Farm table in Provence

With John Howland sharing his favorites recipes in the Malamute Saloon, I decided I needed to do the same. That British twit will not outdo me, not as long as I can hold a glass of red! If you do not like cooking, or eating & drinking, that's fine. No need to read further. If by chance you do...share with John and me your thoughts, your recipes, and your best gourmet experiences. Would also be nice if you'd share with us the name (and a sample bottle) of your favorite wine....if you don't mind.

I am not sure when I really started to enjoy preparing meals, but I suspect it was the result of my travels to Europe that pushed me over the edge. My thoughts on food prior to that were minimal, and meals were just something we all "had to partake of".

Lunch in Paris
"Tchin Tchin"

A mealtime in Europe is special, no matter if it's lunch or dinner. In France for instance everything closes down from noon to two for the mid-day meal, and it is not something to take lightly. I have heard of workmen installing a new roof in the rain, and when the noontime came, they were gone, rain or not. Likewise if you are traveling in the country you might as well stop and eat, because everything else is closed.

Big Macs in Europe are hard to find, and rushing through any meal is sacrilegious. Dinner, likewise starts somewhere around seven in the evening, and it too is a very important part of the day, with families sharing their day with each other. Long ago Fay and I adopted these practices, and we are saddened that here in the states mealtime is a hurry up affair, with "American Idol" the focal point of a family evening. We have yet to see one episode of this show, and don't plan to.

To me a big part of enjoying any meal is the actual preparation. Yeah, I can hear you all now saying "bulls**t"... Well, I am not sure how to explain it to you, but it starts with a plan and a recipe. Find one that sounds good to you, and look it over. If it is something you can cope with, something that is easy to understand and prepare, go for it! Get the ingredients, but be sure you buy some wine or beer to both accompany the meal, and to make the preparation go smoothly. If you are a grill fanatic, find something other than steaks or hamburgers, and give it a go.

Let me get the ball rolling with a very basic recipe I use for meatballs. Yes, plain ole meatballs. I was going to introduce you to a Lamb Shanks wth beans recipe, but will save that for next time in that it takes two hours. This recipe is easy, and takes about fifteen minutes of preparation and about 40 minutes of oven time. That allows for at least two or three glasses of red.

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MEATBALLS


Meatballs
Bring on the pasta!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of Ground beef (I often use 1 lb of beef and 1 lb of hot sausage)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely.
  • 1 and 1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic.
  • 1 large egg.
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
  • 3 cups of marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • Chopped parsley leaves
  • Grated Parmesan
  • and spaghetti for serving
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Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix all the ingredients and mix well using both hands (unless you've just come back from detecting). Then shape into golf ball size pieces and place in a frying pan. Cover each meatball with spaghetti sauce, and pour one glass of red wine over the top. Bake for about 45 minutes, until cooked through. Finish with parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Serve with Spaghetti.

How's that for easy? Granted it doesn't allow for two many beers or glasses of red, but those recipes are coming up soon

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My operating system
My new French operating system.

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SAUTEED CALAMARI

This is another very easy recipe, and utilizes very few ingredients. I had this first in Collioure, a coastal town in the southwest of France. It was a damp, cool day in October, and we had just arrived after a long drive. It was just after noon, and in France that translates into EAT! We found a parking place, and entered the first little bistro we saw. Nothing fancy with regards to atmosphere, but it didn't matter, because the meal we had was one of the simplest and one of the best we've ever had in this country.

The following recipe is merely "my take" on the sauteed calamari I had that day.....

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg of frozen squid (or fresh if available)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbs of fresh lemon juice
Preparation

Thaw out the calamari, if frozen, by submersing the sealed package in cool water. It will usually thaw in about 20 to 30 minutes.

After thawing rinse the calamari, tubes and tenticles, in cold water. Place on paper towels and pat dry. Once dry cut the tubes into rings about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. Cut off any stringy pieces attached to the tenticles.

Place the butter, olive oil and garlic in medium frying pan, turn the heat to medium. After a minute or two toss in the calamari and a little of the chopped parsley, half of the lemon juice, and saute for about two minutes. Do not overcook (squid becomes chewy if you cook too long). Repeat the process with the remaining squid.

Serve with a aoli sauce (easy version follows) few wedges of lemon, slices of crusty French bread, and a glass of your favorite wine.

Poor Man's Aoli Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1.Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl..... Taste and add extra seasoning as required...... Let stand in the fridge for at least 15 mins to chill...... Serve immediately with seafood


Sauteed Calamari, Collioure, France
Calamari, Collioure, France

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SWEET TOMATO TOAST

This recipe comes from my wife, and it's one we've enjoyed over and over. It's also inexpensive to prepare. You can serve it as an appetizer, or on the side with bowl of soup or simple pasta dish. You can decide on the quantities based on how many you will be serving.

