Hazelnut Sponge Cake

Finally, I've finished reading cover to cover the first of my Christmas cookbooks. My kids gave me lots of them and it's going to take me a while to get through them all. I began with A Platter of Figs by David Tanis, published in 2008. Tanis has worked with Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in several capacities over the last 25 years. Right now, he spends half the year in Paris, where he writes and hosts a private dining club, and half the year in San Francisco, where he continues chef duties at Chez Panisse in collaboration with long-time colleague Jean-Pierre Moullé.

There are 24 menus in A Platter of Figs, six for each season. How best to explain David's attitude towards cooking? "Simple cooking meant to illuminate nature’s perfect simplicity" was a quote I read someplace. There are no long lists of ingredients, just simple recipes and fabulous flavors. 

This hazelnut sponge cake was lovely. The hazelnuts are not ground finely, so there is a flavor-filled chewiness with each bite. I served it with a coffee-flavored sweetened whipped cream, but kept thinking I'd have loved some caramelized fruit with it. Maybe pears. But I contained myself and kept it simple.

Hazelnut Sponge Cake

From A Platter of Figs by David Tanis

1 pound shelled hazelnuts
8 large eggs, separated, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons cake flour, matzo meal or dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400. Roast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes until the skins blister and hazelnuts are toasted. Place them in a tea towel and rub them together to remove skins. When they are cool, coarsely chop them in a food processor.
Line a 10 inch spring form pan with a circle of parchment or butter and flour the pan. Set aside. Lower oven heat to 350.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until creamy. Add the zest, lemon juice, flour, salt and hazelnuts and mix well.

Beat the whites until stiff. Add 1/3 of them to the batter to lighten, then fold in the remaining whites.
Bake the cake in the 350 oven for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 325 and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool completely on a rack before unmolding.
Serve with fresh fruit and slightly sweetened whipped cream or just some lightly sweetened coffee flavored whipped cream, which is what I did.


50 Women Game Changers in Food: # 32, Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian

OK, I'll fess up and admit my ignorance: I'd never heard of either of these women. This is a first for me with our 50 Game Changers and it's why I decided to join Mary's group. Culinary Education 101. If they're new to you too, I hope you'll enjoy reading and learning.

Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian had a graphic design firm doing things like visitor's guides for Ojai, California and tourism websites. But outside work, the two were interested  in organic, seasonal gardening and cooking. Ryder has degrees in graphic design, journalism and psychology, and graduated from a professional chef school in Los Angeles. Topalian is an acclaimed photographer. 
After her father's death about 10 years ago, Ryder reevaluated her life and she and Topalian decided to launch a locavore print publication...much against the advice of others. (Locavore defined means anyone who is interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market.)

Ryder grew up in a farming family and had just read “Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods” and “This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader,” so starting a local magazine called Edible Ojai focusing on local food felt like a good fit.

(Ryder is on the left in the photo, Topalian on the right.)

Their initial 16-page, one-color quarterly magazine was a hit. In a town of 8,000 people, they were printing 10,000 copies and running out within a few weeks. Ryder feels that although the food magazine niche was already crowded, most focused on cooking in or dining out, not on local food production, distribution and politics, in addition to what tastes good.

And then in 2004, Saveur magazine included Edible Ojai on its Saveur 100, a list of food trends and trend setters to watch  — the exposure prompted more than 400 people to call saying they wanted something similar in their communities. 

And the two decided to change their concept to a licensing model, slightly different from a franchise, because they believed local ownership would lead to more authentic quality. They worked up a concept like a niche Associated Press, where individual publications are independently owned but share resources via the cooperative.

Four months later, Ryder and Topalian made the cross-country drive to Cape Cod to help launch the first licensed addition to the Edible group, published by Doug and Dianne Langeland.

While they are passionate about promoting local food, Ryder and Topalian are equally committed to profitability. 
By the end of 2006, Edible Communities was turning a profit. In 2007, it hit $1 million in revenue. Edible is adding about 10 new magazines a year, with about 70 operating in North America and a total readership of about 15 million, most picking up the magazine for free but some getting it delivered by mail with paid subscriptions. They were profiled by Inc. magazine in 2010.

