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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Christmas Day Brunch

I prepared many of my "party favorites" for this family brunch for nine. I did add a new one, which I found in the December issue of Cooking Light, Polenta Squares with Gorgonzola and Pine Nuts. I used instant polenta mix and substituted olive oil for the butter. The recipe used currants but suggested dried figs or cranberries as substitutes, I used the cranberries. Basically you prepare the polenta, chill, cut into squares, and then cook on both sides in a fry pan until brown. The cheese, cranberries, toasted pine nuts and orange rind are combined in a bowl. Balsamic vinegar is heated and reduced. The squares are topped with the cheese mixture and then drizzled with balsamic vinegar. YUM!

Shrimp and Sauce. I purchase cooked shrimp and for the sauce I mix two parts chili sauce, one part prepared horseradish, lemon juice and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce.

Baked Brie Round. I have mentioned this in earlier blogs and it truly is one of our favorites. However I was unable to make it to my favorite grocer north of where we live so I had to serve it without the Rothschild Hot Pepper Raspberry Preserves. I guarantee this will not happen again...I am ordering a supply online!

Antipasti Platter. It was basically the same as I always do..roasted red peppers, prosciutto and olives, but I found olives very similar to what we enjoyed recently in Italy....fresh and green.

Smoked Salmon. Served with mini bagels, onions, capers and cream cheese.These mini bagels work well for a finger food buffet.

Puff Pastry and Mushrooms. This was a last minute addition. I had prepared a batch of mushroom soup base which is a favorite of my family and had promised to take some on Christmas Eve so they could add the broth and enjoy it sans me on Christmas Dinner. (It is tough having families in all different locations, not to mention step children and extended families) but the promise of mushroom soup for my mom, sister and her husband certainly diminished my absence. Well anyhow I forgot to take it with me to my mom's on Christmas Eve and the drive is a tad far to go back. This I rolled out the pastry, spread the mushroom base, baked and sliced. I do not believe that I have shared my mushroom soup, which I serve as a first course at most holiday sit down dinners.

The offerings were rounded out with cheese, cheddar and swiss, a variety of crackers, grapes and a platter of holiday cookies. For the latter I am appreciative of clients, friends and relatives who gift their holiday goodies. I did however make ginger bread. It is one of two baked goods that I enjoy making. This ginger bread is a recipe I found in the Silver Palate , (remember the cookbook that inspired me)and I have made it each Christmas for the past 25 years.

Hopefully these ideas will make it to your table or inspire other selections.

Wine/Champagne: Veuve Cliquot (always on Christmas.)


Holiday Greetings

I hope that you and yours are enjoying each other and the holiday season.

Next blog...a Christmas Day Brunch. The day may be past, but it may provide some great ideas for a New Year's Party, eve or day.

Peace and Happiness to all.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Greek Salad in the Round and Salmon on Zucchini Bed

Greek salad again, but this time with a different presentation. Earlier this month we attended a holiday dinner and the chef served a chopped salad in a cucumber ring. How clever, I thought and set out to duplicate it. His cucumbers must have been longer than mine. I had to take two strips and stick them together.

First Course: Greek Salad in the Round. The salad included the typical Greek Salad ingredients - olives, tomatoes, onion and feta cheese. The dressing was a balsamic vinaigrette with minced garlic and ground back pepper.

Second Course: Salmon on Bed of Zucchini. The salmon was prepared on the stove top grill. Following my favorite method with skinless salmon, it was cooked on one side until half done and then finished in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. It was seasoned before cooking with a tad (just a tad) of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Sauce: Caper and Shallots. Shallots were sauteed in olive oil. White wine was added and reduced. Honey Dijon mustard was blended in, followed with a few capers. The salmon was plated on the zucchini and then topped with the sauce.

Wine: Etude


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rome Inspired Pasta Jo 1 an 2

As promised from my last entry here are two dishes that were inspired by our meals that last night out in Rome. The first was without red sauce and my husband "liked it," but the second one with sauce he "loved."

Entrée 1: Penne Pasta with Goat Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes and Crispy ZucchiniThe zucchini was thinly julienned with a mandolin and tossed with Parm cheese and roasted in oven. The cooked pasta was tossed with goat cheese, and then the tomatoes, crispy zucchini and ground black pepper were added in. The zucchini clumped, but the dish was tasty.

