Monday, September 14, 2020

Trish Giordano: In Praise of the Lemon

Trish Giordano: In Praise of the Lemon: Lemon is my new passion. We all know how good a glass of lemon water (I like mine warm) is for you first thing in the morning. And, ...

Sunday, September 13, 2020

In Praise of the Lemon






Lemon is my new passion.

We all know how good a glass of lemon water (I like mine warm) is for you first thing in the morning.

And, of course, lemon is such a good natural cleaner, will help whiten antique linens,  take stains out of clothing and just make everything smell fresh!

But, I am now incorporating lemon zest or juice in almost all foods I prepare! The lemon just brings all the flavors to a higher level.

Recently I served  Shrimp and Grits.  As I was completing the preparation of the grits, I finished it off with some fresh lemon juice.  Wow!!!  It truly tasted amazing.

I also made a bechamel for a spinach lasagne and, you guessed it!  Added some lemon zest and juice  to the sauce and, now, I will never make it without the lemon.

Lemon juice as the acid in a vinaigrette lightens it up considerably.

Fresh lemon juice is a great tenderizer for steak or pork chop marinade and some fresh squeezed lemon before the meat comes off the grill is sublime!

I also have been mixing in a bit of zested lemon to my meatball mixture!  Totally enhances the flavor!




When making chicken salad, I always add fresh lemon juice to the Hellman’s mayonnaise and it really is the best chicken salad ever!

Lemon zest is magnificent with fresh blueberries, strawberries and, what a bit of lemon can do to a peach!!

And I am now ending my day with a cup of Lemon Zinger tea and lemon slices to, hopefully, aid in a calm restful sleep!

Grandparents Day, 2020

 For most of us, this Grandparents Day will be unlike any other.


Many of us make great efforts to see our grandchildren often.  We enjoy their  company, partake of their activities, know their likes and dislikes, know their adorable idiocycrasies,  and immensely enjoy the family time!!

This year, however, is totally different with this Pandemic.  Due to travel restrictions, distances, health concerns.....many families have been apart for inordinate amounts of time and will not be able to have a dinner or celebration of this special day with their entire families.

Typically, I would be with the Grands now, helping out with those crazy schedules the first week of school.

I find myself having pangs of jealousy when I see and hear grandparents being able to be with their Grands. I wistfully think of the wonderful times I have had with my own Grands.

Since I am organizing photos in preparation of a photo gallery in the loft, this very well may be contributing to my sadness since I am perusing so many baby photos, first days at school, etc.

In lieu of being together, I am hoping the family can have a celebration via Zoom.  (Whatever would we do without this technical marvel?)  Of course, I won't be cooking a multi-course meal of favorites for the family, but hopefully I will be able to see and talk to them.

Rather than walk around with a heavy heart, I must focus my energies on productive projects.......like perhaps cleaning out the garage!!!




Sunday, August 2, 2020

Slow and Easy Cooking - The Time Has Come

Remember how we all were rushing around like crazy before the Pandemic and lockdown?
We all had to check our calendars if we even wanted to have just coffee with a friend.....gee, am I free? Do I have the time on that particular day?

Then the Pandemic......we were forced to slow down.  Most of my friends and acquaintances have
said they are not planning to return to that hectic lifestyle.  The old saying "take time to smell the
roses" has resonated with so many of us!

And so, I began to think of the correlation between slowing down and cooking.

 While we were in the midst of our chaotic schedules, 30 minute meals were the all-time lifesavers!  And, the crockpot!
Words will never express the ease that invention has brought to so many households where the Mother works and must be out of the house early in the morning but wants to provide a hearty,
tasty meal to her family in the evening.

Yes, there is a time and place for all things.

However, if you do have the time, why rush it?

One of the major factors in a good dish is the care in the production, the layers of seasonings, the
time allowed for the flavors to develop.

You just don't get that in a 30 minutes start-to-finish dish, although it has its place, no doubt!

If you are a "foodie" and were contemplating a trip to France or Italy  to take classes at a culinary school - do you think they would rush through and have you out the door in one hour?

One of these days, perhaps a Sunday, take the time to prepare a wonderful meal.  Light the candle
 in the kitchen (it will set a wonderful ambience and also "soak" up any pungent odors), put on some delightful music or a great movie, pour a glass of wine and begin.......to thoroughly enjoy yourself!