  • 1 loaf of crusty Italian bread, cut in thick slices and toasted or grilled
  • Cheese (use an easy melting cheese like fontina, mozzarella or provolone)
  • Tomatoes, halved (cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes)
  • Capers, drained
  • Kalamata olives, some chopped and some left whole
  • Italian parsley, some chopped and a few sprigs for garnish
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinnegar
  • Garlic, one small clove finely minced
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
Directions

Put tomatoes, capers, olives, chopped parsley and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and add a splash of red wine vinegar. Toss together and let sit for about 30 minutes.

Place pieces of cheese on top of grilled bread. Put in a hot oven (about 400 degrees) or under the broiler until the cheese melts. Top with the tomato mixture. Be sure to use the juices that have mixed with the oil in the bottom of the bowl. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil and top with coarsely ground black pepper.

Garnish with parley sprigs and serve.

Bon Appétit!

Sweet Tomato Toast
Sweet Tomato Toast

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Got an email today from another old friend in the UK, John Castle, with an attached recipe for the Poor Gourmand link. I've known John now for some time, and he is a treasure hunter's treasure hunter. John was a longtime associate with Joan Allen Ltd, in London, and is the author of "Hunting for Treasure", first published in the UK, 1996. If you travel to England, looking for information on where to search, what you can find and much more, be sure to track down a copy of this book. From one who has hunted there, it will be well worth the investment.

John reminded me that he is not the "primary" cook at home, but the primary beverage tester. His wife Maureen does the honors at the stove. Ha, well nothing earth shattering here.

MAUREEN'S RABBIT PIE

  • 1 Rabbit, skinned
  • 1 Large onion, chopped
  • 4 Carrots, diced
  • Can sweetcorn 285g (9 1/2 oz) drained
  • Can evaporated milk
  • Italian parsley, some chopped and a few sprigs for garnish
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Mixed herbs
  • I cube Chicken stock

Directions

Cut the rabbit into pieces, and stew for about 90 minutes. Take the meat off the bones. In a pan fry the onions in a bit of oil for about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots and the rabbit. Fry for a further 10 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the evaporated mile, drained sweetcorn, salt and pepper to taste, herbs, and the crumbled stock cube.

Cook until the liquid thickens. Leave to cool. Put everything into a pie dish, and cover with a pastry lid. Bake for about 30 minutes at 180 or 190 degrees C (350 F), until golden brown.

You can use chicken or turkey in place of the rabbit if you desire

John Castle, at his best
John Castle, at his best!

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Banquet Menu Longleat Castle/World Council Meeting
Menu from Banquet/Longleat Castle/World Council Meeting 1986

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RIGATONI, WITH SAUSAGE AND TOMATO CREAM SAUCE

This is a favorite of mine and comfort food at it's best! It makes a lot, and can be prepared ahead and reheated in the oven for a crowd. Prepare a salad, some garlic bread, pour a little Chianti and you have a great meal.

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs. mild or hot Italian Sausage (I prefer hot), casings removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 c. dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 c. canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 c. chopped Italian parsley
  • c. heavy cream
  • Parmesan, grated for serving
  • Directions

    In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat, and add the meat (break up with a fork) and cook until no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Remove the sausage and discard all but 1 Tbsp. of fat. Reduce the heat to low and add the onion and garlic. Stir occasionally until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the wine and cook until it almost evaporates (about 5 minutes). Stir in the sausage, tomatoes, and salt. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add the pepper, parsley, and cream.

    Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to directions on box. Toss with the sauce. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese!

    Rigatoni with Sausage & Tomato Cream Sauce
    Rigatoni, with Sausage & Tomato Cream Sauce

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    MASHED RED POTATOES WITH HORSERADISH

    If you love potatoes (and who doesn't?) give this recipe a try. It's quick and easy, and the horseradish adds a new dimension to this side.


    • 2 lbs New Red potatoes, washed, but NOT peeled
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup grated horseradish
    • 1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • Directions

      Cut potatoes into quarters. Cover with water and boil until tender (about twenty minutes). While potatoes are boiling, saute the chopped onion in vegetable oil over medium heat, until onions begin to brown. Add the garlic and continue to saute until onion pieces are well browned.

      Drain water off cooked potatoes. Add the browned onions and garlic, and all remaining ingredients. Mash by hand with a potato masher, until all the ingredients are well combined, and potatoes are mashed, but still chunky.

      Taste for seasoning.... add more horseradish and/or sour cream if desired. Serve hot.

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      Just couple of reasons we go to France every year......

      Sardines, Bordeaux
      Sardines in Bordeaux
      Mid-day in Paris
      Lunch in Paris

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      ROASTED PLUM TOMATOES WITH FRESH HERBS

      This recipe first appeared in the Dallas Morning News (Jim Romanoff/Associated Press), and it's become one of our favorites. It's easy to prepare and has an intense tomato flavor.