Entrée 2: Pasta with Mushrooms, Crisp Zucchini and Marinara SauceI found “bucatini” pasta in the local Italian Deli. It is a round thick, very long pasta,
I julienned the zucchini as before but this time roasted them alone. Because they are so thin they do not take long in the oven. While warm I tossed them with the Parm. They did not clump as much but still were not like what I had in Rome. So I will take this on as a challenge. The mushrooms were sauted in olive oil. The pasta went in the dish, then the topped with sauce, followed by the mushrooms and then the crisp zucchini.

I forgot to note the wine we enjoyed with each of these dishes, but I know it was red!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pasta Roma... Pasta Jo

On our last night in Rome I chose a restaurant for its name (similar to the new granddaughter's) and the ad featured the chef, a female. Call it uncanny, but I have never randomly chosen a restaurant in a "new" city and been disappointed. One of my best was the "Chardonnay" in Naples Florida. At that time my wine of choice was chardonnay. I have dined there three times on return trips and was never disappointed. I am not sure if it still exists, but I hope it does. Now back to Rome. From the moment we were greeted and shown to a table at Clemente Alla Maddalena, we knew we had chosen well. Fresh roses on the table ...and the wine list included several choices of Brunello and Barolo wines. It was a night to splurge...I had limited my shopping to one Italian scarf, so my vacation budget could adequately cover a very good bottle of wine.

First course: Roasted Porcini Mushrooms. We were advised that this was the season for Porcini mushrooms and an order would make a good first course. We shared an order and savored each bite.

Entrees: My husband chose the Tagliolini with Shrimp, and Artichokes, but immediately asked if it had "red sauce." It did. Remember he has a hard time eating pasta without red sauce. I chose the Pasta with Parmigiano, Ewe Cheese, Crisp Zucchini and Pepper. Both sounded ordinary, but so far the pasta dishes that we had enjoyed in Italy, surpassed anything we made at home. Plus we wanted something that would compliment the wine. We do have priorities. Neither dish disappointed us, and I was particularly enamored by the crisp zucchini and made a mental note to recreate this dish in some form at home, I just needed to figure out how they crisped the zucchini.

Wine: 2005 Dagromis Barolo. A fine, fine bottle.It was a grand way to end our 12 day trip, Rome, Tuscany and back to Rome for this last night.

To be continued....Next entry, my inspired dishes, Pasta Jo, from these entrees.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Talapia on Bed of Spinach

I so not typically eat fried or battered fish, but recently enjoyed a seafood entree in a favorite local restaurant that had a very light crusty coating. When I inquired I, the server explained that the coating was "Ritz" crackers. I don't think I have had a "Ritz" in years. I remember my mom and her contemporaries serving the trendy appetizer of the day...Ritz crackers and jarred pimento cheese!

When I looked for Ritz crackers in the grocery, I was delighted to see that one of the varieties was "Reduced Fat."

Entree: Cracker Coated Talapia on a Bed of Sauteed Spinach. The Talapia loins were dipped in egg white, and rolled in finely ground cracker crumbs which were seasoned with back pepper and herbs de provence. The talapia was sauteed for 2 minutes on each side and finished in a 400degree oven for 15 minutes.

The spinach was sauteed with garlic and olive oil. The Talapia was placed on top of the plated spinach.

Sides: Sweet Potato Fries and Steamed Broccoli. Nothing special here - the fries were frozen and baked according to the package and the broccoli was steamed in the microwave.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Pissaladiere with Proscuitto and Pesto

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family. No turkey for us though...I made my once a year beef tenderloin roast.Traditionally this is our Christmas meal, but since family was home and will not be for Christmas we made it our Thanksgiving meal. I will post that later, because it is a meal you may wish to consider for Christmas.

Stepping back to the weeks leading up to the holiday here is a weeknight meal, which is adpated from the recipe Pissaladiere in the Bistro Style Cuisine cookbook. The addition of chopped proscuitto and using some pre-made pesto (basil, garlic and pine nuts) made the strong flavor of the blue cheese less biting. I do love blue cheese but not always as the dominant flavor.

