Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I'm going to start today with an easy and excellent recipe for fried chicken. I'm afraid if I start with the Rocky Mountain Oysters (aka bulls testicles) you might decide to just move on! Fried chicken is one of my favorite things in the world. I don't have it that often so it becomes an even bigger treat when I do!
This recipe is from Alton Brown, but I have altered it a bit.

I used all chicken thighs. Alton calls for 1 broiler/fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups low-fat buttermilk. (I used full fat.)
2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
I added 1 tsp. onion powder
Flour for dredging. (I dredged in flour and Panko bread crumbs combined.)
Vegetable oil for frying. (I used Crisco.)

Place chicken pieces into a plastic container or large glass bowl and cover with buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate 12-24 hours.
I added a bunch of black pepper and a little oregano to the milk bath.
Place enough oil in a heavy skillet to come just 1/3 up the side. Heat to 325 degrees. Do not allow oil to go over 325. I had a hard time keeping the thermometer in the oil because the oil was spitting quite a bit and it was difficult to hold the thermometer and manage the chicken, but once you get it to the right temp, you can stick pretty close to 325.
Drain chicken in colander. Combine salt, paprika, garlic (and onion if using) powder, and cayenne pepper. Liberally season chicken with this mixture. Dredge chicken in flour (and Panko bread crumbs if using) and shake off excess.
Place chicken skin side down into the skillet. If you're using a whole broiler, put thighs in center, and breast and legs around the edge of the pan. The oil should come half way up the pan.
Cook chicken until golden brown on each side, approximately 10-12 minutes per side. Internal temperature should be right around 180 degrees. Drain chicken on a rack over a sheet pan.
I served with a big bowl of freshly steamed baby beet greens
from my friend Steve's beautiful garden in Tumacacori!

Next up...

These little balls are addictive. You can also form them into small logs similar to mozzarella sticks. The recipe is from Darina Allen, legendary Irish chef. She is like the Julia Child of Ireland and has a lovely cooking school, The Darina Allen School of Cookery in Ballymaloe, which is in County Cork in the south west part of the country. One of these days when we're in Ireland I would love to take some classes.

15 ounces milk
1 carrot
1 onion
1 small bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
4 parsley stalks
4 oz. butter
4 oz. white flour
2 organic egg yolks
8 oz. mature Cheddar, grated
I used Kerry gold Reserve which is a rich, nutty and delicious cheddar!
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
Salt/freshly ground black pepper
Seasoned flour (with salt/pepper)
Organic egg
Fine dried breadcrumbs for rolling prior to frying.

Put the cold milk into a saucepan with the carrot, onion and herbs and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to infuse for about 10 minutes.
Strain the flavorings out of the infused milk and discard; or rinse them and add to a stockpot if you have a pot of stock on the go (which I always do!).
Make the roux: melt 4 oz. butter, add the 4 oz. flour, combine and cook for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally.
Bring the milk back to the boil and whisk in the roux bit by bit; it will get very thick, but persevere (I love the way Darina talks!). There always seems to be too much roux, but you need it all, so don't decide to use less.
Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes on a gentle heat, then remove from the heat. Stir in egg yolks, cheese and chives. Taste and correct seasoning. Spread out on a wide plate to cool.

Once you add egg yolks and cheese the color becomes a deep golden.

The dough is a bit rubbery and has lots of elasticity.
It's fun to work with.
When the mixture is cold, or at least cool enough to handle, shape it into balls about the size of golf balls, weighing about an ounce each.
First roll them in the seasoned flour, then in beaten egg, and then in breadcrumbs, and chill until firm. Bring them back to room temp prior to frying or else they may burst. Just before serving, heat a deep fryer (I used a deep frying pan.) to 300 degrees, and cook the cheese croquettes until crisp and golden.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot with a green salad, sweet chili jam, or a good tomato relish chutney. All good suggestions, but I served on their own as an hors d'oeuvre.
Cooked cheese croquettes can be kept warm in an oven for up to 30 minutes. They can also be frozen and reheated in an oven.

On to the most unusual thing I have ever
cooked or cleaned...next to chickens feet!


These testicles were 'field dressed' meaning cut right in the field.
They still had lots of grass/hay and organic materials.
Ok, the truth, these were pretty disgusting to clean. I have never done it before, but have seen them cleaned on cooking shows, so I just went with my instincts. I knew you had to remove the outer sheath, which is pretty tough so started by cutting the ends off and then slicing down the middle. The outer layer peeled off revealing what looked like a much more palatable interior.
I cut into bite sized pieces, rinsed well, and then soaked in milk for about an hour. Drain well in a colander and pat dry. Dredge in seasoned flour. Cover the bottom of a heavy, frying pan with olive oil and bring to high heat, but not smoking. Add the "oysters" and cook on each side until golden brown.

