You know it is not the healthiest thing to serve, but everyone loves it – Fish Fry.  For years I’ve been frying away different white fish – Dover Sole, Pacific Cod, Tilapia, and Skai – and have finally perfected the recipe.  Eat this with something healthy like steam asparagus and a green salad (don’t forget your SaladSuccess shaker to make the dressing).  Since we are coming into spring, perhaps a strawberry and rhubarb cobbler to top off the meal.  The two tricks to this recipe are using baking powder and beer.  I’ve tried all beers from Coors Light to weird lagers that my husband has collected in the fridge and the result is similar – great beer batter.  Anyway, enjoy and don’t feel too guilty.  Use vegetable oil to fry to fish – it is lighter and less expensive than olive oil.

Best Beer Batter for Fish Fry Bonanza – Prep time: 5 minutes, cooking time: 15 minutes.  Makes enough batter for 2 lbs of fish.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs or less of white fish such as cod, sole, tilapia, skai

½ cup flour

½ tbsp baking powder

1 – 2 lemons, grated for lemon zest, quarter the remaining lemon

½ cup beer

1 large – extra large egg

1 tsp (or less) Kosher salt

½ tsp freshly grounded pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Whisk in beer and egg until mixture is smooth.  Add fish and gently mix so that fish is covered with mixture.

In a large frying pan (medium high to high heat) pour enough oil to cover bottom by approximately ¼ inch.  When oil is really hot (add a couple droplets of water to oil and see if it sizzles and evaporates) carefully add pieces of fish.  Cook fish for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and serve with lemon quarters and tartar sauce (mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce or Dijon mustard couple finely chopped pickles or relish, salt & pepper).

In 1976 and ’78 Cuisinart provided a wonderful little wire-bound cookbook called “New Recipes for the Cuisinart Food Processor and it was written by James Beard and Carl Jerome. Unfortunately, it is out of print and my copy (I lost my original) came from a garage sale.  Buy it if you can find it; the recipes are magnificent.  And here is the wonderful Green Goddess Recipe.  If you are squeamish about making your own mayonnaise, substitute with Best Buy’s, Trader Joe’s or another good mayonnaise.  This recipe needs to be made in a food processor, not in the SaladSuccess shaker.

Green Goddess Salad Dressing – makes 2 cups

1 ¾ cups mayonnaise

6 anchovy fillets

3 green onions (scallions) chopped roughly

2 shallots halved

2 tbsps of a good white vinegar such as tarragon, balsamic or apple

10 sprigs parsley with stems removed

2 sprigs fresh tarragon leaves or 1 tsp dried tarragon leaves

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

With the metal blade in place, add mayonnaise, anchovy fillets, green onions, shallots, vinegar, parsley and tarragon to the beaker.  Process until mixture is evenly chopped, about 30 seconds.  Taste and season with salt & pepper.  Process for 5 seconds.

Optional ingredients: A bunch of chives (coarse chop), 1 tsp of Worchestershire sauce, chopped fresh cilantro, lime (for Southwestern Cobb Salad) dash of cayenne pepper.

Salads: Cobb, Southwestern Cobb (add freshly cooked corn, black beans and taco strips), Spinach with Egg, and Mixed Greens.

Green Goddess Dressing recipe courtesy of James Beard and Carl Jerome

I’ll start with appliance hell.  Our dishwasher from Hell (Frigidaire) died about a year ago, and we finally got fed up of hand washing.  Why did we put off the decision to buy a new dishwasher for so long?  Easy, we did buy a Bosch but it wouldn’t fit in the cabinet.  Years ago I hired a tiler to redo my kitchen floor and he tiled in the dishwasher.  Contractors in California are interesting, many got started in their trade to support a drug habit.  Now they are all reborn, but definitely brain cells are missing especially when tiling kitchen floors.

For a year we angst’ing whether to pull out our tiles from around the dishwasher, which I have no replacements of the old tile, or to pull out the old dishwasher by making a hole through our stucco wall.  Both solutions were expensive and imperfect.  Finally we decided to get a shorter dishwasher that would fit our space.

