Sunday, July 31, 2016

Chanterelle Gold Dust

chanterelles that we picked, cleaned, dehydrated and then pulverized making...
Chanterelle Gold Dust!

I've lamented about our blackberry overload (dad has officially been forbidden to pick any more blackberries - and that also goes for cucumbers and tomatoes), and now I must lament about our chanterelle overload...

Mom and I have thus far collected 5 (!!!) pounds of chanterelles from the woods around my parents home. We've had them most nights for dinner - sautéed, stir-fried, thrown into pasta, you name it, we've done it! read an article about dehydrating chanterelles and then pulverizing them. Thus, that's what we've been doing. The end result is beautiful, and their aroma is simply sublime! We've looked at the few recipes posted online and we're going to try a few of our own over the next two weeks I'm here.  Tomorrow we are off to Walmart to get some small jars so I can take some of this magic dust back to my CT chef friends! Whether sprinkled in soup, in sauces or in something else, all I can think of is YUM!! Oh, and here are some recipes we're going to try: Trout w/chanterelle dust, chanterelle dust gravy, and maybe this chili.

from this...the dust happens (before the cleaning/gleaning):

The gleaning/cleaning of the chanterelles by the MumBum
Notice the ~Roger~ drink at the ready:

Mama Mushroom and her ~baby~ 
not really, but the photo makes MumBum happy

Beware Brynnly, James! 
Chanterelle Gold Dust coming
Your way! Create soon!



till we eat again!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Blackberry-Infused Vodka - To be Sipped at 5pm or 4pm or....

our blackberry-infused vodka
Two things are very obvious, produce-wise, during this summer of '16 visit here to my parent's most glorious COMO garden and wooded land. We are drowning in a massive amount of blackberries and chanterelle mushrooms. I do believe mom and dad are almost to the point of running an ad to let folks know they'll pay to have folks come pick! I swear at least a 1/2 gallon of blackberries are picked every day, and so far, mom and I have picked close to 5 pounds of chanterelles! Mom and I have come up with many inventive ways to enjoy chanterelles so we turned our attention to the blackberries. After doing all the normal cooking things you do with blackberries - crisps, pies, jams etc. - mom turned to me and said "Why don't we try flavoring some vodka?" Well...why didn't I think of that??? So, off we were to infuse vodka with blackberries!

the beginnings of blackberry-infused vodka goodness! slurp...

The throw 'n go: 

A 4-cup Mason/Ball jar, or equivalent jar
1 C. or so fresh blackberries, picked over and rinsed if necessary
2 T. or so sugar
3 C. vodka - we used Smirnoff

Place the blackberries in the Mason jar and sprinkle the sugar on top. Then muddle the heck out of those berries! I used mom's knife sharpener which has a nice solid wooden handle with a flat end that easily fit in the jar and smashed those berries to smithereens. Once the berries are well and truly muddled, pour vodka over them until you reach the 3 cup mark on the Mason jar. Put a lid on it and then shake it well till all is blended. For the next 3 to 7 to 20 days, taste your concoction and if you don't think it's quite blackberryish enough, recap it, shake well and let sit another day. When you finally decide it's reached the flavor you want, strain to get the large bits out. Then, to make a clear liqueur, place a coffee filter (like Melitta) in a funnel that's stuck in the neck of the bottle you're using to store your blackberry wonderfulness and pour in the flavored vodka. You'll have to do this a bit at a time and it will take up to a day for all the liquid to drip through. But the end result?? SO worth it! 

Blackberry Martini

1 martini glass
3 frozen blackberries
1 lemon skin twist
1 skewer
blackberry vodka, freezer-chilled, to fill the glass

Fill martini glass with freezer-chilled blackberry vodka. Spear 3 frozen blackberries on your skewer then spear on the lemon twist. Place the skewer across the top of the martini glass and serve.



till we eat again!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Potato Salad ala Grandma Mae

Our Grandmother Mae's Potato Salad
Yeah, it's that good!

