This dressing is wonderful on spinach greens with scallions cucumbers and shrimp.  I especially like it for an asian cole slaw with scallions, cilantro, shredded carrots, cabbage. Sometimes I’ll add chicken, tuna or shrimp and turn it into a meal.

INGREDIENTS
3 large spoonfuls of light miso
Fresh ginger – use your peeler and get 6 nice peelings
4 large spoonfuls of cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 large spoonfuls of dark sesame oil
Peanut or vegetable oil

Water

DIRECTIONS
Miso, ginger, lemon or cider vinegar  and sesame oil.  Shake vigorously in SaladSuccess shaker until smooth.

Add oil to ¾ blue oil lineShake vigorously

Then add water to top blue line and shake until thick and creamy. Add more miso for a richer flavor.

malabar-display2-72I once had a terrific Roy Lichtenstein tee shirt that read “Married at last.  Now I can get fat.” And since reality follows fiction, I proceed to gain 55 pounds over a 22 year period.  Well, after seeing pictures of me at my high school reunion, it is time that “Tubby goes Trim”, which is virtually impossible for a confirmed foodie.  So while I’m on the prisoner’s diet of water and bread crusts (I’m just kidding), I will still be continuing my blog column and providing recipes that will dance in your heads. I’ll also be reporting my weight loss progress.  Usually I’m quite unsuccessful, so this will probably not last more than a week.  I’m using this odious software which is called Fitday which has now informed me that I am allowed, in view of my goal to lose 50 lbs in 6 months, 1235 calories a day.  The headache is starting.

The good thing is going to the Aptos Farmers Market on Saturday, to fill up of baskets full of fresh foods.  Quickly the bags get heavy with carrots, gem lettuce, fennel, green beans, Fuji and Braeburn apples, eggs, figs (got to have figs), those really wonderful green plums whose name I’ve forgotten, and more.  Then I go down to Malabar Trading Company (world’s best teas and chai) and get a complementary cup of Kashmiri chai and shoot the breeze with Annaliese & Mike.  Andrew, our resident chef, has started a line of mix herbs and rubs which will appease dieting pain.  And he’s dieting too.  I’m in good company.

So today I’m having a coffee and an apple in the morning, a saladwith vinaigrette (what, me skip salad ) for lunch, and a soup and salad for dinner.  Forget it.  It’s barbeque salmon with mango salsa for dinner.  High in omega-3’s, delicious, and it’s great for you.

The one thing I’m happy about is that my husband never bought me the t-shirt, “Oh my, I left the baby on the bus”.  Now that would have been a disaster.

Salmon with Mango Salsa

If you can, always buy wild salmon.  Sometimes you can get it on sale and if you have room in your freezer, buy a lot, since freezing salmon is easy and it can taste fresh when you defrost it.  Here is the trick.  Salmon needs water around it so that it doesn’t dry out in the freezer.  Get a bunch of Ziplock TM or similar baggies.  Put a piece of salmon in the baggy and fill with cold water.  When almost full, seal up the baggy and place in the freezer.  You’ll see that when you defrost the salmon in its baggy, the salmon comes out fresh and cooks up wonderfully.

INGREDIENTS

Salmon

Olive Oil

Kosher or coarse sea salt

2 ripe mangos – peel, chop and mash

Juice from 2 limes

½ bunch of chopped cilantro

½ of a finely chopped onion

Olive Oil

Kosher or coarse sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Rub olive oil and salt both sides of the salmon.

Barbeque or broil 5 minutes on each side

In a large bowl add mashed mangos, chopped onion, chopped cilantro and lime juice.  Mix well and serve with salmon.

I was looking thru my Bon Appetit magazines for a dessert, and came up with this dressing.  Little more work than usual since you have to boil and reduce the pineapple and apple juice, but absolutely worth it.  Use it on a Waldorf Salad – apples, chicken, celery, seedless grapes, onions, walnuts and soft green lettuces.

INGREDIENTS

Apple juice

Pineapple juice

Olive Oil

3 large spoonfuls Mayonnaise

2 spoonfuls of Honey

1 heaping spoonful of Dijon Mustard

½ spoonful of

Tumeric or cumin (sometimes I’ll add a little curry)

DIRECTIONS

Apple juice to the 1/3 orange line

Pineapple to the 2/3 orange line

Mix in the SaladSuccess Shaker and pour into a heavy medium sauce pan.

Boil for 10 minutes – Mixture should coat the back of a spoon

Cool completely

Olive oil to the 1/3 orange line

Add honey, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and spice

Shake vigorously in Salad Success Shaker

Add cool juice mixture

Shake again vigorously in Salad Success Shaker

From Bon Appetit December 2007 edition, page 50.  Originally from Crew Restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ.