Headquarters sells a small number of national ads, but most magazines sell about 90 percent of their ads locally. The publications are required to maintain a balance of at least 51 percent editorial content, and they manage their own content, ads, printing and distribution.

While they continue to add magazines, Ryder and Topalian have other ideas for expanding the Edible empire. Today the pair spend their time on corporate projects. While Topalian is still very much involved with guiding Edible into its next phase as well as doing all of the food and location photography for the cookbooks the company is producing, she is  semi-retired from day-to-day operations. Ryder misses writing: 
“I do miss writing very much. These days, all I write are emails ...and I used to be a good writer. My writing skill feels like a muscle I’ve let atrophy. Hopefully, in the near future, there will be opportunities for me to write again!”


I've always loved corn fritters and jumped all over these when I saw the recipe. The egg white addition resulted in light and airy fritters, filled with lovely sweet fresh corn. But, as good as these were, I still prefer
Faith's take on fresh veggie fritters.

 Fresh Corn Fritters

Originally published in Edible: A Celebration of Local FoodsEdible: A Celebration of Local Foods by Heart of Green Award-winners Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian. 

2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 3 ears of corn) 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup finely chopped spring onions or scallions
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoons paprika
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a large bowl, stir together the corn, flour, egg yolks, onions, salt, paprika, pepper and cayenne. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir one-quarter of the beaten egg whites into the corn mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining egg whites into the corn mixture in three additions.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat until the butter has melted. Carefully drop some of the corn mixture by tablespoons in to the hot oil, taking care not to crowd the pan. Cook each fritter until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn each fritter over and brown the other side, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the fritters to a platter lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired. Repeat until all of the corn mixture has been used. Serve hot with some broiled tomatoes, a salsa made with chopped avocado, mango, lime and cilantro, and sour cream, if desired.
To serve: layer three with sour cream and add garnish of tomatoes and cilantro.

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

 Ciao Chow Linda


Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Yams with Smoky-Sweet Dipping Sauce

Here's the last of my Super Bowl snacks this season. I loved this idea from Noble Pig (Cathy posts the best appetizers!) as it's a reasonably healthy appetizer. And contrary to what Cathy says in her recipe, Fry Sauce is NOT available in every grocery store. Certainly not in South Florida and I have a feeling it's something available only in the western U.S. I learned a lot about Fry Sauce this week, which I had never heard of before and three different grocery store managers (including Whole Foods) merely looked blank and kept trying to send me to oils for use in woks.

Of course I finally discovered you can order it HERE, but rather than go to these drastic measures, a reasonable facsimile is Thousand Island Dressing. Sort of....well anyway, close enough. So I made a small amount: 3 tablespoons mayo to 1 tablespoon chili sauce. I would have added some other seasonings, but there are plenty already in this dip. You could also use light mayo and light sour cream to cut back on the calories. Can you tell I like my roasted potatoes brown and crunchy? 

BTW: do you like hot? This dip is HOT!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Yams with Dipping Sauce
From Noble Pig


5 medium sweet potatoes and yams, peeled and cut into 3" pieces
Olive Oil
Kosher salt & black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 T Fry sauce (in every grocery store in the condiment aisle)
1 T fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (chipotle gives the smoky flavor)
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
1/4 tsp cayenne


Preheat oven to 450.  Place sliced potatoes into a bowl and coat with some olive oil.  Use your hands to rub the oil into each piece.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper.  Place them on baking tray that has been coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until edges are brown and potatoes are fork tender. (Baking time is really going to depend on your oven.)

While the potatoes are baking, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, Fry sauce, oregano, onion powder, chili powder, garlic, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. 
Serve the potatoes on a platter with the sauce.


Chuck's Chicken Wings

Chef Chuck Hughes. Name sound familiar? I first discovered him on The Cooking Channel with a show called "Chuck's Night Off".  He's a Canadian chef, restaurateur and the chef/co-owner of Garde Manger and Le Bremner, both located in Old Montréal.