Entree: Pissaladiere with Proscuitto and Pesto. Using "store bought" rolled pizza dough I kneaded chopped garlic and chopped fresh rosemary into the dough. It was extremely difficult to spread the dough into a pan even using a rolling pin. The next time I will purchase an unbaked pizza shaped crust and just press the garlic and rosemary into the dough. However if you are a skilled baker your own dough would probably be the best.

After spreading (fighting) the dough into a baking dish I mixed the pesto with olive oil and spread it on the dough. I partially cooked the dough following the time on the package. I removed it from the oven topped it with the olives, proscuitto and blue cheese and finishing baking.

Wine: a nice italian wine from Banfi


Monday, November 15, 2010

Spinach and Cheese Torts with Chicken

This tort dish was once again a creation of what I had on hand and some left over chicken breasts. It turned out quite tasty, but what made it a dining experience was the wine. It was a wine suggested by the owner of our favorite local restaurant. We liked it so much we purchased three bottles.

Entree: Spinach and Cheese Torts with Chicken: The torts were Barilla and boiled according to package direction. The pine nuts, zucchini and roasted red pepper were sauteed with garlic and olive oil. Those ingredients were set aside and to the pan I added chicken demi glaze, Marsala, and white wine. When that was reduced I added a 1/2 teaspoon of butter and a tablespoon of half and half. I rarely cook with butter or cream, but thought a tad would not be too unhealthy and would add body to the sauce. The nuts, zucs, pepper and garlic were added to the sauce just to reheat while the pasta finished and then all were tossed together and topped with basil leaves and grated Parmesan.

Wine: 2007 Lemelson Pinot Noir (Thea's Selection)


Yes it was Tuscany....for those who read under the Tuscan Sun (1997 - hard to believe it was that long ago) and imagined what the Tuscan region would be like...well it was just as imagined. Breathtaking, vineyards, olive trees, rolling hills and "peachy-pink" homes and villas.

The Villa that we stayed in for four nights produced wine and olive oil. The wines were very good, and the Olive Oil was just bottled. Superb!!!

I did take a cooking class from the young assistant evening to remember. I will post photos on a later blog.

There was so much good food and places that we ate, and tasted wine, that I could do days of blogs on just that, but then what would you do for dinner!!

So I will return to my cooking ideas....for know imagine Tuscany and its splendor.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And Where in the World Were We

So I am back from my once in a lifetime trip...unpacking and trying to get organized. So busy, too busy to think about dinner, so I am posting a photo of where we were...for your guess. Think food...Think wine....and Think beauty! Not sure what the first person to guess correctly will get, but maybe I will name a dinner after them....


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Life and food are good

You probably have not missed me as much as I have missed you... I could talk about how busy I have been, traveling with my job, visiting family and being stymied with a computer glitch...but I won't because in the whole scheme of things life is good. And thank you to one of my followers for your comment about appreciating the connection between wine and food. Remember it is not about eating, it is about dining.

I was in a meeting recently planning an event and someone who I had just met said " are a foodie, aren"t, you?"

And yes I guess I on the eve of leaving for a once in a life time vacation and sincerely apologizing to my small group of followers I give you some recent dining pics...


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mushroom Pizza with Blue Cheese and Pine Nuts

Yes it has been over a month since I posted. The day job, golf and short trips seem to get in the way...not in the way of eating of course, just the time to blog. I did get a new range and frig. I never realized how hard it was going to be to find a range with a warming drawer (I like warm plates) and in biscuit/cream/off white. I was told by at least 6 sales people and several stores that the color was passe. Well I happen to like earth tones and my kitchen is a long way from needing a do over. Finally I gave in and got one of the two brands that did have the color and warming drawer...a GE profile...after five days of use...the verdict is still out. The frig is fine.

Okay back to the dinner idea...I do have a back log to blog about. So here is one that I know that I will make again!

The first course. Once again it was locally grown tomatoes with fresh mozerella topped with olive oil and basil. Arugula garnished the plate. I never tire of preparing or enjoying this summer salad.

