Sunday, November 29, 2020


I am not sure I will ever make Pumpkin Pie again for Thanksgiving as this pie was richer, tastier and had a creamy, beautiful texture. I found the recipe online and changed it up a bit by making it with a Ginger Snap crust. I also thought serving the pie with ginger infused whipped cream would make it extra special. It did! And finally, my good friend and fellow foodie, Dorita Pina, told me she always roasts pecans using maple syrup instead of sugar and thought this would also be a nice touch on our Thanksgiving Day pie. Brilliant Dorita! The nuts were very crispy and flavorful making an attractive border on the pie.


Ingredients: FOR THE FILLING
 3 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used roasted cinnamon for added flavor.)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups roasted butternut squash, pureed

Ingredients: FOR THE CRUST
1/2 cup Ginger Snaps, crushed
1/2 cup Graham Crackers, crushed
3/4 cup pecans, very finely chopped (I used my Mini-Max food processor.)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. dried Ginger powder
5 Tbsp. butter

That sounds like a lot of butter, but it really keeps the crust together and as it pre-bakes becomes caramelized. Bake the crust in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 12 minutes. If doing ahead of time let the crust cool completely, then cover and place in fridge until ready to fill.

1 lb. pecan halves
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg white, beaten until frothy
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients and spread nuts out on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with PAM. Bake in 300 degree preheated oven for about 45 minutes until nuts are nicely browned. Stir a couple times as they bake to make sure all the nuts crisp up evenly. Cool. This is also many more nuts than needed to ring the pie, but the nuts store well in a covered jar for up to a week.

I roasted twice as much squash as needed for the pie, but it's nice to have it all cooked in the fridge. I also roasted and pureed the squash the day before Thanksgiving and made the crust day before, too. On the morning of the holiday I made the filling, baked the pie, made the maple candied pecans and infused the whipped cream with ginger. 

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 inch knob of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced 
2 Tbsp. of candied ginger, chopped.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream with the gingers over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off heat, but let it cool in the pan. Strain through a fine mesh sieve pushing on the ginger to extract flavor. Chill thoroughly before whipping. I also like to chill the beaters in the freezer before whipping and place the chilled cream in freezer for about 5 minutes before whipping. This allows the cream to whip much faster. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and salt lightly. Place the squash on a foiled baking sheet and roast for about 40 - 45 minutes or until squash is very tender. Let cool and then scoop out the squash from the skin. Because it is so tender it is easy to mash with a large fork. Set aside. 

If doing all the same day, reduce oven temp to 365 degrees. 
In a large bowl beat eggs thoroughly. One by one, add sugar, spices, salt, vanilla, cream and squash puree. Pour the mixture into a 10 inch pie plate. I still had a little mixture left over so made a mini pie in a ramekin. 

Bake on a baking sheet until filling is set, about 45 - 50 minutes. The center of the pie will still be a bit wobbly. Cool to room temp on a wire rack. Once cooled, arrange the Maple Candied Pecans. 

Here's the pie out of the oven, cooled with its Maple Candied Pecan edging. This pie sounds like a lot of work, but because you can do so many things ahead of time, it really is not.
And here's my husband, Jerry with JoJo 
on his lap, enjoying the first piece of pie!
...well, Jerry is! JoJo not so interested.

Last time you saw our complete menu. The brined and smoked turkey was a huge hit. I brined the bird for 2 days prior to smoking. This is the brine I used:

2 gallons water
1 1/2 cups Kosher salt

3 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. black pepper corns
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 large sprigs of fresh sage

Combine all and stir until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. I used a turkey oven roasting bag to brine the turkey, which worked well. Place the turkey in any food-grade bucket or brining bag. Seal and place in a large roaster in case your bag starts to leak, which mine did. Turn the turkey morning and night to ensure that all sides benefit from the brine.

I had never smoked a turkey and was concerned it might dry out so also made an Apple Cider reduction to baste the bird as it smoked.

Reduce by half: 2 cups apple cider, 3 Tbsp. maple syrup, 1 stick cinnamon. This can also be made a few days in advance. 

I couldn't believe how burnished the skin became. This bird was moist, juicy and flavorful. And, VERY smoky!

Since I had the smoker going I decided to smoke some chicken livers to make BOURBON INFUSED LIVER PATE with smoky bread toast points!
You can find these recipes on my blog. The only difference is I smoked the chicken livers for about 20 minutes before continuing with the recipe. I served the pate with a Cranberry Ginger Sauce and Onion and Apricot Jam. These recipes are also on my blog, but if you need help finding them, please just let me know. Pomegranate seeds were the perfect contrast to the creaminess of the pate.