I watched him defeat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America a while back and more recently, you might remember him from The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs competition, but he was defeated in the third round. I've enjoyed watching his show from time to time and thought you'd like his wings recipe. We sure did. Don't they look sticky and divine? Just in time for the Super Bowl.

Balsamic Chicken Wings

Recipe courtesy Chuck Hughes

18 chicken wings 
1 cup honey 
1 cup brown sugar 
1 cup balsamic vinegar 
2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
Zest and juice of 1 lemon 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Lemon zest, for garnish

Remove the tips from the wings by cutting between the joints. Transfer the wings to a large resealable plastic bag. 

Combine the honey, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic and lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour half the marinade into the bag with the chicken. Squeeze out most of the air and seal the bag. Shake gently to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F 

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary, sear the chicken wings, flipping once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, flipping the wings often to prevent them from burning. Remove the skillet from the oven and add the remaining marinade. Continue to cook the wings on the stovetop until the sauce is thick and coats the chicken wings evenly. 

To serve, arrange the wings on a platter and garnish with lemon zest.


Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: #31, Donna Hay

Donna Hay is a household name in Australia. She's a hugely popular cookbook author (She's authored 14 bestselling cookbooks), has her own glossy Donna Hay Magazine (which I subscribe to) and a weekly cooking column in News Ltd newspapers across the country. As long ago as 2001, The New York Times ran a glowing story on the Australian headed, "Look Out, Martha Stewart: A Rival from Down Under".

She is reportedly a perfectionist at work. Friends and associates speak with awe of her drive and ambition. "I want it all," she says. "What do they say? You're a long time dead." Hay is said to be better at pastry-making than people management. Critics and fans agree that Hay is formidably talented and hard-working but she is tough and she can be difficult for those who work with her.

After graduating from high school, she failed to qualify for a physiotherapy course, so she enrolled in home economics and loved it. The youngest of three sisters, and given free rein in the kitchen and her grandmother's vegetable garden, she also attended cooking classes in school holidays and by the age of 14 had assumed the role of head chef in the family. 

Hay worked in the Women's Weekly test kitchen, then as a freelance food stylist before becoming food editor of the Australian edition of Marie Claire magazine. During this time, she produced four cookbooks. The recipes were short, the layout clean and the food photographed in natural light on white plates against white backgrounds. 

In 2001, she persuaded Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd to finance Donna Hay Magazine in return for running her cooking column in the group's Australian newspapers. Hay, whose title is editorial director, has creative control of Donna Hay. In March 2011, Hay's first television series, Fast, Fresh, Simple, began on The LifeStyle Channel. It's a 13-part series that features many of the recipes from her book of the same name.

Ms. Hay rises early and  works marathon hours - partly because she has difficulty delegating. Hay's life partner, Bill Wilson, is painted as "saintly and long-suffering", but everyone says he adores her. They have two sons. "Having a child has really chilled me out a little bit," she says. "A lot. It's given me another dimension to my life." Others are amazed at this comment. When Hay returned from maternity leave, half a dozen people, including the magazine's co-founder, Vanessa Holden, left the magazine.
Holden was seen by some as the mastermind behind Donna Hay. While Hay was the culinary wizard, Holden was the inspired designer and wordsmith who pulled everything together behind the scenes. Holden says she eventually left because she felt used. She was fine with the fact that Hay was the face of the magazine but felt she deserved more credit for her own contribution. Hay believes almost all the unhappiness at the magazine stemmed from the conflict between her and Holden. "Because Vanessa and I were best friends, it was like going through a divorce for everyone," she says.

Nonetheless, the magazine continues (as does Ms. Hay's success) and is an absolute delight visually. I look forward to each issue.


The salad I chose appealed to me because I love crispy polenta and teaming it with chorizo, tomatoes, spinach and mozzarella is brilliant. It's a simple salad to make and really a meal in itself.