Pick a menu you have enjoyed at a restaurant or read about.  Don't even look at the clock for your start time, other than to time your cooking the dish!  Relax!  This should be an experience!  One
that you will want to treat yourself to over and over!

Practice your knife skills while preparing the foods ....take your time.  No rush!

And, when your dish is complete, set a lovely table......linen napkins, china (if it doesn't match,
all the better!), crystal glassware, along with the candles and truly, truly enjoy and savor each
bite of your creation!!!








Saturday, August 1, 2020

Trish Giordano: Grilling the Perfect Steak, Chop, or Burger

Trish Giordano: Grilling the Perfect Steak, Chop, or Burger: It has been so oppressively hot recently that I did not want to use the oven so I planned meals that I could grill. One meal was extra t...

Grilling the Perfect Steak, Chop, or Burger




It has been so oppressively hot recently that I did not want to use the oven so I planned meals that I could grill.
One meal was extra thick pork chops, bone-in, with loin.  I took the chops out of the fridge and set them on a plate lined with saran wrap on the counter for a good 30 minutes, to get the chill off.  I then  ground (on very coarse dial) peppercorns all over the surface of the chops.  Then I liberally sprinkled kosher salt all over as well.  Flipping the chops over, I repeated the seasonings, on the other side.
I turned the gas grill on, just below high.  I did not oil or spray the grates. After a “pre-heating”,
I put the chops on the grill, closed the lid and set the timer for 4 minutes.
( At this point, I remove the saran that had the raw meat on and discarded it.  Now I can use the same plate for the cooked chops without worrying about  contamination or having to get another plate.  I do this for all the raw meats and chicken and it is safer and less dishes.)
I flipped the chops over -there should be an easy release - and then set the timer for an additional 4 minutes and closed the lid.





Then out came my trusty thermometer.  I wanted the chops to be 130-135 degrees so I could remove them from the grill and place them on a plate.  The residual heat will bring them up to 145* and they must rest for five minutes for the juices to settle.  Voila!  Perfect, every time!!!

These are the thermometers I use...I have three of them:





I test everything with these thermometers.  No guessing whatsoever.

For a ribeye steak we recently grilled, I did the exact same procedure as for the pork chops.





Four minutes with lid closed, then a quick flip.  If your meat does not have a quick release, it is
not ready so give it another minute or two.  Then another four or five minutes  and, once again,
a perfectly grilled piece of meat.  Some steaks or chops might be thinner or thicker, so depend on the wonderful thermometer!

And, lastly, tonight I grilled burgers.  Same steps with letting the meat set out a while and  seasoning it quite liberally but with the burgers, I do one more thing.  I press my thumb in the middle to make
an indentation.  This is termed dimpling.  This will ensure the burger retains its shape and juices.
One thing you should never, ever do is press down on a burger with the spatula. Do resist this urge and only flip those burgers once.  If you are serving cheeseburgers, put the cheese on the burger at two minutes til done and that will melt the cheese but not overcook the burger.  So many  cook the burger til well done and then add the cheese which, then of course, has to cook even more.





You know that old saying, “Timing is everything” and it is so very true with grilling.




Monday, July 27, 2020

Trish Giordano: Menu Planning: Do You Do It?

Trish Giordano: Menu Planning: Do You Do It?: Each week, I sit down with a cup of tea and plan our house dinner menus around our activities for the upcoming week.....are we going out to ...

Menu Planning: Do You Do It?

Each week, I sit down with a cup of tea and plan our house dinner menus around our activities for the upcoming week.....are we going out to dinner, do I have an evening board meeting, are we in New York with the Grands, etc.

I assign a dinner for each night we are in town and from that I prepare my grocery store list.

I also typically check the cupboards and freezer  to make sure I am not buying duplicates.

This is how I have operated for over fifty years.  It absolutely astounds me when people say they
Never make a list when they go to the store.  They say that once they arrive at the store, they purchase whatever looks good and/or what might be on special sale.

Many, many people (mostly a younger generation) also declare that they never know what they are eating for dinner because they don't know what they will be in the mood for so they decide day of or that very AFTERNOON!

This totally boggles my brain!  Leaving this important decision to the last minute is something I cannot fathom!

Have I ever been in this position?  Absolutely!  And that is why it upsets me so!  I hate not having the control and confidence that a meal will be on the table at a certain time.  I love to plan my day and
scurrying around at the last minute is not something I want to do!

Of course, there have been many, many times that I have tried a new recipe and it just didn't work.....
so that particular well-planned meal was a bust!