Here are a few more scenes from our holiday eating extravaganza...






Friday, November 20, 2020


 Here we are at another holiday during the time of Coronavirus. What a troubled and disturbing year it has been, but I remain hopeful that things on all fronts will improve and life will return to something that feels a bit more familiar, normal and safe. In the meantime, I am grateful for so much: My husband whose love and support is endless; the fact we live in a beautiful, rural area allowing me to walk and enjoy nature; and the love of friends and family who I continue to enjoy both near and far, and so much more! We just celebrated my husband Jerry's 76th birthday, which has come to be known as the "kick-off" to the holiday season. And now on to Thanksgiving. I'm going to start by sharing the soup we will have as a starter on Thanksgiving day.


1 large butternut squash, cut in half and seeded
1 onion, peeled and cut into thick slices
2 Granny Smith apples, cut in half and cored
Olive oil for drizzling.
Liberal Salt/Pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare veg and apple. Drizzle with oil. Salt generously. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until veg is just starting to caramelize and squash is very tender.

Let the veg cool. Peel the skin off the butternut squash and put in a large soup pot. Smash up the squash with a large spoon. Scoop the apple out of the skin. It will be very soft. Add to the pot. Drop in the onion and add 4 cups chicken stock and 1/2 apple cider. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Cool slightly and blend either with an emulsion blender or add all to your blender and blend until very smooth. Taste for seasoning. Salt/pepper as needed. I also add a dash of white pepper to help counter the sweetness of the soup. Serve this soup, hot or cold, with a scoop of Greek-style yogurt and thinly sliced green apple. I really like it best cold! This soup tastes like Thanksgiving in a bowl!


Smoked Chicken Liver Pate Garnished with Pomegranate seeds
    Served with Caramelized onion, Apricot/Shallot Jam and Smoky Bread toast points

Roasted Butternut Squash and Green Apple Soup

Applewood and Sage Smoked Turkey with Apple Cider Glaze
Traditional Herb Stuffing
Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan crust
Creamed Boursin Spinach
Cranberry Ginger Relish
Freshly Baked Rolls

Butternut Squash Pie with Ginger Pecan crust topped with Ginger-infused Whipped Cream

I think that meal should feed the two of us!

I will brine the turkey for 24 hours, then marinate, and finally smoke the bird brushing with an Apple Cider glaze. 

We celebrated Jerry's birthday, which was Friday, November 13, for the entire weekend. Birthday night we had a rack of lamb, gruyere scalloped potatoes and roasted asparagus. For dessert I made one of his favorites, a blueberry cheesecake! Here is Jerry on our birthday morning walk...Looking good Mr. Rabbitt!
Saturday night we made pizza's on the grill. Thank you to my old friend Trudy G. Silverman who suggested I put the pizza right on the grill! It will take me a couple times to perfect the grilling technique as I had a little trouble controlling the heat, but they were delicious!





Monday, November 9, 2020



A small group of us recently got together to 'safely' celebrate my good friend, Jan Burke's very special, big birthday. We won't say just how big, but as far as I am concerned every birthday is big and special. I love birthday's!  When I learned that chocolate was her 'favorite' I went on a search for the richest, most luscious chocolate cake recipe and I found this Chocolate Truffle Layer Cake recipe online. This one may just take the cake! 

Apparently the cake was a lucky accident created by a Los Angeles baker, Kimberly Sklar, who took her cake out of the oven a little too early. She had used creme fraiche in the batter and discovered that the cake was super moist and fudgy, so instead of cooking longer decided to go with the mistake. She layered it (all 6 layers!) with even more chocolate in the form of white and dark chocolate ganache. If you are a chocolate lover, this is your cake!

Jan is on the left, and our host,
Bonnie Ungerecht on the right.


Ingredients for...THE CAKE

10 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and divided 6 oz./4 oz.

1 stick unsalted butter (I like to use Kerry Gold.)

1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract (Again, good quality; such as Nielsen-Massey.)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup water

2/3 cup creme fraiche (6 oz.)

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

Preparation for the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (This is the easiest thing you will do in making this cake!)