Polenta, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
Donna Hay Magazine, Issue #50

3 cups chicken stock
1 cup instant polenta
4 tablespoons butter, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
sea salt and cracked black pepper
EVOO, for drizzling
15-20 cherry tomatoes
2 chorizo, sliced
2 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
350 grams buffalo mozzarella, torn
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons white balsamic or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed

Preheat oven to 425. Place the stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in the polenta and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Pour into a lightly greased 9 by 13 baking pan. Refrigerate for 45 minutes or until set. Turn out on a cutting board and cut into wedges. Place on a greased baking tray and roast for 15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside and keep warm.

While the polenta is roasting, make the dressing. Combine the vinegar, olive oil and garlic and stir to combine.

Place the tomatoes and chorizo on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast 3-5 minutes in the oven until chorizo is crisp and the tomatoes are tender.
Serve with the polenta, spinach and mozzarella. Spoon the dressing over everything to serve. Serves 4.

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

 Ciao Chow Linda


Lentils Like Baked Beans

Have you heard about this recipe? Take my advice and don't wait for summertime to make this wonderful side dish, even though we always think of baked beans as a picnic dish. These lentils would be perfect with a pork chop, although I had it next to a piece of chicken. I couldn't stop eating it. Addictive. Would you believe later that night I was spooning it out of the fridge cold? 

Some bench notes from the original recipe: when....and notice I said when, not if....you make it, rinse the lentils until the water runs clear. And use red lentils. I happened to have some thick cut bacon and used that, so did not add the extra oil that's on the ingredient list. The only thing I changed in the original recipe (why bother messing with perfection?) was taking the lid off the baking dish the last 15 minutes so the liquid would cook off before it became mush. It took an additional 5 or 10 minutes. This will all depend on your oven. Check after about 40 minutes and if you still see a lot of fluid, remove the top and bake until it's nearly gone. I also used some toasted whole wheat naan for serving.

Lentils Like Baked Beans

From The Art of Living According to Joe Beef via Seven Spoons


4 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked over
4 cups water
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons neutral oil
2 tablespoons Colman's mustard powder
1 tablespoon cider vinegar, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon ground pepper, plus more as needed
1 bay leaf


Preheat the oven to 350°F 

In oven proof pot with lid, fry bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, or until softened. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.  

Add the lentils, water, ketchup, maple syrup, oil, mustard, vinegar, pepper and bay leaf. Stir well and season with salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, place in oven, and bake for 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender.

Taste and correct the seasoning with salt, pepper, maple syrup, and vinegar. Serve hot now or later. Serves 4.


Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: #30, Barbara Tropp

Barbara Tropp grew up in Springfield, N.J. and while taking a high school class on Asian culture, she discovered what she wanted to do with her life. She studied Chinese in college and then spent two years in Taiwan improving her language skills and immersing herself in food. Luckily, her host family had a fine cook; Tropp watched and learned.

When she returned to Princeton, her fellowship was running out so she began giving cooking lessons and cooking Chinese dinners. Her thesis was soon forgotten and she moved to San Francisco and Chinatown. She soon had a book contract for "The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking," her attempt to present the authentic Chinese food she remembered from Taiwan.

By the early 1990s, Tropp was a sought-after teacher and from 1986 to 1996, she ran a very successful Chinese restaurant named China Moon Cafe in a 1930s era coffee shop in San Francisco. 

In 1994, she and her sister decided to have their ovaries removed as their mother had died of ovarian cancer. During the surgery, it was discovered that both of them already had ovarian cancer. Tropp underwent chemotherapy and also sought alternative treatment from a local Chinese doctor who had run a cancer clinic in Shanghai. She took his advice and drank a mystery concoction and also avoided certain things in her diet. She went into remission and stopped the chemo. 

During this time, she sold China Moon. 

Unfortunately, on a trip to China with her husband,  the cancer flared up again. "I learned that Chinese medicine offered me no protection at all," she says. "I threw the herbs out the window. I went back once or twice for acupuncture, but I found it so painful that I simply threw in the towel. I did strictly the Western chemotherapy regimen and, miraculously, I survived."

