Sunday, May 17, 2020

LIGHT SUMMER SUPPER!

I have blogged this recipe in the past, but here it is again with a twist. Spring Rolls make a fabulous, light simple supper on a warm summer night.

http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=spring+rolls

VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS


I didn't have all the correct ingredients, but decided to wing it as I was having a serious Spring Roll hankering. I had no rice vermicelli, no basil-Thai or otherwise, no cilantro, but did have enough ingredients on hand to make a tasty roll.
 
Drop rice wrapper into a bowl of cold water for a few seconds.
Lie flat on a damp dish cloth.
Add filling along edge of the rice wrapper.
Fold in the 2 edges at long side.
Gently roll tucking in ingredients as you go.
If you tear the rice wrapper, simply double wrap with another moistened wrapper.
Place wrapped rolls on a damp dish towel as the rice wrapper dries out very quickly.
In place of the rice vermicelli I used some Jasmine rice that I had cooked the previous night in Asian spices. I added chives both inside the roll and as a garnish and also garnished with sesame seeds. I included avocado slices inside, which added richness. Bottom line: Wrap whatever ingredients you have on hand that have an Asian flair. For the sauce I mixed: Fish sauce, teriyaki, soy sauce, Hoisin, minced garlic, and a little red pepper flake. I served with Edamame beans lightly steamed and then chilled with soy sauce.

Next, on to a surprisingly easy dessert.
Our neighbors, Lori and Brian Itule, have been so generous over the last few weeks of 'Staying at Home' by bringing us lovely fresh produce. Last week they included a huge butternut squash in the mix of fruit and veg. I like to roast butternut squash in the skin as it is so difficult to peel. My husband, Jerry, has a sweet tooth so I was roasting in cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, a little nutmeg, maple syrup and salt, all topped with thick slices of butter. It smelled just like a pumpkin pie so Jerry suggested I turn this into pie rather than a savory (which it really wasn't anyway!) side. I found this recipe online, but changed a couple ingredients. Instead of 3/4 cup white sugar I used a combo of brown sugar and maple syrup. I also increased the quantities of the sweet spices.

BLENDER BUTTERNUT SQUASH PIE

Ingredients:
1 medium butternut squash or 2 small butternut squash
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup, plus more for baking squash
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for baking squash
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, plus more for baking squash
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, plus more...well, you get it!
Salt and butter for baking the squash.

9 inch deep dish pie crust (I cheated again and used a frozen crust.)

All ingredients are in the blender!


As you can see I had a little extra filling.
The Butternut squash 'puddings' will only take
about 30 minutes to bake.
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and remove the seeds. Cut in even chunks so it all roasts at the same time. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Very lightly drizzle some maple syrup over the squash. Top with slices of butter on each piece. Roast in the oven until squash is very tender; about 1 hour. Turn once during the baking. Cool completely and then remove the skin.

Place the cooled squash (a generous 2 cups) in your blender or food processor and add all other ingredients. Blend/process until very smooth.

Pour in prepared pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until center is nearly set. It will still be a little wobbly. I covered my crust with foil so it would not get too brown.

Cool on a wire rack.

HERE IN ARIZONA, OUR STATE IS BEGINNING
TO 'OPEN UP'.  JERRY AND I REMAIN CAUTIOUS,
BUT ARE STARTING TO VENTURE OUT...SAFELY!
 
GOOD HEALTH TO YOU AND YOURS!

Keeping JoJo safe!



Thursday, May 7, 2020

PAUL McCARTNEY'S SPINACH TART!

Other than loving the Beatles music since they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1965 (I was 10, and, if there, would have been one of those pre-teens screaming in the audience!), I don't know a lot about them as people. For example, I didn't realize that Paul McCartney and his family became vegetarians in the mid-70's. Paul's wife, American-born Linda, was a huge supporter of animal rights. An accomplished photographer she was also a great cook, cookbook author and in 1991 launched her own line of vegetarian frozen meals. So, not sure if this is her recipe or her husbands, but know for sure it is rich and delicious! Thanks to my good friend, Debby Vis, I learned about this recipe.
I used a store-bought frozen pie crust, which made putting this together very easy. Because it is not in a traditional tart pan it probably should more accurately be called a quiche.