Butter two 15x12 inch jelly roll pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, melt 6 ounces of the chopped chocolate with the butter and vanilla over very low heat, stirring gently. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa with the water and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Let cool slightly, then whisk the mixture into the melted chocolate. Whisk in the creme fraiche.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the whole eggs, egg yolks and both sugars at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the chocolate mixture. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt and transfer to a sifter or a sieve. Sift the dry ingredients and fold into the cake batter with a large spatula until fully incorporated.

Spread the batter evenly between the prepared pans and sprinkle with the remaining 4 ounces of chopped chocolate.

Bake the cakes in the lower/middle third of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the centers spring back when lightly pressed; shift the pans halfway through baking. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans. Cake can be made and refrigerated for up to 3 days in advance or frozen up to 2 weeks.


1 pound white chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli.)

3/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preparation for the White Chocolate Ganache:

Set a medium bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. The water should just touch the bottom of the bowl. Add the white chocolate to the bowl and melt the chocolate. Remove from the heat. Pour off the water in the saucepan and wipe it out. Add the heavy cream and butter to the saucepan and heat until the butter is melted and small bubbles appear around the edges. Whisk the hot cream mixture into the white chocolate. Set the bowl in a cool place until the ganache is firm enough to hold its shape, at least 1 hour. 

I had no idea these steps would take so long and did not allow quite enough time for my ganaches to set so as I assembled the cake the layers got a little uneven. Next time I will allow more time!!


1 1/3 cups plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preparation for the Dark Chocolate Ganache:

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream until small bubbles appear around the edges. Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes, until the chocolate melts, then whisk until smooth and shiny. Set the bowl in a cool place until the ganache is firm enough to hold its shape, at least 1 hour.

Ingredients for...CHOCOLATE FROSTING:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate

3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1/4 cup corn syrup

6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. brandy

1 pound unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

Bittersweet and white chocolate shavings for garnish. I skipped this step as I ran out of time.

Preparation for the Chocolate Frosting:

In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate over very low heat, stirring frequently. In a small saucepan, whisk together the granulated sugar, corn syrup, cocoa and water and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the brandy and melted chocolate. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. 

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, beat the butter at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate mixture. At low speed, beat in the confectioners sugar.


The original recipe went into elaborate instructions as how to create forms to cut the cake into even pieces and how exactly to fill this cake. I'm going to share what I did, which seemed much simpler. 

The sheet pans are 15x12 inches.  Gently flip the pans onto your counter or a cutting board using your hand to ensure the cakes pop out in one piece. The trick here is to not break the cake. Carefully remove the parchment paper. Now cut each sheet pan of cake into 3 equal pieces per pan, so 3 pieces of 5 inch x 12 inch cake making a total of 6 pieces between the 2 pans. Trim the edges with a sharp to remove any crusty edge, but make sure each of your pieces is the same size. 

Place the first layer on a serving plate or tray. I used my mesquite wooden cutting board as my cake platters were not large enough. Spoon a generous dollop of the chocolate frosting onto the first layer creating about 1/2 inch even layer of frosting over the first cake layer. Add a layer of cake on top. Spread 1/2 of the white chocolate ganache on this layer and top with another layer of cake. Top this layer with 1/2 of the dark chocolate ganache and repeat with 2 more layers, alternating the white and dark chocolate ganache. 

Keep the sides as even as you can as you build the cake. My cake had a little tilt to it! Top with the final layer of cake. Coat the sides and top of the cake with a smooth layer of chocolate frosting (I used all the frosting that was left); refrigerate briefly to set the frosting. Garnish with the chocolate shavings.

Refrigerate until firm. Using a hot knife, cut the cake into slices while cold and let it come to room temperature before serving. In the excitement of the celebration I ignored those last 2 steps, which also resulted in a less than perfectly even final presentation, but it sure did taste fantastic. And, the birthday girl and other guests seemed very happy with this rich, decadent, gooey chocolate cake!
Our gracious host, Bonnie, offered to cut the cake!

Don't let the many steps involved in making this cake discourage you. It is truly worth the effort for a special occasion or holiday.








Friday, October 30, 2020


 Here is Part II of my big smoking adventure of a couple weeks ago. I'm going to start with one of my favorites. I love it because it is so antithetical...Ok, it also seems mutually incompatible. How can you possibly smoke an ice cube?! Once again, I am learning from Steven Raichlen's wonderful book, Project Smoke. He is a believer that just about anything can be smoked. I am also starting to believe!