Now our choice was limited, shorter dishwashers are ADA-compliant, and for the most part, hard to buy since no one keeps them in stock.  Plus they are either super-expensive such as Miele or Asko, or have an old fashion design.  I really wanted a stainless steel front, steel tub, low noise and lower water usage, plus a hidden control panel.  All that was left in my price range was a Blomberg, a brand similar to Bosch, but not well established in the US.  With a leap of faith after reading the reviews (no one brand stands out), I ordered the Blomberg at HomeEverything.com.

One month later, no dishwasher.  I called HomeEverything.  “Yes, it will be here in 7 to 10 days”.  Two weeks later, (total of 6 weeks) same old story.  In fact until yesterday, the lovely guys at customer service were singing every two weeks the same song.  Yesterday, I called again and found out that there was a “Master” back order.  “What is a Master back order”, I asked Mr. HomeEverything customer serviceman.  “Well, it seems that there is a major amount of product that is overdue”, said the calm voice on the phone.   “And does this mean that I should expect my dishwasher in SEPTEMBER?” I said with a slight panic in my voice.  “No”, said Mr. HomeEverything, “but it will probably take another 2 to 4 weeks”.

That’s it.  These guys at HomeEverything have been stringing me on the line for 3 months.  They have totally lost their credibility with me.  I’ll never try buying anything from them again. Tomorrow I’ll go talk to the guys at Sears (you can haggle with them and the warranty is good) and get a Bosch.  Do you have another idea that might work?  Comments are really appreciated.

On another subject, here is the recipe for Shrimp and Celeriac Remoulade.  Celeriac (Celery root) is a celery bulb, a hairy, incredibly unattractive object that is wonderfully mild.  You’ll need to peel it with a very sharp knife, like a pineapple and use a food processor, a god-send to cooks around the world, to make the thin strips.  I first had remoulade at the Carlyle Hotel during a Sunday Brunch.  It was one of those perfect weekends in NYC, caught the evening show at Café Carlyle with Bobby Short, drank lots of champagne and luxuriated in a room at the hotel.  I felt like an adult “Eloise at the Plaza”, only I was at a better hotel, the Carlyle.

I like to add poppy seeds to my remoulade and you can substitute the shrimp with crab or lobster.  This 5 minute recipe is delicious, exotic and elegant.  But it ain’t cheap so make it for a special occasion.

Shrimp and Celeriac Remoulade – Serves 4 – 8 people.  Prep time:  10 minutes,  inactive refrigerator time:  ½ hour.

1 lb of cold cooked and peeled shrimp

1 – 2 peeled bulbs of celeriac – bulbs are usually slightly under 2 lbs each

1 cup of good mayonnaise – I use Best Brand or Trader Joe’s Organic

2 lemons – make sure that they are full of juice

2 tsps white vinegar such as white wine or white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp freshly grounded pepper

1 tsp poppy seeds

Directions

Using the food processor and the shredding disk, feed chunks of the celeriac thru the machine.  You can also use a mandoline on a matchstick setting.  Place the celeriac shavings in a large bowl, add the lemon juice and kosher salt, mix well, and allow mixture to stand for 30 minutes to soften the bulb and add flavor.

In a small bowl whisk mayonnaise, white vinegar, Dijon mustard and pepper.  Pour over celeriac mixture, add cold shrimp and poppy seeds.  Refrigerate until serving time.  Garnish with additional poppy seeds.

This dish makes a delightful cold main course, with a light dry white wine, good bread, steamed asparagus and a light green salad with a shallot vinaigrette. Don’t forget to use your SaladSuccess Shaker!

Looking for something different and spring-like, but don’t want to indulge in off season produce?  Try this salad for a change of pace.  Warm and delicious, this will tempt the most demanding palates.