Ingredients:
9 inch tart pan lined with pie dough
9 oz. baby spinach
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I used an aged Vermont Cabot.)
1/4 cup Pecorino Reggiano (This was my addition. Not necessary with all that cheddar, but I thought the nuttiness would be a nice addition and it was.)
2 whole eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
2/3 cup fat-free half and half (I used full fat. Better flavor and with all that butter and cheese who's counting calories?)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt/Freshly ground black pepper


Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place lined tart pan in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. I placed mine on a cookie sheet to prevent oven spills once filled. I also gently wrapped the ends of my crust with foil so it would not burn.
Gently cook spinach with half the butter until wilted. Remove spinach from pan and chop.
Heat the additional 2 Tbsp. butter and cook onions until soft, but not browned.
Spread the spinach and onion over the bottom of the pie crust.
In a processor or blender, blend eggs, egg yolks, cream, mustard and seasonings.
Stir in cheese then pour over the spinach and onion and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes until top is golden brown and knife comes out clean.
Turn off heat and leave in oven for 5 minutes.
Not being vegetarians I served with a fried chicken breast, chimichurri sauce, and sliced cherry tomatoes. For the chimichurri I used mainly parsley, but added a little fresh chive and sage. 1 garlic clove, olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Salt/pepper and some red pepper flake. Blend together until sauce forms.

During the last few weeks my husband and I, like many of you, have been spending more time at home because of the coronavirus. I have been doing even more cooking than usual, as you most likely have, as well. Here are a couple ideas for dessert and a twist on a Cobb Salad that I have made recently.

Classic Cobb Salad traditionally contains:
Diced chicken breast
Diced tomatoes
Avocado slices
Blue Cheese
Hard boiled Eggs
Crumbled Bacon
All served on a bed of Romaine lettuce, generally with an herb vinaigrette, but if using Blue Cheese I prefer it with a lot of chunky Blue Cheese dressing.

I didn't have Blue Cheese or Chicken so substituted Shrimp for the Chicken and Feta cheese for the Blue, topped with a light citrus vinaigrette.
 
STRAWBERRY PARFAIT
This one doesn't need a recipe either and if you have fresh fruit, plain yogurt and Grape-Nuts cereal on hand you can make it tonight.

For 2 portions, I sweetened 1/2 cup Greek style plain yogurt with a little honey. Taste to your liking. Slice about 1 cup (or more) fresh fruit. I used strawberries and sprinkled with a little sugar to exude juices. About 1/4 cup Grape-Nuts.

Layer half the yogurt, Grape-Nuts and fruit in a wine or parfait glass. Repeat layers and enjoy!

And to close today, here are two very easy recipes from the South Beach cookbook. I did not have part-skim Ricotta cheese so used the full-fat that I had on hand. Other variations include lemon juice/zest and almond extract with sliced almonds. Again, use what you have on hand!
SOUTH BEACH VANILLA RICOTTA DESSERT
Whisk together 1 cup Ricotta Cheese. Add 2 packages Stevia or other sugar substitute and 1-2 tsp. vanilla. I like it extra vanilla-y so used 2. Serve immediately or can be chilled in the fridge.

For the Chocolate use 1 cup Ricotta, 2 packages Stevia, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 rounded Tbsp. of Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder.

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED TODAY'S FOOD OFFERINGS.
 
PLEASE CONTINUE TO STAY HAPPY AND HEALTHY!
 
MORE FOOD AHEAD...
 






Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Pasta alla Norma

A few years back my husband and I had the huge pleasure of visiting our good friends, Joe and Francine D'Anna, at their home in Sicily. While we were visiting I discovered a fabulous dish I had never heard of and absolutely fell in love. The name of this dish has an interesting story. Supposedly it was created in the 1800's by a chef from Catania and named after Vincenzo Bellini's opera-Norma, considered to be one of his most beautiful and lyrical. Legend has it, writer Nino Martoglio, exclaimed after tasting Pasta Norma for the first time-That is a true Norma, referring to Bellini's beloved opera. It makes a good story anyway!

I served with large slices of grilled eggplant on the side.
This classic Sicilian dish contains only a few ingredients and as with many old, traditional favorites has some regional variations, but always contains: eggplant-either roasted or fried; tomato sauce; short pasta like ziti or rigatoni; fresh basil; Ricotta cheese-either Ricotta Salata (salted and dried and grated into the dish) and/or fresh Ricotta, spooned into the dish just before serving, and finally Grana Padano, which I could not get so used a nice Romano, which is similar. I decided to use Lidia Bastianich's version, as she is one of my favorite Italian chefs.

Ingredients:
1 pound Ziti (I used Rigatoni.)
2 large firm eggplants, about 2 lbs. total
2 Tbsp. Kosher salt for salting the eggplant, plus more to taste
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 jars (25 oz. each) Lidia's Chunky Eggplant Tomato Sauce (I did not have her sauce so used a jar of Classico Tomato Basil.)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup grated Grana Padano (I used Romano.)
1 cup fresh basil, shredded
8 oz. (1 cup) fresh ricotta or packaged whole-milk ricotta
Preparation:
Trim the stems from the eggplants. Remove strips of peel about 1 inch wide from the eggplants, leaving about half the peel intact. (I peeled the whole eggplant.) Cut the eggplant into 1 inch cubes and toss in a large bowl with the 2 Tbsp. of Kosher salt. Dump in a colander, and let drain for about 1 hour. Rinse and drain thoroughly and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 3 Tbsp. oil. Turn the eggplant cubes onto the baking sheet, toss to coat with oil and spread them in one layer. Bake until the eggplant is very tender and lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Turn and stir the eggplant gently once or twice during baking so they cook evenly.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat for the pasta. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Scatter in the garlic and cook shaking the pan until golden, about 3 minutes. Pour in tomato sauce, add pepper flakes, season with salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Stir the pasta into the boiling water. Return to boil, stirring frequently. When it is al dente, about 8 minutes, drain the pasta and return it to the pot over low heat. (I like to leave a small amount, about 1/4 cup, of pasta water, which mixes nicely with the sauce.) Remove the pot from the heat, stir in 1/2 of the grated cheese and the basil. Add half of the roasted eggplant and toss to combine thoroughly.
Gently add the Ricotta in heaping teaspoonfuls. You want the Ricotta to warm, but not blend completely with the sauce.

Plate the pasta and spoon the reserved sauce over each serving; then divide remaining eggplant on top of each pasta plate. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and serve.

In Sicily this dish would be served as an appetizer.

I thought a nice light dessert would follow this hearty pasta dish so made a Kiwi Sorbet. I had a few near overly-ripe kiwis, which I didn't want to throw out. Of course, I thought I was the first to make Kiwi Sorbet, but a quick internet search told me otherwise. My version is a little different, but could not be any more simple.
KIWI SORBET

Ingredients:
6 ripe kiwi's
1/4 cup simple syrup

I did not want a super sweet simple syrup since the ripe kiwi's had a nice sweetness of their own so used a 1 to 1 ratio water to sugar. Melt the sugar in the water over low heat until dissolved. That is simple syrup.

Preparation:
Peel the kiwi's either with a paring knife or cut in half and scoop out the fruit, which I think is easier. Blend the fruit with 1/4 cup simple syrup.

Chill the kiwi liquid for a few hours or overnight and then churn in an ice cream maker.
I only had 6 kiwi's so this made a scant 1/2 quart of sorbet. You can double or triple if you like. Use a proportionate amount of simple syrup.