The pizza. The crust is from the dairy case. I coated the crust with olive oil and minced garlic, and topped with roasted pine nuts, blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and parmesan cheese, and baked.

Wine: Tillerman from Hook and Ladder


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gazpacho and Roasted Veggie Cheese Dish

The produce continues to be plentiful at our local farmer's markets and also at the grocer. I make at least one batch of gazpacho each summer, consulting various cookbooks and magazines, and as with most of my dishes I never quite make it the same.But in general my Gazpacho includes:
- Tomatoes, plum and another variety that is available
- Cucumbers, removing the seeds and sometimes the skin
- Onion - white and red
- Green and red bell pepper
- Small pieces of hot pepper
- Tomato Juice
- Worcestershire sauce
- Red wine vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Basil
- Ground black pepper
I process most of the veggies in the food processor, but leave enough diced chunks to give the soup some texture. On this occasion I also added fresh kernels of corn. I add the liquids, mix and chill for at least two hours before serving.

Other entree: Roasted Veggie and Cheese Dish. This is not quite a quiche but it has a crust and the main ingredients are cheese and eggs. I purchased a pastry sheet at the grocer and layered the roasted veggies on the crust and then poured the egg cheese mixture over the veggies and cooked a little more than the crust's package directions. The roasted veggies were green, yellow and red bell peppers, leeks, onion, eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. The veggies were seasoned with minced fresh garlic and tossed with olive oil to bake.

Wine: Hook and Ladder Station 10

The humidity had finally lifted so we chose to enjoy this summer meal on the deck. Delightful evening!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Shrimp and Chicken Sausage Kabobs with Melon Salsa

I met my husband (#2) seven summers ago. Our first date was out to dinner, the second a round of golf and dinner that eveing at my home. I wanted to impress him with my cooking, so I planned a four course meal. The first course was a shrimp and sausage kabob adapted from the Bistro Cuisine Cookbook, followed by a mustard peppercorn coated salmon, inspired by the same cookbook, grilled asparagus and yams, tuscan bread and peach sorbet with raspberries for desert. What a memory this woman has!! Not totally, I wrote it down in my personal "Friends and Food" journal. I must have considered him a worthy guest even on our second date.

Truthfully, without the journal I would have only remembered the shrimp and sausage kabobs, which is the dinner entry for today. But before I get to it, there is a story.

Shortly before he arrived, there was a "black out" in a large area of our state. But since I was grilling who cared. The salmon and vegetables had been prepared for grilling and were waiting there turn on the kitchen counter. While the kabobs were grilling, we sat on the deck, he sipping scotch, (he was not a wine drinker at that time)and me sipping wine.

As I was serving the kabobs on the plate he offered to go into the kitchen and prepare the glasses of water. He brought out the water and closed the sliding glass door behind him, just as I turned and said quickly...don't close...oh dear and the door locked!

The front door as well as the side door was locked, the garage door was not operable. He fortunately had left his cell phone in his car in the driveway. And being the former eagle scout that he is, he had a phone book under this car seat. After making at least five calls to locksmiths who all had the same reaction..."lady there is a black out in your area ...maybe tomorrow." One more call found someone who said he was working not far from my house and could stop over in about two hours.

At least we had the kabobs, two glasses of water, plates and forks and I had my wine! By the time we finished eating the kabobs we were in total blackness. Finally the locksmith arrived, "picked the lock" in the side door, and handed me the bill. I paused as if I was reviewing the bill, and certainly left enough time for the man who I had only known for a month and who locked us out of the house, to offer to pay the bill! He did not, and never did. But you can be assured when we were enjoying the kabobs with a fabulous bottle of Jordan last week, I asked him if he remembered the last time I had prepared them. And of course he did I did remind him, and he poured me a little more Jordan. Just love this man. And we do have a new sliding door to the deck, which he paid for.

First Course: Asiago Bagel Slices with Roasted Red Pepper and Parmesan. These were broiled and enjoyed with a glass of Joel Gott, Savignon Blanc.

Salad Course: Caprese in a Stemmed Glass. Small Cherry tomatoes, and rounds of fresh mozzarella were garnished with fresh basil, a splash of vinegar and olive oil and seasoned with fresh ground pepper.