For smoked cubes, simply pour water in a pan and place in your smoker (once you've got it going) for about 15-20 minutes. That's it. Pour the smoked water in ice cube trays and once frozen you have smoked ice cubes. The longer you smoke the water, the smokier the cubes will get. I thought 20 minutes was perfect with a little scotch. I think the smoked cubes would also make a fantastic Manhattan or served with any rye whisky or bourbon. They would also be great with Ice Tea...Lapsang Souchong, which is inherently smoky also sounds like a perfect combo.

As with the Ice Cubes it only took about 20 minutes to smoke these hard boiled eggs. Boil your eggs. Cool. Peel. Place on smoker (once lit) and smoke for about 20 minutes.
Behind the eggs is a pan of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt. I smoked it for about 20 minutes, as well, but next time would smoke for a longer amount of time. The salt was smoky, but very subtle. On the bottom shelf is the Brisket.

After they came out of the smoker I salted and peppered and then prepared as you would any deviled egg. I think a nice pink caviar would be excellent as a topper on these smoked eggs, but my local market did not have any caviar so smoked salmon went on top of mine. Delicious!
Similar to the smoked ice cubes and deviled eggs, smoked bread is simpler than it sounds. All you have to do is smoke the water using to make the bread and also smoke the flour. When you put it all together you have a very subtle, delightfully smoked bread. Again, I smoked the flour and water for about 20 minutes. Steven Raichlen gives credit to French baker, Johann Villar who showed him how to smoke such unexpected ingredients.
I used Raicheln's recipe, which called for 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups white flour. He also uses honey as a sweetener, which lends a nice floral flavor. Use your favorite bread recipe or send me an email and I will send you his recipe.

From this wonderfully smoked bread I made a few different things. First, French Toast.

I cut the bread for this French Toast thicker than usual; almost 2 inches and also cut off the crust. Soak the bread in an egg (2 large eggs, well beaten for 3 big pieces of toast) batter with cinnamon, a little salt, tiny bit of sugar for about an hour, turning every 15 minutes or so to make sure it was completely soaked through. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet (I like using my old cast iron pan) until very hot and add about 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter. Lower heat to medium high. Carefully drop in the bread (It becomes quite soggy from all that soaking!) and saute for about 5-6 minutes on each side.
My husband, Jerry likes his French Toast traditionally sweetened with maple syrup with bacon on the side.

I chose (because I am still watching calories!) to have mine with Greek-style yogurt and fresh blueberries!

I actually liked mine better, but then I am not a fan of sweet things in the morning.

Next, I used the crusts from the French Toast to make a...
Gazpacho is a cold Spanish soup, specifically from the Andalusian region. It is an ancient dish dating back to the 7th century. The version we know today with tomatoes and green peppers was brought to Spain from the 'new world' in the 16th century. To serve completely pureed or chunky is a personal preference. I like both so puree the base and then add lots of toppings. Take liberties with the fresh veg ingredients, but this is what I used for this Gazpacho. Also, purists would never used canned tomatoes, but unless you grow tomatoes yourself, often the ones you buy in the grocery are not that tasty (picked way too early) so I prefer to use canned unless I have a source for really good fresh tomatoes picked ripe off the vine.

1 28 oz. can San Marzano style tomatoes
1 cup V-8
1 large English style cucumber (no need to peel); 1/2 in puree; 1/2 for garnish
1/2 small red onion, peeled and finely diced; same
1 medium Green Bell pepper, cored and diced; same
1 medium Red Bell pepper, cored and diced; same
2 large garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt 
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 thick slice white bread-This is where I used the crusts from the smoked bread. I used a large handful of crusts that I ran under water and gently squeezed out.

For garnish: In addition to the English cuke, red and green pepper, I also added 1/2 sliced avocado and 4 steamed shrimp per serving. I also added some chopped fresh tomato to the garnish. 
Here's my husband, Jerry helping to chop garnishes. 

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Puree until the soup is completely blended and the right consistency. If it is too thick, thin with a little more V-8 juice.

Taste for salt/pepper and more cumin if needed. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Top with whatever garnish you prefer. I cannot believe how just a handful of smoked bread crusts flavored this entire soup. You could definitely taste the smoke!
Sometimes your finger acts as the best utensil!

From the Smoked Brisket I also made Brisket Burgers and a very lovely Brisket Hash. Can't wait to get that smoker stoked up again. I have Steven Raichlen to thank for these smoky ideas, but am looking forward to creating some of my own.