ALL FOR TODAY!
 
PLEASE JOIN ME AGAIN SOON
FOR ANOTHER EPISODE OF...










Saturday, April 18, 2020

EASTER 2020 AND THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC...

Our Easter celebration certainly was different from past years. No big hoo-doo dinner. No gathering with dear friends, but my husband, Jerry and I, still managed to find some joy in this special holiday. We started with a decadent pancake breakfast.
 
GOOD OLD-FASHIONED PANCAKES
These pancakes were fluffy inside and perfectly
crisp outside. Serve with lots of butter and real maple syrup.
Ingredients:
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten

Preparation:
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and add melted butter and egg. Mix thoroughly, but do not overmix the ingredients. If the mixture is too thick (It should be pourable.) add a tablespoon of water one at a time until your batter is just right. Heat heavy bottomed skillet (I like to use cast iron.) until very hot. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in the pan and when it is very hot either pour batter or spoon out batter to form 3" sized cakes. Turn only once after the batter begins to bubble. Serve immediately.

This year's Easter menu was humble, but delicious. I made a spicy, smoky version of Osso Buco using liquid Mesquite smoke, one chipotle pepper in Adobo, and a big squeeze of Gulyaskrem-Hungarian Pepper paste.


Find a more traditional recipe for Osso Buco here: http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=osso+buco

Osso Buco is a slow cooked rustic dish braising meat and vegetables together making a thick and luscious sauce. I used the last of the lamb shoulder from The 47 Ranch. I omitted the wine as I only had really fancy wine from Flying Leap Vineyards and decided to drink rather than cook with it.
Flying Leap Vineyards is currently offering a free delivery
service, which I took advantage of.
The wine was delivered by none other than
President & CEO/Co-Founder, Mark Beres.
https://flyingleapvineyards.com/
I served the Spicy and Smoky Osso Buco over Risotto with caramelized leeks and parmesan. Our veg was grilled zucchini with parmesan. We ate al fresco, as we usually do Easter dinner, on our back deck.
 
 
Dessert was a simple lemon-key lime sherbet. I'd love to do a big Easter dinner this summer or fall; whenever it is safe to gather again.

I want to share another simple, rustic dish that I made this week.

MOUSSAKA
 
Moussaka is an eggplant and/or potato dish made with ground meat, often lamb, but there are many local variations. It's origins are Arabic, cum Greek, cum Baltic, cum Turkish. In other words many countries claim its origin and each country has different variations, but for sure it always contains meat and eggplant. Because I am not shopping as often as usual, I made my Moussaka with the ingredients I had on hand.

Ingredients:
2 eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into 3/8 inch slices
Salt for the eggplant (more salt and pepper for the dish)
1 Tbsp. plus 1/4 cup olive oil (for frying eggplant)
4 Tbsp. butter (1 for sauting the meat; 3 for mashing the potato)
1/2 pound ground beef
1 Italian sausage, out of casing
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. combination finely chopped fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley
1/3 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
More parsley for garnish
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed

I topped the Moussaka with a B├ęchamel sauce, which would be more like what you would find in Greece. The creaminess of the sauce melts into the mashed potato as the Moussaka bakes.

Preparation:
Peel and cook the potatoes. Mash with 2 Tbsp. butter and 1/3 cup Feta cheese and set aside.

Peel and slice the eggplant and lightly salt both sides to improve the texture and mask any bitterness. The salting draws out the moisture giving the eggplant a creamy, silky texture. Lay slices on a paper towel and let sit for about 20 to 30 minutes. After they have set, rinse, dry and set aside.

Heat skillet with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter. Saute onion and garlic (do not brown) and then add the ground beef and sausage. Salt/Pepper to taste. Cook for about 7-10 minutes. Do not worry if the meat is not cooked through as it will cook again when the spices and tomato are added and again when the Moussaka is baked. Remove the meat mixture from skillet and add a bit more olive oil. Cook the eggplant in batches, adding olive oil as necessary, until very tender. Remove the cooked eggplant from the skillet.