I had these delightful bites with our neighbors Brian and Lori so while I fried, Brian made a delicious red wine reduction sauce. This is what I think he used to make the sauce:


2 cups good red wine
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
2-3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Salt/Pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a saucepan until bubbly. Add shallot, garlic and cook until just translucent. Do not brown. Add wine and turn to high heat to reduce by half. Add second tablespoon of butter. Season with salt/pepper. Add more butter to make a richer sauce.

Here's Brian stirring the reduction. He likes to cook as much as I do!

And here he is presenting this lovely appetizer!
Lori was tending the roasted baby sweet peppers which accompanied our meal.
My son and his girlfriend were visiting from Boston and their contributions were REAL oysters from Cape Cod, done both as Rockefeller and raw on the half-shell. Justin is an excellent cook and we always enjoy time together in the kitchen!

After all those appetizers we still managed a full meal of Duchesse mashed potatoes, the roasted peppers, baby back pork ribs with home-made BBQ sauce, AND braised short ribs (Thank you Trudy for the recipe. I will soon blog that one as it is a keeper!).

Tonight I am making a Citrus Chicken dish with Baby Potatoes and Carrots from Patti's Mexican Table. I'm going to serve with steamed asparagus in butter. The house smells heavenly! And dessert, Mango Ice Cream with warm Mango Sauce.


Soon off to Ireland...our house in Spiddal overlooks Galway Bay!

Saturday, May 14, 2016


I'm starting with dessert today as this ranked high as the favorite dish of the Easter celebration feast! It's an absolutely delicious Martha Stewart recipe and easy to put together. Since I'm short on photos I'm pulling the photo from her website. I did not top the pie with toasted coconut thinking it would mar the creamy, sublime text. It looks pretty, but I think I was right!


1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (13.5 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup fresh or bottle Key Lime Juice
7 large egg yolks
1 Graham Cracker pie crust (recipe follows)
2 cups cold heavy cream
2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar
3 Tbsp. sweetened shredded coconut, toasted (if you're using as topping)
I used Nellie & Joe's Famous 100%  Key Lime Juice. You can get it online. It was Mom's favorite and her Key Lime Pies were famous!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together condensed milk, coconut milk, lime juice, and egg yolks until smooth. Pour into crust (I made the crust two days before the party.) and bake until set, but still slightly wobbly in center, about 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, 1-1 1/2 hours, then refrigerate 3 hours (or up to a day; I made the pie the day before the party and topped with whipped the cream just before serving.)
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream and sugar on high until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. To serve, top pie with whipped cream and if you like, sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Tip: Cream will whip faster if you chill the bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 1/2 hour (or longer) before whipping.
You hardly need a recipe for this, but here are the proportions Martha uses.

12 Graham crackers
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. coarse salt
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse cookies until finely ground (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Add sugar and butter and pulse until combined. Firmly press crumbs into bottom and up sides of a 9" pie plate. I used a spring-form pan and  press crumbs halfway up sides. Bake until crust is dry and set, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely in a plate on a wire rack before filling. I placed in the refrigerator for 2 days which worked well.


This recipe came from Emeril Lagasse, but I made a few tweaks. There are a lot of ingredients and many steps, but it is incredibly flavorful and not complicated. All the herbs and combination of different chevres make this dish very special! This is also a "stolen" photo. Mine looked nearly identical, but had more spinach since I doubled the amount.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced shallots
1/2 cup chopped leek, white part only
4 cups fresh spinach, stemmed and cleaned (I used about 8 cups as I knew it would shrink.)
1 clove minced garlic (I used 2 large cloves.)
1 1/2 cup Chevre (I used 4 oz. Herbed Chevre; 4 oz. plain Chevre, and added 2 oz. (1/2 container) of Garlic/Shallot Boursin.)
I also added 1 Tbsp. of finely minced rosemary to the cheeses.
1 (5 lb.) leg of lamb, boned and butterflied (Mine was 6 lbs.)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary plus fresh rosemary sprigs
1/2 cup cracked black pepper (That sounds like a ridiculous amount of black pepper so when it came to this step-coating the leg once it is stuffed and tied--I just liberally covered the roast with freshly ground black pepper, but it was not nearly 1/2 cup.)
2 Tbsp. chiffonade of mint (I used about 4 Tbsp.)