Entree: Shrimp and Chicken/Jalapeno Sausages. The Shrimp and sausage (precooked) were alternated on the skewers. The kabobs coated with a glaze made of honey, apple juice, and brandy. They were grilled and then plated.

Side Serving: Cucumber and Melon Salsa. The salsa was diced cucumber, cantaloupe and red onion, tossed with lime juice and olive oil.

Wine: Jordan, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wedge with Chicken and Blue Cheese

Iceberg lettuce wedges have come back into popularity. Not one of my favorites, but after watching my husband enjoy many restaurant versions of wedges with blue cheese dressing (with bacon) I decided I should try to come up with a version that I would enjoy...yes sometimes it is all about me.

Entree: Wedge with Panko Crusted Chicken and Blue Cheese.The Chicken tenderloin strips are brushed on all sides with Quaker Steak and Lube Louisiana Lickers sauce and rolled in panko crumbs. The chicken is baked at about 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. The wedge is topped with the chicken strips, blue cheese dressing and crumbled blue cheese. The dressing consists of olive oil, pinot grigio vinegar, blue cheese, and fresh gound pepper. Quaker Steak and Lube was first established in the neighboring town of where I grew up. The restaurant has ecpanded to many cities and is well known for its chicken wings and various levels of sauce from mild to wow (that is my own word, they have one that is more descriptive and probably copyrighted). But any mildly hot barbecue sauce would work.

Side: Crusty bread

Wine: Robert Stemler Caneros Pinot Noir 2006 EXCELLENT!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Salad and Salmon with Sun dried Tapenade

The left over Sun dried Tapanade from the recent Wine and Cheese Party and a trip to a nearby town's farmer market grocer inspired this dinner. The farmer's market had the freshest arugula and beautiful watermelon. I had prepared and enjoyed in the past a watermelon and feta salad, but on the drive home I kept tasting the combination of the peppery arugula with the sweet watermelon. With no feta in the frig I opted for fresh mozzarella.

First Course: Summer Salad with Arugula and Watermelon. The peppery and lively arugula was topped with chucks of watermelon, fresh mozzarella rounds, and onions in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Entree: Salmon and Sun dried Tapanade. The grilled salmon, was placed on grilled zucchini strips and topped with the tapanade.

Wine: We don't often have unfinished bottles of wine, but this night we enjoyed what was remaining of two bottles from the Wine and Cheese party. My husband enjoyed Greenpoint Shiraz '05 and I the Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay '06.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Wine and Cheese Party

Hello, I hope some of you missed me as I have missed you. It has been a very busy and distracting time, but I guarantee you I continue to plan, prepare, dine and enjoy!

In July we hosted a Wine and Cheese Party that we had donated to a local charity auction earlier this year. It is our way of combining support of a worthy organization, entertaining people (some we know, some we don't) and my love of presenting an array of food.

The offerings for this evening were: Baked Brie with Hot Raspberry Preserves. I described this on an earlier blog and the only difference was that I used a circle of brie that was coated with fresh ground pepper.

Antipasti. The platter included a variety of olives, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, prosciutto, roasted red peppers and grape tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella rounds with basil. Olive Oil was lightly sprinkled over the platter.

Two tapanades - Feta and Sun dried Tomato. The Feta Tapanade included feta, cream cheese and fresh oregano. The Sun dried Tomato Tapanade is from Bistro Style Cuisine. It included chopped sun dried tomatoes, garlic, tomato puree, capers, fresh basil and fresh ground pepper.

Raincoast Crisps and Baguette Rounds

Variety of Cheeses. The two cheese boards included English, Greek, Dutch and American cheeses.

Roasted Asparagus.

Fruit including grapes, strawberries, and raspberries

The wine card above lists the wines that we offered. Yes, there is a typo... but the evening was a hit!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Grilled Veggie Wrap

This quick light dinner was inspired by a roasted veggie wrap I enjoyed at a favorite grocer/deli. I changed it up by grilling the veggies.

