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Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Neat Manhattanfor Aunt Peggy

Margaret Malone Dyer 1919 - 2015

A very good woman just passed.  She was my aunt, my mom's older sister. She was strong, intelligent, caring woman and loved being around relatives. She graduated from Kent Teachers College, now Kent State University and had a long career in teaching. She had two daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren who she loved unconditionally and like all grandmothers, hers were the brightest and cutest in the world! But she also held a place in her heart (and head) for her nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews that she saw  at least once a year for the past 32 (with the exception of just a few) at the Martin Lally Memorial Golf Outing. She was one of the non golfers, but faithful attendees and,  the winner of many Trivial Pursuit games. Many of us will come  together to  honor and memorialize her later this week.  I know she will be pleased and if she could, she would hold on to us, lean into our ear and  have a word of encouragement for each one of us.

I  had the privilege of sharing my love of cooking for, and hosting Aunt Peggy in all of my homes - Warren, West Chester, Ann Arbor, Richmond In, and in my current home. She graced our table at a few holiday feasts, weekend dinners, outdoor grills, and  parties.  She never expressed to me that she had a favorite dish,  but when asked on one visit,  several years ago, what she would like, she responded "Lasagna."  That was in my former life when I did not cook -  but the ex did, so there were  trips to three grocers, home made noodles, several kinds of meat, specialty cheeses and sauce-  a major production done to impress!  "All I wanted was a simple lasagna" she would reminisce and we would laugh about that high priced lasagna production!

She loved Manhattans - a neat Manhattan. She taught my spouse how to make one, she told him about al dente  pasta and,   told me to hang on to "this one" because he always cleaned up after every meal. Because many of our get togethers included conversation, appetizers and Manhattans for my mom and Aunt and wine for others, I chose to post an array of finger foods for this entry:

Skewered Caprese, variety of olives, watermelon, feta and arugula and prosciutto puffs.

So a clink of our glasses to Margaret Malone Dyer, my aunt Peggy!


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Roast Chicken and Mama Monpetet's potatoes

Hi friends, I am not quite back to celebrating each dinner- adapting recipes, sipping wine while cooking, or enjoying sharing a bottle of wine with my wonderful husband. It is a long story, that no doubt I will relay, but I will wait till I can pop that cork. I did, however  want to get back to my blog, so here is a meal from last year.

Aah, mmm, roasted chicken with garlic - Bistro style, I wish! It could be that chicken has grown tasteless or that our grocer does not get the freshest chickens. Or of course it could be the cook!

Anyhow my taste buds wanted me to try again.

First Course:  Sliced Tomatoes topped with fresh mozzarella, EVOO and basil leaf.

Entree: Roast Chicken: I purchased chicken breasts with the bones and skin. I placed a slivered garlic and a tad of butter under the skin of the two breasts and sprinkled with a small amount of sea salt and ground black pepper.  I poured melted butter and dried thyme over the breast and roasted at 375.

When done I removed chicken breasts from pan and set aside while I deglaced the pan with chicken broth and demi glace  I deboned the chicken and removed the skin shredded and poured the liquid over it to serve.

Side:  Mama Monpetet's Potatoes.  I have posted these previously, but aways worth repeating. First enjoyed them during an outdoor dinner in Southern France. Mushrooms, potatoes and onions diced and sautéed together.  Simply delicious!

Wine:  En Route Pinot Noir.  One of our favorites!


Sunday, February 1, 2015


Surprised? me too! I have always claimed I only eat meat once a year...but what one will do for love. Over the past eight years of marriage I cannot remember that my spouse actually requested a specific dish.  He might ask for something that would go with a nice Barolo, or his favorite Pinot Noir, but he never said "Jo, I have been thinking about that dish we had in Tuscany, in that restaurant that is in the big canvas print in the dining was a pasta dish with meat.  I would really like that tonight. Do you think you could make it?"  I had not made a "really special dinner in a while, and given that he was recently retired (his second full week at home), I decided I would. And it might be fun to spend a significant portion of my day in the kitchen.  I had been missing that...A glass of wine, peering over cookbooks, preparing the ingredients and chatting to whomever was in ear shot!

First though I had to find a recipe and then go to the grocer. I figured if  was going to eat the dish, I was at least going to find a good recipe that called for the finest beef. And accompany this with a good salad and new veggie dish.

The salad: "Bender's Tomatoes" I added the diced purple onion to the dressing of evoo, balsamic vinegar, and fresh ground pepper. I drizzled it on the sliced and chopped Ugly Tomatoes and topped with crumbled blue cheese.

Side: During my exploring for a recipe for bolognese I found a recipe for garlicky green beans. It is from "Cooking for Two", a recent gift    
from  daughter #3 (only because she is the youngest,  son-in law, and  the newest grandson (a real cutie).
The recipe started with  something I have not done before, in fact never saw it in a recipe - Microwave the garlic, evoo, and dash of sugar until garlic is soft (30-60 seconds). Heat the oil  in a skillet and add the beans. The recipe called for water but I used chicken broth, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add the remaining oil and garlic and cook covered for another two minutes. Uncover cook another three minutes. Off heat stir in vinegar (I used balsamic).

The Entree: Pasta Bolognese. This recipe was adapted from The Silver Palate, and two on-line versions by Grace Parisi and Anne Burell.  Back at the grocer I chose two tenderloin filets and asked the butcher to grind it. If I was going to eat it, it was going to be good stuff!

 I soaked dried porcini mushrooms in boiled red wine. I sautéed the ground tenderloin,  removed from the large skillet and set aside. I added a tad of butter and sautéed  carrots, onions and celery. An Irish chef  referred to this as "sweating the onion, carrots and celery." I added to the skillet, proscuito, garlic, chopped shitakes, and the softened dried mushrooms. I  put all the ingredients in a food processor and briefly blended them and returned to skillet, adding bold beef stock, red wine, plum tomatoes with sauce, fresh thyme, salt, fresh ground pepper, basil and oregano. I simmered this for about an hour. With five minutes remaining,  I stirred in tomato paste. The bolognese was served over pappradelle pasta. Quite good, and spouse thoroughly enjoyed it.
The wine:   2004 Brunello DiMontalcino La Fiorita.  During his first week at home my spouse checked out wine internet sites.
  He found a great bargain on some very pricey wine and ordered two bottles. We do not collect wine, we drink it.   It was beyond excellent!! I am certainly looking forward to the second bottle.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Arugula Salad, Salmon, Brussell Sprouts and Rice

I promised myself I would do a better job of keeping my blog going. It is only the 19th day of January and this is my first 2015 entry. As we pause today and honor Martin Luther King, I am marking the day by reading his letter  from the Birmingham Jail (well at least half of it) and posting a blog. The letter is in a book of a collection of letters written by famous and not so famous people throughout history. It was a gift to me years ago.  I wonder if anyone has done a collection of favorite meals of the famous and not so famous.....

The following meal was prepared in December.

 Salad: Arugula, apples, and brie
The arugula was topped with diced granny smith apples and chunks of brie. The dressing was evoo, balsamic vinegar, a tad of hone dijon and fresh ground pepper.   

And the rest of the meal: Salmon. I brushed it with half and half and dijon. I spread it with fresh ground back pepper and seared it on the stove top grill. I paced it in a 350 degree oven for 6 minutes.
The shallots were spilt and sauteed in evoo with shallots. The jasmine rice was cooked per package directions - that 90 minute micro wave rice is moist and tasty.

Wine: Castalia Pinot Noir -excellent!