Add the meat back into the pan and add all spices, herbs and tomato sauce. Cook for about 20 minutes to meld flavors.

To assemble the  dish: Add meat in the bottom of a square casserole. Top the meat with half the parmesan cheese. Next, layer the eggplant and top with the rest of the Parmesan. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the eggplant and then, if using, top the entire dish with the B├ęchamel sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until the Moussaka is bubbling and lightly browned. Garnish with fresh parsley.

In this time of Coronavirus I've been cooking and baking more than ever. Every other day I make some kind of sweet, which is my husband's favorite...sweets, that is, of any kind. This recipe is so simple and kind-of, sort-of good for you because of the oats.

BLACKBERRY JAM OATMEAL BARS
This is a Ree Drummond recipe-The Pioneer Woman. She uses Strawberry Jam.

Ingredients:
2 sticks butter (That is 1 cup.), cut into pieces, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
12 oz. your favorite jam. I used Blackberry, but strawberry, apricot preserves, blueberry, or any other jam would work well.
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x13 inch pan. Mix together the butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. I used 2 knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it is the size of small peas. Press half the oat mixture into the buttered pan. Spread the jam over the oats. Sprinkle the other half of oat mixture over the jam and gently press down the oat mixture. Bake until light brown-about 30-40 minutes. Let cool completely and then cut into squares. This is a fairly rich dessert because of all the butter so I cut small squares.

THAT CONCLUDES TODAYS COOKING OBSESSION...
 
PLEASE STAY HEALTHY AND ENJOY THE LOVE OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY FROM AFAR.
 
UNTIL NEXT TIME...

SOMETIMES I LIKE TO CONCLUDE WITH
SOMETHING APPROPOS TO NOTHING...

THIS MAGAZINE MOCK-UP WAS MADE BY MY GOOD FRIEND JO JO HAMMOND AT CHRISTMAS. I AM DRESSED IN MY MERMAID BLANKET, WHICH I RECEIVED FROM MY SOON TO BE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, ALISON GRAHAM WHILE I WAS RECOVERING FROM CANCER. THE MERMAID SYMBOLIZES MANY DIFFERENT THINGS IN DIFFERENT CULTURES. I BELIEVE SHE REPRESENTS STRENGTH, LOVE, AND MYSTICAL HEALING. APPARENTLY IT WORKED!









Tuesday, March 31, 2020

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS SPEZZATINO??

...one of the most fabulous Sicilian dishes you will ever eat! This recipe came from my good friend, Francine D'Anna whose husband was born in Sicily. This is his families recipe and I am honored to cook it and share it with you.
The sauce is rich, flavored with onion, garlic, lots of parsley and thickened by mashing two potatoes right into the red sauce. I cooked my Spezzatino the whole time with bones from the lamb shoulder to give it extra depth of flavor. You can make this a whole lot easier on yourself by buying lamb already cut and cubed or beef or goat or rabbit. I really wanted to make this with goat, but when we arrived at the local Farmer's Market in Sierra Vista learned the goat was still at the butcher so settled on lamb from one of my favorite ranchers, Dennis Moroney from the Sky Island/47 Ranch. He, and wife Deb, produce fabulous grass fed, anti-biotic and chemical free critters on beautiful pasture land in Cochise County, Arizona.

Here is the recipe I received from Francine...

Lots of room for interpretation...
The top portion is the recipe, hand-written by her husband's brother, Sebastian, and she added a few details at the bottom, which she thought would help me, and they did! They have all been making this recipe for 50 years so don't need a lot of direction, but I did! I would like, some day, to cook this with Joe and Francine.