My husband is not fond of crockpot meals.....he likes sauteed, broiled, baked .....not a fan of gravy and sauces, so the crockpot is not my "go to" for meal planning.

With this "self isolation" and "lockdown" it seems we are all cooking/baking more and becoming so very creative.  With the store shelves depleted, who knew or thought that pasta and flour would be
worth their weight in gold right now due to inaccessibility!

Taking time to decide on menus and ingredients gives one power and control over the entire week!

I must admit I am in awe of my friends...women who have or had demanding careers, active women
who do not waste a moment.....they are so very innovative when it comes to trying new recipes, new
desserts.....they, too, know each day what they are having or preparing.

The old Girl Scout rule of  "being prepared" resonates........this is a system that truly works!









Trish Giordano: Pandemic 2020, part 2

Trish Giordano: Pandemic 2020, part 2: Geeze Louise! Whoever thought this Pandemic would last this long? This truly is like something out of a bad sci-fi movie from the 1950&#39...

Pandemic 2020, part 2

Geeze Louise!
Whoever thought this Pandemic would last this long?
This truly is like something out of a bad sci-fi movie from the 1950's!
Most people  have cleaned their homes from top to bottom, organized their closets
 and drawers and have been cooking a treasure trove of recipes.
Zoom has proved invaluable, not only for business meetings, but for gatherings of
family and friends.  I do believe my Grands will have grown many, many inches since
I last saw them March 1st.
We all learned to appreciate our beloved family and friends all the more in their absence.
Missing the daily contact, hugs and kisses has been especially difficult.
We all were settling into a new "normal" with the hopes and belief that this would soon
pass and we could all get back to the way things were.
The politicians have turned the whole Pandemic into a circus.  Their denying science and
sending mixed messages to the public has caused nothing but confusion.
Now it appears we are moving backwards, not forward, with surges in new cases and deaths.
While it initially appeared to affect the elderly the most, now we have the 30-50 year olds
hospitalized and dying.  Not to mention our children and even infants.
Most of us are using common sense and wearing masks and following social distancing but
it appears many are not.  They must feel they are invincible.  We see the news photos of crowded beaches with most not wearing masks.   Now many of us are heading back into the safety of our homes due to our being unsure of what (and who)  is safe and what is not.
The whole argument of sending our children back to school is not to be believed!  "They" say
the children need to learn, to socialize, interact.....well, if they are horribly sick or dead they
can't do anything!  When we do not know the scope of this virus, we are constantly learning day by day, how can we rush into anything?  Rushing to send our children back to school.....why can we
not take it slow and easy and see how and where this all goes?  What is the urgency???
Of course, it is all about perspective.  A young mother with three children who worked at an upscale restaurant now finds herself home with her children, struggling to pay the rent or mortgage and buy food.  I am retired and not worrying about putting foods on the table or paying the mortgage.......so,
again, it is truly all about perspective.
Even so, the bottom line (to me) is that we go slow......better safe than sorry.  With the 42 states having spikes and, basically, going backward.....the slow, steady approach would seem to be the most sane decision  at this point in time.
The people who are balking at wearing the masks need to re-think this infringement on their "freedom".....The wearing of masks will enhance and  increase their freedom when we can conquer this virus, re-open our businesses, and get back to our normal lives!



Thursday, May 21, 2020

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast aka Chicken Giordano



Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast



Many years ago I was catering a wonderfully posh event and created this chicken dish to wow the
guests, which it did!  I did find, however, over the years, that many chefs  had similar ideas and I was not the lone creator of this dish.  I used to prepare this with a white wine sauce which was
outstanding.  Last night I prepared the chicken with clarified butter, also very tasty.

Ingredients for 2 breasts:

2 cleaned chicken breasts
1/3 c. Bread crumbs
2 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 1/4 fresh lemon, chopped
2 T. Chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes, in oil
2 T. Goat cheese
Clarified Butter (Melt stick of butter in 2 c. Measuring cup in microwave.  Spoon off foamy top,
Use the clear yellow center part and discard the white at bottom.)