      • 12 ripe plum tomatoes (washed, dried and halved lengthwise)
      • Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
      • Salt
      • Pepper, freshly ground
      • 1-1/2 chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
      • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
      • 1-1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic

      Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place the tomatoes cut side up and drizzle with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour, or until the tomatoes are shriveled and beginning to brown on the bottom.

      Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the remaining oil (we use 2 tbsp.), parsley, thyme and garlic. Remove the tomatoes from the oven, and place a small dollop of the herb mixture on each tomato half, and use the back of a spoon to gently spread on the tomatoes. Return to the oven for about 15 more minutes, or until the herbs are just beginning to brown. Makes 24 tomato halves.

      Serving Suggestions

      Toast baguette slices, spread with goat cheese and top with a tomato half.

      Add to sandwiches or panninis

      Use as a pizza topping

      Coarsely chop and toss with pasta, some additional olive oil, and parmesan cheese

      Toss with a green salad

      Add to scrambled eggs or omelet

      Chop and use to garnish grilled chicken or fish

      Roasted plum tomatoes with fresh herbs
      Roasted plum tomatoes with fresh herbs

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      Whenever we visit our friends Michel and Joelle Toque in France we always anticipate the " fruits de mer" (Fruits of the sea)....a dish famous on the Brittany coast. Why do I mention it? Because I would encourage you to visit this country where food and family are the preferred status.

      Fruits de Mer
      Michel & Joelle's Fruits of the Sea

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      Got a recipe today from my good friend Dee Sperling, who lives in the greater northwest, and who is the newsletter editor for the Hood Canal Detectorists Club, The Olympic Peninsula Treasure Hunters Club and the Metal Detecting Association of Washington. Actually it's her husband Rick's recipe, and Fay and I have it scheduled for Thursday of this week. Have a feeling it's going to be good just by looking at the ingredients, and the best part? It's heart healthy.


      Green Bean Soup
      Dee's photo of Green Bean Soup
      RICK'S HEART HEALTY GREEN BEAN SOUP
      Ingredients:
      • 1 Cup chopped oinion
      • 1 Cup chopped carrots
      • 1 Cup chopped celery
      • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
      • 6 Cups low sodium chicken broth
      • 2 Cans, or 1 pkg. 16 oz frozen cut green beans
      • 2-3 Garlic cloves, minced or 1 tbsp. from jar
      • 2 Cans Italian flavored diced tomatoes
      • Salt & pepper

      Options? 5 drops of Tabasco (or more to taste), and for a heartier soup try adding some barley, but be sure to add the carbohydrate count if you are diabetic.

      Directions:

      In a large saucepan add oil, and saute the onions, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and then stir in the broth and beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and Tabasco. Cover and simmer 10 more minutes. Ladle into bowl and enjoy!

      This recipe can be doubled and tripled for group potlucks. It also holds well in a crockpot.

      Thanks to Dee and Rick for sharing this....


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      Spanish Spam Cake

      Spam Cake
      Spanish Spam Cake

      You will need.....

      • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 bunch scallions, diced (including green tops)
      • 2 cups chopped Spam
      • 1/2 cup salsa, mild to hot, depending on taste
      • 1 cup pitted black olives, chopped
      • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
      • 2 cups sour cream
      • 1 package corn or flour tortillas (1 dozen)

      Then what?

      Preheat oven to 350 F.

      Heat oil in skillet over high heat. Add the scallions and saute until just wilted. Add the Spam and salsa and blend. Remove from the heat.

      In a separate bowl, combine the olives, cheese and sour cream.

      Lightly grease the bottom of a pie plate or baking dish. Place one tortlla in the center of the plate and top with a layer of the Spam/Salsa mixture. Place another tortilla on top and spread it with a layer of cheese and olive mixture. Repeat the layering until cake is complete, ending with a layer of the cheese and olive mixture.

      Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow it to stand for a few minutes. Cut into wedges and serve. Goes great with an iced cold beer.

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      Beef Barley Stew

      Did the dumbest thing the other day.....weather was hot, with temps in the 105 range, and I decided I felt like some hearty stew. So....I made it. My favorite stew recipe uses Barley, and suspect that's because it's similar to pasta. In any case here it is....


      Beef Barley Stew
      Beef Barley Stew

      Ingredients

      1. 1 1/2 lbs. lean beef, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
      2. 1 medium onion, chopped
      3. 1 tablespoon cooking oil
      4. 6 cups beef broth
      5. 1 cup barley
      6. 1 teaspoon thyme
      7. 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
      8. 1/4 teaspoon crushed rosemary
      9. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
      10. 4 carrots sliced
      11. 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

      Instructions:


      1. Dredge the beef in flour, shake off excess, and brown with onion in oil.

      2. Put into a deep pan along with the broth, barley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, pepper and carrots.

      3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until carrots and barley are tender.