Saturday, October 17, 2020


 A couple weeks ago our hot Arizona weather cooled down a bit and I decided to stoke up the smoker. And did I ever go smoking crazy! I have a new cookbook by Steven Raichlen, PROJECT SMOKE, which is filled with fabulous ideas; some his original, and others from smoking adventures around the world. Basically Raichlen believes it is possible to smoke anything. I smoked from 8:30 in the morning until 10:30 that evening. I will have to share these recipes over a couple of blog posts as it is just too much to cover in one post. So I will start with the feature attraction:


"If there's one dish that epitomizes barbecue, that every aspiring smoke master hopes to perfect, it's brisket." Steve Raichlen

I learned that there are several cuts of beef brisket, but the most commonly found in your local grocery is a small, lean, center-cut 'brisket-flat', which is what I bought. Mine weighed about 5 pounds. As Raichlen predicted most of the fat had been cut off this already lean cut of meat so at his suggestion I layered slices of thick-cut bacon over the top of the brisket as I began to smoke. 

I seasoned very simply with lots of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Next, with the help of my husband, got the smoker up to a perfect 225 degrees. Checking the fire and temp about every hour is necessary to keep the temp between 225 and 250 degrees. My smoker has a water pan so I kept that filled with at least 3 inches of water. 
This brisket smoked for 10 hours at which point the exterior was darkly browned and internal temp registered 175. I then removed the brisket from the smoker and wrapped it tightly in parchment paper. Raichlen recommends butcher paper, but I did not have any. This step keeps the moisture in the meat for the final smoking. Put it back in the smoker for another couple of hours. When done, internal temp of meat should now be around 200 degrees. The 'smoke masters' tell the doneness by look and touch. A properly cooked brisket should jiggle when you shake it. There was not much jiggle left in my brisket, but I proceeded with Raichlen's suggestions for making a perfect brisket. 

As you can see, evening has fallen, but not trusting my 'touch/feel' skills, I was very happy my brisket finally registered 200 degrees. 

The final step involved placing the cooked brisket, still wrapped in its paper, in a cooler for 2 more hours. This step ensures that any moisture that has released into the paper is re-absorbed into the meat.

By this point it was too late for supper, but we were anxious to try it.

I am very pleased with my first smoked beef brisket. It was a bit overdone so lost some of its juiciness, but the taste more than made up, and the fun of spending the day smoking was well worth it. The brisket was wonderful as a meal the next night with potato and veg. It also made fabulous sandwiches with BBQ sauce and I also ground some to make hash. Other items I smoked on that day included: ice cubes, which were perfect in the scotch I had at the end of my 14 hour smoking day!; flour/water to make smoked bread; eggs, and chicken thighs. The ice cubes were the best!...or maybe it was the scotch at the end of a long, but very enjoyable and satisfying day!



Friday, October 2, 2020


 I had my good friend, Dorita Pina, over for lunch on the first day of fall. This was my first "food-guest" since March when COVID19 came on strong. We were able to sit outside, but the day was still very warm so I decided to serve a cold lunch.

I had everything put together except the dressing of the salad so we had lots of time to visit.


2 Wild Coho Salmon filets
Cut 3 lemons into quarters after juicing and zesting for the vinaigrette and sauce. I also added a big squeeze of lemon juice to the poaching liquid. 
1/2 cup white wine
Lots of freshly chopped chives.
Lots of freshly chopped dill.
Water to nearly cover the salmon filets.

Place salmon on a rack in a saute pan. Drop lemon pieces around the salmon. Cover with herbs, salt/pepper, white wine and top with water to nearly cover the salmon filets. Cover the pan. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat immediately to a bare simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave in covered pan for 5 mins. Salmon will be done when it becomes opaque and is slightly firm to the touch. Remove cover and let cool on the rack before removing the salmon. Carefully lift out the salmon with a spatula. Peel off skin and any herbs that have stuck to the fish. Set aside, covered in the fridge with plastic wrap.


Juice and zest of 1 Meyer lemon. If you don't have Meyers, any lemon is good. I just really like the sweet flavor of the Meyer lemon.*
1/4 cup mayo
Scant tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. capers
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
Salt/Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients. Cover and place in fridge until ready to serve. Giving it an hour or more in the refrigerator helps to bring the flavors together.

*WHY ARE MEYER LEMONS SO SPECIAL? Meyer Lemons, originally from China, are considerably less acidic than the regular lemons you will find in the grocery, which are usually either Eurekas or Lisbons. Meyer Lemons definitely taste lemony, but both the juice and zest are more fragrant than what you normally get in the groceria. They are also smaller with thinner skin and less white pith under the skin than the regular lemons. You could practically eat the entire Meyer Lemon whole, but probably would not. They are perfect for a totally lemon-forward meal!