Method of Preparation:

1.  Drizzle a bit of the oil from the Sun Dried Tomatoes jar into a saute pan, on medium heat.   When hot, add the minced garlic and stir about one minute.  Put the spinach into the garlic oil and quickly toss to coat.  Keep stirring for 1-2 minutes and spinach will wilt.  Remove from heat.  Add the lemon zest and the tomatoes, stirring to combine.  Divide the spinach into two mounds in the pan and top with the goat cheese.  Set aside.
2.  Place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets saran wrap and pound til even and thin, about 1/4".  Sprinkle with kosher salt and grindings of black pepper.
3.  Take each  mound of spinach mixture and place on top of  each chicken breast.  Then tightly roll up each breast, tucking sides and ends in.






4.  Wrap each rolled breast tightly in saran wrap and place in fridge for 15 minutes.
5.  Remove breasts from fridge and roll lightly in bread crumbs, shaking off excess.
6.  Coat bottom of saute pan with clarified butter and heat on medium.  When hot, add the chicken breasts seam side down.  As breasts turn golden, turn so they brown evenly all over.






7.  Place breasts in baking dish, drizzle with a little more clarified butter and finish cooking in a 350* oven for about 10 minutes, or til instant thermometer reads 160*.  Remove from oven.   (The residual heat will bring the breasts up to 165* while resting.)






8.  Slice each breast on the diagonal and spoon over the sauce.










Sunday, April 26, 2020

Trish Giordano: Frittata

Trish Giordano: Frittata: We have all had quiche for brunch, lunch and hors d'oeuvres..... then the craze was frittatas, (a crustless quiche),  made in a sheet pa...

Frittata

We have all had quiche for brunch, lunch and hors d'oeuvres..... then the craze was frittatas, (a crustless quiche),  made in a sheet pan, muffin pan, served for brunch, snack, dinner........then they both seemed to go by  the wayside......
and now there seems to be the resurgence of both!
I recently hosted a breakfast for a family gathering and thought about a quiche but then decided
on a frittata.......a dish I have always loved and prepared many, many times (me being the low carb gal).....
I had on hand fresh spinach and a lovely jar of artichoke hearts (not marinated)......so I went
on line and started looking at various recipes which included these ingredients....
What I came up with was .....absolutely delicious!!! (even the B O B said so!)....




this was soooooo easy......

Method and Ingredients:
heat oven to 425*
drizzle  2 rounds of olive oil into 10 inch skillet
and add 1 knob of butter

then add
1/2 onion, finely diced and saute for 2 minutes,
then add
2 garlic cloves, minced
and saute 1 minute.

Next  add 4 cups fresh baby spinach, (stems removed PLEASE!), and stir til spinach leaves are
well coated with butter/olive oil mixure (spinach will start to wilt)

Have 12 eggs well beaten plus 1 cup heavy cream incorporated into eggs with 1 t. kosher salt, 1 t. freshly ground coarse black pepper, 1/4 t. cayenne pepper and  pour over spinach mixture......
Sprinkle  2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, 1 cup grated muenster cheese, 1/4 c. parmesan cheese
over the egg mixture....
then place this wonderful mixture into the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. 

It will puff up beautifully and become lightly browned.......

then, when you open the oven and remove it, it will deflate in front of you......but fear not,
it will be delicious!!!!







Saturday, April 18, 2020

Quarantine Cooking Videos

With the Pandemic 2020, many people are now spending more time in their kitchens.  Those who love to cook but never had much time are enjoying themselves thoroughly and there are those who never paid much attention to cooking who are now discovering a new joy.
We have all been posting our menus and food porn photos on social media and, I for one, have been having a great time doing so!

Many terrific sites, such as New York Times Cooking, and Simply Recipes,  have now geared their weekly menus to “pantry” cooking, “meatless” meals, etc.
The celebrity chefs who have cooking shows can no longer go to the studios so they, like many other television hosts, are filming from their homes.  Some celebrity chefs who do not have television shows have begun filming videos as well.
And then there are the non-celebrity cooking shows!
I must admit, I have had great fun checking some of these out!
Many are very, very good!
There are wonderful cooks out there who have great ideas, do everything properly in the kitchen
and produce fabulous foods!

And then.......there are the wanna-be’s!
These videos can be so funny, unintentionally!

The cooks have good intentions but their final results and the way they accomplish those results can be downright hysterical.
Take the one gal, Antonella, who has a happy, friendly, engaging way about her.  She is Italian and the only Italian woman I ever heard of who uses cream of mushroom soup as her special ingredient!
She also does not use fresh basil, fresh garlic or fresh onions in her sauce!  (How many Italian Nonnas are turning over!)

