Friday, August 27, 2010


Yesterday was our cooking club's lunch and my task was to develop the menu and to make the main dish.  I chose recipes from "Fiesta! A Celebration of Latin Hospitality" by Anya Von Bremzen, a book filled with great, flavorful recipes.  Here was the menu:

*  Lemony Avocado Dip served with taco chips (recipe includes hard-boiled eggs)
*  The Latino Big Salad (my favorite of this menu)
*  Drunken Chicken with Papaya (made with dark rum!)
*  Yellow Rice with Carrots and Orange Zest (easy and tasty)
*  Basil-scented Corn and Pumpkin Bake (See recipe below; squash substituted for the pumpkin)
*  Roasted Eggplant with Parsley Sauce (easiest recipe of this menu)
*  Caramel-Pineapple Cheesecake (similar to flan but made with cream cheese and pineapple)

Our group's favorite of the recipes was the following, which we concluded would be a good Thanksgiving dish:

* 5 cups corn kernels (ideally, fresh or frozen thawed)
* 2 cups whole or skim milk
* 3-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 cup finely chopped onion
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
* 3 medium ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
* 1/2 pound fresh pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, cut into chunks, and grated by hand or in a food processor (NOTE:  Barb used butternut squash, not pumpkin)
* 3/4 teaspoon sugar
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* 3 tablespoons slivered fresh basil leaves
* 2 large eggs, beaten
* 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1.  In a food processor or blender, process the corn with the milk to a medium-fine puree.
2.  In a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onion, garlic and bell pepper over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring until they are reduced to a puree, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the corn and pumpkin and bring to a simmer.  Cook over very low heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to thicken, about 20 minutes.
3.  Preheat the oven to 325º F.
4.  Transfer the mixture to a medium-size ovenproof casserole, and stir in the sugar, salt and pepper to taste, the basil and the eggs.  Bake for 20 minutes.
5.  Raise the oven temperature to 425º.  Sprinkle the top with Parmesan, and bake until the top is lightly golden and bubbly, about 12 minutes.

If you want the recipes to any of the other dishes, don't hesitate to ask!

Monday, August 16, 2010


Some of you may already be fans of sweet Vidalia onions.   Much like "Champagne" which by law is only made in a particular region of France, "Vidalia" onions by law are only grown in a specific region of Georgia.  It is only in this particular area that the soil and climate combine to yield these very sweet and delicious onions.  They aren't always available in our stores but last week I picked up enough to make a pie.  I've made this easy recipe before, and I love the results!  It makes a nice side dish or have it with a salad for a complete (vegetarian) meal.

*  1-1/2 cups crushed buttery round crackers
*  1/3 cup butter, melted
*  2 tablespoons butter
*  2 cups sliced Vidalia onions
*  2 eggs
*  3/4 cup half-and-half
*  3/4 teaspoon salt
*  1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
*  1/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350º.  In a medium bowl, mix together crushed crackers and 1/3 cup melted butter.  Press mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan and set aside.  Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet and saute onions until translucent and tender but not brown.  Spread into prepared crust.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, salt and white pepper.  Pour mixture over onions then sprinkle top with shredded cheese.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until center is set.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I'm just back from Alaska where Kevin and I met up with Ryan in Anchorage, then drove north to Denali/Mt. McKinley, then southeast to Girdwood, south to Seward, then a return to Anchorage for the flight home.  July is Alaska's warmest month of the year with an average high of 65º and 20 hours of daylight.  The combination makes for incredible, huge flowers/vegies and a great time to hike the mountains.  Without going into a lot of detail I will simply show you some of our pics. 

We took a day cruise in Prince William Sound to see the glaciers. It is sad to say, they are receding rapidly.

Note the ice that has calved from the glacier.  The sea otters are darling!

Ryan and me.

A small garden in Alaska's Botanical Garden in Anchorage.
Blue Poppy.

The pink flowers below are wildflowers called "Fireweed."  They were in full bloom and were spectacular!
More wildflowers.
Kevin and Ryan enjoying the view.

 This was one view of Denali/Mt. McKinley with clouds.  Fortunately, as we got closer to the mountain the clouds cleared and we got a fantastic view!

This shot of Denali isn't nearly as good as the one taken by Ansel Adams.

Dahl sheep.

In Girdwood, Kevin and Ryan climbed the mountain and I took the Alyeska Tram and waited for them at the mountain-top restaurant called Seven Glaciers.  We then enjoyed our "happy hour." 

Crostini with beef and truffle.

Seafood crepe.
Crab cakes.

Yes.  There was a fence between us.

 Ryan at Exit Glacier outside Seward.   This was 2/3 of the way up the mountain.  We had a picnic; Ryan continued on to the snow-covered top while Kevin and I climbed down.  On our way we had an encounter with a black bear on the trail.  We made lots of noise, he lumbered off the trail, and we now have another bear story to add to our others.

 Nenana River below our cabin in Denali with Ryan's rock sculpture on the beach.

The next day we went rafting on this river. 

 What an animal!

Roasted salmon.  I ate delicious fresh seafood every day.
 Rabbit Three Ways for Ryan. 
 Scallops for Kevin.
 Mother Nature's Composition.