Growing up, my sibs, parents, grandparents, uncles & aunts, cousins and all the members of our fambly had more than the average family gatherings, be they on Sunday or any other day of the week because, well, that's just what we did! It was important to us then, and it's important to us now. Though our immediate families are scattered far and wide, we've all embraced our far-flung, but close at hand, relations and made them our close relations, and over the years, we've all realized that no matter how close or far a family link is, by ~blood~, what is in our hearts is what counts the most. And what counts the family. Even when it's friends that become our undeniable blood ties needed. 

The (family) throw 'n go:

5 lb. bag baking potatoes; don’t peel
1 C+ diced celery
1 red pepper, diced, don’t substitute green, omit if you only have green
1/3 C. diced red or white onion
2 T++ fresh dill weed, chopped

3 eggs
2 T. or so Coleman’s dry mustard
2 t. or so sugar
1/2 C. or so vinegar
salt, cayenne pepper, white pepper to taste

1/2 - 3/4 C. or so Hellman’s mayo
1/2 & 1/2 cream to thin to your taste

Put potatoes in a big enough pot so they’re covered with water.  Cook till fork-tender.  Drain and let cool.  When cooled just enough to handle, scrape off skin and chunk into 3/4” - 1” cubes, (not too small).  Put in a large bowl, (big enough to mix everything in), and add celery, red pepper, onion and dill.  Toss all well with your hands. 
Place eggs, mustard, sugar, vinegar, salt and peppers in a pan on the stove over medium heat.  Continuously whisking, cook ingredients until they become quite thick - like a sabayon - then remove from heat and stir in the mayo.  Pour on the potato mixture and mix all well by hand.  Add cream to thin if needed.  Taste and correct seasonings. It’s much better the second day - thin with more cream if needed on that second day.

Our Grandma Mae Reusser Heyssel’s wonderful recipe. 

A GREAT buffet or take to salad. Even Julie Murray loves this and she cannot stand mayonnaise.



till we eat again!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cauliflower Steaks Any Way You Want 'Em

Cauliflower steaks ready for the oven

Back in February, the last time I visited my parents in Missourahhh, I had a layover in Chicago that turned out to be a loooong layover because of weather delays. Some way or another, a woman who was also delayed and I started talking. What a delightful person she was and what a delightful time we had! We talked about any and everything, from family to food to origins - just everything! Along the way, my Remy came up and she empathized with me over her loss, and then her daughter came up and how she was going through some difficult life changes and had taken solace in creating a food blog, tho said daughter had never been one for much cooking. She told me that her daughter's blog was really taking off and was on the verge of becoming successful enough that she was earning from it! I was impressed, to say the least. We eventually parted ways, as her flight was called, but before she left, she gave me a lovely book that she hoped would help me in my loss of my daughter (it has, but even more her kind thoughts she spoke than the actual book) and her daughter's website at my request. When I visited her daughter's website, the blog entry that I was sent to was a recipe for ~cauliflower steaks~. Hmmm....interesting...never heard of that before... SO we made them for dinner one night while I was at my parents home. Though my mom wasn't a big fan of them, I thought they were wonderful! I used My Lavender Blues recipe as a starting point, but made it simple for the first try. Enjoy! Tho I have a few photos of my venture, please go here for beautiful photos of the cauliflower steaks. Ms. Lavender's photos are incredibly unusual and also incredibly beautiful.

The throw 'n go:

1 head cauliflower
olive oil or grape seed oil
Bum-Hot (my parents home-grown dehydrated and ground red pepper flakes) or pepper flakes
sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425º F. Cut the leaves and that part of the core from the bottom of the cauliflower. Resting the cauliflower on its bottom, cut it in half. Then cut approximately 1/3" slices out of the cauliflower halves. As you can see, below, you'll get some big steaks and then some smaller pieces.

What the cut cauliflower will look like

Place steaks on a cookie sheet; drizzle olive oil over them and season with the Bum-Hot, salt and pepper. Turn over and do the same to that side. Put them in the oven and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, until they are nicely browned. No need to turn them, but you certainly can half way through the cooking time.

half-way to done deliciousness

This photo is before they were totally done. As I totally forgot to take a plated photo of the finished dish, this is as good as it gets! Sorry! Again, go to My Lavender Blues for some excellent photos of the finished product!