      4. Add parsley before serving.

      Accompany with a good French bread, and either beer or a red wine from the south of France (Languedoc region preferably)

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      Chicken Piccata


      Chicken Piccata
      Chicken Piccata

      Ingredients

      • 4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, flattened to about 1/2 thick
      • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
      • Flour, for dredging
      • 6 tablespoons of butter
      • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
      • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
      • 1/2 cup chicken stock
      • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed
      • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

      Instructions:

      Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour and shake off excess.

      In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to a plate.

      Melt two more tablespoons of butter and another 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and repeat the above process with the next two pieces of chicken. Remove pan from the heat and add chicken to the plate.

      Into the pan add the lemon juice, chicken stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter.

      Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

      A Pinot Grigio is a good match for this dish. Enjoy......

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      Just a few more reasons we go to France......

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      Linguine with Onion, Bacon & Parmesan


      Linguine with Onion, Bacon and Parmesan
      Lingune with Onion, Bacon and Parmesan

      Ingredients

      • 1/2 pound sliced bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips
      • 2 onions, sliced thin
      • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
      • 1/8 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 3/4 lb linguine
      • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and more for serving
      • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
      • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

      Preparation:

      In large frying pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.

      Put the pan over moderate heat. Add the onions, the thyme, the red-pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.

      Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are brown (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat.

      In large pot of boiling water, cook the linguine until just done, about 9 or 10 minutes. Reserve one cup of the pasta water. Drain the linguine, and toss with the bacon, onions, 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water, the Parmesan, parsley, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. If sauce is too thick add little more pasta water. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.

      Goes great with Beer, or wine...enjoy!

      PS: Always use a decent Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself (forget the sawdust in the jar). Likewise, use Italian parsley, not the curly.....

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      Tortellini, with Prosciutto and Peas

      Tortellini with Peas and Prosciutto

      Ingredients

      • 12 ounces cheese tortellini
      • 1/4 cup water, reserved from cooking pasta
      • 2 Tablespoons Butter
      • 2 Garlic cloves, minded
      • 1/4 lb. proscuitto, sliced into thin slices
      • 1 Cup heavy cream
      • 1 Pinch Nutmeg,
      • 1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese. freshly grated
      • 3/4 Cup frozen baby peas, thawed
      • Salt and Pepper

      Preparation....


      1.Cook tortellini according to package directions

      2.Melt butter in skillet and cook garlic for 1 minute.

      Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer...

      5. Add nutmeg and simmer until cream is thickened and reduced by half.

      6. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan and peas..

      7. Stir in reserved cooking liquid and tortellin and toss to coast.

      8.Season to taste with salt and pepper.

      Serve and enjoy.......

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      Pork Chops with Barley Mushroom Casserole

      Courtesy Food Network
      Pork Chops with Barley & Mushrooms

      Indredients

      • 2 Tbsp. Butter

      • 2 medium Onions, finely diced

      • 1 Carrot, finely chopped

      • 1 Celery rib, thinly sliced

      • 3/4 lb. Mushrooms, thinly sliced (such as shitake, button, baby portobellos, and oyster)

      • 1 1/2 c. Pearl Barley

      • 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh Thyme (or 3/4 tsp. dried thyme)

      • 3/4 tsp. Salt

      • Freshly ground Black pepper, to taste


      Preparation

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

      Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.

      Add the onions, carrot, celery, mushrooms, barley, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms begin to brown... about 10 minutes.

      Scrape the mixture into a shallow 2 1/2 quart baking dish, and add the boiling vegetable stock.

      Cover tightly and bake 60-75 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. (Be careful of the steam when removing the cover.)

      The barley should have a slightly crunchy texture when done.

      If it is too hard after all the stock has been absorbed, add some boiling stock or water and cook 10 to 15 minutes more.

      Just before the casserole is done cooking, sauté or grill several pork chops.

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      Boiled Shrimp with Sweet Corn, New Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

      This is a one pot meal and good for an informal dinner with friends......


      Before you start cooking... set the table.... Place a large plastic garbage bag on the table and cover with layers of newspaper. (No tablecloth needed!) There... that was easy! Be sure you have good ventilation as the spices are potent as they boil.

      Boiled Shrimp with Sweet Corn, New Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

      You will need.....

      • 12 c. WATER
      • 1 tsp. SALT
      • 1 pkg. (3 ounces) ZATARAIN'S CRAWFISH, SHRIMP, and CRAB BOIL SEASONING BAG
      • 1 lb. NEW POTATOES
      • 4 ears SWEET CORN, each cut in half
      • 1 lb. SMOKED SAUSAGE, cut in pieces
      • 2 lb. LARGE SHRIMP with shells on
      • 1 LEMON, cut into wedges
      • Parsley for garnish
      • BUTTER, melted
      • HOT SAUCE... your favorite!

      Bring water, salt and bag of Zatarain's seasoning to a boil. (Do not take seasoning mixture out of bag). Add potatoes and reduce heat and cook until potatoes are nearly done. (Check by piercing with the tip of a knife). This will take about 15 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes.