INGREDIENTS

2 red onions finely sliced

Olive oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 crushed, pressed or finely chopped garlic cloves

2 tsp grated ginger root

1 ½ cup split lentils – I use the common red lentils that you can find in any grocery store

3 cups vegetable stock or bouillon

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

4 – 5 cups spinach

2 avocados, pitted and sliced

1 tsp hazelnut or walnut oil

4 tbsp Greek or strained plain yogurt – greek has a richer texture

Fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet over medium heat with enough olive oil to cover the bottom, sauté onions until soft, for about 10 minutes.  Add cumin seeds, garlic and ginger root.  Sauté for 2 minutes, constantly stirring.

Stir in lentils; add stock at a ladleful at a time and constantly stirring, until the stock is absorbed – about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in herbs.

Toss spinach in hazelnut or walnut oil, then divide among 4-6 salad plates or one large serving plate

Mash goat cheese with yogurt in a small bowl (you can also use a stick or mini-blender but don’t puree) and season with fresh ground pepper.

Place lentils among salad plates or serving plate and top with avocado slices and goat cheese mixture.

Courtesy of Salad by Love Food

When I moved out from Colorado to California, Warren – he who should be king – sneaked in his favorite plant, a flowering clover that would test any green thumb with its finicky and sensitive nature.  Quickly in California we discovered that our delicate hothouse exotic was considered a common weed called oxalis or sour grass, and it’s the bane of every gardener.  I now spend hours in the garden carefully extracting this nuisance and its horrid seeds from the rich earth.

So you can imagine my surprise, while reading Point de Vue (an idiotic French weekly about the European royals and their social calendars, balls, gowns and jewels) I came upon an article titled “Oeufs Coque Mousseuse de Muscade Piqure d’Oxalis.  And there in the picture, was my little hated weed.  Zut alors, there is something you can do with this infernal weed and I am Queen of the Crop.  So, amuse-toi bien (go have a blast) and try this number that I’ve just finished translating, especially if you have oxalis in your backyard.  I’m going to check it out too.

Coddled Eggs with Nutmeg Mousse and a Shot of Oxalis – This is a 3 part recipe: preparing the yolks, making the cream and boiling an extract of oxalis.  Plan a good hour to test this thing.

4 eggs

8 grains of Salt from Guerande or grey French sea salt

½ grated nutmeg nut

2 ounces of vegetable bouillon

5 ounces of heavy cream

Salt & Pepper

50 stems and 15 leaves of Oxalis

DIRECTIONS

Preparing the Yolks

Decalotter (Nice word, means to take off the top) of the eggs with an egg topper (oh no, a new tool to buy)

Clarify and separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and reintroduce each yolk back to an egg shell

Heat the eggs (obviously with shells standing up) in a bain-marie for 3 minutes.  Water should not boil but should slowly cook the eggs.

When the yolks are lukewarm add Guerande salt to the  measuring cup of cream.  Now fill each egg with the cream (but leave a little space at the top).  Using a syringe filled with the oxalis and bouillon extract, pierce through the whipped cream and yolks and inject the extract of oxalis at the bottom of the shell filling the little opening that you’ve made. (Oh yes, this is definitely a recipe for beginners)

Preparing the Nutmeg Mousse

In a small pot, boil 1 ounce of the vegetable bouillon, take pot of off the fire and add the nutmeg. Cover and let it sit for 15 minutes. Mix and put it thru a coffee filter so all you get is the essence of the nutmeg.

Whip heavy cream until stiff, then add cream to nutmeg essence and salt & pepper to taste.  Put it in a pastry bag  in the refrigerator.

Extract of Oxalis

Boil the remaining ounce of bouillon, add the 50 stems and 15 leaves of oxalis, couple pinches of salt and a pinch of pepper. Cover and heat for a minute, then mix well and filter (coffee filter once again unless you have a fine sieve).  Fill the syringe and follow the instructions on the last paragraph of Preparing the Yolks section.

That’s it.  All that work for 4 eggs, you’ve got to be crazy.  On the other hands, what a great use for the oxalis.

Now SaladSuccess is not only providing the best salads and dressings to make with our SaladSuccess shaker, but now will provide the measurements if you only want to make enough dressing for one salad.