While researching these culinary videos,  I happened upon the Mary Berry videos (Classic, Everyday and Country Home Secrets - which includes Highclere Castle, otherwise known as Downton Abbey). Mary Berry is the Martha Stewart of England.  I must confess, I had not been aware of her until the Great British Baking Shows were televised here in America.  It has been interesting and informative to learn how “the British do it”.

And, a friend recently posted a video I had discovered many years ago and just love.....Great Depression Cooking with Clara.  I just adored these videos and have had such fun watching them again.  I had been searching for a wonderful cuccidati (Sicilian fig cookie) recipe when I happened upon the videos which were made by her family.  Her cuccidati turned out to be the very, very best! Clara was 93 years old and the most basic cook.
While foods were baking or resting she would tell stories of growing up in the Depression.  She
had no fancy Williams Sonoma gadgets or equipment (even shelled her own almonds!).  She would roll her cookies out on her oilcloth table covering, no fancy marble or Boos wood blocks!
Unfortunately, Clara has died.  I was so thrilled, however, to see that her videos are still available on
Youtube.com.
If you are a cook or just enjoy watching cooking shows, do visit Clara for a wonderful experience!


 

Clara’s Cuccidati






Sunday, March 29, 2020

Trish Giordano: Pandemic, 2020 - Part 2

Trish Giordano: Pandemic, 2020 - Part 2: We have now been isolated for over two weeks. No dashing here and there...no hugs with friends, hell, no BEING with friends or loved ones!...

Pandemic, 2020 - Part 2

We have now been isolated for over two weeks.

No dashing here and there...no hugs with friends, hell, no BEING with friends or loved ones!
Those of us who are most susceptible are steering clear of everyone and not venturing out of our homes!

The routine has been to watch every screen available to learn how the coronavirus is incapacitating each and every city....each and every continent!  The death tolls keep mounting....it truly seems like a sci-fi futuristic movie!

Except, it is not.  This is our world today.

The human nature, however, is truly amazing!

Our youngest daughter, who contracted the virus,  is on the mend and we are so very thankful, we are delirious!
Our middle daughter had a birthday on Friday and we utilized the wonderful thing called Zoom and were able to see everyone (except our two grandsons, who could not “attend”) and had a family birthday “celebration” digitally!  While we were all “together”, Katie opened her windows in Brooklyn at 7:00  p.m. and we could see/hear everyone clapping in their support and appreciation for all the health workers who are working so amazingly through such difficulties.

Today I “attended” Mass through Facebook!!!!

I fervently hope that when this is all behind us, we do not forget!

It seems humans adapt quite well to adversity......but I hope and pray we do not ever again take for granted our wonderful “freedoms”....hugging family and friends, dashing to the store on a whim,
TOILET PAPER!!!!

It looks like we will have another few weeks of isolation.....weeks I hope will now  be productive for me instead of being glued to the television news......I must admit I have been a slug....I would love to be out there helping... but my health will just not  permit  that.

In the meantime, I am going to support where I can and have great  faith and hope for our future!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Trish Giordano: Pandemic of 2020

Trish Giordano: Pandemic of 2020: I will never take anything for granted ever again! I would like to make some bread while we are self isolating.....there is no flour in th...

Pandemic of 2020

I will never take anything for granted ever again!

I would like to make some bread while we are self isolating.....there is no flour in the stores.

Forget about toilet paper, chlorox wipes and hand sanitizer! They may become a distant memory!

I have never been one to freeze meats......I just like using them fresh.....so I shop every three
or four days.  Well, that is certainly not working for me now!

Unfortunately, my lungs are badly scarred from the 2018 flu and I have other health issues which
put me at high risk so it is not a good idea for me to be out and about as in normal times.
Thankfully, my daughter and son in law appreciate this and are ever willing to get whatever we
need.....but I do hate to ask! (Thank you Tina and Gary!)

Our youngest daughter is in Brooklyn on her fourth day of quarantine.  Fortunately, her fever is
gone and the heaviness in her chest is not as bad and she is starting to feel a bit better.  The fact
that she is so far away and facing this alone just breaks my heart.  I would be there in a shot if I
could.

The Army is going into New York City...….it is in lockdown......their grocery store shelves are
totally bare.....this is like out of a sci-fi movie!!!!

But, it is real, very real.
Our churches are now closed.  The dentist is open only for emergencies.  I had to cancel my
appointment with my rheumatologist who would have given me cortisone shots in my thumb and
shoulder...…..now of course, I can hardly do anything with my left hand and when I move my
right shoulder,  pain shoots everywhere! Our state of Pennslvania was one of the early states to
close down all non-essential businesses and encourage all to STAY HOME!