On to the butchering...
This knife was my Dad's, and probably
his Dad's. It holds the most incredibly
 sharp blade and is my favorite.
First of all, when you buy lamb in the grocery store, and it is huge, you know it is not lamb, but more than 1 year old mutton or beyond. This is definitely a lamb shoulder. It's little. I started by butterflying to best break it down.
If you don't have the bone to saute onion and parsley
 no problem! Just saute the onions in butter, olive oil 
or other fat you have on hand.
Lamb shoulder has tons of connective tissue, muscle and other stuff that is hard to break down, but I finally got it off the bone and cut into cubes.

Now, on to the recipe...
Ingredients:
About 1lb. meat of your choice (for 4 servings)
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt/Pepper
6 white Potatoes, 2 for mashing into the sauce (after they are cooked) and 4 for eating with the pasta, peeled, but left whole
Large Onion, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
A big bunch of parsley
1 large can (28 oz.) San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
Pasta for 4 people (I used Mostaccioli, which is like a super hearty ziti and catches lots of juices.)

Preparation:
Make sure your meat is dry as it will get a better sear that way.  Liberally salt the meat; about 2 tsp. Add Olive oil to a heavy bottom skillet (I like to use cast iron, but any heavy bottomed skillet is good.)  Because I had the bone from the lamb shoulder I seared the bone in a hot pan first with the olive oil first. If you don't have a bone, just get olive oil very hot and drop your meat in to brown. When browned, remove meat and add onion, garlic and parsley. Gently saute, but do not allow to burn or brown. Remove all from pan. Reheat the pan to very hot.

Add potatoes into the very hot pan and brown on all sides. Remove potatoes.

Add can of San Marzano tomatoes, smash them up a bit. Place meat and onions back in pan and add water to cover all your ingredients. Turn heat very low and braise for 1 to 2 hours until meat is very tender. Add whole potatoes back into your pot and make sure they are drop dead done. With a fork, smash 2 of the potatoes into the sauce. This will thicken the sauce. What a wonderful flavor. Remove potatoes, and everything else chunky with a slotted spoon. Cook the pasta in the sauce  for 8-10 minutes and then return everything to the pan and drop in frozen peas and cook together for another 10-15 minutes to completely meld the flavors. Adjust seasoning and add more fresh parsley.

Top with parmesian.

UNTIL NEXT TIME
  HAPPY EATING...
KEEP SHARING...
STAY HEALTHY...
AND MOST OF ALL, KEEP LOVING.

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM






Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A LITTLE OF THIS AND THAT...

What strange and disturbing times we are all living through. My husband and I are extremely fortunate that our small, rural community in southern Arizona seems to have very few cases of the Coronavirus, but we are taking the extra precaution of "sheltering in place"; "staying at home". I have been to the grocery store once in 2 weeks (very unusual for me!) and should have enough provisions to last another couple of weeks. Because I am unsettled and disconcerted, I am cooking a lot, which always makes me feel better. This morning I spatchcocked a chicken, which I will roast with garlic, lemon juice and zest and lots of fresh herbs from my garden. Last week I made a huge batch of beans and a chili con carne. Bread, cookies, and even tomato aspic has been on the menu. Here are a few things I've been making recently...

ROSEMARY LEMON SALT
It's easy and so much fresher than store-bought
to make your own herbed salts.
Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped.
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups Kosher salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 110 degrees. Finely chop rosemary, leaves only; discard the stems. Zest the lemon. Mix rosemary and zest with the salt and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 just enough to release some of the moisture. Cool and store in glass jars. If you're making as a gift you can garnish the container with a fresh rosemary sprig tied with raffia. Here in Arizona my rosemary is ready to pick year round!