To dress up this salad, don’t forget to put crispy Chinese noodles.  This dressing is great over chicken with chopped white cabbage, jicama and scallions. If you don’t like a “hot” dressing, tone down the Chinese mustard.

INGREDIENTS

Rice Wine Vinegar

Peanut or vegetable oil

6 tablespoons of Chinese mustard

6 tablespoons of Honey

Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Rice Vinegar to the 2/3 orange line of the SaladSuccess Shaker

Peanut Oil to the top orange line

Add Chinese mustard and honey

Salt & Pepper to taste

Shake vigorously in the SaladSuccess Shaker

Arrange salad, pour dressing on the greens, and arrange crispy  noodles.

maisieUntil today, we had the most wonderful dog in the world.  Her name was Maisie and she was a two year old Shetland Sheep dog, more commonly known as a Sheltie.  Beautiful, sweet, well-mannered, good disposition, she brought joy to our lives every day.  Unfortunately, our little angel was not meant to be with us for a long time.

Whether it was cancer or a fungal infection, Maisie’s disease entered her brain about three days ago.  Seeing that Maisie was no longer cognizant of her surroundings, and unable to eat, drink or stand on her four legs, we decided on this beautiful Sunday, to let her go.

Our house now is quiet.  The chew toys have been placed in trash.  Maisie’s collar is in our special pet box along with her picture.  The kids avoid each other, knowing if they look each other, tears and cries will erupt.  My husband takes his shower, and sobs are heard.  We are in complete pain from this loss of our sweet girl.  She has left her mark on us and we will never forget her.  We must grieve and work through the pain

I apologize for this blog outburst.  I know, it’s not about great cuisine, but I did learn one thing about food and dogs.

When we first got her death sentence in July, I took Maisie off of the standard dog food fare, and began making her meals, first with chicken, rice, oat bran and flax seed.  She improved significantly.  Then a homeopathic vet told me to make Maisie meatloaf with ground meats, liver, gizzards & hearts, and vegetables.  Until a week ago, we thought that we had escaped the grim sentence since our bouncing beauty had returned to us full of life’s forces.  This diet changed the quality of her life for two months, that she could be an active, happy dog.

Maisie’s Meatloaf

Remember those squashes or zucchinis that got too big.  Now there is a great use for them.  My neighbor loved me for taking these off her hands.

INGREDIENTS

4 eggs

4 lbs of ground beef

½ lb of gizzards and hearts

½ lb of liver

4 lbs of mix veggies such as squash, green beans, carrots, potatoes

Handful of wheat grass – I grow it on my window sill

4 meat loaf metal containers

DIRECTIONS

Set oven temp at 375 degrees

Get a big bowl, crack eggs and beat lightly

Rough chop the veggies and place in a food processor using the metal blade – Fine chop

Add veggies in large bowl

In the food processor, fine chop the gizzards, hearts and liver and add to bowl

Add ground beef to bowl and mix well all the ingredients

Pour mixture into the containers and bake for 90 minutes by setting it in a bain marie or a large pan with water.  This will slowly cook the meatloafs, and not burn the bottoms of the tins.  After cooling, freeze the meatloafs.  Defrost when needed.

At eating time, spoonful the necessary amount, microwave for 45 seconds to warm up the food, and add finely (I use scissors) chopped wheatgrass and a small (1/2 tsp) spoonful of cod liver or salmon oil.  Mix well and serve.

“Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullabye”

….Golden Slumbers by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Goodbye Maisie, you are always, always, in our hearts and minds.

thousand-islandsThousand Island dressing is always my first choice when eating salads with avocado or  eggs.  To really dress it up, add some shrimp on top of your salad and presto, it becomes dinner. Use low or no-fat mayonnaise for a healthier choice.

INGREDIENTS

Mayonnaise

Ketchup

2 large heaping spoonfuls of sweet pickle relish

2 large spoonfuls of Worcestershire sauce
2 large heaping spoonfuls finely chopped green pepper
2 large spoonfuls of finely chopped onion
1 small spoonful of  paprika

2 dashes of salt

1 dash of pepper

DIRECTIONS

Mayonnaise to the oil blue line

Ketchup to the top blue vinegar line

Add sweet pickle, Worcestershire, paprika, green pepper & fine onion

Salt & Pepper

Shake vigorously in the SaladSuccess Shaker TM

Due to the thickness of the dressing and the ingredients, you’ll need to spoon this dressing on to your salad.