I attempted to place a delivery order with the big food store and the screen goes grey.....they are so overwhelmed they cannot even name a time slot for delivery or pick up!

A friend of my daughters from years ago messaged me saying she knew I had a bad bout with the
flu before and if she could help us in any way, please call her! (Thank you Megan!!)

A neighbor called to say she was heading to the store and did we need anything (Thank you Ann!)

A friend just called to check in on us.  He is older than us and going to the store early Monday.
He wanted to offer to pick up whatever we might need!  (Thank you William!)

My brother-in-law also just called and offered the same kindness! (Thank you Nick!)

This pandemic may be very scary and life threatening, but it also is showing how wonderful
people can be!

At seventy-one I certainly never thought this would be happening in my life time......who knows
today who will be surviving a few months from now......so very scary.....but I do vow that I will
never take anything for granted.....not conveniences, not loved ones, not simple things like
dashing to a store and getting whatever you want, ……..we have lived such marvelous lives
with so many luxuries......that we have taken for granted.  Perhaps this will result in a wake up
call to love our planet, love our people and savor all as precious!!!






Saturday, February 22, 2020

Trish Giordano: My Cookbook

Trish Giordano: My Cookbook: Oh, I was so full of myself! I thought, after 30 years, that everyone would be so interested in all the wonderful recipes I had collected...

My Cookbook

Oh, I was so full of myself!

I thought, after 30 years, that everyone would be so interested in all
the wonderful recipes I had collected and created!

I also had discovered wonderful shortcuts, methods, knowledge,  that I so wanted to share!
So, surely, there was a cookbook in there somewhere, right?

Well, upon retiring, I ventured to New York City to care for a beautiful granddaughter.
Then another granddaughter in that family arrived so I continued to travel to New York City,
for five years!
I was in my glory and enjoyed every single minute!

In the back of my mind, I thought my wonderful cookbook could wait.....I would get to it.

Lo and behold, I am no longer traveling to New York City every week and now have more
than enough time to devote to my cookbook and, guess what?

The publishing world has drastically changed!
You no longer go to an editor and try to impress them with an outline!
It seems the technical world has passed me by!

Wonderful cooks with great ideas started blogs years ago and then progressed into videos.....
some of them are now able to get a cookbook published.
It seems the publishing world has  changed with the times......you must have a following
of at least one million on a blog or video series in order to capture the attention of the editors.
OR, you must be a celebrity or a famous singer......only then can you get a book published.

Well, I don't have a million followers, and I am not a famous singer or actor,

So,
I am going to continue my little blog here  and post my thoughts, menus and photos of my
foods and table settings and just be happy with that..... with the hope that someone reading
my blog will learn something new or be inspired to try something new or .....just enjoy!!!!







Sunday, January 19, 2020

It's January! Let's purge!

Here it is, the month of January!  The wonderful decorations and tree of the holiday season  are put away and, all of a sudden, everything looks bare!
Every year, all the magazines and all the home decorating television shows concentrate on reorganizing, purging, getting rid of "stuff", making life simpler and, basically, "downsizing".
I, like many others, become all enthused and full of, "I am going to DO THIS!!!"
Then, the reality sets in.
(I just subscribed to the Hallmark Movies and Mystery channel so, there  is this show I really want to watch so I will start cleaning out that closet a bit later on.........)
I have been a fan of the  Marie Kondo book, method and even the Netflix program!  So,
one would think I have already streamlined all my belongings!  Right?
Wrong!  I just can't seem to talk to my clothes and discuss what "joy" they bring me.
(However, having said that.....I do properly fold my t-shirts so they sit up in the drawer.
My underwear is all "color" coded and coordinated.)
So!  I am not going to put myself through the 'Agony of Defeat' this year!
Instead, as I wash clothes I am going to put them away and check that drawer for what I may not
really need or perhaps what I have not worn for three or four years!
As I hang jeans, blouses, sweaters, whatever, in my closet, I will try the "turn around" method of
having the hanger turned around and, if you find next year that one hanger that is still facing inward,
lo and behold! you must now donate that item!
Seriously,  we all feel better when we are organized!
I will confess, when my purse is cleaned out and streamlined and my car does not have "storage" items in it, I feel a wonderful sense of freedom and "all is right with the world"!



