Thursday, January 30, 2020


Judy helps Joe blow out the candles!


Our friend, Joe Hammond just turned 94...that's a lot to celebrate! So my girlfriend, Debby thought a cocktail party was in order. Everyone participated in the food and it was all delicious! My contribution were the fish cakes.
I was lucky enough to find fresh sea bass from Mexico at my local market. Traditionally fish cakes are made with cod, but you can use any fish you like, even salmon. I used the ingredients I generally use for crab cakes, but they work very well for fish cakes, too. I like them better than the classic mashed potato fish cake recipe. These are almost all fish with very little filler.
Fish Cake Ingredients:
1 lb. white fish, chopped
1/4 cup Red Bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup Green Bell pepper
Scant 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 egg, slightly beaten
Dash Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. mustard
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs, more for crusting
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil/1 Tbsp. butter for frying

Finely chop the fish. Add all other ingredients and mix gently, but thoroughly. The mixture will be quite loose. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and liberally cover with Panko bread crumbs. Using your hands, form small, bite-sized cakes. Press the cakes into the Panko turning so both sides are covered.
Place the fish cakes in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. In the meantime make the...


2 roasted Poblanos
1/4 lb. cream cheese
1 Tbsp. Mexican crema, or heavy cream
Salt/Pepper to taste
Roast the Poblano peppers on stove-top if you have a gas range or under the broiler until they are very charred on all sides. Use tongs to turn the peppers. Carefully cover (either in a brown paper bag or big piece of foil) and let cool completely before peeling and seeding.

Scrape off the charred skin. Remove seeds, white spline and stem. Add the peppers, cream cheese, Mexican crema, salt and pepper to blender or food processer and blend until very smooth.

Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Bring the fish cakes to room temp. Heat oil and butter in a frying pan and fry the cakes in small batches. Cook the fish cakes for about 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through and golden brown.

Arrange on a tray and put a dollop of Roasted Poblano Cream Sauce on each fish cake.
This is only a fraction of the food served at Joe's party.
We also had filet mignon bites topped with gorgonzola;
beautifully steamed shrimp with two different dipping
sauces; luxurious liver pate; ham and manchego cheese
cooked on the raclette and more!

Deb made the cake!

Saturday, January 25, 2020


One of my New Year's resolutions is to make a new dish each month from another country; something I have never tasted or possibly even heard of! I made this dish for my good friend Myrna. Myrna's family had this dish once a week when she was growing up in Manilla. When I arrived at her house, I told her to close her eyes and inhale, so she could guess what I'd made. Once I lifted the cover, she didn't hesitate, and said, "Pork Adobo!" I guess I got the flavors right.

I did lots of research prior to making this dish and what I learned is there are nearly as many variations as there are Philippine Islands! There are over 7000 Philippine Islands, but only 2000 are inhabited, so that may still be a slight exaggeration. Reading about different methods and slightly different ingredients and different ratios of those ingredients, gave me confidence that I could not go wrong. I combined a little of this and a little of that from several recipes, but stayed true to the main ingredients: Pork, soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, garlic, and whole peppercorns.
Myrna dishing out the Pork Adobo
in her beautiful coconut bowls from the Philippines.
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water, more to reduce sauce consistency if necessary
20 black peppercorns
10 red peppercorns
9 bay leaves
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 onions, chopped coarsely (Myrna's Mom did not use onion.)
1 head garlic, chopped coarsely, OK to leave some cloves whole
1 lb. pork belly, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb. pork loin, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 lbs. pork loin on the left; 1 lb. pork belly on the right.

Marinade is cooling.

Pork has been added to the marinade.
Ready to sit overnight in the fridge.

Stir together all ingredients, except the pork, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Cool. Add pork to the marinade and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Next day, remove the pork pieces from the marinade. Drain the pork pieces in a strainer, over a bowl so you don't lose any liquid. Return what does drain to the marinade.

Brown all sides of the pork in olive oil on high heat. When all the pork is browned remove from the pan and de-glaze the pan with a little marinade making sure to stir up any little pieces of pork. Add these pan drippings to the marinade.

While pork is browning bring the marinade back to a boil and then reduce heat and continue cooking until liquid is reduced by half; about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Return the browned pork to the marinade. Cover and continue simmering for 1 more hour or until pork is very tender. Uncover and cook for another 20-30 minutes to further thicken so the marinade becomes the luscious sauce that makes this dish so special.
My husband, Jerry on the left and Myrna's
husband Dick ready to start feasting!
In doing my research I learned that fluffy Jasmin rice is traditionally served with Pork Adobo and sometimes green beans either added directly or on the side.
The trick to fluffy Jasmin rice is through
rinsing until water flows clear before cooking.
Yours truly giving the French style green beans a quick stir fry.