Juice 2 Meyer lemons to make 1/3 cup. Again, any lemons are good. Just make sure you have 1/3 cup juice so citrus to oil is proportionate. Add 1/2 cup of your best extra virgin olive oil. I used an oil I bought at my new favorite store in Tucson, Roma Imports. Salt and white pepper to taste. Do not under-salt. Put all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously until they come together and somewhat emulsify. Leave on counter until ready to dress your greens. Shake again just before dressing. 
Just before Dorita arrived, I dressed some beautiful, fresh arugula with the vinaigrette and made a Caprese Salad with heirloom tomatoes, fresh Buffalo Mozzarella and lots of basil from my garden. I drizzled balsamic vinegar over the top and added salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

I completed the meal by steaming asparagus and dressing in just a little, you guessed it, lemon juice and lemon zest. This also was served cold. The theme today was definitely lemon and perfect for a warm first day of fall. 

We had such a fun afternoon eating, sipping some lovely wine and enjoying each others company. I have truly missed sharing food with my friends and hope to do more of it soon!

This meal was so easy to put together. I think you will love it!




Sunday, September 20, 2020


 Last time I talked about the wonderful cured meats at Roma Imports in Tucson. Today we are going to start with a recipe for chicken using their fabulous prosciutto and provolone cheese.




4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thinly to about 1/4 inch

2 cups arugula

12 thin slices provolone

8 slices prosciutto


Olive oil for sauting


Pound the chicken breasts so they are an even 1/4 inch, or simply buy the skinny ones prepared at your grocery store. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Spread 1/2 cup of arugula over each breast. Top with 3 slices of provolone. Roll chicken tightly the long way and wrap two slices of prosciutto around the rolled chicken breast overlapping the prosciutto so it sticks together. Prosciutto has a little stretch to it so you can pull it to cover the entire piece of chicken. No need to tie as the prosciutto holds together nicely. Place chicken seam side down in a shallow baking dish. This can be prepared in the morning. If you prepare ahead, bring to room temp before proceeding.

Place a medium skillet over high heat and heat 1 Tbsp. oil until nearly smoking. Saute one chicken breast at a time until prosciutto is nicely browned. The oil tends to splash up so watch your eyes. Add more oil if necessary as you brown all chicken breasts.

Once you have browned all 4 chicken breasts place back in shallow baking pan and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Thermometer should read 165. Slice chicken breasts in half to serve. 
I served with lightly steamed summer squash, asparagus and cauliflower rice. 

Next, I'm going to share an old classic recipe for chicken. No one seems completely sure where this dish originated; possibly London, Belgium or New York. Earliest mention I could find of it was 1914, but it gained popularity in the 40's through 1960. In New York it was often prepared tableside and flambeed as the grand finale. Supposedly it is named after the Roman Goddess Diana or Diane who was the Goddess of the Hunt, but there is also much disagreement on this. Originally it was made with venison and for many years, and often today, with steak. I am sure at New York's finest restaurants they would use steak, not chicken! A simple, luscious lemony sauce flavored with Dijon mustard, chives or scallions and a hint of brandy is what makes this dish so special.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp. salt
l/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. chopped chives or scallion tops
3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon (I used a bit more.)
2 Tbsp. brandy or cognac (I used E&J Grand Blue. Inexpensive and lovely brandy.)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chicken broth

Place chicken breast halves between sheets of plastic wrap. Pound slightly with mallet or rolling pin. You don't want them as thin as in the recipe above, but do want them to be an even thickness. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of chicken breasts. Heat 1 Tbsp. each of olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Cook chicken over high heat for 4 minutes per side. Do not overcook or they will dry out. You can always use a meat thermometer to make sure they are done. 165 is the desired temp. And remember they will continue to cook a bit more so if only at 160 degrees they are fine. Transfer to warm platter. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm while making sauce.
Reduce heat and to the pan you cooked the chicken in, add chives or green onions, lemon juice, brandy, parsley and mustard scraping up all chicken bits. Cook for a few seconds briskly whisking all ingredients. Whisk in chicken broth. Whisk in remaining butter and oil. Check seasoning. Original recipe did not call for it, but I needed to add 1/2 tsp. of salt to the sauce and a dash of white pepper. Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately. If you have not had this dish, once you do, you will see why it became 'Classic Continental Cuisine'!