      Add corn and simmer 5 minutes. Add sausage and then shrimp and simmer for another 5 minutes... and your meal is done!

      Drain well and pour onto the newspapers and garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.... Add several shakes of your favorite hot sauce to the melted butter. (For those who don't like hot and spicy, serve plain melted butter.) Place melted butter in small individual serving dishes and provide several brushes to slather the butter on the sweet corn and potatoes.

      Everyone peels their own shrimp to dunk in the melted butter.....

      Be sure you have plenty of napkins!

      This is nice served with coleslaw and a loaf of crusty bread and a cold beer.

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      Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

      INGREDIENTS
      • 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
      • Large plastic food storage bags or waxed paper
      • 1 package, 10 ounces, frozen chopped spinach
      • 2 Tablespoons of butter
      • 12 Small mushroom caps, crimini or button type
      • 2 Cloves of garlic, cracked
      • 1 Small shallot, quartered
      • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
      • 1 Cup part skim ricotta cheese
      • 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan
      • 1/2 Teaspoon ground nutmeg
      • Toothpicks
      • Two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

      SAUCE
      • 2 Tablespoons of butter
      • 2 Tablespoons of flour
      • 1/2 Cup white wine
      • 1 Cup chicken broth

      DIRECTIONS

      Place breasts in the center of a plastic food storage bag or 2 large sheets of waxed paper. Pound out the chicken from the center of the bag outward using a heavy-bottomed skillet or mallet. Be firm but controlled with your strokes.

      Defrost spinach in the microwave. Transfer spinach to a kitchen towel. Twist towel around spinach and wring it out until very dry. Transfer to a medium-mixing bowl.

      Place a nonstick skillet over moderate heat. When skillet is hot, add butter, mushrooms, garlic and shallot. Season with salt and pepper and saute 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms, garlic and shallot to the food processor. Pulse to grind the mushrooms and transfer to the mixing bowl, adding the processed mushrooms to the spinach. Add ricotta and grated cheese to the bowl and the nutmeg. Stir to combine the stuffing. Return your skillet to the stove over medium high heat

      Place a mound of stuffing on each breast and wrap and roll breast over the stuffing. Secure breasts with toothpicks. Add 3 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add breasts to the pan and brown on all sides, cooking chicken 10 to 12 minutes. The meat will cook quickly because it is thin. Remove breasts; add butter to the pan and flour. Cook butter and flour for a minute, whisk in wine and reduce another minute. Whisk in broth and return breasts to the pan. Reduce heat and simmer until ready to serve. Remove toothpicks. Serve breasts whole or, remove from pan, slice on an angle and fan out on dinner plates. Top stuffed chicken breasts or sliced stuffed breasts with generous spoonfuls of the sauce.

      Fay and I tried a Gewurztraminer wine with this and it went very nicely.....

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      IT'S EASY TO LOVE FOOD WHEN YOU ARE IN FRANCE

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      LEMON SPAGHETTI


      Ingredients

      • 1 pound spaghetti
      • 2/3 cup olive oil
      • 2/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
      • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about three lemons)
      • Salt and freshly ground pepper
      • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
      • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
      Directions

      Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until tender, but still firm to the bite, stirring occassionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.

      Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding a 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and parsley....

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      MEXICAN BEEF AND CHORIZO MEATBALLS


      I made this recipe the other night, and really enjoyed it. Found it in "The Meatball Cookbook Bible", by Ellen Brown and published by Cider Mill Press. It's a great appetizer, and goes great with a cold beer and ballgame on the TV. It's also very easy to make.


      Ingredients

      • 3 tablespoons olive oil
      • 1/4 small red onion, chopped
      • 3 garlic cloves, minced
      • 1 large egg
      • 2 tablespoons whole milk
      • 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
      • 3/4 cup grated jalepeno Jack cheese
      • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
      • 1 tablespoon chili powder
      • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
      • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
      • 1 pound ground chuck
      • 1/2 pound chorizo, casings removed if necessary
      • Salt and cayenne to taste
      • Vegetable Oil Spray

      Directions

      Preheat the oven to 450. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil, and spray the foil with vegetable spray.

      Heat oil in small skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes, or until onion is translucent. While these cook whisk egg and milk in a mixing bowl, and add breadcrumbs, cheese, cilantro, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Mix well....

      Add the vegetable mixture, beef and chorizo to the mixing bowl, season to taste with salt and cayenne, and mix well again. Make mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs, and arrange on the prepared pan. Spray tops of meatballs with vegetable oil spray.

      Bake meatballs for 12 to 15 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the pan from the oven, and serve immediately, accompanied by a bowl of Creamy Chipotle Sauce for dipping.


      Creamy Chipotle Sauce for Dipping....