Gradually, Tropp came to believe that diet didn't make her sick and a restricted diet wouldn't make her well. She would eat what she felt like eating, without guilt.

"When I went into remission the second time, people would look at me and say, 'Golly, what saved you?' and I'd say, 'Starbucks ice cream.' "

Barbara fought her battle with cancer for 7 years but finally passed away in 2001.

Chef Tropp broke ground not only in combining California and Chinese cuisines, but also as a leader for women chefs and restaurateurs. It was Barbara along with others like Joyce Goldstein and Lydia Bastianich who spearheaded a now-thriving organization which promotes and lends guidance to women in the restaurant industry: Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR).

As I searched through Tropp's recipes, I found one common theme: ginger. And because I love ice cream, when I read about her ginger ice cream, I knew I had to try it, especially since ice cream is rather an unusual dessert in China. It just never caught on much.
I must say, I didn't expect to love and adore this ice cream, but I did. It's so elegant, really. There's lots of ginger but it's quite subtle and I found it delicious. It's amazingly difficult to take a photo of an ice cream like this....it just looks like plain old vanilla. But you know you can trust me on ice cream issues...this is one divine dish of ginger ice cream. 

You really don't need the candied ginger on top, but I happened to have some so added it for presentation purposes only.

 Ginger Ice CreamFrom The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking by Barbara Tropp



For the ginger syrup:

1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 - 3 packed tablespoons food-processor-minced or grated, peeled fresh ginger

Milk mixture:

1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons finely minced ginger in syrup (available at Asian markets), drained before mincing

Custard mixture:

3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice


To make the syrup, heat the water and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar is dissolved, add the fresh ginger. Stir to disperse, then bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the syrup uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

In another pan combine the milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, and the minced preserved ginger. Stir over medium heat until the milk comes to a scalding temperature, just short of a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat. Scrape the fresh ginger syrup into the milk mixture, and stir well to blend. Cover and steep 20 minutes to infuse the milk.

In a small bowl beat the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until the mixture is pale yellow, thick, and falls in ribbons from the beater.

Put the heavy cream in a medium-size bowl. Nest the cream bowl in a larger one lined with ice cubes and place in a large, fine mesh strainer alongside.

When the steeping time is up, bring the milk mixture to scalding again, stirring. Slowly add 1/4 of the scalded milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs, then pour the egg mixture back into the remaining milk, continuing to whisk. Cook over moderate heat, whisking slowly but steadily until the mixture reaches the custard stage, thick enough to coat and cling to the back of a spoon, 180 degrees on an instant-reading thermometer. Do not let the mixture boil lest the eggs scramble.

Immediately pour the custard through the strainer and into the bowl of cream set over ice. Scrape the pot clean, then slowly stir the liquid trapped in the strainer in order to coax it through the mesh. Press firmly and repeatedly on the ginger to extract all the liquid, then finally scrape the bottom of the strainer to claim every last drop for the cream. Discard the ginger solids. Allow the cream mixture to cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Once cool, the mixture may be sealed airtight and refrigerated for 1 - 2 days before freezing.

Freezing the cream:

Just before freezing, adjust the mixture with 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, stirring and tasting after every several drops just until the ginger flavor is perceptibly heightened by the lemon.
Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the freezing process is completed, pack the ice cream into a clean plastic container, poking deep into the mixture, then pressing it with a spoon or spatula to eliminate any air bubbles. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream to prevent the formation of ice crystals, then return the mixture to the freezer for at least 2 hours to firm up and "ripen."
If frozen solid, allow the ice cream to soften slightly in the refrigerator before serving. For the full flavor and bouquet, it should be eaten slightly soft.
The ginger flavor is keenest for the first 24 hours. It is still sprightly after 2 days, but then gradually begins to fade. 

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

 Ciao Chow Linda
Nancy - Picadillo
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Annie - Lovely Things
Claudia - Journey of An Italian Cook

A note: something weird has happened to many of my older blog photos. They've disappeared from past posts. I have no idea if this is Blogspot's problem or mine after I fiddled around with Picassa, my new iPad or a combination of these things. So if you see an old recipe and want the photo, email me and I'll dig it out of my files.