Essence--Emeril's Creole Seasoning:
I made this a few days ahead of time and still have some left. It's great on chicken or other meats, like pork.
2 1/2 Tbsp. paprika (I used 2 Tbsp. and 1/2 Tbsp. of smoked paprika.)
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper (I used 1/2 Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried thyme

Combine all ingredients and store in an air-tight jar. It makes about 2/3 cup which is more than you need for this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the pan is smoking hot, saute the shallots and leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 1 minute. Add the spinach and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes or until the spinach has wilted. Remove from the heat and turn into a mixing bowl. Stir in the cheese to the spinach mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the lamb on a work surface. Remove any silver skin, obvious big pieces of fat and tendons. Rub the entire lamb with the remaining olive oil, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. Spread the spinach filling evenly over the meat. Roll the lamb lengthwise and tie with butchers twine. This is a little tricky because the lamb is slippery from the oil, but go slow and keep pushing the stuffing toward the center and you'll get the roast all tucked and tied. Pack the outside of the rolled meat with the cracked black pepper. Again, use your judgment, but 1/2 cup sounds like too much for my taste. Instead of garnishing the cooked roast with the Essence I sprinkled it on before roasting. Place the roast in a shallow roasting pan and roast for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let the lamb rest for 10 minutes before carving. Garnish with mint and Essence.

The last recipe of Easter 2016!

My friend Paula made this for me some time last year and I loved it. I brought it to Christmas dinner at our good friends, Joyce and Jim and Bonnie and Richard's festive table and it was a big hit, so I decided to include it in Easter. I think what makes it stand out is the use of fresh sage. Instead of 2 cups milk, I used 1 cup milk and 1 cup half and half, which made it a little richer.
Another photo from the internet. Fortunately my casserole did not get overly browned on top as the one in this photo did!

2 sweet potatoes, quartered lengthwise
1 butternut squash, quartered and seeded
2 Tbsp. olive oil, or as needed
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk (or combo of milk/cream)
1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh sage (I used about  1 1/2 Tbsp. minced sage.)
1 pinch garlic salt, or to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese (I used about 1/3 cup.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and 8x8 baking sheet. Brush sweet potatoes and squash with olive oil. Arrange sweet potatoes on a baking sheet; set squash aside.
Bake sweet potatoes for 5 minutes. Add squash to sweet potatoes and cook until almost tender. The recipe calls for 10-15 minutes, but my veg took closer to 20-25 minutes to get 'almost tender'. Maybe my chunks were larger. Just test with a fork and you'll know when they're ready. When they are, remove from oven and cool.
Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir onion until tender, about 10 minutes. Add flour and stir until well combined. Add milk and sage, season with garlic salt and black pepper. Cook and stir until sauce is thickened, 5-10 minutes.
Remove and discard skins from sweet potatoes and squash. Thinly slice potatoes and squash. Butter a baking dish bottom and sides. I used my favorite 13 1/2" oval Polish baking dish.  It's Boleslawiec pottery; very pretty royal blue and cream pattern. I saw it for sale all over Poland when we visited a few years ago, but I bought mine at Home Goods!

Arrange sweet potato slices in bottom of prepared baking dish. Layer half the squash atop sweet potatoes. Pour a little less than half the cream sauce over squash. Sprinkle with half the Asiago cheese. Repeat layering with remaining squash, cream sauce, and Asiago cheese respectively. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 more minutes.

The only recipes I have not included are the mini-Beef Wellington's which we had as part of the appetizer tray and the Asparagus and Peas with warm Tarragon and Bacon Vinaigrette. I just made the mini-Wellington's again so will include when I do an upcoming blog on appetizers. The asparagus dish just wasn't that good...too many textures and flavors did not seem to meld.

I guess that means Easter 2016 is over....ON TO THE NEXT FESTIVE PARTY!

From left to right starting in front: Diana, Jerry (behind), yours truly, Steve, Paula and Jack...Debby is taking the photo.
And here is the lovely Debby V. with her adorable husband, Steve!
Me and Paula enjoying a hug before the main event is served!
Diana and Jerry licking their lips after the intermezzo course
of Blood Orange, Cucumber and Lavender Granita.
The Boys of Easter 2016: Jack, Jerry, and Steve.

Monday, May 9, 2016


My favorite thing served this Easter was the Scallop and Sole Mousseline. I have had Lobster Mousseline at restaurants, but never this combination and I have never made it before at home. I got the recipe from an old Gourmet Magazine; what year I don't know as during my 30 year subscription of that wonderful publication I would tear out many pages for future use. What I liked best about this dish, (besides the taste!), was the creamy, velvety texture and the sweetness and depth of flavor the scallops added. Because my favorite food photographer was not at this Easter dinner (missed you Dennis!) I don't have many photos, but believe me this recipe is worth trying.