You can do just about any seasonings on these, whatever your whim is, try it! Last night daughter Brynnly and I added curry powder to the steaks, in addition to the peppers and salt, and it was just wonderful! I've not tried My LB's take on this, but I'm betting it's delicious! You're gonna love this!



till we eat again!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Our Sunday Family Dinners

Rosemary blossoms, February 2009
I wrote the below post originally in February 2009. It pretty much perfectly explains what our
Sunday Family Dinners are all about and why they are so important to all of us.
For the original post, click here. For the re-posted post, click here.
For cousin Julie's wonderful take on SFD, click here.
(The oven fries recipe, below, is often a part of our SFD's.)

My World: 

There's one huge aspect of my world that I really don't write much about here, which is really quite odd, considering how important it is to me. It is something near and dear to my heart, whatever the aspect of it is. Matter of fact, it's quite near and dear to the hearts of my family and friends as well. We have shared many wonderful times over it, and, I suspect, will continue to do so ad infinitum. 
So what, you ask, does the above photo have to do with anything at all, let alone the mystery aspect of my world I'm blabbering on about? Nothing and absolutely everything, that's what! It's a pretty enough photo that I enjoy looking at, and hope you do to, but what it really stands for Food. It's such an important part of my world and I really don't talk or write about it as much as I should. How often have we gathered together, be it two, ten or many folks, to celebrate, commiserate, grieve, just be with each other, laugh, love, play, where food is the centerpiece of the gathering? How irritated do the children of this wonderful collective family of ours get when we miss Sunday Family Dinner two weeks in a row? (Right now they're really mad - we're going on our 3rd week of missed SFD with no end in sight. It's not a good thing.) How wonderful is it to gather together and share good times over good food? It is a pleasure to be forever treasured. And I know we're sending these children of ours forth into this world with the conviction that our Sunday Family Dinner gathering is a tradition whose celebration is sacred, should always be nurtured and never ever forgotten. Food is good. Life is good. For the most part. 

Those Oven Fries

baking potatoes, chunked, quartered, cut in wedges, whatever
extra virgin olive oil, enough to coat everything
garlic and/or onions, chopped
fresh rosemary leaves, stripped off tough stem
fresh ground pepper and salt
(lemon juice is a most excellent addition)
oregano or other herbs if you think necessary - I don't

Now you know why I can't bake - I don't measure anything...ever. Preheat oven to 425º. Wash potatoes, cut into whatever shape you want. Using whatever amounts you want, place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 10 - 15 minutes. Turn potatoes over and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes. Serve immediately. 
Delicious with just about everything, but especially good with roast chicken, lamb and salmon. It goes without saying (so why am I saying it?) they're delicious with hamburgers and steak. Heck, they'd be good with liver!


'till we feast again!

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Spa Chicken Dish by the Incomparable Charlie Trotter

Steamed Chicken with Preserved Carrots, Peppers and Daikon with Marine Cider Vinaigrette

Mr. Trotter writes: "A perfectly steamed chicken breast is hard to beat. Here, I have coupled it with crisp vegetables flavored with marine cider vinaigrette and a touch of Thai fish sauce. If you are unable to find marine-flavored cider vinegar (cider vinegar seasoned with marine herbs and sea salt), any good-quality cider vinegar may be used."

(Photo by Julie)
Cousin Jules is one of the very best home chefs I know - she's right up there with my mom as far as her culinary expertise and imagination go. She, too, rarely follows recipes, and when she does, it's very hard for her not to get bored half way through the cooking process, as happened with the above dish when she made it (7.13.16), but persevere she did, and, boy were we all happy she did! All of Charlie Trotter's recipes are very detailed, lengthy with many ingredients and steps, and it's quite easy to get quite bored before you're anywhere near done. That said, the two recipes that we've (I made his mussels recipe) made from his Spa Cuisine: One & Only Palmilla cookbook were over the top and all kinds of wonderful! His subtle use of ingredients, (some of the combos which are just down-right weird), and how they combine are simply sublime! We're both anxious to test our patience further and try the other gems in his cookbook. This is so worth the time and trouble! Note: No where was there information on how to make marine-flavored cider vinegar, thought there were many articles on chefs that use it in their restaurants (google "marine cider vinegar") so Julie used plain Bragg cider vinegar and it worked just fine!