Such a simple recipe resulting in so much flavor! Carnitas (which translates "little meats") may take a few hours to cook, but everyone in the family loves to eat them. Adding all sorts of toppings, they're sort of like a Mexican pizza, using a corn tortilla as the base. I love the tang of lime in this recipe and the barely-there orange is just right. Serve these with slaw, avocado, salsa, limes, tomatillos..... even sour cream. Any way you want, but I personally love the simplicity of a nice hot and crunchy corn tortilla with the caramelized pork on top, letting that pork flavor shine through. Even better the next day.

A combination of recipes

3 pounds pork butt, with plenty of fat, cut in 2 inch cubes
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt


In a large Dutch oven, mix the pork, both juices, garlic, cumin and salt. Add enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer without stirring for 2 hours.
Then, raise the heat to medium high and cook another 45 minutes, stirring frequently so the meat doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Most of the liquid will evaporate and all that's left is pork fat. Brown the carnitas in the fat until caramelized. Serve over a corn torilla with any fixings you like.


The Stairs of Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia

309. That's how many steps we counted from the beach to our room at one of our favorite resorts and where we went for Christmas. 

Several times a day too.  No need to worry about gaining weight here; buns of steel by the time we left.

Let's start down at the beach. Dip your feet in the water to wash off the sand and then here we go....

Still climbing.....

Aha! A place to rest.

Rest over already?

Looking back at the rest area....

Finally, we're half way there. This is a multi-layered area for reception, bar and two dining rooms.

And we start climbing again. This time to our room. Photo looks back down to reception area.

Hang in there!

That's my daughter...I make her haul the water (and everything else). See the tiny red arrow? That's where we turn in for our room.

Finally, the turn off on the right. Thought we were through? NOT. We have 55 more steep steps to go.

The last 16 steps, gasp... Tracy has reached our door.

Collapse in chairs on the deck and look at these two views at dusk. The Pitons in one direction and the ocean on the other. Are the steps worth it? Absolutely.


Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: #29, Betty Fussell

Betty Fussell is first and foremost a writer. She has been writing articles and books for 50 years on the subject of what it is to be an American, first looking at movies and theater and then at food. I really like what interviewer Cheri Sicard had to say about Betty:
"Fussell is a writer who is also a home cook, one who loves the sensuousness of words as much as the sensuality of foods. As a writer, she sees food as a window into the culture, past and present, of America. As an historian, she sees any meal as a way of eating history on the plate. As a cook, she likes recipes that are simple, improvisatory, fresh, and tasty, something anyone could do with no more than a sharp knife and a skillet and a few good fresh ingredients."

Betty was born in Southern California in 1927. She ended up with a PhD  In English lit, married her childhood sweetheart Paul Fussell and taught literature and film  at Columbia University. In the 1980s she left teaching to write full time. Her first book was a biography of Mabel Normand. Since then, she has won fellowships to MacDowell Colony, Millay Colony for the Arts, Yaddo, Villa Montalvo, Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers and Djerassi Resident Artists Program.

Moving on to food writing, Betty is best known for the book I Hear America Cooking  and she authored The Story of Corn, an in-depth study of the plant as a crop, religion, and culture. She considers corn the basis of American cuisine. Betty says: "I didn't know how complex, how ancient, how complicated this subject was. I am still immersed in it years afterwards because there's no end to it---corn is in everything". This book won her the International Association of Culinary Professionals' Jane Grigson 

Her latest book, Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef, takes a stab at how America's past and future is inexorably linked with its iconic beef dish of choice.