The bones of this recipe are from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa with changes to the proportions.  I love this combination on a bed of lettuce since there are so many calories in a single avocado.  Most grocery stores sell very unripe (hard as rock) avocados – I’m lucky that my local farmers market carries avocados.  Unless you have a specialty shop, often Costco avocados are ripe or will ripen in the next few days.

Ingredients for the SaladSuccess Shaker

  • Freshly squeezed lemon to the 1/3 orange line of SaladSuccess Shaker
  • Olive oil to the top orange line of SaladSuccess Shaker
  • 1 large spoonful of  Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for a single salad dressing

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for the Salad

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 2 large red grapefruits
  • Mesclun lettuce or arugula

Just before serving, cut the avocados in quarters, remove the seeds, and peel off the skin. Cut each quarter into 2-3 slices. Whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients and oss the avocado slices in the vinaigrette to prevent them from turning brown. Peel off the grapefruits slices (removing all the white pith), then strip the membranes to release the grapefruit sections.

Arrange the avocado slices around the edge of a large platter lined with mesclun lettuce or arugula. Arrange the grapefruit segments in the center. Spoon the remaining vinaigrette on top and serve.

Courtesy of Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa.

Hurray, I am done with 2009 taxes and sending out financial packets to my daughter’s potential colleges.  So now things can get back to normal with recipes and writing.  Thanks for your patience.

I like re-gifting; it makes sense and is economical.  No more guilt about receiving a present that is useless to you or hangs around in your garage, waiting to be broken.  I’ve got a lovely 2 foot brass corkscrew that I have no use for since I like tools that are small and multi-functional.  Right now the damn thing is in its box and being used to hold up a bunch of crap.  But it was given to us by my husband’s best friend and so we are torn up about what to do with a tool that is the size of furniture.

This year my cousin gave me or really, re-gifted me a garlic press.  It has got to be the weirdest tool  I’ve ever seen and probably was last year’s hot kitchenware product.  I’ve worked with it and here is the  summary on the little monster; this tool is stupid unless you have arthritis or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in your wrist and hands, which I have.

It presses and slices garlic very well, but you cannot fill the individual wells more than half way, otherwise it doesn’t work.  It also is a bitch to clean, since the pressed garlic gets stuck in the little metal holes. It is hard to set up with the swinging metal pressure pieces, and you need to be careful with the slicer, since it has VERY SHARP BLADES.  In all, it is a crappy and badly designed product.

However, if you are like me and have pain in your wrist from squeezing or whisking, this tool works.  I don’t like using it since it is cumbersome to set up and clean.  But I have no more pain when I use this press, and that is worth its weight in gold.

Now here is my bad news.  Since we are going to Hawaii for spring break, I’d like to lose some weight and get into a moderately pleasing looking dress.  Right now, I feel like the mother blimp and I need to get this lard off of my body.  It came on from eating great food, and now it is time to come off.  Which means that I’ll be hallucinating new recipes that my family gets to try, while I go back to protein shakes,2 per day.

I’ve tried most of the protein powders, and in my humble opinion, the protein/whey powder from Herbalife tasted great, but the price tag was nuts.  Not only do they charge 3x as much for a container of the stuff, you also have to pay $11 for shipping.  Forget it.

So I use the products at Trader Joe’s and it is fine.  But since I still get hungry in the first couple days, I also add oat bran and flaxseed (love that omega-3) to help fill me up.  So here is my Caribbean Cooler recipe.    If you have any great protein shake recipes, please email me.  I am so bad at sticking to any diet or lifestyle change and can get all the help possible.

Caribbean Cooler Shake

In a blender add:

8 oz. Almond low-fat milk

½ cup frozen pineapple – Trader Joe

½ cup frozen mango – Trader Joe

1 medium or small banana in 3 pieces

2 spoonfuls of your favorite protein powder

½ cup of water

1 tsp flaxseed

1 tsp oat bran

Liquidate mixture, and voila – a wonderful filling shake.