The so not a throw 'n go: 

For the marine cider vinaigrette:
2 T. olive oil
4 t. apple cider vinegar
4 t. chopped fresh cilantro (hate cilantro; I'd use parsley)
4 t. thinly sliced scallion
sea salt

For the chicken:
1 T. minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 T. finely chopped lemongrass, from the bulb portion
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the vegetables:
1 C. peeled, julienned carrot, steamed (blanched)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
1/2 C. peeled julienned daikon radish (use regular radishes if you can't find daikon)
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro (again, hate cilantro; I'd use parsley)
1 t. black sesame seeds
1 t. white or toasted white sesame seeds
2 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 T. toasted sesame oil (Trader Joe's has a great one)
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

For the red bell pepper puree (optional - it's not on the above plate):
2 T. chopped roasted red bell pepper (in a jar - Trader Joe's has a great one)
2 T. water
sea salt

To prepare the Marine Cider Vinaigrette:  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. 

To prepare the chicken:  Combine the ginger, garlic and lemongrass in a small bowl. Season the chicken with 1/4 t. each salt and pepper and then place the chicken in the bottom of a bamboo or other steamer. Top the chicken breasts equally with the ginger mixture and set steamer over a pan of simmering water. Cover and steam for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked. Brush the ginger mixture off (at least the hard lemongrass pieces then thinly slice the chicken and toss with 1/2 the vinaigrette; use more vinaigrette if needed. 

To prepare the vegetables:  Combine the blanched carrot, bell pepper, daikon, cilantro (or parsley) and black and white sesame seed and toss to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce and sesame oil. Add this mixture to the vegetables and toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper. 

To prepare the (optional) red bell pepper puree:  Combine the roasted bell pepper and water in a blender and process until smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and season lightly with salt. (Julie forgot to buy the red peppers so served it without - didn't hurt a thing!)


Mound some of the vegetable mixture into the center of each plate, top with some of the chicken mixture, and then more of the vegetable mixture. Drizzle any juices from both mixtures around the plates and then spoon some of the pepper puree around the plate. 

Now eat up that deliciousness!


'till we feast again!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Seafood Cioppino Connecticut

Seafood Cioppino Connecticut
The hubs said: "This is delicious! But next time you make it, you really don't need to add the broccoli."
When daughter Brynnly isn't working the restaurant dinner shift and her beau is, she'll come have dinner with us, her parental units. It's always a loverly evening when this occurs! Unless she or I have a specific craving, we usually have no idea what we're eating until we get to the grocery store! This night Brynn was craving seafood, but there wasn't a fish for sale that we wanted at Stew's for less than a bazillion $$ a pound. (I refuse to pay $23.99/pound for a piece of wild salmon!) So, we decided to go the shellfish and calamari route as the wild shrimp were on sale for $4.99/lb and the cockles and calamari inexpensive as well. Brynnly said she wanted to make some sort of seafood stew kind of dish and we came up with the below - truly a throw 'n go rendition! It was absolutely wonderful! 

The throw 'n go:

1 1/2 lbs. raw wild shrimp, deshelled
1 lb. cockle clams, cleaned
4 tubes with tentacles calamari, cleaned and cut in rings, tentacles included
2 T. or so butter
2 T. or so evoo
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 C. or so white wine
1 can (13.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
1 C. or so marinara sauce, preferably Rao's or homemade
1/3 C. or so 1/2 & 1/2 cream
1/3 C. or so sour cream
bum-hot (or cayenne) to taste
black pepper, fresh ground, to taste
1 - 1 1/2 lemons, juiced
basil, a handful chopped
parsley, a handful chopped
salt to taste
1 1/2 C. broccoli cut into small flowerets, blanched (optional)
parsley, chopped, for garnish

2 packages Buitoni (or similar brand) fresh linguini/fettucini pasta

While shrimp, calamari and cockles are what we used, any combination of firm white fish and shellfish could be used - just vary for the cooking times as thick fish, large scallops or lobster would take longer to be done.

Clean the seafood - for the cockles, rinse them and then place in a bowl/pan of ice-cold salted water for at least 1/2 hour and up to an hour, stirring occasionally, but let debris settle before you gently lift the cockles out of the water so no debris clings to them before cooking. (Go to this link for more info.)

