a cotton canvas fabric sheet. From there is was just a matter of stitching "them" into place. I do hope they forgive me for stealing their pictures....I promise not to do it again!
Here's a better shot - Miss Virginia, my body double (go ahead and laugh) is modeling one of the aprons for you. She has such great style! I found Miss Virginia in a quilt shop that was going out of business - she was marked 50% off - highly degrading to her I thought - so I purchased her immediately and have done my best to re-boost her ego ever since.
The fabric sheets that I used are greatly improved from the first sheets that came on the market about 10 years ago. They are not stiff and don't have that rubbery feeling; they also hold the color a lot better. I used The Vintage Workshop brand that came with 5 sheets per package. My quilting friends routinely use these fabric/papers to print out the most wonderful labels for their quilts. When I cleaned my workroom a few months back I discovered two packages of this fabric - so I've just been waiting for the perfect way to use it!
Now I think that everything I make might just have to have a picture on it somewhere...at least until I run out of the stuff! If you haven't checked out their blog before - go - pay them a visit - they have a new video that they made for a chance to spend time with Anthony Boudain...if only I'd known...I could have made a very unforgettable video for ol' Tony! Oh well, his loss.
Thanks Diane and Todd...they will be in the mail first thing manana!
Being a quilter for over 30 years, I've learned one thing that's for sure (as my good friend Ops - short for Oprah - would say) and that's this: You can't go wrong if you buy too much! You will never be forced to have a "close enough" fabric in a quilt again! I've always said that I make 30-foot quilts - or put another way, quilts that look good from 30 feet away! One day I hope to make "inchers." In the meantime, as I struggle to make points match, I'm happily trying to cover every bed, sofa, and chair in my house with a quilt - that's normal, right?
We may live without poetry, music and art;
We may live without conscience and
live without heart;
We may live without friends;
we may live without books;
But civilized man cannot live without cooks.
He may live without books,
what is knowledge but grieving?
He may live without hope,
What is hope but deceiving?
He may live without love,
What is passion but pining?
But where is the man that can live without dining?
Owen Meredith...or as I like to call him....
The Earl of Sandwich