Roasted Veggie Wrap: Spread honey dijon on flatbread. Arrange the grilled veggies, eggplant, red bell pepper, onion, and asparagus on the flat bread and top with feta. Broil just long enough for the flat bread to brown and the feta slightly melted. Wrap, cut and enjoy.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pasta with Roasted Veggies

My sister told me that she was worried that I was not feeding my husband or that all my meals were less than photogenic (like the layered chicken) because I had not posted is nice to know that someone is watching. And yes I have been cooking...mostly quick meals that do no take much prior planning...pasta!

First Course: Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella. Finally the season's tomatoes have started to appear. The tomatoes are sliced and alternated with slices of fresh Mozzarella. These are topped with lots of fresh basil is so nice to walk out on the deck and snip a few sprigs. Add the fresh ground pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Arugula decorated the plate.

Entree:Pasta with Roasted Vegetables. Typically the vegetables would be grilled, but on this day it was just too hot to stand over a hot grill so the veggies, zucchini, red bell peppers, orange bell peppers, and onion, were drizzled with olive oil and put in the oven. The roasted veggies were tossed with cooked penne pasta, crushed garlic, fresh ground black pepper and fresh herbs, oregano and basil.

Wine: Hook and Ladder Station 10 2006


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Crab Cakes with Mustard Sauce

I apologize for not posting has been a week of travel, celebration of family - golf and grandbabies, milestone birthdays moments as I refer to them!

I did learn that many of my relatives check "Yo Jo..." regularly and they certainly let me know what they thought when they looked at the recent stuffed chicken layers! The only constant was that no one thought at first glance that they were layers of chicken breasts.

Many mentioned that they thought the crab cakes looked and sounded here is a dish I made using the crab cakes that I froze.

Entree: Crab Cakes with Mustard Sauce. The ingredients of the crab cakes can be found in the June 22 Blog. This time the crab cakes were thawed and reheated in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Because they were initially very moist the heat and time did not dry them out.
The sauce: Added to sauteed shallots were grainy mustard, honey Dijon and dry white wine. This mixture was cooked just long enough to blend the flavors. The sauce was served in a miniature ceramic spoon next to the crab cakes.

Side: A Slaw like Salad:The lettuce, carrots and onion were sliced very thin and mixed with thin cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes. For the dressing the olive oil and pinot grigio vinegar were mixed with fresh ground pepper and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme)

Wine: Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc- This was recommended by one of the wine staff at my favorite market. It is an inexpensive dry, crispy, pleasant wine.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Layered Mediterranean Chicken Breasts

It seemed like a clever idea...instead of stuffing the chicken breasts, use flatten pieces of chicken and layer with the filling.
It was tasty, but as you can see from the picture the chicken breasts looked a little stiff, or more like flat bread. My error was grilling the chicken breasts and because they were so thin I could not leave them on the grill long enough to brown. Because I still like the idea of layering, the next time I will brown the chicken in a hot skillet. I am sure they will look a tad more appetizing.

I adapted the recipe from Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breasts in the the June issue of Cooking Light.

Entree: Layered Mediterranean Chicken Breasts. To the stuffing of red bell pepper, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and basil, I added minced garlic, oregano and additional olives. After grilling, the breasts were alternated with the stuffing, covered with foil and heated, for about five minutes in the oven, just enough time to warm the filling.

Side: Sauteed Squash and Zucchini. The veggies were sauteed with shallots, garlic and herbs de provence.

Wine: Hook and Ladder Pinot Noir


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jo's Crabcakes

These crabcakes are my own recipe. I consulted other recipes, in my cookbooks and on line, and took a little from here and a little from there ...and no I did not measure exact amounts, so if you prepare this recipe you will have to use "your own judgement"...don't you hate that phrase!!

Let's start with the first course: A Different Greek. The usual "greek salad" ingredients, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and olives were tossed with a dressing that mixed the feta cheese with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian oregano, and fresh ground pepper.

Entree: Jo's Crabcakes. The canned crabmeat (sorry I forgot to note the brand, but will check it out at the grocer and report later) was mixed with chopped shallot, chopped red bell pepper, two small slices of chopped zucchini, mayo with olive oil, baking powder, worceshire sauce, grated Parmesan, lemon juice, fresh herbs, two egg whites, bread crumbs, and a slight dash of cayenne.