For a change of pace, replace green pepper and onion with chopped celery & parsley.

lemoncello1Have you ever have everything coming together as a perfect moment? A crystallized memory or a snapshot in time that captures the essence of total happiness?  Sometimes the moment occurs during a wonderful meal with friends and family, sometimes on a trip or sometimes you just sit down and appreciate life and your surroundings.

This week I went back to Princeton, NJ for my 40th high school reunion.  I couldn’t ask for a more perfect visit.  The weather ranged from monsoon-like rains to hot and humid days, the food was average at best, and the cities of Philadelphia and New York were crowded, dirty and noisy.  Yet it was a perfect stay since I was able to reconnect with old school friends and my love for Princeton.

When I was a child my first glimpse of Princeton was in the month of January.  It was early evening, and the streets were slick and shiny from the snow run-off.  The world was black and white with twinkling street lights that gave off the romance of gaslight.  This time when I returned, the streets had been newly washed from the rain, night was falling, and the street lamps still held their magic, highlighting the beauty of the town.  Once again, I was home.

It was a weekend of bike rides thru the majestic chestnut trees that lined the old streets and the institutions, of meeting with old friends and new partners, and of seeing the fresh and hopeful faces entering the university and parting with their parents.  Overnight stays with girlfriends, breakfast with old friends and tears with close friends.

Quickly I realized that to these old and dear friends, nothing I could do or say would ever change their memories of me as fun short girl with long red hair. These were my deepest and fondest friendships, and that what ever happens to us in life, as best said by the Beatles in Across the Universe, “nothing’s gonna change my world”. So before I leave you with a wonderful recipe, inspired by the great Andy Delany, Princeton High School Class of ’69, here are the parting lyrics by John and Paul.

…Sounds of laughter shades of earth are ringing
Through my open views inviting and inciting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a
Million suns, it calls me on and on
Across the universe
Jai guru de va om
Nothing’s gonna change my world,
Nothing’s gonna change my world.

Limoncello Cardamom Tapioca Pudding

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup of sugar

3 cups instant tapioca like Minute® Tapioca

2 ½ cups milk – whole or 2 percent

1 egg

¼ – ½ cup of Limoncello

1 teaspoon vanilla

For Whipping Cream

½ pint of heavy whipping cream

¼ cup of sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

Cardamom

Sprigs of mint

DIRECTIONS

Mix tapioca, sugar, milk and egg in sauce pan – let stand for 5 minutes

While constantly stirring, cook on medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil

Remove from heat and add vanilla and limoncello and mix

Spoon into dishes and put plastic wrap on surface of pudding

Cool in refrigerator

Before servicing, make whipped cream – with mixer on highest setting beat cream, sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla until the cream can hold up a spoon.

Spoon on top of the pudding.

Lightly sprinkle cardamom and garnish with mint.

Use a good sifter to sprinkle the powdered cocoa

Use a good sifter to sprinkle the powdered cocoa

Recently, my thoughts have been wandering around a bit about the concept of family and food.  The typical scene it evocates is the picture of the extend family, including Uncle Billy, sitting around the dining room table while Mom brings out the Thanksgiving turkey.  In my house, the Thanksgiving scene is somewhat different.  We are gone, split, vamoose.  After 360ish days a year of making dinner, this reluctant cook wants a real break.  So we head up to San Francisco and have that great meal in the company of 40 other friends and family.  It’s an amazing pot luck meal (no, I don’t bring the salad) and every year we come home having made new friends.  But that’s not the family concept that I’ve been thinking about, it’s more about mothers, recipes and continuation.

My wonderful French mother, a cook of cooks, has been slowing down for the last four years.  Her balance is gone, her speech is disintegrating, and her memory is weakening.  During the past four years, I’ve been bringing her to my house so she can speak with her granddaughters and have dinner with the family.  To her annoyance, she can no longer follow a recipe, and her glorious Charlotte Russe is now a soggy mess of ladyfingers and coffee pudding.

My mother didn’t start as a great cook.  She started out as a competent secretary for a furrier in Paris.  After WWII, her mother, three other sisters, and a brother moved from Tarascon to the bright lights.  I only assume that her mother cooked while the girls went off to work.  Mom didn’t inherit any great cooking skills from her mother, and any ancestral knowledge disappeared in Auschwitz.

However, life changed and she married an American, who brought her to the United States in the early ’50’s.  Once people found out that she was French, their replay was “You must be a terrific cook”.  And so the legend was created.  Mom studied cookbooks, learned techniques, tested and retested recipes, and became a great cook before Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was in print.