Heat to boiling a pot of water to cook the pasta.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add minced garlic and onion and saute until they are just beginning to brown. Throw in the wine and simmer until it's reduced by about half. Add the petite diced tomatoes, marinara sauce, cream, bum-hot, black pepper and lemon juice. Whisk until all is combined and smooth. (Cream may separate because of the wine or lemon juice - whisk long enough and all will be well.) Add sour cream in dollops until your sauce is smooth - and tastes just right. Add the basil and parsley, turn to low and cover, simmering for 5 or so minutes so all flavors combine, but be sure not to let your sauce get too thick. As you add the pasta to the boiling water, add the seafood and broccoli to your sauce base, stir well and cover with a lid or foil. The seafood will be done just about the same time the pasta is - about 5 minutes. All the seafood is done when the cockles' shells have opened. If the sauce is too thick, add a ladle-full of the pasta water to the sauce pan until it's the right consistency. Taste to correct seasonings, if needed. Drain the pasta, return it to its pot and toss with a bit of melted butter and/or olive oil. At serving time, add more chopped parsley to the top of the seafood mixture to make it purty. 

To serve, put pasta on a plate or in a bowl and ladle the seafood mixture over the top. 

Lots of folks like to add grated Parmesan to their serving. Garlic bread is a big draw as well, though I think a loaf of warm crusty French bread would be over-the-top delicious and help sop up all that wonderful sauce. 

Made for the first time on 7/10/16

'till we feast again!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Confetti Rice & Veggie Salad

Confetti Rice & Veggie Salad inspired by The Silver Palate
This is one of my very favorite salads! Major yum going on here. My sis, Carrie, discovered the original recipe in The Silver Palate Cook Book by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins. They called theirs Rice and Vegetable Salad and you can find the original recipe here.  While the original is delicious, over the years my sis and I have tweaked it so it's perfection for us! It's always a hit whenever and wherever we serve it. And, if you add poached and shredded chicken breast meat, you have yourself one fine meal - perfect for a special luncheon! Notes: Basmati is by far our very favorite rice. It has a wonderful nutty smell and flavor, and if you rinse it before cooking it, it's never sticky! The original "Our Favorite Vinaigrette" recipe calls for adding minced fresh parsley or chives to taste. While we'll do that for regular salads, because the salad already has parsley, basil and dill in it, we don't add it the dressing for this salad.

I made this for yesterday's family 4th of July celebration. 
There was nothing left for me to take home... :-(

Our throw 'n go:

4 C. cooked and still hot basmati white rice
2 recipes "Our Favorite Vinaigrette" (below)
1 C. more or less red pepper, cored and chopped into confetti-type pieces
1 box frozen petite peas - add frozen to the salad
1/2++ C. purple onion, diced and then rinsed off (kills the sulfur taste and smell)
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, green tops too and then rinsed off
1 shallot, minced and rinsed (optional)
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 handful fresh dill, chopped
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 C. balsamic vinegar (optional - I rarely add, sis usually does)

You can add, and we always do for a buffet or luncheon:
1 - 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been poached and shredded (or use a rotisserie chicken)

Put cooked and still hot rice in a very large bowl and pour 1 recipe of "Our Favorite Vinaigrette" over it. (If you're including chicken, this is the time to add it to the rice.) Toss thoroughly and allow to cool to close to room temperature. (Warm/hot rice absorbes the dressing brilliantly.)
After rice has come to room temperature, add the rest of the ingredients, except the balsamic vinegar, and toss again. I find tossing with your hands is the very best way to mix everything together. Taste and correct seasonings, using more of "Our Favorite Vinaigrette" and the balsamic vinegar if you want. 

"Our Favorite Vinaigrette"

1 T. Grey Poupon mustard
1/4 C. red wine vinegar (Sclafani and Pompeian are my favorite brands)
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. each salt & fresh ground pepper
1/2 C. extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all but the oil together. Continue to whisk while slowly drizzling in the oil until dressing is thickened. A stick blender works wonders doing this. 

Serves 6 - 8 generously.

'till we feast again!