      • 1 cup mayonaise
      • 2/3 cup of sour cream
      • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
      • 3 scallions, white parts and 3 inches of green tops, chopped
      • 3 garlic cloves, minced
      • 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
      • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
      • Salt to taste

      Combine mayonaise, sour cream, lime juice, scallions, garlic, chiles, and adobo sauce in a mixing bowl. Whisk well and season to taste with salt. Refrigerate until ready to use....

      ************

      SAUSAGE AND WHITE BEAN CASSEROLE

      Don't ask me what prompted me to make this the other night given the extreme heat we have now. Just sounded like my kind of thing....turned out pretty decent.

      Ingredients

      • 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon olive oil
      • 1 pound Italian sausage links
      • 2 carrots, clut into 1/2 inch pieces
      • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
      • 2 bunches Swiss chard, leaves cut into 2 inch strips (about 12 cups)
      • 2 15.5 ounce cans cannelli beans
      • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
      Directions

      Heat overn to 400 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large overnproof skillet over medium-high heat.

      Add the sausage and cook, turning, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to plate.

      Add the carrots and garlic to the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add the chard and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.

      Add the beans, 1/2 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Nestle the sausages in the beans.

      In a bowl combine the bread crumbs and the remaining teaspoon of oil. Sprinkle over the sausage mixture. Transfer the skillet to the oven; bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

      Goes great with a hearty Chianti or cold beer....

      ************

      PITA PIZZA'S

      Heres a very easy dinner... and the kids can join in making their own pizzas... or should I say "pitas".

      In Fay's photo, the pita on the left is ready to go in the oven, and the one on the right is done baking. There is no specific recipe. Use what you have on hand or what you like on your pizzas. You could even add bits of leftover zucchini, black beans, butternut squash, etc.

      Or you could use blue cheese, feta, or whatever kind of cheese you like.... we have made so many variations it's hard to remember. Be inventive!


      Photo by Fay Stout

      Start with whole wheat pitas, split in half and place each half (rough side up) on a baking sheet.Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

      These are the ingredients that we used last night...

      ITALIAN SAUSAGE, sauteed until cooked through and browned

      GREEN PEPPERS, diced

      MUSHROOMS, sliced and sauteed in a little olive oil

      SCALLIONS, thinly sliced

      ROMA TOMATOES, seeded and diced

      BLACK OLIVES, quartered

      MOZZARELLA CHEESE, grated (or you can use the mozzarella pearls... small rounds of mozzarella)

      PARMESAN CHEESE, grated

      GARLIC POWDER, ITALIAN SEASONING, OLIVE OIL....

      Put all the ingredients in little bowls and let everyone help themselves as they make their own pitas. Layer the ingredients on the pita slices and top with mozzarella cheese and some Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Drizzle olive oil liberally over the pitas.

      Bake for about 10 minutes... check frequently. They are done when the pita is crispy and the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan if desired. Cool a few minutes. Slice into quarters and serve.


      ************


      TURKEY AND HOT SAUSAGE CHILI


      Made this last night, and it's darn good....great for chilly night. You can thank Emeril Lagasse for this one (Food Network).

      Ingredients

      • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
      • 1 pound ground turkey
      • 12 ounces hot Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
      • 2 teaspoons Essence (available in most grocery stores)
      • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
      • 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
      • 1/2 cup chopped, roasted and peeled green poblano or Anaheim chiles
      • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
      • 2 tablespoons chili powder
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 12 oz. bottle lager beer
      • 1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes with juice
      • 2 cups cooked pinto beans, or canned beans, rinsed and drained
      • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
      • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese, garnish
      • Tortilla chips, accompaniment

      Directions

      In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, sausage and Essence, and cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink. 6 to 8 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, and chiles, and cook, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and salt, and cook for 1 minute. Add the beer and tomatoes, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add the pinto beans during the last ten minutes.


      To serve ladle into large bowls, and sprinkle each serving with 1/4 cup of cheese. Serve tortilla chips on the side, and why not one more bottle of lager!


      If Emeril's Essence in not available at your local grocer, this is the recipe.....

      • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
      • 2 tablespoons salt
      • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
      • 1 tablespoon black pepper
      • 1 tablespoon onion powder
      • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
      • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
      • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

      Combine all ingredients thoroughly......

      ************

      SHRIMP AND PASTA WITH GARLIC, LEMON AND GREEN ONIONS

      Call me Mr. Pasta! Could eat it three times a day, 24/7. Decided to give this Emeril recipe a shot last night, and it was terrific. Please do use fresh shrimp. Makes all the difference in the world.

      Ingredients

      • 20 to 25 (1 1/4 lbs) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
      • 2 teaspoons Emerils Essence (see below)
      • 2 teaspoons olive oil
      • 2 tablespoons butter, plus 2 tablespoons
      • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
      • 1/2 cup dry white wine
      • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
      • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
      • 1 pound cooked linguini
      • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
      • 1/4 cup chopped green onions, tops only
      • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

      Directions

      Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the Essence....