Myrna's using a cup to mold the rice.
The next time I make this recipe I am going to place all ingredients in my slow cooker and cook for a few hours and see what happens! I will also use all pork belly, which is so tender with fat rendering perfectly and giving the sauce lots of depth of flavor. Pork shoulder can also be used and some recipes even called for chicken. Some marinate overnight, as I did, others do not. Some recipes call for browning the pork, but not all.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Sauces really do make the difference and they are not all that hard to make. The most iconic sauces are the 5 French Mother Sauces: B├ęchamel, Veloute, Espagnole, Hollandaise and Tomato. All of these sauces, except the Tomato, traditionally begin by making a roux (equal parts melted butter and flour), then adding a liquid. In the case of B├ęchamel it is generally a dairy-milk or cream or both. The liquid Veloute uses is chicken, vegetable or fish stock. Espagnole uses brown stock-beef or veal. Hollandaise-clarified butter, egg yolks, acid-like lemon or white wine. And Tomato uses, you guessed it, tomatoes!

This Hollandaise Sauce is fool proof
and only takes about 3 minutes to make.
3 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch pepper (I like to use white pepper so as not to mar the beautiful color of the sauce.)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Place egg yolks, salt, pepper, and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice in the blender jar. Cut the butter into pieces and place it in a small saucepan. Heat until melted, hot and foamy. Cover the jar of the blender and blend the egg yolk mixture at top speed for 2 seconds. Uncover, still blending at top speed and immediately start pouring the hot melted butter in a very light stream of droplets. Be careful that the contents don't spew out. Use your hand to cover part of the opening if necessary. By the time 2/3 of the butter has gone in the sauce will be thick and creamy. Do not pour the milky butter residue at bottom of pan. Taste. Blend in more seasonings and lemon juice to taste.
Use immediately. If not using right away set your blender in a bowl of lukewarm water to 'hold' the sauce. The sauce changes consistency pretty fast so use right away. You can keep it overnight in the fridge, but it will not have that luxurious creamy hollandaise consistency next day, but still tastes good!

Classically this sauce is used with Eggs Benedict, but there is no law saying you can't use it over a lovely chicken breast stuffed with lots of spinach.

I wonder why Bernaise was not gifted the title of "Mother Sauce", but it's probably because it is so close to Hollandaise she could be considered a sister. This recipe is from Ina Garten-The Barefoot Contessa. I changed the vinegar she recommended to Tarragon vinegar, but I will give you her recipe as she makes it. This recipe is easy to double if cooking for a crowd.
New Year's Eve dinner: Tenderloin of Beef with Bernaise,
Hasselback potatoes and roasted asparagus with a little more Bernaise.

1/4 cup Champagne or White wine vinegar (or in my case, Tarragon Vinegar)
1/4 cup good white wine (I used a Savignon Blanc-not too sweet, but lots of flavor.)
2 Tbsp. minced shallots
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper (I used white pepper.)
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 pound (equals 1 cup; equals 2 sticks; equals a lot of butter!)

Put the vinegar, white wine, shallots, 1 Tbsp. tarragon leaves, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in small saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is reduced to a few tablespoons. Cool slightly.
Place the cooled mixture with the egg yolks and 1 tsp. Kosher salt in the jar of a blender and blend for 30 seconds. With blender running, slowly pour the hot butter through the opening in lid. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp. tarragon leaves and blend only for a second. If the sauce is too thick add a tbsp. of white wine to thin it out. Keep at room temp until serving. Similar to the Hollandaise, Bernaise does not have a long shelf life so eat it all right away!

This next recipe is not exactly a sauce, but I made it recently to use with a Pork Tenderloin and it was really scrumptious.
1 1/2 cups Apple Cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tart apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2 inch chunks (I used Granny Smiths.)
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup raisins, golden or brown
1/4 cup shallots, diced
5 thick slices fresh ginger root
1/4 tsp. chili pepper flake (more or less to taste)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of sweet Hungarian paprika
A few red peppercorns, crushed (Optional. The red peppercorns are sweet and deepen the flavor, but not totally necessary.)
2 whole star anise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Kosher salt (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp. mustard seed.

Whisk vinegar and sugar together in a large saucepan. Add apples, apricots, raisins, shallots, ginger, pepper flakes, and star anise. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in garlic, salt and mustard seed.
Simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until fruit is soft and liquid is reduced, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Remove ginger pieces and star anise. Transfer chutney to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled. Serve either at room temperature or slightly warmed. Flavors continue deepen as the chutney sits so make a day ahead of time. It keeps well in the fridge for a week. I love combining sweet and sour (a gastrique) with fruit and spice. You can play with combinations of spices to create a chutney that becomes your favorite, but this one is pretty good!

Me and my husband, Jerry, enjoying a beautiful
weekend at the historic Arizona Inn in Tucson.
Talk about good eats!!