In 2007 she won a James Beard Foundation Award for Journalism for “American Prime” in Saveur’s Steak Issue of July. She was recently celebrated, along with other winners of the Silver Spoon Award, by Food Arts Magazine

Unfortunately, she also wrote a book called My Kitchen Wars, about her decades-long marriage and its breakdown. To be frank, I have no interest in reading it. 
(Let me know if you've read it and what you thought.)
Over the decades, her essays on food, travel, movies, theater and the arts have appeared in scholarly journals, popular national magazines and major newspapers. Critical and scholarly essays have appeared in literary publications She has lectured at museums, universities, cooking schools, food & wine associations, state fairs, corn festivals and steak workshops all over the country
For a complete list of betty's books click HERE.


When I did the recipe search for Betty, I was thinking in terms of the holidays, so Betty's famous recipe for Popcorn and Venison Sausage Stuffing would have been quite timely. Sorry about that! Well, you can save it for next year. :) 
Anyway, I was intrigued when I read about a stuffing recipe made with popcorn. As it turned out, it was an excellent stuffing, but the popcorn part is a tad gimmicky don't you think? (Perhaps the recipe was a result of Fussell's obsession with corn?)  The stuffing was a bit chewier than I cared for and you can see the bits of white in it which does make for interesting table conversation. I doubt I would make it again. In addition, I should have contacted D'Artagnan to get some venison sausage but instead I used some fine pork sausage I found at Whole Foods.

Popcorn and Venison Sausage Stuffing

(for a 12-15 lb turkey, or about 8 to 10 cups stuffing)

Turkey giblets and neck plus water to make about 3 cups stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup unpopped popcorn kernels (to make 4 cups popped popcorn, to be ground in a blender)
8 to 10 slices dried day-old white or wheat peasant bread (to make 4 cups toasted bread cubes)
1 pound venison sausage (or well-seasoned loose pork sausage)
¼ pound (1 stick) butter
2 cups white onions, chopped medium fine
1 ½ cups celery, chopped medium fine
2 tablespoons dried Herbes de Provence, or mixed dried sage, rosemary, thyme.
Salt & black pepper to taste
1 cup dried cranberries

Place neck and giblets (except for liver) in cold water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer, season to taste, and cook slowly 45 minutes to an hour. (Cook liver in the broth 3-4 minutes only; remove gizzard and heart after 20 minutes cooking). Chop giblets and set aside. You’ll need about 2/3 to 1 cup chopped giblets. Discard (or chew on) the neck.

Film the bottom of a heavy cast iron skillet with the olive oil and heat over a medium flame. Add the popcorn kernels and cover loosely with a large (wok) lid until the kernels begin to pop. Shake the skillet slowly over the flame as the kernels pop until they stop popping (5 to 7 minutes). Uncover the skillet so the kernels don’t “steam” because you want them dry as possible.

Scoop popped kernels a cup or two at a time into a blender and pulse until they are finely chopped. Set aside.

Cut bread (leave crusts on) into small cubes and toast them in a low oven (300-325) about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

In the same cast-iron skillet, quickly sauté the loose sausage (no more than 2-3 minutes) in 2 tablespoons of the butter, chopping the meat with a spatula so it cooks evenly. Remove meat and set aside.

Add remaining butter to the same pan, sauté the onions and celery and season them with the dried herbs and salt and pepper. Cook 5-6 minutes until the vegetables begin to brown but are still crunchy.

Add to the pan the cranberries, chopped giblets, ground popcorn and bread cubes. Add 2 cups of the turkey stock. Taste for seasoning and moisture. For a wetter stuffing, add more stock.

Pack the stuffing into a casserole dish and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes to make a slight crust on top.

Helpful Notes: This stuffing cooks separately from the turkey as a side dish. It is meant to be crunchy, with a lot of texture. For those who want a really soft dressing, add stock.

Giblets & stock can be done ahead, with leisure to distinguish cooking times between heart, gizzard and liver. You want to retain the soft texture of the liver and keep the heart and gizzard from turning to rubber.

Popping the corn kernels can be done the day before. You want it to be dry and crisp. If it’s not, just dry it in a big baking pan in a low oven (225 degrees) for an hour. Unless you’ve got a superpowerful blender, you’ll need to grind it in small batches so that it’s like coarsely ground nuts.

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

 Ciao Chow Linda


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