      Place the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large 14 inch skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp to the pan, spreading them evenly in one layer. Cook for 2 minutes then turn them over and do the same. Removed the shrimp and keep warm. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds.

      Add the wine, lemon juice, lemon zest and remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the pan, along with pasta, crushed red pepper flakes and green onions, tossing to coat well. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and toss to combine. Serve hot.....

      If Emeril's Essence in not available at your local grocer, this is the recipe.....

      • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
      • 2 tablespoons salt
      • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
      • 1 tablespoon black pepper
      • 1 tablespoon onion powder
      • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
      • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
      • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

      Combine all ingredients thoroughly......

      ************

      CHRISTMAS CAKE RECIPE
      Thanks to John Howland for this recipe....it will really get you into the holiday spirit.
      Ingredients

      • 2 cups flour
      • 1 stick butter
      • 1 cup water
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1 cup brown sugar
      • lemon juice
      • 4 large eggs
      • Nuts
      • 2 bottles red wine
      • 2 cups dried fruit
      Directions

      Sample the wine to check the quality. Take a large bowl, check the wine again to be sure it's of the highest quality. Pour level cup and drink. Repeat. Next turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's best to make sure the wine is still OK. Try another cup...just in case. Turn off the mixerer thing. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl, then chuck in a cup of dried fruit.

      Pick the frigging fruit up off the floor. Mix on the turner. If the fried fruit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a screwdriver. Sample the wine to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt, or something... Check the wine. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Then add a teaspoon of sugar, or something. Whatever you can find.

      Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the wine and wipe counter with cat. Go to Tesco and buy cake....!

      ************

      VIETNAMESE HOT AND SOUR SHRIMP SOUP

      Fay made this soup today, and it's fantastic. Takes a few ingedients but is well worth the effort......

      Once your ingredients are prepped, this soup goes together very quickly!

      Ingredients

      • 1 tsp. CORN OIL
      • 2 tbsp. minced SHALLOTS
      • 2 stalks LEMONGRASS ,trimmed, tough outer leaves discarded
      • cut into 2 inch lengths, and smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife or mallet
      • 1 large ripe TOMATO, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch thick wedges
      • 1/2 lb. BUTTON MUSHROOMS, rinsed, drained, stems trimmed and caps thinly sliced
      • 1 1/2 tsp. SUGAR
      • 5 cups WATER
      • 1/2 lb. MEDIUM SHRIMP, peeled, scored down the back, deveined and rinsed (Fay used 3/4 lb.)
      • 5 1/2 tbsp. FISH SAUCE
      • 3 tbsp. fresh LIME JUICE
      • 1/4 lb. very thin RICE STICK NOODLES (vermicelli), softened in hot water and drained
      • 1 1/2 cups BEAN SPROUTS, rinsed and drained
      • 1/2 tsp. CRUSHED RED PEPPER FLAKES
      • 2 tbsp. SCALLION GREENS, finely minced

      Directions

      Heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat until hot, about 30 seconds. Add the shallots and lemongrass and stir-fry for about 15 seconds...

      Add the tomato, mushrooms, and sugar and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.

      Add the shrimp, fish sauce, lime juice, and noodles and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and the noodles are tender. Using tongs, remove and discard the lemongrass. Add the bean sprouts and crushed red pepper, bring to a boil, and cook for about 1 minute, or until heated through.

      Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with the scallions, and serve. Makes 6 servings.....

      ************

      MEXICAN-STYLE ROASTED CORN
      Serve with lots of napkins or paper towels! This is no time to be fancy!!

      Though amounts are given for the garnish... We prefer to just set out the necessary ingredients and let everyone fix their own corn to their liking.

      • 4 large ears of CORN, with husks still attached
      • 1/2 c. MAYONNAISE
      • 1 1/2 c. COTIJA CHEESE, crumbled (you may substitute Parmesan cheese or Queso Fresco)
      • 4 Tbsp. CILANTRO, minced
      • 4 tsp. ANCHO CHILE POWDER
      • Kosher SALT and freshly ground PEPPER, to taste
      • 1 LIME, cut into 4 wedges
      • Working with one ear of corn at a time, peel back the husks to expose the kernels, leaving husks attached at the base. Remove the silk threads and tie husks together with kitchen twine around base of cob to form a handle. Repeat with remaining ears.

        Transfer corn to a large bowl or pot of water and let soak for 30 minutes (husks and all).

        Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill over medium-high heat.

        Transfer corn to grill; cook turning occasionally, until charred and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

        Remove the corn from the grill and brush with mayonnaise.

        Place cheese on a plate and roll each ear of corn in cheese to coat. Sprinkle corn evenly with some of the cilantro, chile powder, and salt and pepper, pressing the corn so that seasonings and cheese will adhere to the mayonnaise.