Saturday, January 18, 2020

Gracious Guests

What culture in this world does not promote graciousness?

The answer:  very, very few, if any.

Be careful what you admire!  In many countries, they will try to "gift" you that very item!

In most countries, when you accept an invitation to a private home, you take a gift to honor the
"graciousness" of them including you in their dinner.  This can be a gift of flowers, candy,
wine or, perhaps something your own country is known for.  This is received with great
honor, acknowledging your graciousness.

What has happened in the United States of America?

We are the "melting pot" of the world!!!  We have people from every country represented here!  Yet, how have these lovely customs been "forgotten"?
Or, "cast aside"?

I have been most fortunate.  Most of my friends and acquaintances are of the same mind and apparently also value this world-wide custom.

I, myself, always have a gift for any guest entering my home.  It may be a lovely, scented soap or
candle.  I just love doing this.....again, part of being gracious.  When my guests depart, they are given a "gift" from me,  representing my appreciation for their attendance.

I see the, mostly, young people of today......graciousness is just not a part of their lives.  They are
very "busy".  They do not countenance the ways of their elders.  ( in some respects, this is a good thing!....but in many, they are losing valued world-wide customs of all cultures)

This really sounds like I am criticizing the younger generation and, actually, I am not.  For, it is my generation who has failed!  We have failed to instill our beloved customs into the newer generations.
We have, perhaps, failed to take the time to re-inforce our customs.  We have head-strong youth and don't want to create waves so we remain silent or give in.

What a dis-service we are doing to the new generations!

It is truly time for all of us to step up.....be gracious, demand kindness to ALL, accept differences and learn from others about those differences.




Saturday, January 11, 2020

Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table Cookbook

My dear chum gifted me with the Dorie Greenspan book, "Around my French Table" this
past holiday.
I am sure you are all familiar with Dorie:  a tiny, trim, energetic gal with a 1" haircut!
Since the BOB now has diabetes and has agreed to eat healthier with no snacking,  I thought this would be the perfect time to work my way through her book!
Many think French cooking is not healthy.....not always!  They have a wonderful way with meats,
natural juices, etc. and the vegetables are to die for!
So!  I am going to pull a "Julie & Julia"  this year!
I am going to go through Dorie's marvelous book and prepare the meals and document them
with you!
This will be great fun!  We can always learn something new, right!  And this will be a great
adventure!







New Year's Eve Reflections

Since my husband was very sick with a cold this New Year's Eve, we did not join our dear
friends for any celebrations.

He went to bed early and I watched a bit of television and was amazed at the reports of the
crowds, actually millions!, who were gathering in Times Square to ring in the New Year.

I could not imagine standing in a line in the early hours of the morning to garner a place for
midnight that evening!  To be truthful, I find it a bit scary!

As I reflected on the past year, we had a few health issues but all manageable, I could not help
but count my many blessings and be so thankful for my Family.  We have such wonderful daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren!
They give us unimagineable joy and I just can't wait til we are with them!

Family traditions are so very important and become even more so as the years pass by.  My daughters hold traditions very dear and I see my grandchildren feeling the same.

For years and years, we all would gather at my Mother's for Christmas Eve.  We had such
wonderful times!  Over the years, it became apparent that it was getting too much for her
to put on the Christmas Eve celebration.  However, she would not give in and pass the
torch!  Finally, we used our moving to a new house to initiate Christmas Eve celebration
at our home. 

This past year my daughter did the honors and prepared the Seven Fishes Dinner for us.
Unfortunately, my husband was not able to attend since he had such a bad cold.  What
a celebration he missed!

My daughter and son-in-law outdid themselves!  The dinner was truly amazing!

We started with a Lobster Bisque, followed by Crab Stuffed Mushrooms (which were to die for!).
Then came a warmed greens salad with Ginger Shrimp.  King Crab Legs came next and they
were so very large we could not eat them all.  She still had Linguine with Clam Sauce and
Salmon but we had to stop as we all were so full.

It was such a delightful evening and everything was just perfect!

So much so that I am hoping they want to entertain next Christmas Eve and this is the start of a new family tradition and I will be the first one there!!


Zuccotto, an Unbelievable Dessert!

Many years ago, in our pastry shop and for catering, we made Zuccotto, a domed dessert from Florence that got its name from its resemblance to a zucca, the Italian word for pumpkin.

