Thursday, April 28, 2011


Our cooking group had a fabulous lunch today - Dim Sum.   What is dim sum?

–noun Chinese Cookery.   Small dumplings, usually steamed or fried and filled with meat, seafood, vegetables, condiments, etc.   Origin:   1948  from Cantonese dím sàm, equivalent to Chinese diǎnxīn, "appetizer" said to mean literally "touch the heart" ( diǎn dot, speck + xīn heart).

There is a lot of work that goes into a lunch of dim sum since these "appetizers" are all made piecemeal.   

Above is a photo of the spring rolls, which we ate with two sauces, a peanut sauce and a fish sauce.  I made chicken curry dumplings, shown below, which we ate with a hoison sauce.

Finally, a refreshing cucumber salad.  In addition to being very tasty, everything also seemed very healthy!  Not pictured here were a number of the other selections, including a dessert of Chinese pancake with peaches and peanuts.  Let me know if you'd like any of the recipes. 

Photos curtesy of Darlene Lewis.  Thanks, Darlene!

Monday, April 25, 2011


I hope you had a delightful Easter or, simply, a beautiful day to celebrate the fact that Spring has sprung!  It was my first day working in the garden since last October when I planted 170 (or so) bulbs.  Fortunately, the planting was a success!

For our Easter dinner we had roasted leg of lamb, pureed celery root, a mushroom and bell pepper saute, and a piece of white cake with chocolate frosting (complete with a chocolate bunny, green sprinkles for grass, and colored chocolate malted "eggs").   Following is the recipe for the veggie dish.

*  3 tablespoons butter
*  1 large red bell pepper, cut into bite-size triangles
*  1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size triangles
*  4 ounces of baby portobello (crimini) mushrooms
*  1 tablespoon of fresh tarragon, chopped or 1 teaspoon of dried, crumbled
*  Salt & pepper to taste
*  Feta or Goat Cheese crumbles
Melt butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat.  Add bell peppers and saute until tender, about 8 minutes.  Stir in mushrooms and tarragon (if using dried).  Saute an additional 5 minutes.  Mix in fresh tarragon (if using fresh), salt and pepper.  Continue to cook one minute.  Sprinkle with cheese crumbles and serve.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


A thoughtful friend just sent me this site which leads to an interactive labyrinth.  Follow the link and follow your way to the center of the labyrinth.  What a wonderful site!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

BOOK REVIEW - "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry" by Kathleen Flinn

The book, The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry, by Kathleen Flinn ("Kat") isn't a literary piece but it is delightful reading for people like me who enjoy reading cookbooks in bed before going to sleep.   The author had been working as a journalist, principally in the food sector, prior to deciding in 2003 to pursue her dream of attending the venerable Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute in Paris.   The book is based on her 600 pages of personal notes, 120 hours of audio recordings, and selections from the 300-plus recipes in the Cordon Bleu program.  Her experiences at the school include demanding yet charming instructors, struggling classmates, and fascinating food ordeals and trivia.  Woven through the book is Kat's developing relationship with Mike, who follows her to Paris to set up a life together.  If that isn't enough fun reading, the book also contains mouth-watering recipes!  Following is one from the book.

* 1-1/2 pounds chicken pieces, skin removed
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 chopped onion
* 2 large chopped carrots
* 2 stalks chopped celery
* 1/2 cup white wine
* 5 quarts chicken stock (may substitute water for half)
* 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (may substitute thyme or mixed Italian herbs)
* 1/2 bunch parsley, 1/2 bunch thyme, 3 bay leaves - all tied together in a bunch
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 ounces wide noodles (or substitute per your preference)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus fresh pepper to taste
* 2 teaspoons minced parsley (optional)
Rinse the chicken under cold water; pat dry.  Trim any excess fat.  Set aside.  In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring regularly, until softened.  Add the white wine and stir the bottom to loosen any brown bits as it reduces by one half.  Add the stock and/or water.  Heat through.  Add the chicken.  Bring to a low boil, skimming fat and foam from the surface.  When it appears that no more skimming is necessary, drop the heat to a simmer and add the herbs.  Simmer partially covered for a half hour.  Add the garlic.  Simmer another half hour.  Remove the chicken from the soup with tongs.  Continue to simmer the liquid for a few moments while the chicken cools.  Remove the meat from the chicken and shred it into pieces and return to the pot.  Add the noodles and increase the heat to a gentle boil, then cook until soft.  Skim off any foam and check seasonings, adding salt and pepper as needed.  Remove tied herbs.  Stir in the fresh parsley. 

NOTE:  When reading other cooks' reviews on various websites (e.g. and it is advisable to first assess the culinary credibility of the reviewer.  The same goes with this blog!  Although I haven't tested this recipe I trust Kathleen Flinn's culinary credibility and will definitely make this recipe.  It sounds perfect!

Friday, April 8, 2011


NOT ENOUGH DISHES?   No problem. Just plan to mix and match. Years ago I started buying single plates that I found in antique stores, or at garage and estate sales. My criteria was that the plates had to be priced under $10 and they had to have a pretty floral pattern in the center. Years later, I have a lot of fun setting the table for guests.  I can pick and choose among the plates by color, style or whatever else appeals.   Kevin calls it "playing house" and I can't say he's wrong!