        Serve with lime wedges. (Do not omit the squeeze of lime juice! It is sublime!) Grab a hold of the husks, (they make a natural handle)... and get ready to get messy!

        Serves 4... but this is so good, that you may want to double the ingredients and plan on 2 ears per person!

        ************

        GARLIC CHIVE PAPPARDELLE AL LIMONE

        Fay bought this garlic chive pasta at the Rockwall Farmer's Market, and you can also purchase it on line from Pappardelle's

        This is one of the best pasta dishes I have ever eaten! Do give it a try, and if you can't find the garlic chive pappardelle, use the plain....still good.

        Ingredients:

        • 1 lb. PAPPARDELLE'S GARLIC CHIVE PAPPARDELLE
        • 1-2 cloves GARLIC, minced
        • 2 Tbsp. BUTTER
        • 1/4 tsp. crushed, dried CHILI PEPPER FLAKES
        • 2 LEMONS, zested
        • 4 oz. cooked HAM, cut into matchsticks (I used salami)
        • 2 c. HALF-AND-HALF (I used heavy cream)
        • Freshly grated PARMESAN CHEESE
        • Fresh CHIVES, minced
        • LEMON WEDGES
        • Freshly ground PEPPER
        • Instructions....

          Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until garlic is fragrant and then add ham or salami. Heat gently, then add lemon zest and cream. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.

          Cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain, reserving about 1/4 c. pasta cooking water.

          Add pasta to sauce in skillet and toss with a few spoonsful of Parmesan cheese. If sauce is too thick... add a little of the pasta water and toss again. Sprinkle with chopped chives.

          Serve immediately. Pass Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top and serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze on pasta. Top with freshly ground pepper....

          ************

          JERK PORK NACHOS

          Fay made this the other night, and it's from the Food Network magagine. No need to mix your spices, just buy a jerk seasoning blend at the store.

          Photo by Fay Stout

          INGREDIENTS
          • TORTILLA CHIPS
          • 1 lb. PORK TENDERLOIN or FILLET
          • 1/4 c. JERK SEASONING
          • 1 c. PINEAPPLE TIDBITS (canned)
          • 3 c. PEPPER JACK CHEESE, shredded
          • JALAPENOS (red, green, or both), sliced
          • CILANTRO, coarsely chopped
          • l LIME, cut into wedges to be served with the nachos
          • SOUR CREAM (optional) for serving

          You may vary the amounts depending on how many you plan to serve. You may also want to prepare twice as much meat and save half for sandwiches later.

          INSTRUCTIONS

          Thickly coat your pork with the jerk seasoning. You may grill your pork if desired, but Fay simply sauteed it in a pan coated with a small amount of oil over medium high heat to get a brown crust on the outside, and then put it in a 400 degree F. oven and roasted until cooked through. Use a meat thermometer to check after about 20 minutes.When done, allow to cool for a bit to make it easier to chop into small pieces.

          Arrange your tortilla chips on a serving pan. Top with pork, pineapple, cheese and place in the 400 degree oven until the cheese has melted.....

          Top with jalapeno slices (or you may chop more finely), cilantro and a good squirt of lime juice. We liked them served with some sour cream on the side.

          Pour a cold beer to enjoy with your nachos and dig in!

          ************

          SPANISH CHICKEN AND POTATO ROAST
          INGREDIENTS

          • 1 1/2 LBS. LARGE YUKON GOLD POTATOES, cut into 1 1/2 INCH PIECES
          • 4 GLOVES GARLIC, smashed and coarsely chopped
          • 2 TBS.EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
          • KOSHER SALT
          • 1 1/2 LBS.SKINLESS, BONELESS CHICKEN THIGHS (5 TO 6)
          • 2 TSP. SMOKED PAPRIKA
          • FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
          • 4 TBS.roughly chopped FRESH PARSLEY
          • 2 LEMONS (1 juiced, 1 cut into wedges)
          • 2 LARGE OR 3 MEDIUM RED ONIONS, halved and thinly sliced

          INSTRUCTIONS

          Position a rack in he upper third of the oven. Place a large cast iron baking dish or a rimmed baking sheet on the rack and preheat to 500 degrees. Put the potatoes, garlic, olive oil, 1 tablespoon water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large microsave-safe baking dish and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, pierce the plastic in a few places with a knife and microwave 8 minutes to partially cook.

          Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with the paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add two tablespoons parsley and the lemon juice, toss to coat. Set aside.

          Remove the "hot" baking dish from the oven; carefully add the potatoes and spread in an even layer. Scatter the onions on top. Roast until the potatoes start to brown, about 12 minutes.

          Flip the potatoes and lay the chicken pieces on top, adding any accumulated juices from the bowl; return to the oven and roast until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 12 more minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Serve with the lemon wedges.

          ************

          Fay is doing a lot with food photography now, and if you are interested in seeing more of her work, click here. Please note there are 21 pages total and 12 recipes/photos per page.....