Now, in my mother’s head were thousands of recipes, and techniques.  As she got into her ’80’s this knowledge is disappearing.  It’s a good thing that I have been able to learn from her as my daughters are learning from me.  Suzanne is a fabulous baker, and Christie now can make spaghetti and meatballs.  So find those old wonderful recipes, and learn from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles their secrets. Oh yes, and now you can make the glorious Charlotte Russe à la Mina (in honor of my mother). And it is easy!

Glorious Charlotte Russe a la Mina

This is a two-step recipe; first you make the coffee cognac gelatin, then once it is cool, you mix it in a bowl of freshly-whipped heavy cream and pour it into a spring pan lined with lady fingers and chill until serving time.

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp. powder expresso coffee

2 packets of unflavored gelatin

1 cup of sugar

3 cups of whole milk

1/8 cup of cognac

1 tsp. vanilla

1 pint of heavy whipping cream

2 packets of ladyfingers*

Instructions

In a heavy pot, heat milk, expresso, gelatin, sugar and whole milk until sugar and gelatin are melted (just before the boil).  Stir often.  When mixture is melted, take mixture off of the burner, and add the cognac.  Cool for ½ hour.  Place in refrigerator for 2 hours (approx).  You want this cold but not like harden aspic (if that happen, just whip it in the mixer once you’ve made the whipped cream – trust me, I’ve done it).

charlotte-15charlotte23Using parchment or wax paper, trace the bottom of the spring pan, cut and place.  Then do the same for the sides of the spring pan.  This is done so you can easily separate the spring pan from the charlotte. Split the ladyfingers and place it around the sides. Do the same for the bottom of the pan using torn pieces to cover any holes.

On the high setting of your mixer, whip the cream and vanilla until the whip cream can hold up a spoon.  Add gelatin mixture and mix until it is blended.  Pour into the spring pan.  Decorate with powder cocoa or semi-sweet chocolate shavings.  At serving time, open the spring pan, and remove the paper around the sides.  To really dress this up, run a ribbon and tie a bow around the outside.

*Sometimes stores don’t carry ladyfingers but instead their bakery department can sell them to you.  They only buy them to make their cakes.  So if you can’t find ladyfingers, just ask in the bakery department.

I loved this dressing as a young adult, but now can never find it at any restaurant.  This is great on salad – with beets, of course – eggs, lobster, or as a sandwich spread.  It is thick, so you’ll need to unscrew the cap once you’ve given it a good shaking. To reduce calories and fat content go “lite” on the sour cream and mayonnaise.  Remember to put paprika over the dressing as an accent.

INGREDIENTS

Sour Cream

Mayonnaise

Catsup or Chili Sauce

2 spoonfuls of finely grated Horseradish

4 spoonfuls of Caviar – if you have some on hand

2 spoonfuls of Worcestershire sauce

3 dashes of Tabasco

1 minced Kosher Pickle

1 stalk of minced Green Onion

½ spoonful of Sugar

Salt & Pepper

Paprika

DIRECTIONS

Sour Cream to the 1/3 orange line of SaladSuccess  Shaker

Mayonnaise to the 2/3 orange line

Catsup or Chili Sauce to the top orange line

Add horseradish, caviar, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, pickle, green onion, and sugar

Salt & Pepper to taste

Shake vigorously in the SaladSuccess Shaker

Arrange salad, pour dressing on the greens, and add paprika.

blue-cheeseThis week I’m going to focus on some classic dressings, such as blue cheese, ranch and 1000 Islands.  Bleu cheese is one of my favorite dressings, which you can also use Roquefort cheese, Gorgonzola, or any of the other wonderful blue vein cheeses that add a certain punch to any dressing. Use the lite versions of sour cream and mayo to cut calories and fats.  In some markets, bleu cheese is available in a crumbled form.  That will work fine and save you some time.

INGREDIENTS

Buttermilk

Sour cream

Mayonnaise

1/4 lb. of Bleu cheese – crumbled

White wine vinegar or any white vinegar such as champagne

Level spoonful of sugar

1 clove of pressed or finely chopped garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Buttermilk to the 1/3 orange line of SaladSuccess Shaker

Sour cream to the 2/3 orange line

Mayonnaise to the top orange line

Add 3 spoonfuls of vinegar

Add spoonful of sugar

Add blue cheese and garlic*

Salt & pepper to taste

Shake vigorously in the SaladSuccess Shaker

Unscrew SaladSuccess top and pour enough dressing over bed of greens.

*If you want this dressing to be more flexible (you can use it as a base for other herbs and cheeses), shake the dressing up (with salt & pepper)  BEFORE ADDING THE BLEU CHEESE & GARLIC, pour enough dressing to the bottom of the salad bowl and then mix in the bleu cheese and garlic. Place greens in the bowl, and let the salad rest until serving time.