I tried to bake them, following the healthy instructions of Rosie in the Oprah's Favorite Recipes, but either I did not have enough bread crumbs or most likely I had too many other ingredients for them to form appropriately. So after baking for about 5 minutes on one side and unable to flip them intact, I quickly heated a skillet with oil and seared the cakes for about 3 minutes per side. I do not regularly critique my dishes, but these were as tasty a crabcake that I ever had!

Side: Baked Sweet Potato Fries. Cut the potatoes to desired length and width, toss with olive oil and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until done.

Wine: Cutrer


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Torts with Arugula and Cherry Tomatoes

The June issue of Cooking Light has a recipe for Orecchiette with Roasted Peppers, Arugula and Tomatoes. It looked and sounded appealing but I had torts in the pantry and only needed a single serving, so I adapted this recipe.

Entree: Tortellini with Arugula and Cherry Tomatoes. Arugula, and halved cherry tomatoes were mixed with the cooked three-cheese torts and topped with shaved Parmesan.

The dressing consisted of olive oil, pinot grigio vinegar, dried herbs de Provence, fresh basil, minced garlic and fresh ground pepper.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Black Bean Soup with Chicken

This dish was inspired by a framed letter posted in George's Restaurant in LaJolla California. The letter was signed by Rosie Daley, author of "In the Kitchen With Rosie, Oprah's Favorite Recipes." I remembered that I had the book at home and made a note to try it after returning from our trip to Torrey Pines.

The major difference between Rosie's recipe and mine was that she made her soup "from scratch" using dried balck beans and I used canned Black Bean soup.

The Soup:
The chicken breasts were roasted along with several cloves of garlic in the oven. While the chicken was roasting, onions, celery and roasted red bell pepper were sauteed. Added to the saute were Worcestershire Sauce, white wine, chicken broth and herbs (basil and thyme). This mix was then added to the canned black bean soup.

The roasted chicken was chopped and added to the soup to heat and mix the flavors.

Side: Crusty Bread, Roasted Garlic in Olive Oil. The garlic that was roasted with the chicken was served whole in the olive oil.


Friday, June 11, 2010

The New Look and Feedback??

I have changed the background for my blog. I think it enhances the photos...but what do you think?
Is the red background and white text easier to read? More difficult?
Does it make the dishes more appealing, less appealing or have no impact?

The photo above is from one of my early blogs...and the one that I have been using as my "logo" on my blog cards. If you have another favorite photo from the "yo jo..." let me know.

Coming soon:
Black Bean Soup with Chicken
Torts, Arugula and Tomatoes
My Own Recipe for Crabcakes

Here's hoping to hear from you

Halibut with Peach Salsa

This is another dish inspired by the June issue of Cooking Light. I closely followed the recipe and the grilling directions. Not only do I need a new stove, the Weber grill although only six years, has been blown off the deck twice during high winds and does not seem to be operating at its best. So I no longer can rely on my instincts when it comes to time and temperature.

Entree: Halibut with Peach Salsa. The salsa consists of yellow peaches, red bell pepper, green onions, arugula, lemon juice, oregano, habanero pepper and garlic. The marinade for the halibut consists of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, fresh ground pepper. The halibut is grilled and served with the salsa.

Side: Crusty bread

Wine: Sonoma Cutrer

Post Course: Array of Cheeses. With the cheeses Raincoast Crisps, olives, peach salsa and olives were served.

Wine: Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Potato Salad with Arugula and Lemon

The June issue of Cooking Light magazine had several interesting recipes. Not being a potato salad fan but a fan of anything arugula the Lemon-Arugula Salad was something I just had to try. I served it along with a grilled salmon sandwich and green beans.

Potato Salad with Arugula and Lemon: I followed the recipe except I used Pinot Grigio Vinegar instead of Sherry Vinegar, and eliminated the salt. My version of the salad consisted of Yukon Gold potatoes, shallots, arugula and olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, vinegar, and fresh ground black pepper.

Salmon Sandwich: The salmon was grilled and topped with a spread of chopped tomato, onion, red bell pepper and mayo. It was served on a ciabatta bread.

Green Beans: The green beans were cooked, cooled and tossed with previously prepared pesto.

Beverage: Bottled Panna water with slices of orange and lemon