In times of uncertainty a tasty Margarita does not hurt...
TIN CAN MARGARITAS
I brought these margaritas to our neighbors family birthday party before we decided to discontinue socializing. I found the recipe online, but altered it a bit for maximum flavor! I am not a big margarita fan, but the reviews were favorable at the party and I really enjoyed them, too! Possibly I will become a convert. I LOVE the name!
I was running late for the party so had
no time to take pics. I nabbed this one online.
Ingredients:
2 12 oz. cans frozen limade, slightly thawed. I used Minute Maid.
2 cans tequilla, I used Jose Cuervo Gold, plus a little extra splash
1 can triple sec liquer
Juice from 12+ key limes, more limes to float in the pitcher and use as garnish
2 cans water

Lime wedges and coarse salt for serving

Preparation:
In a blender add limade, tequilla, triple sec, lime juice and water. Blend thoroughly. Taste and add more freshly squeezed lime juice, tequilla, triple sec if you like sweeter, as is necessary. This will depend on how juicy your limes are, too.

Use a lime wedge to moisten rim of glass. Dip and coat rim of glass in a saucer of coarse salt. Add ice and fill with the Margarita. Salud!

MONTE CRISTO'S
Our son, Michael was recently here for a visit (also before Coronavirus) and one of my favorite things is asking the kids what they want for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and then being able to come up with it on the spot! Mike requested Monte Cristo's for breakfast one morning. I didn't have quite the exact ingredients for the classic, but this came close enough! A Monte Cristo is a variation of a French Croque Monsieur; fried ham and cheese sandwich, but is so much more! Traditionally both ham and turkey are used, but I had no turkey. Also Gouda is the cheese of choice, but I had only Swiss and Provolone, which worked perfectly! Usually white bread, sometimes with crust removed, but I only had a whole grain seed and nut bread.

Ingredients:
4 slices bread (for 2 sandwiches)
Enough mayonnaise to liberally cover each slice
Cheese: at least 4 slices per sandwich
Ham: at least 4 slices per sandwich unless you're using turkey, too; then 2 and 2
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
Splash of milk
Salt/Pepper
1 Tbsp. butter/1 Tbsp. olive oil

Preparation:
Either remove crusts (if you are serving for a Brunch you might want to do this; fancier!) or just open the bread and lay on slices of cheese. You want the cheese closest to the bread so it gets very melted. Next, slather with mayonnaise on each open face. Then add the ham (and/or turkey). I also added a very thin coating of grainy mustard. Close the sandwich carefully. In a bowl, beat 2 eggs, add a splash of milk, salt and pepper. Very carefully dredge the sandwiches in the egg bath and let it get soaked until it takes all the egg. Some suggest just slightly coating it in the egg, but this sandwich is much better totally saturated! I like to use a cast iron skillet for these Croque Monsieurs, but any heavy bottom skillet is good. Get your skillet very hot and add butter/olive oil. VERY carefully place the sandwiches (It's easy for them to slip and slide and fall apart) in the skillet and cook thoroughly on each side; about 5-7 minutes per side. This depends how thick your bread is.


After the sandwiches are cooked, cut in half and serve with strawberries, oranges or other fruit. Some like to dust with confectioners sugar, but I like it savory, and you may also serve with a dollop of fruit preserves. This is a hearty, ooey, gooey, wonderful Brunch treat. Thanks, Mike, for suggesting.

I think our pets know when we are feeling uncertainty. Not that it is USUAL for JoJo to join us at the table, but we have made some exceptions.
I'm going to close with a couple shots of other food I have been making in the last couple weeks of such unsettled time.
Gelatin can be made with either sweet or savory juice.
This time I used 2 envelopes gelatin; 1 cup cold V-8.
Sprinkle gelatin over the cold juice.
3 cups hot V-8 heated to boiling.
Mix together and stir until dissolved. Chill.
The secret to really great cookies is European style butter!
This is the Spetzzatino, which I will tell you about soon!
And finally, the spatchcocked chicken, which we will have tonight.
http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=spatchcock

TOGETHER WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS.
WE TRY TO FIND A LITTLE JOY
IN EACH DAY (AND, DO!)
AND HOPE YOU DO, TOO!
 
LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH, AND
REMEMBER
WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT...
 
LOVE!
 
UNTIL NEXT TIME...