This is kind of what mine looked like, but I topped with fresh dill and watercress.
I clipped this photo from the internet.
Fortunately my mousseline did not separate as it appears this one did in the photo!
Mine held together like a light, airy pudding. I'll post a photo the next time I make it.
1/2 lb. sea scallops
1/2 lb. filet of sole, cut into 1" pieces
1 Tbsp. lightly beaten egg white
1 cup chilled heavy cream
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper (I used white.)
Large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (I used previously ground.)
2 tsp. chopped fresh chives
1 tsp. chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
Watercress for garnish

I will admit there are quite a few steps to putting this together, but I don't think you'll be disappointed in the end result.

Rinse scallops and sole and pat dry. Puree in a food processor until very smooth. With a wide spoon or pastry spatula force the puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl, scraping bottom of sieve as needed.
This step is important as it creates the ultimate velvety texture.
Set metal bowl in a large bowl of ice and cold water, then add egg white to puree and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until well combined. Add cream 2 Tablespoons at a time, stirring after each addition until incorporated. Mousseline should be the consistency of soft mashed potatoes; if it becomes runny or separates, stop adding cream and chill mixture, covered--still in ice bath--until firmer, about 30 minutes. (Fortunately that did not happen to me!) Cover bowl and chill mixture 8 hours.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut out 10 rounds (I made 8, but had left-over mousseline. I'll tell you what I did with that in a minute.) Because I used the 4" brioche molds I made one design out of parchment to match the scallop shape of the bottom of the mold and then just repeated.

The top of the mousseline is also covered with parchment paper so I measured the top of the mold and cut 8 pieces to cap it off.
Brush molds with some melted butter and line bottom of each with a round of parchment. Chill molds 5 minutes, to set butter, then brush paper and sides of molds again with more melted butter.
Stir salt, pepper, nutmeg, chives, dill into mousseline, then divide among molds or fill your mold to about 2/3 full. Rap molds on counter once or twice to settle mixture, then put a buttered parchment round, buttered side down, on surface of each mousseline. Put molds into a 2" deep baking pan and bake in hot water bath in oven until mousselines are just set and springy to the touch, 20-25 minutes.
Cool mousselines in molds on a rack until warm, about 10 minutes. Invert onto a large plate and pat dry with paper towels before transferring to serving plates.
Because I had a bit of mousseline left over I spread in the bottom of a mini-bread pan (also lined and topped with buttered parchment) and baked. The next day I sliced and served it more as a fish pate then the mousseline. The texture was a bit more firm, but flavor delicious! Great way to use the leftovers. These mousselines would also be excellent dropped into a cream soup (cold or hot), like asparagus or the original recipe called for adding to Warm Cucumber Soup.

Here's the recipe for the sauce.

Here's Debby whisking the beurre blanc. What a great help!

1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (I used tarragon vinegar.)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted good quality butter, cut into Tablespoon sized pieces and chilled.

I love this butter, but any good quality butter is fine.

Boil wine, vinegar, and shallot in a 2-4 qt. heavy saucepan over moderate heat until liquid is syrupy and reduced to 2 to 3 Tbsp., about 5 minutes. Add cream, salt, and white pepper and boil 1 minute. Reduce heat to moderately low and add a few tablespoons butter, whisky constantly and adding new pieces before previous ones have completely liquefied (the sauce should maintain the consistency of hollandaise), lifting pan from heat occasionally to cool mixture.
Remove from heat, then season to taste with salt and pepper and pour sauce through a medium mesh seize into a sauceboat, pressing on and then discarding shallot. To serve, I poured about 3 Tbsp. of beurre blanc on each plate, topped with the scallop and sole mousseline and then topped all with finely chopped fresh dill and watercress. This is a beautiful and easy sauce for so many dishes: steak off the grill, chicken, grilled fish and so much more. I have been using the left-over beurre blanc to saute veg, make eggs in the morning. It's a nice addition to your fridge!

That's all for today! In the next blog I will talk about our Easter Lamb, a wonderful Roasted Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash, and most everyone's favorite dish...
Martha Stewart's Coconut Key Lime Pie!
Until then...KEEP ON COOKING!

The girls of Easter, from l to r: Paula, me, Debby and Diana seated.
Thanks to you all for making my favorite holiday so special!