But come evening, I can’t wait to make myself a HUGE salad with avocado, feta cheese, cucumbers and of course, a salad dressing using SaladSuccess shaker.

Today David Lebovitz sent out a new blog about Cahors, France, that was so rich and loaded with mouthwatering pictures, I almost left my computer inebriated from the thought of the superb wine and food.  Then I saw the picture of Cahors menu and read it; Joue de Boeuf.  This doesn’t mean “game of beef” but refers to the cheek of an ox.  And the French don’t make up silly marketing names to enhance the sale of meat, but tell it like it is.  Concerning food, the French have no sense of whimsy.  I am quite sure that average Americans would reel away from a dish made from the check of a cow, brains or kidneys.

Which reminds me of a time my husband, Warren, and I spent a month in France.  Now I don’t just speak French, I’m fluent (thank you Mommy for being French) and I always pride myself to try anything as long as it doesn’t wiggle.  We had dumped my five year old daughter with Grandmere in Paris, and had three days to tour through the Chateaux de la Loire countryside drinking, sightseeing, smooching and most importantly, eating.

While spending time in Amboise, I saw a little sign for menu fixe that looked charming.  I had given up on the tour book restaurant suggestions since it seems that place listed required reservations and that is not my style of traveling light and cheap.  My main criteria for choosing a restaurant is that air must smell good, the restaurant must be populated by locals and it needs to be crowded.  This little place in Amboise fit the bill and into the abyss we went.

We sit down in this charming restaurant and the first thing that hits my eyes is lamb.  Lamb is taboo our house when my husband is around.  He hates the stuff and I love it, so I’m always a lamb sucker.  Warren probably ordered some chicken dish and when the two plates came out, we were delighted.  Truly a menu fix dream that we moaned and groaned over.  At the end of the meal, I asked the server about my lamb plate, since I’ve never had lamb before made in that manner.  The server went into great detail about the type of GLAND and its secretions that were used in the meal and at this point, I decided not to understand French.  So when in France, don’t try to understand too much when ordering a meal.

Being a cheap and reluctant cook makes me always want to economize on the amount of cooking I do, the complexity of recipes and the number of dishes to clean.  So three nights ago I roasted 2 chickens, one for the dinner and one to go.  Yesterday night I cubed ¾ of all the chicken and made Chicken Pot Pie with Sherry and Leeks.  Warm and delicious, it was the perfect meal accompanied by a glass of white wine and a mesclun and avocado salad topped with shallot vinaigrette.   This recipe is based on Ina Garten’s Chicken Pot Pie but with less work and with a French twist.

Chicken Pot Pie with Sherry and Leeks – Courtesy to Ina Garten

Ingredients Serves about 8 people, Prep time: 1 hour, Cooking time: 1 hour, remember you’ll need at least ½ hour to chill the dough

  • ¾ of a cooked chicken or 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
  • Olive oil
  • Salt &  ground black pepper (I use Costco)
  • 5 cups water or chicken stock.  Using water I add 3 heaping tablespoons of “Better than Bouillon
  • About 10 sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
  • 2 leeks – cleaned and sliced
  • 1 bag – 10 to 14 oz. frozen small whole (pearled) onions
  • 1/2 cup of sherry – don’t use the expensive stuff

For the pastry: – This only makes enough for a top which is enough for use.  If you want a top and bottom, make the pastry recipe 2 times (don’t just double, it will break the food processor)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash – optional

Directions

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, heat the water and add the “Better than Bouillon (or just heat up your chicken stock).

In a large pot or Dutch oven with enough olive oil to cover the bottom, sauté the mushroom over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the liquid is reduced. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken bouillon and sherry to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, leeks, onions and parsley. Mix well.  If mixture is a little too thin, add a little more flour.

In a deep oven-safe casserole dish, pour in the mixture (remember, if you want to have a bottom crust, you need to roll and prepare the dough. Place the rolled dough on top and trim to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the casserole. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash (optional) and make 3 slits in the top. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.