This was a dessert I first obtained from an early Martha Stewart Living magazine.
The article was December 14-15, Episode 414, Cooking: Chocolate Zuccotto with Susan.

This dessert was such a success that we decided to use the filling for our Buche de Noels!
This made them not only very special, but very unique, in that we were the only ones using
this filling!!

I am doing prep for a dinner tomorrow night for very dear friends we were not able to see prior
to and over the recent Christmas holiday. 
Many years ago I served them the Buche de Noel with this wonderful filling and the one friend
declared that it was the best thing he ever ate.
So, I decided to put it on the menu for our dinner.  However, no Buche de Noel but rather the
original Zuccotto - the domed dessert.

This is a "process" dessert.  I made the cake one day and let it rest.  That evening I made the
filling and let that also rest.  (I don't believe in rush, rush!.......foods need to rest and blend and
marry and let their flavors really come forth).



The next day I assembled and then let that rest in the fridge overnight.





So, on the third day!!!!  We are finally ready to present our dessert!




I am so hoping that our dear friend is just as pleased as he was many years ago with this wonderful
concoction!

P.S.  The dinner was delightful and our guests enjoyed the dessert very much!!!











Friday, January 10, 2020

Mexican Vanilla, ambrosia!

Many, many years ago a dear friend had occasion to travel to Mexico.  She brought back Mexican
Vanilla.  (I was not familiar at the time and this was quite a treat).  She explained that she had to go
to a "liquor store" to purchase this vanilla.

It was divine!

I had my catering business at the time and when I would prepare a dessert, I would pause and think,
"is this worthy of the fabulous Mexican vanilla?"

I actually stretched that vanilla for quite some time!

Fast forward many, many years and another dear friend gave me a bottle of Mexican vanilla that he
was gifted.  Since he no longer baked much he thought of me and that I would enjoy it. Right he was!

I must say though, this vanilla seemed so very different.  The smell was not as luxurious as what I
remembered and the taste did not send me over the moon. 

Shortly after that, another very dear friend traveled to Mexico and brought me back a bottle of the
legendary vanilla.  I was so very thrilled and quizzed her on the purchase.  She did not have to go to
a "liquor store" for this vanilla.   Again, it was lovely but not the aromatic sublime essence I had
experienced initially.

So, I am in a quandary.    Has the Mexican vanilla changed over the years?  Why is it no longer sold only in liquor stores?  Have they succumbed to the version in the States?

Guess I will have to schedule a trip to Mexico to research vanilla and discover for myself what is
the current status of vanilla!




Quiche!

It has been absolute ages and ages since I made a quiche!

Remember back in the day when quiche was quite the trend?

Then it took a downward note with the "real men don't eat quiche" movement!

I always enjoyed quiche and have no reason whatsoever to have stopped making it,
other than I did.....it just was eliminated from my repertoire.

So, today, I thought I would make a Spinach Quiche for our Sunday night supper.

Since it had been so long since I had made one, I went onto the internet for some
"refresher" recipes.

I never realized the vast  array of recipes!  Some have heavy cream, others just
milk and many have no liquid at all, save the eggs!




I settled on one that reminded me of the ones I used to make.  This is the recipe I obtained from
the internet with a few changes, from Once Upon a Chef:

1,  9-inch pie crust (bake blind til golden), I used a deep dish French tin with removeable bottom
1 T. butter, unsalted (I always end up adding a bit more butter!!)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
5 large eggs
1 +1/2-2 cup heavy cream
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1+ 1/2 - 2 cups grated Swiss Cheese, or Gruyere
2-10 oz. frozen chopped Spinach, defrosted and drained of all water

Preheat oven to 400*.  Prick pie crust and bake 10 to 15 minutes til golden.  Turn oven down to 350*.
Heat butter in skillet over medium heat and cook onions til soft, about 5 minutes.  Do not brown.  Set aside.
In medium bowl whisk eggs, heavy cream, salt and cayenne pepper.

Put onions in bottom of cooked pie crust.  Sprinkle the shredded Swiss (or Gruyere) over top.  Scatter
the spinach evenly over cheese. 

Pour the egg and cream mixture over the top of the spinach to distribute evenly.

Bake at 350* for 45 minutes, til custard is set and top is golden.  I take a dinner knife and insert
about one inch from center.  If it comes out clean, pull the quiche, it is done!  If there is custard
on the knife, let it bake a bit more.

This is a great-tasting quiche and, with a lovely salad, a delightful light meal!